timberland brent cross A Farewell to 2017
As we look forward to what 2018 has in store, it’s only right that we pause to pay tribute to those no longer making this journey with us. Let’s take a moment and bid a fond farewell to some of the legends we lost in 2017, along with those in lacrosse who best embodied their spirit.
Before Affleck, Bale, Clooney, Kilmer and Keaton, there was Adam West. For about 30 years, West, who played the title character in the 1960’s Batman television show, was the only three dimensional Batman we knew. West’s star dimmed a bit once the show was cancelled in 1968, and he stayed busy making TV guest appearances or signing autographs at comic conventions until 2000, when he began playing himself on Family Guy.
According to the Fox sitcom, not only had West apparently moved to (and become mayor of) a fictional animated town in Rhode Island, he was also quite clearly out of his mind, spending his time in office doing things like commissioning a gold statue of Dig ‘Em the Frog, or chasing down and killing the Noid with his bare hands. While he wasn’t one of the show’s most heavily featured characters, West’s screen time to joke ratio was tremendously efficient, and he played a hyper fictionalized version of himself years before guys like Neil Patrick Harris, Matt Leblanc and pretty much everyone who did a guest spot on Entourage started using the move to varied success. It’s one thing to be a star, but thanks to Family Guy, West became a star in two different acts.
Which, of course, brings us to Kyle Harrison. Some of you may know Harrison as the Tewaaraton winning Johns Hopkins midfielder, or the guy from the LXM Pro Tour that visited your town a few years back. If neither of those ring a bell, you may know him from a random clinic he held, or from one of his social media accounts.
Either way, he’d made a name for himself long before the Ohio Machine even existed, but as leader and co captain of the Knights of Fortress Obetz, Harrison launched a second act of his own, and in 2017, won his first MLL championship.
Of course, hoisting the Steinfeld Cup wasn’t easy: Harrison underwent ankle surgery in April (the operation was reportedly to address the effects of a lingering injury, but an alternate theory suggests he once made a wish that his split dodge could break everyone’s ankles and this was the Monkey’s Paw plot twist at the end). After spending the first half of the season on the sideline, Harrison returned in early June, and the Machine, finally at full strength, went 5 2 with him in the lineup. In the championship game, Harrison dished out a hockey assist for Marcus Holman and later buried a Peter Baum skip pass from just inside the arc much like Mayor West, the great ones recognize that when there’s a strong cast around you, it’s all about picking your spots and making the most of your opportunities.
Tom Petty was born and raised in Gainesville, Fla., but it’s been said that he sounded like he could’ve been from anywhere, and as a result, everyone claimed him as their own. In hindsight, it certainly helped that his catalogue covered more territory than the Louisiana Purchase: His song “Rebels” (off the album Southern Accents) contains the line “I was born a rebel down in Dixie,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” was originally titled “Indiana Girl” and “Free Fallin'” is undeniably Californian in both context and spirit.
Thanks in part to their location and talent pool, the Florida Launch have conducted their business with a similar vibe. Unlike the homes of the New York Lizards or Denver Outlaws, for example, Boca Raton hasn’t been as prevalent an occupational destination, and Florida’s colleges are yet to become MLL pipelines. Accordingly, while it may call Florida home, the team really has to be from nowhere in particular it’s the only way it works.
Neither Petty nor the Launch saw immediate success in their respective fields; their major leaps came at the hands of the second guy they put in charge. Petty’s second producer, Jimmy Iovine, previously found success as a studio engineer for the likes of John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen. Florida’s second coach, Tom Mariano, found his as an MLL assistant coach, helping the Ohio Machine to a franchise record nine wins in 2015, then helping the Chesapeake Bayhawks grab a share of first place the following year. When Iovine became a producer and Mariano a head coach, their respective groups were propelled to unprecedented success: for Petty, it was 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes, which stayed at No. 2 on the Billboard charts for seven straight weeks. For the Launch, it was the 2017 season in which the team made the playoffs for the first time and won a franchise record eight games (as many as their previous two seasons combined), including their final four at home.
Gary the Goat
Teaming with owner Jimbo Bazoobi (who purchased him for a case of beer in 2012), Gary the Goat was not only the co star in a popular series of profanity laced YouTube comedy shorts, but the victorious defendant in a landmark 2013 court case as well. In case you missed the latter,
Bazoobi was fined $440 because Gary was caught eating the flowers outside Sydney, Australia’s, Museum of Contemporary Art, but the case was dismissed because there was no evidence that Gary went to the museum specifically to eat the flowers (one of the best parts about this whole thing is that the Sydney Morning Herald featured a paragraph that read, “Lawyer for the goat, Paul McGirr, told the court that police had issued the wrong infringement notice, because it related to a person and not a goat”). 2017 will be remembered as the year that Grant officially hung it up for good, announcing his MLL retirement in April, then doing the same in the NLL three months later. Personifying offensive dominance both indoors and out, Grant is a two time MVP in both the MLL and NLL the only person with multiple MVP awards in both leagues.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nobody rendered defensemen irrelevant quite like John Grant, Jr. Any challenge thrown in his way, he had a counter at his disposal. Take away his left side? No problem. He steps to the right and goes around the world over his left shoulder. Take away the top half of his body? No problem. He goes downhill one handed and releases the shot behind his ankle. Oh, and those aren’t hypothetical scenarios, those are real things he recently did in front of a ton of people during actual games that mattered. You can get your 10,000 hours of around the world shooting under your belt, but unless you can combine the skill with the ability to diagnose the time and place to use it, meanwhile simultaneously saying to yourself, without any hesitation, “Yeah, this seems like a reasonable thing to do,” it might stay in your holster until an alumni game or backyard scrimmage. Every filmmaker gets to put his or her own interpretation on what exactly a zombie can and can’t do, but regardless of medium, there seems to be one persistent zombie rule: If you’re not completely taking it out of commission, every attack it sustains is just a minor setback. You can’t just knock a zombie down and expect it to give up; you’re just as well off taking its watch or making fun of its haircut or something. The zombie is a cold, merciless killing machine. It’s slow but steady, and it’s out for blood, just like that racing tortoise from Aesop’s fable.
Speaking of tortoises (eh, close enough), the 2017 Maryland Terrapins peeled themselves off of the canvas, convinced themselves that the recent past was a minor setback and secured the NCAA championship, their first since 1975. After championship losses in 2015 and 2016, wouldn’t you have thought some of those players would be too emotionally drained to keep charging? Wouldn’t you think there were days where head coach John Tillman just wanted to put a movie on like the substitute who gets stuck with Spanish class for a period? Wouldn’t you think there was only so much pain these Terps could endure? Nope, they just kept going. Back in March, Maryland suffered back to back one goal losses to Notre Dame and Villanova, respectively. They responded by winning 12 of their final 13 games. While Tyree of “The Mad Real World” and Buc Nasty from “The Playa Hater’s Ball” were Murphy characters who held their own in the disrespect department, Murphy’s greatest moments took place in his legendary “‘s True Hollywood Stories” sketches. The first installment featured musician/habitual line stepper Rick James, whose relationship with Murphy seemed to largely consist of:
1) Doing something disrespectful
2) Being physically assaulted, and
3) Repeating the process over and over again.
It wouldn’t be surprising to hear that Will Manny felt a “Rick James slap in the face” level of disrespect when he was sent to the New York Lizards right before the June 27 trade deadline. Despite being Boston’s captain and leading scorer at the time, Manny was dealt, along with Joe LoCascio, for two players who ended up dressing for as many Cannons games as you did, if not fewer.
Less than one month after the trade, the Cannons rolled up to Shuart stadium, and like Rick James stomping his muddy boots on the Murphy family couch, attempted to disrespect the Lizards by stealing a win in their own home. Manny took a page out of Murphy’s book and pummeled his antagonists into submission, scoring a game high four goals (including three in the first quarter alone) and leading the Lizards to a 16 14 victory. The Cannons are yet to win without him.
Tilikum the Killer Whale
If you’ve never seen the 2013 documentary Blackfish, you should check it out long story short, it basically teaches you a bunch of things that you may not have thought about but seem exceedingly obvious in hindsight, like how there’s dozens of reasons you shouldn’t keep a killer whale cooped up in a tiny tank, and if you choose to do so, it’s probably going to make him really mad. Tilikum was the main subject of the film, and when it was all said and done, he’d killed three people (which, despite the whole “killer” thing, is actually very unusual), becoming the most talked about killer whale since Willy jumped over that kid back in the day.
Maybe Tilikum was a product of his environment (according to the documentary, there’s no record of a human ever being killed by wild orcas only by ones in captivity), maybe he was just a bit of a jerk we’ll never know, and it doesn’t really matter.
The overlying lesson here is that marine mammals ain’t nothing to mess with, which of course, brings us to the San Diego Seals, the NLL expansion franchise announced in late August. Owned by Alibaba co founder Joseph Tsai, the Seals’ arrival not only marks the NLL’s first appearance in California since the San Jose Stealth relocated after 2009, but could provide the perfect elixir for San Diegans still mourning the Chargers’ move to Los Angeles.