Out of Left
Some Ravings of an
Irate Left Fielder
needs a plug
for that gaping yap of his
(see Rant #3)
Our Stan really
with some Grade A rants
By STAN ISAACS
Every day in every way theres enough to make
one throw the newspaper across the room, heave a brick at the
television set. It makes you rant. Here are some of my most recent
#1: Reason to Go 'Postal'?
It was wonderful and
inspiring to see recovered cancer victim Lance Armstrong win
the Tour de France bicycle race for the fifth straight time.
But should the U.S. Postal Service be sponsoring his heroics?
The Postal Service has been losing money for umpteen years. It
has spent $40 million over the last six years sponsoring Armstrong
and his team. Why does the Postal Service need to advertise anyway
when it has a monopoly on letter mail and is a highly recognizable
A U.S. postal rate commissioner defended the expenditure on Armstrong
on the grounds that the $40 million is only a tiny fraction of
the agencys $66 billion annual budget. Pleeease!
And it turns out that the agency not only sponsored the cycling
team, but the New York Yankees, the New York Football Giants
and two golf tournaments. Money to promote the Yankees, the richest
team in sports? Oy vey.
By the same token we cannot understand why the U.S. Army needs
to reach out to young people to join up by being a sponsor of
National Football League and Super Bowl telecasts. Super Bowls
are the most expensive of all television availabilities. Thirty-second
Super Bowl spots went for more than $2 million a pop the last
time we looked. Is this the best bang for the taxpayers
buck? Or does it inflate the ego of the Army bigwigs to be associated
with the most glamorous of all sports on TV on its big day? Oy
Sampras the Greatest?
The tears shed by Pete
Sampras at a press conference at the U.S. Open Tennis championships
were touching. But some of the yoots covering tennis these days
are going a bit overboard when they declare Sampras the greatest
tennis player of all time.
There are four grand slam tennis tournaments--the ones that determine
greatness in the sport-and Sampras never won them all. He won
the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He has never
won the French Open, the only one played on clay. Sampras
big game-huge serve-was not enough to win on clay because a player
has to hang in with an all-court game to survive long rallies.
Rod Laver had the big serve and the all-court game. He won all
four grand slam tourneys in 1962 and then again in 1969. Only
one other male player has won the grand slam, Don Budge in 1938.
Maureen Connolly in 1953 and Margaret Court Smith in 1970 achieved
grand slams among the women.
Has there ever been a more
annoying case of motormouth on television than the run-on jabbering
of John McEnroe on tennis telecasts? Not one, but two networks--CBS
and USA--allowed McEnroe to ventilate at the US Open. He was
frequently off on tangents like Mets baseball and was Johnny
One-Note telling players they had to rush the net more.
Mary Carillo, on CBS, didnt
say much, but when she interjected a comment it usually was interesting
and enlightening. Tennis viewers are short-changed by the absence
of the colorful and keenly knowledgeable Bud Collins from play-by-play
on Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. TV tennis nirvana would be achieved
with a Collins-Carillo pairing.
#4: College players as 'Real Pro's'
Miami U. President Donna
Shelala, a former member of the Bill Clinton administration,
spoke volumes when she explained how Miami and Virginia Tech
would be able to compete in the Big East Conference as lame ducks
next year before jumping the following year to the Atlantic Coast
Conference. Asked how Miami would handle the distraction, she
said, Were pros.
Indeed they are. And so are almost all the big time college factories
whose abuses of academic integrity are rampant. A few years ago
Michigan, personified the evil hold big time sports has on the
college landscape, Despite enriching its football coffers by
selling out its 100,000-plus capacity stadium every season, it
canceled some physics programs because of a lack of funds for
No doubt the colleges abuse athletes by employing them on the
football and basketball fields to rack up millions for the institutions,
yet they too often dont provide the athletes with the tools
to deal with the world should they not make it in the professional
ranks. Bill Bradley, the onetime Princeton and New York Knicks
whiz and New Jersey Senator who failed as a would-be presidential
candidate in 2000, is one of many who says athletes should be
I agree with Bradley up to a point. I say that big-time colleges
should have two teams. One would consist of semi-pro players
who would be paid, who would not have to attend classes; they
would represent the school in endeavors raking in television
and gate money. (Notre Dame, for example, appears on television
each week now--more than most professional football teams.)
The schools other team would consist of honest-to-goodness
students in school colors playing against other honest-to-goodness
students in non-televised games.
#5: TV Baseball Announcers Who Mangle Our Language
Some baseball TV announcers
usages that make me turn down the sound: They dont say
a lead-footed runner is not a fast runner. They say he
doesnt run well. Or a speedy runner runs well.
Grr. I run well, but not very fast. These tired ears have heard
only Tim McCarver actually say some bloke is a slow runner.
When a fellow with a batting average of .200 is in the midst
of an 0-for-15 draught, he is not, as many announcers say, in
a slump. He is at his level. Slump is
one of the most overused crutches in baseball lingo.
#6: I Hate Today's Catcher's Mitts!
Some fun went out of baseball
with the invention of the malleable catchers glove, one
that folds like a first basemans mitt. This makes it easy
for catchers settling under foul pop-ups to fold their mitts
and squeeze a pop-up. In the old days the stiff catchers
mitt had only a deep pocket in which to snare a ball and many
a pop-up was dropped, making a catchers pursuit of a pop-up
an entertaining adventure.
When Allie Reynolds pitched a second no-hitter for the Yankees
in 1951, catcher Yogi Berra, using the stiff mitt of that time,
dropped a pop-up that would have been the final out. The next
pitch also produced a foul pop and this time Berra, huzzah, caught
When I mentioned my longing for the old-style catchers
mitt to McCarver, a former catcher, he deserted his usual instinct
for entertainment by declaring a liking for the new, softer mitt.
©2003 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is ©2001
by Jim Hummel.
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