Whew!! We made it!! Winter (such as it has been) is on its last legs & spring lies just around the corner. Nascar is back. Pitchers & catchers have reported. NFL Draft chatter is lively. March Madness & The Masters are drawing near. Rejoice sports fans…rejoice indeed.
I’m not politically correct, and I have no patience with the concept of political correctness. Our modern society is not only far too easily offended, sometimes it seems as if we vigilantly look for reasons to take offense. Nowhere has this been more apparent recently than in the sports world. First, reporting on the raging obsession that has been NY Knicks wunderkind Jeremy Linn has become a virtual minefield for sports journalists. One ESPN employee was fired & one suspended for using the terminology “chink in the armor” to describe Linn’s issue with turnovers. The question that must be asked is “was the phrase used on purpose??” Well, my initial reaction was that it very well may not have been. After all, it is a fairly common idiom referring to a perceived weakness that can be exposed by an opponent. I don’t think it is an unfair assumption to think that most adults have likely used the expression many times in their lives with nary a thought to its possibly racial connotation. If Linn, instead of being a Californian of Asian descent, was instead British or a white guy from Texas we would not be having this discussion. However, let’s, for the sake of argument, look at the flip side. What if these two geniuses at the The Mothership in Bristol did know exactly what they were saying and got a jolly good chuckle from ripping a page out of The 14 Year Old Dumbasses’ Guide to Being Rebellious?? So what?? Did someone deserve to lose their job over the situation?? When did poor taste become a freakin’ hate crime?? I am not saying it was wise or even the proper thing to do, but the reaction was way over the top yet sadly typical in 21st century America. What’s next?? Will a football analyst not be able to point out that a wide receiver of Asian descent just ran a slant pattern without a bunch of pantywaists getting their knickers in a snit?? Ah yes…panties. That brings me to Danica Patrick, the woman who is going to save Nascar, even though Nascar doesn’t need saving and she never did a damn thing in the Indy Car series except win one irrelevant race in 7 years. At any rate, a TV talking head was recently forced to apologize to poor little Danica after almost calling her a bitch. That’s right…the guy’s bosses made him apologize for something he alluded to but didn’t actually say. What a crock of BS that is. And to go even further, his comments were in response to Ms. Patrick whining about people referring to her as sexy. Dearest Danica: Shut up. Embrace your hotness. If you were some horse faced lesbian that looked like Abe Vigoda in drag people would give even less of a damn about you than they already do (for example, look at the WNBA or LPGA). People sure don’t cheer for you because you win races because…well…you don’t. It’s kind of like how people just like Dale Earnhardt Jr. because of his famous Dad, not because of anything he’s actually accomplished himself. If/when Danica Patrick ever starts winning races & racking up trophies like Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, or Jeff Gordon then she can complain all she wants. Until then she needs to keep her yapper shut, try not to crash out of every race, and keep on doing scantily clad & sexually suggestive television commercials.
Rarely does golf grab my attention before the patrons gather at Augusta during the first week of April, but a few weeks ago Phil Mickelson shot a final round 64 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am to come from 6 strokes back and win. Then the following week Mickelson lost a three way playoff after he & another player made awesome birdies on the 18th hole, only to fall when the third guy made an incredible 43 foot putt to win the tournament. Anyone who says golf is boring to watch on TV is nuts.
Yeah…NBA…still not interested…yet. Call me in June.
In the last edition of W&M I referred to age & injuries catching up to my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. The problems in Steel Town have only gotten worse and I’m blaming Barack Obama. Allow me to explain. The team is currently further over the salary cap than any other NFL franchise. I’m not sure such financial mismanagement has EVER occurred with the Steelers. At the moment there seems to be a chance that they might lose their top WR, Mike Wallace, to free agency. Certainly that’s not unheard of with the Steelers, but it’s odd since Wallace is only 25 years old & entering his 4th year in the NFL. The Steelers have long had a knack for letting players go right when others might perceive him to still have gas left in the tank but they know that he has plateaued, is on the downward slope of his career, and is no longer worth the hefty price tag, but they don’t usually fail to lock up their good young stars for the long haul. I don’t think Wallace will actually go elsewhere, but the fact that it’s even a hot topic is troublesome. Then there is Hines Ward, a definite first ballot Hall of Famer. He wants to play one more year. The team’s braintrust was of the opinion that he’s washed up, so they released him. The team is probably right, but couldn’t something have been worked out?? If Hines wanted to play several more years and had the typical diva attitude we’ve seen in other receivers like Terrell Owens & Randy Moss, then I’d admit that he was delusional and be fine with cutting him loose. But this is a guy who, for the most part, has done things right on & off the field, has been a solid citizen in the community, and always has a beaming smile on his face. He is as close to a role model as most professional athletes get these days. I didn’t think it was too much to ask to keep him around one final year (with a restructured contract for near the league minimum) and let him go out on his terms. I still have cringe inducing memories of legendary Steelers running back Franco Harris in a Seattle Seahawks uniform, and it will be so very sad to see a similar fate befall Hines Ward. And finally we must address the “retirement” of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and the questionable choice of Todd Haley as his replacement. That whole thing is just weird. Steelers president Art Rooney II (grandson of team founder “The Chief” Art Rooney and son of current owner Dan Rooney) decided that he wanted to see a return to traditional smashmouth football. On some level I can understand the thought process. However, I also understand the old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. The Steelers have one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL in Ben Roethlisberger. As previously mentioned there is a good enough nucleus of talented receivers in place that a living legend like Hines Ward was expendable and a talented wideout like Wallace could be allowed to follow the big bucks to another locale. On top of that both the offensive line and the running back situation are huge question marks heading into 2012. So why does AR II want to change course all the sudden?? And why were we fed such an obvious lie about the “retirement” of Arians, only to see him accept the same job with the Indianapolis Colts just days later?? Certainly blatant duplicity is not The Steeler Way. And why hire a guy like former Kansas City head coach Haley and create discord with Roethisberger?? All I know is that if Dan Rooney were still in charge I don’t think any of this foolishness would be happening. Unfortunately he has spent the past few years as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, a job he was chosen for by President Obama. Therefore, if my Steelers fall completely apart this season and chaos ensues I will blame it completely on Obama.
What a wild & crazy ride The Daytona 500 was!! We saw fire, we saw rain, we saw a 500 mile race that we thought would never end. But Nascar…it’s always nice to see you baby one more time again.
As a Pirates fan I’m honestly not all that excited about the trade for 35 year old right handed pitcher AJ Burnett. I realize the value of having a solid veteran in the rotation, especially one who led the American League in strikeouts just 3 years ago. However, I’m just not sure it’s a judicious allocation of limited resources for my Buccos. If Burnett can win 15+ games with a sub 4.0 ERA then the $13 million price tag might prove worthy. But if Burnett only wins 10 or so games and has a 5-ish ERA (about what he did the past two seasons with the Yankees) then hindsight might indicate that another course of action would have been wiser. Right now it sure feels like the Yankees successfully dumped their problem on a lesser, more desperate franchise.