Thursday, February 22, 2007

Breakup in the Bronx, A Norv for All Seasons, and Pippen's Pipe Dream

I never thought I'd find myself writing these words. I thought they'd go the distance. I thought they were stronger than this... stronger than Andre and Steffi, stronger then Mia and Nomar. And yet, this President's Day weekend, the earth-shattering news broke: Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are no longer best friends forever. You read that correctly, folks - A-Rod and Jeter are BFFs no more. How will we go on? How will we cope? Can the Yankees even bring themselves to compete in light of the biggest of big chills?

Right.

Look, I know that football just ended and that we're still a month away from March Madness, but there's no need to flip our lids over the first non-story of pre-preseason baseball. Chemistry is vital in most team sports, but baseball involves so much player autonomy that unless A-Rod were to sleep with Jeter's mother, I somehow doubt that a petty rift could disrupt the Yankee clubhouse and make any kind of difference in their season. This isn't a feud, this isn't a scandal; this is a simple case of two players having a strictly professional relationship. Wake me up when the steroid witch-hunts resume.

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Speaking of break-ups and their resolutions, the newly coach-divorced AJ Smith and his San Diego Chargers have announced that the coach to take their team to the lofty heights that Martyball could not attain is... Norv Turner. That's right, legendary Norv Turner - owner of a stellar career record (52-82-1) and an impressive one playoff appearance in nine seasons as a head coach - is the man who will replace the post-seasonally impotent Schottenheimer. In other words, a team that went 14-2 last season went out and hired a coach who, at his best, won 10 games in a season. An inspiring choice if there ever was one... was Rich Kotite not available?

At the end of the day, the Chargers decided to join the head-coach hunt...well, at the end of the day. So what was the rush to sack Marty? Sure, if it were possible to land a big-name assistant coach or a well-established veteran coach, we wouldn't be talking about this as a gaffe - but when your team has the league's best record, anything but a serious coaching upgrade is probably a downgrade. The drama between Smith and Schottenheimer should have been the football equivalent of "Let's stay together for the kids," but, instead, Smith decided to marry a two-time divorcée with a history of failed marriages. You stay classy, San Diego.

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Lastly, 41-year-old Scottie Pippen has made it known that he's ready to contribute to a playoff contender despite having been absent from pro-basketball for some three years. Unretirement. Scottie Pippen. There's a reason `unretirement' isn't a real word, people, and it's because it doesn't work. Ever. Seriously, not-counting "in-prime" retirements where athletes leave and return to a sport while still at their physical peaks, can someone name me more than one comeback attempt by an over-the-hill athlete that has worked out well? There is a point where veteran leadership is trumped by lack of ability, and I'm pretty sure that a post-40 basketball player is at that point regardless of what he once was capable of doing. If Scottie really wants to be relevant again, he needs to pull an Emmitt and compete on "Dancing with the Stars."

Now, if this act of comeback lunacy doesn't rate high enough on the insanity meter for you, consider this recent gem by Pippen: "The fans who understand the game, the GMs and coaches... I think they'd rather have a Scottie than a Michael." Um, Scottie...are you high? It isn't a stretch to call you an all-time great, but one thing is very clear: you will always be Robin to MJ's Batman. This isn't a discussion, it's a simple fact, so let's just take a few deep breaths and promise to think before we speak from now on.

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End Rant, over and out.

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