Earlier this summer, as you already know, pop culture icons Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died on the same day in a tragic and unexpected murder suicide.
Okay, hold on. I'm being handed something…sorry. Just a weird coincidence – they died on the same day. No murder suicide, or at least none that the police have discovered yet.
Anyway, after the deaths of MJ and FF we were left not only with gaping holes in our cultural wallpaper, but totally unimportant questions as well. Questions such as: Who, if anyone, can replace the King of Pop? How many times will the phrase "ubiquitous poster" be used in obituaries of the late Ms. Fawcett? And, most importantly, how does Marlins outfielder Cody Ross feel about all this?
Fortunately, Mark Newman of mlb.com is here to tell us
MLB REACTS TO JACKSON, FAWCETT DEATHS
King of Pop and Charlie's Angels star had fans around league
The year was 1976.
Farrah Fawcett had the poster that was on walls everywhere.
Just to clarify: in 1976, Farrah Fawcett owned a poster of KC and the Sunshine Band, which was at the time one of the most popular posters in America.
Michael Jackson was fronting "The Jacksons" — as the band started off on its own a year after leaving Motown. Johnny Bench and Cincinnati's Big Red Machine repeated as World Series champs, and this time it wasn't even close — a powerhouse sweep of the Yankees, following a three-game sweep of the Phillies for the National League pennant.
Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Johnny Bench...wait! Johnny Bench died? Fuck, that's awful. I was a huge "Baseball Bunch" fan.
Wait...he...isn't dead? He should be dead because the other two are dead?
Holy shit you guys. I think the guy who wrote this article is going to kill Johnny Bench.
Farrah is gone now. She passed away Thursday from cancer.
Michael is gone now. He passed away at almost the same time due to cardiac arrest.
Everybody stop right now, and take 450,000 guesses as to what the next sentence is. I'll wait.
Okay, ready? Let's see if anyone got it right.
Sparky Anderson's team was one of the mightiest in Major League Baseball history, arguably in the top five, loaded with legends and a Hall of Fame manager.
They ALL died? At the same time as Farrah and MJ? WHY DIDN'T I HEAR ABOUT THIS? FOR FUCK'S SAKE THAT TEAM WAS ARGUABLY ONE OF THE TOP FIVE MIGHTIEST IN MLB HISTORY!
She was a symbol of beauty and then courage for so many. He was the King of Pop, fallen from this decade but nonetheless an icon for countless millions who always held hope he would find a graceful comeback, somehow, that would make us watch him again. You remembered or you were looking it up on Thursday, as hearts ached.
Nationals center fielder Willie Harris' heart ached.
[shakes head after reading]
[rereads last few sentences to make sure he read correctly]
[tracks down and sucker punches Willie Harris out of sheer confusion]
He was the reason that Michael Jackson's music filled Nationals Park throughout his team's 9-3 victory over Boston Thursday night. It was a somber and sad celebration, just as there will be Michael music during the Dodgers' Friday Night Fireworks event.
Sadly, another American icon has just passed away: the English language. Mr. Language was brutally murdered during a bloody online article about — we think — baseball players' reactions to the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.
"I heard about Michael Jackson when I was in the batting cage before the game," Harris said… "He is a legend, man. It's a part of life, but sometimes, it's a hard pill to swallow. I'm sure the entire world is saddened because of his death. But at the same time, you have to keep moving and pushing forward."
That's what baseball does. Nothing pushes forward like baseball, other than time itself.
Wait, I can do this. I was just playing Scattergories the other night and "Things that push forward like baseball" kept coming up. Let me see if I remember some:
China and Uruguay
It was there when Michael came out with "Thriller" and "Bad" and his endless string of hits that helped define not just one generation but two. It was there through his turbulent days in recent years, during his fall from grace. It was there when Farrah drew critical acclaim and an Emmy nomination for her role portraying an abused woman in "The Burning Bed" — in 1984, the last year the Tigers won it all.
Yes, you're reading that correctly. "It" = baseball. Baseball was there when "Thriller" came out.
So that pretty much explains it. That explains why someone would write an article about how Willie Harris reacted to the death of Michael Jackson. It all makes sense now.
In 1984, Michael wore one glove, which is something in common with baseball players.
Can't argue with the facts, guys. That truly is something Michael Jackson had in common with baseball players. He also sang the song "Man In The Mirror," which is an incredible coincidence given that baseball players often look at themselves in mirrors. Some players are even "Bad" at baseball. Like Willie Harris!
"It's a bad day for the music industry, or for anybody," Cody Ross of the Marlins said after his team's game. "It's a sad day. He lived a good life — he made a lot of money and had some kids. Your heart goes out to his family.
And the award for most diplomatic eulogizing of a man who probably diddled some children goes to…Cody Ross! Florida Marlins!
"He made a lot of money and had some kids." Man, you just hate to see a guy like that leave before his time. Heaven got one of its angels back.
"When I walked in today and saw the news, I was taken aback. He one of the all-time greats — like the Babe Ruth of music.
Hundred bucks says Cody Ross was fed that Babe Ruth line just to make this article seem more worthy of exisiting.
"He's right there with Elvis and all those guys."
You know those guys. Elvis, The Beatles, Andrew Ridgely, Deion Sanders, Judge Judy…
I don't want to take away from the beautiful words spoken by Cody Ross, but I just don't feel like I'll be able to grieve properly until I hear from Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton.
Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton was born in Los Angeles in 1960 and grew up with Michael's music — and even joined Fawcett on a sitcom set. He said after Atlanta's game that, "you just think people like that are going to be around forever…You don't ever think they're going to die. "
Forgive me – seriously – if anyone out there is related to Farrah Fawcett, or finds this whole discussion offensive. But, I'm sorry – you didn't maybe see this one coming? You thought she would be around forever? The woman whose battle with cancer was chronicled on television?
(True story: when I graduated from college, I told my parents that my dream was to one day write an angry rant about Terry Pendleton's naïve comments about the late Farrah Fawcett that originally appeared in an online article written for mlb.com. Livin' the dream, Ma!)
Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens, a 23-year-old Curacao native, said, "everybody listens to Michael Jackson growing up. ... It shocked the world. We lost a good entertainer. I hear he was making a comeback too. It stinks. He had some hits. I'm young so I didn't listen to him all that much. The 'Free Willy' song was good."
HERE LIES MICHAEL JOSEPH JACKSON
AUGUST 29, 1958 – JUNE 25, 2009
THE 'FREE WILLY' SONG WAS GOOD
Rays reliever J.P. Howell was focused on a big World Series rematch against Philadelphia, a game his team won at home, 10-4. But he also was talking about the shock of the day.
"I used to listen to his music so it's kind of weird," he said of Jackson.
I actually ran into J.P. Howell a few days ago at my local Best Buy (he was spending way too much money on HDMI cables but I didn't say anything). I was like, fuck, I gotta ask this dude about that weird Michael Jackson interview. Here's what he said:
"Yeah, I mean, Michael Jackson dying was kind of weird, like I said. Telling some guy how I felt about it – now that was fucked up. I mean, I'm J.P. Howell, not David Fricke or whatever…Anyway, you want to play some Beatles Rock Band?"
"For me, the Jackson 5 is the part of Michael Jackson's career that I admired most," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "As a young group they were the bomb back then and they were so impressive because of their youth and their talent."
"Farrah Fawcett, we all remember Farrah Fawcett. And it's really a shame that the lady suffered. We all had that poster up on our wall at some point."
He's talking about the KC and the Sunshine Band poster.
"And God bless her, man, she was a beautiful lady. And it's very difficult to watch her demise that way."
People of mlb.com, here's what I'm thinking: It makes as much sense to ask Joe Maddon about the death of Farrah Fawcett as it does to ask Jaclyn Smith about the death of Nick Adenhart.
Ron Washington, the Texas Rangers' manager, was thinking back on wistful memories as people talked about Michael Jackson before that club's game against Arizona.
"He was from my era," Washington said. "He put out some outstanding music and some awesome dance steps. It was quite exciting. I don't know what to say except I'm going to miss Michael Jackson."
"So, yeah, are we done yet? 'Cuz like I said I really don't have anything to say. It took me fifteen minutes just to come up with that one line about the awesome dance steps. Can I please go? It's the middle of the third of inning."
"I was sad," Florida's Dan Uggla said, and that pretty much summed up what Thursday was like for a lot of people.
Dan Uggla, ladies and gentleman!
They played Michael's music during batting practice before Saturday night's Civil Rights Game in Cincinnati, home of that old Big Red Machine. It was for a completely different reason, though. It was to celebrate the soulful sounds of the Civil Rights movement at its height. Now they play it around the Majors, on radio stations everywhere, because there is no more Michael Jackson, and there is no more Farrah Fawcett.
Here is a fact. Here is how that fact is not related to the article I'm writing. Here is a reminder that two famous people died. Also, baseball.