Thursday, March 6, 2008

Happy Trails...

I was thinking about how I needed to finish the article below when the news of Favre's retirement flooded into my inbox at work. I literally received over twenty emails in regards to the news of Brett's pending retirement. Most were from people just wanting to make sure I knew of the rumor; others were from people checking in on my overall well being. I certainly appreciated all of them.

I must say, as disappointed as I am to see Brett ride off into the sunset, I am happy to see him leave on his own terms and while he was still unquestionably one of the top QBs in the game.

I'm not sure there's much I can say about Brett that hasn't already been said about the man. There may be more books and magazine articles on Brett Favre then there are combined on Al Capone, Billy the Kid, and The Lone Ranger. (That was my way of calling Brett a "gunslinger" without having to actually use the word.) All I know is this--when I was twelve I dreamed that the Packers would someday acquire a superstar that we could be proud of. Every year, I'd look at the helmets in the Pro Bowl and wonder when the Packers would get their star quarterback. The faces never seemed to change. There was Marino, Montana, Elway and Simms, but never, ever a Packer. (Ok...Majkowski had a good year, but you never really felt it was going to last.) Then, as I was finishing up high school, I believed the Packers had finally found their man. His name? Ty Detmer.

Well, fortunately Ron Wolf had the insight to make the greatest trade in the history of the NFL. The rest, as they say, is history.

No matter where I live, I'll always make sure my rec room includes my current "Wall of Favre." The transition into life after Favre is going to be more surreal than painful. I'm turning 35 this spring, so Brett has been the Packers QB for all of my adult life. The funny thing is, I've never felt like an adult while I've watched Brett play. I always felt like a kid again. And for that Brett, I can never thank you enough...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

For the Love of Hate

A funny thing happened on the way to Michael Redd hitting his game-winning three pointer against the Cavs last week--I made a personal revelation. It was nothing of major significance, however, and it certainly wasn't life-altering. As a matter of fact, to somebody else, it's probably not a big deal at all. But it was early in the second quarter, when the Bucks were trailing by about 8 points when it hit me--I really don't like Damon Jones.

That's it. That was my big revelation: I hate watching Damon Jones play basketball.

I realized this as Jones was pumping a fist in celebration of a three he had just hit to extend the Cavs lead. Forget about the fact that he was so open that he looked like the booger-picking kid at the seventh grade dance (because three other Bucks were collapsing on LeBron), he still managed to talk trash and pump his fist as if he was a more dominant force than Kobiyashi at a barbecue. And it's not just because of his God-awful mohawk or the fact that no one thinks Damon Jones is as good as Damon Jones thinks he is...I just hate watching him play. I hated him with the Bucks, and now I hate him even more when he plays against us. Now, I realize that Damon Jones could care less what a guy who blogs to seven readers thinks about him. But the fact is, I need Damon Jones. Every sports fan needs guys they despise. We need a bad guy, a villain, an ass. It's what makes our heroes that much more likable, and it's what makes victory taste all that more sweet. Redd's three took on even more meaning because it meant that Damon Jones went home a loser. And for that, I was extremely happy.

As I began thinking about my favorite sports enemies, however, I quickly realized that Damon Jones was nowhere near my top 20 of all time. It's taken me some time to figure it out, but I now present you with the top 10 sports figures that I have hate.

10. Tony LaRussa--As much as Brewer fans want to throw Ned Yost under the bus for the beanball retaliation events last year, the fact remains that LaRussa had no business forcing Ned's hand in the first place. When you're a team out of contention, you don't get in a pissing contest with a team that is. It was prickish for LaRussa to put Yost in a position to defend his player. Perhaps Tony forgot that his team was eliminated from contention, or (more likely) perhaps Tony was merely a sore loser. Either way, beaning Prince was chicken shit. And Yost should bean Pujols again the first time the two teams meet, just to let Tony know that he can piss right back at him.

On a side note, before you continue to criticize the McGwire's, Bonds and Clemens of the world for the steroids problem in baseball--keep in mind that there was a particular manager who resided in the dugout of the team that without a doubt lifted the steroid craze to a whole new level, but never said a word. You can clearly track the phenomenon to the Oakland A's and their bash brothers. Now, you might believe LaRussa when he says he wasn't aware of what was going on in his club house...but then you must also believe that Paris Hilton never meant for that sex tape to be released too, right???

9. Reggie Miller--When I was in sixth grade, I used to let ones rip in class and when my friend Scottie (he of the, "come on Bruce, Ruffin some feathers" fame) busted out laughing, he'd get blamed for it. I usually felt bad afterwards because I was the one breaking all the wind, but Scottie was the one turning bright red and getting hollered at from the teacher. Well, similar to the way I learned how to get away with successfully breaking wind, Reggie Miller too mastered the art of breaking the rules of basketball without getting caught. No one has ever gotten away with pushing off more before taking a shot. He mastered the art of knowing when a ref's eyes weren't on him, and he took every advantage he could as soon as he was out of view. He was both a bastard and a sharpshooter, who was good enough to break your heart as the shot clock was winding down. That being said, I still think Cheryl takes him one-on-one.

8. Carlos Zambrano--Here's one that is bound to keep ascending up the list over the next few years. Every time he punches his chest and rejoices after a strikeout, I can only hope he suffers a mini-stroke. Last year, Prince stared Zambrano down mighty hard after one of Carlos' personal cheerleading sessions. The Prince/Zambrano brawl is not far away, my friends. I'm hoping for front row seats...

7. Chris Hovan--I was actually surprised that my top 10 didn't contain more Bears and Vikings. Moss and Alonzo Spellman would certainly make the top 20, and there was no motion I hated more than Daunte Culpepper's odd fist roll (as if he didn't know how to do the entire hand jive, so he just did one part over and over) after a touchdown. That being said, Hovan's blatant disrespect for Favre and Lambeau was so aggravating that I truly wanted to see him stabbed in the groin. One note for Mr. Hovan--if you have to wear makeup to show the world that you are intimidating, chances are you're no more fierce than Danny Norieaga. Hovan is the exception to the rule on this list because he's the only one who isn't a true star in his field.

6. Reggie Jackson--The original villain. First the Brewers got eliminated to Reggie's Yankees in '81, and then they faced his Angels in '82. Yankee fans will always remember Jeter's amazing flip to home plate; I'll always remember Charlie Moore's heave that nabbed Reggie at third.

5. Bob Huggins--Bastard. (What else is there to say?)

4.Michael Irvin--Even though I appreciated that he helped out Adam Sandler in The Longest Yard, I'll never forget how much I hated watching his ten minute celebrations...after catching a two yard slant.

3. Albert (Joey) Belle--I was at County Stadium the day he slid into Vina and caused all of the brawls that ensued. That happened after he threw a ball in the stands that nailed a female teacher. He may have made the quickest ever journey from Hero to Zero.

2. Gary Sheffield--evil personified. ("You think that was an error? I'll show you an error.")

1. Roy Williams (the coach, not the WR or Safety)--He may feel like he made his peace with Dick Bennett, but I'll never forgive him for trampling on what should have been the greatest moment ever for the coach that I so strongly revered. There's no way not to take offense to the following comments:

"Are you going to tell me you didn't like this more than 19-17 at halftime? I'm not a nuclear physicist, but you make the choice. We're trying to make it a game of basketball skills, not a weight-room contest."

I hate you, Roy. And because of you, I now cheer for DUKE (except when they play Wisconsin or Marquette, of course).

So there you have it. The 10 guys I've most enjoyed hating. I'm sure many Bucks fans would have Lambeer or Mahorn on the list, but as you know, my Magnificent Seven, I was a Pistons fan then, and those guys were always quick to defend Isiah. I would be curious to see if there was anyone that people thought I have missed. Feel free to disagree with me, but just don't tell me you hate me.