Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Well, the NBA is past the All-Star break, so it can’t be too much longer until spring training really kicks into gear. Did I hear that NFL minicamps start next week? Just kidding!

SEASONINGS: The San Diego Chargers just became the butt of all my football jokes for the next year. They hired Norv Turner as their coach! At this point, people may think I have it in for Turner, since I keep writing negative things about him. But the fact is that Turner is just a bad coach. As an offensive coordinator, he’s great—maybe one of the best out there right now. (See, there’s something positive about good ol’ Norv!) As a coach, he doesn’t have the hard-nosed mentality to keep an entire football team together and keep the players believing in him. I follow the New York Giants, so I watch the NFC East closely. While Turner was with the Washington Redskins, I got to see him coach twice a year against Big Blue. And naturally, I kept myself informed on where the ’Skins were in the standings throughout each season. Turner never took that team anywhere. I also live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so when Norv came to the Raiders, his losing ways were headline news every week. I mean, the guy went 9–23 with Oakland! Granted, both the ’Skins and the Raiders were losers when Turner took over, but he didn’t do anything to help them. Now the guys on the Bolts, including LaDainian Tomlinson, are crowing about what a “perfect fit” Turner is, since he helped build the San Diego offense as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator in 2001. But it’s hard to believe that the system Turner implemented six years ago hasn’t changed at least a little. With all the talent on that team, it should still make the playoffs next year, but don’t expect serious contention for a Super Bowl ring. To think that Turner has a better chance of winning a championship than former coach Marty Schottenheimer is ludicrous, even if Turner did win twice in the 1990s as the Dallas offensive coordinator and Schottenheimer has never won a ring as a coach. My guess is that in 2007, the Chargers’ record will be worse than their 14–2 showing last season, and it will get worse every season that Turner is there until he is fired. My condolences to the football fans in San Diego—you were close enough to sniff the Super Bowl this year, too! But keep dreaming! As long as L.T. is there, the team will always start each season with a chance to compete.

I cannot believe how much ink has been devoted to the relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter since A-Rod was traded to the New York Yankees four years ago. Really—who cares, except for Yankee fans “starved” for a championship who don’t have anything better to talk about? (Try being a Cubs fan to see what it’s like to truly be starved for a championship!) Why don’t all these New York fans talk about what bad moves ownership made over the last few years, or how the pitching has been terrible, or how money spent obviously guarantees nothing? No, they have to discuss how Jeter and A-Rod aren’t buddy-buddy anymore, and that A-Rod is SO emotionally fragile that he can’t function at bat or in the field next to Jeter until Jeter extends an olive branch. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Give me a break! You’d think these guys had been a couple who went through a nasty breakup the way they are portrayed in the media! Did A-Rod disrespect Jeter in Esquire six years ago? You bet. A-Rod was obviously jealous at the success that Jeter has had in the playoffs, winning four rings in five years, especially in light of the fact that A-Rod hasn’t won squat, except a few MVP awards. The MVPs are nice, but we all know they are meaningless with no rings alongside them. Does Jeter have a right to be put off? Yes, indeed—although six years later, you would think such a mentally tough guy would be able to put that kind of thing behind him. Nevertheless, there have been championship teams in all sports who have won despite friction between teammates. True professional athletes should be able to play successfully no matter who is in the clubhouse. I wish the media hounds in New York and around the country would just let the pop psychology go already. If A-Rod can’t handle the heat in the playoffs as a Yankee, it’s not because of Jeter—but it could be because he, his agent, and the rest of the American public actually believe that he’s as good as he’s been pumped up to be since he was on the Seattle Mariners. Maybe everyone should stop believing everyone else and just look at the postseason numbers to determine A-Rod’s worth to his team.

What is Isiah Thomas thinking? New York Knicks forward David Lee played in the rookie-sophomore game at the NBA’s All-Star weekend and scored 30 points on 14-for-14 shooting. He won the MVP for that game, as the sophs smoked the rookies 155–114. He is also the NBA’s leader in field goal percentage, at 61.2 percent, and he is averaging 11.2 points and 10.6 boards a game. Yet venerable Coach Zeke remains adamant about starting the dreadful Jerome James in Lee’s place, keeping Lee coming off the bench. According to the New York Times, James might have had his best outing during his first night as a starter, against the Orlando Magic two weeks ago. Since then, “James’s playing time has withered—from 7 minutes 9 seconds against the Clippers to 4 minutes against Utah to 3:14 against the Lakers and to 1:46 against Golden State. He is scoreless in that stretch, going 0 for 5 from the field, with 5 rebounds and no blocked shots.” So what is the point of starting this guy if he’s going to play less than two minutes before he gets yanked? Maybe instead of having the Knicks fall behind at the beginning of every game, Thomas should get his head out of his behind and back on the court and start Lee. After all, what does Isiah have to lose? If the Knicks don’t show “significant improvement,” as judged by owner James “Duck Folan” Dolan, Zeke’s gone anyway. He might as well go down using all the weapons at his disposal, rather than playing a hunch that isn’t working and further risking the chopping block.

No comments: