Friday Fodder: It has been a long time since Wolf Pack has been on sidelines | NevadaAppeal.com

Friday Fodder: It has been a long time since Wolf Pack has been on sidelines

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning … This is the first March Madness that the Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team hasn’t been a part of in nine years. Trent Johnson was the head coach, Colin Kaepernick was a skinny sixth grader competing in Punt, Pass & Kick contests and Chris Ault was a bored athletic director wondering what to do with his Saturday afternoons in the fall.

OK, yes, the past three Wolf Pack versions of March Madness has been closer to a March Malaise in the College Basketball Invitational and National Invitation Tournament. But, hey, at least the Pack was in a tournament. You really have to work hard to miss all of the tournaments these days. It’s tougher, after all, to miss out on an invite to a college basketball tournament these days than it is to marry a Kardashian sister. Let’s hope a tournament-free March doesn’t happen to the Pack for at least another nine years.

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The good news is that every member of this Pack basketball team will be back in 2011-12. But that might also be the bad news. Is this group of players good enough to get the Pack back into the NCAA tournament next year? No question. Actually, the 2011-12 season might be the Pack’s best chance to get back to the NCAA party anytime in the near future since the program will be headed to the Mountain West Conference in 2012-13. The Pack also will lose Dario Hunt, Olek Czyz and Derrell Conner after next year. So the time to win is now. No more rebuilding. No more talk about potential.

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Why hasn’t ESPN fired Jalen Rose yet? Rose’s statement that Duke only recruits “Uncle Tom” black players was offensive, racist, uninformed, dangerous and hurtful. This is the type of person ESPN wants to represent them? Rose also stated that “Duke doesn’t recruit players like me.” Good for Duke. ESPN needs to follow Duke’s lead.

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The most underplayed and overlooked story in sports this week was the news that Atlanta Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar will lose an eye after getting hit in the face by a line drive on March 9.

Can you imagine the outcry if something like that would have happened in boxing or the NHL?

There would be special interest groups picketing outside every hockey arena or boxing venue in the nation right now, demanding that those sports be banned. But the news about Salazar gets little mention. Is it because it happened in a spring training game, to a minor league manager who just happens to be from Venezuela? Why should any of those things matter? What would the reaction be if the incident happened to former Braves manager Bobby Cox?

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Ken Griffey finally emerged from the shadows this week to explain why he quietly slipped away from baseball last June 2.

He said he didn’t want to be a distraction anymore to his Seattle Mariner teammates. Yeah, right. Griffey, who should have retired five years ago, was a distraction to his teammates for the better part of his career. It never seemed to bother him before. Why suddenly on June 2? He retired because he was hitting .184 with no homers and seven RBI over two months into the season. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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Griffey is a sure Hall of Famer because, well, 630 career home runs should get you into the Hall. But, like Barry Bonds, the guy simply wasn’t a winner. He only went to the postseason three times in 22 seasons. He was just a .284 lifetime hitter and he didn’t even get 3,000 hits (2,781). If Griffey is a Hall of Famer then why isn’t Harold Baines a Hall of Famer? Baines, who went to six postseasons, hit .289 with more hits (2,866) and almost as many RBI (Griffey had 1,836 to Baines’ 1,628) as Griffey. But Baines didn’t even get enough Hall of Fame votes to stay on the ballot this year.

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The National Football League Players Association, which is involved in labor talks with the NFL owners, is supposedly telling college football players to skip this year’s draft, according to numerous media reports. Is that really in the best interests of the players? Draft day is one of the greatest days in the careers of most players. Why deprive them of that moment, a moment that can never be duplicated? Is it just to get the edge in negotiations? The NFLPA should be ashamed of itself.