Yesterday, I began with a reference to St. Francis of Assisi; today I have to begin with a "mea culpa". As several loyal readers pointed out to me -
and they did so gently for the most part - I referred yesterday to the Mets' GM as "Omar Moreno" instead of Omar Minaya.
Once again, I have provided conclusive evidence that there are no editors or assistants here in Curmudgeon Central; it's just me and the spell
checker. That situation accounts for the errors you find in these rants and it also makes assessment of blame rather simple and direct. Mea culpa. Mea
There are a few big news items that need commentary today. Let me begin with the John Chaney incident where he "sent in the goons" to do some hard
fouling and some elbow throwing in a game against St. Joe's to retaliate for some allegedly illegal screens set by the Hawks. A St. Joe's player was
injured as a result of the "goon" he sent in. In terms of context, I have great admiration for John Chaney. He is an excellent coach and he has molded
the lives of lots of young men in very positive ways over the years. He runs his program by the rules and he is a man of his word. Yes, I do recall
the infamous confrontation he had with John Calipari about 10 or 12 years ago but I do not think that is sufficient to negate the huge body of good
works he had accomplished.
Now we come to the year 2005. I wonder if the stresses and strains of coaching have begun to take their toll on John Chaney. The incident about a
month ago where he went off on the people who live in Ohio and how they were odious and evil folks for giving their electoral votes to President Bush
in the last election was certainly an expression of protected free political speech. But it does seem to be an odd way to prepare for a basketball
game against a team from that state. And more importantly, it is the kind of generalization and stereotyping that an adult black man ought to
recognize as wrongful and hurtful. Saying that you hate the people who live in a state because they think differently than you do and voted
differently than you voted is not that different from saying you hate people because of their skin color. And since the vote was so very close in
Ohio, making that statement means that he painted with the same brush all the folks who did vote the way he implied everyone should have voted. I have
no problem with his right to say what he did; I do question the logic and rationale behind the remarks and the not so subtle stereotyping contained
Then we have the "send in the goons" incident, which was far closer to a premeditated act as opposed to "heat of the moment" act. Granted, it was not
John Chaney that threw the St. Joe's player to the floor; but I think that his actions that night were not that significantly different from those of
Woody Hayes on the sidelines of his final game at Ohio State when he attacked a Clemson player who made a play in front of the Ohio State bench. It is
wrong - and there is no possible justification - for a coach to engage in or set in motion any activity where the safety and well-being of the
athletes on the field is jeopardized. John Chaney suspended himself for a game and it appears as if the Atlantic 10 Conference will accept that
punishment. Fine. But even with John Chaney's prodigious body of good works, this has to be the last time anything even remotely close to this
situation happens. If anything like this happens again, he ought to be dismissed immediately and permanently.
Oh, by the way, after he said that he was going to "send in the goons", what might the kid think about himself when he was called from the bench by
Coach Chaney and sent into that game to commit some hard fouls? Pretend I'm the parent of that kid and explain to me why a coach feels it necessary to
put that label on my kid.
Next is the Randy Moss trade. If you ever doubted that this guy was a clubhouse cancer, look at what the Vikes took in exchange for the opportunity to
get him into another time zone. They got a serviceable - but never to be confused with outstanding - middle linebacker and the #7 pick in this year's
draft. Moss's on-field statistics are way beyond that value and so his diminished open market value has to be accounted for in the
"out-of-game-dimensions" that are Randy Moss.
The Raiders love the vertical offense; they want their QB to be nicknamed "The Unabomber". Well after re-signing Jerry Porter to a long-term deal and
adding Randy Moss to the receiving corps, nothing should stand in the way of that kind of offense - unless these two get into some kind of spitting
match over how many balls get thrown in their direction. Remember, there is still only one football in play at a time. Duante Culpepper's growth as a
QB and his stats have certainly been augmented by the presence of Randy Moss and Culpepper has said that Moss is his good friend. Even so, Culpepper
says that maybe it was time for Randy to move on. It will likely take Kerry Collins several years of gaudy stats before he reaches that point of
frustration; so the Raiders probably need not worry on that front.
Here is the Raiders' worry. The team already has some "strong personalities" and people who believe that they deserve the limelight. Adding Randy Moss
to that mix might be problematic and you may need a very strong and forceful coach to act as the ringmaster in the cage here. Norv Turner is anything
but a strong and forceful personality. On the ladder of people who kick ass and take names, he is one rung above Gandhi.
Maybe the Vikes traded Moss to save money? After all, they owed him about $35M over the rest of his contract; and by trading him, they create almost
$10M of "dead money" on their cap for this year. "Dead money" in actuality is added profit in the pocket of the owner because it counts against the
cap but is not actually paid to anyone. Since I don't read minds, I have no idea if this was a move to increase the profitability of the team - - but
the club is indeed up for sale. Interestingly, the prospective owner said last week that he would definitely not trade Randy Moss. I said then that
his comments were irrelevant because he didn't actually control anything; I guess the current ownership demonstrated that fact rather pointedly. Or is
the current owner worried - as are others - that this purchase offer is all show and there is nowhere near sufficient cash behind it to make it past
the NFL Finance Committee? We shall see...
After their rude dismissal in the playoffs back in 2000, the Vikings had not been to the playoffs again until this year when they got in with an 8-8
record for the year. The Vikes have gotten off to blazing starts the past two seasons only to run into some adversity and fold up like a cardboard
house in a hurricane. Randy Moss is a classic front-runner who plays hard as long as the wins are coming along but who gripes and "decides not to play
hard" when adversity strikes. Maybe that's why the Vikes traded him; that would be a plenty good reason for me.
I've advocated the Sixers trading Allen Iverson; instead, they traded for Chris Webber. This is without question the most talented teammate that Allen
Iverson has ever had to share the court with; this is the upgrade in the quality of the team around him that he said he wanted several weeks ago. This
is now the most talented team in the Atlantic Division - which is truly damning by faint praise. Now we will have to see if these two physically
gifted athletes - neither of whom has ever won anything meaningful beyond high school - can co-exist in such a way as to make the rest of the Sixers'
squad into something special. And by no means is the rest of that roster special in any way.
Finally, leave it to Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle to come up with a motto for the Raiders' offense next year now that they have
acquired Randy Moss:
"The Raiders' offense is going to be, 'Porter and Moss, and just give it a toss'."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon