Saturday, December 06, 2008

The giant of the mound

Ok, you know I follow sports. I have a passion for following certain players. The old Atlanta Big Three, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux have long been among my favorite baseball players. I like old-school, solid, hard working guys. That's why I was pulling for the Celtics in the last finals (Kevin Garnett is the most committed, hardest working modern NBA player, and had toiled with relatively little complaining during some horrible years with the Timberwolves), and why I wanted the Rays to win the series.

This article about Greg Maddux's recently announced retirement shows the kind of athletes that I think we should encourage kids to emulate. Guys like Garnett and Maddux who play, not because they want to make lots of money, bling, a name for themselves, but because they love the game. Maddux could have easily made a couple million pitching this next season. Instead, he walks away because he's done, he's ready to move on, he doesn't want to just milk the system for money. Garnett accepts a trade to the Celtics because he sees a chance to win, even though he knew he wouldn't be the focus of the system in Boston with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce around.

Compare this to Stephon Marbury, who I could almost sympathize with, but I have no patience with someone who refuses or declines to go into a game when his team needs him. Compare this with Plaxico Burress, or Larry Johnson. Compare this to O.J. Simpson. Compare this with the guy who I think is bound to be the best basketball player of this era, LeBron James, whose obvious goal is to be the greatest athlete in the world. LeBron's the only one on this list who I have any kind of respect for, mainly because of how he plays the game (fairly unselfishly).

Read this article about Kerry Collins. Guys like this are the reason that sports should still be played by young men, should still exist to build character. I mean, it's not to say that sports didn't take Collins down the wrong road to start off with, it almost certainly did. And sports didn't necessarily help Collins back on the right road. But a guy like this should be a kids' role model.

Not a Michael Vick or a Vince Young, no matter what their talents on the football field. A Greg Maddux or a Kerry Collins. Those are the guys that should be held up as real role models for kids.

Thanks, Greg Maddux, for showing the sports world how to be a real star.

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