SIDELINE SLANTS- Looking back and beyond these dog days of summer

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
Getting in shape for a sport isn’t fun under most circumstances, and that’s especially true when the temperature hovers around 100 degrees.

It’s plain hard work as the sweat drops from your body like a virtual Niagara Falls. Fortunately, this isn’t much of an issue for columnists.

It was interesting to see Tabor College men’s basketball coach and athletic director Don Brubacher address the issue of how someone as athletically gifted as Micah Ratzlaff could possibly be a good coach.

At the very least, Ratzlaff, the new assistant men’s basketball coach, will be an impressive addition to the Faculty Fossils intramural basketball team, assuming there is still such a thing.

What is it with all of the head-butting recently? First, we have the infamous head-butt by French soccer star Zinedine Zidane in the World Cub final. Now we have a jockey who apologizes for head-butting his horse.

The horse, City Affair, was being unruly in the parade ring, ultimately throwing Paul O’Neill.

The jockey got to his feet and grabbed the reins, pulling the horse to him, before lowering the butt of his helmet into it.

“Angry jockey does a ‘Zidane’ to his horse,” read the headline of London’s Evening Standard.

O’Neill said, “I’ve never done it before and it will never happen again.”

In any event, parents might want to consider a new approach when asking their children to “use their heads.”

In the “it seemed like a good marketing idea at the time” department, consider that Italy’s World Cup win could cost a TV store $12.7 million.

Italian consumer electronics retailer Media World told customers that if they bought a new television, they could get coupons worth the same amount for items in the store-if Italy won the World Cup.

About 10,000 people qualify to receive about $12.7 million worth of coupons.

How many of them do you think remembered to send a thank-you note to French player Zidane for his contribution to their good fortune?

Media Markt spokeswoman Sara Milazzo characterized the campaign as a “calculated risk,” explaining, “We were all rooting for Italy.”

The company says it will be able to pay up, thanks to insurance it took out for the promotion.

Credit ESPN.com columnist Jim Caple with the following: “Who do you think has more body armor these days; major league batters or U.S. troops in Iraq?

“I thought the league cracked down on excessive armor a couple of years ago, but Albert Pujols goes up to the plate now with his left leg protected by a shin guard so large it’s unclear whether he’s planning to bat, replace the catcher or check for land mines. Craig Biggio is so well known for his elbow gear that it’s included in his video game image.

“Batters wear so many elbow, forearm and shin pads these days that they look like Michelin Men. Batters can crowd the plate with little fear of injury, allowing them to reach out and swat down previously unreachable pitches on the outside corner. Worse, they can simply stand there and take a free pass when the pitches bounce off their armor like bullets ricocheting off Superman’s chest.

“I’m all for protecting players from injury, but what is commonsense safety gear and what is just plain excessive?”

In the “There’s nothing like fun at the ol’ ballpark” department, earlier this year two children were injured in a scramble to grab cash being dropped from a helicopter as part of a promotion after a minor league game in Comstock Park, Mich.

About $1,000 in cash was dropped over the ballpark’s outfield as children lined the outfield fence.

A 7-year-old boy was trampled and taken to a hospital, while a 7-year-old girl got a bloody lip after being pushed to the ground. It was the first time the Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers had conducted such a promotion.

How much do you want to bet it will also be the last?

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