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Mark's Madness: Cut men and other scapegoats

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A long, long time ago ... I can still remember how refreshing sports notes used to make me smile.

I felt Paul Spadafora deserved to get the decision Saturday over Leonard Dorin. But even if Spadafora didn't come out ahead on the scorecards, he fought his most entertaining and courageous fight and reinvented himself as a boxer worth watching. Fighting more aggressively might have cost Spadafora a victory. But it will ultimately enlarge his bank account.

If you want to blame somebody for Spadafora not getting the win, point the finger at co-trainer/cut man Jesse Reid. Dorin had a better cut man. Dorin was cut worse but looked better. That influences judges. The lesson: Don't hire amateurs. When was the last time a big-time fighter's trainer doubled as his cut man? I'm pretty sure Ali used two different people. That is so mom and pop.

Did you see the amount of blood on Dorin's face when the final bell rang? No cut man could have helped him at that point. If it's a 13-round fight, Spadafora wins by TKO.

Spadafora's rematch with Dorin figures to be in Montreal or Romania. That's good, because the Pittsburgh Kid clearly has been overexposed in his hometown. Saturday's crowd of about 5,200 at Petersen Events Center was very disappointing.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. would whup Spadafora. Mayweather would hit Spadafora from so many different directions that Spadafora would think he was surrounded.

Lloyd McClendon's decision to make Kris Benson the first Pirate singled out for individual criticism this year seemed arbitrary and capricious. If you listed Pirates scapegoats in order of damage done, Benson would be nowhere near the top.

My top five Pirates scapegoats:

1) Mike Williams, chief fire starter in a bullpen that self-combusts nightly.
2) Aramis Ramirez, for reasons too numerous to list.
3) Brian Giles. He has been hurt, but when he hasn't been hurt, he has underachieved.
4) Jason Kendall, because he can't justify his paycheck no matter how well he plays.
5) Kordell Stewart.

If the Pirates want to make some extra cash -- and I'm sure they do -- they should compile a Ramirez lowlights video to sell at the end of the season. Ninety minutes of booted balls, halfhearted at-bats and jogging down the line. One problem: It might be embarrassing if the Ramirez lowlights video was longer than the Pirates highlights video. Which it would be.

Kudos to Kevin Young for lambasting the small (and dead) crowds at PNC Park. Young hit the nail right on the head: If the fans can boo him for playing poorly, then Young can call out the fans for being nonsupportive. As for the Pirates' lack of home-field advantage, the records don't lie: 6-16 at home, 12-10 on the road.

Pitt needs the Big East football conference to survive, if only because it's better than nothing. Marginally. The Big East is not a good football conference.

Even if the Big East does manage to keep Miami, Syracuse and Boston College from defecting to the Atlantic Coast Conference, it should upgrade anyway. Louisville wouldn't be a good replacement for Miami. But if Miami stays, Louisville would be a great addition to the Big East. Louisville would be a good for basketball, too. If the Big East survives, the lesson learned should be this: Get them before they get you.

Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese's "poor, poor, pitiful me" routine Monday was a bit much. A hint for future harangues, Mike: Don't alternate between raging and whimpering. And don't whine about "promises" and "consequences" as long as college coaches can move between schools in the middle of valid contracts. In those situations, of course, the promises broken were made to kids. The negative consequences mostly affect the kids. And in college sports, the kids don't matter.

Tranghese, of course, goes from martyr to hypocrite the minute he raids another conference to re-stock the Big East.

Post-Gazette hockey writer Dave Molinari seems to be doing a better job with the Penguins' coaching search than General Manager Craig Patrick is. Molinari has done stories on about a dozen potential candidates. As the quotes within Molinari's reporting confirmed, Patrick hasn't talked to any of said candidates. Molinari seems more involved, interested and concerned than Patrick. Let Molinari make the hire.

Molinari's choice? Bob Berry, probably.

Vijay Singh is being called a coward for pulling out of the Colonial golf tournament. He should be called a genius. Singh voiced his displeasure concerning Annika Sorenstam's entry into the Colonial, issued an obviously insincere apology, and now he's withdrawing to avoid the circus that will accompany Sorenstam's unwarranted foray into the men's game. Anyone who walks away from that isn't too stupid.

The Steelers got nearly 100 percent attendance when their series of "optional" workouts began yesterday. Boy, pro football players sure are giving when it comes to "their own 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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