Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

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The Red Sox Only Deserved the One All-Star, Arsenal Begin Pre-Season and a Thank You to Josh Radnor

Good morning, everyone. With another day before we get back to World Cup matches, I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about a couple different things.

I’ll be disappointed once the World Cup ends, but it’ll be nice to have time to focus on baseball again. The Red Sox seem hell bent on keeping fans away this summer though, as they continue to find ways to lose. Yesterday’s game was yet another in which the Red Sox showed glimpses of last year, this time coming back from a 6-1 deficit with a five run seventh. But yet again, all clutch hitting disappeared and the Red Sox fell once more in extra innings. The late-inning magic epitomized by Jonny Gomes that the Red Sox had an abundance of last year has not existed this year when it is needed. They’re a frustrating team to watch at the moment.

It seems fitting that our defending World Champions have only one all-star on the roster selected by their own manager. Jon Lester will be the only one donning the special all-star game hat next week in Minnesota. Reports say David Ortiz told John Farrell that he preferred time off this year, but really, was Ortiz even worthy of a selection?  While I do think Lester was deserving of a spot, he hasn’t exactly been the stopper his team have needed at times. He’s had a lot of games where he pitched well, but not well enough. For an ace to beat other aces, he needs to be almost perfect. And Lester has been far from that.

I made the case for John Lackey to be an all-star a few weeks back, but he’s cooled down a bit since then. The only other player I think should have made it from the Sox is Koji Uehara. It’s hard to believe there have been many relievers better than him this year, and I would have thought Farrell would have wanted to turn the ball over to his closer at the end of the game. Uehara’s success over the last 12 months certainly merited a spot, but ultimately, his team’s failure cost him his place on the team, as Farrell couldn’t give his Red Sox an extra spot they didn’t deserve. Hopefully Uehara gets in as a replacement, but I understand why there is only one Red Sox on the roster this year.

Maybe this announcement will serve as a wake-up call for Dustin Pedroia. The former MVP has seen a dramatic drop in production this year, and it seems like there’s no injury to blame this time. I’m sure Pedroia likes to think of himself as the best second baseman in the game, but he was not even close to making the American League roster this year. Even if the Red Sox don’t turn things around as a team, for Pedroia, a return to his best could help get next season’s team back on the right track.

On a different front, Arsenal’s pre-season is about to get under way. I love the World Cup, but I am dying to see Arsenal get going again. Personally, I really enjoy watching preseason games, as I like seeing young players like Chuba Akpom, Thomas Eisfeld and Kristoff Olsson get run outs. It’ll be fun to watch those guys get another few games under their belts to prove they belong at this level. The friendly against Boreham Wood on July 19th can’t get here soon enough.

But as pre-season heats up, the transfer sagas begin to get more important. It’s at this point that I, along with just about every other Gooner in the world, would like to see Arsene Wenger get something done. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big slash yet, but I would just like to see some movement. There are a lot of signings needed this summer – backup goalie, right back, center back, holding midfielder, forward – and I would hate to see Wenger need to fill all of those on the last day of the window. Getting a signing out of the way now would help ease some pressure off of his overall load.

I don’t like to comment on transfer rumors because they rarely turn out to be anything more than letdowns for Arsenal supporters. But I will say that a certain Chilean attacker currently heavily linked with a move to North London would be an incredible signing – one that would legitimately put Arsenal squarely in next season’s title race. The other major link – the one with a certain French right back – would also be a useful signing. I’d like to see that deal get done in the next couple days to get things moving towards the new season. I won’t name any names until the signings get done, but these rumors excite me. It’s going to be a fun year.

And on a similar note to yesterday, I’d like to thank How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor for reading my post about HIMYM and favoriting my tweet. Little votes of confidence like that inspire me to keep writing, and I’m incredibly thankful for what Josh Radnor and Craig Thomas have done for me over the last few days. If I go on to become a writer full-time in the future, I’ll have them to thank.

As the How I Met Your Mother post has now nearly quadrupled the number of hits that any other post has gotten, I want to ask if anyone has any desire for further HIMYM content. If you have an idea of another piece I could do, put it in the comments or tell me on Twitter (@MrMcGinnis94). Writing a non-sports piece every once in a while would be a nice change of pace, and people seemed to enjoy the one I did. Hope your day is wonderful. And thanks for reading.




Making Peace With How I Met Your Mother

(Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen the How I Met Your Mother finale and think you might want to at any point)

I know this is supposed to be a sports blog, but there’s something that’s been troubling me for three months. Ever since the finale aired on March 31, I can’t get over the fact that I hated the ending of my favorite TV show, How I Met Your Mother. For years, that show helped shape many of my beliefs about the world. The show gave me hope, broke my heart, and gave me hope again. It taught me everything from learning when to go to bed to how to find love. But in one of the most disappointing minutes of my life, the show was nearly ruined for me. The ending was not perfect. And I was not okay with that. They had let me down and broken my heart.

I was angry for a long time whenever I thought about what had happened. I used to watch an episode almost every day, but I could hardly bring myself to watch even one anymore. I tried convincing myself the ending never happened – I even watched the finale again, ending it where I wanted to so I could see if that helped me feel better – it didn’t. It absolutely killed me that I was mad with my favorite show. But this month, I started watching How I Met Your Mother from the beginning with my sister who had never seen it before. And watching season 1 again with fresh eyes, reliving some of my favorite moments that I’ve watched so many times, I remembered why I loved the show so much. And I became determined to make peace with the finale. I have thought about it long and hard, rewatching many old episodes, and finally, I can say that I’m okay with things again. Allow me to explain.

(Spoilers start here)

There are a billion lessons from the show – ones that will be referenced for years to come by this generation of TV watchers. But because the little messages were always spot on, I looked for an overall message that was even more meaningful than the rest. And it was all set up to be done perfectly. The mother’s death was heartbreaking, but it was a beautiful end that gave Ted’s story a final message – enjoy every second you get with the people you love, because it won’t last forever. The final episode was even called “Last Forever,” so how could the message not be that only memories last forever? I could have lived with that, as it lined up with what the show had been saying all along – that life is much more about living than it is about any end. As the finale was unfolding, and it became clear that the mother was indeed dying in the closing moments of the show, I was expecting one last Bob Saget voiceover, telling us these exact things. But instead, it all went wrong. Suddenly, my tears of sadness turned sour.

I guess in some ways, the Ted and Robin ending lines up with the message I outlined above. Because the story wasn’t about the death of the mother, it was about all that happened leading up to it. However, that view doesn’t work with the story completely, as too much else contradicted that end message. Why did the entire last season exist to make us believe Robin and Barney were meant to be together, only for them to divorce? And why didn’t the final season involve more of the mother? And then on another note, if that was the main message, was it telling us that the mother wasn’t really “the one” for Ted?

I couldn’t accept that as a possibility because the mother was indeed perfect for Ted. She was everything he deserved and more. Going into season 9, I was quite skeptical about how the mother could ever live up to expectations. But she did, and in a big way. That was probably the reason I hated the ending so much – because the mother was objectively better for Ted than Robin ever was or would be. If the writers wanted me to root for Ted and Robin, they shouldn’t have made the mother such a lovable character. As such, Ted and Robin getting back together was a failure on the part of the writers.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that failure has always been a driving force on How I Met Your Mother. In season 1, every character had dreams – Marshall wanted to be an environmental lawyer, Lily wanted to be a painter, Robin wanted to be a successful reporter, Barney wanted to continue being Barney, and Ted wanted to find love as quickly as he could. But as the show went on, each character saw their dreams significantly blocked. At times, they were all failures in what they wanted to do. Even their secondary and tertiary dreams ended in failure most of the time too. Think about the amount of times characters got fired or broke-up with their significant others. And beyond that, they failed at simple things too – the episode “Arrividerci, Fiero” sticks out as a moment when a failure – not fixing the car – taught everyone a lesson in moving on. The day-to-day lives of these characters were far from perfect.

When the characters failed, their friends were always there to help pick them back up though. The lesson became that when you fail, you can always get back up. Don’t linger on the failure, but instead revel in your friends that help you through it. Or in other words, focus on the positives of the experience, and move on from the failure itself. Looking at the finale that way allows me to criticize it, while shifting my focus towards all that got us there in the first place. Moreover, I can hate the ending, but cherish the series. I’m not saying the creators made an ending that many fans would hate specifically so we could experience this lesson firsthand. But what I am saying though is that we should have learned that lesson throughout the show. Nothing is perfect after all, not even How I Met Your Mother.

The last main point has more to do with Ted’s moving on to Robin many years after the mother died. For me, one of the show’s most poignant scenes was in the 200th episode, a moment when everything seemed to stop. If you can’t guess, it’s the scene when the mother steps outside to talk to Max – her first true love, who had died long ago –  up in heaven. She asks him if she is allowed to move on. And he says yes. It is in this scene that we are supposed to impose Ted. Ted’s story to his kids is the equivalent of the mother’s speech on the porch. They are both examples of incredible love – there is no doubt the mother and Ted love their deceased lovers as much as they possibly can. But yet, the message remains that at some point, you must move on. If there’s anyone I trust to be morally correct, it’s the mother, for we have no evidence to suggest she’s not the perfect character. So if she can move on, so can Ted.

After that scene, it’s a wonder none of us predicted the final outcome of the show right then, for it had just been shown to us as plain as day. There would come a moment when it was time to move on. It will be the toughest thing you’ll ever have to do, but at the end of the day, somebody who truly loves you will always place your happiness above all else. The mother got to be with Ted after moving on, so clearly she made the right choice. But yet we know she doesn’t love Max any less, and I don’t think she should. So when Ted has the chance to move on, he knows deep down that she’d want him to be happy – even if that’s with Robin. Ted won’t love the mother any less for it though. I don’t want to get into the ethics of whether Ted should be friends with someone he clearly has romantic feelings for when he’s happily married, but ultimately, we all know he’d be happy with Robin. And after all that, Ted deserves to be happy.

I guess I have to look at the show’s main message in those three parts now when I think about it. There is the main message that the experiences you have are more important than the end result. Then there is a larger point about how failure is okay. And finally, there is the tertiary message that moving on is an important part of life. In the end, if you’ve lived with people you love, sharing moments you can treasure forever, why does it matter if you fail at something? Get back up and look at all the positives. That’s the approach those of us who disliked the finale should all take to the ending. Live with the failure of Ted and Robin being the end game of the show, and instead focus on everything else that we loved.

There’s no question that we’d all like to find that person with the yellow umbrella, but whether she’s with you right now or not, we must love the people we’re with currently, cherishing every second we get with our best friends. For at some point, there will come a time when somebody must move on. But as long as we have the memories, the best of times will always exist in some form. But then we make new memories, not letting ourselves live entirely in our pasts, as the mother warned an aging Ted not to do. For there are multiple stories to tell in life. Live each one and love each one with all of your heart. And at the end of it all, you’ll be happy. That’s what How I Met Your Mother has taught me.

I will never love the ending in itself, but I can’t disagree with the messages I have come to terms with. How I Met Your Mother may be over, but its characters and messages will always be with me. And now, I am finally at peace with the show. The girl with the yellow umbrella is out there somewhere, but for now, I’ll love every second I get with my true best friends. And that will be enough. Thank you, How I Met Your Mother, for giving me reason to think, reason to do and reason to love. Marshall, Lily, Ted, Barney, Robin and Tracy McConnell will always stay with me.