Rest In Peace: Reflecting on Ultimate Warrior and 3 things in sports that need to Rest In Peace
Rest In Peace: Ultimate Warrior
James Brian Hellwig
AKA: Ultimate Warrior, Warrior
Born: June 16, 1959
Died: April 8, 2014 (Age 54)
This one is a bit of a shocker. Not because I’m one of those huge WWE fans that goes to every event and still watches Wrestlemania on Pay Per View. Not because I buy the monthly magazines and watch wrestling every week, waiting for the new show…But I was that fan. That was me. I actually stopped watching wrestling before it became the WWE. While it was the WWF, the Ultimate Warrior was one of the biggest stars of the time. As a kid from age 9-13, Ultimate Warrior was a hero to me. I watched the highly energetic wrestler with his face painted rise through the wrestling ranks and become a champion that defeated the villains of wrestling. He became the face of wrestling when he defeated WWF Legend Hulk Hogan and since then has lived in infamy. A little over a week ago I was watching that hero and childhood hero of many come on TV for the first time in 18 years and give his WWE Hall of Fame speech. Thank you Ultimate Warrior for your passion for the sport that you loved. Oddly enough, Warrior’s final spoken words on TV Monday night as he closed his speech are true to all who grew up watching him: “The spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever.”
Rest In Peace: Head First Sliding
When you sneeze you close your eyes. You can’t control it. Go ahead and try next time. It’s a natural reaction. What is not a natural reaction is head first sliding into first base. It is a conscious decision made by the runner in a split second in order to beat the throw. I want to put that decision to rest and not allow the runner to make that choice. I’m not saying make it a Major League rule, I’m just saying any professional baseball player should just eliminate that option from their head. Last week we saw 2 star players slide head first into first base and injure themselves.
- Yasiel Puig
Everyone knows Puig is a wild card. He has shown it on the field with his base running, missing cut offs and his antics at the plate like tossing the bat and sliding into home after a home run. Off the field he has had issues with the police and not making it to the home opener on time. So Puig, doing something that Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon says Managers talk about it not doing until they are blue in the face, did the wild and unexpected…the head first slide into first.
I would maybe understand if it was bottom of the 9th, 2 out and you are tied with the winning run on third and you getting to first will score the run that gets you to the playoffs or wins the World Series. But this was bottom of the 3rd, nobody on and nobody out and either way the throw wasn’t going to beat him and he was going to be safe! Instead he ends up injuring his thumb and misses a few games.
- Josh Hamilton
Now Josh Hamilton is not so much of a wild card. Most know his story of a highly regarded prospect and talent, derailed by drugs and alcohol only to clean himself up, find his way back to baseball, win a league MVP award and be a fairly successful, accomplished player. After a down year last year with a new team and a large new contract, Hamilton had started off on the right foot this year and looked like the Josh Hamilton he was paid to be…until this happened.
At least the Angels were down 4-3 going into the 7th and Hamilton was hustling to get on base and make something happen but again, this isn’t Game 7 of the World Series. Run out the play, jog back to the dugout and get ready to do it again. Sounds way better than dive and slide into first, tear a ligament in your thumb that requires surgery and miss the next 6-8 weeks. It was disappointing because Hamilton was off to a hot start after a tough first year with the Angels after his huge contract.
So, what’s the verdict…Faster to First: Dive or Run? Check the video out from ESPN Sport Science. This will give you the answer. Let’s put diving into first base to rest!
Rest in Peace: Losing for Lottery
Suck for Luck (Colts), Rootin for Newton (Panthers), Whiffin for Griffin (Clippers), Suckin for Duncan (Spurs). Losing on purpose for the best player coming out of the draft has not just affected the NFL and NBA but the NHL is guilty as well. I just was not able to find something to rhyme with Ovechkin (Capitals). Check out how these players helped turn around their franchises.
Andrew Luck: Indianapolis Colts
2011 without Luck: 2 Wins 14 Losses
With Luck: 22 Wins 10 Losses 1 Win 2 Losses in Playoffs
Cam Newton: Carolina Panthers
2010 without Newton: 2 Wins 14 Losses
With Newton: 25 Wins 23 Losses 0 Win 1 Loss in Playoffs
Blake Griffin: Los Angeles Clippers
2008 without Griffin: 19 Wins 63 Losses
With Griffin: 185 Wins 127 Losses Year Avg: 46 Wins 32 Losses
Tim Duncan: San Antonio Spurs
1996 without Duncan: 20 Wins 62 Losses
With Duncan: 792 Wins 319 Losses Year Avg: 54 Wins 21 Losses
Alex Ovechkin: Washington Capitals
2003 without Ovechkin: 23 Wins 46 Losses 10 Ties
With Ovechkin: 357 Wins 254 Losses 90 Ties Year Avg: 40 Wins 28 Losses 10 Ties
With these stats to back up the decisions, you can’t blame these teams for possibly tanking the season for that chance of getting that player that will turn the franchise around. It doesn’t seem to make sense that these players and coaches would do that. Especially when these high draft picks might be taking the positions of some of the players on that current team. You would think the players are going to play as hard as they can. I think it comes from above. The GM instructs the coaches to perform and coach in a way that shows they are there and being active but not enough to win games. That is the difference. And ultimately, that is the difference in these franchises turning around. Look at the Clippers with Griffin. Tim Duncan has helped the Spurs become one of the greatest franchises in sports history. It is true that you are better off finishing at the bottom rather than the middle. The bottom gets the best draft pick while if you miss the playoffs and stay in no man’s land, you’ll be stuck there with middle tier draft picks every year. I think the NBA, NHL and NFL need to do something to make the full season competitive and not reward the teams that don’t try just so they can get that next great player. Until then as we contemplate “Sorry for Jabari” and “Riggin for Wiggins” let’s put losing for lottery to rest.
Rest in Peace: College Basketball One and Done
As I stated in my previous article, (Death and Taxes…and 4 certain things in sports) this year’s March Madness was great! But I can only wonder how much better it could have been without the One and Done mentality. I don’t blame these athletes from moving on to bigger and better things. Why would I stay at my job if I had the opportunity to make more money and have a way better position? I wouldn’t. And neither do they. That is how the system is set up.
What if athletes had to finish all 4 years of school? What if it was similar to a contract that you sign? You commit to 4 years, you sign the paperwork and you are there for good. It is an investment into the school, and investment into the student athlete and most of all, great for sports! Check out this list of current NBA players that would have been involved with March Madness this year if not for the one and done mentality and underclassmen leaving early.
2013 College Seniors
- Kyrie Irving-Duke
- Brendan Knight-Kentucky
- Tristan Thompson-Texas
- Tobias Harris- Tennessee
- Harrison Barnes- North Carolina
- Kendall Marshall- North Carolina
- Jared Sullinger- Ohio State
- Dion Waiters- Syracuse
- Reggie Bullock- North Carolina
- Victor Oladipo- Duke
2013 College Juniors
- Bradley Beal- Florida
- Anthony Davis- Kentucky
- Andre Drummond- UConn
- Terrence Jones- Kentucky
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist- Kentucky
- Austin Rivers- Duke
- Trey Burke- Michigan
- Michael Carter Williams-Syracuse
2013 College Sophmores
- Anthony Bennet- UNLV
- Shabazz Muhammad- UCLA
- Nerlens Noel- Kentucky
- Steven Adams- Pittsburgh
This list of names are all guys that are solid NBA contributors and some current NBA stars and they should have all been still in college for this year’s March Madness. How amazing would that have been!? This level of talent still performing on the college level would produce amazing basketball. I personally would love to see that. Someone pull some strings and make 4 year contracts mandatory for college baskeball players and let’s put One and Done to rest!
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