Jitters, shakes and twitches can't stop my opinions

October 10, 2004|by MARK KELLER

I'm feeling a bit amped up on caffeine today, so this will be the "short attention span" version of my opinion.

· Dale Earnhardt Jr. - NASCAR has never been real consistent with its rulebook. In fact, there have been times when NASCAR has been accused of making up the rules as it goes.

Thus, the uproar over Earnhardt being docked 25 points after blasting a profanity in a TV interview in Victory Lane last week at Talladega.

Earnhardt took the series lead with the victory, then lost it with the penalty.

Earnhardt fans - and there are lots of them - are upset that their driver was unjustly penalized. Earnhardt himself said NASCAR should jack up the amounts of the fines but leave the points alone.


Still, for all its past flip-flopping, NASCAR has been consistent on this front this season. Busch Series drivers Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday were docked points for similar incidents earlier this season.

That doesn't mean I agree with NASCAR's verdict. But I do like the fact that they've stayed the course, even as a ruling affects one of its biggest names.

· Jamal Lewis - I've got a real problem with any athlete who can do what Lewis allegedly did - conspire to distribute cocaine - and get off as lightly as he did.

The problem I have is not with the plea bargain that he and his lawyers worked out with the authorities, but that Lewis is allowed to choose when he serves the four months in prison that goes along with the plea.

OK, readers ... I'm initiating a research project. The next time you are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, see if you are able to cop a plea AND choose when you wish to serve your sentence.

Just tell the authorities that this is a really busy time at work for you and you'd appreciate about four months to tie up some loose ends before you report to prison.

Then send me an e-mail with the precise number of minutes it took the authorities to stop laughing.

· The Yankees - When are managers going to learn to stop running tired pitchers out to the mound in the late innings against this team?

Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire had his Grady Little moment in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, sending closer Joe Nathan out for his third inning of work after the Twins took the lead in the top of the 12th.

Nathan was obviously laboring in the 11th inning, and he went on to walk the first two hitters he faced in the 12th. Both runners eventually scored, once again bringing the Yankees back from the dead and putting them in control of the series.

Just as Little did last year, defending his decision to keep Pedro Martinez on the mound in Game 7 of the ALCS, Gardenhire stood by his call to leave Nathan in the game.

You do remember what happened to Grady Little, right?

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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