Steroids

I’ve stayed silent on the matter of steroids in sports for the most part, and I’m going to brief on the topic today. I think, in general, too much is made of Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa and the like for cheating. Sure, they got a competetive edge, but frankly, you still need to be immensely talented to get to the point where steroids can put you over the top. Look at Jason Grimsly.
Additionally, it would be hypocritical to look down upon those who use chemicals to elevate their performance. Countless musicians and artists wouldn’t be where they were without LSD, marijuana and others. Heck, I worked an overnight last night, and there would have been no chance of my making it through the night had I not had a healthy dose of caffeine.
No, the issue shouldn’t be the cheating. The issue should be that steroids are illegal. The Chris Benoit story should make it very clear that the issue is the resulting health issues, both physical and mental. Major League Baseball isn’t even the spor that should be at the forefront of this movement. The NFL should lead the way. It’s a league where it’s pretty much assumed that everyone is on some sort of drug, and it also throws the greatest number of violent nuts back into society.
Hopefully the Benoit tragedy will shift the focus away from the records Bonds is trying to break, and perhaps refocus the attention on players and the young fans who hope to emulate them. In the end, the health of these people is more important than a number

GMs in a Blizzard, the transcript

This winter, the GMs of Minnesota’s four major sports teams, Terry Ryan of the Twins, Rob Brzezinski of the Vikings, Kevin McHale of the Timberwolves and Doug Risebrough decided to hop in Brzezinski’s ’87 Plymouth Voyager and head to northern Minnesota for a private meeting of the minds. Then, somewhere between Brainerd and Bemidji, they ran into a blizzard. The Voyager broke down, and they were stranded. What transpired next? Fortunately, I had recording devices in the car! The transcripts are found below.
********************
RB: Doggone! Looks like we’re stranded!
KM: Whew. Good thing I brought this fleece blanket!
TR: And I jsut happen to have these packets of hot cocoa.
DR: (Raises thermos of hot water)
RB: Ooh, I have a survival pack in the back! I’ll go get it!
(Door slams)
KM: I’ll bet I stay warm with this blanket! Although, I’m just going to throw this out there. I could probably use a new pair of mittens to go along with it. Doug. Trade you mittens?
DR: (Shrugs. Mittens exchanged)
TR: Well, once I’ve developed this dry cocoa into a good cup of HOT cocoa, I’ll stay warm!
DR: (Takes sip of hot water) Ouch!
(Door slams again)
RB: I’m back! Take a look at this sweet survival kit.
KM: Oh cool! …. Wait… this is all just hats.
RB: I know! Awesome, right?
KM, TR: uh….
KM: Tell you what. I’ll trade you my mittens and my hat for your mittens and hat.
RB: Oh my goodness! Are those Dougs mittens? They are purple with bunnies on them! I don’t want those!
DR: (giggles. Sips water) Ouch!
RB: Tell you what. I’ll take one of your ugly mittens if you give me your hat.
KM: I’m not sure what I’ll do with three mittens, but it’s a deal.
RB: Terry?
TR: Yes Rob?
RB: Trade you this ugly mitten for a pack of cocoa.
TR: What the heck am I going to do with three mittens?
RB: Trade it and my jacket for your hat?
TR: You have yourself a deal.
DR: (Takes sip of water) Ouch!
***20 minutes later***
KM: I am so cold! I just can’t get warm even with this blanket!
RB: Well, why don’t you try to swing a deal with Terry and Doug? They look like they could use a blanket, and they have hot water and packets of cocoa back there. It’ll take a while, but I bet you could warm up that way.
KM: I’m not so sure if I actually want to give up this big ticket item for an undeveloped packet of cocoa and water. I would have to spend too much time mixing them.
TR: Yeah. I could really make something out of this cocoa. I want to wait and see what happens with it.
RB: Ok… Let’s try this. I’ll trade Kevin my snowpants, Kevin will give Doug his three mittens and I will get Doug’s hat?
KM: I’m growing fond of my three mittens….
RB: Fine. Give him your boots then.
KM: 2 Boots for snowpants?! Are you crazy?
RB (sighs heavily) Fine. One boot. How’s that sound Doug?
DR: (shrugs. Sips water) Ouch!
TR: Well, I think I’m going to see about making some hot cocoa.
KM: But you don’t have any hot water.
TR: I’ve made friggin cocoa before, Kevin.
KM: All right. You’re the boss.
TR: (Opens cocoa) (Crack in Voyager’s windshield allows wind to blow dried cooca everywhere.) Aw, pinochle.
DR: (Sips water) Ouch!
RB: Are you willing to give up that undeveloped cocoa yet?
TR: The previous failure of the packets of cocoa doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll fail to develop the remaining packs of cocoa. (Shivers furiously)
KM: (Shivers furiously)
RB: (Shivers furiously) Ok. This is ridiculous. (Takes of pants, wraps around head.) That should do the trick.
DR: (Sips water) Ouch!
(A snowmobile engine is heard in the distance) (A snowmobile moving at about 60mph backwards with the driver screaming in terror flies by)
RB: We’re saved!
KM. TR. DR: Uh…..
RB: Excuse me! Can you help us?!
Moustachioed Snowmobiler: Uh…. sure.
RB: Ever been on a snowmobile before?
MS: Sure!
RB: Ever actually driven a snowmobile before?
MS: Uh…..
RB: Whatever. You’re my ticket out of here!
(Snow mobile speeds off. Crashes into only tree for miles.)
RB: (Distantly) Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogo stick! I made all the right moves! I have so many hats and got a yahoo to drive me out of here? Why is my ass so cold?!
****20 minutes later****
(Two dog sleds appear on the horizon)
TR: It’s Tom Kelly and Lou Nanne!
DR: (sips water) Ouch!
TK: Hop aboard guys! We’re here to save you!
LN: Plenty of room for all three of you!
TK: Wait wait wait. Kevin. We can’t bring the blanket. Not enough room.
KM: I’m not going anywhere without the blanket!
LN: If you keep the blanket, you can’t be saved!
KM I’m keeping the blanket!
TK: Loser. Let’s get out of here. TERRY! What are you DOING?!
TR: (covered in chocolate, sheepishly) Nothing……
LN: Let’s go.
DR: (sips water) Ouch!

I’m really, truly sorry if I’ve offended you.

OK. I’ve done it. I reformatted the sidebar. I’m pretty full of myself right now. Let’s see if I can’t crank out a thoroughly awesome week in review, and maybe get some people to start commenting again (I’m looking at you Beth). Where did you all go anyways? Was it something I said?
ITEM ONE: The Twins may have been dealt a terrible setback with the injury to Justin Morneau. The middle of the lineup hasn’t suffered yet, but that may be because we haven’t faced any good pitchers the past two days, and we’ve added Johan Santana to the lineup (That triple yesterday automatically makes him a better hitter than about 3 guys in the every day lineup), but if morneau is out for any length of time, I expect there to be problems. It’s much like what happened when Torii Hunter mangled his ankle in Boston a couple years ago. We’ll be in one heck of a conundrum. As much as we Twins fans worship Joe Mauer, it’s very clear that this year, Morneau is the motor that makes the Twins car go.

But let’s step past that for a second, and think like Morneau. If he had to get injured, what a freaking awesome injury. It sounds horrifying, and he can go to buddy Nick Schultz and brag about how he was coughing up blood, but no, he didn’t go on the DL, because Justin Morneau is a hockey player! Baseball player! Whatever! Morneau is tough, and bleeding internally. Let’s forget that he was taken down by someone whose name in Spanish means “Michael Olive Tree”. But hey! Olive trees are strong! (Worst. Photoshop. Ever.)

ITEM TWO: I’m not going to lie to you, I can’t wait for Transformers to come out. It was my favorite cartoon growing up (my brother was mimicking transforming sounds before he could talk, and it was MY FAULT. It’s the last time I ever rubbed off on him) and I’ve long enjoyed Shia LeBeauf, even if I’m fairly sure I can’t spell his name. In any case, I’m terribly excited about seeing my childhood reduced to a two hour movie by Michael Bay.

ITEM THREE: I’m going to sneak this in hear, on item three and hope it goes unnoticed. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and especially Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame when their time comes. It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of People Everybody Likes (HOPEL?), and like it or not, Bonds, with or without steroids would likely have had stats to get him in, and Sammy Sosa, you may forget, was a premier player without the homers as well. McGwire, maybe, wasn’t anything beyond a slugger, however, he DID help baseball recover from the strike in 94.

ITEM FOUR: I played tennis in High School and still love the game (I have problems with stress fractures and can’t play as much anymore, but on the plus side, no jogging either!), and with Wimbledon starting today, I feel as though I should mention it. The thing is, with the way tennis is, there isn’t much to say. Roger Federer is really, really good. And I feel like it’s tough to mention the womens game, because it frequently degenerates to stuff like Ana Ivonivic is soooo hot. While true, what does that tell us about the sport? Oh right. It tells us how they get people to watch. In any case, I’ve got Federer and Henin winning it.

That’s it. COMMENT.

The Saga of Daunte Culpepper

I finally updated the sidebar (let me know if you find a dead link or want something added or removed or something) and I’m finally back to making posts that aren’t just weeks in review. Hooray me.

I’ve long been a Daunte Culpepper apologist, and nothing has changed lately, especially now that the Vikings have Brooks Bollinger as their most accomplished QB, and the Dolphins have opted for Trent Green, a 37 year old coming off a massive head injury. I think it’s important, if to no one but myself, to note that Culpepper hasn’t caught a break since he was drafted back in 1999.

Culpepper came into an organization that was led by Denny Green, who may not have been the best at clock management, but has one of the best eyes for offensive talent in recent memory. Therefore, when Culpepper came into the league, he had one of the best cadres of wide outs in the league, which is typically a boon for a developing young quarterback, and it was for Culpepper, but it was also the beginning of the end.

Quarterbacks on all their rosters are the traditional leaders of their squads, and at Central Florida, it was no different for Culpepper. Then, he came to Minnesota where Cris Carter and Randy Moss were clearly the steering force behind the team. Culpepper was talked over by Moss, undermined for 5 years until Moss left for Oakland. Then, before he could step up and become a leader he attended a boat party organized by the new cornerback Fred Smoot, he was eyeballed receiving a lap dance, and was hassled by media everywhere for that.
Yes. A young man is offered a lap dance by a beautiful woman, and he has the audacity to accept. I’m shocked. This makes Culpepper a bad person.
Granted, there were a lot worse things going on on the Love Boat than just lap dances, but Culpepper was never accused of any of them, and was only charged because he was the most recognizable figure on the boat. Who knows who the third string free safety is anyways?
During that season, when he went to the boat party, he was having a tough time feeling out his new receivers. He was ridiculed for this as well, people saying he was only successful with Randy Moss, and that anyone could succeed if they were throwing to Moss (The Raiders decisively proved otherwise). People called for, and got, Brad Johnson when Culpepper suffered a knee injury, and Johnson posted a couple victories against the Browns and the even lowlier Lions, and everyone pronounced him the man ho should be leading the team. Well, Vikings fans got their wish, and Culpepper was sent to Miami, while Brad Childress and Johnson, with a lot of help from general management, continued to drive the Vikings into the ground.
It should end there, because the Vikings are the dumbest team in the league. It didn’t. Dolphins coach Nick Saban thought it a good idea to put Culpepper out there earlier than he should have. Culpepper had no mobility, for which he was famous for, and was hit early and often, unable to get into a rhythm, and he was finally benched due to his injuries. Then, he was driven out of town, because his injuries (which he had never healed from) made him less capable.
What would have happened if Culpepper hadn’t run into bad luck at every turn? Who knows. Clearly, his early season success was thanks in large part to his situation, but how much of his downfall had to do with the Vikings? Given the right situation, and a trainer that keeps him off the field until he’s ready. I still think Culpepper could be a viable choice at QB. Hey, the Vikes could use him.

Summer is all about the baseball.

So, its that time of year when baseball is the only major sport going on in the country. Heck, even most European soccer leagues are done for the year. So, that being said, I’m going to be giving you three baseball related items and a Victoria note. Tally-ho.

ITEM ONE: Jim Souhan, always prescient, has an article in the today’s Star Tribune that says that the Twins need a good hitting third baseman. Additionally, he mentions that an outdoor stadium could be just the ticket for the Twins, and grouses that gas has jumped pass a buck fifty a gallon. This is the same article I’ve been seeing for the past 3 years or so, ever since Cory Koskie went to the Blue Jays. The Twins have always been OK without that luxury, but this year, they don’t have Shannon Stewart, and they don’t have nearly as reliable pitchers. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, the Twins should try to get a third basement soon.
Does anyone else find it ironic that what made the Twins successful may be their undoing at the deadline? They made a few good trades to bring in top flight talent after nurturing guys like Chuck Knoblauch in our system, and they got quality players in return. Now, the Twins need a couple pieces to push them over the edge and are aghast that the mediocre teams they wish to acquire talent from request quality prospects in return. The fact is, not all of our AAA pitchers are going to make it, as much as we want them to, and it may, at some point, be time to trade what might be for what is, just to ensure ourselves the best shot at a title. Sad as it may seem, the Twins window isn’t infinite, and I fear it may be closer to being closed than fans wish to believe, thanks entirely to payroll constraints. That’s the end of my rant.

ITEM TWO: Before the Twins-Brewers series, Bugs and Cranks threw down the Milwaukee versus Minneapolis gauntlet. I’ve never been so offended in my life! Wait. The BEST you can do is berate Minneapolitans for enjoying alcohol you can buy for more .25 cents on Friday night and having multiple cultural interests? Wow. Oh, and Yovani Gallardo looks like Derick Turnbow, except more like a dumbass.

ITEM THREE: So, was there anyone out there who had “Cubs” written down as the team that everyone expected to degenerate into a madhouse this year? Oh. Right. Everyone. Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett were known to be hotheads. Alfonso Soriano is a malcontent, and then they threw in Lou Piniella. Delightful. The best part is, they are on WGN, so the whole country can watch their antics.

ITEM FOUR: The promised Victoria item. The city had a full blown standoff the other day, as a drunken man pulled out a shotgun and started shooting at nothing in particular in his house. His wife asked why, and he said he was “practicing.” That was the point in which, as any normal person would, the wife called the police. Eventually, the neighborhood was evacuated, and he was eventually taken down. The video is here. Now, he was clearly drunk and more than a little nuts, but let think for a minute. He was “practicing” by shooting drywall aimlessly? I’ve heard of target practice to improve accuracy, but what was this? Pulling the trigger practice? Not jumping after hearing a gunshot practice? There are, at this point, more questions than answers.

(Brewers fans photos courtesy the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal)

Among the top 1200 blogs in the country.

Before I get started with the week in review, I just wanted to introduce you to my newest link on the sidebar there. It’s to “Ballhype” which is basically a giant sports blog consortium. In any case, follow the link, find the Times, and hype up posts I add. Currently, Victoria Times is ranked 1119 in all sports blogs across the country. Put me in triple digits!

ITEM ONE: Last week, the top story in the sports world (my sports world, in any case) was that the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup. Now, I can’t really give a fully valid opinion, because thanks to my wonky real world schedule (I just woke up after working another overnight) I only caught the final game, but in it, the Ducks were clearly better than Ottawa. It goes to show, I guess, that gritty play will beat flashy play every time. The best part of the hockey season, however, is seeing the raw emotion players show upon winning the cup. It shows that the players really care about what they are doing. I love that.
Of course, apparently, they are among the only people that care. NBC had the lowest primetime rankings ever during Game Three of the Cup Finals. Of course, it’s not as bad as it sounds, as the NBA Finals (AKA, ESPNs mistress, whereas a Yankees-Red Sox game would be the wife) had its worst ratings ever for a game 1. So nobody is watching sports in the summer. Well, not winter sports, in any case.
Additionally, this is a prime time series for a sport that hasn’t been disseminated during prime time or at all over even basic cable. What did we expect? Maybe, if the games had been shown during the regular season, and those games had been promoted more heavily, the network wouldn’t see floundering ratings. Of course, that could be part of the problem as well. NBC has had the worst ratings in prime time of all networks this year anyways.
Again, I’m not a complete conspiracy theorist (lie) but it just seems that suits out there are trying to derail the NHL. There are so many simple solutions to the raitings problem in the NHL, why aren’t ANY of them being considered?

ITEM TWO: I always like interleague play, because it gives me a chance to see teams I don’t typically see, however, I’d like to do away with the rivalry series. I think it’s crap that the Twins play the Brewers as much as the Orioles, for example. I would like to see some more record based scheduling, with, for example, the AL Central playing the NL East this year, but instead of the Brewers, the Twins would play last years two division champions from the Central and West. Wouldn’t you prefer a series against the Dodgers and Cardinals? I know I would. Added bonus, the whole “Subway Series” crap would be at an end much more frequently.
But I digress. The Twins struggled out west against the A’s and Angels, and came home to kick off the interleague schedule, which the Twins have always excelled during. And they got Joe Mauer back, so maybe they can start hitting. Of course, I wasn’t counting on Levale Speigner, and, oh God, no Dmitri! No!

ITEM THREE: Hey, Jericho is back! Everyone watch it this season, otherwise, I’ll have to do stuff to you. It has Skeet Ulrich! Skeet Ulrich!

ITEM FOUR: Poor Daunte Culpepper. I will write a full length post on his travails some other time, but for now, I just wanted to mention that the Vikings are idiots. They didn’t really give Culpepper a chance when he lost Randy Moss, so they let him go, and allowed everyone to believe that it was Daunte’s fault. Now, they have painted themselves into a corner in which Brooks Bollinger is the top option at QB for next season. I hate the Vikings so much.
But hey, at least Daunte isn’t hawking hot dogs like Carson Palmer so awkwardly does.

I’m done, go hype up the Times at Ballhype! (NHL Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated)

Municipal Spending

I realized I made a terrible mistake, putting pictures on my posts fairly quickly after I started doing so. I set my homepage to the Victoria Times, and every time I needed to check my email or pop online, I would see the Randy Jostritch. Terrifying. Thankfully, the local paper came today, and I have something to blog about. The horror is over.
I promised myself I would leave the paper alone, what with the Chan Villager providing real news. Well, we stopped getting the Villager, and I know how my bread is buttered, so it’s back to lambasting the one and only “Celine Dion”.
And so it begins.
Well, aside from the letters to the editor, as usual providing the only real news (there was a fire in town!) and allowing someone to correct the editor (they won’t raise taxes, not they WILL raise taxes), my favorite part of the paper’s opening stanza was her quoting Kirk Cameron in her ‘quotes’ section. Twice. I don’t think anyone has ever quoted Kirk Cameron. Not even Alan Thicke.
The paper this month featured extensive coverage of the Victoria Fieldhouse debate. Should we sell it to a local high school? Should we keep it? The drama. In any case, one of the members at the meeting compared the issue with what was going on in Greensburg, Kansas. Yes. The town was wiped out by a tornado, but at least they don’t have a spacious if underused community center on their hands. Could you imagine the horror?
We found out as well that Kim Roden was the victim of another conspiracy. See, she says that while she spoke out against the keeping of the Fieldhouse, she didn’t get any support, and she suspects its because people didn’t want to oppose people they knew. Right on, Ms. Roden. If you don’t like it, why don’t you just move to Chaska or something? That was your advice, right?
Let me then tell a story to introoduce the next bit of news. A few months ago, I was startled to hear some barking outside my window. It turns out, a large dog had spotted my dog and was yammering at her. The dog continued to bark and make all sorts of noise as it trotted through the neighborhood. I finally got its attention, and it just sat there, barking at me in the driveway, so I called 911, hoping someone with the Sherriff’s office would know what to do with the dog, which really didn’t seem like it wanted to hang out with me. I corralled the dog in my garage before the Deputy showed up, and we tried to figure out what to do with it. It turns out that Victoria doesn’t have any deals with any animal control units or anything. As it turns out, the Deputy was there for about an hour, trying to figure something out. so, when people recommend an increased contract with the Sherriff’s office, I think that maybe the funds could be better used.
Speaking of spending, thats what much of hte rest of the city hall section was about. Municipal spending. Let me tell you something, there aren’t many things to say on that subject, and all the pictures tended to involve graphs. So, instead of boring you with Victoria’s spending, here’s an irrelevant bar graph.

A week in review. With pictures!

Here comes the first change to the site. It’s going to be an impressive one, and one that’s been coming for a long time. Pictures! I’ll start putting pictures in my posts! Let’s see…. What can we start with? Aha…. This will work.
One of those is Randy Johnson. Yikes.
ITEM ONE: Can anyone explain to me exactly why managers have been flipping out lately? It’s wildly entertaining, to a degree, but shouldn’t there be a modicum of self respect? Of course, a manager marine crawling in Mississippi is probably better for his team than having a star pitcher throw punches at the starting catcher, as happened with the Cubs. Carlos Zambrano is a scary dude. I bet the Cubs would trade anything to have a healthy Kerry Wood and not Zambrano.
ITEM TWO: Just another appeal to Mediacom. GIVE US VERSUS! 3 Games into the cup finals, and I’m yet to watch a game, thanks to a Mediocrecom. Of course, nobody is really watching the finals. Maybe things would change if the NHL was played on a channel that was under 600 on DirectTV.
ITEM THREE: Everyone is rejoicing at the recent problems the Yankees are having. Roger Clemens and his fatigued groin (must. resist. joke.) Giambi testing positive for amphetamines, being 13 games out of first. This is all well and good, but do you know what this means for next year? Well, any free agent you might want to keep around for a while will probably end up in pin stripes. The Yankees don’t rebuild. It has never been their way. If there is a talented player on a less moneyed team, the Yanks will pony up the money this off season. It’s things like this that scare the bejeezus out of me. I kind of wish they were within striking distance of the Red Sox. I can’t imagine Ichiro in a New York uniform.
ITEM FOUR: The Washington Post’s DC Sports Blog had an interview with Stuart Scott that really portrayed him in a flattering, family man light. That’s all well and good, because I’m sure he’s a different man off camera and away from his “Two-Way” than he is in the public eye. I’m sure he doesn’t bring his ridiculous opinions home with him. But if he does, that’s probably why he would let his 6th grade daughter pack heat wherever she goes.*
ITEM FIVE: Oh, the NBA Finals? Still. Don’t. Care. But hey, Cleveland did something right!
* Probably not true

Justin Morneau, Overrated?

I was having a conversation with my brother the other night, and he said something I couldn’t believe. Justin Morneau was totally overrated. Sure, I thought his winning the MVP was a little much, given that the entire team turned it around last year, rather than just Morneau. But surely, the Twins couldn’t live without him.
But they COULD, he asserted. My brother feels that Morneau had a tought time hitting in the clutch and all his stats came when they were least needed. I find that hard to believe. So I thought I should do some more research.
Well, according to the stats from last year, he had a .323 average with runners in scoring position, which, frankly, is pretty good. Sure, I can see how, if you watch him all the time, it may seem as though he isn’t that proficient. Actually, with runners at 2nd and 3rd last year, he hit .600 with 21 RBI. He also hit nearly 400 with the bases juiced. So, frankly, Morneau can hit with men on base.
So, what about with outs? With nobody out last season, Morneau had his best average, but with 2 outs, he had a guady 51 RBI with a .310 average. That’s the most of any number of outs. So, actually, he hits better with the pressure on in a given inning, in any case.
Of course, Baseball-Reference gives us the “late (after the 7th inning) and close (the batting team tied, ahead by one or the tying run at least on deck)” statistic. Of all stats listed, this is where Morneau performs the worst. He bats a paltry .292 with 31 RBI. Boy. Awful. For comparison, Derek Jeter, the other main cadidate for the MVP award, had a similar average of .298, but only 19 RBI.
My brother may ahve pointed out that Michael Cuddyer had nearly equal, if not better crunchtime stats as Morneau. However, opposing pitcher had to pitch to Cuddyer unless they wanted to face Morneau, which few teams did. Imagine how different his statistics would have been with Torii Hunter batting behind him.
Now, I will admit that Morneau wasn’t the only one that turned it around last year. The entire team did that. This year, focusing on Morneau during Joe Mauer’s injury and absence does a disservice to the other guys in the lineup who are doing so well this season, especially Hunter and Luis Castillo. The question remains though. Is Justin Morneau overrated? Maybe a little. The more important question is, could the Twins succeed without him?

Stuart and the Bee

“Sport” as dictionary.com defines it is “diversion; recreation; pleasant pastime. ” and as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc. “. Sport. S_P_O_R_T. Sport.
Under the first definition, the Spelling Bee falls well within the confines of the definition. While this is certainly not an “athletic activity” it does require skill and is competetive in nature. It’s as close to sport as some of these kids are ever going to get. Just because you can’t dunk and where glasses that may be bigger than your head doesn’t mean you don’t have that competetive itch. Additionally, the kids playing baseball who have good hand eye coordination don’t need the enormous glasses and won’t be pigeonholed as the spelling kid and stand a chance at making millions if they’re really good at what they do. Someone who is an excellent speller stands to make a modest salary as a pain in the ass editor somewhere. [ed. note: Hey!] I say, give these kids a chance to shine, ESPN, because this fits the loosest definition of sports, and really, it’s good, educational television.
So, what was over the top for their coverage then? They had the same announcers, whose names I have misplaced. Then Robin Roberts was hosting. We’re still fine. And Mike & Mike were there, which was a stretch, but I can live with it. Greenberg was probably envious of these kids and had dreamed of success in the Spelling Bee his whole life. Golic, though a former pro football player handles the soft stories like this with aplomb and did a wonderful job covering the event. I’ll let it slide.
No no, they crossed the line by having Stuart Scott interviewing eliminated candidates in the Comfort Room (they had a strip club back stage?! Oh… Right). The funny thing is, Scott, a man who has been on TV for more than a decade, was clearly outperformed in these interviews by the kids who definitely made the most of their time on camera. I think it was because these kids were so frank, polite and honest that Stu was thrown off.
Samir Patel was eliminated early and admitted he had just made a stupid mistake. Ignore for a minute that he was in the National Spelling Bee and it’s hard to call any of the mistakes particularly stupid. Stuart Scott seemed flabbergasted. What? No Rasheed Wallace blow up at the judges? They didn’t pronounce “Clevis” all the ways they should have! What?! No, Patel was humble.
Later, they had a word with Jonathan Horton of Arizona, a Spelling Bee veteran who had been there several times before, and had just been knocked out for the last time. He had received a standing ovation as he walked off stage, and Stu asked him about how he felt about all of that, and Hoton had tears in his eyes as he struggled through the answer, expressing the respect and admiration he had for the other spellers. Instead of ending on that touching note and sending it back to Roberts, Scott asked another question. Horton and viewers ever seemed mortified, and Scott was oblivious. O_B_L_I_V_I_O_U_S. Oblivious.
Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas was eliminated and a little rattled when she got interviewed by Stu. With her was her 5 year old sister Vanya, who was clearly more precocious than Scott seemed to grasp, asking simple questions you would ask any 5 year old, rather than ones you would ask one who was probably smarter than you. In the brief discourse between Vanya and Stu, Vanya had the smug look of a little girl who could not be bothered by someone so dumb. Don’t worry, Vanya, Stu would rather not be here either. He would rather be building his street cred, riding with Pacman Jones.
In the end, though, as with most sports, the competitor you would least like to see win eventually did. Evan O’Dorney of Danville, California, who was admittedly more interested in music and math than spelling, eventually pulled down the prize. Unbelievable. It’s the biggest crock since Ricky Williams won the Heisman. Of course, O’Dorney would rather be composing concertos while Williams would rather by smoking pot.
In any case, ESPN and ABC did a pretty good job with the Bee this year, save for one dope who probably didn’t realize these kids were cooler than he was. Heck, they’re probably cooler than most of us.