The Weekend That Was: Terrible Nicknames, a Call to Duty, and TV Binges


I finally started watching Game of Thrones last week, and I raced through the whole season in three days like some kind of compulsive junkie. It’s a mistake I make over and over again. I’m too impatient to actually watch television at its own pace, so I figure out which shows are good, wait until the season is over and download the whole thing.

Then I binge.

I thought Thrones was excellent, but now, less than a week later, I have only a vague idea of what actually happened. There were kings and battles and a really obnoxious kid who never died when I wanted him to die (which was always), but the specifics blend into a waking nightmare of English accents and rolling heads.

Watching a full season in such a short time span is like spending a drunken night on the town. Afterward, you’re dehydrated and confused. You think you had a good time, but you’re not sure why or how. You probably screamed something inappropriate at a stranger. You probably pumped your fist at the good parts. And in both cases, there’s a moment where you could have chosen moderation:

-If I just nurse this beer for 30 minutes instead of chugging it and ordering another, I won’t end up harassing a McDonald’s drive-thru guy by ordering bread with an aggressive French accent at 3 a.m.

-If I just turn off my computer and ask my girlfriend why she’s quietly crying instead of ignoring her and starting another episode, I’ll be able to establish a base level of intimacy and also watch my show at a reasonable pace.

Never happens. With television, binging leads to embarrassing moments when I forget huge parts of a show’s plot. A friend of mine is binging on Friday Night Lights now, and the other day he brought up a character named Santiago. I racked my brain, but I had no memory of him. I went to Wikipedia, hoping Santiago was a bit part, but it turned out to be a pretty prominent character who appeared in 11 episodes in Season 2. That means I spent about 11 hours in his company, which is more time than I’ve spent with certain relatives, and I still completely forgot him.

The whole thing makes me doubt my television credentials. I like to make fun of my girlfriend for watching competitive cooking shows (why are people who make food for a living so incredibly self-important?), but it’s getting harder to be pretentious when I can’t retain basic information. And while I sit around forgetting the names of the Dillon Panthers, she’s learning how to make great meals for a more appreciative future boyfriend.

I hope this problem never extends to other parts of my life. If I’m always blanking on important details, they’ll never let me give a eulogy, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to.

Time for the weekend recap:

  • The Detroit Tigers officially retired Sparky Anderson’s number. Anderson, who managed the Tigers from 1979-95, led the club to a World Series title in 1984. Everyone in attendance agreed that the atmosphere was more positive than an earlier ceremony in 1978, when an aggravated American public retired the nickname “Sparky.”
  • Roy Halladay pitched his fifth complete game of the season in a 3-1 win over the Oakland A’s on Sunday. “He’s pretty steady,” said Charlie Manuel, the devil-may-care Philadelphia manager known for his wicked tongue and spirited witticisms. Manuel then danced a jolly caper amid reporters, doffing his cap all the while and bestowing scandalous winks to some in attendance.
  • The Yankees beat the Rockies 6-4 on Old Timers’ Day in the Bronx. Earlier, Joe Torre wore a Yankees uniform for the first time since leaving the club in 2007. “It’s great to have Joe back,” said Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada. “I’m still not sure why he had to wear my uniform, though.” Posada went 1-for-2 with a home run while wearing an A-Rod T-shirt he borrowed from a fan.
  • The Boston Red Sox avoided a potentially embarrassing sweep by the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 4-2 win on Sunday. The game was rife with errors — four from Pittsburgh, two from Boston. Unlike the Pirate errors, though, Boston’s miscues didn’t result from distracted players trying to eat the grass.
  • The Washington Nationals named Davey Johnson manager in the aftermath of Jim Riggleman’s resignation. News of the hire reached Johnson while he was spending a pleasant afternoon sipping iced tea with his wife in their beautiful flower garden. As reality set in, Johnson set his jaw and stared into the distance. His wife clutched his arm, tears in her eyes, and said, “You don’t have to do this.” Johnson took one last lingering glance at the hydrangeas by the pond, hugged his wife, and stood. “I’ve been called,” he said, trying to keep the grief from his voice. “God help me, I’ve been called.”
  • Despite taking a 2-0 lead, the U.S. men’s national team lost the Gold Cup final to Mexico. South of the border, victory celebrations lasted well into the night. In America, enraged Tea Party groups took to the streets, shouting, “Is this what we fought for in, uh. … what was it … 1800? Or was that Cuba? With the Alamo and that ship that maybe got bombed?”
  • Florida and South Carolina reached the final of the College World Series with unblemished records. They’ll play a best-of-three series for the championship starting Monday, and fans of the winning school will celebrate by worrying if the third-string middle linebacker on their football team can heal his bruised patella in time for the upcoming season.
  • Kurt Busch won his first road-course race of the year at Sonoma, beating Jeff Gordon by four seconds. A road course differs from a traditional Nascar oval in that both right- and left-hand turns are employed, and the track is … (EXTENDED SNORING NOISE)
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Shane Ryan is a contributing writer for Grantland. His book about the young stars of the PGA Tour will be published by Random House in early 2015.

Archive @ ShaneRyanHere