Thursday, August 16, 2012

Random Sports Thoughts

Congratulations go out to King Felix who threw a perfect game yesterday for the Seattle Mariners, their first.  I was at home sick so got to watch the final three innings.  There is no doubt that Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in the game and every time the Yankees face him I just go ahead and count it as a loss.  This is the 23rd perfect game in the history of the MLB, but the third one this year, which is a first.  I wondered before if we are seeing a statistical anomaly or something more, and that question is still in my mind.  Not to take anything away from Cain or Humber, who threw the other two perfect games this year, but facing the Rays line-up is much harder than either Seattle or the Astros, the other two teams who had perfect games thrown against them.

In addition to yesterday's perfect game we also found out that Melky Cabrera had been suspended for 50 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.  I've always liked Melky and he was having an incredible year, and now we know at least part of the reason.  This was also a contract year so it would appear to me that Cabrera was trying to have a great year to make big money, and it caught him.

But here is the fact with which that MLB is going to have to deal: They keep saying we are in the "post-steroid" era but it's clear that we are not.  Ryan Braun, last year's NL MVP, and Melky Cabrera, who most people thought would be this year's NL MVP, have now both tested positive for PEDs.  And don't let the fact that an arbitration committee overturned Braun's suspension confuse you.  His attorney's did not argue that Braun had not in fact used PEDs.  Instead they argued that the chain of evidence was not clean and thus could be questioned.  It's the same as someone who is accused of a crime being released because the police obtained evidence illegally.  It does not make them innocent, and in my opinion Braun is not.  If the two possible NL MVPs are using it should be pretty clear that lots and lots of others are also using, it's just that they are using something for which there is not yet a test.

The Red Sox are in complete disarray.  It would be tempting to say they are in disarray again, but it's truer to say they are still in disarray.  This really should not come as a surprise to people who have been watching the team for a while.  This ownership group has always worked on coddling players, just remember when Manny was "being Manny," and you can see the root of the problem.  But when they turn on you it can and will be very nasty, which, according to many reports, has led many of the current players not to trust the team, and truth be told they shouldn't.

Most people thought that Valentine would be a disaster, because he has been a disaster most places he has been in MLB.  The fact that he was the ownership's hire, versus who their new GM wanted, and then they didn't let him hire his own coaching staff, has not made anything better.  He was really set-up to fail.  Of course the fact that Ownership has released a statement of support for Valentine should be seen as all such statements should be seen: "We will fire you soon, but not immediately."  Show me one time that a statement of support for a coach has been followed by a long-term career in that position.  The only thing statements of support show is that the end is near.

As happy as I am to see them under .500 and 13.5 games back of my Yankees, this is a team that needs to be blown up and everything started again.  Of course, Larry Lucchino, who is a weasel and the president and CEO of the Red Sox, and the one who chose Valentine, has already shown were the blame will be placed because he told Ben Cherington, the GM, he had the authority to be "bold" at the trading deadline and nothing happened.  So the GM had the authority to make the team better and he didn't so clearly it's his fault, and definitely not Lucchino's or any of the other owners who pushed for some of the ridiculous contracts for bad personalities with which they are stuck.

Last night the US soccer team beat Mexico for the first time in Mexico.  Up to this game they were 0-23-1 in Mexico, and 33-16-12 all-time, but ESPN kept referring to the "rivalry" between the two teams.  I'm sorry that's not a rivalry.  The hammer and the nail don't have a rivalry.  Sure sometimes the hammer will miss and nail your thumb, but that doesn't mean that the nail is somehow suddenly a true competitor.  The US is doing better as of late, but I still have a hard time seeing this as a serious rivalry because one team has simply dominated the other.

In addition, last night the Little League Softball World Series was won by the team from Albuquerque, congratulations girls you did a great job!  At the same time, the Little League Baseball World Series begins today.  ESPN and Little League baseball will make millions of dollars off of this, and yet the players, the ones doing it all, will make nothing.  I understand the desire to keep them "amateur" but that's really a joke because so much money is being made off of them.  And some point something will be done, it's just a matter of time.

A few months ago Nick Saban, head football coach at Alabama, said that he is going to be there for the rest of his career.  If I were an Alabama fan I would begin thinking about who the next coach will be because Saban has never kept his word when he has made such a statement.  First there was the fact that he would never leave Michigan State, until he went to LSU. Then he said he would never leave LSU, until he went to Miami Dolphins. While there he said "I guess I have to say it. I'm not going to be the Alabama coach."  So like a statement from ownership supporting a manager, the only thing a statement of support from Saban means is that he will soon be going somewhere else.

Saban also said that what happened at Penn State could never happen at Alabama because the football coach had no power to affect anything there, and the entire world broke out in laughter.

Ohio State has decided to turn around it's troubled program by hiring Urban Meyer, which is also a joke.  Meyer had 31 arrests of players under his leadership is Florida.  To show you how bad it was I began typing "how many players arrested" into Google and the first response was "under Urban Meyer."  That's not really the sign of integrity you want for a troubled program.

And as long as we're talking about Ohio State, can someone explain to me how the NCAA can talk about lack of institutional control at Penn State and not then do anything about Ohio State?  When everything was coming out there about Jim Tressel's time there, as well as at his prior schools, the president of Ohio State, E. Gordon Gee, was asked if he would fire Tressel and his response was "I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."  Of course Gee said he was joking, and I'm sure everyone was laughing.  How does that not smack of loss of institutional control?

It should be noted that while at Vandebilt Gee eliminated the athletic department and put it under student life.  He could never do such a thing at Ohio State, or at most division one schools, because he wouldn't have the power or authority to do such a thing.  But if Tressel or Meyer or Saban or Paterno wanted something done you can be sure it would be done.

And finally, the Olympics are over and we have to wait another 18 months for the winter games, which I prefer, and another 4 years for the summer games.  I'm sure that NBC could have done a worse job in their coverage, but it would be hard to do.  I understand their desire for tape delay to draw a big audience, but the simple fact is we don't live in that world anymore.  I also don't understand the weird editing they did, and I hate most of their background stories.  I simply don't care, just let me watch.

They don't do this for other sports.  We don't lose several minutes of game time, or have it delayed, so we can learn all about how hard it was for the third and long pulling guard for the Colts to grow up.  Instead they let the games speak for themselves.  But where they could use some time to provide us information is in actually explaining the game to us since most are not familiar with most of these sports.  If you are going to blather on about something make it useful to us, not fluff to fill air time.

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