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
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
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.
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
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."