Friday, February 22, 2008

Sometimes You Just Have To Let It Go

Cheating, lies, and corruption are everywhere in sports these days. All three major sports have had scandals that contest the integrity of each game. Baseball has its juicers which account for nearly every great slugger of the 90s and now the greatest pitcher of the modern era. The NBA fairs slightly better with its players staying out of the mess, but Donaghy pushing scores up above gambling lines means the games were not refereed fairly and some of these were playoff games. Lucky for Vegas gambling will probably not take a big hit because anyone crazy enough to bet on regular season bball is beyond help. Lastly, there is the NFL and Spygate.

I can't stand the Patriots. I can't stand their fans. I can't stand them winning. I can't stand them winning for a city that cares about them far, far behind their beloved Sawks and Ceatles . I can't stand their arrogance, their callousness, their lack of respect for their opponents, and yeah, their ability to make all the right moves that I only wish the Birds would do. That said I was giddy when Spygate came out. It finally made sense! Of course they cheated, they had been cheating all along I bet. I used to joke about a conspiracy theory a cab driver in Connecticut told me about how the Patriots came out of nowhere to win the SuperBowl the season after 9/11. "So the Patriots, one of the worst franchises, come out of nowhere to get the chip and you gonna tell me the President doesn't have something to do with this? Wake up people!?" He was also a Giants fan. Now while still a ludicrous theory we are a little closer to the schemes of the wise cabbie.

With the latest reports that former Patriots employee, Matt Walsh, has film he took of the St. Louis Rams walk-through practice the day before the 2002 Super Bowl, the Patriots cheating ways have come into a new light. If they were doing this back in 2002 and it worked for them one can only assume they have been doing it ever since. There has been debate as to how helpful stealing signals and videotaping walk-throughs actually will be and coaches, players, and analysts have chimed in on both sides. However, the fact remains that they wouldn't have done it if it wasn't going to help them at all.

Now Arlen Specter long time Senator from good old Pennsylvania wants answers. He wants to know why the Spygate tapes were destroyed by Commissioner Goodell and why there have not been inquiries into the tapes from the 2002 Super Bowl and any other game the Patriots played in including the Patriots win over...yes...achem...mmmphf...(sniff)..dah!...yeah, the Birds.

As much as I would feel some vindication for the Patriots to be further confirmed as cheaters and their dynasty trashed I must say we have to let this one go. I listened to the entire Clemens hearing a few weeks ago and it was a travesty. The Mitchell Report did nothing good for baseball and only reinforced the idea that the game has not been pure in two decades and it was only dirtier than we thought it was. It is apparent to me that Bud Selig and the owners are to blame for letting steroids run rampant. It is understandable, yet not excusable why they let it go. After the strike baseball needed a jolt and its saviors were Mark McGuire and Slammin Sammy Sosa. Their home run duel and a few Yankee championships rejuvenated America's interest in the sport. A decade later base ball is back. Last season baseball broke attendance records across the board. Young, good looking, lovable, inspiring, and clean stars are pushing the game into a new era. However, baseball for some reason does not want to shake loose of its past. The Mitchell Report has dominated baseball headlines this off season and Clemens testimony before Congress in the public eye was just a debacle for him, for baseball, and maybe most of all for the Congress of country at war (and I don't want to hear about justice or anti-trust crap) Everyone involved is lying or lied, and everyone is guilty.

So I ask you Senator Specter let this one go. Look at how baseball is still crawling out from its shadows years later. Focus on Senatororial stuff, the country needs you. Goodell tried to stifle this mess by getting rid of the tapes and it was the right move. The NFL and its fans do not need to feel more hosed about the game they love. And gamblers don't need to start adding a cheating factor to their weekly analysis. Commissioner Goodell, punish the Patriots if need be (your first attempt wasn't anything more than a slap on the wrist--the Patriots still have the 5th pick from the Niners this year)and setup strict rules that would deter any team from even thinking of taping signals or practices.

There is nothing like watching football on Sunday afternoon with some buddies or family. It brings people together to bond and be passionate about a common theme. It is a reason to grill and throw back some cold lager bottles. It is part of American culture. And maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss--especially when it ultimately just comes to a game. Pursuing old dirt will not change the past and it will only hurt the future.

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