WTF Face

When I first heard the term “Resting Bitch Face,” I immediately started to think of people I knew that had one of those faces that when you looked at it, even if they are in the throes of excitement and happiness, still look like they could not be bothered.  My wife, ironically, pointed out that when I am thinking, my look of consternation comes off brooding and somewhat in the realm of R.B.F.  Therefore, since I’ve accepted that I have a brooding face, I thought I should highlight some faces of sports players that when I see them or even hear their name, I immediately envision their face and cringe.

We encounter W.T.F moments all the time and occasionally, those moments are influenced by the simple presence of a certain type of face.  Oh, and suck it “BuzzFeed,” this list isn’t for hipsters or the easily offended so just go sit in the corner somewhere drinking your PBR, twisting your terrible mustache, and denouncing professional sports as “the bane of American culture; ripping from its fabric the essence of art, culture, and humanity.”  I recently heard one of these skinny jean wearing, sprout worshiping ne’er-do-wells drone on and on about the simpletons that kneel at the altar of professional sports.

1.)  Sidney Crosby:  First and foremost, I hate his face because he plays for the Penguins.  I’m not going to lie.  However, have you ever seen “Sid the Kid” during the playoffs with his alopecia riddled face? (By the way, a cute nickname when you’re actually a kid, but eventually you hit your 20’s and 30’s and the moniker comes off sophomoric at best.  Unless your name is Billy, drop the Kid.)

Seriously though, I hate his playoff facial hair attempts.  It has to be a shame that one of the most popular sports customs, the hockey playoff beard, is something clearly well out of Sid’s reach.  The peasy mustache looks more like the 12 year-old Italian kid you grew up with that had a faint little mustache tuft that all the other boys either admired or envied.  Cool mustache to have when your baby makers haven’t descended, but terrible when you’re a grown man playing for the Stanley Cup.

2).  Shannon Sharpe:  This one is quite simple.  Shannon Sharpe played for the Denver Broncos.  Shannon Sharpe looks like a horse.  A Bronco is a horse and I think it is incredibly wrong to have a player on your team that resembles your mascot.  Shannon had quite the career and obviously had an impact on the teams for which he played.  Nevertheless, Shannon Sharpe’s equine face seemed more fitting for the Belmont Stakes than a Super Bowl Sunday showdown.

3).  Kevin Durant:  Respect the hell out of this guy.  When he’s healthy, he’s dangerous.  When he’s injured, he’s still better than half of the NBA players when they are completely healthy.  Would I want him in Philadelphia?  Damn right I would.  But…

That eye!  I know it’s horrible to say and I feel truly terrible for people with lazy eyes but it is so difficult to watch a game when they do a close up on Durant and he’s got one eye on the basket and the other one is all like, “Ohhhh, that kid sitting directly to my right is eating cotton candy.”  I know, I’m terrible but the dichotomy of my awe is split between admiring Kevin Durant and his abilities on the court and his eye that looks like it’s doing everything in its power to get off the court.  (Or at the very least, go all Tony Hawk and do a 360.)

4).  Pat McQuistan:  When you look like Rocky Dennis made a love baby with himself, there’s just nothing you can do for a person.  Most people do not even know who this man is because he’s never really stayed with an NFL team for very long.  He8e8dd1db405d87c5775e9e0f62c2427e was drafted by the Cowboys; coupled with the fact that his doppelgänger is a character from the movie Mask (no, not Jim Carrey’s The Mask), there’s nothing endearing about his mug.  The only thing that would make Pat McQuistan’s face an even sadder story would be if he had attractive parents.

5).  Robert Griffin III:  I’ve seen the stories about him befriending a young girl that had cancer and how he’s always reminded of her.  Seems like a pretty decent dude off the field.  In the realm of football, RGIII has the kind of face that makes me want to turn away.  His eyes and play on the field makes him look like a fish that fell out of the bowl and his over-bite, I’ll bet, affords him the opportunity to eat fruit placed on the other side of a fence.  No worries for RGIII and his stalled career; impersonators make a lot of money and I’m sure people would pay decent money to hang out with Wiz Khalifa.

6).  Chris Bosh:  What…in the literal….fudge…happened to Chris Bosh.  When I was five years old, had I known E.T. would one day come back as a 7′ basketball player, I would have called you a liar.

7).  Alexander Ovechkin:  I know hockey players do not always have the greatest teeth and it is expected in such a brutal sport.  However, I do not know if we can blame the brutality on the game as the reason behind the brutality of Ovechkin’s face.  He hails from Russia but looks like he was raised in an offshoot of the Amazon.  No human being should look like an ogre with the mouth of a piranha.

8).  Takeo Spikes:  Can someone possibly explain if Takeo Spikes ate and swallowed a wine cask as a child?  When fitted for a suit, the tailor uses a tape measure to get physical dimensions.  If you have to use rope and a yard stick to get your measurements, you may want to skip your shoulder workout for the next decade.

9).  Antonio Silva:  MMA fighter and the owner of a chin that is eerily similar to the shape of Takeo Spikes’ neck, I often feel the need to watch an episode of the Munsters after I watch a Silva fight.  MMA fighters are known for their ability to take a punch; unfortunately, in Silva’s case, it looks like he took two fists to the chin and refused to give them back.  Hey, Antonio, while I know you could crush my skull in a dozen times over, I have an overwhelming desire to put you in a Washington Bullets jersey and to get you to star in a reboot of My Giant with Billy Crystal.

10).  The Manning Brothers:  Eli and Peyton Manning look like they inspired the two characters from the television cartoon Phineas and Ferb.  While my daughters crack up at the antics of these two characters, I can’t help but stare at the television, hoping for an episode where the pair come out dressed in Giants and Broncos jerseys.

I give credit where credit is due and I will not take away from their abilities on the field (although, can we also stop with all the Manning idolatry.  If one more person around me sings “Chicken Parm you taste so good,” I may beat you to death with a bean bag chair and a wiffle ball bat.  Regardless of whether you agree that the two look like Phineas and Ferb, methinks that Archie and Olivia Manning may have set next to each other as kids during family reunions.  It’s just a theory…but I think I’m right.

Judge Not, Tilghman

I know that I look like the Brawny Man and Drew Carey had a lovechild.  I’m certainly not a gem of a human but I’ve been staring at this face for thirty-five years and I’ve grown accustom to my low dipping eye, gnarled baby teeth that are still in my mouth because it turns out when your parents engage in full-blown meth usage when they conceive you, meth screws up teeth that haven’t even formed yet.

I embrace my face, accept that my breasts may be puffier than that of a woman with an A-cup, rock a pretty impressive man-muffin top and overall have nailed down average.  I’ve accepted it.  However, if you really ask yourself about athletes or celebrities that force you to proclaim, “W.T.F,” you will find that there is a history of ugly in every sport.

Remember, you can check out Tilghman Harpel (a.k.a Chris Smith) on Twitter at @TilghmanHarpel and be sure to check out his clips on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RInHlebwb-c

 

 

The Biggest Little League

The new kid, regardless of how self-assured and confident they may be, always feels a little different.  A new home, a new school, a new street, new strangers and like anything new, new opportunities. My new opportunity began in the spring of 1988.  Baseball; America’s pastime and oft-ridiculed sport that moves too slow, felt like a whirlwind while I played.

10375978_10203996748224924_3268098830116186128_nI joined Bridgeport Little League in 1988.  Eight years old and with a mountain of adult experiences prior to my family’s new start, Bridgeport Little League became the first constant in my life.  Coached by my Dad, Little League quickly became the first opportunity to share something wholly my own with a man I was just starting to get to know.

After years of struggling with a methamphetamine addiction, my Dad found himself in a familiar place that brought him joy.  Not until I was eight years old did I start to find out who my Dad was as a man.  Ironically, I started my own journey into self discovery around that time, too.  Baseball offered us the opportunity to build a relationship that mirrored the “good, simple life” that many parents want to provide for their children.

Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, a little hamlet situated in Southeastern, Pennsylvania remains nothing short of an idyllic memory.  Sure, I have bad memories but it is in the memories of playing Little League that I reserve the right to reflect on my hometown with the sort of irreverence found in Norman Rockwell paintings and Whitman musings.  Perfect?  No.  Perfect to me?  In so many ways, yes!

I aspired like every other kid playing Little League to one day wear a major league uniform, to hear my name on the loudspeaker and to score the winning run in the World Series.  Though ultimately a dream, I remember the number of home runs I hit (one), surely lost count of the errors I committed, and I remain certain that the number of times I laughed with my teammates is incalculable.  I owe that to Bridgeport Little League.

11214175_802036416579767_3002762539656206529_nI remember running out to center field before games to hoist the American flag and feeling an overwhelming sense of pride in doing so.  Mindful to never let the flag touch the ground, I learned about respect and history.  Regardless of your political ideologies, there is something to be said for understanding the importance of symbolism.  I would think of my grandfather, a WWII P.O.W and how running the American flag up that flagpole felt like an opportunity to pay homage to every man and woman that ever fought to protect America.

Little League does not “make” better men and women, it gives boys and girls a chance to understand the importance of teamwork, to applaud sportsmanship, and to learn what it means to work and try as hard as one can.  Bridgeport Little League, at least for this one-time player, allowed me to finally call a single place my home.  No matter how many different places I live throughout life, nothing feels more “at-home” than Bridgeport.

Bridgeport Park and the Little League field exists as my own personal oasis.  When I come home to visit my Mom or to spend some time at my Dad’s grave, I tend to end up at the Little League field.  I can hear my name echoing over the speakers and feeling my right foot dig into the batters box.  As cliched as it may sound, even the smell of fresh cut grass takes me back, plopping me behind  home plate or manning first base.

Back I go…

Rivalries were reserved for the baseball field.  Best friends became enemies for six innings.  Nothing bitter, nothing violent; an enemy in an instant, you hoped your best friend would strike out four times, your team would win, and that you could still sleep over his house Friday night.  We respected the game and even the terribly itchy uniforms that mentioned polyester but apparently omitted the burlap and fiberglass that helped construct our uniforms.

I am an “Indian.”  Drafted to the team in 1989, I subsequently broke my arm in the middle of my first season in the majors  (Actually, a teammate broke my arm but I’m not holding it against him twenty-six years later.  I swear.)  The year I started playing for the Indians, the movie Major League came out and immediately I figured it to be kismet.  My team always felt like a hodgepodge of misfit kids that simply loved to play baseball.

We are all grown up men and women now; living lives that, unless we have children that play sports, does not include getting  homework done before the game.  Our lives no longer involve shortcuts through the woods so we can get to the field ten minutes earlier.  We’ve traded shortcuts through lawns and neighbor’s houses for GPS reminders of the impending traffic doom ahead of us.

No longer will two dollars from our Dad’s wallet buy us some Swedish Fish, a Gatorade and a hot pretzel.  No one is so focused on us that they give up hours upon hours of their time to help us get better at something, anything.  This is adulthood.  This is where things get done, bills get paid, and instead of asking Mom for a ride to practice, we are now the chauffeurs.

Bridgeport Little League, I am sure, means more to some than to others.  Yet, in the middle of the summer heat a few weeks ago, dozens of adults from decades of Bridgeport Little League players came together to see old faces, rekindle nearly forgotten memories and to spark off dormant rivalries from decades past.  Younger guys mixed with the middle of the pack guys, rounded out by the aged wisdom of those in their golden years.  A group of men and women, once bound by something as simple as a game, stood shoulder to shoulder, honoring what is nothing short of an institution.

Hugs between old friends and people I vaguely remembered served up just enough nostalgia that as I sat in the dugout, I could almost feel my Dad’s hand on my shoulder, coaching me about laying off the first pitch and choking up on the bat if I fell behind in the count.  I could see my Dad in his terrible cutoff jean shorts (let’s all take solace in knowing those days are over) and giving the customary baseball butt slap followed by a reminder that I sometimes forget: “Go have fun, bud.”

Some say that with age comes wisdom.  Personally, with age comes appreciation.  I appreciate every game I ever played in Bridgeport.  I appreciate every moment that Bridgeport Little League ever gave me with my Dad.  I, also, appreciate that twenty three years after I took my last swing, dug out an errant throw, rallied around my team, and said goodbye to the simplest years of my life, I still carry with me a fondness of a time that resurfaces in old stories and reflections on my childhood.

Three weeks after our alumni game, my right knee is no longer swollen and my calf muscle feels fairly functional again.  The scab on my elbow from diving into second base has healed and I still cannot wipe this smile off of my face.  Going home has nothing to do with addresses and cross streets; home is the place where when you arrive, nothing, no matter how much the aesthetics change, the feeling will always stay the same.

11755252_802036159913126_1173394588225360649_nTo whomever is up next, “have fun, bud!”

Tilghman Harpel (Chris Smith) can be followed on Twitter @TilghmanHarpel

Just Accept It Already

If I have to explain what I am doing in this article, then I suspect you need to find a place on the internet that explains things through mono-syllabic means and utilizes a great deal of pictures.

The Racist Experience

You are born into a dysfunctional white family where the word “nigger” is commonly used.  It is often uttered whilst your family is piled into a pick-up truck adorned with gentle reminders of the family’s political and social proclivities:  a Confederate flag (actually, the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Northern Army because, well, history is highly revisionist), an NRA sticker provoking anyone to try to come take their guns, and a tattered bumper sticker that is intact enough to make out “Bush/Cheney.”

Your Ma and Pa use the “N-word” without any hesitation.  They graduated high school but are as minimally educated as a high school graduate can be.  Political discussions are as deep and wide as a Mississippi mud-puddle after a summer rain shower.  Reading is reserved for the Fox News ticker at the bottom of the television screen and for select Bible verses that justify hate and intolerance.  Your family does not like the following: Blacks, Mexicans, Gays, Liberals, Asians, Arabs, Eskimos, Hippies, Mulattoes, Indians (Dots and Feathers), Pro-Choicers, Democrats, Uppity Women that don’t know their place, the Media (except Fox News), the Transgender community, and anything or anyone that does not look, act, think, pray, or live the way they do.

You are taught the fundamentals of life through a series of experiences and like all children, you listen closely and watch even closer.  You emulate those around you and during your metamorphosis, you navigate from childhood into full-blown adulthood; you are the “apple of your parents eye.”  Not only do you look like them; you think, feel, vote, and act like them as well.

This is a tremendous example of what a parent should do: lead the way by setting the example.  Unfortunately, in this case, it is a terrible example that feeds into the pipeline of the skullduggery running rampant in America today.

People get upset when someone says, “it’s the parents fault.”  There are multitudinous reasons why a person learns to hate but when do we stop making excuses for ignorance and bad behavior.  Is it the same for black people?  Chinese people? (Or anyone that may be different from you or me?)

http://www.worldaroundu.com/2015/03/harmony-day-2015-whatsapp-quotes-images-wishes-messages-australia.html

#BlackLivesMatter

This crosses into the argument over #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter.  During its inception, I took an exception to the idea that we (Americans) are professing only #BlackLivesMatter because it is my contention that “All Lives Do Matter.”  Then, I thought about it and realized, there is absolutely no need for a Twitter trend professing #AllLivesMatter because the current political climate proves that a great many people need reminded that “Black Lives Do Matter.”  Where is the great assault on white lives?

Some argue that Affirmative Action is proof that somehow the white man has taken a back seat in the professional world.  The people who I personally witness up in arms about this are either blue-collar or no-collar individuals.  Those that think they were passed up at the Burger Barn because they were white should stop and think, “Oh, I get it; over a century and a half of inequality and now it is time to even the playing field.”

Maybe the problem is in white America’s perception of police brutality and lethal force.  If you have never been pulled over before, I do not care what race you are: It’s scary and probably one of the most intimidating experiences a person can have.  Now, considering the “liberal” media keeps replaying all of these videos of black men, women and children being assaulted and in many cases killed by the police, I suspect their nervousness and hostility towards police is warranted.

“Stop resisting arrest and maybe so many black people wouldn’t be killed by the police.”

Should I go through the names?  Should I post the videos on here so the blowhards that read this can bloviate about the standard procedures for dealing with police?  If my example of being raised in a racist household does not mirror the experience of black individuals (especially living in abject poverty) in their dealings with the police, then you will NEVER get it.

#AllLivesMatter is a truthful statement.  However, the infinite truth of that statement does not supersede the need to honor the lives of black Americans because the proof is in the pudding.  No, I am not black and I do not, even for a second, pretend to fully understand what it means to be a black person in America.  Recognizing that fact also makes me aware enough to know that I also do not know what it is like to be a police officer.  Yet, those on the side of defending the deplorable actions of police endangers the integrity and spirit of black Americans that do not receive equitable treatment at the hands of the law.  #BlackLivesMatter is relevant, needed, and unavoidable because America treats racism with a band-aid mentality.

If I cut my hand open with a knife and I could see the bone through the bloody gristle, I would seek medical attention.  I would want a team of nurses and doctors to tend to my wound.  I would want them to treat me for the pain.  I would want them to thoroughly clean out my wound.  I would want them to stitch my hand back up with precision and care.  I would not tolerate two Tylenol, some Neosporin and a gauze pad.  Stop treating racism like a splinter and accept that it’s not just a sliver or wood or metal under the skin, it is a full on impalement of the dignity and spirit of an America that tends to overvalue “things” and undervalues people.

Is this simply a hyperbolic musing, an exercise in knee-bending in the face of political correctness?  Call it what you will but when truth needs the flowery exploitation of FOX News and governmental talking heads that flap their gums and engage in ad hominem attacks to validate inexcusable behavior, I scrutinize its impetus and label it nothing more than verbal chicanery.

Are all cops bad?  No.  They’re not.  Can they act badly?  Sure.  Are all black people bad?  No.  They’re not.  Can they act badly?  Sure.  Are all white people bad?  No.  They’re not.  Can they act badly?  Sure.  Are all Mexicans bad?  No.  They’re not.  Can they act badly?  Sure.

The infallibility of racism is a hard pill to swallow.  However, while I personally wish we could treat racists like crabgrass, their infestation is far more difficult to handle.  Wouldn’t it be divine if we could spray some “Racists-Be-Gone,” go to bed, wake up, and the front lawn of America would be racist free.  I also wish money grew on trees and thinking about exercise had the same health benefits as actually exercising.  Unfortunately, I’m S.O.L when it comes to wishing.

The Solution?

If ignorance begets ignorance, then what can we expect from silence?  I do not need to apologize for being white because I had no choice in the matter.  (For the record, I LOVE being white.)  However, I do not love that others with the same lack of pigment get to open their blowholes and paint MY race with any other brush than the one I choose to paint the events of my life with each day.  Speak up.  Be heard.  Be what everyone never expected because it sure seems easy to live up to expectations when we have allowed the bar to drop so low.Follow Tilghman on Twitter @TilghmanHarpel