business news in context, analysis with attitude

Reporting in from Seattle, Washington…

Five days after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics, which seemed far more like a reality show without end than any kind of competition, I have just one question:

Bode who?

With the beginning of the baseball season, a time when hope springs eternal and even Mets and Cubs fans believe in the healing power of a decent pitching staff, there also inevitable comes the incessant whining of Barry Bonds, one of the biggest crybabies and worst role models in the sporting world. Bonds likes to pretend that the rules against steroids don’t exist or don’t apply to him or that the rest of the world is too dumb or blind to see what is obvious – that his body is juiced and that many of his home runs have been hit under fraudulent conditions.

Not that I feel strongly about this.

George Vecsey, writing in the New York Times last week, put it succinctly when addressing Bonds’ whining and complaining:

“It isn't fun for Barry? It wasn't fun for Aaron, receiving hate mail for passing the Babe. It wasn't fun for Mickey Mantle, gasping every time his knee buckled. It wasn't fun for Roger Maris, knowing traditionalists were rooting against him. It wasn't fun for Jackie Robinson when fans and opponents shouted vile things at him. It wasn't fun for Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston and Buck O'Neil to watch mediocrities play in the all-white major leagues. It wasn't fun for the Babe, feeling his body falling apart, sensing the Yankees would never let him manage. It wasn't fun for Lou Gehrig, dying young.
“It isn't fun for a lot of us, watching a miserable, bulked-up egomaniac whine. Barry Bonds wants fun? He could retire in spring training, leaving Aaron and Ruth at the top of the list.”

It is probable that Bonds will pass Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list, and very possible that he will pass Hank Aaron.

But make no mistake. Barry Bonds may own a major league record, but he is about as minor league a baseball player as the game will ever put on a pedestal.

Forget the Olympics and forget overpriced, over-juiced baseball players. My new sports hero is high school basketball coach Jim Johnson.

And if you don’t know who he is, you should.

By now, you’ve probably heard the story of Jason McElwain, the 17-year-old young man from upstate New York who has autism and loves basketball. He’s served as the team manager for his high school team, doing anything that was asked of him so he could be near the game he loves. Just the other day, for the last game of the season, the team’s coach, Jim Johnson, asked him to suit up so that he’d enjoy that experience. And then, Johnson put the 5’6” Jason into the game for the last few minutes – and Jason responded by scoring 20 points, including six three point shots.

Jason McElwain and Coach Johnson are what sports is supposed to be all about. Johnson deserves special credit for looking beyond the obvious and nurturing this young man’s talent and spirit, for giving him the opportunity to succeed and feel special, and for creating what has turned into a national celebration of this special young man. But maybe even more importantly, he’s almost certainly giving the other players the same sort of respect, nurturing and opportunities. I’d be thrilled to have one of my kids playing for him.

And by the way, this is what bosses are supposed to do in every one of life’s venues.

It’s like an addiction, but I won’t be able to help myself – Sunday night I’ll be up until all hours watching the Oscars.

Here are my predictions and preferences…

Will Win: “Brokeback Mountain”
I’d vote for: “Crash” or maybe “Good Night, And Good Luck”
(Note: I’ve seen all five nominees)

Will Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, for “Capote”
I’d vote for: Heath Ledger, for “Brokeback Mountain”
(Note: I’ve seen four of the five nominees…so I can’t fairly judge Terrence Howard’s performance in “Hustle & Flow”…though he was great in “Crash”)

Will Win: Reese Witherspoon, for “Walk The Line”
I’d vote for: Reese Witherspoon, for “Walk The Line”
(Two admissions here. One is that I’ve had a mad crush on Reese Witherspoon ever since “Legally Blond,” and the second is that I haven’t seen any of the other nominees. But that doesn’t stop me from opining…)

Will Win: George Clooney, for “Syriana”
I’d vote for: Matt Dillon, for “Crash”
(This is a tough category because all four nominated performances that I’ve seen were all amazing; I missed William Hurt in “A History Of Violence.” But I’m guessing Clooney will win not just because he is a liberal, which doesn’t hurt, but also because between “Syriana” and “Good Night, And Good Luck,” he had an amazingly creative year. But while I have no problem with him winning, I’d probably vote for Matt Dillon…because his was an anguished performance in a very, very good movie.)

Will Win: Michelle Williams, for “Brokeback Mountain”
I’d vote for: Rachel Weisz, for “The Constant Gardener”
(The “will win” is a guess…these are the only two nominees I saw; but I thought Rachel Weisz was positively luminous in her movie, and her appeal made the whole film work.)

Will Win: Ang Lee, for “Brokeback Mountain”
I’d probably vote for: Ang Lee, for “Brokeback Mountain”
(Hey, his last movie was “Hulk,” so Lee deserves an award just for surviving that. Besides, like it or not, “Brokeback Mountain” was a phenomenon this year. But if Lee doesn’t win, it’ll be George Clooney for “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which is a terrific piece of work about a genuine American hero, Edward R. Murrow, who spoke truth to power. And in this case, I saw all the nominated films.)

What could be better than an hour of “24” on Monday night?

Two hours of “24”…which is what Fox has scheduled.


By the way, I don’t know if anyone out there actually understands what the hell is happening on “Lost” this season, but as confused as I am, I find it to be absolutely irresistible. It is like going deeper and deeper into a puzzle, knowing you may never find your way out…but not really caring because the trip is so intriguing.

Wine of the week: the 2004 A to Z Pinot Noir from Oregon, which I am told is actually a blend of 20 different wines. I had it the other evening at my favorite Seattle restaurant, Etta’s Seafood, along with my usual black bean and smoked ham soup with tomatillo salsa and an entrée that consisted of troffiete pasta, muscovy duck confit, cipollini onions, spinach and laura chenel goat cheese.


Sometimes, it isn’t hard to look on the bright side of life.

Have a good weekend. Sláinte!!

KC's View: