There has been, is and always will be a ton of self-promotion in professional sports. From Muhammad Ali to Terrell Owens there have always been athletes who are unafraid and unhesitant to share with the world just how great they are.
For the most part these acts are tolerated and even accepted when these athletes back up their claims. After all, when Ali claimed he was the greatest, who was anyone to tell him he was wrong? You couldn’t, because he was.
However one current football player has taken self-promotion to an embarrassing level. This football player can fairly be regarded as the worst player in the NFL, yet has released a rap song about his talents. The man I am referring to is Aaron Maybin of the Buffalo Bills.
Many Philadelphia fans may remember Maybin from his days as a linebacker at Penn State. While in college, Maybin had a breakout junior season (his only as a starter) and was drafted by the Bills in the first round of the 2009 draft. Since that time Maybin has recorded exactly zero sacks and has averaged less than a tackle a game. Despite the defense switching from 4-3 to a 3-4 and moving Maybin from the defensive end position to his more natural outside linebacker spot, Maybin has managed to digress. After starting the season as a third down pass rusher, Maybin has been inactive the last two weeks, despite being completely healthy.
When you can’t even make the active roster for the worst team in the NFL it is fair to say you are the worst player in the league.
Yet have yourself a listen here to Maybin Mayhem. In this abomination to rap music, Maybin talks about sacking the quarterback — something he clearly knows nothing about, getting a Nike contract — something he will never see and how his team will always win — something that never happens.
The one defense to Maybin is that his CD is helping raise money for his charity, so at least something good is coming out of sinkhole of a song.
The sad thing is as bad as the song is, Maybins’ play is even worse. Next time he wants to rap about sacking a quarterback he might want to try it out first.
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 10 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
So we made it. The big day has arrived. The day I say goodbye to the single life and hello to being a married man. The nerves are with me, but thanks to Grinding My Gears, the frustrations have been left aside and the photographer will get all the smiles he needs from me.
Grinding My Gears will return to its normal format next week, with one or two columns a week, maybe more depending on the stupidity or lunacy that takes place in the world of sports.
However before I tie the knot I must ungrind one last gear: Charlie Davies.
You may remember Davies as the man who was nearly killed in a car accident six months before the World Cup. Davies suffered two broken bones in his right leg, a broken and dislocated left elbow, a broken nose, forehead and eye socket, a ruptured bladder and bleeding on the brain.
The other person in the car died.
Davies was slated to the a starting striker for the U.S. but could not recover enough to earn a roster spot. You would think this would serve as a warning sign to Davies to be careful out on the road.
A French newspaper reported that Davies was pulled over for driving 125 miles an hour last weekend.
Davies isn’t the only reckless athlete on the road, but he of all people should no better. He nearly lost his life. Next time he probably will.
Davies’ lesson is one that goes well beyond athletics. It boils down the old saying “Some people will never learn.”
And because people will never learn this column will continue to go on. The same may not be said about Davies’ life if he keeps up this behavior.
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 9 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
Today my readers get a taste of what Grinding My Gears is really about. Sure, every day there are things that get under my skin and make me question what is wrong with people, but it is stories like this that bread the creation of this blog. It’s the type of issue that that gets the blood boiling.
The topic and hand comes from a high school all the way up in Rhode Island. It’s Friday, and in high school, Friday’s in the fall mean football. Fridays have always meant football for St. George’s School – at least until this week.
Despite the team being off to a 2-0 start the school’s headmaster decided to have his team forfeit the game against ST. Lawrence Academy. Why did he do this?
Was it because his team had too many player injured? No.
Was it because there was a scheduling conflict that couldn’t be avoided? Nope.
He canceled it because the other team was too big. Too good.
St Lawrence Academy is indeed a team stacked with some big boys. Three of their lineman weight 300, 335 and 350. This team has been blowing teams out of the water this season, most by more than 40 points.
Yet, you know the thing about those teams that got blown out? They showed up.
While headmaster Eric Peterson thinks he is protecting his kids, he is really crippling them. He’s teaching them that when the odds are stacked against you the best thing is to fold your tent and go home. The lesson here is that it is better to quit than to risk losing. If I was the head coach my letter of resignation would have been on Peterson’s desk five minutes after he hit me with the news. How can that coach be taken seriously by his players after being undermined like this?
I’m not the only one fired up about this issue. Just look at these comments from parents, who I am sure, have an interest in their children’s well being.
“You’re telling the kids on the field, look, if you’re coming up in life against a situation that seems like it’s impossible to win, just give up,” said Joe Kelley, a parent. “Doug Flutie was one of the shortest quarterbacks in college and then he went on to play pro. He didn’t give up.”
Then there is this:
“It’s sort of defeating them before they even have a chance. It’s sending them a message about what they think their abilities are,” said Patsy Rosenberg, a parent. “I think there is more to it than the winning or losing, and I think that every experience you can learn something from that and there can be winning moments even in a game that you lose.”
Of course Peterson has his way of explain things.
“We have an ethical and moral obligation to protect our student players, who have been placed in our care by their parents, from possible extreme injuries that could affect the rest of their lives.”
I understand that this is a Catholic school and that athletics are not the No. 1 priority, nor should they be. But teaching the lesson that quitting something just because you are the underdog is a horrible lesson to teach high school kids. I guess the headmaster thinks that later in life these kids should not even bother turning in an application for a job that someone with more experience has already applied for. Or maybe these kids should never take a job where there might be an ounce of chance that they get injured.
I’m sure Peterson thinks he is doing the right thing and I know there are some parents out there that commend him for this.
I’m not one of them and will never be. Life is about overcoming obstacles. As Rocky put it best in Rocky Balboa: “Life aint about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep getting up.”
These kids won’t get the chance to get up. Peterson put them down for the count.
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 8 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
For as much as I have shared my distaste for certain announcers in this blog, there are many voices in sports that I admire and respect.
One of them is Brent Musburger. Correction: One of them was Brent Musburger.
The voice of college football on ABC and ESPN made waves Wednesday night when he told a group of college journalism students that professional athletes under a doctor’s supervision could potentially use steroids to improve performance. Just so you don’t think his words got twisted, here are the quotes from The Missoulian, a newspaper at the University of Montana.
“Here’s the truth about steroids: They work.”
Wow, where to begin. First off, it was nice knowing you Brent, because there is no way ABC can find away to justify allowing this man to ever speak again on television. Ever. I mean, ‘What do doctors actually think about steroids?’ I don’t know Brent, maybe they think their are terrible for the body. Check any medical publication and you will find reports demonstrating the harmful things steroids can do. These aren’t just stories made up by “young journalists.’ They are reports from doctors and respected people in the medical field.
“I’ve had somebody say that, you know, steroids should be banned because they’re not healthy for you. Let’s go find out. What do the doctors actually think about anabolic steroids and the use by athletes? Don’t have a preconceived notion that this is right or this is wrong.”
Musburger said negative stories about steroids are mainly the fault of “journalism youngsters out there covering sports (who) got too deeply involved in something they didn’t know too much about.”
Even if Musburger is naive enough to believe this, how does he not know enough after all his years in broadcasting to keep those comments away from the media?
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I would expect to see Musburger pull back those comments in the next day or two in an attempt to save his job and his reputation. He may say he was misquoted or taken out of context. Either way it won’t be enough.
It’s hard to believe a man who spent his career painting beautiful pictures with his wors will be remembered most for being the guy who told a group of college kids “steroids work.”
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 7 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
The MLB playoffs are always a great time of year for me. The drama, the excitement, the energy, it is all brought out over the next month.
However there is always one, unavoidable frustration that comes with the MLB playoffs: Television self-promotion.
Who could ever forget the endless commercials from TBS two years ago hyping the Frank Caliendo Show. Every break in the action saw Frank, a comedian who for what it’s worth I do – or did – find funny, impersonating a celebrity. It was funny the first few times. It was old by Game 2 of the NLDS.
Yet it ran, and ran and ran. Even the Miami Heat were jealous of its publicity.
TBS is not alone in this advertising overload. Fox pounds viewers with endless reminders about House, Fringe and Bones. This year I have a good sense we will be seeing a ton of Glee commercials given how successful it was at the Emmys. By the way, why does FOX insist on one name shows?
Listen, I understand the stations have every right to promote whatever shows they choose. They paid millions of dollars for the right to broadcast the games, so they are in control.
But how about a little variety? Instead of showing me clips of the same two shows six times a games, give me one clip of each show in your lineup. That way I may actually be intrigued by something instead of sickened of it. But no, that will not happen. Instead I will be reminded during every other break that My Boys is entirely unfunny, and that for a Doctor, House sure isn’t worried about sexual diseases.
At times like this I can only thin ‘Thank God for remote controls.’
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 6 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
When VH1 gave Terrell Owens a show last year, I knew it was the start if bad things. My fears were justified this season when they added the Chad Ochocinco Show, an equally unappealing show.
However these shows haven’t been so much as a blip on my radar since I don’t watch VH1 and I don’t converse about either loudmouth receiver unless I have to.
Then came the news that the executives at Versus, a station that is supposed to be about sports, not “reality” television, have come up with the idea of starting the T.Ocho show. The program will debut on October 12 and will feature Owens and Ochocinco in what is being advertised as a sports talk show (because apparently we need to hear these two self promoters talk a little more. Here is the synopsis.
“Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are two of the most recognizable, quotable and entertaining figures in pro football. Their on-field partnership may bring the Bengals their first ever Super Bowl Trophy. VERSUS will take this on-field partnership and put it on TV. “The T.Ocho Show” will be the first ever weekly national NFL talk show starring two active players. The show will let TO and Ochocinco give fans their own personal insight on everything going on in the NFL.”
Versus forgot to add that both men were included in the 10 most hated athletes in sports that was released earlier this year. This show will not be entertaining, funny or insightful. Instead it will be a light blend of garbage, topped off with a big heaping of stupidity.
I will never watch this show, but just the thought of the commercials are enough to get the blood pressure boiling. Every hockey game I watch on Versus, there it will be, a clip of a show so bad it makes Sports Soup look like an Emmy winner.
Whoever had the idea for this show should be punished and punished harshly. The best way I can think of doing that would be to lock him in a room and force him to watch the show he created. Maybe then he will realize just how idiotic this show is.
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 5 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
For the last decade Eagles fans have been left throwing their remote controls and punching walls over the lack of time management skills demonstrated by Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. The former Eagles’ quarterback took a ton of heat over the way he would waste timeouts like he had a dozen a game. However Sunday proved that McNabb wasn’t the problem all along. It was Andy.
Reid made an error that would be laughable it not for the fact that it may have legitimately cost the Eagles the game. And who knows what this game will turnout to mean by season’s end.
The play at issue came when LeSean McCoy rushed the ball inside the 1-yard line in the final seconds of the first half on a third-down play. Officials took about five minutes reviewing that play (whatever happened to the idea that replays would take no longer than two minutes? Anyone remember that?). Even after all of that time, Reid still could not devise the right play call and had to use a timeout. In the postgame he said that the ball was not as close to the goal line as they originally thought and that the play they had would not have been effective.
“I take full responsibility in particular for what happened at the end of the first half,” Reid said. “I thought that play initially started off as (fourth-and-) inches. But after the review, the play we had for inches ended up being a yard, and the clock was well into it when we were aware of that. That’s my responsibility, and there are no excuses for it at all.”
OK, I guess I can by some of that thinking. After all, you can’t take the timeout with you into the locker room. But then the team managed to still not get the play in in time and the team was issued a delay of game penalty.
The Eagles settled for a field goal and ultimately a loss.
There is just no way that can be acceptable — even in high school football. Yet blunders like this seem to happen with Reid and the Eagles all the time.
As Andy even said: “That’s my responsibility, and there are no excuses for it at all.”
The truly disturbing Andy isn’t going anywhere for awhile so don’t expect this to be the last time management blunder fans will have to choke down this season.
For the second straight day it is an Eagles receiver that finds himself in this column. Fans watching the ending to Sunday’s Eagles-Redskins game witnessed Jason Avant drop a would-be touchdown pass in the final play of the game. It was by no means a gimme, but the ball was in Avant’s hands and the play was not made.
However the dropped pass isn’t whant put Avant in this column, it was his response in the postgame. Following the 17-12 loss Avant told reporters “I’m not sure what happened, I guess someone knocked the ball out.”
No, Jason, no one knocked the ball out, you simply didn’t hang on. Next time, blame yourself, not the invisible man.
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 3 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
I think its about time that someone reminded Freddie Mitchell, or Fred-Ex or Mr. First Down or whatever the heck he is calling himself these days, that when it came to playing football, he stunk.
The guy made one catch and thought he was all world. As it turned out he wasn’t even all practice squad. After his forgettable tenure in Philly, Mitchell went on to do absolutely nothing in the NFL. Yet he still feels the needs to make comments like these to the Philadelphia Inquirer in reference to Donovan McNabb.
“I really didn’t like him because he wasn’t going down the progressions. He wasn’t going one, two, three and then four,” Mitchell said. “I was the third progression off the offensive playbook so it was like I’m running my routes as hard as possible and he’s not looking at that. He’s going from one to the safety valve, which was Brian Westbrook, which isn’t a bad safety valve, but a lot of the great quarterbacks, they’ll read down the progression and that’s how the west-coast offense is supposed to be ran.”
Even if McNabb would have went through his progressions all he would have found was a covered or lost Mitchell, who was never known to be a great route runner. I understand that former players like to make comments about their former teams or teammates, but some players just need to know when to zip it. When Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber came out to rip the Giants this week, there is a respect factor there because those players earned the right to make comments. All Mitchell earned himself was a ticket out of the league for being a lousy receiver.
Fans didn’t care about Freddie when he was in the league and we could care even less about him now. As for McNabb: Something tells me he has bigger things on his mind than what Mitchell thinks of him.
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 2 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
You may have heard that Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick have been in the headlines this week. If you haven’t, well then you are not reading this because you are clearly in a coma.
At times the media can get too obsessed with a story and play it to a point where even the most die hard fans are sent diving into the cushions of their couch to block out the chatter.
With so much attention going to the McNabb-Eagles, Vick is back drama, some reporters will go to any lengths to prove they do not get stuck in the eye of the media’s hurricane. Sometimes this leads to new information, an interesting take, or a breath of fresh air.
Other times it leads to print that has no other purpose than to fill up a blank page. And that’s when the gears start grinding.
Take for example this piece of journalism courtesy of this piece from the Express-Times.
In the article the author gets completely lost talking about the Redskins. Try these few graphs for size.
“The Eagles’ defense, after all, will be the one confronting McNabb, not Vick. The Birds’ defense dominated Jacksonville last week but even Temple’s defense would have had a decent day against the inept David Garrard, the Jags’ overmatched line and an ordinary bunch of skill players.”
News flash, Temple isn’t a punching bag anymore. They took Penn State down to the wire and could be looking at a Bowl Game this year. Temple jokes are so 2007. However it gets worse folks.
McNabb brings some much more impressive friends with him than Garrard could. Wide receiver Santana Moss is one of the NFL’s best at getting open in the clutch, and his fellow receivers Joey Galloway, Anthony Armstrong and Roydell Williams may only have eight catches between them but they are averaging 22.4 yards a catch.
Tight end Chris Cooley, like Moss, is in the elite at his position and could torture the Eagles especially if the Philadelphia linebackers let him get off the line of scrimmage with momentum. Clinton Portis may be on the downside of his career but can still be an effective and efficient running back.
Someone please explain to me when Santana Moss was ever considered elite? Last season he was 29th in the league with 902 yards and caught a measly three touchdowns. Last time I checked the word “elite” was saved for the best of the best.
And how about the Portis reference? Portis got one second-half carry last week and is in Mike Shanahan’s dog house. Yet he is one of these “impressive friends” that McNabb is bringing with him this week? How can you seriously say the Redskins are more dangerous at the skill positions than the Jaguars when it’s Portis running the ball for Washington and Maurice Jones Drew getting the ball for Jacksonville?
The article gets worse but I will spare you the details unless you wish to click the link yourself.
Listen, I’m glad someone wanted to look at a story other than McNabb and Vick, but doing a little research might help next time. Throwing slop like this down, doesn’t do anything to help a reader, much less the writer’s reputation.
(Grinding My Gears writer Eric Schwartz will be getting married on October 9th and because of this he will be forced to smile much more than he would like to. The only way for this to be plausible is for him to unleash on all that is wrong in the World of Sports over the next 10 days. This is Part 1 of 10 straight days of Grinding My Gears.)
Alberto Contador is the latest disgrace to cycling — and lets be clear he is a disgrace. In a sport filled with cheaters and liars, Contador moved himself to the top of the last this week when it was found that the three-time Tour De France winner tested positive in a doping test.
Yesterday we got his excuse: It was a bad piece of beef.
Sure and Andy Pettit only took steroids that one time and J.C. Romero just got a bad prescription.
Cycling is the dirties sport in the world when it comes to performance enhancing drugs and it isn’t even close. Congress may grill baseball players on the issue but it is the cyclists who need a real whipping, and not just a verbal one.
As is, most Americans could care less about Contador or anyone else in the sport not named Lance Armstrong (And it looks like Lance will be the sports next disappointment as evidence continues to mount against him). Now thanks to these drug issues, we care even less.
Right now I’d be curious to find out who has a bigger drug problem: The Cycling or the WWE. Even the WWE has a drug policy these days, though I’m sure they stick to it as well politicians stick to their promises.
If Contador should get credit for one thing it is coming up with an excuse that some “experts” are buying.
Clenbuterol — the supplement that got him suspended — is often used to speed up growth and increase muscle mass in animals, including chickens, cattle and pigs. So it is possible that by digesting meat that came from an injected animal, Contador accidently absorbed the substance.
Then again Clenbuterol is also used by people for bodybuilding. So it is much more conceivable that it wasn’t a fork and knife that injected Contador, but a needle.
Contador refuses to accept that. He clings to his story that he is innocent.
“I think this is going to be resolved in a clear way,” he said. “With the truth behind you, you can speak loud and clear, and I am confident justice will prevail.”
In the court of public opinion Contador has already been convicted. The key has been thrown away and there are no spares. When the UCI upholds his suspension it will only confirm what we already know: Contador is just another lying, cheating cyclist.
With the first game of the NFL now just a week away it is time to turn my focus to the pigskin. I love the game and the anticipation is great. Yet with that anticipation comes overreaction and at times lunacy from those who cover and report on the game.
Every year experts are certain of things and every year many of those things turn out not to be. So as Grinding My Gears returns this week, it does so by picking apart some of the statements I have heard during the offseason that really dig at me.
The Patriots have been passed in the AFC East: Never, ever doubt Tom Brady. I may not be one of his fans come Sunday, but I sure do respect his talents. Rex Ryan can run his mouth all he wants, but the AFC East still runs through the Patriots — and it probably will until Brady retires or leaves town.
The Sexy pick: Every year it happens: Last year it was the Chargers and this year it’s the Packers and the Cowbys. Analysts collectively faun and drool over a team that has been close but hasn’t gotten to the big game, and decide it’s time to make them the favorites. Sometimes they’re right and most of the time they’re not, but every year it seems like the Colts get pushed on the back-burner. And every year the Cots are right there in the end. It would be nice if just once the favorite was actually labeled as the favorite.
Mike Martz love: Mike Martz is the offensive co-ordinator for the Bears and suddenly that offense will be more potent. Suddenly, Jay Cutler will be able to throw the ball to someone other than the opposition. These are the things I hear.
In fact, I keep hearing things about Mike Martz that would make Chuck Norris jealous. I respect what the guy did in St. Louis, but his time in Detroit and San Francisco hardly makes me a believer that he will transform the Bears offense into a scoring machine. In fact I have no faith at all that he will.
The Bengals are Super Bowl contenders: OK this one is coming from the Bengals themselves … and I’m not close to buying it. The Ravens will be the class of the division while the Bengals may scrap to get close to a Wild Card spot, before falling short. Super Bowl contenders do not have a giant question mark at QB (Yes Carson Palmer fits that profile after a dismal 2009/10 season).
This is the year for the Texans: Hasn’t every year been the year for the Texans to reach the playoffs since 2007? I thought so. How many times have they been to the playoffs during that span? Zero. There is a lot to like with this team but I refuse to get sucked into the hype anymore.
Brett Favre’s numbers will take a huge hit this season: This one is my personal favorite. I will be the first to admit that it will be tough for Favre to repeat the success he had last season (33 TDs, 7 picks), but I sure think he will be close. Don’t let the ankle injury news fool you. Favre always keeps an excuse handy in case he needs one. The man still has a great arm and plenty of talent around him (even with Sidney Rice out for up to six weeks). He may be the biggest drama queen in the league, but the man can still play — and play very well.
As news broke this morning that Brett Favre was retiring, yet again – at least we think – it didn’t take long for analysts to turn to talk of the QB’s impressive games started streak of 285.
That many starts in football is unheard of given the violent nature of not only the sport, but the position. Favre clearly possesses a level of toughness and grit, along with protection and luck, that few in the history of the game have ever had. While other players limped off the field, Favre had enough bravado to limp onto it.
Remembering Favre as one of the all-time great quarterbacks and one of the toughest men in the business should be enough for most people. But as is the case of some in the media, it can never stop there.
Twice today I heard analysts compare Favre’s consecutive games streak with Cal Ripken’s. I guess the comparisons were inevitable. Both analysts, along with several writers agreed that Favre’s streak was more impressive than Ripken’s.
That’s where I have a problem. A big problem.
How quickly we forget just how remarkable what Ripken accomplished was. For those who need a refresher course, Ripken started 2,632 straight games, again that’s 2,632. In today’s game if a player starts 50 straight fans start to wonder if the manager is overworking him. I’m not here to tell you that Ripken’s streak is superior to Favre’s — that’s not my style. I am however assuring you that it isn’t any less impressive. Some people dissagree, like this out of touch blogger from Yahoo who posted this when Favre’s streak hit 253.
The argument that writer and others are making is that Favre’s streak should be considered superior because football is a more physical game with more opportunity to get injured. I fully accept that football is a more physical game and get that. Not too many baseball players get thrown to the ground — although Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer once did. But what’s not taken into account is the recovery time football players have between games. There were plenty of occurrences where Favre was hurt in a game, came out and was questionable heading into the next game. So he sat on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, sometimes Thursday and Friday too, recovering.
It’s the natural thing to do for any quarterback who may be hobbled.
Ripken never had that option. When he was banged up Sunday night, he still had to come out and play nine more innings Monday and then again on Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe an off day was sprinkled in, but those are few and far between. The only time Ripken got to recover was when he was sleeping.
Another area that can not be overlooked is day games, following night games and double-headers – and I mean real double headers unlike the day/night ones you see today. In Cal’s era a double-header meant once the first game ended the second one began. Managers often used those situations to get their bench guys in for one of the games as to not wear out the starters. Ripken always wanted a full 18 innings though.
Another area rarely mentioned when talking about games played streaks is voluntary rest. In football there is rarely a scenario where healthy players sit (the final game or two of the season for teams that clinched a playoff spot being the exception). In the NFL, if you are healthy enough to play, you play. That’s not always the case in baseball, Every hitter will go through slumps and sometimes a hitter will ask for a day to sit down and clear his head. And if the player doesn’t ask, the manager often makes the decision for them. Ripken had his share of slumps in his career, yet sitting was never an option. When he finally did take a day off on Sept. 19, 1998, he said afterwards that he didn’t want to sit anymore. He had tried it out and it wasn’t for him.
My point is simply that just because Favre’s streak possibly coming to an end is the most recent, doesn’t mean it is automatically the greatest in any sport. Peyton Manning may catch that streak before he is done and maybe he wont. Either way it shouldn’t change the way we feel about Brett and his legacy. Just like Brett’s streak shouldn’t change the way we feel about Ripken’s.
I think former Yankees pitcher David Cone summed it up best, speaking when the streak ended.
“A lot of people who go to work every day can identify with Cal,” said Cone. “The streak supersedes baseball.”
And nothing can ever take away from that.
It’s been nearly a week since the U.S. was eliminated from the World Cup after a disappointing 2-1 result against Ghana and I am still plenty steamed about the mistakes that cost the U.S. a chance to get to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. While much of the focus has been directed at the poor officiating during this World Cup — and rightly so — I am taking my anger out on the U.S. for failing to do what was necessary to keep playing in this great tournament.
Here, above all else, is what’s grinding my gears.
Starting Rinaldo Clark: Before the tournament ever started I hated the idea of Clark getting much playing time for the U.S. I listened to announcers say he is a great defensive midfielder before the cup but I never bought into it. I didn’t like his play in qualifying and hated it even more during the Cup. He cost the U.S. a goal against England and got benched for it, yet Bradley decided to bring him back for the Ghana game.
And what happened? He cost the U.S. another goal, and likely the game, with a brutal turnover five minutes in that put the U.S. in a 1-0 hole. I can’t remember a player being responsible for two defensive meltdowns like that since 1998 when Jeff Agoos was beaten twice for goals and scored an own goal. Clark will be remembered just as harshly and so will Bradley for starting him.
Starting Robbie Findley: If you ask the causal soccer fan who Findley is, they certainly will not know. If you ask a more serious fan about Findley, they won’t know much more. Why? Findley has never scored an international goal. That’s right, he has a big zero in the goal column and that’s the guy Bradley picks to start for his squad? In three games, Findley did nothing, showing how pitiful the striker position continues to be for U.S. soccer.
Sure Findley is fast, but he has no goal scoring touch, which last time I checked is a pretty important part of the position.
Winning headballs: Can anyone remember the last time A U.S. player won a headball off a cross or corner kick? The last one I remember seeing came off the head of Brian McBride about five years ago. This team is a disaster in the air and yet it insists on playing in high crosses and then watching them get cleared out. For the love of God, if you can’t win a ball in the air, how about working the ball on the ground!!
I Love Me Some Me: This one goes out to Landon Donovan for his words after scoring the game winner against Algeria. Donovan, who finished a goal set up by the work of Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, told reporters that all the work he put in up to that point had resulted in the goal. Really, all of your work? I love watching Donovan play and he was one of the two best players for the U.S. on the field this tournament (Dempsey was the other) but how about giving a little love to your teammates? Soccer is a team sport and handing out a little credit would have been a nice gesture by the face of the U.S. team.
Bob Bradley and his coat: Is it just me or does it seem that Bradley wore the largest coat ever created? I mean was half of the team’s bench hibernating in that thing? It looked like Bradley was more focused on staying warm than leading his team to victory. Most coaches has a suite. Bradley has a bubble coat. I understand it is cold in South Africa, but we are not talking about Antarctica. Some cold air cold have done Bradley some good as maybe the brisk air would have smacked some sense into him and kept him from starting Clark against Ghana.
As you are reading this I may be on my way or already in Orlando, Florida for a five-day trip, which includes a wedding I will be attending in Disney. Is there any way I can find something that will grind my gears in “The Happiest Place on Earth”?
You better believe it.
I had a bad experience today.
While doing some yard work I came upon a bees nest. Wisely I chose to stay away from the nest, doing my best to avoid any type of swarm coming at my face. Yet despite my best efforts, the bees came charging, buzzing around my face for what seemed like hours. The annoyance of the whole event goes beyond words.
OK, truthfully that event never happened.
Instead I simply turned on the World Cup.
Anyone who has experienced even a minute of the World Cup can emphasize with what I am speaking of. The host South Africans don’t chant, don’t cheer, don’t sing. Instead they play a horn known as the vuvuzela. And they play it all game. Every game.
I’m hardly the first blogger or reporter to write about this. The vuvuzela has been talked about as much as England goalkeeper Robert Green these days. In fact I’m not sure which issue the English are angrier with right now.
Players haven’t commented much on the horns but there have been reports that the decibel rating in the stadium is enough to damage your hearing. I’m not sure I buy that, though. South African fans have been doing it for years and I don’t see any of the players wearing earplugs.
The President of FIFA recently came out and said he would not ban vuvuzela playing from the stadiums and I have to support his decision. If it’s a big ritual in South African culture, then who is he, I, or anyone else to tell them to stop playing?
That doesn’t mean that this whole vuvuzela thing doesn’t grind my gears though. I mean don’t these people have to stop to take a breath once in awhile?
When I tuned into the first World Cup game on Friday I noticed the horn playing but thought, like any other background noise, it would simply go away. The problem is it hasn’t.
One of the great things about soccer is the passion of the fans. I love the cheering and the chanting. It’s what helps make the sport so beloved around the world (even if not in the U.S.).
During this World Cup we get none of that.
It’s funny how much things change in a couple of weeks. Suddenly I long for the “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole” chant again (as long as it’s not coming from the Canadiens, that is).