My relationship with sports is somewhat complicated. I love them- when my teams are winning. To a certain extent, I can watch sports like baseball, football, or basketball on various levels and to various levels of caring, on most occasions regardless of how my team has done on that given day. But I’m not the kind of person who will come away saying “What a great day of football!” if my team hasn’t won that day. I’ve often said, “I hate baseball, except when the Twins are winning.” Or maybe it was, “I love baseball, except when the Twins are losing.” Yea, that was it.
But there are a few things I hate about sports all the time. One of those things is: How disappointing the Sportscenter Top 10 plays are during the winter when half of them are dunks. “Ooh, look at that. That tall human being put a spheroid object through a hoop that’s twice the diameter.” Don’t get me wrong- I know what a cool dunk looks like. But they’re very much scraping the bottom of the barrel that time of year, when most of the dunks are just uncontested and not very impressive.
Also, Derek Jeter highlights. As if that man as done anything worth watching, ever- Oh yea, that home run in the 2001 World Series. Also jumping in vain while the ball goes over his head and lands for the game-winning hit of that same World Series. But here’s what Jeter does: Goes to his left. Scoops up a groundball that any shortstop could get to. (But here’s what he does to make it special.) Does a little pirouette before throwing on to first, making it harder on himself than if he had just planted and thrown on to first. Has anyone done less to earn a major honor than Jeter getting a Gold Glove this year? Oh yea, Jeter winning SI’s Sportsman of the Year award last year.
Here’s the highlight I’m talking about, though. 2001 AL Division Series against Oakland. The Yanks are in the process of completing a comeback against the A’s. Jeremy Giambi is coming around to score a critical run. Jeter picks up the ball and tosses it to Posada, and Giambi is called out- a play that came to be known as The Flip. The biggest problem with immortalizing it, though: Giambi was safe. I know- I saw the play live, and I still haven’t seen a perspective that shows him out. The unwritten rule I have found in baseball is that at first base, tie goes to the defense; at home, tie goes to the offense. In other words, they’ve already made it three bases, so to deny them the run, you have to prove he was out. Unless your name is Derek Jeter, and the umpire thinks you made a very heads-up (gag) play.
(Derek Jeter highlights aren’t the only ones I hate, though. Remember that Santonio Holmes “catch” in the Super Bowl against the Cardinals? Pretty sure it wasn’t a catch. What? Should we give it to him because it was close? Do the Steelers need another title? And wouldn’t Holy Angels alum Larry Fitzgerald have been just as big a hero if not for that play?)
My personal belief on (ss that even an original thing to complain about anymore?) the BCS is that there will never be a playoff system in college football. At the very best, we will just go back to having the two polls, sometimes conflicting national champs, and no actual national championship game. The de facto playoffs will become the conference championship games, which, admittedly, are very exciting. But what might continue to happen, is the Automatic Qualifying conferences gaining increasing amounts of power, and the smaller-conference powerhouses moving up to the big ones. Boise State might even get to join the Pac-10 one day.
Finally, on a topic that seems to be dividing America recently, I’m declaring my stance on Michael Vick- and it’s a reasonable one: He deserves a break. (I’m talking to you, PETA.) What he did to dogs is horrible, sure. But he paid his debt to society, seems sincerely contrite, and has completely revamped his life. The dissenters seem to be saying, “He did something awful and therefore doesn’t deserve anything good- ever.” It seems with all the attention he’s drawing to the barbaric sport of dog-fighting, he’s actually done more good for dogs. Also- they’re just dogs. They’re not people. Did anyone here me?- Not People. I think sometimes we forget that, as a society. As bad as it is to kill and endanger and be cruel to animals, it is worse to do the same to people. In other words, the jury is still out for me on Roethlisberger.