What in the world is our sports world coming to?
We were supposed to have had a steamboat race on the Ohio River last week. The host boat, the Belle of Louisville, carried U of L fans. The rival boat, the Belle of Cincinnati, was stocked with UK fans.
The U of L fans and the Belle of Louisville not only won the race by such a large margin that some people swear Cincinnati’s Belle didn’t bother to turn around. Instead it just kept paddling back upriver to the Queen City.
Oh, well. It has been that kind of sports world during the first half of 2011.
An Irishman won the U.S. Open and there wasn’t an American golfer within sight of him.
There was little hope for an American man or woman tennis player to win Wimbledon. The top-ranked men were Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – all Europeans. With the Williams sisters knocked out, the top women were Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitove and on and on.
But many of the top players did have to come to Nick Bolleterri’s Florida tennis camp to hone their strokes
This is the truth: I’m having a heck of a battle with my spell-checking computer even to type some of the names.
A German, Dirk Nowitzki, dominated the best basketball players America had to offer and led his Dallas team to the NBA championship. More than a million fans turned out to greet the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs when he returned to his hometown of Wuerzburg.
Soccer? Forget it. Foreign teams laugh at our best. I heard that when Mexico’s men beat our team before almost 100,000 fans in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., USA, that the Mexican national anthem was played, but not the “Star Spangled Banner”!
Closer to home, have you checked on how to say the names of many in the jockey colony during the recent Churchill Downs spring meet? And you probably read the same story I did about Hispanic backside workers saying that the horses respond to and understand Spanish!
Foreign-born American-style football (real football, not soccer) players are few and far between, but there have been some, notably place-kickers.
Baseball, that most American of games, is filled with Spanish-speaking players, many of them the top players in the game.
Check out the names of top hitters and pitchers.
Cincinnati Reds fans are proud of first baseman Joey Votto, the reigning Most Valuable Player in the National League. Where’s he from? Canada. And remember this isn’t ice hockey we’re talking about.
We have no Ali’s or Mary T.’s on the horizon. Lexington’s Tyson Gay is one of the world’s fastest sprinters, but he’s trying to recover from an injury.
$$$ Big problem
All sports are hurting because of sky-high tickets, caused by team owners paying too much money to the players. It’s obvious that attendance is down at many Major League Baseball games because of the economy – a lot of people simply can’t afford the price of tickets that start at $40 to $50 at the low end.
Exceptions are the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox – and the New York Yankees usually fill up not only Yankee Stadium, but also other parks on the road.
It’s sad what has happened to baseball’s Dodgers. When they played at Ebetts Field in Brooklyn, especially after they signed Jackie Robinson, they filled parks all over the National League.
The Dodgers broke thousands of Brooklyn hearts when the franchise was moved to Los Angeles – even though there was no Big League park awaiting them in California. The team had to play in the Los Angeles Coliseum during the early years until Dodger Stadium was built.
The Coliseum was a great venue – for just about any sport except baseball. It was built for the Olympics and it was great. In fact, it was host to the Olympics twice.
But for baseball, it was a joke. Left field from home plate was about 225 feet – a routine fly ball would go that far, but a high wire fence turned a lot of home runs into doubles.
Pee Wee waffled
Pee Wee Reese, the Dodgers’ beloved Hall of Fame shortstop from Louisville, was near the end of his career, but he did play some games that first year. He once told me that he loved the short left field as a batter, but not when he was in the field.
One summer when the Associated Press Sports Editors Association held its annual convention in Los Angeles, The L.A. Times sponsored a trip for our group to the Coliseum, which was built as the home field for Southern California’s football.
We had a distinguished guide, Glenn Davis, who was Mr. Outside for Army when Doc Blanchard was Mr. Inside for the great Cadet teams. Davis worked for the Promotion Department of The Times.
Sept. 1 (Thurs.): Murray State
Sept. 9: (Fri.) Fla. International
Sept. 17: at Kentucky
Sept. 24: Open
Oct. 1: Marshall
Oct. 8: at North Carolina
Oct. 15: at Cincinnati
Oct. 21: (Fri.) Rutgers
Oct. 29: Syracuse
Nov. 5: at West Virginia
Nov. 12: Pittsburgh
Nov. 19: at Connecticut
Nov. 25: (Fri.) at USF
Sept. 1: WKU at Nashville
Sept. 10: Central Michigan
Sept. 17: Louisville
Sept. 24: Florida
Oct. 1: at LSU
Oct. 8: at South Carolina
Oct. 15: Open
Oct. 22: Jacksonville State (homecoming)
Oct. 29: Miss. State
Nov. 5: Mississippi
Nov. 12: at Vanderbilt
Nov. 19: at Georgia
Nov. 26: Tennessee
About the Author (Author Profile)
Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.