Really?

The New York Post is often crass in its cover headlines. And I use “crass” as a (gross) understatement. Following Tiger Woods’ win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday (3/25 – his first PGA Tour win since 2009), the viewing public was treated to this:

grimace.

I am not a big Tiger fan (especially in light of his undoing). I don’t think he’s necessarily a good or decent person. From everything I’ve heard about him (via people who have been in close contact with him), he’s an asshole. But these covers are RIDICULOUS.

Not that this is anything new. Here are a two other recent, ridiculous, sports covers from the Post. And there are so many, many more (google it).

still grimacing.
oh good.

March of the Pens.

The sport of hockey received good news this week – Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, heralded by some as the greatest player in the world, will return to the ice Thursday (3/15) against the New York Rangers. While the Rangers probably aren’t too happy (currently sitting in first in the Eastern Conference with 95 points), the Kid is the NHL’s golden boy – a hard worker, a Stanley Cup winner, a gold medal winner – and an overall good guy.

Crosby was cleared for contact last week after missing the last 40 games due to a soft-tissue neck injury (that was misdiagnosed as a concussion) at the beginning of December 2011. He had made his first “return” to the ice on November 21, 2011 (following a real concussion suffered in January 2011 that kept him off the ice for 61 straight games) with a four point performance against the visiting New York Islanders. But his return was short-lived – after only eight games, Crosby sustained the neck injury (in a Dec. 5 game against the Boston Bruins) that has kept him benched until now.

Despite not having Crosby in the line-up, the Pens have been streaking after the Rangers, having won nine straight coming into Thursday’s game at MSG (totaling 89 points, with a game in hand). In Crosby’s absence, Evgeni Malkin, who can be considered a phenom in his own right, has stepped up big time (now tied for league-leading points with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos at 84). If you need more proof, look at this end-to-end Malkin score from game two of the current streak:

The Penguins’ top line is enjoying undeniable chemistry (most notably between Malkin, Chris Kunitz and James Neal, who is currently 14th in points with 65), and so is the power play unit (ranked 7th in the NHL at 19.7 percent). With Crosby’s return, the goal is to bolster the squad, avoid “fixing what isn’t broken,” and let Crosby ease back into things (coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby will likely play around 15 minutes against the Rangers). Crosby practiced and will likely play on a line with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy, and he will work as the point on the power play unit. Malkin has been playing (and scoring at will) from Crosby’s old spot on the PP unit, and that isn’t going to be tampered with.

“My job is to distribute the puck amongst everyone. When [Malkin’s] shooting the puck like that, just give it to him in that area,” said Crosby.

Without a doubt, the clash of two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams – along with Crosby’s return – will create a certain electricity at the Garden tomorrow night. Oh, and I’ll be there to see how it goes.

The Good, The Bad, The Fugly – March 8 Edition

The Good

baller.

It hasn’t been easy to be a woman in Afghanistan, let alone a woman who wants to play basketball – something considered “un-Islamic” in Afghan society. But the country’s women’s basketball team was able to play its first game against female staffers from the US Embassy in Kabul, known as the “Kabul Kats”. The Kabul Kats formed in December 2011 after Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Afghanistan, met members of Afghanistan’s women’s basketball team and heard of their issues finding opponents. The two teams faced off on a court owned by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (or ISAF), and though they had been successful against the few student teams they were able to face, the Afghan team fell to the Kabul Kats (38-21). This game taking place at all is a bright spot in what has become a tense time for the women of Afghanistan. After gaining basic education rights, the right to vote, and the right to work since the Taliban were booted in 2001, Afghan women fear the future and what would happen should any power-sharing deal be struck between the Afghan government and the Taliban (officials in the US and Afghanistan are set to negotiate with the Taliban in light of planned troop withdrawal in 2014, with the goal of ensuring “stability”.)

The Bad

AP photo.

The longtime (and successful) partnership between QB Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts dissolved Wednesday (3/7), when owner Jim Irsay released Manning into the free agency abyss. On paper, Irsay is opting out of having to pay a QB of questionable health a $28 million bonus (from the $90 million, five-year contract Manning had signed in July). In reality, the split was tearful and of great magnitude in the sport (Peyton Manning and the Colts had become synonymous in their 13 seasons of play together). Manning (35), will become a free agent and will likely don a new jersey for the first time in his career. Kansas City, and possibly Miami, the New York Jets, Arizona, Seattle, Washington, and six other teams (ESPN is reporting 12 teams) are purportedly interested.

The Fugly

In a statement released Wednesday (3/7), the NFLPA announced that it will hold its own investigation of the New Orleans Saints’ alleged bounty system and asked for the cooperation of the league in order to carry out interviews with coaches and team staff. The NFL announced its investigation last week, prompting former Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams to admit to running a bounty program there that rewarded players (up to $50,000) for taking out target opponents. It is unknown yet whether Williams (now defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams) had implemented the reward system during his tenure with the Titans, Redskins, Jaguars and Bills. The controversy has sparked massive debate among current commentators (most of whom are former players). In a ridiculous moment during a SportsCenter segment Monday (3/5) night, (former QB) Steve Young noted that the NFL is not the Hunger Games (he really said that), that it isn’t a blood sport.