Loose Ends

As a wise man remarked, "Start hating the Cards now and avoid long lines on August 31st." But, before we dive head first into football season, it would probably be best if we tie up some loose ends just dangling out there in the wide world of sports.

To begin with, thank God that Ace doesn't drug test, because, if we didn't know better, one might suspect Jeff Zurcher was smokin' something when he chose being a professional fisherman over being a professional tennis player in his sportspeak column last week.

Now, let's not criticize too much (since Zurch-ules is much bigger and stronger... and happily married), but come on! Zurch casually mentions male tennis stars dating models and celebs-who cares about that?-they can date female tennis stars! And their access to them surely exceeds that of bass fishermen.

No other sport consistently produces hot female athletes like women's tennis. Anna. 'Nuff said. Sure, we all attend the 5/3 Tennis tournament under the guise of seeing and supporting local athletics, but in reality the hope is that some hot, foreign tennis chick will recognize the need in her life for a sports lovin' English teacher from the Bluegrass state who likes Wilco, Weezer, and playing his X-Box. Hasn't happened yet, but a boy can dream.

This is not to totally dismiss professional fishermen -because one of them was involved in the best sports story of the year. Gary Klein, a veteran fisherman, was competing in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, when a camper on shore fired a shotgun over his head during some high-pressure angling (allegedly there was some property accessibility issue up for debate). Not since the days of skiers being "accidentally shot by Claudine Longet" have firearms played such a major role in professional competition.

Have you ever seen Tiger Woods lose his mind when someone in the gallery takes a picture during his backswing? Imagine if they were whipping out shotguns. From now on, no professional athletes have the right to complain about excessive booing or artificial noisemakers-at least no one is shooting at them. (Klein kept fishing, even after the bullet whizzed by.)

Seabiscuit the movie is good, very good, but not great. The book is much better, but then again, that is always true. The movie has led to a lot of discussions about sports movies in general, and a recent national publication put out a Top 50 list of sports movies. In order not to name names, especially since there's an accusation of someone doing drugs, the people at a certain magazine (rhymes with Shports Shmillustrated), that put this list together should be dragged from their homes in the dead of night and beaten mercilessly with Louisville Slugger replicas of Wonder Boy. There's no way you can make a convincing argument that 50 sports movies exist that are better than The Natural. Hell, some movies on the list, such as Bull Durham, quote The freakin' Natural. To say that there are 50 better sports movies than The Natural is like saying there are 50 better Mafia movies than The Godfather. It's just so illogical that it's hard to know where to begin to refute it. Also, The Bad News Bears is a top five selection; Best in Show is not a sports movie, although it is very funny; and Jerry Maguire is a romantic comedy with sports in it, not a sports movie. In a straw poll of overlooked movies conducted amongst some friends, the movie Rad kept popping up, and admittedly, BMX and skateboard movies from the early and mid-'80s had no representation. Personally, the exclusion of the Sports Goofy shorts from Disney is upsetting. Sports Goofy covered every sport imaginable: baseball, basketball, track and field, football, you name it and he could do it. Sports Goofy was like Bo Jackson; if Bo Jackson was a cartoon dog with little-to-no athletic talent.

To touch on the Cincinnati Reds one last time, the trades they made-not nearly as bad as they seem. Aaron Boone was not the most popular Red, as some hold him out to be. Less than a year ago, the city was booing this guy and accusing manager Bob Boone of holding back prospect Brandon Larsen so his son could play, and now he is the most popular Red? Not close people, not close. Boone's a good, solid player, but he is not Barry Bonds or even Brett Boone: a consistent All-Star. Boone is 30, with 18 home runs, 13 of which were hit in April and May, and the pitcher the Reds received in return, Brandon Clausen, is young, left handed, and good. If Clausen can stay healthy, he should win 10-15 games next year. If that happens: advantage Reds.

You may not have noticed, but Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa has quietly turned himself into an MVP candidate with 28 home runs and 76 RBI, while batting .306 for the suddenly in-contention Cubs. To put up these numbers after being buried by most of the national media following the corked bat incident shows a strong mind and a strong heart- two things a lot of people doubted he owned.

Although it might seem odd to talk about UK basketball in August (and it shouldn't; we do live in Kentucky), UK forward Chuck Hayes opened some eyes at the Pan American Games, even though the American team did not medal. A controversial selection by coach Tom Izzo (according to the Syracuse coaches who cried like little girls when their forward Hakim Warrick got cut), Hayes did his team and his country proud, averaging 11.2 points, (2nd on team), 7.6 rebounds, (1st on team), and finishing 1st in steals, 2nd in assists, and 2nd in blocked shots. Maybe this will wake some people in this sports world up (like Dick Vitale) who consistently underestimate the abilities of UK players under Tubby Smith. Keith Bogans may have surprised some people by what he did in the NBA Summer League, but for those who watched him play last season, it was nothing new. Just because UK plays a team game, does not mean their players cannot shine.

OK, that's it. Loose ends tied up and grievances aired. The pennant races are still going strong, but all of that is about to be overshadowed by the football season. Will UK beat U of L? Can Cinci actually win under new head coach Marvin Lewis? Will Tim Couch still have a starting job with the Browns, or will he live the life of visors and clipboards? Until then, here's to watching women's tennis and hoping Anna answers my letters.