I’m going to state an uncomfortable truth. I’m not a huge Derek Jeter fan. Right now, that feels a little like admitting you’re not a fan of puppies and kittens. But it is what it is. I’ve just never been a huge fan of the baseball player commonly known in these parts as The Captain.
The NFL is like a giant vacuum. It pretty much sucks the air out of everything around it. That’s why in May, in the middle of the baseball regular season and the NBA playoffs, all people can talk about is the NFL draft. It’s an American obsession, caring more about professional football than baseball, basketball, hockey, global affairs, and your kid’s birthday combined. That’s the way the NFL likes it.
It’s a safe default to assume you’re always being watched. The notion of privacy is as antiquated as afternoon tea time and top hats. Particularly if you’re somebody, you live your life as if it’s on TV.
You know what they say in sports. There’s nothing like that 18th title. That’s the mantra right now for tennis star Roger Federer, who’s hoping to do just that in this final week of the US Open. Federer will play Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals, the next match in what has been a relatively simple run towards the event’s final weekend. Federer would be a favorite in both this match and the semifinal, although could face the top seeded Novak Djokovic in the final, if all stays to form. Djokovic defeated Federer in the Wimbledon final earlier this year, which some assumed might be Roger’s last chance, as they say.
25 years is a long time. Perhaps not in true historical terms, like compared to the history of dinosaurs. But in the context of an average human lifetime, 25 years is a considerable chunk. That duration, 25 years, is now how long baseball record holder Pete Rose has been exiled from the sport for gambling on it as a player and a manager. Rose, of course, holds the major league baseball record for hits at 4,256. He made 17 all-star games and managed for five seasons. But, he also bet on baseball, including his own team, while he was in the sport. That, of course, defies the sacred code of any sport, the idea that someone on the field of play compromises the integrity of an unscripted outcome. So for that reason, compounded by the egregious tenor of his gambling habit and adversarial denial of its occurrence, former baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti essentially banned Rose in perpetuity in exchange for not pursuing any additional penalties, which would likely get really legal really fast. Giamiatti died soon thereafter, and the ban continued on, now almost in tribute to the former commissioner. So ending this 25 year ban feels about as easy as unmasking the tomb of the unknown soldier – even if we can do it, it’s not going to get a lot of support.
Life is confusing. I’m not talking about things like taxes or un-assembled furniture, which are offensively so. I’m talking about the daily quandaries, like whether gambling should be legal, or whether you should let your kids play with water guns. By all estimations, life is lived largely outside the lines, in the greys that color your daily existence.
To be honest, most of us have a hard time simply understanding the context of last week’s car racing death of Kevin Ward Jr., who was killed during a bizarre confrontation on a dirt track in Canandaigua, NY. After crashing out of the race, Ward left his car and walked onto the track in a confrontational manner. After narrowly missing being hit by one vehicle, he was struck to his eventual death by one driven by NASCAR star driver Tony Stewart, who himself has a reputation for hostility at the race track.
For now, Buffalo Bills fans are Living on a Prayer. It’s not the faint hope placed on quarterback EJ Manuel’s arm, which will likely require a whole lot of divine intervention. It’s the far more existential question of whether the Buffalo Bills will in fact remain that, the Buffalo Bills. What’s certain is that the team will have a new owner following the death of Ralph Wilson, who bought the team in 1959 and kept them in the post-industrial town despite its shrinking market size and clear opportunities to move to greener pastures, places with better facilities and greater revenue potential. But Wilson promised to stay, something that made him perhaps the most beloved sports figure in Buffalo not named Jim Kelly.
There is literally nothing one can say in defense of Ray Rice, the Baltimore running back just suspended two games for assaulting his then girlfriend/now wife Janay Palmer, the aftermath of which was caught on tape as Rice dragged a lifeless Palmer out of a hotel elevator. Even though charges were dropped, thanks largely to Palmer’s unwillingness to press them, the verdict on Rice’s character is long decided. The fact is and will remain that a brutish NFL star pulled an inert female out of an elevator as if she were a piece of luggage, an obvious victim of his brutality.