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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on NHL players, David Duval, Timberwolves plus more...

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posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 11:34 AM
About a week ago, I pointed out that sentencing guidelines in Georgia might be askew when Jamal Lewis got a short jail term because someone used his cell phone to set up a drug deal while Dany Heatley got a small fine, probation and a requirement to give 150 public speeches on the dangers of speeding after he was in a crash that killed a teammate of his.

About 48 hours after his sentencing, Heatley was on a plane heading to Russia to play hockey. One of the terms of his probation was that he was not drive in excess of a certain speed for the next three years. Does that apply to driving in Russia? And how about that public speaking requirement? Can he do that to the Moscow Boy's Club? This is another farcical sentence given to a defendant who has the money to buy leniency from the courts.

And speaking of hockey players abroad, three NHL players were in Sweden practicing with the national team. A young woman reported a sexual assault at the same hotel where the players were staying and the police questioned them. The next day, these players gave up their spots on the national team "because of the turbulence of the last 24 hours and with regard for what's best for the team." Obviously, the blame for the difficulty these players find themselves in is the NHL work stoppage. Had that not happened, they would have never been in Sweden in February...

As the NHL season circles the drain, let me offer a sporting riddle for you:

Q: Why are the NHL labor negotiations like a NASCAR race?

A: They go endlessly around in circles so the net effect is zero progress.

While a lot of attention has been focused on Phil Mickelson winning the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by seven strokes, I looked at the final standings for the tournament and noticed that former golf phenom, David Duval, not only did not make the cut; he was 42 strokes behind Mickelson after three rounds. Another golfer missed the cut even though he was 16 strokes better than Duval. That golfer was George Burns and I could have sworn that he was dead.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have to be the most disappointing team in the NBA this year. After looking as if they were on the cusp of winning a conference title - or maybe the NBA title - they are currently three games under .500 and they would not even make the playoffs if the season ended today. So, of course they fired the coach, Flip Saunders. Having watched the Timberwolves on TV about a half dozen times, Saunders was hardly the problem. The aftermath of the contract situation that led Latrell Spreewell to utter those cosmically stupid words about being insulted by a $10M contract offer because he had the responsibility to feed his family is that Spreewell is dogging it on the court about 75% of the time. The other player who wanted a contract extension and did not get it was Sam Cassell. When I watch the Timberwolves, he and Spreewell seem to have decided to take their games to a different level - significantly below what it was last year. Two players who had key roles in last year's success do not look as if they are even trying most of the time. And the Timberwolves still have to carry the burden of Michael Olowokandi at center, which is no mean feat. One of the talking heads on ESPN or TNT said that Kevin Garnett was playing with a knee injury. All I can say is that even hurt, Garnett is worth more than Spreewell, Cassell and Olowokandi put together.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is an organization for which I have little patience. What it does is rarely "science" and its definition of "public interest" seems to be more akin to "organizational interest". Normally, these folks stick their heads out of their burrows during the ratings sweeps months when they can provide local news outlets with some "exclusive and shocking news" that will be revealed tonight at eleven. After that flurry of entropy, they usually go away and don't bother us until the next sweeps ratings period. February is a sweeps month and so there was a letter to the editor in the Washington Post recently from someone at CSPI identified as the Manager, Campaign For Alcohol-Free Sports TV. The letter cites efforts by universities to "work voluntarily to end alcohol ads on college sports telecasts" and decries the ad campaigns on the Super Bowl and March Madness. Rising to the rarefied heights of dudgeon, this letter concludes with, "The ads are an affront to the mission of colleges and universities and an obstacle to making real changes to a culture of drinking - and alcohol harm - that infects most campuses."

It is time to call "BALDERDASH" here. It is not news that college kids drink alcohol even though the majority of those students are underage and such consumption is illegal. But you draw a long bow if you try to tie campus drinking to alcohol ads. Consider that there are no ads on TV for "Columbian Gold Brand Cocaine" or "Oregon Shade Grown Marijuana". Now, what causes students to use those substances - which are equally illegal? The beer ads on TV? I doubt it. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is merely an organization that wants to tell you what is best for you and pretends to know enough to do that by intimating that they are a scientific organization. But don't worry; February is now half over and sweeps month will be ending soon and they will go away until May.

While I am in the mood to talk about pompous organizations, let me call to your attention that the Atlanta Journal Constitution has recently decided that their reporters will no longer participate in voting for the AP polls that rank college athletic teams and the Heisman Trophy but they will continue to vote for things like the Halls of Fame. Fine, if that's what they want to do, they should do it. However, the paper felt the need to climb on a soapbox and say that their reporters should bring the news to their readers and not be in the business of creating the news or influencing the news. This is journalistic moralism, which sounds ever so good but is ignored by just about every newspaper in the country about the time that every election rolls around and the paper proceeds to "endorse" certain candidates and urges readers to vote in particular ways. Of course, that's free speech and not influencing the news.

Last week it was Valentine's Day and Dwight Perry had this tribute in the Seattle Times:

"Romeo Crennel and Lovie Smith made it to the finals, but this year's Valentine's Day salute goes out to the star of the Kentlake High School girl's basketball team; Luv Rattler."

For the record, I "googled" Luv Rattler; yes, she does exist.

Finally, TJ Simers had this observation about the NHL negotiations - and the NHL in general - in a recent column in the LA Times:

"The newspaper recently noted that there have been 807 total NHL games missed this season. I believe that's a mistake. I haven't missed any."

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

Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon

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