Category Archives: Sports

FIGHT TEAM FIGHT. OR NOT

“Fight Golden Knights
Fight for the Green and the Gold
Fight to win this game.”

Those are the first three lines of my high school’s fight song. The nickname has since been changed to Rebels, but otherwise the lyrics have stayed the same.

I’m afraid to ask if it’s still called a fight song.

In a recent conversation with my grandson, he mentioned his middle school’s Pride Song.

That’s right. No more fight song. Fight is a violent word. It may give the kiddies the mistaken impression that fighting is okay.

I didn’t take the time to call all the schools in my area, so forgive me if I assume that this is a trend that has spread and will continue to spread beyond my grandson’s middle school.

I don’t know if it’s okay to have a pride song that includes the word “fight” but, I have a feeling it won’t be okay for too much longer.

Last April the student government at the University of Utah decided the school’s fight song, “Utah Man” was sexist, racist and just plain politically incorrect.

The words fan and men were substituted for man and men and the poor, unsuspecting fans who had shown up for Utah football games for 100 years, no longer had to fear being offended by the song.

I did some checking to see how many college “Pride Songs” may be in need of some major wussification before they offend the sensibilities of our future leaders.

I was shocked and distressed to find that most college fight songs include the word fight:

Pitt’s Pride Song might take some pretty creative editing. Guess what the first word in the song is. Yep.

“Fight on for dear old Pittsburgh.”
The chorus is :
“Da da da da da-da Pitt, fight!”
“Da da da da da-da , Pitt, fight.”

No wonder there’s so much violence at college football games.

And somebody better do something about the Naval Academy’s Pride Song. It’s treasonous.

“Stand Navy down the field,
And SINK the Army, SINK the grey!”
Is our Commander in Chief aware of this?

The Air Force Academy Pride Song is not only violent and pro-war, it’s sexist.

It hardly follows the lead of the University of Utah, whose Vice President of Student affairs, Barbara Snyder, said, “We didn’t want the fight song to be something that divided people. We wanted it to be something that pulled people together.”

“Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun.
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At ‘em boys, give ‘er the gun!”
And those Aggies at Texas A&M have a lot of work to do. Their pride song is called “The Aggie War Hymn.”

War? What about the children?

And the Aggies are so mean that they threaten their biggest rival in the middle of the song:

“Good-bye to Texas University
So long to the Orange and the White
Good luck to the dear old Texas Aggies
They are the boys that show the real old fight
‘The eyes of Texas are upon you…’
That is the song they sing so well.
So good-bye to Texas University
We’re going to beat you all to —”

Now, that’s really mean. Can’t we all get along?

MLB WASTING TIME TRYING TO SAVE TIME

The Idiots Who Run Baseball strike again.

The new commissioner, Rob Manfred, Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark, John Scherholtz, Atlanta Braves President and Chairman of Major League Baseball’s Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committee and Attorney General Eric Holder announced changes on Friday that they hope will speed up games.

Oh, wait, how did Eric Holder get in there? My bad.

Surprisingly enough, the federal government stayed out of this one.
And how will the pace be sped up?

-The batters box rule, requiring that all batters must keep at least one foot in the batters box unless one of a group of exceptions occurs, will be enforced. My sources tell me that an earthquake that measures higher than 6.5 is one of the exceptions.

– Timers will measure the time between innings and pitching changes. Players will have to be ready two minutes and 25 seconds after the third out of an inning for local TV games and 2:45 for national TV.

Clocks will be installed in the ballpark and the IWRB will appoint someone to track compliance.

There are also changes to the procedures for challenging and possibly overturning umpires’ calls, including allowing the manager to challenge a call from the dugout instead of requiring him to approach the umpire.

Kind of ironic, don’t you think, that the IWRB wasted so much time in an effort to save your time?

How much time are we talking about saving here when all of these things are implemented? Ten minutes?

Does anybody really think that the average baseball fan is going to notice the difference between a game that last three hours and 22 minutes and one that lasts three hours and 12 minutes?

You want to shorten games enough that people will notice?

Try seven innings instead of nine.

That will never happen. Neither will two outs instead of three, or two strikes for an out and three balls for a walk. There is only one way to shorten games significantly and that’s by having fewer commercials.

The breaks between half-innings are at least three minutes if you count the commercial time and the time it takes for the first pitch to be thrown.

Cut that to 2 minutes combined with insisting that the first pitch is thrown as soon as the break is over and a 3 ½ hour game becomes a 3 hour and five minute game.

And imagine the return of the two and a half hour game.

Back in the stone age, games used to start at 8:05 because they were usually over by 10:30 and people could be home by 11:00. Now they have to start at seven to get the fans home that early.

Nobody believes for a second that the IWRB would reduce the time for commercials, which makes everything they say about their eagerness to shorten games as meaningless as one more batting glove adjustment.

The people in charge of all the major sports need to get creative with commercials if they want to shorten games.

Make each commercial spot 20 seconds instead of 30. Three 20s could actually bring in more money than two 30s.

Advertisers should be smart enough to realize that their commercials are more likely to be seen when they aren’t lost in a 2 and a half minute commercial break.

Put the law of supply and demand to work. Major sports events are quickly becoming the only place where advertisers can be sure that people are not using their DVRs to blow through the commercials.

By making fewer commercial spots available, the value of the spots would go up.

Who’s more creative than the people who write and produce radio and TV commercials? They could make 20 seconds work.

All the major sports leagues could do a better job of fitting short, creative, effective commercials into the small natural breaks in their games.

The way commercials are worked into NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL games are the same now as they were in 1975.

The IWRB went looking for time in all the wrong places.
And you know what really makes the IWRB’s exercise a waste of time?

There are no in-game penalties for breaking the new rules. They think fining players will be incentive enough to get them to comply.

How much of a fine will it take to get the attention of a pitcher who’s making $5000 to $10,000 per pitch?

LET’S RIP SIDNEY CROSBY

The Twittersphere and talk radio was a-twitter today with people claiming that Sidney Crosby has been getting a free pass compared to other superstars in town.

My question is who are the other superstars and how are they being attacked?

Ben Roethlisberger? He was criticized for playing some bad games during the 2014 regular season but is there a person in the media who hasn’t said that 2014 was his best season ever?

is there anybody in the media who hasn’t said that the Steelers should pay him whatever he wants to
keep him.

Was Andrew McCutchen ripped last season or do i remember a lot of media saying that he should be voted MVP of the National League for the second year in a row?

Was he being criticized in 2013 when he was on his way to the MVP?

Quarterbacks are different animals. When they throw three interceptions and miss open receivers they can easily — if not always justifiably –be blamed for a loss.

And they only play 16 games so every thing is magnified.

Hockey players aren’t listed as probable or questionable during the week before a game.

When they miss games it’s because of an upper or lower body injury.

When Andrew McCutchen played with a bad back everybody knew. It wasn’t excuse making to attribute any drop off in performance to a bad back. It was a fact.

Sidney Crosby played with a sore wrist for the last two or three weeks of the regular season and all through the playoffs. Surgery was suggested if not recommended.

We don’t know if his wrist is the reason for his major dropoff in goal production but if it is, that would be a fact and not an excuse.

Crosby has been criticized for being stubborn about who plays on his line. If he is and it’s to the detriment of his team, then that is a legitimate criticism.

But the coach, the general manager and the owner deserve more criticism if it’s true.

They are not doing their jobs if they don’t tell Crosby who he’s playing with and tell him to shut up if he doesn’t like it.

Same is true if Crosby is being stubborn about where he positions himself on the power play.

Of course,he has been criticized for that, which flies in the face of the argument that he’s never criticized.

He’s been criticized for not going to the dirty areas as much as he used to. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s a legitimate criticism. I invite my friends at the three local TV stations and Root Sports to support that theory with video.

It wouldn’t be hard to look through tapes from past years to show the contrast – if there is one.

Right now it’s a nice theory

So, to sum up:

Crosby has been criticized by every person in Pennsylvania for not producing enough in the playoffs the last two years.

He has been criticized for being unwilling to change linemates.

He has been criticized for being stubborn about his role on the power play and blamed for the lack of its success.

So, do me a favor and give me a list of criticisms that should be made that haven’t.

And one more thing. Crosby ran away with the scoring title last year. He was voted MVP and he won the Pearson award as the best player in the NHL as voted on by the players.

The response to that from just about everybody was, “It doesn’t matter. It’s all about what he does in the playoffs.”

Fair enough.

But you can’t have it both ways.

If Crosby were running away with the scoring title right now and the Penguins were running away with the Metropolitan Division, the response would be, “Doesn’t matter. They choke in the playoffs.”

It says here Crosby will win the scoring title.

And, if you were among those who said before the season that nothing he did in the regular season was going to impress you, then, to be fair, you have to give him a chance to change your mind in the playoffs.

There’s a lot of hockey left.

Calm down.

CHEATERS NEVER WIN BUT SOMETIMES THEY WHINE

Little League International hit the daily double this week.

It was accused of racism and bullying. In case you hadn’t heard, last summer’s feel good story of the summer’s not feeling so good.

The national championship team from Jackie Robinson West in Chicago that captured everybody’s hearts, was celebrated in a parade and invited to the White House, cheated.

After a long investigation – most of it done by the media – Little League stripped the team of the championship. South Korea beat JRW 8-4 in the World Series final.

The team from Las Vegas that lost to JRW in the national final was awarded the championship.

Of course the adults, some of whom had to have done the cheating, used this as a teaching moment and told the kids about the importance of fair play and that cheaters never win.

Yeah, of course they did.

Jesse Jackson showed up and threatened a law suit. He talked about how hard the boys worked and then he asked the big question.

“Is this about boundaries or race.”
It’s about boundaries.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Jackie Robinson West was the first all African-American team to win the national title.

Little League International determined that phony maps were drawn and kids were recruited from outside JRW’s boundaries. Imagine that.

It also found that representatives from Jackie Robinson West met with other leagues to try to add territory that wasn’t actually within its borders.
How good was the team?

It won the Illinois State Championship game 29-2. It also won a playoff game 43-3.
And how did the Mayor of Chicago respond? Was he outraged by the cheating?

Nope.

He’s outraged that the team is being punished for the cheating and asked Little League International to reverse the decision. And then he lied to the kids, “The city remains united in its support of these great children and in our hearts, they will always be champions in Chicago.”

No they won’t.

That’s the point. The championship was taken away because it was won by cheating. Kids not grasping that concept is one thing, but the mayor of Chicago?
One of the arguments being made for allowing the kids to keep the title is that they shouldn’t suffer because of the action of dishonest adults.

Yes, they should.

White House spokesman Josh Ernst said that President Obama is proud of the way the way they represented their city and the way they represented their country.

Then Ernst added, “The fact is, some dirty dealing by adults doesn’t take anything away from the accomplishments of these young men.”
Yes it does.

It takes away their accomplishment because they cheated.

The accomplishment was winning the national championship and they accomplished that by using players that they weren’t allowed to use.

Do these people know anything about sports?

Brandon Green, a JRW pitcher said, “None of the players were involved in anything that could have caused us to be stripped of our championship.”

Yes you were, kid.

You were involved in games that included players you weren’t supposed to have. The teams that you beat were involved, too. Your team cheated.

Green’s mother, Venisa Green, was more than happy to play the race card. She said Little League was bullying the JRW players and, “(It was) Amazing to me that whenever African-Americans exceed the expectations, that there is always going to be fault that is found in what it is that we do. Little League says that they teach character and they teach courage. Well, this isn’t an act of courage and it sure isn’t an act of character.”

Sorry, Mom, but it was both.

It took character and courage to take the drastic action of stripping the team of the title because Little League International executives had to know that they would be accused of being racist.

They decided to do the right thing, anyway.

Too bad so many adults are too stupid to pass that lesson on to the kids.

Horses Escape, Obama Closes the Barn Door

Our president is about 30 years too late.

In his latest budget proposal, Barack Obama will call on Congress to put an end to tax exempt funds to finance stadiums.

This would have been really bad news for most of the zillionaire sports owners around the country who have benefited from what may be the biggest and worst political scandal in America over the last 35 years.

Hey, Mr. President, the horses just escaped, would you mind closing the barn door?

According to a story in Bloomberg News back in 2012, when the New York Giants were about to open the season against the Dallas Cowboys in their new stadium, there were 21 owners whose teams were playing in new or renovated stadiums built in the last 25 years with tax free public borrowing.

The story let Giants fans know that they had already helped Jerry Jones pay for his $1.2 billion, 80,000 seat stadium in Arlington, Texas.

How? Because every American taxpayer is forced to pay for new stadiums that are subsidized by tax free borrowing.

According to Bloomberg, tax exemptions on interest paid by municipal bonds for stadiums cost the U.S. Treasury $146 million a year. By the time all the publicly financed stadiums are paid for, taxpayers will have paid $4 billion.

And, of course, back in 2000, President Obama, when he was an Illinois state senator, was more than happy to vote in favor of the $587 million renovation of Soldier Field in Chicago.

That was one of the all time worst examples of government theft of taxpayer dollars to subsidize a billion dollar sports team.

Here’s what University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson said at the time:

“If we started out to build the ugliest stadium in the country for the most money with the fewest alternative uses in the worst possible location, we’re pretty much there.”

The future president was part of one the worst taxpayer rip offs in history.

In Novemeber of 2000, while 99% of media attention was focused on Bush, Gore and the hanging chads in Florida, the Illinois legislature rammed the Soldier Field proposal through.

No referendum.

No public hearings.

One poll of 1,200 registered voters showed 66% opposed to the plan.

During a presidential debate in 2007, Obama defended his support of the Soldier Field debacle by saying that it led to economic development in Chicago.

Pretty amazing for a guy who is so quick to quote the consensus of scientists on climate change, to ignore the consensus of economists who believe that sports facilities and major events almost never lead to economic development.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to talk the NFL into bringing the Super Bowl to his city and he wants to add 5,000 more seats to Soldier Field to reach the NFL’s required 65,000 capacity.

Who will pay for them? Who cares?

Meanwhile, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who is emerging as a strong candidate for the Republican nomination for president and who sells himself as a strong fiscal conservative, recently came out in support of a nice new building for the Milwaukee Bucks.

In their thank you statement to the governor, the Bucks promised “an economic catalyst for the entire state.”

George Will and Charles Krauthammer, two of the country’s most prominent conservative commentators are also two of the country’s biggest baseball fans.

Both spend lots of time at Washington Nationals games in their beautiful, new, government financed, voter-opposed ball park.

I did a lot of Googling and couldn’t find a column by either one that questioned the funding or called the Nationals beneficiaries of corporate welfare.

Meanwhile, back in Illinois: In December the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, by a vote of 4-3, made 30 year old Lou Bertuca its $160,000 per year Executive Director.

The four yes voters were all outgoing Governor Pat Quinn’s appointees. Beruca, who has no experience with sports facilities, was Quinn’s campaign manager.

It never ends.

TOM BRADY BEST EVER (IN THE DINK AND DUNK ERA)

I’ve always had a hard time accepting Tom Brady’s greatness.

But then I also question the greatness of Jerry Rice.

Believe me, I know that both are great players, but I always question the mob mentality that is created in the media when they decide to declare this player or that player the greatest of all time.

Jerry Rice might be the greatest of all time, but not because of his numbers.

There are lots of other factors involved. Including the offense he played in and the rules that were — or weren’t– in place during his era.

I don’t think Tom Brady is the best quarterback of all time. In fact, I don’t think he’s close and I don’t care how many Super Bowls he’s won.

I do think he’s the greatest dink and dunk passer of all time and I give Bill Belichick most of the credit for that.

Belichick tied Chuck Noll last night with his fourth Super Bowl win.

And in a strange and roundabout way, Belichick can thank Noll for helping him tie his record.

Noll put together the best team in NFL history by exploiting the rules that were in place in the ’70s.

Bump and run.

Head slap.

Offensive lineman couldn’t use their hands.

He put together defenses that were so good that the league had to pass rules to overcome them.

And he built his offense around the running game because he saw the futility of trying to win with the pass against the defensive rules that were in place.

The end of the bump and run gave birth to the West Coast offense. Bill Walsh, when he was offensive coordinator at Cincinnati, was smart enough to realize that, if defenders couldn’t touch receivers more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, he was going to make a living throwing seven and eight yard slants.

Hello Joe Montana. Have you met Jerry Rice?

Belichick flamed out in Cleveland when he was a defense first kind of guy.

BY the time he got to New England, after a few years as a defensive coordinator, he had had learned what offenses did to drive him crazy.

Dink. Dunk.

Over the past few seasons rule changes and enhanced enforcement have made it almost impossible for defenses to stop the short passing game.

The New England Patriots are the greatest dink and dunk team of all time and Tom Brady is the greatest dink and dunk quarterback of all time.

That’s not to say that Brady can’t make all the throws. Of course he can. Anybody who has seen him play knows that.

The point is that he is rarely asked to make the tough throw.

In his first five Super Bowls, Brady had attempted 21 passes longer than 20 yards.

He completed one of them.

In the win over the Seahawks, I counted 10 passes that went 10 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

The first one was intercepted.

He also made an absolutely perfect “long” pass to Gronk for the Patriots second touchdown.

Of the first 8 passes beyond 10 yards, two were intercepted, one went for a touchdown and the rest were incomplete.

When Seattle punted the ball away with four minutes to go and a three point lead, I knew that the game was at least going to overtime.

The Patriots offense -because of the design – is almost impossible to stop when the opposing defense can’t afford to give up the big play.

The Seahawks had to force the Patriots to take a lot of plays and had to concede the short stuff.

And Belichick was more than happy to dink and dunk his way to the end zone.

Tom Brady did his job. But his job is so much easier than so many quarterbacks who came before him.

And the credit for that goes to Bill Belichick.

And maybe Chuck Noll.

JUST PLAY THE GAME

J. Steigerwald column for 1.31/2.01.14

Let’s hope that Richard Sherman’s about-to-be born son is as disciplined as Sherman expects him to be.

Earlier this week, Sherman was asked about the choice he might have to make if his girlfriend went into labor with their son on Super Bowl Sunday.

Sherman said he expected his son to be a disciplined young man and “stay in there” until after the game.
Should this really be a tough choice?

It’s a choice that athletes have been faced with only fairly recently. And just about everybody seems to have decided that there really is no choice.

Johnny Unitas would never have been faced with choosing between playing and being there for the birth of his child because, when he played, fathers were not allowed in the delivery room.

Yep. Shocking as it may seem, billions and billions of babies have been born without their fathers being present in the delivery room and most of them survived.

Come on. We’re talking about the Super Bowl here. Sherman has a contract that guarantees he will make $40 million over the next four years.

He plays for a team. This isn’t Phil Mickelson leaving after the third round of a major tournament.

There are 52 other players on the roster who have been working toward the goal of winning a championship for seven or eight months and Sherman will be at least the second most important Seahawks player in the game.

He’s employed by a billion dollar company that stands to lose millions of dollars if his absence costs it the game.

The knee jerk reaction when players are faced with this choice has become, “Family always comes first.” No it doesn’t. Or at least it doesn’t always have to come first.

When you are part of a team and when you are paid millions of dollars because you are an invaluable member of that team, sometimes putting your family first is being selfish.

We’re not talking about a death or some kind of medical emergency. Then there is no choice. We’re talking about passing up what could be a meaningful personal experience to fulfill an obligation and a promise every player makes to his team.

If it’s a shortstop missing one of 162 games, that’s a different story. For an NFL player, there are, at most, 20 games including playoffs and missing a regular season game could easily cost your team a playoff spot.

Shouldn’t your employer be allowed to expect you to make some family sacrifices if he’s paying you $600,000 a week?

Sherman’s coach, Pete Carroll, made light of the situation when he was asked. He, of course, said “It’s about family first and we’ll support his decision. I can’t wait to see little Petey.”

What else could Carroll have said?

The media would crucify him if he would dare to suggest that Sherman should consider his obligation to the team.

Again, because it’s become accepted that nothing should prevent a father from being present for the birth of a child.

It would be nice if a coach or an owner would have the guts to say that he expects his player to take one for the team and show up.

Carroll, by the way, is 63. You can be sure his father wasn’t in the delivery room when he was born and you can be almost certain that he wasn’t there for the birth of his kids.

The father witnessing the birth is a relatively new phenomenon and it’s an improvement over past practices, but have we become so sensitive and self-centered that it had to evolve so quickly into being mandatory with no exceptions?

By the time you read this, “Little Petey” might already be among us or maybe he’ll wait until the game is over.

But if Sherman chooses to play in the game and misses the birth, we shouldn’t worry too much about “Little Petey.”

What kid wouldn’t think it was cool to tell his friends that his dad missed his birth because he was playing in the Super Bowl?