Archive for June, 2010

Not Loving The Cup As Much As Nathan Green
June 9, 2010

Do you know who Nathan Green is?

No, he’s not the sweaty, chain-smoking lawyer played by Martin Short on Saturday Night Live (“I know that!”) – that was
Nathan Thurm
. (Classic stuff.)

Nathan Green is a pro golfer who has decided not to play in this weekend’s St. Jude Classic so that he can stay home and watch the World Cup, which begins June 11.

Besides the fact that I have a DVR and Mr. Green obviously does not, this is where we differ.

While Mr. Green is sloughing off work and turning down the chance to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars this weekend, I’m actually soliciting odd jobs from friends and neighbors – pruning shrubbery, providing clean urine samples, removing tattoos – over the next few weeks to keep myself busy. I want to guarantee I won’t be anywhere near a television, lest I accidentally catch any World Cup “action.”

Just like my parents occasionally try to convince me to move back to my home state of Minnesota and just like my wife occasionally tries to convince me to get a better job, every couple of years someone tries to convince Americans that soccer is on the verge of becoming the biggest thing in our country since Doritos, Dancing with the Stars, or Jesse James-bashing.

Remember that David Beckham thing from a few years ago? He was supposed to single-handedly revolutionize the MLS, but instead turned out to be the biggest imported bust since Crocodile Dundee 3

Yes, World Cup ratings have grown since 2002 and are expected to grow again this year. But U.S. ratings are not earth-shattering. The 2006 final garnered a 7 rating for ABC. More viewers than a typical episode of Live From Daryl’s House, certainly, but far less than we see for more homegrown sporting “events” – Tuesday night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals, for example, earned an 11 rating.

My father-in-law once hinted that any sports fan could become a ravenous fan of any sport if he or she took the time to truly understand the game and its players. I believe that, and therefore I believe that my total lack of interest in the World Cup parallels my ignorance of what countries are playing, how they’re placed into groups, and the names of any single player on any single team.

But just because Nathan Green won’t be playing at the St. Jude Classic doesn’t mean that there won’t be a potentially competitive golf tournament this weekend. And just because I won’t be writing about the World Cup doesn’t mean I have nothing to write about.

For example:

The Brewers/Jeff Suppan divorce. The sigh of relief that Wisconsin sports fans collectively breathed upon hearing the news that Suppan would no longer be occupying a Brewers roster spot was matched only by the sigh of relief that was breathed when it became obvious that Aaron Rodgers was not going to suck. The decision to release Suppan was clearly the right move – not only was his performance terrible, but he had become Miller Park’s favorite whipping boy, being booed mercilessly by bitter fans that pointed to Suppan as everything that was wrong with the Brewers beleaguered pitching staff.

The problem, of course, is that dumping Suppan, who was removed from the starting rotation this year after just two starts, is hardly the end to the Brewers’ pitching woes.  After Yovani Gallardo, the team has one of – if not the – worst pitching staffs in the league. The good news is that the team obviously recognizes this and used its top three 2010 draft picks on pitchers. The bad news is Brewers fans will have to put up with Dave Bush and Manny Parra for the foreseeable future.

The Packers off-season. I like: Aaron Rodgers grading broadcasters. Media guys rip on players all the time, so it’s only fair that players get a chance to rip on media guys. (And even though I like Tony Kornheiser on PTI, I agree with Rodgers that Kornheiser was terrible on Monday Night Football).

I don’t like: The distractions. The Johnny Jolly drug possession trial was bad enough, but the weekend news from Lake Delton was more disturbing. And even though the 2010 Packers are a long way from having the character issues of the 2008 Bengals or the 2005 Vikings, some players appear not to have learned anything from Ben Roethlisberger’s recent troubles. They need to stay out of potentially damaging situations. And that includes everything that could possibly happen at Cruisin’ Chubby’s

Stephen Strasburg. I wish him the best, but the road to Cooperstown is littered with pitchers that burned out faster than the Spice Girls: Mark Fidrych. Fernando Valenzuela. Mark Prior. Let’s ease up on this kid and that he sticks around.

The NBA playoffs. As of this writing, the Lakers are up 2-1. But I think anybody watching the first game last Thursday could feel 99 percent confident that Los Angeles is assured of winning the series. Pau Gasol is just a much better player now than Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce is remarkably average, particularly on the offensive end, and Ray Allen is as inconsistent as the final season of Seinfeld. Everything just looks a lot easier for the Lakers. And that Kobe guy’s game is as impressive as my son’s ability to rattle off the name of every Japanese eraser that has ever been produced. Worst moment of the series by far for Badger fans came in game one when Michael Finley allowed two straight blow-by lay-ups and was immediately pulled. Hasn’t played since.

Playoff scheduling. Am I the only one that was annoyed by the fact that the best thing I could find to watch on Saturday night was an episode of Bikini Destinations on HDNet, but then on Sunday night, the NBA and NHL playoffs directly competed against each other? I’m relieved that the postseason schedules of the two sports only conflicted this once, but that was one time too many. Good thing I didn’t have a PGA tournament to play in and could at least switch back and forth.