1st and Five - The Weekly Tendown Special Halfdown Edition Sept 5-11 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dear Internet:

1 back.  19 left.  Lincecum goes today.

As I write this, my magical telephone which texts me when the world changes (last week, true story, I received a text that Keira Knightley was changing her official country of residence to the United States.  Suck on that England!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!) just vibrated the following:

                 Giants CF Andres Torres had his appendix removed.  Out 10 days to 2 weeks.

Appendicitis?  Really?  With 19 games left and the San Francisco Giants a game out of first place - arguably our best player over the course of the season just had his appendix taken out.  That's one for the books.  That's one for the Bobby Richardson playing out of position, Game 3 earthquake, 103 wins and no postseason, 5 run lead with 8 outs to go, Jose Cruz's kid dropping the fly ball - books. 

Appendix?  Really?  With 19 games left in the season?  Andres Torres is 32 years old.  What is the historical precedent for a 32 year old starting center fielder to have appendicitis at the end of a pennant race?  What's next - Brian Wilson has his tonsils out?  Aubrey Huff gets chicken pox? 

Giants baseball.  It's torture.

Here's Tendown 43.

First:  Reggie Bush

This week came word that the Heisman Trophy Trust would be stripping Reggie Bush of his 2005 Heisman; this now seems in doubt; Christine Brennan argued this week that the Trophy should not only be stripped but awarded to Vince Young, the runner-up.

She is wrong - the argument that Bush should be stripped rests on the notion that had the money given by a street agent to Bush and his family while he was at USC been known by the NCAA at the time, then it would have ruled Bush ineligible.  My thoughts about this are threefold:

1. Its a helluva erosion of due process - if today, the NCAA were to find that a current superstar player, a potential top 5 overall NFL draft choice headed for a bounty of endorsement opportunities once his college career was concluded was ineligible, the amount of  potential financial harm were he unable to play football would absolutely require a judicial hearing before he was taken off the field.  Maybe that results in Bush being made ineligible (although what would the precedent be - has there ever been a player of Bush's 2005 profile who the NCAA said could not play for a full season?  Do ticket sales fall, are ratings harmed, what about all those USC #5 jerseys that aren't sold, or DVDs, video games, and other ancillary memorabilia that directly traded off of Bush's game and fame - let's put aside whether it's "right" to punish an athlete for accepting money given the billions made in big time college sports off of the labor of those athletes - does it make sense that perhaps the NCAA doesn't want Bush to be made ineligible in 2005?) maybe it doesn't, but there would have been a court fight had it attempted to take him off the field.  Its convenient, 5 years later to say, "in lieu of that fight - let's just pretend that Bush was found ineligible and therefore could not have won the Heisman." 

2. Are we really saying that, in the history of the Heisman, the only winner who took money while he was playing was Reggie Bush?  It has to be yes, right - Christine Brennan has to be saying that, and the Heisman Trust, were they to pull Bush's trophy - has to be saying that, and if they are saying that, that's a level of embarrassing that a sports analyst should not want to reach.  John Salley has a podcast - his answer when asked how many big time college athletes take money while they're in school was "all of them."  Tim Brown went on television and said Bush should give the trophy back - my thought was exactly as is it whenever a former baseball player says that those suspected of PED use should not be eligible for the Hall of Fame or otherwise lose their records - what did you take?  What did your teammates take?  Tell me of all the money/drugs that you are aware of.  If I'm Reggie Bush - I want every living Heisman winner deposed.  Further, there are lots of behaviors that could make one ineligible.  Vince Young, recall, scored a six on the Wonderlic test at the NFL draft combine - let's walk our way through all of his coursework while at Texas.  In the same way that the "give Jose Canseco's MVP Award to Mike Greenwell" fails the slippery slope test, how deeply are we willing to probe the academic careers of the runners-up to the Heisman to begin the process of finding the "true" winner?  If Christine Brennan wants to argue that big time college sports are dirty, completely removed from the amateur ideal - that's fine.  If she wants to argue that it's just Reggie Bush, she should lose her press credential. 

3. This is really the same line of "what happened on the field is illegitimate and you should pretend it didn't happen" thought that has permeated the steroid discussion.  At this year's baseball Hall of Fame ceremony, Hank Aaron was announced as the "home run king."

He is not. 

Barry Bonds hit those home runs.  They happened.  So did Cy Young's 511 wins, and Hack Wilson's 191 rbis, and Ty Cobb's career batting average of .367.  We can view them in context - like we can view Aaron's playing in small ballparks, or Roger Maris hitting 61 against expansion pitching, or Babe Ruth never hitting a ball thrown by anyone other than a white American dude probably born east of the Mississippi, or every baseball clubhouse for decades having jars of amphetamines that the players could pop to give them a little lift for those day games after night games. 

Reggie Bush won the Heisman trophy.  He did it on the field.  Barry Bonds owns both the single season and the career record for home runs.  He did it on the field.  Andres Torres is not on the field.  He's in the hospital getting circumcised or something. 

Appendicitis?  With 19 games left in the season?  Argh.  Argh.  Argh.  Argh.

We're never going to win.

After the jump - the rest of Tendown 43. 

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