The Sports World Keeps Churning

by John Furgele

It has been some time, so let’s get right to it with some snippets from the Sports World.

-I am tired of Lance Armstrong.  I don’t consider the Tour de France a major sport and I’m not a big fan of bicycle racing.  When Lance Armstrong was the lead rider, his teammates had to help him win.  Now, the shoe is on the other foot and Lance wants to ride independently and try to win the Tour de France for the eighth time.  He is a tremendous athlete who is allegedly the clean one in a very dirty sport.  If you you ask Lance how he can be clean and win when the others are dirty, he guilts you by pulling out the cancer card.  He originally intended to go to France and be a team player, but now that he thinks he can win, that’s out the window.    I respect the hell out of him, but for now, I’m selling.

-Despite the arrogance and the going over the top with the cheesy Nike gold 15 outfit, Roger Federer is still the world’s best tennis player.  As mentioned before, Nadal may be better, but Federer is the best.  His five set victory over American Andy Roddick eclipsed last year’s epic final and it would have been nice to see Roddick win the title he craves so dearly.  But, Federer is 15-5 in Grand Slam finals and it would be no surprise to see him hoisting the US Open trophy the Sunday after Labor Day.

-The sports media is trying to sell us the Albert “The Great” Pujols.  He is considered a great man, he is given credit for marrying a woman with a special needs child and he is considered a clean, PED free player.  I would like to caution everybody.  I don’t have any reason to believe that Pujols is a drig cheat, but haven’t we been down this road before?  We breathed a deep sigh of relief when Barry Bonds wasn’t resigned and we said that Alex Rodriguez would someday hold the clean home run record.  But, A-Rod became A-Roid, so we gravitated to Manny Ramirez, then he tested positive.  Would we be surprised if Pujols tested positive?  I certainly wouldn’t, so I refuse to go ga-ga over Pujols because I am now a permanent skeptic.  Baseball doesn’t have the right to sell us a clean player until they can prove that he is clean and that will only come to with blood tests, ala the Olympics.

-I still do not fathom why the NFL continues to get a free pass on PEDs while baseball gets raked through the coals.  Why aren’t the football players scorned like their baseball brethern?  We all know that all the networks pussyfoot around the NFL for fear of reprisal, but what about objective journalism?

-I don’t know which was sadder:  the death of Michael Jackson or the death of Steve McNair.  McNair was a tough guy who could lead men and play hurt.  When New England won their third Super Bowl in four years, the team–and man— that they feared the most was McNair’s Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.  New England warded off the Titans, then cruised, but that’s how good and tough McNair was. 

But, like all of us, McNair has flaws off the field.  Despite being married and the father of four kids, McNair was dating another woman, who apparently killed him and herself.  Does a man deserve death for cheating on his wife?  Of course not, but it should be a cautionary tale for all. 

-Like steroids, the baseball All-Star Game is still held to a higher level.  The NFL Pro Bowl is a classic joke and the NBA and NHL All-Star Games aren’t much better, but for some reason, the baseball All-Star Game has to mean something?  Why?  Deciding World Series home field advantage in the All-Star Game is wrong, plain and simple.  And, it is more than unfair to the National League and its clubs, which haven’t had home field advantage in the WS since 2001.  And, if the NL wins the next seven games, it would be equally unfair.  Because baseball is the only sport with two sets of rules, home field will remain unfair.  It is not fair for NL teams to have to employ a DH for the World Series and it is just as unfair that the AL teams have to bat their pitchers.  Why doesn’t baseball address a real issue instead of artificially propping up an exhibition game?

-If it were another sport, the announcement that Jacques Lemaire is returning to coach the New Jersey Devils would be a major story.  In his first stint behind the Devil bench, he lost the epic 1994 Eastern Conference Final to the New York Rangers only to lead the Devils past the highly favored Detroit Red Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final.  Moreover, he was the man who ushered in the neutral zone trap, a tactic that many teams adopted because of the Devils success.  Say what you want about Lemaire’s coaching techniques, but the man’s name is on the Stanley Cup 11 times as a coach and player and that means he knows what he’s doing.


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