Monday, November 22, 2004

Jeff: The Other Side of that Coin...

I know, I know--you're probably as sick as I am of hearing about the whole Artest thing. But I talked about it today on the radio and I was surprised to hear how many people don't think the fans are the problem here. Look, as Jer pointed out, Artest has gotten what he deserves. I think the suspension was a bit harsh, because as Chad Ford pointed out today on, the only punch Artest threw was when he was back on the floor and one of those doofuses charged at him. I really think Stephen Jackson should have gotten more because his actions were totally unprovoked. IF you're going into the stands to defend your teammate, to me that means you're pulling him out of there as fast as you can and trying to pull people off of him. Instead Jackson was throwing punches at anybody and everybody while Artest was getting gang tackled by countless drunk, beligerent idiots. And Jermaine O'Neal might get less because he's had a spotless record and was defending a teammate ON THE COURT (which to me is a huge difference), but that punch he threw looked so devastating. But Artest went into the crowd and that's something you just can't do, no matter what a fan says, does, or throws. And shouldn't Ben Wallace get more blame or a stiffer suspension because he started all of this?

Now, the fans. Detroit's crowd Friday night made the Scottish Soccer Hooligans look like school girls. Again, Artest should take blame for going after people in the crowd but there is no excuse-NONE- for the idiot that threw that beer. Or any of the other people that started attacking players or came onto the court or threw MORE beer. Fans have the mentality now that paying for that ticket entitles them to say and do whatever the hell they want. And apparently, the NBA agrees. What did you hear from the Detroit Pistons CEO? Blamed ALL of it on Artest. Didn't say how disappointed he was in his fans for how they acted or any of that. Nope, let's blame Ron-Ron. And that's what everybody else is doing. Artest is a guy with a checkered past so he's an easy scapegoat for all of this. Fans and media can persecute Artest for all of this (even though he should be sharing the players' side of the blame with the rest of the guys who got suspended), and everybody will overlook who out of control the fans were.

If you've watched TV or ESPN at all in the last few games, I'm sure you've seen this brawl from about 3 million different angles. I would love to see the Detroit Police go after each and every person that threw something or came on the court. They should have plenty of footage to do it. How? NOt as hard as you would think. Those lower bowl seats weren't purchased by someone just walking up to the gate. They were either season ticket holders or people that had to buy them well in advance, meaning that the Pistons should have everybody's credit card and addresses. Start taking blocks of seats, track the people down, and see if they match the descriptions on tape.

Also, I saw a couple of interesting suggestions about suspending beer sales in Detroit as penalty, or not letting fans into the rematch in March. You can be sure neither will happen, because owners love the income too much. They won't even discuss whether beer sales should be tempered or moderated because people will pay outrageous prices for a beer at a sporting event--and obviously Detroit fans are buying a LOT of them. And they're not going to turn the fans of Detroit away because ticket sales, and especially those in the lower bowl where the melee happened, are their biggest revenue maker. Owners will run the risk of fans doing this again, and inevitably it will happen, if it means more money in their pockets now.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Jeremy: Spabblocity

*A friend of mine is an accountant. He was working with a client a week or so ago and the client, who had really made him mad in the past, absolutely went over the line, and my friend snapped. I won't get into all of the bloody details, but I will tell you this: my friend punched the client in the head several times. My friend is suspended indefinitely, but there is really no chance that he'll be fired. He just makes too much money for his company.
This is what the world would be like if every industry treated their employees like the NBA. Ron Artest didn't just hit a fan (or several fans in this case) he punched a client. He punched the people who are paying for his mansion, his cars, and his new rap album, in stores in December.
The only way that these NBA players are going to lose their sense of entitlement is for a guy like Artest (who I believe was diagnosed as clinically insane last year and he's still in the league) to get booted for life from the league. If an entire league of primadonas realizes that banishment fromthe league is a possibility if they become too out of line, then maybe they'll wise up and realize that they are just playing a game, and they owe more to the fans than they do to their agents.

*Is Kelly Campbell the dumbest player in the entire NFL? I'm not saying the guy doesn't have a career in color-commentary or something where his enthusiasm and his mouth can write his paycheck. But when it comes to football, honestly, is he the dumbest in the league?

*I'm excited to see who is going to win the first Nextel Cup this weekend. It's really anybody's guess. It could go to any of five guys. It looks like the formula that Nascar came up with to bring more excitment to the points standings really paid off for them. That and the fact that they have a veritable plethora of talented drivers. (Did I just write that? I will now plunge an electric mixer into my left eyeball.)

*If there was any doubt that Kevin Garnett is the heart and soul of the Wolves and that he is still the MVP of the league, Saturday night proved it. Up 9 points coming out of halftime the Wolves let the Hornets back in the game. But as soon as KG hit the court the Wolves went on a 14-4 run. Their team leader was back, all was right with the world.
Wolves teams have started slow almost every year since Flip started coaching them, so their mediocre start this year isn't really a concern. Garnett is still most definitely on his game, and the team seems to be getting their legs under them. Now if Glen Taylor can just figure out a way to feed Spreewell's family (or get the man a decent barber, I can't decide which is more important), we'll be in business.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Jeremy: Detroit, Here We Come

I'm beginning to feel old. In just a few days I will be turning 27.
25 was a disappointing birthday. It's sort of a benchmark birthday, but that was not an enjoyable one. You assume certain things about turning 25 and when those things aren't a reality you begin to take an inventory of your life's events.
26 was no big deal. By 26 you have had a year to finish up the inventory process and come to grips with where you are at.
27? That's just a different story. I imagine the next couple of birthdays will be a wash until the dreaded 30 year mark roles around in just a few years. People my age are at a point where they can finally afford to do and have most of the things that they wanted when they were 21, but now they just don't have the energy to go through with them.
So why am I telling you this? I'm really not sure. Oh, wait, yes I do. I bought myself an early birthday present last week. A new cowboy hat. (I am wearing it right now.)
Here's the deal, 6 months ago I hated country music. Now? I listen to country almost exclusively and I own not one but two cowboy hats. Have I gone off the deep end? It's quite possible.
The point is this: if you would have told me six months ago that I would own two cowboy hats by mid-November I would have laughed heartily at you. If you would have told me six months ago that the Gophers would lose 5 of their last six games to end the season, I would have at least thought you were crazy. If you would have told me six months ago that Glen Mason would be at the top of the list of people who need to be sucker punched in the stomach by me, I wouldn't have believed there was even a chance of that happening.
And yet here I am six months later in front of a computer, wearing a cowboy hat, and absolutely shaking my head at what has happened to my Gophers.
Last year the Gophers put together the best record as a team that they had had in decades. The record on paper was very impressive. And good ol' Glen was sure to tell us how impressive it was. But I never really believed that they were a good football team. They didn't beat any great teams, they won a lot of games against very mediocre teams, and they never really looked like the kind of team that could challenge the heavy hitters. They played their best game of the season in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon but outside of that you never had the feeling they were a good team.
And that is what makes this season so hard to swallow: this year they actually looked like a good team, but absolutely everything went wrong at all the wrong times.
At the Metrodome yesterday against Iowa I looked at the game clock with 4:22 left and I had absolutely no clue how we were even in the game. The fact that we only lost by two points amazes me. Iowa beat us in every aspect of the game. (You have no idea how had it was for me to write that last sentence.)
On the Gophers last offensive drive of the game they were moving the ball well and there was a split second where I actually believed that we were going to steal the game from Iowa. It didn't take me long to remember who I was watching and the Gophers proceeded to fizzle out. The salt continued to be rubbed into this years wounds when the merry Englishman missed a field goal that he shouldn't even have had to kick.
Are the Gophers going to a bowl game? Probably. Their 6 wins most likely puts them into some low-tier bowl game brought to you by a mostly low-tier sponsor. If they get into something like the Alamo Bowl again I will personally be driving to El Paso to find out exactly what the people who decide who plays in that game are smoking because that has got to be some grade-A premium geef. They more accurately deserve something like the Motor City Bowl. And speaking of premium weed, who decided that Detroit should get a college football bowl game? Ted Nugent must be a big college football fan and he threatened to castrate somebody if a bowl game wasn't brought to his city. Is there really any other explanation for this?
But I don't believe that the Gophers even deserve the Motor City Bowl. I think they should stay home.
Actually, I take that back. Let's send the Gophs to Detroit. In the meantime, somebody get the Nuge on the phone and see if he is available to coach the team that day.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Jeff- Reality? Not in the NBA

Need to talk to my boss tomorrow. Need to tell him to give me some time off. I'm stressed out. Overworked. Exhausted. My voice, which I need to tantilize the ears of the 7 or 8 people in North Dakota across the radio airwaves, is just shot. I just can't take anymore of it. How did I end up this way? Are all these stresses and strains on my body and mind and vocal chords a result of too much time at the radio station? No, it's from singing Karaokee at the bars. Every night. Belting out the hits. I'm not exactly Larry Christmas, but I can carry a tune, and let me tell you, I carry it as far as I can. But all this singing makes it hard to do my job, the one I get paid for, the one I'm getting paid to do. So it makes perfect sense for me to take time off from work.

If you have any semblance of common sense, even a shred, you will think that last paragraph, although witty and humorous, is downright absurd. That I would be off my rocker (unless you've heard me sing karaokee--stunning. Just stunning), crazy, loony, coocoo! Well, althought I am one of the finest karaokee artists who've never actually sung karaokee, that last paragraph thankfully is untrue. But, in essence, this is exactly what NBA forward Ron Artest said to his employer, the NBA Pacers, a few days ago. Artest, one of the league's best defenders, and an all-star last year for the first time, told the Pacers he needed some time off to tend to some personal and health issues that apparently included promoting his new rap album. And he did this with a straight face.

The Pacers, who, like the rest of us, probably took a few moments to let his comments register, suspended Artest for 2 games for conduct, that in the words of Pacers coach Rick Carlisle,
"compromised the integrity of the team. It's a private team matter, and I'm going to leave it at that."

RonRon's response? "I don't know what that means," Artest said. "They probably expected a little more; expected me to play every game. Everybody's different. It's early in the season, so I feel like I could take some time off early and be ready for the long stretch." Keep in mind we're barely 2 weeks into the season and Artest had the last 5 MONTHS of the offseason to tend to all of his "issues."

You would think, that after seeing a statement like that in print, and hearing all over the radio and TV about what a moronic thing that you did, that maybe artest would realize the error of his ways, and see what a foolish thing he said, right? Not Ron Artest. When asked if he thought the punishment fit the crime, Artest said, "There was no crime done. I think it helped out. I was tired. I was doing a lot. I was running around a lot and doing a whole bunch of stuff and I've also been working out, so I think I wore myself down physically, I wore myself down mentally. I was ready to take some time off, at least like a month off, but two games is enough."

No remorse, no apology. It was Ron Artest doing what was best for Ron Artest. More immortal words now from Ron Artest on Ron Artest about Ron Artest.
"This is Ron Artest. … I was in a (music) studio all summer and I came back and had 31 (points) in my first game (of the season against Cleveland). You have to accept Ron Artest the way he is, and if not, that's OK."

And again, he was SERIOUS when he said and did all of this. I thought I had heard it all with Latrell Sprewell's comments a week ago about "having a family to feed" as one reason he just could not, in good conscience, accept anything less than the $14 million a year he's making this season as a basketball player. After shining examples like these, is there a group of people who are so far out of touch with reality as NBA players?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Jeremy: A Change For The Better?

This is just too good to not talk about.
I read an article on Star-Tribune online just now. The headline very much caught my eye. "Transsexual Golfer Qualifies for Ladies European Tour."
It seems that earlier this year the Ladies European Tour, the European version of the Ladies Professional Golf Assoc., changed the wordage in one of their rules. The rule concerning participants used to say that participants had to be female at birth. They changed that so that they could fall in line with International Olympic Committee regulations. I don't know what the new wording of the rule is, but I imagine it is something to the effect of "... must be female at time of competition, regardless of gender at birth, or even last week (or yesterday for that matter)." This week the first ever transsexual golfer qualified for a spot in a tournament.
This could be filed under Sports Illustrated's "This Week's Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us." But maybe we should look at this a different way?
For far too long the percentage of guys who play sports when they are young who go on to become professional athletes has been absurdly low. And until now there has been virtually no loop-hole in the matter. Until now.
You see, I've always considered myself at the very least a serviceable athlete. When I was young I played football, baseball, basketball and later in high school, golf. I was at least decent in all of these sports. But I was never the best in any of these sports. I was good enough to be part of the socially important parts of sports away from the game, but I was never good enough to be a guaranteed starter. I was the athletic version how Paul Harvey describes the "common man": the best of the lousiest and the lousiest of the best.
I was the best player on the second squad of my 7th grade basketball team that won the Rochester City Championship (in which I scored 10 points). I was the last player cut from the "majors" baseball team when I was in 6th grade, which made me the best player on the "minors" team. High school golf teams are allowed to play six varsity players - during my junior year I was seventh, or first on JV and during my senior year I was sixth, or last on varsity. I was never a bench warmer (okay, we WON'T talk about basketball my sophomore year - that had NOTHING to do with my talent) but I was never the team captain either.
Of every sport I played I easily would have had the best opportunity to do something worthwhile with golf. But I never could have gone professional. Right?
Or could I?
So these questions begin to run through my mind:
Am I really that "attached" to my male anatomy?
How much would I really give up to have a shot at playing professional golf?
Did this guy, um, gal, change her, um, his anatomy so that he/she could have a shot at my same dream?
Okay, let's get one thing strait here...
There is nothing, and I firmly mean NOTHING, better than being a guy. The only possible explanation for having a sex change would be so that you would always have the female anatomy readily available (for whatever it is that female anatomy is useful to a man for) and therefore never have to go looking for it. And still, this is a horrible reason to have a sex change. The reason for doing this would come squarely from said man thinking with his crotchal area, and yet that is the very thing he would have to get rid of, and therefore his newfound female anatomy would be rendered useless.
I love golf. I love sports. And I would love to be a professional golfer.
But not that much.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Jeff: Western Conference

Wanted to do a full preview like with the East but I don't have to time to write it, and you probably don't have time to read it.

15. Seattle Sonics- Last in the West and yet they'll still only get the 11th or 12th pick in the league. Maybe you forgot how terrible the East is. Don't.
14. LA Clippers- Brand and Maggette is a nice nucleus. Proof that Duke players CAN play in the NBA--as long as they stay 2 years or less. Will Avery is the exception to this theory.
13. Golden State Warriors- Spent a lot of money on Derek Fischer. I'm not sure why either. Jason Richardson NEEDS to finally develop into an allstar.
12. New Orleans Hornets- Top 6 in the East, third worst in the West. Will miss the Monster Mash. A prime example of why contraction is needed in the NBA.
11. Portland TrailBlazers- PLayers staging dog fights in their homes and others getting arrested. Good to see the Blazers are cleaning up their image. Plenty of talent but not enough guys who really want to use it. Van Exel and Stoudamire could come to blows by mid-season. Hopefully Wally Sczerbiak will be the newest Blazer before then, just in time for somebody to throw punches at him.
10. LA Lakers- A little biased because I hate them, but they simply don't have enough inside to compete out west. Kobe will find out life without Shaq isn't as grand as he thought--of course he'll blame everybody but himself.
9. Memphis Grizzlies- Lack of go-to-guy will hurt them. Still a good team, but will be out of the playoffs. In the East? Homecourt advantage in the first round.
8. Utah Jazz- I know, I know, Jerry Sloan wills this team back into the playoffs. They're better on paper with the Booz and Mehmet Okur, but they're not taking anybody by surprise this year.
7. Phoenix Suns- Spent a lot of money in the offseason, and it should get them back in the playoffs. Need to deal Marion to give more PT to Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson. Am I biased because Steve Nash is a long-haired Canadian who dates hot british women? Of course not.Ok, I am a little.
6. Sacramento Kings- How does Chris Webber run his mouth about Peja when he was hurt all year? How? Lack of depth this season may hurt team more than lack of chemistry.
5. Houston Rockets- The T-Mac trade sealed Yao Ming's career as a guy we'll always wonder about how good he could have been. Did the trade upgrade the team? Yes, but T-Mac's not going to like the idea of running the offense through Yao anymore than Franchise-Killer did. Also they have no point guard. If this was 1992 and you needed a college quarterback to win you the Heisman, hey the Rockets would be in great shape. But it's 12 years later and Charlie Ward is well past his basketball prime-wait he never had a prime.
4. Dallas Mavericks- Dirk Nowitzki will never have a better chance to join the league's elite. He COULD score 30 a night if he wants to shoot that much. Erik Dampier is so important, but I'd be worried about a guy that had one good season in his contract year. They also need Marquis Daniels to take over at the point because a point guard Jason Terry is not.
3. Denver Nuggets- Best low-post rotation in the league with the addition of K-Mart, who'll also give them some toughness to back up their big mouths. Melo averages AT LEAST 25 a night. Andre MIller's the key however. Needs to get the ball to the right people at the right time. 2. Minnesota Timberwolves- KG will really be tested because there are two things surrounding that team he can't control--money and playing time. There was a reason Spree and Cassell were so available last year and we may see it this season. Amazed Wally's running his mouth when his big move in crunch time is to soil himself. But not before turning the ball over first. The Wolves need to move him ASAP.
1. San Antonio Spurs- Because of recent developments, I hate San Antonio more than usual, so ranking them here hurts. But they're game tested, they're experienced, and they got Brent Barry to knock down outside shots, the one thing they didn't have last year. Not as good on paper as the Wolves, but they also don't have the chemistry and character issues.