The Grunt Stops Here

Maria Sharapova (left) and Victoria Azarenka (right) are two of the loudest women on tour

Grunting is ruining tennis.

Grunting, or shrieking as it is known on the WTA, has grown in volume in recent years. It is not only the decibel level that is rising but the amount of players choosing to make the repulsive noises.

It has gotten so bad that BBC has launched a tool that allows viewers to fade out the sound of grunting. If that’s not a signal for change I’m not sure what is.

People are sick of it. I’m sick and tired of it. I think I even heard Prince William mumbling something along those lines to Kate Middleton.

If only the networks had a say in this. The BBC has been receiving complaints regarding this at a higher rate than angry mother’s writing letters to the FCC. This year’s Wimbledon has finally made grunting an issue worth delving into. It is a problem that has gone unnoticed for too long.

Wimbledon is a beautiful tradition. The pointless noise has made Wimbledon filthy. Tennis, like all professional sports, is not about the players. It is about the fans and bringing them a product they feel is worthy of their 3 hours in front of the television. This is entertainment and grunting is slowly but surely taking away from the potentially high entertainment value that each match brings.

Grunting may sometimes be an uncontrolled reaction. We’ve all experienced it. The grunting displayed in tennis is completely under their control.

Whether it’s Marcos Baghdatis whimpering like a dying bull or, as much as we might enjoy the visual, Maria Sharapova screaming to audition for the next Ron Jeremy flick, the constant noise is largely uncalled for.

As much as the Williams sisters try to prove it, the backhand slice and forehand volley do not necessitate ear-splitting shrieks on any and every occasion.

I don’t need a professional tennis player telling me that grunting helps them hit the ball harder. Or that, hypothesized by one study, it creates a psychological advantage that would seem to compromise the integrity of the game if true.

Roger Federer is as quiet as a mouse out on the court. If one of the best players of all-time can stay quiet, why can’t you?

Women’s tennis is already being compromised enough by the lack of notoriety among the dominating presence of European players with an excessive number of k’s, v’s and z’s in their names as well as the instability of the revolving door of top seeds. They don’t need the casual fan changing the channel to Maury because they at least want some form of entertainment with their screaming.

A person can mute their TV for only so long. If muting the TV means I don’t have to hear another spiel from Pam Shriver about the emotions of the match then I might be okay with it but in the end I want to hear the genuinely intelligent comments coming from John McEnroe. I want to hear the ball hitting the racquet and the crowd roaring.

Each match we see Wimbledon spectators jumping on the bandwagon of the player who shrieks the least. They don’t have the luxury of muting their TV’s.

The men’s game doesn’t face the same problems that the women’s game does simply because their product on the court is so much greater with the abundance of elite talent they have been blessed with in the last decade. It helps that the men don’t grunt as much either. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the men’s side could still use the change.

Thursday’s semi-finals featured two of the loudest females in Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. Two women who can make a rock concert look like a library and screams that give tween boys across the country a reason to watch tennis.

Tennis has been getting evidence that even the jury of the O.J. trial couldn’t overlook.

It would be fitting to see the grunting’s swan song sung by Maria Sharapova in Saturday’s final.

Tennis has gotten on the slipperiest of slopes by allowing grunting to escalate to a point where it might eventually be out of their control. Grunting is an epidemic in the sport, become more contagious with each week.

Tennis can put a stop to this now though. Penalize players for grunting. They may complain but let them deal with it. They don’t need to do it and the sport doesn’t need it. Unless viewers tuning out from the game of tennis altogether is what the ITF is aiming for.

Letting the issue slide like the slope that tennis is already on can only do harm.

The Hawkeye system that has been introduced could be the greatest thing since sliced bread. It showed that the International Tennis Federation isn’t afraid to implement drastic changes amid mixed feedback.

It’s time to cut out grunting before it becomes an issue too difficult to fix.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Mark Cuban is Perfect for the Dodgers

It may have taken a while but Mark Cuban brought a championship to the Dallas Mavericks. He could do the same for the LA Dodgers.

Bud Selig is a stubborn man. A gentleman of his age, and I use that term lightly, has trouble adapting to new situations. Selig wants to stick with what he knows well. He wants to turn down that awful sounding auto-tune on MTV and keep that Bing Crosby record on the player.

The Dodgers are now in turmoil but Selig still isn’t going to do a damned thing about it. He doesn’t want Cuban rattling any cages. He likes things just the way they are. Bud Selig is once again ignoring a wonderful opportunity to improve his fading product.

The NFL and NBA are taking over the sport of baseball yet Selig doesn’t mind being a spectator. He has the ultimate power to make a difference but chooses otherwise. It’s as if Batman decided that he wasn’t going to protect Gotham.

Maybe Batman is a bit farfetched for the black-hearted nature of the Bud. However, the amount of power that he consistently fails to utilize isn’t.

Mark Cuban would give fans a reason to tune in to watch Major League Baseball.

In a league where the salary cap exists as much as the aliens at Area 51, Cuban’s spendthrift ways would bring the Dodgers to new heights. He would bring Steinbrenner money with a Hollywood personality. Mark Cuban is LA.

Bringing a major market franchise back to relevancy is no doubt high on Selig’s priority list. Without Mark Cuban, the task becomes significantly more difficult.

Love him (which you should) or hate him, a Mark Cuban led team would draw interest. For fans, half the fun of professional sports is finding teams to root for and against. With Mark Cuban, the casual fan will tune in to see how his team fares.

Creating a buzz around a sport that is dominated by Lebron James TV specials and Tom Brady hair talk is exactly what baseball needs. It’s about time someone ruffled a few feathers. Opinionated, arrogant and brash. What more could the sport ask for?

Related: Something’s Gotta Give

This would be the New York Yankees acquiring Ozzie Guillen to be their head coach.

Bud Selig has finally found some steadiness in baseball with steroids becoming a thing of the past.

Admitting that he was wrong for not allowing Mark Cuban to buy the Cubs two years back would take away from the steady path that Selig covets but it would give him plenty of street cred around North America. People would start putting Bud Selig and the game of baseball a bit higher in their books. Hard to believe that this can all happen because of one man.

The amount of excitement that merely talk of Mark Cuban possibly landing an MLB franchise is astounding. The amount of hope a software geek can bring to America’s pastime is evidence in itself. The LA Dodgers going bankrupt is the best thing for baseball if it means that Mark Cuban could be part of the exclusive club.

People get the message. Fans want Cuban in. The only person that doesn’t want to listen is Bud Selig.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Flyer Shocker Reeks of “Same Old, Same Old”

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter

And just when it seemed like someone was finally getting it.

Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren looked as though he was going to be a pioneer. The GM who decided enough is enough and it’s time to end these ridiculously lengthy contracts.

I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

After trading the two cornerstone players of the Flyers franchise in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter for young prospects and draft picks, Holmgren went out and messed it all up. He signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year, $51 million contract. He got rid of two bad contracts in order to make room for one really bad contract.

Richards who had 9 years left on a 12 year contract and Carter who has his new 11 year contract extension kick in next season both were shocked by a deal that came completely out of left field.

Apparently NHL GM’s enjoy torturing themselves. These contracts are like a bad marriage. The one’s that last only because there’s a kid involve. It’s great until you realize the person that you married isn’t the same person anymore. However, by the time you realize it you’re tied down.

Signing long contracts to avoid a cap hit is no different.

According to sources, the Flyers weren’t happy with their franchise cornerstones. The work ethic that garnered them their lengthy extensions was falling. They were partying too hard. Rumours have been floating around for a while. Richards and Carter had changed. The marriage was failing.

It was amazing that Holmgren found a way to get out. He got a good return on his unwanted investment while the value was still high. Holmgren received ultra-prospect Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek, the 8th overall pick, Wayne Simmonds and a 3rd rounder. Brilliant.

For some reason Holmgren reeled himself back in.

The Flyers have desperately needed goaltending though. Of course that’s what Holmgren is thinking. But the amount of foolishness involved in committing 9 years to a 31-year-old goalie is almost unimaginable. History is repeating itself again in the National Hockey League.

Did he not witness the Vancouver Canucks suffer at the hands of their $64 million man? Does Holmgren not even comprehend the lost motivation and deteriorating play of his former stars upon receiving their long contracts?

Obviously this old dog doesn’t get it.

Neither does anyone else in the NHL.

Related: Note to NHL GM’s – This is Getting Out of Hand

In an attempt to set his team up well for the future, Holmgren unknowingly has devastated it. The cap space opened up by the departure of Carter and Richards was necessary to free up room for Bryzgalov. Consequently, the signing of Bryzgalov will hurt their chances of locking up their future stars like Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk.

Good thing the Flyers don’t have to worry about that right at this moment. Phew.

These GM’s keep going back to the same bad girlfriend. The guys that will always find a way to get with the same type of girl no matter how bad it has been. The guys just never seem to recognize it.

Is Columbus GM Scott Howson brain-dead for not noticing that Jeff Carter’s scoring totals have dropped significantly in the last two years? Is he brain-dead for not noticing that the Blue Jackets don’t have the team to contend despite now having a first-line center to play with star winger Rick Nash?

You would have thought that the disastrous contracts of past years would make these GM’s a little more shy.

For all we know, maybe the names Wade Redden, Scott Gomez, Brian Campbell, Vincent Lecavalier and Rick DiPietro don’t ring a bell to them.

Clearly, a disaster of Vesuvius proportions will have to occur to make NHL GM’s realize the error of their ways.

The Tim Thomas fountain of youth isn’t experienced by many. I wonder if Bryzgalov has access to it.

A large part of a players motivation stems from the fact that he has a contract looming in the future. The Flyers put the trust in Carter and Richards that they had enough character not to lose that motivation. It didn’t work out.

Why should we believe it will work in a different city?

The Flyers themselves are once again trying to build from within but this go around they are stuck with an aging goaltender. It won’t be an overnight maturation for their young guns to get the Flyers to the point where they are true contenders. By that time, they’ll see that Ilya is not the same goalie. He won’t be the man they thought they had.

He’ll be older and not nearly as sexy. It is what is to become of all these nonsensical contracts.

They should think like Hugh Heffner instead. Trade ‘em in when they’re older and breaking down. Well, at least don’t pay them as much.

Someone will eventually come in and change the landscape of the NHL. A new dog will show everybody new tricks. All the old dogs will wonder why they never bothered to learn.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Take a Chance on Me

Don’t back down now. It’s time to go all-in.

Bryan Colangelo has to push his chips in the middle and hope for the best.

In a draft class where sifting through the talent is about as difficult as getting the Raptors to play good defence, there is no better opportunity for the Toronto GM to make a bold move.

The Raptors should take Kemba Walker.

With each mock draft miles apart from the next, there’s no telling what player each team is going to draft. Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold the 1st overall pick, are reported to have decided on Kyrie Irving, sources are also saying that is far from a guarantee. The talent level for this draft class was already sparse before 3 of the top 5 prospects decided to delay their trip to the NBA. All that’s left in the lottery is supposed to be the scraps.

Okay, maybe not quite the scraps, but this draft is not the 2003 class by any means. That’s why the Raptors need to make a big splash. With each player even farther from a sure thing than usual, the best bet for Bryan Colangelo would be to put his money on a guy who has the ultimate boom or bust potential.

A college superstar who theoretically doesn’t have the attributes to translate those skills to the NBA. You hear the story every year. That’s Kemba Walker in a nutshell. Walker has the intangibles that others don’t have though. His great character and leadership are unquestionable while his upside is sky-high.

Colangelo has failed as a GM. He must carry a pretty big rabbits foot around because he is awful lucky to have received a multi-year extension. His bold moves have fizzled. The European movement, Jermaine O’Neal, Hedo Turkoglu. Nothing has worked for Bryan Colangelo.

The Raptors essentially fired their defensively inept coach Jay Triano and have hired Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey thus ushering in another new era under Colangelo.

The era needs to be started off with a bang. Kemba Walker might not possess all the qualities of the Raptors’ change towards a more grinding defensive philosophy but he does have exactly what the Raptors are missing. Star potential.

On a team lacking any direction, Kemba Walker could be the player to guide them to where they want to go.

Andrea Bargnani is a faux star. He wants to be considered the best but doesn’t want to put in the effort. The Raptors are getting away from that, the horrible pasta commercial and all.

Related: Andrea Bargnani Needs To Go

Kemba Walker should love the letter ‘e.’ He’s explosive, exciting, exhilarating and electrifying. Jaw dropping handles, cheeky floaters and freakish quickness. Kemba and his 6″1 frame aren’t close to being considered a true NBA ready point guard but he is an unselfish player, which is always a good place to begin.

Small forward may be the Raptors most glaring need but drafting another slasher with limited shooting range would be redundant and uncalled for. The Raptors don’t want another Demar Derozan. They shouldn’t shove just anybody into that small forward spot. They can wait another year to find a guy that fits the mould.

Drafting another big man would be wrist cuttingly painful for a front court that is already over capacity. Ed Davis and Amir Johnson will require more playing time in order to develop properly and Andrea Bargnani is still under contract for 3 more years. Stretching to find a legitimate big man in this year’s draft would be silly.

A team in the modern NBA must have a floor general. Jose Calderon cannot be a starting point guard on a contending team and Jerryd Bayless has proved that he can’t make the transition. Kemba Walker has the ability to be the Raptors very own General MacArthur.

Kemba Walker is not the safest choice. However, assuming Brandon Knight is unavailable at the 5 spot, Kemba is the right choice. Taking the safe route up to a certain point will only get you so far. The draft is where franchises can make-up for previous wrong doings. It can heal the wounds that have been left by the ghosts of seasons past.

The Raptors were unlucky not to be rewarded for their terrible season. The 5th pick in a weak draft doesn’t seem fair for a team that lost its franchise player. Maybe in the end it will all be for the best.

If they draft Kemba Walker.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Just What the Doctor Ordered

No chance of choking. Rory McIlroy is on the path to putting the dark days behind and beginning his new era of being golf’s next superstar. Quite fitting that he did it in Tiger Woods fashion.

The PGA needed a star to break out sooner rather than later. They were due. The ratings probably weren’t all that great for a Sunday afternoon at the US Open but over these 4 days Rory McIlroy has made sure that people will be glued to their television sets for the next major.

It’s no secret that golf has been faltering with the absence of Tiger Woods. With 11 different winners in the last 11 majors there is very little reason for the casual fan to tune in. Nobodies winning isn’t very much fun. This 11th different champion changes the whole landscape of golf though.

Rory McIlroy can single handily launch golf back into relevance. He may not be American or have the flare of Tiger Wood but let’s face it, he is a golfer. You can’t expect Tiger Woods charisma out of every PGA star. McIlroy is likeable and isn’t boring. He’s a nice kid.

What more can you ask for?

Dominance can be boring but not when you haven’t seen it for a while. The rarer the flower, the sweeter it is. Dominance is exactly what the sport is begging for right now.

Boring is waiting for the next superstar to arrive but finally realizing that you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Can you really blame me for being so skeptical towards McIlroy’s mental make-up?

The commentators were drooling over McIlroy and his “Adonis” looking follow through. The crowd was digging every shot and already chanting “Rory!” after he almost holed his tee shot on the 10th hole. Even his colleagues are in awe of his astonishing talent.

If Tiger Woods can come back healthy, which at this point looks unlikely, it would be wonderful to see the Irishman and the American go head-to-head against each other. That’s something that Tiger has lacked his whole career. He has lacked a true competitor that could go shot for shot with him. All the great one’s had it and Tiger never did. It takes away from his greatness.

Related: And in This Corner, the Challenger is…

Rory McIlroy is in a similar place to Tiger. He has the opportunity and talent to take the PGA tour by the throat. Guys like Ryo Ishikawa and Rickie Fowler are still young but haven’t shown the signs the McIlroy is giving us.

McIlroy could be alone at the top like Tiger Woods. Golf would be fun again. You need someone to root for or, at least, root against each weekend to make it interesting. Someone who is a real threat to contend each and every week. Love it or hate it, a dominant superstar is undeniably intriguing.

Rory McIlroy is doing for golf what Lindsay Lohan does for late night talk shows. With the annual summer sports lull, this couldn’t have come at a better time. He is the ultimate water cooler material right now.

Everyone at the PGA head office is breathing a little bit easier.

Even though Congressional played easier due to the heavy rain, Rory McIlroy made golfing a US Open course look like child’s play. He made the weekend an absolute laugher in a manner that could only be accomplished by a superstar. You don’t see Luke Donald or Lee Westwood doing much of that.

The past 4 days should have convinced the world that there is a reason to watch golf and his name is Rory McIlroy.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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