Niagara Gazette

July 18, 2013

Mroziak: Random notes during an All-Star Break

By MICHAEL MROZIAK
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — How does one follow a commentary that offered a critical take about the dark side of sports fan behavior? With this one, celebrating one of the coolest moments from Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, along with a few other random bits...

• What an instant classic scene it was to see Mariano Rivera take the field for one last All-Star Game Tuesday night. From the moment the first notes of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” sounded on the Citi Field speakers, there was just this feeling something special was about to happen.

The fans and players on both benches did not disappoint, showing Rivera much deserved respect as he took the field alone. It was a fitting gesture for a man who, as part of his final season, has met privately with employees of rival clubs during Yankees road trips to express his gratitude for their hard work behind the scenes. He’s a class act all the way.

• Perhaps Tim McCarver’s straight reading of lyrics from “Enter Sandman” during Rivera’s entrance was in the same category of cheese as, well, pretty much any pop song William Shatner has ever covered (if you’ve never seen it, look up Shatner’s take on Elton John’s “Rocket Man” on YouTube.com). 

Still, like it is for Rivera, this All-Star Game is McCarver’s last. He’s had his share of controversial criticisms in the past, but he’s one guy to which I’m willing to give leeway this final season in the booth.

• One of the coolest baseball names I’ve heard in a long time is that of a player currently featured on the Niagara Power roster: Johnny Blue Craig. It’s got a nice classic tone to it, something I like in a day and age when other athletes take on abbreviated names like A-Rod, RG III and other similar handles that make them sound more like a robot character in Star Wars.

• So the NCAA, which is being sued for a share of the multi-millions of dollars earned by allowing the rights to logos and names in EA Sports video games, has decided in the meantime to get out of that business and will not renew its deal with EA Sports. 

Too little, too late, NCAA. Pandora’s piggy bank is already broken and if you aren’t moving ahead with allowing your name and likeness to appear on the video game, the conferences are likely more than ready to fill that gap. 

That what happens when you’ve long since allowed college football to become what is simply a free minor league for the NFL. 

Meantime, diehard boosters will continue selling the notion that sports bring a lot of money into the colleges. Tell that to the parents and students who see tuitions continue to increase each year.

• This is the time of year when football diehards are openly counting down to the start of NFL training camps. Radio talk show hosts have already been discussing the forthcoming opening of Bills training camp in Rochester. Some of my peers on Facebook have posted images on their accounts that, using NFL players’ jersey numbers for reference, are counting down daily to the start of the new season. 

I’m not in such a hurry. Don’t get me wrong, I love the game and will welcome the new season when it’s here and, of course, our department will be spending some time preparing not just for the Bills but more importantly the local high school teams. 

It’s just that the arrival of football season means the summer is winding down. After a wet start in June, why not just try to enjoy the summer for a while? 

Follow Niagara Gazette Sports Editor Michael Mroziak on Twitter at MrozGazette.