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Mark's Madness: Send Ramirez to the minors and other thoughts

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

And now ... refreshing sports notes. You got a problem with that?

If jockey Jose Santos had used an electric prod to shock Funny Cide to an upset victory in the Kentucky Derby, it would have been a terrible thing. Using such a device is against the rules, but forget about the cheating aspect. Funny Cide is a horse, one of God's creatures, and a gelding to boot. To torture him with an electric prod for the sake of winning a lousy race would be flat-out wrong. That said, I wonder if using an electric prod on Aramis Ramirez might help.

Santos was cleared of using a prod, but I actually think that should be allowed. It's only a horse. I saw that "Planet of the Apes" movie, and if animals had the edge on us, they would kick our butts 24/7. I say shock the horse, stick the veal in the crate, club the seal and kick the dog. I like how former NFL quarterback Ken Stabler used to angle: With a metal box spring hooked up to a car battery. Just drop the box spring in the water and turn on the juice. Now that's fishin'.

Never mind Ramirez's pathetic stats. The worst thing about him is that he obviously doesn't care. His body language screams it. Ramirez doesn't hustle. Heck, he doesn't even bend over for ground balls. He's a latter-day Roger Dorn.

Broadcaster Lanny Frattare, the ultimate Pirates cheerleader, opined that Ramirez looked "disinterested" when he struck out in the ninth inning of the Pirates' 2-1 loss Sunday to Arizona. When a hired optimist says that, there was no doubt about it.

I have spent much of this season berating Pirates fans for not attending games. I apologize. When you pay to see the Pirates, you symbolically put money in the pocket of Ramirez. Anyone who does that is a dope. Ramirez should be sent to the minors. It would deliver a message to him and to the fans: Half-hearted effort will not be tolerated.

Here's a way the Pirates could save money: Fire the PA announcer at PNC Park and just have the starters go into the crowd and introduce themselves individually. Given the meager attendance, it wouldn't take long.

A newspaper in San Francisco reports that Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick might have been interested in the San Jose Sharks' GM job, which was filled by Doug Wilson yesterday. Considering the decisions to fire Penguins Coach Rick Kehoe and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Coach Glenn Patrick were made by owner Mario Lemieux, you couldn't blame Craig Patrick for feeling a bit superfluous at this point. But if Craig Patrick argued against those two obvious moves, you might not want to talk him out of leaving.

Broadcasters Ed Olczyk and Bob Errey might make marvelous NHL head coaches someday. But not here, and not now. The Penguins will have a lot of players learning their jobs as they go next year. They can't have a coach in the same boat.

If the re-reacquisition of defenseman Marc Bergevin by the Penguins gets Lemieux to play another season, then it's worth it. Lemieux and Bergevin are close friends, and the good-natured Bergevin makes hockey more fun for Lemieux. But if Bergevin is coming back to be a top six defenseman -- or to take even one second of ice time away from a young defenseman like Brooks Orpik -- then it's not worth it.

No one wants to watch five periods to see one goal. The opening game of the Western Conference final between Anaheim and Minnesota was a microcosm of hockey's problems. Both teams played it safe and waited for a break, and the rules and refereeing allowed them to do so. That game took boredom to a whole new level.

Former pitcher Rob Dibble recently said on ESPN radio that anyone who doesn't think Rafael Palmeiro should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame "obviously never put on a jockstrap." I didn't know that one's choice of undergarments was the determining factor in issuing an educated opinion about sports. I do know that having a journalism degree, or a broadcasting degree, or a college degree of any kind, is not a requirement when it comes to talking about sports on radio or television. Unfortunately.

How do you think Dibble's radio co-host, "SportsCenter" icon Dan Patrick, felt when Dibble made the aforementioned pronouncement? Patrick isn't an ex-jock. What Dibble says insults Patrick, albeit indirectly.

Palmeiro does belong in the Hall of Fame, by the way.

I agree with everything Vijay Singh said about Annika Sorenstam's misguided foray into the world of men's professional golf. What's the point? But the former wrestling personality in me thinks that a pay-per-view skins game between Singh and Sorenstam would draw big money.

The Steelers might go with a three-receiver set as their base formation, all the better to get Antwaan Randle El on the field. If that's true, who becomes obsolete, the fullback or the tight end? If it's the former, how does Jerome Bettis feel about operating without a fullback? If it's the latter, why do the Steelers have four tight ends?

If the Steelers go with a single back on offense, the best choice is a healthy Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala. He has the speed, size and versatility to fill the bill perfectly. It's a shame he can't stay healthy. Or that he won't play hurt.

Don't be surprised if Mike Logan starts the season at strong safety for the Steelers instead of first-round pick Troy Polamalu. Coach Bill Cowher is talking up Logan to the media, and working in Polamalu gradually would definitely make his adjustment to the NFL easier. But the Steelers have a tough schedule. Making the playoffs will be difficult. They need to play their best athletes right away, and all the time.

Mark Madden is the host of a sports talk show from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays on WEAE-AM (1250).

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