Big Lead Sports Bar


Wednesday Morning Musings

A few thoughts after yet another Penguins win and the fallout of a controversial, hate-filled rant...
--The 41 Things I Hate About Sports rant generated a lot of traffic and a lot of controversy. I love the feedback, positive and negative, because I love anything that gets the blood flowing among the readers.
To address and have a healthy debate on a few of the comments and emails I received:
--My shot at Tiki Barber was met with disagreement. So let's clarify where I was going with that. Tiki's not a bad guy, not anyone you'll ever see in a Tank Johnson-like situation. He does ample work for charity and appears to be a great husband and father.
Where Tiki rubs people the wrong way is how he presents himself. There are a number of current (and retired) NFL players who don't care for Barber because they read him as acting if football is beneath him. He constantly refers to himself as "not the average football player". I have news for you: despite what you may believe (or what he tells you), Tiki is not the only intelligent, well-spoken player in the league. They don't all mumble incoherently like Plaxico Burress.
Then we were told time and time again why he should make the Hall of Fame. Here's an excerpt from a January 7 article I wrote with some thoughts on that topic:
I think folks are getting a little carried away when they talk Hall of Fame for the Tikster. He's going out as the 17th all-time leading rusher and a three-time Pro Bowler. That's fine and good, but 16th all-time is Ricky Watters, a guy who is not in the Hall of Fame, a guy who might never be in the Hall of Fame. Watters had seven 1,000-yard seasons, Barber had six. Watters had five Pro Bowl appearances, Barber three. Watters had 666 postseason yards and 8 TDs; Barber had 475 and 1. Watters won a Super Bowl, Barber did not. So why the hypocrisy? Because Barber plays in New York and is everywhere, that's why.
I listened to an ESPN national radio host (the guy's name is escaping me, it was someone in the PM) over the Christmas holiday absolutely rip Barber for a solid 10 minutes. He said he felt like he was "beat over the head" with Barber last season. And you know what? I kind of agreed with him. I think we were celebrating Tiki a little too much. He's had a few great seasons, a few decent seasons, and he's generally perceived as a nice guy. It's probably the way much of the nation felt at last year's Super Bowl, which turned into the Jerome Bettis Lifetime Achievement Special. I even tired of that after a while.
That being said, I don't ever remember Bettis completely disrespecting his coach like Barber did this season. The rift between Tiki and Tom Coughlin looked to be significant. I'm sorry, but I think if you're such a great team leader, you don't call out your coach the way Barber did. So in response, Coughlin would then call out his players if they performed poorly. They were both to blame, but Barber didn't really do anything to help the situation. And isn't that the role of a team leader?
My perception of Tiki is that he's presented as a little too perfect in the media. Maybe that's the media's fault, maybe I'm reading it wrong, but that's just how I feel. I'm just tired of constantly hearing how fantastic he is and what great things he's destined for. He's a football player, he's retiring, now he's going to inteview people. He's not going into space or splitting atoms. It's a beat storyline, and it's only my opinion. OK, that was waaay too much time spent on that topic.
One more thing: New York artist Chris Flecker was one of the e-mailers on the Tiki topic. He's a good sport and has a pretty neat website of his art. There's an eclectic mix of athletes, pinup girls, and t-shirt art. Check it out.
--Yes, Kevin Garnett scored 44 on Phoenix the same night I called him out as "overrated". Bad timing on my part. But I stand by my thoughts. Garnett, like each of the other players on the list, has never been lacking for great numbers. He's intense, he's focused, but I don't think he makes anyone else better. In fact, he doesn't make anyone else better, because if he did, his team would have advanced past the first round more than one time in his career. Of course, the T-Wolves are run by Kevin McHale, one of the absolute worst GMs in sports, the guy who practically gave away Sam Cassell and the guy who lost several draft picks for signing Joe Smith to an illegal deal. The one time he had a decent running mate (Cassell), it was short-lived. But as I said, I stand by my statement.
--On Bob Smizik on the Penguins: we're arguing over semantics. Smizik has had an anti-Penguin, pro-government stance for a long time. Yes, the sun will still rise over the Steel City if the Penguins move. But Pittsburgh is a struggling city. We need every break we can get to make improvements. Losing the Penguins would be a big blow. It would be like having a major Pittsburgh-based corporation close up shop and move somewhere else. The city would still operate the next day, but a part of it would be dead. And Pittsburgh has had too much death and not enough new life in the past couple of decades.
Don't forget that Smizik is the same person who was banging the drum more than a decade ago to keep the Pirates in town...the same Pirates who gladly accepted public funds for a new stadium and pocket millions in profit each year, giving their fans a grand total of zero winning seasons in the process. Ask the average Pittsburgher how much enjoyment they get from the Pirates and how much they get from the Penguins. I dare you.
He's also constantly taking shots at Mario Lemieux and his "supporters", who he cutely refers to as MFOM, or "Media Friends of Mario". This is a thinly-veiled shot at Mark Madden without actually mentioning his name, as Madden is a loyal supporter of 66. Smizik can call people names or accuse others of agendas all he wants; it's his column. But I'd like an explanation why HE has such a pro-baseball, anti-hockey agenda. He shouldn't argue that we could go on without one team; he should argue WHY we need all three pro teams. I'm not saying any columnist should be overly optimistic, but come on...Pittsburgh is not in the position to lose anything of significance at this point.
--On old jerseys: I think after about 20 years, they become cool again. Break out a 1987 Junior Ortiz jersey this summer and you get my respect. But ultimately, it really depends on the player.
Have one whose time has passed? Simply consign it to your loyal author's sports memorabilia auction company who will flip it to a jersey collector for you. Then take the money generated from your old Kevin Greene shirt and plop it down with a few extra bucks for a brand-new Santonio Holmes jersey (which said author could sell to you, hand signed by Santonio, for just $125). Problem solved. I'll be waiting to hear from you, Louis Lipps is My Homeboy.
--From the totally random department: I was approached by Joseph-Beth Booksellers on East Carson Street to interview porn star Ron Jeremy by phone. The Hedgehog is appearing at their store on Friday, February 9th at 7 PM to sign his new book, Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbusiness. While I enjoy watching Ron mix it up with Vanilla Ice on The Surreal Life: Fame Games on a regular basis, I ultimately decided to pass. But I promised them a plug, so go meet Ron and ask him what Emmanuel Lewis is really like.
Joseph-Beth is also hosting longtime New York Daily News author Mark Kriegel on February 15 at 7 PM. Kriegel will be signing copies of his new book, PISTOL: The Life of Pete Maravich. He also authored NAMATH: A Biography. Given his book titles, I would guess the event is called KRIEGEL: A Book Signing.
--I spent Tuesday night watching the Pens game with a few buddies while taking in the all-you-can-eat wings special at the Century III Quaker Steak and Lube. This place is like a bar for high school kids. They're coming out of the woodwork to eat chicken wings. I've never seen anything like it---boys, girls, entire football teams. And it's the same way at the Robinson location. Just overflowing with teens. Who knew that eating wings was a bonding experience for the youth of Pittsburgh?
And by the way, I think I finished with around 20 wings for the evening, eaten over the span of about an hour. I don't know how these guys compete in wing-eating contests. Great Pens game, though. I think the playoffs are a realistic goal. And you know that no one will want to face them.
--Keep those links coming. Tuesday was a fantastic day. The comic-book covers link was fantastic and had a ton of hits. And the Penn State moose lawsuit was simply exquisite. Hit me up:


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I don't think Smizik is anti-hockey. Anti-Madden? Sure. I don't think anyone would dispute that. But there has been so much misinformation and stretching of the truth by Madden, that someone has to balance that. Sadly, many people in this town are not intelligent enough to realize he has an agenda that's not altogether different from that of a politician. So they take his word as truth, which is a horrible mistake to make. The past few months -- and I say this as a diehard Pens fan who has been for years -- have been embarassing. His show has become such a joke and such a forum to further anything Lemieux wants. Does he deserve an arena? You bet he does. But Madden's actions and shows have been so bad and so irresponsible that any radio station with a conscience or halfway decent management would have taken some kind of action.

His venomous often baseless attacks on the Steelers are ludicrous. Everything they do -- everything -- is the wrong move, according to him. You'd think the Bidwells owned the Steelers. You'd think they'd never won a championship. You'd think they were bumbling fools. More often than not they make the right move. Do they get preferential treatment in the media? Sure they do. They own this place. But it's not like media outlets swept the Holmes and Porter issues under the rug. And if Ben got busted for coke or something, they'd have that too. Madden's hatred toward the team (well, except Ben who's his ... "friend") and obvious desire to see them fail should be grounds for dismissal. He's hands down the most misleading, agenda-driven personality on radio, and it's a sad thing to realize his ratings are what they are. He should stop ripping the lack of intelligence of this town, because it's the exact reason he's doing so well.

So Smizik is doing what someone SHOULD do. People need to know the "facts" they've been fed are not accurate. Madden comes from the pro wrestling world where the new matra is, "If you tell the truth 90 percent of the time, no one will catch the 10 percent of the time you're lying." It's giving him a lot of credit to say he's telling the truth 90 percent of the time.

I hope like the hell the Pens stay, and let's face it, they are staying and never were leaving. That $10 million they owe Isle of Capri basically ensured that. But they were able to leverage a deal that should seriously benefit them. That's awesome, and I'll enjoy watching them play for years to come. But I also love the Steelers, and woah! You can love both teams in this town! While Smizik can be grating, annoying and also agenda-driven at times, he balanced what Madden's put out there, and someone had to. That column hardly qualifies him as anti-hockey.

Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

I agree with bk killah up there, I haven't lived in pittsburgh for almost two years now, but i listen to Madden's podcasts on and read Smizik in the Post-Gazette every day he has a column, and the whole thing is, they're giving us their opinions on matters on the Pittsburgh sports scene. You as the reader or listener are allowed to disagree with them, but I think any journalist or person with a talk show just wants to promps discussion and thought about pertinent subjects. I didn't agree with Smizik's column, but it did get me to thinking on what would happed to our town would the Pens end up leaving (which we can pretty much let loose a big sigh of relief any day now i'm sure). And Madden's um, grating personality just prompts more of a reaction than most people would get on the same subject. I know that on your cousin blog the, those people were callin Smizik names and emailing him letters full of expletives and negative comments (although I believe the blog host did write him a good letter with counterpoints to the points he made). I may be naive, but I had no idea that there was so much hatred between some Steeler fans and Penguin and Bucco fans, bitching and moaning about too much coverage and not enough coverage and old arena this and brand new field that. I'm proud to say that I like all of our teams equally and want to see them win championships every year, and have stuck with each through the good years and bad. So maybe if I were to add to your list, number 97 would be fans hating on fans of the other sports in a city. They suck...They suck bad. Sammy Khalifah OUT

HotDog_Zanzabar said...
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Russell Lucas said...

Smizik's column was a waste of column space. I'm assuming they assigned him to write it because he won't write another hockey-related column for the remainder of his dotage and won't have to get any cooperation from the team or its players.

I ask myself periodically why the P-G persists in having these cranky dinosaurs writing all their sports columns, and the sad answer is that I'm sure the P-G knows the demographics of their readers, and those readers like the tried and (un)true dinosaurs. A friend of mine says that every Ron Cook column is either "Shame!" or "Outrage!"-themed.

And re: jersey shelf lifes, I've got a Barry Foster jersey, but it's the replica of the '33 throwback jersey the Stillers wore for a couple of games in 1994. That's the only player option I have to roll in those threads. Surely I can get an exemption, right?

Russell Lucas said...

LLIMH, Pitt hoops will get tons more print and screen time-- the sky's the limit-- when they go deep into the Tourney. Untill then, these mid-week wins over Cincinnatti, etc. won't make much of a dent other than for the true believers.

Matt said...

Did you know that Jerome Bettis is originally from Detroit? And Detroit is where he won his first Super Bowl in his final year in the NFL. That's what made it such a great storyline. I hadn't really heard about this at all until recently.

R :) said...

Smizik gives me a headache.

What's a throwback Zarley Zalapski jersey worth?

If only we could solve all the world's problems over wings ...