Category Archives: Sports

FOR PETE’S SAKE GET OVER IT

Let Pete Rose up.

In case you missed the shocking news earlier this week, ESPN found out that Pete bet on baseball when he was a player back in 1986. There are the scribbling of a bookie to prove it.

That’s not all. Pete lied. Talk about shocking.

And now each and every American has to ask him/herself, “Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?”

Prior to the latest revelations, Pete seemed to be getting closer to induction. He had served his 25-year sentence for admitting to gambling as a manager and was hoping new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred would reinstate him.

The consensus now is that he’ll never see his plaque in Cooperstown.

Why not?

What would be so difficult about maintaining the lifetime ban for gambling, putting Rose in the Hall and including the information about his lifetime ban on his plaque?

Wouldn’t reminding future players that a Hall of Famer, who had more hits than every player in history, was banned for life act as an eternal deterrent?

And, by the way, the lifetime ban from working in Major League Baseball shouldn’t be lifted. That doesn’t mean that Rose should be banned from appearing at the All Star Game in Cincinnati next month. The All Star Game is for the fans and they want Rose there.
As long as MLB threatens current players with a lifetime ban it can’t show Rose any leniency because of the message it would send.

But, does the gambling penalty fit the crime?

In 1963, Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers, who was NFL Most Valuable Player in 1961, and Alex Karras, an all-pro defensive tackle with the Detroit Lions, were caught betting on NFL games.

They were suspended for the 1964 season. Hornung was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Both players were predictably contrite after they were caught and that played a major role in their quick reinstatement, but, a couple of years ago, Hornung said this: “ You know what, looking back it just pisses you off. I knew 10 other guys who bet. They didn’t get them all in my day.”

Hornung and Karras were caught betting on NFL games that didn’t involve their teams.

Rose admitted to betting on the Reds when he was their manager. Really, why is that a big deal?

There’s a big leap from betting on your team to win and betting on your team to lose and doing your best to make it happen.

If a player, who’s making $25,000 to $50,000 a game, is feeling good about his team, why shouldn’t he be allowed to call his buddy in Las Vegas and tell him to bet a game check for him?

Why shouldn’t an NFL player making millions of dollars be allowed to go to Vegas before the season and bet on his team to win the Super Bowl?

I’ll bet it happens a lot.

The Supreme Court has been pretty busy lately, but maybe one of these days it can get around to making sports betting legal in every state.

With all the money being paid to the top professional athletes these days, would you be shocked to find out that they make side bets with each other every now and then?

Would you be shocked to find out that big money makers on the PGA tour, who find themselves out of contention on Sunday morning, are betting thousands of dollars among themselves to keep it interesting?

Why would anybody care?

Let players, coaches and owners bet as long as they’re not betting against their teams. How would you be sure that they aren’t?

You wouldn’t.

Just as you aren’t now.

HYSTERIA RIGHT OFF THE BAT

Tonya Carpenter is going to be okay.

But, that won’t stop the hysteria.

Carpenter is the 44 year-old woman who was rushed to the hospital after being seriously injured when Oakland A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie’s bat broke and flew into the stands at Fenway Park in Boston.

Initially, the injury was described as life threatening, but her condition was upgraded to fair within a day or two.

It took less time for the media to start calling for Major League Baseball to install nets at all its ballparks.

We’ve had several days of discussion about how dangerous it is for fans at MLB games.

But is it, really?

I admit to being amazed that more people sitting in the field level seats along both lines aren’t seriously injured more often.

The fact that fans have been willing to sit in those seats for the last 100 years or so is proof that it just doesn’t happen that often.

Since big crowds started showing up at baseball games, fans have weighed the risk billions of times and chosen to sit there.

Not only have they chosen to sit there, they have chosen to pay the highest prices to do so.

Bloomberg.com did a study last year and a story with the headline, “Baseball Caught Looking as Fouls Injure 1,750 Fans a Year.”

You had to go nine paragraphs in before reading, “While the typical injury is minor, like a bruised hand or a bloodied lip, a small number are more serious, and the those victims tend to be children.”

The piece goes on to describe serous injuries to a six year-old girl at a Braves game, a seven year-old at a White Sox game and an 18-month-old in Seattle.

So, the injuries are usually minor and the serious injuries are usually to children.

How can any parent, who has ever been to a baseball game, choose to sit in those seats with an 18-month-old baby?

For that matter, why would a parent bring an 18-month-old baby to a baseball game?

Of course, little kids with short attention spans, slow reflexes and poor hand-eye coordination don’t choose to sit in those seats.

Idiotic parents make the choice for them.

So, based on the fans’ willingness to pay top dollar to sit in the more dangerous seats since the world’s first baseball game, it would appear that the need for smarter parents is greater than the need for nets.

Let adults weigh the risk and make the choice.

And advise the clueless adults to sit anywhere else when they choose to bring a toddler to the game.

After the horrific injury to Tonya Carpenter and after seeing her leave on a stretcher, how many empty seats were there in her section?

Where was the panic, with fans trampling each other trying to get to safer ground?

There was none, of course, because the fans know that the odds of being seriously hurt by a ball or a bat have to be somewhere south of struck-by-lightning territory.

But there were plenty of calls from the media for MLB to provide nets for people who prove millions of times a year that they don’t need or want them.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote, “Now is the time to make it mandatory that safety netting extends past every dugout at every Major League park.”

My favorite came from Maury Brown of Forbes.com.

He said the most important comments at this week’s MLB Amateur draft wouldn’t be about prospects or about growing the game’s interest with youth:

“No, the most important comments at the Draft were about whether you, your family and your friends come home from a game in one piece.”

I have a prediction.
A million human beings will make the death defying decision to go to a Major League Baseball game this weekend.

Every single one of them will come home in one piece.

WAS WHAT BRUCE JENNER DID COURAGEOUS?

Is Caitlyn Jenner good for America?

ESPN took a lot of heat for announcing that it would present the former Bruce Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage next month at the ESPYs.

The heat came from people who thought that there were many more deserving athletes, such as Lauren Hill, a Mount St. Joseph basketball player, who stayed on the team while battling brain cancer and helped to raise millions of dollars for cancer research, or double amputee Noah Galloway, who was injured in Iraq and still competes in extreme sports.

Did Jenner declaring his transition from man to woman and showing up as a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine really require that much courage?

By all accounts, people close to him knew about his transgender tendencies for years. Who was the last celebrity to come out as gay or transgender who wasn’t exalted to near sainthood?

Look at the reaction to Jenner.

She will be given one of the loudest and longest standing ovations in television history when she receives her award at the ESPYs.

Do you think he/she didn’t know what the reaction would be?

Questioning the wonderfulness of it all, on the other hand, requires a certain amount of courage.

That’s why you don’t see too many in the media going against the grain on this one.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that Jenner’s story will help young people, who have been dealing with confusion about their gender, to come forward and make them more likely to make the gender transition.

Excuse Walt Heyer for bucking that conventional wisdom.

Walt was a man. Then he was a woman. Now he’s a man again.

He underwent a gender change when he was 42. He transitioned back to a man at 56 and has been married to a woman for the last 18 years.

Heyer isn’t buying the media narrative about Jenner. That Bruce is gone and Caitlyn has finally been set free.

He told CNN, “As long as the television lights are on and the cameras are rolling, being in the spotlight he enjoys, Jenner will be fine. But when the lights go dim and the cameras are no longer rolling, he will face the most difficult time of his life.”

“His celebrated change of gender could turn on him and become the cause of deep depression, which left untreated, according to those who study suicide, is the number one cause of suicide.”

And don’t tell Dr. Paul McCugh about what Jenner’s courage will do for gender-confused kids.

McCugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hosptial, wrote in the Wall Street Journal last year, “(Yet) policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusion as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.”

Studies at Johns Hopkins found that gender confused patients, who were surgically treated, did no better psychologically than those who weren’t.

That’s why Johns Hopkins Hospital, the first American medical center to do sex reassignment surgery, no longer offers it.

So, Caitlyn Jenner will receiver her award.

She’ll get her reality show on the E Network and, according to the people who booked Jenner as Bruce, the 1976 dectathalon winner, she’ll quadruple her speaking fees as Caitlyn.

ESPN will get a bump in the ratings for the ESPYs from curiosity seekers tuning in to see what Caitlyn will wear and the media will slobber over her for as long as slobbering over her sells.

Then Caitlyn Jenner will go back to being just another Kardashian.

FIFA? WHAT ABOUT NFL, MLB, NBA, AND NHL?

FIFA has nothing on the NFL.

Maybe you’ve heard the shocking news that a country, where it’s 108 degrees when the games are played, Qatar, appears to have seen the need to bribe the people in charge in order to get the World Cup there in 2022.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Justice department indicted 14 people on charges of bribery, racketeering, money-laundering and other charges. Two days later, FIFA reelected Sepp Blatter, the man in charge while all this corruption was going on, to his fifth term as president.

All over the world, there are tumbleweeds bouncing around and through stadiums that were built by corrupt governments to lure the World Cup and or the Olympics to their countries.

And most people didn’t need the U.S. Justice Department to confirm their suspicions that palms were being greased.

The national media, sports and otherwise, have been all over the soccer corruption story. It’s received almost as much coverage as Deflategate.

But you know what’s been getting very little coverage?
San Diegogate.

Okay, nobody’s calling it San Diegogate because not enough people care to qualify it for a “gate.”

Inept, corrupt politicians have spent billions of government dollars on stadiums for more than 40 years, many times in direct opposition to the people who elected them.

And just as with FIFA, those same politicians keep winning elections. The difference, of course, is that ol’ Sepp is not a government official.

The San Diego Chargers are the latest NFL team that seems to have succeeded in extorting tax money for a $1.2 billon stadium by threatening a move to Los Angeles.

The Chargers play in a 40 year old stadium and the NFL can’t have that, even if the people in San Diego aren’t interested in having their money confiscated and given to a billion dollar corporation.

The national non-sports media was all over Deflategate. They were talking about Tom Brady’s deflated footballs on the network newscasts and even the Sunday talk shows.

But have you heard or seen anybody talking about the corruption in San Diego?

The sports guys will talk about the possibility of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles because it’s a sports story, but have you seen the level of interest or outrage that Deflategate received?

The San Diego politicians stood against using tax dollars for a new stadium until the relocation of the Chargers became a real possibility, which is exactly what the NFL was counting on and why Los Angeles has been without a team for so long.

How many millions of taxpayers have been bilked out of their hard earned money to build stadiums for teams that have threatened to move to Lala Land?
St. Louis taxpayers were forced to pay for a domed stadium in order to lure Rams there. Now the owner of the Rams is threatening to move back to Los Angeles if he doesn’t get a new stadium in St. Louis.

The law in San Diego required any new taxes for stadiums to be put to a public vote but, as seems to miraculously happen a lot when the NFL is involved, the advisory board appointed by the mayor came up with a plan that doesn’t actually include new taxes.

It does include the sale of 75 acres of prime real estate which, instead of going to the taxpayers, will go the San Diego Chargers.

How is the continued confiscation of billions of taxpayer dollars to give to NFL owners any less corrupt than what’s been going on with FIFA for the last 20 or 30 years?

How is a government bribing a FIFA voter in hopes of getting the World Cup any worse than politicians in San Diego bribing the Chargers owner with the promise of a half billion dollars to build a stadium that will keep the NFL in town?

And where is the media scrutiny, much less outrage?

Spare me the outrage and shock over the corruption in soccer’s governing body.

The money being used to grease the palms of the slimy bureaucrats who control soccer worldwide is peanuts compared to what’s been given, and will continue to be given, to the owners of NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL owners in America.

HOW TO SAVE BASEBALL

I’m here to save baseball.

No, not Major League Baseball. Despite the ridiculous economic disparity that still stacks the deck in favor of teams from major TV markets, it continues to fill parks and make billions.

I’m talking about the sport, which, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, is struggling to find kids who want to play.

In 2000, more than eight million kids ages seven to 17 participated in youth baseball. By 2013 that number had dropped to 5,3 million.

So, how to fix it:

1. Teach kids how to play before giving them a uniform and expecting them to perform in a game. The average baseball fan –who’s over 50, by the way — learned how to play the game before he signed up for Little League. In 2015, kids are handed uniforms and then taught the game.

2. Use a ball that little kids can catch.

The days of kids playing pick-up games in their back yards or at the neighborhood field are over.

Before a kid plays in a baseball game with a real baseball or even with one of those slightly softer youth baseballs, he should show an ability to catch a nerf ball, tennis ball or rubber ball.

I know the parents like to see their kids playing pretend baseball, but they would learn how to catch and throw a lot quicker if they played with a ball that didn’t hurt them.

3. Forget the six-inning games for six, seven and eight year-olds.

Kids that age have the attention span of a gnat.

Why would you expect them to enjoy standing in the outfield for two hours waiting for a ball or two that they have no chance of catching?

They like soccer and basketball because they’re always moving and it’s simple – run and kick or shoot the ball into the net.

Since they don’t come to youth baseball with the skills that kids in the dark ages used to hone in their back yards with a whiffle ball or a tennis ball, make learning how to play fun.

Devise skill competitions. Yeah, that’s right. Competition.

Little kids, especially boys, love to compete.

Let them wear their uniforms and participate in catching, throwing and hitting competitions. Keep score and post the scores.

Declare a winner at the end.

These competitions could be going on at different parts of the field to keep as many kids moving and competing as possible.

Unlike standing at home plate worrying about getting hit with a pitch thrown by a kid who has no business pitching, the skills could be practiced in back yards.

After the kids have had, you know, fun, competing in games that they can actually be expected to master, let them play a two inning game.
And they shouldn’t play with a baseball until they’ve shown an ability to catch a ball that can’t hurt them.

The most important thing should be making sure the ball is put into play as much and as quickly as possible.

If that means a tee, fine. Remember you’re competing with soccer, Lacrosse, basketball and maybe hockey.

Keep the standing around to a minimum.

If you’re going to have a pitcher, only let the kids who can pitch pitch. Seventeen kids shouldn’t be expected to enjoy standing around watching another kid learn to pitch.

Don’t put the kid on the mound until he proves he belongs there.

The parents may be deprived of seeing a structured facsimile of a baseball game, but their kids would be having fun and learning how to play.

There are very few things more excruciatingly boring than watching seven, eight and nine year-olds playing “baseball.”

Ten and 11-year olds aren’t much better.

And, please, if you have a kid playing on a travel team, this isn’t for you. Your kid is an exception.

I have four grandsons, ages 11-13. They all started playing baseball when they were six or seven. Only one is playing this year. They play hockey, basketball and football. Ask them why they stopped playing baseball and they’ll give you a simple, honest answer.

“It’s boring.”

I blame that on the adults.

NFL STILL MISSING THE POINT

The NFL continues to miss the point.

Wait. Don’t stop reading. This is not another Deflategate story. It’s about what happens on the football field. No police blotter stories. Just football and how the NFL could make its games better.

It’s a dead horse that I’ve been beating for a while in this space, but I’m still holding out for a Lazarus moment when at least one of the owners wakes up and realizes that field goals are ruining their sport.

The owners will hold their annual Spring Meeting in San Francisco next week and the word is that, when they’re finished, we will have a new extra point.

There are three proposals and they’re all stupid and a waste of time.

The Patriots’ proposal would have the ball snapped from the 15-yard line for a one point kick and the ball would be put at the two yard line for a two point attempt.

Last season the 32 teams missed a total of 27 attempts between 30 and 39 yards and, of course, many if not most of those misses were probably from farther than 32 yards. (Too tired to look it up.)

So, kicking from the 22 won’t change the extra point attempt from a signal that it’s time to go to the bathroom. It’ll still be all but automatic.

The Eagles are proposing snapping from the 15 for the kick and from the one for the two point try, but they want to allow the defense to score on any two point try if there is an interception or a fumble.

The NFL competition committee has the third proposal which is the same as the Eagles’ proposal except that the ball would be snapped from the two yard line on two point tries.

The owners would be better of spending time filling paper bags with water and throwing them put their hotel windows than wasting it on any kicking discussion that doesn’t include making field goals less likely to be attempted.

The only way to accomplish that would be by making them harder to convert.

There are 32 teams in the NFL. They each play 16 games. Do you know how many field goal attempts from inside 50 yards were missed last season?

Ninety-five.

That’s an average of 2.97 field goals missed from zero to 49 yards per team per season.

And the NFL owners think the extra point is a problem?

The Falcons and Ravens didn’t miss a field goal from 50 yards all season long.

The Patriots, Colts and Steelers missed one.

If you’re a kicker, call the Detroit Lions. They missed nine. The Dolphins were the only other team to miss more than four.

Remember, that’s all season long.

The actual act of kicking the field goal is boring enough, but that’s not the biggest reason for making them harder to make.

It’s what the inevitability of the three points does to the coaches. It makes them play too conservatively when they get inside the 40-yard line.

Teams trying for touchdowns and not making them is a lot more exciting than a 32-yard field goal.

At least I think so. Maybe there’s somebody out there who would rather see that than a team going for it on 4th and five from the 15. If so, we haven’t met.

Jan Stenerud is the only place kicker in the Football Hall of Fame.

He retired 30 years ago with an accuracy rate of 66.8%.

Last season, NFL kickers made 58% of their kicks from 50 yards and beyond and 88% overall.

And they’re going to spend more than a minute and a half trying to add excitement to the game by changing the extra point?

More proof that owning a monopoly can be a wonderful thing.

GRIP IT AND RIP IT

Tom Brady should be suspended.

Let’s get that out of the way right off the top.

He cheated.

The Clintonian defense put up by his agent and his father only make him look more guilty and more pathetic.

But Brady should never have felt the need to cheat. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Brady not only knew about the game balls being deflated by Patriots’ equipment guys, he most likely requested it.

And not only for the AFC Championship game last January.

Common sense and several pages of text messages between Brady and the Patriots’ equipment managers tell you that it was an ongoing practice.

Brady pushed hard back in 2006 for the NFL to change the rules and allow each team to provide game balls.

And remember the Tuck Rule Game?

That was way back in January of 2002. The divisional playoff game was played in the snow and Brady’s apparent fumble, that would have given the win to the Oakland Raiders, was overturned by an obscure rule and called an incomplete pass because Brady was pulling the ball back in after attempting a pass and trying to tuck it away.

The rule was abolished in 2013.

But it seemed to have had an effect on Brady. Losing that ball could have cost the Patriots a trip to the Super Bowl. It’s not outrageous to suggest that, because of the Tuck Rule Game, Brady became more concerned than the average NFL quarterback about gripping the football in bad weather.

My guess is that Brady has been keeping his eye on weather forecasts and having the equipment guys adjust the balls accordingly for a long time.

The forecast for the AFC Championship game last January, according to AccuWeather, was for “heavy rain throughout the game as a storm rides up the coastline Sunday into Sunday night. The wind will be a problem throughout the game as Foxborough will see 15 to 20 mile per hour sustained winds.”

If you don’t think that having a softer football helps a quarterback, his receivers and the running backs in weather like that, then I’d be willing to bet you’ve never thrown a 20-yard spiral.

My friends in the media who dismiss that advantage should be required to demonstrate their passing ability.

So, it would be nice if Brady, the Patriots and their cheerleaders in the media would stop insulting our intelligence by suggesting that it was the football equivalent of rolling through a stop sign.

And what should the NFL do after it suspends Brady (4 games has a nice ring to it) and takes a draft pick (2nd or 3rd sounds about right) away from the Patriots?

It should stop testing the game balls.

Why shouldn’t each quarterback decide how the footballs he’ll be using are inflated?

The NFL is all about maximizing offense.

The millions of people, who tuned in to see Brady vs. Andrew Luck last January, wanted to see an air show.

Watching football in the rain used to be fun when it was a battle in the muddy trenches, but that was before running the ball became an afterthought and mud was all but eliminated from the game.

It’s only an advantage to one team if only one quarterback can adjust the grip for bad weather. So let both of them play with a ball they can grip and rip.

Did you know that in the first NFL-AFL Championship Game -before it was known as the Super Bowl – the Green Bay Packers used the official NFL ball and the Kansas City Chiefs used the official AFL ball?

The AFL was a much more pass happy league and used a ball that was, you know, easier to throw.

Brady and the Patriots cheated and should be punished, but if the cheating results in the elimination of a stupid rule, maybe their legacy will be a little less tarnished.