A lot of ground to cover and, suddenly, nothing but time to do so. Here goes. 3000 words? We’ll see. Grab a beverage and dive in at your leisure.
A commenter asked Friday how I was celebrating the end of my grad school classes. Well, here’s what I did. First, I grabbed a big, fat carnitas burrito at Chipotle. Normally, I go with the vegetarian burrito. I figured I owed myself a little pork. Next, I read a book. Literally. My latest library book was an extremely quick read, and I knocked it off in about four hours. Then, the wife and kids and I went out to dinner (we’re having some work done around the house and our stovetop is out of commission for about a week). I enjoyed a tasty Stella Artois with my meal. Then, we came home, put the girls to bed and I went to bed shortly after. Why? Because I ran my first 5K in almost three years bright and early Saturday morning.
Like a lot of people, on New Year’s Day, I signed myself up for a New Man Plan. My back was perpetually sore and spasmy, my joints in constant pain, and I grew winded from simply climbing the stairs while lugging one of my kids. It was time to take corrective measures. Unlike most people, I’ve stuck with my New Man Plan, working out on a regular basis ever since. I did fall off the running wagon, a bit, over the last three weeks, so the race promised to be interesting. I just wanted to break 30 minutes, then run one race a month the rest of the warm weather months to stay in shape. I knew something strange was going on when I crossed the one mile marker and my watch read 14 minutes. No way was I running that slow, right? I figured I was right in my normal 10 minute/mile pace. My concerns were confirmed when I somehow ran the next mile in only six minutes. I crossed the finish line in 30 minutes, 46 seconds. But, I heard that because of some last minute rerouting, the course was closer to 3.5 miles instead of the normal 3.1. So that first mile was extra long and the second just mismarked, I guess. Anyway, I figure my official time didn’t beat my desired time, but I would have crossed in under 30 if the course had been the correct distance, so hey, I did it.
As promised, some thoughts on relevant sports issues.
Brandon Rush. Shame he’s going, for KU’s sake. I think he really wants to be in the NBA, so I doubt he’ll drop out of the draft unless something crazy happens. Unlike a lot of players, I think he could really help himself by coming back. But I can’t blame him if the money is there. I’ve gone back-and-forth on the age limit thing. I’ve decided, in general, I’m against it. But, I like what it does for the college game. I’m in favor of a baseball system, where you can declare for the pros out of high school, but if you go to college, you’re stuck there for three years. I think that for purely selfish reasons. It’s harder to fall in love with a team when the players don’t stay around. You can love the program, but the teams don’t mean as much to you when there’s a rotating door on the locker room. That’s a shame. I also think it’s bad for the college game because it means even more of the best high school players will sign with a small number of programs. The KUs, North Carolinas, Kentuckys of the world can load up every single year now, since their coaches can expect several players to either go pro or transfer after one or two years. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, I liked it the way things used to be better. Oh, and KU will still be good without Rush. Top 10-15 good instead of top five, but still good.
Curt Schilling’s sock. Stupid. People are idiots.
Randy Moss to the Patriots. Talk about reacting poorly to not winning a Super Bowl for two years! The Pats have gone nuts this off season. Better on both sides of the ball before the Moss signing. And remember, they were on the verge of blowing the Colts out in the AFC title game last year. It’s not like they were a crappy team. If Moss fits in, holy crap are they going to be good. The Pats have a way of making malcontents mend their ways (Corey Dillon, example), so I expect Randy to shut up and play for at least one season. Pats over the Saints in the Super Bowl.
The Colts drafted a wide receiver and an offensive lineman with their first two picks. Yeah, improving the offense when they’ve lost three key defensive players was exactly what they needed to do. Looks like it will be back to scoring 40 a game but then losing in New England in January because they can’t stop anyone. Enjoy last year.
What the fuck is up with Barry Bonds? There is drug testing now, right? How are we supposed to react to a nearly 43-year-old man who is on pace to hit 56 home runs? Is he on something that is undetectable? Or have all those home runs been legit? I have no doubt, based on the public evidence, that the guy used during his 2001 crazy-wack-funky year. But how much did they help that year? He’s one of the best hitters ever, playing in the juiced ball, juiced stadium, juiced pitcher era. Did they help him hit 10% more? That means he still hits like 65 that year. If he hits <strong><em>only</em></strong> 40 this year, and passes every test, do we have to reevaluate our thoughts of him? Part of his problem is he’s always been a first class asshole. All this indignation about his using has as much to do with the fact he’s an awful person as with the fact he was juicing. It will be interesting to see if his body can hold up.
All this nonsense about Hank Aaron needs to stop. The old man can stay at home if he wants to. He doesn’t owe Barry or baseball anything. As I commented over on The Soul of Baseball last week, what if it takes Barry a week or ten days to break the record? Does the haters expect Hank to haul his ass to every game? What if Barry is two shy of the record, and hits dongs in his first two ABs? Does Hank have to get on a plane and get to the game? Barry has often cried about how unfairly the world treats him. Frankly, I think it’s great that Hank ignores him, since he played in an era where he was the target of legitimate hate.
It’s all a shame. Barry is one of the four or five greatest players ever. How many of us are going to proudly tell our kids that we saw him play? I’ve seen him play live twice, and in each of those games he hit a home run (two home runs in one game, on a crazy hot day in St. Louis in 1997. It was so hot we couldn’t enjoy the fact we had third row seats, or something great like that. We just melted into our seats, slowly.)
I saw Bill Simmons wrote last week that there was no way the Yankees can come back late in the season this year. How many times in recent years have the Sox had a big lead in July and still finished second? I’ll believe it when I see it. Never count the evil empire out, especially when dealing with the slightly less evil empire.
What does Roger Clemens do? Go to New York to try to save the Yankees? Go to Boston and gravy train on what could be the best team in the league (Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Clemens, Wakefield. Pretty good #4 starter.)? Or stay at home in Houston for another $30 million? Nice problem to have. A-hole.
As I’ve written before, I hate the NFL draft, mostly because of the length and idiot talking heads we have to listen to. But I try to catch the Jets’ pick each year, because that is always the highlight. This year, I loved the kid who was preening for the cameras, heard the pick, and then waited to see how his buddies reacted before he went nuts. “Wait, who did we pick? Is he good?” Well done, Vinnie.
At the risk of jinxing it, Gil Meche has certainly been worth the money so far. In fact, for the most part, the Royals starting pitchers have been a pleasant surprise this season. That bullpen, though, ouch. For a franchise that has been in the tank since the strike, they have managed to produce some bats and the occasional arm. But that pen has been shitty since Jeff Montgomery’s glory days.
He might be a nice guy, but Ross Gload is my least favorite Royal. Just because of his name. Something about that name is really, really bad.
The Bulls sweep the Heat. I’m glad, just because of all the people out there who thought the Heat were going to repeat. Idiots.
I’ve pretty much kicked my NBA habit, so I avoided TNT most of the season. This afternoon, however, I watched a bit of the Suns-Lakers game. I have to say, the NBA in hi-def is a beautiful thing. Much better than college since they can swing the cameras down over the court. It’s like you’re in the front row. Why isn’t Carla Gugino in the front row like on Entourage?
Oh, go Warriors.
Interesting little conundrum developing across the pond. With my long-time favorite European soccer team, Juventus of Turin, relegated to the second division of Italian soccer because of their involvement in a cheating scandal (come on, cheating in anything Italian? How is that a problem?), I finally got over my issues with English football, and adopted Arsenal (the least English of all English teams, ironically) as my team. My choice was based on two things: My hatred of their rivals Manchester United and Chelsea and, like every other American fan of Arsenal, the fact I’ve read Nick Hornby’s <span style=”text-decoration:underline;”>Fever Pitch</span>, which is his autobiography told through his experiences as an Arsenal fan, twice. So anyway, like several other English teams, a rich American is angling to take over the team. The American in question in Stan Kroenke, part of the evil Wal-Mart cabal that drops truckloads of cash on the Missouri athletic department (that’s not fair, I don’t think he’s nearly as bad as his rivals, the Lauries). So while it would be cool for an American to own the club I follow, he’s not exactly my favorite sports owner. The Arsenal board announced over the weekend that they will talk to Kroenke about his plans, but have no interest in selling out to him. ManU fought a hostile takeover bid from Malcolm Glazer a couple years back, and failed. Mighty Liverpool was just bought out by an American. There is some concern that the Americans, looking more to profit than manage the clubs effectively, will ruin these English giants. It will be interesting to see how the Arsenal situation plays out.
Oh, and I have an addition to the places I need to see an athletic event. I want to see an Arsenal-Tottenham North London derby at the <a href=”http://www.stadiumguide.com/ashburtongrove.htm”>Emirates Stadium</a> someday.
Only 2000 words. Should I keep going? No. Instead, I’ll knock out a Reader’s Notebook entry and get that posted soon. Thanks for tuning in.