It never ceases to amaze The Count how some people will defend their morally bankrupt heroes to the end, even when it’s clear their morally bankrupt heroes are dirty, rotten cheaters. This happens all the time. Ohio State fans ignore evidence that Jim Tressel is a dirty, rotten cheater by saying he did wonderful charity work. I’m not sure, but didn’t Al Capone also do wonderful charity work? And to the first person who screams, “He compared Jim Tressel to Al Capone!” — you have no friends, and there’s a cleanup on aisle six. But about this Tressel thing: When are people going to let go? We count down . . .
10. Since when do fired coaches guarantee victories?
It just keeps getting worse. Ohio State released phone records that show, among other things, Tressel exchanged 77 phone calls and text messages with Terrelle Pryor’s hometown mentor, Ted Sarniak, on April 10 after a former player tipped him off to possible NCAA violations. Kinda paints a picture of a coach scrambling in the shadows. Since his “resignation,” Tressel has lost his naming rights of a steak special at a Columbus restaurant; and a minor league baseball team, the Fort Myers Miracle, held a “Rest the Vest” night (fans could were asked to donate old sweater vests and, if possible, show off their tattoos). But Tressel loyalists are sticking to their guy, like fungus. Some made a pilgrimage to his house and sang, “We Don’t Give a Damn About the Whole State of Michigan.” Tressel, just happy it wasn’t “60 Minutes” knocking on the door, came out to join them. And then he promised, “On Nov. 26, we’re gonna kick their [butt].” (He was talking about the Michigan game, not a meeting with the NCAA enforcement committee.)
Playing to the crowd
9. And the next school to go on probation will be . . .
While we’re on the subject of college sports meltdowns, the boys at BetUS.com have done it again. They’re listing odds on what school gets in trouble with the NCAA next. Good news, Georgia and Georgia Tech fans: You’re down the list. The low odds to commit an NCAA violation (not specifying sport) are USC (8-1); Ohio State (9-1); and Florida , Ole Miss and Memphis (10-1 each). Georgia is listed at 14-1 to commit a violation. UGA and Tech each are 14-1 to get investigated in football. By the way, the over-under on arrests at Florida has been set at 2. Seems like an easy cover.
8. Tim Tebow! Tim Tebow! Tim Tebow!
The decline of American journalism continues. The Denver Post opened a Facebook thread asking readers: “We’re working on a story about the appeal that Tim Tebow has with teenage and younger women. Our question is: Why? What’s so fascinating about him? If you’re in this demographic, contact reporter Weston Phippen.” I think there’s a good chance this story eventually will be turned into a screen play. Then a movie. Maybe a Pulitzer? No idea what kind of responses the Post is getting but there are a string of humorous comments on Facebook, including this one from a woman: “As a Gator who attended Florida, and does respect Tim Tebow as an athlete and a positive influence… I STILL think this is a dumb-as-rocks idea for a ‘news’ story.”
7. Checking in on the remaining Atlanta Spirit property: oops
The Count has received several emails from Hawks/Thrashers fans who claim they will not attend Hawks games next season out of protest because of the way the Atlanta Spirit ran down and then drop-kicked the hockey team into oblivion (or Winnipeg). It follows that some in the Hawks’ offices are bracing for yet another Atlanta Spirit backlash. Now it gets even better: a botched peace offering. The Hawks have invited season-ticket holders to a “Hawks Appreciation Night” at the Buckhead Bottle Bar (which is owned by Zaza Pachulia) for cocktails and a viewing of Game 5 of the NBA finals. One season ticket holder forwarded me their invitation. The second time this person received it, the invitation included this addendum:
Damien Wilkins as well as George Teague will be in Attendance
I’m going to assume the employee meant Jeff Teague and not George Teague. Then again, until the playoffs, we all kind of forgot his name, too. It’s also possible the Spirit is reaching out to Alabama fans, given the owners have alienated so many inside of state boundaries. The same employee also typed “your invited” instead of “you’re invited” in the subject line, a common mistake, although probably not one that an ownership group fighting credibility problems should be making. On a related note, I’m still waiting for my invitation.
6. A new look for Francoeur: Pink spikes and underwear
In the midst of the Braves having a miserable time with their offense, it won’t make you feel any better to learn that Jeff Francoeur is having a solid season with Kansas City (.276, nine homers, 35 RBI) after hitting .340 in the final 15 games last season with Texas. Also, he recently took batting practice wearing only underwear and pink cleats. And yes, I know: His nickname is Frenchy. Via the Royals blog in the Kansas City Star, Francoeur cracked up his teammates when he wore only skivvies and pink spikes (which the Royals wore to raise breast cancer awareness). Then again, Francoeur also used to wear his “lucky turkey” underwear when he was with the Braves to help break losing streaks. Francoeur says when he played for a National League team (the Braves or the Mets), he told teammates he would try to help break a losing streak by taking batting practice in the nude — presumably in the indoor cage — wearing only shoes and batting gloves. His team scored 11 runs that night so it wasn’t necessary. Did a little research. For what it’s worth: The Braves had a five-game losing streak in August of 2008 when Francoeur went 4-for-5 against San Francisco in an 11-5 win. So I’m thinking: Dan Uggla has tried everything else. It might be time to break out the Victoria’s/Frenchy’s Secret collection.
5. FIFA: Look out! They’re wearing head scarves!
It’s one thing to be corrupt. But stupid too? FIFA, which governs soccer when it’s not involved with bribery or rigging elections — or maybe that should read: governs while involved with bribery and rigging elections — forced the Iran women’s soccer team to forfeit an Olympic qualifying match because players showed up wearing head scarves (hajibs). FIFA believes the scarves can cause choking injuries. Of course they can. For similar reasons, a soccer team of Hasidic rabbis never would be allowed to compete. You just never know when a yarmulke might come flying off a scalp and behead somebody. (Sudden thought: Awesome James Bond bad guy “Oddjob” at center-forward.) I understand these rules are not new. But it’s not like the Iranian women have an advantage with the head covering. Also, not buying the “safety” issues. No worries. There’s still time before the 2012 Olympics. FIFA is always open to legislative changes and will keep its night drop-box open should Iran decide to spin by with a financial inducement.
Meanwhile, about Oddjob . . .
4. Atlanta Thrashers: Rest in pieces
The Thrashers are gone but their fans haven’t quite let go. Several congregated the other night at one of The Count’s frequent haunts: T.J.’s Sports Bar in Alpharetta (owned by ex-Atlanta Flame Tim Ecclestone). Had the chance to meet a few.
Also discovered this week that several folks have adjusted their avatars on Facebook and Twitter, many using the tombstone pictured on the left (The Count has a soft spot for tombstones and graveyards). Credit goes to Bill Sengstacken, who wrote in an email: “I really didn’t expect it to go viral. It was kind of weird to see that being used by all of my Thrashers pals on their Facebook profiles at the same time. Feel free to use it as you see fit, as long as it is to crap on the Atlanta Spirit Group, that is!”
Jeff Eaton has adjusted his Twitter avatar now include the crying bird. He wrote: “The reason I created and used the crying Thrasher avatar is for all the good people getting swept under by the wake. … I guess over the years this has taught me to become more a fan of the game itself and great hockey rather than getting too emotionally tied to one specific team.”
To you, my friends, I send out this appropriate tune (if you’ve got about 10 minutes).
Funeral for a friend/Love Lies Bleeding
3. LSU: It’s not our fault that our recruits are dumb
The Count acknowledges the SEC is the greatest college football conference in the world, even if the occasionally incredibly stupid comment from the occasionally incredibly stupid coach or administrator makes us go, “He didn’t really say that, did he?” Like LSU athletic director Joe Alleva. This is how a major college administrator justifies the pathetic practice of oversigning: “You’ve got to understand, the elementary education and secondary education in the state of Louisiana is not the best in the world. So we have kids coming out, and we don’t know if they are going to qualify or not. We don’t know if they’re going to get through the NCAA clearinghouse and be eligible. Same for the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas. So a lot of times, you may need to sign 28 to get to 25.” So basically, Alleva prefers to blame the educational systems of the states LSU recruits from rather than admit it probably would be better to not recruit academic borderline kids who probably are going to flunk out or not qualify. Yeah, that makes sense. It’s a great way for an athletic program to absolve itself of any responsibility. How do these people get jobs?
2. Gay softball league: Don’t even think of pretending you’re gay
The Count isn’t sure that this belongs on the same level of issues as, say, women’s rights activists fighting for membership at Augusta National. But if you’re going to play in their softball league, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance apparently demands some kind of proof that you’re not just pretending to be gay. A federal judge in Seattle has ruled that the NAGAAA (I’m not making that up) can temporarily keep its rules that limit the number of heterosexual players who are on each team in the Gay Softball World Series. Three men, who claimed they were bisexual, apparently brought the suit because the league said they were not gay enough. You know: They didn’t look gay. They didn’t sound gay. They didn’t act gay. (I really wish I was making this up.) By the way, just wondering: Is it the suggestion by the “Alliance” that too many semi-straight males represents an unfair advantage? The judge said he will allow the case to go forward. Quoting from a Seattle Times article: “During the game, the manager of another team filed a protest under the rule that limits the number of non-gay players. The men contend they were brought, one at a time, into a room containing as many as 25 people and questioned about their sexual preferences. The panel members then voted on whether they men were gay or non-gay.” (Did I mention that I’m not making this up?) Here’s what I would like to know: How would the NAGAAA feel if somebody started a Heterosexuals Only Softball League? Or what if any of the pro sports leagues — all of whom have preached tolerance and have issued fines and suspensions for anti-gay slurs — suddenly said: “Sorry. Straights only.” The Count says: It works both ways.
1. And finally . . .
Attention, rookies: This is how you eventually get a baseball thrown at your cranium. Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper, who plays for Single-A Hagerstown (Md.), crushed a home run off Greensboro pitcher Zachary Neal. Then he blew him a kiss after he rounded third base. So it appears Harper’s head has not quite caught up with his physical maturity. Don’t expect to see him in the majors right away. Take a look.
By Jeff Schultz