P.J. O’Rourke died earlier this week. He was a humorist and satirist par excellence. He was an early contributor to National Lampoon and eventually its editor in chief. Other writings found their way into publications with varied audiences such as Car and Driver, Playboy and Rolling Stone while still finding time to be a panelist on NPR’s program Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. His conservative/libertarian views were never mainstream but reading his defenses of such positions was always entertaining.
Rest in peace, P. J. O’Rourke.
Having been off the air for the last 4 days, let me loop back and comment on things that happened several days ago. During the Super Bowl game, there was a minor “dust up” on the sidelines when Aaron Donald pushed Joe Burrow out of bounds. I said to the folks I was watching the game with, that was the time when replay would actually be valuable. The officials had to “break up” a confrontation and that confrontation had nothing to do with “game action” since the play had been whistled dead. That should trigger and instant replay all by itself with two specific purposes:
- First and foremost, who started the kerfuffle?
- Second, did anyone else join in or respond/retaliate to the start of the kerfuffle?
Based on replay, the referee can determine who started it and what he did. That could lead to a penalty – – or even to an ejection. Same goes for players who retaliated in some way that was disproportionate to the instigation. Normally, I am not a fan of replay since it stops the game and sometimes does not unambiguously “get it right”. But in this case, I believe that replay has a larger beneficial effect on the sport.
- All it will take is a couple of ejections of key players from a game for the coaches to begin to pay a lot more attention to “controlled aggression” as opposed to “unconstrained aggression”.
Next, I want to talk about the NBA trade that sent Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and a couple of first round draft picks to the Nets for James Harden and Paul Milsap. Fans and sports radio commentators in Philly are basically in ecstasy over the trade; one of them said that there was no team in the league that could now match up with the Sixers’ triumvirate of Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tobias Harris. From his point of view, only a cruel twist of fate might keep the Sixers from the NBA championship this year. I hope that no regular reader here will be surprised to learn that I am far less optimistic about this player exchange than that.
First, the Sixers just get a whole lot worse on defense than they were a week ago – – and that is with Ben Simmons refusing to play for the team for “mental health reasons”. Going all the way back to his college days at Arizona State, Harden was an offensive force and a defensive liability. However, as his NBA career progressed and he became a dominant offensive force, his defense eroded to a similar extent. My personal assessment over the past year or two is that Harden no longer even tries to expend much energy on the defensive end of the floor; he gives up points almost to the extent that he creates points.
So, comparing Harden to Ben Simmons – – who similarly created no points and allowed no points while on the sidelines this season – -, the trade would be seem to be a wash. But wait; there’s more…
James Harden has found himself “at odds” with a variety of very good players in the NBA when Harden and those other very good players had to share the court and the ball. Perhaps the names Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving resonate with you… Harden has maneuvered a trade for himself twice in the last 14 months; what is it about James Harden’s recent history to make one think that he and Joel Embiid will become inseparable bosom buddies?
Maybe all those “Harden rough spots” will be ironed out in Philly. This trade seems to have had a “Lourdes Effect” on healing since Ben Simmons’ mental health issues appear to have been miraculously abated by moving him to a team about 100 miles to the northeast of where he used to be.
Moving on… About three weeks ago, the first sportsbook connected to an MLB stadium opened at Nationals Park in Washington DC. The book is operated by BetMGM, and it is linked to an app available from Bet MGM that allows for in-game wagering on Nats’ games so long as the wagers are placed withing a two-block radius of the park. According to the announcement of the sportsbook’s opening:
- The 4,000-square-foot on-site sportsbook will offer full-service beverage and dining options, six betting windows, betting kiosks, and 40 big-screen TVs year-round.
This is only one such manifestation of MLB’s new cozy relationship with new “corporate partners” who happen to be in the sports betting “industry”. If you want to look for hypocrisy, look no further than baseball’s gambling relationships today and the continued ostracization of Shoeless Joe Jackson and/or Pete Rose.
Finally, I began today noting the passing of P.J. O’Rourke; let me close with two of his observations about the American human condition:
“No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity.”
“There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible. “
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………