Irregular balls, a walk-off balk, evidence for the greatest curse in professional sports, and injustice everywhere! Yes, it has been a very interesting week.
The Rasheed Wallace “I’m Still Really Immature” Realization of the Week:
Here is a new award inspired by the always-childish Rasheed Wallace. We may all think he is a total fool, but that doesn’t mean will don’t appreciate his clownish antics. I know I love them. Unlike most awards, this one is actually meant to be awarded to myself.
In a shocking turn of events, soccer players from every position and nation have voiced complaints about the World Cup soccer ball. I am, of course, being sarcastic. The complaints are about as predictable as the conclusion to the film, Valkyrie. Now, things got really interesting when Adidas decided to fire a response back. In an article taken from ESPN.com, entitled, “Adidas: Ball feedback had been positive,” the company attempted to defend themselves. But that is really irrelevant. This is an award about immaturity, not rationality. Therefore, I will not be listing the three most legitimate responses by Adidas, but rather, the top 3 sexual innuendoes.
3. “Casillas said the balls were ‘in an appalling condition.’” – After playing soccer in the hot South African summer for 90 minutes, I’d say that would be expected.
2. "It hurts a little, but if you hit it right, it flies.” – If the initial pain was only described as “a little,” I do not want to imagine the agony when it is hit right and “flies.”
1. “Asked why the ball behaved differently at altitude, where many of the games will be played in South Africa, Van Schaik said that applied to all balls.” – That seems like a gross generalization that Van Schaik could not possibly know.
The victory of the Duke lacrosse team over Notre Dame to win the NCAA Championship was an incredible event to witness. Lacrosse was never too popular when I was in middle school or high school, so I never got involved in following the sport. However, on Monday afternoon, I experienced a level of happiness comparable to what I felt when the Duke basketball defeated Butler to win their respective national championship in April of this year. This wasn’t because of my support of Duke or of Lacrosse, but because of the terrible connotation of when the two words are paired together: Duke Lacrosse.
At this point, probably everyone reading this is already familiar with where I am going. Beginning in March of 2006, three Duke lacrosse players were under attack for allegations of raping a young woman who was a student at North Carolina Central University and who also worked as a stripper. Given the fact that the accuser was black, and that all three Duke players were white, there were many who classified the potential rape and assault as an example of a hate crime as well. After over a year of a witch-hunt-like series of accusations and findings, the three men were finally proven innocent (interesting that they were first treated as guilty). In my mind, the oppression imposed by local enforcement and Americans across the country on the Duke lacrosse team, the school, and the players and their families, was an absolute disgrace. Because of the chaos, the remainder of the 2006 Duke lacrosse season was terminated and head coach Mike Pressler, who coached the team for 16 years, was rashly fired.
Somehow, Duke managed to pull everything back together. The seniors of this year’s team were freshman at the time of the unjust disaster. As new students, people who were considered despicable in the eyes of many surrounded them. The championship won by Duke, the first in school history, has meaning that goes far beyond the sports world. It is proof that the university has overcome one of the most turbulent times in its rich history. Congratulations. Go Duke!
If this isn’t foreshadowing, I don’t know what is!
Quick, what is the biggest curse in professional sports?
The Sports Illustrated cover jinx? No.
Curse of the Bambino? No.
Heisman Curse? No.
Super Bowl Hangover? No.
The Color Red? Is that one even real? (Reds, Phillies, Bucs, Indians, Red Sox, Cavaliers, Chiefs. Hmm, on second thought maybe teams shouldn’t wear red anymore. But still, No!)
The most imposing, consistently damaging, and cursing curse in modern professional sports is the one and only Madden Curse. It’s almost not even a curse anymore, but a certainty. If you are on the cover of the Madden NFL video game, you will either get injured or have a woeful year. Let’s recap the disaster.
Daunte Culpepper, Madden 2002. After leading the Vikings to the playoffs the previous year, Culpepper threw 23 interceptions, broke the record for must fumbles in a season, and led the Vikings to a 5-11 record.
Marshall Faulk, Madden 2003. Previous Year: Previous year: 1382 yards, 5.3 yards/carry, 12 touchdowns. Next year: 953 yards, 4.5 yards/carry, 8 touchdowns. It was the first full season in which he rushed for under 1,000 yards, a number he would never reach again.
Michael Vick, Madden 2004. Vick breaks his leg in the pre-season, forcing him to miss 12 games
Ray Lewis, Madden 2005. One of the only survivors. He suffered a wrist injury in week 15, but when you’re getting compared to season ending injuries, a week 15 injury seems insignificant.
Donovan McNabb, Madden 2006. McNabb suffers a series of injuries such as a sports hernia in week 1 and an ACL tear that put him on the IR.
Shaun Alexander, Madden 2007. After winning the MVP award the previous year, Alexander suffers from a foot injury that takes him out of 6 games. Says Alexander (actually, this is not made up) “Do you want to be hurt and on the cover, or just hurt?"
Vince Young, Madden 2008. Young misses just one game and throws for 3 less touchdowns and 4 more interceptions than the preceding season. A moderate curse effect.
Brett Favre, Madden 2009. For a period of time, Favre was retired following his appearance. He then returned playing for the Jets, during which he started off promising, but suffered a torn bicep that caused the Jets to go 1-4 over the final 5 games. Favre threw 2 touchdowns compared to 9 interceptions over that time.
Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald suffered from no symptoms, but Polamalu sprained his MCL in the first game of the season, returned for 3 games later in the year, but was then subjected to another injury.
Out of a total of 10 players, 4 went down with major injuries, 4 put up numbers that ranked among their career worsts, 1 suffered a minor injury, and 1 went unharmed. Yikes.
This year, Drew Brees, the quarterback for the Super Bowl winning Saints, is on the cover of Madden. When I first heard this information about a month ago, I immediately told whoever was listening that I no longer believe the Saints will make the playoffs. That may seem like a crazed decision made by someone who believes too much in a silly little curse.
Mark it down, Adam Weinberger, on June 1, 2010, at 6:42 pm stated that the New Orleans Saints will fail to make the playoffs in the 2010-2011 NFL season.
Apparently, I am not alone. Now on ESPN is the article, “Big Question: Who is Brees’ backup.” Big question!? Why is that a big question? I have never heard the question of who is backing up one of the 3 best quarterbacks in the NFL be referred to as a “big question.” The only explanation, of course, is that the Saints are bracing themselves for an injury to their most important player. Pat Yasinskas writes, “They’re pretty much set at every spot, except backup quarterback. They’re not done there yet. Sometime in the coming weeks, the Saints have to bring in a backup with some experience who can handle the team in case anything happens to Brees.” Yeah, he knows it’s coming too.
The “Stan Van Gundy” Face Creating Moment of the Week:
Back for a second straight week, the Van Gundy Face awarded is given to Arizona Diamondback pitcher, Esmerling Vasquez, for his walk-off balk.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, with Casey Blake on third and the game tied, Vasquez made the illegal move towards third. Blake, who is apparently a wilily veteran, made a fake stutter step towards home plate. When Vasquez saw him moving, he stopped his motion, thus, balked. Blake was allowed to literally walk off the field for the win.
My Van Gundy face for this one was probably dead-on accurate. What the hell was Vasquez thinking? Who would try to steal home, in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied? Nobody would try that! In fact, Vasquez shouldn’t have even been looking at Blake. Casey Blake has been in the MLB since 1999. Over that stretch he has 35 total stolen bases! I think in order to be worried about a guy stealing home, the man on third base needs to average at least 35 stolen bases per season! Vasquez’s decision to make sure Blake didn’t steal home would be like a bank teller sounding an alarm when a 14-year-old girl walked into the bank.
“Norman, why would you do that?!”
“Gee, I don’t know boss, she looked suspicious.”
“Suspicious, she’s not even 16 years old. What was suspicious?”
“You see that bag she’s holding, I thought there was a gun in there!”
“Well, thanks to you, our entire work day has been ruined. Good work. Someone should probably fire you…”
More STD’s for my readers next week.