Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chee Wee hairstyles, dreadlocks and me

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain landed in a little political hot water about a month ago regarding his comments discussing a horrendous incident of “spillover crime” in his sprawling, suburban jurisdiction.
He got in trouble by saying this during a television interview in late June:
"If you’re going to walk the streets of St. Tammany Parish with dreadlocks and chee wee hairstyles then you can expect to be getting a visit from a sheriffs deputy.”
Now the context of what he said is being debated, but one thing could be taken from this statement. Certain athletes should do their best to avoid St. Tammany Parish at all costs, especially if they either have dreadlocks, “chee wee” hairstyles or just happen to be Belle Chasse product – and frequent violator – Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Athletes running afoul of Johnny Law are just as common as snowball stands in south Louisiana in the summer. That is not even counting Henry and his teammates, nor the Portland Trail Blazers either. Sometimes these overly talented men and women need some protection from themselves, and the brain “mis”trust at Slant-N-Go Enterprises, LLC, will do its part to perform an extremely valuable public service.
The SNG service is all too simple, but yet all too important to the sporting world. That service is to keep athletes with dreadlocks and “chee wee” hairstyles out of St. Tammany Parish and out of possible legal issues.
However, questions still baffle the board of directors at SNG: What in the world is a chee wee hairstyle? Do you find them in a Cracker Jack box? Can you use “the cream,” “the clear” or “flaxseed oil” to attain such a hairstyle? Will Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Keith Hernandez be featured in commercials advertising coloring products for men with chee wee hairstyles?
The list of potential clients is a diverse array of athletes from surf, turf, snow and other surfaces of play. However, some have taken Strain’s warning very seriously and cost SNG a very important potential client. That person would be 2-time NBA MVP Steve Nash. He showed up to a recent charity game in his native British Columbia, Canada, with one thing missing—his notoriously unruly bedhead. Maybe he got the hint from Strain and thought that he should tread lightly.
Seimone Augustus should be on the lookout and is a potential client. Although she was a nationally-known commodity since her freshman year in high school, there are still parts of the state where she is a highly unknown figure. Heaven knows St. Tammany does not need the publicity of a sherrifs deputy getting in the personal space of the WNBA’s second-leading scorer, Baton Rouge playground legend and the Wayne Gretzky of LSU women’s basketball.
Former Gonzaga gunslinger, and new Charlotte Bobcat, Adam Morrison should also tread lightly if he ever finds himself traveling throughout St. Tammany. If it were not for Morrison’s sick hoops game, his “chee wee-ish” hairstyle and that dirty upper lip of his would definitely get him confused with either a mechanic, a pool cleaner, a really bad stunt double for Ron Jeremy or someone Strain’s deputies would surely focus their attention on.
Not even Skyler Green’s LSU national championship ring and old game-worn jerseys are enough to get St. Tammany’s finest off his dreadlocked case. Manny Ramirez can show off his curse-breaking world Series ring or even show clips of him tossing a ball to the outfield wall, taking a break in the Green Monster or cut off Johnny Damon and throw the ball into the infield. It won’t help Manny, but Manny’s Manny, so Strain could have other reasons to send his deputies in to check up on him.
Throw in New Orleans Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie and Green Bay cornerback Al Harris. You couldn’t tell those guys apart when they were together in Packerland, especially with their anti-Stain dreadlocks would cover up their names on the back of their jerseys. Now that McKenzie’s a member of the “gluttons for punishment,” he should avoid having to go travel to teammate Jammal Brown’s house or P.J. brown’s house for that matter.
How about Olympic gold medal winner Shaun White? Now if that shock of red hair the snowboarder sports isn’t “chee wee,” then the SNG directors do not know what is. He could possibly go from getting a hug from Carmen Electra at the ESPYs (lucky guy) to seeing deputies staring him down (not so lucky guy). Talk about a sad twist of fate. Shaun would have to just avoid Louisiana completely altogether.
Almost forgot Pedro Martinez and his new-school jheri curl/shag hybrid. It beckons back to a time when judgment was bad (circa 1975-88), but Petey’s ode to nostalgia and TCB curl activator is not good enough to stay scot-free (or even Scotchguard free) in St. Tammany Parish.
SNG will continue to help the athletes help themselves not the fall victims of themselves. SNG also believes in showing its clients that the company is not afraid to do what is asked of the people it represents. Therefore, Fred Batiste will cut his hair before he becomes the next to get a visit from a St. Tammany sheriffs deputy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

SLANT-N-GO: Vacation Starvation Makes Mind Wander

We talk to ourselves every day. Mumble brief reminders to do something. Calculate how much to tip that server at a restaurant. Whisper prayers that a certain person does not give make life harder at work/school/cell block D today, tomorrow or the next day.
We also have internal conversations every day. Thinking about how much money to put aside for gas that day. Remem-bering if we gave the pet fresh food and water. Pondering if the relationship between Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles is just a farce.
I, too, talk/think to myself because — like “the educated brother from the bank” from “New Jack City” — there is no one to talk to. People still ask me why I do what I do. I often drift into thought when I drive, especially when my thoughts are sports-related.
Like, this one time at band camp ... wait a minute! Wrong story!
Some of these internal interactions commence with just a few seconds of reading the sports section, while others happen with a listen of some sports talk radio or some of that good’ ol patented scattered hot thinking I’m kind of known for.
Myself, also known as “self” and not be confused with Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, and I have some discussions that really either put me at the brink of genius or put me one step closer to going crazy — like Mariah Carey did a couple of years back. Self is the perfect sounding board for ideas because self doesn’t talk back. Whatever the result, it’s kind of fun.
For instance, I was reading a story where college basketball coaches unsuccessfully petitioned the NCAA to expand the men’s basketball tournament from 65 teams to 128.
“Those coaches must be out of their minds,” I said to myself. “They’ll try anything to save their butts and get some bonus money out of the universities.”
My mind reeled at the prospects of seeing the 10th-place finisher of the SEC opening up against Southeastern, or Southern facing the last-place team out of the Big 11 ... I mean Big 10. I told myself I was surprised that the television gods did not try to woo the NCAA with additional money for those additional games.
I also thought to myself, a 128-team NCAA tournament could throw the United States into economic ruin. People spend weeks perfecting their calling-in-sick voices so they can get some more days off to fill out brackets, make bets and watch the NCAA tournament. Can you imagine how much productivity could go down during an extended NCAA tournament, especially during that key first-round game between Elon and Cal State-Northridge?
And also, what about the cheerleaders? That’s adding two more weeks of potentially botched basket tosses with disastrous effects and somewhat-soiled spanky pants.
Speaking of cheerleaders, I was watching WWE’s Raw one Monday night and they had ... male cheerleaders. There is this group of five guys calling themselves the “Spirit Squad,” and they play off the athleticism cheerleaders have and the stereotypical hyper personalities as well. Then the dudes have the nerve to bring trampolines to jump into the ring and throw opponents in the air.
I said to myself, “Self, this is a darned shame. I knew some cheerleaders and they never thought about bringing a steel chair into a game to hit someone.”
Well, I think some competitive cheerleaders would bring a chair, but probably one of their parents would beat them to it in a bid to get their little darling to the top of the pyramid. Don’t get mad — parents plotting against cheerleaders in the name of own kid has happened before.
I told myself that I would not be surprised if Vince McMahon books a “cheerleader death match” inside of a steel cage. If so, there better be a large check made out to my name that clears when I deposit it in the bank.
My mind shifted as news of Ben Wallace defecting to Chicago as a free agent. Ben Wallace went from a throw-in player in the Grant Hill trade to Orlando years ago to one of the most recognizable athletes around. And what does he do? He leaves the team that allowed him to get to his status for more money.
Do I blame him for leaving for more money? No. Did the be-loved Bulls of Daily Star sports editor John Lenz pay a tad too much for a guy that’s an offensive liability in the clutch? Yes.
I thought to myself that Ben Wallace was greedier than the average athlete for one thing — jumping to his previous employer’s archrival. Roger Clemens used Toronto as a go-between from playing for the Red Sox to the Yankees. Terrell Eldorado Owens’ going over to Dallas was just a publicity stunt concocted by Jerry “Botox” Jones.
I thought about it. I never saw Calvin from the McDonald’s commercials suddenly started managing a Burger King. I never saw Joe Isuzu driving up in a Cadillac. I never saw the Super Mario Brothers just bolt Nintendo and started playing on Playstation 2s and X-Boxes.
OK, I’m thinking too much. I’m giving myself a headache!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Slant-N-Go: 2-for-1 deal

Psst...hey you, the reader.
Do you ever find yourself wanting more out of what you are reading, but just cannot figure how to get get your selected readings chock full of entertaining tidbits. Well, the sick minds at Slant & Go Enterprises have an offer for you.
The brain mistrust that brought you "Slant & Go at the Movies" is going to temporarily break down that fourth wall thing that exists in theater--by presenting this one-time offer. Yes folks, S&G is presenting a 2-for-1 special.
Yes, two opinions for the space of one. It's two ideas replacing one, becoming one cohesive unit like peanut butter and jelly, Bert and Ernie, ivy and Wrigley Field, R. Kelly and videotapes and Mike Tyson and insanity.
First off, let's discuss Southeastern's upcoming football season. More importantly, let's discuss the Lions' nonconference slate for the upcoming season.
Whereas most Division I-AA schools "play up" once per season, the Lions tripled that by landing three Division I-A schools on the schedule this season. The Lions open the season in Las Cruces, M. Mex., when they take on former coach Hal Mumme and New Mexico State Aug. 21. The next game is a trip up Interstate 59 to Hattiesburg and Southern Miss Sept. 9. The whopper is a Sept. 23 trip to Lubbock, Texas to take on Texas Tech--a team that finished 2005 in the Top 20 in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls.
The Lions fit in home games against Jacksonville (Sept. 16) and Gardner Webb (Sept. 30) before opening Southland Conference play in October.
Lions coach Dennis Roland said it is not easy for a I-AA program like Southeastern to schedule games against their I-A counterparts. These games give his team a chance to gain a measure of exposure against the "higher level" of NCAA college football.
For Division I-AA programs, games against I-A programs also serve as major fundraisers that some in the sports world call "Rent-A-Wins." However, the prospects of pulling of a Maine vs. Mississippi State upset are few and far between. Coaches sometimes hope to get through the game with a strong showing and no players receiving major injuries, all while making sure the check clears.
New Mexico State went winless last season, and the Lions should win that game. However, Southern Miss and Texas Tech--bowl teams last season--will be tougher tasks. Sure, the Lions will collect a nice chunk of change for their "services," but it's all a part of the business known as Division I football.
OK, it's now time to get to the second part of this exclusive offer. Let's now talk about mercy in football, which is something like Bill Gates running into you in front of a grocery store and asking you for change for a $20.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the Nutmeg State's equivalent to the LHSAA, adopted a "score management" policy that will suspend coaches whose teams win by more than 50 points.
The CIAC rule, also called the "Jack Cochran rule," was put in place after the New London High won four games by 50 or more points last season--including winning a game by the paltry tally of 90-0 over Griswold. In case you didn't figure it out, Jack Cochran is New London's coach.
According to reports, the head coach of the offending team will get disqualified from coaching the next game.
Yes, Connecticut's the same state where a professor of one of the state colleges was quoted in Sports Illustrated in 2001 saying dodgeball "encourages the best to pick on the weak." However, that's not the point.
Under this policy, Evangel's Dennis Dunn would have had to skip the Eagles second-round playoff game after plastering Hamilton Christian 70-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
Football is the one sport that capitalizes on incorporating war and military ideals the most. Think about it, you have blitzing and sacking the quarterback. Throwing the long bomb or the quick strike to gain the upper hand. Having good ground and air attacks to make the opponent submit to your will and breaking the opponent's will. One team imposing its will on its weaker opponent.
If Team A is beating Team B by more than three touchdowns, simply just start a running clock, get the cheerleaders and band members on the field and just keep playing. At least that used to be the mentality.
The CIAC is establishing a dangerous precedent here. What's next, allowing the team getting drubbed 46-0 to score 13-point touchdowns in order to make the score closer? High school basketball teams can't get a 30-point lead or greater in a game?
Besides, there are only two ways a team prevents being on the receiving end of a blowout-- get better or just simply drop football, period.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Michael Wilbon, the Washington Post columnist and bespectacled guy on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," wrote the following one year after Maryland star Len Bias overdosed on cocaine and died two days after the Boston Celtics took him second overall in the 1986 NBA draft.
There's a basketball court in Rockville (Md.) on which some the day after Bias died painted on the backboards and court: "Len Bias Lives Forever." The kids play for hours a day, hitting the yellow paint.
A year later, the words remain. One wonders if they are read.

Bias died June 20, 1986 at 22-years-old, an All-American who some basketball experts considered to be better than a certain North Carolina All-American and omnipresent pitchman. Bias' collapse in his dorm suite became something that far transcended just a simple bad decision that turned fatal, it became a flash point in American sports and American society.
For me, Bias' death became the moment when my innocence sportswise was taken away. I was just turning 2-years-old when the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympics and the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles are just a blur in my memory. I was a few months shy of my ninth birthday, and this changed everything—not some green T-shirt with "Just Say No" emblazoned on the front.
Bias' picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated following his death turned him into more than a tragic figure, he became a symbol as the cocaine/crack epidemic gained a larger foothold in the American conscience and had an even larger impact in the black (now known as African-American) community.
Bias became a cautionary tale about the perils of drug abuse, sort of like a scary story police officers would tell kids to steer them away from talking to strangers. In terms of analogies, Bias was to the "War on Drugs" as Emmitt Till was to the Civil Rights Movement—their respective deaths brought those issues to the forefront in mainstream America.
Bias' death served as a case study in how far-reaching the impact of doing drugs is. Remember, the Celtics still had Bird, Parrish and McHale in the front court in their prime. That former North Carolina All-American was on his way to becoming the measuring stick all young players are held up to. Who knows the heights the NBA could have reached if Bias would have stayed alive to make in impact in the pro game?
Fast forward 20 years, and here sports fans sit in the wake of another flash point. USC starting point guard Ryan Francis was senselessly killed in Baton Rouge during Mother's Day weekend. Francis was not the guy the shooter was aiming for, but it was the former Glen Oaks star that died from the incident.
I watched Francis and Glen Oaks and caught some late night Pac-10 games when he took over the point for the Trojans—as a true freshman. Like Bias, it looked like Francis had a bright future. Unlike Bias, Francis became just another case of "wrong place, wrong time." Another bright light extinguished by stupidity, another son taken from his mother, another friend gone and one less teammate in the locker room.
The two do share a bond because they have became symbols, they put a face on the particular manners of death. Francis became a symbol of the seemingly increasing devaluing of life by many of today's youth and how this generation of young people seemingly seek to take life quickly and without thinking of the consequences of their actions.
Taking Wilbon's closing lines from that 1986 column and adapting it to Francis death:
There are basketball courts in North Baton Rouge on which someone the day after Francis was killed painted on the walls and court: "Ryan Francis Lives Forever." The kids play for hours a day, hitting spray-painted messages wishing Francis to rest in peace."
Like Bias, those words would remain as a reminder of those events that take people away from the world way before their time. More than just one nowadays wonder if the kids read the message and take it heart.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Slant & Go at the movies, Part Deux

Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water, the brain trust at Slant & Go Studios return to tantalize the viewing public.
The attention garnered by some of S&G’s proposed projects a week ago have prompted officials at the entertainment conglomerate to think of something grand, something huge, something ... sequenced.
S&G is not afraid to look at trends as big-budget movie season draws near. The folks at the studios also know there is money to be made in sequels as well as remakes. Sequels are as American as apple pie, and the S&G brain trust is not afraid to make an impact on the pattented “next chapter” movies.
Think about it, these S&G guys aren’t playing. They think they can actually be larger than that guy Stephen Segal.
“Rambo: First Blood” will just be reduced to a whimsical date movie compared to what Slant & Go is cooking up. S&G will turn “The Godfather 2” into “Three Men and a Young Lady” just off what they are planning. Even all the “Harry Potter” sequels are not a match for the magic S&G can conjure and pack more force than the entire “Star Wars” saga — so take your wookies and skywalk all around Tatooine for all the S&G powers-that-be care.
S&G will keep with its current formula of casting professional athletes instead of some actor type. Athletes are literally beating down the doors and pushing down metermaids just to get their glossy 8x10’s into our offices and to get a seat on the very plush, but very long, casting couch.
This just in: John Williams (the guy that did the score in the “Star Wars” movies), the RZA (the guy from Wu-Tang Clan that did the score in the “Kill Bill” movies), Atlanta rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris and Willie Nelson all have contacted S&G expressing interest in developing musical accompiament to these upcoming projects.
Raja Bell and Kobe Bean Bryant go mano y mano in “Face/Off 2”: The “Big Bean” tried to elbow Bell’s face off during the Lakers-Suns first round playoff series. Bell did his best Nikita Koloff impression in Game 5 and tried to Russian Sickle Bean’s head off in retaliation to Bryant’s elbowing.
This beef between the scrappy Bell and the hardwood prince Bryant will not be settled until one has eliminated the other. Think of the possibilities: The cool John Woo slo-mo shots with the birds flapping in the distance would add some flair to the scene, but unfortunately would make the basketball court a little more slippery.
It is a classic battle between the undrafted Bell, who caught on with the 76ers the year Iverson and Larry Brown were on the same page, and second-generation player Bryant, who feels the NBA is his fiefdom for him to rule with impunity. Bell could utilize the scrappiness and toughness that has kept him in the league while Bryant can use his elbows and his mutant ability to produce large diamonds whenever the situation calls for it.
Ricky Williams and Onterrio Smith co-star in “Up in Smoke, Again”: Ricky’s the shy, softspoken type that likes holistic medicine. Onterrio’s the high-strung guy that brought “The Whizzinator” into public conscience.
Together these “bud brothers” will walk around in a daze as they’re basically kicked off their jobs for the entire 2006 NFL season. Laugh histerically at their antics as they try to make the Portland Trail Blazers active roster. There are rumors that Damon “that’s not my pot on my coffee table, Mr. Officer” Stoudamire will have a significant role in this film.
Watch Williams and Smith set world record times in the 40-yard dash as they run into a (insert chain grocery store name here) and make a break for the junk food aisle or to the pharmacy section to pick up on some Visine or Clear Eyes.
This good-natured, full-bellied romp is a cross between “Dumb and Dumberer” and “Easy Rider,” the latter not to be confused with E-Z Wider.
Serena Williams in “Less than Zero 2”: This sequel will not involve any references to cocaine, James Spader, Andrew McCarthy and Robert Downey Jr. However, it is the story about a girl from a hardscrabble section of Los Angeles who rises to the pinnacle of her profession, only to blow it away to her addiction to a very powerful drug — fame.
The film would follow Serena as she takes her braids out and begins really kicking butt on the tennis court. However, someone comes along and tells her that she is a lot more than just a tennis player. Serena seemingly overnight becomes a sex symbol and fashion plate, while her game dwindles in that same span.
Black was certainly the best color choice she had for her attire at the Kentucky Derby, because fame killed Serena Williams’ chance to become arguably the greatest women’s tennis player of her generation. Speaking of fame, where’s David Bowie or Debbie Allen when you need them?
Paul Tagliabue stars in “The Godfather 4”: Hey may not be either Don Vito or Michael Corleone, but the retiring NFL commissioner could make offers people just could not refuse.
Just ask the good folks in Phoenix, Jacksonville, Detroit, Houston and other NFL cities that passed tax referendums to build multimillion-dollar stadiums for teams with billionaire owners. Tags punked ESPN into taking “Playmakers” off the air a couple of years ago, the same cable power the NFL virtually gave power to over a decade ago when the league awarded the once-fledgling channel some games.
Tags single-handedly kept the Saints in New Orleans while constantly flirting with Los Angeles. Work stoppages did not happen on Tags’ watch, partly because of the relationship he maintained with his consigliere — NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw.
Tags must now watch as a new don gets to be at the helm of America’s biggest sports enterprise. Soon, even the Governator will have to kiss another man’s ring if he wants to see a pro football team in Los Angeles.
Reggie Bush starts in “The Golden Child 2”: No Eddie Murphy here singing “I Want the Knife.” Instead, it's Bush’s stepdad telling some equally unscrupulous hack, “I want the house, please!” Wait a minute, that is more of a prequel than a sequel.
This project is still in the very early stages of development, with Bush being pegged as the biggest thing to hit New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina/Styrofoam Cups/Reebok Classics and jeans designed by Marithe and Francois Girbaud.
Just like Thomas after Easter Sunday, Saints fans want to see Bush for themselves, and they know that anything that can go wrong will go wrong whenever the New Orleans Saints are involved.

Monday, May 01, 2006

SLANT-N-GO: S&G at the movies, baby

Big-budget movie season is drawing near, and it isnever too early to pitch ideas for potentialblockbusters. The latest trend in Holly-wood is the “retread,” ormore commonly known as the remake. Remakes are easyto do because a basic premise is already known andpeople already know what happened. Throw in a coupleof young, hip stars along with some cheezy referencesto the original, and you have yourself a retread. Things operate a little differently at Slant & GoStudios. The executives in charge at S&G believe intheir own twisted versions of remakes. These remakesinvolve big-budget athletes instead of some actor typebecause athletes have more emotion in theirperformance and, well, because athletes do their ownstunts for the most part (paging Dwayne “The Rock”Johnson). The S&G brass paintstakingly developed treatments ofmotion-picture projects with some of the biggestnewsmakers in the world of sports. Some may be dramas,others may be comedies, but all of these projects havewhat it takes to rake in some major coin at thebox-office — at least that is what the folks over atS&G are hoping. Some of those closely-guarded projectsare also rumored to be linked with such big-nameddirectors like Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and the dude that brought us “Bad Boys” and “CSI: Crime SceneInvestigation.”
•Barry Bonds stars in “Greed, Allegedly”: Thisproject is being billed as one part comedy, one partdrama. Bonds can star as one of the greatest baseballplayers of his generation that takes Gordon Gekko’s“Greed is Good” speech to heart. Watch as Bonds transforms himself to an antisocial, automatic annual 30-30 year guy to an antisocial,home-run hitting machine. It would be great if S&G could get Jack Nicholson to play the guy who allegedlygives Bonds some magical flaxseed oil that’s good formore than breaking in gloves. Cast Ray Romano as Bud Selig because, well, Romano as Selig is about 1,000 times better than Selig as Selig.Cheech Marin as Victor Conte would be hilarious. Bythe way, how about a cameo appearance by Conte’s former Tower of Power bandmate Lenny Williams. Itcould be a scene where Bonds is loving it up with hisex-mistress while Williams’ classiclove song “Cause ILove You” is softly playing in the background. It’snot exactly “The Look of Love,” but it would do.
•Marion Jones stars in “My Baby’s Daddy”: This episode of CBS drama “Without a Trace” follows this separated couple. Montgomery was arrested Friday on charges he wasconnected to a multimillion-dollar bank fraud andmoney laundering scheme. This episode will delve intowhat possibly motivated him to allegedly go thatroute, and more importanly, to find Marion Jones — whofell out of sight quicker than a mogwai when brightlights come out.
•Delmon Young in “Reckless Youth”: Watch Dmitri Young’s younger, five-tooled, brother bump umpires andsling bats at them in the minors. Also getbehind-the-scenes interviews with Tampa Bay Devil Raysofficials as they wonder second-guess the decision totake Young over Milwaukee Brewers’ second basemanRickie Weeks with the first overall pick in MLB’samateur draft in 2003. It could have that John Grisham-ish feel, with just apinch of “Desperado,” but with Young walking aroundminor league parks with a duffel bag full of woodenbats instead of Antonio Banderas walking through adusty town with a guitar case loaded with guns.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Violators: Beware of "The Code"

Violators: Beware of "The Code"
(Originally published in April 16 edition of The Hammond (La.) Daily Star)

There are several codes out there in existence — key, DiVinci, Morse and Napoleonic to name a few. There is one code that supersedes them all in the world of sports, “The G Code.”
The G-Code is more than simply than a hip, catchy phrase. It is an unwritten code based upon the Golden Rule that quietly governs us all and provides order.
Just like any law or code, there are acts that bring forth violations of the code and there are violators that commit such acts.
What does this have to do with sports? A lot, actually. Sports are also governed by unwritten codes that are strictly adhered to. Violations of those unspoken laws have resulted in bench-clearing brawls and ring-filling fights.
Are you still a disbeliever? Here’s a recent list of code offenders along with the year they committed the offense and a description of that offense.
•Zab Judah, butt-kicking recipient (2006): Judah, overwhelmed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. a week ago in their welterweight title fight, punched Mayweather in the groin and behind the head. Judah’s actions incited an in-ring riot between his entourage and Mayweather’s corner.
•Chris Paul, lead-pipe lock for NBA Rookie of the Year (2005): In Paul’s last season at Wake Forest, he reached around North Carolina State’s Julius Hodge and punched him in the groin in an ACC tournament game.
•Rafael Palmeiro, ex-Viagra pitchman (2005): He lied to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs with finger-pointing and tough talk. Weeks later, drug tests showed he was juicing up. Raffy’s response: It might have been the “B-12 shots” that Miguel Tejada gave him. Officials tested Tejada’s stuff, and it was actually vitamin B-12.
•Kobe Bean Bryant, shotaholic (2004): When hemmed up by law enforcement in Colorado, he told them he should have done what Shaquille O’Neal does. According to police reports, Bryant alleged the Big Aristotle paid off women not to say anything about him. Bryant added the Diesel had paid up to $1 million in hush money for situations like Kobe’s Eagle, Colo., fiasco.
A teammate will not give it his or her all for a teammate that put someone else under the bus in an attempt to save one’s skin or make oneself look good. Speaking of that, that brings us to another G-Code violator:
•Terrell Eldorado Owens, primadonna (2000-present): Owens questioned quarterback Jeff Garcia’s play and sexuality while they were together in San Francisco. He demanded to go to Philly, and raved about how good Donovan McNabb is. After the Eagles lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, he bashed McNabb, his play and leadership abilities while portraying himself up as the gallant warrior.
Owens later put Eagles management under the bus and portrayed himself as a victimized football player that signed a bad contract. He fought Hugh Douglas in the locker room, made a rap song dissing the Eagles and auditioned for an infomercial for exercise equipment outside of his home. That’s just the stuff that’s easily remembered.
All five of the examples do have consequences. All five lost a measure of respect, which is arguably the most important commodity in sports. A man punching another man in the nether regions in a non life-threatening situation, or when John Doe implicates James Doe in a situation that does not involve James Doe, are extremely serious G-Code violations.
There is another aspect of sports that gets strained due to these code violations, and that is chemistry. Teams require some kind of symbiotic loyalty in order to be successful, and that loyalty hinges a lot on respect. No teammate will put himself or herself on the line if he or she does not respect another teammate that pulled off some highly questionable stuff.
Stealing signs and head-hunting in baseball, sending the "goon" in to commit fouls in basketball and chop blocks in football are all serious violations as well. They basically equate to the aforementioned scenarios in the G-Code. Brawls and disagreements have broken out over those things in the past, and will continue as long as people are willing to violate the code.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

SLANT-N-GO: Overloaded LSU Bandwagon Deflates Tigers

Originally appeared in April 3, 2006 edition of the Hammond (La.) Daily Star.

Rapper Mike Jones is noted for the following lyric: “Back then, they didn’t want me. Now I’m hot, they’re all on me.”
The same applied to LSU’s men’s basketball team and coach John Brady before the Tigers’ run to the Final Four ended abruptly at the hands of UCLA.
The road to Indianapolis was long for the Tigers’ basketball program, both figuratively and literally — much longer than the 847 miles it takes to go from Baton Rouge to ‘Nap Town’.
The only thing is, they took a lot more people on the bus than they expected. The LSU bandwagon could have filled Tiger Stadium, which sits across the street from and casts a long shadow upon the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Brady’s basketball team has been fourth on the popularity charts on the LSU campus — behind football, baseball and the Seimone Augustus-led Lady Tigers — for a long time now. That’s despite the fact LSU averaged 21 wins a season since 2001-02 and qualified for postseason play each year since the ’01-02 campaign (two postseason NIT bids and three NCAA tourney appearances).
LSU men’s basketball games at the PMAC haven’t exactly been hot tickets, despite the success of the Tigers. Home attendance averaged just over 8,100 in 2001 and officially increased to 9,469 this season, but the arena holds 13,472 in its men’s basketball setup. The team has not cracked Division I’s top 25 in home attendance in any of Brady’s nine years at the helm, only averaging over 10,000 in 1999-2000 — the Tigers’ Sweet 16 year.
Radio shows and newspapers have criticized Brady and the team constantly over the years, and the players heard it all.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis wanted to ask reporters about the criticism hurled at the team after their Final Four-clinching win over Texas, but he did not get the chance. Tyrus Thomas said he felt they were still the underdog and the media and fans heaped praised upon them solely because the Tigers are one of only four teams left with a shot at the national championship.
They went from SEC regular season champs to tourney dark horse to the biggest thing to hit Louisiana since high-speed Internet access in the matter of weeks. The Tigers were been tabbed as ambassadors of post Katrina/Rita Louisiana, Davis became a less-threatening version of young Charles Barkley with his gift of gab and play on the court, and the trampoline-legged Thomas’ name has been splattered across various NBA draftnik Web sites as a potential lottery pick.
They went from afterthought to having Gov. Kathleen Blanco declaring Friday “Purple-and-Gold Day” and visiting them on the campus. Blanco, along with other head honchos and new-found Tiger fans, took the trip to the RCA Dome and cheered on the Tigers.
In lame teen movie terminology, LSU went from the geeky girl that sat alone for lunch to the prom queen everybody wanted to either date or be friends with. Just like those teen movies and their contrived plots, the Tigers turned themselves from geek to chic, much the surprised delight of most but to the Tigers’ own chagrin.
No wonder Brady closed practices to the public before the team left for Indianapolis. All the new-found popularity was enough for a no-frills guy like Brady to break out into hives and heebie-jeebies. A coach like Brady — who took the job in 1997 in the wake of “Lester Earl-gate” and NCAA sanctions — and a team like the defensive-minded Tigers did not need the kudos.
The extra passengers and their baggage on the bandwagon slowed the Tigers down — as evidenced Saturday night.
Turning them into the favorite, like prognosticators and fans done in days leading into the game, seemed to take their edge away and shrunk that once-huge chip on their shoulders. Maybe all the hoopla started to get to the young Tigers and they started to drink the Kool-Aid.
Ultimately, the weight of the bandwagon was too much for the team to bear. Like Icarus getting his waxed wings too close to the sun, the Tigers came down crashing from their hoops euphoria. The moral of the story: check the capacity limit sign at the front of the bandwagon before jumping on.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Recruiting Madness...It's overrated

Excerpt from Feb. 5, 2005 column

The college football recruting game is not exactly "The Crying Game," but it's a dramatic thriller. It's also something similar to the TV dating show "Elimidate," where a person has to sift through four or five suitors and goes through the process of elimination until he figures out which one he likes the best—and commits to one of them at the end of the show.
However, celebrating National Signing Day like it's a legitimate holiday is basically a waste of time and energy. It's celebrating buying a lottery ticket before the numbers come out. It is, without a doubt, the most overrated day of the year in college football.
The excitement over potential stars and role players is equivalent of how some adults get excited after their fantasy football drafts, but this time some of these adults are getting excited over 17- through 21-year-old young men who are weeks away from either graduating from high school or transferring from other institutions.
Folks argue day and night about who they have coming to their school while a dozen or so web sites try to tell you who has the top recruiting class among the over 300 Division I schools. These web sites and self-described recruiting gurus then decide who are the best (insert number between one through 200) high school players in the United States of America. Bear in mind there are over 100,000 high schools with over 16 million students enrolled in the U.S. right now.
Sure, it's fun to project and predict and prognosticate where these players will go, However, this whole recruiting thing is a giant crap shoot. These potential players are lured, seduced, enticed, goaded and other similar words when the schools that are doing the luring only have an idea of what they are getting.
In some cases, the young man could be academically ineligible to play right away. In others, he could become homesick and not want to be at the school no more or he just did not meet expectations placed upon him. There are many variables that determine whether not—pardon the use of the following cliché—he's a stud or a dud.
Despite the lack of love for recruiting season, the hoopla of National Signing Day and the parties surrounding a fax machine and hours of highlight tapes, there is some merit to it. Not only is recruiting the lifeblood of a college football program, but Wednesday officially marked the start of the 2006 season. Spring practices are merely weeks away and the schedule should be common public knowledge in the summer.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Slant-N-Go: No Loyalty

This appeared in the Daily Star's Jan. 1 edition. Happy New Year, bitches!!!!!!

BTW: I'll do my best to update this thing more regularly

The year 2005 has ended, and many folks out there compiled or read the obligatory "year-in-review" columns and checklists.
The obvious stories will get mentioned, such as Hurricane Katrina's impact, Lance Armstrong winning his upteenth-straight Tour deFrance and Rafael Palmeiro's pontificating before Congress before he was netted in Major League Baseball's steroids dragnet...and his subsequent backtracking and double-talk.
However, there is one word that may be easily omitted from these glimpses in recent sports history—loyalty. Sports fans, from the die-hard aficionados to the most casual, were dealt with lessons reminding them that loyalty to sports is sort of like your uncle's 8-track player: totally useless in this day and age.
Think about it for a second, or two or maybe even three. There were some not-so-shining examples of disloyalty in the previous 52 weeks. The list is littered with literally Who's Who in the world of sports. Only the reality TV show "Cheaters" displayed as much disloyalty in 2005.
Now, this is not limited to the athletes themselves. That would have been too easy. Disloyalty in sports is like skin, it goes from top to bottom. So for every Ron Artest trade demand or Terrell Owens tirade, there's a Tom Benson trying to Baltimore Colts the New Orleans Saints to San Antonio or Larry Brown playing the runaway bride with his coaching jobs for the -nth time.
Speaking of Larry Brown, it seemed like he finally settled down this time a year ago with a Detroit team built around his mantra of "playing the right way." He sold the Pistons out as he entertained job offers and rumors during the playoffs and bolted to the Knicks after the season ended. What did Detroit do? They went got a coach, Flip Saunders, who was malcontented out of Minnesota. The results: Well, Detroit has the NBA's best record while the Knicks look destined to watch the ping-pong balls of the NBA lottery this summer.
Down in Miami, Pat Riley basically strongarmed Stan Van Gundy out of the Heat's head coaching job. That statement Van Gundy, virtually a long-time employee of the Heat, gave was pure trash. If Van Gundy really quit the job to stay with his family more, then Osama bin Laden will show up in Las Vegas to compete in the next World Series of Poker.
So what about Johnny Damon leaving icon status and his facial hair behind in Boston to don the pinstripes of the "Evil Empire?" That's no different from when Art Modell hauled the original Cleveland Browns out of the city, dressed them in purple and named them the Baltimore Ravens.
Also, so what if T.O. was trying to extort the Eagles for more money? Benson has extorted the state for years while the family that owns the Arizona Cardinals extorted that state's Tourism and Sports Authority for an estimated $355 million to build a new stadium for a losing team. By the way, the state is paying for 75 percent of the construction.
Maybe loyalty has a price tag. If so, then sports fans should just put down the Sports Illustrated, stop watching "Sportscenter" and begin watching "Rambo" movies and reading Soldier of Fortune.