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Jeff Wilkin's Type A To Z
by Jeff Wilkin

Type A To Z

A Daily Gazette life blog
Features reporter Jeff Wilkin on pop culture

Bad sports

Annoyances and irritants come with all sports. I’m dealing with a bunch right now, so please bear with these assorted rants.

First, the NCAA basketball tournament. I can live with all the catch phrases, “March Madness,” the “Sweet 16,” the “Elite Eight.” But as years go by, I get more and more steamed by CBS and the network’s handling of the event.

There are more timeouts, and coaches naturally try to stockpile their opportunities to kill the clock. In a close game, seems like the last five minutes takes 15 minutes to play. Maybe they should give coaches unlimited timeouts; that way, there could be a break after every basket and CBS could bore me and the rest of the U.S. with those lousy Sonic hamburger commercials or the latest words of wisdom from Taco Bell, Dodge trucks and Progressive insurance.

A colleague has suggested that the NCAA toss in a new rule that CBS would have to follow — keep the cameras on the game for the last minute of the game, timeouts be damned. They wouldn’t be able to break away to cram in more commercials.

The newest basketball annoyance is something I’ve just noticed this year. A guy will be at the foul line, shooting two. He’ll toss up the first, and make it or miss it, the ref will grab the ball and toss it back to the player. The CBS announcers use this 8-second break to remind viewers that episodes of CBS shows like “Two Broke Girls” and “NCIS” are ready to deliver new installments of humor and drama. The mini-ads come with small pictures of the lead actors on the bottom of the screen.

Ugh. So now, you can’t even watch the game action without CBS sneaking in a commercial. These pitches guarantee I will never watch their crummy shows.

I’m down on another commercial, but this one is on a local talk radio network and involves another sort-of sport. Two fans of mixed martial arts are griping about New York’s refusal to grant licenses for an activity in which graphic beatings are the main draws. They say millions and dollars and hundreds of jobs come with “MMA.” One of the dopes says he wants to take his whole family to one of these savage beat-downs, but can’t because New York is such a bad sport.

Now there’s an image — Saturday night at the bloodbath! Mom and Dad walk Bobby and Susan into the arena, where amped fans with blood in their eyes rage and roar for the next human cock fight. The circus, baseball games and amusement parks are no longer cool family scenes. Naw, man — it’s watching a kick to the head, a stranglehold and a submission. Give me that old-time religion of broken bones and bleeding faces, a guy with Xs for eyes stuffed into an ambulance and ticketed for the fracture factory.

Good times. I hope state lawmakers never sign up mixed martial arts. Society is savage enough as it is.

The last beef I have comes with the New York Yankees. It’s spring, almost time to root for the Baltimore Orioles and root against the old Highlanders.

I’ve been waiting for this year for the last 10 years or so. For once, the Orioles seem to be the up-and-comers, and the Yankees — with key injuries to longtime, aging starting players — look like the down-and-outers. The Yankees have been picking up guys released from other teams, and new arrivals include Vernon Wells from the L.A. Angels, Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians and Brennan Boesch, late of the Detroit Tigers.

I have nothing against the players — I’m sure they’re all men’s men. But these other teams have ditched them for a reason. Their skills on the major league level are sort of questionable.

My gripe is really against that old Yankee black magic. These guys will put on the famous pinstripes and automatically run like the wind, crush baseballs like maniacs and catch every ball that comes their way, like a witch on a broomstick. Vernon Wells will probably hit 20 home runs in April alone.

I can just see it coming, so I’m getting the rant in early. I look for “Mr. Applegate” on the Yankee roster every spring.

I just wish the Orioles had a bell, book and candle department of their own.

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