Sunday, May 27, 2007

Fisking Canepa

Nick Canepa recently wrote a column, in which he ran down his list of "The 10 worst things in sports." (Hat tip for the link: King Kaufman.)

Following are my responses to Canepa's list. (Please pardon my self-indulgence. Ahhh, who am I kidding. Blogging is all about self-indulgence!)

1. The Designated Hitter

In an ideal world, I agree. In the real world of baseball in the last thirty years, at least, I don't. Watching MLB pitchers hit is boooooooooring. They can't. Even in the National League, they don't get to take batting practice for fear of injury, and almost none of them can so much as lay down a sacrifice bunt. The "strategy" argument is a yawner -- the idea that a manager might have to … pinch hit for the pitcher! … is not up there on my list of Great Topics for Debate. And the late game double switches that typically accompany the result of such ponderous deliberations just makes scoring the game on the cramped scorecards you get at today's ballparks completely tedious.

2. The NBA Draft Lottery

Maybe. But it seems to me that introducing a little uncertainty into the mix at least possibly cuts down on games thrown at the end of the season by teams racing for the basement and next year's first pick. The NBA's regular season is tediously long in any light, and it must truly suck to pay to support your home team in person when they're consciously trying to play below their worst.

3. Barry Bonds

No argument here. Yeah, I'm white. But Bonds, as I've said before, lacks class. And Henry Aaron was probably my last unsullied hero. In my dreams, Bonds reaches 754, sees the light, and retires.

4. David Stern

The biggest problem I have here is with Canepa's line:

His league is one littered with undisciplined, unschooled, rich, spoiled players, many of them unable to extricate themselves from the world of thugdom.

Let me respond in kind by characterizing Canepa's home town of San Diego: His city is a gated community littered with self-indulgent, narrow-minded, rich, spoiled honkies, many of them unable to extricate themselves from the worship of Ronald Reagan …

Sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it?

Canepa's argument here borders on racism, and is certainly guilty of a viewpoint that generalizes from a few punks to wrongly condemn an entire class of people. There are too many counterexamples to Canepa's thesis for me to list (although I recently noted one). Some of them are even white. And let's not forget how classy Stern was when the canonical media-portrayed thug, Allen Iverson, won the MVP a few years back: the commissioner stood at mid-court and spoke to a sold-out arena when presenting the trophy. He apologized for everything bad he'd said about Iverson before that, and recognized AI as the worthy man that he is.

5. The New York Yankees

If by "Yankees," Canepa means "Steinbrenner," I have almost no argument. But I still think Derek Jeter is The Man, and Willie Randolph and Ron Guidry were my two favorite players in the league when I was first allowed to visit NYC unchaperoned. There are so many problems with baseball that I've pretty much given up following it of late, but the Yankees, even just considering the management, are more a symptom than the problem.

6. Collegiate conference basketball tournaments

Beyond my ken.

7. Polls and the BCS (tie)

I. Don't. Care.

People who fret about college football rankings need lives and to get back on their meds.

[Update]: In a review of this post, I strongly admit to the possible superfluousness of the word rankings.

8. The NHL

I second this emotion. But really, just change the channel. Even better: go watch a college game, if you've got one handy. I hated hockey until I saw it played, live, at Providence College. The key difference between college and the pros: if you fight, you're out of this game and the next. No loopholes. Result? No fights.

9. Equipment

Maybe Canepa has a point here, since he's mostly focusing on tennis. But as a casual viewer, I have to say that baseline rallies are more fun to watch than the serve, rush the net, one volley, point, routine that I remember from the old days.

10. Tiger Woods

To be fair, Canepa only dislikes Woods because he's so good. But really, golf is not a sport. And even if I pretend that it is, Tiger Woods is the only reason I ever watch it for more than one minute.

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