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These Damn Giants And The Best Imaginary Team In The Canadian Football League, With Ray Ratto

Alex Dickerson and Brandon Crawford congratulate each other at home plate, presumably for being talked about on this episode of The Distraction.
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I like to think of myself as a pretty good guest, or at least as someone who was good at being a guest back when that was a less fraught thing to be. There was absolutely no reason to worry that I would show up too early or empty-handed, I am decent at finding things to talk about, and I am always, always ready to leave when that becomes the right thing to do. It’s easy, and I’ve enjoyed doing it much more than I’ve ever enjoyed hosting. I am nearly two decades past the “finding cigarette butts in the toaster” stage of party-hosting or party-attending, so that anxiety is safely out of play, but there’s an obligation that comes with having people over to your place that is safely absent when you’re the road team.

And while I suppose it is true that I am the co-host of this podcast, Drew organizes and orchestrates it so gracefully and so graciously that I am comfortable in the ways that one can only be as a guest. This is good news for me, but because Drew is recording the audiobook for The Night The Lights Went Out this week, it meant that I would now have to be the one in charge of putting out a little cheese plate, and kicking all the dust bunnies back under the couch, and making sure no one puts their extinguished cigarettes into the damn toaster. Stressful, sure, but less so given that the person coming over was Ray Ratto.

It is August, as you have no doubt noticed, and we are plodding through the part of the sports calendar that is furthest from anything of any significance. This does not mean that there was nothing to talk about, but it does mean that, after a brief note from me on the generally distressing and deranging experience of Our Broader Current Moment, Ray and I spent much of the first half of the podcast puzzling over bad baseball teams, what they are doing or theoretically may someday begin trying to do, and discussing the ways in which the sport’s good teams are all putting various signature spins on the same Rays-scented formula. Ray was kind enough to offer some local insights on the utterly puzzling, supremely dominant San Francisco Giants, who are currently at work on repeating their cut-out bin dominance in an odd-numbered year. It’s all very ominous.

The back nine of the podcast, as is the custom, was even sloppier. Ray’s recollection of star-crossed Bircher/pitcher Dave Dravecky segued into a surprisingly earnest celebration—first of Montreal’s broader thing, and then Ray’s incongruous and deeply heartfelt love for the Canadian Football League. His story about covering the Grey Cup and learning about the Atlantic Schooners, a Halifax-based CFL team that is both real and entirely theoretical, was precisely the sort of bizarre gift that every guest should bring to a function. From there, we dove into the grim MC Escherscape of California’s recall election and offered cheers for elaborate car chase sequences in films and jeers for scenes in which superheroes jump in slow motion. It was a party by then, if a notably more low-key one than Drew might’ve hosted. He’ll be back next week, and I’ll be relieved not to have to put out the canapés.

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