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Friday, August 13, 2004

Bumblers, Stumblers, Humblers and the Just Plain Good

As the headline suggests, there are many topics to talk about today, so let's get to it.

As for the humbler, proper grammar suggests that "more humble" might be the better term. Let's look at two guys who aren't getting a ton of attention this year but who deserve it: Jason Schmidt of the SF Giants and Mark Shapiro of the Cleveland Indians. The former is the best pitcher in the NL and perhaps in all of baseball, and he gets almost no publicity because a) he plays on the West Coast and b) his teammate Barry Bonds might be the best position player in the history of the game. But Jason Schmidt is 15-4, and he's the favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award. Shapiro is the GM of the Indians. He replaced John Hart, now in Texas, and had the misfortune of presiding over the dismantling of the teams from the late 90's. Well, guess what? He's a builder too. The Indians are fighting for the lead in the AL Central, and if they had a good closer, well, they might be in the lead. Shapiro has done an excellent job.

As for the stumbler, well, all I'll do is point to The Smoking Gun's post on Donald Sterling, the owner of one of the worst franchises in the history of modern sports, the Los Angeles Clippers (Note: This is not for readers under the age of 18). Click here and read about Mr. Sterling's salacious extracurricular activities. Come to think of it, since that type of stuff now is illegal as far as NCAA recruiting is concerned (click here for my post on that), perhaps the Clippers' management should check with their "The Donald" about non-cash inducements to free-agent recruits. Actually, it's rather sad that this whole thing became public, but perhaps this is one reason why The Clipper Donald has not paid as much attention to his hoops investment as he should have over the years.

Another humbler, well, is that Mike & Mike in the Morning (on ESPN Radio) form the best sports talk radio team in the country, bar none. They will host a show at 8 p.m. tonight on ESPN, and you should check it out. Mike Greenberg is the very knowledgeable straight man, and Mike Golic is the well-informed former pro athlete. Why humbler? Because they know their stuff and are nice about it, which is more than you can say for most big-city talk radio sports hosts, including the famous duo in NYC whose knowledge is great but whose sense of self-esteem couldn't fit into an ESPN studio.

Finally, I don't know whether this belongs in the bumbler category, but I wonder about all of the commercialism that is attached to the Olympics. I suppose I'm okay with the athletes attaching their celebrity to ad campaigns, and I do hope that rowers and archers get the big bucks along with the folks that draw the ratings -- the swimmers, hoopsters and track stars -- but I am realistic that they will not. I know that it's an unfair world, and that typically the revenue sports stars (in this case, that means the athletes who appear in prime time and whose sports attract the biggest ad dollars) will get the lion's share of the bucks. Perhaps that's okay. But what troubles me is the extent to which talented women athletes are trying to sell sex appeal as a means to make more money or gain more notoriety. Yes, Amy Acuff looks really fit (you can scroll around the web to take a look), but is she cheapening her accomplishments by going to these lengths to get exposure? Somehow, I think that the athletes who are trying to market their sex appeal (as opposed to their accomplishments, and I confess that there can be a fine line at times) , most of whom are women, are tarnishing their hard-earned reputations as world-class athletes.

It's like a friend of mine who is a former professional athlete used to say: "Win something, then pop off." Or, in this case, take it off.


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4:25 PM  

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