Posted by: mdegeorge | July 27, 2010

Weekly Diagnosis: July 27

The Weekly Diagnosis has been on hiatus for a little while, but just as Maurice Clarett heads back to school, I’m back on the weekly grind.

It’s been a long summer worth wacky stories, and this week hasn’t been different. So we’ll enshrine this week’s best, from the controversial to the ridiculous, in the world of sports.

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Livestrong, just not on our time

The final stage of the Tour de France is always ridden at a parade’s pace, more a celebration of the peloton’s collective achievement of surviving three grueling weeks in the saddle. But apparently, this year’s Stage 20 was ridden too slowly for the organizers’ liking.

The culprit: Lance Armstrong’s Team RadioShack, who opened the day wearing commemorative Livestrong jerseys with the number 28 on the back in solidarity with the estimated 28 million cancer sufferers worldwide. The American team donned the jerseys at the start line and kept them on through the neutral warm-up zone, but delayed the peloton—who, under the dictum of sportsmanship, had to wait for them—when they went back to the team cars and switched back to their usual kits. Team RadioShack again slipped on the jersey to ascend the podium as the winner of the team classification.

Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, took umbrage to the delay, which they said jeopardized the timing of their television coverage, and will be levying fines upon the team and individual riders. Team manager Johan Bruyneel fanned the flames by tweeting later:

Ok people! Now it’s official! To be a race commisar (sic), you don’t need brains but only know the rules! Their motto: “c’est le reglement!”

But here’s the kicker: any money from the fines is going straight from the UCI to the Swiss Cancer League. So the UCI wants to play sheriff without looking like the bad guy. Why not just head back to the bistro to celebrate a clean Tour and leave the cancer awareness efforts to the pros?

“Put me in Coach”…to CooperstownHall of Fame weekend is always a great celebration of baseball talent. This year’s class was light, with the baseball writers inducting just one former player, Andre Dawson, after an interminable wait for the former right fielder. The other inductees included former St. Louis Cardinals’ manger Whitey Herzog, retired umpire Doug Harvey, and Ford Frick Award winner Jon Miller (which gave me a ticket to watch Cards-Cubs on Sunday night in a Miller AND Morgan-free nirvana).

Also among the honorees was former Creedence Clearwater Revival front man John Fogerty, who performed his iconic baseball anthem, “Centerfield”, at the induction. His baseball-bat-shaped guitar named “Slugger” was put on display at the Hall to commemorate the way in which has song has so long been associated with the game.

I bet the most pissed off person watching all this must have been John Mellencamp, since we’ve all heard “Our Country” during commercial breaks of baseball games more often than commercials for erectile dysfunction and enlarged prostates, combined. I wonder if any of the other four major sports will follow suit; if they do, I’ve got some suggestions. Sonny Curtis and the Crickets should be a shoe in for enshrinement in Canton (or at least Cincinnati) for “I Fought the Law”. Simon and Garfunkel might reunite to be honored for mentioning Joe DiMaggio in “Mrs. Robinson”. And the band Illegitimate Children should be able to get something from the NBA.

Is there a doctor in the clubhouse?

With the average baseball player seemingly growing larger and more muscular every year, I’ve always wondered if it would lead them to be unable to perform even the simplest daily tasks. They would be just a race of muscle-bound strongmen capable only of gargantuan feats on the diamond.

Well, apparently their development has made them so fragile that they’re no longer capable of celebrating in a group without getting injured. Angels’ first baseman Kendry Morales cut a promising season short in May by breaking his leg while jumping into a mass of Halos awaiting him at the plate on his game-winning homer.

Now the Marlins’ Chris Coghlan is next to bite the dust, heading to the DL with a torn meniscus that could require surgery. How did he get injured? He was trying to tag teammate Wes Helms’ in the face with a shaving cream pie after the infielder’s game-winning hit.

This dire situation screams out for a need of expert choreographers to organize these celebrations so that everyone stays safe. The ideal first director: either Chad Ochocinco or these Icelandic guys.

Some soft programming

If you’re like me and my limited cable television options, you’re likely to gravitate toward ESPN when there’s nothing else on television. But over the last week or so, the Worldwide Leaders have been had little to offer beside every less-than-dainty teenage girl and portly middle-aged office worker’s favorite pastime, softball.

The highlight was the Border Battle between the USA and Canada’s best men’s slow pitch players, which I would liken in entertainment value to the Japanese Chutes and Ladders Under-12 National Championship.

Then there’s the World Cup of Softball event held in the sporting Mecca that is Oklahoma City. Sponsored by KFC (that joke is too easy), the field of four nations contesting the prestigious trophy include the USA, Canada, Japan, and…the USA Futures.

Now I have no problems with the sport itself or the popularity it has gained in the United States. But when one nation has to field two teams to fill an international tournament, then it shouldn’t happen (and if Canada didn’t get to do it in men’s Olympic hockey, no one should). If you want to call it the Battle of North America, that’s fine. But not purport it to be a world tournament when you can’t even drum up four nations with the interest to field teams

Toews of woe

It should have been a momentous occasion, a celebration for the accomplishments of a province’s native son. Instead, it’s turned into a swirling controversy.

The decision to rename a lake in Manitoba after Stanley Cup Champion Jonathan Toews has largely been well received. But at least one person has taken exception to the decision to fast track the Hawks’ captain beyond fallen soldiers, her son included.

The primary objector, Shirley Seggie, lost her son, James, in Afghanistan and took umbrage with the decision of the Canadian government to skip soldiers such as her son in favor of Toews, calling it a “travesty”.

The most disturbing aspect of this story isn’t the fact that Seggie’s intentions for the preservation of her son’s memory are completely incongruous with the selflessness her son showed in going to war. It’s not that the last thing named in the province of Manitoba was a stretch of prairie after Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren in 2002.

It’s that the massive Canadian bureaucracy counts among its programs the Manitoba Commemorative Names Project to rename geographic features after notable Manitobans. I can only hope they’re already working on scouting locations to become Neil Young Plateau, Randy Bachman Isthmus, and Ashleigh Banfield Strait.



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