SWANKY STADIUM, NYC – I am dying for regular season baseball to start. I can’t wait to see the full ‘A’ team, play the ‘A’ game as they know each game gets them closer to their 2009 destiny. While I’m excited to see the new swanky Yankee Stadium, I’m more excited at the prospect of getting there via some freebie tickets. Unfortunately, it’s already April and so far… nothin’! By this time last year, I had tickets for an early April game in my hot little hands (compliments of Mr. Cookie and his need to be bribed by his media reps).
I wasn’t sure what I’d post today, and my brother (ex-NYPD, big, bald Yankee fan) suggested I write about the economy and what it’s done to sports. But we’ve already covered how both NY teams have prime tickets they have yet to sell (with the Mets having some sweet Madoff seats behind home plate). And with regard to hoops (nod to NCAA Final Four action), he did hep me to the fact that the UConn coach Jim Calhoun rakes in a nice $6 Million salary. In Madoff Asset Currency, that’s three yachts! Makes me think that despite my loathe for basketball, I should think about coaching a collegiate team. I’m sure the women’s coaches rake in plenty of coin as well.
With all the bad news and dopiness in the sports world, I thought it’d be nice to write about some sports smarties. Not the Smarties the Matts paid homage to the other day, but sports figures who have shown that they have smarts. Plaxico Burress and Roger Clemens need not apply. I was thinking.. super smart athletes. You know, like crazy IQ’s that get them in that genius club. What’s that called? NAMBLA?? No, no… MENSA. Ahhhh… MENSA. The only famous name I knew was Geena Davis, but I figured there’d have to be more including at least one famous athlete.
Unfortunately, Wiki turned up nothing for me there. But, I had heard that Lenny Dykstra was a pretty smart ‘Dude’ who built himself some nice businesses (including a private jet charter business) after he retired. Covering Lenny would surely please both the Mets and Phillies audience here. (Really, I can’t wait for the back and forth between AW and Grote vs. the Phanatic and Phillview on this one.) Alas, no. Seems that Lenny pulled a Chamberlain (or a Barkley, or a Stallworth/Leyritz minus the casualty) with a DWI some years back. He also has been charged with sexual harassment and most recently is in danger of bankruptcy due to discrimination charges being filed by every minority group you can think of. (Lenny was non-discriminatory in covering them all in Archie Bunker fashion.)
I wondered about basketball’s Dr. J… but couldn’t turn up anything about a doctorate or his smarts. (Heck, I couldn’t even find a note as to WHY they call him Dr. J. Basketball junkies.. here’s your chance!) There are plenty of hoop dopes… Magic Johnson (who should have kept his johnson covered), Kobe Bryant (but at least that $4 million, 8-carat diamond was a smart idea), and Dennis Rodman. (He is now on ‘The Celebrity Apprentice.’ That right there shows you the lack of a smarts move in not planning out something good to do or watch on a Sunday night.)
There are plenty of nods to be given out to sports smarties who have realized that once their physical prowess starts to fade, they need to supplement their income. Jordan was the pioneer here, and Beckham gets extra credit for excelling in sports marketing stateside when soccer is barely considered a sport here. Sure, you can mention others such as Greg ‘The Shark’ Norman and Tiger, but I give the big pack o’ Smarties to LeBron James. Yes, you read that correctly and I am about to applaud an NBA mega star.
60 Minutes did a great piece on him on Sunday evening. As I waited for ‘The Amazing Race’ to start (we’re still waiting to see Team Matt here), I was impressed by LeBron’s story. Not only is he a young man (age 24) who kept on the straight and narrow, growing up outside Detroit (Rock City) as the child of a poor, single mother, but he entered the NBA at age 18 and didn’t let the fame and fortune corrupt him. We don’t read about him in the press for any bad boy behavior and he’s created a marketing empire for his namesake. While I give a nod to the fact that he’s a Yankee fan (really, being an Indians fan would just be dopey), I’d only say that I wish that someone with his resources and media power would do a bit more in the charity way. (If he does, 60 Minutes did a big disservice by not covering it, nor is anything listed publicly.) Bravo LeBron. You succeeded and didn’t let the success get the better of you. Perhaps some other athletes could learn a lesson from him on how to handle being a star at an early age. It’s called using your smarts people.
So, lets look forward to this baseball season with the hopes that we see some smarts both on and off the field. With all the scandal lately, we could definitely use it