What Grinds My Gears: Calhoun, ESPN, and the Long Shot Twins

ryan lalalaContributor IFebruary 23, 2009

I have a confession to make. I am suffering from mid-February sports depression.

This condition is common in many fans this time of the year. March Madness is on the horizon, baseball players have not yet broken a sweat, and the NBA and NHL are still playing meaningless games.

That being said, I thought this week's Top Five sports topics that grind my gears would be hard to come by. Oh, what a difference a UConn press conference makes.

So, without further ado, here is what is striking a chord with me this week:


You have to hand it to ESPN. They have single-handedly taken the reins of the steroid issue and turned it into a gargantuan public issue, ranking somewhere just above the economy but just below LeBron James.

Let me predict the lineup for today’s broadcast: A-Rod, LeBron, A-Rod, LeBron, Kobe, steroids, A-Rod, LeBron, and of course top plays (including all LeBron James' dunks.) Am I the only one who finds this annoying?

Don't get me wrong, I think steroids are an issue, and it is unfortunate that Alex Rodriguez took them, but you can only beat a dead horse for so long.

The same goes for LeBron. ESPN has had a man crush on him ever since his high school days. You would think LeBron James was the second coming of Jesus and steroids are a bigger issue then global warming, the way the ESPN analysts talk about each.

Oh, and don't let me forget ESPN's No. 3 hot world issue of grave importance, Stephen Curry, the best college player ESPN never wants you to forget about. According to them, there is nothing more riveting to see on a Friday night then a mid-major match up featuring Davidson/Butler. Or is it Curry vs. Butler? That’s sure what it seemed like to me.

Please, ESPN, recognize that there are more then just three people who have sports talent.

2. Jim "Retirement is Expensive" Calhoun

This whole incident regarding UConn head coach Jim Calhoun is a bit crazy. First of all, I think it is ridiculous that any college coach would make more than $1 million. Many would say I'm wrong, but there is something about coaching 18- and 19-year-old kids in a game that I think does not warrant that kind of money.

However, multiple universities around the country disagree with me, which is why they pay the Calhouns of the world millions and leave students like me working three jobs to pay for books.

But really, Calhoun should not be sorry he makes a lot of money. After all, if someone offered me $2 million, I would do pretty much anything. The problem is in how he handled himself when the subject came up.

During the heated exchange at his press conference, you just got the impression Calhoun, like many athletes and coaches in America, has stopped living in the real world. If your making over a million a year, and still need to "save money" for retirement, then maybe you don't deserve to be making anything at all.

Where exactly has all his money been going? Maybe Calhoun is saving money to start up his own business. I think it would be something along the lines of a tampering services. Not to say he’s a dishonest, cheating ass. He’s more like a really rich, dishonest, cheating ass.

During his press conference Calhoun came off as the rich uncle who has three houses, 20 cars, and that weird-looking shaved dog. In other words, very loaded, very proud of it, and very set on not giving any of it to anyone for any reason.

The words seemed to come out of his mouth before the questions had even been asked. Think something has been on his mind? Please, Jim Calhoun, when you are making an outrageous amount of money in a shaky economy, you should know these questions are coming. Reporters work with what you give them, and if you want the green, don’t be mean.

3. The NFL Combine

Earlier in this article, I mentioned something about a man crush. Well, NFL scouts get  some hardcore man crushing going on during the NFL's circus...er, combine, each year.

You would think after years of letting the Mike Mamula, Matt Jones and Ray Rhodes first round picks climb up the board, scouts and NFL know-it-alls would have learned their lessons.

However, it seems every year we still hear about someone "climbing" up the draft boards due to a great 40-yard-dash, or "falling" due to, say, their teeth being too close together. But as much as I hate seeing these athletes ultra-analyzed to the max, I must admit I get just as much joy in seeing a team waste a high draft pick on an “athlete.” 

4. The NBA trade deadline

Two of the most annoying words in the English language now must be “expiring contract.” In a close second behind that phrase is my personal favorite, “mid-level exception.”

Leave it to the NBA to have the lamest, weirdest, and most annoying trade deadline in all of sports. Poor Joe Smith. This poor vagabond of a soul has been traded more times then Paris Hilton has had one-night stands.

The latest installment featured a near-trade to the New Orleans Hornets, only to be thwarted by Tyson Chandler's asthma (or was it his ankle, or maybe an NBA conspiracy? I’ll vote for that last one).

Regardless, for the first time in two years, Smith will not be the NBA’s annual expiring contract trade bait. When teams are making trades for contracts rather then players, I have a huge problem.

Second, the NBA has made it way too difficult to actually add a player who could help you team. If you want to add a player, you have to take into account the luxury tax, how his contract matches up against your overall payroll, how many years he has been in his current contract, blah blah blah. It’s all just too much.

Perhaps most annoying of all are teams trading for expiring contracts now in hopes of signing someone from the 2010 free agent class. Is it just me, or does anyone else think that when 2010 does arrive, there will be maybe two good free agents available, one of them named LeBron? (Don't worry, ESPN will keep you up to date).

So that means at least a few of these teams are going to be losing out. The NBA makes no sense sometimes. Please, David Stern, create a system that promotes winning now, not in 2010.

5. The Minnesota Twins

Everyone who follows these knows that, at heart, I am a baseball guy. That being said, Minnesota fans, I feel your pain.

Everything is OK now that the Twins have signed franchise cornerstone Joe Crede, right?

Let's get serious. After a whirlwind offseason where they signed Crede and flamethrower R.A. Dickey, does the Twins ownership really expect their fans to get excited and think this team has a chance to win?

Granted, the AL Central is always a dogfight. But you win your division to win in the playoffs, and then eventually to win the World Series. Forgive me if Crede and Dickey don’t exactly have the same ring to them as Puckett or Viola.

Twins fans should be angry their ownership did not make more of an effort to improve the team this offseason. When the Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals are improving their teams more then you, it is time to worry.

To stand pat after you were not very good last season essentially says you think the same group of players are going to improve so much that they will be better then any other available players who were out there. Twins, please sign Manny Ramirez. He probably hates the cold, but you play in a dome. He can even live in the clubhouse.


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