Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From Lingerie-Clad Football Players To Topless Figure Skaters

The sports world took a bitter blow on Monday. I imagine I don't really need to go into it further and you already know what I am referring to. The Lingerie Bowl was cancelled. Apparently one of the main roadblocks that wound up shutting down the event was that these highly principled, modest, proud young women were unwilling to degrade themselves by having to play the game at a nudist colony...I mean what are they, prostitutes?

As it turns out, this is the third consecutive year that this game has been cancelled. At what point is an event cancelled for the year and what point is it just an historical footnote? And does the fact that no one ever watched it when it (allegedly) was played make a difference?

The Cardinals and Steelers have arrived in Tampa for the other football game that was scheduled for Sunday (apparently still on, as of Tuesday morning). I have heard a lot of talk on sports radio and ESPN about how the Cardinals are built just like the Steelers are, so this success is not a fluke - they drafted well and are now reaping the benefits. So basically, the question is whether this season's success is repeatable.

I have heard a lot of interesting arguments that indeed, it is repeatable, but of course these arguments are all stupid. Kurt Warner is a fantastic story, but he is likely going to retire and even if he doesn't, it is far more likely he will look like the Kurt Warner of the previous five years, and not the one of last year. And besides his phenomenal year, this would have been the same team as last year: no running game, no running defense, great receivers, Matt Leinart.

When you are wondering if the "story of the year" team can repeat the next year, the answer is always no. If it is a miracle that they got this far, is it really fair to expect them to perform another miracle? Not only can they likely not pull it off, but everyone will be gunning for them from day 1. Ask the Rockies what it was likely coming back after that ridiculous 2007 season?

Are you hearing this Tampa Bay Rays?

The 2008 Dodgers are another such team, but their "magical run" was fueled exclusively by Manny Ramirez, there was no synergy, no draft picks that worked out, no coach pulling all the right strings. There was a dude hitting .400 that made all the other crappy players look they belonged in the major leagues.

I saw an interview with Dodgers first baseman James Loney recently where he said he was excited for the upcoming season, especially with the way everyone came together and really hit their strides towards the end of 2008. Does it count as your stride when someone is carrying you?

So then that means they just need Manny back and they'll win 120 games right? Not so much. With every swing, Manny was screaming "F you!" at Theo Epstein. That fire won't be there this year. If he is anywhere but L.A., he'll still hit .300 with 25 homers and 100 RBI, but he won't hit .400 with 50 homers and 150 RBI. If he is in L.A., he will sandbag the whole year and prove Boston was right to dump him.

Does anyone think that a guy with a history of loafing when he feels disrespected is going to hustle and smile and shine if he rejoins the Dodgers after they low-balled him for five months? He just came out Monday are repeated again that he wants 4-5 years at $25 million a year. So all this waiting and posing that the Dodgers have done has not knocked a dime off of his asking price. So in the next month, will he really knock 550,000,000 dimes off and then come to camp happy?

But the McCourts have done what they do best: they've made it look like they tied to fix things but that it was out of their hands. They made their crappy, low-ball offer and then made sure the media knew they did it. Now they can put all the blame on the player when he inevitably bolts for a better deal. I hope Manny relents (not likely with Scott Boras as his agent), takes a 3 year deal for $70 million and then just tanks for the next three years, making the Dodgers wish they still had Andruw Jones.

The last two stories of note: Floyd Landis' two year ban from supposedly doping during the 2006 Tour de France is up this weekend and Landis is training for the Tour of California and ideally the Tour de France, assuming that he can get onto a team that is in it. This means that this year's Tour de France could add Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Alberto Cantador, Andreas Kloden and Levi Leipheimer to the field after last year's superstar-devoid race. I personally thought the parity in 2008 was very entertaining and that Carlos Sastre, Cadel Evans, Christian Vandevelde, Bernhard Kohl, and Denis Menchov put together a great Tour. But the absence of the sports' stars was palpable throughout and it will be great to watch the French swallow having five Americans as potential favorites.

And finally, last week the strap of a pairs figure skater snapped and her breast was exposed during their routine. The pair amazingly didn't stop and actually finished the routine. They finished 12th, so apparently the judges didn't like what they saw.

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