I won’t drag this out, though you don’t yet know what I mean by thisand the point of this entire missive is, if I wanted to, I could drag it out forever. This this, in this context, is my status and livelihood as a professional sports reporter, or a professional reporter in any sense, and it could be dragged out forever given the proper circumstances. The industry is such that this is increasingly difficult, but folks still do it. The avenue to such a life is potholed with rusted-out rebar all the way down, but with a keen enough eye and enough luck that a sinkhole won’t randomly swallow you up, you can make it.

Earlier this week, I chose to no longer drag this out. I accepted a job working for a foundation that enriches lives through singing. If you know me well, you know exactly where I’m going to work; if you don’t, you don’t necessarily need to know the specifics. If you’ve found this, it’s likely because you follow me on Twitter as a professional journalist who covers University of Kentucky sports, and I will no longer do that (though I will still contribute to SB Nation and tweet occasional things about basketball, so please don’t unfollow me as to keep my ego properly half-inflated). I am moving to Nashville, which, that’s pretty cool. But also, boo, because Lexington is one of my favorite places on Earth and so many of the people I love are there. No place means a damn thing in a vacuum, and I wouldn’t care for a second about picking up and moving 200 miles away if it weren’t for the people who made and make Lexington what it is.

I’m publishing this not in the interest of self-anything, but because I want others miring in journalism to know: No matter how it feels sometimes, you can get out if you so choose. I’ve felt stuck, frankly, for years accepting that the skills I learned as a journalist would shoehorn me into doing this forever, if for no other reason than, Who else is going to take me? I know others in the same line of work who feel the same. Journalism builds a lot of skills, but when all you have to show for it are a handful of clips and a meaningless number of Twitter followers, it’s difficult to convince people outside of newsrooms you can do other things.

If you found this post, it’s because you have some interest either in me personally or as a journalist, and either way, I’ve already written enough on this topic. Know that I’ve been so grateful to have written whatever it is I’ve written over the past seven years, and I’ll still do a bit of that, so that’s fine. But also know I’ve never been more invigorated than I am now to head a little bit south and a little bit west to be a part of something more meaningful than I’m able to rightly communicate.

So thanks for everything, UK fans.

As a treat for clicking on this post and reading another 500 words I’ve written, here’s a music video I made in college with my friend Hunter, the funniest person you or I will ever meet. We heard the song on VH1’s Top 100 One-Hit Wonders and thought it’d be funny to make a music video for it, so we did. I remain immensely proud of it.

This video almost went public in UK media circles four or five years ago with the intent to embarrass me. Instead, a media personality told me about having the video but instead hanging on to it as a way of blackmailing me against ever embarrassing him/her. The truth is, I am more proud of it than almost every single word I wrote about UK sports, and years and years from now I will eagerly show it to my grandchildren a thousand times before any of the thousands of articles I wrote about the Wildcats. I’m sorry I didn’t post it for a general audience sooner, but after having told that story, I hope you understand why. It wasn’t worth the trouble for an audience constantly and rightfully looking for holes in my credibility.

Thanks for following me over the years, everybody. Stay tuned if you like, or not. I hardly ever tweeted about UK stuff anyway.

The Lexington Center Corp., which owns Rupp Arena, announced Wednesday it has hired an architectural firm and a construction team to renovate Rupp Arena. Among tidbits emanating from the announcement was one as significant to Kentuckians and Lexingtonians as any you could conjure: Naming rights for the iconic arena are up for bids. Kentucky fans sure do like that their arena is named after a coach and not a corporation, and while it’s been reported the new naming rights will be for (Business) Rupp Arena instead of simply (Business) Arena, it’s still a sensitive subject among a fan base always eager to defend its honor whether or not it’s being legitimately challenged.

The truth behind these naming rights, sad as it may be for corporations seeking such an opportunity, is: Folks aren’t going to care about your business’s name. They’re still going to call it Rupp Arena no matter what you do. If you want to bolster exposure for your business by winning naming rights for Rupp Arena, you must follow these two criteria:

  1. Make the entire arena an experience in your product instead of just plugging a name and a logo on the front, and
  2. Be the coal industry.

Coal has the only shot at this, because, as you probably know, it keeps the lights on, as we Kentuckians are reminded on television (powered by coal), radio (powered by coal), license plates (pressed in plants powered by coal, probably) for which folks pay $40/year (I bet their office where they earn a week’s wage is powered by coal) and bumper stickers (stuck on with coal-powered adhesives), among other media. So, Coal Industry, I may not personally empathize with your cause, but as someone who likes things like “money” and “keeping the lights on” in my own way, I am not above providing you with the answers you didn’t know you needed to come up with the perfect pitch to strike a chord and reach a perfect cadence with the Lexington Center Corporation on naming rights and so much more.

THE NAME

BEING IMMERSED IN A WORLD OF COAL

Fans don’t want to go to an arena to walk through a neutral, pleasing, naturally lit concourse out to a seat to watch a basketball game then leave. Fans want an immersive experience. Why build an arena for fans when you could build a living museum for fans that shows where everything comes from?

THE CONCOURSE

The concourse will be dark. There will be no natural lighting. The walls will all be exposed stone, and the lighting will come from crudely drawn temporary lights. The room is hot and damp. The idea is: You’re in a coal mine. You think you take coal for granted? PROVE IT BY NOT BEING JARRED WALKING THROUGH A F—ING COAL MINE TO GO TO A DAMN BASKETBALL GAME, YOU SPOILED BIG-CITY YUPPIES. Each ticket-taker is wearing one of those hard hats with a light on it (mine term), and you have to chip through the turnstile with one of those pointy axes (mine term also) to earn admission into the arena.

CONCOURSE GAMES

Every arena should have some fun to-dos so that you aren’t going to a basketball game just to watch basketball. You want pop-a-shot? You want a little, tiny basketball goal so your kids can shoot some hoops? You want to get black shit all over your clothes and under your fingernails and ruin that $80 T-shirt you just bought from the vendor who couldn’t stop coughing? How about we quell all of those problems with one solution?

It’s called Coalball, and it’s a perfect game for children and adults alike. You set up a standard-issue 10-foot basketball goal on one end, and a six-foot goal for the wee ones. The rules are exactly like basketball, except you’re locked in on the court at the beginning of each game until it ends, and you play with lumps of coal instead of basketballs. One problem is presented, admittedly: When you dribble a brittle piece of coal, it has no recoil and indeed smashes into the ground and clouds the sky with coal dust. On one hand, dust inhalation is a real thing. But on the other hand, everybody who has bought a ticket agreed to a waiver, knowingly or—more likely—otherwise, and the coal dust also adds to the coal-miney atmosphere. The first team to 500 points wins. The game can also end if you sign a blood oath to vote for straight coal-supporting tickets, as determined by the Friends of Coal and the Friends of Coal alone, in state elections for the rest of your life.

CONCESSIONS

Whose idea was it to cook nice, delicious cookout food on charcoal grills? Doesn’t a nice hot dog or beer brat sound tasty, or perhaps a cheeseburger with some nice grilled veggies and a cold lemonade sound great? Whose idea was that, again? KILL THEM DEAD. At Joe Craft Coal “Coal Keeps the Lights On!” Friends of Coal Wildcat Coal Rupp Arena, Powered by Coal, Which Keeps the Lights On If You Forgot, you’re eating like miners. You have three options:

  1. Bring your own lunch, provided it can fit in a small paper bag and can sit in extreme temperature conditions for at least six (6) hours.
  2. Don’t eat.
  3. We can sell you lumps of coal to eat, and we will watch you eat them.

Don’t want to eat coal? Tough luck, you dingus. You should know what you’re getting into when you power up that router, modem and computer to log on to the Internet and buy tickets to a basketball game here in the Commonwealth. This is the coal industry getting its reparations for all the coal you’ve burned surfing Facebook. Also, there’s a kiosk where you can sign entire paychecks away to Friends of Coal, at which point you’ll be sent in a pneumatic tube to the top floor of the Big Blue Building and hand-fed a five-star, four-course meal while Mitch McConnell laughs and reads a full list of all the people you’re better than.

THE GAME

Who cares? #COAL

PEP BAND

The University of Kentucky Pep Band’s repertoire has been limited to playing only its new fight song, “Sixteen Tons,” and any variation thereof.

AFTER THE GAME

Work—I mean, participate—in a post-game mine simulator festively called, “Koch-Craft-Koch Mine No. 60.” After each game, fun-loving game-goers are sent on an R.J. Corman train from the Cox St. parking lot 110 miles east to a real-life mine—er, a real-life mine simulator—to log a 12-hour “shift” in a “mine.” It all seems very real and is intended to make coal converts out of the most cynical city saps who try to ignore this industry’s pristine past. The surgical masks are for the in-ride portraits. You know, for authenticity!

FINE PRINT

Once you enter, there is no reentry, nor is there early exiting. Also, one in six attendees at each game gets the black lung.

It’s difficult to forecast where Society At Large is headed in our relation to robots. We go back and forth, I think, between favoring if robots will save us or destroy us. That doesn’t mean the situation is any less looming than before, nor does it mean I am any less terrified than I have been. Robots are, and always have been, out to get me, and I can—and indeed I will—document two distinct moments in life in which Supplantation By Robot felt, and to me were, inevitable:

  1. 2005: Angry, Short High-School James was nearing completion of his high school diploma and playing in a ska band with his friends. He played the trumpet, at least for a while before he played guitar, and further discussion of this matter would best be suited for another time (never, probably) and place (in Hell, probably). In 2005, the Toyota Corporation decided to demo its advances in the world of robotics not by putting neat, helpful technology in its cars, but by building a robot that played the trumpet. That’s all it did. It was designed to play the trumpet, in order to advance the human race, because if another Louis Armstrong were never to be born, why don’t we just engineer one, and also, let’s assure our paranoid protagonist he would never be as successful playing the trumpet as a robot and would, in turn, die alone.Angry, Short High-School James dealt with the trumpet robot reasonably well in public, joking about it like he did everything else while simultaneously growing out his hair, but privately, he knew robots had finally come into his life, learned to play trumpet better than him and stolen his identity. On the 20-80 scale, he’s a 60 player and a 20 showman. Now good luck sitting in your bedroom and learning all of the trumpet parts to every Reel Big Fish song like our troubled teen did, you robot.
  2. 2009: College James, a very specific type, was in the midst of his first season writing about men’s basketball at the college newspaper. He wrote strictly by the book of Terrible Newspaper Tropes, but oh, did he try, and further discussion of this matter—including inspection of writing clips from the era at hand—would be best suited for another time (never, definitely) and place (in Hell, certainly). One day in 2009, the buzz around the newsroom and the journalism school at his hallowed university was about sports-writing robots. A group of students at Northwestern University’s Intelligent Information Laboratory piloted a program in which a robot called Stats Monkey could use basic stats from any given box score and more advanced stats like WPA and Game Score to write a standard-issue gamer like one traditionally disseminated by humans via wire services like the Associated Press.The robot flaunted its copy-spitting skills with this, a gamer drawn from a playoff game that season. The first few grafs are pasted below.

    BOSTON — Things looked bleak for the Angels when they trailed by two runs in the ninth inning, but Los Angeles recovered thanks to a key single from Vladimir Guerrero to pull out a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday.Guerrero drove in two Angels runners. He went 2-4 at the plate.

    “When it comes down to honoring Nick Adenhart, and what happened in April in Anaheim, yes, it probably was the biggest hit (of my career),” Guerrero said. “Because I’m dedicating that to a former teammate, a guy that passed away.”

    Guerrero has been good at the plate all season, especially in day games. During day games Guerrero has a .794 OPS. He has hit five home runs and driven in 13 runners in 26 games in day games.

    College James would start writing gamers regularly for the AP a year from this fated discovery, and he would no sooner but also no later learn that, yes, OK fine, robots could probably do it just as well. His newfound career path and personal identity as Sports Reporter was jeopardized. Robots had again come into his life, learned how to write a basic gamer better than him (at least the value was higher; no human input meant instant deadline-meeting copy) and stolen his identity.

Now in the present day, and now back in the saddle of the first-person pronoun, robots have threatened my livelihood a third time. This one seems a bit more indirect and poor-intentioned, though. I was asked yesterday if I was running a Twitter account called @pennington_jl_ (my Twitter account can be found at @pennington_jl). Good friend Ben Jones found the account doing a search, and he thought it odd that there would exist a Twitter feed with my picture, a bio I used to use and my username with an extra underscore added to the end, and that the tweets had absolutely nothing to do with me. And he was right, because it is quite strange. My best guess is that some kind of computer program is running this account, that my Twitter likeness was chosen at random and the tweets are randomly generated somehow, perhaps lifted verbatim from somebody else’s account. It does not appear to be a parody of me that an actual person curates. One giveaway is that on days with multiple tweets, they all come through at the same time. Another giveaway is that this is something so weird, not even somebody on the Internet would do this for what appears to be no reason at all.

Here’s the problem: The @pennington_jl_ narrative is hilarious. It makes me laugh way more than anything I could write. The subject at hand appears to be an uncool high schooler, one who participates in gymnastics to an uncertain degree of proficiency, one who hates school as much as school appears to hate him. June 13 was a particularly tough day for our fake friend:

Oddly, I can’t guarantee I never said either or perhaps even both of those sentences in high school.

@pennington_jl_ follows almost 50 people, none of whom I follow (the only overlap to my world as a sports person is ESPN college hoops analyst Jay Williams, who my anonymous alter-ego follows but I do not). Those he follows seem to have nothing in common with each other. Before I tweeted about his existence yesterday, @pennington_jl_ had 22 followers, most or all of which seem to be spam bots. Since I tweeted about it, he has picked up 11 followers, nine of whom are friends who want to see, just as I do, what he says from here on out. One seems to be in the same boat as his first 22: completely random. But the last is a person I know in real life but does not follow my actual account. It is unclear how this happened or if it will ever be rectified, or if this person will go through life thinking I’m living a double life as a 17-year-old nerdy gymnast, but I’m going to wait it out to see if the real-life person at hand ever notices who, or more likely what, he/she is following instead of, you know, me.

Twitter has been a good source of exposure for me. Networking via Twitter has accounted for a really good portion of the writing work I’ve gotten over the past few years, and now on its virtual pages exists a facsimile of my likeness who somehow has found a way to tweet even more noise and folderol than I do.

Robots have again come into my life, learned how to tweet better than me and stolen my identity. I will continue to follow @pennington_jl_, and I’ll retweet whatever it says, because whatever the source(s) of its tweets, it’s a better source, apparently, than my own fingers (via my own brain).

Now I have until 2017 to subside in this world until robots again try to ruin my life in it. By then I’ll likely have forgotten about it, and a robot will sneak up on me one day and do its worst to replace me in whatever endeavor in which I’m found at that point. In the meantime, I’ll continue to try to take power away from the robots, mocking them by pronouncing it “ROW-buts” (the vowel in “buts” is a schwa instead of a short U) and doing a simplified robot dance when appropriate as a sign of weakness, that I have a full range of motion and Sweet Dance Moves at my disposal, while a robot can only move his segmented arms back and forth while twisting his torso 30 degrees, because, You stupid robot. But deep down—in the deepest part of me, where I dock my most secret and deepest, darkest truths only to be confronted when they confront me—I know the countdown has already begun, with a storyboard already in the works.

The robots know what I’m going to be doing in 2017 before I do, choreographing each step and each misstep with Fossean precision, pointing me directly into their trap. By then, the English language will be dead, and the 400,000 of us still alive on the moon colony will be speaking Esperanto, but the glasses-wearer offering English lessons to those willing to part with a nominal fee of 700 bones—actual human bones, the currency of the moon colony, 700 of which equate about $380,000 in current American dollars—will not be me. Notice the metallic glint in his eye and the subtle glow under his scalp. I’ll only get that when I’ve eaten really poorly for a few weeks on end, and on the moon colony, I run the farmer’s market.

I wrote this—more accurately, I was moved to write this—when Roger Ebert died. In the two months since, I’ve been latently living in fear that the Internet At-Large wasn’t able to wrap its head around my tribute, written in the over-the-top style of paragraphs more than 30 words without huge pictures and GIFs in between. So that I may sleep at night, and so that I may excise a considerable weight from my pale and bony shoulders—and so that I may look in the mirror each morn without wondering, at least for a moment, whose eyes those are leering back at the husk with a half-beard—I will adapt the 1,500-word essay to a format widely considered by Internet standards, as if any other exist or matter, to be more palatable.

***

This is James. He writes sometimes. One time, he bought an expensive notebook that looks like this.

IMG_6038
IMG_6032
IMG_6033

For the longest time, James didn’t know what to write in the notebook! What a stupid f—ing idiot. LOL

Then one day, James decided to write about movies in the notebook, because one of his favorite writers was the Two Thumbs Up guy, Roger Ebert.

ebert

Image source linked.

So now whenever James sees a movie he likes, he gets out the notebook and writes about the movie in it, because reasons.

IMG_6041

Can you believe that? I’m telling you, this wacky fella sure is wacky. What’s he gonna do next? Maybe he’ll do something extra wacky, like the time he wrote a lot about one of his very favorite movies.

 

James does all of that because of Roger Ebert (remember, that’s the Two Thumbs Up guy).

Image source linked.

Image source linked.

#RIP

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“Its weightless sophomoric jaunts play more like Walter Carlos and Pete Seeger made an album together in 1971, a useless bric-a-brac of tones analog and digital rolling around on an unlevel IKEA bookshelf—the BORGSJÖ model, in brown, article number 599.084.67—than the heavy-but-airy seminal sounds from the pop-metal-shoegaze-penisgaze-alt-classical-organic-synth-metal fusion of the trio’s tour de force debut album, ‘The Only Thing I Need You To Do Is Tell Me You Love Me Then Shut The Hell Up Before I Kill You, But I Do Love You, But Also, I’m Probably Going To Kill You Or Myself.’ Don’t let that discourage you from giving it a try; AIDS Nurse have made a good album before, and maybe you’ll like this one, too.

“But if frontman/multi-instrumentalist Herbert Stink Hoover doesn’t suck you in within the first 30 seconds of the lead track, ‘My Heart Was Stung By Bees, Literally,’ its everpresent glistening busyness somehow still vacant and idle, you might want to wait 18 more years for the follow-up. Also, I know way more about music than you do, you stupid dummy.”

In a blog post yesterday from the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium, I made mention of all of the things here covered in FieldTurf. One of those things I listed was a FieldTurf sales representative who lives in the dugout urinal closet. Here at jlpennington.wordpress.com, we strive to provide you with only the highest-quality and most trustworthy journalism we can possibly provide, so with that I must sheepishly apologize and offer the following correction:

There is a FieldTurf sales representative who occasionally sleeps standing up in the home dugout’s urinal closet (“during the season, five or six nights a week,” he told me this morning). That much is true. However, that isn’t his entire story.

Born Dylan Phillip Foxworth, he prefers “FieldTurf Phil.” The first thing you notice are his teeth. They’re often exposed, because he’s always smiling, and why wouldn’t he? He may not be living everyone’s dream, but he’s living his. A boy who grew up sleeping on a 4’x6′ sheet of AstroTurf—”it’s the only artificial grass surface I could get my hands on growing up in the ’80s,” he said, and even then, he had to break in to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium during a game to cut out his prized swatch—now made enough money to support his family for generations, hawking a miracle surface that can be used to simulate both grass and dirt without so much as bothering the local community, questioning the integrity of an intrinsically old-fashioned game, or summoning the bilious-but-harmless insane vitriol of a local sports journalist once described in letters to the editor and comment sections as “average-heighted” and “white.” You also notice FieldTurf Phil’s teeth because they have unseemly tiny rubber chunks wedged in between them, and one of his front teeth is actually a false tooth that appears to be made of yellow-white FieldTurf.

FieldTurf Phil found my blog post via my Twitter account while doing what he calls a routine Twitter search for the phrase, “FieldTurf FieldTurf FeildTurf FeildTurf FeidlTurf FeidlTruf FeidlTruf FieldTurf FieldTurf FeildTurf FeildTurf FeidlTurf FeidlTruf FeidlTruf.” That’s the second thing you know about FieldTurf Phil: He knows what he wants, and mostly, that has to do with FieldTurf.

Below is an excerpt from my conversation with FieldTurf Phil.

JAMES PENNINGTON: How did you land the University of Louisville account?

FIELDTURF PHIL: Great question. Around 2002 or so, we got a call in our office from somebody who would only identify himself as “Tom.” (This later proved to be University of Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich.) He asked to speak directly to our VP of sales, whose name I never actually knew as anything other than “Tim.” Tom and Tim talked, and Tom said he had an ambitious project in mind. Tim said that Tom said, ‘I want to paint the town green and brown.’ When I talked to Tom, he said that’s not exactly how he phrased it, but the point remained the same. Tim gave me the account because he thought I was the only one who could imagine a project so deep. Tom’s a good guy for giving us this opportunity.

JP: You’d done installations before on baseball fields before, right?

FP: Yeah.

JP: But had you ever done an infield made of FieldTurf?

FP: Great question. No, I had not done that. It’s something I always wanted to do, but nobody ever approached it with us. We had approached some of our more dedicated accounts about the possibility, but it’s a hard sell. It’s something you have to want to do.

JP: Why did Louisville want to do it?

FP: Great question. I think they wanted an infield that acted more like grass, you know? They didn’t like batters ruining the boxes by digging in, you know? Louisville also wanted a leg up in recruiting and in-game strategy. Over the years, if you watch the Cardinals—and I do, since I’m always there—they’ve perfected the art of using a base to help push off and slide almost the entire 90 feet into the next base. Plays at the plate are exciting. Though I will say, we did have a scary injury once when a player—I think it was Jarred Clarkson—tried to dive back into first on a pick-off attempt and he slid all the way into the netting in front of the dugout. That could’ve been bad.

JP: That could have been very bad.

FP: Yeah, and we got lucky that the netting was made of FieldTurf, so he was fine. He did have to be treated for acute tiny-rubber-chunk inhalation, but that’s part of the game at this level.

JP: Where are you based when you aren’t in the dugout urinal closet?

FP: Great question. I live in an earth-sheltered house—a FieldTurf-sheltered house—in Delaware with my wife and son who, to protect his identity, I’ll call Steve.* Everything in our house is covered in FieldTurf. All of our floors, counters, walls, ceilings, even some of our appliances. The ceilings shed, again, tiny rubber chunks, but that just makes the floors extra tiny-rubber-chunky!!! [EDITOR’S NOTE: At this point, FieldTurf Phil started laughing uncontrollably. At one point, he stopped completely, looked me in the eye, and continued to laugh hysterically. Four minutes later, the interview continued.]

JP: Do players ever ask you or anyone at the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium why the infield had to be FieldTurf? I think people understand that the cost of maintenance is so much lower, and in a place like Louisville where they’re playing baseball in February, it makes sense to have an alternative to natural grass so that the field is playable all year.

FP: [shudders]

JP: But what about the infield? Dirt isn’t a seasonal thing. It’s easy to maintain and keep consistent throughout the field of play. It screws with players’ habits, goes against an infielder’s instinct and a baserunner’s timing. It requires different cleats and it certainly can’t be cheaper than normal dirt. It’s a novelty that keeps local high schools and traveling teams from playing tournaments at the park, or at least from playing well. When faced with that question, how do you respond?

FP: Well, James, that’s a great question. I think … um, well. Oh, gosh. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to stammer. It’s just, I’m real attached to FieldTurf. I love things that look and act like other things but aren’t those things. See? This isn’t a real tuxedo top (this whole time, he’s been wearing a tuxedo T-shirt with real tuxedo pants and patent-leather shoes). When I was growing up, I … [his voice cracks and he starts to cry] I HAD A VISION. WHAT IF YOU COULD MAKE GRASS THAT’S REALISTIC ENOUGH BUT ALSO FAKE AND HAS UNPLEASANT CHUNKS OF SOME KIND OF SYNTHETIC SUBSTANCE THAT FLY UP AND GET IN YOUR EYES AND BETWEEN YOUR TEETH EVERY TIME YOU STEP YOUR FOOT DOWN? I’VE WORKED MY WHOLE LIFE TO DO SOMETHING GOOD FOR PEOPLE. I DIDN’T GO INTO PUBLIC SERVICE OR BECOME A FIREFIGHTER OR BATHE ANY HOMELESS PEOPLE, AT LEAST NOT JUST FOR THE SAKE OF DOING SOMETHING NICE. MY TIME ON THIS EARTH, WITH ITS IRRITATING NATURAL THINGS LIKE GRASS AND ROCKS AND DIRT, WILL NOT BE FOR NAUGHT. JAMES! THIS IS BASEBALL AND I LOVE BASEBALL AND I LOVE FIELDTURF AND FIELDTURRFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

(At that point, FieldTurf Phil vaporized and turned into a puddle of tiny rubber chunks. A replacement FieldTurf sales rep was at the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson within 20 minutes.)

*His real name is Steven. He’s 16 and hates FieldTurf. At age 6, he once grew a patch of Bermuda grass in a greenhouse in his bedroom. FieldTurf Phil didn’t talk to his son, while living in the same house, for nine years.

Here at the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium, the playing surface for the No. 9 Cardinals baseball team is a pristine artificial grass called FieldTurf. The cost of maintenance is much lower, and the field stays consistent throughout. But here at the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium, we’ve taken it one step further and installed a brown-painted FieldTurf on the infield as well, because who hasn’t played baseball and said, “I like playing the infield or running the bases, but I wish the infield were grass instead!” Your letters to Tom Jurich worked, University of Louisville fans. In fact, the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium only has real dirt on the pitcher’s mound and on the bullpen mounds. Why deal with real dirt on a baseball field when you could just play on the equivalent of a farm with a raised circle of real-life dirt 18 feet in diameter?

Here at the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium, the warning track is also brown-painted FieldTurf, and the fair/foul lines and batter’s box lines are all white paint on the FieldTurf instead of chalk. Even the home plates in each bullpen are painted on the FieldTurf instead of using actual home plates, which are expensive and also the No. 2 cause of death during baseball games (AIDS).

But the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium has taken it even several more steps further still into the FieldTurf frontier. After a top-to-bottom inspection of the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium from my seat in the press box, I’ve compiled a list of all of the other surfaces in the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium that were sowed with synthetic sod.

  • Foul poles
  • Chair-back seats in sections 101-104 and 213, the “FieldTurf Krazy Korner”
  • Second base
  • Toilets
  • Hot dogs
  • The stray dog that lives at the stadium, Turfy
  • Flagpoles beyond the outfield wall
  • Flags for United States of America, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Independent People’s Republic of FieldTurf
  • My computer, somehow
  • The FieldTurf sales representative that lives in the dugout urinal closet
  • The red light in front of the stadium at the intersection of Central Avenue and Third Street
  • The organ that a live organist plays during games
  • The organist
  • The bag of sunflower seeds that has been under the bench in the dugout since 2006
  • You