Steroids In Boxing? Surprise! Surprise!!

And a Happy Flag Day to one and all…

File this one under “Just What They Didn’t Need”… Boxing is a sport that has descended from a prominent place in the sporting hierarchy to a sport worthy of derision on its best days. I said over a decade ago that boxing and pro ‘rassling were on a convergence course and now we have another similarity between the two “sports”. James Toney – three-time champion of various weight divisions from some of the myriad sanctioning bodies in boxing – recently fought Danny Batchelder. After the fight, both of the fighters tested positive for two steroids and both of them have been suspended indefinitely. The “sport” of boxing needed that about as much as you look forward to an IRS audit. And in case you think this might be accidental or erroneous, recall that James Toney tested positive for steroids after a bout several years ago.

Tonight in Joliet Illinois, the Joliet Jackhammers will host the KC T-Bones in a minor league baseball game. The promotion for the night is that patrons who pay $30 for two admissions and a couple of beers and a plate of nachos on “Date Night” get to participate in a “Dating Game” where the prizes are dates with two of the front office employees of the Jackhammers – one male and one female. Blind dates rarely turn out to be wonderful events. In this case, the blind date will result from something akin to a lottery. What could possibly go wrong?

When Justin Verlander tossed his no-hitter against the Brewers earlier this week, it was the first one for a Tigers’ pitcher since Jack Morris accomplished this feat back in the mid-1980s. It was the sixth no-hitter in the history of the Detroit Tigers – a franchise dating back to 1894 when it was one of the original clubs at the founding of the American League. That should give you a bit of perspective on a baseball record. The Tigers as a franchise have had six no-hitters in more than 100 years of existence; Nolan Ryan had seven no-hitters by himself…

I told you recently about the stupid logo for the London Olympics that cost the organizers almost $800K to design. Sebastian Coe is one of the leading figures in the London effort to put on the 2012 games and he said of the logo that it was a way to capture the attention of young people, “It’s vital that we reach out to these young people in a language that they understand and in technology that’s familiar to them.” Swell. Why not send all the young people in the world a text message…That’s a language they understand and a technology familiar to them; the jigsaw-puzzle logo is no more related to current technology than a stick.

But Sebastian Coe is not alone in the Olympic hierarchy when it comes to talking about reaching out to young people. The International Olympic Committee itself has a proposal before it to make skateboarding a sport for those 2012 Games in London. A spokesthing said that the Committee was seriously pondering this matter because “The IOC wants to make the program relevant for young people.” Stand by in 2016 for new sports such as “zoned-out i-pod listening”, “freestyle Sim City” and “rhythmic gymnastics whilst speed dialing”.

This summer, Shaquille O’Neal will participate in a TV show/series that will give kids ways to avoid and/or rectify juvenile obesity. Think about that for just a moment here; Shaq will be offering advice and counsel on ways to avoid being overweight. Who – pray tell – will be the celebs who might make guest appearances in this oeuvre? Sam Adams? Any sumo wrestler with the rank of yokozuna? Sally Struthers? John Daly?

And speaking of John Daly, how long would you have to stay awake before you could come up with a series of ideas for him as to how he might make his life a bit more chaotic. Here’s a guy who is on his fourth or fifth marriage and now claims that his incumbent wife came after him with a steak knife and inflicted wounds. She on the other hand claims none of that is true but that Daly actually assaulted her. At one point this loving couple was in court seeking restraining orders one against the other; then they talked of reconciliation; after that …

John Daly’s turbulent life may have caught up with him. He no longer enjoys an exemption on the PGA Tour; to get into tournaments, he needs to qualify or get a sponsor’s exemption. His last PGA Tour victory came in the Buick Invitational in 2004. In his last 12 PGA events, he has missed the cut five times and withdrew from the competition three other times.

Michelle Wie does not have the personal demons of drug abuse, alcoholism, obesity and stormy marital relationships that John Daly has. But perhaps her turbulent life is catching up with her too. I have long been critical of Michelle Wie and those who are supposedly acting in her best interests for turning her into circus act. Putting her into men’s PGA events at age 14 or 15 was cute the first time; after that it became tedious; now it is embarrassing. One time when I was critical of Wie for not playing in events where she might actually win, I got a couple of comments along the line that I was just jealous of Michelle Wie because I couldn’t play golf the way she could. Since I don’t play golf, that would be so obviously correct that I would never claim otherwise.

However, consider this. Michelle Wie has not finished a tournament at par for over a year now. I can do that too. She hasn’t won a tournament since turning pro. I can do that too. Here’s what she can do that I can’t. She can expect to get lots of sponsor’s exemptions and publicity for her rounds of golf even when those round of golf are nowhere near competitive with others in the same tournament; she can expect to be clucked at – instead of castigated – for violating golf rules that she claims she doesn’t understand and for withdrawing from tournaments when she is totally out of contention claiming heat exhaustion and/or wrist injuries. I couldn’t get away with any of that.

At the moment, Michelle Wie is a much younger and much slimmer version of John Daly on the golf course. They both hit the ball far off the tee; they are both media darlings. They both finish deep in the pack in tournaments far more often than their celebrity status might lead one to believe. That’s the point; they are celebrities and not competitive professional golfers.

Finally, Jim Armstrong had this item in the Denver Post a while back:

“Being a pro football player must be a great way to pick up chicks. Provided, of course, that they are court stenographers.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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