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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Splat-ter of the Week: Diana Nyad

We start by acknowledging that the Y chromosomes put together an all-star lineup of splat-ters this week.  Batting leadoff was Todd Akin, the Republican Congressman from Missouri, who hit one straight into left field when he made breathtakingly ignorant remarks about rape and the female anatomy.  We wonder how he landed a seat on the Committee for Science, Space and Technology, unless “Committee” is a euphemism for “Summer school.”  If he somehow manages to get re-elected, we expect he’ll introduce a bill to make voodoo a core competency for med students.
Hot on Akin’s heels, Prince Harry splatted spectacularly by taking the Crown Jewels on tour and finding out that the “what happens in Vegas” rule has a royal caveat.
The splat-ters in the third and cleanup spots –Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens--hail from the always reliable “Drugs in Sports” sector.  This week, Armstrong abandoned his efforts to challenge the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s findings that he engaged in blood doping. Armstrong didn’t test positive for doping but a bunch of former teammates were willing to testify that he did it.  The USADA banned Armstrong from cycling and has recommended that he be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.  Questions about the fairness of USADA’s process and Armstrong’s guilt abound.  Those are unlikely to be resolved any time soon and the real story may never emerge.  But even if the former champion loses his landmark victories, we’re pretty sure a guy who beat testicular cancer will find a way to rebound from this splat.  

We’re less sure Roger Clemens can recover from his decision to return to the mound for the Atlantic League at age 50.  Apparently, striking out the Department of Justice renewed Clemens’s confidence in his fastball.  Last night he made his first appearance for the Sugarland Skeeters, whom we believe play in the same conference as the Bad News Bears.  It went well but was too short to be conclusive.  Since Hall of Fame aspirations may be driving this ill-considered rebound attempt, we trust Clemens will steer clear of performance-enhancing substances. He should be fine, as long as Geritol isn’t on MLB’s banned list. 
As remarkable as these male splats were, though, we give this week’s Golden Pancake to Diana Nyad, the 62 year-old swimmer who tried for the fourth time to make the 103 mile swim from Cuba to Florida (this time without a shark cage).  Unfortunately for Nyad -- one of the most accomplished endurance swimmers ever-- the Florida Straits were not her water so much as her Waterloo.   

She first attempted the crossing at age 28, enclosed in a shark cage.  Wind and huge sea swells pushed her hopelessly off course, so she was forced to end that quest after 49 hours.  More than 30 years after that first splat, she tried again.  Her second and third attempts were cut short by stings from a highly venomous species of jellyfish. Nyad had a special wetsuit made and a protective skin cream developed in the hopes of preventing these creatures from foiling her fourth try.  But enhanced technology couldn’t trump Mother Nature.  The jellies still found her skin, sharks circled within dangerous proximity, and a lightning-laced squall surrounded her.  

Nyad was forced to give up again, after spending 51 hours as a floating hors d’oeuvre.  We have to hand it to anyone whose pursuit of a single goal results in a three-decade splat.  We doubt she’ll give it another go, but since her last name doubles as an acronym for “Not Your Average Diana,” this golden gal will probably find her way out of the dirt pretty quickly.


  1. Y chromosome for the win! It's amazing what you can accomplish when not weighed down with that extra X.

    1. I am not unknown! I'm just not famous yet!

  2. Boy, if Ogilve leans into the pitch against Clemens, it's gonna get ugly.

  3. Brilliant voodoo comment! For another set of belly laughs, visit The Onion and search on Todd Akin. One of the headlines, which has been ringing in my head for the past week and making me laugh out loud each time, is "Poll Reveals You Live in Country Where Mentally Ill Man Still Has Good Chance of Being Senator." Check it out, Splat Readers!

  4. The Onion is required reading, and what we used to refer to in 10th grade English as a "primary source." :)