Tarheeltalker

What does 128 have to do with 45?

At first glance one would think that the two numbers have very little in common. And I wish that they did not. But  in the world of  NASCAR star  Kyle Busch they have very much in common. It  seems that just a few day ago that Mr Busch was clocked by some North Carolina sheriffs deputies ( probably in either Cabarrus, Iredell or Mecklenburg counties) at a  speed of 128 mph in  a   45   mph speed zone.  Just ponder those numbers for a  moment and then wonder what speed you were driving when you got  a speeding  ticket.  I   am certain that almost all of us would be in that category.

Busch, who was driving  a borrowed Lexus  at  the time, has made the   obligatory  apology and stated that he showed poor judgment. Duh!

Ever since  I  first  heard about that this I have been quite perturbed. One of those levels is  thinking about what could have happened had just a little something gone wrong, major traffic accident or traffic fatality come  quickly to mind. And the second  thought is what consequences will there be?

After having talked to  a few people  today I feel very disheartened  about their being any consequences at all that really mean anything. Take his driver’s license, he can still drive a racecar since he doesn’t need it. Levy  a large fine, say $150,000. To a professional athlete of his stature that doesn’t mean much. Remedial driving course, public service announcement about the evils of speeding, right.

And think about these last two items. What if you were caught speeding at just twice the legal limit, not almost three times. What do you think might happen to the next speeder caught in whichever county Busch was caught? Bet that the person’s lawyer will have a field day.

Oh and as for this damaging him in the eyes of fans, not very likely.

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May 26, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Sports | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two very different headlines

The nation of Japan has been struck by a  massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the largest on record in that country. The tsunami spawned by that quake has compounded the death and destruction that the Japanese will have to face. Estimates of those who lost their lives have already topped 1,000. Sadly, I expect that figure to rise considerably. Reports  from people in Japan speak of  tremendous destruction to roads, buildings, homes etc. A major nuclear power has also suffered damage adding yet another element to what must an almost surreal scene.

For a country already reeling economically, this natural disaster has presented the country with quite a difficult challenge to overcome. Our country is already providing help and people can take part through the American Red Cross and probably other agencies as well.

But what seems to be the biggest news story in our country today? Why, of course it is the ongoing struggle between the NFL owners and the NFLPA  which is basically the players labor union. Extended negotiations broke off  today as the union voted to decertify, thus tossing the ball into the legal system. Who will prevail and when is anyone’s guess. There will ultimately be a settlement and both the players and owners will  do well. Unfortunately, if there is a work stoppage, those most likely affected will be those who depend on the league for their livelihoods. I actualy have almost no sympathy for either side and the angst that many of  the pepople involved ( especially the players)  seem to be feeling and trying to gert us to feel.

On one side, there are themega rich owners and on the other are the  players;many of whom are make quite  a hefty income. Admittedly, the average career is relatively short but the average incomes are large. But they will never be large enough, I guess, since a 2009 study by Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players will go bankrupt in their lifetimes. Guessing that is higher than in most other occupations. Chew on this additional piece of info. The NFLPA has distributed a booklet to each of its players  with advice on to cut costs if the lookout materializes. One of  those pieces of advice, cut the size of your entourage.

It is sort of hard for me to balance these labor issues with the stark reality facing the Japanee people. For them, we must pray.

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Sports, Weather | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Installment of……..

………. only in America.( Thank you Jay and the Americans for the song.) The quadrennial event known as the World Cup is ongoing in South Africa. As of this writing, the American team has just been eliminated  by Ghana for the second  consecutive time. Still advancing out of group play was an accomplishment for  a team ranked about 15th in the world.

I’m no soccer expert and not much of  a fan except when the Lady Tar Heels play. But I will admit to hoping the American team does well. That thought doesn’t  hold true with some prominent American sportswriters, namely William Rhoden of the New York Times and Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation. Bet that’s a real shock about  Mr Zirin. In a book I read recently about Calvin Coolidge, his magazine was  even then gleefully bashing conservatives . But back to the soccer.

First  Mr Rhoden who proudly admits to rooting for Ghana, the last African entry. He thinks that their success could be  along-term psychological boost as well as ” continuing the push to keep this important giant( Africa) on track.” Perhaps he should tell the South Koreans, their next opponent.

Now Mr Zirin is a  different story. He seems inclined to do a little America bashing as well as attacking Glenn Beck, etc. for using sports as  an avatar for  ” racism and imperial arrogance.”  Translation, if we do not excel at  a sport, it must be useless.

Lastly there is sportswriter and social commentator Bethlehem Shoals who sees American interest in soccer as  a refuge for the shameful actions of our government, translation, the evil Bush and his cronies.

What a shame to miss the pure enjoyment of goalllllllllllllllllll. Bet all  the Brazilian media types are  rooting for their team.

June 26, 2010 Posted by | Media, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Alive !!

Many sports fans in general and readers of Sports Illustrated in particular are familiar with a strange phenomenon. It is known as the cover jinx. Briefly it posits that an individual who appears on the magazine’s cover  will encounter difficulty in his/her sport by means  of an injury or just plain playing poorly. The jinx has been around for along time and while not infallible is rather accurate. I wouldn’t call it the Bermuda Triangle of sports but you get the picture.

The latest example involves  the New York Yankees and their “core four.”  These four teammates, three of whom have been together for an unprecedented 16 years, were on the magazine’s cover a couple of weeks ago. The  aforementioned three are Derek Jeter, Mariano Riviera and Jorge Posada. The fourth, Andy Petite, has been part of the group for a mere 13 years. It was a great cover and an even better article by Tom Verducci.

Now, for  the jinx. Since the article appeared, Riviera, Posada and Petite have suffered nagging injuries that either limited their playing time or reduced their effectiveness. As for Jeter, his batting average has only dropped  50+ points. And the team itself  has been scuffling somewhat.

So, as a Yankees fan and SI subscriber, I just have one request. Fellows, can you do an article on Tampa Bay and quickly? And be sure it’s a cover article!

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Lighthouse on an Island”

I have had many thoughts over the years about Duke basketball and Mike Krzyzewski. I can not recall any involving  lighthouses or islands. He is an accomplished Hall of Fame coach and I must admit that Duke is one of college basketball’s top programs. But what about this lighthouse stuff ?

Well, as I read in a Virginian-Pilot column today by Bob Molinaro, this is a strongly held opinion held by one Bob  Knight, also a Hall of Fame coach and one time mentor of Duke’s head man. Knight went on to say( after the national championship game) that  Duke carried the” torch of integrity” for college basketball. Presumably, he was referring to how Duke wins with integrity and with players who stay in school for 4 years.

Molinaro commented that perhaps Knight’s comments were  quite possibly  a bit overblown but it sure was fun to think how hs words must have annoyed those  jealous and irrational people who do not count themselves as Duke supporters.

Now, by no means amI a Duke fan, having “bled Carolina blue” for over 50 years. Am I happy that they won? Shucks, no! Do I respect their program and their coach? Yep! But I have never believed that he invented basketball or that what he says about the sport should be received with acclamation.

My gripe with Duke, other than the actual fact of them out doing or beating Carolina, tends to be an attitudinal one. Rightly or wrongly I often think of the words smug and arrogant in regards to Duke and not just as that is often applied to winners in any sport. Perhaps it lies in their perception as being an Ivy League school that just happens to be in North Carolina and thus not just different but better than those around them.

They do a lot things right but I seem to remember a school just 8 miles down the  road from Durham, located in the “village” of Chapel Hill, that does a half way decent job as well. This year, true, not so much as usual.

Same time, next year- we will be back!

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama and the BCS

Well, guess what the Obama Administration is up to now. Why, its college football. Specifically it is the Bowl Championship Series that is in place to decide a national champion. We need not be surprised since President-elect Obama made reference to this issue in 2008. The phrase was “throw my weight around a little bit.” Now, we have a letter from Utah senator Orrin Hatch and ominous sounding words from Assistant Attorney General  for the Office of Legislative Affairs, Ronald Weich.

Mr Weich is apparently considering  an investigation into the possible violation of antitrust laws by the BCS.Mnay fans and critics are unhappy with the system now in place, but Senator Hatch may be the most vocal and influential. His ire was raised when the University of Utah was denied a spot in the  championship game last year, after going undefeated. This year, two other teams, Boise State and TCU fell into the same group.

Yes, there is a lot of money involved in the  BCS, primarily from television. Perhaps, the system could use some tweaking to make it more fair. I have often wondered, even before there was  a BCS, why  a playoff was not in place. My alma mater  Appalachian State plays in the  what is now known as the Football Championship Subdivision for schools a bit less high-powered. This division has had a playoff system in place for some time. It would seem that the big boys could make use of a similar system, incorporating a number of the existing bowl games.

What I do not want to see is the feds once again jumping into the middle of an issue and completely mucking things up, no mater their intentions. Shame on you Senator Hatch, a Republican no less, providing the administration an opening, which they seem to relish.

Besides, I think that Eric Holder and the Justice Department have much bigger things on their plate. Maybe a terrorist trial and whether to have it in New York City,hmm?

Sports and politics- not  a good combination.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Basketball Report Card

North Carolina has not had  a typical season to this point. Their current record is  only 12-6 which  sounds ok but is made worse by an early 1-2 conference record and  a couple of recent ugly losses. My take was that they would take some early season lumps due to their youth and then hit their stride.That has  not occurred  and unfortunately for Heels fans, the improvement  has yet to materialize.

I wold expect their national ranking to take  a big hit when this week’s polls are released and so it did, all the way to #24. Their ranking is dropping faster than Obama in the polls, sorry, kinda. Some “experts” are speculating that  their NCAA tournament chances may even be in jeopardy. That is probably a premature opinion but could prove correct if things continue as they are going.

So, from  a strictly layman’s point of view, and  a biased  one at that. what has gone awry? Injuries have certainly played a part and even that has gotten worse lately.

Reading the conference statistics, their overall number don’t look so bad but there are some indicators that are particularly telling. The  team’s 3 point shooting is dismal as is their assist to turnover ratio. Both indicate a pronounced weakness in guard play, where the youth is concentrated. That is not the only thing that bothers me . I had thought there was enough senior leadership in place to tide the young guys over. Alas, Marcus Ginyard is himself struggling, perhaps as a result of injury, who knows.

No doubt Coach Williams is extremely frustrated. He has  a talented team and by now, the youthfulness is not a real valid defense. It seems that Coach Smith’s mantra has not registered. ” Play hard, play smart, and play together.” That works no matter the talent or experience level.

If that lesson fails to take hold, those of us who see sports through  a Carolina blue filter have  a looong season ahead of us.

Oh, midseason grade, “C” at best, subject to change.

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amazed Yet Again

As I write, it is a balmy 25 degrees, wind chill 16, in northeastern North Carolina. The sun is shining and there is a brilliant blue sky overhead. And, yes I am amazed. Why is there a blue sky overhead? How can it be so? You see, the Tar Heels fell on their sword last night down in Charleston, SC  in trying to be nice to an old friend in Bobby Cremins.

Cremins used to hang out at Georgia Tech but now coaches at the College of Charleston. Yesterday’s  Raleigh paper had a nice article about Cremins and the game, adding that there was no chance Cremins team could win last night. Shoulda seen it coming after that. Carolina had 2 starters out with injuries and their guards ended up shooting percentages equal to today’s  temps.

Yes, there were late game snafus, a miracle shot at the end of regulation, etc that should have never mattered. Did I forget to mention the 11 point lead that vanished in the last 4 minutes? How could I forget that?

I could wax eloquent and wonder what fate will befall us when the games arrive versus Duke (ugh) and others. Will  there be an ACC victory this season- sure-  How many- good question.

One last aside. On my Tar Heel collectible shelf, there stands  a soft drink bottle  commemorating the 1982 National Championship. It fell off the shelf today, all by itself. Must have been in shock.

Things will improve, right? And probably even before next season, right? Well, there is always last year to remember!

January 5, 2010 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Backwards, Forwards or Both?

We have at last left the oughts and entered the decade  of the  what, not teens yet. Let’s just call it pre-teens for now. So, we get not only year-end reviews, but end of  decade  reviews. Some actually  have been rather good.  I enjoyed Sports Illustrated’s  issue of the decade and montage that ESPN did this am. How quickly we forget things that make the news. Some of the all decade stuff seemed eons ago.Right now, Tiger Woods still makes headlines for sports and gossip mags.What will his wife do, when will he  play golf, what sponsor will drop him, next(AT&T being the latest) and with whom will they replace him?

What strikes me most is two things. One I have alluded to about the transitory  or near disposable nature of an event. Tiger will like that. Example,Charlie Sheen is arrested for alleged domestic abuse. another in a checkered career. Who cares, not his tv audience or his fans. The second and more compelling is how unpredictable the ” news” really is.

Look back at the decade at images that drew us. Of course, the 9/11 attacks come to the fore. What about the  death of Michael Jackson, or the election of an unknown , minority senator as President. Global warming now  dominates the news in many ways. Alas, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have come and stayed.

What about the rise of Google, You Tube, Twitter and Facebook and the fall of General Motors and the worst recession in many a day.  No longer can one live without  a cell phone and  what you have no Ipod? What a heathen you must  be, me too.But what about those things that began the decade with us and are  still here. The intractable Middle East with its Arab-Israeli issue, how we relate to Russia and China and vice-versa. Those are still around but whatever happened to the doomsday of y2k?

So, another decade launches and those who purport to tell us with any certainty what will  happen should revisit a quote from  a former head of the  U S Patent Office who offered to resign since everything that could be invented had already been invented. His name was Charles Duell and the quote dates to 1899.

January 1, 2010 Posted by | Culture, economy, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Building a Pedestal

There is a young man playing basketball for the University of Kentucky. This young man is John Wall, a freshman from Raleigh, NC. John is a freshman point guard who has played  in eight games as a collegian and  has scored the winning points in more than one of those. while  averaging a team leading 19 points per game.

Listen to some of the comments  made thus far. PTI’s Tony Kornheiser says hew  will probably be the first pick in the NBA draft if he turns  pro and probably would have been  last year had he been allowed in the draft. Sorry, Blake Griffin. Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated has Wall as his top  contender for player of the year.  Anything wrong with this, not really. Wall is  an extremely talented player and may very well earn all the accolades  being bestowed on him. But is it not a bit premature? He has played 8 games thus far. Couldn’t we wait just a bit with the comparisons and the greatest this  and that. if Wall is as good as he is projected to be right now, the NBA will know and some team will make him a very wealthy young man. For now, a T.O. baby and give things time.

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment