“Mad Men” season five has come to an all too abrupt ending.  I’ve already written about how my television schedule has gone blank for the coming months and tonight brought some serious finality to the whole thing.  I flippin’ love this show.  If they try to pull off another seventeen month hiatus snow job on their viewing public I’m going to kick Mathew right in his surname.

Season five has been a blast, from Zou bisou bisou to Roger Sterling’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Trip, I have ended each Sunday evening both satiated and hungry for more.  This season we’ve watched Don move from the coolest cat in the room to the grumpy old man who doesn’t get this music the kids are listening to.  For the low price of her body, self-esteem, and some federal laws, Joan made the jump from office manager to voting partner.  Peggy took off while Layne hung out.  They got their first car, Sally got her first visit from Aunt Flo, and Roger got his 3,674th hummer.  Everybody won including the viewers.  That’s the sign of good TV.

With all of that said, there are a few points that I think deserve some additional attention and I’d like to correlate them with a some similar items in the world of sport because now that “Mad Men” is done, I need to turn my attention to athletics or my mind will be awash with new episodes of Intercourse Island… er… “Love In The Wild” for the next three months.

  • This season I must admit that I lost a good deal of respect for one of my favorite TV characters of all time.  When Roger Sterling did not stand in the way of his baby-momma, and up to that point perhaps the only person he cared for more than himself in the world Joan, from prostituting herself out for the sake of new business, he crossed a line with me that he can’t uncross.  Poor form Roger, poor form.  In a similar vein, what in the hell is Albert Almora thinking with his comments during his first press conference as a Chicago Cub?  For those who don’t know, this 18 year old kid has played more baseball for Team USA than anyone in the history of the game.  He’s all about putting his team first and doing whatever is needed to help succeed in the bigger picture.  Watch this clip and tell me you don’t want him to succeed.  So fast forward to the day after he was drafted 6th overall, the 1st selection in the Theo Epstein era and his comment to reporters is that his focus is on going to college?  That’s bush league right there.

I get the whole idea of not just taking the first offer they give you for a contract and that his comment was cleverly crafted by super agent/devil-spawn Scott Boras in order to establish leverage in negotiations.  A quick primer for the uninitiated, high school kids who get drafted into MLB have the option to either sign with the team who picked them or go play college ball at which point they cannot be drafted again until after their Junior year (three years later generally speaking).  After months of scouting and man-on-man courtship, the new Cubs brass decided that this was the kid that was going to be the face of the rebuilding effort (many experts said Almora to the Cubs was the only lock of the first ten picks in the draft).  During the pre-draft scouting efforts most clubs speak with players “unofficially” about what they would be willing to sign for if we were to draft you, and the player’s answer certainly has an effect on whether they get selected or not (see this year’s best pitcher Mark Appel falling to the 8th overall pick because of his supposed salary demands).  I think it safe to say that Theo, Jed, and Jason McLeod had several conversations of this nature with Albert and his family leading up to the draft and they must have been happy with his answer right up to the point that Scott “I-get-my-players-more-money-than-any-other-leech-could” Boras got involved.  Twelve hours later the kid is talking about attending college being his priority rather than fulfilling his life-long dream all for the sake of contract negotiation leverage.

Now again, I appreciate the art of business and getting a good deal, but do that behind closed doors.  When you’re drafted in large part due to your character and make-up, don’t be the prick who leaves a turd in the punch bowl at your inauguration party.  For a kid who dreamed of being a professional he wasted no time making a rookie mistake in the hearts and minds of his new fan base.

  • In the same “Selling-Joan-for-Jaguar” situation noted above, for as much as Roger was at fault for standing idly by and not getting involved, the biggest scumbag in the lot, the human trafficker himself, was none other than Pete Campbell.  What a piece of crap he is.  It’s to the point that I don’t think I’m ever really going to be able to like Vincent Kartheiser regardless of the role he plays going forward.  That’s a sign of good TV right there.    

Similarly, am I the only one who saw Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett go back to the locker room with time still on the clock in Saturday night’s loss to the Heat?  Did not the Bad Boy Pistons in 1990 and Lebron James just three years ago get skewered for this display of bad sportsmanship?  You lost fair and square, don’t go pout in protest.  Why was this not a bigger deal on Sunday morning?  I was expecting it to be all over the papers and TV that night and I didn’t hear a peep about it.  You stay classy Boston Celtics…  (and PS, for all the hype about the crowd at the Garden and opposing teams being scared of playing there, the collective Boston fan base laid a bigger egg than the Celtics did in Game 6.  They had the Heat coming off a loss on the road and they couldn’t put them away.  They didn’t even show up to make a game of it.  That was the opportunity to step on their throat and end the series but the Celts and the crowd did not jump out to a good start, they let the Heat up off the mat, and never regained control again.  The aura has left the building Boston).

  • For as much as Don has fallen out of touch this year with the youth of America, he also has made it clear that he wears the pants around Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price.  He was the one who told Joan not to go down the Whoregon Trail, he gave the pep talk to the company while making the Jaguar push, he fired Layne and made the executive decision to pay his widow upon his demise.  Don’s the freaking man.  You know who else is the man now?  Lebron James.  Not that he wasn’t great before but I think he’d admit that last year the Heat were Dwayne Wade’s team.  That’s all changed this year and Dwayne will be the first to tell you.  Lebron single-handedly won Game 6 in Boston and he carried them for stretches of Game 7 as well.  The reigns have been passed (as they should have been two summers ago amidst all the fog machines and fireworks).

 

  • It appeared that in the final episode Bert Cooper was finally going to get an office again.  He had been wandering the halls of SCDP like the Highlander for the past season and that would appear to be coming to an end.  Similarly, I think it’s time the Bears and Matt Forte figure out where they stand.  This whole two year contract negotiation and Franchise tag situation has to end as the Bears realistically have a chance to do something big this fall but they’re going to need their running back to get it done.  Let me put on my official arbitrator hat and settle this once and for all shall we?  Matt, you play a position that the game is in the process of passing by, or at least making less valuable than it once was.  You’re hurting your knee at the end of last year and missing the last four games did you no favors either.  Sign the franchise tag, get paid $7+ million and get into camp knowing that next year they’ll probably tag you again but then you get somewhere in the range of $10+ million.  Put those two together and you have your $17-22 million guaranteed that you’re looking for.  It’s not rocket science.  Your team needs you, go join them, and don’t get hurt doing it. 

 

  • Michael Ginsburg is the character on “Mad Men” that is growing on me the fastest.  He is the next generation of Don Draper but I feel like no one is taking notice of him.  I think he steals every scene he’s in and I hope he plays a more prominent role when the show returns.  Similar to Ginsburg, I feel like this Stanley Cup Finals is the best thing going that no one is paying attention to.  Sure the Kings jumped out to a 3-0 series lead but if you haven’t been paying attention New Jersey has won the last two and has made a series of it.  For all you Hawks fans out there I suggest you take notice as these Kings aren’t going away any time soon.  They’re bigger, more well-rounded, and believe it or not younger than our boys at the United Center with proper goaltending to boot.  There’s a new sheriff in the Western Conference and they have everything from goaltending on out that the Hawks can only envy at this point. 

 

  • Joan Holloway has to be the character that’s taken the biggest leap this year.  Aside from Peggy moving on to bigger and better things at another agency (in what I hope is not a death knell to her character) Joan went from the sass of the secretary pool to playing with the big boys.  I could see how some could take that as a surprise but I’d argue that she had it in her all along.  I think a similar argument can be made for the Chicago White Sox this summer.  We knew Adam Dunn couldn’t be that bad again could he?  With Beckham, Rios, & Peavy just returning to their norm, it turns out there’s some talent on the Southside after all.  Couple that with breakout performances from Chris Sale (who’s elbow is a ticking time bomb for the record), Addison Reed, and Alejandro De Aza, a new power has emerged in the AL this year.  Now keep in mind that it’s early June and nothing is truly won for FOUR more months but I will say that I’ve been impressed.  I don’t see the Sox being in it when the real chips are down but they’ve shown life and spunk that I didn’t know they had in them and they continue to put an entertaining product on the field – now they just need someone to show up at the ballpark to verify that it’s actually happening.     

So Mad Men is done and summer is upon us.  It was a great run by a show that continues to deliver the goods year after year, episode after episode.  Let’s all hope that the sporting world continues to deliver as well otherwise it could get real ugly when trying to hide from the summer heat around these parts.