Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Perception and reality wage another battle in the sports word
By Tim Keown
Jim Calhoun had a verbal fracas with a local gadfly/reporter in a postgame press conference on Saturday. The gadfly, Ken Krayeske, hit Calhoun with a question about Connecticut's state budget deficit as it relates to Calhoun's status as the state's highest-paid public employee.
Calhoun made the point that he wouldn't give back anything -- "not a dime" -- before devolving into an arrogant diatribe about his importance to the state's economy. His point was valid, but he probably could have made it without telling the questioner to "shut up." It just sounds bad, right now, coming from a guy who makes a reported $1.6 million a year to coach teenagers.
The guy asking the questions, according to people who know, is happy to thrust himself and his causes into the forefront of whatever scene he's inhabiting. In other words, when you're the guy with the $1.6 million salary, part of your pay is to deal with guys like Krayeske.
People who feel sports are overemphasized, overfunded and unimportant are not uncommon on college campuses. They have as much right to voice their opinion as the guy with the season tickets at half court, 12 rows up.
But if you're going to make the point, as Calhoun did, that you bring in $12 million to the university, you have to understand that most of that money would be there with or without you. Sure, Calhoun is an excellent coach and recruiter -- and let's be real, that's where the money is made -- but there's little doubt he could leave tomorrow and the UConn program would continue to generate a significant amount of revenue. I'd venture to say they'd hang around that $12 million mark even with a coach who made half as much as Calhoun.
It looks as if Greg Anderson is going back to prison for Barry Bonds. It raises an interesting question: Would you spend more than a year of your life in prison out of loyalty toward anyone outside your immediate family?
And, the ancillary question: Is there any amount of money that would make such loyalty worthwhile?
To me, this guy is one of the more fascinating characters to come out of this sordid chapter in baseball history. The judge in Bonds' perjury case ordered Anderson to appear in court on Wednesday to state whether he will testify. If he doesn't -- and he won't -- he goes back to prison until the trial is over.
There's got to be a lot in this for him, because the man is giving up a lot. Even the biggest Bonds' fan would agree that Anderson's testimony would sink Bonds' case. What could it be: $1 million? $5 million? His own island?
As good as the prosecution's case would be with Anderson, it's equally bad without him. Sunk, even. Judge Susan Illston has refused to allow the prosecution to allow positive test results on Bonds' urine from BALCO. If Anderson doesn't testify about collecting the urine samples for those tests, there won't be anything linking Bonds to positive samples. And if Anderson doesn't testify that dosing charts allegedly documenting steroid use pertained to Bonds, there won't be any direct linkage of steroid use to Bonds.
Without Anderson, no positive tests, no steroid link.
Without Anderson, it's hard to find the case.
"I told coach early on I was having trouble in Spanish."
It would be hard to beat that for quote of the year, considering it came from 73-year-old Ken Mink a day after his basketball comeback ended when he was ruled academically ineligible at Roane State Community College.
Mink failed Spanish, which means Roane isn't ready for the big-time. At any self-respecting university, a tutor would have taken whatever steps necessary to make sure Mink didn't fail Spanish.
Mink, however, is doing his part to establish his credentials as a big-time athlete: He's blaming someone else. There isn't a cousin thrashing about ignorantly with a handful of syringes, but there is this: Mink is blaming the school's administration for not putting through the paperwork on a sociology class he took to get the requisite units after he figured out he was going to fail Spanish.
He said he's "suffering the slings and arrows of administrative injustice."
That's all right, he can just declare for the draft and be done with it. Who needs college?
This Week's List
• Yeah, but would he spend a year in prison for him? As Alex Rodriguez's story continued to unravel, it was reported that he spent an inordinate amount of time with trainer Angel Presinal, who is banned from MLB for steroid-related reasons.
•You're looking live at BlakeCam, where no move is too insignificant to be overanalyzed: I've seen more of Blake Griffin since he got hurt than I ever did when he played.
• And so he is forced to ask himself the musical question, "How do I like no deal at all?" Odalis Perez signed a minor-league deal with the Nationals on Feb. 5 that would have paid him $850,000 if he made the team, but between then and the start of spring training he decided he didn't like the deal and didn't report to spring training, so on Monday the Nationals cut him altogether.
• Just for the heck of it: Granville Waiters.
• And you know what? Gminski used to do that all the time, and they didn't call it then either: The non-call on Elliot Williams' creative travel in the Duke-Wake Forest game was an immediate YouTube favorite for the anti-Duke crowd.
• Is this extortion or team-first unselfishness? Donovan McNabb is reportedly willing to hold up talks on a contract extension unless the Eagles agree to upgrade the roster with free-agent signings.
• And finally, Marbury missed a lot of practices for D'Antoni, so the least he can do is return the favor: Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni will have to miss practice Tuesday to attend an arbitration hearing related to Stephon Marbury's grievance against the team.
ESPN The Magazine senior writer Tim Keown co-wrote Josh Hamilton's autobiography, "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back," which is available on Amazon.com. Sound off to Tim here.