WNBA Playoffs – And Other Stuff

Just in case any of you forgot that the WNBA season was underway, let me catch you up. Their playoffs are underway and they are now about to begin the semi-finals. No Googling, can you name the four WNBA teams still alive in the playoffs…?

Back when I was studying vocabulary lists in preparation for the SATs – no, I did not have to chisel my answers onto a marble slab then – I learned a word that would clearly have little place in ordinary conversation. But it was unusual enough that it stuck in my head and now I actually have a chance to use it. I will assert that for the average US sports fan, the WNBA playoffs have all of the gravitas of borborygmus.

A couple of weeks ago, I said that the alleged betting scandal in men’s tennis might be good for the sport since it got people talking about men’s tennis in the first place. Naturally, I got e-mails from tennis fans telling me that I had my head in such a place that I suffered from rectal blindness. So to make amends, I decided to offer an idea for a pool on the US Open that’s getting underway. Here’s the deal:

    You have to pick which Williams sister will be the first to withdraw due to an injury and when. I’ll take Serena with a left hamstring injury after her first win.

    I was tempted to take Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick but that’s a different game.

    Over to you…

The PGA Tour has gotten to the FedEx Cup competition as if that is meaningful in any real way. I defy anyone other than someone so focused on golf that (s)he is studying to be a rules interpreter to recite the scoring system for this competition. Various players on the tour have said it is irrelevant; Tiger Woods skipped the first of the four tournaments in the final competition because he was “exhausted” from playing three weeks in a row; fan interest has been imaginary so far. Other than that, FedEx is getting its money’s worth from this sponsorship deal.

The PGA Tour had tried to build up this concocted nonsense as the beginning of a new era in golf only to have Tiger Woods blow off the first tournament of the new era. There is no new era in golf; the PGA Tour as of 2007 is Tiger Woods and the four major tournaments. People care about the majors; people care about – and watch – Tiger Woods play. Other than that, the PGA Tour is teetering on moribund. If Tiger Woods is in a car accident such that he cannot play golf for an entire year, the TV ratings for the PGA Tour events will be right down there with NHL playoff games, the MLS games and Throwdown With Bobby Flay on the Food Network.

If the FedEx Cup is truly the dawn of a new era in golf, then the goofs who run the game can’t set up the rules such that a player can miss one or more of the tournament events and still win the championship. That’s how it works now. Imagine if an NFL team went 16-0 for a season and decided to sit out the first two rounds of the playoffs and just show up for the Super Bowl. Wouldn’t work very well, would it? Well, that’s what the golf goofs have set up for the FedEx Cup.

The Houston Astros fired Phil Garner over the weekend. In 2005, Garner had the Astros in the World Series. A year and a half later, his team was under .500 and 9 games out of first place in their division. Interestingly, the Astros opponent in the 2005 World Series – the Chicago White Sox – are also doing poorly a year and a half later. The White Sox on the same day were also under .500 and were 16.5 games out of first place in their division. I wonder if Ozzie Guillen is looking over his shoulder…

Speaking of baseball, you may recall that I was skeptical of the Red Sox signing of JD Drew to a $70M deal. According to CBS sportsline.com, Drew will make $14M this year; and as of this morning, he is hitting .259 with 7 home runs and 46 RBIs. Let’s just say the Sox didn’t get a lot of value for their money here.

Latrell Spreewell is back in the news. It seems as if his yacht had to be repossessed by the bank because Spreewell failed to make monthly payments and failed to maintain adequate insurance on the boat. Monthly payments were reported to be $10,322 – - not counting insurance. Recall that Spreewell angrily turned down a three-year offer to play in the NBA because it was only for $7M a year saying that he had to turn it down because it wasn’t adequate to feed his family. Maybe so, I don’t know their grocery bills/budget; but that $21M might have gone a long way towards paying those monthly charges to keep the yacht…

Let’s review the bidding on the Lance Briggs situation. When the Bears slapped the franchise tag on him, Briggs was adamant he would never again play a single down for the Bears and that he had set aside all the money he needed to sit out a year. Once the trade deadline passed and no trade was forthcoming, he signed with the Bears in about 72 hours. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, crowed that they got a concession from the Bears of a $1M advance on salary for Briggs as an inducement for Briggs to sign. After withholding Federal income tax and state tax and FICA, that $1M probably put somewhere in the range of $550K in Briggs’ bank account. Last weekend, he crashed and abandoned a $350K Lamborghini. Let’s just say that Briggs had better be handling the rest of his monies a lot more carefully than he has handled that advance of salary or he’ll be one of those ex-players living in a refrigerator box under a bridge one of these days…

The Raiders and overall #1 draft pick, JaMarcus Russell, are still haggling over a contract. The last time an NFL team could not sign an overall #1 pick was in 1986; the Bucs had the pick that year and took Bo Jackson who decided to play baseball for the KC Royals. As far as I know, JaMarcus Russell does not have such an option open to him. But he has managed to miss training camp and is looking at the potential of wasting an entire year of development as an NFL QB. Several weeks ago, I suggested that the NFL and the NFLPA work to amend the Collective Bargaining Agreement to create a rookie salary scale that would get draft picks into camp more readily. JaMarcus Russell is unsigned because his agent reportedly wants in excess of $60M for this rookie contract with at least $30M guaranteed. If the Bears had offered that deal to Lance Briggs – a Pro Bowl linebacker – last year, there would never have been a question about his refusal to sign with the Bears or play another down for that team.

Finally, here’s a note from David Thomas in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram regarding the recent Rangers’ 30-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles regarding how you know you are a long-time Rangers’ fan:

“You heard the Rangers scored 30 runs in a game, then asked, ‘Did they win?’ “

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

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