Men care about sex, sports, and sexy sports cars.

This is why the sports section contains ads for radial tires and “gentlemen’s” clubs.  It’s why sports broadcasts contain commercials for little blue pills and curve-hugging cars.  It’s why buxom women are draped over the hoods at auto shows, and, in a perfect trifecta, why prostitutes solicit men in cars outside sports stadiums.

Men have always had sexual fantasies, a private matter. 

Now men have sports fantasy teams, a public matter.  There are commissioners, late night deals, email fisticuffs, charts, furtive phone calls from strange men who don’t want to identify themselves in case the wife doesn’t know, and small grub-check payouts at the end of the season for the winners.  As a result, they’ve become even more rabid in their sports fan-dom.

One thing men do not value so highly is honesty. 

In Philadelphia this past week, the 2008 MVP of the Phillies, Cole Hamels, admitted he “can’t wait” for the season to be over.  The schedule is brutal, he’s exhausted, he’s ready for some rest and a fresh start. 

The sports nuts and deluded fantasy team owners erupted in rage.  You would have thought Cole had admitted a plot to blow up the stadium.  He is the Guy Fawkes of the city.  No doubt he’s hanging in effigy in some yobbo’s backyard right now.  A year ago, he was a god.  Men especially worshipped him because he was not only an amazing pitcher with a cool sports car, but he also had a sex-bomb wife who had been in Playboy.

But this year, Cole committed the worst crimes possible:  not pitching perfectly, and  telling the truth. 

He didn’t please the male sportcasters with their absurd facial hair by spouting such boring on-script inanities as ‘giving 110 percent’ and ‘taking it one play at a time.’   He actually said something original!  But negative.

I saw an ESPN maniac excoriating Cole, shaking his head angrily and intoning, “You don’t say that.  You don’t do that to your team.  Never.  NEVER!”  The rants go on, on radio, on blogs, in the newspapers.  Men are beside themselves, quivering with rage.

I think most women have a different take on this.   We see the complexity of Cole’s  home life.  In a bit of bad timing, Cole and his wife Heidi conceived their first child back in the early winter.  In a further bit of bad timing, she went into labor early in a post-season playoff game, and Cole rushed from the dugout to the hospital (another crime.  You don’t leave a game before it’s over.  You don’t do that to your team.  Never.  NEVER.)

(If managers want to really improve their chances for winning the World Series, they should issue executive orders that all babies are to be conceived in the spring, with a nice off-season due date.)

Oblivious as all babies are to the chaos he would cause, little Caleb was born in early October.  I would wager that Cole’s mother-in-law has been staying with the family ever since – that’s a complete month of a MIL in the house so far.  I don’t care how big or grand the penthouse or how much you love your MIL, that’s a long time. 

Do you remember those early days of having your first baby at home?  Nothing is normal.  Everything is topsy-turvy and chaotic.  A major shift in lifestyle is going on, and it takes months, if not years, for things to feel calm and under control again.

Our former ace pitcher is not getting enough sleep.  His wife just had a baby, so she’s hormonal and in a “no touch” zone.  His mother in law is around 24-7.  His team is in the World Series and the expectations of a city are on his shoulders.  Of course the poor guy just wants the baseball part of this equation to be over.  Too much sports.  Not enough sex.  The car is no consolation.

When he and Heidi look back on the Fall of 2009, what should be the golden memories of their first child’s birth will be tainted by the scorn and hatred of sports-mad Americans.  Mostly men.

Where was the outrage from men when David Letterman’s appalling sexcapades came to light?  Nowhere to be seen.  

But when Cole Hamels slips and speaks the truth?  Pitchforks and torches.

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