Posted on: August 10, 2010 4:52 pm

Separation of Sports and Morals. . .

  I'm sick and tired of hearing athletes skewered for their personal indiscretions. Rarely do you see a athlete both on top of his sport AND being vilified. It's because we as human beings all have our faults. Deep down, consciously, we all are aware of this. Yet, when a player, no matter what sport he or she plays, is caught doing something wrong OUTSIDE OF THEIR sport, we immediately start comparing them to school teachers and clergy. These people are not brought in to be role models. They did not play their sport as children with the sole hope of changing peoples lives. Many athletes choose to do the 'nicer'  things, because some feel it truly is their calling or maybe they just want to give back.

   Let's start with baseball and take it back a few decades. Was Babe Ruth considered a great role model? The beer guzzling and hot dog eating? Was DiMaggio and his womanizing cool? Ty Cobb, biggest racist in maybe all of sports, was a great ballplayer, all of these guys great ballplayers, but for the most part beloved by fans then and fans now. The most recent former home run king was basically a speed user, as were many players in his time- and they did it to perform during games. Is that not performance enhancing? Where are all those asterisks? Consider it this way, as this is my own opinion:

Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, (Insert PED user here) were simply trying to get the upper hand in their careers. It's not as though they popped magic pills that made them Superman. They were dedicated in their work ethic, they were talented since childhood, they were often the first ones in and the last ones out at the end of the day. It was a commitment they made to themselves, whether selfishly or not, that in turn, made their team better. Early on, before the drugs were tested for, can you fault a player for using? Really? I mean, if you had an office job and I told you that you could use this certain program that would improve your quality of work, make your 'team' (your peers or your underlings) better, and possibly increase your rate of pay...would you do it? Of course. We all do. Now, once they make it illegal to do it, will you continue  do it? Look, I don't like the slant that these PEDs put on some of our favorite players of our generation. I hate having to compare what "so and so's numbers" look like next to "PED user's numbers." I'm just saying that when some of the earlier users were juicing, I doubt they were behind closed doors, ringing their hands in excitement, thinking " shoot this and I'm Superman!"

  What about football? Why don't we go crazy when they use steroids? I'll bet over the years, maybe twice as many football players have used the drugs. A QB can't throw further, a receiver can't run faster, a lineman can't get THAT MUCH STRONGER? Do steroids make you throw more accurately, as people think it makes you hone in on a baseball easier? Does it give you the ability to catch a ball with ONE HAND and three fingertips? Rarely do we see steroids being a big issue in our favorite football players. And then there are players like Terrell Owens. I listened to sports radio today and heard the host call T.O. a fraud. A Fraud? No steroids, no wife beating, no tabloid headlines...certainly not a lack of statistics. I looked into his stats once and I'm pretty sure that T.O. (at this time two or three years ago) was already in the top 5 (maybe 3rd?) in most 'important receiving statistics'. People treat this guy like he is terrible. Forgive me, but even with all of his prima donna acts in the locker rooms and on the sidelines, the guy can BALL. He can catch, he can run, and he can score some touchdowns. Not to mention, for all the griping about T.O....he's pretty darn entertaining. If you were still playing football out on the street in front of your house and T.O. is on the sidelines, you'd want that guy on your team. Anyone who says they don't is a flat out liar. I could talk about Ben Roethlisberger, who was America's Sweetheart early in his career, only to be lynched in the media for a night that we don't completely know about. We weren't there, how do WE, the fans know? Think of it this way, in court, you can't say what someone else said. It's called "hear-say". Well, guess what the media does?

 The last point I'll make here (simply to keep it short, because I could hit every sport, really) is about Tiger Woods. As a human being, a father, a husband, and the face of many products, Tiger Woods is a complete failure. We came down so hard after Tiger Woods, because he lifted us up so high. Early in his career, his smile and humble demeanor helped bring interest to a dying sport. It also merged a big gap between African American's and golf. Tiger said all the right things, did all the right things, and damn it - HE WON! He amazed people that didn't even PLAY golf. He had a beautiful wife, wonderful children, blah blah blah. Who cares? Did Jack Nicklaus' wife ever putt one in for him? Did we follow Arnold Palmer from the course to the bar and count his drinks before he drove home? Who cares what these people do in their personal lives. What's a shame is  that the media is primarily to blame for all of this.

  Throughout the years athletes AND celebrities like actors and singers have all done their fair share of dirt behind the scenes, but because of today's media, we are all privy to the details. It should not change the product that we see on the field or the love we have for them AS athletes. It's time that we started to separate athletes and role models. Looking for your fair sure of role models in sports, is like looking for your future wife in a bar. These players are all paid to entertain. We should live and die by the things they do on the diamond, within the hashmarks, on the fairways, the rinks, and the courts - not the things they do off of them.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 25, 2010 9:13 pm

Not a Solution.

I read an article today hinting at the possibilty that the Rays will be relocating out of the Tampa Bay area. Apparently, someone is making a push for an Orlando, Florida baseball team. Apparently, Tampa and Miami , as well as the many Spring Training MLB teams, are not enough of an attraction for baseball enthusiasts. Despite the poor attendance of the  two time World Series Marlins and the World Series runner up Rays, Orlando feels that Florida has a strong local following for consistent baseball. The problem that no one seems to understand, is that there is no market in Florida for any "hometown" team. There IS NO hometown team! Florida is a great baseball market for out of state teams. Florida is considered the retirement state and often the climate brings down many young northerners. I myself have gone from Florida to California and back, and I have had three friends move to the very city I live in. Neither are Tampa Bay ANYTHING fans. Don't get me wrong, they like Tampa Bay and they root for them when "their team is not playing" but they are not going to be scooping up season tickets anytime soon. If the team is winning they may go to a few more games, but if things are a little tight they will cut back. If the team isn't playing so well, why show up to watch a stinker? They aren't 'their' team anyway, right? It took the Buccaneers nearly 25 years to get the loyal fan support and with the last playoff win coming in 2002, Bucs fans aren't exactly rushing to the gates. The Tampa Bay Rays organization came in with a great business plan and it (thus far) has worked their way on the field. Unfortunately, they didn't anticipate a terrible economy paired with a long drive, a tin can of a "ballpark", and transplant fans. It seems no one takes the time to consider that Florida is unlike ANY OTHER state in the sports market. Pittsburgh baseball fans don't show up because they haven't had a wining product in decades. Detroit football fans don't show up because their team has never even sniffed a Super Bowl appearance. The JACKSONVILLE Jaguars' fans are souring over a franchise that hasn't seen a Pro Bowl in thier existence. It's Florida. Come for the beaches, come for the weather, come for the low taxes. The Ray's are probably going to move at some point or another. It sounds like a general comment, but successful states, like Dallas, Washington, New York, and California have always had a good fan base. Of course, all these teams have multiple championships in various sports. Is it possible both go hand in hand? Yes, of course, but which comes first? I think consistent and prolonged success brings the fans and ultimately, keeps the fans interested. One Super Bowl, One World Series APPEARANCE, one Stanley Cup. Those are the Big Three American Team Sports. Our teams have been in existence for less than 40 years. It will take another 10 years and/or multiple championships for the Buccaneers to gain a diehard fan base. It will take longer for hocket and baseball fans. It is what it is and in reality, it's possible that sports slowly trickle out of Florida and into states with their own identity.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com