Forget about drafts and boxing, give us Kimbo-Tyson | NevadaAppeal.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Forget about drafts and boxing, give us Kimbo-Tyson

BY JOE SANTORO

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

There are a lot of things wrong in baseball ($8 beers, $25 parking spaces, owners named Steinbrenner, to name but three) at which to direct your anger. But the biggest waste of time (and money) in the game is the June amateur draft. There are so many things wrong with the draft. It’s too long. It forces teams to throw millions of dollars down the drain on players whose skills will never again take top billing over the dizzy bat race or the giant bird mascot who shoots hot dogs into the stands between innings. The biggest crime of the baseball draft is it fills the heads of young kids (and their parents) with unrealistic dreams when they’d be better served by going to college, getting an education and actually learning how to play the game. Baseball should take a few clues from the NBA and NFL. Cut the draft to two rounds and don’t draft high school players.

The World Wide Web is an amazing thing, isn’t it? How else would the universe find out about 34-year-old Kevin Ferguson, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound, bearded mountain of man better known as Kimbo Slice? Mr. Slice, a ferocious mixed martial artist, is the most entertaining athlete on the planet right now. He’s Mr. T, Rocky, Rambo and Arnold all rolled into one nasty package. Michael Vick’s pit bulls have been known to cross the street with their tail between their legs when Slice approaches them on the sidewalk. Kimbo, already a youtube.com legend, is proof positive that the sport of boxing (remember boxing?) has become completely out of touch with what the public wants to see. A Mike Tyson-Kimbo Slice heavyweight pay-per-view fight would shatter every financial record in the sport.

Since the NFL, NBA, NHL and baseball have become too routine and boring, thank goodness we have mixed martial arts and horse racing to remind us that sports can still be fun and exciting. Big Brown’s pursuit of racing’s Triple Crown on Saturday in the Belmont is a can’t-miss event. A great horse race is still the most exciting event in sports. Maybe it’s because we know the winning athlete won’t show up on the Today Show, Leno, Conan, Letterman or SportsCenter, head off to Disneyland, sell us shaving cream or deodorant, demand to renegotiate his contract or leave school early to jump to the pros.

Are you looking for some honest-to-goodness inspiration from the sporting world? Well check out the video of those two Central Washington softball players who helped an injured Western Oregon player around the bases last month. Western Oregon’s Sara Tucholsky hit a three-run homer against Central Washington only to severely injure her knee rounding first base. She couldn’t continue her journey around the bases so the two Central Washington players carried her around the bases, helping her touch second, third and home to complete the homer. You’d never see that in the major leagues.

John Smoltz’s season-ending decision to undergo yet another surgery this week has raised the question of whether the Atlanta Braves pitcher is a Hall of Famer. Well, Smoltz is only a Hall of Famer if Tommy John, Bert Blyleven and Jim Kaat are also finally elected. Smoltz won 70-some fewer games than Blyleven, Kaat or John but he was a closer for three-plus years. All four deserve to be in Cooperstown.

Sports Cliche We Hate: “That pitcher has good stuff.” OK, what, exactly, is stuff? Any why is it that only pitchers have stuff? You never hear a point guard’s skills refered to as stuff. You never hear someone say, “That goalie sure has great stuff.” When someone says a pitcher has good stuff, it usually means that he has a great fastball or a live arm. That’s it. Nobody ever said that Greg Maddux had great stuff. But Todd Van Poppell, he sure had great stuff, didn’t he? Stop talking about a guy’s “stuff.”

Here’s hoping that former McQueen High slugger Chris Aguila gets another major league opportunity. Aguila, who set the national high school record for career homers while at McQueen in the late 1990s, is hitting .300 with 15 homers for Triple-A New Orleans in the New York Mets’ system. Aguila has already had a career to be proud of even if he never gets another big league shot. Not a lot of players remain in professional baseball until the age of 29.

Major league baseball has to do something about maple bats. The bats are shattering on a nightly basis and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured on the field or in the stands. Some of these bats have even come apart when hitters swing and miss the ball. If the wheels of your car fell off every 50 miles, you’d get rid of it, right? Baseball, as usual, doesn’t seem to want to react to an obvious problem (performance enhancing drugs come to mind) until it is forced to react. Get rid of the bats before disaster strikes.

Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson announced this week that he will return next season. Sorry, Warriors fans. Nelson, though, is probably only coming back so he can pass Lenny Wilkens’ record of coaching victories. He needs 53 victories. That means Nelson will probably stick around another three years so he can break the record. Sorry, Warriors fans.

OK, what was the most meaningless, overhyped story of the past week? Is it Joba Chamberlain’s incredible, 62-pitch, 2 1/3-inning start on Tuesday or was it the countless stories about (insert crybaby, spoiled, selfish NFL star’s name here) decision to skip a meaningless, stupid NFL minicamp practice in shorts three months before the season starts? But you can’t blame the national media. Now that the NHL season is over, there really is nothing to talk about anymore, right?