Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

News we could see coming

The sports news of today provided several big stories, but none of these four should really surprise anyone.

Barry Bonds decides to pull out of the World Baseball Classic

Let the jokes and conspiracies begin about Bonds bailing because of the stricter drug policies at the World Baseball Classic, but this makes sense on another level. This is likely Bonds' last year. He's sure to pass Babe Ruth and move into second place on the all-time home run list, and if he's healthy -- and if pitchers throw the ball anywhere near the plate against him -- he's got a chance to hit the 48 homers needed to pass Hank Aaron. You can't blame Bonds for wanting to make the most of his at-bats in the games where those home runs count. It wouldn't be surprising to see other stars pull out between now and March. By the way, ESPN has a nice little site with an overview, rosters, and facts about the countries, found here.

Theo Epstein returns as Red Sox GM

This one made way too much sense. The original kid GM loves the Red Sox too much, he's too smart for the team to let him get away, and it was never made public why he walked away in the first place. Once no team snapped him up quickly -- Wouldn't you want the guy who built the first Red Sox World Championship in 86 years? -- it was only a matter of time before the sides came to their senses.

Ron Artest rejects a trade to the Kings

Actually, he didn't reject the trade for Peja Stojakovic. Artest spoke out that he didn't want to play for Sacramento, so the Kings cancelled the trade. Lots of ways I can go with this one. Are the fans in Arco Arena too laid back for Artest? No promises from the Kings for the days off to further his recording career? Not enough words to rhyme with Sacramento for his raps?

Then there's this quote from Ron: "It's not that I don't want to play there." OK, here's Media Training 101: When someone explicitly repeats that a published report is not true, it almost always is.

Meanwhile, now that the Kings have traded Peja, only to now take him back. They might want to see if Epstein has some free time for a consultation before he goes back to Boston. After all, Epstein deftly managed a similar situation when he had trades in place for Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez as part of the Alex Rodriguez acquisition-gone-awry. He handled it quite well, keeping Manny and letting Nomar pout before trading him for the final pieces of the championship puzzle.

Mario Lemieux retires

Nothing sarcastic to say about this news. Wayne Gretzky will always be The Great One. Lemieux then must be The Damn-Near-Great One. While he didn't have the ultimate impact on hockey that Gretzky did, Lemieux will always be remembered as perhaps the sport's greatest warrior.

He blended size and skill like no player before or since. He produced two Stanley Cups without having the overall talent of Gretzky's Edmonton teams. And he averaged just 0.04 points per game fewer than Gretzky.

He lifted a moribund franchise to two Stanley Cups, then rescued it from bankruptcy. He played his entire career with one team, avoiding the traveling circus that Gretzky had to endure as he made his way through Los Angeles, St. Louis and New York in the latter stages of his career. And finally, he battled through Hodgkin's disease, painful back injuries and now heart trouble before finally calling it quits, such was his commitment to the sport.

Lemieux is in the Hockey Hall of Fame because there isn't anything higher to honor him in the sport. Now as a last-ditch plan to build an arena in Pittsburgh teeters on the brink, Lemieux and his group have announced that they're selling the Penguins because Mario doesn't want to be the one to have to move or fold them.

The sport's most courageous shift is over.


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