OK, today is Valentine’s Day. But there’s a lot of other stuff going on today that is absolutely not Valentine’s Day—at all. February 14 is special to these guys for other reasons:
- The Wesminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off today. It’s pomp at it’s finest. Dogs that cost more than any of our houses, prancing around an astroturf tack. “Best in show” gets a cool $10,000. Second place—and everyone else—wins a lump sum of absolutely nothing. It all brings back memories of Best In Show—one of the most underrated films of all time. We’ll let the Westminster Kennel Club do the talking—and self-mockery:
Simply put, Westminster has become the symbol of the purebred dog, in show rings as well as in millions of television homes across America.
The elegance, beauty and grace of the canine athletes combine with the excitement of the competition in the world’s most famous sporting arena before a live national television audience. The result is an event that is the dog show world’s version of the Super Bowl and Academy Awards. But even greater, The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a celebration of the wonderful canine spirit, reflecting our emotional and spiritual attachment to our dogs.
- Jadeveon Clowney committed to South Carolina this morning. Clowney is the best high-school football prospect in forever. National Signing Day for all football recruits was two weeks ago. But Clowney pushed his commitment back to today in honor of Vale … no, his birthday. The spectacle-making of a high-school kid announcing his college choice has been rightfully mocked, but please watch this:
- Pitchers and Catchers! Spring training begins today. Considering we’re in the midst of the most boring sports month known to man, this is a good thing. Yes, watching a bunch of guys in hats and gloves half-ass it for a month down in Florida and out in Arizona, ultimately giving us absolutely no hints to the upcoming season, is something that’s exciting right now. Cool! Admittedly, I can’t bring myself to care too much until the Yankees are in the bottom of the ninth in a World Series–deciding game, so I’ll let Rob Neyer give you an idea of what this means to real baseball fans:
There probably aren’t any three words better able to stir the soul of a snowbound baseball fan than pitchers and catchers … Suddenly everything is possible; once more, hope springs eternal.
What else is like that? What else, with just three words, gets you all warm and fuzzy inside? You know, sort of the opposite of death and taxes … Words that just automatically make you feel good. There’s milk and cookies … Mom and Pop … Abbott and Costello … Captain and Tennille … Peaches and Herb …
Whoops. Sorry about those last two. Sometimes I get carried away.
- The great Ronaldo retired this morning. When healthy, he was one of the most dominant athletes of all time. Often overshadowed by that ridiculous wedge haircut, his weight problems, and his transvestite prostitute problems, Il Fenomeno was unstoppable before injuries got to him. Enjoy him one more time:
- Tonight on Jeopardy, Ken Jennings takes on Watson—the game show–specific supercomputer that seems specifically designed to defeat Jennings and then probably move on to crush the entire human race. I’ve always wanted Alex Trebek to preside over the fate of humanity. As always, Chris Jones is all over this. Go read him:
But that means computers don’t have our desire, either. Nerves are our body’s internal signal that we care about the outcome of an event. We choke when our heart’s wishes override our more mechanical systems. For a computer, there are no butterflies, but that also means that it doesn’t care. There’s no psychic boost it can be given or give itself.
Ken Jennings won 74 straight games partly because he was built to, but mostly because he wanted to.
Watson doesn’t have anything like that kind of will.
So, there’s a lot of non–Valentine’s Day stuff happening today. But don’t take this as my anti–V-Day screed. Nothing’s more grating than one of those “Valentines Day is evil” idiots. Whatever. It’s a holiday with a good premise: love, right? At Slate, Torie Bosh put it better than I ever could. Read her rant and enjoy the rest of the day.
—Photo karen horton/Flickr