Bradford Applin

Ah yes, the sounds of spring. The sound of playoff dunks rattling the rim and buzzer-beaters igniting the hometown crowd. The crack of pine meeting rawhide as the summer’s giants awake from their winter slumber to swing some heavy lumber. The slap as leather meets leather, followed by the hoarse cry of the man in blue: “Strike three!” The distant sound of metal merging with ice as colossal men glide around with the grace of figure skaters and the power of linebackers.

There is one other sound; let me see here. Ah – what was it again? Ah – Ahhhh – aahhhaa- Chooo!

Ah yes, the sound of pollen meeting an over-active immune system and histamines running rampant until – Gazoontite. Nothing quite says spring like squinting through itching, watery eyes to watch Shaq shoot free throws as I blow my rosy nose on each TV timeout.

The onset of allergy season has elevated my spirits and senses to such high levels that I’m prepared to offer insights never before seen in my column. In this first installment of “Mini-Rants,” I give to you a few ramblings about the current world of sports. You could say they’re outbursts that have been aching to come out: aaahh –

Jockeys

Now I’ve always been against horse racing because of the simple fact that the horses are considered disposable athletes. In what other sport is an injured athlete, who has been extremely successful in the past and generated millions of dollars of income for their owner, disposed of? If a horse breaks its leg trying to hustle out a win for its owner, it is taken behind the barn and given an unceremonious bullet to the brain.

Compare that to say, Amare Stoudemire in the NBA, who has had surgery on both knees in less than a year and is currently being rehabilitated with the finest equipment and being paid millions of dollars while he can’t play. It he was a horse, he’d currently find himself being eaten in paste form by some kid named Jimmy as he tries to glue macaroni on construction paper in a vain attempt at a Mother’s Day gift. Think about it –

Yet, all of this is negated when you realize that horses, if they manage to survive a few birthdays on the racetrack, are put out to stud for the rest of their lives. Wilt Chamberlain and Shawn Kemp aside, no other athletes can claim such an illustrious twilight to their careers.

What I really found disturbing this weekend as I watched the Kentucky Derby was the jockeys. Barbaro won by an easy 6 1/2-lengths (that’s the length of 6.5 horses if you’re not familiar with the track lingo), but the most shocking part of the race was looking up close at Barbaro’s jockey, Edgar Prado.

All of these men look like recovering drug addicts – and for good reason – because most are. They have battled through addictions of all sorts of substances because they’ve been denied the one substance that they really need: food.

Somehow the prospect of pursing a profession where the idea of a Thanksgiving feast is savoring a Jolly Rancher before spitting it out and exchanging it for my index finger is not appealing. But to each his own.

These real life mini-men torture themselves in order to provide a stage for millions of gambling addicts worldwide. Perhaps it’s the men riding the horse that need our sympathy.

Mamas, don’t let your boys grow up to be cowb- err, jockeys.

NHL playoffs

If a puck hits the back of the net and the siren goes off in a game that no one is watching, does it make a sound?

Granted, these have been exciting playoffs, with the eighth-seed Edmonton Oilers, defeating the hallowed Detroit Red Wings. The metaphorical sign in front of Mighty Ducks’ goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, read “Access Denied” for 249 minutes and 15 seconds as he stopped every projectile slapped his way for over four hours of game time.

But is this getting the same coverage on Sportscenter as say, every Barry Bonds at bat, or even every Barry Bonds quote? Since the lockout (admittedly self-inflected suicide by the players and owners) the NHL has lived up to its end of the bargain by providing exciting action even for hockey laymen like myself. Now can the NHL just get a little love from the media? I long to hear Chris Berman butchering European names once again in his “Top 10” countdown. What rhymes with Bryzgalov?

Detroit Pistons

LeBron James’ ego has officially been checked. The Cavaliers are on the fast track to being swept by the reigning Eastern Conference champions. Better luck next year Bron-Bron.

It’s just not fair. Honestly, the way they have dominated the East the last three seasons – winning the NBA title in 2004, reaching the NBA finals in 2005 and winning the No. 1 seed this year – is ridiculous. With the switch from the ultra-conservative and ultra-controlling Larry Brown to the more wide-open scheme of head coach Flip Saunders the Pistons are firing on all cylinders.

Not to mention the fact that Detroit’s starters have been able to stay virtually injury-free the last three years. The only exception was Richard Hamilton’s face, whose clear mask proved to be a blessing in disguise as it gave rise to his alter-ego which averaged a career high 20.1 points this season.

Eventually karma will kickback; mark my words. Last year, the Miami Heat were a few Dwayne Wade ribs from reaching the Finals. This year, it could be Chauncey Billups’ back, or Hamilton’s hip, or even a Ben Wallace wart that derails their pursuit of three straight NBA finals. The basketball team from the Motor City is bound to breakdown sooner than later.

714

Don’t care, Don’t care, Don’t care. Ok, maybe a little-

Bradford Applin is a sophomore journalism major. Card-carrying members of PETA can send their hate mail to bapplin@calpoly.edu

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