EXCELLENT COLUMN TODAY BY JENNA FRYER OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on the Denny Hamlin fine, which you can read here. I think it expresses what many of us have been saying about the message the fine sent. Here’s how it begins:
What a great NASCAR race that was at Las Vegas! The new Gen-6 car sure put on an amazing show, one for the ages, for sure.
That’s the kind of effusive praise we should expect to hear from drivers the rest of the year, right?
Anything short of that could lead to another shut-up-and-drive fine like the one levied last week against Denny Hamlin, who was popped for $25,000 for having the audacity to give an honest answer when asked to assess NASCAR’s new car after its second race.
BINGO. WHY EVEN BOTHER ASKING ANYBODY ANYTHING if they’re not allowed to answer honestly? If I’m a NASCAR reporter, I’m not printing a single word anybody says about how great the new car is, because drivers have effectively been muzzled — regardless of whether Hamlin winds up having to pay his fine or not. And if I’m a NASCAR fan, I’m not believing any praise I hear for the car, either. Nice job, NASCAR.
WHICH BRINGS US TO VIRGINIA TECH’S ERICK GREEN, who we’ve talked about all year and you guys discussed at length yesterday. After making first team All-ACC yesterday, Green told reporters this about the prospect of winning ACC player of the year today:
“I’ve always heard they won’t give it to me because I’m in last place, but I think it’s called player of the year. I hope I get it. I think it’d be a well-deserved thing for me to get it, but I think people look at winning. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Pretty honest assessment, no? There are some other quotes in Berman’s story that could be construed as a little on the cocky side, but I loved them. He’s candidly making a case for himself. It sure beats the standard “I only care about the team; individual awards mean nothing” stance many athletes feel they must take to avoid criticism, even if we know they don’t mean it (for what it’s worth, I think Green cared deeply about the team’s performance this year).
ANYWAY, I VOTED FOR HIM, and I know several others (Berman included) who did, too. I figure Shane Larkin and Mason Plumlee will split votes from voters who believe a winning team must be part of the award recipient’s resume, but I guess we’ll find out today.
AROUND THE HORN
-Doug has a UVa basketball notebook that explores the team’s burgeoning ability to block shots.
-Michael Vick has to cancel his book-signing tour after receiving threats of violence from people angry about his dog-fighting past. Protesting violence against dogs by promising violence against humans; wow, that’s not hypocritical at all.
-Sports Illustrated reports that Notre Dame is will join the ACC next year, with the Big East taking a vote on the issue and making an announcement this morning.
-Ex-Hokie DeAngelo Hall offers to restructure his deal to help the Redskins get under the salary cap, but the team opts to release him instead.
-Gio Gonzalez will get the ball tonight as the U.S. opens second round play of the World Baseball Classic against Puerto Rico (8 p.m., MLB Network).
-The Northeast Conference (7 p.m., ESPN2) and the Horizon League (9 p.m., ESPN) will crown champions today. Also, the Big East tournament opens in New York.
NAME THAT TUNE
-Forgot to credit Desert Hokie for nailing yesterday’s (Spies Like Us, Paul McCartney). Nicely done. Here’s today’s:
The main attraction, distraction
Got ya number than number than numb
Empty ya pockets son, they got you thinkin’ that
What ya need is what they sellin’
Make you think that buyin’ is rebellin’
From the theaters to malls on every shore
The thin line between entertainment and war…