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Gilbert Arenas Got Off Too Easily

In the wake of Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas‘ court sentencing, I would like to know when athletes will learn that they are not above the law. Time and time again we see the same thing happening — either someone is using drugs, taking risque photos, or they are getting into trouble with guns.

It might be just me, but I don’t think Arenas’ punishment fit the crime. Arenas’ sentence includes 30 days in a halfway house, 400 hours of community service, and two years of probation. Not bad for a repeat offender who tries to brush all issues aside by saying he’s just joking. He brought guns — you know those things that could kill someone — into a locker room and threatened his teammate over a few hundred dollars. Are you kidding me? Arenas had, and let me emphasize that, HAD an $111 million contract. And he was either willing, or stupid enough to jeopardize that over a few hundred dollars? Who really knows if he’ll ever see that $111 million again, because if I were running the Wizards, I sure wouldn’t want to give it to him. I’d fight to void that deal.

Arenas isn’t the only one who has been this idiotic though. I mean he’s had a lot of examples to look at. There’s Bengals defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who while a member of the Bears, risked the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl because of his affinity for guns. Of course Tank wound up being allowed to play in the game, so no one learned a lesson there either. Compared to Arenas and Johnson, former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress almost literally shot himself in the foot and was actually severely punished. After seeing that example, I don’t know how Arenas wasn’t more careful. The light sentence he received probably won’t do much for Gilbert changing his behavior. Something more should have been done because he got off too easily.

Sources:
Arenas sentenced to halfway house for felony gun charge [Sports Network]

NHL Wised Up with New Headshots Rule

Thursday, NHL owners voted unanimously to implement a new “head shot” rule which will remain in effect for the remainder of regular season games and for post season play. The NHL Player’s Association gave their blessing for the rule as they believe it will help keep players safe.  The NHLPA supported the new rule in their statement:

“We are encouraged by the league’s recent willingness to explore on-ice rule changes as a means of reducing player injuries and have no doubt that by working together, a safer working environment can be established for all NHLPA members.”

The new rule states that “lateral, back-pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact” are not allowed. This new rule is a response from the NHL to the hit Boston Bruin’s Marc Savard took from Pittsburgh Penguin Matt Cooke that went unpunished but ended Savard’s season (pictured above). The hits have been getting more violent as the playoffs near, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’m happy to see this happen. I’m happy to see the NHL taking action to protect players against possible brain damage or other career ending injuries. I’m happy that this is just the beginning and that they are working on a permanent rule for next season.  Even though hockey has and hopefully always will be an aggressive and pretty violent sport, I’m sure that these guys are happy that their chances of ending their career with most of their brain intact have improved.

Sources:
NHLPA supports new NHL initiative on head hits [Sports Network]

Milton Bradley: Baseball’s Bad Guy

Will it ever stop? Only a year ago Milton Bradley was declaring himself the reason the Cubs would win the NL Central. After antics like throwing balls into the stands with only two outs and having an all-around disappointing season, Milton was finally cut loose and traded to Seattle. Milton Bradley started blaming Chicago for his failures last season and continued to feel sorry for himself in his latest comments to the AP:

If I was a musician, I’d be Kanye West. If I was in the NBA, I’d be Ron Artest.  In baseball, they’ve got Milton Bradley. I’m that guy. You need people like me, so you can point your finger and go, ‘There goes the bad guy.”

Can I point my finger and say there goes the cry baby? Kanye West should be insulted that Milton made that comparison. Sure, West has been known to do some rude things, but at least he is great at what he does. Bradley has had two pretty good years in 2004 and 2008. In 2004 with the Dodgers he had 67 RBIs and 19 home runs, in 2008 with the Rangers he had 77 RBIs with 22 homers — both pretty great years.  West, like I said can be rude at times, but he has won 47 awards for his work so I see no comparison.

I really don’t know what satisfaction Bradley gets out of saying this outside of putting himself in a victim’s role. Does he just want to stay in the spotlight for as long as he can? As far as I’m concerned, Bradley’s light bulb has burned out — now it’s time for him to move on and focus on a new season with his team instead of dwelling on the past.

Sources:
Milton Bradley says he’s the bad guy in baseball, a la Kanye West [USA Today]

About Time NFL Overtime Rules Changed

What the heck took them so long? The NFL has been around since the 1920s but it took them 90 years to come up with a fair overtime system. The League announced that the rules for overtime will be different in the 2010-2011 season, although as of right now it will only apply to postseason play. I still want to see changes for all games like we said a month ago, but for now, some change is better than none.

The new change says both teams will have an opportunity to possess the football unless the first team scores a touchdown. Although it’s not the change I’d like to see, at least it’s something. I’m the type of person who likes to see teams battle it out in overtime. If I were NFL commissioner I’d tell the owners that this new rule is an improvement but it still sucks and they should follow my suggestion: the same rules should apply as if you were coming back from halftime. One team will have to kick the ball off and obviously the other return it. Overtime will be played just like any other quarter except this is your last chance. The first team to score seven or more points will be declared winner of the game and it should be for regular season games too.

Yup, that’s how I’d do it. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of the whole one-and-done field goal scoring; I want to see touchdowns in overtime. I want to see hardcore defense so frightening that even while I’m protected by a television set I’m still left shaking. While I’m happy that the NFL is changing its rule I feel that it still needs more tweaking. Thankfully the League has shown they will be proactive with the matter and the new system should provide for more interesting football. For playoff games for now.

Sources:
Proposal to change OT rules in playoff games passed by 28-4 vote [NFL.com]

Celebrating the Top Females in Sports for Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s History Month and this got me thinking. We always hear about our superstar male athletes on a day-to-day basis but we rarely hear about the gals.  So today I want to salute all the beautiful, talented, and accomplished ladies (that means no Anna Kournikova, sorry guys) in the sports world.

Candace Parker: Not only is this girl gorgeous, but she can play basketball with the best of them. The L.A. Sparks’ superstar has been called the female Jordan and for good reason — she was the first women to dunk in an NCAA tournament game and she helped the University of Tennessee Lady Vols win back-to-back NCAA championships in 2007 and 2008. Parker is not only a great basketball player but she also has a squeaky clean image; she makes a great role model for future athletes.

Jennie Finch: This stunning 6’1″ beauty is a pitcher for the Chicago Bandits.  She has quite the list of accomplishments on her resume to prove her talent. Finch has two Olympic medals — gold (2004) and silver (2008) — and she’s a two-time world champion. Finch is also a two-time Pan American gold medalist and was named co-pitcher of the year in 2005. Sadly for the eager men out there, not only will Finch not be doing Playboy anytime soon, but she’s also hitched to Houston Astros pitcher Casey Daigle.

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Joe Nathan Took an Unnecessary Risk

It’s what Spring Training is all about.  Players testing out their arms and legs to make sure they are in their very best shape for the upcoming season. But for Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, his season got shut down before it ever really got started.

Back on March 6th, Nathan left a spring training game early due to tightness in his right elbow. Sadly, that was the beginning of the end for the stellar closer.  Though Nathan was told by doctors to expect some problems following his minor surgery in October, the news was much worse. It turned out that Nathan had a torn ligament in his right elbow and would most likely need Tommy John surgery. This past weekend, Nathan and the Twins were looking for a miracle and had him try to throw again. The results were no different and he now will have surgery.

What I want to know is for a player like Nathan, why take the risk of injuring that elbow even more? Miracles are rare — very rare — and attempting to use that elbow in my opinion was just plain stupid; it was already injured. Doctors had already determined that he was going to need the Tommy John surgery. What made them think that playing catch a week later would have healed the tendons? The risk wasn’t worth it because Nathan could have made it much, much worse.

It’s a hard fact to face that you won’t be able to play in the brand new stadium with the team considered the A.L. Central favorite and committed to winning, but it happens. Regardless Nathan’s season is closed down. And I’m sure all the teams (besides the Twins) in the A.L. Central are happy to announce “He Gone.”

Sources:
Nathan leaves with tightness in Elbow [MLB.com]
Minnesota Twins Lose Joe Nathan For the Season [Bleacher Report]

Stanley Cup Playoffs Arriving Means Hits are Getting Harder

The last couple weeks, NHL players seem to be hitting each other harder and harder. In some cases, like the hit laid on Chicago Blackhawk Brent Seabrook by James Wisniewski a few nights ago, they are literally knocking players out cold. But what’s with all the hard hits lately fellas? I might know the answer.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a few weeks away and the pressure is on. I don’t know exactly what is going through the mind of players like Wisniewski. I don’t know if he intentionally tried to lay Seabrook out like a sack of potatoes or if he was “in the moment” and feeling aggressive. But Seabrook isn’t the only hit that’s been like this lately. There’s also his teammate Brian Campbell (who is now out for the season) and Boston Bruins Marc Savard who was knocked out a couple weeks back. These hits are proof that the players aren’t messing around and they will be as aggressive as they have to so that they can be the ones hoisting up the Stanley Cup in just a few weeks time.

Although I’m all for being aggressive, I think these guys need to be smart about it. When you are headed towards another player and you’re ready to hit him with all you can, remember that you can injure yourself in the process, too. If these NHL players keep making these reckless hits they are not only going to injure their opponent but themselves as well, and then picking up that Stanley Cup will be a difficult task when you have a broken arm.