I try to keep politics out of these rants as much as possible, but I know that I succumb to the temptation to make fun of politicos more than once in
a while. I have really gone out of my way to avoid commentary on any religious items because I have no interest in getting into those kinds of
interchanges with people I do not know. So, these next comments are not intended to have any religious content even though they deal with a subject
that is totally intertwined with religion.
At two recent soccer playoff games in Scotland, game officials tried to have a moment of silence to commemorate the death of Pope John Paul II. In
both instances, that moment of silence was interrupted by outbursts from fans at the games. I don't know or particularly care if these interruptions
were based on an intense desire to see the game get underway or if they are expressions of religious differences with Pope John Paul II or what, but
interrupting a moment of silence invoked to remember someone who has recently passed away is low-rent behavior.
There seems to be a pandemic of "ethical concern" among sportswriters and sports journalists of every medium these days. You have probably heard and
read about Mitch Albom's column in the Detroit Free Press that was written prior to the Michigan State game in the Final Four but was written in such
a way as to make it seem as if Mitch Albom was at the game and writing about it in the past tense. The reason that it was written "ahead of time" was
due in some part to the deadlines imposed by the Free Press for columns that would appear in the Sunday editions.
Some people are calling for Mitch Albom to be fired and labeled as a journalistic fabricator. Frankly, I don't see that at all. He was not doing
reporting from the game; this was not the Free Press' attempt to inform its readers of what happened there and who did what when. This was a column
about the game and the school and the team. If written in such a way that it made a reader conclude that Albom was at the game and was writing this
feature after the fact, I don't see that as such a horrendous breech of journalistic ethics that it ought to be punishable. Now, if he completely
fabricated the information that led him to put some things in the column that were factually wrong, that makes the situation a lot more dicey. But the
very loud calls for him to be fired in advance of knowing all that happened here seems to me to be as ethically flawed as any alleged impropriety on
Albom's part. And I can't get past the idea that some of that rush to judgment is based on just a wee bit of envy and jealousy; Mitch Albom has been
far more successful as a journalist and a writer than most of his peers.
Another ethical spasm is the outpouring of angst and opinion about whether or not baseball steroid users ought to be voted into the Hall of Fame. I'll
admit that every voter needs to make that judgment for him/herself, but this is not nearly so lofty an issue as it has been made out to be. Baseball
players who took steroids were trying to cheat and gain an advantage that they knew was "less than fully above board". Why am I sure they knew that?
Because if it weren't something "shady", some of them at least would have done it in the open. Get a doctor to prescribe the steroids and take the
medicine on the advice of a reputable physician and there is no need to hide it. If a baseball player suffers from hay fever, I can't believe that he
finds ways to deny the existence of medications he takes to alleviate it. There's no stigma to antihistamines; there must have been one related to
steroids because the most public way to take the drug appears to have been a convocation in a bathroom stall.
But cheating is part of baseball; anyone who denies that believes in the Tooth Fairy. How long has the spitball been banned? Do players, coaches and
managers try to steal signs? Anyone ever cork a bat? Bill Veeck used to tailor the field to gain an advantage for his home team depending on which
opponents were coming to visit. If some of the sportswriters feel so strongly that cheaters must be barred from the Hall of Fame, why have they not
yet started to beat the drums to rid the Hall of people such as Gaylord Perry or Phil Niekro or Leo Durocher? I just don't see this as an issue of
John Rocker is back in baseball. Ironically, he has signed with the independent minor league Long Island Ducks. Knowing his immense fondness for the
greater NYC area, this was probably not his first choice of teams to start a comeback with. Either that or it just shows that God has a great sense of
The MLB team payrolls were listed on CBSportsline.com last week. The pitching staff for the NY Yankees will cost $96.5M this year. There are 26 teams
in MLB whose total team payroll is less than that.
Last Monday, the NHL and the NHLPA held a labor negotiation meeting and the NHLPA rejected out of hand two proposals that the league had put on the
table. Forget for a moment whether or not the league proposals were viable solutions; the Monday meeting confirmed that there is still no real
prospect for NHL hockey in the imminent future. Three days later, the NHLPA and met with management reps for six hours to discuss rule changes for NHL
games. Obviously, I'm missing something here. There are no games to be played; negotiations to try to make it so that games can be played are held
once every six weeks or so and both sides look with disdain on whatever the other side proposes as a solution. But they can talk for six hours about
changing the rules for the games that aren't being played? Excuse me, I need to go and get a Tylenol; I have a headache...
Scott Ostler wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle about "scouting overkill" and how the 49ers are going overboard on trying to decide what to do with
the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Here is his assessment of that situation:
"Scouting overkill is standard procedure in the NFL, but the 49ers have worked themselves into tizzy wanting to get this one right. They make the
Warren Commission look like the prom-decoration committee."
The 49ers biggest addition of the off-season so far has been the signing of offensive tackle, Jonas Jennings. Give yourself a gold star if you
actually know whom Jennings played for last year without resorting to Google. Give yourself a second gold star if you can tell the difference between
Jonas Jennings, Peter Jennings and Ken Jennings.
Finally, here's another line from Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle:
"Coach [Mike] Nolan says of [Utah QB Alex] Smith, 'He's an athlete and he's athletic.' If Smith gives up football, signs with the baseball team across
the Bay and takes up oil-painting, he will be an aesthetic athlete and an athletic Athletic."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon