Monday, July 27, 2009

All Over the Board Today - Lance Armstrong, WNBA, Favre, Halladay, Mets and Much More

I’m not exactly sure where to begin this morning. Part of me wants to point out just how remarkable Lane Armstrong’s third place finish was in The Tour de France. There’s a tendency among all of us, particularly here in the U.S. to skip over this phrase: “During the 2,150 mile tour…”

In fact, it is apparently so insignificant it wasn’t even mentioned n the story in today’s Washington Post. The Tour de France is as grueling as any event in sports. For Armstrong to come back at 37 after four years off the bike and finish third is amazing, almost as amazing as what Tom Watson did—in a completely different context of course—when he just about won The British Open eight days ago. (And no, I haven’t gotten over that one yet),

I don’t really understand how the tour works with riders from teams helping one another out or exactly why it will be so different next year when Armstrong and Alberto Contador ride on different teams but apparently it will be very different. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Armstrong wins again. He’s one of the most remarkable athletes of our time and I really don’t want to hear any more about the drug allegations until someone has proof.

That concludes the serious portion of today’s blog. I should note briefly though that I passed through Connecticut this weekend and picked up The Hartfort Courant, a very good newspaper. I couldn’t help but note that amidst the stories about the Yankees and Red Sox there was about two pages of coverage of the WNBA All-Star game which was taking place in Connecticut on Saturday.

A friend of mine pointed out that with the Courant’s two pages of coverage that would make a total of three pages of coverage nationwide.

Which reminded me of a meeting I had years ago with NBA Commissioner David Stern, someone I genuinely like and greatly respect. I was interviewing Stern for the book I wrote on Kermit Washington and Rudy Tomjanovich (The Punch). When we were finished, Stern said to me, ‘okay turn off your tape recorder, I’m going to yell at you now.’

I turned off the tape recorder. He then lectured me about the fact that I tend to be a bit skeptical about the women’s game. “Don’t you understand,” he said. “The WNBA is one of the keys to the NBA’s future.”

“Well David,” I answered, “then I think you’re in serious trouble.”

Eight years later, The Hartford Courtant notwithstanding, I stand by that statement.

Okay, let’s now move onto the comedy portion of today’s blog, better known these days as, “The Halladay and Favre Show.”

The Brett Favre thing really has become gone beyond the realm of ridiculous. On Friday ESPN—which continues to be a pretty good comedy act on its own—was actually reporting that Favre’s agent had told Rachel Nichols that Favre, “hadn’t yet made up his mind.” (Let me pause here to say that Rachel’s an old friend from her days at The Washington Post and I am not making fun of her, she’s just doing what she’s told by the Bristol Boys).

Here are some other things Favre’s agent could have told Rachel exclusively:

--Tomorrow is Saturday.

--July is likely to end next week.

--Barack Obama, in spite of Republican claims that he doesn’t exist, is still President.

Or, to quote my friend Bob Carpenter (play-by-play man on TV for the Washington Nationals) “hey, have you heard, Lou Gehrig hasn’t been feeling well lately.”

Does anyone at ESPN realize what a complete parody of itself the network has become? Hey, I have a scoop too: The Vikings open camp Thursday. Sources tell me Favre will either be there or he won’t be there.

The Halladay thing is different because it is truly an important story and because it is a moving target. Offers and counter-offers are being made every day and, unlike Favre, Halladay isn’t milking the story he’s just waiting like the rest of us for an outcome. (Maybe he should announce his retirement and then demand to be traded to Minnesota).

It does get to be a joke this time of year though when every baseball reporter alive is scrambling to report every possible rumor—knowing 90 percent of the time there’s nothing to it but also knowing they have bosses screaming for news. When’s Jon Heyman told a guy on WFAN in New York on Saturday that it was entirely possible neither the Mets or the Yankees would make a deal, you would have thought he had said the franchises were folding. Sensing that Heyman began going on about how the Yankees COULD try to get Jarrod Washburn or the Mets MIGHT try to move Pedro Feliciano, if only to prove that he wasn’t asleep at the wheel.

He wasn’t asleep at all. It just is hard to create news when there is none.

That doesn’t prevent people from trying. If half the trades floated as possibilities happened in late July, every team would be re-making its roster. The one interesting notion is that there will be more movement in August because teams strapped for money will be less likely to make claims on guys being put through waivers than in past years.

We’ll see if that proves true.

Meantime, the best line I heard all weekend didn’t come from one of the so-called baseball, ‘insiders,’ but from WFAN’s Steve Somers (I was up there this weekend and in the car a lot so I listened) who has been funnier and smarter than anyone in sports talk radio for more years than I can count.

“The magic number for the Mets,” Somers said, “is two thousand and ten.”

He’s got that right.


DaveV said...

Wow - a lot on the brain today, huh, John?

Mike said...

Lane Armstrong finished third? Maybe Lane will break out of Lance's shadow next year...

Sammy said...

John: Riley, Jordan, Coach K, Mussiina??? Anybody you have never been able to interview. How about tiger??