Arts & Entertainment, Sports

Picking Splinters: Mike & His Mailbag

Mike takes his monthly dive into his mailbag.

Mike,

The NFL is being hypocritical in its treatment towards Michael Vick. On one hand they say “innocent until proven guilty,” but then they don't let him attend training camp. You're always sticking up for what's just, what do you think about this?

Hit me back Humey,

[email protected]

I don't think the NFL banning Vick from training camp is hypocritical at all. The league hasn't declared Vick guilty of anything, however his mere association with these charges has marred the NFL's image. Given that, it is perfectly just for the league to suspend him while it conducts its own investigation.

This is not a matter of hypocrisy. Vick is still getting paid. He still has his job. He just can't show up at training camp. If a commercial business had an employee facing these kinds of charges for, would they be showing up for work per usual?

The NFL is not a court of law, it's a business — one that thrives on image to market itself to the public. As long as his name is tied to these gruesome allegations of animal cruelty, Vick's name is about appealing as, oh, say, Tim Donaghy's. Right now, Vick is a cancer to the Falcons and the league — even if he's innocent of the charges. If Vick showed up at training camp, Warrick Dunn would have to do cartwheels with a  team of dwarfs on the back of a three-legged woolly mammoth to make that scene a bigger circus. A media storm, constant distractions diverting players' attention from a new coach and offensive scheme? That's bad for business — for both the Falcons and the NFL. That isn't hypocrisy, that's protecting your investment.

Athletes, including Vick, have used their image as successful athletes to their advantage in the form of inking endorsement deals. If anything, it would be hypocritical to think that pendulum shouldn't be able to swing the other way.

 

Mr. Hume,

Why the heck is Iraq's victory in the Asia Cup a news story right now? It's about a country I don't live in and a sport I care nothing about. How is this even remotely relevant to my life?

This is OUR country,

J.C.M.

Is Chevy sponsoring this letter or something? Before I answer, please, please, please let that “Our Country” spot and ESPN's “Who's Now?” contest (by the by, if the winner is anyone other than Barry Bonds or Michael Vick this contest is a fraud) fall into the same black hole of irrelevancy that swallowed Paula Abdul's animated cat in the early 90s. Life, at least my own, would be much, much happier if they did.

As for the question, besides the fact that seven celebrants died because the Sir Isaac Newton All-Stars decided it would be good idea to celebrate by firing guns into the air amid large crowds of people, the Iraqi win is being discussed because it is a big story.

I actually heard a radio personality echo the sentiments of your letter on Sunday and I have to say that point of view is flat out shortsighted. For one, in trying times, sports have had a unifying effect, even a healing power. After 9/11, this country rallied around Sunday football games and presidential first pitches at World Series games. It was about coming together and rooting for a common cause.

If there's one place in the world that needs a common cause right now it's Iraq, where sectarian violence has ripped the country asunder after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Now, not only is the entire country unified in celebrating the achievement of this team — a huge underdog heading into the tournament — it is applauding a roster comprised of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis who all worked together to achieve a common goal. But yeah, you're right, what worth could there be in a story like that?

 

Mike,

Make sense of this for me: The Nats crave prospects, so at the trade deadline they sign two utility-types to extensions and then fail to deal top commodities Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch. I don't get it. How can they … oh, crud, the race … I'm going to be late! Gotta run!

Teddy R.

I can understand holding onto Rauch and Cordero. If teams weren't willing to pay full price for two of the better relievers in the game, why give them up? A strong bullpen is vital if you want to be a contender and top-notch pen men are a rare commodity. Extending Ronnie Belliard — okay, it's good to have depth in the middle infield and the price wasn't too high. Dmitri Young puzzles me though. Yes, he's having a monster year. Yes, he's contending for the NL batting title. Yes, it's wonderful that he's resurrected his career. But is he really an everyday option at first base for the next two years if Nick Johnson doesn't return to form? Is it even possible to think of him in the outfield? Durability and viability as a fielder are not Young's strong suits. Those will be two big question marks that surround the extension.

One thing to note though: With the exception of Mark Teixeira, no other big bats swapped teams at the deadline for anything more than a mid-reliever/set-up man. Is Young's presence worth more than that given Johnson's status? Probably.