If you care about sports, and you must, your hypocrisy meters have to be stuck on high these days. For instance...
We have been hearing from California at Anaheim at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner Arte Moreno, who has been talking about his new $50-million center fielder Gary Matthews Jr.
Matthews had the highlight season of a mediocre career in 2006, his contract walk year. From a player who couldn't make a brutal NY Mets team in 2002, Matthews made the AL all-star team with the Texas Rangers; from a player who never hit more than .275, Matthews hit .313; from a player who joined the Rangers on a minor league contract in 2004, Matthews used that season of dreams to sign with the Angels for $50 million for five seasons. And for the Angels, it was all good.
Then the "shocking" word came in the last few weeks of Matthews's name being involved with the newest steroids scandal bubbling all over the country, and soon it was all not so good. Moreno said he was upset with Matthews's no comment response and his hiring of a well known criminal attorney to represent him. But could it possibly be that the owner was really upset about being so dumb as to pay a mediocre one-year wonder 50 million bucks and then discover--to his amazement--that chemistry may have had something to do with the improvement.
At first Matthews said: "I do expect it to resolve itself here in the near future. Until we get more information, I just can't comment on it.''
To which Moreno's first comment was that the Angels would not ask Matthews anything further until HE was ready. Moreno said the new player was never asked if he used performance enhancers.
And then the stuff hit the fan and within days the conciliatory tone had turned bitter, perhaps coinciding with Matthews hiring celeb criminal lawyer Robert Shapiro. Moreno became quite critical of Matthews's failure to address Angels fans and members of the news media in a timely and a meaningful manner.
"I'm not a happy guy," Moreno told the NY Times. "I'm not in position now to say I'm sorry I signed him and I'm ready to invoke anything. My frustration is on the communications side."
"Address the press," was what Moreno wanted the player to do. "And say: ‘Yes, my name has been linked to this story. I'm sorry this has become a distraction and we're going to try to clear it up as quickly as possible.' I'm not asking him to admit to anything illegal."
"When he hired Shapiro, this doesn't send a very good signal," Moreno told the Times. "When 8 or 10 days go by and the only response is from a criminal attorney, what signals does that send to your fans?"
So Matthews finally "apologized" (through a statement released by his agent for god's sake) for the distraction but not for the reason for the distraction. And you have to wonder what the owner and general manager who originally decided that Matthews was worth this contract are now thinking. Stay tuned. Hypocrisy meters approaching high.
And then...I'm not sure if it's hypocrisy theory or conspiracy theory but do you think it's strange that a year after a mid-major school, which had not even won its conference title, went to the Final Four we find the number of mid-major schools getting NCAA bids seems to have shrunk? I know at least one of does. There's a sure way to keep the George Masons of the world from embarrassing the stuffed shirts and blowhards of the NCAA and their tournament selection committee: keep the George Masons of the world out of the tournament entirely. Make the world safer for the big majors.
And while we're at it, we bring you the recent news of Ray Ray McElrathbey, the Clemson football player. When we first met Ray Ray last fall, he was shepherding his kid brother Fahmarr to school and raising the youngster since their mother was a drug addict. Every so often a Clemson assistant coach's wife picked up Fahmarr from school or gave the kid a peanut butter sandwich so the NCAA had to decide if this was OK and that Ray Ray was not getting any extra benefit from his football scholarship. The republic was saved when it was decided that no rule had been broken. This week we learn that Ray Ray is currently academically ineligible to play football at Clemson although Coach Tommy Bowden thinks he might be able to right himself after spring break. Now why would it become public that McElrathbey's academics had fallen short (and we can't imagine how that could happen)? You don't have to read too many college football stories to see the academic privacy laws invoked. Yet here is Ray Ray academically outed. I feel the meter going past its upper limit.
And we leave you with the NHL's version of the "Twinkie" defense offered by the New York Islanders trying to keep their hatchet man Chris Simon from being suspended for the rest of the season. In this case, it wasn't junk food but a concussion that the Islanders claim Simon suffered when checked legally by the Rangers Ryan Hollweg last week. Simon's response (brought on or made worse, according to the Isles) was to take his stick and try to guillotine Hollweg. Only a slight misdirection led Hollweg's chin to absorb most of the blow and not his throat. That could have been the difference between a cut requiring a few stitches and a very serious injury. Now I always liked Chris Simon as I got to know him a bit and I know he's as tough as they come in the sport, but jeez...this was an act that could have had a far worse result for both players. Don't try to use the real serious issue of concussions as a way of keeping the player from being justifiably punished. The meter just blew.