Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Super Bowl Hype - For the Record...

I just wanted to get this on the record. From the moment the Steelers secured a berth in Super Bowl XL, the media has been telling us that his return "home" to Detroit was an overdone story. The first I heard of it was from Boomer Esiason on the CBS Post-Game Show, where he stated: "Better get ready for all those stories on how Jerome is heading home". On The Score Thursday night, Greg Sansone signed off by saying: "And this just in...Jerome Bettis is from Detroit!".

Yet I haven't seen ONE story on Bettis playing in his hometown, in his first Super Bowl. What I've seen and read are scores of media talking about how that story is overblown. It's like the media is criticizing itself before it even acts! This is what we've come to with our journalists: framing the story, before it even BECOMES a story!

Just thought I'd get that off my chest.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The List: Classiest Athletes

I was having a conversation with my buddy Seb the other day where he pointed out how in his opinion there was a lack of players with class in today's sporting landscape. The comment came after another of our lengthy discussions about Terrell Owens and his utter lack of common sense, and class.

At first I agreed with him, but after further thought I realized there are plenty of classy players in sports, they just don't get as much attention. In that spirit I offer you this list of classy players, current and all-time, a list to which I will surely see fit to expand as time goes by and new crops of classy players blossom.

1. Curtis Martin

In 11 years as an NFL running back, I have heard Curtis Martin complain exactly zero times. For a guy who works under the microscope that is the New York media, that's incredible. He's racked up so many all-purpose yards, he puts Casey Martin's golf cart to shame. The shame is that despite his undeniable greatness, Hall of Fame credentials, he gets little media attention because he's never held up a liquor store or whined about his quarterbacks. And boy, could he have whined about his quarterbacks; Ray Lucas, Vinny Testaverde, Glen Foley, Rick Mirer, Chad Pennington, Quincy Carter, Brooks Bollinger, Jay Fiedler. Despite the succession of stiffs handing him the ball, Curtis Martin has consistenly put up Pro Bowl numbers, and has one of the lowest fumble ratios in the history of the game. He's a lock for this list.

2. Donovan McNabb

I'm not a fan of Donovan McNabb, but I do admire him for the way he has handled the adversity thrown his way, right from the beginning of his career. First the Iggles fans booed his selection at the draft. He went out and won them over with his play on the field. Then, he had to suffer through a racism controversy brought on by Rush Limbaugh's comments on EPSN Gameday. He refused to take the bait. Now, in the past year, McNabb has been stabbed in the back repeatedly by Terrell Owens, an ingrate who he had lobbied hard to have signed in Philly. Through it all, McNabb deflected these topics with humour and humility.

...to be continued...

Countdown to Spring

20 days until pitchers and catchers report to camp! Thankfully, if Jeff Blair is to be believed (and I do), Mike Piazza won't be one of those catchers showing up in Dunedin to report for the Toronto Blue Jays. Here's a guy who's a shoe-in as a Hall-of-Famer, yet signing him at this point would be like casting Goldie Hawn in a romantic comedy with Heath Ledger: the milk's gone a little sour.

Besides, JP Ricciardi has shown so much savvy up to this point that to blunder in such a way would come as a total shock. Mike Piazza is an upgrade over Greg Zaun in name only. Last year, Zaun hit .251. Piazza? An identical .251 average. Zaun played in 30 more games than Piazza, and is an asset defensively, whereas Piazza is done behind the plate. Nevertheless, who do you think would command a bigger salary?

From a PR standpoint, I don't think you can excite the fanbase any more than it is. Friends of mine that can be at best described as casual fans are keenly interested in finding out what this newly assembled cast of characters can accomplish. Therefore, bringing a "name" like Piazza simply to sell tickets makes no sense.

Stick with Zaunie, JP - you've got us buying tickets already.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The List: Most Despised Athletes - All-Time

Here's a list of my most despised athletes of all time.

1. Terrell Owens

Still active (sorta), Owens is a prime example of the diva athlete. Owens manages to make my blood pressure exceed normal limits, and produces my most vile diatribes in recorded memory - things I used to reserve for the deification of Pete Sampras, for example. The worst part is he doesn't understand why he's hated - that takes the cake for me. Tuh-rell, you are a terrible human being. You live your life for one person, yourself, and no, that is not ok. You live in a society, bud. There are other people around you, which you hurt with your bad behaviour. Grow up.

Worst part is, Nick Saban has expressed interest in signing Owens in the offseason. This will create one of my biggest dilemnas of all time as a sports fan: my beloved team, which I've loyally followed since the age of 10, turning to my most hated athlete for help. What to do? Can some Eagles fans weigh in on how to cope? Yankee fans probably felt similarly towards the signing of Mark Bellhorn, but at least he sucked.

2. Darcy Tucker (*ucker)

Somewhere inside Darcy Tucker, there is a human being. That is not always evident, mind you. Tucker is the perfect embodiment of Leaf Nation; crass, unsportsmanlike, dirty, whiny. Those of you who are Sens fans understand what a mongrel this character is. One time, Tucker got hit so hard he ended up over the boards and into the Sens bench. *ucker then decides to start a fight, right there and then! Some might call that courageous, I call it stupidity. He ended up having to get rescued by the officials, who must have done so with gritted teeth considering the amount of times Tucker tries to induce penalties by flailing about on the ice like a fish out of water.

Speaking of which, that's another thing for which Tucker is notorious - diving. It got so bad at one point that officials refused to stop play when he was faking an injury. Sheepishly, Tucker got up off the ice and headed towards the bench. What a disgrace.

Despite all of this, he is characterized by the Toronto-centric media as "gritty", "all-heart", "tough" and a "team player". In the rest of the country he is known for what he really is: a cheap-shot artist who dishes it out but can't take it. Here's to hoping he remains a Leaf for the rest of his pitiful career.

3. Pete Sampras

I understand it might seem strange to have a tennis player on the "most despised list", one who kept quiet for his entire career. If a tennis player were to induce venom, you would expect Yanick Noah, Jimmy Conors or Johnny Mac to make the list. Nope, I reserve my worst feelings for Pete Sampras, the Man Who Ruined Tennis.

Considered by some (including John McEnroe) to be the greatest player of all time, I'd rather have him remembered as the man who mercilessly drove a stake through the heart of tennis. In my eyes, "Pistol Pete" was nothing but a power player who lived off his big serve to pummel opponents into submission. By loading up on his powerful and accurate serve he would rake up ace after ace, or force weak returns which he could bury with overhead smashes. Nothing drove me crazy like hearing analysts drool over this style of play, as if he was this brilliant serve-and-volley maestro. Meanwhile, the popularity of the game plummeted because seriously, who wants to watch 3 second spurts of action rather than long, strategy-laden rallies?

Yes, Sampras dominated the game for a long time with this style of play, but I reckon he wouldn't have been able to do it with the old wooden rackets. That's what saddened me about Johnny Mac sucking up to him with those long, glorifying speeches he'd get into when analysing a Sampras match - McEnroe, in his prime, would have crushed Sampras if those old rackets were used. The proof is in the pudding: Sampras never won Wimbledon, on a surface that slowed his serve down.

More than any other sport, personality plays a big factor in tennis. Which is why Agassi, McEnroe, Connors, Becker and co. symbolize the golden age of the sport's popularity. When Pete came onto the scene and started serving his way to glory, he did it in a way that inspired no one. His body language during matches led one to believe he was nothing but a 200 pound gorilla, repeating the same motions over and over again. Even during his "epic" matches with Agassi, Pistol Pete rarely showed emotion. He was as bland a superstar as they come.

4. Jim Kelly

Four straight Super Bowl losses. Heck, if I was a BILLS fan I'd dislike him! Yes, I'm a Dolphins fan. Yes, Jim Kelly was a thorn in my side during my formative teenage years. but wouldn't you agree that there was just something tangibly loathable about Jim Kelly? He had such an arrogance about him, one of those guys that just makes one's skin crawl when he speaks.

The K-Gun offense was effective, but even the name makes me sick. The K-Gun. There was a point in his career where he and Marv Levy (class act) were feuding because Kelly wanted to call the offense from the huddle. Can you imagine that today? Right, his name is Peyton Manning. And he's America's Darling, right? For those of you who are reading this and are too young to remember Jim Kelly and the essence of futility that were the Buffalo Bills during the 1990's, imagine Peyton Manning's attitude, with half the talent.

Yes, Kelly got his team to the Super Bowl on four straight occasions, often at the expense of my beloved Dolphins. Perhaps I'm being too hard on him, but I can't help myself. Some things are beyond reason.

...to be continued...

Welcome to the Ottawa Sports Guy

Hi everyone,

and thanks for dropping by. I hate beginnings, so I'll just dive right into it.

Yes, this blog was inspired by the Boston Sports Guy. Remember, it was "inspired" by Boston Sports Guy - I'm certainly not as witty or insightful as he is. What I will try and do is give the Ottawa Sports Fan a voice, since it is very difficult for any non-Toronto-based sports news to be published. There, I said it. Now let the hate mail from T.O. file in.

Here are the sports I like, and don't like (I suppose I'll be writing about them all, but I want you to know from the outset what you can expect, so you don't write in saying stuff like "OSG, why don't you ever write about Scandinavian Extreme Javelin?")


- American Football (NFL)
- Hockey
- Baseball
- Soccer
- Tennis
- Track & Field
- F1 Auto Racing
- Boxing


- Basketball
- American Football (CFL)
- Figure Skating
- Golf
- Horse Racing (which to me is NOT a sport played by humans, but by HORSES)


- College Football
- Cycling
- Aquatics

I'm probably missing some, so I'll add to this list as things come up.

And here are my favorite sports teams and athletes:

- Ottawa Senators
- Miami Dolphins
- Everton FC
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Andre Agassi
- Roger Federer
- Martina Hingis
- Jacques Villeneuve

And loathed:

- Toronto Maple Leaves (I refuse to misspell it!)
- Buffalo Bills
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Chelsea FC
- New York Yankees
- Tuh-Rell Owens
- Andy Roddick

Obviously, this acreage of the blogosphere will include my personal biases, but keep in mind that I pride myself for my ability to step back and look at the big picture on every topic I tackle (sport or non-sport). Feel free to engage me in debate, and I will publish the best stuff.

Perfect, I'm done with the start. Now I can begin venting.