Arts & Entertainment, Sports

Picking Splinters: Mailbag Time in May

It’s Mike’s time of the month. Into the mailbag we go.

Dear Mike,

Did you catch the Mayweather-De La Hoya fight last Saturday? It was stupendous display of tremendous ferociousness, a cataclysm of pugilism and a triumph of … hmmm … nothing seems to rhyme with “-iumph.” You get my drift though, right? Boxing is back on the map!

Salutations,
Don K.
Onlyin, America

I have to disagree with you, Don. As great of fighters as Mayweather and De La Hoya are, I didn’t really care that much about it. And boxing promoters and others involved in the sport should be concerned about that.
I am the marginal customer. I liked “Rocky,” I loved “Cinderella Man.” Heck, my generation grew up playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on our Nintendos. But nowadays guys in their mid-20s or early-30s are more likely to know the name of Don Flamingo rather than the heavy weight champ. Someone asked me off the top of my head who the champ was the other day. I responded Andrei Kirilenko. Some sports writer I am, huh?
Seriously, this is a problem. I love sports and I don’t have a clue who the best heavyweight fighter in the world is right now. In the days of our fathers and grandfathers Frasier, Foreman and Ali were household names. If I threw out the names Klitschko, Maskaev, Briggs and Chagaev, would average sports fans know that I was talking about the four belt-wearing heavyweights of the moment, or would they think the foursome sounded more like the Detroit Red Wings penalty killing unit?
Boxing needs reform. It needs businessmen who know how to promote their fights and not exploit them. It needs champions who connect with fans and make news for their talents in the ring and not in the tabloids. When the sport can deliver those things, then I, and I suspect a good number of other sports fans, will gladly be willing to care again.

Mike,

David Ortiz recently said he thinks Barry Bonds deserves respect from the fans and that he doesn’t even know for sure that the single-season home run king took steroids. Are you down with that? If baseball’s top players come out and support Barry, will you get off his back?

Bud S.
Pleaseletthisjustgoawayville, WI

I’m never going to respect someone who violated the sanctity of the game of baseball, be it Bonds or anyone else who exploited a certain commissioner’s blind eye towards the Steroid Era. Do I think Bonds should be recognized by the game when he hits home run number 756? Yes, I do, Bud. The commissioner’s office, team owners and players did nothing when confronted with this problem and the result of that passivity is before the game now. This is the bed they made and they ought to lie in it and celebrate Bonds. Does he deserve it? No, but those in charge of the game deserve every ounce of embarrassment they receive for putting our national pastime in this state.
As for Big Papi, statements like these are why everyone loves this guy. He respects his opponents and peers, even if others perceive them as villains. Heck, the Sawx cleanup hitter even donned a Yankees hat for a “Sportscenter” promo and my Boston fan roommate thought it was hilarious. Meanwhile, Tom Brady rocks the interlocking NY while walking the streets of NYC and the “Nation” has a coronary.

Mr. Hume,

$28 million on Roger Clemens? Don’t you think the Yankees paid too much for the Rocket?

Sincerely,
All of your friends from high school who went to college in Boston

Is it a lot of money? Absolutely. Is it too much to spend? No way. The Yankees are one of the richest franchises on the planet. Simply put, they can afford it. By signing Clemens they get a proven pitcher to bolster their staff and didn’t have to part with anyone from their farm system in a trade. It makes a ton of sense if you have the luxury of printing your own money like George Steinbrenner.
The Washington Post’s Tom Boswell wrote on Tuesday the Boss has a tendency to not “play fair.” Erroneous. Show me the rule that forbids such expenditures. The Yankees are going to take a hit on the luxury tax, in accordance with the rule crafted to govern such overspending. That’s the rule the league has. If you have the cabbage, you can spend it.
Do I agree with the practice? No. There needs to be a salary cap. But good luck getting baseball to push for one. And if you do start beating that drum, I hope you have a copy of your itinerary from the summer of 1994, because baseball fans might have a lot of free time on their hands if a cap is ever put on the table.

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