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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on Fresno State/Hawaii, Ron Artest, Maurice Clarett plus mo

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posted on Nov, 16 2004 @ 03:19 PM
I need to ease my way back into the routine of ranting so let me start with something you may have missed in the stat sheets for last week's college football games.

Fresno State beat Hawaii 70-14; it was 49-0 at the half; that is not the biggest surprise in the game. What is a surprise is that Fresno State gained more than 503 yards - - rushing on 64 attempts. Ladies and gentlemen, that is called an ass-stomping; there is no polite way to portray that kind of game. That defensive showing stunk so much it makes a sewage treatment plant smell like lilacs.

I am trying to catch up on all the details of the Ron Artest situation. I hope you remember that I really like Artest as a player because he plays really good defense and he plays hard 95% of the time. I realize that he has some emotional control issues and that he needs to mature more than a little bit, but I really like him as a player. And then this episode with his album came along. He actually said that he wanted to take a month off from the Pacers - and was willing to give them back the money he would have earned in that month - so that he could rest his body and promote his upcoming record album and then he'd come back to the Pacers and play for them and try to win a championship. I think I have that right...

Now you will also recall that I have been saying for more than a couple of years that paying good money to see NBA games in the early part of the season is folly because the players usually aren't giving more than a half-hearted effort and too many games are meaningless. The NBA season doesn't really start in earnest until the final 6 weeks when teams are trying to get into the playoffs and/or jockey for seeding position there. Now one of my favorite players from a spectator standpoint has offered irrefutable evidence that the NBA is unwatchable early in the year. Here is a starter on a team that is a serious contender for the Eastern Conference slot in the final playoff series and he does not care enough to focus his attention on the games in November/December. Excuse me; he does not even care to be in the same city where they are being played because he wants to promote a singing career.

I will promise you that David Stern will not allude to this situation when he gives us his "looking at the world through rose colored glasses to see that the glass is more than half-full speech" at the All-Star Game in February. I'll also promise you that none of the fawning NBA media folks will bring it up at his press affair there.

The Saint Paul Pioneer-Press had a story saying that Jesse Ventura was not happy with the Timberwolves games at the Target Center. Ventura has season tickets in the lower level there and is not happy that he can't get a hot-dog on the main level but that they do serve sushi. He finds that "un-American"; I find it symptomatic of the NBA doing more and more things to take one's attention away from the product they are putting on the floor.

I hope that at least some of you recall that all during the Maurice Clarett soap opera last year, I kept asking where he got the money to drive the cars that he was driving and to show up at all the "events" that he showed up at when he claimed to need a hardship ticket to get home in order to go and attend a friend's funeral. I don't think that Clarett is a particularly sympathetic figure. But there has always been something just a bit "fishy" about the material things surrounding him during his impoverished scholar-athlete years. Now he claims that the school - and its allies - gave him money and cars and the like. And I think I heard somewhere that he is coming forth now with this story because he wants the NFL General Managers to realize that he is a "man of character". I could not make that kind of stuff up.

For the record, Maurice Clarett is not the second coming of Jim Brown as a football player but he is certainly worth taking in the draft for his physical talents. But there is not much that he could do between now and the NFL Draft next April to convince me that he is a "character guy" that anyone would want in their locker room. There isn't enough time for him to lose the stink of his "me first" behaviors.

However, his words - whether or not you think they are true or positively motivated or whatever - must cause the animatronic suit dummy known as Dr. Myles Brand to do something. I know that Ohio State is an icon of NCAA football and that they are a multi-time national champion. Nonetheless, this calls for the NCAA to assign half of its watchdog police force (about 7 people) to Columbus, Ohio in order to run to ground each and every claim that Clarett has made. They need to do this because the integrity of the games that they cherish so much is at stake. Remember each and every time they moan about gambling on college games, they assure you that all they want to do is to protect the wee-being of the coaches and the players and the integrity of their games. I don't believe that for a minute, but if they want to maintain that pretense, they better damned well do something really impressive here. They don't have much to work with because the enforcement clowns on their payroll are the ones that could not find anything wrong at Colorado and the ones who could not find anything wrong with what was going on at Washington under Rick Neuheisel even though yacht trips were improperly used in recruiting.

Here you have a situation where a real investigation will prove either that Clarett is right or wrong but that investigation will have to be done by people who might not be able to find any beer at a fraternity party kegger. It is definitely in the interest of the NCAA to find nothing amiss at Ohio State because they have no equity stake in making Maurice Clarett into a whistleblowing hero. So, don't expect Dr. Myles Brand to be leading any crusade here to unearth any wrongdoing. And that means that he will probably be scouring his organization to find the three investigators to send to Columbus who will hear no evil, see no evil and most assuredly speak/write no evil. Given the NCAA investigative track record, his search should not be a difficult one.

With regard to the Arizona Diamondbacks dumping Wally Backman after finding out about his less than completely pristine past, I have to say that this is what happens when you take an uber-agent and put him in charge of a team instead of in charge of fleecing a team. How the hell could Jeff Moorad not have done a records check on Backman to find out about these public record incidents? If you apply to get a $10 per hour job at a major retailer in the US, they will do a drug screening on you AND they will do a public records background check on you AND they will more than likely check your financial background too. But the Arizona Diamondbacks didn't do that?

Oh, by way of a public service announcement, MLS played its championship game yesterday since I am positive that well more than half of the readers here did not realize that MLS was still playing. They drew a live gate of 25,000 people. I wonder if the TV audience was ten times bigger than that. Worse than that, I wonder if the TV audience for this live MLS championship event was any bigger than regional FOX SportsNet channels are getting for their reruns of "classic" NHL games. That is not a joke; the FOX network in the southeast was actually showing "Classic Nashville Predator Games". Who even knew there were any such things?

Finally, a good line from Scott Ostler:

"No way the Sox keep all their free agent stars, Boston's big celebration is going to be followed by the Boston Flee Party."

But don't get me wrong, I love sports...

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon

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