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Every few weeks, the contributors to The Writers, as well as some special guests, will submit a Top 5 list
on a given topic.

Top 5 Pet Peeves About Sports Today

Special Guests: Clay Luraschi (Topps), Steve Serby (New York Post), Matt
Vasgersian
(San Diego Padres TV), Don Williams (Upper Deck), Adam Wodon
(Hockey Analyst, CSTV).


Pat Calabria:
1. Hockey referees who constantly fake tossing down the puck during faceoffs, ad nauseum - Throw the
damn thing down!

2. End zone theatrics after touchdowns - Cheesh! Can't you guys act like you've been there before?

3. Broadcasters who don't agree nouns with pronouns - It's not, the team "they play well from behind..."
It's the team, "it plays well from behind."

4. Broadcasters who let their signature calls get in the way - Here's mine: "It is high, it is far, it is
annoying."

5.  Broadcasters who over-use the word "courageous". - There's not a whole lot of courage involved in
trying to make a putt, or sink a three-pointer.


Larry Fleisher:
1. Canned noise telling fans to cheer - There isn't much worse things than this, especially when it's
played at maximum volume.  Baseball and basketball are the two biggest offenders and Shea Stadium
is the worst at this.  Maybe it's because Shea is an open-air stadium that causes it to be louder than
normal.  But whatever it is most of the canned noise is really bad and if you don't believe me ask anyone
that's ever sat in Shea Stadium when it's not a big game and the noise is ongoing in between every
pitch.  Yankee Stadium has the same stuff but it's not as bad since it's always filled these days.  But
when it wasn't filled most nights, I actually enjoyed it since it was a level where you can hear yourself
think.  The NBA also is a big offender whether you like rap and hip hop music or not.  Some of it I like but
not on every possession like what happens at most Knicks game.  So to these offenders, turn it down
and let the fans make their own noise.

2. Fans that arrive late and then block my view during the games - When I go to games, it means I'm
there to watch and since paying for games costs money, I like to be in the venue for as long as possible,
meaning I like to watch batting practice, warmups and get settled in my seat well before the national
anthem.  Unfortunately I'm in the minority as many people especially in baseball don't take into
consideration that fans actually like to see every pitch.  Now I understand going to concession stands in
between innings but don't walk in front of me with two outs and the bases loaded.  Instead stand
somewhere out of the way.

3. Prices of food at games - I'm sure that's a big issue at games.  I mean 5.50 for water are we serious
with that Steinbrenner?  Or 6.75 for a six-inch Subway Sub that's not a value meal with chips and a
drink? Are we serious Wilpon? Luckily, I've been to Yankee Stadium enough times to have bought food
in almost every place surrounding the stadium.  But still I get thirsty during games and shelling out 4.50
for a soda is annoying.

4. Bandwagon fans - The Yankees always thank their fans for being the  "greatest fans".  But that's only
because they set a record for tickets sold in 2004. Well if Yankee fans or any other fans were really the
greatest in the world, where were they before 1996.  Can some of the people that set record for tickets
sold really tell you who was a member of the 1990 Yankees or even remember the Buck Showalter era
when the foundation was laid for the Joe Torre era.  It's not just Yankee fans, it's almost every team.  The
only team I don't think has a bandwagon is the New York Rangers, who fill the Garden no matter how
much they screw it up.

5. Players that complain about their contracts - This is one is directed at Latrell Sprewell, who told the
media last season he couldn't feed his family on 14 million a season. Are you kidding me?  Of course
taxes take out a portion of it, but there's plenty of millions to go around.  This is worse than players that
don't justify their contracts because for the most part a player that makes big bucks but is struggling is
usually trying and might be hurt.


Marc Grossman:
1. The Extra Week Off Before the Super Bowl - The absolute worst week to listen to sports radio, watch
ESPN or any sports report, pick up a newspaper, etc. Hype, hype, hype! Play the damn game. I don’t
want to hear the strategies, I don’t want to hear the interviews (“If you were a tree…”), I want to see the
game and adding an extra week until it happens just is ridiculous!

2. Super Bowl Half Time Show - Don’t know why I pick on the Super Bowl so much because I really do
enjoy the game. What I don’t enjoy is everything else including the pre-game show that lasts for hours.
But mostly, the Half-Time, Lip-Sync’d, who gives a care, this is really getting long, when do the teams
come back, Show. I really want to meet the person that disagrees. Of course Paul McCartney this year
was the exception to some of these complaints, but it was still too long.

3. Neutral Site Championships for Minor Sports - Maybe this is just a one sport issue right now, but the
Arena Football League decided to go “Big Time” this year and hold the Arena Bowl on a neutral site. I’m
sure they can and do spin it otherwise, but what a disaster! Imagine being a fan supporting the team
who should have had home field advantage in the league that bills itself as the most fan and family
friendly having to choose between taking the family to Las Vegas or skip the biggest game of the year.
And, what a game! One third of the arena was empty and most of the people there really didn’t care. The
game went to the final play and there was no electricity. Now the NBA is talking neutral site for All-Star
games. What’s next?

4. Sideline Reporters - The vast majority of these people ask questions equal to a news reporter who
goes up to a murder victim’s mother and says “How do you feel now?” For the most part, they interrupt
the flow of the broadcast and add absolutely nothing. The few that do should go into the booth and
replace the announcers that add nothing to the broadcast from their seat above the field.  

5. High School Sports Fans - If you’re 17 years old and trying to pick-up girls, I understand it. If your kid is
on the team, I understand it (although some of parents I know refuse to sit thru some sports because
they are so deadly boring). Neighbor’s kid…niece or nephew… I’m stretching here. OK, I’ll give you
LeBron (or a player of his fame) or if Michael Jordan’s kid is playing and you think Michael may show up
for the game. Maybe even a championship game with your alma mater or your kid’s school. I think that
about does it. I just can’t stand listening to the guys who tell me about how they love the game because
the kids just “bust their butts all the time they’re out there”. So did my daughter’s 6th grade team and
they were every bit as boring!


Eric Hornick:
1. Loud music at sports events - When did going deaf become an added feature of attending a sporting
event?

2. Religious exclamations of players during interviews - Keep it to yourself, fellas.

3. Any game starting after 8:30 in the local time zone - Some of us have jobs!

4. Ticketmaster Convenience Fees or any other similar tack-on - Can't Eliot Spitzer leave the insurance
industry alone and take this on?

5. Overbearing parents at any kids' game in any sport.


John Labombarda:
1. I can understand why playoff tickets cost more than regular season tickets.  But why do pre-season
tickets cost the same as regular season tickets?
2. Fifteen hours of Super Bowl pre-game show.
3. Teams that cash your check right away but make you wait months for a refund.
4. Late starting times for the big games.  I’m getting old, it’s hard to stay awake.
5. Baseball games that take more than three hours.


Clay Luraschi:
1. Special teams players talking trash.
2. Someone yelling "Get in the hole" every time Tiger Woods touches the ball.
3. Fake soccer injuries
4. Arrogant track stars
5. 7-foot basketball players with no skills


Jerry Milani:
1. Fans on the Field - See my April 24 column for a full rant on this, but the main message is, leave the
fair balls down the line alone and no VP's throwing out first pitches.  They don't belong on the sacred
ground of the field any more than I do.

2. "Just one bad pitch" - When managers and pitchers say that they threw "just one bad pitch" and lost 5-
3, I want to throw something at the radio.  How about the walk that led up to the "one bad pitch" that the
batter hit 450 feet.  So, out of the 100 pitches, only ONE was bad?  Please...

3. "Homer" announcers - I know that local announcers are employed by the team or the cable network
that's trying to appease the team, but a little objectivity would be nice.  Listening to the homers doing a
Redskins game is as painful to me as hearing "The GiamBino" and "Jorgie Juice One" must be to non-
Yankee fans tuning into John Sterling.

4. NBA "comebacks" - I hate when anyone refers to an NBA team evening up a game in which it trailed
by 15 or 16 points as some dramatic comeback.  Every NBA game has huge runs and swings, it's the
nature of the game, and it's no big deal, just hype.

5. Maria Sharapova - I don't have anything in particular against her; in fact, I found her to be very
agreeable in my dealings with her while working on various tennis tournaments.  I think it's more
everything that surrounds stars like her, when the party line states that she wants to be known for and
work hard on her tennis but the reality is sexy photo spreads, an ESPN Magazine cover story entitled
"How Hot is Too Hot?" (in which she and her 'handlers' are quoted extensively) and commercials which
clearly exploit her looks above her abilities.

Dishonorable Mention:  "flopping," especially in basketball and soccer; when officials/umpires/referees
want to be the stars; multiple time outs at the end of a basketball game; excessive celebrations for
common actions (routine tackles, every jump shot, etc.)


Eric Mirlis:
1. Screaming PA announcers – No one is there to listen you scream. Just tell me what is happening
and shut the hell up. Fortunately, the NBA Finals are over, because if I had to hear “Bbbbbbbbbbillups”
or, even worse “Deeeeeee-troit baaaaaaaa-sketball” one more time, I was going to fly to Detroit, drive
the hour to Auburn Hills and scream MY name into Mason’s so he can understand how painful it is. And
ABC, you are to blame as well, for encouraging it by showing him on screen all game.

2. Autograph hounds – I’m not talking about the kids waiting for their heroes to come by. I’m talking
about the grown-ups. The adults who stand there with a stack of pictures, which they are then planning
on selling. And if an athlete says no? Well, the player is wrong, of course. Because we all know that it is
an athlete’s duty to sign 50 pictures for free so someone can go sell them at $10 a pop.

3. Managers who over-manage – Hello, Tony LaRussa, I’m talking to you. Is it really necessary to use
four pitchers when you have a three run lead in the bottom of the ninth? Think it doesn’t happen? Take a
look at some of the games during Jason Isringhausen’s injury. Forget about the message it send to
those relievers (“None of you are capable of pitching the entire inning”). How about the extra ten minutes
it takes to play the three outs because of the trips to the mound and all the warm-up pitches. And people
complain that NBA games take so long to finish. Try being a St. Louis Cardinal season ticket holder in
the ninth inning when Izzy is hurt (which is guaranteed to happen every season for at least a couple
weeks).

4. Baseball teams getting holidays off – Did you know neither New York baseball team played on
Memorial Day this year? Are you kidding me? Every team should be scheduled to play on Memorial Day,
July 4th and Labor Day. No exceptions. You would think the greedy owners would realize this one. I
guess that Thursday night game gets more fans, which makes absolutely no sense.

5. Starting times for games – If the game is supposed to start at 9:00, then start at 9:00. During the NBA
Finals, there was an 8:30 pre-game show (which had to draw even smaller ratings than the game
itself), then another 20 minutes of garbage before the game started at 9:20. Why not do all the crap
during the pre-game, so the game can start promptly at 9? Is it really necessary to make us sit through
overwrought analysis and canned features? The games end late enough as is for those of us in the
East. Let us at least get an extra 20 minutes sleep.

Dishonorable mention: Music playing during NBA games, baseball coaches wearing uniforms, homer
TV announcers, the BCS.


Barry Neuberger:
1. Meaningless, overstated, overblown statistical oddities - “They have not won here in 8 years”. What?
They’ve played there how many times? Have all the players/coaches on both sides been the same? “It’s
his first win since May 24, 2004”. Really? Has he pitched every day during that time? Wow, that’s a lot of
losses and no-decisions!

2. College football coaches’ press conferences, whether they are during the week, post-game or
whenever - “Coach, here’s your list of 50 most used clichés, go right ahead and pick out the most
appropriate ones for today.”

3. Exorbitant contracts paid for television sports analysts - How many people turn on a game because a
particular person is providing analysis? Probably much less than the number of people who turn OFF a
game because there’s too much analysis.

4. NBA players who complain about foul calls - Has anyone ever committed a foul? Not according to
most of these guys.

5. People who use a game as an excuse for drinking excessively - Remember when then tried to set up
alcohol-free seating? There should be “Drinking and Being As Obnoxious As You Want” sections. I’d
rather just watch the game, thank you.


C.J. Papa:
1. Tiger Woods whining when he misses a putt.
2. Tiger Woods cursing all the time (he is the most fined play on the PGA tour).
3. Fans who go to games wearing uniforms of teams that are not involved in the game.
4. People who leave before the end of a tight game (Dodger fans).
5. Teams with multiple uniforms and hats (how about those mercury Mets).
Dishonorable mention: When broadcasters are behind the call.


Steve Serby:
1. The high cost of tickets - And a slice of pizza at Shea is $5. A family of four has to save up for a night
out…unless it's a family of four Trumps.

2. The World Series and playoffs at night - There was nothing better as a kid than watching the Fall
Classic in the afternoon.

3. Fan behavior - It's a disgrace. Parents shouldn't have to have their kids listen to louts cursing, and
players shouldn't have to feel endangered.

4. Player behavior - Too many of them think they are Above The Law. Check the police blotter. Pros and
Cons indeed. And their sense of entitlement is sickening. Someone needs to tell these guys that they
aren't as important as doctors (or sportswriters).

5. No playoff system in college football - One national champion, please.


Matt Vasgersian:
1. Jockspeak - "if we do our jobs, good things will happen"..."when we're healthy we can play with
anybody"..."they (insert team) are a talented team and we were fortunate to come out on top tonight"
…Kiss my ass.  Say something worthwhile or don't waste our time.  We've all seen Rudy, Hoosiers and
Brian's Song and heard all of your cool guy clubhouse-politicky nonsense ever since we could grab a
remote.  You may get a little grief from your teammates but have an original thought.  At least fake it.

2. "Alternate" jerseys, caps and other uniform bastardizations. - I for one am all for one road uni, one
home uni.  The mid 90's Indians were the first team I can remember really goofing up the uniform
combinations. Then the Joe McIlvaine era Mets came along and really took it to a new level.  I seem to
recall Rick Reed coming out of the clubhouse one night only to find his club outfitted in 3 or 4 different
combinations.  Tell the marketing guys to relax, we sell enough gear as it is.

3. False legacy - Wade Boggs goes into the Hall attempting to put a Devil Rays cap on his plaque?  
You've got to be joking.  I don't care what kind of deal you cut with the business ops people, fans should
have the final say on the cap a guy wears in the Hall.  Catfish Hunter hated Finley's guts with
Steinbrenner running a close second so his cap is bare.  I kind of like that.  One of the greatest ever kind
of said "I don't belong to anybody".  Cool with me.

4. Token sideline reporters - This one hits close to home, as I've been fooling people into thinking I am
a play-by-play guy for a while now, but do we really need you down there?  I know you look hot, but I'd
prefer just looking at some online porn as opposed to hearing you tell me some dumb story about a guy
working at Taco Bell when he was a kid.  

5. Getaway day greed - Specific to my world of baseball is the scheduling folly that calls for 162 games
in 180 days.  Even with the brutal turnaround, it used to be that teams would give you a day game to end
the series, allowing for a reasonable arrival in your next city. But with television revenue being what it is,
owners want more p.m. games to maximize their advertising dollars.  Don't worry about some poor AAA
call-up trying to face Peavy then Schmidt in less than 24 hours...as long as you were able to fleece
Budweiser for that extra zero on the monthly statement.

ALL OF THE ABOVE ARE ISSUES BEING RESOLVED IN THERAPY. THE MIRL TAKES NO
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ANGER OF THE AUTHOR.


Don Williams:
1. The New York Yankees - it's a freaking All-Star team.
2. Raider fans.
3. When in the final minutes of a game a player whose team is down by 20 dunks and then poses for
the cameras!
4. John Stockton's shorts.
5. Wilt's record - and not the 100 point game either :)


Brian Wilmer:
1. Fans on cell phones - Is it seriously that difficult for you to just turn off the phone for a couple of
hours?  What is so important that you have to be reached at a sporting event for which you likely paid for
a ticket?  The only thing worse than the random fan chatting on a cell phone during the game is the fan
that is told during the conversation that they can be seen on TV, so they start waving and mugging for the
camera.  If you're going to ban flash photography at the games, ban cell phones.

2. The overabundance of music in sport - Playing the random song between innings is fine, or playing a
song at a break, but now everything has to be about trying to get the random fan involved, with the
chicken dance song, YMCA, and various other "jock jams", as well as the NBA playing whatever latest
hip-hop tune as players dribble the ball up the court.  We don't need DJs at the ballpark.

3. Self-important announcers - To these guys, it's not about the game or anything happening on the
field, it's about them.  The play-by-play man that is so focused on being "professional" and drawing
attention to his call that he never seems to have any fun, and the color guy who peppers every comment
he has with, "When I played...", as though that has any bearing on any present-day events.  I know I'll
sound like a suck-up here, because he's a friend of the site, but I get so much enjoyment out of the
couple of times a month I can hear Matt Vasgersian call a game, because he obviously knows the
game, but he's not afraid to goof on himself, quote movies, and put the focus on others instead of
himself. I often find myself bleary-eyed in the morning, as the Padre games end so late, but it's always a
great time.

4. Throwback uniforms - This is another invention in sport that is fine once in a while, but has been
played to absolute death.  Pick one uniform from a team's golden era and wear them one time a year,
but don't go to the 1916 jersey, the Southern League throwbacks from 1927, and the uniforms from a
time when the team wasn't even in the same city in which they currently reside.  A lot of NBA teams wore
their throwbacks double-digit times this past year, which completely misses the point.

5. Ridiculous sporting comparisons - These all started with former Tennessee and current LA Sparks
star Chamique Holdsclaw being called "Lady Jordan", and it continues each year with the women's
College World Series comparing their pitchers to Randy Johnson, and the Little League World Series
spends 10 minutes at the beginning of each game trying to say that a 60 mile per hour fastball at that
level is equal to a 102 mile per hour fastball at the big league level.  I know why the comparisons are
made, but stop insulting everyone's intelligence.


Adam Wodon:
1. Nothing's worse than overly homer broadcasters. I say this with complete understanding that it's OK,
even good, for people employed by the teams to be "pulling for" the team they cover.  But as someone
who has been in the position of being criticized by my employers for being too fair (as probably most
upstanding people in the business have at  one time or another) I find the emphasis on homerism to be
awful.  It's one thing to be a blatant over-the-top homer, and another thing for the professional teams to
encourage this behavior. They either encourage it openly, or encourage it in the hiring process.  It's
discouraging.  For some reason, professional teams will never understand that their fans are not
dumb.  They see through the nonsense and would prefer someone explaining things honestly.

2. Basketball games that take forever.  There is no reason that the last 2 minutes of a basketball game
-- the most exciting part of the game, theoretically -- should take 15-20 minutes to play. Literally. I've
timed it.  Unlike many of my hockey-loving brethren, I enjoy pro basketball to an extent.  But why the NBA
would choose to make what's supposed to be the best part of the game, the most boring, is beyond me.
As a general sports fan, it's enormously frustrating.  Limit teams to 1 timeout in the final minute apiece.

3. Macho b.s. posturing ... i.e. football players that celebrate everything (see Freddie Mitchell) and the
announcers that excuse or celebrate the behavior. (If I sound too much like Phil Mushnick here, I
profusely apologize.)

4. People who don't get baseball stats, and/or ridicule them. Or, conversely, those who rely too much on
the wrong ones.  For example, the "quality start" is ridiculed because it's defined as being 6 IPs with 3
runs allowed - or better. The key is "or better." Because 3 runs in 6 IP is a 4.50 ERA, people ridicule the
stat.  But that's simply the low end. Every stat has its flaws.  Every single one.  That doesn't invalidate the
entire concept.  Similar to saves.  It's ridiculous that saves are over-relied upon by managers in making
decisions, but the stat is still worthy, even if it has flaws.  I agree that if a pitcher comes in to start the 9th,
up 4-1, and allows 2 runs, then it's a crappy save, and maybe the rule needs to be tweaked.  But so long
as you analyze a stat properly, they all have their use.

5. Most major leagues have priced the common fan out of the building, and they don't care.  I'm definitely
not pollyanna about sports – and I'm not one to lament player salaries and say "they don't deserve that
money".  Supply and demand is a good philosophy. ... So I don't have a problem with the ticket prices
from that standpoint.  However, what's happening is, pro sports teams and leagues are really shooting
themselves in the foot in the long run.  If parents cannot afford to take their kids to the games, where will
the next generation of fans come from?  I've worked for pro sports organizations, and saw first hand how
their only goal was to squeeze every last dollar out of everyone who came.  They precisely timed the
concession openings and closings, they strategically placed things in the building so that you'd spend
another couple bucks on this or that.  And so long as they "maximized revenue" at the end of the day,
they were happy.  What they did not taken into consideration at all was that the buildings are becoming
dead – with mainly corporate people in the building, with a fraction of the passion of the true fans who
used to come to the games.  There's a lot of bells and whistles and gadgets and games and MCs
walking around the arenas - but no passion in the building.  This is supposedly all done in the name of
entertaining the people that are there -- attracting them with more than just the sport itself.  In the long
run, your audience will be going down, because the true fans don't care about the bells and whistles,
and they can't afford to get in anyway.

And with that, I am off my soapbox....