NY Times (12/16), registration -- "Friday Night Lights" author H.G. Bissinger with a sweeping indictment of high school sports. One of his stats: freshman girls are using steroids at a minimum rate of SEVEN percent. Who ever heard of such a thing? A sad day when a young Star Jones would be "The Quarterback Princess."
LA Times (12/15), registration -- Just in time for Festivus, the airing of grievances against Kobe Bryant. Life would have been so much simpler if he'd just gone to Duke like he was supposed to. We could have disliked him since 1996.
Washington Post -- Making it possible to be all-state in soccer but picked last in gym class. I'd take my chances with Ki-Jana Leaf.
SportsPickle (12/15) -- "Eli Manning Dies From Growing Pains"
LINK OF THE DAY:
Boston Herald (12/15) -- We've hit for the cycle. Within 24 hours, we've got Lindsay Lohan (longs to pose for Playboy, and that's the single), Mike Tyson (the double -- his last quote is going on my tombstone), Kevin Connolly (the triple) and Ashlee Simpson (home run). Not to mention the post-Connolly Willem Dafoe blurb, which is like walking up for your fifth at-bat and smashing an 800-foot grand slam.
He's two degrees from Daniel Day-Lewis, by the way.
I often think -- usually to myself, when it's 1:30 a.m. and I'm still writing -- that I've got something in me that makes for a decent human being but a lousy newspaper columnist.
It's not that I don't have opinions. It's just that I won't rush to them if I'm not convinced. You tell me if you'd want to read something like this.
"Pedro Martinez signs 4-year, $56-million deal with New York; Patience, Wisdom Urged"
Didn't think so.
So when my all-time favorite athlete, the last of my old sports heroes, left for Queens, Simmons told me if I wanted to write something, I should. I did, and here's my take ...
I don't have one. I'll wait as long as I have to form one. Years, if necessary.
Like Rod Tidwell said, "It ain't sexy."
But here's the thing. To me, the single most frustrating aspect of being a sports fan is that even with the bombardment of coverage, you rarely get the truth. I covered North Carolina basketball as a senior in college, was in the locker room for two-thirds of the games, and wouldn't pretend to know who Raymond Felton is. These Red Sox writers have it much better than that. They're around the players an hour a day, 200 days a year, year after year. But that said, I simply can't believe that's enough time for anyone to accurately judge Pedro's motives. Say your best friend gets a divorce after seven years of being married. Do you REALLY know what he's thinking? Would you bet your life on it?
Pedro wasn't the easiest guy to figure out to begin with. On a team full of Jimmy Stewarts, he was a Marlon Brando. Always authentic, but sensitive and erratic. I was distraught when he got plunked in the head by a flying baseball during the parade, because I was legitimately worried it would drive him out of town. Now he's gone, and I can only hope he left for the right reasons. I want to believe it wasn't about Curt Schilling's money or a private plane or a few extra days off in July. I'd accept that he left because he wanted to prolong his career by facing the Roy Oswalts of the world. And I'd ultimately hope he left because he's got some kind of grand design for this extra cash. Open a library, open a hospital, open a Krispy Kreme. Plant a mango tree on every corner in Santo Domingo. Hell, just use it.
But this isn't going to show up on the waiver wire. We're not going to know the answers for years. Not until somebody writes a book, and not a cheesy autobiography, either (Sorry, Jose.). But for a player that gave so much joy to so many people, three or four of the best ten best sports moments I've got, I'm willing to wait for the answers. After all, I've got as much invested in this as anyone. I spent over $200 on a Pedro Martinez jersey during the days when I was so broke, I ordered water at Wendy's. (I get the Frosty now.)
If I get the answers I want, it'll come out from the cap and gown and confirmation robe and rejoin the rotation. And if I don't like the answers I get?
I'll sell it on eBay.
Onto the links ...
ESPN.com (12/13/02) -- Here's your Classic Link of the Day. "In high school, LeBron James might be a man among boys -- but in the NBA, he'll be a boy among men. Skilled, experienced, powerful, and above all, ruthless men." With that, we add a new feature to the site: "Things somebody else actually wrote."
NBA.com -- Speaking of ruthless men, got Christmas plans? This link gives me the same quesy feeling I get when I remember we're 10 days off and the only gift idea I've got for my Mom is an electric jar opener.
Joonbug.com -- And speaking of queasy, got New Year's plans? I don't care how good a DJ he is, Mark Ronson goes in the the John Stamos How-The-Hell-Did-I-Swing-This? Hall of Fame.
LINK OF THE DAY:
Oracle of Bacon.org -- Thanks to reader Jake Ironside for this. Not only can you link Kevin Bacon to anyone, you can link any actor to any other actor, and an any baseball player to any other baseball player. Sometimes you can mix and match athletes and actors. Said Jake, "Who knew John Candy was the link between Lyle Alzado and Pedro Guerrero?" If you're trying to link Karl Malone to Gary Cooper, consider it done.
CNNSI (12/13) -- Peter King with an especially loaded MMQB column this week. Between the Edge stuff, the "House" stuff, the Paris-Eli stuff and the Bonds stuff, it was like an M. Night Shyamalan movie. One mind-bending twist after another.
(But still, no "Mary Beth's boypal, the high school football player" stuff. By my count, we're going on four months without a Ben Norman note. The poor kid. He either blew out his knee or he's playing some serious one-man Monopoly down in Montclair.)
Beaver County Times (12/12) -- One more on King. If anyone at SI reads this one, make sure it gets forwarded along to the I Bet This Doesn't Happen To Eli Manning In New York Dept.
NY Times (12/13), registration -- Simmons better watch out or he might find himself at the wrong end of a cease-and-desist order from TiVo, which doesn't want itself lumped with Xerox and Kleenex. What a tragedy that would be. You want to talk about a raw deal, talk about Acme. What do they make? Anvils? Disintegrating pistols? Earthquake pills?
NY Daily News (12/13) -- Here's an example: "I can't stay up 'til four tonight, so I'll TiVo Jenna Lewis' Cinemax premiere." You couldn't write that.
CLASSIC/WRESTLING LINK OF THE DAY
OhioState.Scout.com -- Look whose kid is coming to the Buckeyes. Jim Tressel should do the right thing and switch him to tailback. Can't you picture 100,000 people screaming "OHHH ... WHAT A RUSSSH!"?
I don't mean to scare you, but Dan Shaughnessy has written this column before.
The New England Revolution beat reporter from the MetroWest Daily News has written this before. I bet somebody in the Dave Matthews Fan Club has written it, too. So I realize this is about as timely as writing "You know, I think we're going to find some stiff resistance in Iraq." But I've got to write it: Gillette Stadium is fantastic.
So, I wrote it. And since it's the most expensive sporting event for a family of four in the U.S., I won't be writing it again. I realized this on Sunday afternoon, my first time there, when I couldn't find a price on my ticket. It's like walking by a restaurant in Manhattan. If I can't see the price on the menu, I can't afford it.
But still, there I was at the Patriots-Bengals game in the club level, and loving it. The scene reminded me of being in a really ritzy airport ... you know, the kind that doesn't exist. You stand in line for a few minutes, empty your pockets, take an escalator up and suddenly find yourself in an enormous lounge. But it was as if they handed Martha Stewart the American Express Black card. The lighting was better, the carpet was softer, and there was leather everywhere. The place was so nice, I spilled some clam chowder and was bummed about getting a few drops on the carpet, not scarring my hand.
Outside was just as good, if not better. The thing that impressed me most was the opening, always nice touch in a place that would easily sell 100,000 seats. The complete opposite of PetCo Park, which had a nice open view, but was so empty, I got a whiff of Ricky Williams' secret stash during the eighth inning.
It had a few faults. I still don't get the 12-story tower above the end zone, which is supposed to be a lighthouse but comes off like the aliens' primary weapon in "Independence Day." I swear Bob Kraft's going to use this thing to vaporize Foxboro if the Pats ever lose there again. There was the P.A. guy who couldn't pronounce "Houshmandzadeh," even after the twelfth catch. And it's not exactly a fantasy owner's dream. Forget video highlights. They couldn't even get the season leaders right, trumpeting Terrell Owens and his 3,200-plus receiving yards for the year. If that wasn't a mind game with Chad Johnson, I don't know what the hell to think.
But that's it, and I mean IT. If Kraft ever wants to walk around in all-whites with a mosquito in the scepter, muttering "Spared no expense," he's absolutely entitled.
Probably the only regret I had is that we didn't tailgate. But here's the thing: we didn't pay, either. In terms of connections from a roommate, about the most you're getting out of me is some extra cable wire. These came from Conrad's dad, who I will be calling "Bruce Almighty" from now on. So, we got caught up in logistics and didn't get there until 12:30. But still, I owe a big thanks to Kiewit Construction. The whole Big Dig thing, that's water under the bridge.
(Just keep it out of the tunnels, if you would.)
Carl Lewis.com -- Two outstanding videos that trickled in this fall. The first, Carl Lewis reminding us that what happens with a septuagenarian in the sauna stays in the sauna. The second, Robo LaVar Arrington singing a Shaggy song in a car commercial. I'm assuming naked pictures of LaVar will come trickling in this winter.
CNN (12/9) -- I thought I pitied Patrick Ramsey. As if the Deparment of Homeland Security doesn't have enough to worry about, they have to keep track of who's getting the Brookstone catalog. Seriously, a frickin' LASER?
ESPN.com (12/12) -- Behond, the perils of wearing cowboy boots. T.J. Simers first had the details of the Kobe-Malone feud yesterday. Not sure where their relationship is going from here, but I'm going to guess Karl getting Kobe a purple ring is completely out of the question.
NY Daily News (12/11) -- For $7,500, you get a cigar, some cranberry brandy and a night with A-Rod. Man, that was a joy to edit. Mark Burnett never had it so good.
LINK OF THE DAY:
Moonlight Graham.com -- Best leave this one to Simmons: "They have a store on Melrose in West Hollywood -- unbelievable array of sports t-shirts, caps and jerseys, including a very cool Red Sox cap and a T-shirt of Oscar Gamble's face from his famous Topps card where his afro touches both sides of the card. Good place for X-mas shopping. I had $100 on me and walked out with $14. Of course, I bought everything for myself, but still ... if you're not selfish, it's a good place for X-mas shopping."
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