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Feb 06, 2004

Piesen Cues

By: John Piesen

I watched the Super Bowl with some friends at a redneck bar across Central Avenue from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., down the road a bit from Houston, a great old song from my hero Dean Martin.It was a good day. I picked five winners at Oaklawn, a $17 horse on the the web sites; saw a great rider (Craig Perret) win a great feature on Crafty Shaw (a lot of incredulous folks thought that Crafty Shaw got the call only because he is owned by Oaklawn president Charles Cella), and then repaired to the Longshot Saloon to eat crawfish, drink beer, and root home the Panthers, for which I had a serious financial and reputational interest.That said, here are some thoughts:If Belichick is as brilliant as we are told, how can he: a) squib kick at the end of the first half, handing Carolina three points (thank you very much) and b) ordering a pass in the fourth quarter when the Pats were third and three from the five, and up by five. the pass was picked off (thank you very, very much).If Fox is as brilliant as we are told, how can he go for two when down by five in quarter four, and call the worst possible play -- one of those odious 20-yard passes to get two yards).Normally, I have no problem with Simms and Gumbel (they are far superior to the ESPN and most of the Fox crews). but can"t they shut up with their little insights at the end when the game is on the line? We are talking winning and losing the Super Bowls, zillions of dollars changing hands, and we are hearing stories about the running back"s brother-in-law.Why can"t the media bash Warren Sapp for the clown he is? It"s bad enough the man makes millions for pushing and getting pushed around playing a child"s game. But he was in Houston working as a "reporter" for the NFL network, and spent most of his time all week bashing New England left guard Russ Hochstein.Sapp said that Hochstein could not block anyone, and he would be eaten alive by Carolina tackle Kris Jenkins. So what happened? Jenkins spent most of his time on his butt, and the Pats didn"t give up a sack.And how did Carolina ever cover? The Pats won the clock 40-20, ran 30 more plays, and played practically perfect football. The millions who took the seven (myself included) have to feel very lucky. And speaking of lucky, so were the casinos. A seven-point margin (29-22) would have killed the house.And I even haven"t gotten to Nipplegate!I love the fact that the holier-than-thou NFL woke up Monday morning outraged over Janet and Justin. What was the league expecting when it signed on MTV to produce the half-time show? This is the same MTV that gave us the Madonna-Britney kiss a few months ago.If anything, I was offended as much as by the entire crotch-grabbing halftime production as I was Nipplegate.But I find more offensive than anything I saw at halftime pictures of the celebratory post-game violence on the streets of Boston. Hundreds of cars were overturned, bonfires were lit, and one poor soul was killed when an "alleged" drunken driver drove his sport utility vehicle into a crowd.And I"m also offended by the fact that the government is going to fine all involved hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- for the whole unhappy episode. Does money have so little value at this level? The last I looked, the economy is in the toilet, millions are going hungry, and these guys toss money around like we were playing Monopoly.Changing the subject, how "bout the NBA suspending Shaq from the Pacers" game Monday night for using profanities on live TV Sunday?I know if I spent a grand or two for tickets to Lakers-Pacers, I would be offended that Shaq didn"t play. It"s bad enough the Lakers are a shell of a team with Bryant and Malone, but they are Erasmus Hall without Shaq. The game, of course, was a joke. The Lakers scored 10 points in the first quarter, and were blown out double-digits.But here I am contradicting myself. I sympathize for the people who wasted big bucks on the game, but you can bet those people were thrilled that the folks in the white unis won the game. That"s the bottom line. What do they care if they were playing Erasmus Hall? The good guys won. That"s all that matters with fans these days.Not to mention the good old days.I remember going to a Rangers-Bruins Stanley Cup game back in the early "70s. The most exciting player on Boston (and in the league) at the time was Derek Sanderson. When the game announcer read the scratches before the Anthem, he read the name Derek Sanderson. The thousands of Ranger fans who paid big bucks were thrilled. They cheered for a minute.I know that if I had paid for my ticket, I would have been mad because I was being deprived of seeing Sanderson. But that"s me. The crowd loved it when the announcement was made. And they loved it more when the Rangers blew out the undermanned Bruins.

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