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5 Things I Could Care Less About

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Wait, didn’t I write a sports blog once upon a time?

Sadly, like the poor first child when the new baby comes home, Sports on the Brain has become neglected over the past three months, as my writing has been focused on baby, food, and all things Food and Fatherhood.  But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about sports!

What’s unfortunate, is that while there have been things I wanted to write about since June 16th, I don’t really feel like I’ve missed out on anything.  I mean, honestly, hasn’t this been a particularly lame Summer for sports?  The biggest stories have involved two lockouts, 684 collegiate sports scandals, and a baseball season where the closest race heading into the last month is the Angels 3.5 back of the Rangers.  The whole summer’s been so (athletically) bleak it almost makes me long for the good old days of the Brett Farve retirement, unreitrement dance.

With that said, I figure the best place to begin is with a list of the five sports stories I care the least about:

Five:

Tiger Woods.  It’s sort of sad what’s happened to Woods, but it’s even more sad how much enjoyment people are taking from his demise.  It’s strange, I’ve never seen an athlete go from beloved iconic figure to pariah faster and that includes Kobe who was accused of raping a woman.  I know Tiger’s arrogant and controlling of his image, but the unadulterated joy over his demise is a little frightening.

Four:

The NFL lockout… and return.  I told my Father months ago that there was ZERO chance that the NFL would miss games and it’s not like I’m some master prognosticator; seriously, I can’t even predict whether I’m going to have breakfast every morning, but the NFL and the players settling was so patently obvious, the whole thing just felt like an arrogant publicity stunt:

Roger Goodell – “Hey Maurice, what should we do for fun this offseason?”

DeMaurice Smith – I don’t know?  Nothing to crazy, I mean we wouldn’t want to screw up our pubic support.

Goodell – “Screw up our support?  Don’t be daft we’re more popular than Charlie Sheen, the NFL could get caught in a hotel room with a bunch of hookers and blow and the public would still love us.  Hell, I bet we’re so popular that we can have a protracted labor dispute in uneven economic times and the fans will still run up to sniff our butts when we get back.”

Smith – “You think?”

Goodell – “Hells yeah.”

Smith – “I bet I could even de-certify the union and the public would lap it up.”

Goodell – “See, now that’s the attitude!”

Three:

The NBA lockout.  Sigh.  This lockout actually seems real, but it’s still just so banal I cannot bring myself to care.  I almost always side with players in labor disputes.  It’s one of the things I find most interesting about sports, the way that fans begrudge players making the money they make, when it’s either they make the money or the billionaire owners make it.  I guess it’s an economic misunderstanding, fans think that higher salaries drive ticket prices, when in reality ticket prices are entirely driven by (fan) demand.  Anyhow, in this case, I’m not quite as lefty leaning as I normally might be. The median NBA salary last year was 5.356; this is a system that has DeSagana Diop earning 6.925 million, there’s obviously something broken here.

If the NBA season takes place this year, the Orlando Magic’s payroll will be 74 million and just look at the breakdown:

G. Arenas 19.269 million
D. Howard 17.885
H. Turkoglu 10.6
J. Nelson 7.305
J. Redick 6.500
B. Bass 4.0
C. Duhon 3.46
Q Richardson 2.446
R. Anderson 2.244
D. Orton 1.105

So, basically they have an underpaid Howard and EVERYONE else is overpaid at best, or horrendously overpaid at worst. And yes, Orlando GM Otis Smith is a moron who’s spending money like a teenage socialite with her father’s credit card, but still something needs to be done.

What bothers me though, is that the solution to these problems is always, ALWAYS a salary cap.  And frankly, I hate salary caps.  They restrict market value for players, ensure greater profits for owners, and… restrict young, potentially great teams from keeping their players.  I mean really, imagine if the Celtics of the 80s had lost McHale because the Celtics couldn’t spend above a certain amount?  Or what about the Lakers without Worthy?  The Bulls without Bill Wennington?  Bad example?  There’s just no way that with a hard cap the Oklahoma Zombie Sonics are keeping Russ Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Eric Maynor together on a team with Kevin Durant over the next seven years.  And, I like dynasties.  I know the vogue thing in sports is parity and I comepltely understand why David Stern needs to sell to each of his owners the idea that anyone can win, but parity’s boring.  Give me the Lakers of the 80s, the Bulls of the 90s, the Spurs of the 00s, the Memphis Grizzlies of the 10s.

I just want to watch greatness.

Two:

The MLB all star game.  It was a few weeks back, but remember the hullabaloo about the MLB all star game?  God, it’s just stupid isn’t it?  The first problem is that leagues want their all star games to mean something.  MLB’s the worst for this, because everybody remembers Pete Rose destroying Ray Fosse at the plate and wants that sort of intensity in the modern games.  This of course ignores three things:

  1. Not all the old allstar games were like that.  Rose was a hyper competitve arse
  2. Fosse was never the same player after that play.  People hold that up as though it were a good thing, but it wasn’t.  We should never want that play to happen again.
  3. It actually DOESN’T mean anything, so for a team to lose a good player for the rest of the season because of a collision in an all star game is actually asinine.

At this point, the all star game is so bloated, with 389 players being selected from each franchise by everyone from the fans, the players, the managers, the commissioner, my Aunt Mildred, and her pet monkey Reginald.  It’s so dumb it could have been concocted by government.  And, speaking of dumb things that baseball’s doing, what about this extra wild card?  I know that as a Jays fan, I should be in favor of this move, but… m’eh.  I hate it when sports leagues have a freak occurrence happen one time and then react like the sky is falling.  Trust me, I wish there were pennant races this year too, but this is the first time in the Wild Card era that there haven’t been any races and really it’s just a big fluke.  Get over it.  If it happens again next year and the year after that, then worry about the state of the division races, but lets not get hysterical here.  Having said that, it’s inevitable.  There’s a lot of money in playoff games and they will add another team, perhaps two, or four.  After all, what can we learn over 162 games that we can’t learn in a single elimination game?

One:

The NCAA.  Is there anything worse than this greedy, self serving, inherently hypocritacal organization?  I could write a 1,000 words about why they’re so ridiculous; actually, I think I’m going to do just that…

Grabbing the Tail of the Tiger…

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Tiger Woods, that enigmatic ladies man who has either spent the last two months in a Mississippi sex addiction clinic, or in space, has called a press conference for tomorrow. Presumably, he will appear and read a very lawyered statement, which will pave the way for his return to golf in time for the Masters. He has already said that he will not take questions, which is fine although having a few trusted scribes ask beach ball questions might have been prescient.

Nonetheless, already this news has brought a litany of reactions. Ernie Els was quoted yesterday as saying,

“It’s selfish,” former U.S. Open and British Open champion Ernie Els told Golfweek magazine. “You can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament.”

Really Els? Really? Much like all the other golfers who’ve thought that the world needed their opinion on Tiger Woods over the last three months, Els needs to shut up. Whatever they might think of him personally, golfers need to remember that their bottom line has increased immeasurably over the last fourteen years because of Tiger. I don’t mean an extra thousand here or there, I mean exponentially. The popularity that Woods’ brought to golf has meant that prize money has expanded more than Rex Ryan’s waistline. For someone like Els, who has been successful throughout Tiger’s prime (although not head to head), that’s a lot of coin in his South African pockets.

I’m not saying that Woods should be beyond reproach by other golfers, I’m just saying that the golfers need to be aware of what he has done for them, before they start throwing around words like selfish. After all that his presence has meant to the well being and livelihood of guys like Els, is it selfish for Woods to hold a press conference, at ELEVEN AM no less, on the same day that a tournament is being played? Really?

And, how exactly is Woods’ statement taking away from the tournament? Do you actually believe that the thousands upon thousands of people who will be following what Woods is saying were going to be watching and fervently discussing the Match Play? Sorry Ernie, despite the public’s rabid excitement over your play, we weren’t. In reality, when Woods is finished his press release, at say 11:20, some who might not otherwise have tuned in to the tournament, having been reminded that there is golf without Tiger, might flip over and watch a little. To claim that he should have done this Monday, that he owes the other golfers, or the tournament sponsor*, in any way is just dumb. So please Els, do yourself and everybody else a favor and just shut up.

*(ED. Note: The sponsor released a statement today that said they were in full knowledge of Woods’ press conference plans and that it was timed, again at ELEVEN AM, so that it did not conflict with the tournament. Or, put another way, they told Els to suck it.).

Then there’s SI’s blowhard Michael Bamberger, who writes,

Tiger Woods is a world-class control freak, and in his re-entry into public life — which has showered him with wealth and opportunities and trappings that we can only imagine — he is picking up right where he left off. He controls all. He’s the same way with his golf ball. He tells it exactly what he wants it to do.

I don’t want to come off as a Woods apologist here, because while I certainly watch golf almost entirely because of him, I don’t have any special pull towards him, but I do want to bring a little perspective to this situation. Lets remember what Woods has done here. He has been unfaithful to his wife, numerous times, but… He hasn’t murdered anyone, he hasn’t hit Elin, he hasn’t been buying, using, or distributing crystal meth, he hasn’t been driving drunk, heck he hasn’t even been driving down the highway with a shotgun attached to his back. He has slept with women to whom he is not married. That’s it, that’s all.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning infidelity. If the Bride were to make a cuckold of me, I would be extremely distraught, but that’s the point. This is Elin’s tragedy. Not ours. Elin’s. Tiger Woods has to make restitution to Elin, and perhaps the penalty will be more than he can repay. But what the penance for his crime shall be, is something to be determined between the two of them. There is nothing more to this than that. Sure, Woods has been a fool and as a public figure he has opened himself up to ridicule and that’s all fair, but Woods does not owe us anything.

But in the meantime, he’s getting off on the weakest of notes, with this non-press conference in a ridiculous palace that pays homage to all the excessiveness Tiger’s gaudy Phase I brought. On his first step back, he’s showing that he has all the cards, and you and I and all the people who like golf and are fascinated by what he’s done in the game, well, we have none. Don’t blame Steinberg for this move and don’t blame the high-priced polo shirts at the PGA Tour. This move has Tiger Woods written all over it.

Michael, seriously, when you slip off your high horse, I hope you hit a soft patch of grass to cushion the fall.

I said above that I thought taking a few gimme questions would help Tiger and I think it would, but as Woods reenters public life, he doesn’t owe us those questions. We don’t have a right to know who he slept with, how many times, where, when, why. We don’t even have a right to know what happened that mythical Thanksgiving night, or where he was for the past three months. It’s the TMZ inside all of us that wants something more from Woods. We want to know the lurid details and then we want to have him atone to us, so that we can feel smug at his descent. Unfortunately, we don’t get that right.

This doesn’t mean we have to continue to follow him, buy his endorsed products, or cheer him on the golf course. We have every right to decide that as a “cheater” he isn’t the type of person we want to cheer for and support. That’s the public’s choice. That’s what we control and that’s all we should control.

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