We’re going to talk about a$$holes today, class. Specifically, we’re going to talk about the way in which our society exalts certain bullies — the successful ones, I guess you’d say. If you’re laboring under a mountain of garbage work at a big law firm right now, you’ve probably run into a few of these. They’re your bosses. Because, if there’s any rule more reliable than gravity, it’s that the legal profession is thick with barely-functioning sociopathic goons who are sadistic to a degree rarely seen on Animal Planet. These a$$holes are lauded for their rainmaking potential and their ability to camouflage any recognizably human trait hidden deep within themselves. They are terrible and they probably run your life. So it goes.
But another class of individuals not far removed from the Biglaw freak show are those coaches (especially football) who are recognized as geniuses. Those successful coaches who look across the human landscape and only see so much raw material. So many interactions that must be scripted and manipulated in order to win some g-danged ball games. Genius has never been so depressingly common. But it’s from this class of individual that we build great hoary temples of cliche. Management principles, warfare strategies, motivational seminars, successories, visualization and actualization. This mountain of detritus is sustained by a steady stream of manure emanating from our nation’s greatest a$$holes. This, of course, is not meant to tar all coaches with this brush. Many coaches manage to retain some shred of their humanity while navigating the make-believe combat of their chosen sport. These coaches are usually losers, of course. But still. They exist.
Mike Gundy is not one of these exceptions. Mike Gundy is an a$$hole.
Let’s talk a$$holes…
I’M A MAN! I’M THIS MANY!
Mike Gundy’s original claim to fame was as the coach who stood up in a press conference and started screaming like a baboon while, ironically, claiming to be a man. He screamed and he stomped his feet and the spittle formed and flew and the camera almost blinked in disbelief at what it was capturing. Mike Gundy, the public persona, came into this world angry, aggrieved, and absolutely a$$hole-ish.
His temper tantrum back then was ostensibly done to protect a player who needed little protection. His coach, rather than deflecting attention, heaped even more on the poor sap. Gundy probably still pats himself on the back for turning an irrelevancy into a spectacle. Which brings us to his latest good deed.
This week, a lawsuit against the screachy hysteric lurched forward as a judge set a date for a pretrial conference to be held outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Mike Gundy coaches football for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The lawsuit came about after Gundy allegedly flew into a predictable rage when a construction worker doing some work on his home showed up in an Oklahoma Sooners t-shirt. This effrontery would not be tolerated:
In the lawsuit, Loveland accuses Gundy of approaching him on his first day on the job and saying, “How dare you come into my house and offend my wife?” According to the suit, when Loveland asked what Gundy was referring to, the coach replied, “That (expletive deleted) shirt you have on.”
RAAAAURRWWWWGGGHHHH!!!! GUNDY SMASH!!!!! BLARFFFFFFFFMMMMMMMHHHHHHGGGGG!!!!!!!
This man is a millionaire and, yet, fully capable of behavior that would seem over-the-top on an episode of Cops. And his alleged defense in the middle of his rage-shart is classic a$$hole. Just as he did when he decided to attack a reporter during a press conference, Gundy offers up another human as the reason he was forced (forced!) to act like a belligerent clown. Apparently, his wife, a grown woman, was so offended by a t-shirt that she had no recourse but to beg her manly husband to remove the offending heathen. Perhaps it’s true? Or perhaps Gundy can never fully own up to his lack of basic decency. It’s not enough to be a dick, y’see. You get a side of martyrdom for free with every ginned up outrage.
Gundy likely believes he’s inerrant. We all do to some degree, of course. But the narcissists who run our nation’s sports programs do to an ungodly degree. This, it goes without saying, is no way to live. If I could say one thing to Gundy, it would be, “Be decent, you priggish bore. Nothing, not even your exalted position atop Oklahoma’s land grant institution’s football team, allows you to be this terrible. Nothing.”
Equity partners, take note.
IN THE FUTURE, ALL OUR NEWS STORIES WILL COME FROM FLORIDA
News broke this week that MLB would be trying to emulate the NFL and say to hell with all notions of fairness and decency. Specifically, that they would rely on the bullied and extorted confidences of the con man owner of an alleged Miami steroid-peddling shop in order to suspend multiple baseball players for steroid use. This plan, if it comes to fruition, is so insane that it just might work.
For astute legal analysis of this gathering storm of witchhuntery, do check out this article from the reliably great Michael McCann over at CNNSI.
But even from a less legalistic vantage point, this whole thing stinks to the high heavens. See, e.g., this fantastic breakdown from Tim Marchman over at Deadspin:
2) According to the reporting done by ESPN’s excellent investigative team, Anthony Bosch, the snake-oil salesman at the center of this latest imbroglio, has agreed to cooperate with baseball only under severe duress. Apparently reduced to couch surfing while trying to scrape together a defense against a frivolous lawsuit MLB filed against him for tortious interference in the league’s business and preparing for the possibility that federal charges will be brought against him, he’s an obviously compromised witness.
2a) Leaving aside what this fact set does for Bosch’s credibility, filing a frivolous lawsuit against someone and then agreeing to drop it if they tell you what you want to hear is, basically, gangster shit.
2b) The suggestion that one of the inducements offered to Bosch was unofficial intervention with the federales—nothing binding, mind you, but perhaps a word dropped here or there from one powerful person to another—fits into a longstanding pattern, exemplified by the Mitchell Report and the various investigations into Lance Armstrong’s international blood washing extravaganza, where sports bodies and the federal government operate as one, so that it’s impossible to tell which functions as the extension of the other.
2c) Baseball’s practice—as, again, exemplified in the investigations carried out for the Mitchell Report—of squeezing dealers for information on users, an inversion of the usual pattern applied to drug cases, suggests that baseball is more interested in being understood to have done something and to have taken the problem very seriously than in mapping out how drug networks actually function.
MLB: Basically, some gangster shit.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT PENN STATE
The dumb lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania’s governor in an attempt to undo the dumb sanctions levied by the dumb NCAA was thrown out by a judge yesterday. Dumbly, I might add. Because this judge couldn’t resist sprinkling in football verbiage. The lawsuit was a “Hail Mary pass” and arguments “failed to advance the ball.”
I think “sneaking” phrases like this in is childish. This judge ought to hit the showers. References like the ones he used always come off as… forced. Child rape.
RAP SHEET ROLL CALL
* If you read one story about a college basketball player whose mom allegedly convinced him to kidnap a 6-year-old child, make it this story.
* An Auburn basketball player has pleaded not guilty to fixing games. Reached for comment, and Auburn fan said “What’s basketball?”
* Milton Bradley was convicted of spousal abuse. He has a seeming Monopoly on despicable behavior. He has failed at Life. I’ll give you a Clue where this item is headed, but it’ll Boggle your mind. There’s a Risk that I’ve taken this as far as I can without any payoff. But that’s a Risk I’m willing to Candyland.