There are some really nice things to say about living in the Washington DC area - not the least of which is that my long-suffering wife loves it here
and wouldn't leave while still in a metabolically active state - despite all the silliness and posing done by the local politicians on each and every
little thing that comes up.
One of those really nice things is to open the Washington Post in the morning and find a column by Tony Kornheiser on a day when "Mr. Tony" is on a
roll. This morning was one of those days. Despite the fact that this column is about DC area sports, it is wonderfully written and I commend it to you
Another local story needs commentary this morning. The American Basketball Association has a jillion teams all over the country playing games that no
one cares about. The local team is the Maryland Night Hawks and I'd be willing to wager that if you went into all of the sports bars in the DC area
there would be only three people there at any given time who could name two players and/or the coach of this squad. The team is in its inaugural
season and is already in financial trouble; but today, it has a new owner and a gym to play in for the rest of the season. Why was it in financial
trouble? In its first seven home games, (the team is 6-3 so far this year) they have drawn an average of 200 fans and tickets are $7 each.
The ABA expanded from 8 to 35 teams this year [that is not a typo] and a whole bunch of those teams have had to postpone games or give players unpaid
leaves of absence. Some teams still exist on paper but have only played three games in the season while most teams have played 14-18 games. But the
ABA leadership is already planning to expand and add 40 more teams (that is not a typo either) next season including two more in the Washington
DC/Baltimore area. Excuse me. The current team is drawing 200 people per game and that would indicate there is sufficient pent-up demand in the area
to add two more teams? Here is the way I interpret the foundation of the league's business plan:
We are going to lose a little bit of money on every game and every franchise, but we are going to make up for that with volume...
The San Francisco 49ers fired Dennis Erickson and Terry Donahue yesterday. I have never been enamored with Erickson as a coach but I am surprised that
the extremely "bottom-line fixated" owner, John York, decided to let him go with about $7.5M left on his contract. Donahue also recently got a
contract extension from York so he is going to represent another hole in the pocket of an owner whose reputation is that he squeezes nickels so
tightly that the buffalo drops his chips. But the team was a living and breathing disaster on the field this year and that has to be the
responsibility of the GM and the coach; so York did the right thing here - - provided he has not poisoned the well in SF such that a quality GM and
coach will refuse to go there and work for him. The NFL has had a couple of "worst-to-first" storylines in the recent past. The 49ers will not be one
of them next season! To give you an idea of the talent deficiency there, this is the first season since 1981 where no 49er player has been voted into
the Pro Bowl.
Let me say one more time that the self-aggrandizing people at the Associated Press - who will not allow their meaningless NCAA football poll to be
used by the BCS next year - are suffering from delusions of adequacy. In their final poll this year, three of their omniscient writers voted for
Auburn as the #1 team in the country. Minnesota, UTEP and Southern Mississippi got votes for being in the Top 25. You need more evidence that these
voters are biased, frivolous and capricious? I say good riddance to the AP poll.
I have had very few nice things to say about the people who run horseracing in Maryland. The tracks are dilapidated; the cuts of the handle are high;
there are too many short fields and there are way too many cheap claiming races. However, let me give them some props here because at least they have
never been responsible for anything as goofy as what happened at Gulfstream Park this week. Gulfstream is a major track for winter racing; these dates
in Florida used to be the focus of horse racing in the US about 25 years ago. No longer. And the folks at Gulfstream did nothing this week to bring
back those halcyon days...
Gulfstream needed a renovation and so it was undertaken. The problem is that it was not nearly finished when it came time for the winter meet to
start. There were no stands and people where herded into tents to do things like get out of the elements and/or make a bet and/or whatever. There were
few if any "facilities" for those patrons who might find themselves in the situation where the lease was up on the beers they had consumed - if you
get my drift here. It was not a luxurious ambiance. And then the first race had to be stopped in mid-race because the tractor that pulls the starting
gate out of the way had a transmission problem and could not move the gate. So, let me offer props to the Maryland racing folks for finding ways to
avoid such a fiasco.
I read where Oklahoma State running back, Vernand Morency, has declared for the NFL draft this year. Then I read a statement attributed to him that
was surprising; he said, "I just feel mentally and physically ready to go and make my presence felt in the NFL. There's no doubt I'm the top back in
America." I admit that this is not a great year for running backs, but I had to go and look at how he did in Oklahoma State's Bowl Game - which would
be a showcase for the "top back in America". Vernand had 24 yards on 8 carries. In terms of self-aggrandizement, this guy may wind up working for the
Associated Press some day - assuming some marginal facility with the English language.
Finally, some words of wisdom from Mike Lupica in the NY Daily News:
"When it is all said and done, the New York Yankees are the last place in big-time sports where there is no salary cap, other than perhaps some of
your big-time college football programs in the South and Midwest."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon