I challenge you all. This means come one come all. I don't have to know you; in fact, I almost prefer if I don't. (Rumor has it the people I know aren't much competition...)
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The idea has been popularized and since bastardized by Sin City. "What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas." I happen to dislike the way the slogan has been colloquialized and is now used so freely, but I love what it stands for. It stands for the idea that there are people you can trust. The travel ads suggest that there is an entire desert destination full of people you can trust not to divulge your secrets. This example is extreme because they won't tell on you because you won't tell on them. Not all silence is bred from mutual wrong-doing, but it is that bond, that "Brotherhood," that has gone unsaid in practically every level of social interaction since the dawn of time; it did not originate with nefarious relationships and scandalous nights out in Las Vegas.
While many groups still live or die (sometimes literally) by the concept today, one area where it seems to have eroded most is professional sports. There are stories over the past few years from all sports, but I'm most concerned with Major League Baseball.
All it took was a few bad apples -- all of which apparently had too much free time -- and a market hungry for the information. Steroid use is the easy target for inquiry, but the worst and most addictive drug in sports today is the all-mighty dollar. That is what has enabled whistleblowers to get their 15 minutes of fame. There was a time that "What happened in Major League Baseball, stayed in Major League Baseball." I do not believe for one second that it wasn't until recently that professional athletes began to pray to chemical gods for abilities the spiritual gods did not give them.
August 7, 2007 will forever be the day that Barry Bonds hit his 756th homerun. There is an endless supply of sports writers and fans who want exercise their (self-given) right to play judge, jury and executioner by way of punctuation. (The asterisk (*) has become the most powerful character a keyboard can produce.) They want the record for most career homeruns, which is now held by Barry Bonds, to be flagged. They want sports almanacs to not only include, but emphasize that Barry Bonds has used steroids.
Most Career HR Barry Bonds CHEATER 756* Hank Aaron 755 ... *USED STEROIDS
I do not condone the actions of anyone who chooses to use performance-enhancing drugs. I do, however, understand that as the world becomes more and more competitive, people are increasingly driven to find an advantage -- wherever they can. But fierce competition is not new. If you want Barry Bonds forever chastized in the record books, please be absolutely sure that no one else broke any rules. And that is where I am conflicted.
What needs to happen -- and I believe that it needs to happen -- is for someone to step forward. If players before Barry Bonds used steroids (or any other drugs), someone please say so. But that would mean going against the Brotherhood, which still has more meaning (apparently) to older generations.
I cannot ask someone to break their silence because it would defeat what I believe in, but without involving names I want evidence to be discovered that will say definitively that players from Hank Aaron's era did not have the squeaky-clean reputation that they are purported to have. The irony is that the situation is so out of control that, even if it takes a large sum of money, I welcome (to an extent) a whistleblower from a generation ago.
I don't think Barry Bonds should be off the proverbial hook. I just think he is one bad guy in a profession notorious for -- and eerily quiet about -- its tradition of bad guys. I think America has produced generation after generation of wide-eyed little boys. The country is run by men who still remember going to their first ballgame and their baseball-playing heroes are still as infallible to them today as they were then. To think that something has happened to cast doubt on that idolization is catastrophic and people are angry with Barry Bonds for challenging their heroes' virtue. Ignorance is bliss.
We would love to let what happened in Vegas stay there, but what has happened recently in Major League Baseball is now public knowledge, and someone has decided that a player needs to answer for it. Sorry Barry.
I am not sure if any of you have had the privilege yet to watch one of these games, but I saw the Georgia Force v Philadelphia Soul game last night - well part of it anyway. And here was a run down of what I saw.
-Teams owned by Bon Jovi and Ron Jaworski. :hangs head in shame:
-Different rules based on which stadium the two teams are playing in. Stupid. Just stupid.
-Players who don't even break a sweat.
-An overall feel that this is just some guys who got together to play touch football (since you don't have to tackle in this league). There is NO suspense, excitement, drama.
-Interviews with players who take their station in life way too seriously.
I will not watch an AFL game again. Nor should you.
I understand that the management team for the NHL has done a piss-poor job of marketing their product, but it is 100x better than the AFL. I am almost ashamed to live in a country where a major sports network will not option the NHL but they pick up this garbage. (Yes, I am a hockey fan. Yes, I am biased. The AFL is still a joke.)
Each year at the end of the NCAA March Madness tournament, CBS prepares a video montage of the games set to the song that makes it all possible. They are now available to download with archives back 20 years.
1987 - Indiana
1988 - Kansas
1989 - Michigan
1990 - UNLV
1991 - Duke
1992 - Duke
1993 - North Carolina
1994 - Arkansas
1995 - UCLA
1996 - Kentucky
1997 - Arizona
1998 - Kentucky
1999 - Connecticut
2000 - Michigan State
2001 - Duke
2002 - Maryland
2003 - Syracuse
2004 - Connecticut
2005 - North Carolina
2006 - Florida
(Clicking any of the above links will give you the option to download the video from 2007 as well.)
Since I have never been to see the World Cup, I sure wish I knew someone who has been and made an online journal of the places they went and things they saw complete with pictures and videos...
What's this you say? I DO know someone who went to the World Cup this year in Germany? And (his brother) DID make an online photo essay of their trip?
Congratulations to Randy Foye. He received an incredible amount of praise last night from everyone involved with the 2006 NBA Draft that I feel he has more than earned. I can understand that he was not drafted before the seventh pick, but obviously would have liked to see this Villanova guy go higher in the order.
I was a bit worried initially. His being drafted 7 was by the Boston Celtics, who had traded the rights to that pick to the Portland Trailblazers. That would be a horrible system in which to begin his career. The team has accurately been called the "New York Knicks of the West." The team is beyond need to rebuild and is not the place for a young guard to shine. When the news came through that Portland had traded the rights to Randy to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the rights to Brandon Roy and some change, my heart picked itself back up off the floor.
I was hoping, as the draft started, that Randy would land in Minnesota. If the Timberwolves look to hang on to Kevin Garnett it would be an unbelievable experience for Randy. He could really begin to make an impact early.
It is very exciting, as a Villanova graduate and basketball fan, to see a player like Randy receiving such praise and being in the position to begin his career with a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Best of luck to Randy and also to Kyle Lowry who left Villanova after his sophomore year to be drafted 24 by the Memphis Grizzlies.
After a month of swirling rumors and anxious moments for some of the nation's top college basketball coaches, the McDonald's All-American announced at a news conference yesterday that he's heading to Villanova next season.
Originally ticketed to the University of Oklahoma, Reynolds asked for and was granted a release from his letter of intent earlier this month after Kelvin Sampson, who had recruited Reynolds, hightailed it to Indiana.
This past weekend the NCAA Tournament narrowed its field to the Final Four teams. Congratulations to LSU, UCLA, George Mason and Florida for their success. During some games, the analysts providing play-by-play give a player's background. It is a heart-warming, humanizing addition to the action on the court. There were two stories, from separate games, that were presented in the same fashion, yet were nearly polar opposites.
The first was a story of Villanova Wildcat senior guard Randy Foye. Foye's father, they said, left when Randy was of a very young age (3-and-a-half years old I believe) and his mother disappeared after he completed kindergarten. Her whereabouts are still unknown. Randy was raised in Newark, New Jersey by his two grandmothers, one of which had never been on an airplane, but agreed to fly to Indianapolis to see Randy play in the Final Four if his team made it. Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said of Foye that he has a God-given ability to listen to the right people. When asked about his future in the sport of basketball, Wright commented that above success on the basketball court, Randy Foye would be a great man.
The second story featured George Mason senior guard Tony Skinn. The George Mason Patriots (GMU) were seconds away from completing the upset of top-seeded Connecticut as Skinn walked to the free-throw line. GMU was ahead by two points and Skinn had the opportunity to make it a two-possession game if he made both attempts. While he walked the length of the court the commentator mentioned how remarkable Tony Skinn's story was. He elaborated that Tony Skinn lost himself for a moment with about a minute remaining in a game against Hofstra and punched an opposing player in the groin in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. He had been immediately pulled from the game by his coach and suspended by his team from the first round NCAA Tournament game against Michigan State. The team managed to hold on against the Spartans without him and now here he was with a chance to put the game out of reach. And to think he had overcome this adversity to now find himself with the opp...
:Missed the first free throw, the front-end of a one and one. Rebound to Uconn.:
Well he had the opportunity to "ice" the game for George Mason, he said.
Call it my Villanova bias, but I think Randy Foye's story was a little more vivid and appropriate considering the circumstances. They were both presented the same way. When they launched into story about Tony Skinn it was in a way where you expected to hear of tragedy and triumph over adversity. And you find out he overcame a one-game suspension he received because he punched a guy below the belt.
George Mason, an 11 seed in the tournament, was a controversial invite to the 65-team tournament. Many critics felt that other teams, Hofstra for one (who beat GMU twice head-to-head), should have been asked to the tournament instead. Since the brackets were announced, GMU has beaten 6th seed Michigan State, 3rd seed North Carolina and 1st seed Connecticut. The last two games were wins over the past two winners of the NCAA Tournament. The team's story has been and continues to be a remarkable one. Tony Skinn's story is about nothing but him losing his cool.
What happens when you take Wil Morris's man-crush on Kevin Pittsnogle, teach him about the rapid-capture action-shot capability of my camera and let him loose on the West Virginia v. Northwestern State game?
The officiating for Pittsburgh v. Bradley was some of the worst I have ever seen. Bradley won that game fair and square, and Pittsburgh is not a team I would ever make excuses for; that is not my intention. Calls on both sides of the ball were horrible. I guess the silver lining is that at least they were equally bad to both teams, but they were not consistent in the level of contact required for a foul.
The band director/leader for the Northwestern State band was awesome. The band itself was little more than a drunken student section with instruments. In his highly animated state, the man led his band through many hip-hop/rap hits such as "Let Me Clear My Throat" and "Laffy Taffy." He also led the band in cheers. After one bad call the band yelled "Nuts and bolts. Nuts and bolts. We...Got...Screwed!" Pretty funny, though not the best. While at the free throw line, West Virginia Guard Johannes Herber was serenaded by the band as they chanted "Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback Mountain." (I have just learned that Gonzaga fans had been reprimanded for similar behavior. Thanks for the update, Matt.)
I know it is hard to get fans from schools across the country to make the trip, but I thought the stadium seemed very empty. Maybe it was because there is no alcohol served at the NCAA events.
Bradley played very well against Pittsburgh. Since Kansas was kind enough to lose to them in the first round, maybe I will jump on the Bradley bandwagon to beat Memphis...
I could not believe that there was not a screen in the building that was constantly scrolling scores for the other games-in-progress yesterday. Only during a stoppage of play would the other scores be shown.
I was not happy that I had to leave Las Vegas early to come home for class on Saturday, but at least having tickets to the two games on Sunday was a consolation.