Saturday, June 03, 2006

Summer Blockbuster Series: Sports Break-Ups

As many of you know,’s judges and users recently broke up with me, affectively ending my run as a Next Great Sportswriter II finalist. The abrupt termination from the contest left me thinking, “What the hell do I do now?” Well, like most of us that get dumped, I’m moving on, hopefully to greener pastures. I still will be posting here, but I also have a new site, The new site will include more posts than my blog and will allow me to really run with my style. Please bookmark the site if you deem it worthy.

After taking several days off, I’ve decided to both continue the weekly Summer Blockbuster Series that I’ve been running and to tackle the second assignment the remaining NGS II finalists were given. In honor of The Break-Up—the film that has given us the tabloid frenzy dubbed “Vaughnifer” —and a long history of overdramatic sports break-ups—Donovan and T.O., Don King and Iron Mike, Kobe and Phil and Shaq, Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner (5 times!), etc…—here are several of the "Absolute Best" sports break-ups of the past year…


2006 Sports Break-Ups

F Tim Thomas/Chicago Bulls

For the record, I don’t like Thomas. I think he’s an egocentric punk who only plays hard on one end of the court, and he only does that when he has financial incentives. Don’t agree with me? Then why have four teams already dumped him? That being said, he played exceptionally well this season after joining the Phoenix Suns, following his release by the Bulls. The Bulls weren’t playing him at all. As a Sun, he was one of the top performers of the entire NBA Playoffs. He was dunking with authority, hitting the glass, draining nothing-but-net threes, hell, he even played some D. Without Thomas, the Suns' summer vacation would have started weeks ago. With Thomas, the Suns were two wins shy of a NBA Finals trip.

How does this development make the Bulls feel? Here are a couple of metaphors—one for the ladies, and one for the fellas.

Ladies – Remember back in high school or college, when you blew off that sweet chubby guy that used to stalk you like you were Julia Roberts and he was the paparazzi? Now, imagine the same guy ten years later, only without the excess poundage and as a filthy-rich neurosurgeon. Want him back? Too bad, he has a sleek new girlfriend that’s faster than a “Little Red Corvette.”

Fellas – You are out at the club getting smashed. During a moment of weakness—um, I mean drunkenness—a portly little sea donkey waddles up to you and gives you her number. With your beer goggles strapped on tight, you see some sort of potential and take her digits. You never call her. Not once. About one year later, you are out again at the same club. You see this cute little fox and approach her. When you holler at her, she informs you that she is the same girl you dissed a year earlier, and that she now has a man. Momentarily, her man, who is twice as good-looking as you are, grabs her hand and pulls her away to the dance floor. Game over.

Thomas' latest ex, Bulls Owner Jerry Reinsdorf (who paid Thomas around $15 million for essentially nothing), has to hate watching Thomas shake his ass for the Suns. For Reinsdorf's sake, I hope that Thomas signs a huge contract this summer and then relapses back to his underachieving ways.

CF Johnny Damon/Boston Red Sox

I don’t like Damon much either. Why? Because he broke up with my Kansas City Royals, his first MLB suitor, that's why. I know, I know, the Royals are a notoriously cheap date. Still, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be a little bitter.

As for Damon’s most recent break-up, it was his nastiest yet.

A few years back, the Boston Red Sox added Damon to an already loaded roster. The Red Sox expected the acquisition to evolve into a long-term monogamous relationship. Damon had other plans. He saw it as a use-use relationship. First, he helped the Red Sox finally break the curse and bring home a championship. Then he started sleeping with the enemy. Damon convinced the rival New York Yankees that the Yanks could cripple the Red Sox by signing him to a lucrative contract. It worked; Damon got what he always wanted—moolah and pinstripes. In the aftermath of this backstabbing, it seems that hell hath no fury like a Red Sox fan’s scorn. Check out what I recently read on an anti-Damon Red Sox shirt…

(Below an illustration of a long-haired, bearded Damon)

“Looks like Jesus…

Acts like Judas…

Throws like Mary”

Don’t worry, Red Sox fans. It won’t be long until Damon starts hitting like Mary, prompting the Yankees to act like Judas and ditch him. And Yankees fans, don’t even act like that’s a stretch.

QB Daunte Culpepper/Minnesota Vikings

OK, OK, I think the Vikings did Daunte kind of dirty as well. Here’s the thing—I can also identify with the Vikes on this one.

Picture this scenario: In a year’s time, your significant other’s "performance" level plummets to an all-time low, he/she is accused of being one of the ringleaders on a scandalous boat cruise complete with prostitutes onboard, he/she becomes injured to the extent that he/she can no longer work, and he/she develops somewhat of an attitude about his/her current relationship with you. Is the amalgamation of all this not grounds for dismissal? That’s why I feel for the Vikings.

Now, back to how Culpepper got played.

We’ve all wanted to break up with a significant other via e-mail, text messages or MySpace, and a few of us have probably done so. However, it’s not the right way to let someone go.

The “right way” is a face-to-face termination, complete with uncomfortable silences, streaming tears, and half-hearted hugs. Yes, there is a high-probability that your worser half will freak out on you if you give them their pink slip in person. That’s why you do what Bob Sugar did in Jerry Maguire and host the firing in a public place. Like Owner Ziggy Wilf, new Head Coach Brad Childress, and the rest of the Vikings’ brass couldn’t have at least given Culpepper that courtesy. After all, Culpepper was an integral part of the Vikings return to NFL contention. He deserved better.

The Vikings’ e-mail to Culpepper notifying him that the team was done with him showed a striking lack of gratitude. It would by like Kevin Federline casually axing Britney over the couple’s BlackBerrys.

Regardless, everything worked out for both parties. Culpepper still has his ridiculous contract. He now lives in South Beach, just one of the many luxuries that comes with being the QB of the Miami Dolphins. Meanwhile, the Vikings are moving on with Brad Johnson under center and a plethora of new talent. You see, sometimes break-ups do end up being win-win.


Future Fall-Outs

American Sports Fans/The World Cup

To quote Vince Vaughn from The Break-Up, “There's a really big gap between getting your ass kicked and having a dancing, singing sprite fool you with trickery and then strike your throat before you know that you're even in a fight.

And that’s why the majority of American sports fans don’t get into soccer. Before we even know that the World Cup is happening, we’re getting drilled by a bunch of little Argentinean dudes with fancy ponytails, and fancier post-goal celebrations.

In the past I haven’t given my World Cup blind dates with the American Soccer Team a fair shake. I promise that will change this time, soccer fans. What I can’t promise is that the results will be any different.

WR Terrell Owens/Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones

This is the equivalent of the ultimate high-maintenance chick hooking up with the ultimate sugar daddy. This merger may result in some good times, maybe even a few good years, but it is destined for a nasty The War of the Roses-style knock-down-drag-out fight. This new romance will end with Owens once again defacing the Cowboys’ star and Jones licking his wounds.

New York Knicks Head Coach Larry Brown/Knicks President Isiah Thomas

It seems that Thomas’ and Brown’s lawyers may already be negotiating the terms of a divorce. This marriage was doomed from the beginning. The basketball union of these two is comparable to a Jennifer Lopez-Tom Cruise marriage. If you think that sounds like a good idea, then maybe, just maybe, the Knicks have a front office position available for you.

QB Matt Leinart/Heiress & Movie Star (wink, wink) Paris Hilton

Do I really need to elaborate on this one? If he hasn't already, it won’t take Leinart long to figure out that there is no such thing as a Simple Life when you’re hitched up with Paris. My only question is who will Leinart replace first, incumbent Arizona Cardinals starting QB Kurt Warner or Paris?

G Kobe Bryant/Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

They’ve already split once, only to rekindle the flame after a one-year hiatus. Even though things are going swell now, who wants to take bets on how long they’ll last the second go-around?

Gambling Addict Janet Jones/NHL Great Wayne Gretzky

We knew you would, Janet. But how much longer do you expect Gretzky to continue to stick by your side? I mean, does your husband really want his spotless legacy tarnished by his sports betting junkie of a wife? I don't think so.


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