Column: RICK SOLEM
Sports are funny sometimes. Other times ...
A Super Bowl between the the only two states that legalized marijuana ...
A Pro Bowl that doesn't feature those teams or an all-star game that requires a player from every team ...
Is there anything dumber in sports than all-star games?
Then again, they are for 12-year-olds who don’t know anything about sports.
THE WORST ONE
The NFL gets so many things right, and then there's the Pro Bowl - a joke.
It's on Sunday by the way, while the two best teams in the NFL get ready for the Super Bowl. So it features no Broncos, no Seahawks, in a game that showcases the league’s "best of the best."
Yup, that makes complete sense, because nobody cares to see Denver’s or Seattle’s pro bowlers (I know, they really don’t care, but if they did, they would probably want to see Manning and Russell Wilson).
The game may as well be two-hand touch. Wouldn’t it be more interesting - or, at least, more realistic - if it were just a flag football game?
Oh, and the fantasy football-style draft was the other day - Andrew Luck, not Drew Brees was the first pick (by Deion Sanders).
In case you were wondering, Alex Smith was the last pick of the draft. Was Smith sitting in the green room the entire time? Had Aaron Rodgers been there, he would have been laughing sweet redemption, remembering the 2005 NFL draft.
Ok, maybe not. He’s not even an all-pro.
Baseball is next on my list of stupid all-star games, because “it means something.” Home field advantage in the World Series, really?
So, what happens different that it means so much? The game features 37 pitchers. If it really meant something, you’d throw the ace of the aces out there until he couldn’t mow down the opposition anymore.
The irony there would be that ace is on the Cubs and they aren’t ever going to the World Series, yet he’d win home-field for his National League squad. Good job, now back to the cellar lowly Cub all-star representative.
At least players go 100 percent. Then again, it’s baseball, and you only have to go 100 percent a total of five seconds – if you hit a double and round third - out of the four-hour fiasco.
I’ve never seen an NHL all-star game, so I’m not discussing it. The way NHL fans work is their sport trumps all in everything, so what’s the point of arguing? At least NFL fans can agree the pro-bowl sucks.
STUPIDITY OF THE GAME
The NBA announced its starters for the Feb. 16 all-star game. Before I cry about how stupid fan voting is, let’s just talk about how stupid the game is itself.
It is. Just dumb. But, comparing it to baseball and football, it is easily the more exciting of the games.
In the NFL, when you let a guy go score - as they often do - he simply runs to the end zone. In the NBA, when you let a guy go, he throw down a ridiculous jam. In baseball, when you let a guy go, he walks to first base.
First, you get to see the players actually go head-to-head – for at least half the fourth quarter. Players on the winning team get $35,000. Losers get $15,000. So they’re going to try for the final 5 minutes.
These guys also do some super-human things with the ball – whether it’s unimaginable dunks, deep 3-pointers or dribbling exhibitions. Not basketball, but it’s an all-star game.
Ever see a baseball player … do a baseball trick? I don’t know what he’d do. Bat left handed? Wait, no, it means something, no screwing around!
The NFL and MLB don’t offer a venue to feature the excitement of their sport. Or the excitement of football. I can’t watch a baseball game long enough to find actual excitement.
Sure, in the NFL, Peyton Manning will throw … wait, Manning isn’t playing. Sure, whoever the starting quarterback is for whatever team, can throw a really long ball and a receiver may just make a great catch – but not if there’s any risk of contact, he won’t.
Beyond some deep touchdown passes, there’s nothing worth watching.
Players won’t do what they’re capable of in fear of injury and players can’t do superhuman things, like they can showcase on a basketball court. A Demarcus Ware spin move during the regular season isn’t any flashier in the Pro Bowl.
Same in baseball. Pitchers pitch, hitters hit and maybe there’s a diving catch. The odds of something spectacular happening are actually less, because the pitcher is always better.
Last year’s score was 3-0. A sacrifice fly, a fielder’s choice and a ground-rule double led to the three runs.
A baseball purest maybe loves the all-star game because he loves a good pitchers’ duel – it seems almost realistic. Then again, 18 guys pitched last year and the most innings anyone went? Two. “It means something.”
WHY FAN VOTING
I get the point of fan voting – except in baseball, because of the aforementioned “meaning something” – but when Kobe Bryant and his 5.7 turnover average in all the six games he played (2-4 record), is the fifth leading vote-getter, it’s time to revamp the system.
Actually, the NBA did revamp the system and aside from Bryant, the fans were pretty close to getting it right.
Last year, the NBA got rid of the center position and just lopped all forwards and centers into one category. Sorry eight-time all-star center Yao Ming.
Somehow, Dwight Howard still made it as a starter last year. This year, he didn’t. The rest of the West is made up of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love.
The only snub was LaMarcus Aldridge, who dropped 44 points Thursday, perhaps making a statement. And, while his numbers reign supreme, Blake Griffin replaces him and he’s just as good.
Oh, and Griffin’s dunks are a little more exciting than Aldridge’s 12-foot jumpers. But just a little. Who doesn’t love a nice jump shot? Who doesn’t love a good pitchers’ duel?
So, I guess, sometimes it’s good the fans vote, because I’m voting to see someone throw an alley-oop to Griffin.
In the East, it’s close enough. I mean, there are just five teams above .500 in the East. Two of those are 21-20 and another is 22-19.
And you can’t go wrong with LeBron James, Paul George, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving. Then again, for the same reason Aldridge isn’t playing, I don’t see why Anthony makes it. All he does is shoot 17-footers.
For the record, I can’t stand Anthony and hate his game. No passing. No defense. Only takes jump shots. Wears a headband.
Wade isn’t the greatest selection either, but the Heat are 7-6 without him in the lineup and there are no good East shooting guards. Bradley Beal?
Irving shouldn’t have been voted above Toronto’s Kyle Lowry or Washington’s John Wall, but one guy plays in Canada and I only bring it up because I actually pay attention to the NBA. Sue me.
At least the NBA isn’t like baseball and gives each team its own representative. This is me trying to mention the Bucks.
Who would be their all-star? Remember when the Brewers sent Rickey Bones to the all-star game? Or the next year, Kevin Seitzer?
The Packers didn’t have an all-pro until Adrian Peterson decided it wasn’t worth it and Eddie Lacy replaced him.
If the Bucks had an all-star selection, it would probably have to be Brandon Knight or Giannis Antetokounmpo, if the fans were voting. Not sure the fans like anyone else on the team. Not sure the fans like the team at all. Wait, then they wouldn’t be fans.
Who you got in the Pro Bowl? Wait, what are the teams called? Team Sanders and Team Rice. Does it get any better than that?