O'Donnell: NBA, MLB and NFL all going down a rough midwinter chute
WHEN ONE OF THE MOST PATHETIC WEEKENDS in the new-mill history of sports is hitting America in the schnozz, what is there to do but call it what it is?
And that would be -- one of the most pathetic weekends in the new-mill history of America sports.
The featured cone of dullness remains the NBA All-Star Weekend.
It was once an energizing-enough slot on the midwinter calendar of cocooning.
But this time out, in a city long ago deemed worn out by six mystical championships in the mind of an owner more facile at leveraging negotiations than compromising with public sentiment, it instead hangs as a bad circus that can't get out of Dodge fast enough.
The moments most remembered from Chicago's ASW '20 will likely be tributes to departed icons Kobe Bryant and former Commissioner David Stern.
So with that as one endpoint, the gamut of glee will run from the sad and the funereal to the tired and the tedious.
Quite a showcase.
But the NBA is hardly alone in its vapid flailing this week.
Major League Baseball and its concept-challenged commissioner Rob Manfred are trash-can ready as the Houston Astros scandal lingers like a boil waiting to be lanced.
Astros owner Jim Crane came across as a confused, amoral font of babble Thursday when he couldn't quite decide whether his organization's cheating had impacted the 2017 World Series.
Hint, Tex: It did.
And a case can easily be constructed that the Houston thievery is the most serious threat to the perceived integrity of baseball in the history of the game.
At least the 1919 Black Sox didn't win a World Series.
The 2017 Houston Astros did.
Whatever the financial and historical consequences, Manfred must suspend the Astros for one full season.
Or make Crane sell the team and join former Clippers owner Donald Sterling and Steve McQueen's "Papillon" on Devil's Island.
Forget about piercing random rats in the conning tower.
Sink the ship.
And Roger Goodell -- the NFL's $42 million per-year wavering weather vane -- also can't escape the spotlight of scorn during these wan days of disconnect.
His latest clumsy try at traversing the turnstile of image came thanks to Myles Garrett.
He's the Cleveland Browns Neanderthal who assaulted bareheaded Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph with a helmet last November.
In an interview airing on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" -- despite being reinstated by Goodell for the 2020 season -- Garrett once again repeats his thoroughly unsubstantiated claim that Rudolph called him by a most despicable racial slur to prompt the savage attack.
In a perfect world, Rudolph will sue and take millions out of the cowardly Garrett's atavistic pockets.
Garrett apparently is not coherent enough to admit he was horribly wrong and the most prominent "Exhibit Idiot" for all the character flaws that helped shell the Browns' once-promising 2019 campaign.
So as February gives way to more February, nothing but a mixed batch of pathos and bathos litters the land.
Maybe Tiger Woods can salvage a slice of good anything by sinking a long, meaningless putt on his final hole at the Genesis Invitational (final round, CBS, 2 p.m.).
Just as long as it's not another one "measured" at 24 feet, 8 inches.
Unless SCTV's old Sammy Maudlin is calling the final green.
STREET-BEATIN': Trepidation backstage in New Orleans over Zion Williamson being asked to participate in ASW's Rising Stars game: The 19-year-old remains overweight, not entirely happy in the NBA and every step his heavy spring-laden physique plants is a dice roll with disaster. ...
Maybe Jerry Reinsdorf and associates can move unlikely White Sox backup catcher James McCann to the Bulls. That way John Paxson and Co. would have at least one All-Star. ...
More signs of straining, low-cost tries at original content by struggling NBCSCH. Beleaguered general manager Kevin Cross has just completed a very trying first year. ...
The addition of Luke Stuckmeyer at WBBM-Channel 2 Sports draws new attention to the creative demotion of Ryan Baker to early morning news. (The department long ago was a market leader, around the time of The Bilandic Snowfall.) ...
Gold in them dark corners: The Illinois Gaming Board reports impressive monthly numbers for a five-machine "cafe gaming" operation at a Mount Prospect sports pub, including a gross of $594K and a "hold" of $54K. The split of the profit is $18K each to the vendor and the establishment, $15K to the state and $3K to the village. (That beats hustling nachos.) ...
Mike Campbell of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said there is no rift with trainer Larry "Lone Eagle" Rivelli, whose "lease" of Arlington Park as a training center is expected to begin next month. (The ITHA will ask the Illinois Racing Board for mediation over its contract impasse with AP at the IRB's February meeting on Tuesday.) ...
From the back menus, Michael Jordan -- on his breakfast of champions the day he won the 1988 Slam Dunk at Chicago Stadium: "Cap'n Crunch, milk, orange juice and two bananas." ...
Speaking of AP, freezing winter wagerers say that the second floor of Mr. D's is apparently on Nicor's no-temp "Eskimo Pie Plan." According to Jay Carpenter: "Our buns are colder than our bets."
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.