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.