Well as 2009 comes to a close , I can’t say that I haven’t been surprised by a number of story and plot lines that’s taken place throughout the year. Put your hands up , if you’d envisaged Tiger Woods being part of some ‘sordid sexual’ intrigue ? Not with just one woman but a ‘baker’s dozen, as in thirteen ? Screw that, Tiger was ‘hittin’ more tail’ off the PGA Tour than he’d been hitting divots on the golf course, throughout much of the Tour’s regular season. Noted, he has been voted AP Athlete of The Decade. No pun intended there ! But he laid more cable than the usual installers for my local cable operated affiliate here in Polk County, Florida.
So are you still buying into the fact that Brett Favre can lead the Minnesota Vikings to the promised land of a Superbowl win ? Watching this team succumb to the lowly Chicago Bears last night, was enough to suggest to me that this has been more about hype than anything substantive to begin with. And less we forget, it has been those merry band of idiots within CBS Sports, ESPN and Foxsports that have been leading the charge about Favre. And no doubt those devoted Brett Favre fans have been buying into all of this, as they’ve succumbed to Brett’s wily charms ? Much like Rasputin, Favre is as evil , as he can sometimes look. And perhaps even more so, when he’s not getting his own way like some whining prissy little kid. He talks about being a teammate but I’ve yet to hear one of his former or present teammates actually come out and support the guy wholeheartedly. Am I wrong here , or not ?
In the NBA can we all finally agree , that it’s Kobe’s world and until LeBron James actually wins something of note , other than another endorsement contract. He will continue to play ‘second fiddle’ to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Now with Shaquille O’Neal at his side as a new-found teammate. We’ll see if once again LeBron can get to those lofty heights and actually win an NBA title. Who can forget his infantile and somewhat petulant behavior after the Cavaliers were swept out of the Eastern Conference semi-finals of last season , by the Orlando Magic. Now he equates it with being a momentary lapse and the fact that the team lost. Suck it up you wuss and act like an honorable sportsman but above all, like a man ! You say you want to be a role model to kids but this is how you act ? Is it me but why is that when an athlete falls foul of his own actions , they look to allay that act elsewhere by looking to apportion blame upon someone else ? If you can think of an answer why ,then all by all means leave a comment concerning that very matter.
The Los Angeles Lakers showcase their style in beating the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game 5 of the NBA Final in 2009.
With the Lakers handily beating the Magic in the best of seven game series 4-1,thereby allowing the Los Angeles Lakers to lift their fifteenth NBA title and Phil Jackson his tenth, as a coach. We can all agree that last season was simply all about the Los Angeles Lakers . Every other NBA story had to be punctuated with a comma. It wasn’t that there weren’t other noteworthy stories throughout the season. But once it became clear that the Lakers would make the NBA Finals. It essentially became about whether or not Kobe would finally win a title without Shaq in tow. Now we know that he can and did, he’s out to prove to us that the team can defend its title successfully. And you’d be hard pressed at this juncture to think that they’re not capable of achieving that feat. Given the fact that they’re now playing as good as any time over the past eighteen months. And Bryant along with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum are as hungry as ever. The rest of the NBA is on notice, that until you take down the champion , it’s his courtyard that you’re playing in. So whoever is good enough to step up to the plate and do battle , step forward.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has showed us once again that even though the economy is being ravaged. It still lives in its own small little world of make belief. Commissioner Bud Selig tells us that the sky is blue when it in fact there is a thunderous rainstorm, then we’re meant to believe him. I mean he’s the ‘commish’ and what he says, goes. Selig and his former counterpart , Donald Fehr of the MLBPA (Players’ Union)have seen the game slip into the depths of an abyss and without there now being any integrity to the game. It still carries with it that tarnished image and the very fact that two of the game’s most high profiled stars were embroiled in a steroid abuse scandal , only goes to show that there’s still a tremendously long way before there’s some semblance of respectability is brought back to the game. Both Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez now joins the likes of Roger Clemens , Rafeal Palmeiro , Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as being looked upon as ‘cheaters’- never mind a ‘steroid abuser’. But the biggest domino yet to fall , is that of Barry Bonds, whose own saga is being played out within the justice system at the taxpayers’ expense.
But it’d be remiss to think that the ‘steroid issue’ is the only inherent problem that the game now faces. There is the financial stability of the game itself. And the ever widening gap between the haves and have nots of the game. And far be it for me to suggest to Bud Selig that he ought to take his thumb out of his ass and deal those two issues. But it has reached a point where not only is the game’s hierarchy content with this mess but so too, are the players and the owners. And we all know that in the end, it’ll be the fans who’ll end up having to pay for the mess to begin with. If they’re (MLB) not raising the prices of general admission and season tickets. You can bet that the price of the concessions ,parking and memorabilia will rise faster than the rate of inflation.
And less we forget, the ever power hungry agents out there will be looking to do their part to make sure that the escalating salaries within the game continues. None more so than the man deemed to be the main culprit behind so much of the escalation in the salaries and that’s none other than Scott Boras. His mendacity and the maneuvers he’s been able to pull off with the complete gullibility of the owners and general managers, gives you the indication that they believe that they’re playing with ‘Monopoly money’ , rather than cold hard cash. And why not , like I said, it’ll be the fans who in the end will pay for those increases. It’s not as if the revenues attained within the game is being equally spread amongst the teams within major league baseball, to begin with. But for all of the image set forth I’ve yet to hear anyone really question the financial plight of the game. Not even such esteemed baseball writers such as Buster Olney or Peter Gammons. Another reason why you can’t take those individuals at their word when it comes to providing any real analysis concerning the health of the game. As they’d rather deal in platitudes and fairy tales.
The season itself was one of excellence wherein we saw once again that the best player the game doesn’t happen to wear the pinstripes of the New York Yankees and whose name happens to be Alex Rodriguez. The person in question, who for all sense and purpose has the fans of the game in awe, is none other than St Louis Cardinals ,first baseman, Albert Pujols. And for the third time in five seasons he was named the NL MVP (2005,2008,2009) . And deservedly so, considering that the dominance that he’s shown within the game. In the AL the recipient there was the Minnesota Twins’ catcher , Joe Mauer. Another model of consistency over the last five years.
The World Series itself, would pit the best in the AL, the New York Yankees against last season’s winners, the Philadelphia Phillies. Two contrasting teams that are only separated by their mindsets as it comes to the game. The Yankees known for their lavish spending in acquiring the best talent that money can buy. Often reviled by the fans solely on this one issue. The Phillies for their part are viewed as the dominant team in the National League. And they’ve been that model of consistency over the last four years. However, this was a series wherein the Yankees were seeking redemption and the chance place themselves back at the top of the baseball world. And for the likes of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. This was the chance to win their fifth World Series together as teammates. The triumvirate being the sole remnants left from that dominant dynasty of the mid to late nineties.
The series itself , would see the Yankees dominance rise to the occasion, with them winning the World Series in six games (4-2) over the Philadelphia Phillies. The heroics however, would be that of Yankees’ slugger and DH , Hideki Matsui, who was named series MVP. And for the New York Yankees’ fans this was a reason to rejoice , as they raised their twenty seventh World Series title. No doubt the fans in the ‘Red Sox Nation’ can’t wait to take a bite out of the ‘Evil Empire’ . And so too no doubt will the rest of major league baseball.
What haven’t I said about the state of professional boxing , that I’ve continued to state repeatedly ? It has become ‘a complete farce’ at the heavyweight level ! Wherein, the two best fighters in the category refuse to fight each other , because of a promise given to their mother. Well, that’s what we’ve been told by the respective holders of the recognized belts in , Wladimir Klitschko (IBF,IBO,WBO)and his brother , Vitali Klitschko (WBC). Granted, a promise given to one’s mother is better than no promise at all. But these two brothers were they to fight and create an undisputed champion within the division. Then it would bring back some credence to the sport as well as the division. Not only that but it’d actually create a certain degree of interest within the heavyweight division. Nowadays, watching two boxers within the division fight one another is akin to watching the Animal Planet and seeing a male and female rhinoceros contemplating the mating ritual. It begins to get somewhat hazardous and downright scary for you to watch. They’re looking somewhat cumbersome and at the same time you may well find the act itself, somewhat gross ? Not unlike the vast majority of the heavyweight boxers now with the aspirations of winning the heavyweight championship. And that would also include the various holders of the belts in question. There isn’t that much talent in the division to begin with. But yet the idiots such as Larry Merchant , Joe Tessitore, Teddy Atlas and Jim Lampley claim that there is. Who knew that idiots such as this were paid to offer such asinine comments ? Even Stevie Wonder can tell the difference between a tomato can and ‘a bum’. Whereas, these assholes couldn’t tell you the difference between sh_t and shinola ! Yeah, I said and I damn well mean it , ’cause it’s true.
A male and female rhinoceros mating. It somewhat resembles the farce of witnessing the heavyweight boxing scene at present, wouldn’t you say ?
And unfortunately at the lower levels within boxing , things are decidedly taking a nasty turn for the worse. The so called ‘superfight’ match-up envisaged between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao for the welterweight title, is now looking more like a distant dream, instead of becoming a reality. The acrimony between the Mayweather camp and Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, has become an all-out battle of words, insults and barbs being traded between the two sides. What this actually does for boxing and its image, is about as welcoming as seeing Rosie O’Donnell dressed in nothing but a thong and getting ready to engage in a sexual act. You don’t want to watch but at the same time you’re still enlightened as to what you’ll anticipate that you’re going to see happen ? Pardon me here guys, but Rosie engaging in a sexual act ain’t my cup of tea , nor should it be yours !
The other divisions within the sport have their aspirants but none whereby the public would immediately recognize them as being a household name. When one considers that the three dominant promoters within the sport here in the United States are all claiming to bring back respectability to the sport. You have to wonder what steps were being taken by Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions Inc., Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc, and Don King of Don King Promotions Inc.. Last I checked, not one of these guys could be viewed as pillars of the boxing community and bastions for upholding the integrity of the sport. But this indeed the price that one has to pay when the organizations that govern the sport internationally have become an alphabet soup group of bodies, who’ve no one’s best interests but their own when it comes to the custodianship of the sport. Never mind the fact, that they’re induced to carry on with this type of behavior by the very promoters who say that they want the sport to remain competitive and of interest to its most ardent of fans. Those words are beginning to ring ever so hollow at present !
And I’d have something to say about NASCAR and the NHL but the words that come to mind aren’t used to characterize the niceties of both sports. Suffice to say , that while there are fans of both sports out there. I am most definitely not one of them ! There isn’t anything at all that I find either alluring or engrossing about both of these sports. I’ll may well give them a passing glance but when it’s all said and done. It just doesn’t float my boat !
NB: All pictures appears courtesy of either AFP, AP/Photo and Getty Images, respectively