These are my columns at FoxSports.com
THE FOLLOWING WERE MY COLUMNS FROM SPORTING NEWS.
MIAMI’S TURN FOR NCAA SCANDAL. WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM? (8/18/11): If Miami gets the death penalty, it won’t do any good. The push now is to rewrite the NCAA rulebook. That won’t help, either. There are plenty of rules. What college sports lacks is conscience.
WHAT DID THE CUBS EXPECT A TICKING TIME BOMB TO DO, ANYWAY? (8/14/11): Carlos Zambrano blew up again, and the Cubs want to get rid of him. They are right; he needs to go. But the Cubs’ motive in this isn’t what it looks like. Zambrano’s antics in Atlanta weren’t anywhere near his worst over his years with the Cubs. They just want someone to pick up next year’s $18 million contract.Here’s my column
TIME TO KILL THE HUMAN ELEMENT IN BASEBALL (7/28/11): Another blown call in baseball, this time in the 19th inning in a pennant race to hurt the little engine that could, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Time to wake up and use replay to get calls right. Instead, baseball actually celebrates umpire mistakes as part of the charm.
SO OBVIOUS, SO EFFECTIVE (7/22/11): NFL owners pretended the lockout was over, and that they had an agreement with the players. They were clearly trying to bully the players, who were outraged. Now, the players will give in.
STILL UNTANGLING THE MESS (7/21/11): When Tiger Woods fired longtime caddie Steve Williams, it was seen as just another part of the bottoming-out of the world’s best-known athlete. Instead, this is about Tiger trying to untangle from the mess he created. The problem is, with everything handled for him his whole life, he doesn’t know how to solve his own problems.
SHOW SOME RESPECT (7/18/11): The U.S. women’s soccer team lost to Japan, and is now being treated as America’s darling. Pat on the head. Nice job. Come on, they don’t deserve to be condescended to. They are real athletes who deserve the respect male athletes get after a game like that. Use the word of respect: Choke
NO PUTTING OUT THIS FIRE (7/13/11): Pittsburgh Steelers’ James Harrison tells Men’s Journal that if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were on fire, he wouldn’t even be willing to urinate on the fire to put it out. He also rips his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. First, this is what the NFL gets for locking out players and eliminating rules. Harrison can say what he wants. But also, with Hines Ward’s arrest for alleged DUI, Rashard Mendenhall’s tweets about the U.S. not hearing Osama bin Laden’s side of the story and Roethlisberger’s lingering bad-guy standing, this interview changes the Steelers from the NFL’s gold-standard to its stereotype of athletes behaving badly.
ALL STAR GAME? WELL, SOME STARS (7/12/11): What if they threw a baseball All-Star Game and the stars all decided to stay home? Derek Jeter didn’t feel like going. Aramis Ramirez couldn’t be bothered to change a family vacation plan. Sixteen players have already pulled out of the game. It’s not a boycott. But this is a fans game, and many of these players just aren’t into you.
FATHER-SON DREAM SHATTERED (7/8/11): It was supposed to be the ideal father-son moment. It was a Norman Rockwell painting. This was the soul of sports, but then it ended in tragedy when a star baseball player Josh Hamilton tossed a ball up into the stands and a father, trying to catch it for his son, fell over the railing to his death.
THE THING THAT WOULDN’T LEAVE (7/6/11): We can’t seem to get rid of Brett Favre. How many times has he retired? Well, a former NFL exec says he thinks Favre would still like to come back again. Last year was embarrassing enough, Brett. This year would only be worse.
WHAT TO DO WTIH THE SUPERSTAR? (7/1/11): Derek Jeter is about to return from a breaking-down body to get his 3,000th career hit. His past is great. His future is falling. What should the New York Yankees do with him now?
ROCKY BALBOA IN BOXING HALL OF FAME? CALL FOR INVESTIGATION (6/16/11): The International Boxing Hall of Fame inducted Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez and Rocky Balboa this past weekend. Rocky? He only won two big fights and they built him a statue and put him in the Hall. Someone needs to investigate Hall voting procedures.
GOODBYE STEREOTYPES? (6/15/11): Dirk Nowitzki is just another tough-guy European, 7-foot jump-shooting, white guy NBA star. This guy does not register with what Americans think about so many things. He broke through too many stereotypes. Here’s to hoping U.S. parents and youth coaches noticed.
MIKE TYSON, CULT FIGURE (6/13/11): When Mike Tyson was a fighter, he scared everyone. Where did you think he’d be today? Well, he’s singing and dancing in the Hangover movies, tweeting and giving a speech at the boxing Hall of Fame in a pink button-down shirt, fighting back tears. Can he really re-make his image?
THE CONCLUSION (6/10/11): We’re still waiting for LeBron James’ defining moment. Unfortunately, the wait might define him. But for all the people calling him a coward, an empty shell, a non-champion, he is now in the NBA Finals, down 3-2, with one home game, and then maybe another. So far, he looks like a child who doesn’t know how to be a champion. But the deciding moment comes now.
SEARCHING FOR NORMAL (6/08/11): Tiger Woods has never known normal before, not with a childhood devoted to one thing. Now, with his personal life in shambles, his golf swing a mess and his body betraying him, he can’t even find the fake-normal he was used to.
THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH (6/06/11): Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano rips into his own teammates, saying the the Cubs “stink.” The team owner said nothing is wrong, just a lot of injuries. And fans are mad at. . .Zambrano? The Cubs were America’s team not long ago. The bleachers were expanded to hold the frat party. Now, the party is over.
NOTHING UP MY SLEEVE (6/03/11): Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith are pulling a great trick by making you look at quarterback Terrelle Pryor. With Jim Tressel gone, they have to find someone else to divert attention from the real problem. Scapegoating 101
SILENCE SHOWS MARK CUBAN’S NEW MATURITY. YEAH, RIGHT (6/01/11): Mark Cuban has chosen to do something he has never done before: Remain silent. He is getting big praise for that, but mostly because people just want him to shut up. In truth, he is a nightmare owner for other owners and league officials, but a dream owner for fans.
FOOLED BY A SWEATER-VEST? (5/30/11): Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel resigned today. Turns out, he lied, covered-up and cheated when his players broke rules and the NCAA tried to investigate. It was all in such contrast of his image as a man of integrity and values. He dressed up that image with his sweater-vest. But he wasn’t the only one dressing him up. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and president E. Gordon Gee were in on the charade, too. Now, they need to go, too.
A LESSON IN SUPERSTARDOM (5/27/11): LeBron James and Dwyane Wade didn’t remember, but Chicago will never forget. In the final few minutes of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, two superstars reminded us what the NBA is about: The team with the most stars wins. And while we were reminded, Chicago’s Derrick Rose was getting a lesson.
SCARED OF FOOTBALL MOMS (5/25/11): The NFL is changing some rules, prohibiting defenders from launching themselves at an opponent to make a tackle. More rules to soften the game? That’s not going to appeal to the traditional testosterone-heavy fan base. But that’s not who Roger Goodell is afraid of.
THE BIGGEST LIAR? (5/23/11): Barry Bonds never asked us to believe in him. Lance Armstrong sold himself as the ultimate good guy and American sports hero. We believed. If it turns out he was a doping cheat — and it’s becoming harder and harder to believe in him after another ex-teammate pointed a finger at him Sunday on “60 Minutes” — then he is the worst cheat of all
WE WANT A DIVORCE (5/20/11): In a region where sports fans are true fanatics, Cleveland sports fans are asking their teams for a divorce, or at least a trial separation. The Drive, the Fumble, The Decision. It all happens to Cleveland, where sports loyalty is a one-way street. When LeBron left, enough was enough. Now, the Cleveland Indians have the best record in baseball…and the worst attendance.
IS LEBRON BECOMING A CLOSER? HE’S GETTING CLOSER (5/19/11): After disappearing at the end of Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls, LeBron James took over in crunchtime of Game 2. It is the mark of a great player, but not something he always does. LeBron might be learning.
AN INCREDIBLE DISAPPEARING ACT (5/16/11): In crunchtime, the Dream Two dozed off. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade simply gave up, as the Bulls used hustle to take early control of the series.
THE NBA’S NEXT GREAT RIVALRY (5/13/11): It’s the start of Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls. It’s necessity for LeBron James, opportunity for Derrick Rose. Superstars vs. team built in the usual way. South Beach vs. Chicago. Opposites in every way.
YOU MUST KNOW WHO YOU ARE (5/11/11): The Atlanta Hawks are playing the best they’ve played all year, and putting a scare into the Chicago Bulls. But the Hawks have no identity, nothing to fall back on in trouble. This isn’t going to work.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES (5/09/11): You hated it, I hated it, most everyone hated The Decisi0n. But while LeBron James’ move was totally self-serving and self-absorbed, it accidentally led to a great new direction for the NBA and maybe the most thrilling season ever.
ROSE IS NOT PERFECT (DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER (5/04/11): The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose has been just about perfect all year, even winning the NBA’s MVP award. He has been so good, though, that maybe we forgot that he’s going to have to go through a learning curve in the playoffs. His numbers are down. The Bulls have been slowed down, as will happen in the postseason. There is time to work this out, but the Bulls don’t look ready for LeBron, Dwyane and the Heat.
POWER OF THE TWEET (5/04/11) Rashard Mendenhall, and several other athletes, are being blasted for what they wrote on Twitter following Osama bin Laden’s death. So now we are looking athletes for their political expertise on a 140-character tweet? Well, yes.
CHURCH OF AMERICANA (5/2/11) Through all its self-destructiveness — steroids, labor problems, slow game, blustery commissioner — baseball keeps its sense of Americana. And it was there for us after 9/11, when most people first heard of Osama bin Laden.
CAM NEWTON’S CHARACTER IN QUESTION. WHY? (4/29/11) The big question about Cam Newton was whether he has the character to be a winning quarterback. Really? Those things go together? Carolina made the right choice taking Newton No. 1.
WRONG TIME TO PLAY DUMB (4/27/11) Peyton Manning admits that he botches preseason concussion baseline test. That way, bar set lower, he can be cleared to play during season even with a concussion. Love his willingness to play hurt for his team. But in these times, with so many ex-players with brains turning to mush, it is highly irresponsible.
BLACKHAWKS REBUILT ON THE FLY. JOB DONE BY. . .CANUCKS (4/24/11) Vancouver, the No. 1 seed, had the Blackhawks down 3 games to none. Then, the Canucks wimped out, giving the faltering Hawks, defending champs, time to rebuild confidence. Now, on to the deciding Game 7, though still in Round One, we find that it takes more than talent to win a championship.
BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME? (4/22/11) You think of the NFL lockout as billionaire owners vs. millionaire players? Well, players are already running out of money, taking out short-term high-interest loans. They are never going to be able to wait this thing out. Why are they running out of money so fast? Don’t they have everything we can dream of? Football is the false American dream.
HERO OF THE DAY? (4/19/11) Hockey just can’t help itself. An epidemic of concussions followed by a postseason filled with lightly punished cheap shots. The NHL knows what sells. And on Tuesday, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dave Bolland, after missing 17 games with a concussion, dizziness, confusion, decided to come back when the team needed him most. He was the start of the game. He should have stayed home.
THE GREAT BUY-IN (4/18/11) Tom Thibodeau never played in the NBA, never was a head coach. He doesn’t have the hip look of a coach you’d see on ESPN. He’s exactly the type of head coach superstars blow off, ignore and run over. Instead, Derrick Rose has let Thibodeau be Thibodeau. And the Chicago Bulls are the best team in the league.
THANKS FOR COMING (4/15/11) A bad economy, short attention spans, a slow game and a marathon season. It’s all a bad mix for baseball. And early-season attendance shows that the game has a fundamental problem: It is disconnected from the Average Joe Fan and unappealing to the Beautiful People.
EMBARRASSING HISTORY AVOIDED (4/11/11) The Chicago Blackhawks, defending Stanley Cup champs, nearly missed the playoffs. The final day of the season was a dance on the emotional line between success and failure. Hope to disappointment to disbelief. They lost to Detroit, whined, blamed bad ice. Then, poof, Dallas lost and the Hawks made the playoffs afterall.
A QUIET BULL-YING (4/08/11) The Chicago Bulls are locked in like no one else in the NBA. Someone forgot to tell them that NBA teams coast most of the time, and then focus when it counts. The Bulls seem to think everything counts. They humiliated the Boston Celtics last night.
PROVING A POINT? (4/04/11) UConn won the national title! It was thrilling, and. . .No, it wasn’t. It was awful. Butler had the worst shooting night of any team in national championship game history. The Bulldogs were here to prove that the little guy can win. Do the right things, team over star. . .stuff like that. And the mountaintop is available to anyone. Instead, it might have proven the opposite.
YEAR OF THE LITTLE GUY (4/03/11) Butler is going to win this thing. I’m sure. After talking with Butler players, and then seeing UConn players walk past me? A little less sure. But still sure. This is the year that the little guy finally comes through. It started with the amazing little Jacob Tucker from little Illinois College flying over all the big boys to win the Final Four slam dunk contest. He lobbied his way into the contest with the video above.
NOT HERE FOR THE CAMERAS (4/03/11) Butler beat Virginia Commonwealth to advance to its second straight national championship game. By definition, can “teamwork” be the star? This Butler story is so hokey, it’s almost embarrassing that I’m buying into it 100 percent.
DEFENDING HIS WAY (4/02/11) In a time when underdogs Butler and VCU are championed for things such as teamwork, commitment and all other things that are supposed to be wholesome about sports, Kentucky coach John Calipari defends his style: Bring in the best players. Traverse the slime of recruiting wars. Don’t worry if players leave for the NBA after one year. And here he is, in his third Final Four, unless you don’t count the first two, which the NCAA vacated for rules violations.
PICK A WOMAN, ANY WOMAN (4/01/11) On top of all the scandal that led to Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel getting a five-game suspension next season, we now have this: A former OSU recruit says that on his official visit to the campus, he was handed $1,000 cash from boosters and then taken to a party where players told him to check out the women. . .And pick one. So he did. The miracle is that Tressel keeps surviving. Now, though, OSU AD Gene Smith and president E. Gordon Gee aren’t victims of the muck anymore. They are co-conspirators.Here’s my column
WE NEED THESE GUYS MORE NOW THAN EVER (3/30/11) VCU coach Shaka Smart and Butler coach Brad Stevens aren’t your usual Cinderella story for the NCAA Tournament. This is a time when the news is about Barry Bonds’ doing steroids, Lawrence Taylor paying for sex with a 16-year old, the leader of the Fiesta Bowl indulging in the company funds, Auburn football players being paid, Ohio State’s coach lying to. . .well, you get the idea. Not to mention, the economy is in the tank. These guys and their teams offer a story of hope, and the little guy, through hard work, reaching the top. Here’s my column
BAD GUY, YES. BUT THIS IS RIDICULOUS (3/28/11) Barry Bonds’ ex-girlfriend will be on the stand, telling people that steroids made Barry Bonds impotent at times, and left him with shrinking testicles. Really? That shows that he perjured himself? Come on. Bonds is bad guy, a cheat, a liar. Fine. But this is just a mean-spirited attempt to make him look like less than a man.
ALL ABOUT ME (3/25/11) Lawrence Taylor says he has “no beef” with the 16-year old girl he paid $300 to have sex with? Taylor is so self-absorbed that it doesn’t occur to him there’s a young girl involved, and her life is a mess. Are star athletes taught not to have empathy? Do they live a life without ever being held accountable? Here’s my column.
HOSTILE AND ABUSIVE? (3/23/11): Six years ago, theNCAA ruled that American Indian imagery for sports mascots is “hostile” an “abusive.” Now, Florida State is in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. That’s the Florida State Seminoles. Did the NCAA really mean it? Here’s my column.
JAY BILAS, TIME TO EAT YOUR WORDS (3/20/11): Virginia Commonwealth, ripped by ESPN analysts for not belonging in the NCAA Tournament, advances to the Sweet 16 after crushing USC, Georgetown and Purdue. No Cinderella team. These guys are just better than the big boys. Here’s my column from their game.
DON’T EXPECT FAB FIVE TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT GOES: GEORGETOWN (3/20/11): The Fab Five documentary upset a lot of people. Not me. Their look-at-me attitude today is the same thing we loved years ago. They don’t deserve credit for breaking social ground; Georgetown does. But this is no theft. The Fab Five are riding on Georgetown’s shoulders. Here’s my column
OHIO STATE COMES OFF AS USED CAR DEAL IN EXTENDING TRESSEL’S SUSPENSION (3/19/11): Ohio State has increased its football coach’s suspension from two games to five, claiming ethical ground over Jim Tressel’s lies and dishonesty over OSU’s football scandal. It’s a PR move. How low can they go and get your approval? Here’s my column
NCAA BOTCHING YOUR BRACKET (3/16/11): The NCAA increased the size of the NCAA Tournament field to 68 teams. The games won’t even feel like the tournament, though. They mess up our brackets, don’t fit on a 8 1/2 X 11 paper. Here’s my column
REALLY? A SPORTS REFORMER? (3/14/11): Ohio State president Gordon Gee comes across as a reformer, but really he built his resume by building sports teams. Now, Ohio State seems way too powerful. Here’s my column
IS THE KING WILL TO BE NO. 2? (3/11/11): Time for LeBron James to realize the real king in Miami is Dwyane Wade. LeBron is an overhyped, glorified Scottie Pippen. Here’s my column
DAVID STERN’S LITTLE TRICK ON THE NCAA (3/9/11): With all the stars missing in college and playing pro, the NBA finally trumps the NCAAs. Here’s my column
A TINY TOWN, A LOT OF COURAGE, ONE BIG HEART (3/8/11): After the death of the friend, teammate and star, Wes Leonard, little Fennville High goes on to the state championship and shows uncommon courage. Here’s my column from the game in Michigan.