Baseball has a highly publicized steroid problem. The athletes’ choice
to inject illegal substances compromises what had been termed a
‘gentlemen’s game.’ Congress got involved and now media outlets
salivate at any more news.
While the media is focused on baseball and Barry Bonds, another sport
has a secret problem. That is, if you consider NASCAR a sport. No,
drivers aren’t cheating their bodies, but more so the entire system.
More like, disregarding the rules.
Compromising NASCAR’s guidelines is not uncommon. Even if NASCAR does
change their laws more than hotel bedding, no one really cares. Why?
Look at Saturday’s headlines involving Richard “Slugger” Labbe, crew
chief of Dale Jarrett, who drives for Robert Yates Racing. NASCAR
confiscated an illegal sway bar on Jarrett’s Ford No. 88 before the
start of last Saturday night’s race in Richmond, Va. The sanctioning
body then suspended Labbe for four races, fined him $25,000 and docked
25 points from Jarrett’s total.
The sway bar, also called an “antiroll bar,” counteracts the rolling
force of the car body through the turns. Any alterations made to it
would likely be in an effort to help the car’s agility through the
Robert Yates, who had made a promise in Feb. that any employee
associated with his company that was caught bending the rule, would be
fired. Labbe is still employed after Yates turned down his resignation
offer. And while Labbe is appealing NASCAR’s ruling, he’s still allowed
to man Jarrett’s pit box.
Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson’s Lowe’s No. 48 Chevrolet,
was suspended when Johnson’s crew was found to have illegal equipment
after qualifying for the Daytona 500. As a result, his crew chief, Chad
Knaus received the same penalty levied on Labbe. Johnson still won the
Daytona 500 and subsequently won recently at Talladega, the other super
Matt Kenseth has been flagged three separate times this season for car
parts, components and/or equipment that didn’t jived with NASCAR’s
rules. During Friday’s Busch race, Buschwhacker Carl Edwards was
suspended for unapproved changes. And those guys are considered the few
‘gentlemen.’ Hello fans, are we seeing a pattern?
Cheating is part of the game. And in sport, cheating isn’t playing
fair. Yet no one is punishing the teams enough to deter the teams from
continuing their actions. Deducting 25 points and $25,000 fines is
chump change to multi-car teams with million dollar budgets.
Like MLB, NASCAR has probably reined the majority of violators.
However, with such a competitive sport, winning can come at any cost.
And if NASCAR can’t fix the problem, the reward is worth more than the
Casual fans don’t realize how much support staff is necessary to put on
an event such as the Darlington race this weekend. So next time, thank
the man on the elevator who is sacrificing his time to work the game.
The same goes for the event staff, the security, the parking people,
janitors, caterers and any other member helping fan’s enjoyment of an
I feel the need to weigh in on the message board saga. Every party is
at fault. We, media members (myself included) have been too sensitive
in a relatively small-market like Greenville. We have chosen a public
image and whether comments are flattering or downright vulgar, we need
to not pay them mind.
Too many media members and fans believe that the message board is a
state-of-the-union address for how many Pirate fans feel. I’m on the
thought that there is what former President Nixon termed a silent
majority. Many people browse the sites, but very few actually post.
As for the posters, many are true Pirate fans, but many are also
hypocrites. Many times, I’ve received an e-mail wishing that I’d never
write another column again and that I’m a shame to the profession.
That’s fine, but don’t praise me two months later when I write an
article that you adore.
The media’s job is to tell the truth. That’s whether fans want to hear
it or not. If you don’t like what we think, say or write, then tell us.
But don’t flame our names with conjecture when very few people know the
Josh Spence is a helluva play-by-play guy. I’m not defending Spence
because he is my co-host on Sportsline or because he’s my friend. I for
one can see the huge strides that he has made in his three short years
as the baseball voice. He has a way to go and he’ll admit that, but I
enjoy listening to his calls.
Finally, the message boards need to be ignored. No media members should
ever post on them or address what is being said. President Bush
continues to ignore the terrorists so desperate for attention. Is it
the same parallel? Of course not, but the only way for the posters to
go away is to ignore them; pure and simple.