Thursday, June 19, 2008

Observations on the Hub of the (Sports) Universe

I guess Kermit was's easy being Green.

During this decade Massachusetts has seen three Lombardi Trophies, two World Series titles, and just earned a seventeenth banner for the rafters of the Bahstin Gahden. Historically, there's still something missing...Bruins, I'm looking at you. You have two season left to get over the hump before the new decade begins.

Reebok has already commemorated the Celtics' achievement with a great ad that can be seen over at A Red Sox State of Maine.

Here's another from them -

From David Letterman -

"The hookers in Times Square are offering the Willie Randolph special. They'll screw you in the middle of the night when no one is looking."

An observation on Tiger's win...

It was impressive that he did this on one leg, but let's not confuse what Mark Twain called "a good walk spoiled," with things like Tyler Hamilton winning a stage of the Tour de France (and subsequently completing the race) while supporting his weight on a collar bone broken in two places (in one of the earliest stages of the Tour), or Reggie White playing with a torn hamstring (according to the doctors, the connection at the bottom had torn cleanly, causing the muscle to roll up like a window shade), or Drew Bledsoe playing with hardware holding the finger bones in his throwing hand together, or Jack Youngblood playing through the NFL playoffs on a broken leg.

It's golf.

It's not like Tiger is sprinting down to first and rounding the bag, or chasing down a fly-ball. He doesn't drive the lane with the big bodies laying some weight on him.

Let's keep this in perspective.

Woods was impressive winning the US Open on one leg. But let's be realistic - having been a caddy and seen the people who golf (and I saw a lot of Joh Daly-esque physiques out there) and I can honestly say - the hardest part of golf, from a conditioning and strain on the body stand-point over the course of 18 holes is borne by the caddies.

Young Guns...

I've mentioned this before, but I think it bears mentioning again.

Sox fans as a whole are getting spoiled.

Each time a pitcher goes down, he gets replaced with a more than adequate replacement as a starter. And it seems like the rotation just keeps getting younger.

The current rotation -

Masterson (23)- 4-1, 3.00
Lester (24) - 6-3, 3.18
Matsuzaka (27) - 8-0, 2.53
Beckett (28) - 7-4, 3.87
Wakefield (41) - 4-4, 4.19

Should the youngsters falter, Bartolo Colon is waiting in the wings, as is (likely) Schilling, who has not had to rush back due to the success of the youngsters. None of that includes young guys like David Pauley, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, or Michael Bowden.

Let's face it - from a starting pitching standpoint, the Sox are loaded. If the team's bullpen hasn't had so many meltdowns, none of the current starters (other than Masterson) would have fewer than six wins, and I would venture to say that Lester would have at least nine, as would Matsuzaka whose first start was a no decision.

First Amendment

Whenever a reporter or any other sort of pundit says something stupid, a-la Don Imus or Jemele Hill, and gets suspended or fired, all the idiots come out of the wood work defending the right of the idiot to say what they said, and claiming suppression of the reporters' rights to freedom of expression.

I want to remind all the idiots out there that, yes, people like Jemele Hill certainly have the right to make stupid, ill-thought out, and offensive statements. ESPN as her employer has the right to make a statement as well. They have a right to state their disapproval at being used as a forum to propagate any sort of writing they find offensive, and possibly damaging to their bottom line.

What the critics of ESPN don't get is that ESPN has not suppressed Hill's ability to express herself freely in our society. They have just removed themselves from being her forum, her vehicle for dissemination.

They have done nothing to violate her civil rights. It would be no different than ESPN refusing to give space on their site, or in their magazine to a neo-Nazi spokesman who wanted the company to print his editorial comments regarding the superiority of the Aryan Race.

Sure, Hill's statements were meant to be hyperbole, but it's unconscionable that she even typed the line, "Rooting for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim," let alone submitted it for publication.

It's one thing to make the comparison to The Evil Empire - a Star Wars reference, a reference to a piece of fiction - and another to link a sports franchise and its fan base to the world's most notorious genocidal mass-murderer of the last century.

As much as Hill deserves the suspension and a subsequent firing, I want to know what ESPN is doing about the editors who let this travesty make it into print.


Dave said...

I have to disagree with your blurb on Tiger. It's true he isn't banging other bodies or pulling something on the level of Jack Youngblood. But he did play 91 holes of golf on a leg that had two stress fractures and a blown ACL. Also consider the incredible amount of torque he generates on his drive. He is probably the most powerful driver in the history of the game. And that also works on his left leg.

Most people would've quit. The fact he didn't, and won, is pretty damned impressive.

Kevin Smith said...

I didn't say it wasn't impressive - in fact, I said it was. What I did say was let's keep some perspective - a walk in the park is a lot different than having to run the bases - and he's not putting any more torque on that than a baseball player at bat.

I'm just saying let's keep some perspective on golf as it relates to other sports. Walking 91 holes isn't the same as riding 2000 miles of cobblestone lined streets with a broken collar bone, nor is it like trying to rush the passer around a 300 pound lineman on one leg. It just isn't - but sportscasters are treating it like its the most incredible feat of our time. It's not.

It's impressive, it's an accomplishment, but it's not even the top ten in overcoming injury to excel at a sport.

the blue state blogger said...

"but it's not even the top ten in overcoming injury to excel at a sport."

Eh. Lots and lots of people would disagree with that, myself included. What Tiger did was nothing short of astounding IMO.

I couldn't agree with you more about the Hill statement. Just because you CAN say something doesn't mean you should. It seems like reporters-especially in sports and politics-are forever trying to one-up each other to see who can be more outrageous...hey, it's a jungle out there in this world of 24 hour noise and braindead consumers. The sad fact is, a lot of equally offensive-not to mention libelous-stuff gets routinely put out there every day.

Kevin Smith said...

Like I said about Tiger - impressive - but less impressive than...

Bledsoe going 3-1 (including the game in which he sustained the injury - have to include that because the Pats were trailing when he sustained the injury) with a screw holding together the bones in his index finger. He still passed for almost 1200 yards in those four games and had only one game where his completion percentage was below 66.

Jack Youngblood playing on a broken leg.

Reggie White returning to Green Bay's line up after the team announces he's done for the season and needs surgery to repair his torn hamstring.

Pedro Martinez shutting down the Cleveland Indians in a must-win playoff game with a back so bad that he couldn't throw a fastball.

Curt Schilling pitching shut-out ball on an ankle sutured together that day.

Tyler Hamilton riding almost 2000 miles with his clavicle broken in two places.

Lawrence Taylor playing through a torn pectoral muscle against the Saints to record seven tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Sean Avery (New York Rangers) suffered a lacerated spleen in the first period of a playoff game which he continued to play through, notching a second period assist before being rushed to the hospital at the conclusion of the game and admitted to the ICU.

Dick Butkus played the last three seasons of his career on screwed up (knee) tendons - including a season in which he made 117 tackles and 68 assists, recovered three fumbles and intercepted four passes.

And then there's always -

Rocky Bleier - Not a sports injury, but...he was told he would be lucky to walk, let alone run again when he lost part of his foot to a grenade in Vietnam. That was before his NFL career began.

or Wilma Rudolph who overcame polio to win four Olympic medals.

I think there are a lot of people in sports who have had more to overcome to excel at their respective sports in overcoming physical shortcomings than a guy who had to walk a lot on a gimpy leg. As a guy who ran track for a season and a half on a knee that required surgery, I'm less impressed by what Tiger did than what any of the above did.

As for the reporters that like to border on the libelous, don't even get me started on them.