Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and Retirement

I don't think Barry Bonds will finish out the season. He is obsessed with passing Babe Ruth and once that is accomplished I think it could be anytime after that when he retires. His injuries and age have caught up to him and he doesn't have the magic steroid pill (or should I say syringe) to ward off either of these problems. I know you can't trust anything out of the man's mouth so his latest statement about him doubting that he could break Hank's record (meaning he won't play long enough to) should be taken with a grain of salt. But after watching him grimace around the basepaths last night it's hard to imagine him making it through the entire season. I'm sure Bonds wants the all-time HR record but he also knows that if he gets it the steroid talk will never cease (it won't anyway) and he might end up with an asterisk by his name. Plus passing Hank Aaron doesn't hold the same allure for Bonds that passing Ruth does. You would have to have your head in the sand to believe race doesn't have something to do with this. In 2003 Bonds made this statement, "755 isn't a number that's always caught my eye..... the only number I care about is Babe Ruth's. Because as a left-handed hitter, I wiped him out. That's it. And in the baseball world, Babe Ruth's everything, right? I got his slugging percentage and I'll take his home runs and that's it. Don't talk about him no more."
Bond's doesn't claim that Ruth being white is part of his motivation but his other reported racist statements along with this quote, "Babe Ruth was a great player, but he wasn't black. I'm black, and it's tougher for blacks"; lead me to believe that Ruth's whiteness is definitely a motivating factor in his desire to pass him.
Anyway, whether or not race has anything to do with Bond's obsession with Ruth, the point is he is fanatical about getting ahead of the Bambino. To get to Hank's record he would need to play part of next season as well and I just don't think that happens. So here is how I see it playing out this summer.

- Bonds passes Ruth and gets giddy over it.

-Whether its a day later or 2 months later, Bond's will have a press conference and citing injuries as the reason, announce his retirement. Additionally he will pull out his victim act yet again and tell us that the emotional toil from all the media harassment has dampened his desire to play anymore. Tears will probably roll as he props up his very cute daughter next to him and whines about how tough it has been to be Barry Bonds. Then it's back to the mansion to swim in the pool.

-Also, this gets him out of active player status if and when this so called official investigation ever amounts to anything.

Just as a sidenote, I read something today that compared Barry Bonds to Ty Cobb. Although Cobb was definitely more racist and more of a jerk, the comparison has some merit. Both were extremely talented players with huge egos and personalities that turned people off.

Friday, April 21, 2006

NBA Postseason: I'm hoping for some of that fantastic stuff

What to do, what to do? Who do I root for in the upcoming NBA postseason? My Utah Jazz are out, so the question is what would make for an entertaining postseason?

The favorites to play in the finals have to be the Pistons and the Spurs. While I think both of these clubs are efficient, well coached, excellent teamszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....oh I'm sorry, did I nod off? Yeah. They are boring. Nobody on either team except the Spurs guard's Manu Ginoboli and Tony Parker are remotely fun to watch. And even those two don't make up for the overall snooze play of their team. Sorry Piston and Spur fans, but while theoretically the two best teams squaring off against each other should be great theater, I would say: wake me when it's over. I think this would be much like if the team I root for (the Jazz) were good enough to be there. While it might be exciting for me, the rest of the country would be fast forwarding their TiVo's.

So if I don't think the two best teams would be great to watch, who would I like to see in the finals? How about the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Miami Heat against either the Phoenix Suns or the Los Angeles Lakers. This would give us an extended look at Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant or a fun to watch Phoenix team. Now that's drama, highlight reel type plays, and made for tv games. Even Dallas might be fun just to see how much more of an idiot Mark Cuban could be.

Sure I'm shallow and don't understand how efficient, defensive basketball should be appreciated and not scorned. I know, I know, great team basketball is what the sport should be all about. Some would point to the great teams in the 80's like the Celtics and Lakers who played basketball this way. But they would be forgetting one thing. Those NBA finals involved Magic and Bird. That's what really made those series into what they were. It's exciting players on good teams that make the NBA fun to watch. Now maybe this means a Kobe led Laker team shouldn't qualify because the team in essence, really isn't that good. All I have to say to that is this: 81 point game. The Bulls in 1986 weren't that good either but Jordan's 63 point game against the Celtics still stands out. That's what I want for this postseason. Something memorable. Team basketball is nice and all but sometimes you just want to watch someone go off.

So castigate me if you must, but I freely admit I would love to see Lebron and Kobe with 40 + points in game 7 of the finals, matching each other shot for shot. I'm kinda stupid that way.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lacrosse. Getting Headlines the Wrong Way.

Lacrosse and major sports story seem like words that don't belong in the same sentence. Normally that would be true. But then you add the words: Duke, rape, black stripper, rich white kids, dna evidence; and you've got yourself some tantalizing reading.

As of today it seems like the D.A. will have a tough time proving in court these kids had anything to do with a rape. Unless further evidence comes out, reports say that there is not DNA linkage, that there may even be evidence that one of the players indicted wasn't even at the party and that the other may not have been there at the time of the alleged rape. If this is true then the D.A.'s office is going to look like idiots in court. These kids got some heavy duty lawyers and we all know what good lawyers can do even with evidence that seems to be slam dunk worthy (see O.J. Simpson). The D.A. doesn't have that kind of evidence so the only conclusion I can come to is that he is worried politically and socially what would happen if they didn't charge somebody with something. Race and politics seem to be ruling the day here. I'm glad I don't have the D.A.'s job. If you do nothing you may not make it through the next election (which is soon) and the city could see protests that may even get violent. If you go ahead with the prosecution you may be committing career suicide anyway because the next election will bring up this trial which promises to be a debacle.

Who knows what really happened at that party. That's probably the one thing that won't get decided. I'm guessing that some (if not many) Duke Lacrosse players are a bunch of rich, egotistical, chauvinistic, bigoted dirtbags who are probably capable of rape. I'm guessing that many black and white folks in North Carolina have very different opinions on this matter. I'm guessing that Roger Cossack will continue to annoy me on ESPN. I'm guessing that this story will drag on for awhile.

I know that as interested as I am to see how it turns out, I'm already sick of writing this much about it. Can't we do this "CSI" style and get the result in under an hour?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

NBA MVP Debate

I'll follow the crowd today and weigh in on the MVP debate for the National Basketball Association. Everyone and their favorite dog has an opinion on this and I'm no different.
The front-runners seem to be (in no particular order) Steve Nash, Lebron James, Chauncey Billups, Elton Brand, Kobe Bryant, & Dwyane Wade. Also mentioned occasionally in the media are Sam Cassell, Tim Duncan, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitizki, & Carmelo Anthony.

If it was all up to me this is how it would go down:

-First he has to be from a team that has a legitimate shot at winning the championship. What's more valuable than being the man who will lead your team to a title? Some teams have done better than expected and are playoff bound. This doesn't mean they will be playing in the championship game. The Cavs, Clippers, Nets, Lakers, and Nuggets have had decent years. Although I like most of these teams, I don't think any of them will be taking the trophy home. This eliminates Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Sam Cassell, and reluctantly Elton Brand from my MVP ballot.

And yes I know my ballot is not real.

It should be though.

-And yes I realize anything could happen in the playoffs so maybe one of the teams I just lightly dissed will win it all and make me look like a bigger idiot than I already am.

I'll chance it. It wouldn't be that much of a drop for me.

-Second the MVP has to be the most valuable player on his own team. This cancels out Shawn Marion, who leads the Suns in most categories but in my mind is not as valuable as Steve Nash.

-Third, he has to be somebody my notoriously cheap self would be willing to pay to watch play if all TVs were suddenly taken away by George Bush's secret police and I actually had to leave my living room.
Chauncey Billups, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitizki, and Steve Nash please take a seat.

-That leaves just one guy standing. Dwyane Wade. He's my pick for MVP.
The odds favor the Pistons to represent the East but you have to say that the Heat have a legitimate shot at it. Plus he's been the main man for the Heat for two years running even with Shaq on the team. I think he is along with Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan, one of the 4 best players in the league. And other than Lebron, Kobe and possibly Vince Carter, Dwayne Wade is one of only 4 guys I would actually fork out money to see play. He fits all my criteria.

So there you have it. This year's MVP. I'm a genuis. Well, maybe not a genius, but I can ride a bike and I like to whistle. That's something.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Lesson on Heroes

As I saw the news on Gooden heading back to jail I was reminded again of how easy it is to screw up your life. What a waste. When Dwight Gooden was mowing down batters in the mid 80's, I pictured a Hall of Fame career as his legacy, not an orange jumpsuit.
Gooden and his buddy Darryl Strawberry were actually very good role models in the "what not to do" category as I was going through high school. Strange because they started out as something very different for me. They were the reason I became a fan of major league baseball.

In the summer of 1986 I had just finished the 8th grade and although I liked to play baseball I didn't have much interest in following the Major Leagues. With the nearest professional team being a 14 hour drive to LA, I didn't have the benefit of going to games as a kid to spark a baseball obsession. My parents had just gotten cable and it was only then that I could see a game beyond the occasional Saturday Vin Scully broadcast. Now I could see Cubs and Braves games thanks to WTBS and WGN. For some reason that year I began collecting baseball cards. One of my first packs I ever bought had Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden in it. I knew almost nothing about them. But I began following them and the Mets in the newspaper. Wouldn't you know it, this was going to be the Mets' year. Strawberry in particular held a special fascination for me. His long looping and graceful swing produced some of the most picturesque home runs I had ever seen. Gooden's curveball and fastball were awesome.

I was hooked.

I followed the Mets faithfully that year and had posters of Gooden and Strawberry up on my wall. I annoyed the hell out of my dad that October as I hooted and jumped up and down during the World Series 6th game comeback. He was rooting for the Red Sox.


Anyway I stuck with the Mets for a few more years until most of the guys that I rooted for were gone. The year Howard Johnson and Kevin McReynolds were the main attractions I bolted for the Braves who were commanding much of my viewing time on tv. (It helped they were always on with their cable channel. Ted Turner was an evil genius) Although it seems I was just turning to another successful team when the Mets started losing, I actually started following and rooting for Atlanta the year before they came out of the basement. They still had Dale Murphy and he was something of a legend in Utah.

Anyway, Strawberry and Gooden went on to self destruction as is well known. Strawberry in particular was a good lesson for me as I was just reaching adulthood when he began his "I'm a screw-up, no wait I think I've changed, no really I'm totally messed up" cycle. Gooden was always a little more shy than Darryl so his screwups didn't quite make the headlines that Strawberry did, but his pattern has been very similar.

Dwight's 1985 stats were so good (24-4, 268 Strikeouts, 1.53 ERA) so early that it probably was impossible to live up to the hype he had created. Still, we'll always wonder how good he and Strawberry could have been without the booze, drugs, and partying. Seeing them both stand in prison garb has never made me angry, just sad. These were my first baseball heroes. The only orange I ever wanted to see them suited up in was found on the uniform of the New York Mets.

**SI Covers found on

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gators and Syringes

---So yeah I guess there was a National Championship game last night. I checked in once in the first half. Looked boring. Checked back with a couple minutes to go in the game and the blowout confirmed my earlier assessment. Gator fans are deservedly ecstatic and could care less what the game looked like. For those of us just hoping for an exciting Final Four weekend/Monday there is always next year. And really what do we have to whine about? Most of the tournament was pretty fun to watch this year.

--While I'm not an advocate of fans throwing things on the field at baseball games I did get a strange moment of satisfaction as I watched Bonds pick up the needle-less syringe thrown his way. This was in San Diego for hell's sake. He's in for a long year with that kind of stuff. Sadly, for this sorry excuse for a human being it will just confirm in his mind how much more of a victim he really is. You know, the only real victim is Bond's pillow, which has to put up with that huge melon every night.