Bonds is gone, Crystal is in… | NevadaAppeal.com
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Bonds is gone, Crystal is in…

Bonds is gone, Crystal is in…

BY JOE SANTORO

Special to the Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Baseball’s “Hitting With the Stars” circus has to stop. Quit pandering to celebrities. A 60-year-old Billy Crystal in an actual New York Yankees spring training game? What is baseball trying to become by allowing old, rich, balding, fat guys perform next to professionals? Golf? OK, Crystal could probably beat John Daly in a 100-meter dash, but he still has no place in a major league uniform in an official major league exhibition game. The guy has more spring at-bats this month than Barry Bonds. This wouldn’t happen in any of the other so-called major sports. Can you imagine Jack Nicholson slipping on a Los Angeles Lakers jersey and playing in a NBA exhibition game? How about Bill Murray putting on pads and helmet and playing with the Chicago Bears? Let Crystal take a few hacks in the cage before the game. Keep him out of the box score.

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The best thing baseball has done this off-season is keep Bonds off a big league roster. The last thing the game needs is Bonds and all his baggage. Right? Be honest. You miss him, don’t you? It’s OK to admit it. When Bonds walked up to the plate in a San Francisco Giants uniform, you waited a few minutes before getting that third or fourth beer, right? It’s OK. Nobody is going to force you to take a drug test if you admit you miss him. Baseball misses his talent. But it doesn’t miss the man.

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Sam Zell, the new owner of the Chicago Cubs, has admitted that he just might sell the naming rights to Wrigley Field. Cub fans, and baseball fans all over the country, are upset. Why? First of all, Wrigley is a corporate name. And, second, nobody cares when other stadiums change their names. Candlestick Park has gone from 3Com to Monster to “Do the Niners Still Play in that Dump by the Water?” Football bowl games have sponsor names plastered all over them. NASCAR drivers have to name their first born after their main sponsor. Golf and Tiger Woods wouldn’t even exist without title sponsors. So, relax, Cub fans. Your decrepit little yard could use a few upgrades and calling it Viagra Stadium at Wrigley Field isn’t going to spoil your experience.

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The best part of the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament is Selection Sunday. It’s like fantasy baseball and football when the draft is the best day of the year. There’s excitement and anticipation. You get to fill out your office pool bracket and believe, for a second, that you are smarter than everyone else. But it’s all downhill from there. The whole Cinderella story line is a myth. Cinderellas don’t win the NCAA Tournament. They just drive the rich and handsome princes to the Big Dance and drop them off. Do you really want to see North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA, Duke or any of the other basketball factories with their million dollar coaches win another title? The NCAA Tournament is like watching the Yankees or Red Sox win the World Series every year. You think the Colorado Rockies have a chance. But in your heart you know they don’t. But, hey, filling out the bracket this Sunday will be fun.

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At least the NCAA has Selection Sunday. The NBA has one long, boring season followed by one long, boring playoff season. Maybe they should let Jack Nicholson play alongside Kobe Bryant.

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How much do we care about the NBA? Well, the Houston Rockets have won 20 games in a row. An incredible streak, especially when you consider that almost half of the victories in the streak have come with their best player (Yao Ming) injured. But does anybody care about one of the greatest winning streaks in pro sports history? Not in the least because it’s the NBA. We stopped caring about the NBA when Michael Jordan retired the second time in 1998. When the New England Patriots were pounding everyone during the regular season, most everyone was quick to proclaim them as the best team in NFL history. The country had Patriots Fever. One of their regular season games, remember, was televised on three different networks at the same time. The Rockets win 20 games in a row and people are more worried about who will get killed off on American Idol.

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If the NCAA Tournament really wants to feed into its Cinderella story myth, they need to allow every team into the tournament. Cut three weeks out of the regular season. Nobody pays attention to the regular season in college basketball anyway. Put every school into the tournament. Let every school and every conference get an equal bite out of that tournament money. You wouldn’t even need a stupid selection committee or any of those ridiculous idiots who predict the NCAA brackets in January. Let everybody in and there would be so many Cinderella Stories that Dick Vitale’s head might explode.

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Remember when you hoped and prayed the Barry Bonds era would end in San Francisco so that the Giants could start to rebuild and mold a young, exciting team for the future? Well, Bonds is gone and the rebuilding process has produced Aaron Rowand. That’s it. Do the Giants understand that it is OK to go out and improve your ball club? Do they understand that fans aren’t going to just show up at the ballpark anymore like mindless robots just to watch Bonds hit homers? Get ready for those 100 losses, Giant fans.

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The baseball Bonds hit for his final homer belongs to a Colorado man. He is supposedly going to put it up for auction, hoping to get a million dollars. Bonds is only going to hold the home run record for another seven or eight years, until Alex Rodriguez breaks it. How much is that ball going to be worth then? Me? I want the ball that Billy Crystal struck out on Thursday.

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Do you think the Dallas Cowboys will let Jessica Simpson take a snap from center in a preseason game this August? Just asking.