Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Does LeBron James he remind you of any NASCAR drivers when they lose?

If you think this piece is out to bash Kyle Busch then click somewhere else.

I’m not a big basketball fan, but, when I read that LeBron James, who had been voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player of the year, refused to shake hands with the victorious Orlando Magic or handle interviews with the media, it rang a bell.

Many top sports celebrities are available to promote commercial or their own charitable ventures. On the other hand, when they have a bad day -- or worse -- a loss then, it’s hands off.

That’s quite the double standard.

After Kyle Busch’s car was shoved into the wall by Joey Logano’s at the end of the Nationwide race in Dover, two images lingered. Busch hurrying away from the camera; yes to go to his next race. And, there was the young Logano, almost in tears, apologizing for something that turned out wasn’t his fault. Busch’s car had a tire going down which slowed him down right into the path of his teammate’s front bumper.

Dover can be viewed as a bad example because Busch did have another, immediate, commitment. It’s just the most recent occurrence of that sort in my mind.

There have been other races where Busch, and others, lose a sure victory at the end and refuse to face the media. That’s when some apologists state “(insert your favorite driver’s name) hates to lose.” Give me a break, who likes to lose?

Athletes are paid sums of money unrealizable to common folk in everyday life. They are paid not only for their performance but also to communicate with the ultimate employers - the ticket buyers, the merchandise buyers and their companies. Part of that includes, yes, talking to the media.

Over the years NASCAR, and other professional sports organizations, have adopted a set of rules on who is required to conduct interviews after a game or a race. And, most of the time the second or third place race finisher is just fine to give some perspective on the day’s event.

When you have a dominating driver eliminated at the end or near the end, that person could be the “big” story of the day. Unless there is some rule (with a hefty punishment for non-compliance) the paying public will not know the rest of the story.

Let’s give athletes a partial break. In the heat of the battle they’re likely be very emotional. I’d say give them two or three minutes, and a cool towel, to collect their thoughts. Even if the responses come out robotic, at least, we’d hear the other side of the story.

On the other hand, let’s stop treating athletes like princes or princesses and just be called up to give an account of the day’s action.

Any other treatment is unfair to those who actually pay the bills, you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Jeff Burton sorts out the AIG bonus mess

Since President Obama is having difficulties filling government posts I’d like to nominate Jeff Burton for a high position. Let’s say Secretary of Commerce or the Treasury. In Bristol on Friday Burton made sense out of the nonsense.

For the past week we’ve seen politicians and insurance industry leaders wringing their hands over the $160 million, in retention bonuses, doled out to a handful of company executives.

Burton, driver for Richard Childress Racing, has the answer; some people need to admit they made a mistake and, even if the bonuses were legal contracts, the recipients need to return that money voluntarily.

In a pre-practice interview he said “well I think that Congress screwed up. And it sure would be nice to have somebody stand up and say you know what, ‘I screwed up. I supported sending tax dollars to a company to bail them out and didn’t put any stipulations in there’.

It sure would be nice if somebody would stand up and say that. And the people at AIG ought to have enough sense not to take the bonus. But the people that gave the money to them should have enough sense not to do that.

Congress is ripping all the lenders for screwing the country up. Guess what they are? They’re a lender that screwed that up. So how are they any different? It sure would be nice to have one of them stand up and say, ‘You know what, we should have done something differently,’ rather than just point the finger at each another. There. I feel better now (laughter).”

Now I feel a lot better – Burton makes sense. He's simplified it all.

Okay, now what about the company paying us taxpayers back the $180 billion we’ve paid them?

That’s an eye-popping number that we really need to address.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Matt Kenseth Like You’ve Never Known Him

Matt's No Longer "the walking Robot."

Guess it’s time to put away the idea of Matt Kenseth as a walking robot.

The humorous Nextel commercial, where he was portrayed as a robot, was the popular conception; now that has changed .

After winning the Daytona 500 he’s been very animated.

The first thing we saw was that, despite being a NASCAR champion previously, he was moved to tears when the race was called on Sunday night.

Then Kevin Harvick, who finished second, said it would be a popular victory.

In New York for a media blitz at the hallowed Friar’s Club, where old-time celebrities went to booze and schmooze, Kenseth explained just how popular that victory was

A relaxed but animated race winner said , “following the Daytona I always knew it was a huge race and a big win, I never dreamed it would be as big as it was.

I’ve gotten more texts, emails and voice messages, yesterday and Sunday night, than when I won the championship.

That seems crazy to me. When I turned my phone on there were 104 emails, 58 texts and my voice mail was full. That’s the coolest part of it all when you get recognized by your peers, the guys in the garage.”

Looking around the walls covered with aging photographs of Frank Sinatra and popular comedians can you imagine Matt ordering a round for the boys?

Go Grandma

Kenseth has been a little too busy to find out if or when his home town will honor him for the prestigious victory. So his family has to fill in for him.

“I’ve been a little out of touch (on the media tour). I haven’t talked to a lot of people. I know it’s a little crazy for my sister at my fan club store. All three local (tv) affiliates have been waiting there, they actually interviewed my grandma.”

He laughed and thought was cool that, at 95, Edith Kenseth has become a media darling in Cambridge, Wisconsin thanks to his achievement.