- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

We in the toy department, this space included, mostly endeavor to feign outrage around marginal items of importance.
Vlade Divac falling down around Shaquille O'Neal is offensive to this space. Two aspirin rarely ease the pounding in the head. Counseling could be next if the offseason does not remedy it.
This is the game within the games, the passion that provides the fuel to our billion-dollar industries.
The passion is at full strength again, undermining our best interests.
The hint of another baseball strike is another hint to the masses to forge a balance, if not to hold back the love.
Baseball, in particular, ended last season on a somber note, in the aftermath of September11 and the call to have a modicum of perspective.
The call was short-lived, predictably enough, made as it was by the national hypemeisters, who are seemingly paid by the pant.
The then/now juxtaposition comes on the eve of July4, Independence Day, the 226th birthday of a nation that finds itself stuck between business as usual and the terroristic threat posed by the blue-haired grandmother from Minnesota.
This is not the noise of a serious people, once forever changed, the cliche of the moment last fall. We do have our priorities.
How about those squabbling ex-spouses, John McEnroe and Tatum O'Neal?
Their dirty laundry, however banal, is being aired amid a series of official alerts. You are hereby ordered to be festive but wary tomorrow of the blue-haired grandmother from Minnesota.
Hers has become the face of terror in America, the face of the times that reflects the absence of conviction in a fat and soft people addicted to brain candy.
The blah-blah drill flourishes in sports, perhaps because those in sports, more than most, function apart from the rest, and often with a free pass.
How dare they speak of another potential impasse in baseball. How dare the nitwit leadership of the WNBA players dip their toes in these same economic waters. How dare anyone express racial alarm over the growing influx of Europeans going to the NBA.
To some, the latter is almost an issue, although it is about as worrisome as those high school players who skip college to become NBA millionaires.
The example is handy because of its bean-counting, connect-the-dots spirit that too often passes for deep thought in sports.
The racial makeup behind the 348 fantasy jobs in the NBA is statistically negligible, and to be heavy-handed, it is especially unworthy in the context of the know-nothing Kenneth Lay, the layoffs at WorldCom and a jittery Wall Street.
Wasn't context one of the underlying messages of the New Age-like lectures last fall?
The sports world functions best without the real world, no doubt, as an appealing diversion to the responsibilities that ensnare us all.
Yet the metaphor-of-life crowd tries to have it both ways, employing the real world if it is convenient to their cause, ignoring it otherwise. A game, alas, rarely rises above the flawed, which is everyone involved.
The wintertime news of Michael Jordan's love life reveals nothing much at all on one level, considering the work that led to roughly sixbillion of us. That is a staggering amount of lovemaking, and Jordan is as human as the rest. His sparkling image, the hook to pry, is just that, an image, no different from Rambo winning the Vietnam War.
The man behind the image is bound to disappoint. No one is that perfect, or compelling.
The dog-bites-man mindset goes with the territory.
The athletically gifted and their sycophants traffic in self-absorption and routinely miss the elementary. Sometimes the by-play is amusing.
Do not adjust your dial. That is merely Allen Iverson pretending to cop a pose outside the system in which he is fully vested, and then some.
There is always tomorrow, July4th, another reason to further decorate the streets of Washington with concrete barriers.
You cannot be too careful around the blue-haired grandmother from Minnesota.
She will be swinging a sparkler, and she will be up to no good.

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