Only one reason sports should upset us

Thursday

Watching sports should be a lot more depressing than it is. Here we are sitting around eating chips and wings and drinking cheap beer while watching other men on television, making millions for playing a game. We’ve got friends. They’ve got entourages. We’ve got girlfriends. They’ve got groupies. We hate commercials. They make ‘em.

And as if all the perks that come with being an athlete aren’t enough, they’re better people than we are as well. At least that’s how the talking-heads see it. Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever because he had the will power the rest of us lack. Brett Favre is still throwing touchdown passes because he’s got more heart than us mortals. It’s LeBron James’ courage that separates him from me, not his size or athletic ability. In fact, talent almost always finds itself somewhere behind determination, work ethic, drive, focus, intensity and confidence.

Really makes you want to pass up the Pabst and start pounding Prozac, right?

Well don’t, because the truth is most athletes are more flawed than a handbag from Canal Street. Case in point: Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera and former Cleveland Browns receiver Braylon Edwards. Both players made news last weekend for foolish off-the-field behavior that resulted in the Tigers missing the playoffs and Edwards being traded to New York.

With his team needing to win its final two games in order to wrap up the American League Central, Cabrera focused on getting frat boy drunk early Saturday morning and then proceeded to go home and get into a fight with his wife. A fight that was serious enough for the police to be called to their residence and for Cabrera to be taken into custody.

Imagine the phone call made to Tigers team president Dave Dombrowski, who had to go pick up his star player at the station a few hours before the biggest game of the season. Probably took a lot of will power not to strangle Cabrera right there on the spot. But you have to protect your assets, even when they act like asses.

You know the rest. Cabrera took an o-fer (he didn’t get a hit all weekend) and the Tigers lost. A win Sunday forced a one-game playoff with the Minnesota Twins. Their season ended Tuesday night.

Roughly ten hours later, the Browns were completing a trade that sent their troubled star to the Jets. Edwards didn’t catch a pass in another Browns loss last Sunday and was determined to drink his woes away that evening. He complained to a local media member and then he punched one of LeBron James’ friends in the face.

That’s not courage. That’s beer balls.

But of course, Edwards got what he wanted all along. No thanks to hard work or perseverance, though. He whined and cried and became enough of a disturbance to the Browns that they sent him away, giving him a new lease on life with a much better team.

Now Edwards should get to the playoffs for the first time in his career. Maybe even the Super Bowl. That will probably earn him a new contract and the same praise another entitled crybaby, Randy Moss, got when he came to New England. They’ll call him rejuvenated, a player who just needed a change of scenery.

Life is even easier for Cabrera. He was reprimanded, but what can Dombrowski and the Tigers really do with him? This was only the second of an eight year, $153 million dollar contract and he’s guaranteed every penny no matter how often he shows up to the field hung over.

So as it usually plays out in these situations, the bad guys won. And that’s the only reason for being depressed when it comes to sports.

When athletes stop supplying but keep demanding.

7 comments:

Anonymous 10:38 PM, October 08, 2009  

This was a great post, well thought out. I don't actually agree with you. But good job nonetheless.

rob 11:52 PM, October 08, 2009  

well said, dan

Joe Mattingly 8:38 AM, October 09, 2009  

I get what you're saying, and there's obviously some validity to it. Miguel Cabrera has some clear selfishness that impacts his decisions. But I'm a stats guy, and the stats say to be a little more forgiving.

He had a bad weekend, but without all the hullabaloo, so did Manny Ramirez, Ian Kinsler, Carlos Lee, and Carlos Beltran. And there can be no doubting that Cabrera was a big part of the reason the Tigers were in the mix to begin with. His season stat line was very solid (.324, 34 HR, 103 RBI), not to mention that he's played in 160 games in both of his seasons in Detroit. So if he doesn't care or isn't trying, he's doing a poor job of proving it on the field.

I do think you're right about some of the terminology that gets used to describe athletes, though. It's not "courageous" to play with a bad back or a ligament strain; it's stupid. Though, to be fair, most athletes have more willpower than I do; put an eclair in front of me and see how long I can resist it.

Not long. :)

Sexy Rexy 11:12 AM, October 09, 2009  

Really funny and true post

However, I don't know how much Braylon really wanted to get out of Cleveland. Now I don't admit to knowing a whole lot- or anything- about what happens with Browns football, but did Edwards just want to get out? Bill Simmons had a funny take where maybe Edwards owed LeBron money or maybe Edwards slept with a gf in Bron's entourage? I don't know.

It seems the Browns wanted to trade Edwards from the get go. I'm sure him punching someone doesn't help anything, but I think he would have been traded with or without the fight- Browns got some awesome draft picks out of this deal

I think sometimes, with regards to your Randy Moss sidenote, that players just don't want to play for a certain team. Corey Dillon was fine hen he went to NE, but was named a "problem child" just because he didn't like Cincy (don't blame him). Ochocinco has never been a problem until the team starting losing and he was also unhappy. Moss was great in Minn and NE which shows me that he was forced to be in Oakland and they only way to get out was playing like shit (again don't blame him, Richard Seymour- take some notes!)

I think it's a shame that athletes feel they're better than everyone else and they feel they can punch someone in an nightclub and think it's OK or drive drunk and kill a man. Which goes your your humourous first paragraph, but I'm going to wait and see how Braylon does in Ny before I label him a "problem" like T.O. I personally think Edwards is not that good and if you can get value for him, which i think the Browns did, then why not part with. I feel if Edwards behaved like Marvin Harrison (pre 2008), the same reuslt (the trade0 would still happen

sorry for the long comment, but overall, good stuff!

Anonymous 11:31 AM, October 09, 2009  

Both Edwards and Cabrera have had issues ever since coming into their sports. Dan is right on here.

Xander Diaz 8:09 AM, October 10, 2009  

Great post Dan. You make some interesting points. Thanks.

New York Football Jets Blog 5:53 PM, October 10, 2009  

I say generally speaking you have a valid point, but the issue with athletes is that their lives are under a complete microscope. I don't condone punching someone, but without all the facts about that night it is too early to jump to conclusions. Except that is what sells, remember the whole Shawne Merriman situation, sounded like it was lights out for his career during the first 24 hours and then it was shown he was acting responsibly.

Braylon Edwards may be all the New York Football Jets need to be a true contender this year, brilliant trade.

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