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?


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.

Anonymous said...

Federer is a juggernaut. He will win many majors.

Anonymous 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.

Anonymous 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).

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.

Anonymous 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.

Anonymous 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.

Anonymous 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.