(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Sunday, July 25, 2004

SportsProf Has Returned

SportsProf has returned to the U.S. after a whirlwind trip to Europe (3 cities, 5.5 days), with the following observations:

1.  Tour de France.  SportsProf noticed a few things about the Tour when he was in Paris.  First, Lance speaks passable French, which must endear him to the French crowd.  Second, the French still like their hometown favorites, and who can blame any country for not rooting for its countrymen?  Richard Virenque, kind of the mountain stages (for something like the fifth year in a row), is the best of the Frenchmen and probably destined never to win the Tour.  Third, there were a bunch of Americans in Paris, and SportsProf ran into a family from suburban Dallas eager to route on Lance Armstrong.  Fourth, fans of Armstrong standing along the route yell, "Go, Postal," and, thanks to this cycling great, the U.S. Postal Service team has given "Going Postal" a new and better meaning. 

2.  Red Sox versus Yankees.  This is getting to be almost as fun as the Rocky-Thunderlips battle in Rocky III.  Memo to the Red Sox:  it's great to get all macho against the Yankees, but why don't you keep your emotions in check and start winning games before you start popping off like that and getting into ridiculous fights.  Emotion without results looks, well, like bad sportsmanship.  SportsProf likes fiery rivalries, but where the fire is real because the rivalries are close.  The last time he checked, the BoSox weren't that close and were in danger of losing out on even the wild card.

3.  Jaber Rouzbahani.  Apparently the name of the Iranian hoops wunderkind only has traveled so far.  SportsProf sat on the plane with some Iranian-Americans from Northern California and they have never heard of the 7'5" player who is in agent Aaron Goodwin's stable.  Note to Jaber:  get some more game, then you'll get some more name (recognition), even among your own countrymen.

4.  LaSalle College Basketball.  This is the one DI job that is now open, as the LaSalle administration accepted the resignations of the men's and women's basketball coaches in light of the sad circumstances surrounding some alleged rapes.  SportsProf hasn't read enough to comment whether or not the LaSalle administration has done the right thing, but the Explorers need both a good recruiter and a coach whose reputation is beyond reproach.  Joe Mihalich, the Niagara coach who is a LaSalle alum (his father was a LaSalle prof) has said he isn't interested.  Speculation now is falling to Penn coach Fran Dunphy, a LaSalle alum, and Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon, a Villanova alum.  You all know what SportsProf thinks of both of these coaches.  SportsProf doubts that Dunphy will be interested, and he thinks that O'Hanlon would be absolutely terrific.  The Explorers will be lucky to get O'Hanlon, who has carved out a good niche in Easton, Pennsylvania (although it isn't exactly a hoops hotbed).  Philadelphia's Big Five beckons.  Loudly.

5.  Street Ball.  In trying to counteract his jet lag, SportsProf watched some of the "And1 Street Ball" show on ESPN.  I have a few observations on the topic.  One, if you can get into the genre, some of the stuff can be quite entertaining.  Two, some of the players probably couldn't play organized basketball even if they wanted to (one, J Roc, said that there are too many politics and too much money in the NBA, so he wouldn't be interested anyway).  Perhaps I didn't see the whole interview (I doubt there was one), but I am sure that all of the guys on the And1 team would love to play in the NBA if they could.  There is a huge guy, about 7', 350 pounds they call Escalade (take a look and you'll know why -- and all of these guys have rapper-like nicknames), and I think that he's the brother of NBA PG Mark Jackson (I know they don't have the same body type, but I do recall that Jackson's younger brother played a bit at Louisville and is a 767-type size-wise).  Okay, what's the point?  The point is that it is easy to dismiss the phenomenon, but it might be a mistake.  Some might have thought that rap music wouldn't have lasted, but where are we today.  Now I'm not saying that the NBA has anything to worry about (it doesn't, at least not from these guys), but, well, the And1 luxury bus kings might just find their niche in some way.  And all of them, to a person, would love to get a guaranteed contract from the NBA.  The odds, though, are that no one will get one.  But if J Roc is right, do they really care? 

6.  Paul Tagliabue.  The NFL commish quietly had his contract renewed for a few years last week, and the news hardly drew any publicity.  Which is unfortunate, because of the 3 major sports in the U.S., his by far is run the best.  The NFL owners did the right thing, and the NFL is fortunate to have a successor to Pete Rozelle with a far different background and a different style who has taken the NFL to the next level.  So who said that practicing lawyers aren't good managers?  Bud Selig, take some notes on how to do things the right way.  Look no further than the entity that has seized the mantle of "national pastime", the NFL.