"Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned but heaven hath no sweetness like a sports fan vindicated." - Samcat

Thursday, February 24, 2005

'Round and Around We Go

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(Like Wheel of Fortune, except without Vanna)

I am not a sports writer. But I do like to spout off unintelligibly about all things sports if given the chance. Even things I may not know too much about. Like basketball. Today was, well, with the trade deadline and all, it was sorta busy. Now let me see if I have this right.

Chris Webber joins Allen Iverson in Philly as the Sixers ship Brian Skinner, Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson to Sacramento. So now Webber and Iverson make a scary combo and everyone in Boston goes “shit!” while Mer does a happy dance.

Antoine Walker comes back to the Celtics after Danny Ainge essentially went, “Oops, my bad,” (and probably panicked a bit after the whole C-Webb to the Sixers thing). We sent Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a first round draft pick to the Hawks. So now Pierce and Walker are back together again. Reunited and it feels so good! Reunited and it’s understood…

I guess that makes Jiri Welsch expendable so he goes to the Cavaliers for a 2007 first round draft pick. Maybe he can join Lebron’s posse.

Old friend (or thorn in side) Vin Baker gets packaged with Moochie Norris and ends up in Houston, hanging with Yao.

There were some other names bandied about as well – Nazr Mohammed, Jamison Brewer, Malik Rose, Eduardo Najera, Nikoloz Tskitishvili (and I thought “Mientkiewicz” was difficult), Rodney White, Mike James, Zendon Hamilton, Reece Gaines, Baron Davis, Speedy Claxton (Heh, “Speedy”), Dale Davis, Keith Van Horn (Ooo, I’ve heard of him!), Alan Henderson, Calvin Booth, Jamal Mashburn, Rodney Rogers and Glenn Robinson. But frankly, none of that really affects my team either directly, (like the prodigal son Walker deal) or indirectly, (like the C-Webb business) so it’s all so much alphabet soup to me. Chances are, if you follow a basketball team, someone you know just got traded or acquired or demoted to sweat mop up boy. Sure hope all them kids here in Boston hung on to their Walker jerseys.

I think I’m semi-happy about this. If this truly was Ainge realizing his mistake in trading away Walker in the first place, and doing what it’s in his power to do to make things better, then good. I appreciate that. If it was reactionary to the Sixers C-Webb deal, that’s a little different. Let’s see, let me attempt to put this in terms I can more easily deal with. If the Yankees trade for Randy Johnson and then, ah, no, that won’t work. Um, okay, if the Yankees beat us out to get a Cuban flamethrower, crap. Um, if the Yankees pick up a loud-mouthed shortstop-turned-third baseman after we couldn’t close the deal for him and then he gets into a fight with our catcher and...okay, um, never mind. My point being, reactionary trades aren’t necessarily the best thing. But in this instance, it might work out. I listen to enough WEEI (more than is strictly healthy, I’m guessing), to know that there are plenty of people around these parts who are still pissed that Ainge traded Walker and Tony Delk to the Mavs in the first place. They think he belonged here. They should be happy about this.

As far as downside goes, I wonder about Gary Payton’s influence on the whole thing. I know that when GP first came to Boston, he wasn’t all that happy about it. There was talk of him retiring and leaving the Celts in the lurch but he did the stand up thing, suited up, and played. He became a calming influence to the often exasperated – and exasperating – Paul Pierce, essentially telling him that he was too good to be making the Peyton Manning face when things didn’t go well. Apparently, Payton was also becoming something of a mentor to the 23-year-old Marcus Banks as well. (Also, 23? Yeah, I feel accomplished). And now GP’s gone, leaving that task largely to Pierce. And Walker, I suppose but I have to think it can’t be that easy being an on again, off again kind of guy and attempting to remain influential. I suppose we shall see how it all plays out.

In other, completely unrelated news, thanks to Netflix and the interminable month after the Super Bowl and before Opening Day, I’ve started watching the ESPN series, “Playmakers.” Partly because I never watched it when it was broadcast originally and it was deemed controversial and I’m usually one that goes, “Ooo, controversy? Let me at it!” Partly because it’s ostensibly about football and me? I like the football. And partly because it read like a season-long advertisement for Under Armour and eye black, both of which do funny things to me and should probably be considered controlled substances when I’m around. So more than a little bit because it is, as Amy would say, “an orgy of man-hot.”

The verdict so far is a resounding, “Eh?” It’s not a bad show. But it’s not a good one either. It is a bit demoralizing in that, aside from linebacker Eric Olczyk (Jason Matthew Smith), the requisite warrior with a heart of gold (#54, coincidence? I think not), there is not a single “player” on the team who isn’t a completely contemptible person. In one locker room – the Everytown Cougars – (I’m assuming “Everytown” as the uniforms are vaguely Lions-esque but there’s never any definitive city given), there are coke heads, wife beaters, criminals, murderers and juice heads. So it’s sort of like the Raiders, only with blue uniforms.

Look, I love football and I’ll watch it in pretty much any form, fictional or otherwise. I’ve even been known to watch arena football when nothing else is on. Hey, sometimes I’m rewarded with shots of Philadelphia Soul partial owner Jon Bon Jovi hanging with Bill Belichick (an unlikely combination if ever there was one). But I suppose that part of being a Patriots fan is expecting all football teams to be the Sunshine Huggy Bunch, a locker room full of good guys who babysit each other’s kids and send Christmas cards to each other’s moms. It’s probably unrealistic to expect that of a fictional team. Especially considering that in the real world, people consider the Patriots “boring.” Of course, by “people,” I mean, “not Patriots fans” and frankly, I don’t much care what not Patriots fans think. But my point is that in a world where Ray Lewis, Bill Romanowski, Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant exist and draw headlines, it’s kind of hard to have a team that doesn’t have a single “thug or criminal” on it. But I think Hollywood can go a bit overboard with their depictions of “real life.” Example: in the episode I’m currently watching, the team’s marquee running back has just stolen morphine pills from a sick kid during a hospital visit, a veteran running back has been arrested for spousal abuse and a wide receiver has just sucker punched a gay man in a bar despite the fact that he, himself is gay. And no, I’m not kidding.

I’m not sure if I’d like this show more or less if it was less over the top, but I’d be interested to find out. It won’t happen since, to the best of my knowledge, ESPN didn’t get good ratings for “Playmakers” and they haven’t re-upped it for another season. But until Opening Day – excuse me, Open-RING Day! – it might take care of my football fix. I said “might.” I’m not going to stop searching absolutebrady.com. And neither should you.