By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.
I never thought I'd start any column with this but this hackneyed device makes sense in this case.
Webster's Dictionary defines 'quitter' as "one that quits; especially : one that gives up too easily." Pretty straight forward to me. But U.S. sprinter Jeneba Tarmoh must have some sort of more complicated definition for the word.
Tarmoh and Allyson Felix tied for 3rd in the Olympic Trials in the 100 meters. Tied. How does that even happen in this day and age? But after officials looked at the video frame by frame they determined the two finished at the exact same time. We're talking hundredths of a second-same time. Tarmoh had been declared the winner on the spot and even took a victory lap before learning they were reviewing the results and ultimately learned of the tie.
With no protocol in place, the two were offered the option of flipping a coin, racing again or one of the two would cede the 3rd spot to the other. After initially agreeing to a race-off, Tarmoh backed out.
"If standing up for what I believe in and not running because I believe I earned that spot, because I believe the emotional roller coaster they put me through was too much to go through at the moment -- if that's what makes you a quitter then I guess the definition of a quitter is misconstrued nowadays. ... How can I be a quitter? To define me as a quitter, it doesn't make any sense."
The definition seems pretty clear to me and it's pretty clear that Tarmoh is a quitter. Similar things happen in other sports all the time. NBA players make shots at the buzzer and instantly celebrate only to have the shot overturned and the game is sent to overtime. Do those players just walk off the court feeling cheated? On a 3-1 count in baseball, the batter looks at what he believes his the fourth ball and he makes a move to first only to be called back by the umpire. Does he drop the bat and go sulk in the dugout?
USA Track and Field did screw up by not having a protocol for a tie and for prematurely calling Tarmoh the 3rd place finisher. But at least they didn't screw up and reward Felix 3rd place. Tarmoh was still in control of her destiny and she decided to throw in the towel.
"I worked really, really hard to earn that spot in the 100," Tarmoh said. "It was more than me winning, it was me practicing since November and training every day. It was me cramping up in the middle of practice, me throwing up at practices. It was me getting mentally prepared, physically prepared, then going to the trials, and making it through each round and staying focused." So why give up after all that work? She says she was mentally prepared but it certainly doesn't seem like she's mentally strong.
If she made the decision and that was that I'd disagree with her call but, hey it's her life. What really gets to me is that she basically said this wouldn't have happened had Felix been declared the winner initially. She thinks she got screwed because Felix is a higher profile athlete. Did Tarmoh look at the pictures? How were they supposed to determine the winner with that evidence? If you're going to complain, you should've done something about it and earned that spot. Aren't athletes supposed to be able to persevere no matter the obstacles? Instead, Tarmoh chose the easy way out and earned the label of quitter. On to the awards!
Bad Judge of Character
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times has been covering Kobe Bryant for a long time now but it seems to me like he still doesn't quite get him: Yes, last year [Dwight Howard] had a reportedly combative phone conversation with Bryant that led Howard to believe that the two stars couldn't coexist. No doubt, Bryant began the conversation by subtly saying, "This is my team." But that was before Bryant realized his mortality in this spring's playoffs. After nights like the one in Oklahoma City where Bryant essentially handed the Thunder a victory down the stretch, here's guessing he finally realizes he will have to defer to a new Superman to help him win that sixth championship.
"Here's guessing he finally realizes he will have to defer to a new Superman"?? Seriously? This is Kobe Bryant. There's never been a shot he didn't like. His usage rate was the highest it has ever been this past year and I don't think I once heard him blame himself for the Lakers early exit from the playoffs this past season. Bryant isn't ready to defer to anyone.
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel thinks the Nets getting Howard would be a steal (?): According to ESPN, the Nets are offering the Magic Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and their' first-round draft picks in 2013, 2015 and 2017 for Howard -- the most dominant big man in the league. For the Nets, this would be like trading in an '87 Yugo and getting a brand new Lexis in return.
Is a Lexis a car that LOOKS like a luxury car and can go 0-80mph better than most but eventually will be exposed as a cheap knock-off that can't actually perform when it matters because it's too temperamental? I assume Bianchi meant to put "Lexus" but it would be funny if he were putting Dwight Howard down one last time before he's out the door. Oh, who am I kidding. Bianchi will insult Howard plenty more times before he's gone and after he's gone.
Bargain Bin or Collector's Item?
David Whitley of Sporting News mentions one particularly ironic piece of NBA apparel: "I'm loyal," Howard proclaimed when he decided to waive his early termination option in March. NBA marketers immediately produced thousands of black-and-blue Dwight Howard "Loyalty" T-shirts. You can now find them next to the Dennis Rodman "I'm Sober" T-shirts in the Wal-Mart discount bin.
First off, hipsters would eat this shirt up. The irony would almost be too much for them. Secondly, I can't wait to see Magic fans wearing this shirt when Howard comes back to Orlando. Who wouldn't want to own this shirt now more than ever?
Stirring Up Controversy During the Dead of Summer
David Steele of the Sporting News makes an argument that's about a year too late: Bryce Harper is an All-Star. People are going to tune in. Because people really hate Bryce Harper.
They really should be rejoicing today, after the Nationals' teenage lightning rod was added to the National League roster Saturday as an injury replacement. Actually, they might be gritting their teeth in rage after the 48-hour gloat-fest that followed Harper's loss in the Final Vote, justifying their deeply held beliefs that Harper got what his over-hyped, gung-ho, eye-black-smeared little behind deserved. Or something like that.
I literally haven't heard a discouraging word about Harper in like 6 months. He's been the ultimate professional and seems to just love the game. The only non-baseball news he has made recently has been that he supported Chipper Jones ahead of himself for the All-Star Game and his quotable "Clown question, bro." And even that everyone seemed to love. He's a bit overexposed but there really isn't that much hate for Harper. But maybe I'll be proven wrong and he'll hear a cascade of boos tonight.