Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's the 2011! Nonsportsman! of the Year! Award!

And you said I'd never get around to it!

Major sporting events, of course, begin with a national anthem.

But this is a major nonsporting! event, and so we ask that you rise for The Hallelujah Chorus... played on a banjo:

That actually was quite stirring, I think we can all agree, and doesn't his beard kind of look like it's made out of actual bits of cloud? Also, it will help me in my quest to restore the dignity and honor of the banjo.

With that, it is time, once again, to bestow the highest honor our Constitution allows me to bestow, an award that has been given out every single year it was given out, going all the way back to the time I first gave out this award, which is quite a history, when you stop to think about it, which you ought not to do because you'll never go on to read the rest of this post.

The Nonsportsman! of the Year! Award! celebrates that person or thing which had the greatest impact on the world of sports that year, while not actually being a sportsman, which is why I call it the Nonsportsman award. If genius is 99% one type of spiration and 1% another type of spiration (I can never remember the mix right, which is why I'm not a genius), then sports can be rightly said to be 99% athletes and 1% other stuff, so, okay, I'm not as good with an aphorism as Ben Franklin, but if we're going to go around constantly comparing people to Ben Franklin, we're not going to get very much done and people are going to suffer from chronic low self-esteem. So let's move on.

Sports is 99% athletes and 1% other stuff, and this blog and the idea of a nonsportsman exists to celebrate that other stuff, recognizing that there are those who are good at sports and they probably spent their time beating up those of us who were not good at sports and who, once, when given a chance to pitch on their law school softball team, held a lead into the 8th inning, having given up only one hit and then were inexplicably replaced by the girl who organized the game, only to watch the more-popular, more-athletic person who replaced us give up seven runs and lose the game.

And somehow those of us who were not good at sports were blamed for that, which makes those of us who were not good at sports secretly glad that most if not all of those of us who were good at sports were, at last check, working as counterhelp at a dry cleaners and living with their parents even though they were well into their 30s. HA!

And so I celebrate people who have an impact on sports but aren't directly involved in sports, and, as is tradition, I hand out the runners-up prize first, just to make sure that the runner up knows he or she lost, and has to suck it up and pretend to be happy about winning second place even though he or she definitely is not happy about it.

Sports doesn't do that. Sports doesn't hand out the loser's trophy first. When the Super Bowl -- the epitome of sports, in that it is big, loud, overly-hyped, broadcast at an inconvenient time and often, when you get right down to it, boring -- is over, you don't even hear from the losers. They are banished, disappeared, renditioned the way the GOP wants to start doing to ordinary Americans because the only way to fight terrorism is to become more evil than terrorists themselves... wait, what?... and the Super Bowl focuses on winners: you get to see the Lombardi Trophy and the MVP trophy that should have gone to Clay Matthews last year when the Packers won and you get to see people hoisting their little kids up because we weren't getting sufficiently emotional about a bunch of millionaires winning a game.

But in nonsports, we hand out the loser's certificates first -- thanks for participating, we say, you lost, but here's a year's supply of Rice-A-Roni and a home version of the game to make you feel like crap -- and then go on to focus on the winners, because that's how real life works: In real life, when you lose, they remind you about it and you have to work for the guy who got the job you applied for and pretend it's okay.

So! Our 2011 loser... that is, runner-up for Nonsportsman! Of The Year! Award! is:

Jesus Christ.

Oh, Jesus had a pretty good year, didn't he? I mean, sure, he came in a little late, this year, but Jesus has always been a big player in the sports world, going back long before 2011. In fact, Jesus' impact on sports goes back to His actual lifetime, when He helped the apostles give up fishing to follow him, that being divine proof that fishing isn't a sport.

But this was the year Jesus upped His game considerably, serving as the Denver Broncos' 12th Man and helping Tim Tebow rack up both an impressive number of victories and an impressive number of people who got irritated by Tebow's existence and/or Christianity, which, for Tebow, appear to be pretty inextricably intertwined.

So omnipresent was Jesus (as you'd expect) that He not only got on the nerves of devout (?) atheists who are so insecure in their nonbelief that they feel the need to make fun of people who do believe, like Bill Maher, who tweeted (on Christmas Eve!)

Wow, Jesus just f***ed #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere in hell Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler “Hey, Buffalo’s killing them."
That, of course, incurred the wrath of conservatives, which, of course, was Bill Maher's intention (along with making himself feel better about not believing in something by pointing out that people who DO believe in God don't always get everything they want, a ridiculous straw man argument constantly raised by atheists to prove, or disprove, something or other about religion.)

(In claiming that Satan was Tebowing, Maher didn't just jump on the already-ended bandwagon of Tebowing too late and too lamely; he also muddied up his concept. Was he trying to say that Satan was mocking Tebow? Because from what I know about Christians [being one], if Satan is mocking you as a Christian, you're doing something right. Or is he saying Satan's a fan of Tebow, in which case, why would Satan be celebrating when Tebow was losing? That's (one of) the problem(s) with an ill-thought out, attention-seeking attack on religion made for the sake of making it.)

Hey, speaking of ill-thought-out attacks on religion, what does Kurt Warner have to say about Tebow's favorite Son of God?

You can't help but cheer for a guy like that," former NFL star Kurt Warner [told the Arizona Republic]. "But I'd tell him, 'Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you're living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.'

And Kurt Warner lives by his words. Kurt Warner always put down the boldness in regards to the words. Right, Kurt?

I wonder what Jesus might say about hypocrites?

Anyway, there's no doubt that as a result of Tebow, many, many sports fans this year began to view Jesus not just as the guy who ensured that Notre Dame scored touchdowns back when Notre Dame still had a football team (they don't anymore, right? I mean, I haven't heard about it since Charlie Weis was hired to dismantle it, so it doesn't exist anymore, does it?) but also that Jesus was a real, live guy who happened to live in Colorado.

Which is weird, because who'd have thought South Park was a documentary? Maybe what they said about Family Guy's writers is true, too?

But Jesus, try as He might, wasn't able to do more than be the runner-up for this award, because, in part, Jesus is only recently a Nonsportsman!; prior to this year, Jesus actually had a vibrant career in sports.

No, I'm not talking about the Onion's parody of Jesus' career:

I'm talking about Jesus' actual career in sports, as a two-sport athlete in baseball:

And in basketball:

That's right. Jesus was sort of a basketball-and-baseball version of Curtis Tomasevicz.

You all remember Curtis Tomasevicz, right? The famous athlete who played football at Nebraska before switching to a lucrative career as a bobsledder?

I wonder how much bobsledders make?

No time for that!

And no time, either, to wonder why, in that statue of Jesus playing basketball, He is apparently stealing the ball from a little kid and Lording (see what I did there?) his greater skill and height over them!

It's time to reveal the
2011! Nonsportsman! of the Year! Award!

recipient, and that winner is:

Collective bargaining.

You probably thought, you suckers sitting at home on your couches last year wondering just how hung over Ben Roethlisberger was in that Super Bowl, that you could tune out politics and just focus on sports and that everything would be all right, that the two parties would work out their differences and come to a compromise whereby the Democrats got a law passed that required their constituents to vote for them no matter how many times they abandoned their so-called "principles" and, in exchange, the Republicans got to ritually slaughter an "anchor baby" on the floor of Congress each month (and also, payroll tax cuts were extended for 28 minutes).

But you were wrong, because politics may be easy to ignore until the politicians go and cut school funding entirely and your kids face a life of prospects that would make a Chinese factory worker laugh and thank God he'd been born in China, but when you want attention, you get attention, if you are Collective Bargaining, that is.

Collective Bargaining, most people think, came into existence when Wisconsin Gov. Scott "Patsy" Walker and Ohio Gov. John "I Don't Have A Nickname For Him So Let's Call Him A Jerk Who Claimed His Wife Wouldn't Let Him Run For President" Kasich decided that the only possible way to pay for very minimal state services like "keeping kids from dying in the street" was to end collective bargaining.

(SPOILER ALERT! Even though collective bargaining was ended in Wisconsin, "keeping kids from dying in the street" ended up being too expensive, still, for Wisconsin to put into effect this year, and so Gov. Patsy was forced -- forced! -- to kick 53,000 people off of Medicare before the end of the year, probably so he could afford to go on paying nearly $300,000 to hire private lawyers to defend the law that he got passed ending collective bargaining, because the Wisconsin Attorney General is too busy rooting out terrorist training camps in Wisconsin to take part in actual state government. This has been your Wisconsin Government Minute Spoiler Alert!)

Collective Bargaining at that point was simply something that politicians said and talked about but that didn't really matter, like other things politicians said and talked about that didn't matter, like deficits and health care and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and civil liberties; nobody paid any attention to Collective Bargaining, and if they did pay attention to it, they did so only because the people who were talking about it were sleeping in the Capitol or being unshaven or otherwise kind of disreputable.

But Collective Bargaining, like a retired-but-still-attention-seeking Kurt Warner, will not be ignored, and so Collective Bargaining forced itself into our collective consciousness by taking out the one thing people truly care about: sports.

Think I'm overstating that? Think again. Consider Wisconsin alone. Good ol' Wisconsin, all progressive and whatnot. This year, Wisconsin cut spending, cut pay for government workers, kicked the aforementioned 53,000 people off of Badgercare (a Republican! program, for God's sake), killed a railroad, talked about putting in pay-per-use roads, and enacted all kinds of other spending-cutting measures because we're out of money, or so it was said, and Wisconsinites, good ol' Wisconsinites with their beer-and-cheese bellies and jovial, fat natures, went along with it because we're out of money, or so it was said, and then Wisconsinites, good ol' Wisconsinites, with their deer-hunting beards and Wisconsin Dells, gave $62,000,000 voluntarily to the Green Bay Packers.

Wait, I didn't say that right. Let me try again.

Wisconsinites, after a year of letting their Patsy of a governor cut everything in the world gave $62 $##($#&%^&$ million #$(#*#%&% dollars volun$(#*#%&#(tarily to the Green Bay $#(##*%&%%^& Packers.
So don't tell me we care about anything more than we care about sports.

Collective Bargaining, aware that the only thing that gets most Americans to do anything at all is sports thus forced its way into the sports world, locking out the NFL for most of the offseason (something that turned out to matter not much at all, other than to reduce by about 0.000001% the amount of speculation centered on Brett Favre), and reducing training camp to what felt like 4 days, but when that didn't work -- obviously, because right about when the NFL season started, people went right back to sleeping through the rest of their lives and allowed Republicans to start holding up legislation simply for the sake of holding up legislation, Collective Bargaining decided that it had to do more, and so it took the NBA hostage, which I personally didn't care about but which lots of other people apparently did.

Collective Bargaining was more (or maybe less?) effective with the NBA, canceling about 1/4 of the season which would be a major victory for Collective Bargaining but let's face it, America actually cares very little about the NBA regular season, a season that matters less than any other regular season of any other sport at any level; the NBA regular season has about as much impact on the NBA playoffs as baseball's cactus league does, and that's why nobody really cared about the NBA lockout which in reality may not have been so much a lockout as it was simply a cost-saving measure by the league, anyway: A year or so ago, David Stern warned that the NBA needed to cut costs by about 38%, and one way to cut your payroll expenses is to not have your workers show up for 1/4 of the time. (Far-fetched? I think not: David Stern has shown that he is willing to manipulate teams for the good of the NBA time and again. ["Good of the NBA" being defined as "whatever David Stern wants and/or Mark Cuban does not want"])

Collective Bargaining didn't just attack football and basketball; no, its efforts were far more far-reaching. Spanish soccer players went on strike, demanding back wages and that Americans stop calling it soccer, Italian soccer players stopped working because of changes to their collective bargaining agreement and only just came back to playing, with much of the season canceled. Tennis players threatened to strike, and who even knew there was a union of tennis players?

Collective bargaining even went after the 1% directly -- shutting down part of the Joffrey Ballet's season, a move that all but guaranteed Swan Lake its first-ever shot at the playoffs.

What was the end result of all that collective bargaining and not working?

Not much, in some cases, but much in others.

In Spain, the futbolers got a promise to pay them the wages they'd already been promised to be paid.

The NBA contract, in almost all respects, appears worse for the players, who get less money given to them and support for small-market teams which is a great idea in theory if you happen to hate capitalism and the free market (if teams want to move, let them move. The economic impact of having a pro sports team is vastly overstated in almost every instance, so market interventions to keep teams in a given location are simply subsidies for a small minority of fans, or protection for incompetent management.) Players get a higher percentage of cap space guaranteed to be spent, but less job security-- teams can now dump a player each year with no salary cap hit.

The NFL seemingly didn't change much but the devil was in the detail: teams were committed to spending at least 99% of their salary cap space, which could end the practice of teams like Green Bay and Tampa Bay hoarding money under the cap and underpaying players -- saving money at the expense of the product on the field, in some cases -- and a draft-class salary cap which ought to end the practice of giving huge sums to rookies while requiring veterans to rework their contracts, providing a little fairness on the rosters. (The Players' Association didn't do much to end the habit of handing $24,000,000 to unproven-but-popular players like Trebuchet Fitzpatrick, and didn't impose an upper salary limit on individual players like Peyton Manning, which means that teams will still be free to drastically overpay some people at the expense of putting a higher-quality product on the field, and the players association didn't do anything to allow advertising on game-worn jerseys, which would likely increase revenues by a huge percentage, but which advertising is being held back in part by the Brothers Manning, who would lose individual deals that make them lots of money, so in many ways the NFL still kind of mirrors regular society, with 1% of the people controlling too much of the power and wealth, but it's a start.)

But let's not be too pessimistic: As with the Wisconsin State Senator recalls, achieving a significant percentage of your goal is a victory, and sometimes it counts a lot if you just show up and fight -- that's the message of #Occupy Wall Street, after all: just be, and by reminding people that you exist, maybe that will help everyone pay attention and start fixing the problems. And in that sense, Collective Bargaining didn't just carry the torch for a while in 2011, but it lit the flame, earning it Nonsports' Highest Honor.

Friday, December 30, 2011

RECAP! The 2010! Nonsportsman! Of The Year! Award!

As we anxiously wait to see whether I can actually finish something I started -- the unveiling of 2011's Nonsportsman! Of the Year! Award, I've been rerunning prior winners. 2010's winner may not have the history that 2007's Asterisk did, or the failed potential for greatness that 2009's Obama showed, but it still managed to muster up enough moxie to take the award last year:


Don't worry: it's not the vuvuzela.

With 2010 finally over, the time has come again to unveil the recipient of the most coveted award in Nonsports!, the Nonsportsman! Of The Year! Award!, given annually to that nonsportsman -- a nonathlete, noncoach, nonsports"writer" -- who had the biggest impact on the world of sports in the previous twelve months.

This is a distinguished award whose recipients represent the best and brightest among Nonsportsmen -- not a felon among them, unlike certain awards I could name -- and the competition is always fierce. Who wouldn't want to join the ranks of past luminous winners like the 2007 recipient, the asterisk, and the 2009 recipient, (I'm Still President) Barack Obama?

And, as usual, the selection committee (Me, and Mr Bunches, but he mostly spent his time watching this Funny Cats video:

on Youtube while I did most of the work), and Mr F (who's contribution this year was to say Gleek at appropriate moments). I also wanted to ask The Boy, but he was out with his friends.

There were lots of nonsportsmen to consider this year -- persons, places and things (only nouns and pronouns are eligible for this award, after all) that had a huge impact on the world of sports, beginning with the second runner up, the vuvuzela,-- ha! I mentioned it anyway! -- which for a while there threatened to take over the world of sports-talk as the number one thing people like to complain about.

The vuvuzela, as we'll all never forget, was the plastic horn that South Africans use at sporting events, previously unknown to most of the world until the World Cup stopped off at the tip of the Dark Continent and people learned that it existed -- and people learned that, as a species, our tolerance threshold has dipped dangerously low, with the fact that the vuvuzela, like us, came from Africa providing an interesting juxtaposition: the race that managed to survive the sun-battered savannah, outwitting animals who were better adapted for killing than us, spreading across the globe and evolving to the point where we could survive in any environment including outer space... that species could not stand even a moment of buzzing noise.

Most scholars (me, and Mr Bunches) previously thought that nuclear war or an asteroid would be necessary to do in the human race -- or maybe even we'd last until the sun turns into a red giant and we all get to find out that it's not the humidity but the heat, after all -- but it turns out that we're a lot more fragile than we thought, as the level of concern over the vuvuzela showed. Judging from the level of commentary over it, in 2010, humanity was very nearly wiped out by a toy plastic horn, and only the quick action of sports officials in America -- like how the toy was banned at the Harvard-Yale game-- managed to save the U.S. from the catastrophe that I'm sure struck the rest of the world as the vuvuzela noise laid waste to mankind. I'm sure that if you travel outside the US now, it's a bleak, post-apocalyptic deserted world filled with corpses rotting next to brightly-colored toy horns, but thanks to the foresight of our college and pro officials, we in the US were spared the calamity and have managed to cobble together a life post-Vuvuzela.

The fact that it was obviously a threat to all life on earth would have marked the vuvuzela as this year's recipient of the Award! -- but the ban in the US (the only country that counts, after all) ended the vuvuzela's brief run atop the short list, which brings us to the First Runner Up, Tiger Woods' Putters.

(Tiger Woods' pitching wedge is ineligible for this award, as it made news in 2009, not 2010, and also, it's still in the police evidence locker.)

Tiger Woods, as we all know, came back from his brief vacation from golf, and was more focused than ever -- thanks in part to a renewed (and entirely fake, PR-serving) commitment to his children (shortly after publishing an essay on the joys of making mac-and-cheese with his kids, Tiger was reported to spend almost no actual time with the children) and thanks in part to threats by his caddy to kill anyone who bothered to mention Tiger's off-course troubles.

Despite that focus and the death-threats, though, Woods struggled on the course, and even though everyone in the world suspected it was because he was bothered by giving up nearly a million dollars to his ex-wife because he couldn't withstand the wiles of a local Perkins' waitress, and even though everyone suspected that his decision to milk his late father's memory for a creepy Nike commercial might have been troubling him, we all learned that it was actually the putter's fault, as Tiger first switched putters to improve his performance, then switched back to improve his performance, and then, for all I know, used three or four different putters simultaneously in a move that'll eventually be called "The Tiger Stroke."

Er... I could've probably picked a different title for that.

Nonetheless, the fact that it was Tiger's putters, and nothing else at all you'd better shut up or Steve The Caddy will burn your house and strangle your dog so give it a rest it was the putters okay!?!?!! which were causing him troubles was almost significant enough to earn Tiger's putters the award -- because anything that hurts the play of the single most magnificent athlete ever to grace the planet/magazine covers deserves to be reported on and not covered up and not glossed over, right? -- except that there was something even bigger in the world of sports, and that thing is the actual recipient of the 2010 NC! Nonsportsman! Of the Year! Award!

And that thing is:


I wanted, really wanted, to go with the giant fake dung beetle that was part of the opening ceremonies at the World Cup:

But I didn't, for two reasons: First, it turned out that I'm the only person who remembered that South Africa for some reason opted to compare the ball used to play the "Beautiful Game" to a ball of animal poop. And, second, as embarrassing as that was, and as potentially earth-shattering as it was to learn that opening ceremonies can be used to secretly make fun of the sporting even being opened (take note, NFL; at the Super Bowl, I'll expect at least one dance number in which dancers dressed like Favre and Rapistberger harass dancers dressed like cheerleaders at halftime), as great as that was, it wasn't as momentous, or fun to talk about, as the fact that Cleveland became, on international TV, the girl who didn't get the rose-- and who then stormed off in a trailer-park-y snit.

(Plus, when I thought of giant ball of dung, my thoughts naturally progressed to Cleveland.)

Cleveland, as a city, has been around since 1796, and in that time, has become synonymous with sporting failure. This city has failed at nearly every single sport, including hockey and women's basketball, which barely count as sports at all, but that didn't stop Cleveland from failing at them, sometimes more than once.

Cleveland once lost a professional sports team -- the Barons, of the AHL -- to Worcester, Massachusetts, a city I could have sworn was made up just to have a funny name to say on old-time radio shows. It was awarded one of the first franchises in the WNBA -- and that team then finished first in its conference twice without ever making the league's finals, ultimately folding for financial reasons (i.e., people don't want to pay money to watch the WNBA.)

The Cleveland Indians, as a baseball team, tried to claim that they had a curse -- trying to cash in on the losing-but-loveable baseball tradition of teams claiming a curse when they can't win, but couldn't do that right, either, as the supposedly-cursing player, Rocky Colavito, denied he'd ever cursed the team. Despite being only fake-cursed, the Indians were so linked with losing that they were picked as the terrible team to star in the 1989 movie Major League. Even then Cleveland couldn't win, as the film about it's team going worst-to-first was made largely in Milwaukee. The team last one a world series in the 1940s, when the players wore suits and ties to play, and last appeared in the 1990s, likely having to listen to Jesus Jones music during the warm-ups. And the Indians' hopes for the future can be summed up by this Wikipedia heading:
2010–Present: Rebuilding
The Browns fare no better-- and marked the first time the city got professionally dumped, when Art Modell moved his team to Baltimore and then won a Super Bowl. Cleveland's consolation was that the NFL ruled that the new Browns would get to keep the old Browns' records -- kind of like the ex-wife getting the photo albums while the new wife gets the jewelry. The Browns also got to be coached by Bill Belicheat before he discovered video cameras, and thus never had the type of success that the Patriots* have enjoyed under Bill2.0. I suppose it counts as something that "Cleveland Brown" is a name of the only Family Guy character to get his own spin-off, but the fact is that even there, Cleveland was chosen because he was the least popular one, and FOX didn't want Seth MacFarlane using his talent to help with the spin-off.

Which brings us to the Cavaliers and The Decision. The Cavs shared that particular Cleveland specialty, the let's finish first and then not in any way capitalize on that success move -- in 2009, they finished with the best record, winning 66 of the NBA's meaningless 82 regular season games, getting seeded number one, becoming the first team to win 8 straight playoff games ever, and then losing to Orlando, which, I'll note, having once been there, isn't even a city. It's a collection of theme parks loosely linked together by chain restaurants.

Despite the history of losing, Cleveland still somehow expected that people would want to play for its teams, and collectively held its breath when LeBron James appeared on TV to announce whether he'd decided to never ever ever have a chance to win a championship in his career, period, or was instead going to a different team. Even though nobody in the world thought there was a chance he'd stay, Cleveland still seemed surprised and went through the sports equivalent of the walk of shame-- but couldn't even hold their head high, as they then lost to LeBron when he returned to the city.

(Note to Cleveland, Green Bay, and other cities that get jilted: if you're going to burn people in effigy after they dump your city/team, at least have the guts to beat them in their first return home. Letting Favre walk all over Lambeau last year, and LeBron take the floorboards home with him this year is embarrassing. What's that they say about people's ability to walk the walk vis a vis their talking the talk? And, yeah, I know, Green Bay, your team beat Favre this year. Big deal. That's not what people are going to remember. Nobody, in the future, will say "After Favre left Green Bay and then returned to give them a solid whooping on their home field, Green Bay many months later managed to win one against him." Do it the first time, or shut up.)

Upon learning of the dumping, Cleveland fans reacted with all the class and dignity of Lindsay Lohan doing... well, anything Lindsay Lohan does: they screamed, stomped their feet, wrote poorly-spelled tweets, came up with lame chants... and continued to generally suck and lose, while LeBron went on his multi-millionaire way.

Not only did Cleveland dominate the sporting news for the better part of 2010 -- from the hype before The Decision to the fallout after it to the Return Where Cleveland Inevitably Lost-- but in doing so, it transformed sports in ways we've only started to explore. In the past, when players left a team, they did so ignominiously and circuitously: Favre had to spend a year in New York City harassing... I mean not cooperating with the investigation into harassing ... cheerleaders and then go play for the Packers' rival, with people trading in his jersey. Joe Montana got kicked out of San Francisco, as did Jerry Rice. Barry Sanders had to quit playing entirely just to get away from Detroit.

Even when there wasn't really a connection, dumping a city could have longterm effects: Eli Manning's image suffered until he took out the Patriots* in the Super Bowl. Some people still remember that Elway refused to play for the Colts when he was drafted - -and those people still throw it in my face when I said that I didn't like Manning's dumping the Chargers.

But when LeBron dumped Cleveland, all that began to change. LeBron didn't wake up quietly, slip his shoes on, and head out the apartment door. He put his dumping on TV. We've all heard about those guys who put their proposals on a billboard or at the ballpark on the scoreboard. But who ever heard, before this, of dumping someone via mass media? Of calling a press conference to say "I've found somebody hotter, plus she's rich?" I bet athletes around the world-- including Tiger Woods -- took note of this. "You mean we don't even have to pretend anymore?" they must have been saying. "We can openly admit that we're doing this for a job, that we want to earn money and don't really give two $*$&# about the fans or the history of the city or bringing home a championship and all that crap?"

(That is, they were all saying that except for Ben Rapistberger, who simply repeated over and over "I want my lawyer. I'm not answering questions." Little did he know the cops were simply going to get DNA off the half-gnawed steak he left on the table.)

LeBron's actions threw open the door for athletes to point out they were just doing it for the money, which is, I'll note, the exact same reason that you and I and everyone else go to work, too, so don't get all huffy because you'd leave your job this very second if I offered to give you a huge raise and get you out of the snow, and some effects were immediate: Favre held the Vikings hostage for a couple extra million to come back this year (although his primary motivation was to be nowhere near Deanna when the Sterger story broke), and the effects hit even the college level, where players sold their college awards to make some money before they even got to the pros, or simply demanded money to come play for a given team, but in the long run, LeBron's dumping of an entire city -- a city that pretended to be his hometown even though it really wasn't, the way girls sometimes pretend to like sports just to hang onto a guy -- set the stage for a future where athletes, who've demanded free agency for years and whose embracing of the ability to jump from team to team has helped erode the bond between fans and players for years -- an erosion that only the athletes noticed, but which they never remarked on -- can begin to treat sports like the business they are, and thumb their noses at the fans more than they do already. It used to be a secret when you'd use your signing bonus to buy your girlfriend a boob job even though you were going to one of America's most-impoverished cities, but in the brave new world of sports, athletes won't have to do that anymore. They'll be free to flaunt their money and their lack of connection to the teams they play for, the cities they live in, and the fans who make up the crowds that cheer for them -- and we'll have no choice but to root for them anyway.

And we have Cleveland to thank for it. Yet another feather in your cap, Cleveland. Enjoy your award, and maybe find something other than sports to pay attention to, would you?

Your 2010 Nonsportsman! Of The Year! Award! recipient:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RECAP! The 2009! Nonsportsman! of the Year!

As I count down to the 2011 Nonsportsman! of the Year! (the most coveted award on this blog), take a look at past winners, like 2007's Asterisk, and 2009's Nonsportsman!, a guy you might remember as once having had some influence on some stuff:


Drum roll, please...

Thank you! That drum roll (and other clips of my All-Time Second Favorite Christmas Movie) serves to herald a major event, the awarding of the

2009! Nonsportsman! Of The Year! Award!

You can tell it's important because of the exclamation points!

Every year, since time immemorial* (*2007, and I didn't do one last year) I have given out the Nonsportsman! Of The Year! Award!, an award that is given to the nonsportsman who had the biggest impact on sports that year.

This award doesn't go to overpaid, whiny athletes who tax our collective patience when they say things like It doesn't look like they'll be able to go Christmas shopping this year, because they were fined $7,500.

That's a true story: Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon "Gucci Louie" Jennings recently was fined $7,500 for tweeting too soon after a game (Why wouldn't the NBA have a rule about that?), and when asked about it, Brandon Jennings said, appropriately,

"That's a lot of money, especially around Christmas time."

That's fine, so far as it goes. But Brandon Jennings didn't shut his stupid mouth there. Instead, he went on to say...

... wait a minute. Let me first point out that Brandon "Gucci Louie" Jennings, at the tender age of 20, has already earned $3.65 million before he entered the NBA this year; he was paid $1.65 million to play in an Italian League, and signed a $2 million Under Armour Contract during that time. Then, he got signed by the Bucks, and will be paid $2.16 million this season and $2.33 million next season. So the $7,500, which is a lot of money to almost everyone, is 0.1% of Brandon "Gucci Louie" Jennings' salary.

So, Gucci Louie Jennings -- you'll see why I call him that in a moment, who first acknowledged that $7500 is a lot of money, then went on to prove he's an ignorant jerk-off by saying:

You do a lot of shopping for the family. It doesn't look like I'll be able to do that this year.

How do you feel about that, Bucks fans? Gucci Louie Jennings -- who's going to spend $2.16 million of your money this year, thinks he won't be able to do much shopping because he got fined 0.1% of his money.

Gucci Louie then went on to add:

"Twitter cost me 7500. Looks like no Gucci and Louie for Xmas."

Thereby proving he's a jerk and an idiot. Twitter didn't cost you $7,500, Gucci Louie; you cost yourself $7,500 by not knowing the rules. And then you insulted your fans; Milwaukee's median income, Gucci Louie, is about $37,000 per family. There are many many people who root for you who never get Gucci and Louie for Xmas, and you're a jerk for making jokes like that.

This is the actual tattoo Brandon Jennings has on his back.

Ah, well: With that out of my system, it's time to get back to the 2009! Nonsportsman! of the Year! award, which, as I said, does not go to an athlete; athletes get lots of meaningless awards, like the "Cy Young Award" (named for Richard Nixon, its first recipient) and the "Heisman Trophy" (given annually to that athlete who will get paid $23 million by the NFL team that drafts him the next year, and who will then never be heard from again.)

No, the Nonsportsman! of the Year! award does not recognize athletes, but instead focuses on those nonsportsman who had the biggest impact on sports in that year -- shining the light of attention on that noteworthy person who, despite not being an athlete, still managed to achieve great things in the world of sports.

Prior winners in this coveted award include:

2007: * ("Asterisk,") winning as a recognition of a lifetime of involvement on sports that culminated in the high water mark of 2007, when Barry Bonds didn't set the home run record (and had the non-record setting ball marked with an asterisk), when Videogate tacked an asterisk onto Tom Brady's career, and then even Don Shula suggested that an asterisk go on the Patriots* almost-undefeated season.

This year's recipient is almost as dignified and important as Asterisk, as we'll see in a moment. But first, a word about the person everyone thought would win this.

The first-runner-up for 2009! Nonsportsman! Of The Year! is...

Elin Woods.

Elin Woods
-- here's a photo, in case you already forgot that last one...

was, almost everyone thought, the frontrunner for Nonsportsman! Of the Year!, and it's easy to see why: With a couple swings of a golf club, Elin had more of an impact on the world of sport than her gonna-be-ex-husband had in his entire career. Hamstring injuries, changes of swing, Phil Mickelson, arcane rules for intercontinental play: none of those could keep Tiger from winning 1 or more majors each year. But everyone has his Achilles' heel, and in Tiger's case, his Achilles heel was literally his heel, that being probably one of the many places Elin caught him with one of her swings, swings which cost golf its number-one draw, cost Tiger many of his sponsorships, and which hijacked the media for the past two weeks, all of which is a major impact.

And all of which would make Elin a consensus choice for the 2009! Nonsportsman! Of The Year!, and a great choice, too, because it would let me keep putting up pictures like this:

which would guarantee this blog about 30,000,000 hits, but two things held her back.

First, golf isn't a sport. Sure, Elin had a major impact on golf, a major impact that included not just "taking out the number one golfer for a year or more," but also "making people aware that some golfers think that they're athletes" (and, as a sideline, "making people aware that Tiger Woods thinks he's gangster, but then can't even properly name the band "Bone, Thugs-n-Harmony.")

But you can't be the Nonsportsman! Of The Year! if your impact wasn't on a sport, and I've scientifically proven in the past that golf isn't a sport.

Even if it golf was a sport, though, another factor would keep Elin from being the recipient of this year's Nonsportsman! Of The Year! award, and that other factor is that there's a better person to win it. That better person is, as I said, almost as distinguished and accomplished as Asterisk, and he will now have the 2009! Nonsportsman! of The Year! award to add to his kind-of impressive resume.

It's been a while since the intro, so drum roll again, please.

Did you notice? That was a one-handed drum roll. I didn't even know you could do that!

Anyway, the recipient of the 2009! Nonsportsman! Of The Year! award is:

Barack Obama.

I know, I know -- you're all saying "What? Wasn't getting the Peace Prize, and those two Tony awards he got when he filled in for a week on Avenue Q, enough?"

Or you think that I'm jumping on the bandwagon -- sucking up to the President who has promised to turn back the tides. Or, you're expecting some kind of health care commentary because I never give up on that.

But this is none of that. This is a genuine recognition of Barack Obama as the 2009! Nonsportsman! Of The Year! because Barack Obama not only had the single biggest impact on nearly every sport this year, but Barack Obama embodied sports this year.

No person, in 2009, left his mark more on the world of sports than our esteemed President. Obama began the year choosing to root for the Steelers -- a move people said was motivated by electoral college concerns. (The people saying that, though, were apparently familiar with the electoral college but unfamiliar with the fact that the election was already over.)

He hosted a Super Bowl party at the White House (and John McCain said he was invited but wouldn't come.)

This is Obama watching the Super Bowl. In 3-D.
Don't you wish
you were president, so you could watch the
Super Bowl in 3-D?

Then, Obama became the first president in my memory to actually fill out and release an NCAA Tournament Bracket -- and he did it live, with coverage by ESPN, leading people (me) to wonder if someday we might have all-day coverage of Obama's NCAA Bracket filling-out, the way we have all-day coverage of the NFL draft.

Obama threw out the first pitch at the All-Star game,

(maybe doing that to make up for his ad in 2008 that delayed the start of a World Series game by 30 minutes?)

Obama plays tennis with Mrs. Obama (and beats her, she says), and attended a George Washington U. basketball game in order to cheer on his brother-in-law, the Oregon coach.

He organizes pick-up games of basketball in a bipartisan way, drawing controversy for that anyway, as he refused to invite women to play. (He did, though, invite a female to play golf, buttressing my point about that not being a sport.)

As though any more proof that golf
isn't a sport were needed, here's a photo showing
you can play the game without any equipment!

The sportsman-in-chief even weighed in on bowling, and lent his presence to the attempt to get the Olympics to Chicago.

Those accomplishments alone would merit giving him this coveted award, but more than His Omnipresence's extension into the world of sports alone is the fact that Obama didn't just affect sports; he embodied them.

Think about the world of sports, 2009: We began the year with a seeming novelty: The Steelers and Cardinals in the Superbowl, the Cardinals' improbable appearance seeming to promise changes in the world, a new era of sports with teams that traditionally hadn't fared well rising up to challenge the assumptions of the Old Guard...

... only to have the Cardinals lose, and struggle again this year, while the Steelers carried away their 160th Super Bowl trophy, the Old Guard triumphant again (and me losing my Super Bowl bet.) The message: It's hard to change the way things have always been done, something The Jump Shot-In-Chief has learned, too.

2009 saw the end of the era of "Moneyball," the idea that smart teams armed with computers and nerds could match up against the Big Spenders. All the computing technology in the world couldn't prevent the Yankees, whose payroll slightly exceeded TARP, from winning their 160th World Series, while in the NFL, teams that lingered far below the salary cap (Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Green Bay) struggled to stay even with teams like the Cowboys, who spent more on their Over-The-Field Television Screen than Tampa Bay spent on players' salaries in 2009. That's a sports mirror held up to President White Sox Fan's fight to convince people health care could be universalized for less money -- a fight he carried on, somewhat, but nobody's really buying it; we all know big money is needed to accomplish big things.

Obama tried to bail out the economy, and sports pitched in, with baseball paying C.C. Sabathia $15,000,000 for 2009 alone (or $65,000 per inning pitched),

Or, if you want to measure it another way,
CC Sabathia could have paid for
2,000 of Gucci Louie Jennings' tweets.

... Jerry Jones spending $1.2 billion on his stadium -- and the NFL planning on building a $1.6 billion stadium next year. That's a pretty big shot in the arm for an economy that still seems to be staggering under an economic swine flu -- and both the World of Sports and the World Of The Real World face potential economic nightmares next year: Obama will continue to fight against a sluggish economy and stagnant job growth, while the NFL faces the prospect of a season without a salary cap (something that the NFL treats as amazingly unusual and complex, even though the salary cap has only been around since 1994; for most of its existence, the NFL had no salary cap and did just fine. It's the sharing of TV money which keeps small-market teams alive in the NFL, not the salary cap, and in any event, one year without a cap won't matter much, since the vast majority of players are under contract and won't become free agents in 2010.)

Obama's biggest "accomplishments" were hypothetical or overblown; he was awarded a Peace Prize based on voting that was done when he'd been in office less than a month, an award he accepted in the same month in which he sent 30,000 more troops into battle. He was given credit for "Cash For Clunkers," a program that was passed mostly because it was attached to a bill to fund war efforts (that Peace Prize is looking more and more foolish now, right?) and a program that most people agree didn't do much in the long run to increase fuel efficiency or stimulate the economy; is Obama's Peace Prize any more of an honor than the Heisman Trophy award? (Before you answer, remember that in the 74 years of that award, only 16 recipients have had anything resembling a great career, and one of the recipients now sits in prison; there is a 4-in-5 chance that a Heisman winner will not have a good NFL career.)

Like the president, the Sports World gave honors that didn't matter much: The Yankees were lauded for another World Series win, but how could they lose? They owned all the great players in Major League Baseball. Serena Williams won another Wimbledon title, a victory that seems to be given to a Williams sister the way we give Peace Prizes to people whose names are in the news a lot.

Name the MVP of the NBA Finals. Name the Cy Young Award Winner. You can't, can you? (Kobe Bryant and Zack Greinke [who?], by the way.)

The Steelers won the Super Bowl early in 2009 -- and then stumbled through the NFL season so far.

Seriously; they have literally stumbled.

Obama and the world of sports even collided on the Big Issue of the year: health care. While Obama occasionally paid attention to one of his major campaign themes (he promised universal health care by the end of his first term, remember)(hey! It's my health care reference! You knew I'd get one in!), health care was front and center on everyone's mind (except the Senate's) this year, and the world of sports was no different, as the NFL instituted its own version of Universal Health Care, which might have been called "Let's pretend we care about head injuries while not actually mandating concussion-proof helmets," and the two worlds really did collide when a 16-year-old girl who had to quit basketball because she'd suffered 11 concussions testified before Congress in support of the "Contact Act," a bill to impose protections for high school athletes.

Don't worry-- health care got no further in the NFL, or high school, than it did in the Senate: The "Contact Act" was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in March, 2009, and has been sitting there ever since. If you don't remember what that means, re-watch this:

Died in committee
. Sorry, 16-year-old girls and Ben Roethlisberger; you'll have to take care of your health the way the rest of us do: Praying our insurance company doesn't drop us.

Obama began the year on a high note, seemingly invincible as he went from rally to rally and striding forward with his TARPs and Cashes-For-Onomatopoetic-Things programs, but there were chinks in the armor: the Olympic bid failed, health care is mired down, the economy isn't turning over yet and may need another jolt, there's still terrorists in Gitmo but they'll be transferred to New York and Illinois soon...

... and who else seemed invincible but wasn't? The Saints and the Colts, both starting off 13-0 and both lagging as they hit the home stretch. The Saints dropped their first game of the season last night despite a furious rally, and Obama can only hope that the Colts, not the Saints, are the true metaphor for his first year, since the Colts struggled to 14-0 instead of fumbling away their last chance and hitting 13-1, the way Drew Brees' team did. In either case, though, the surface perfection hides a troubled turmoil underneath and the calls keep getting closer and closer, for both the NFL's two leading teams and the Frontrunner-In-Chief.

Obama was forewarned about the troubles he'd face: last year's NFL playoffs saw number ones knocked off left and right, a sign of ill omen for the Man Who Would Be Everywhere in 2009. And while he was everywhere (appearing on TV so much that the networks complained about the costs, and getting onto 5 consecutive Sunday morning shows one weekend, as examples), so much of what he was talking about seemed to not matter so much: He was killing a fly with his bare hands, or showing his dogs to Oprah, or pardoning a turkey, but where was the substance? Where was the health care, the economy, the rolling back of the tides?

In that, too, Obama was the living embodiment of Sports, 2009: It's hard to recall a year when so much was said about sports figures, with so little of it having to do with sports. Kurt Warner's age, Tiger Woods' mistresses, A-Rod and Kate Hudson, Serena's swearing, Michael Phelps' pot-smoking, the track runner who was both woman and man, the Brett-Favre-retirement stories, the continuing questions about steroids (including, at the end, one that dragged Tiger Woods into that controversy, too), and, finally, putting Stephen Colbert on the cover of Sports Illustrated...

I had a picture of the actual cover, but I very
much preferred this image, instead.

... all of that was talk involving sports but wasn't about sports, letting sports surround us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without any actual sports talk taking place. It was all sizzle and no steak this year, in the world of sports and the world of government, and Obama stands astride those two worlds like a Colossus,

Good, but not as good as the Stephen Colbert picture.

albeit a Colossus who has yet to actually pick up the world and carry it; Obama is a Colossus who's still warming up and stretching for his big feats of strength, and in that, too, he embodies the world of sports like no other person did in 2009, because Obama, as always, carries with him hope: the hope for a better tomorrow, the hope that we have the ability to do better next time.

The ability to look at the troubles of this time, and say to ourselves: We can fix this.

The ability to look at a perfect season gone awry, and say We can still win the championship.

The ability to take adversity in stride and still throw that last-minute touchdown pass to win the big game.

The ability to look at the titans of the world -- the Lakers, the Yankees, the health care industry, the economy -- and say You might have won this round, but we're not giving up and we'll keep on fighting next year.

In sports, as in the Real World, there are the ridiculous moments and the sublime. There are the stupid people and the smart. There are the triumphant victories and the terrible defeats. There are moments of glory and struggles with defeat, and each of those can be transient or lifelong; we hope the bad fades soon and pray the good lingers on, but even when it doesn't, we can look away from the bad result, lift our chin up, clench our fists, and in the manner of the 2009! Nonsportsman! Of The Year!, continue to fight on, continue to lead, and continue to hope.

Boy, looking back on this now, I really nailed it. Except for that hope part at the end. I must have been drunk.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 2011 Nonsportsman! of the Year! is coming!

Until it does, enjoy this series of classic NC! reruns of the past Nonsportsman!'s of the Year!, beginning with the first ever Nonsportsman of the Year!:

Every year, beginning with this one, Nonsportsmanlike Conduct has picked the Nonsportsman of the Year: That person outside of sports who has had the biggest impact on the world of sports. It’s a celebration of those of us, like me, who were not athletes, not coaches, not sportscasters, but who still, like me, have dramatically affected sports. I am taking a risk, I suppose, in naming the Nonsportsman of the Year now, with a full 51 days left in 2007. Yet, I feel confident that nobody will have a bigger impact on sports, will make a bigger mark, than the 2007 Nonsportsman of the Year, this guy:


Asterisk has a rich history of affecting sports.

His tenure goes at least as far back as Roger Maris beating Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record.
Since then, Asterisk has worked harder and harder, stepping up his efforts to permeate the sports world.

Asterisk’s big breakthrough came in the King of Sports, pro football. Remember when Bears-Packers meant something? Remember the Asterisk Bowl? Maybe not. But I do. And the Bears do.

Here’s a quote from Bears Sandwiched in the middle of the stretch was a trip to Green Bay to face the Packers, which they had beaten eight straight times. With seconds remaining the Bears led 13-7, but Packer quarterback Don Majkowski threw a touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe to tie the game. It was immediately ruled that Majkowski was over the line of scrimmage when he threw the pass, but the ruling was reversed by instant replay on the most questionable replay reversal in replay's history.
For years, the Bears' media guide carried an asterisk that read "instant replay game" in protest.

And things would only get better for Asterisk from there on. Whenever something controversial happened, whenever a champion fell unexpectedly, whenever a rule quirk was discovered, whenever people suddenly went from a size 4 hat to a size 14, Asterisk was not far behind, taking credit and seizing the spotlight.

Sports fans came to rely on him more and more. Bert Emanuel traps a pass and a rule says it’s not a catch in a playoff game? Change the rule, but demand that Asterisk be there. Tom Brady appears to be getting ready to run when he loses the ball in a playoff game? Call in the “tuck rule”—and Asterisk!

Asterisk won a World Series game, riding Kenny Rogers’ smudged hand. He’s been to the Tour de France (but didn’t get to date Ashley Olson.) But it was not until this year that Asterisk stopped redshirting and really moved to the forefront.

In 2007, Asterisk went back to the Tour De France and joined Floyd Landis in winning a stage. He stopped off at the NCAA to see whether they would take away all those games Reggie Bush and USC won. He took a job refereeing in the NBA, and got all the way to the playoffs there: Amare Stoudemire might have had to miss a game, but Asterisk did not.

Still, football has always been Asterisk’s true sport, and he’s back in the League now – and upping his game, because now even Asterisk might need an asterisk. It was widely reported this week that Don Shula had said that if the Patriots* go 19-0 they should have … Asterisk! after their record. Only it wasn’t true – so the quote about an Asterisk now needs an Asterisk.

Nonsportsmanlike Conduct is not the only person to recognize Asterisk – he’s also going to Baseball’s Hall of Fame, so Asterisk will live on for future generations of sports lovers:

It’s a rarity that a long and distinguished career can be celebrated while someone is still active, but in Asterisk’s case, we can do so. Years and years of excellence have culminated in 2007, the Year of the Asterisk. And, looking ahead, who knows? He might even win the next Superbowl…

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I offered them the naming rights to my blog, but they said the asking price was too high. (I wanted ONE JILLION DOLLARS!!!)*bites pinkie*

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Snapdragon by Qualcomm for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The most exciting football news to come out of San Diego this year is likely to be that you’re holding a Snapdragon in your hand, something you wouldn’t know but for a bold experiment in branding and advertising.

About that snapdragon in your hand:  Most people, when they picture “snapdragons,” probably picture tiny little flowers, not a giant stadium or their smart phone.  That’s because most people don’t know much stuff.

A “Snapdragon” isn’t just a flower anymore:  it’s the device that probably makes it possible for you to play “Angry Birds” during business meetings and it’s the home of the San Diego Chargers for eleven days – as you’d know if you read The Sports Business Daily, like I do.  This article:

talks about how Qualcomm is going to use the Chargers’ home field – which gives little advantage to anyone but Qualcomm— to educate and entertain people  (“edutain?”) about what it is they do, and what it is they do is make wireless chips, among them, Snapdragons.

Snapdragon, in short, is the brand name Qualcomm uses for its cell-phone powering chips.

Snapdragon processors by Qualcomm are the digital brains inside mobile devices made by companies like Samsung, LG, Nokia, and HTC , and Qualcomm has decided it’s time you know about it.

So what they’re doing is changing the name of their stadium, from Qualcomm Stadium to Snapdragon Stadium, for 11 days.  They started on December 18, so from now until the end of the year, the Chargers will be hosting the Ravens in Snapdragon Stadium, and the newly-rechristened stadium will host two bowl games:  the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (which was played on the 21st,) and the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (coming to you on the 28th).

Let’s be honest: you probably never much thought about what Qualcomm, which has held the naming rights on the stadium since 1997, does.  So this is an interesting marketing move on their part:  The name itself is catchy, and the move has already generated some publicity for them.  Scoop San Diego wrote an article on it (, and “Sign On San Diego” did, too (, so Snapdragons may be the next name that people recognize for chips in their phones.

It’s also going to be interesting to see if this trend catches on, as companies begin to highlight products they want to hype by temporarily renaming stadiums.  Next Christmas, you might find your shopping list is being written by the names of the venues your favorite teams are going to play in, as companies brand stadiums from Thanksgiving on with the name of the hot products.  (I’m picturing the Packers and Bears meeting at “Tickle Me Elmo Field.”)

But regardless the future of things like this, the move will pay off for Qualcomm if people start seeking out phones with Snapdragons in them.  And if Philip Rivers can put together at least one good game this year on that night they play the Ravens.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There's only one solution that fixes every problem. (Updates On God)(Baseball)

God has no offseason, and apparently dislikes baseball as much as the rest of us, judging by how He decided to punish Albert Pujols, who I'm told is a baseball player.

God, remember, is famous for His punishments. Like when he turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt for looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah, or when he cast Adam and Steve out of the Garden of Eden for learning about sex, or when he drowned the whole world except for Noah and his family for being sinners and also drowned all but two of every animal because... well, let's assume that all the animals Noah didn't rescue were also sinners because we know that every word in one version of the Bible or other is absolute truth and we also don't want to muck up that belief-- I mean FACT -- by considering whether a God of Love would drown billions of animals to make a point when he could have simply struck dead all of the sinners of the world while leaving the animals untouched.

But still: God is good at punishing, is the moral here, and look how he punished Albert Pujols: by having teams offer him more millions of dollars.

Ouch! Lesson learned, God. But not gracefully, not in the case of Albert Pujols' wife, who (rightly?) called God on the unfairness of that punishment, saying:

The offers that people have seen on television, I’m going to tell you what, had that offer been the one that was given us, with guarantees, we would have the (Cardinals) bird on our back...

Adding that the Cardinals had "only" (my quotes) offered a five-year deal, Mrs. Pujols went on:

We got over that insult and felt like Albert had given so much of himself to baseball and the community that he at least deserved the opportunity to have real lifelong … I tell you what: We didn’t want to go through this again. Free agency, it’s stressful.

Yes! That's what it is! Stressful! I remember this one time I became a millionaire from playing a game that required me to be at work less than half the days in a year, and then there came this time that I had to choose between continuing to be a millionaire in this city, or be a bigger millionaire in that other city over there, and I. Could. Not. Sleep. The STRESS! It was making me cuckoo!

It's a wonder Pujols could manage to get it together long enough to sign the ten year, $254,000,000 offer the Anaheim Angels made him. But even that small sop to their delicate sensibilities didn't stop Deidre Pujols from calling the Almighty on His stupid little mind games:

When it all came down, I was mad... I was mad at God because I felt like all the signs that had been played out through the baseball field, our foundation, our restaurant, the Down Syndrome Center, my relationships, my home, my family close. I mean, we had no reason, not one reason, to want to leave. People were deceived by the numbers.

I'm with her. Screw you, God. This man goes and plays baseball and earns as little as $11,000,000 paltry dollars per years and the best You can do is have a bunch of teams get in a bidding war over him and almost double his salary from 2011? I mean, paying a man $25,000,000 per year on average to play a game is identical, if you think about it, to striking him down with the pox. So what's not to be mad about, here?

I think you owe Albert Pujols and his wife one, God. You blew this one. You'd better make this right, because Pujols is like a saint wrapped up in a martyr full of holy water.

Might I make a suggestion on how to fix things?


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