05 September 2008

Arnie Baker sharpie

The summer of 2006 was a magical time. I began my current binge of city-league sport involvement with a team so woeful I nearly quit on them two weeks into the season. They were awful, like really bad, like so bad half of them didn’t have an idea what was going on. And, to compound the awful, I was playing softball because I enjoyed it and was pretty good at it, so was hoping for some wins. Oh well.

Additionally, my former relationship was falling apart, which was in itself not particularly magical, but, in retrospect, probably OK. Directly related to this, I became very good friends with a cat who would eventually become preposterously obese, so that’s a nice story.

And, most importantly (or germanely at least), the hearts of America were being touched by a thin man with the facial hair of a 14 year old. Amongst the softball team, we called this special character Skeevy Floyd, due in no small part to the aforementioned face pubes. And in no small part to his tendency to wear yellow and be a scrawny, generally smarmy looking dude with a monstrous underbite.

Floyd Landis made quite the ripples when he first enlivened America’s hopes for continued dominance in the Tour de’ France (aka, the Only Bike Race 98% of the World Will Ever Even Pretend to Care About) following the untimely passing of Lance Armstrong from athlete/here to obnoxious celebrity who’s kind of a jerk but raises money for a popular and probably deserving cause. Yeah, I’m passing judgement.

[Since the previous paragraph included a really long sentence-
obscenely long- I’ll insert an aesthetic break here]

America’s hopes were dashed after Floyd broke, bounced, crashed, fornicated, mictorated, evacuated, eviscerated, or whatever they call “rode a bike up a giant mountain like a bum” in the world of bike racing. However, Floyd made a smashing comeback very shortly thereafter and ultimately drove into Paris wearing a yellow jersey. Cause celebre’!!! And everyone ate baguettes.

Flash forward to a few weeks later, when it was revealed that Floyd’s urine test from the day of his ‘ride de vie’ came back with fatty amounts of testosterone in it, beyond, by report, his standard levels. Floyd, ever the Skeevy, claimed that it was from drinking too much whiskey the night before. Silly Floyd, everyone knows you can’t get whiskey in France! Ultimately he was stripped of the Yellowest Jersey of
Them All. My fellow softball players and I were not surprised by this, but we did stop short of winning the league as a celebration of his Divine Skeevyness- one must admit, in terms of skeevy, winning while cheating AND having face pubes is right at the top of the list.

Of course, Floyd would not go down easy. A defense was posted on his behalf by one Arnie Baker in early October 2006. The appeal was twofold: one, that the testing lab was not going blind and had it out for Floyd, and two, that his levels were not actually criminally high. A full presentation was posted by at Mr. Baker’s website. As fans of the Yellowest Jersey of Them All and especially fans of human drama, my
fellow labmates and I perused the appeal.

The following are the results of our endeavor. This marks the third and final sharpie letter I have sent to date.

October 12, 2006

Dear Mr. Baker

I just wanted to let you know that my friends and I (actually coworkers, but we all get along so we’re friends too) have just finished viewing your presentation in defense of Floyd’s positive testosterone test.

We are all scientists, and while the evidence you present seems indicative that Mr. Landis may not have been involved in any skeevy behavior, we are not sufficiently familiar with cycling federation rules to adjudicate this case.

Being scientists, however, we are of a position and authority to evaluate your presentation. We think it stinks. For instance, you over-bullet in some cases, such as:

- Knew it was Floyd
- From his pelvic cortisone (not exact quote)

In common English this second statement is not an independent declaration, rather it is a supportive statement to the preceding point. Additionally, your presentation features a number of “orphan” bullets. Much like in an outline format, a bulleted list should be a list. Only one item does not substatiate a subpoint.

This presentation would be fine if it were put together by a high schooler or common worker. However, as persons in the public eye and of some academic merit, the standard for presentations of this sort should be high. Yours, however, left much to be desired in terms of grammatical format and quality of presentation. In addition to the technical aspects, your demonstration failed to entertain and made my ehes hurt a little. Perhaps you could be more deliberate in your stylistic choices.

I do not, however, intend to demean your work. I’m sure you had the best of intentions and, as I said, your scientific commentary is fairly robust.

To indicate that I foster no ill will, I have enclosed a Dilbert comic from Tuesday, September 5. It makes an entertaining point about how silly it is to be a vegan. Of course I do not intend to offend if you ARE a vegan, rather take it as a bit of levity for the moment.



Addressed to Arnie Baker, 1820 Washington Place San Diego, CA 92103-2723. Again, photocopies on hand with stamp and copy of the Dilbert comic. [Which reads: Panel 1. title bar “MIKE THE VEGAN” Mike: “I USE NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS WHATSOEVER!” Panel 2. Dilbert: “YOUR CLOTHES WERE CREATED ON SEWING MACHINES THAT USED ELECTRICITY FROM COAL AND OIL, AND THOSE COME FROM DEAD DINOSAURS.” Panel 3. Mike is seen walking through naked “I NEED TO START MAKING EXCEPTIONS.”]

Original documents can be found here. The specific statement cited in the letter is on page 39 of the “Whats fair is clear slide show 3.1” ~2/3 of the way down the page. It appears that this has grown considerably since we first saw it, fitting with all of the court of arbitration stuff that just finally got settled (verdict: still skeevy).

Have a good weekend everyone, and big ups to my brother and friend Nate who just gave women diamonds of particular significance.

1 comment:

Viceroy Fizzlebottom said...

Mr. Ball,

The best thing about your blogs is the labels along the bottom. They can be as abstract as "scientific fugue," or as concrete as "yellow."When clicked on, they take me back to the top of your blog.