“Someday, I will be a sportswriter”. That’s what I said to myself in 1968 after I saw Walter Matthau play Oscar Madison in the film version of The Odd Couple. Well, that day is today. The wide world of sport is winding down another year, and there’s plenty of bird to go around. So let’s get right down to it, the biggest BOOS of the year go to:
Tiger’s Turkey: Hank Haney — He was so busy fixing Charles Barkley‘s swing and Ray Romano‘s swing that he forgot to, you know, fix someone else’s swing.
Turkey Tiger: Jim Joyce — This is the umpire that blew a routine out call at first base, costing Detroit Tigers‘ pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. People are human and they make mistakes. But, this was egregious. Someday, a player will take an umpire or referee to court and win. Why is it that you and I are liable for our professional errors and omissions and sports officials aren’t? Has anyone else noticed that his proper name is James Joyce?
Turkey Apartheid: Koman Coulibaly — This FIFA World Cup Official cost the US a historic win. Not that I care about soccer. But, it’s one thing to miss a call on the global stage, or blow a call, or choke on a call. It’s another thing entirely to manufacture a call. Does anyone with half a brain believe that the World Cup is not fixed?
Evil Empire Turkey: George Steinbrenner — The Boss takes a posthumous Turkey with him down below. In the year of his passing, Georgie managed to make sure he got his monument in Yankee Stadium. In a clear-cut case of penis envy, it dwarfs DiMaggio’s, Ruth’s, Gehrig’s and every other Yankee’s monument.
Turkey Jingo: “God Bless America” – I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’m some Pinko Commie. Just because I read Fidel Castro‘s Reflections and The Unabomber‘s Manifesto or have sneaking suspicions about 9/11 and John Lennon’s assassination, doesn’t mean I don’t love my country. I wear Levi’s and Aldens. I carry Filson. I play Titleists and Taylors. I eat lunch at Manuel’s Tavern. I love America and support its capitalist democracy by patronizing its brands. I put my money where my nationalist mouth is.
But, I’ve had enough of “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch of MLB games. First, it minimizes “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” — a baseball tradition. Second, we already sing the National Anthem before the game. We don’t need another National Anthem, we have one. And most seriously, hard-working, good-paying decent American fans have been escorted out of major and minor league stadiums for having the audacity to go to the restroom or simply stay seated during “God Bless America”. When did Irving Berlin become so damn important? Oh, I know — Hilary and crew sang it on 9/11. Hey, I don’t want to be reminded of 9/11 every time I go to a ball game. Nor Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, or Nagasaki. One of the reasons I go to the ballgame is to get away from that shit.
Turkey in Turkey: Allen Iverson — I’ve always defended Iverson. When they said he was a “bad kid”, I said he was a great competitor and a winner. When they said he was a shot pig, I said he was the only guy good enough to get his own shot at the end of the 24-second shot clock. I said I always wanted him on my team. Sadly, The Answer fell victim to the NBA Maggot/Entourage mentality. He’s broke. Without a home in this great country, you would think he could have done better than Turkey. It’s like watching Tiger Woods play on the Hooters tour. I have had a bad impression of Turkey ever since that movie, Midnight Express. I feel bad for Iverson, but he’s now Turkish to me.
Traditional Media Turkey: ESPN — Like any sport fan, the network has become home — like family. Yet, it has grown irresponsible while wielding its burgeoning power. For one, Lebron’s The Decision was in poor taste. Whoever hatched the idea in LBJ’s camp should have been spanked upon proposal. ESPN housed the debacle. They should have simply said “no”. For another, who is Dick Vitale to be telling college presidents who to hire and fire? The guy spent a grand total of two years as a college coach. How would he know? Maybe because he is such a Dick? I cringe when he deifies blatant cheaters and pontificates on the virtues of running a clean program. He would know too much about the former and nothing of the latter. But, it takes a thief to …
Michael Milken Turkey: Ted Forstmann — This is a late-breaking story, but if it’s true, it’s pretty gooey. This guy runs IMG, the company that manages coaches, athletes, events, licensing, et al — they touch professional and collegiate sports at every level and every touchpoint. In a 3-year period (’04 – ’07), he allegedly gambled some $600,000 on games and events that his clients played or coached in. It just feels like insider trading to me.
Turkey Leftovers: Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Gilbert Arenas, Reggie Bush, Bruce Pearl — You can read about these guys on Fox Sports. But only on mikepalma.com do you get the real turkeys.