RICKSTER IS THE COLUMNIST FOR THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION, "THE SOMERS RECORD"

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SPORTS

SPORTS

I have not had a chance to write (lucky you) (and yes I understand you are not the plural you) because I’ve been working hard on the NCAA Tournament. My job is to assemble a whole bunch of information regarding how the network is broadcast into a zillion different regions, and make sure that the people who actually make the switches know what the heck they are doing.

You can say what you want about the NCAA Tournament, mostly because it is your first amendment right. By the way, why is the right to free speech an amendment? How did they forget to put that into the Constitution in the first place? Remember that War for Independence we just fought so that we could speak freely? Didn’t anyone proofread the thing? “Dude we left some stuff out- it might be pretty important…”

Incidentally I have a great idea to reduce the deficit: you know the Bill of Rights? Go ahead and submit a bill. Charge people for the rights they actually use. For instance, I need free speech so I can annoy people. But I don’t need to bear arms. I have arms, but I don’t need to bear them. Charge people extra for brandishing arms, and even more if they menace. I don’t need free religion- I am not religious. I don’t need to do anything unto others- I can’t remember if that is the Bill of Rights or the Ten Commandments? I always get those and Benjamin Franklin confused. “A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned-“ was that Jesus or Ben Franklin? I heard Jesus was kind of a cheapskate.

Anyway, when the NCAA tournament rolls around everyone has to “pick their brackets.” Don’t worry that you know ABSOLUTELY nothing about the teams, just pick them. The early rounds of your bracket are awash with red ink. If you got most of them right that means you are an idiot savant, like a horse who can paint with his tail, and it comes out looking better than some stuff you have seen at the MOMA, or when your cat walks across the piano, and it sounds a little like Liszt. Or when George Clooney is in a movie and for some odd reason it isn’t that bad.

Obama picked some ridiculous school for an upset and was crowing about it for two days. My mother LOVED the NCAA Tournament, because she loved to root for the underdog.
“I love Michigan- they are cute! A little school like that against a big powerhouse and they WON!”
“Mom, Michigan was favored by 25 points- their stadium fits 100,000 people.”

This year these dopey mid-major schools have been beating up on the big guns, and the execs at CBS are getting nervous. A final featuring Murray State versus St. Marys (Cal) was a distinct and distasteful possibility for far too long. Any school that has to list what state it’s from in parentheses because there is another BETTER school somewhere else with the same name does NOT belong this deep in the tournament.

They are thinking of expanding the tournament to 96 teams. This is not good. I went to Syracuse, which is a fine learning institution with a damned good basketball team. I don’t want to see some bogus little college come along and knock my ass out in the second round.

It would actually be 97 teams, because they have that play-in game. Can someone please explain why that play-in game is in my life? Didn’t they play the whole season so that they could either be selected or not selected by the tournament committee like everyone else? The winner (loser, because the winner wins an embarrassing smack-down in the first round by the number one seed of the tournament) this year was Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Does a team with the word “bluff” in it sound like it’s going very far? This year they skipped the game and Duke just took them into a back alley and shot them- it was more humane.

Some dopey schools in the past: I.U.P.U.I. I’m not sure what it stands for but it will keep you from getting pregnant I think. Also: Austin Peay (pronounced Austin Pee), which got a lot of chuckles from dads and eye-rolls from moms with kids named Austin.

And the lower the seed, the weirder the school nickname is. Cornell is known as the Big Red. The Big Red WHAT? I think I know the answer, but I am too much of a lady to say. Speaking of ladies, that’s another thing. After Title IX passed, all the major schools had to fund female basketball programs, but they didn’t give any thought to what they would call them. So they just put the word “lady” in front of the existing nickname. The “Lady Trojans” of USC is a perfect example of inappropriate. Now the nickname for Brigham Young University is the “Cougars,” so I’m not sure what to make of that.


Incidentally, the lowest seed to become the national champion was Villanova in 1985. They did qualify as a “Cinderella” team, because they arrived at the tournament in a large pumpkin, and believe me the inside of it was the pits.


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Thursday, March 4, 2010

WINTER OLYMPICS

WINTER OLYMPICS

Every year I grandly profess that I am not at all interested in the Olympics, and every year I watch them anyway. I get sucked in by the pageantry, the civic pride, the fact that “Dog the Bounty Hunter” is in reruns.

If Watching Paint Dry were an Olympic sport it would still be more engaging than Cross Country Skiing. Cross Country Skiing should be held in Lichtenstein, where it would be over a lot faster- you basically cross the parkway and you’re in Austria. Speed Skating is just as dull. The Short Track Speed Skating event seems a little like Roller Derby, where they elbow each other out of the way and no one seems to mind.

They have a race called the “Combined,” but it’s just a combination of two ski races. I would like to see a new brand of “Combined.” I want to see them run the speed skating event at the same time as a hockey game. THAT would be interesting. Or what about combining Ice Dancing with “What Not to Wear?” That’s the show where this really hot weird-looking gal and a guy who looks a little like Ralph Malph come to your home, open your closet and throw everything in it away. Then they replace your wardrobe with uglier clothes, but they fit better. Then they cut your hair really short and coerce you to say that you like it, and cover up your pimples with concealer. Skating stars are the most glittered, ruffled, tassled, sequined, eye-shadowed athletes in the village, and the women are no better. If they go through an Ice Dancer’s closet, and throw away the outfit with the snakes, the clown suit, the Romeo and Juliet costume, and the aboriginal getup, what will be left? Only the Ice Dancer himself and an empty “Bedazzler.” I dare any female Ice Dancer to have the guts to take the ice wearing an Ann Taylor suit and glasses.

Liven up the Downhill? How about all downhill skiers have to first drink a 6-pack of Heinekens? THAT my friends is sports. The snowboarders already look like they have smoked a couple joints together before the event.

I tried to find out the difference between a luge and a skeleton. Apparently a skeleton is the same as a luge, only the guy gets on it face forward, so he can see his own death approaching faster, and presumably get his affairs in order. It used to be that the bobsled looked a little like a Buick Skylark, and they sent it down the track with four guys in it. Now it’s just one guy on top of a little mechanic’s creeper flying down the track head first. Why don’t they just drop the guy out of an airplane without a parachute, and if he lives, give him a gold medal?

I feel a little sorry for Canada, who mounted this big government-sponsored push to “Own the Podium.” (The Olympics are in Canada, and they DO own the podium, unless they only rented it.) So far the Americans have the most medals, but I think they are counting bronze stars, purple hearts and a few Grammy Awards.

The American Curling teams didn’t do so well. If we wanted a great Curling team, we would have sent Paris Hilton- her hair always looks GREAT.

I enjoy watching Olympic Hockey for some reason, since I avoid hockey in general during the regular NHL season. Any sport where you can play 2 hours or so to a zero-zero tie is not for me (and that includes soccer: BORING). And hockey is even weirder because every three minutes or so, someone starts a fight- it’s almost like the game takes place at a bar. One guy grabs the shoulder of the other guy with one hand, and hits him in the head with the other hand. The other guy has to do the same thing, otherwise you would hit him once and he would slide backwards across the ice the length of the rink, and he would have to skate all the way back in order to get hit in the head again. These hockey fights work out much better if one guy is right-handed and one guy is left-handed. Otherwise they both hit each others’ fists, and it looks even dumber. Hockey fights are by far the stupidest fights; basketball fights are usually the best, although they have made the rules so strict you rarely see a good one anymore. Football fights are dopey because you hit the guy as hard as you can, but he is wearing about 15 pounds of plastic and Kevlar, and you usually fracture a bone in your hand. Baseball fights are laughable- the pitcher brushes back a guy who has already been brushed back 3 times in the series (usually the best player, who makes the most money and the one least likely to actually fight). He charges the mound, and the pitcher then fires his glove at him, and misses. The player finally reaches the mound, and swings at the pitcher, and misses. This is a guy who can hit a baseball traveling 100 mph with a little stick while people are shouting “YOU’RE A COCKSUCKER,” but he can’t hit a pitcher’s big fat face with his fist. By this time both benches have emptied, and the bullpens are running REALLY slowly towards the meelee. Every man from each team is now a potential contestant, fighting he knows not whom nor why. The guys in the bullpen didn’t even see what happened, but they trot over anyway. Little mini-brawls break out, with guys assuming a “put-up-your-dukes” old-fashioned-type pose, looking for someone scrawny. The only one ever injured is the first base coach, who takes an elbow to the jaw while trying to pull away a starter who makes 15 million dollars a year. Then the fight ends and it takes about 15 minutes for everyone to find their own mitts.

Anyway Olympic Hockey has less of that, but it’s still not like the old days where the US Olympic Hockey team full of young kids from college would take on a Russian or Swedish team with players who had not one tooth left. That was fun.


Incidentally, there were several demonstration events this year. One demo sport that debuted in the 1992 Albertville Olympics was Speed Skiing, a competition where the contestants ski in a straight line as fast as they can, presumably high on amphetamines. The current world record is held by Italian skier Simone Origone at about 156 MPH. This is actually faster than if you freefell from an airplane in the belly-flop position. The course is one kilometer long, which, based on my pretty good knowledge of the metric system, is about 23 inches. The hill is about a 60 degree incline and lets out onto the L.I.E.


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