Sports Hop – 6/19

Rewatching Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Here we go!

1. The Heat take game 3

If these series have been anything, it’s certainly not boring. Both conference championship series went further than 5 games, and the Finals are shaping up for a long series as well. The result is that, in addition to being a rousing end to the playoffs, trends, tendencies, and patterns don’t really mean all that much.

However, there is no denying that the Heat, after losing game 1, have stepped up their game, and the Thunder are trying to figure it out. As for the rest, I leave that to NBA fanatics.

2. LaDainian Tomlinson retires

I seem to be in the minority on this one, but I don’t think he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. I recognize that he has set marks and records, especially in his early years at San Diego, but while that certainly guarantees him a spot in the Hall of Fame, it doesn’t necessarily mean first ballot.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is notorious as one of the hardest to be inducted into; baseball’s is pretty rough too, but baseball doesn’t set a limit on how many people will be inducted. Additionally, the tenure of the selection committee varies year by year; you never know what may be going through their minds that particular year, and there’s always one player up for induction that gets left out.

The reason I think it may be Tomlinson (sorry Chargers fan, but Lawrence Taylor is “LT”) is his general lack of production in playoff games, coupled with the lack of success his teams had. He had great success in the regular season, but the playoffs produced a wall he could never pull himself over, and most importantly for the purposes of the Hall of Fame, never rally his teams over. Given that he worked in different offensive systems with different head coaches and quarterbacks, and given his immense level of talent, you would have thought that something would have clicked in that grand moment.

However, to find fault with Tomlinson (again, he’s not LT to me) is to nit pick and look beyond his incredible achievements as a player. Case in point, his incredible regular season play was able to buoy Chargers teams still adjusting to Phillip Rivers after the departure of Drew Brees. Really the only aspect of his retirement I found dull was the pomp and ceremony the Chargers saw fit to do: the whole thing with the video, and the contract, and the… Well, you know what, I’m going to shut up here and let the Chargers fan revel in the moment.

3. Why Boxing’s a Joke

The Pacquiao-Bradley controversy only echoes why boxing, as a sport, is doomed. I’m not saying that the judges in MMA always, 100% of the time, get it right, but to this point, there hasn’t been anything quite like the seemingly corrupt judging in the recent fight; if there was, you know the UFC would expedite a rematch to get the stink off of it.

Now, both sides are trying to do just that, despite Bob Arum’s attempts to get the Nevada attorney-general involved and his comments they want this sorted out before it will happen. Even Arum realizes the money potential in the rematch, and in the long term, knows that it will serve as leverage for a better cut of the Pacquaio-Mayweather fight, which he knows Floyd will want to negotiate when he gets out of prison.

This reeks; I’m not saying necessarily that the WBO should find in favor of Pacquaio, but if his performance was as one-sided as spectators and people who know what they’re talking about with regards to boxing say it was, then at a minimum they need to declare it a draw, and aid in getting the rematch set up.

And, oh yeah, sure different judges.

4. Floyd Mayweather: the Portrait of a Diva

Look, prison sounds brutal: we see it in all the movies, tv shows, comics, books, and in the news. That’s why no one wants to go there, and it serves as a deterrent against crime, or it’s supposed to anyway. So, when Floyd Mayweather, Jr. plead guilty to a domestic violence charge, he got the best possible scenario: the judge deferred the sentence so he could set up one more fight (which paid him $32M), and gave him 90 days, which isn’t hard time.

So, when the story emerged that his lawyers were trying to spring him out early, technically have him serve his sentence in house arrest, on the grounds that the food and water were below standard, that was the most arrogant, pretentious thing I could have imagined him saying. He is saying that the food and water millions of other prisoners have to consume is not good enough for him. Mayweather also alleges that serving in prison could have negative consequences for his boxing career. Really? If the facility is approved and has good standing (which it does), then the food is solid and water is drinkable. The prison reported that he was cherry picking what he ate, and that’s why his food intake was so low. Also, apparently, the prison doesn’t carry bottled water, which is what he wanted.

Fortunately, the judge saw this like most normal people and told Floyd to deal with it; I got the sense from her answer to his lawyer’s (haha) “emergency” motion that she would have extended his sentence for that little maneuver had she had the authority to do just that.

Let us not forgot why he got there: he struck his girlfriend, in front of their kids. He should have gotten more time than just 90 days.

5. Dale Jr. kills his slump

In an event NASCAR fans have been waiting for for a few years now, Dale Jr. won his first race in a long time. It couldn’t have happened in a better season for him too; he is nearly on top of the hill, his driving has been great, and the best part of all, it is something that is almost universally appreciated in the NASCAR world.

Dale Jr.’s success is good for NASCAR, and it’s not just his link to his father. It’s the feel good story of the year, since everyone likes a comeback (unless it’s the NFL and it’s Terrell Owens, then not, that’s the exception), and Dale Jr. pulling it together to win after a slump certainly qualifies as a major comeback.

The State of the Sports Media

The sports media, at large, is guilty of biases, and most of those biases are rooted in star players. The most notorious example is Peter King, a highly respected journalist for Sports Illustrated, who never really ragged or criticized Brett Favre, even in the middle of his high-string dramatics phase. ESPN seems to make a concerted effort sometimes to ensure that at least one of their analysts criticizes Kobe Bryant and other star NBA players.

ESPN is an easy target for such things, but there is one truth that cannot be ignored: ESPN does not like either the UFC or MMA at large. Seriously, Spike TV lost the UFC television contract, and they still pay the sport more respect than ESPN ever would. Yes, ESPN does a show for MMA, but it’s late at night, and it looks, smells, and feels more like lip service than, well, lip service. (What that means, I don’t know, but it sounds good, right?)

Now, analysts having an opinion or a bias is to be expected; after all, they all played somewhere; many coaches and players they may know; case in point, if analysts didn’t speak from their own perspectives and occasionally gave an opinion that had a little bias in it, they wouldn’t be doing their job. However, there is a limit to that; when you see CBS college basketball analysts downplaying how good a low seed was against the heavyweight; when them and their counterparts at ESPN give bracket predictions that are all chalk, and it’s obvious they didn’t give a single thought to the possibility of an upset.

The worst, though, is college football; any school not in an BCS conference, including TCU (until this coming season), Boise State (until this coming season), and others, is automatically knocked by analysts for facing inferior competition. Granted, the overall competition they face may not be as tough, but they are certainly better than the bottom feeders in the SEC or Big Ten. The reason they don’t face the top tier competition is because the top tier competition would play some crappy division II school that they are sure to beat, rather than testing their meddle against an actual opponent. If the analysts kicked off some of their wholly negative assessments with that, I’d be okay; they’d at least kick start the nudging for some contender to man up; the problem is they don’t.

The one savior for the sports media, and I can’t believe how often it comes to this, is Jim Rome. Rome wants the hot topic, so even when he was with ESPN, he would bring in UFC figures. He doesn’t pull punches, he doesn’t hold back, and love him or hate him, you know he speaks his honest opinion. Granted, it is just as likely to get him fired sometimes, but that makes him more exciting.

Bonus: the Roger Clemens verdict

Roger Clemens was acquitted on all charges in his perjury trial. I think it’s imperative to remember something: not guilty does not equal innocent. I have no doubt that many will try to say that “he didn’t do it” but to no avail.

I wish that more people would try to put the steroids era in perspective: it wasn’t illegal to use PEDs. Ethical? Not really. Legal? Yes. If there was a way to improve your chances of getting promoted at work (beyond kissing up to your boss and working hard), and it wasn’t entirely ethical, you’d probably do it. It’s not identical, but should give some perspective.

 

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About brettryanclu

I reside in California, and I am a graduate from California Lutheran University, where I received my Masters in Public Policy and Administration. I like to write, talk politics, and exchange comments and opinions.
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