Who says Republicans aren't Earth conscious. Tonight the wife and I traded in our beautiful, lovely, can't even believe I'm writing this, Mercedes for a Toyota Prius. I know. Somebody shoot me. In fact, perhaps some powerful Republican can arrange for me to go on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney and Bobby Knight. I'm pretty sure one of those two would be kind enough to "accidentally" shoot me in the back. It's 4:47 a.m. on Saturday morning and I still don't know what really happened. At one point Thursday night, the wife uses some Internet site to calculate my carbon make-up. The next thing I know I'm at a Toyota dealership buying a hybrid. Oh well. As Chilly Palmer in Get Shorty would say, "The Prius is the Cadillac of hybrids."
While I was off saving the world from Global Warming, a newsworthy story broke that may actually prove to be bigger than the Michael Vick saga. In fact, this story is an absolute disaster if true and could evolve into a ten-headed monster for David Stern and the NBA before it's all over. Tim Donaghy, a 13-year NBA referee, is currently under federal investigation for gambling on NBA games, including games he may have officiated. And we thought Pete Rose had it good betting on ball games that he managed. Can you imagine how easy it is for an official to control a game? So easy, it's hardly funny. Couple of early whistles forces a superstar to sit out most of the first half. Some loose officiating helps a weak defender muscle up a little more to keep an offensive player just a bit off balance. A few continuation calls on ticky-tack fouls may give a team an extra point or two. An early technical in the first quarter. When investigators go back and review games, they'll be scrutinizing late game decisions by Donaghy to see if a call may have impacted the final score. The truth, though, is that an official can make several calls early in the game when no one is paying attention to the score just yet that can still have a dramatic effect on the game's outcome. While I agree with Greg Anthony's take that it's probably one man's problem (Donaghy) as opposed to a league-wide, referee scandal, it does force Stern to now deal with officials in the public eye which is something no sports commissioner ever wants to do. I'm sure there'll be more news to follow and when it does I'm sure my new Prius will still be on its first tank of gas.
As for Michael Vick, the fallout continues. From protestors outside the NFL offices to front page stories in every sports section of every newspaper across the country, Vick is dominating the headlines. Friday the biggest news was what should he do while the court stuff plays out. Should he stay with the Falcons? Should they release him? Will the NFL suspend him? What. Frankly, I agree with those who suggest that the Falcons agree to pay Vick this upcoming season's base salary, as well as allow him to keep the already paid $30 million in roster/signing bonuses he's received. He should then take a leave of absence until the legal stuff is finalized. If he's innocent, then [insert favorite sigh of relief here]. Next season, he's back with the team and will thankfully spare Falcons fans from sitting through another 4 and 12 season with Joey Harrington at the helm. If he's guilty, then they cut him in the off season, Vick keeps the money he's been paid, the contract moving forward is voided (unless it's a short jail sentence and Atlanta wishes to retain his rights, which I doubt they would), and Falcons fans curse him to the high heavens while trashing Harrington's house like Bosko and his cronies did along with Djordjevic to Coach Nickerson's home in All the Right Moves.
Unfortunately, for Vick, I don't think there is any other option and if the Falcons are willing to pay him while he addresses his legal matters, then he should take it. There's absolutely no way any football team could cope with the rigors of an NFL season while also coping with the Vick story. Football is all about timing and precision. You can't have your quarterback missing practices during the week of a game. You can't have your players being forced to answer questions about their quarterback that have nothing to do with football. It'll just be too much and to the fairness of his teammates and his employer, Vick should remove himself as far from the limelight as possible which in the end I think he will.
Onto a lighter subject, I was glad to hear Commissioner Selig announce that he'll be in attendance for the Giants/Milwaukee series this weekend. What I'm not pleased about is during an eight minute interview session with reporters Friday night, Selig not once mentioned Barry Bonds' name. Not once. According to the commish he was at the game because it was a beautiful night and because it was an important game in the pennant race for the Brewers. Nice. In the summer of 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa saved baseball from that horrid 1994 Strike that cost my Montreal Expos a World Series Ring, Selig was everywhere and anywhere the sluggers were. Now the hypocrite won't even mention the name of the player who's on the verge of breaking the most recognizable record in the sport. It really is embarrassing for a grown man to act like this. Until Bonds is proven guilty of any wrongdoing, it's irresponsible of Selig to act as if he's guilty. Let us not forget that evidence against Bonds has been in the hands of a federal grand jury for over a year now with no indictment. For Vick to be indicted it took, what, a few months. Bonds is going to break the record and because Bonds' feat is not needed to save Selig's hide this time around, the commish is now willing to look the other way. Perhaps it's time for him to just go away.
Look, I've been defending Bonds for a long time and for all I know I'm wrong. Heck, some of the people in my life I respect the most completely disagree with my take. My biggest problem is in life the law is always out to get the big fish. More so, they're willing to overlook the indiscretions of littler fish if their testimony will help them reel in the prize winning catch. Same goes for sports. Statistics show that ever since the whole Steroids issue came to the forefront three years ago power numbers in baseball, across the board, are down. This tells me that Bonds was not the only player who may, or may not have been, using some form of enhancement to improve their physical condition. Guys who were hitting 30 and 40 home runs a year back in 2000 and 2001 can't hit a fly ball to the warning track anymore. Remember Luis Gonzalez. In 2001 he hit a whopping 57 home runs for the Diamondbacks. This season he's got 11 and his slugging percentage (.460) is 288 points lower than it was in his "magical" season. How about Miguel Tejada, the slugging short stop who hit 34, 27, 34, 26 and 24 home runs each season from 2002 to 2006? This year, he has seven. That's right seven. Bad season, maybe. Not really, though. He's batting a very respectable .306. He's just not hitting for power anymore. The list goes on and on. I'm not saying these guys are users, have been users, or have ever done anything wrong. In fact, that's the point. Maybe they did use enhancement drugs at the turn of the century, I don't know. What I do know was that there was no rule in baseball saying they couldn't. Steroids have been an issue in sports for decades. The Olympics have been aggressively addressing it since the 1970's. Football since the 1980's. If baseball was proactive instead of reactive, they could have easily enforced a testing policy way back when and none of this would be an issue today. Besides, I've still yet to be shown evidence that enhancement drugs have any effect on eye hand coordination. If and when such evidence comes out perhaps then I'll be more critical of Bonds and anyone else. It's like in golf. The strongest guy doesn't necessarily hit it the farthest. The player who does is the one who consistently hits the ball with a square club face. Similar to baseball, finding the groove is more important than swinging hard. Bonds has the groove. Heck, Alex Rodriquez has the groove. Nobody's questioning him about steroids. Why? Because he's proven himself to be one of the game's greats. Well, guess what, Bonds has been proving he's among baseball's all-time greats as well and he's been proving it since 1986.
I've always said that the day I go to a long putter is the day I quite golf. Nothing looks more ridiculous to me than seeing a guy roll up to the first tee with a weather storm pole sticking three feet out of his bag. The belly putter is an equally strange instrument and I see no need for it. It's a gimmick club that should be banned. Golf has always been a sport where the rules are designed as to not give any single player an unfair advantage. Being able to wedge the butt end of a putter into one's belly button to stabilize the alignment of the putter's face seems like an unfair advantage to me. If it isn't advantageous, then someone explain why a guy like Sergio Garcia, who couldn't hit a five footer in crunch time to save his life, can suddenly drain everything inside of 10 feet without blinking. That said I like Sergio for several reasons. First, he's got guts and I respect that. More importantly, he's the only European golfer who doesn't wear a white belt with pants that taper at the ankle. So, if Tiger (seven strokes back) or Phil (missed the cut) can't win the British, then go Sergio.
With only two weeks to go until the opening of most Fall Camps, the college football scene is growing bigger by the day. Too much to cover in this week's Fizz, but not too much to cover in football only articles so expect those to start soon. One quick thought, though. Two weeks ago Les Miles' comments were a key topic at hand and since he's the one who brought up easy schedules let me just say this: After getting rolled by USC the past two seasons, Arkansas' schedule makers have apparently come to their senses in putting together a non-conference slate of Troy, North Texas, UT-Chattanooga and Florida International. Sure, coach, it's much tougher playing these teams then at Nebraska and at Notre Dame.
This week's award to the biggest loser who's not facing a federal inquiry is none other than Florida's Dontrelle Lewis. After giving up six earned runs on 11 hits in just three innings of work Wednesday night against the Cardinals, the D-Train has now lost his last six decisions. For his sake, hopefully he gets dealt before the trade deadline so he can reinvigorate what has otherwise been a great career.
This week's biggest winner is Ken Griffey, Jr. who reached another milestone in getting his 2,500th hit. He also has 587 home runs (6th all time). Can you imagine if Griff never left Seattle for Cincinnati where he has been plagued by injury after injury? We might be talking about him approaching 755 along with Bonds and maybe then there wouldn't have been such an outcry.
The week's other biggest winner, besides Griffey and the planet Earth, is actually all of us who are Jennifer Biel fans. Biel has been on the selection committee for ESPN's "Who's Now" this week, which NOW makes this nightly segment much more viewer-friendly and surprisingly, Stuart Scott moderately tolerable…just kidding about the Scott part.
Beginning next week, UA will come back into the fold as parting with the Mercedes has been too much to bear. It's like tempering what you say in a simple argument as to not utter something you'll regret for the rest of your life. While my Jedi wife is sleeping, soundly, I'm left in a confused, eco-friendly state of mind. I simply don't want to broach Arizona sports right now, but hopefully after I save about $27 dollars in gasoline this week the bitterness will soon fade.
Bear Down, all! And don't forget to recycle, save water and conserve energy.