A fistful of comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports.
It seems like more and more of my thoughts turn to the subject of aging. I wonder why?
The Rainbow Warrior turns gray
When exactly did Jeff Gordon become an old driver? The way his final Sprint Cup season is unfolding, the one-time wonder boy of racing might as well be like one of those elder gentlemen driving 35 mph in the left lane. With his blinker on.
Last weekend’s 42nd-place finish at the Brickyard – his heretofore favorite place in the world – only deepened what has been a mostly disappointing farewell tour. He’s winless in 20 starts, with two top-five finishes, and three poles.
Gordon has won four series championships. He forged a classic rivalry with Dale Earnhardt and provided a bridge for a whole new generation of fans to cross. Now he is just kind of in the way.
C’mon, Jeff, take those plastic flowers off the antenna. Trade in that 2006 Crown Vic for something a little more aerodynamic.
Let’s go, gramps, it’s the skinny pedal on the right.
Your fans want to know that there is at least one more win in the tank.
Coach, it’s OK, just nod if you can hear me
Speaking of old, how about that Steve Spurrier?
He is now facing the eternal struggle of every guy who tries to make himself look younger. The strategy almost always backfires.
For men of a certain age, there are some tellingly desperate cries for help: The toupee, the convertible, the pair of skinny jeans.
For the 70-year-old Spurrier, his latest over-reaction to the suggestion by the AJC’s Mark Bradley that he might be nearing the end of his coaching career was the same kind of pointless railing against the advance of time. Coach, we are all but sandcastles at low tide.
No, the impromptu press conference/rant didn’t look good on him. Any more than an earring or a new gold chain would have.
Try to embrace these septuagenarian years. Hike those pants up a few inches. Put on the Hawaiian shirt. Surrender.
But at least we might make a couple of concessions for Spurrier’s benefit.
Don’t call him the Ol’ Ball Coach anymore. It is now the Surprisingly Vital Ball Coach.
And, yes, we now can consider, “Hey you kids get off my lawn,” a recognized defensive play call.
The less than incredible Hulk
If there is anything I’d want to see less than a Hulk Hogan sex video – certain matings are best left to the more graphic nature channels – it’s a Hulk Hogan racist rant video.
Apparently out there, somewhere, in a world that increasingly baffles me, is just such a video combining both those unsettling elements. There’s a big lawsuit as a result of the sex part. And in the fallout to the rant, the WWE kicked out its most famous performer.
Now, consider what you can get away with in professional wrestling. You can hit a guy with a folding chair. You can call him just about everything written on the wall of a bus station restroom. You can gouge and spit and kick and come off the top ring rope. So, to actually get expelled from such an enterprise must require the most heinous of speech crimes.
It, honestly, is quite sad to see one of our leading cartoon characters caught up in such a messy situation. We look to our pro wrestlers for uncomplicated, mindless mayhem. This is sort of like learning Foghorn Leghorn was a Soviet sleeper agent.
It’s feeling like 1985 again
With the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals both holding the best records in their leagues, and with the Royals loading up for October by trading for starter Johnny Cueto, I’m having a fit déjà vu.
Has it really been 30 years since the I-70 World Series, named after the interstate linking St. Louis and K.C. on Missouri’s opposite ends? Never thought we’d even sniff that possibility again.
I’ll always remember that Series, won by the Royals in seven games, not for anything that happened on the field, but rather for the journey between cities. That forever will be the Series marked by the late, venerable Atlanta Journal columnist Furman Bisher stopping with his traveling companions for lunch at a roadside McDonald’s. To his everlasting credit, Furman was not conversant with the menu. Scanning his options, he was struck by a relatively new item (OK, it had been out for six years or so). “I think I’ll try a Happy Meal,” he declared in his courtly way.
So let’s fill up the car with some of that $1.20-a-gallon gas, pop some Madonna into the cassette player, maybe load up on one of the last cases of New Coke. Be sure to bring one of those cells phones the size of suitcase, in case we break down.
Now the bunker play gets serious
Well, here’s a hazard that pro golfers almost anywhere else in the world never will know.
South Korean PGA Tour pro Sang-Moon Bae – winner of two Tour events, currently No. 30 in the FedEx Cup point standings – will soon be returning home to begin two years of mandatory military service.
His rank now is 110th (in the world rankings). By the end of this season it could be just: “Private.”
Since South Korea still is technically at war with the North, men between 18 and 35 face two years of military service. Bae fought the good fight to avoid his call up, appealing for an exemption, but was denied earlier this month. He announced that he would “humbly accept” the ruling, and report for service hopefully at the close of this PGA Tour season.
As Bae tries to extend his stay on the Tour as long as possible, it is fair to say no other pro will be as motivated entering the Fed Ex playoffs. Each round represents another reason to delay Korean boot camp.
Here’s hoping he makes it all the way to the Tour Championship in Atlanta. We’ll give him a fine send-off.
And if not, maybe he’ll at least be eligible for one of the discounted military tickets at East Lake.