Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March Sports Rumblings

In the first installment of what should become a running column, I'm going to present some short opinions on sports-related issues. These are pieces that are too undeveloped to be their own columns, but I think I should mention them anyway. I'm patterning it after Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column, but I hope to offer twenty-five percent less tool.

The University of Florida immortalized Tim Tebow today by adding this plaque to Ben-Griffin Stadium. (If you've deified someone, aren't they already immortal though?) As much as I make fun of Timothy, I have to admit that the living legend status is hard. Just think: if the speech was actually any good, he would have gotten a statue. Now we have to wait at least ten years for one, after three years of Tebow getting circled on the telestrator during Jaguars punt returns and goal-line sneaks, one year of Tebow holding a clipboard for the Cowboys, one year of not making the Redskins' team, and five years owning a Mitsubishi dealership. "You will never see anyone undersell me on a Galant. I promise."


There are very few people who follow college basketball during the season (myself included), but everyone comes out of the woodwork during March Madness. Did I ever assume that I could approach the mid-fifties ESOL teacher at my school and go, "How you like that DeJuan Blair, huh?" No. But she's in a pool along with twenty other co-workers of mine. So people like the NCAA Tournament, even more than I thought. That's not my point. My point is why people like it, which I think has something to do with rooting for winners. Cheering for Duke during the season is indefensible, but rooting for them so that they don't ruin your bracket is okay. Secretly, people like pulling for number one seeds. It takes something as contrived as the Field of 65 for us to allow ourselves this pleasure. People say that falling in love with underdogs is "what the tournament is all about," but among serious sports fans it's actually the opposite.

If I never hear Verne mention a player's "girth" again, I'll be...less amused.


I never gave a shit about Lance Armstrong, and I still don't.


Jay Cutler won eight games for the Denver Broncos last year. He threw for 25 TDs, 18 INTs, and a poo-ton of yards. It took him three seasons to reach this level of above-averageness. Three years of confidence from the Broncos organization, who made him a multi-millionaire as a first round draft pick, even though most NFL fans' only opinion of the Vanderbilt singal-caller at the time was "I heard someday he might be good." Somehow, Cutler thinks this performance makes him untradeable. The mere fact that the Broncos even considered the assets they could potentially receive for him in a trade made him demand--purely on principle--a trade. Talk about ungrateful. Imagine if he took them to the playoffs. He'd expect a statue. You can complain about Terrell Owens all you want, but at least he understands that he's a commodity, just like any players other than Brady and Manning. Now Cutler will probably get traded to a team with a harsher future than Denver. Way to show what's important to you.

In most cases, we've been conditioned to believe that the owners and front offices are always the bad guys. But in this case, they're completely correct. Jay Cutler has done nothing to inspire fierce loyalty to him, and his reaction to a possible trade has only proven how disloyal he is to them. And if I were Josh McDaniels, instead of apologizing to anyone I'd be hard from the beginning and go, "Matt Cassell won eleven games last year. Just sayin'."

Josh McDaniels looks like a combination of four dudes in my high school Theology class. And you can expect me to make jokes about this for the entire season. "He's not calling a sweep; he's asking whether or not it's a sin to have phone sex with your wife." Just a few months to go. And according to the Catechism, yes.


Speaking of the NFL, the owners met this week and voted on a few rule changes that are mostly lame. The most interesting wrinkle in their discussions, however, was the possibility of changing the season from sixteen games to eighteen, in what is clearly a money-grab. This is great if it means the worthless preseason will be shortened or eliminated, and I also like the soap opera aspect this brings. That's two more games of Cowboys implosions, two more games of T.O. veiled insults, and lots of "Star X actually coming back from that supposed season-ending injury" sub-plots.

What I'm worried about is whether or not this gives too much of an advantage to cold weather teams. If we're going well into January in the regular season, how many games will Pittsburgh win based on snow alone?* And the more I think about it, part of football's appeal is the fact that people hang on every game. Adding more games will only hurt the importance of each one. Any records that were still sacred will also go out the window. But hey, anything's better than the sports wasteland I'm about to endure this summer.

Which brings me to baseball. No. It doesn't.

*- All bets are off if this means the Super Bowl falls on the day before President's Day, which would be a public school holiday. The day after the Super Bowl being a holiday is worth almost any sacrifice.

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