Monday, June 17, 2013

Things I really don't care about ...

If sports aren't your thing, then I guess it'll be an easy decision to skip this. But if they are ... here are the Top 10 things on the national athletic horizon that -- forgive me -- I just couldn't care less about.

1 -- I really don't care what anyone, anywhere, other than -- at the present time -- the coaching staff of the New England Patriots thinks of Tim Tebow. All the guy asks is a chance to play in the NFL. But the way people carry on about him, you'd think he was going around at night stealing everyone's family fortune. He may not be as wonderful as his biggest sycophant fans think he is, but he's certainly not as bad as his detractors portray either. I suppose it is hard, with the public opinion pool as polluted as it is, to find any kind of a Tebow comfort zone, but out of decency, I think the world should just back off and let him (and us) find it! But that's never going to happen. Just witness the unbridled glee with which these pundits tear the guy to shreds.

2 -- I really don't care who wins the NBA championship. I just wish we could stop hearing about it only through the perspective of LeBron James and the Miami Heat. On the surface, James seems no different than any professional athlete. He has a healthy ego. He knows who he is ... and that he's not just a player but a brand unto himself. He's really not obnoxious. There have been no scandals ... no obvious attempts on his part to act or speak outrageously and then hide behind his fame. It's not that. But he's ubiquitous. He's the current manifestation of how disproportionately we hero-worship mega-stars at the expense of less famous people who are just as vital to our national fiber. And pursuant to the first two items on this list, I was watching ESPN this week and I'd say half the hour-long edition of SportsCenter was taken up by these two stories. That is overkill.

3 -- I don't care what Mike Milbury thinks of anyone, let alone Jaromir Jagr. The self-style world's foremost authority on hockey went off on Jagr between periods of Saturday night's Stanley Cup final game between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks (oh, yes, ESPN, this series is going on at the same time the James-fest is happening). Among other things, he called Jagr slow and lazy; and said he was unable and unwilling to forecheck and backcheck. In the interest of full disclosure, it might be pointed out (if Milbury didn't see fit to) that Jagr was a rookie on the 1990-1991 Pittsburgh Penguins team that spotted the Bruins -- whom he coached -- to a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals before the Penguins stampeded them by winning four straight games. Milbury also had such unflattering nicknames as a player such as "Snowshoes," and his most memorable moment while in uniform might be jumping into the stands at Madison Square Garden and beating a fan with his shoe. So I'd take anything he says with the proper grain of salt.

4 -- I don't care if Doc Rivers wants to coach somewhere else. He's earned the right to change his scenery. And I didn't care if Ray Allen wanted to leave the Celtics last year. Ditto. Rivers is a rare person. He's honest, upbeat, professional, accommodating and fan-conscious all in one. Sort of the anti-Bill Belichick. He was like that as a player and he's like that now. Doc is competitive and obviously feels that the sands in the hourglass have pretty much run out in Boston. That is a rebuilding process that's going to take some time, and no one could blame Doc if he'd just as soon pass. Let him go and be grateful for the time he's spent here. He's been a class act every day of his tenure.

5 -- I don't care about NASCAR. Or any kind of auto racing. Bores me to tears. I can't even name six drivers. The motto seems to be "go left, young man," ... or is it "go right, young man." The most excitement anyone feels at an auto race is when two (or more) cars collide. And as a bonus, you know you've hit paydirt when two (or more) drivers start duking it out when the race ends. The late Jim Murray said it best. "Gentlemen, start your coffins."

6 -- I don't care about crowning a college football national champion. I really don't. And the reason I don't is simple. There is never going to be a tournament that fairly winnows down the teams to a logical, deserving champion. This is possible in all other sports, but not football. And that's because football is too physically taxing and demanding to play the requisite amount of games, in the shortest amount of time. Even this latest incarnation is going to, at some point, rely on someone's opinion (at least one who gets to play). Saying this, Alabama's manhandling of Notre Dame last January did nothing for our arguments that it's unfair to have these power rankings based on league or conference. But at the same time, football, because of its unique physical toll, is going be judged way more subjectively than any other sport. There just aren't enough opportunities to do it on the field. So I say skip all that and go back to the way it used to be. At least there's no pretense of objectivity.

7 --  I don't care about any overexposed celebrity athlete, even if he plays in Boston. And that would include Rob Gronkowski. You know what, Gronk? Take care of your physical needs, stay the hell away from the cameras, and be ready to score some touchdowns this fall. There's no other reason to possibly care about you. That goes for Chad Ochocinco/Johnson/whatever he calls himself on any given day. Today, he issued a heartfelt apology for slapping his lawyer on the ass last week and incurring the wrath of the judge in his court case on the violation of his parole. The judge, offended over how cavalierly he seemed to be handling this, threw the book at him, ordering him to the pokey for 30 days. Today, after he soberly apologized, she relented and ordered him released. I wonder if a) she'd have been so anxious to make an example out of him had he been Joe Doakes; and b) if she'd have let Joe Doakes off on an apology after citing him for contempt of court just seven days earlier. Bad precedent one way or the other, and it speaks volumes about star power. And if Alex Rodriguez wants to slink away and leave us all alone, I'd be OK with that, too.

8 -- I don't care about the umpire's strike zone. Hey, pitch, the ump calls balls and strikes. He sees probably 200-plus pitches in a game (and often more than that, given that batters today are all into this "work the count" mode). He's going to miss one here and there. Even the box on the lower right hand corner of your TV screen is inaccurate once in a while. So, Jon Lester, maybe if you just pitched and stopped approaching every game as if the ump was there for the sole purposes of screwing you, maybe you'd be a little more consistent. If I were John Farrell, by the way, I'd be pulling him aside and telling to just fire the ball. Just throw it. Don't try to paint corners. Don't try to nibble. Throw the damn ball and trust your stuff. Because I swear, if I were Farrell, and Lester threw one more "nibble" pitch, I'd take him out of the game in he first inning. You can really understand, after watching him, why Bobby Valentine left him in to get pounded last year against Toronto. But with regards to strikes and balls, umpires are all different. They see the ball differently. Some (but they're in the minority) tend to call high strikes. Most seem to want you to bring a golf club up there. But whatever it is, it's up to pitchers and hitters to adjust to it. As long as it's consistent (even if it's consistently bad) nobody has any complaints.

9 -- I don't care about sports labor disputes, except that when they happen, we don't get to see sports. But as far as who's right or wrong, and what the issues are, I don't care. Whatever they are, they're phony. Oh, I suppose in the very literal sense, they're real. But if you want my sympathy in a labor dispute, you have to prove to me that one side or the other is being a bully. And seriously, can you see any bullies in any of the equations involving sports labor issues? Both sides approach the table from almost equal positions of strength. What's left is only the acrimony of trying to divide a pie the size of Jupiter. Compare that to labor disputes where one side offers the other crumbs from the pie ... and makes everybody fight over those.

10 -- I don't care about anything an agent says that isn't connected with what said agent knows the  most about: and that's making money for his client. A few days ago Sidney Crosby's agent complained that Boston's Zdeno Chara intentionally hit his client in an exposed area of the jaw that was broken earlier this year by an errant hockey puck. Now, Crosby was exposed in the Eastern Conference final as being kind of a whiny, sniveling prima donna (and I'm being kind). The bravest thing he did in the four games was try to go after Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, who -- though he wouldn't say so -- basically told him what he could do with himself and where he could go. The minute Chara stepped into any fray involving Crosby, Sid the Squid hid behind a referee. So excuse me if I'm not impressed with this latest crying of crocodile tears.

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