Game Time: The Dysfunctional Macs

I'm sure if all of you have heard, but Tracy McGrady has set a target date to return from microfracture surgery, and that date is November 18. What he's going to do once he comes back or whether he's even ready to come back are secondary issues, because chances are if you heard this news when it broke, then you actually found out about this before the following people:

-- Tracy's doctors

-- Rockets GM Daryl Morey

-- Rockets coach Rick Adelman

-- Pretty much anyone employed by the Rockets

Proving once again that what he lacks in passion for actually playing basketball he makes up for with a bizarre misdirected passion to be a doctor, Tracy McGrady gives all of us the straight dope on when he's going to be coming back, maybe kind of, sort of, maybe not. Because this is what Tracy McGrady does -- finds any way he can to keep himself as the center of attention even if it means alienating the franchise that continues to fulfill their obligation of cutting him seven figure, bi-weekly checks for doing nothing more than blogging once a month and presumably rehabbing his knee. Seriously, I think this is unofficially the 1,000th self-diagnosis we've gotten from Tracy since he arrived here in 2004.

Never mind that he gave us a target return date of November 18 and then proceeded to tell us his MRI is scheduled for November 23. For a wanna-be doctor, Tracy does not grasp the concept of how time works. Typically, you go get the MRI, get the clean bill of health, and THEN you play. Saying "I am hoping to return on November 18, and my MRI is scheduled for November 23" is a little like saying you plan on impregnating your wife on July 3 and scheduling sex for July 8.

If the Rockets/T-Mac marriage wasn't on the rocks before, then at this point it appears at the very least to be in counseling and interviewing attorneys. Morey has been saying that Tracy has been practicing "off and on"; Tracy claims he is practicing without limitations. When asked about the difference in opinion between Morey and him, T-Mac answered "I said what I said; he said what he said." In other words, "it's my world, not the Rockets' world."

Looking for a polar opposite to the McGrady-Rockets scneario? Well, go ahead and juxtapose Tracy McGrady pretty much deciding to be his own media-relations department with Mark McGwire's being hired as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. Both guys were at one time hailed as the face of their respective franchises, and for very different reasons saw their stars flame out. While Tracy has become a loose cannon of random medical diagnoses and haphazard target-return dates, McGwire has spent the better part of the post-Mitchell Report Era in seclusion, like J. Peterman in Seinfeld, essentially making golf courses in Southern California his personal Burma.

Now scheduled to come back as the Cards hitting coach, McGwire realizes that the questions about performance enhancing drugs -- the same questions that Mark McGwire ducked about as gracefully as a Chuck Hayes free-throw attempt before Congress a few years ago -- will be asked all over again as soon as Big Mac steps out of his car the first day of spring training. The team realizes this too, and in turn are spending inordinate amounts of energy trying to figure out how to handle Big Mac's return from a media standpoint.

Whether McGwire's can translate his hitting prowess (largely power-based, with a good eye, and a swing with LOTS of holes) into improvement for the Cardinals' current crop of hitters remains to be seen; what is not up for debate is that Mac's dysfunction and inability to apologize have already made the Cards spend more than one minute on something OTHER THAN improving themselves as a team. And that's no one's fault but Mac's (and the Cards for hiring him).

Two dysfunctional athletes -- T-Mac and Big Mac. Two different flavors of dysfunction. I think it's time to pull out the Wednesday Tale of the Tape.....who is the more dysfunctional MAC? Is it Tracy McGrady? (boooooooo) or Mark McGwire? (yea....wait.....I mean, booooooooo)

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