Here is my personal list of my Top Ten Takes of the year. No, they aren’t the 10 biggest stories…or even 10 of my best works….but 10 different Journal entries that I have a nice little warm spot for in my own heart. I thought I’d throw them together so people who’ve just started to read my stuff can go back and look at some of my favorite takes. Enjoy.
10-GET OFF STERN’S BACK [June 3]
GET OFF STERN'S BACK
I wrote this as the Lakers were entering the Finals. Yeah, we took out the Spurs and Wolves in back-to-back series…and people whine “0.4!!!!!“ One of my biggest gripes is how people think Stern manipulates the NBA so he gets everything he wants. That is a huge pile of beetle dung. As I said in that entry…he’s had cities like Orlando, San Antonio [2x], Indianapolis, Salt Lake City [2x], Portland [2x] and Seattle in the Finals on his watch. I mean, why do the Clippers still suck?? Or the Knicks down?? He’s also added Charlotte, New Orleans, Memphis, Vancouver, Toronto, Sacramento, Orlando and Minnesota in on his watch. His true power, however, was felt when he handed out those very “stern” suspensions from the Pacers-Pistons melee. That is what makes him the best commissioner in sports. Players like him…but also fear him.
9-LAWRENCE PHILLIPS [August 20]
Lawrence Phillips Sells His Championship Ring
The saddest thing is sports is when a talented player throws it all away for one reason or another. Laziness, drugs, complacency. We’d all KILL to be in that position….but they screw it away. Well, Lawrence Phillips is one such guy. This entry centers around him selling his Big 8 championship ring to a pawn shop for $20. I like this entry because while it was both funny and sad….it also shows how certain people just can’t cope with celebrity.
8-CANNED FISH [November 9]
I had been chronicling Dave Wannstedt’s horrible season since the summer. As much as I respect the Miami Dolphins…they dropped the ball on this one. Dave stuck with the team as they limited his duties…had Ricky Williams retire….and while everyone was calling for his head. Yet, they couldn’t even do the dignified thing and let Wannstedt finish out the season. He should just look at the college ranks to be a coach next.
7-THE GREAT LAKER DEBATE [June 17]
LAKERS: Easy Directions....Tough Traveling
This was written after the NBA Finals and before any deal was done in LA. As a Laker fan…it was hard on the heart to see Shaq leave. But, it was business. Being a Laker fan….I have exhausted this argument…but this was my take of what could, should, and hopefully would happen.
6-NCAA ELITE 8 [August 31]
The ELITE Eight of the Upcoming NCAA Season
This is one of my favorites. One, because every time you make a preseason take…one of the teams you think of highly bombs. Well, at least one. Whether it is the Denver Nuggets in your NBA take….or Kansas City Chiefs in your NFL take….someone disappoints. My biggest disappointment was Florida…who isn’t in the BCS rankings at all. The only other team that I really overrated was Florida State…who if they didn’t lose to Florida would have been high in the rankings. Anyway….my favorite part of the entry is the comments. Boy, they hated my picks. Most were Michigan and Ohio State fans. I was an “idiot” for not including them in my Top 8. Of course, they aren’t in the Top 8 in real life…so was I so wrong. Attempts to contact these people on their barbs went unsuccessfully. My top two teams?? USC and Oklahoma. I guess I’m not such an idiot. P.S. My next entry was “BCS BUSTERS” and documented various non-BCS conference teams that could make a dent this season. Among them were Utah and Boise State [of course, I did include TCU as well….sorry].
5-WALTER HERMANN [August 29]
The Story Of Walter Herrmann
One thing about my journal….it is made up of my opinions and takes. Whether something angers me…makes me laugh…pointing someone out…or giving my previews on something….it is mine. I do not report on anything. I made a minor exception here. While it was my take….I really was trying toget out this guy’s story. For some reason…these Olympics really did grab me. And in the whole grumbling over our USA Basketball team in Athens…Walter Hermann’s story barely got play. Once I caught wind of it…I researched and researched this guy. His sad story…his hoops career…everything. When the Olympics come around….we always love and root for our countrymen. And we should. But, we tend to look at the people on the other teams as stone cold enemies and “other” people. Well, stories like these just shows how foreign athletes have lives and feelings just like ours…including horrible heartbreaks like this. I hope you give this story another look.
4-AU REVIOR LES EXPOS [September 30]
Au, Revoir...Les Expos!!!
A long time ago…I felt that when a team left a city, it just happens. Then I watched the Hornets totally screw over Charlotte for a smaller market. Luckily for Charlotte…the NBA came back in two years. It isn’t so lucky for other cities. Especially Montreal. Whether it is that crazy logo or that ugly stadium or those weird seats there or everything written in French. You KNEW you were in a different place there. Toronto might as well be Milwaukee for all I know. Yeah, I know that the National Pastime in French-Canada is kind of a weird thing to miss….but the NHL’s champion currently resides in Tampa. Of course, sports is a business…and Canadian businesses don’t fair well against the American franchises. And in a very tough MLB economic structure, it is almost impossible to have baseball in Montreal. Heck the NHL Canadiens are in trouble!! Of course, it doesn’t help when the team has been a lame-duck for 3 years now. They had their best season snuffed out by a strike, their best players sold away, threats of contraction, owner trading that ended in MLB “running” the team, home games in Puerto Rico…and ultimately the league scrapping together a quick move to a place that has already seen baseball fail…..twice.
3-RICKY WILLIAMS AND THE HIPPIE LETTUCE [August 1]
Ricky Rather Burn the Hippie Lettuce
While some things polarize our sporting culture [see: my #1 pick], everyone pretty much agrees on this: Ricky Williams is a selfish potheaded jerk. Why do fans have such contempt for athletes?? Look here. A guy who was the leading rusher in the NFL in 2002, abruptly quits his multi-million dollar job that gets him adulation that most of us can only dream about….so he can smoke dope. And he blames us. The fans want too much from him…and the media won’t leave him alone. Hmm…that IS part of the job. He is Ron Artest without the violent temper. He “lost his passion for football”. I just chalk it up to another pothead who just doesn’t feel like going to work. Of course, his football passion returned when he was ordered to pay $8.6M back to the Dolphins…most of which was spent on weed, tie-dye shirts, incense, sandals, Funions, Bob Marley posters, black lights, hacky-sacks, Grateful Dead albums, “The Matrix” DVD”, and various hippie lettuce smoking paraphernalia.
2-WHY CARE ABOUT THE RED SOX [May 15]
Why Care About The Red Sox?
My first big entry. It ranks so high because it was my first entry to be placed on the AOL Sports Talk page and got me noticed in the AOL community. This actually wasn’t directed at the Red Sox….but to fans of “The Curse”. For as cursed as people tended to think the Red Sox were….they have actually led a pretty good baseball resume. Sure, those Yankees screwed it up for them….but at least there were some good times in there. I mean…can we get some footage of those Cubs or White Sox World Series??? Is there a “Curse Of The Black Sox Scandal”??? Maybe those great Indians dynasties. Or the long history of the Phillies and their one WS ring. Now that the Sox have “86-ed” their “curse”….it all seems moot. But, personally, this entry still means a lot to me.
1-DISGUSTING [November 20]
This just happened and still is in the fabric of the sports world….but it is a big, big deal. As a child of the 80s and a young adult of the 90s….nothing in sports really shocks me. Needless to say….the Pacers-Pistons melee did. I remember being glued to the TV as I came home and had my wife trying to get our Christmas tree decorated. I just couldn’t believe what I saw. I’ve been to many NBA games and couldn’t imagine having players running into the stands or fans running on the court. The whole problem with this is that everyone is looking for the person to blame. Well, at times, everyone is to blame. This is one of those times. Fans have no right to throw things at other people. Players have no right to go into the stands and fight. Arena officials should have been able to curb this. The Pacers coaches should have found a way to keep their players out of that. The officials should have cooled the Wallace-Artest confrontation quicker. There is no perfect answer. Opinions vary on all of this…plus the suspensions and society’s role in this. Let me say this….you are NAÏVE to think that it is the way the world is now is why this happened. Fans have been challenging athletes for a long, long, long time. Remember Babe Ruth climbing on top of the dugout to challenge any fan to fight him?? Or that idiot that ran on that football field to get leveled. Or even spectators throwing tomatoes and what not at the gladiators fighting tigers in the ancient arenas. This event was point where fan disdain, rivalry, competition, humiliation, frustration, alcohol, race, class, personality and opportunity collided. I mean…the Pacers and Pistons were the top two teams in the NBA last year. The Pistons ripped the East from the Pacers last season….and the Pacers came into Auburn Hills and smacked them down. These two are division rivals in a scheme where winning your division is so important. It was at the end of the game…where fans were a little “liquored up”. Rich white folks in a working class city watching rich black folks play. Two warriors in Artest and Wallace scuffling. A guy with a criminal past throwing something at a guy with a history of anger problems and deemed a “mental case” by most. All the pieces were there…and this time it blew up.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Just Some Fun Sportz Questions, Who's Next??, I Went To A Rangers Game And A Jerry Springer Show Broke Out!!, The Last Days Of The NHL, Barry Larkin....Hall Of Fame?, Athletes are NOT Overpaid