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Monday, December 16, 2002
Updated: December 17, 9:25 AM ET
The List: Ticked off in 2002

Page 2 staff

This week, Page 2 posts its list of the top 10 things that ticked off sports fans in 2002. Check out our top 10 gripes, then, be sure to vote in the poll on the right to crown the biggest peeve to pique you this year.

1. MLB's near-strike
Fan anti-strike sign
Fans were not amused by billionaire's sob stories.
Is there any bigger turnoff than millionaires and billionaires arguing over money? We might have had a laugh at their expense, like we did when Michael Jackson cried about how record company execs discriminate against him. But a strike threatened to take away a game we love just as the pennant stretch began.

2. Coach Fran's ugly departure
Nobody really expects players to be role models anymore, but coaches are paid, in large part, for the examples they set. At Alabama, Dennis Franchione preached loyalty and trust (under his Web site's logo was the phrase "accountability, loyalty, trust, family, academics"), denied rumors that he was leaving, then split for a better gig ASAP. When coaches act against the principles they espouse, what's left to believe in?

3. Lousy owners
Paul Allen bought two ballclubs beloved by hometown fans in Portland (the Blazers) and Seattle (the Seahawks), then walked away as they were decimated. He's been dumb enough to think throwing money around is enough, and the fans have suffered as a result. Then you've got the cheapskates -- like Minnesota's billionaire freeloader, Carl Pohlad, who attempts to blackmail local taxpayers into building a new stadium, charges the usual high prices for tickets, but is awfully tight with the cash when it comes to building a long-term, winning franchise. Then you've got the shell-game types, like Jeffrey Loria. Every year, George Steinbrenner looks more admirable, compared to his peers. That's pretty sad.

4. All-Star Game tie
For sure, it wasn't just Bud Selig's fault, although it was his decision to call the All-Star Game in Milwaukee a tie after 11 innings, because there were no players left. And it wasn't just the managers' fault, either -- Bob Brenly and Joe Torre were doing what they thought was fair in giving all the players some field time, and keeping pitchers fresh for the games that count. But the blame game is irrelevant to us -- the competition is the entertainment, and those putting on the show, who make big bucks for doing so, blew it.

5. Tape-delayed Olympics, again
If you had an Internet connection, you knew the results of almost all of last winter's Olympic events before NBC televised them. As Bill Walton would put it, That's just terrible.

Randy Moss
We all have something invested in Randy, so we're keeping a close eye on him.
6. Randy Moss doggin' it
How much does Moss make per play? Tens of thousands of dollars? Moss' off-the-field endeavors are disturbing, but his chronic dogging is what really ticks fans off. We -- and that means every NFL fan and/or Minneapolis taxpayer -- pay Moss, in one way or another, to play. When he doesn't run out his route (as happened at the end of the New England game) or does so with almost zero effort, he's cheating everyone.

7. MLB's new drug policy
Baseball's new labor agreement includes steroid testing -- with so many caveats and conditions that it's laughable. Half the players will be tested during spring training, half during the regular season -- for survey purposes. They won't be tested for Andro, HGH and other equally noxious performance-enhancers. If more than five percent of the tests are positive, random testing will continue in 2004 and 2005. If fewer than five percent, only survey testing will continue.

"It's not a drug test. It's an IQ test," Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency research committee told SI. "You would have to flunk an IQ test to flunk it." MLB and the Players Association concocted a policy without any teeth, and fans aren't buying it. Drugs or no drugs, it's the attempt at deceit that really irks us.

8. Figure skating scandal
Figure skating is part-sport, part-soap opera, and for many, it's one of the biggest reasons to watch the Winter Olympics. But as we saw at Salt Lake this year, the method of determining the winners depends on unreliable, corrupt judges and a scoring system that doesn't work. The pairs judging and the bumbling bureaucratic aftermath at the Winter Games was a disgrace. The athletes compete hard, and deserve better. The fans just wanna see things decided on the ice, not behind closed doors.

9. Loooong games
Baseball games are too long
It's ok, everyone's doing it, just cover your mouth when you yawn.
When baseball fans, who tend to really appreciate the leisurely aspects of the sport, start to get fidgety, you know there's something seriously wrong. But MLB's half-hearted attempts to shave a few seconds here and there have been worthless. It's time for serious action. Our other beef is with the NBA -- do the last two minutes always have to take 15 minutes, with every five seconds of action punctuated by another timeout? Let 'em play!

10. The Exploitation of LeBron James
Lots of folks are making money already off of the high-school megastar. He may be wise beyond his years, he may have the best advisors, and he may end up okay in the long run. But Steve Aschburner, in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, gives voice to the thoughts of many fans when he writes, "Too many grownups already are living through, and off, James for him to ever develop much sense of humility or -- based on his ability to hoop! -- a sense of his modest place in a greater pecking order."