THE
PICKUP

The Lesser of Two Evils

Passion in sports teeters on a precipice straddling joy and sorrow. The depth of pleasure is mirrored and depends wholly on the potential for pain. The past three games of 2012 NBA Finals have been a lonely affair for me as I have no team in which to invest my mental well-being. I cannot find pleasure or pain in the victories and losses of either the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, I coast in a competitive limbo, unable to behave according to sporting superstition or gamble my pride. In other words, both teams suck and I feel nothing.

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AC Milan vs Barcelona (why you should root against Barça)

Do not be fooled by Messi's mastery, the anti-Franco history, or the UNICEF sponsorship — FC Barcelona does not deserve your support against AC Milan in this Wednesday's quarter-final Champions League match. "Blasphemy!," you'll claim, "Barça plays such beautiful football! They truly are one of the greatest teams ever. How could you say such a thing?" My child, I aim to bring you from out of the darkness and the shadow of death and brake your Barça bands asunder. I will show you the light and you will be on the path of football righteousness, rooting for David in place of the Catalan Goliath.

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NFL Bounties, Tonya Harding and Winning in America: Does the End Justify the Means?

The NFL's descent into the corrupt and violent world of US figure skating was only a matter of time. The revelation that Gregg Williams of the New Orleans Saints enacted a bounty system that awarded cash bonuses for injuring opposing players curiously parallels the Tonya Harding scandal from the mid-nineties. Harding is forever distinguished as the American figure skater whose ex-husband and bodyguard hired an assailant to break the right leg of Nancy Kerrigan, Harding's superior figure skating rival, in order to secure Harding's place on the 1994 US Olympic team.

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Shooting the Family Dog: Peyton Manning's departure from the Colts

Today a dark cloud hangs over my home state of Indiana. Peyton Manning, the man that revolutionized sports in Indiana and who made people across the country think of something other than corn when my state was mentioned, has been cut from the Indianapolis Colts. You may have heard about the Peyton situation on the news, but in case you haven't let me fill you in.

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Two Sundays ago, the greatest television show in history hit the half-millennium mark. After 23 seasons, a decade now separates the The Simpsons from their golden years, and FOX's insistence that they continue to milk a dead horse and produce a 25th season makes it more difficult for Simpsons zealots to continue to claim its superiority to South Park. The precise moment The Simpsons jumped the shark was when Homer was raped by a panda. All hope was lost for any kind of reparation after last season's decision to cameo Ke$ha's 'TiK ToK' as a couch gag.

But we continue to remember the golden years of the animated series and forgive what came later, much like we ignore the past 25+ years of Bob Dylan. As an homage to the brilliance and regrettable longevity of The Simpsons, and the The PickUp's pursuit of sportswriting domination, we present the 10 best sports moments in Simpsons history.

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Jeremy Lin, race and sensationalism in the accelerated age

I do not understand why I am rooting against Jeremy Lin.

I was pleasantly surprised by his first three wins and I reveled in his victory over the Lakers. Right after that, I had my fill of Linsanity and I expected its flow to ebb and for basketball to return to its status quo. Instead, he has been the impetus of the New York Knicks' past eight victories and the focus of an unprecedented international media barrage. Lin has resurrected a floundering Knicks team, sank a buzzer-beating winner against Toronto, outclassed Kobe on national television and is setting NBA records for points scored as a starter — all accomplished without NY's two marquee players, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. It's the first truly exciting narrative to dilute the bitter vestiges of this summer's lockout. He's also a really humble kid who seems very gracious and amiable. Plus he embodies the out-of-nowhere underdog story that swoons crowds of all kinds.

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NO GIRLS ALLOWED

But why was I so angry? Here I was, beer in tow, having sat down in the sports bar on Shattuck in Berkeley, not up to too much this evening, just watching some basketball games on their fancy television sets. Feel like sports is something I have to seek out these days, haven't had a TV in a while so I 'preciate these moments where I get to sit by myself and drink a beer and eat a burger and get lost in a good game on a high-definition TV.

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PATRIOTS vs GIANTS:
Superbowl Retribution and the Impossible Disappearing Act

Four years ago this Sunday I disappeared for a few days. I was a freshman in college and the Patriots were having a perfect season. The previous fall I had left Zion for a small liberal arts college in a Pacific Northwest city that didn't even have a professional football team. People watched college football there. Whatever. My absence occurred soon after my return from my first winter break back home, I was still running off leftover fumes from the excitement about a dynasty continuing which started when I was in middle school. What glorious stability we enjoyed as our sovereign team continued to reign supreme!

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David Foster Wallace: Tennis player Michael Joyce's professional artistry as a paradigm of certain stuff about choice, freedom, limitation, joy, grotesquerie, and human completeness

This installment of HIGHLIGHTS presents passages from, and commentary on, David Foster Wallace's "Tennis player Michael Joyce's professional artistry as a paradigm of certain stuff about choice, freedom, limitation, joy, grotesquerie, and human completeness" from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. The essay is frequently called one the best sports articles ever written and the best article written about tennis, ever.

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BOYCOTT STEVE NASH: Why abstaining from the Phoenix Suns could save the organization and deliver Nash a ring

Last night, a part of me died watching what used to be the greatest rivalry between teams in American sports in the past decade. It was like losing a part of my boyhood innocence, like realizing that theme parks and roller-coaster rides are not actually fun. The Phoenix Suns, once the greatest offensive spectacle in professional basketball, lost to the San Antonio Spurs in dismal fashion.

As any good captain would do, Steve Nash, the Suns tenured point-guard and franchise player, has decided to go down with the ship. Thirty-seven years young, he has been the conductor of Phoenix’s ‘seven seconds or less’ offensive scheme for over seven seasons. For six of those seven years, Nash quarterbacked the most efficient offense in the NBA.

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Jesus Christ vs Golden Boy Idol

My older brother copes by hollering against the world, “TIM TEBOW HATES WOMEN IN A PROFOUND WAY!” I don’t know about that, I’m sure he could convince me, but he’s also the guy who convinced me that a cereal bowl full of dog food was in fact coco-puffs and that I should keep eating even though I thought it tasted funny.

I’ve heard others speak about his particular dogmatic brand and how completely insane it is, I’ve also heard others talk about all his wonderful charity and generosity, but frankly, I could care less about all of that. Only one thing matters to me: that Tim Tebow may or may not have Jesus Christ on his side in the fourth quarter of football games.

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A Warning Against Tebow-induced Schadenfreude

When Tim Tebow fails, and he ultimately will, be wary of celebrating with atheist garrulousness.

The public is divided into two camps regarding the Denver Broncos quarterback. The first group are those who have found themselves swooned by ‘Tebowmania’ and root for his unlikely, but constant, successes. The second group consists — logically — of people who dislike Tebow with varying fervor.

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