Late week musings from the Sports Desk
By BRANDON HURLEY
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This may not always be a regular thing, but I’m going to take a shot at it anyway.
I’ll have a fairly consistent, “Boneheads and Champs of the Week” blog that can be found here each week either Thursday or Friday. I’ll have some fun with this, and is all of my own opinion. Feel free to fire back, offer up nominees or disagree as much as you want. Let’s have some friendly discussion and go toe-to-toe, shall we?
Without further adieu, here we go:
Boneheads of the week - LaVar Ball and Ian Kinsler
Ian Kinsler, USA second baseman, grouchy grandpa –
I know he’s the hero of last night’s World Baseball Classic Championship (He smacked a two-run homer in the 8-0 win over Puerto Rico March 22), but his comments prior to the game really set me off.
He talked down the way Puerto Ricans and Dominicans play baseball, saying the United States plays the right way ”I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays," in an interview with the New York Times.
He didn’t exactly say Americans play baseball the way it should be done, but it was conveyed that way in his tone. Kinsler feels baseball should be played with a certain restraint, with no outlandish celebrations, no emotion and players obeying the silly unwritten rules.
No, Ian, you are what’s wrong with baseball today and why it’s struggling to attract new, younger fans.
I love the game, still, but it frustrates me when MLB professionals try to impose their traditions, their old-school views on a game that many people already feel is boring. Several American players feel there shouldn’t be any showboating and that bat flips, and things of those nature should be eliminated. That no player should show up their opponent or their teammates. They want everyone on the same page, bringing their lunch pale each day, keeping their head down an going home.
Stars and personalities are what allow the monster professional sports of the NBA and NFL to succeed. So why continue to repress the personalities of the MLB? Bryce Harper is trying to change this, and yet many people in his own dugout don’t like him. Let’s remember, you guys are all playing a game, and getting paid millions of dollars for it. So show a little joy, let the superstars have fun, express emotion and quit being that grandpa yelling at kids to get off your lawn. Celebrations, bat flips, handshakes, and emotion are all fun to see.
Lighten up, Ian. Baseball is a form of entertainment that also happens to be your job, can’t we all have a little more fun and forget those unwritten rules?
LaVar Ball, annoying super dad –
LaVar Ball needs to stop, even though his insanity has gotten out of hand. We’ve all had enough of this pompous clown of a dad.
He couldn’t be more irrelevant, ignorant, idiotic and downright arrogant. The father of the supremely talented, and much quieter, Lonzo Ball of UCLA has gone beyond out of control. He is the worst kind of sports dad, that has called out legend after legend with his erroneous claims of superiority.
He was quoted saying he could beat Michael Jordan in college, yet averaged just two points at Washington State. He then transferred to a Division II school. Psh.
This is his exact quote in the USA Today – “Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.”
He also believes Lonzo Ball is better than Steph Curry, the two-time MVP, world champion and best shooter in the game.
Right, LaVar, right. Where’s the eye-rolling emoji when you need it most?
He thinks his sons should be billionaires as well. Let’s remember that only one of them is even in college and the other two are still in high school. But, apparently a billion dollar shoe deal is reasonable for his family.
He’s already created his own clothing/apparel company, too, “Big Baller Brand” and sells products for a ridiculous amount of money. There’s a leather hat going for $100 while the various other hats are selling for $60. Why is this guy relevant? That’s what really has me confused.
He wasn’t even a remotely talented basketball player, he’s not a famous coach, agent or general manager. He just has a son who’s very good at basketball and a few other kids that could be good, emphasis on could.
He’s only getting pub because he’s a good quote, even if his remarks are outrageous.
I’ll give him credit for honesty though, at least he’s somewhat self aware. This was via an interview on Fox Sports radio “if people ask me something, I’m going to give you an answer, because I can have freedom of speech to say whatever I want.”
But he’s still on the level of random celebrity with the likes of Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, the Kardashians and others – famous for reasons unbeknownst to us. So shut up, LaVar, please.
If you want your sons to be rich with crazy endorsement deals, you are doing them no favors by running your mouth.
Champs of the week - South Carolina head coach, Frank Martin, March Madness
Frank Martin, great coach, great story-teller –
I listened to a live, in studio interview on the Dan Patrick Show with South Carolina head coach Frank Martin this morning and boy, was he a pleasure to hear.
His backstory in general was a marvel in it’s own. He held down various jobs prior to hitting the coaching ranks – bus boy, newspaper subscription guy, shoe cleaner, etc. And now, here he is, with his second school in the Sweet Sixteen (He took Kansas State to the Elite Eight in 2010) and fresh off a monumental victory over Duke March 19.
Martin was incredibly open in his interview, sharing anecdotes from his coaching trek, the time he had drinks with Dan and other coaches and how emotional he was when the Gamecocks pulled off that huge upset, the program’s first Sweet Sixteen appearance in more than 44 years.
He may get bad pub for his coaching style (he’s a yeller, and that may be an understatement) but he seems to be a remarkably honest man. He’s not perfect, rumors flew back in Kansas State that he often berated his players, but he’s a successful coach. I tip my cap to the guy, just for his interview skills, his ability to turn around a downtrodden program and the bravery he emits through his story-telling.
This March has been a great moment for a suffering program and an interesting man.
March Madness, the ageless wonder full of delightful stories –
On a similar note, March Madness is in high gear. Though we haven’t witnessed any buzzer beaters or huge upsets, we’ve still seen our fair share of quality games and minor upsets. An 11 seed is in the Sweet Sixteen (Xavier) while Wisconsin took down the defending champs as an eight-seed and to cap it all off, we have two seven seeds in the Sweet Sixteen as well (K-State and Michigan). Michigan is a remarkable story in their own right. Their plane crashed, albeit, blew, off the runway while trying to fly to the Big Ten Tournament, then they played their first round game in practice jerseys. That didn’t stop them as they ran the table to capture the tourney championship and haven’t lost since, culminating with an upset of second-seeded Louisville on Sunday. Thought it’s Michigan and I’m an U of Iowa graduate, I’m still pulling for the Wolverines to make the Final Four, what a story that would be.
We’ve had other intrigue as well, under seeded teams galore making noise in the Big Dance, creating controversy. There’s more to come starting tonight, as we see some of the nation’s biggest and best programs squaring off against each other. I’m most excited to see Kentucky-UCLA Friday night, but Kansas-Purdue should be a dandy tonight as well. So buckle in, grab your favorite spot on the couch and enjoy.
That’s all I have this week. Hopefully, it wasn’t too dull or cliche or sappy for your taste. Here’s to more boneheads and winners next week.