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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Reveille 6/23/14



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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:

Official scorers have a job to do, and by their very nature, their decisions don’t make everyone happy. But everyone in our game deserves respect. I hope that David will meet that standard going forward, because I don’t share the same views that he expressed.

Official scorers should never give any benefit of the doubt to the home team. We want their best judgment, based on the rules. We have a process to review the decisions that our scorers make. Even when there are inevitable disagreements, we expect everybody to act professionally and respect the game and the integrity of our scorers.

  • Sean Doolittle is the latest evidence that teams should consider free-agent closers only as a last resort. Last Wednesday, Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk pointed out that the southpaw, who finished off A’s victories only after “established” closer Jim Johnson imploded, has boasted a ridiculous 46:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 33 innings. (According to Gleeman, that ratio is not only the best of all time of any pitcher posting at least 30 innings in a single season but way more than double the current record holder.) Oh, and as of this morning, the ratio stands at 50:1 over 36 innings. Just . . . wow.
  • Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated’s The Strike Zone points out why Kirk Gibson’s decision last Tuesday evening to have his pitcher bean Ryan Braun may be the dumbest managerial move you’ll see this season:

Gibson has been particularly critical of Braun in the past due to his belief that the Brewers’ 2011 division series victory over his Diamondbacks was fueled by the slugger’s as-yet-undetected use of performance-enhancing drugs. Braun’s positive test, the one whose result was overturned by an arbitrator in early 2012 because his sample was improperly handled, came after Game 1 of that matchup.

Alas, choosing to load the bases in the late innings of a one-run game is a dumb time to try to exact revenge, whether it was [Evan] Marshall acting alone in an effort to curry favor with his manager and teammates — in which case, mission accomplished — or following Gibson’s ill-considered orders in a high-leverage spot. Reliever Brad Ziegler came on in relief of Marshall, and on his first pitch, he served up a grand slam to Jonathan Lucroy, who had hit a solo homer in his previous bat as well. [As noted previously, Lucroy (.331/.397/.520) is also clearly a better hitter than Braun (.278/.326/.489) this year.]

Oops. The slam gave the Brewers a 7–4 lead; they wound up winning 7–5. With the win, the Brewers are now 43–29, 3 1/2 games up in the NL Central, while the Diamondbacks are 30–44, 14 1/2 back in the NL West. One has to think that a suspension could await Gibson, who’s already on thin ice given his team’s last-place showing and the arrival of Tony La Russa as chief baseball officer. Whatever Arizona’s manager believes, it’s not his job to mete out punishment (MLB suspended Braun for 65 games last year), but you have to admire the combination of ineptitude and zeal with which his team went about doing so.

  • David Schoenfield of ESPN’s SweetSpot profiles the “horrific” rotation that plagued the 1930 Phillies. “The 1930 Phillies allowed 1199 [runs],” writes Schoenfield, “an astonishing 7.69 runs per game. The Phillies averaged over six runs per game and still finished 52–102.”
  • You don’t hear the adjective “bases-clearing” immediately before “wild pitch” all that often. Watch the Brewers pull off the wacky feat in Coors Field here.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Welcome Back, Gavin . . . Goodbye, Gavin



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This is what a fractured elbow looks like. (Not pretty.)

Nine starts after coming back from Tommy John surgery to repair an ulnar collateral ligament, Gavin Floyd is back on the disabled list, and it sure looks like he’ll be out a while.

The 31-year old Annapolis native had pitched shutout ball in Nationals Park before leaving the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Braves held on to defeat the Nats, 3–0, to climb within one-half game of first place in the NL East.

More here.

Tags: MLB

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ACLU: ‘Redskins Wrong, But Legal’



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Gabe Rottman of the ACLU writes:

An earlier blog on this site argued, rightly, that Dan Snyder, owner of a certain Washington football club, should voluntarily change the name of his team. He should. It’s demeaning and wrong, full stop.

The ACLU, one of the oldest racial justice organizations in the country, has an institutional obligation to call this stuff out when we see it. To the extent we are just adding our views on racial prejudice to the marketplace of ideas, this is not a free speech issue, despite what some have said.

But there are a few proposals in Washington that would force Snyder to change the name, and they raise broader issues regarding the government’s troubling ability to censor offensive speech. These proposals should be resisted as unwise for reasons that go beyond the immediate issue.

First, there’s an ongoing battle at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to revoke the team name’s registration as a trademark. Under the relevant section of the Lanham Act, the USPTO may not register vulgar (technically “scandalous” or “immoral”) trademarks or those that “disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt or disrepute.”

The latter potentially includes the Washington NFL mark, but also and unfortunately something like this prominent lesbian motorcycle club, which proudly self-identifies using an epithet (and had to fight, in court, to maintain trademark protection).

The courts that have looked at the issue generally dismiss First Amendment arguments, finding that the only thing that’s denied is formal registration, not the trademark itself, which attaches automatically as soon as you use a distinctive slogan, logo, etc., in commerce. In practice, however, denial of registration would make it much more difficult to punish someone who uses the logo without permission, which would likely force Snyder to change the name.

At first blush, it might seem obvious that the USPTO should have the ability to deny registration to racist or vulgar trademarks. But, as with all things free speech, who gets to decide what’s racist or vulgar? That’s right, the government, which is just ill-equipped to make these kinds of determinations. The motorcycle group above is a good example of the potential unintended consequences.

To its credit, the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) engages in a very searching inquiry into whether a particular mark is offensive and considers extensive testimony and evidence by social scientists, advocacy groups, linguists, lexicographers, and others.

At the end of the day, however, the ultimate determination is inherently subjective and the TTAB and reviewing courts have a significant amount of discretion in deciding what’s disparaging and what’s not. It’s not unlike “I know it when I see it” in obscenity law, and it raises similar problems.

The rest here.

Tags: NFL

Kershaw’s Historic Performance



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How unbelievably awesome was Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter against the Rockies? According to Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron, it was “the most perfect non-perfect game.”

Because Hanley Ramirez sucks at playing defense, baseball will not officially recognize Clayton Kershaw‘s effort tonight as a “perfect game”. But I would like to submit that if this doesn’t qualify as a perfect game, nothing should. . . .

Clayton Kershaw did not retire every single batter he faced tonight, so technically, he wasn’t perfect. Screw technicalities, though; what Clayton Kershaw just did was far more impressive than going 27-up, 27-down and relying on your defense in order to do it. Clayton Kershaw just threw one of the most dominant performances in the history of baseball.

In the top of the seventh inning, Ramirez, who was playing with a sore right thumb, fielded a softly hit ground ball cleanly but threw wide of first for an error.

According to Elias Sports Research, Kershaw became the first pitcher in history to record as many as 15 strikeouts without allowing either a hit or walk. Accordingly, it’s not a surprise that his game score of 102 is the second highest in a century, behind Kerry Wood’s 20-K performance in 1998.

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

Hail Mary? Brett Favre Stars in Ads for Cochran



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Politico:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is bringing in a big-time closer for the Mississippi Senate race: NFL legend Brett Favre.

Favre, a Gulfport native who has coached football at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, appears in a new Chamber ad praising Cochran as a “proven and respected leader” who can deliver education funding for Mississippi.

“I’ve learned through football that strong leadership makes the difference between winning and losing. And when it comes to our state’s future, trust me: Mississippi can win and win big with Thad Cochran,” Favre says in the commercial. “Thad Cochran always delivers, just like he did during Katrina.”

The former Green Bay Packers quarterback may be one of the few voices and faces that can stand out on Mississippi’s cluttered airwaves in the final days of Cochran’s nomination fight against state Sen. Chris McDaniel. The two are competing in a June 24 runoff after they deadlocked in the first round of voting earlier this month.

The rest here.

Tags: NFL

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NFL’s Redskins Lose Trademark Protection



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Washington Post:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team’s name “disparaging to Native Americans.”

The landmark case, which appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans. It was the second time such a case was filed.

“This victory was a long time coming and reflects the hard work of many attorneys at our firm,” said lead attorney Jesse Witten, of Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”

The rest here.

Future story: Non-Trademarked “Redskins” Merchandise Hits Stores; NFL, Snyder Powerless to Stop It

Tags: NFL

Why I’m Voting for Jonathan Lucroy



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Jonathan Lucroy makes his case to start in the Midsummer Classic:

I approve this message too, although the Brewers catcher’s Piazza-like numbers (.340/.401./.537) and superior pitch-framing skills speak for themselves.

Rumor has it that the next Lucroy ad will accuse Yadier Molina of secretly cavorting in the bullpen before home games with both George Soros and the Koch brothers . . . 

Tags: MLB

Maybe They Should Have Tried the Haystack



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Via Deadspin’s Samer Kalaf:

Raul Ibanez hit a foul ball in today’s Angels-Indians game. That’s not odd. The odd part is that no one found it.

Ibanez’s foul ball went into the empty upper deck of Progressive Field. One fan ran up to try and get it. He did not. More people walked up to comb the sections. Their efforts were fruitless. There is no happy ending to this video. No one found Raul Ibanez’s foul ball.

On a more positive note, the fans did get to snap a few selfies with Jimmy Hoffa.

More here.

Tags: MLB

A Dad’s Grab on Father’s Day



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Some dads had more satisfying Father’s Day experiences than others this past Sunday.

For example, while Tywin Lannister’s malicious treatment of his youngest son came back to haunt him (in the privy, of all places), Giants fan and San Rafael fire captain Rob Winner showed that ambition — in this case, catching a home-run ball off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki with one hand — need not come at the expense of your precious child’s well-being.

By the way, Reveille readers will recall that Winner’s grab at AT&T Park isn’t even the first baby-in-one-hand, home-run-ball-in-the-other grab of the season.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Obligatory Post of Chancellor Merkel with Shirtless German Soccer Players



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I expect this from Joe Biden, not Ms. Merkel.

But Germans do like their soccer. Fans were even allowed to bring their own sofas and watch Germany vs. Portugal on a big screen at the Alte Foersterei FC Union stadium in Berlin.

Getty images:

The Independent:

I wonder if Germany lost, would the fans torch the sofas Michigan State style?

Tags: Olympics

Harry Reid Is Boycotting the Redskins



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From the man who referred to the future president as “light-skinned,” he’s boycotting the Redskins until the team changes its name and won’t attend home games.

And not going to games isn’t a boycott; not watching the team at all is a boycott. Will Senator Reid make that pledge?

Tags: NFL

L.A.’s Mayor Garcetti Curses During Stanley Cup Event



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Via Mediaite, here’s Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking to Kings’ fans at the team’s Stanley Cup celebration:

“There are two rules in politics. They say never ever be pictured with a drink in your hand, and never swear. But this is a big f***ing day. Way to go, guys.” 

And then he toasted with a bottle of Bud Light. A real man-of-the people that Garcetti. 

Video here.

The official account for the Los Angeles Mayor’s office put out a more family-friendly version, however:

This might be the first time in social-media history where the Twitter version is less coarse than the public version.

 

Tags: NHL

Tony Gwynn, RIP



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Whoa.

Tony Gwynn (.338/.388/.459) has died at the age of 54. The first-ballot Hall of Famer had been battling salivary-gland cancer.

Gwynn’s .338 career batting average over 20 seasons — all of them with the Padres — is the highest since Ted Williams retired from the Red Sox in 1960 with a .344 average. Gwynn’s playing career ended in 2001, and since then he had been the head baseball coach for San Diego State University, where he starred in both baseball and basketball as a collegian, and a part-time analyst on Padres telecasts. . . . 

Gwynn’s battle with cancer began in 2009 when a malignant tumor was removed from his right cheek. Gwynn claimed that the cancer in the salivary gland was the result of his longtime habit of chewing tobacco. The cancer returned twice, and in the latter part of 2012 he again began radiation treatment in an attempt to shrink the tumor.

Gwynn underwent another round of surgery in early 2012 when the nerve that the tumor was wrapped around had to be replaced with one from his shoulder. In each case Gwynn valiantly fought back.

Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Reveille 6/16/14



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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:

If you don’t feel like counting, the Rangers have already lost 688 days to the DL. Just how gruesome is that number? According to Jeff Zimmerman, who’s sliced and diced injury data for FanGraphs since 2010 (and done lots of other excellent work on a variety of analytical topics), the Padres have been the most oft-injured team over the past four seasons. They were particularly snakebitten in 2012, when numerous pitching injuries resulted in Tommy John surgery and ensuing season-long DL stints. When tallied up, the Padres’ 2010-2013 injuries average out to 1,221 days lost to the DL per season. Prorated over a full season, the Rangers are on pace to lose 1,715 days to the DL this year.

That number is jaw-dropping enough on its own, but it’s actually worse considering the star-caliber players missing some of that time. The Rangers lost three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner Adrian Beltre for two weeks; 21-year-old phenom (and would-be Kinsler replacement) Jurickson Profar might not play a single game this year; and Fielder’s replacement, Mitch Moreland, is awaiting ankle surgery. The cruelest blow was losing Fielder himself. He was baseball’s most durable player when the Rangers acquired him, having played the full 162 games three years in a row, missing just one game over the past five seasons, and never missing more than five in a year since becoming a full-time player in 2006. Now, the Rangers won’t see him again until 2015, meaning most of his $24 million salary this year is down the drain.

 

 

  • By the way, congrats to J-Roll, who on Saturday passed Mike Schmidt and became the Phillies’ all-time hit leader. Matt Snyder of CBS Sports’s Eye on Baseball has the details.
  • When a player’s greatest strength suddenly becomes an undeniable weakness, says Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan, you begin to understand Evan Longoria’s forgettable season to date.
  • Writing at ESPN.com, Paul Lukas informs readers what teams were the first to wear shorts, white shoes, batting-practice jerseys, pullover jerseys, beltless pants, and hockey-style catcher masks.

 

 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: Sports Media

Bandwagon of Brotherly Love



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The biggest bandwagon fans root for the Phillies.

That was the conclusion of a recent Emory Sports Marketing Analytics study, which also found that the Cardinals and Yankees have boosters who appear the least concerned about team performance:

The most demanding MLB fans live in Philadelphia. This fits the stereotype of Philadelphia fans as aggressive, demanding fans that are willing to cheer injuries and boo Santa. The numbers say that Philadelphia fans require their team to perform or they won’t show up. Following the Phillies are the fans of Baltimore, Oakland, the White Sox, Detroit and Cleveland.

“May we go home now, guys? I need to wash my non-existent hair.” 

More here and here.

Tags: MLB

Game On: Sterling Hires Firms to Investigate Other NBA Owners, Execs.



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Scorched earth — I like it. AP:

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s team of lawyers has hired four private investigation firms to dig up dirt on the NBA’s former and current commissioners and its 29 other owners, said a person familiar with Sterling’s legal strategy.

Investigators were given a six-figure budget over the next 30 days to examine the league’s finances, allegations of previous discriminatory conduct and compensation to past Commissioner David Stern and current Commissioner Adam Silver, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday night on condition of anonymity. The person wasn’t authorized to talk publicly.

The person said the investigators also are looking into whether other owners made any off-color jokes, or racist or sexist remarks.

The rest here.

Tags: NBA

Polling the NBA, NCAA, and MLB in Florida



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Here’s the latest from Public Policy Polling.

The NBA playoffs? Meh. . .

The Heat are in the NBA finals right now but most of Florida doesn’t care. 31% of voters in the state say they’re rooting for the Heat, 13% say they’re rooting for the Spurs, and 57% say they don’t care. LeBron James has a 38/14 favorability rating- it’s 28/16 with white voters and 79/6 with African Americans.

Not much love for the Hurricanes. . .

Florida narrowly edges Florida State for college sports loyalties in the state, 22/19. Central Florida is third at 11%, followed by Miami at 10%, Florida Atlantic at 5%, South Florida at 4%, and Florida International at 2%. Florida coach Will Muschamp is in tepid standing with the Gator fan base- just 33% say they approve of the job he’s doing to 19% who disapprove, with a 48% plurality still taking a wait and see approach. His approval rating is down from 46% in September. Despite winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship last fall, 72% of voters in the state say they have no opinion about Jameis Winston. 10% see him favorably and 18% unfavorably.

And Tampa’s success on the baseball diamond does not translate into fan support. . .

Florida’s teams continue to do pretty poorly when it comes to MLB loyalty in the state- the Braves lead with 17%, followed by the Marlins at 14%, Yankees at 11%, Rays at 10%, Red Sox at 8%, and Cubs at 5%. The few fans the Marlins and Rays do have remain optimistic for the season though. 65% of Marlins fans think the team will make the playoffs this year, 38% think they will make it to the World Series, and 19% think they’ll win it all. Despite an abysmal start to the season Rays fans remain hopeful too- 59% think they’ll make the playoffs although only 20% think they’ll get to the World Series and just 12% think they’ll win it. Baseball fans are either incredibly optimistic people or lie to pollsters about their expectations- or perhaps spin is a better word than lie. 

 

 

Tags: Misc.

CNN Producer Injured During World Cup Protest in Sao Paulo



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And this is only the first day:

The good news is that Ms. Arvanitidis​ has left the hospital and is back at work. Here’s hoping that covering the rest of the tournament isn’t as painful.

Tags: Soccer

Another Miscue, Another Amazing Throw



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Yoenis is quite the tease.

You saw Tuesday night’s throw against the Angels after butchering a batted ball. Now check out Wednesday night’s heave, again after mishandling a fielding opportunity.

Just . . . wow.

The A’s won, 7–1.

Tags: MLB

USA Coach Says It’s ‘Unrealistic’ to Talk about Team Winning World Cup



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Via CBS Sports:

’Unrealistic’ for US to win World Cup? Klinsmann can’t be from around here

In Jurgen Klinsmann’s defense, he’s not from around here. To his credit, he knows it. That’s why his latest mealy-mouthed commentary about the US men’s soccer team, as it enters a World Cup it apparently can’t win, was followed by the following disclaimer:

“If it is American or not,” Klinsmann said this week, “you can correct me.”

Don’t need your permission to correct you, Jurgen. See, here in America, we don’t ask or even need permission to be bold, blunt, aggressive. Another thing we don’t do: We don’t apologize for losing before the game even starts. In America we don’t, or we didn’t, say what Jurgen Klinsmann said this week about the 2014 World Cup:

“For us now talking about winning a World Cup,” he said, “it is just not realistic.”

Put that in bronze and mount it outside the US Soccer Federation office in Chicago. Florida football has “The Promise” by Tim Tebow. US soccer can have “The Surrender” by Jurgen Klinsmann.

For us now talking about winning a World Cup, it is just not realistic.

There will be American fans at the World Cup in Brazil this week, enough for every one of them to paint a letter on his or her white T-shirt and spell out that memorable bit of pep-talkery from Jurgen Klinsmann:

Winning: it is just not realistic.

The rest here.

Tags: Soccer

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