Open Mouth, Insert Football: Let me tell you…

There are three sports stories from the week that stood out to me, and I want to ask you about them. Did you see the elbow? How ‘bout them Saints now? And what’s up with the BoSox?

It’s not enough to just sit back and watch the games anymore, is it? We’ve got to have drama. New drama. Not yesterday’s headlines, but some juicy new storyline that, once again, focuses attention on the off-field activities of sports figures.

Ah, well. I guess that’s where we are. Let’s just look at what this last week has given us sports fans.

Metta World War

Let me ask you. Is it official? Is the old Ron Artest back? If he ever left, that is. After years of NBA fans acting like the Malice at the Palace never happened, Artest (ahem, I mean Metta World Peace) has found himself again on the business end of Commissioner David Stern’s suspension gavel, this time netting a seven-game sentence of watching from the front row in a suit.

You might have seen World Pea…

I can’t do it. He’s Ron Artest. Especially now that he’s shown that Ron Artest never really left.

As I was saying, you might have seen Artest experience about 1.5 seconds of absolute lunacy on Sunday when he planted his left elbow behind the ear of Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Hardin.

The worst part is it came off a breakaway dunk on top of Kevin Durant. It was a great play – right until the part when Artest ended his post-dunk Tarzan impression by losing his blooming mind and throwing some bows.

As of this column, Hardin is still shaking the cobwebs out of his head. Hardin, the player about to be dubbed the NBA’s sixth-man-of-the-year, got assaulted right at the start of the playoffs and is still out dealing with the concussion. His loss will hurt the Thunder more than the Lakers’ temporary loss of their thug.

The Lakers – Thunder matchup was supposed to be a pre-playoffs indicator of where these teams stood. It was supposed to be a game that jockeyed for playoff seeding position. It was supposed to be a scoring bonanza between the two best scorers in the league, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, and their competition for the scoring crown.

Nobody is talking about that now.

More drama.

Sinners or Saints?

Let me ask you. Is there a broken law, misdeed or faux pas the New Orleans Saints haven’t committed lately? Any more skeletons lurking back there? Any handicapped people denied access to games? Any kids get knocked down the Superdome steps? I’m still waiting for Drew Brees to do something stupid and finish off the franchise.

Seriously. What’s next?

Time will tell if the recent report is true. No, not the one about the bounty system. No, not the resulting fallout of the Saints losing their coaches, even the coach they used to replace the ousted head coach. No, not the report speculating all the players the Saints will lose because they wanted to hurt people instead of play straight-up football.

I’m talking about the latest report that has the FBI and the Justice Department lurking around New Orleans as they attempt to determine if Saints’ General Manager Mickey Loomis listened in on opposing coaches during games.

This is pathetic. And what’s worse? This is my team.

Having grown up as a kid in Mississippi, I loved the Saints when they were the ‘Aints.

Loomis and the rest of the Saints’ brass deny the report. As a fan, I certainly hope it’s bogus. But this just stinks.

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said this Saints team has managed to go from being everyone’s second favorite team to a poorly run – even deceptively run – team. No matter how this latest wave of scandals plays out, the New Orleans Saints are in serious need of help.

Boston Red Sux

Let me ask you. Can you think of anyone out there who is getting more boos than Ron Artest will get on his next trip to Oklahoma City?

I can think of only one guy: Bobby Valentine.

Fresh off the record collapse of last September, Valentine swaggered in to save the day for the franchise that forgot it didn’t have Manny or Pedro any more.

Or Francona. Or Varitek. Or Theo.

Right now, Boston sits dead last in the American League East. When you find yourself four games behind the Orioles, you know you’ve started on the wrong foot. Or maybe just picked up where you left off with that abysmal end to 2011.

Last Saturday’s collapse against the Yankees was topped off with the Fenway crowd booing Valentine every chance it got.

My opinion? He deserved it.

Valentine looked lost when the Yankees started hitting. He walked guys intentionally with the lead and looked shell-shocked when they crossed the plate moments later. He left bullpen pitchers in way too long, and basically made every wrong move possible.

Valentine was quoted after the game as saying, “I think we’ve hit bottom. If this isn’t the bottom, then we’ll find some new ends to the earth or something.”

Not exactly the kind of leadership expected of someone ready to turn everything around.

Gotta feel for those Sox fans out there. This is going to be a long, painful season.