Thursday, March 27, 2008

Masculine Observations

Man up.

Tiger Woods is in the news again for losing his cool and hurling choice expletives at reporters after a camera flash interrupted his swing during the WGC-CA Championship. While Tiger’s not the only golfer to throw a tantrum over something stupid, it makes you wonder how athletes in other sports cope with thousands of people intentionally trying to rattle them. Maybe it’s time for golfers to grow some thicker skin. As for Tiger, before he gets too pissed about the throng following around the course he might want to take a look at the balance in his checking account.

Man out.

The exodus from Michigan has not subsided. Now starting offensive lineman Justin Boren has announced his decision to leave Michigan and possibly enroll at Ohio State. Boren stated that he feels Michigan’s values have gone off track. It’s a little cryptic and there’s a possibility Boren might not like the demands of the new system but given the fact that none of the Michigan players have seemed overly impressed with their new coach it could be an issue of diplomacy. Rodriguez hasn’t been very respectful of the Michigan program he inherited and with Michigan losing the recruiting war over Terrelle Pryor to Ohio State it looks like it could be a while before anybody can respect the program he’s trying to build. You know, it’s not as if Michigan was a bad team before Rich Rodriguez got there but there’s a good chance they will be before too long.

Whachutalkinbout, Man?

Somebody asked me what I thought about the NHL playoffs. What’s the NHL?

Southern Man.

Somebody else asked me why I never post anything about NASCAR. Well, here goes:
NASCAR is stupid. If I want to watch rednecks drive around in circles I’ll go to Walmart and watch the white trash cruise for a spot up front.

Oh Man.

Apparently Major League Baseball opened the season early in Japan. Yippee. Now we only have 161 more games until the playoffs. Dude, seriously, call me in August so I can see if I actually care about the teams in contention.

Man Oh Man.

Wouldn’t the NIT tournament be interesting the four regional finalists in the NIT bracket played the four regional semifinalists who lose the Elite Eight games? It would certainly boost the credibility of the NIT championship. I’m not saying the NIT Tournament is bad or boring but it’s hard to get excited about mid week basketball when more compelling games are being played on the weekend. Injecting teams that were good enough to advance in the NCAA Tournament into the less prestigious NIT would get my attention.


I hate to say it but I just can’t get excited about women’s basketball. I think there are a lot of great players in the Women’s NCAA Tournament but unfortunately the talent isn’t that deep and it makes some of the games tough to watch.


Count me among the handful of people that was excited about David Beckham coming to the US to play Major League Soccer. Now, I realized that he was always a bit overrated and I was also well aware of the fact that his skills had diminished considerably but he was still a very good international player and I believed that we would get a good look at the disparity between our foray into soccer and what everybody else plays. Sadly I think I saw more of Victoria Beckham than I did of David. It looks like hopping the pond did more for her career than it did for David’s or the future of Major League Soccer. We’ll see if that changes as the new season begins in the coming weeks but I’m not holding my breath…or buying advance tickets.

Manly Man.

Don’t count me among the millions of idiots who will actually make time to watch the NFL draft in April. Sure, I’ve tuned in when there was nothing better to do but there are people who actually schedule this as a “must see” event. That’s just sad. 16 hours of Mel Kiper’s hair is more than anybody should have to put up with. I’ll read about the draft on Monday and be just as informed as anybody else. I might not understand why Joe Theisman is all worked up about Brady Quinn’s tie but to be honest I never really cared why Joe Theisman is all worked up.

Big Man.

LeBron James got caught up in mild controversy when he posed with Gisele on the cover of Vogue. Apparently it’s supposed to be a racial issue because he’s depicted as King Kong clutching a fair blonde hoochie in one hand. As Lebron James once said, he’s 6’9” weighs 260…he’s OK. If King James doesn’t have a beef with the cover I don’t either. Let’s save the outrage for when it really matters.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Vest Lands the Best

Terrelle Pryor finally announced his decision to accept a scholarship at THE Ohio State University. After all the hype it appears that the delay in signing his letter of intent was little more than a publicity stunt as Pryor failed to make good on his threats to visit Penn State and Oregon.

It’s hard to remember a high school football player who got more attention which means that the deck is already stacked against him. Combine that with Jim Tressel’s unique ability to destroy a promising young quarterback’s confidence and Pryor is a 3-1 favorite to be selling real estate in Central Ohio in between sporadic appearance on local sports radio shows.

Pryor’s delay in signing his letter of intent actually backfired. Reporters watched every move he made and interviewed just about everybody living within a 200 mile radius of Jeannette, Pa. hoping to get in inside track on what Pryor was thinking. The result was a lot of speculation that Terrelle has an attitude problem. Those theories are supported by Pryor’s involvement in two fights during his team’s run at a basketball championship.

Pryor seemed a little cocky in his press conference. He was pretty glib about not bothering to visit Oregon because it was too far from home and said that Penn State never had a chance because State College is too small a town for him. He did extend an apology to Michigan because he knew that a lot of people were hoping to build next year’s team around him and he seems to understand that he’ll be one of several talented quarterbacks vying for playing time at Ohio State. He made a comment about being a bad guy not mattering because he’s a good football player. That’s a little hairy but seeing as how he’s 18 you have to figure that he meant to say something more meaningful. Athletes tend to put their feet in their mouths all the time.

Judgment on what sort of person Terrelle Pryor is will have to wait. He spent the last six weeks under a microscope so we owe him the benefit of the doubt. That doesn’t mean that Pryor is not a big risk. He could be cut from the same cloth as Donovan McNabb and Peyton Manning or he might be an aspiring felon like Marcus Vick. It’s more likely that he’ll end somewhere in between. We’ll have plenty of time to scrutinize Pryor in the next couple of years.

The person to second guess right now is Jim Tressel. The Ohio State coach cultivates a squeaky clean image. He has the players line up in the end zone after every game and sing Ohio State’s Alma Mater, Carmen Ohio, to the band; He participates in a number of Christian-based fundraisers and evangelical events; He wears a tie and a Mr. Rogers-esque sweater-vest; but underneath it all is a guy focused on money and wins.

The NCAA has had cause to investigate Tressel on at least two occasions for similar reasons. At Younstown State Tressel was cited for failing to maintain institutional control of his program. A few years later the NCAA was investigating similar issues at Ohio State but the blame was placed entirely on the shoulders of Maurice Clarett. In both instances Tressel was, at the very least, guilty of looking the other way.

With Clarett Tressel and the Buckeyes ignored his problems on and off the field until they spiraled out of control. Once the NCAA got involved the Buckeye spin machine went into overdrive and the program was protected but that’s nothing new. The NCAA has a history of looking straight ahead when a money making program is in trouble.

Clarett exhibited similar traits to Pryor. Both have big egos, both speak their minds and both seem to have families with dollar signs in their eyes. Pryor might not be as self-destructive but after watching Maurice Clarett implode one would think that Tressel would be leary. Besides, Ohio State isn’t exactly hurting at the QB position anyway.

Tressel has had issues with other players as well. Under his watch former QB Craig Krenzel and WR Chris Gamble were tied to illicit funds. That issue was resolved when the money they received was donated to charity but Troy Smith took money as well and had to be suspended. Then you factor in a few arrests, excessive trash talking, some post game fights and Robert Reynolds trying to rip Jim Sorgi’s throat out and Tressel’s star loses a little luster. He’s not a character guy at all.

People with the best intentions often make mistakes and that could be the case with Jim Tressel but even if it is, why take a chance on somebody like Terrelle Pryor?

It’s hard to root against Pryor. He’s a kid who still has a lot to learn and quite a bit of growing up to do. The question is whether or not Jim Tressel will put Pryor’s development as a young man ahead of his performance as a football player. If Pryor fails will Jim Tressel accept responsibility for his part? Or will he walk away with his hands in his pockets like he did when Maurice Clarett crashed and burned?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chip Shots

Favre from over.

Brett Favre's tired. Physically he feels great but mentally he's just tired of having to prepare to play football week after week. It's interesting that everybody is denying that Randy Moss signing with the Patriots had anyhting to do with it even though the official announcement came after Moss' deal was announced.

Brett was a great quarterback who would have been so much better if the Packer's had actually surrounded him with more talent. Favre and Marino are two guys who did great things with mediocre help. Elway, Young and Montana were lucky to play with some of the best players in the game. Imagine what Favre would have done if the Packers had signed a great running back or a consistent receiver.

Of course, Favre's not done. He's burned out right now but after a few months off he'll get the itch, and by the time the season starts he'll have a burning desire to play. A contender will lose their starting QB in the second or third week of the season and Favre will sign a one year deal to take over. If Vinny Testaverde and Kurt Warner keep getting mid season offers can Favre really stay away? No way. Especially if a team like Indy or New England loses their franchise QB for the season.

Favre's retirement seems more like closing the Green Bay chapter of his career. He still wants to win a Super Bowl and if a good team suffers a tough break on the way to the playoffs, Favre will be lacing them up before you can say Strahan.

Long Knight

Bob Knight is going to bring his sense of entitlement to ESPN as a studio analyst covering college basketball. A lot of reporters think this is ironic because now he's one of them. Nope. Bobby's got a multi-million dollar contract. Bobby doesn't have to stay up late trying to get his story finished by midnight. Bobby won't have to interview Bobby.

Knight's going to park his fat ass in a chair and do what he does best: tell everybody how smart he is. Never mind that he got so full of himself that Indiana had to fire him, and forget about the past 20 years where Knight's teams have done nothing of consequence.

This is just another fine example of ESPN padding the studio with big names and small brains.

Spring Fever

Excited about Spring Training? Why?

Baseball doesn't matter until the end of August. Take up a hobby, losers.


The NFL draft is coming up and we'll see how committed teams are to character when Darren McFadden gets drafted in the top five. His numerous brushes with the law, aggressive social disposition and disdain for birth control won't matter as much as that 4.28 second time in the 40. And nobody's going to ask about steroids or HGH. In the NFL everything's legal as long as you don't get caught. Just ask Shaun Merriman.


Dick Vitale can whine about players leaving early for the NBA but you can't take anything away from the NCAA Championship Tournament. 65 teams get a shot at winning it all. Forget about the bubble teams that don't make it. If you can't stay on the inside of the top 50 you're lucky to be in the conversation at all. Next time play harder.

As for the Tourney, how can you not enjoy it? This is simplicity at it's best. Win and you're in, lose and you get to watch the rest of the BIG DANCE on TV. There's no "best of" series. Teams have one chance to prove themselves. That's the way it should be.

Good vs. Evil

Kobe Bryant threw a preseason tantrum because he thought his team was crappy. He bitched and moaned and demanded to be traded. The Lakers were close to dealing Kobe to Chicago but the teams couldn't agree on the details. Now the Lakers are playing well, players Kobe called out are stepping up and they even made a big trade before the deadline. Now the Lakers are the sexy pick to win the West, even though Tim Duncan and the Spurs are the ugly chick you'll go home with at closing time.

LeBron James didn't throw any tantrums. Rumors circulated that he was frustrated that the Cavs hadn't improved but King James refused to throw his teammates under the bus and stopped well short of demanding anything. Danny Ferry tried to find LeBron the help he needed but deals for Mike Bibby and Jason Kidd fell through. The Nets didn't want Kidd staying int he East and the Kings wanted too much in return for Bibby. LeBron kept his mouth shut, played his ass off and was rewarded with an overhaul. Now the Cavs have workhorses who can compliment James by doing the dirty work, rather than get in his way.

So why is there any discussion about MVP? James wins it hands down. Beside averaging close a a triple double all season long, James has been the ultimate team player. Kobe might be a dynamic scoring machine but he's got the mentality of a spoiled little boy, James is a man among men. James is everything right with sports, and Kobe is a good bit of what's wrong with them.

Tiger Woods

Can't have a title like Chip Shots and not mention golf and with Tiger playing a game with which most people aren't familiar, it's worthwhile. There's not only talk of Tiger sweeping all four majors this year, some people wonder if he can win every event on his schedule. Tiger has run away with victories and he's come from behind to steal them. Sure, it's early but The Masters is right around the corner and he looks unbeatable. He's in his early 30s which means he's just entering what most people consider to be a golfer's prime.

Tiger's so good that he's made the rest of the PGA Tour irrelevant. Golf analysts lament that Tiger doesn't have a chief rival the way Jack had Arnie. It's not that the talent isn't there, it's that Tiger is that much better than everybody else.

Tiger's success makes him the golfer people love to hate. Traditionalists discredit his victory tally because he's played in a number of special invitation events that may or may not have excluded golfers who can beat him. Tiger has long talked about defining his career in terms of major victories and he's already in double digits there. He's on pace to bury Jack Nicklaus within the next three or four years and given Tiger's commitment to fitness, he could be a physically dominant golfer when he's in his 50s. Before he retires Tiger might have more major wins than most golfers can claim in regular PGA events.

Tiger has a reputation for being arrogant and rude but so have a lot of great athletes. Tiger is focused when he's on the course and doesn't have time to mug for the cameras. That's why he wins. Outside of golf and a few commercials Tiger lives a very private life. His swimsuit model wife has even stepped out of the limelight. Like him or not you have to give the guy credit for his commitment to excellence and consistency in his behavior.