July 19, 2006

Swing Away

It's one of those great debates that can never truly be settled yet remains compelling enough to provide an almost unlimited amount of mileage: Golf -- is it a true sport, or just a game?

Personally, I can fall on both sides of this one on any given day. Generally speaking, I'm of the opinion that in order to be a sport, something must require running, or something resembling running (meaning skis or skates). But I also appreciate that hitting a golf ball is a remarkably complex physical activity, and even if some of the people doing said activity have man boobs that would make Frank Costanza blush, it's still impressive enough that most of the time I'd be willing to acknowledge golf as a true sport if someone argued it adamantly enough.

However, I must say, the current Tiger Woods-Nick Faldo feud represents a massive setback to the game/sport's overall credibility. In case you haven't heard, Tiger is all irritated at Nick because Nick criticized his swing during a stint as a TV commentator.

Waiting to hear the rest of it? Sorry, there's no more information coming. That's it -- that's the entire feud. Pathetic, right? Would this even be a story in baseball -- someone's swing being criticized? Have you ever heard of one baseball player getting upset at another because he said something's wrong with his swing? Have you ever heard of one basketball player calling out another about his slightly busted-looking jump shot? Jalen Rose has perhaps the ugliest j in the NBA. Think he hasn't ever heard people tell him that? Of course he has. But we don't hear about it because usually, such petty jabs stay right there on the court. Someone tells Jalen his shot is ugly, he comes down court jawing right back, and then pulls up for a jumper at the first opportunity, either burying it and talking even more, or missing it and yapping something about how he'll hit the next one.

To summarize: Fighting, arguing, outright dislike in sports -- no problem. In fact, usually encouraged. Makes good entertainment. Petty bickering apparently fueled by insecurity? Keep it to yourselves. This verbal slap fight between Tiger and Faldo is annoying, and the parts of it that aren't annoying are just kind of embarassing. If you ask me, for something to be a real sport, it's got to have real feuds. This one makes golf look like a backyard game between Maladjusted Younger Brother and Snobby Next Door Neighbor.
  • Much talk in the New York papers about ARod's disastrous three-error game Monday night. Has he caught Chuck Knoblauch disease and lost all ability to throw accurately? Was he bothered by a sore foot? Simply an off night? Is he finally wilting under the pressure of playing in New York? One other possibility I'll throw out there -- perhaps the Yankees' third baseman was a tad bit distracted because he was worried his colon, spleen and liver were on the verge of exploding in the completely inhumane heat. Lord, it's hot in NY these days. Reminds me of the summer I spent in Micronesia. If it were legal and socially acceptable to go to work in a Speedo and dress shoes, I think I probably would. It's so bad I've installed a kiddie pool in my living room (not true). But I digress. And yes, I do believe a moment ago I did make an excuse for Alex Rodriguez's terrible performance on Monday, but I mainly did so as a vehicle for pointing out how hot it is. Though I must say, it's gotten so bad for the reigning MVP in this town that I almost -- almost -- feel mildly sorry for him.
  • Just last week on this site we were talking about the 83-year-old man who became the oldest pro ballplayer in history, and now, word comes out that 94-year-old former Negro League great Buck O'Neil stepped into the batter's box in a minor league all-star game to break the record. Is nothing sacred, I ask? And I ask that not as a way of saying that either of these records are sacred -- rather, I ask it as a means of saying, don't we value the safety of our elders anymore? We can't just be slapping a helmet on the aged and decrepit among us and shoving them into the batter's box for the sole reason that it makes good publicity. One errant pitch up and in and their heads will come right off. (And, for the record, apparently one did nearly plunk O'Neil directly in the dome during one of his AB's Tuesday.) And by the way, don't try to make the case that they should be allowed to hit in these games if they want to. We don't let old people wander across the interstate, do we? But if left to their own devices, they almost certainly would. Sorry, but if you're old enough that a routine HBP has a reasonable chance of becoming a DOA, baseball is not allowed. Them's the rules.

4 Comments:

Blogger jmals said...

Re: A-Rod.
I am saddened to see that A-Rod's grand slam against the Mets to give the Bombers a 6-4 lead a few games back did not have the same effect as Giambi's 4 rbi bomb, to the same part of the park, against the Twins in the driving rain in the 14th a few years ago. You could say that there was no rain the night of the Mets game, and you'd be (Jaret W) right.

So last night, in the rain-elongated bottom of the 9th, Alex had a chance to win it in the wet. His was the easy job as the rest of the team had done the hard work of clawing back to tie the ball game at 4. And...he strikes out looking, paving the way for 14 year-old Melky Cabrera to win the game and grab the headlines.

So instead of cheering for Alex as I happily did following that unbelievable grand slam, my cheer of choice is the one I learned from the Met fan behind me during that game: Dou-ble Play Rod (clap clap clapclapclap).

And to return to the 3-error, 300-degree game. Please note that Chein-Ming Wang pitched a 7 inning gem.

2:31 PM, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Aimee Berg said...

How do you refer to A-Rod and the heat in New York without making note of the photos in the Post and Daily News earlier this week featuring a shirtless A-Rod posing for the paparazzi in Central Park? I mean, does this guy have any clue? Jeter probably doesn't even bother shaking his head anymore.

11:54 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger elijah the prophet said...

I want to see somebody test The OCC's theory by criticizing Buck O'Neil's swing. I'll bet that would generate all sorts of talk. Any takers?

8:16 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger jmals said...

Aimee, I love your observation on the Jeter front.

3:41 AM, July 23, 2006  

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