Well, it was a completely messed up Fourth of July weekend in the world of sports. And if you don’t believe me, you best read on.
Bob Probert’s Death: It had been awhile since any team I rooted for won a championship of any sort, so I forgot what happens in the aftermath of such an event. Fortunately, the Blackhawks’ success has reminded me of how the process works. First, you dump several key players because they are no longer affordable under the salary cap. Then, you have former fan favorites die.
The strange rollercoaster of an offseason that Hawks fans have endured continued on Monday when former enforcer Bob Probert died at the age of 45 after suffering chest pains while boating with his family. Probert, who was an all-time tough guy that finished sixth on the career penalty minutes list, was one of the rare players that both Red Wings and Hawks fans could claim they loved. He spent the first half of his career in Detroit before finishing it with seven years in Chicago.
Probert certainly had his demons in life — he struggled with alcohol and cocaine abuse at times as a player — but fans still loved him because he played the game like a maniac and always had the back of his teammates.
He was also great with the fans.
In high school, I worked at the country club across the street from the Wirtz family farm, and the entire team played there for an outing. (Except for Alexei Zhamnov, who sat on the patio. I guess Russians don’t know how to golf). Anyway, at the end of the round I brought Probert’s clubs upstairs, where he was waiting by his car.
“Mr. Probert, I’d like to ask you just one favor,” I said.
“Sure,” he replied, probably expecting me to ask for his autograph.
“Next time you play against Derian Hatcher, kick his ass.”
He laughed and said, “No problem.”
I can’t recall if he ever did end up kicking Hatcher’s ass that season, but I like to think so. I do know Probie will be missed.
The curious case of Kobayashi: First, let us suspend belief here and operate under the assumption that competitive eating actually is a sport. It’s not, because no sport makes me want to hurl after watching it for more than three minutes. (With the exception of the Irish sport of hurling, but that’s a different matter).
Has there ever been anything as strange as the scene that unfolded after the Fourth of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest when Joey Chestnut called out Kobayashi, who was then arrested for trying to charge the stage?
Yes. But only in movies.
Ryan Leaf, You’ve Finally Been Replaced: Ladies and gentlemen, introducing your brand-new greatest bust in NFL Draft history — JaMarcus Russell!
Granted, we had kind of assumed that already, but there were still JaMarcus apologists who said that he was the victim of playing in Oakland rather than a complete bum.
And I suppose that it is also Al Davis’ fault that Russell was arrested for possession of prescription cough syrup with codeine on Monday in Mobile, Ala.
Seriously JaMarcus, cough syrup? The only thing more embarrassing would have been getting nailed for illegal possession of Children’s Tylenol. (I don’t think such an offense is possible, but I didn’t know you could illegally possess cough syrup either).
Free Agent Mania: Few things are as obnoxious as the coverage that has been given to this year’s NBA free agent derby. Everyone is watching every single move made by LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh, A’mare Stoudemire — and it’s as if no other player exists in the entire league. Where are the other talented free agents in this pool headed?
You know, guys like Adam Morrison.
This dude has two rings. Where are LeBron’s rings at?
He’s a former No. 3 pick in the draft. Chris Bosh was only a No. 4. And Dwayne Wade was a No. 5. Clearly he has the edge in talent, yet he’s getting none of the love. This media bias is totally inexplicable.
Wait, those are his stats? What the…