Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Notes, or We're taking on water and we're all goin' down

Hello and welcome back. Today: Barry Bonds' home run chase, the Cavs' chances in the NBA Finals, and the lack of secrets in modern sports.

Let's get right into it.

- In baseball news, it's now June. And if the playoffs started tomorrow it'd be pretty weird, because they still start in October. Check back in August for more updates.

Meanwhile, Barry Bonds hit another home run last night. This one was career No. 747 for Barry. The next one will be No. 748, and the one after that should be 749, according to ESPN.com's Pedro Gomez. Then after that, the last number will reset at 0, and the second number will become a 5, which looks like this: 750. I know it can be hard to keep all of this straight, and I commend ESPN for trying to stay on top of this rapidly-developing development.

- Now, to be quite honest, I'm going to take the day off from the NBA Finals. You might find good things written about Game 2, but you won't find them here.

How's this for an exchange though: with Lebron out in the first quarter, Cleveland missed three 3s in a row. San Antonio countered by getting 12 points from five different players. The score went from 16-13 to 28-13, and it was never close after that. That shows how delicate these games are for Cleveland. Mr. James can stack up about a dozen points in the first or fourth quarter -- but not both. If it stays close in Cleveland, they probably win.

But three in a row? Those are long odds, and I don't feel like attaching my name to them.

On a side note, the title to my previous post -- "Notes, or Lebron James is Ricky Davis" -- was a thinly-veiled shot at Chicago Tribune columnist Sam Smith. Smith asserted previously in these playoffs that Lebron James is, as a player, comparable to Vince Carter. The Vince Carter, 28, whom Lebron, 22, had just thoroughly outplayed the previous series.

- Now, for an old-timey thought on modern sports culture. Please wait while I put on my bowler hat and pack my tobacco pipe. Prepare to be regaled.

A few days ago, Gilbert Arenas said he would opt out of his contract after the upcoming season. This joined Kobe Bryant's announcement/retraction of his desire to leave Los Angeles. Now, if I had my choice, 10 times out of 10 I'd hang with Gil. (That hat -- my God, what a hat.) And Arenas' decision makes sense on a financial and a competitive level, while Kobe's... well, I've dealt with that.

But what I don't like about Gilbert's announcement was just that -- it was an announcement. Before a season even began, Gil cast a shadow of doubt over his future in Washington, and he made this shadow painfully visible to the public.

The great line came from Otto Von Bismarck: "To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making."

I happened to spend my formative years in Bismarck. And I'm smelling sausage.

Arenas and Kobe are a part of the continuing Linda Tripp-ification of our culture. It seems that almost everyone in America is willing to give out any information they have into a microphone, with or without solicitation. We'll sell out everything we've got, including our own dignity, as long as we can get the word out.

We have become a culture of leakers.

Kobe himself was furious at a "Lakers insider" who alleged that Kobe had run Shaq out of town. How do you like that? A leaker, angry at a leaker -- and a Laker leaker, no less. (You want a leak? Here's a damn leak.)

They do this stuff across the pond in the soccer world, but it's much, much different. The "rumor mill" that surrounds the English, Italian, and Spanish leagues -- particularly the big teams -- is the stuff of tabloids. There are dozens of websites that take hundreds of tips from anyone who claims to have any idea of what player will be bought by what team.

Literally, these tips tend to read like this: "My uncle is a garbage man in London, and he just found an envelope that had been sent by (club) to (player), so my uncle thinks that's where he's headed."

Honestly, they're all like that. And the British press run their own rumors around, and no one takes anything very seriously until they see ink on paper. Because they're just cartoon rumors -- people laugh out loud at most of them.

But that's not how it works here. Our rumors? Our leakers? They tend to be right. They actually release inside information for very little personal gain. (Except for these gentlemen.) For the most part, we are leaking just to leak.

Today, each of the major three sports in America is almost completely transparent. Rarely is a deal done or a move made that catches anyone by surprise. No idea that starts in a front office or locker room stays there.

Whereas years ago, fans saw only the end product of professional sports, we now get to see it all before it gets ground up with lots of fat and spice and called sports.

And now that I get a good look at it as it rolls down the assembly line, I'm seeing a lot of hoof.

And now I'll take off the bowler hat, I'll cue the gospel choir, and I'll stand at the lectern for a moment and preach. You leak bad, unfair or dangerous things that are going on at your workplace or in your apartment building. You leak the names of serial killers and bank robbers. You don't leak which starters the Yankees are looking at, you loser.

Okay, enough preaching.

I can't really blame Gilbert Arenas for leaking, I can't blame Samuel Eto'o. I can't even blame Kobe. Well, okay, I can blame Kobe.

But we are all to blame. We've created this culture, or at least allowed it. We all leak, or would leak, and if nothing else -- if in no other way than knowing something we probably shouldn't -- we all benefit from those leaks.

And if we don't stop soon, we'll all be in the water.

So now, a quick and vital Editor's Note, and one that I hope to honor as long as I possibly can.

- Don't leak to me. I don't want to hear it. I'll be just fine getting the news when it actually becomes news. If something is going to happen tomorrow, I'll deal with it then.

Unless it's a flood, or lotto numbers, in which case I can be reached at verbal_kint_187@hotmail.com.

That'll do it.

Good day.

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