Tuesday, April 22, 2008



I don’t really care much about racing but I caught a blurb on ESPN about Danica Patrick winning her first race. This is apparently a big deal because she’s a woman. Aside from played out jokes about women drivers I fail to see why gender matters in automotive racing.

The car does most of the work and the real key to victory is the pit crew. Races are won and lost because of the guys who change the tires and perform quick mechanical repairs when the driver guides the car into the pit. Most of the strategy is conveyed to the driver via radio from a crew chief who has a better vantage point of the action. The driver’s toughest task might be using diapers.

Now I know that I might get comments from racing fans who will go on and on about “feeling” the track and how the car is responding but no matter how you slice it the fact remains that the only thing that separates a race car driver from Connie Commuter is speed. The race car driver’s job is actually made a little easier by the fact that the track is carefully maintained to provide a safe racing surface and everybody is heading in the same direction as fast as they can. You don’t see a lot of brake lights on a race track.

Danica Patrick’s accomplishment is made even less significant by the fact that she won a race most race fans haven’t even heard of. When it comes to Indy-style racing there is one event that matters and it isn’t the Nippon Ham 300 or whatever Japanese race Danica won. If she wants to be relevant she has to win the Indianapolis 500. If she wants other races to count she needs to yank out a couple of teeth, marry a cousin and join the NASCAR circuit. Even then, the races won’t matter to most sports fans but at least she’ll have morbidly obese men in mullets cheering her on.


Shortly after finishing second in the Masters, Tiger Woods went in for surgery on his knee. He’ll be out for about six weeks possibly returning at the end of May to shake the rust off at The Memorial in Columbus Ohio.

It’s interesting that Tiger finished where he did on a bum knee but even more interesting will be the lack of interest in the upcoming events. Suddenly The Players Championship doesn’t seem as important. If you don’t believe that just compare the hype The Players Championship generates with that of wherever Tiger makes his post-surgery debut.

Golf purists will dismiss the Tiger lull as pop culture following a celebrity but Tiger isn’t a true celebrity. He’s popular because he’s the greatest golfer in the world. He doesn’t create his own hype, his game does. If anything Tiger is popular in spite of his personality. He’s characterized as cold and even surly. He doesn’t ham it up for the cameras but yet he’s the most marketable figure in golf if not sports in general. You might be able to make an argument that Tiger Woods isn’t the greatest golfer in history but he’s definitely the most important. The PGA wouldn’t be where it is today if Tiger hadn’t burst on to the scene 10 years ago.


I don’t believe in curses but that’s the only thing that describes what has happened to the Miami Dolphins. Last year Miami invoked the fury of its fans by passing on Brady Quinn and taking a gamble on the explosive Ted Ginn Jr. out of Ohio State. It wasn’t a dumb move by any stretch of the imagination. Miami thought that they’d get something out of Trent Green and that second round pick John Beck would develop into a quality starting QB. There were some serious doubts about Brady Quinn which is why he slipped to the 22nd spot where Cleveland scooped him up.

Ginn was the catalyst for a highly explosive Ohio State offense, Quinn put up great numbers but never delivered that big win against quality opposition at Notre Dame. Ted Ginn Jr. would provide an instant threat with his ability to return kicks and as he honed his skills at the wide receiver position he had the potential to be a game breaker. On paper the move made sense. In reality it fell apart like a wet paper bag.

Quinn didn’t see enough action to prove his worth and Ginn’s far from being a bust. The Dolphins just couldn’t stay healthy. Most of their losses were by less than a touchdown so you can’t say that they weren’t competitive. The Dolphins just couldn’t finish. That’s probably because they had serious issues at the QB spot. Green couldn’t keep his head together and it got worse from there.

Now, the Dolphins have the top pick in the draft and they don’t need it. This is one of those years where there’s plenty of great talent but no one or two players that stand out above the rest. It would be a great year to trade down and secure a few extra picks later in the draft but nobody wants to trade up. After last year’s debacle the Dolphins would love to excite their fans by drafting a hot commodity but the top players in this year’s draft are defensive linemen. That’s not going to sell season tickets. So the Dolphins might reach for RB Darren McFadden or QB Matt Ryan even though neither appear to be as solid as the triumvirate of defensive linemen.

No matter what the Dolphins do people will complain. Then the season will start and the Dolphins will look halfway decent. They might even make a run for the playoffs and people will give all of the credit to Bill Parcels even though the Dolphins weren’t nearly as lousy as last season’s record would have you believe.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


CC as in Crispy Cream

As in doughnut…as in 0…as in how many wins last year’s AL Cy Young winner has this year….

CC Sabathia passed on a contract extension earlier this spring, opting to focus on the season and the riches awaiting him in free agency. A month into the season and the hefty lefty is 0-3 in four starts with an ERA mathematicians are still trying to calculate. Cleveland’s ace, who went off the reservation during last year’s playoffs has already walked 14 batters in just 18 innings worth of batting practice. We can’t call it work at this point because the Indians don’t pay him to help other teams get their hitters on track, which is just what he did for the Tigers. Detroit was struggling and Cleveland had a chance to send them into a panic, CC changed that by giving up nine runs on eight hits in four innings.

CC’s not a bad guy. Fans are giving him grief and he’s taking it like a man but he’s not pitching like one. (and yes, Karen, I know it’s supposed to be Krispy Kreme)

...As in Agent 0

Not to stay obsessed with Cleveland, but could Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards be any dumber? The Cavaliers might not be the pride of the Eastern Conference but they are still a better team than Washington. Nobody should enter a contest thinking they’re going to lose but you certainly don’t want to rile your opponent up before hand. Especially when your opponent has a guy like LeBron James who consistently puts up big numbers against your team. Do you really want him out to prove a point?

Not to stay obsessed with LeBron but if Kobe wins the MVP award after acting like a punk ass the last two years…

Are you Pucking with me?

Apparently the NHL playoffs have started and I thought I would start paying attention but my neighbor just painted his garage and I’ve been watching it dry.

Is it chilly in here?

There must be a draft. Like the NFL Draft coming up which will have millions of viewers. If you’re wondering why things pretty much suck in the world today it’s because more people watch the draft than show up for elections. The sad thing is that the vast majority of the players picked won’t ever matter. I’ve watched bits and pieces of previous drafts and I have to tell you it’s pretty much a waste of time. Nobody’s going to see anything amazing during the draft. 40 years from now people won’t be talking about watching Brady Quinn fall to the 22nd pick of the 2007 draft. Get a life.

Jackie Robinson Day

On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson played in his first Major League Baseball game. The league was founded in 1869 but when you consider the impact African American players have had on baseball it’s fair to say that professional baseball didn’t exist until Robinson crossed the color barrier. Racial problems continue to exist and the integration of baseball is hardly more important than the integration of schools and hospitals but Jackie Robinson made it easier for this society to move forward. His contributions both on and off the field always seem to be underappreciated.

What really made Robinson special is the fact that he didn’t break down the color barrier. He politely simply opened the door. He recognized that his place in history was to simply prove his equality. The forceful gestures and brash statements that were necessary in the 60s were only effective because Robinson understood the importance of what he was doing. Robinson resisted the urge to retaliate when people called him names and threatened his life. He refused to take the bait when other players provoked him.

It’s only a game and we often place too much significance on it. In Jackie Robinson’s case we don’t place enough. Serious consideration should be given to the idea of declaring April 15th a National Holiday. The IRS can push its deadline back a day to honor a true American hero.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Products of the System

Chad Johnson is in the news again. The timing makes it clear that this is by his own design. Chad’s making a lot of noise but when you get right down to it he’s just not saying much. Apparently he’s unhappy in Cincinnati which isn’t unusual. The Bengals have a long history with disgruntled players, which makes it clear that the team is horribly mismanaged. After an 11-5 run a couple of years ago Cincy has found its losing ways and seems poised to wallow in the depths of mediocrity for another decade and a half.

I can’t blame Johnson for wanting out. There are those who will demand that he shut his mouth and honor his contract but I submit that he signed his contract believing that the team would strive to get better. Also, players see their contracts terminate by teams all the time so I believe that players have every right to sit out and wait for more money. If they are willing to risk unemployment for the duration of the deal then they have that right.

I don’t know that I even have a problem with Chad taking his grievances public. If the team isn’t working with him he also has the right to put public pressure on them. Freedom of speech is an important right and people should exercise it.

My issue is that Chad is doing a lot of talking but he isn’t saying anything. He’s unhappy in Cincy but he’s not sure if he wants out. He wants the team to get better but he doesn’t have the guts to say what the problem is. It’s all very abstract which makes it pretty clear that this is all about attention. Chad’s a spoiled little brat who wants people to know he can pee in the big boy potty. And we’re the doting parents who spoiled him.

Chad’s been an unmitigated ass from day one. He’s been drawing attention to himself from the start. He gets cut too much slack because, unlike many of his Bengals teammates, he doesn’t tend to get arrested and he does seem to play hard, of course he will start rounding out his cuts and jogging through his patterns if the ball isn’t put in his hands early and often.

Chad is all about Chad. Everything he does draws attention to Chad. Chad is very aware of his personal accomplishments and will happily tell you how many touchdowns he’s scored. What he won’t tell you is that his dog and pony show is a constant distraction for the team and Chad’s infatuation with Chad prevents him from being a team leader.

Football isn’t just about talent. Football is about 53 guys being on the same page. That’s Why Terry Bradshaw has more Super Bowl rings than Dan Marino and Brett Favre and John Elway combined. Team is why Emmitt Smith rushed for more yards than Barry Sanders. Team is why Jerry Rice didn’t win Super Bowls after he left San Francisco.

Johnson thinks that his personal stats are all that matter but what about his behavior in the playoffs a few years ago when Carson Palmer went down with a knee injury? Did Johnson step up and lead his team through adversity? Nope. He pouted for the rest of the game because Jon Kitna couldn’t throw the ball as far as Palmer.

Chad cares about Chad. He wants people to look at him and because he teammates actually put the team first they won’t call him out on it. That’s the catch-22. Donovan McNabb sat there and took every nasty comment TO hurled his way without reacting because he wanted to put the team first. You’ll never get 52 guys to admit that one is bringing them down. That’s why teams hire General Managers and coaches.

Sadly, the NFL and it’s media partners create people like Chad Johnson. How many Fat Head commercials have you seen Marvin Harrison in? How many deodorant commercials has Hines Ward shot?

Check the ESPN studio and you’ll find Keyshawn “Throw me the Damn Ball” Johnson and Michael “Pass the Crack Pipe” Irvin getting paid a lot of money to talk about the game they made a mockery of. The reality is the jerks get rewarded.

Much of the blame falls on the NFL. The players who keep their helmets on and play with a little class blend into the background. No matter how brilliant they are on the field, the NFL owns them. Players like TO and Chad Johnson defy the NFL and create individual personas that become marketable outside of the NFL’s realm. So Jerry Rice settles for Dancing with the Stars while Shannon Sharpe get’s a studio assignment. It’s not fair.

Guys like Chad Johnson, TO and Randy Moss have been rewarded for being jerks and their predecessors continue to reap the rewards. The question isn’t why Chad Johnson acts the way he does, the question is why more people don’t.