My cheap sports watch loses a minute here and there over the course of a few weeks, so yesterday I double-checked to make sure I had the right time. I did. It was, in fact, the year 2008.
It wasn't that obvious. After all, among the hot topics this week are:
The DH rule.
And basketball players going pro early.
Apparently, the first two will never be resolved. As another baseball season opens, purists are well into their fourth decade of griping about the desecration of the game brought on by pitchers not batting. At the owners' meetings, the NFL briefly time-traveled to the 1960s, proposing a ban on morale-destroying hair that hangs too far out of some players' helmets.
As for the last point - well, Moses Malone has been in the Hall of Fame for seven years, Darryl Dawkins remains a productive member of society, and the three leading candidates for this year's NBA Most Valuable Player award never played a second in college.
All flukes, it seems, because once again our ears are bleeding from the screeching about the latest crop of collegians considering giving up their final years of eligibility. (Of course, the idea of giving up all of one's eligibility is ancient history now, too.)
It's that time of year. The Final Four is days away. The annual game of musical chairs with college coaches has begun. Elite underclassmen are pondering their options. And observers are having flashbacks to a simpler time, when young student-athletes stayed within the ivy-covered walls for four years, absorbed academic and life lessons, graduated, and advanced mature and fully prepared toward the eager embrace of the adult world.
There's a strong possibility that these are acid flashbacks.
Yesterday, Tom Crean, who coached Marquette to a Final Four five years ago, left to take the job at Indiana. He's earned a shot at coaching a truly renowned program, even if that program has gotten itself into a big NCAA mess. (So much for the purity of the college experience, but that's beside the point.)
He's a coach. He's got it in his blood, even has it in his family - one of his brothers-in-law is the Ravens' new head coach, John Harbaugh. Crean is doing what coaches do, what's expected of them, what it's only fair that they do.
Hooray for Tom!
Memphis freshman point guard Derrick Rose has led, in every sense of the term, his team to its first Final Four in 23 years. It's what was expected of him when he arrived, it's what he expected of himself, and it's what he delivered to the school, his coach, his teammates and his fans.
Rose's stock might never be higher, so he's all but certain to cash it in now and stretch his NBA career, and moneymaking prime, to its limit. Boooo! Ingrate. Selfish, greedy brat.
But, honestly - do we have to go through this whole debate again? It's the same thing every year. The issues never change, the situations rarely do, and the arguments stay stuck in, literally, another millennium.
What, are we going to get into the whole bit about baseball and hockey players and golfers and figure skaters having the right to do what the revenue-sport athletes don't? About how these moralists want to deny someone else's child what they'd never deny their own?
Do we have to keep yakking about the hypocrisy of a coach whose actions tell you to do as he says, not as he does? Are we going to keep spreading the most blatant lie in sports today - that young basketball players flop en masse in the pros and have ruined the quality of the NBA? (Every shred of evidence proves that it's the exact opposite.)
C'mon. That horse not only is out of the barn, not only has galloped down the road, but it's also sired a couple of colts and is sleeping peacefully in another barn.
If it's time for Derrick Rose and Kevin Love and Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo to go to work, then let them go. Give them your blessings. Give your best to Crean, too, and the guy who replaces him at Marquette. (And the guy who replaces him, and the guy who replaces him ... )
Oh, one more thing. You'll never become commissioner for a day, so the DH is here to stay. Also, braids and dreadlocks aren't sloppy. Illegally taping coaching signals is sloppy. And there's this little space-age music thingy that fits in the palm of your hand, called an "iPod." Man, it's fun living in 2008.
Listen to David Steele on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).