Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mass Hysteria!

There’s no avoiding it, with each passing year the face of the sports world we’ve all known for some time now is changing drastically. There comes a time every decade or so when everything we once believed to be true in professional sports is turned on its head.

I, for one, blame Global Warming. How else can we possibly explain phenomenon like the Red Sox winning, the Patriots choking, the Hornets dominating the West? This isn’t the world I once knew and loved, it just doesn’t make any sense. Trying to rationalize occurrences like these is like trying to substantiate a dog and a cat having a half-breed baby that pees in a box and lifts its leg when it poops. And this past week has only verified the fact that nothing in sports is safe anymore. There’s no telling what to believe in. My fan foundation is constantly being shaken to the core… and its all because of the inconvenient truth of climate change in sports.

Aces for Jacks? Sure, why the hell not!
One of the most important jobs of a general manager is to make the best possible deals for their team when a deal is necessary. So when did they replace reliance on research, statistics, and general sports knowledge with huffing glue?

Quite arguably the best pitcher of his era, Johan Santana was traded to the Mets for OF Carlos Gomez and RHPs Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. These Twins pickups have about as much name recognition as the cast of American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile. Minnesota knew that going in this off-season a trade of their Cy Young winner was imminent, but they insisted they would only listen to the “best deal possible.” As the respective juggernauts of the American League tossed out the names of some of their best young players like Philip Hughes, Clay Bucholz, Melky Cabrera and Jacoby Ellsbury, their offers were repeatedly rebuked as the Minnesota brass insisted on asking only for packages the Yanks and Sox explicitly said they were unwilling to offer. Eventually negotiations halted completely and the Twins were forced to take the best deal possible… that was left. So in the early going the Twins were only willing part with their Mercedes-Benz for two BMW’s and a Cadillac, but in the end all they got in return was a dog sled and a punch in the stomach. Good luck paying for the new stadium with the massive drawing power of Deolis Guerra!

Bury the hatchet? Forget our egos? Sure, why the hell not!
Whatever happened to petty coach/player rivalries that were taken to the grave with bitter hatred? While sometimes childish and almost always completely uncalled for, a coach vs. player conflict is always entertaining. But they’re gone in today’s sports world, they last 1 game, both parties are reminded of how much money can be made, and their legitimate opinions are thrown out in favor of contrived complacency.

It seemed like it couldn’t get any crazier then Phil Jackson returning (motivated by glory and not money, I’m sure) to coach the Kobe-run Lakers after having penned a book in which a large portion could have essentially been called “How Kobe killed our team.” And in spite of Kobe’s constant trade requests, Phil’s passive aggressive criticism, and both of their unfathomably large egos, they pretend on a day to day basis like being back together is just peachy keen. But we might just be seeing first hand the only reunion more unlikely than that taking place up north in Oakland.

Chris Webber recently signed a deal to return to the Warriors and once again play under his first professional coach, Don Nelson. I know, I know, who cares about the Golden State Warriors right? But why is that? Why is it that the Warriors have been a complete non-entity in the NBA for the last 15 years? Isn’t is because of Chris Webber and Don Nelson? 14 seasons ago they decided they could not possibly co-exist, and cast what was a promising young franchise into complete and utter obscurity. Now after a magical season in which they finally returned to relevancy, the already volatile Don Nelson and the Warriors are welcoming home the player who some fans would say destroyed the franchise. Seems rational.

And I know it’s been said, but… Eli Manning beats Tom Brady? Sure, why the hell not!
All I can say is I have to tip my hat to Eli and Big Blue for turning what everyone, including myself, expected to be another easy Pats victory into one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. The Giants squeaked into the playoffs, but got on a roll and stayed on it. They did to the Patriots what no one gave them a chance to do; they served up an unthinkable upset that is reminiscent of their last championship over the Bills. And they did all of this under the leadership of their MVP, Eli Manning. This is a guy who has provided me with more unintentional comedy than he will ever know, but now he has provided me with a great memory and a foot in my mouth.

Never, ever, bet on football.

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