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Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

WaPost Editors Won’t Use ‘Redskins’ Any Longer



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From the editors of the Post:

Washington Post editorials will no longer use ‘Redskins’ for the local NFL team

But this isn’t as big a deal as it seems as the the decision of the editors to stop using “Redskins” only applies to editorials and not the rest of the paper or website:

What we are discussing here is a change only for editorials. Unlike our colleagues who cover sports and other news, we on the editorial board have the luxury of writing about the world as we would like it to be. Nor do we intend to impose our policy on our readers. If you write a letter about football and want to use the team name, we aren’t going to stop you.

That seems pretty self-serving. The term is only banned in the part of the paper that won’t lose them angry readers? 

 

Tags: NFL

POTUS Rejects ALS ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ From Lebron James



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TMZ:

He rejected Ethel Kennedy. 

He rejected LeBron James. 

He even rejected Justin Bieber!!

And it seems pretty clear … President Barack Obama believes images showing the POTUS dousing himself in ice water would be damaging to the presidency. 

Oh, please. The president is no stranger to cold water, even braving the frigid temperatures of Martha’s Vineyard over his vacation:

But can Obama handle East Coast ocean temperatures? In a somewhat shocking revelation later in the day during remarks at a fundraiser, the president said, “I found, as somebody from Hawaii, the water is still a little cold.”

A dip in the Atlantic Ocean counts, right?

 

Tags: NBA

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Reveille 8/18/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • The Royals remain in first place in the AL Central. In an article that includes references to the disastrous Howard the Duck film, Tom and Jerry cartoons, the Treaty of Versailles, and the short-lived Carpatho-Ukraine republic (no, really, it’s in there), SB Nation’s Steven Goldman explains why the good times are unlikely to last.  

Most of Smyly’s changeups have gone for balls. That’s bad for the run value. Many others have gone for hits — some of those for extra bases. That’s worse for the run value. Smyly, like a lot of lefties, has a pretty pronounced platoon split, and it’s something he’ll need to improve on if he wants to become a more reliable starting pitcher down the road. To get better, Smyly doesn’t need to get a better changeup, but that would be the most direct path, which is why he’s still working on the pitch. Perhaps the Rays figure they can help him out, either with the change or by turning his change into a splitter. The good news for Smyly is his changeup isn’t a finished product. The bad news is right now all he has is a scattered assortment of parts without instructions.

  • David Golebiewski of Gammons Daily documents how former first-round amateur-draft pick Anthony Rendon has thrived in 2014 even as two other top-ten picks on the Nats, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, have been bitten with the injury bug. 
  • Yasiel Puig’s ”heartwarming gesture” to former Brooklyn Dodger Carl Erskine and his adult son caught the attention of Dodger Insider’s Cary Osborne.
  • Had Nolan Ryan been born in 1987, not 1947, would he have been given an opportunity to start big-league games? Oh, and is there reason to suspect that Ryan took steroids? Radical Baseball’s Kevin Matinale responds to both questions.    
  • What does Red Sox chairman and vanquished MLB-commissioner candidate Tom Werner have against Gettysburg, The Ten Commandments, Gone With The Wind, and Once Upon a Time in America? NESN’s Nick Solari has the details.

 

 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Ray Chapman and the Whole Pivotal 1920 Season



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Let not this weekend of August 16–17 pass without some remembrance of Ray Chapman. Ninety-four years ago today, the Cleveland Indians shortstop died at St. Lawrence Hospital in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. The day before, he was hit in the head by a pitch at the Polo Grounds. He is the only player in MLB history to die from an injury sustained on the field.

The 1920 season unfolded as one long pivotal moment in baseball history. The Black Sox scandal, which happened the previous fall, was gradually coming to light. It led to the major-league owners’ appointment of the first commissioner of baseball; Kensaw Mountain Landis took office in November. In hindsight, 1920 stands out also for being Ruth’s first season in a New York uniform. He was in right field when Chapman was struck down. I suppose you could multiply the events worth noting.

For a detailed but lucid account of “the pitch that killed” and of the whole busy season, off the field as well as on it, read this classic by Mike Sowell. The writing is almost flawless. You should be able to inhale it in a single sitting, maybe two.

 

 

Meet the New Commish



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So who is this Rob Manfred dude, tasked with leading the National Pastime for the next three years starting in January:

Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post offers up some professional background on the 55-year-old, Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer since last September:

Manfred has worked for MLB in an official capacity since 1998 after previously serving as an outside counsel to the league during the players’ strike of 1994–95, which led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Supporters of his candidacy for commissioner (led by the New York Yankees) said his experience in shepherding the league through its labor issues – he helped forge new labor deals in 2002, 2006 and 2011, each time without a work stoppage — would be an asset when the MLB owners and players return to the bargaining table to negotiate a new deal after the league’s current collective bargaining agreement ends following the 2016 season.

Bonesteel notes that not every owner was enthusiastic about Manfred:

MLB is the only professional sports league without a salary cap, instead relying on a luxury tax in an attempt to keep teams from stockpiling talent. MLB is also the only league in which the balance of power rests with the players during labor negotiations. Manfred will need to rally the support of skeptical owners [led by Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox] who see their compatriots in the NFL, NBA and NHL as having the upper hand over the players.

NBC Sports Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra sees his election as one final victory for the outgoing head honcho:

Say what you will about Bud Selig, but after driving baseball into the ditch by helping foment the 1994 strike, he learned that he couldn’t simply impose his will on the game of baseball. He needed to deal. He needed to compromise. Both with the players and the other owners. And occasionally politicians and media executives. No one thinks of Bud Selig as a charismatic leader. Many like to talk about him as if he is a failure. But can you name a thing that he has wanted and not gotten in the past 15 years or so? Or, at the very least, a thing he hasn’t wanted that he has, nevertheless, been able to spin as his own personal victory? I can’t. 

He got what he wanted by abandoning the aggressive and confrontational approach which catapulted him into office in the first place. He led a coup against his predecessor, Fay Vincent, and declared war on the MLBPA. When he lost, he changed. Not many people with his power survive such losses. Even fewer manage to change and find success. Bud did. And he dragged 30 team owners along with him, despite the fact that team owners tend to be a non-learning, non-compromising lot by nature. He got them to play by his rules and as a result baseball has flourished and has been free of labor difficulties for the better part of two decades.

There is no shortage of advice pouring in to the Ccmmissioner-elect on how to improve the game. Ted Berg of USA Today’s For the Win offers up his fair share, including one that’s perfectly sensible:

OK, this one’s for real, and real simple: Enforce the rule that says pitchers can only hold onto the ball for 12 seconds between pitches when no one’s on base. Long baseball games are fine if they’re filled with actual baseball action, but there’s just not a lot of upside to letting pitchers futz around on the mound like goons when they should be pitching. Same for batters needlessly stepping out of the box. Seriously, just… move it along already.

And on the other end of the spectrum there’s this:

You want to make the sport appeal to kids? Try a swift rebranding. Instead of the boring batter logo that’s now 45 years old, freshen things up with the enduring face of baseball, Bartolo Colon. This is going to sell some T-shirts, I promise:

Oy.

Best of luck, Mr. Manfred.

More here, here, and here.

Tags: MLB

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Stay Classy, Joe Nathan



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When the Tigers signed free agent Joe Nathan to a $14-million, two-year contract, a 5.11 ERA and 4.91 BB/9 wasn’t what the club — or the fans, for that matter — had in mind for the new closer.

After finishing last night’s game, an 8–4 victory over the visiting Pirates, Nathan gave the Comerica faithful a rather dismissive gesture I occasionally witnessed while growing up in Brooklyn. 

Mark Townsend of Yahoo’s Big League Stew has the details here, including the not-safe-for-work imagery.

Nathan subsequently apologized for making the gesture, according to MLB.com.

Tags: MLB

Judge Throws Book at Single Mom, Slaps RB Ray Rice on Wrist



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Remember Shaneen Allen, the single mom from Pennsylvania who is facing three and a half years in prison for carrying a concealed handgun in New Jersey? NRO’s editors wrote about her a few weeks ago:

On October of 2013, a Pennsylvania resident named Shaneen Allen drove into New Jersey’s Atlantic County and was pulled over by police for an “unsafe lane change.” When the detaining officer arrived at her car window, Allen informed him that she was carrying a concealed firearm, and presented her Pennsylvania carry license as proof of eligibility. Unbeknownst to her at the time, however, was that New Jersey is among the 20 states that do not recognize Pennsylvania’s permit. In consequence, she was arrested. If convicted of the charges that the state has elected to bring, she will be locked in prison for up to a decade.

A single mother of two young children, Allen works more than one job and as a result leaves her home at odd times of the day. After two robberies made her aware of her vulnerability, she became convinced that she should be prepared to defend herself and her family, and resolved to do something about it. Which is to say that Allen bought her firearm, and obtained her concealed-carry permit, not to commit crimes but to prevent them. This has failed to move the prosecutor, Jim McClain, an overzealous man who has routinely declined to use the considerable latitude with which he has been entrusted by the state.

It turns out that the judge in Allen’s case is the same judge that allowed NFL star Ray Rice to avoid jail time for punching his wife in the face. 

Glenn Reynolds writes:

Carrying a gun way worse than beating your wife

When Ray Rice beat his wife unconscious in an elevator, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael Donio and New Jersey District Attorney Jim McClain agreed to put him in a diversion program for 1st-time offenders to keep him out of jail. But when Pennsylvania single mom Shaneen Allen was pulled over for a traffic violation and volunteered to a New Jersey police officer that she was carrying a legally-owned handgun with a Pennsylvania permit, the response of Donis and McClain was to deny her the same opportunity as Rice.

I hope somebody asks the judge to explain how a non-violent first-time offender who did something accidentally deserves more prison time than a NFL star who committed a violent act intentionally. 

 

Tags: NFL

Werth Gets Clocked Doing 105 MPH in 55 Zone



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Via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post: Jayson Werth’s shoulder may be giving him some discomfort, but his right foot appears to be on fire:

Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth was pulled over in early July and charged with reckless driving for going 105 mph in a 55-mph zone, according to a case file on the Fairfax County General District Court Web site.

Werth was charged with a misdemeanor for the incident, which occurred July 6, according to the file. Werth originally had a hearing scheduled for Aug. 8, but the case has been continued until Nov. 12.

“The Washington Nationals have been in communication with right fielder Jayson Werth regarding this situation for multiple weeks,” a Nationals spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. “Jayson is cooperating with the authorities. As it is an ongoing legal matter, the team has no further comment.”

Maybe a grizzled veteran can take aside the impressionable 35-year-old corner outfielder and . . . oh, wait, never mind.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Cespedes Shows How Sweet It Is



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What do you think Yoenis Cespedes did immediately after receiving a little chin music from a Jonathan Broxton fastball?

Yup:

Meanwhile, see what Edinson Volquez found in his glove:

“What’s that saying about ‘a blind squirrel’?”

The Red Sox and Pirates won their games against the Reds and Tigers, respectively.

Tags: MLB

Meet the Greatest Cubs Fan in the World



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I want to be this guy when I grow up — happy and handsome, athletic and crafty (well, he is left-handed), and, unless there’s Jack Daniel’s in that soda cup, sober:

Interestingly, “this guy” is no ordinary Cubs fan. Meet Mike Pullin, “a 65-year-old champion on the Professional Bowling Association Senior Tour (now the PBA50).” Here he is in action back in 2000.

He’s no Bartman, that’s for sure.

Tags: MLB

Jerry Jones and the Pictures of the Woman Not His Wife



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“Misinterpreted”? Via the New York Post:

Now this is some lackluster Cowboys defense.

Jerry Jones, in his first comments addressing the photos that surfaced last week depicting the Cowboys owner in a series of raunchy poses with two Texas strippers, as part of a possible extortion plot, only could muster that the snapshots are “misrepresented” before dissembling with a series of no-comments.

“Someone has misrepresented photos taken at a restaurant five years ago for their own purposes,” Jones said Sunday night, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I’m just not going to comment on it.’’

You be the judge: how, exactly, should we interpret this?

 

Tags: NFL

Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward — Crash Updates



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Wall Street Journal:

The Tony Stewart Crash: Just What Happened

New York Post:

The aunt of the sprint car driver who was struck and killed by auto racer Tony Stewart on Saturday has blamed the NASCAR hothead’s temper for her nephew’s death.
“Thanks for thinking of our family tony Stewart when you decided to be a d***!,” said Wendi Ward, aunt of driver Kevin Ward Jr, who was fatally struck when he exited his vehicle to confront Stewart during the caution flag of a dirt track sprint car race in upstate New York Saturday.

Christian Science Monitor

Tony Stewart crash probe focuses on track, lighting

Tags: Misc.

Meet the 13-Year-Old Girl with a 70-MPH Fastball



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Great stuff:

Mo’Ne Davis isn’t your average Little League player, and she certainly isn’t your standard teenager. She just so happens to be an astounding pitcher who dominates the competition and could help redefine how women are viewed in the sport of baseball.

Davis pitched a shutout on Sunday that helped the Taney Dragons of Philadelphia advance to the the Little League World Series, all on the back of her 70 mph fastballand a brutal curve. Yes, 70 miles per hour.

And here’s video:

 

Tags: Misc.

Reveille 8/11/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • Life imitates Seinfeld yet again: Supermodel and Justin Verlander girlfriend Kate Upton had an Elaine Benes moment when she was prevented from wearing Tigers gear while sitting in the “Legends Suite” (i.e., not on the hoi polloi side of the moat). Mark Townsend of Yahoo’s Big League Stew has the classy details.
  • Javier Baez made sure his first big-league hit was a memorable one. After going hitless in his first five plate appearances in Coors Field, the Cubs’ top prospect slugged a home run to the opposite field in the 12th inning, resulting in a Chicago victory. Beyond the Boxscore’s Scott Lindholm profiles the second baseman and discusses why fans on the North Side have every reason to celebrate his promotion to the majors:

[The Baseball Prospectus projections for Baez show] stunningly high expectations for a man not yet turned 22. To project anyone with 30+ home run power in this day and age, let alone a middle infielder, is setting the bar extremely high. . . .

Yes, the strikeouts are a concern, even for a power hitter. Yes, it’s hard to miss the fact he has almost as many home runs as walks. Yes, his strikeout rate of 30% would be among the highest in baseball this year, and none of this takes his fielding into consideration or what position he’s going to play. And yes, he did strike out in three of his six at-bats in his debut game.

And as a completely rational Cubs fan, I don’t care! The Cubs have been down so low for the past couple of years that any ray of sunshine will be gratefully accepted. The Cubs need pitching since there’s a very good chance it’s not currently in their system, but with enough prospects and with a willingness to spend this can be addressed fairly quickly.

  • Meanwhile, a couple of Met fans took playful aim at Hunter Pence when the Giants recently paid a visit to Citi Field, and Samer Kalaf of Deadspinhighlights a few of the barbs. (I might have suggested, “Hunter Pence drinks Gatorade through a straw.”)

 

 

 

 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

ESPN Suspends Max Kellerman for Hitting His Wife



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It looks like there’s no statute of limitation on domestic violence at ESPN. From the The Hollywood Reporter:

The sports network has suspended host Max Kellerman after he admitted Monday on ESPN-LA Radio show Mason & Ireland that he hit his then-girlfriend, Erin, several years ago. Max and Erin have now been married for 20 years.

“Max Kellerman will return to ESPNLA Radio and SportsNationon Thursday,” ESPN said in a statement released to The Hollywood Reporter.

Max explained in the story that he and Erin were at a college party and were drunk at the time. Max said that Erin slapped him, and so he slapped her back.

To be fair to Max, he seems to have been following Joe Biden’s advice that you can hit a woman in self-defense:

“I believe… the abuse of power is the worst sin that can be committed. And the cardinal sin is for a man to raise his hand to a woman. No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman under any circumstances except self-defense.” 

Tags: Sports Media

In Defense of the Rays, Other Thoughts



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Aside from a farewell lunch for a departing diplomat and trip to Half Street, SW, to get the car inspected, it’s a reasonably quiet Friday, meaning that it’s as good a time as any to catch up on a few items from the past week.

Regarding the big news from last Friday, I noticed that most of the immediate reaction to whom the Rays received in return for David Price appeared decidedly negative. The three-way trade involving the Rays, Tigers, and Mariners saw the Cy Young Award winner depart for Detroit, Austin Jackson go to Seattle, and Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin, and Single-A shortstop Willy Adames head south to Tampa Bay.

I wasn’t so sure:

I’ll be today’s resident contrarian then. . . . I suspect we overestimate Price’s value in [criticizing the Rays] bringing back young, cheap, and already good (not to be confused with spectacular) big-league talent, in addition to a Single-A prospect.

Someone else subsequently chimed in:

The Rays, who are run by people smarter than myself, clearly believe that from now through the end of 2015 Smyly and Franklin are likely to be more valuable than Price. They could be right. Also unclear is the question of whether they were operating under a mandate from ownership to reduce payroll and/or wanted to free up payroll space for the offseason.

Gabe Kapler of Fox Sports’ Just a Bit Outside spent much of a related column picking up on the theme that Tampa Bay’s front office has more than earned the benefit of the doubt:

If you’re listening to talk radio, you may think Andrew Friedman watched a few Nick Franklin highlights, checked out Drew Smyly’s projections for the next five years, and perhaps called up a scout who saw Adames in the Midwest League for a game or two. A quick note to Rays’ president Matt Silverman for approval, a phone call to Dave Dombrowski to execute the deal, and you’re envisioning Friedman leaning back in his office chair, satisfied and smug.

This scenario couldn’t be farther from the truth. The baseball community suggesting that the Rays took pennies on the dollar for David Price is akin to assuming that we know scouting, player development, and our sport’s analytics better than a group which has historically outperformed the industry.

Friedman and the Rays don’t mind. They are not looking to tell us how they get from point A to point B. When you have a machine that runs on a more efficient, cheaper fuel, it’s not prudent to show your competition the blueprint.

We do know a few things. These elements, crucial to the Rays’ success, are not proprietary, but certainly aren’t universally understood. Countless scouts, front office personnel, player development employees, and analytics specialists worked tirelessly to determine if this deal was the best available.

The Baseball Operations department lost sleep poring over possible outcomes. Studies were performed. Packages were weighed against each other. Qualified baseball men sat in AL Central ballparks watching Smyly pitch and in the Northwest observing Franklin. Adames was thoroughly scrutinized. Teammates were polled. Character checks were performed. Data was utilized not only from 2014, but many years before.

Perhaps someone outside the Rays organization has a better read on David Price. Remember though, this is a group that has had him since his baseball infancy. They’ve watched him develop as a pitcher, a teammate, and a man. They supported him publicly through some PR hiccups and assisted in his growth process. Ask yourself this: Who is better equipped to evaluate the piece they parted with and his value?

Have the Rays earned your faith? They’ve had six straight winning seasons out of the last six, a feat only two other clubs can claim – the Cardinals and Yankees. We know about the loot those two organizations have dropped. Of course, the Rays have done this without their payroll ever eclipsing $79 million.

***

For the legal eagles out there, Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk got his hands on “the documents supporting the temporary restraining order issued today preventing Major League Baseball and the Nationals from enforcing the arbitration which ruled in the Nationals’ favor in connection with its dispute with the Orioles over cable rights fees.” In short, “MASN is asking that the arbitration be set aside for conflict of interest for the most part.”

***

Some two weeks back, I did my best to remember the day I went to Fenway Park and witnessed the brawl between Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek. My cousin, Curt, who had paid for the tickets, subsequently e-mailed me with his own memories from the conclusion of the game and aftermath. Among them:

Mariano Rivera came trotting in from he pen. “Just once,” I said to the rabid Sox fan sitting behind me, “I’d like to see him get lit up.”

Trot Nixon hit a long fly ball which Gary Sheffield hauled in on the track. I figured that was our last, best shot. When Bill Mueller got hold of one and send it deep to right I thought [the ball would be caught for the final out], but Sheffield went back to the wall then threw down his mitt in disgust. You would have thought the Sox had won it all right there on July 24th. Being Fox’s game of the week, nobody left the stadium until Jeanne Zelasco finished interviewing Mueller on field which was tied into the stadium PA system. Then a jubilant crowd finally filed out of the old park in the Fens. Complete strangers hugged you, and as I drove my car out of the parking lot I was getting high-fives, despite my New York tags.

We had missed our dinner reservations at the Olde Union Oyster House by a couple hours and I explained to the restaurant hostess on the phone why. “You were at Fenway for that game? Don’t worry, Honey, we’ll feed you,” she said.

Again, good times.

More here, here, here, and here.

Tags: MLB

Miami-Dade High Schools to Start Testing for Steroids



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I get what they’re trying to do here, but I’m not sure they realize how hard it will be to implement an effective program. Via the Miami Herald:

A day after Biogenesis founder Antonio Bosch admitted to providing steroids to — among others — high school athletes, the Miami-Dade School Board announced its commitment to start a testing program.

The steroid testing will be a pilot program and will get under way during the coming school year, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Wednesday.

Carvalho said the school district will allocate about $73,000 for the program the first year, to be implemented by a vendor as yet to be selected. Since the cost of analyzing a test is more than $50, that won’t pay for a lot of testing. Carvalho hopes to supplement that amount by getting private sponsors.

Whatever the scope, it could discourage steroid use, the superintendent hopes — the theory being that any testing will act as a deterrent.

In designing a testing program, an athletic body must decide how often to test, for what substances and whether testing will be random, “suspicion-based” or some combination of the two.

“We’re going to sensitize the parents, the students, the coaches to this issue very aggressively,” Carvalho said.

As for the argument that this will “discourage steroid use,” there is testing in college and pro sports and athletes use performance enhancing drugs all the time. Another problem is that whatever program the high schools use will be less invasive than the testing of adult athletes, i.e., would you as a parent let somebody you don’t know watch your son or daughter urinate in cup? I certainly wouldn’t. But getting rid of the invasiveness of the tests opens the window to cheating. 

The rest from the Herald here.

Tags: Misc.

Big Donkey Takes the Mound, Other Weird Stuff



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Okay, why was David Murphy not permitted to return to third base on the play above, considering that it was someone in the Reds bullpen, an area that’s gated (i.e., not Wrigley Field), who was responsible for the loose ball?

Apparently, the umpires don’t have the discretion in this situation to rule interference. According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “The rulebook says a dead ball cannot be called unless a player or umpire is injured or the lights go out at the ballpark.” (Hmmm, this doesn’t sound kosher. After all, what’s to prevent a teams from “accidentally” tossing balls on the field during a play in order to confuse a runner or defender?)

Meanwhile, Adam Dunn took the mound in the ninth inning with his team down by two touchdowns, a two-point conversion, and an extra point (15). I don’t know, but watching the Big Donkey go through that windup looks rather disconcerting.

Wait, this makes me even more uncomfortable. Way more uncomfortable. . .

Tags: NFL

Cutch’s Injury and Holding Gibson Accountable



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Should Arizona skipper Kirk Gibson and by extension his boss, general manager Kevin Towers, be punished for one of his pitchers throwing at Andrew McCutchen over the weekend? (The beaning may have directly resulted in the reigning NL MVP going on the 15-day disabled list with an avulsion fracture in his rib.) And is Commissioner Bud Selig’s office to blame for seemingly not showing any interest?

Grantland’s Michael Baumann believes it’s long overdue:

Regardless, trusting that playing the game “the right way” will win out in the long run over playing it well is a hilarious way to run a team, especially one that’s currently 49-63. In baseball, God doesn’t vindicate the righteous — the talented vindicate themselves.

But the Diamondbacks don’t play the game “the right way,” not even close. And they offered another painful reminder of that this weekend, retaliating for an accidental hit-by-pitch by beaming Andrew McCutchen squarely in the back.

It’s annoying when the Diamondbacks complain about who jumps in their pool or bad-mouth a player who’s on the way out, under the cover of anonymity. They’re going to lose a lot, which matters to me not at all, because I’m one of the fortunate folks whose happiness isn’t based on the Diamondbacks’ success. I can even live with Gibson and Miguel Montero taking the “we’re not happy until you’re not happy” approach after losses, because if the Diamondbacks aren’t going to have fun when they lose, the Dodgers or whoever else aren’t allowed to have fun when they win.

Where they cross the line is by throwing at hitters. Let’s call it what it is: an institutional policy, set in place by Towers and enforced by Gibson, of responding to hurt feelings with violence. In spring training games, blowout losses, and late and close situations, Arizona’s pitchers have intentionally hit opposing teams’ star players. Other teams hit batters on purpose, but nobody does it as often or as routinely as the Diamondbacks do. They’ll do it to retaliate for accidental hits-by-pitches, they’ll do it out of spite, and they’ll do it because they’re losing. …

Towers and Gibson order batters to be hit because MLB, through its inaction, empowers them to do so. You stand for what you tolerate, and while the commissioner’s office would have to be a little nuts to suspend Gibson for, say, the rest of the season, the game would be better off if it did. …

This one’s on MLB, too.

If Gibson continues to order his pitchers to hit the likes of McCutchen, baseball is going to lose a superstar to serious injury because the manager of a fourth-place team is the guy who tries to start a fight with a stranger and then tells his friends to hold him back.

During spring training, after Arizona starter Wade Miley purposely hit Troy Tulowitzki, Jack Moore wrote this: “For MLB to take no action on this is shameful, and they will regret it once concerns of serious injury, like the Rockies had with Tulowitzki on Friday, are fully realized. As long as Towers is allowed to preach violence and retaliation, as long as violence and retaliation are requirements of wearing the Diamondbacks uniform, it is only a matter of time.”

Towers and Gibson order batters to be hit because MLB, through its inaction, empowers them to do so. You stand for what you tolerate, and while the commissioner’s office would have to be a little nuts to suspend Gibson for, say, the rest of the season, the game would be better off if it did.

Last August, Gibson had harsh words for Ryan Braun, who was then about to be suspended for PED use. Gibson, never one to miss an opportunity to pander to his base, said he’d confront Braun to his face. Which, of course, he didn’t. Gibson took that personal, testosterone-charged anger to the press, and then, in June of this year, congratulated Evan Marshall for hitting Braun to load the bases with a one-run lead. The next batter, Jonathan Lucroy, hit a grand slam to provide Milwaukee’s eventual winning margin.

That last point is key: More than anything else, Gibson should be canned for appearing to give greater weight to mindless acts of violence to winning ballgames. Here’s hoping the club’s “Chief Baseball Officer” Tony LaRussa, on the job since mid-May, will clean house the day after the regular season concludes.


More here.

Tags: MLB

John Madden: Young Kids Shouldn’t Play Tackle Football



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And I think he’s spot-on here. Via NBC Sports:

Via the national TV network it owns and operates, the NFL has launched a “Heads Up Across America” tour, aimed at extolling the virtues of the Heads Up Football program and, in turn, calming the fears of parents who may choke off the supply of future NFL players.

From Texas to Pennsylvania to Arizona (which is actually only six percent of America, but apparently they rounded up), NFL Network has looked at what youth coaches are doing to keep kids safe via the Heads Up Football program.  It all went according to plan. Until the effort landed in Canton, for a roundtable discussion including Hall of Fame coach John Madden and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

With the likes of moderator Melissa Stark, Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, and Chris Golic (wife of Mike Golic) praising the Heads Up Football coaching certification process, Madden did what Madden made his career as a broadcaster doing — he blurted out something that he believes in, genuinely and often strongly.

“[T]hey can’t learn them in a short time,” Madden said of the techniques taught to coaches in the Heads Up Football program.  “I was a coach, and I put a lot of education and experience into coaching. . . .  How long does it take to get a certificate?”

“An hour and a half,” Goodell said.

“And all due respect to the program, I don’t believe in it,” Madden replied.  “I respect coaches, I respect what good coaches do.  I know that you don’t learn to be a coach in an hour and a half.”

Goodell, who in that moment may have preferred being grilled again about Ray Rice, tried to address Madden’s concerns.

“It’s not saying you’re going to make someone a great coach,” Goodell explained.  “It’s certifying them in certain techniques and giving them some understanding of some of the medical issues.  Not to make them a doctor, but to know when to make sure they get medically evaluated if they’ve had an injury.”

While the actual value of the certification process, as Drew Magary of Deadspin illustrated earlier this year, is subject to debate, Madden had a broader point to make.  And when Madden has a point to make, he makes it.

“I’m a firm believer that there’s no way that a six-year-old should have a helmet on and learn a tackling drill,” Madden said.  “There’s no way.  Or a seven-year-old or an eight-year-old.  They’re not ready for it.  Take the helmets off kids. . . .  Start at six years old, seven years old, eight years old, nine years old.  They don’t need a helmet.  They can play flag football.  And with flag football you can get all the techniques.  Why do we have to start with a six-year-old who was just potty trained a year ago and put a helmet on him and tackle? . . .  We’ll eventually get to tackling.”

The rest here.

Tags: NFL

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