Archive for the ‘Sports’ category

Whatever

June 29, 2007

I think that’s going to be the name of the new blog. I’m open to suggestions, though.

As for the content, the name says it all: Whatever interests me enough to make me want to write about it. I imagine it will be the same basic content as the Alablawg – local and national politics, sports, religion, music, books, beer and pictures – but with the addition of comments on Louisiana and Shreveport stuff as well as on my new career as a teacher.

We’ve finally got the internet, so I’ll be regularly posting again. Soon enough I’ll get a new site up and going, but until then I’ll be on this one.

Anyway, consider this the first post of the Whatever blog: A few thoughts about Chris Benoit.

First, as background for the next point, and on wrestling in general, discovering it was fake was, for me, a far more traumatizing growing up experience than the same revelation about Santa Clause. I watched all the matches; had all the toys; and practiced all the moves – Boston crab, figure four, full nelson, camel clutch, pile driver – with my buddies. Hulk Hogan was just as much my hero as Doc Gooden and Daryl Strawberry. (We can discuss my choice of heroes in another post). Hence, when I found out the Hulkster and all the rest were frauds, I really think I went through all five stages of grief, only “acceptance” was replaced with “rejection.” Oh, and I was at most ten years old when this happened.

Which brings me to point two. Bill Simmons had this to say yesterday:

Adam (NY): So what does WWE do from here? With the macmahon death awkwardness floating over their heads I think they’re going to lose a huge portion of their audience. They have to, right?

SportsNation Bill Simmons: Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. I think this could be it – it’s going to be the dominant story of the next 2 weeks and everyone is going to bring up the death stats and all the crazy incidents that have happened, I don’t think the average person realizes what a damaging sport this has been (physically and psychologically) to the people who do it. Again, I think we’ve reached the tipping point. Sorry to be so somber, but the Benoit thing… i mean, it’s hard to explain how big he was in wrestling circles.

I’m saying no-way this hurts the WWE. I was ten when I found out it was fake, and I never watched the sport again. Why not? Because even as a ten year old I realized it was pointless. Why watch a sporting event when the outcome is predetermined? Who cares?  So, if the “sport” is too ridiculous for even a ten year old, then that means the average adult WWE fan is either 1) really, really stupid; or 2) willfully ignoring reality. Neither type of person will, I think, care about Chris Benoit. I’m not saying all the WWE fans are morons; but enough of them are that the WWE will continue.

What I’m saying is that the average WWE fan is like the average George W. Bush supporter. If by this point they have not come to their senses, they never will.

Third point. Like Simmons said, this issue is bigger than Chris Benoit. Later in the chat, someone posted a link to this site, which lists every famous pro wrestler since 1986 who has died before the age of 65. It’s a long list. 38 of them were 40 or under, including Benoit.

If that does not shock you, imagine if the list featured baseball players who had died under the age of 65, or football players, or basketball players. Or else consider the reactions to Lyle Alzado’s death, or Len Bias’s death. Even casual sports fans remember those, yet until I saw that list I had no idea that any pro-wrestler had died young. As someone said on Simmons’s chat, if any other sport had seen this many of its athletes die untimely deaths, we’d have seen Congressional hearings long ago.

Does the list mean wrestling caused the deaths? If so, should someone other than the WWE or the individual wrestlers do something about the problem? I do not know about causation. As for the remedy, I certainly do not want to call for government oversight of the WWE. And hey, these guys all chose their profession. But even if wrestling was real, or if I was one of goobs who watches it even though it’s fake, that list would definitely make me reconsider my support of the WWE.

Bill Simmons And The NBA Draft

May 23, 2007

I’m sure none of you care, but I can’t wait to hear his reaction to last night’s lottery. Really, I’m more excited about the release of his column than I’ve ever been about a pending Scotus case.

Since last fall, he’s been salivating over the prospect of the Celtics getting to draft Kevin Durant or Greg Oden. Earlier this week, he wrote this:

On Monday morning, I flew cross-country to watch the NBA draft lottery back home in Boston. Why? Because I still blame myself for screwing up the Duncan lottery. Instead of watching such a pivotal, franchise-defining moment with my father — the guy who carried me into the Boston Garden since I was 4 years old — I blew him off to spend a weekend on Cape Cod with a blonde sorta-girlfriend who couldn’t understand why the NBA lottery didn’t just work like Megabucks.

Bad move. Baaaaaaaaaad move.

After the Celtics failed to get Duncan, I dumped the blonde a few weeks later, mostly because I never forgave myself for watching the lottery with her. (Don’t worry, we wouldn’t have lasted — sorta-girlfriends never do.) Ten mostly depressing seasons later, with Duncan headed for a fourth ring and the long-suffering Celtics hitting another fork-in-the-road moment, I couldn’t take any chances. I had to come home. I had to watch the NBA lottery with my dad. If only for karmic purposes.

Then he ranked the fourteen lottery teams according to whose karma most favored getting one of the top two picks. His beloved Celtics came in second, with Simmons saying:

I want you to zoom through the 14 lottery teams again. With the possible exception of Seattle (for reasons we’re about to explain), find me a group of fans who’d be more devastated tonight if they didn’t land No. 1 or No. 2. Name me a better home for Oden or Durant from the NBA’s standpoint. Name me a young team that makes a leap more quickly than the Celtics with a Pierce-Jefferson-Oden/Durant nucleus. Compared to the other perennial screw-ups and basketball coldbeds on this list, how could you argue against the Celtics’ karmic rights for a top-two pick? We’re due, aren’t we? Please tell me we’re due. For the love of God, TELL ME WE’RE DUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They weren’t. Portland got the number one and Seattle the number two with the Celts dropping all the way to fifth.

If you’re even a luke-warm NBA fan (or is there any other kind?) you understand what a catastrophe that was. The Celtics had the second worst record in the NBA. In any other league, that would have given them the second pick in the draft, thus Oden or Durant, two players each considered once in a generation franchise saviors. The NBA, though, decides who picks when according to a lottery. The worst teams get a better chance to win, but it’s still up to chance. So if you – like Simmons – are a die hard fan of a crappy team, you could end up not only enduring loss after loss, but then not even getting a decent draft pick as consolation. And it could happen again, and again, and again.

Imagine how this guy would feel if in order to land Nick Saban, in addition to offering him a bazillion dollars, Alabama had to play rock/paper/scissors with the Dolphins in order to get him, and then the Tide lost. It would be kind of like that.

So I can’t wait to hear what the Sports Guy has to say about the draft. It’ll be funny, and it’ll confirm he’s not laying on his dad’s floor, in a permanent vegitative state.

UPDATE. He’s alive, but not happy:

You can’t even fathom the pain. Everyone believes Celtics fans get a free pass with this stuff because we won 16 titles in 30 years. Actually, it’s the opposite. Long-suffering fans of perennial losers don’t know what they’re missing. After all, how would they know? You can’t miss steak if you’ve never eaten steak, right? But if you’re fortunate enough to follow a perennially successful franchise, then that same franchise starts decomposing right in front of you … what then? The Celtics used to mean something; now they don’t. Anyone who remembers the good old days — when the Garden was rocking, when we were always in the hunt, when you honestly believed that we’d win every close game because someone was looking out for us, when everyone else feared us — can’t come to grips with what’s happened. We’re like one of those child actors who peaked at 15, made a ton of money, had everyone kissing their ass for a few years and then everything went to crap.

Well, you know what happens to famous child actors who become irrelevant? They go crazy. They go off the deep end. They chain-smoke, they do drugs, they get arrested, they look like hell, they disgrace themselves on “The Surreal Life” or “Celebrity Fit Club” because they’re so desperate to be famous again. And these things happen because they’re still trapped in the past and waking up every day wondering, “What the hell happened? I used to be living the high life!” Basically, every Celtics fan older than the age of 25 has turned into Macaulay Culkin. And the ones younger than 25 can’t even remember what they’re supposed to be missing.

God Beats Football!

May 17, 2007

At the high school level anyway:

The Hoover High football team’s appearance in a nationally televised event is in jeopardy, thanks to a ruling by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

A unanimous vote by the AHSAA Central Board of Control on Wednesday denied the Bucs’ request to play in a Sept.2 game that is part of the third annual Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge.

The reason? The game falls on a Sunday.

The Labor Day Weekend matchup of Hoover vs. Ohio power Colerain High was set to be aired live on ESPN2. The kickoff was slated for 12:37 p.m. at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati.

Sunday is a day of worship,” said Dan Washburn, the AHSAA executive director, when citing the reason for denying Hoover’s application to play an out-of-state opponent.

There is no specific written rule that prohibits games from being played on a Sunday, Washburn said, but it is “policy established through practice.”

First, kids, do you know what “arbitrary and capricious” means? If not, the lawsuit will enlighten you.

Second, even if there was an actual rule prohibiting games on Sunday, Mr. Washburn pretty much just guaranteed that the rule is unconstitutional. My basic understanding is that “blue laws” – laws prohibiting activities on Sunday – are constiutional so long as they have a secular purpose. If, though, the purpose is to promote church going – as Mr. Washburn just proudly announced – the law violates the First Amendment.

But even if it doesn’t violate the first amendment, it’s a dumb rule. The title to Kathy’s post says it best: “Good Thing There’s No Jewish Kids on the Team.” To put the same thing another way, I don’t want to have to give up my activities so that someone else can worship Allah, so I’m not going to make anyone else curtail their lives so that I can go to Mass.

Why is it so hard to understand that not everyone holds the same religious beliefs?

A Blessing In Disguise

April 16, 2007

As described here, having twins last fall torpedoed my plans for running a Boston-qualifying time in the 2007 Mercedes Marathon.

Turns out, missing Boston this year ain’t a bad thing.

While We’re On The Subject Of College Sports, Coaches, And Nut Cases

March 23, 2007

(See below) How long until Jesse Jackson (vel sim) starts bloviating about Tubby Smith leaving Kentucky?

“visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children”

March 23, 2007

I have made fun of people with “S. The Coach” stickers on their cars, but at least those folks just make themselves look like dorks:

So, how dedicated are you to Alabama football?

If you answer that you have season tickets and that you go to every game, that’s not good enough for Tim and Hannah Witt.

They do that, too.

But, if you say that you are naming your children after something associated with Crimson Tide football, then you’re at the level the couple says separates “regular fans” from “die-hard fans.”

As early as mid-January, the Witts knew their second child was a boy, and they knew his name would be Saban.

That’s right, Saban Hardin Witt, who was born Tuesday at about 5 p.m. in Decatur General Hospital, is named after Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. He was two weeks early and weighed 7 pounds and 10 ounces.

Look, it’s always a bad idea to name stuff after living people. The Richard M. Scrushy Parkway here in B’ham being the prime example of why only dead folks should be so honored. But it’s a really, really, REALLY bad idea to name your kid after a coach who has yet to coach even one game, especially when that coach works for a school whose fans are, uhh, er, a bit impatient. This poor kid is gonna get beat up and have his lunch money stolen every time Alabama loses the Iron Bowl.

“It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times”

February 11, 2007

The literal time was the worst, but overall I had a good time at the Mercedes Marathon, and I’m glad I did it.

So what was my time? 3:57. Considered in the abstract, not so bad, but when you run a 3:26 the year before – good for 76th out of 757 runners – and initially have visions of a Boston qualifying time (sub 3:10) this year, well, not so good. And it hurt, too.

We had twins last fall, so I gave up on the Boston idea a while back. The training was way too intense and I would not have been able to make the trip to Beantown in any event. In fact, at one point I gave up on the Marathon altogether, resigning myself to the half. Basically, I did not run at all in December. Then on a bike ride in early January, I saw the freshly painted “M”s on the road, marking the course. That hit me. The next day, I had to go to court and walked across Linn Park, the heart of the marathon festivities, and I decided, “Hey, what the heck, I can still run this thing.”

Therein was today’s problem. I began training again, even doing a twenty two miler three weeks out from the event. But it was too little, too late. I knew I would not be going very fast today, so I set myself at an eight minute per mile pace, and kept it until mile 16, then I blew up. There was no gradual slowdown, either. I went from 8:10 in mile 16 to 9:45 in mile 17 and never got below 10 minutes a mile after that. I just had not run enough high mileage training routes.

Man, oh man, did those last ten miles hurt. I alternated from near tears, to using all my mental energy to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, to wondering if I should just fall over and let someone call a medic. Awful. I have never hurt that bad in any sporting event.

Humiliating also. I never passed anyone over those last ten miles, meanwhile it seemed like every runner in the event blew by me. Women, too; lots of good looking women. So not only was I getting smoked by girls, but I’m thinking “No, I’m strong, I’m manly, really, I’m better than this pathetic, foot dragging, eleven minute per mile weakling you see now.”

But I finished. Not proudly. Not well. But I did manage to run 26.2 miles.

At this point, though, you are probably asking, “Why?”

It isn’t Mt Everest, but the first reason is because it’s there. I started running in law school and almost immediately began thinking about doing a marathon. It’s what makes you a runner. I could not be satisfied running 10k’s here and there, knowing I had never scaled the sport’s holiest mountain.

The second reason is because it demands a long training schedule, and that forces me to get my shoes on and go running throughout the week. Running is not fun like cycling is fun, when you go downhill on a bike, it’s pure joy; downhill on your feet is just a different type of pain. So whereas the bike is it’s own incentive, I need something to get me pounding the pavement.

Running, despite it’s low score on the fun scale, is a wonderful activity. It certainly keeps you in shape, which is good because I like to eat and drink, a lot. In fact, there’s a bottle of wine in the kitchen right now with my name on it, and after dinner, a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream awaits. Even so, I’m wearing the same size blue jeans I wore my freshman year in high school. I also like backpacking and taking hours long walks around town, which the strength and endurance I get from running allows me to do easily. It teaches mental discipline. I only got through the run today because I forced myself to do it. It keeps office chair warming, computer screen staring “professionals” like me from turning into baked-by-fluorescent-light pasty-puffs and lets us get out and experience the joys of the sun, the weather, the trees, and our own bodies. I recently started running at lunch and there are few things in my life more invigorating then getting my tush out of that stupid chair, putting on my shoes, and stepping out into reality for an hour. My lungs stretch to take in the maximum amount of the cold air, my stagnant muscles harden, the sweat pours out of me, my heart finds its true rhythm, and for the first time all day, I am alive.

For this run in particular, I do it because I think this is one of B’ham’s two coolest yearly events (Do Dah Day being the other). Last night at Mass, Father Donahoe asked all the runners who were present to stand, and then blessed us all. There were over four thousand people at the start today. Tons of folks lined the route to cheer us on. You get a great medal and running shirt when you finish. The post-race food and party is outstanding. Best of all? For me, anyway, today is the symbolic end of winter and the official end of running season and the beginning of spring, cycling and – after I take off for the next two weeks – training for the Three State Three Mountain Challenge.

Finally, I would be remiss to fail to point out how cool it was to have my two kids cheering for me at the finish. O.K., they’re three months old, and were actually asleep in the jogging stroller while momma cheered for them. Still, you get the idea. While I was stumbling through the wilderness of Mountain Brook, my legs feeling like someone was digging into my quads with an icepick, on more than one occasion, I thought about my little princess waiting for me at the end.

I really hope one or both of them likes to run or cycle, so that one day we can do this kind of stuff together. That would be fun.