Catch Up

Bedtime, Super Bowl Sunday, marks the conclusion of the sports year for committed NFL fans. On Monday morning, the still engorged NFL fan arises from bed, walks out to the front porch, feels the pain of undiluted sunshine on his face, picks up the morning paper, looks for NFL stories and…slowly realizes that life as he’s known it is over.

No worries, lad. As a therapeutic service, the Box will bring you up to non-NFL-sports speed. It’s free and there’s no ID check. To begin: what’s up with the NBA?

A favorite player or team is plenty good enough reason to tune in. Otherwise, wait until the playoffs. It’s insulting to follow, say, the Lakers, as they fake their way through another regular season, losing by 26 points at Denver, losing, at home, by 10 points to Houston and by 8 points at Utah. They’ve lost to the Clippers, Portland, Toronto, Denver, again, and so on. The Lakers begin their season during the playoffs, usually in the second round.

What’s up with stock-car racing?

Well, the Daytona 500 is on this Sunday. It’s NASCAR’s Super Bowl and kicks off their season. Mark Martin, 51, won the pole position, completing a two-and-a-half-mile lap in 47.074 seconds (that’s 191.188 mph to you, NFL fan). Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the outside pole, coming in 0.275 seconds slower than Martin. This gives Hendrick Motorsports a front-row sweep in the 43-car field, and Teresa Earnhardt could not be happier. (Teresa Earnhardt, third wife of Dale Sr., was at the checkout counter when Dale died, making her president and CEO of Earnhardt Everything, which included Dale Earnhardt Racing, of which Dale Jr. was a driver. Junior left the team in 2007 for Hendrick Motorsports.)

But, other than the oft-told and always enjoyable tale of greed generating hatred between step-mom and man-child, who cares? The story of the week is Danica Patrick. She finished 6th in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. Said Oil Slick is an ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) event. ARCA is known as a development league/program for NASCAR teams.

Normally, finishing 6th in a D-league race is not considered a big deal, although she made a great comeback after being bumped into the infield. Patrick reentered the field in 24th place and worked her way up to 6th. This was her first competitive stock-car race.

Patrick is a racecar driver, a pro. She’s got five seasons in with IndyCar and has done better every year. After her first year, 2005, she ranked 12th, then 9th, then 7th, 6th, and in 2009 she was ranked 5th. She also placed third in the Indianapolis 500 and made a second appearance in Sports Illustrated, swimsuit subdivision. This year she’s driving a part-time schedule in (Division II) NASCAR Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports. She’s been on everybody’s TV show; she’s beautiful and knows how to market herself.

But here’s something you might not know — there were six other women in that race. Can you name one?

What’s up with the America’s Cup?

I can’t think of another sport that has ripped itself into fish bait the way the America’s Cup has. Do you know that America’s Cup race is happening now? Hard to keep track of the race in the muck of two and a half years’ worth of lawsuits. This is what happens when it gets personal between (according to Forbes magazine) the 4th richest man in the world and the 52nd richest man in the world.

The 4th richest (Larry Ellison) has spent at least 400 million of his dollars over ten years trying to win the Cup. Yet, it was the 52nd richest person in the world (Ernesto Bertarelli) who won the America’s Cup in 2003 and defended it successfully in 2007. Not fair.

The 4th richest man in the world has filed at least nine lawsuits against the 52nd richest man in the world. The latest one, I think, was heard in the New York Supreme Court three weeks ago. Fourth Richest claimed 52nd Richest has an illegal boat because its sails were not constructed in the land-locked country of Switzerland, home of the defending yacht club. The 52nd richest replied that a proper interpretation of the Cup’s governing document would reveal

that only the “yacht or vessel” had to be constructed in the country of the club holding the Cup and that sails could be constructed anywhere.

No American television network — not Versus or Spike or the CW or Telemundo or Ion, CMT, MTV, or QVC — is televising the event. However, we can watch a live stream at ESPN360.com.

Come on, 4th richest guy!

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