issue 8  june/july 2001
page 6


Only Seat in the House
SPORTS
by Christopher Dean Heine

A beautiful teen-age-looking model from Mexico turned away the chance of a free meal during my recent flight from Dallas to New York. It was not a shock to me. And neither was it a shock to the stewardess. Letís get this out of the way in preliminary fashion: If tempted, please take the anorexia rhetoric that might be going on upstairs right now and file it under ďidealistic college days.Ē The model had a job to do. Something that she must practice at, each and every day -- stay skinny. The slender stewardess understood this, as did I, being a small-time sport historian.
       The model had won my appreciation earlier that day while we separately looked at magazines at the Dallas/Fort-Worth (thatís DFW to the jetsetters in the crowd) airport, and I basically tried to figure out how damn old she was. But then, on the plane, she reminded me of a great boxer staying trim for a featherweight battle. And, more specifically, she reminded me of a story -- another plane story -- I had read about the winningest horse jockey in American history, Linfatt Pincay Jr., aka ďThe Pirate.Ē
       A writer took a flight with the miniscule Pirate a few years ago. He later wrote that when the stewardess served them each a bag of peanuts at mid-flight snack time, The Pirate carefully opened his, took one nut out and then gave up the rest of his bag to the writer. The Pirate then split his sole nut into two pieces and ate half of the nut. The lunch of a champion. He then stuck the other half in a napkin before placing it in his pocket. Later, it would be dinner for the jockey. But, had The Pirate become delusional with passion and greed? After all, if he gets heavy, he likely doesnít win any races and doesnít earn no money. And what kind of man eats a half a peanut for lunch and then looks in the mirror at the end of the day and still calls himself a man? Or is he really a skinny, little girl under the thumb of an industry? Like that model? Ha! Thatís nice, college breath.
       That model showed me something that day. She was going to make it. She had that look in her eye. She turned down that meal with humility and reason. A journey to victory has many an empty stomach, she seemed to say. You have to make trades to get what you want. Life ainít easy. The little Pirate knew this, and rode it like religion across the wire and into heaven 8,834 times. Iíve never won 1 race in my life. No one pays me to go to Paris either. On a particularly bad night, they may even kick me out of Mexico.
       While we are on a subject pertaining to fat . . . God I am starting to feel like fucking Larry King in the USA Today where he writes his stream-of-conscious bullshit like ďI donít care what the critics say, Tom Hanks is a king of an actor. . . speaking of kings, I was talking to Don King the other day. . .Ē Anyway, it looks like Michael Jordan is losing weight to launch the biggest comeback since Old Coke returned to partner up with New Coke. NBC, which owns the broadcast rights to the NBAís weekend games, must be giggly about the ratings it will no doubt see if Mike plays for the Washington Wizards next season. Especially since NBC recently saw its most embarassing hour with its ill-advised marriage to that pro-wrestling-cleavage-and-football combo known as the XFL. Letís say this about the XFL-NBC showing one more time, in case someone happened to miss it: THEIR GAMES EARNED THE LOWEST RATINGS IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION.
       On the subject of Mike, I am doing a 360. I have written in this space before that he should never, ever come back as a player because his 1999 championship exit was so memorable. Fuck it. I want to see Mike play again. Itís too damn enticing. Will he still be the best? God thatís an interesting question. I donít think the 38-year-old will be the best in the league. Younger talent like Allen Iverson, Shaquille OíNeal, Tim Duncan, Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant could all easily prove to be better than Mike now. But, if John the Baptist could come back, could he hold his own in a debate with Bill Clinton? How about Martin Luther King and Ronald Reagan talking tax cuts, circa 1984? Whoíd win? Literally and figuratively, all these politicos are dead. But Mike ainít, and I want to know what heís still got. Címon, you want to know. Even Buddhists find themselves following a saint.

 


next: Brad Sonder

 

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