Pass the Doritos

It's that time of year when it seems like every sport is going. Okay, maybe not ice hockey and curling, but even hoops are grinding. The American women's basketball playoffs are currently rocking it.

This weekend, "college" football gets starts in earnest for another year, but I put "college" in quotation marks now more than ever, because it's basically turned into another professional sport. Teams are jumping from one league to another to get more TV money. Players are freely switching schools through a well-oiled "transfer portal." Players are getting paid for their "images and likenesses," and the jock schools have alumni who bid against each other to pay those amounts and thus land the top players. And soon there is going to be a playoff schedule that runs several weeks, with 12 teams involved. That, my friends, is a lot closer to pro football than to "Boola Boola."

Meanwhile, the last major tennis tournament of the year is in full swing in hot, sticky New York City. Serena Williams lost in the third round last night, and she says that, maybe, maybe, she is retiring. I will believe that when I see it, or to be specific, when I don't see her on the court. Anyway, it's been Serena-this-Serena-that all week, and to me it will be nice to settle down and watch, without all the noise, the kids who are actually young enough and fit enough to claim to be the best in the world in the 2020's. As much as I love the Williams sisters – less than I used to, but still you gotta love 'em – their prime time on the court is in the distant past.

Some of the ESPN coverage of the tourney is nauseating – why no Martina? – and I'd rather the Tennis Channel had the telecast rights. The TC doesn't even get to show reruns overnight this time around. But I'll tell you, old John McEnroe, on ESPN, is a damn good commentator. Surprisingly good. Maybe one of the best. Perhaps it's a Stanford thing.

Baseball drags on, sluggish affair that it remains. Starting next year, I hear, the pitch clock that they are currently using in the minor leagues will be installed in the majors. That should help, a little. But it's still a game where most people on the field just stand around scratching themselves and spitting for a couple of hours. I love going to a ballpark to hang around and enjoy the summer air, but for TV the game is a dud.

I wish they'd realize that there is no longer any need to have a human umpire call balls and strikes. Technology does a much better job. In tennis, the big tournaments don't have humans making line calls any more. The lasers make the final calls as to whether the ball lands in or out. There are no humans for the players to argue with. When you watch a baseball game on the tube and see the home plate umpire making several bad calls, proven by the high-tech on-screen strike zone, it's annoying – especially when it affects the outcome of the game. If I wanted a show where the players' fate depended on the biases of the umpires, I wouldn't be watching baseball. I'd be reading the latest opinions of the Supreme Court.

Then there's golf. It used to be so simple: You tune in, watch about 20 minutes, fall asleep, get a great nap in. Maybe bet a buck or two on some guy finishing in the Top 5. Now you have to listen to the endless blather about the Saudi Bonesaw Tour. Arnold Palmer is rolling in his grave.

Soccer? I got into soccer when my daughter played soccer. My daughter no longer plays much soccer. The early rounds of the World Cup strangely interest me, sort of like the Olympics or March Madness. And the Portland Thorns would be a good team to follow, if they weren't owned and operated by some ugly creeps. But these days, I might watch a highlight or two at most. I'd rather stare at televised poker.

Anyway, have a great holiday weekend. You know where to find me.


  1. You are missing out on the most beautiful sport, soccer. All 11 players get a shot at fame, not just one quarterback; no one leaves with life-long head injuries; teams are only as good as their worst player, etc. And you, who mourn the death of Portland so often should go to a Timbers game. I live in NW P and it is a gathering of people singing and celebrating together reminiscent of better days. Yes, it's owned by creeps, but we need to take any opportunity we can at gathering together as Portlanders and making good memories, and JAH's D-Day "plazas" aren't going to be the place where that happens.

  2. You're quite wrong about the head injuries. And I've been to a few Timbers and Thorns games. As I say, I like the Thorns' vibe. The Timbers? Not my thing, just a bunch of pretentious hipsters cosplaying like they're in Europe somewhere. If the game is so boring you have to sing through it, why go?


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