A few musings while waiting for the Tour de France winner to be crowned tomorrow in Par-eee.
About that tour…This is the first year I’ve really paid close attention to it, watching several stages on Versus, starting at 7 a.m. every day except for days of rest.
Much of it has been amazing, like Thursday’s and Friday’s stages in the Alps, with the cyclists pedaling up steep grades for an hour or more at a time, often racing wheel to wheel. It’s an incredible exhibition of human willpower and strength.
And yet, the way the race finishes strikes me as incredibly dull and anticlimactic. Today, for example, the riders are engaging in time trials, where they start individually at two-minute intervals and ride/race along a 26-mile route.
Watching these riders proceed individually, even though they are extremely fast and powerful, is about as exciting as watching cyclists cruise along the Trolley Trail.
Then, tomorrow, the race culminates with a 59-mile, ceremonial ride into Paris, along the Champs Elysees. In nearly every other sport, the finish is designed to be the most exciting part of the event, but not the Tour. My wife Patty explains it this way, “It’s French!”
Come to think of it, the only exciting finishes in France are when the sexual affairs and escapades of powerful politicians and others (see Dominique Strauss-Kahn) are exposed and turn ugly.
I see in today’s sports section of The Star that columnist Sam Mellingers has worked himself into a tizzy over the failure of Los Angeles-based AEG to corral an NBA or NHL team for Kansas City.
“If you still hold out any hope for a team coming to the Sprint Center, you should know the company that bragged about making it all happen for us is no longer motivated to work on our behalf,” Mellinger wrote.
I say…so what? Last I heard, Sprint Center was one of the top three or four most successful arenas in the country. In tandem with the Power & Light District, the Sprint Center literally saved our downtown. We’re back as a destination city, competing for conventions, concerts and other events, and offering facilities and entertainment venues that we should all be very proud of.
As for pro hockey and basketball…Come on! Those are the worst of the four major sports. The NBA amounts to watching mostly uneducated, overpaid, heavily tattooed individuals showing off for a couple of hours, while the NHL is often little more than boxing on ice. And, of course, both events are ridiculously overpriced.
Here’s my suggestion for making hockey a decent “game” and taking the boxing out of it: Anyone who starts or engages in a fight is thrown out of the game and is suspended for the following game. That would essentially put an end to it.
Here’s my suggestion for making NBA basketball a decent game….Let all the players go to Turkey, where they can show off for Istanbul’s 13 million people every night.
Some things never change at City Hall. One is the firefighters getting their way.
The headline on today’s lead editorial in today’s Star says, “Taxpayers simply got burned by pay pact.”
On Thursday, the City Council, under terms of an agreement reached with Local 42 two years ago, approved raises averaging 4.2 percent by next April 30. Lower-paid firefighters will get increases as high as 18 percent, while the highest-paid firefighters will get raises of 2.5 percent.
Backed into a corner by the overly generous 2009 agreement, some council members blamed former City Manager Wayne Cauthen for the situation.
Fourth District Councilwoman Jan Marcason, who has been on the council since 2007, was paraphrased in a Thursday Star story as saying the council would be more cautious in future negotiations with Local 42.
“We’re a little wiser,” she said.
Uh, huh. Sure…Here’s the deal with Local 42. Their leadership, i.e. Louie Wright, stays the same year after year after year. And they never waver from their goal of improving the lot of their members. They’re in it for the long haul, and their willpower and political clout is phenomenal.
Unlike many citizens, they understand the significance of elections and the importance of each and every vote.
City officials, on the other hand, come and go, and many just can’t match the endurance and tenacity of the firefighters. Cauthen’s long gone, and seven members of the current council were not around when the council approved the 2009 agreement.
Coupled with that, the council members who are most likely to win seats are those supported by Local 42. Aren’t they inclined, then, to give the union what it wants when they get in office? Of course, it’s all part of city politics and has been for at least 40 years.
So, for Marcason to say, “We’re a little wiser” is downright laughable.