|Much ado about nothing|
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2
In the winter of our massive amounts of discontent, we gather 'round The Cooler with so few weekend topics to rip, mock and savage. What's a guy with a Dixie cup of Sparkletts to do in this time of post-Super Bowl, pre-spring training sports death?
Same as the rest of the gasbags who populate our sports media world:
So, over the weekend, the teen idol got busted for the Throwback Jersey Scandal, and could you believe the outrageousness? Could you believe the inexcusable exploitation? The reprehensible immorality of it all?
I mean, since when did a Wes Unseld jersey have any right going for $450?
Especially considering Unseld, in his day, wouldn't have given his clubbie any more than a couple of sawbucks for an extra jersey with which to ply a groupie in an NBA road hotel.
Point being, why are we so shocked -- shocked! -- that a prep star athlete is involved in some sort of flesh tug-of-war? Why is this news? It's as old as forged transcripts, bogus residential addresses and the rival quarterback from "The Brady Bunch" using Marcia to steal Greg's playbook, when all she thought was that he was coming over for "something cold to drink."
I mean, come on! Prep scandals even pre-date the great defensive end Charles Jefferson from Ridgemont High, a player of such massive talent, and possessed of such a sweet ride, that an urchin gawked at a video arcade: "He lives here? I thought he just flew in for games!"
God, I loved that movie.
Let's ease off the moral shoutdown, America. If anything, LeBron's act gets minus points for its boring predictability. The Hummer, the illegal gifts ... of course he was headed down this road. What, you thought after the SI cover and the nationally-televised tilts he was going to put on the goggles in science lab in third period? And then spend lunchtimes discussing the layered relationships in "A Separate Peace" with his English teacher?
Please. What country are you living in?
And that's not to single out America in all this. I can only imagine the flesh-peddling that goes on with a stud 14-year-old soccer player in Brazil, or the cartons-of-cigarettes-for-the-good-shooter trades that go on in youth basketball in the Czech Republic.
Hell, I'm sure that at the original Olympics in Whatever, B.C., there was a Throwback Toga Scandal of their own. I'm sure Zeus tried to dial up a Throwback Toga for the kid who could run the marathon in his bare feet faster than any other Greek.
Zeus: The original agent.
On that note, let us pick over the meager remnants of a dry, dry sports weekend in our List of Five:
1. Women's hoops: Where is the woofing?
Now, we're leading off with a UConn-Duke women's hoops item.
Anyway, so I guess it's fair play and well done and all that to the UConn distaff side, as the Lady Huskies have posted 59 wins in a row. But after their big victory down at Cameron Indoor Stadium, I watched an interview with one of UConn's star players.
I don't know who it was, but she might as well have been Mr. Rogers' next-door neighbor.
Oh, we're just happy to win; Oh, this game didn't mean much; Oh, we're focusing on March.
Say what? Your sport is on life support, drawing TV ratings that get dwarfed by World's Strongest Man competitions, and you're trotting out the cliches?
News flash: We get enough cliches from the men's game.
If you want to fire up interest in your 59-game win streak, start talking, sweetie! Start barking! Give us something like:
"Duke women? Puh-leez. Hey, sister, nervous is why you need Soft N Dry! I saw their lame little lay-up drill to Christina Aguilera's 'Beautiful.' Come on! That's no lay-up drill. We come out with Li'l Kim, or Mary J.! Now THAT'S a lay-up drill. And you call that defense? Seriously, girl. I get more resistance from my little sister when I try to change the channel from MTV to ESPN Classic during 'TRL.' Come on, you gotta bring it better than that!" Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?
2. The Pro Bowl
Man, what an exercise in tedium.
Can I be a Pro Bowl player in my next life?
Thank God for Peyton Manning, who livened up the festivities by calling Mike Vanderjagt an "idiot kicker" and noting that Vanderjagt was "liquored up" when Vanderjagt made his critical remarks about Manning and coach Tony Dungy.
Is there any doubt Manning was telling the truth? NFL riddle: What kicker goes on Canadian cable to tell the world his quarterback can't get it done? Answer: A drunk kicker.
3. Jordan goes for 45!
So, was that convincing enough?
Sorry, but I signed off on the Jordan thing when he retired -- the second time.
To me, this Washington Wizards Jordan is the hoops equivalent of the Rolling Stones, still on tour. Yeah, the Stones are great. Yeah, they'll play "Sympathy for the Devil."
But, you know ... it's not like seeing the Stones in '72.
It's seeing the Stones in 2003.
You know what I'm saying?
4. The NHL All-Star Game ... in Florida
Now? Screw it. Let's just put a giant bubble over the planet -- and be sure to tune in to next year's NHL All-Star Game, in Hong Kong.
5. Maybe, after all, golf is not a sport
Anyway, bless Tim Herron's heart. But he's nicknamed Lumpy for a reason. And bless Jay Haas' heart. But he's 49 and looks like your friendly, middle-aged next door neighbor who waves at you from his porch as he scoops up the morning paper. World-class athletes? Somewhere on an exercise bike, Tiger Woods pedaled harder.
These guys in contention makes the Tour look dangerously close to the PBA, not PGA, Tour. Oooh, David Feherty, is Lumpy going for the always difficult 7-10 split? He is, Jimmy, but first, he's going to burn a butt outside the lanes and think about it.
Of course, Haas made major bank with his runner-up at the Hope. And Lumpy made only slightly-less major bank with his third-place finish. These guys aren't just good, they're hilariously rich, and laughing their asses off at the rest of us.
Maybe LeBron James should hit the range, huh?
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.