Last night I began the process of gathering together all my records so I can begin my income tax filing for 2004; that is the event that will fill my
day once I finish writing and distributing this essay.
Staring at the piles of forms and receipts and 1099s, I began to look at the material at hand for today's rant and happened to notice that today is
the 796th anniversary of the day on which St. Francis of Assisi received his vocation from God; he was to live in abject poverty and spread the word
of God. My imminent tax filing endeavor may not reduce me to abject poverty, but it will provide more than a gentle nudge in that direction. These
essays are certainly not the word of God, but I do sometimes feel like the Biblical voice crying in the wilderness. Maybe I should start to dress the
part and wear sackcloth and ashes. Can I get them from Land's End?
I may not be thrilled about filing my income tax forms, but Diego Maradona has to be less happy than I on that front. Yesterday, an Italian court
ruled against him and declared that he indeed owes the Italian government $39M in back taxes. Since Maradona no longer plays soccer and seems to have
eaten about $39M worth of food to balloon in size to manatee status, it isn't clear just how he is supposed to come up with that kind of money. Maybe
he can write a tell-all book and claim that Pele was a "juicer".
Laveranues Coles got some heavy bread ($13M in signing bonus) from Danny Boy Snyder a couple of years ago but now LC seems to realize that money
doesn't buy happiness. He is not pleased with the Redskins' offense or the direction the team is going and wants out. The team wants some of the bonus
back as a condition for trading him; Coles says if he gives back any money, he wants to be an unrestricted free agent. St. Francis never had this kind
of dilemma to worry about.
Sammy Sosa held his introductory news conference with the Baltimore writers at the Orioles' camp yesterday. Of course, he is putting all the turmoil
of last year in Chicago behind him and moving on; that's not news. But interestingly, Sammy did have a minor problem with his new organization when
the trainer went to pick him up at the airport and Sammy wanted to know where the limo was. That's OK; Sammy never had a vocation to live in abject
poverty. Poor St. Francis had to make do with a donkey. The juxtaposition of Sammy and a donkey is interesting indeed.
Omar Moreno spent the winter spreading wealth around the baseball community. I don't know if the Mets even care about buying happiness; they are
merely trying to buy a bit of success. They spent something close to $200M in the past month or so to buy a good - but not great - young centerfielder
and a previously great - but possibly over the hill - starting pitcher. I hope they're happy because I'm not convinced they are going to be overly
successful. I'm not down on Beltran and Martinez as much as I'm down on the Mets' ability to work the free agent market. They are the baseball version
of Danny Boy Snyder and the Redskins - - lots of flash and lots of fanfare every year as they sign big name underperformers to huge contracts. Need I
remind you of some former astute moves by the Mets in acquiring folks named Alomar, Bonilla, Burnitz, Coleman and Vaughn? How's that workin' out?
Jose Canseco said that he would take a lie detector test to verify the allegations in his book. He also said it would be a pay-per-view TV event,
which may set a new standard for "cheesy" even in a world where people like Canseco live and prosper. In a former life, I had to take polygraph
examinations. I've been there and done that - literally. Let me say without fear of contradiction from anyone who has ever done that, this is not
"must see TV". Watching a polygraph examination is less exciting than watching someone crochet a tablecloth.
I read somewhere that the loyal season-ticket holders of the Denver Nuggets did not have much of a chance to see the NBA All-Star Game in Denver
because less than 4,000 tickets - out of the 21,000 capacity in the Pepsi Center - were allocated to Nuggets' season ticket holders. The rest of the
tickets were for sponsors and celebrities and friends of league officials. The season ticket holders got the nosebleed seats around the upper rim.
That's bad enough but what makes it worse is that there were 2,773 no-shows for the game; that means 13% of the seats were unoccupied. If you saw even
a little bit of the game or the preposterous "festivities", you'll recall that there was a bunch of empty seats in the "lower sections". So the league
can't even get their "guests" and "VIPs" to put their butts in the chairs for this over-hyped extravaganza but they limit the number of tix sold to
season ticket holders even thought there was a waiting list for more tix. Oh, and it's not as if the league was giving away those nosebleed seats;
they went for $400 each. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when the NBA tells me it's "Fan-tastic"
Since I mentioned the Pepsi Center above, I have to say that I find the "branding" of buildings and stadia and sporting events a bit silly and
certainly less than effective for the sponsors. Hey, if it were so damned effective, why have so many of the stadium and building "brands" gone into
bankruptcy? The silliness comes in with the lack of connection between the sponsor and the event. Why is there a Pepsi 400 NASCAR race? The drivers
are not drinking Pepsi out there on the track and Pepsi would not want them doing that and causing more accidents. Why is a consulting firm sponsoring
a golf tournament? Maybe because watching golf is about as enjoyable as being interviewed by a management consultant whose report will be very
expensive and universally ignored? And why was there a Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl Game? In the midst of all this silliness, I happened to surf through a
TV event where the sponsorship actually made sense. I noticed a Pro Bowling "Championship" sponsored by Odor Eaters. I didn't watch the event, but I
did notice the sponsor and its connection to the event.
Finally, the University of Mississippi just named Hugh Freeze as the assistant athletic director for football external affairs. I don't even want to
know what that job description might entail. But tell the truth, isn't this a guy who ought to be racing in the Iditarod?
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon