The Breakdown: Shock and … awful |

The Breakdown: Shock and … awful

Sports editor Bryce Evans

Perspective is a word not normally used in professional sports. I mean, offensive linemen get paid millions of dollars in the NFL to, literally, push another person about 60 times once a week for (if they’re lucky) 19 or so weeks a year.

They’re not finding cures for diseases or teaching our kids or even picking up our trash every week, you know, performing a task that actually benefits people.

And, still, they get paid better than 99 percent of people in this country.

Really, I don’t have much of a problem with it. Supply and demand, blah, blah, blah – I get it.

Because of it all, there’s no reason to believe pro athletes should be able to have normal views on pretty much anything, let alone what they do for a living. When they do, it’s simply a bonus.

Having perspective is up to the rest of us.

Or, it’s supposed to be.

Last week, during a thrilling telecast of the PGA Tour’s Match Play Championship on the Golf Channel, Johnny Miller – former stick, current talking head – likened Tiger Woods’ latest struggles to the downward spiral of Mike Tyson’s career.

First off, I think he forgot about Tyson’s remarkable new show on Animal Planet where he flies pigeons. Simply captivating. Secondly, he must have forgotten that Woods and Tyson – and their careers – have about as much in common as Bob Barker and a toaster.

Quick rebuttal on my part: Tyson was an impoverished orphan, who took his early struggles in life and channeled it into a violent sport, which he dominated for roughly three years, got beat, came back, went to jail, bit a dude’s ear off, tattooed his face then had an awesome cameo in “The Hangover.” Tiger was a child phenom, brought up middle class in a country-club sport and went on to dominate his sport like no one before him; infidelity – serious infidelity – led to a scandal, he started making swing changes and now he’s slowly coming back.

I’m missing the parallels here. Maybe it’s that they’re both … um … balding.

Anyway, I didn’t miss the point. You see, it’s all just another example of our new “Shock and Awe” sports media, where people would rather throw out ridiculous, out-of-line comments to draw attention to themselves or their networks, rather than giving people (think: fans) insight that heightens their experience watching, listening or reading.

Maybe it’s the 24/7 outlets having to fill time slots; maybe it’s too many people with too many opportunities to make jerks out of themselves; or, in Miller’s case, maybe it’s just that you’ve literally gone insane from so many years of missing three-foot putts.

I don’t know, but I’m here to help.

I’ve got a few more stories from the last week that were overblown to the size of Barry Bonds’ head – when they should have been closer to Dustin Pedroia size.

Here we go:

No. 1 whiff. Phenom, prized draft pick and owner of an incredibly awesome first name, Bryce Harper made his spring training debut for the Washington Nationals Monday. In case you’re not putting a face to the name, well, that’s OK – not many people can. The kid’s only 18; he opted to get his GED after his sophomore year of high school so he could play Juco ball and enter the draft a year early. He went No. 1 last summer. Yet, when he struck out twice in a meaningless preseason game, the talking heads nearly exploded with criticism. I even heard someone compare the kid to Todd Marinovich.

Yikes. Rough first day. I guess two at-bats is more than enough to make everyone forget about Harper’s dominating stretch in the Arizona Fall League a few months ago, his silky smooth stroke or the fact that, again, he’s only 18. He said in a press conference that he understands the criticism and hype that comes with being a top pick.

Something tells me he isn’t the one that still needs to grow up.

Knickerbockers are back in style. The Nuggets Eastern Conference affiliate – that team that plays in Madison Square Garden – has been pretty impressive since picking up former Mile-High stars Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. In fact, the team’s recent swatting (both literal and figurative) of LeBron James and the Miami Heat had people thinking New York is now a title contender.

Counting Tuesday, this new Knicks core has played four games together. Four games. Even my intramural hoops teams in college had longer stretches of solid play than that, and we were awful. (Insert flashbacks of getting dunked on.) Maybe we should wait a while to anoint them, or better yet, let’s wait all the way until the playoffs. That reminds me of the next story …

Anything relating to the NBA regular season. I mean, what’s the point? Boston proved last year that everything that happens between September and March is basically pointless. Yet, in the last couple weeks, the masses in the media went from thinking the Lakers were down and out (they lost four straight entering the All-Star break) to giving them a pass all the way to the NBA Finals after they won their last three.

We’re pretty used to our athletes being a bit eccentric or even having absolutely no grasp of reality.

The rest of us – fans and media – should know better.

I guess the lesson we’re learning here is that hyperbole sells – or at least it gets people talking. (And at least one columnist writing. Whoops.)

But, all the shock and awe everyone throws at us is, well, pretty awful.

Bryce Evans is the sports editor of the Summit Daily News. He was once posterized by a 5-10 kid in an intramural basketball game. It was a humiliating moment that was incredibly overblown on ESPN the following day.

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