I decided to call my fantasy basketball team “The Departed” this year. It’s a play on the name of the movie, as well as the overriding theme of this season for me, which is that Kevin Garnett is no longer in town. My logo was a photo of Garnett holding his new Celtics jersey.
Then Robert Goulet died. I loved Robert Goulet, mainly because of his willingness to laugh at himself. His appearance with Triumph the Comic Insult Dog (“Don’t touch Goulet!”) was an unforgettable, though apparently un-YouTubeable, classic. In tribute to Goulet’s “departure”, I made Goulet my new team logo. And with that, I had a new theme: people died all the time, so I’d just make The Departed a sort of tribute franchise.
Several lesser celebrities passed on immediately after Goulet, including Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans, who have been of great help to other owners in my league suffering at the hands of my juggernaut of a team. Unfortunately, none of these lesser lights seemed appropriate to carry the mantle for The Departed. When Kanye’s mother (and manager) died I considered promoting her, but couldn’t find a suitable photo of her. Not famous enough, I guess. If only it had been Kanye…
Then Norman Mailer died. Money. He’s now the logo, and I decided to adopt his bravado and assery into my league persona for the week. In a welcome change from a week of smoking cigarettes, drinking scotch and singing songs from Camelot, I’ve been bragging about how great my team is, how the only fantasy manager who could possibly compete with me is Hemingway, but of course since he’s dead that just leaves me to dominate my other owners like so many weak women.
But I never particularly cared for Mailer, and now I’m ready for a new logo. As a result, I find myself checking this Wikipedia page with disturbing regularity. The problem isn’t that people of some import aren’t dying; as you can see, there are multiple applicants daily. The problem is that most of them are from other parts of the world. Take the most recent entry, for example: Vijay Kumar Khandewal, an Indian parliamentarian. Had he been an American parliamentarian, we might have something. But if I made Vijay my team logo, at what point do I stop? As you can see, there is no shortage of deaths that are notable to at least some portion of the world community.
So many names. So many people passing on who have not graced our sports pages, or the cover of Entertainment Weekly, or given a political speech covered by our breathless pundits. And yet, they lived full lives, they struggled to make their world better, even if most of us never knew of their struggles, their triumphs, or what they looked like. Well, Pipeline People, Vijay Kumar Khandelwal lived a full life, and today he died.
And what was one of Vijay’s favorite hobbies? Hockey. Vijay worked for better education and a better environment in India, and Vijay loved hockey. Here’s hoping the ice is smooth wherever you are now, Mr. Khandelwal.