World Series Kulturkampf, Game 3: Tatts for Bats

On to Tatts!

Here is my favorite tattoo:







It’s the famous Drunken-Double-Flamingo-In-Sunglasses-Flanking-Generic-Hawai’ian-Sunset neck tatt! It is my favorite tattoo because it is so far removed from any practical or even meaningfully expressive purposes. It was acquired in irony, almost assuredly while inebriated, and probably regretted to the point of deep depression immediately upon sobering. Then again, maybe its bearer is such a deeply ironic (or vapid) individual that he has no regrets. It is hard to tell. Perhaps he loves turtlenecks, and will relish an opportunity to wear them to all job interviews, family outings, and first dates for the rest of his days. More power to him. I mean, if a highly privileged, secular Westerner is going to get a tattoo, why should he not pile on the frivolity?

Of old, tattoos have held more practicality. Ötzi the Iceman, a 5300-year-old mummy of a man, was found with tattoos on his joints at points that corresponded with “strain-induced degeneration,” suggesting that the tattoos were therapeutic, and thus practical. And of course, tattoos have been used as markers of social status in various tribes (I think most readily, for better or worse, of those in Papau New Guinea), for religious and superstitious reasons, and/or to turn people into circus attractions.

In today’s society, as evidenced by Mr. Piña Colada above, tattoos are more often used in ways that are — and I’m being generous here — “personally expressive.” The Cardinals’ Matt Holliday, seen below, has the verse from Job 38:4 tattooed in elvish script on his left arm. The passage, per Holliday’s tatt at least, reads, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.”









So, Holliday’s our first official batter up in Kulturkampf Game 331/3. How does he (i.e. his tatt) stack up?

To begin, there’s some discourse amongst Christians as to whether tattoos violate the “the body is a temple” idea, so Holliday has inserted himself, probably unwittingly, into that debate. If Matty reads this and wants to chime in with an opinion on this issue, I’d love to hear it.

Perhaps the more interesting thing here is the choice of the book of the bible. It’s a Herbrew Scripture, to start, which is probably out of the ordinary for a Christian athlete. It’s not the general “John 3:16” passage, after all. And while Job is probably the book of the Ketuvim most quoted by Christians, this is certainly not one of the most known quotes. Thus, Holliday gets some points for being esoteric here.

Job is one of three poetic books in the Hebrew bible, and it deals almost exclusively with the suffering of the righteous. How does Matt Holliday connect with those aspects of Job? Does he believe himself to be a righteous person, suffering in front of fans on a daily basis? Does he love the beautiful language of the book? Does he believe that he, himself, Matt Holliday, created the world, and that some people just need to shut up already because he, Matt Holliday his deiterrific self built this whole stupid world and he’s tired now and he still has to bat in the middle of the Cardinals lineup before he gets to rest? I truly hope he believes that.

More likely, Holliday believes that God’s ways are mysterious, dude, and that a person shouldn’t question them (i.e. the ways of God). “To Blessed to be Stressed” is an easy doctrine when you’re paid millions per year to sometimes field balls in the outfield. That sort of solipsism is reflected in the orientation of the tattoo, which you will notice is so that he can read it. At least he’s not being didactic, I guess — he just wants to remember for himself that God’s ways cannot be discerned.

Still, Holliday has appealed to the rare-books-afficionado-cum-hipster in me with the relative obscurity of the quote.

The only other tattoos of note on the Cardinals that I could find are Yadier Molina’s neck tatts, the very weight of which have gotten him into considerable trouble with gravity:







Here they are:






And a close-up of the one on his left:









Now, these are so obscure as to be negligible for the purposes of our Kulturkampf. For all we know, Yadi just saw some designs that he liked in a book at a tattoo parlor, pointed, and said, “Estos,” abiding by the general idea that “neck tatts are badass” but not really understanding why.

However, these shapes do remind me of markings from the Predator film franchise:









If anyone can confirm that Yadi’s tatts are in fact Predator script, I will end this Kulturkampf right now, in favor of the Cardinals. Until then, I’m gonna have to say no points for Yadier.


I’ve been waiting for Josh Hamilton to show up in this series. Apparently, so have the ladies:







That’s not a fair intro on my part. But what’s done is done. It’s not like you can edit something on the internets once it is there.

Hamilton’s tatts are many, and seem to be mostly of flames and lizards and stuff.






But the fact that he got most of them during his “wild days” and now regrets them (excepting, perhaps the cross on his right calve, seen below), is, I guess, interesting to the degree that remorse, especially when expressed by normally solipsistic celebrities, is interesting. In the words of my good friend, he’s “doomed to carry the symbolic weight of his own wasted potential.” That’s some heavy shit, man. Hamilton went so far as to ask that his tattoos not be replicated in video game renditions of him. Perhaps this indicates a little bit of self-awareness—he knows, maybe, that he has some effect on kids as a role model. Or, he’s just embarrassed. Either way, it’s weighty, or heady, or somewhat out of the ordinary.







If this video was about a tattoo that Hamilton actually had, and not one that an ESPN intern Photoshopped onto him for a magazine cover, well that’d be a horse of a different color. It’s probably better though, for the sake of the World Series Kulturkampf, that this isn’t real.

Like the Cardinals, the Rangers don’t have a whole lot of prominent tattoos outside of Hamilton. We might mention the tatts of heartthrob C.J. Wilson, the documentation of which is similar in quality to most sasquatch footage:







The myth holds that C.J.’s torso tatt spells out “STRAIGHT EDGE,” but after decades of searching and examining shoddy evidence, we still don’t know whether said tattoo exists. Perhaps the public should demand a cable show dedicated to solving the Wilson tatt mystery.

In all seriousness now: Given that debauchery of all sorts runs rank among professional athletes, being straight edge is an extreme lifestyle to adopt. But what else to say? Wilson’s alternative, colorful, and renaissance-man lifestyle is well documented, and it seems unfair to allow his eclectic list of interests dictate the Kulturkampf, even if I would really like it to.

What Game 331/3 comes down to is whether the Rangers’ Remorse Points (via Josh Hamilton) are greater than the Cardinals’ Obscurely Biblical Points (via Matt Holliday). After 1000+ words, I can’t decide. So, it’s time for a reader poll. If you’ve made it to the end of this article, why not treat yo self and vote twice!


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3 Responses to “World Series Kulturkampf, Game 3: Tatts for Bats”

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  1. mattc says:

    This one loses points for not being on the neck, but it’s probably my favorite tattoo sans context:

    I can’t wait until Brett Lawrie shows up at next year’s spring training with this puppy etched across his chest.

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  2. ettin says:

    Vernon Wells should sue the author Suzan Johnson Cook for copyright infringement.

    Oh, by the way, you misread the elvish script on Holliday’s arm. Instead it should have read, “Where were you when I laid my precious foundations of the middle earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.”

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  3. steex says:

    That flamingo neck tattoo looks like a good starting point for the next Marlins logo.

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