Forget about the Dodgers and Angels in the playoffs last night in HD here in SoCal. I much preferred watching the United Football League on Versus on my reconditioned netbook. I can relate a little to the UFL, since part of my 16-year career in main sports media was spent in mid-size markets. So really I understand just how tough credibility can be to come by for a start-up league.
But thankfully, the UFL is under the discriminating stewardship of the former agent of Pacman Jones, league commissioner Michael Huyghue. Huyghue clearly understands that in order to draw fans in a hotly-competitive, over-saturated, mid-week professional football market like Las Vegas, you have to give the fans what they want. As I’ve already found out personally, one of the league’s first priorities was to drill-down on online ticket sales. Then there’s the all-important …
After hearing about Mike Singletary’s latest motivational move at San Francisco 49ers training camp, we can all be glad of this: he kept his pants on this time. In fact, he did what many 49ers fans wish someone would have done years ago: he sent former No. 1 draft pick and genial bust Alex Smith packing.
Smith tried to force a pass to noted slacker-slash-slugger Vernon Davis, but it was tipped and eventually picked off. Unfortunately for Smith, this came right after Singletary announced to the team that “the next guy responsible for a turnover would have to sit on the hill for the rest of practice,” leading to Smith getting his perch high on a hill.
Again, some one tell me how this is punishment? Instead of working his butt off at training camp and sweating in the summer heat, Smith got to relax and watch the practice from a grassy vantage point - probably under a shady tree while eating a couple of apples as bluebirds sang to him. And I guess that we are supposed to be impressed that his starting offensive line came to sit with him in a “nice show of solidarity,” although I suspect they saw a chance to get out of the last half-hour of practice and made the most of it.
I know NFL teams are careful not to push players too hard, but don’t players run laps as punishment any more? Suicide sprints? Something other than sitting down and not training at training camp? Mike Singletary’s training camp is allegedly some combination of the Junction Boys, the Bataan Death March and the training montage from “Rocky IV” from how the media is portraying it, but if that’s as tough as it gets in the NFL, maybe we’re coddling players a bit too much.
I have no idea what a UFL training camp is going to be like; I’m guessing it will be more advanced than teaching the players what the Xs and Os on the playbook mean, even if just barely. But it does seem like the players are going to go through a lot of punishment - at least on the field, thanks to their names and uniforms. That is, if the ones announced on Monday by the Las Vegas franchise are any indication.
First off there’s the name: the Las Vegas Locomotives. Because when I think of Las Vegas, I don’t think of gambling or nightlife or danger - I think of trains. Yup, you really get the high rollers coming in on the train from Barstow to Las Vegas. It’s basically a half-step up from calling the team the Las Vegas Hobos, and unless your team’s offensive coordinator is John Hodgman, that’s not going to fly.
And then there are the uniforms. Now, I’m no sartorial demigod, but…I don’t want to say that it’s hideous, but the USFL called and they are planning on suing you for $1 for ripping off their designs. The whole thing looks horrendously 80s, from the shiny neon aquamarine pants to the blocky numbering. I think I saw MC Skat Kat wearing something suspiciously similar in a video with Paula Abdul back in the day.
Basically, the whole thing is a mess, and even Las Vegas head coach Jim Fassel is confused as to the connection between Las Vegas and trains. (But this isn’t the first time he’s been confused in his life.) Plus, the team’s name is sure to be shortened by people to “Locos,” which the owners seem to think is great cross-cultural marketing but just reminds me of how crazy you’d have to be to try and go up against the NFL.
Finally, I have to wonder what Jeff Gordon’s motivation is to keep racing. After all, he could be at home having sex with his Brazilian supermodel wife, playing with his kids or simply climbing up and down one of the giant mountains of cash he presumably has laying around his house from all of his winnings and endorsement deals.
And after yesterday’s race at the Watkins Glen road course in New York, he is probably wondering the same thing himself after being involved in a bad multi-car crash that sent him careening into a guard rail - not a SAFER barrier - at nearly top speed. Gordon walked away unscathed, although he was complaining of aggravating a sore back injured after he’s been involved in several big crashes in the last few years.
After watching that replay again, let me ask Gordon something: hot Brazilian supermodel wife, or smashing the bejeezus out of your car head-on into a guard rail? Your choice.
Crocs announced late yesterday that it is pulling out of its title sponsorship of the AVP Tour at the end of this season. But how ever will beach volleyball survive without its association with ugly rubber clogs? Wait, they’ll survive thanks to hot chicks rolling around on the sand wearing next to nothing? I guess…
This is exactly what you want to hear from a tennis player playing his last season before his retirement: former world No. 1 Marat Safin admits that it’s “impossible” that he’ll win another title. I don’t think he’ll be getting the same teary send-off at the U.S. Open that Andre Agassi did.
The Chicago White Sox were able to get two-time All-Star Alex Rioson waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays for no compensation (which with the exchange rate means the White Sox made money on the deal). So, do you think the Blue Jays were thrilled to be rid of the $64 million due to Rios through 2014?
The San Francisco Giants are honoring former pitcher Dave Dravecky on the 20th anniversary of his comeback from cancer. Which is great, except it reminds me of the sound his arm made when it snapped like a twig during his comeback, and then I need to throw up.
There was great line in a SPORTING NEWS post about the terrible level of umpiring seen this season, with umps continually deciding to make themselves the center of attention. It mentions Phillies announcer Larry Anderson responding to umpire Joe West telling him that MLB umps were “the best in the business” by telling the audience that he wanted to respond that “if you guys are the best in the business, you’ve got a really bad business.”