This Week in JPEGs is sponsored in part by people who don’t eat breakfast. I’m sure there is a reason for their existence, but for the life of me I have no clue what that could be. Either way, I will take their money.
This column has not been nearly as regular as I’d like to be in recent months. There are a variety of reasons for that, but that doesn’t really matter, I guess. I ‘spose just to tell you that I’m not forgetting about it or anything.
The last time we did one of these, we had the closest vote in TWiJPEGs history. Two entries tied with the third just one vote behind. So that’s neat. I declare, with my all-encompassing power, that they are all winners. Hooray for the confluence of democracy and absolutist monarchy!
Let’s get on with it.
Joey the Heel
This space will never apologize for the sometimes gratuitous fawning we do on Joey Votto. He is, of course, amazing at baseball, but he also seems to be the kind of unorthodox personality that one rarely sees in the professional sporting world. A good number of stars capitalize on their public exposure by endorsing various products (Michael Jordan). Others leverage it to stump for their pet political causes (Chris Kluwe, Curt Schilling). The vast majority though do their utmost to remain as private as possible, giving only the most perfunctory platitudes when forced into the public eye.
And then there is Joey Votto. Over the last few years, he has delighted himself by playing the role of loathed wrestling heel when on the road (Think Iron Sheik waving an Iranian flag with the Ayotollah’s face on it as he entered the ring to face All-American Hulk Hogan).Matt Bonesteel thinks this is an unequivocally fantastic development for baseball.
This week in San Francisco, he refused a request for his batting gloves from a kid who was sitting in the front row. He scowled at the kid and said, "You're sitting in the front row. You're elite. This isn't a 'Make A Wish' situation."
And so Joey Votto, instead of following the staid old script of sports superstardom, has decided to play to the absurd nature of the situation by acting like an obvious (but totally harmless) asshole. It’s brilliant. And I love it.
Don’t You Forget about Me
As of the moment this column went to print, Jay Bruce is still a Cincinnati Red. It is incredibly likely that before the trade deadline on Monday at 4pm, he will cease to be so.
His career as a Red has been a complicated one. We all know the story, but nobody can reasonably claim that it unfolded as she either expected or hoped. As it goes, he has given us all an incredible coda to the story. He has slugged six home runs over the last five games, giving us one of the biggest weeks of his entire career.
He is an unforgettable Red, in every complex respect that word can mean.
Ol’ Hoss is Back
The townsfolk moved about their mornings a bit slower than usual, weighted down by the heavy humidity of late July in the river valley. As the familiar form of Ol’ Hoss and his trusty steed, Splitter, appeared over the horizon, the townsfolk consciously quickened their pace and pretended not to notice.
Hoss had been away for a while, and the little town had changed noticeably since he had last seen it. He tugged the reins a bit and Splitter slowed to an easy saunter. Ol’ Hoss’ face remained still as stone, but his eyes surveyed from left to right under his wide-brimmed Stetson. Some of the faces were relieved, some were curious, and still others were scowling over gritted teeth.
Ol’ Hoss was back.