Sports are great. But here are 50 things that, even without, would make it better
Effective immediately, here are 50 things in sports we can do without:
1: The Washington Natinals.
2: The Pro Bowl.
The last Pro Bowl needed 11 injury replacement players, so it isn't exactly the cream of the crop of all-star rosters. Plus, it's the least interesting and least intense of the all-star games.
3: The BCS and its blind insistence that a playoff will cheapen the regular season.
After glancing at the 2009 schedule, I think North Texas at Alabama, Charleston Southern at Florida, Delaware State at Michigan, Montana State at Michigan State, Idaho State at Oklahoma, and Towson at Northwestern cheapen it enough already.
4: College coaches who have administrative aides do their poll votes (you know who you are) and their Tweeting (Tennessee's Lane Kiffin).
5: More coverage of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Brady.
They're beautiful, we're not; we get it.
6: Roger Clemens and his ever-expanding array of reasons why he couldn't have possibly taken PEDs.
The latest doozy: his family has a history of heart ailments.
"It would be suicidal for me to even think about taking any of these dangerous drugs," Clemens recently said on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning."
You'd think Clemens might have mentioned this during his initial video denial on his Web site, or in the "60 Minutes" interview with Mike Wallace, or to a Congressional committee, or during assorted news conferences. Kind of an important detail, right? But, OK, he waited until now.
Problem is, Clemens has admitted taking prescription painkillers such as Vioxx "like they were Skittles." He also has said his former trainer Brian McNamee injected him with the painkiller lidocaine.
According to the 2008 results of a long-term study conducted at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Clemens' hometown of Houston, Vioxx almost doubled the risk of strokes and heart attacks for as long as a year. And lidocaine, say medical experts, can, on rare occasions, trigger heart problems, including cardiac arrest.
So if Clemens was terrified of steroids and heart risks, why did he take Vioxx and lidocaine?
7: The designated hitter.
Either have it in both leagues or not at all. You don't see the NFL requiring AFC place-kickers to play quarterback three times per game.
8: Kelvin Sampson on a college basketball bench anytime soon.
9: The International Olympic Committee, its thousand layers of secrecy, and its non-stance on human rights.
10: The Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee.
No Ron Santo in the Hall? The post-1942 committee (its 64 members, all living HOF members, decide the fate of finalists whose careers began in 1943 or later) should be ashamed of itself.
11: Whoever is overseeing the NCAA and Pac-10 investigations of USC/Reggie Bush/O.J. Mayo.
Bush allegedly took thousands of dollars in cash and his family accepted housing from a sports marketer in 2004 and 2005, while Mayo is accused of accepting money and benefits from a sports agency middleman in 2007 and 2008. Can't we get Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson in there?
13: Michael Phelps hosting "Saturday Night Live."
14: The Women's Final Four in a domed stadium (the Alamodome in 2010, Lucas Oil Stadium in 2011).
Sometimes less is more.
15: The U.S. Open's 18-hole playoff format.
About 15 holes too long.
16: Tal's Hill at Houston's Minute Maid Park.
This is the true green monster: a 30-degree incline in deep center field ... with a flagpole placed on the hill -- you know, just for fun. Quirky is fine, but Tal's Hill (named after former Astros GM Tal Smith) ought to be in a boot camp training run at Parris Island instead of in a big league ballpark. Otherwise, I adore the place.
17: The NCAA men's basketball tournament play-in game.
The NCAA equivalent of smearing lipstick on a pig.
18: DUIs and pro athletes.
According to ESPN The Magazine, 1,875 of the 4,420 athletes who play in the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL earn at least $1 million. The minimum salary for the lowest-paid rookie in any of those four leagues is $295,000. So, please, you can afford a $31 cab ride back home from the nightclub.
19: Alternate jerseys.
In some cases we can hardly stand the regular jerseys. So why make us suffer through a third design? Exception: the San Diego Padres' camos.
20: Jose Canseco and the MMA.
Or just Canseco.
21: Players with tattoos in Chinese.
Just asking, but do you think Chinese players get tattoos in English?
22: Pebble Beach green fees.
The only place where you have to take out a home equity loan to pay for the $495 tab, plus cart.
23: Personal seat licenses.
The creator of the PSL ought to be lowered into a working fry vat for the amount of time it takes to print Personal seat license in your checkbook register.
24:Any more references to or lingering TV camera shots of Jack Nicholson at a Los Angeles Lakers game.
25: TV dugout shot of a big league player just as he's doing a nose excavation.
Honorable mention: TV dugout shots of spit-fest.
26: Beer leaguers who slide with their spikes up.
27: Sergio Garcia.
Sergio and New Yorkers reunite at Bethpage Black for the U.S. Open. Who will he blame this time?
28: The NFL's weekly injury report.
Is there anything more vague than, "Limited participation in practice?" How are you supposed to set your fantasy lineup based on that?
Honorable mention: The NHL and its "lower-body injury" designation.
29: People talking about their fantasy lineups.
30: NFL players who, in the taped TV introductions, say their name and then, "THE Ohio State University."
If you're going to be that smug, then you at least have to have an actual diploma from THE university.
31: NBA arena deejays.
Since when do I need some crazed microphone-junkie to tell me when to cheer? And is it a good thing when the sound system is louder than the Pratt & Whitney engine on an F-35 fighter jet? And while we're at it, enough already with the dot, donut, water delivery trucks, etc., video board races. I always pick red and it never wins.
Those sites have officially become clichés. Anyway, how would like it if Ron Zook wanted you canned?
33: Terrell Owens.
I'd rather watch someone watching paint dry than be subjected to his upcoming reality show.
34: The embarrassment of there being only seven African-American head coaches out of 120 major college football programs.
35: New Yankee Stadium.
Obscenely priced seats and a jet stream that turns the place into Coors Field East. The old place didn't need those gimmicks.
36: A new Wrigley Field or Fenway Park.
37: Mr. T singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th-inning stretch at Wrigley Field.
It was fun while it lasted, but when the D-list Mr. T is the best you can do for a celeb, it's probably time to think about ending the Guest Conductor shtick.
38: LeBron and Kobe puppets.
A Hedo Turkoglu puppet instead?
39: NBA refs who think we tuned in to watch them officiate.
40: NBA league officials who rescind technical fouls.
And they just happen to be T's called against Kobe and Dwight Howard. Interesting.
41: The Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.
Nothing ruins your turkey appetite like the Lions. After 64 continuous years of the Lions on Thanksgiving, haven't we suffered enough?
42: Billy Gillispie.
43: Cell phone addicts behind home plate.
Yes, we see you waving frantically at the center field TV camera. And, yes, we think you look like an idiot.
44: Super Bowls anywhere near the Rust Belt.
45: Super Bowls in London.
Nothing makes the NFL more accessible to the average football fan than having its championship game overseas.
46: A new, $412-million, dome-less Minnesota Twins baseball stadium.
I love this passage on the Twins' team Web site (I've added comments in brackets): "The Twins are committed to providing a comfortable experience for the fans [just as long as $260 million of the comfort is paid by Hennepin County funds] -- even when our weather is less than perfect [low of 29 degrees on Opening Day 2009; half of the 14 days on which the Twins played home games in April had lows in the 30s]. Fans will be able to take advantage of heated concessions, restrooms, and restaurant and lounge areas found on each ballpark level including the Terrace level. Target Field's roof canopy -- one of the largest in baseball -- will provide added protection [from hypothermia]."
47: A Barry Bonds sighting.
48: Charles Barkley.
I'm a huge fan, but between the TNT gig, the cell phone commercials and the Golf Channel reality show I'm temporarily Chuck-ed out.
49: Male cheerleaders.
50: Rocky VII.
But Sly Stallone starring as Jerry Jones in a biopic of the Dallas Cowboys' owner -- I'd pay to see that.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.
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