Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
ESPN analysts weighed in today, so I thought I would as well. While pick’em lines are generally meaningless (see the “expert” picks for the 2008 Super Bowl), they are fun. Three out of the four sportswriters I highly respect in the column linked above went with the Phillies (Crasnick, Gammons, Stark, with Olney dissenting), but so did Steve Phillips, who I think is a dunce.
With that said, I watched much of both the NLCS and ALCS, and though I like both teams, I am leaning toward the Rays. Starting pitching, good bullpen relief, and an energized lineup that plays the game the right way give me ample reason to go with the worst-to-World Series Rays. I also believe the momentum carrying over from the ALCS battle with the Boston Red Sox will carry over into Fall Classic success.
While saying “Go Rays”, with their small budget, may be bad for my local Kansas City Royals they are my favorite heading in to tonight. This is the matchup I wanted, so here we go.
I love baseball. And all apologies to Scotland Huber.
I took this photo on Saturday. That would be Texas “Tech,” short for Technical, not Tecknical.
Scripture note: The apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans notes at 14:2, “Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables.” Obviously Paul never played flag football with [Tony] Gonzalez, one of the NFL’s few vegetarians. The translation is from the New Revised Standard Version, endorsed by most biblical scholars. The New International Version, favored by evangelicals, renders the passage as, “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.” Evangelical translators want being a vegetarian to sound wimpy!
Interestingly enough, in the past six months I’ve read numerous allusions to biblical passages in sports writing and news reporting, and have wondered just what percentage of people in our culture are familiar enough with some of the basic components of the Old and New Testaments to get it. My guess: that number is fairly low. E.D. Hirsch might agree.
There has to be more to this story. The short version: a 9 year old in a New Haven baseball league has been banned from pitching in the league due to his superior talent on the mound. His velocity and control are too intimidating for other 9 and 10 year olds.
I faced guys in Little League that were tough to beat. We never forfeited and packed up because an excellent player was taking the mound. This is baffling.
Yesterday I decided to send an email in response to a radio conversation I heard on WHB 810 here in Kansas City. You can gather the basics from my email. Kevin Kietzman and Jack Harry were discussing whether or not Olympic athletes received fair compensation for their entertainment value. Though he did not state this specifically, Kietzman seemed to imply that we aren’t watching athletes, but entertainers who should be paid according to the viewership they gain television networks. I’m hoping I understood Kietzman correctly. I haven’t yet received a reply. You can check out his show daily on 810 AM. Here’s the email:
To begin, I listen to the show daily and enjoy your program. Thanks for everything that you and your crew bring to the world of radio each week. I think 810 has the best sports coverage in the KC area. I enjoy the personalities, and think that many of your opinions are right on, most of the time.
Which brings me to today. During the 3:00 hour you and Jack Harry discussed the Olympic competition and chose to touch on the amazing run which Michael Phelps is currently making for 8 gold medals in China. The portion of the discussion which I caught including some interesting points, such as whether or not today’s athletes can be fairly compared to another era. You and Mr. Harry were right to wonder about the advantages gained by the use of “shark suits” and other advanced athletic equipment that may provide today’s athletes with a significant advantage. We can only wonder if Mark Spitz would’ve been able to do more with today’s training and equipment technologies.
From there, your conversation moved to how Olympic athletes could command more dollars. This is where I thought a number of your suggestions were incredibly off base. Among them all, today’s suggestion that Phelps could demand a $25 million paycheck from NBC to complete competition in the remainder of this year’s Olympics was, in a word, ridiculous.
Let’s just say that your scenario could play itself out. Such an act of selfishness would tarnish Phelps’ career and result in immediate rejection by the American public. Because the network would have public opinion on it’s side, why would NBC even entertain such a demand? One of the major reasons the American public watches the Olympics is for the stories of amateurs who reach their dream. The public only hears about many of these athletes once every four years. The athletes competing who are not considered “amateur” play in professional leagues that don’t garner much US media attention. The novelty of many of these athletes taking the big stage at the Olympics contributes to our interest in watching. Some of these amateur athletes may be sponsored, may have appeared in some advertising, but for the most part wouldn’t be recognized if they sat next to the average person at a restaurant. The Olympics is their big chance to make a mark.
The major exception to “amateurism” is found in the game of basketball. As we all know, the United States sends professional athletes to this competition. We watch basketball because it is our sport and because of the dominance which was achieved by the Dream Team in the 90s. Oh, how things have changed. The world has thanked us for the gift of basketball, and has dazzled us with their progression in the game.
I found it interesting that from the discussion of “money-grubbing” you and Mr. Harry transitioned to my last example–USA Basketball. You discussed how the team “looked like they really wanted to be there” and compared them to a “college basketball team.” Mr. Harry said it is “about the pride,” and you added that the USA basketball team would now only take guys who wanted to be on the team and play for the country. In Athens, you had a group of guys who were playing for themselves. If guys like Phelps started making $25 million demands, or even had attitudes that reflected this type of “I’m going to get mine” approach, I would guess that USA swimming, gymnastics, and all other sports would exhibit the same deficiencies of character exhibited by our basketball players in Athens.
Keep in mind that the Olympics serve a different purpose than leagues like the NBA, the NFL, or any other professional sports business. Yes, networks and countries do generate revenue for this event (sometimes quite a bit), but the event itself wasn’t initially conceived as a capitalist venture to make money. It was understandable for Major League Baseball players to demand better salaries when the owners were milking them for all they were worth while watching them starve, which was one example I thought of as you were discussing the merits of a payday for guys like Phelps. Because the Olympics are different from a professional sports league, it would not be understandable for Olympic athletes to start saying, “I’ll compete, but only if I get a cut of the network cash.” This is not what the Olympics are for. In the most idealistic sense, the Olympics are intended to increase goodwill among nations, and to provide us a space to beat one another without bloodshed and loss of life. I could comment forever on what might be a more realistic, contemporary understanding of what the Olympics are for.
I think that your comments regarding Phelps being “way underpaid” exposes some of the major problems which exist in American sports culture, mainly that competition is ultimately an extension of the capitalist system, and that athletes should leverage their ability in a given sport primarily for the dividends it will have for their pocketbooks in the long run. This is why amateur sports (such as Little League baseball) have ceased to serve as community building activities which build the character of young men and women. Instead, coaches and parents focus on how their son or daughter might use sports to earn their way to college athletics (not necessarily for education), or make it into a professional league. It isn’t just 16 year old female gymnasts who are experiencing a ridiculous amount of pressure to excel in their sport. It is almost all amateur athletes. You’ve watched summer little league baseball, and you know what I’m talking about.
In my opinion, your comments today on Phelps’ potential leverage over NBC revealed a cancer which exists in sports culture–that of greed and self-centeredness. On second thought, this problem isn’t restricted to sports. Regardless, I think your comments reinforce this type of attitude, as parents or young people who hear you say “Phelps could get $25 million” may think to themselves, “Kietz is right. This isn’t about competition or sport, it is about money.”
I’ll keep listening to the show. Thanks for your time.
De Soto, KS
Yesterday Chuck Russell and I decided to brave the 110 degree heat and head out to the K. The Royals took on the Chicago White Sox and picked up a nice win. We got to see a brawl (click for video), were given coupons for a free hot dogs and drink, and enjoyed chatting with the baseball coach from Pembroke Hill. There were five ejections. Oh yea, and Chuck decided to tie his shirt over his head in a turban, and made the Fox Sports broadcast. I was also on TV, thanks to Chuck’s honorary status as a member of Pale Force. Ryan Lefebvre talked about Chuck for a while.
This season Andrew Conard and I picked up a 21 game season ticket package, and have taken in quite a bit of baseball. I’ve enjoyed watching the Royals progress this year. Right now they are 8 games under .500, so they still possess a losing record. Even though they’ve still lost more than they’ve won, this is a better baseball team than it was a year ago, and I think they are a better baseball team now than they were in April and May. There is still a long way to go for the Royals before they become a playoff contender in the AL Central. They’ll need to pick up more power in the middle of their lineup and see some better production from Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Since the All-Star break Butler has looked better at the plate, has driven in runs, and hit a few dingers. Let’s hope he can keep it going.
Royals (No) Trade Analysis
All the talk in KC in the week heading up to the trade deadline concerned who the Royals might move. Well, the trade deadline came and went and no moves were made. Starting pitcher Zack Greinke was rumored to have been inquired about by other ball clubs. Mark Grudzielanek is a veteran second baseman who hits for average, whom some thought might have some value. The Royals also had left-handed reliever Ron Mahay in the bullpen, and playoff contenders are always looking for quality guys like him. There is also the case of Jose’ Guillen, who wants out of town after just a few months with his new team, and who has two more years remaining on his contract.
In the end, the Royals moved no one. I’m glad. It is better to hang on to guys who can help you learn how to win than deal quality players for warm bodies to fill your farm system. The Royals must not have fielded any offers that would best serve the organization. I’m actually glad they hung on to their current players, Greinke and Mahay especially.
Favorite Deals at the Deadline
Here are my top three favorite trades which occurred at the MLB deadline:
- Pudge Rodriguez to the New York Yankees
- Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a Three Way Deal with the Red Sox and Pirates
- Xavier Nady to the Yankees from Pittsburgh
A close fourth might be Mark Teixeira to the Angels, who look even more dangerous with his addition. But the story lines in the three listed above are just too good.
First off, I thought the Yankees were buried this year as last as June. Steve Phillips of ESPN continued to lament the Yankees lack of pitching, and constantly cited the missing offensive production in the Yankees lineup. The Yankees are currently 5.5 games back of Tampa Bay in their division, and 2.5 games back of the AL wild card. They aren’t out of it by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve played better baseball since the All-Star break, with some major offensive explosions. Their acquisitions at the deadline make them more intriguing. There is always pressure to win in New York.
I like Manny to L.A. for simple reasons–he is Manny Ramirez. I love to watch the guy hit. You put a bat like his in a terrible division like the NL West, and anything can happen. Manny might be able to lift the Dodgers by himself, and he seems rejuvenated by being out in the California sun. I like the deal also for the Red Sox, who jettisoned a guy who seemed tired of being there. Even though they are now regarded as part of the Boston “axis of evil” in the world of sports, I started pulling for the Red Sox in the mid nineties while I was learning about the history of baseball. By parting with Manny, I think they may have done the best thing for the club.
Enough Baseball, A Couple of Updates
My parents came in to town this past weekend, which was good. Today is my brother’s birthday. I submitted a piece today to a magazine. And, for the rest of the day, I’m going to do some reading, writing, and reflecting on the authority of Scripture. Later this week I’ll be logging some hours in the bus, so hopefully I’ll be trained, certified, and ready to go by the start of school.
Yea, that’s a long headline, as far as a I go. I stayed up last night for all 15 innings of last night’s MLB All-Star Game, and I enjoyed every minute. Aside from three errors and three strikeouts by Dan Uggla (the errors didn’t cost his team the game, but sure made them sweat), it was a well played game with great pitching, some clutch hitting, and theatrics worthy of the final year of Yankee Stadium. The game ended on a sacrifice fly from Michael Young in the bottom of the 15th, scoring Justin Morneau from third. J.D. Drew took home the MVP, mainly for contributing a 2 run blast over the right field wall in the 7th which tied the game at 2. You can read about it in more than one place, but I thought this piece by Jayson Stark was quite good.
With the game tied at 3 after 9 innings, the pressure was on both managers to utilize their bullpen in such a way that this game would see a conclusion. After the All-Star game resulted in a tie in 2002 at Miller Park, baseball declared never again. After the 2002 debacle, MLB decided that to change the rules so that the game would count, with the winning league earning home field advantage in the World Series.
Fortunately for MLB, last night the game ended before the NL sent David Wright, third baseman for the New York Mets, to the mound.
Long live baseball.