sports Archive

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More Joe Pa Faux Pas

Yeah, okay, the title’s kinda weaksauce, but I couldn’t think of anything pertinent to rhyme with “fucking insane,” which is what the pedophilic rape scandal embroiling Penn State still qualifies as even after the too-long-in-coming firing of Joe Paterno two days ago.

First of all, forget everything else you know or think you know about this story for a moment and wrap your head around the fact that, as Dan Shaughnessy points out in the Boston Globe this morning,

assistant coach Mike McQueary — the man who admits he did not attempt to stop the alleged rape of an 10-year-old boy by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in the football shower facility — will still be coaching Saturday. [emphasis my own]

To repeat: a man who witnessed the raping of an elementary school student and did nothing about it except mention the fact to his boss is still employed even though said boss has been canned. Not only that, but when asked if there was any consideration being given to dismissing McQueary, interim coach Tom Bradley responded by saying “absolutely not.” Not just “no,” but “absolutely not,” as if the very thought of firing a person who enabled a child molester is absolutely inconceivable.

Close it out, Dan:

It seems that everybody knew, but nobody went to the police. This perfectly demonstrates the skewed priorities in yahoo towns with big-time football programs and little else. Institutions of higher learning become enablers of the “program”

[...]

It’s still not too late to fire the coaching staff, cancel the game, and cancel the season. Before the legal system plays out and the jail sentences are issued … before the glacially-paced, ever-sanctimonious NCAA gets around to its sanctions … Penn State has a chance to deliver a message and restore some of its soul.

No Senior Day? Those players will recover. They’ll get over it.

Wish we could say the same for Jerry Sandusky’s victims.

***

UPDATE: Slate agrees.

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Steroids might have been a thing

Remember 10 years ago when Barry Bonds set a new major league record for home runs in a season with 73?

Guess how many the major league leader had this year? If you said 60, you obviously don’t follow baseball anymore. If you said 50, you at least have a general knowledge about how things have been trending recently. If you said 45, you’d be very close — but still wrong. That’s because Jose Bautista led the major leagues this year with 43 home runs.

Think about that: 43 home runs. That’s a 41 percent decline from the all-time high recorded a mere decade ago. You have to go back to Matt Williams in 1994 for the last time someone hit 43 or fewer homers while still leading the majors — and that was a strike-shortened season. By way of comparison, in the 18-year span dating from 1976-1993, league leaders topped 43 home runs a mere dozen times, while the feat was accomplished more than double that amount — 27 times, in fact — from 1994-2011. (If you’d care to check my math…)

And now, because I have no ending for this pseudo-rant, a picture of my Halloween costume from two years ago:

Alex Roid-driguez

4

Red Sox? More like Red SUX! amirite???

My heart can’t really take delving into this subject too deeply at the moment, but can I just say that when you go to sleep with your team up by a run in the seventh AND your wild card competition down by seven runs in the seventh, only the most reptilian-hearted cynic would expect anything worse than the need for a one game “play-in” the next day?

On the plus side, I can now proudly state that in the last eight years, my baseball team has achieved not only the most historic comeback in baseball history, but also the most historic collapse. (Literally: no team in the history of baseball has ever blown a nine game lead in September.)

On the minus side, I can never wear my Adrian Gonzalez t-shirt again after he was quoted as saying

God has a plan. And it wasn’t God’s plan for us to be in the playoffs.

He didn’t mean nothin’ by it, George.

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On why I might mourn some hockey players…

My dad thinks I’m crazy, feeling sad about a rich hockey player I didn’t know personally swinging from the end of a rope. I try to explain that I still love this game, I still admire the people who play it, even though I agree that athletes are elevated as heroes in the most ridiculous of ways. Sidney Crosby is just a guy from Cole Harbour who’s good at playing a fucking game, and gets paid millions of dollars to do it, my dad says, so why should I give a shit? Except maybe he won’t be good at playing that game anymore, and I feel sad about that too. Dad’s mad that the game is so different from when he was a kid, back in the glory days, back in the sixties, back when there were only six teams, and he thinks hockey is silly now, all dump-and-chase, and he’s right.

But I still love it, and I picture these big rich men as little boys, skating in backyard rinks, single-mindedly dwelling on the puck, and the stick, and the net, and their dreams of being in the NHL. And the League is run like any other business, and it’s yucky, and I hate it, and I’m sure the disappointment for some of these guys is overwhelming — getting from the backyard to the massive arena, to find out the game they love is suddenly all about bottom lines and stats and television rights and advertising dollars.

And now a whole plane full of hockey players is lost, and I will call my dad tonight and ask him how he feels about it.

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Joey Gathright leaves parking lot, returns to baseball

Good news, sports fans. According to Peter Abraham over at the Globe,

The Red Sox have signed Joey Gathright, who was playing with the independent Yuma Scorpions, and assigned him to Pawtucket. Yuma manager Jose Canseco had the news on his Twitter feed and the Red Sox have confirmed it. [Editor's note: Who the hell woulda thought that Jose Canseco would ever be the manager of anything other than an underground cockfighting league?]

Gathright, 30, played 17 games for the Red Sox in 2009 after being obtained from Baltimore Aug. 29 and was on the playoff roster a pinch runner. The same could be true this year.

Gathright hasn’t been in the majors since 2009. He has 80 career steals.

In addition to those 80 career steals, Gathright’s career numbers over parts of six seasons are as follows:

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

309

30

7

1

96

80

29

96

212

.263

.327

.303

So given Joltin’ Joe’s more than modest career stats, why the hell am I writing about this signing? Because Gathright can jump over a car.

 
Now if we can just get someone to drive a sedan onto the field during a game, we’ll see what he can do!

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Pats on the Back Crack

Yesterday, the New England Patriots acquired wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

If you have even a passing knowledge of American football, you undoubtedly recognize these names. The scary thing is, you may also recognize these names even if you couldn’t care less about football. Why is that scary? Because there are only two reasons to be familiar with football players if you’re not a fan of the sport: 1) they make hilarious commercials or roll with international supermodels, or 2) they’re self-contained soap operas.

Guess which category Albie and Chad fall into?

(To quote my cousin after I texted him about the Haynesworth acquisition: “Dude single handedly destroyed the skins haha, hopefully belichick can work a miracle.” Then after I texted him about Ochocinco: “Holy. Shit.”)

What’s the rap on these two characters? Well, Ochocinco is simply a world-class prima donna and part-time sideshow performer. From his ridiculous end zone celebrations, appearances on shows like Dancing with the Stars and WWE’s Monday Night Raw, and the fact that he actually changed his last name from “Johnson” to the Spanish iteration of his jersey number (85), to his “tryouts” in other sports like soccer and, yes, bull riding — the man’s constant need for attention too often trumps his equally eye-catching (though dwindling in recent years) statistical accomplishments.

 
Haynesworth, on the other hand…well, as Wil said, hopefully Belichick can work a miracle, because unfortunately, Big Al hasn’t just proven to be a distraction over his career — he’s been a walking time bomb.

A few tidbits from Wikipedia:

  • On October 1, 2006 in the third quarter of a game against the Cowboys, running back Julius Jones scored on a rushing play. Center Andre Gurode fell to the ground, and his helmet was removed by Haynesworth. Haynesworth tried to stomp on Gurode’s head, but missed. A second stomp opened a severe wound on Gurode’s forehead, narrowly missing his right eye.
  • On December 7, 2010, it was announced that Haynesworth will be suspended for the rest of the season [from the Washington Redskins]. There had been conflicts throughout the 2010 pre-season with Haynesworth and the coaching staff. After a dispute over his absence at a practice in which Haynesworth claimed to be ill, the team suspended him for “conduct detrimental to the club.” Coach Mike Shanahan said the suspension followed a refusal by Haynesworth to cooperate in a series of ways and not only because of the practice absence.
  • Arrest warrants were issued against Haynesworth in two Tennessee counties in May 2006 stemming from a traffic incident on Interstate 40. Both sets of charges were dropped in June 2006. The judge in the Putnam County case tossed the charges on the grounds that the alleged offense happened out of their jurisdiction. In Smith County, the district attorney dismissed the charges. In March 2009, Haynesworth was indicted on two misdemeanor traffic charges stemming from a December 2008 car accident in Tennessee.[27] In an accident on Interstate 65, Corey Edmonson was partially paralyzed after colliding with Haynesworth’s car. Haynesworth was driving his Ferrari at speeds in excess of 100 mph when he struck Edmonson’s vehicle, which struck a concrete barrier.
  • On June 22, 2010, it has been reported that Clayton Bank & Trust is suing the NFL lineman, alleging that Haynesworth has failed to make payments on a loan in the amount of more than $2.38 million. The suit was filed in the Knox County Chancery Court on June 18, 2010. According to papers, Haynesworth entered a commercial loan agreement for the original principal amount of $2,381,688.58 on June 27, 2009. On February 27, 2009 the two parties entered into an Extension Agreement with an effective date of February 27, 2010, according to the suit. The attorney for Clayton Bank & Trust, Hugh B. Ward, Jr., is seeking a little over $2.4 million.
  • In 2010, Silvia Mena, a stripper from New York, claimed in a $10 million lawsuit that Haynesworth impregnated her and left her with no financial assistance.
  • In 2011, Haynesworth allegedly threw a punch to the nose of Joel Velazques, 38, of Leesburg, Va. during a traffic altercation.

Of course, Belichick and co. have taken chances on “problem” players in the past and reaped huge rewards for their risks. (See: Corey Dillon in 2004 and the Pat’s subsequent Superbowl victory, not to mention Randy Moss in 2007 and his record-setting 23 touchdowns that year.) But to have both these guys on the team at the same time (assuming all the contractual nuts and bolts shake out)…well, I hope Barnum’s got a few extra rings handy, ’cause it could be a circus this year.

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Sports Miscellania Terrible and Wonderful

Two incredibly contrasting feelings that I was forced to contend with back to back while perusing the Globe this morning.

First, the terrible: Fan dies after falling from stands at Rangers game.

A man attending a Texas Rangers game with his young son died after falling out of the stands and about 20 feet to the ground while trying to catch a baseball tossed his way Thursday night, the Rangers and Arlington fire officials said.

Christ. I mean, obviously there are more painful and drawn-out ways to die, but the cosmic, tragic irony of this accident is almost unbearable. A man and his boy at a baseball game, the epitome of a happy family outing, father/son bonding time, hot dogs and peanuts, cheering your favorite players, faux-booing your least favorite — a quintessential and iconic life experience. And then, wonder of wonders, the opportunity to catch an actual game ball and present it to your son, forever cementing your legacy as a hero in his eyes no matter what else you do with your life. And then an under-thrown ball, or a reflexive but unbalanced catch too near a railing, or both, or neither — and in the end, this heart-breaking scene:

“They had him on a stretcher. He said, ‘Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself.’ The people who carried him out reassured him. ‘Sir, we’ll get your son, we’ll make sure he’s OK,’” Ziegler said. “He had his arms swinging. He talked and was conscious. We assumed he was okay. But when you find out he’s not, it’s just tough.”

***

And then an emotional whiplash to the wonderful: Man with no arms throws out the first pitch

 

Now, granted, he probably doesn’t throw many strikes, but I think that’s kind of beside the point.

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God loves NASCAR

So last Saturday, David Ragan won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of his career. Now, perhaps that sentence means as little to you as it does to me, but whether it does or doesn’t, I encourage you to listen to the first 30 seconds or so of his victory speech following the race:

 

In case you didn’t catch all that (or didn’t feel like waiting for Danica to shut the hell up), here’s a transcript of Ragan’s opening remarks.

“This is fun. Uhh, what better place to do it than Daytona. Uhh, first of all, I’ve got to thank the Lord for, uhh, for looking after me. Uhh, Sprint. We delivered a win for UPS. How ’bout that? We’ve been promising all those UPSers for, uhh, for a couple of years and finally got it in Daytona. It couldn’t be any better. A great points night. Coca-Cola — Coke Zero 400. It couldn’t be a better night. I’ve gotta thank Matt Kenseth for helping me. My Ford teammates worked great together.”

For those keeping track at home (or, let’s face it, at work — get back to that spreadsheet, cubicle monkey!), that’s four references to four different sponsors in less than 25 seconds. Morgan Spurlock would be proud.

Fortunately, Ragan also remembered to thank God a solid five words and two verbal pauses before launching into his brand-heavy homily. Because if J-HOVA is interested in influencing anything in our turbulent little corner of the universe, it’s the outcome of motor car races. Cue The Man:

 

Le sigh…We miss you George…

Oh, but I’m sure you would have been tickled to death (you know, metaphorically speaking) to be proven wrong last November:

 

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I can’t believe this guy is why the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII

I know we’ve been on a minor sports kick recently, and I know I hardly have a right to remain bitter about a four-year-old Super Bowl outcome now that Titletown USA has just brought home its unprecedented seventh major sports championship in 11 years, but when the man who nearly single-handedly laid waste to the New England Patriots’ undefeated season by making one of — if not the most redonkulous, unlikely catches in football history (the last of his career, no less) finally outs himself as a bigot — and, even worse, a melodramatic bigot — well, it just makes the whole bilious, poorly suppressed melancholia bubble right back up to the surface.

Peep these remarks delivered by aforementioned receiver David Tyree in a recent interview with the National Organization for Marriage:

“You can’t teach something that you don’t have, so two men will never be able to show a woman how to be a woman,” the 31-year-old said.

Okay, pretty standard — if, from a purely English language standpoint, cringingly worded — sentiments from your average gay marriage opponent, but here’s where Tyree devolves into operatic territories of a soap-like persuasion.

Asked what he thought would happen if gay marriage was legalized across the US, Tyree said, “This will be the beginning of our country sliding toward, it’s a strong word, but anarchy.

Ah yes, anarchy. You know: “a state of society without government or law.” What other outcome could there be in a world where two dudes are allowed to kiss in public and two chicks are allowed to potty train their son? Let’s just hope it’s nothing like when the Giants won the Superbowl.

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Grantland: Fancy Boy Writers So-So, Girl Writer Puts Them All to Shame

Editor Tom told me to post a picture of Tim Thomas hoisting the cup. I say fuck that.

So Grantland, the new sports venture between Bill Simmons and ESPN, launched last week — apparently to much fanfare, although I stumbled on it by accident through the Atlantic’s website (they poo-poo-ed it). I like it, although Klosterman and Eggers, two of the fancy names attached to it, have been pretty mediocre so far. Bill Simmons stuff has been pretty entertaining, but all in all, it had better get better — and soon — because it’s a good idea, and there needs to be more long-form sports writing out there, and I want it to survive.

So far the site appears to have two women writers out of ten or so, Katie Baker and Molly Lambert, which isn’t bad as far as representation goes, but isn’t great either. Molly Lambert, according to her byline, writes about pop culture for the site, leaving Katie Baker as the lone female sportswriter. Good thing she’s so frigging awesome.

I fell in love with Baker’s writing when I read her article “I Was Teenage Hockey Message Board Jailbait: The Confessions of a Former Adolescent Puck Tease” on Deadspin, about her days in the late 90s and early 2000s doing, well, exactly what the title says she did. It’s a great read. So far she’s written about hockey for Grantland — so jealous, want to steal her job — and she’s been awesome so far: funny, feisty, and knowledgeable about hockey, which is more than I can say about most American sportswriters.
A smattering:

Nice! What’s the over/under for the cameras showing Steve Nash?
9½, and he’ll be waving a rally towel in all of them. Definitely three times as much as they’ll show the Green Men.
And which Bruin will be shamelessly fawned over?
Tim Thomas, the 37-year-old goalie who spent nearly 10 years toiling in various minor and European leagues before making it to the NHL, and who as recently as last year was banished to the bench. He’ll likely win the Vezina trophy for best regular-season goaltender, and there’s an excellent chance that, win or lose, he’ll go home with the Conn Smythe trophy for MVP of the whole playoffs. (If he did, he’d be only the second American other than Brian Leetch to win the award.)
Fans and the media love Thomas for his affable quirkiness and make-you-gasp play. He’s always reminded me of a camp counselor: in great shape, approachable but a little bit distant, bearded, hangs by the pool on his off days, pauses and looks off into the middle distance before speaking, went to the University of Vermont.”

And:

“Soooo … (whistles casually) what’s this I keep hearing about redheaded Swedish twins?
Settle down. “The Sedin Sisters” is just a derogatory name. Vancouver’s Henrik and Daniel Sedin are two of the leagues’ top players. (During the regular season they were so preternaturally precise that highlights of their power plays were set to the Harlem Globetrotters theme song.) But they’ve been held to two goals against Boston, which has caused them to become a target for the media, fans, and, literally, to players. This is not a new phenomenon: In 2002 Vancouver’s then-GM Brian Burke famously ranted that “Sedin is not Swedish for punch me or headlock me in a scrum.””

And:

“In many ways the Green Men, the Vancouver Canucks’ writhing, jiving, Carrie Underwood sign-ing semi-official mascots, are shiny Spandex-unitarded distillations of the team itself. They are entertaining and irritating, derivative but inventive, silky and showy, and a little too satisfied. They are very often found upside-down.

I’ve been pretty “meh” about the Stanley Cup finals and didn’t think I would miss hockey when it was over — now that I’ve found Baker’s writing about it, though, I wish the hockey season never ended. I’m looking forward to next October. Hopefully Grantland will still be around then.

UPDATE: Throwing a bone to the B’s fans out there. Too funny not to post.

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