One of the qualities I’ve always admired in high level athletes is their ability, at the end of fierce competition, to compose themselves and show a kind of professionalism not seen in other walks of life-or even in other sports. The Stanley Cup Handshake is one of North America’s treasured rituals done after the deciding game each season. Each team lines up, and in the ultimate show of respect for fellow combatants, exchange handshakes, bro hugs, and a complimentary word or two. This exercise is an annual one in which Hockey players show other athletes how they should behave when it’s all said and done. This brought to mind the fact that not ALL athletes display such grace and composure after competition or really, any time at all.
If you listen to the gutless catty beat “writers” who are so anxious to share apocryphal stories of Jordany Valdespin having pilfered teammates’ belongings a la Ruben Rivera, then you’d be certain that it was Valdespin who killed not just Sharon Tate, but also the Lindberg baby. Valdy was demoted last week, and in the process of being told, he verbally eviscerated the manhood of Terry Collins. He threw a tantrum, and was extremely upset about getting sent to Vegas. His white teammates predictably talked off the record about his puerile antics and suggested that he “still doesn’t get it.” The bottom line is this. Valdespin is 26, has virtually no talent, a zero baseball IQ and a volatile immature personality. Which pretty much sums up everyone on the Mets roster not named Harvey or Wright. But that of course doesn’t stop the White Bread Mets from piling on and in the process-absolving Ike Davis of the crime of having singlehandedly cost the Mets 9 games in the standings. Some examples of much worse behavior by athletes? Sure.
5. Ndamukong Suh: What can be said about Suh? Well, he’s the dirtiest player the NFL has seen since Conrad Dobler was gouging guys’ eyes out. He routinely stomps on opponents,
kicks, bites-you name it. He’s obviously suffering from Borderline Personality. He’s coached by Jim Schwarz, whose face screams, “douche bag!” Odds he’ll eventually kill someone 3:1
4. Bobby Knight: went a little old school here but since “the General” is still largely revered as a great coach and leader and developer of young men, he had to be included on the list of all time bad sports. Forget the chair throwing incident. This guy berated and emasculated generations of college basketball players through intimidation, physical abuse and screaming very loud. Non-stop. For the defenders of Knight, I give you Coach K-ironically a Knight disciple, but a proven winner without abusing kids. Odds Knight will eventually kill someone 5:1
3. Tonya Harding: how can you not root for Tonya? What a sweetie. This was so unsportsmanlike, a new verb came out of this whole affair. Now,cutting someone at the knees is referred to as “he Gilooleyed him,” a reference to Jeff Gilooley, the actual hatchet man who took out Nancy Kerrigan. (Nancy didn’t win many admirers with her “why me” crying after getting whacked) Harding was so white trash, it made me seem like a Kennedy. Odds Tonya eventually kills someone EVEN
2. Mike Tyson: bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off. This is NOT good sportsmanship. Nothing to say. Odds Iron Mike will eventually kill someone 3:5
1. Orenthal James Simpson: A step or two slower after retiring from the NFL, OJ couldn’t handle losing at anything-including and especially his woman to a slow but younger white guy, Ron Goldman. As Chris Rock once noted, “OJ…you didn’t have to kill her—but I understand.” Odds OJ will eventually kill someone—wait, what? Oh…never mind.
Changing Rants… A stroll through the All-Star Game Fanfest over the weekend brought lots of smiles for my kids, and regret for me. The Fanfest was actually the ScamFest, whereby you drop over 90 bucks for an adult and two kids to enter a shopping mall with a baseball theme. The “Fest” was crawling with merchants of every type hawking their $45 t-shirts, cards, helmets, $200 jerseys, bobble-heads and all sorts of trinkets intended to separate me from my wallet. It wasn’t so much a celebration of baseball for the fans as it was an open air bazaar in Marrakesh or a lower east side kishke stand circa 1897. Bert Campaneris was there. And to have him sign anything for your 12 year old kid? $20. He may have been the last player to play all 9 positions in a game, but my knowledge of this fairly obscure fact still required that I tape a 20 to it in order to get that autograph. I passed. There was a 4 hour wait for Strawberry to sign. There was security around Joe Benigno as though he wasn’t Joe Benigno. I bought an $11 empanada. It sucked. I did sit in on a Q&A with Tim Teufel, and got to ask him about the Teufel Shuffle. The stench of the Wilpons was all over the Javits center. Everywhere you walked, there was a sense that you were contributing to the “Clawback fund.” Still Nauseated.
Angry Ward, tomorrow.