Column: Ten Lessons from the Sports World This Summer

By Shira Weissman

It was a great summer for sports and lots of memorable things took place. To re-cap, I now present to you the ten lessons I learned from watching far too many hours of sports this summer.

10) Something’s got to be in the water in Saudi Arabia

How many 6’8″, 256-pound 13-year-olds do you know that aren’t from the Netherlands or a cartoon show? Well I know one and he’s kind of a BIG deal in this year’s Little League World Series. 6’8″ Aaron Durley is the starting first baseman for Saudi Arabia and the tallest player to ever play in the LLWS. He appears to be the real deal in contrast to past Little Leaguers who didn’t look their age…and weren’t…cough…Danny Almonte. Durley helped lead the Saudis to a 5-0 qualifying record and a slot in the LLWS tournament this season. The Saudi team was eliminated in the international semifinals on Thursday when they lost to the powerhouse that is Japan, proving once again that size isn’t everything in sports.

9) Throwing bats at people is NOT the key to getting called up to the major leagues. Neither is whining about it.

Back in April, Delmon Young, number-one rated prospect in Major League Baseball and Devil Ray farmhand, decided that a good way to resolve his differences with an AAA umpire would be to throw his bat at him. The bat hit the umpire in the chest and landed Young a 50-game suspension.

Since returning from that suspension Young has played well. He is currently batting .329 with six home runs and 51 RBI’s. However, he still can’t act like a civil person long enough to get called up.

Recently, Young and his teammates / posse members Elijah Dukes and BJ Upton vented about not being called up to the majors yet. Since then Elijah Dukes has been suspended indefinitely by the Devil Rays, and Delmon Young is still waiting to see if he’s going to get called up on September first. It’s a shame for such a highly touted player, but I don’t think it’s going to happen given his behavior and Tampa’s already-stocked outfield.

8) Simulated game victories and towel drills don’t win pennants

Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild’s famous north side towel drill and simulated game obsession should be in its last few weeks now as it seems improbable he’ll be back next season.

I know the fact that these things don’t win pennants is old news, Cubs fans, but let’s look on the bright side. Hendry could have resigned Baker already which would have of course meant the towel drill and Rothschild would have stayed for God knows how many more miserable seasons. Luckily Hendry didn’t and I don’t believe he will.

On the downside, if Prior is healthy next year, Wood leaves, and Rothschild does indeed get let go, the Cubs will run the risk of losing their top spot on the all-time simulated game victories list.

7) Shaq is an NBA god

Shaq proved this year that the Lakers championships in the last decade were in fact mostly due to him. Sure Kobe can score 50+ points any night, but Shaq makes everyone else around him so much better that I am declaring him an NBA god, even with his old age and bum foot.

Shaq dominated in the playoffs and helped make Dwyane Wade into the superstar he has become. No one seemed to have an answer for him as the Bulls, Nets, Pistons, and Mavs fell to the world champion Miami Heat.

Shaq averaged 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game in the playoffs. These statistics may not seem like absolute domination but what Shaq did to the Pistons in particular warrants him a large portion of the credit. Bottom line: who really thought the Heat would win the Championship before it actually happened?

Shaq also managed to turn around 61-year-old Pat Riley’s clubbing reputation this summer when he taught him the Yung Joc “It’s Goin’ Down” dance in front of the entire city of Miami while tapping him on the rear and rapping “go coach, go coach”- Priceless.

6) A slacker’s guide to the preseason: stationary biking with TO.

After completing a simulated ride of stage 17 of the Tour de France on a stationary bike, TO appears to be almost ready for the season after coming close to matching Floyd Landis’ incredible pace for the stage this past Thursday. Okay I’m kidding, but seriously, one of the Cowboys’ huge issues so far this preseason has been that TO doesn’t ride a bike for them; he plays football, and he is not ready for the season.

Owens missed 15 of 27 training camp workouts and will miss his third straight preseason game this weekend. He has described his injury as a severe pull; one that has not yet appeared on any of Owens’ MRIs, which all came back negative. He says that just because an MRI isn’t positive doesn’t mean he’s not in pain and he expects to be ready to go for the season. I say I don’t want to hear what TO has to say. All I want are the facts: He has a negative MRI, he hasn’t practiced, and 95% of the clips I’ve seen from him this preseason have been either in street clothes or on a bike. I don’t think he’ll be ready for the first week of the season.

5) The Chicago S.W.A.T. team has changed address to 1901 W. Madison Street

The Chicago Bulls had an amazing off season and Bulls fans should be excited for the opening tip this November. With Tyrus Thomas and Big Ben Wallace patrolling the middle of the floor basketballs should be flying everywhere thanks to plenty of blocked shots. I will also be cheering this season hard-core against the Knicks in hopes that the Bulls will get the number one pick next year and select S.W.A.T. team chief Greg Oden.

4) Tiger Woods is still on another level from the rest of the field.

3) Crucial times not to pitch to Travis Hafner & David Ortiz.

2) Screw buying tickets to a sporting event for entertainment, if you’re looking for entertainment what you need is a press pass to the White Sox clubhouse.

1) Spending $200 million on a baseball team may not guarantee a world series, but this year it could mean the best and possibly most patient lineup in history.