Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving "Turkeys" ... Fit to Be Stuffed

We as Americans have so much for which to be thankful. We live in a society that encourages and provides rights to many freedoms that we take for granted but which are not available or even punishable in so many other countries. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press are but a few of those true freedoms which without we wouldn't function nearly as well as a nation. With the freedom of speech, we get to argue, complain, and debate about topics as trivial, in the grand scheme of things, as sports. Isn't this a great country?!?

In the spirit of my own personal freedom to debate the merit of achievements attained by certain athletic teams or particular athletes in a variety of sports, I decided that this Thanksgiving I would single out the "accomplishments" of those turkeys whose actions in 2008 made us wonder why they perform in the respective sports that they do. Here is my list, in no particular order across the sporting spectrum, of those noteworthy individuals / teams:

1) Michael Vick - It has been over a year since the allegations, indictment, and eventual conviction of the once-star quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons has come to pass. Why do we still care about a true turkey of the gridiron? We still see his name and face in the news even now because he was one of the "faces" of the NFL. What an embarrassment ... his behavior even helped lead to a league crackdown on miscreants, but have things really changed that much in the National Felony League? Vick is still the poster child for what is wrong when an athlete believes he is above the law, even though his imprisonment now proves otherwise. Now, the pundits await his release from prison … and who will sign him when next season rolls around?!? Who cares … once a turkey, always a turkey. He’s not contrite, and he wasn’t that good as a QB anyway … he was a glorified running back in a QB role. The lack of passing stats speak for themselves. NEXT!

2) Barry Bonds … Roger Clemens … etc. - A group designation befitting the caliber of once-great players who most likely will be remembered, unfortunately, for only one thing now: steroids. Bonds and Clemens, in particular, were arguably the two most dominant individuals in their respective roles of position player and starting pitcher. The MVP awards for Bonds and the Cy Young awards for Clemens lose a lot of their luster in the glaring spotlight of the drug scandal that Major League Baseball allowed to happen. Actually, MLB itself is probably the biggest turkey in this whole mess for not cracking down on the behavior sooner. Oh, wait … that’s right … top brass (like commissioner Bud Selig) liked it when two abusers (Mark McGwire and (not as clearly) Sammy Sosa) pushed their prolific home run battle into the national spotlight for baseball. Times were good back then … not so much now. Look at homer totals in recent years and tell me that every power statistic from around the mid-1990’s until early this decade (probably until 2002 or 2003) aren’t questionable. Yes, there are still individuals with 50+ HR seasons … but at least they’re the exception now and not the rule (Alex Rodriguez notwithstanding).

3) A-Rod - Speaking of the “illustrious” third baseman of the New York Yankees, what a crappy year it was to be him. His offensive production was still solid but notably off from what we have come to expect from the slugger in recent years. His 104 runs scored were the lowest from him in over a decade, his 35 homers were respectable but well off the 54 from 2007, and the 103 RBI were also the lowest in over a decade. Of course, contributing to those declines was certainly playing in only 138 games of the 162-game schedule, roughly 20 fewer than his average of recent years. However, A-Rod is not making my list for what he has done on the field … his off-the-field behavior is the issue. If the details of his romantic relationship with Madonna (yes, that one) weren’t enough, he divorced his wife (or she dumped him, it doesn’t really matter) and plans to spend his Thanksgiving with the aging Material Girl somewhere away from his actual family and friends. Thanks, deadbeat Dad, say the Rodriguez children … but they’re probably getting some great Christmas gifts to make up for papa’s absence this year.

[to be continued, if time permits]

Ramblings of a Reds Fan: MLB Journal (Cincinnati)
Rentz Racing Report: NASCAR News and Views
Ramblings of Rentz: Lot D Edition (Cincinnati's 1530 Homer - The Sports Animal)