Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Pardon the Interruption

Lots of sports talk for Tuesday:

(1) Larry Brown: For the second time in three years, Larry Brown has been in contract talks with another team while he is supposed to be leading his current team through the playoffs. The national sports press sounds slightly outraged this morning at Brown's duplicity, which is fitting, although I wonder where the outrage was when Brown was selling the Sixers down the river by throwing in the towel during their playoff series against Detroit--while he was almost certainly in talks with Detroit to become their next coach.

You may think of Larry Brown as a Hall of Fame coach, but I'll always think of him as one of only two basketball coaches bad enough to lose the gold medal at the Olympics--and the first to lose with pro players. (I don't count the stolen game against the Soviets in 1972 as a loss.) Brown is a genius, but he's the type of guy who is ostentatiously classy--but only when it doesn't cost him anything. And when bad times come, he's the first out the door.

(2) Johns Hopkins: The Blue Jays won the NCAA lacrosse title yesterday for the first time in a generation. Too bad. Hopefully bad luck will return to Homewood next year. Don't feel sorry for them--believe me, they deserve it.

(3) Danica Patrick: I know nothing about racing, but the attention lavished on her sticks in my craw a little since she didn't win the Indy 500. The guy who did win--Dan Wheldon--looks to be on a pretty impressive hot streak. He's the overall series points leader and Sunday's win was his fourth victory in five races. Yet Wheldon is nearly anonymous to the casual observer and Patrick is omnipresent. That hardly seems just.

Let Patrick win something, and then we can all celebrate her. The rest of Danicamania has the distinct odor of Kournikova-ism. People who value sports should want to avoid that at all costs.

(4) French Open: Lindsay Davenport is the opposite of Danica Patrick. Nobody fawned over her when she was a young teen coming up on the tour. Nobody cared when she got her game and her body into shape and started winning Grand Slams. Nobody even really cares now that she's making another run deep into the French Open. All Davenport does is win and embody everything that's great about tennis. Why can't ESPN do big, gushing profiles on her? She deserves them.

Then there's the big question presented by this year's open: How good is Roger Federer? He's only 23 and he's already won four of the majors. He looks like a dominant champion.

But in tennis champs come in two varieties. There are the unstoppable juggernauts who take over the game for years at a time (Sampras, Lendel, Borg) and then there are the transition players, who take over the game for a couple years and then fade away (Hewitt, Wilander). Which is Federer?

14 comments:

That Dude said...

Larry brown is like an old guy who cant stay witht he same chicks for 2 years. Look at his resume.....Detroit, Philly, Indiana, LA Clips, Kansas, NJ, UCLA, Denver, Carolina Cougars...I know I'm forgetting some in there as well.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Brown an ABA coach before coaching UCLA? What's hilarious about the fawning over Patrick is the repeated mention that she was leading with six laps to go. How did she get in to the lead? She didn't pit with the other drivers assuming she would have the fuel to stay out in front. How did she lose her lead? She ran out of gas. She lost as the result of driver error, but not a single article has mentioned it. Furthermore, she's got a huge advantage: Consider this: Patrick is 100lbs lighter than most drivers. IndyCar engines put out about 650 HP and the cars weigh about 1550lbs. So with driver, each car weighs roughly 1750lbs, producing a power to weight ratio of 1:2.69, but Patrick is running 100lbs lighter, creating a power to weight ratio of 1:2.53. If I'm correct Patrick had a roughly 6% power advantage. In the world of open-wheel racing, this is a huge advantage.

Aaron said...

Federer is a juggernaut. He will win many majors.

Ben said...

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!!!

Where does this misplaced hostility towards Johns Hopkins lax emanate from?

The history of modern lacrosse is so deeply intertwined with Johns Hopkins that the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame is on Hopkins' campus. Even if you are a Princeton, UVA, or (gulp) Syracuse fan, you can't deny Hopkins role in building modern lacrosse into what it is, and have to recognize that their return to glory is good for the sport.

God forbid lacrosse should become like every other NCAA sport and become solely the provence of big state schools, with their sports factories and athletes completely isolated from the rest of the student body. Is one title in 18 years for a school's only DI sport, one that it practically invented, too much to ask?

And given the way this team won the title, with its utterly unbelievable comeback against UVA on Saturday, and holding the number one offense scoreless for the last 20+ minutes of the championship deserves some props. I thought we were supposed to root for teams that survive gut checks and scrap out wins, or does that only apply to Philly-based teams?

What gives? Is your cold Sith heart really that black that you'd deny Hopkins a title in perpetuity?

Anonymous said...

Danicamania is motivated by the same impulse as your gay lacrosse goalie story--sex--an element incidental to the sporting accomplishment, except for its novelty factor.

Does ESPN, and other sports media outlets, even know that in their never-ending pursuit of an ever larger audience, more and more sports fans are using their mute button to turn off the increasing non-sports drivel in their broadcasts?

Until Danica Patrick wins two races, she will merely be the answer to a trivia question. And as to where any lacrosse player prefers puts his stick--well, let's just say that's more information than necessary--that's why it's "sports" and not something else!

That Dude said...

"Where does this misplaced hostility towards Johns Hopkins lax emanate from?"

uh maybe from those of us who grew up poor and werent handed a silver spoon educationa nd life like thos 'roughians' on the Hopkins lacrosse team.

Ben said...

"Where does this misplaced hostility towards Johns Hopkins lax emanate from?"

That Dude from Philly said...
uh maybe from those of us who grew up poor and werent handed a silver spoon educationa nd life like thos 'roughians' on the Hopkins lacrosse team.

As opposed to the poor, huddled masses that comprise the Princeton, Cornell, and Duke teams? Please, Dude, that's just weak. If that is seriously your complaint about the Hopkins lax team then you really shouldn't comment on lacrosse at all. In Baltimore and New York, the public schools are as much a source of lax talent as the preps, and roughly half the prep players are scholarship recruits anyways. So to hate Hopkins lacrosse for classist reasons is pointless and misguided. Go back to your David Brooks' columns, pinko! (And by the way, I say this as someone who went to a notoriously rough high school in the DC-area and put myself through Hopkins on a ROTC scholarship).

Dunk said...

I can second the beef against JHU mens lacrosse. A more arrogant, selfish group never walked this planet. The tone starts at the top with Petro, a man who flies off the handle real quick. These guys, most off now to the "Chet" world of investment banking, are really just a bunch of drunken louts. I have had the misfortune of living around the corner from them now for a couple of years.

You see, I really enjoy being woken at 4:30 am on Monday by the "team" as it finishes off the keg. I enjoy also having to throw my kids out of the way of the speeding jeep driven by the #1 middie on the "team" as he carenes the wrong way down my street on a Sunday afternoon. I reject Petro screaming at my wife, as she asks whether he cares how drunk his boys get, all-the-while disavowing any responsibility for his "team."

So, yes, I hope the louts tank next season.

By the way, since the team returned late to Baltimore, I did not hear a party. I expect them to get drunk today, though.

Damian P. said...

I agree that the attention lavished upon Danica Patrick is a bit silly, but comparing her to Anna Kournikova? That's just mean. Correct me if I'm wrong, but 4th in the Indy 500, with top-rookie honours, is *already* better than anything Anna K ever managed on the tennis court.

Plenty of racing drivers have never lived up to their early hype and potential (Jean Alesi, we hardly knew ye), and Patrick could be one of them. But I think she's the real thing.

That Dude said...

"As opposed to the poor, huddled masses that comprise the Princeton, Cornell, and Duke teams? Please, Dude, that's just weak. If that is seriously your complaint about the Hopkins lax team then you really shouldn't comment on lacrosse at all"

My comment was to u, not to lacrosse, although my comment could apply to lacrosse as a whole. I would lump those other schools in there with u. I know growing up poor I shouldnt be resnetful since as my Dad used to say 'resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other guy dies' but it's just so damn.....fun lol.

Sean M said...

I agree that the attention lavished upon Danica Patrick is a bit silly, but comparing her to Anna Kournikova? That's just mean. Correct me if I'm wrong, but 4th in the Indy 500, with top-rookie honours, is *already* better than anything Anna K ever managed on the tennis court.

Surely you jest! I hardly think finishing fourth in a watered down American open car racing event compares favourably with making the semifinals of Wimbledon. Or winning 16 tour doubles titles, and achieving a world #1 doubles ranking.

Danica's off to a good start, but she's got a long way to go before she matches Anna K.'s accomplishments.

N.S.T said...

Hey, buddy, people don't win doubles championships on their own. If i'm not mistaken, Anna K's partner for most of those titles was the actually-talented Martina Hingis. And Wimbledon is a complete crapshoot, at least as watered down as the Indy 500, and certainly requires a completely different skill set. People aren't defined, in the end, by what they win, but by their overall performances. In the late 80's, for example, when MJ was scoring 35 points per and the Bulls weren't even sniffing the playoffs, or were losing to the Pistons, did anyone not recognize that he was a great player? Did anyone discount his performances because he didn't win a championship for a while after his career began? No. Give the girl a break. She's 23 years( I believe) old and she placed in a position that would've garnered similar praise for a male driver. From what I gathered, the fuel gamble was one which her team decided to take, one which she didn't take herself at least. JVL, as a Sixers fan yourself, you shouldn't expect anything les from Larry Brown. He moves arund constantly, and the fact that he's now won a championship and still wants to move only confirms that he wasn't constantly looking for a better team all those years. he's just a ramblin' man. As for Federer, I think he's the dominant champion type. However, I guess partly because tennis has no pull for Americans these days, and because he isn't himself American, his dominance of the sport-- at least as of late-- has gone largely unnoticed in the mass media, though it has certainly been well remarked upon amongst tennis fanatics(a group which I don't consider myself apart of, just FYI). Lindsay's been around forever, and when she was in her prime, the sport was being dominated by the Williams sisters and even Steffi Graf. She isn't publicized, much in the same way Martina Navratilova wasn't, because she just isn't that marketable a figure(obviously the lack of marketability in each woman derives itself from a completely unique source). Yes, she's a great tennis player, but the sport's big wigs, the media, and the fans, are all much more interested in Maria Sharapova and company. As far as JHU, I seem to remember you really hating your experiences there, or at least certainly not enjoying them, and so I'm not surprised by your announcement there. I would go a step further and bash lacrosse as a game. It's nasty, fast-paced, constantly stimulating sports like lacrosse which take away from my generation's inheritance of baseball and football, games which actually involve a good deal of thinking. So, damn soccer, damn everyone's precious "lax" and damn all the other "new wave" sports.

Sean M said...

Hey, buddy, people don't win doubles championships on their own.

But car racers, with their casts of thousands in each pit crew, do?

I'm not raining on Patrick's parade. I'm just saying one race does not a career make. While she doesn't have to be the next Mario Andretti to surpass Kournikova's accomplishments, it's important to bear in mind that Kournikova is not the tennis equivalent of some back of the field track clogger like Willy T. Ribbs.

Nick said...

Jonathan Lasts's typically spot-on comments about sports fall well wide of the mark with his most recent post about JHU's lacrosse team. Although he's rather cryptic about it, Last leaves us to infer that these are bad people and therefore we should begrudge them their success and wish them ill.
What the...? This is silly for two reasons. First, if we're not supposed to root for sports teams that have "bad people" as players, which sports teams ARE we supposed to root for? They're all populated by jerks to some extent or another. A pal who works at Syracuse says those guys are the biggest a-holes on the planet. Or, take pro sports. Any pro sport. We need look no farther than Last's own beloved NBA for all sorts of loutish behavior. Second, this Hopkins team in particular seems to be lack the type of jerk-as-player that Last and others malign. As a group, they've got a ton of talent, a grinding work ethic and an unyielding will to win (pardon the cliches). They finished the season undefeated having beaten all the top teams in the country (some twice). And you're trying to tell me that these guys DON'T deserve to win the title? Because they like having a beer or something? That's just a joke.