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Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

No. 42



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Tags: MLB

President Obama and Kobe Bryant



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So, will the President meet with Kobe Bryant, as he has in years past, if the Lakers win the NBA championship? If an alleged sexual-assault didn’t stop the smiles, I really don’ see why a little “f***ing f****t” between friends should keep the president from his photo-op.

Tags: NBA

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The Earth Is Flat. Who Knew?



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In the wake of the Barry Bonds verdict — the retired slugger was convicted of a single count of obstruction of justice — Bob Costas unleashed the fury on MLB Network:

Seventy-three is not an authentic number. Seven-sixty-two is not an authentic number. … The authentic single season season home run champion is Roger Maris. The authentic career home run king is Hank Aaron. You would have to think the world is flat to believe anything other than that.

As George Will might say, “Well.”

Bonds almost certainly used performance enhancing drugs, as did many of his peers, but lest we forget about our National Pastime:

  • Babe Ruth never had to face African-American pitchers.
  • Roger Maris competed at a time when amphetamines and other dangerous, performance-enabler “greenies” were everywhere.
  • Cocaine was plentiful in 1970s and 80s clubhouses.
  • Hundreds of players have cheated, from runners stealing signs to pitchers using emery boards and other foreign substances to batters lying about whether they were hit with a pitch.

Are we really qualified to make judgments as to whose home-run numbers are legit and whose are to be discarded?

By the way, much has been made about how Bonds was 37 when he broke the single-season home run record. As former relief pitcher Bob Tufts has pointed out:

Hank Aaron had his highest HR total (47), highest SLG (.669), highest OPS (1.074) and highest OPS+ (194) [when he was 37 years old]. His best 3 year HR total was from ages 35 to 37, and he hit 40 HR’s at age 39. … Do you really want to go there?

Whadduya say, Mr. Costas? Will you go there for us flat-earth types?

Tags: MLB

Go Mud Hens



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Toledo Blade:

For many Mud Hen fans, the first home game of the new season is special.

But Thursday’s home opener, which begins the celebration of the Hens’ 10th year at Fifth Third Field, will be special for another reason.

Why? Toledo will host what is believed to be the first scheduled season-opening doubleheader in professional baseball history.

Tags: MLB

Tom Brady Reacts to Pia’s Elimination from American Idol



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Tags: NFL

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Re: He Was Asking for It



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Fred,

To paraphrase our President, “This is not the Chavez Ravine I thought I knew.”

Growing up in Los Angeles, I’ve been to more Dodgers games than I can count. I still have the felt pennant commemorating their winning of the 1974 NLCS, complete with the stain from a Carnation chocolate ice cream when I used the pennant, much to my father’s chagrin, as a napkin. My last game was in 1988 before I moved to New York City and I ended up catching a foul ball off Kirk Gibson.

In California, you can get your driver’s license at sixteen, which meant the freedom to go to a game whenever you wanted. For the life of me, I can’t remember my parents ever expressing the faintest hint of concern that I was spending the night at a Dodger game with friends. Everything else they worried about, but not a Dodgers game.

New security measures will be in force tonight — hopefully they help return the stadium to its former self.

Tags: MLB

Kobe Bryant’s Anti-Gay Rant



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Introducing the NCAA’s Newest Scholarship Sport



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Women’s sand volleyball:

Timing and location are everything. Throw in a relentless work ethic, and it is easy to understand why Pompano Beach High’s Stephanie Pellitteri will join two Orlando-area athletes Wednesday in a historic signing with Florida State.

Pellitteri was believed to be the first to commit to a sand volleyball scholarship when she announced in February that she will play for the Seminoles next spring in the NCAA’s inaugural season of the sport better known as beach volleyball.

Former South Lake High (Groveland) standouts Aurora Newgard and Jeassica McGregor followed her lead, and the three will make it official at a signing party 6 p.m. Wednesday at JB’s on the Beach in Deerfield Beach.

It is an appropriate spot. Pellitteri lives within walking distance of Deerfield Beach. It is where she developed a passion for beach volleyball after joining the fledgling Club Beach Dig junior program nearly five years ago.

“I’m making history, which is really exciting,” said Pellitteri, who helped lead Pompano Beach’s indoor team to the Class 3A region semifinals last fall. “My dream was I wanted to play in college. I was looking at playing indoor, but I always loved playing beach volleyball.”

Tags: NCAA

Go Go Goldwater



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State-level free-market think tanks can struggle for attention–but the Goldwater Institute is basking in it right now, as it fights a government deal to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz.

Last night, during the Versus broadcast of the Red Wings-Coyotes playoff game, the Goldwater Institute and its president Darcy Olsen came up in conversation. How’s that for having an impact?

About a month ago, I blogged on Goldwater and the Coyotes. About a week ago, George F. Will devoted his column to the subject.

Here’s Goldwater’s own summary of the dispute:

The City of Glendale has been negotiating a deal, much of it taking place behind closed doors, to help businessman Matthew Hulsizer purchase the Phoenix Coyotes. The deal would have Glendale give Mr. Hulsizer $100 million to help purchase the Coyotes, money the City would raise through the sale of bonds. Glendale would also pay Mr. Hulsizer $97 million to manage the Jobing.com Arena over a five-year period.

In return Glendale would get parking rights—rights that documents show Glendale already owns. The City has given the impression that it would use revenues from parking to repay the bonds. However, if the parking revenues do not reach $100 million, Glendale has promised taxpayer money to close the gap—a blatant violation of the Arizona Constitution’s Gift Clause.

Tags: NHL

Barry Bonds Convicted on One Count



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. . . of obstruction of justice. The judge declared a mistrial on the three counts of perjury after jurors deadlocked. 

More at ESPN

Tags: MLB

He Was Asking for It



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To show that the blame-the-victim mentality is not confined to rape cases, here’s a sportswriter who thinks that if that Giants fan at Dodger Stadium didn’t want to get beaten up, he shouldn’t have dressed so provocatively:

Maybe someone can ask Stow, if he ever comes out of his coma, why he thought it was a good idea to wear Giants’ gear to a Dodgers’ home opener when there was a history of out-of-control drunkenness and arrests at that event going back several years. . . .

Obviously, not every fan who wears his team’s jersey to a game is looking for someone from “the enemy” to beat up. But maybe somebody should do a psychological study to find out if all those game jerseys have contributed to the new mob mentality that seems to exist in the stands these days.

Tags: MLB

Hockey? What is Hockey?



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For those readers who might not know some of the “finer points” of that sport from up north, here’s a short explanation of the rules from Denis Lemieux, goalie for the Charleston Chiefs:

Tags: NHL

Hockey Predictions: First Round



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In the East: Caps over Rangers, Flyers over Sabres, Bruins over Habs, Lightning over Penguins.

In the West: Canucks over Blackhawks, Kings over Sharks, Wings over Coyotes, Ducks over Preds.

Tags: NHL

Stanley Cup Playoffs



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For those of who horrified to find Right Field talking about soccer, take comfort: the NHL playoffs start tomorrow night. Old-time hawkey! Eddie Shore!

Well, maybe not old-time hockey. There are a lotta hot-weather teams in the NHL’s second season this year. The NHL is fast becoming global-warming public enemy Number One. Anyway . . .

My eighth-seeded Rangers make the trip down to the capital to take on top-seeded Alex Ovechkin and a buncha other guys. [I'll take the Blueshirts in six.]

The (most likely) Sidney Crosby–less Penguins host the Tampa Bay Lightning (bless them). [Lightning round!]

The champion Chicago Blackhawks travel to Vancouver to face the powerful Canucks. [I'll take the Sedins in a sweep.]

Detroit’s Flying Hubcaps host the Phoenix Coyotes. [The Red Wings' balanced offense will be too much for the desert dogs.]

The Predators of Nashville (a.k.a., Hockey Town, USA) travel to Anaheim to take on the Disney Ducks. [Quack -- but Nashville's defense and penalty-killing stretch this series to seven games.]

The three remaining series kick off Thursday. We’ve got a great Original Six matchup in Beantown, Canadiens at Bruins [Habs in six!]; Sabres at Flyers [Blech: Flyers in six]; and the all-Cali matchup, Kings at Sharks [Marleau and Thornton make L.A. afraid to go in the water -- San Jose in five].

Tags: NHL

Team-Oriented Sports



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I agree with pretty much everything that Brian Anderson had to say about the Celtics — that as Rondo goes so goes the team, that the Perk-Robinson trade was a mistake — but my jaw dropped when he wrote that “basketball is the most team-oriented of sports.” Basketball, of all the major sports, may be the least team-oriented. Look no further than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who in one season went from playoff material (some said championship material) with King James to basement dwellers without him.

With only five players on the court at a time, and with most of the key starters playing 75 percent of the game, the impact that an individual player has on the outcome of an individual basketball game is huge — more than in any other sport.

Which sport is the most team-oriented? Football, by a long shot. An individual player, even the quarterback, is only on the field half the game (if both teams’ time of possession were the same), and even then he’s only one of eleven players. (Tom Brady, the Lebron James of football, was replaced by Matt Cassel for the majority of the 2008 season, and the Patriots didn’t skip a beat.) 

Tags: Misc.

John Miller, Joe Scarborough Discuss The Big Scrum



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Good stuff from today’s Morning Joe with John Miller discussing his latest book on how Teddy Roosevelt saved football:

Tags: NCAA

Will West Ham Survive Relegation?



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Being (at best) a casual fan of the English Premier League, I had last paid any heed to West Ham United two Saturdays ago in a home match against first-place Manchester United. I had woken up in time to watch the second half on ESPN2. Before doing so, though, I flipped through the most recent soccer thread on Baseball Think Factory and took note of post no. 10:

I have a feeling the second half of this game is going to be like the German attack at the end of Saving Private Ryan, with West Ham as Tom Hanks and company.

Sure enough, after perhaps 20 minutes of the second half had elapsed . . . blitzkrieg! Man U scored four unanswered goals in quick succession, three off the leg of Wayne Rooney.

Anyway, Right Field commenter “Otis Nixon” yesterday wondered about the Hammers’ immediate future. (If the season ended tonight, West Ham, along with the Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic would be relegated. With six clubs bunched up at the bottom of the EPL table (i.e., standings) and several matches remaining, I asked a EPL-phile friend who works in the Senate for predictions.

Here is his reply:

In my view, it will come down to strength of schedule and form, which are key in the final stretch of the season. Based on those undoubtedly subjective factors, my prediction is that West Ham, which lost the last two games and will play Manchester City and Chelsea away in consecutive weeks, Wigan, which has four out the six remaining games away from home, and new boys Blackpool, which lost four out of the last five and will finish off the season away at Tottenham and Manchester United, will be the clubs relegated. Look for more experienced Blackburn and this year’s Carling Cup winner Birmingham to move away from danger over the next few fixtures and the feisty Wolves to take part in last-minute heroics to stay put for another year.

West Ham hosts Aston Villa at Upton Park on Saturday morning at 10:00 EDT.

Tags: Misc.

Not John Thompson’s Biggest Fan



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Over at Bleacher Report, there’s a blistering takedown of John Thompson, the former Georgetown basketball coach, by Harold Bell, a veteran DC sports broadcaster. He and Thompson clearly have a history of animosity, but he doesn’t appear to be making things up, and there’s plenty of lurid stuff there. This is actually one of Bell’s milder stories:

Early in his second season at Georgetown, when his job was on the line, in the wee hours of the morning someone hung a banner in the Georgetown Gym that read “John Thompson the nigger coach must go!” 

Back then I was his first line of defense in the media.

When he called my home at 3 a.m. explaining what had happened, I was pissed off.

I must admit, he played me like a beaten drum. I later discovered he’d hung the banner himself. 

All that mattered to him was the end result: It helped him keep his job.

Tags: NCAA

NFL Suit Goes to Mediation



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ESPN:

The federal judge handling the lawsuit against the NFL ordered the sides to participate in court-supervised mediation, while saying Monday she still is considering whether to grant the players’ request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said formal mediation will begin Thursday before Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan at his office in a Minneapolis courthouse. He will meet with representatives of the players Tuesday, then representatives of the NFL on Wednesday.

Tags: NFL

Rondo Key to Celts’ Mojo



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Yesterday’s nationally televised trouncing of the Boston Celtics by the endlessly hyped and overrated Miami Heat — the Celts had won all three previous engagements against them this season — was the starkest evidence yet that Celtics GM Danny Ainge’s decision to blow up a dominant team mid-season has backfired. The Celtics have lost their mojo, at the worst possible time.

Ainge’s most controversial move — trading center Kendrick Perkins, one of the NBA’s best low-post defenders and much-loved teammate, along with guard Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green, big man Nenad Krstic, and a future draft pick — made sense on paper. After all, Perk had barely played this season, recovering from a knee blown out in last year’s finals against the Lakers, and was a free agent next year, while the Celts had played brilliantly through the first half of the season with ancient Shaquille O’Neal clogging the paint, shooting a spectacular 67 percent from the field, and integrating seamlessly with the team. Moreover, Green is only 24, extremely versatile, and unselfish in the classic Celtic mold, and Krstic is a better offensive player than Perk.

Basketball is the most team-oriented of sports, however, and the trade, breaking up the starting five that won the 2007–08 NBA championship and has never lost a playoff series, has clearly poisoned the Celtics’ chemistry, costing them big games and the top spot in the east. The problem hasn’t really been the new additions: Krstic has been better than advertised and Green has shown flashes of brilliance, though he has had difficulty adjusting to coming off the bench. No, moving Perk has seemingly had its most damaging effect on the play of his close friend, point guard Rajon Rondo, who actually has seemed depressed on the court since the deal. And as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics — as his play has deteriorated, for example, so have Ray Allen’s shooting opportunities.

With only two games left in the regular season, the Celtics now look to the return of 39-year-old Shaq from various leg ailments to provide the spark missing of late — a scenario no one would have anticipated before the season began.

— Brian C. Anderson is the editor of City Journal and a fan of the Boston Celtics.

Tags: NBA

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