Sticks can be tricky
• Practicing with the Jax? Humbling
People don't understand satire these days. You try to use a little sarcasm, irony or exaggeration to make a point, and people want to take you literally.
I've known that for years, but it doesn't stop me from employing satire - often to my chagrin.
On a recent appearance on KPTV (12)'s 'Oregon Sports Final' with Matt Smith, I was asked about the National Lacrosse League's decision to shut down for the season when it couldn't reach a labor agreement with its players.
It seemed like a strange thing to me, because even the NFL and Major League Baseball decided at various times that rather than forgo an entire season, they would use replacement players. And those are leagues that have very well-known star players.
My point was, here is this lacrosse league - whose players aren't exactly household names throughout this country - and it was going to close up shop if it couldn't have its regulars.
A few days later, of course, the league and its players reached an agreement, and now our Portland LumberJax will open their season Jan. 12 in the Rose Garden.
But on the TV show that night, I had some fun with the situation.
I said something to the effect of, 'Hey - why don't they just use replacement players? Who would know? Does anyone really know the players in that league anyway? I mean, anybody can run around out there and hit each other with sticks. Matt, you and I could do that.'
The team took offense, and a challenge was issued. And there I was a few weeks later in a 20-minute scrimmage and then a one-on-one with the Jax's all-time great goalie, Dallas Eliuk.
And, after the experience, I can tell you with certainty that, indeed, anybody can run around and hit people with sticks. I was a very easy and mostly stationary target for that.
What people can't do, though, is easily catch and pass the ball with those sticks. Man, that basket at the end of the stick is too small for catching and too big for passing.
Lacrosse is a great combination of soccer (all the running), hockey (the playmaking), baseball (catching and throwing) and even basketball (the one-on-one footwork it takes to evade opposing players).
In the scrimmage, I usually was just watching other players do amazing things. They attempted to pass me the ball several times, but often I didn't snag it, and when I did, my shot attempts were weak and not on goal.
I didn't get beat up too bad - I was hit a few times by sticks on the arms and face mask, and once the ball drilled me in the back of the head. But I felt fortunate to be able to walk off the field in one piece.
They took it easy on me in what can be a very physical sport. In fact, among skilled professionals, this can be one extremely nasty sport.
One of my big mistakes was not deciding to be a goalie. As Eliuk explained, goalies are getting bigger and bigger - to the point where they nearly cover the entire goal just by standing in front of it. Now that's something I could do.
Anyway, I did get a goal on Eliuk on my second shot. After that, I had a terrible time even getting shots on net as I stupidly shot at corners rather than just aiming straight for the goalie and letting my own inaccuracy work the ball to the corners of the goal.
Eliuk is a great guy and, along with forward Ryan Powell, a terrific local spokesman for the sport. I was honored to get a chance to run around the field with them. And I sufficiently embarrassed myself enough that the Jax, I'm sure, figured they had put me in my place.
But honestly guys, I was just kidding from the start. I respect you and have been a lacrosse fan for years. Still, I'm not above making a fool of myself just for the sake of a column.
Satirically speaking, of course.