Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports


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The Alternate Ending to HIMYM – How Did It Do?

Earlier today, the alternate ending to How I Met Your Mother made its way on to the Internet. I had been waiting for the arrival of this ending since it was announced a few months ago, but I’d recently forgotten about it. I watched the alternate ending immediately, not knowing what to expect. As I clicked play, I realized I didn’t know if I wanted it to be great or terrible. Were it terrible, I could just forget it ever existed. But were it great, it might have caused my doubts about the finale to resurface. I’ve spent so much time and thought putting a positive spin on the final message that I would have been a little annoyed had this alternate ending been superb. (If you want to take another look at my extended piece on coming to terms with the finale, click here)

To put it bluntly, I was quite underwhelmed by what I saw today. It all seemed too “easy” (pun intended). Was the message of the show really that everything is simple in the end? I don’t see that at all. For me, this seemed like a cop-out of sorts, a way to oversimplify eight seasons of character development and plots. It poked fun at itself really, listing a complicated way for the easy path to happen to show that the message wasn’t entirely serious. And after all that, don’t we deserve something serious?

Had this been the actually ending of the show, I think I would have been a little disappointed. There wasn’t much emotion in it. After nine seasons, there needed to be an ending that worked with the rest of the show’s themes. And for me, this just poked fun at its themes, rather than using them to make a bigger point.

I have a hard time believing that the writers seriously considered using this ending, or at least considered it in the context of the final season. Had the final season at the wedding led to this, it would have made no sense. Or the earlier parts of the finale wouldn’t have made sense. It hinted that Barney and Robin would have been “put back together,” which would be fine with me out of the context of the finale, but were it to come immediately after a divorce, would have been incredibly confusing. I don’t think the writers were ever going to use this ending.

The character of Tracy would have had to be developed in different ways over the back stretch of episodes for this ending to work for her. I would have wanted to see more flash-forwards to her and Ted parenting in the final season to see that things were indeed perfect for example. We would have needed to see a lot more of her, and a lot less of Robin in the final season. The mother was clearly built as a tragic figure, and this wasn’t made with that in mind.

My biggest issue with the clip itself was the minute of summary and flashbacks. I think it’s fair to say that most HIMYM fans have rewatched plenty of episodes and didn’t need to be reminded of what happened. The last minutes of a show have potential to change the lives of millions of viewers, and the writers wasted a large chunk of their chance with filler material – yet another reason why I don’t think they seriously considered using this.

The music was obviously different that what it is for the original ending, with the main difference being the upbeat nature of the songs in this one. The first song that played for much of it didn’t do a whole lot for me, but I really liked the song that played during the credits. Had that song played instead of “Heaven” during the credits of the original, that would have been ideal.

In addition to the final song choice, I did think this ending did a couple of things better than the original. I much preferred having it end with a Bob Saget voiceover saying “And that kids, is how I met your mother” than when an aged Josh Radnor said it in the original. Not showing Ted telling the story like the original did at the end didn’t abruptly change the course of the finale, and it felt more fluid. That voice also was the voice of the show, and the final line sounded better coming from Bob Saget. I also liked it being said while the train came by rather than after.

So basically, this alternate ending served to say, isn’t it funny to look back on something later in life and see how much we worried things weren’t going to work out? Everybody stresses over the littlest things in the moment. Anything happening right now always seems complicated. But once everything has settled, you can look back and see it all led to one place. And you’ll be happy. It’s a good message of hope, but I don’t think that’s what the show’s overall message was.

I might watch this clip again. But I’m not going to consider this as the ending of How I Met Your Mother. The one that aired on March 31, 2014 is the only ending in my book. And while it was a good ploy to make fans less angry, the writers surely know that this wasn’t their best work – there’s a reason it wasn’t chosen. I am glad I had one last chance to watch HIMYM though, because this show was pretty near perfect.

What did you think about the alternate ending? Please comment below, and talk about the last new clips we will ever see of this wonderful show.

 


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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.

 


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The Best Morning of the Year

Today is my favorite sports morning of the year. It’s the Wimbledon Men’s Final. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. It doesn’t get much better than this. I’ll admit, I’ve hardly watched any tennis at all in the last two weeks due to work and the World Cup, but I wouldn’t miss this match for anything. I’ve been a big fan of Djokovic for a very long time, and in 2011, at the U.S. Open Semifinal between these two that I was lucky enough to attend, I was part of an extreme minority at Arthur Ashe Stadium that day who were cheering for the Serbian against Federer.

But it will be hard to root against Roger today. The greatest tennis player ever deserves another title, and getting it at Wimbledon would be the crowning achievement for his incredible career. He is the epitome of class. And it’s impossible to root against the classiest individual in all of sports.

It’s amazing that these two have only met once at a Grand Slam Final – back in 2007 no less. Their rivalry has been a great one in recent years though, with the match that I saw at the U.S. Open in 2011 being a particularly testy affair. If you recall, Djokovic was down two sets in that match and clawed his way back, before going down two match points in the fifth. He swung as hard as he could on a return on one of Federer’s two match points – essentially giving up. However, the shot miraculously went in, and Djokovic pulled out the victory. That swing in the match turnaround is one of my favorite sports moments I have witnessed.

So I’m really not sure whom I’ll be rooting for this morning. I’ll just sit back and enjoy watching two of the best tennis players I’ll ever see in what could be their final Grand Slam Final against one another. The Federer era is rapidly coming to an end, so we all better appreciate every last second of it while we can. Whatever the outcome, I’ll be happy.

Going back to soccer – I wasn’t able to share any of my thoughts on the Costa Rica-Netherlands game yesterday, but overall, I thought the Dutch got a deserved victory. They dominated from the start and had a stellar display in penalty kicks, The Ticos were clearly worn out from their 120 minute match against Greece, and they weren’t able to create much going forward. Joel Campbell in particular looked exhausted, and that is a bit worrying. In an era where Arsenal play twice a week for much of the year, Campbell’s fitness will need to improve if he hopes to earn a spot in the starting lineup. At this point, I don’t see him being much more than a Capital One Cup participant this year, but he should be given the chance to prove he belongs nonetheless.

On another note, Tim Krul sure made Louis van Gaal look smart. That has to be the first tactical goalkeeping substitution I’ve seen. And Krul made two fantastic saves in penalties to justify it. However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t enjoy penalty kicks. It was heartbreaking to see Costa Rica lose in that fashion after battling so hard for three weeks. The Ticos represented CONCACAF admirably, and they have proven themselves a top-class international side. The 2014 World Cup won’t soon be forgotten in Costa Rica.

I’ll have more on the semifinals in the coming days, but they should be fascinating. It goes to show that ultimately, talent wins out in the end at the World Cup. Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Netherlands are four of the best footballing nations, and it is fitting that they should be in the semis. We’re in for a treat in the final week, even without Neymar.

Lastly, I want to thank How I Met Your Mother creator Craig Thomas for telling me on Twitter yesterday that he enjoyed my HIMYM post and thought my interpretation was good. He didn’t need to say anything in response to my tweet, but he did anyway. I’ll never forget that act of kindness. It means the world to me that he said that, and I guess that now signals that I have found closure with the show. It’ll forever be my favorite.


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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.