Monday, May 22, 2006

Sports Weekend

Some of my worthless thoughts on this past wild sports weekend:

  • Michael Barrett is a bitch who should be shot in the head. Barrett is the Cubs catcher who blocked home plate while White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski tried to score during the Cubs-Sox game Saturday, and he got ran over because he wouldn't get out of the way. He then staggered to his feet, grabbed A.J., reportedly said "I didn't have the ball bitch," and sucker-punched him. I listened to this happen live on the radio while I worked, and I couldn't wait to get home to see the highlights because the national media on ESPN Radio doing updates made a big deal about Pierzynski going towards Barrett after he scored, which wouldn't make sense because the play was over. Sure enough, the replay showed Pierzynski stepping in the direction of Barrett and starting to bend down to pick up his helmet. Barrett grabbed his arm, stood him up, and punched him in the grill. Why? Well, he is a Cub, and they haven't shown any spark all season--really, all of their existence as a franchise--so maybe this was his way of trying to rally his squad to show how tough they can be. Or maybe he was embarrassed because A.J. jacked him up like a linebacker spearing a running back. Either way, there's gonna be some violence in a month when the Sox go to Wrigley Field, and I'm not even talking about on the field. I'm just disappointed the Sox couldn't complete the sweep yesterday and shut the Cubbies and their fans up completely. But that's nothing new. The Sox often take two of three games from the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field because they get tight and start making dumb errors and choke away one of the games. I went to a Sunday Cubs-Sox game several years ago where the brooms were out for a Sox sweep, and they hit five homers that day and managed to lose. It's frustrating to outperform a AAA team in every way all weekend and manage to lose the last game. Hopefully they will take advantage next go-round.

  • I admittedly don't know anything about steroids and the effects the drug has on the body, but I remember when the rumors about Mark McGwire were flying in the early and mid-90s. A lot of the speculation centered around McGwire's frequent injuries and how he must be juicing because his muscles are just too big for his tendons and bones, making his body more susceptible to freakish breaks and strains. The same was said for many other muscular players who kept breaking things, including Kyle Farnsworth, who, as a Cub a few years ago, kicked a fan (a wind-blowing device, not a human) in frustration and broke his foot. Barry Bonds looks like he's in a severe amount of pain any time he has to run hard. His knees reportedly have no cartilage left, so it's just bone grinding on bone at this point. But his steroid use is said to have started around the beginning of the millennium in response to McGwire's power numbers and popularity. Perhaps Bonds avoided freakish injuries by maintaining a healthy body all of his life while starting to juice at a relatively later age. Perhaps the knee cartilage would have worn away anyhow; he is in his early 40s, after all. I'm not sure if anything can be definitively answered as far as steroid use and its effects until some weird science lab steps forward and starts a long-term test using human "guinea pigs." Until then, it's just a lot of speculation. By the way, freak steroid injuries came into my mind after seeing Preakness favorite Barbaro break his leg in three places shortly after the race began. Who knows if steroids are the reason Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby by the biggest distance in forty years. But one has to wonder after seeing him crack his rear ankle like an egg.

  • As one of Michael Jordan's biggest fans, I am officially afraid of what LeBron James may be on his way to becoming. There are very few guys that had his combination of skills, determination, conditioning, and savvy at his age. I wasn't watching basketball yet when Magic Johnson led the Los Angeles Lakers to a title at the age of 21 playing every position on the floor, but that's the comparison I'm hearing most. And Jordan wasn't near this good at this point in his career. LeBron almost took a pretty weak Cleveland Cavaliers squad and led them to a series win over the Detroit Pistons, who damn near matched the 95-96 Bulls' 70-12 regular season beatdown of the rest of the NBA and who were heavy favorites to win the title, much less their second-round series with the Cavs. LeBron has several things that MJ doesn't. He has the court vision to find open teammates, which usually develops at that young age only in future point guards. Jordan was too busy trying to win games by himself to work on finding open teammates. He has a body of armor, which allows him to take the ball to the basket and score on basically anyone living as well as give people headaches when he plays defense because you're not taking him to the post and bullying him around, so scratch that strategy completely. Most importantly, he already has a sense of how to play the game at an NBA level. Consider that Jordan didn't make his JV high school team, whereas LeBron has been touted as a future star since before high school. In this culture, it's possible to ignore all other aspects of an impoverished ghetto upbringing and become a student of the game as soon as you can dribble a ball. And that's partly because of Jordan and Magic and the popularity explosion of the NBA twenty-plus years ago. Whereas parents were more likely to take the ball away and try to guide their kids towards a different goal, now they're much more likely to encourage practice and playing as much as possible, seeing the riches potentially awaiting the next young baller and his peeps. And if you've read anything about LeBron's upbringing and his mother, you know why he is the latest product of that mentality of sweeping aside all other things and devoting oneself to basketball very early in life. And because the game is so much a part of who he is, that's why he could become the greatest of them all--there's never been anything else for him to concentrate on.


GrizzBabe said...

LeBron also seems to be very mature for his age and very coachable -- two things you don't often find in NBA players his age.

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Dre said...

Yep...must be a Cubs fan.