Well, Gabbers, woke up as per usual today and flicked on Good Morning America. Itís becoming routine until I can get regular teaching work. As with most news programs, they have a ticker. You know, they break down news stories in brief sentences, grammar be damned.
This morning on piece grabbed my attention. It read: MLB bans home plate collisions.
My reaction was a pretty standard WHAT!!!??? How could the MLB ban one of the most riveting parts of the game? Realizing a single sentence would hardly be the whole truth I investigated further.
Recently, concussion detection has become far more sophisticated. Itís also gone beyond the usual suspect of football. Studies have shown that concussions are known to happen in most sports. Football just happens to be the leader in men, while soccer is the main culprit among women.
Weíve also learned more about the long-term effects of concussions. The news is grim. Concussions cut down on life expectancy. They impair many key areas of the brain. They are also responsible for startling and sometimes scary behavior challenges including depression, homicidal tendencies, and suicide. To say that people have become more aware is an understatement. The level of awareness has been evident in a decline in youth sport participation (though it is by no means the sole cause) and new rules in professional sports.
Consequently, the owners of many MLB teams and members of the Playersí Union have come together to decrease the risk of concussion in baseball. One big cause theyíve already addressed is the risk of pitchers being hit by a line drive. To combat this risk, pitchers will have the option to don a heavily padded cap. Hopefully this is an option for fielders as well.
The newest preventative measure under discussions was the home pate collision. Itís a thing of beauty to watch. Itís a human train-wreck that harkens back to the gritty, early days of the game. You can practically visualize Ty Cobb going spikes first when you mention plate collisions. While catchers are protected, collisions still represent a danger to both players involved.
The solution is a one-year trial of a new rule. The rule would allow collisions, but only under specific circumstances. In essence, the catcher can only block the plate if a) he has the ball or b) he is attempting to field a throw that he couldnít field without being in the base path.† On the other hand, the base runner would no longer be at liberty to initiate contact with the catcher. The runner must not deviate from the base path to home plate.† The runner must make an effort to touch home plate. He cannot lower his shoulder or push through the catcher. Only a clean slide would be deemed a proper means of reaching home. Other actions would result the runner being called out.
The union, however, worries if adopting this rule so soon gives players enough time to train to adjust the instincts or behavior in these situations. On the other hand, many worry that this rule puts too much say in the hands of umpires. The MLB does say that umpires may use video replay to enforce this rule.
To fans, this is a break with tradition. Like many new rules, people are also worried about how it will be carried out. Fan reaction has been mixed, but leaning towards negative. People now debate over how confusing the exceptions may be as well as whether plate collisions are an integral part of the game.
Meanwhile, back in Sochi, the Dutch have lobbed a blow against American sport. The coach of the Netherlands' speed skating team has been outspoken about the arrogance of the US and their approach to Olympics. He declares that the US wastes time, money, and athletes in ďAmerican footballĒ. He also declares the US should not be upset about losing in the Olympics or soccer.
Reminds me of our unofficial motto at Albion. Fuck the Dutch.
Finally, you guys remember how LeBron James ruined the classic MJ vs. Bird †in HORSE McDonalds' commercial? Well, get ready for James to ruin another 90ís classic in an effort to be like Mike. There are rumors of a sequel to Space Jam that would star LeBron. So much for being your own man.
That is it for me.† Thanks as always for stopping by. Baseball is coming.. Be sure to check in at the following link for an official countdown.
Well, Gabbers, we are in the middle of a long, dark winter. There is little to write on, but a trend is emerging. So many of us have, in some way, been writing about our displeasure or distaste with sports.
Is it the season? Right now there are three things going on: Winter Olympics, NBA, NHL. All of these events have flaws, arguably giant flaws. All of them have attendance problems. It has been estimated that as many as 300,000 tickets to the Sochi games have not been sold. The NBA averages about 20,000 people a game. That said, 22 of the 30 teams are below this average. The NHL shows better numbers, but not by too much. As BOB pointed out, Harris polls showed the NBA (6%) and the NHL (5%) are well back in the publicís favorite sports.
Is it quality? Itís not surprising to be asked by any sports site to compare sports leagues to the performances of the past. Most fans seem to reply that the sport is either the same or worse. That kind of stagnation in the view of the public does not bode well.
It could be quantity. We have so many more options now. There are roughly 25 (and I suspect more) professional sports leagues in the US alone. That doesnít include college or high/middle school. That also doesnít include international leagues. If a person wanted to, they could easily watch sporting events 24/7. I mean actual events too, not just recaps or commentaries.
Heck, things have gotten to the point that itís hard to escape sports. We voluntarily come to this site each day to see how we feel about different sports. Youíve got television networks and radio stations devoted to it. Sports invade the mainstream now. Rather than being a mere distraction, sports have become more of a business, more of an obsession
Itís not just us either. Recently, reports have been coming in from all over about the decline in youth sport participation. As a high school football coach, I can attest to this first hand. While I was helping out at my old high school, Center Line High School in Michigan, we were lucky to scrape together a JV team. We had weeks when we cut it close to having enough players at practice to make up a team. We had a lot of occasions when the varsity team brought some of our guys with them just to shore up numbers.
Thereís no ONE reason to explain it. Parents are wary of concussion reports. Playing sports is getting expensive and neither parents nor schools can foot the bill anymore. Parents and kids donít have time. General laziness. Kids have more options as far as entertainment and leisure. Kids may be feeling too much pressure.
A recent Wall Street Journal article goes as far as saying that sports are no longer fun to kids. The strain in training that goes into preparing for sports might be driving kids away. Coaches could be pushing the players too hard. Certainly recent shows like Friday Night Tykes show that the game is being taken too seriously by some on the amateur level.
When you look back at times gone by, or really think about the glory days of sport, you notice a few things are off. People would come home and turn on the radio, tune in to the television, or pick up the newspaper to read about sports and unwind from the day. Again, modern times make it tough to get away from the things that are supposed to be relaxing. People have become so involved and fanatical that they make themselves, and frequently those around them, miserable.
I find myself changed so far as my consumption of sports goes. I watch much less. I may watch a game or two, usually just on the weekends. I check in here and a few other sites. Rarely, I will pick up a newspaper to check standings. Even more rarely, I will go to a game in person. I used to collect a lot of memorabilia. I had a bunch of cards, mostly basketball and baseball. I collected figures for some time. Now, I donít have the money for it.
There are days that seem perfect as far as sports go. They arenít related to big games generally. The best days Iíve experienced recently in regards to sports are spontaneous. Summer days when the Tigers show up on Foxís MLB game of the week. I can sit down and watch with a cold beer. Long drives where I tune to the local radio station and listen to a ball game.
These call back to the simpler truths of fandom. You have the time for a game and donít make time. You truly have no more pressing matters and just switch on the game. I think weíve become unhappy because we give so much, but seemingly get so little. I think the method for regaining our love of sort back is simply unplugging more. I think sport need to be placed to the back of the newspaper, where they were when our parents needed them.
Hey Gabbers. Merry 2014. Iím going to keep my fonts nice and quiet. Happy National Hangover Day.
Thinking back on 2013, thereís a lot Iíll be happy to see go and a lot to look forward to. I imagine thatís true for all of us. Thatís got me to think about what Iíd like to say goodbye to and what Iím excited about for the new year in sports.
Goodbye to: Dopers.
We had way too many of you this year.† The biggest of note being Lance Armstrong. A lot of folks felt betrayed, but have been forgiving because of Lanceís charity. I give the guy a shred of credit for the charity, but he was so ruthless in his defense of his scandal that he ruined a hell of a lot of lives. I wonder how much he really gave to his own cause. Unfortunately, his federal case will keep him on the radar in 2014.
Welcome: Winter Olympics.
The Olympics has always been a spectacle of world politics as well as sport, but the political overtones ought to be magnified a lot this year. Russia has cracked down on homosexuality. Oh, and thereís those suicide bombings en route to Sochi. Still, the winter games are always fun to watch. They have an overhyped program (figure skating) and hugely popular event (hockey). The hockey should be awesome. I still love skiing and curling too. I just hope the sports can outshine the political issues.
Goodbye to: The BCS and Conference Re-alignment
The BCS was such a huge mess that it cracked the foundation of college sports: tradition. The need to have a strong schedule and the cash grab forced schools like Michigan and Notre Dame to announce the end of their rivalry games. Playoffs in football are long overdue, but the mechanics involved are still a work in progress. I hope the conferences are set, but more damage could be coming.
Welcome: Fair Play
The football playoffs will still produce plenty of outrage, but there is still fair competition at the heart of the plan. March Madness is as fair as you can get. Iím just hoping to see a few more Cinderellaís make the later rounds.
Goodbye to: QB Rules
I know this wonít happen, but all their rules to help protect the QB have really taken the teeth out of defense. I mean they flag guys for getting pushed into the QB. Whatís worse is that the NFL holds all this crap up as itís way of preventing concussions. We canít invest money in equipment or more research, but stay the hell away from the QB.
Welcome: New Lionís Coach
The Fordís got rid of Schwartz. They finally noticed how underachieving/ undisciplined that team is. Now, people have a big wish list of replacements, but I just want a guy that will straighten them out. Iíd also like the Jets to pay attention. How the hell does Rex keeping his job?
Goodbye to: A-Rod
At age 38, could A-Rod be done? Heís gotten his third strike with steroids and has been given the ultimatum of sitting out a season or forever. True to his nature, A-Rod is fighting. In an Armstrongesqe move, heís lashing out at anyone whoís accusing him. I just hope Bud Selig keeps his word.
Welcome: Pirates and Emerging Teams
So, the MLb expanded the Wild Card field a couple years ago. In doing so, other teams got a shot. This season, the Pirates made it in. For the first time in about 20 years. It was nuts around here. The Pirates beat the Reds at home. The Indians and Rays made it, but the Rays prevailed.† Most of the series were pushed to the edge. It was a hell of a postseason.
Goodbye to: Super Teams
Iíll admit that the Heat super team up has worked. I am not sure how. I suppose LeBron, Wade, and Bosh just worked it out. They also have a good GM who brought in good role players. On the other hand you have the Lakers, Nets, and Knicks. Even if a lot of what is holding them back is injuries, they just havenít been able to balance personalities and styles. Really, if you donít draft the guys, having more than 3 superstars on a team is too risky.
Welcome: Competence in the East
As of January, there are 3 teams over .500 in the East. THREE. You figure someone would get lucky and beat up on some of the other weak teams and start racking up wins. No. They are still horrible. Hopefully Sternís stooge has a plan t fix something here.
Goodbye to: Expanding Outdoor Games
I love the idea of the Winter Classic. Iím kinda pumped to sit down and watch the Wings-Leafs game at the Big House. The NHL has stumbled onto a good thing here. Unfortunately, they want to expand it. The problem is these games become less special as you add more. Keep the number of games down. Donít ruin the outdoor games.
So many leagues seem to be overloaded with teams. Things get a bit stale. The NHL is the only one to switch things up a bit. Iím still bummed that the Wings wonít play the Blackhawks as much, but the shake-up has been interesting. It brought more of the Original Six together.
Happy New Year and Happy Recovery. Iím off to find coffee.†
Welcome to Wednesday, Gabbers. Tonight is the biggest drinking night of the year. Itís also going to be amateur hour at the bars. As BOB has said, Friday is the main event MMA match known as Black Friday. Iíve often thought of getting a lawn chair and going just to watch these crazies. I can choose the rowdiest and† root for them. The worst part about this rite of passage is that it has weaseled itís way into Thanksgiving this year. I just hope the triptofan and all will help temper some of the crazy. Maybe there wonít be as many tramplings.
So, did anybody know they have an ultimate Frisbee league? Seriously, they have a pro ultimate Frisbee league. It was on tv. Itís know as MLU or Major League Ultimate. Right now they have 8 teams and play about 10 games a year. In their championship game, the Boston† Whitecaps beat out the San Francisco Dogfish. All of our Boston fans here can add that to their bragging rights.
I saw that on Fox Sports One. As much as Iíve heard people here talking down about it, I have to give them some credit. They are trying to show some different stuff. They arenít just pumping us with talking heads, soccer, or the like. I doubt Iíd sit and watch a full game of ultimate Frisbee, but the effort to show more different sports is commendable.
If Iím a Fox affiliate, I have some great ideas for the networks. 1) Get the rights to show some D2 or D3 sports. Any state you go to has some smaller level schools. These are the kids who are hungry and playing for the love of the game rather than playing for an assumed professional payday. The schools would love the exposure and any money in their coffers. 2) Iím talking to the local minor league teams. As a Detroiter, Iíd love to see the up and coming players the tigers have in Toledo. Itíd also be a great way to see how any injured guys are looking on rehab stints. Thereís enough of a gap in major league games to show the little guys. Itíd be a great way for fans to scout their future players. 3) Iím doing more to show some different sports. The fact that Fox Sports One has a wide world of sports kinda show is just awesome. People get burned out on the usual stuff. Throw out some variety.
Now, this fall we found out Johnny Peralta had used PEDs. Well, he kinda owned up by not fighting his 50 game suspension. A lot of people criticized the Tigers for giving him playing time in the playoffs. The Giants had a similar situation with Melky Cabrera, but kept Cabrera out. The Tigers mightíve played the devil for the pay off, but were denied. Still, the Tigers escaped with little criticism for playing Peralta.
A few months later, Peraltaís a free agent. Heís put up good numbers the last few seasons. The St. Louis Cardinals are willing to give him over $50 million for four years. This time, people noticed. Sports networks, blog sites, and websites are ablaze with scorn for the signing. Current players are outraged, claiming the signing shows that it pays to cheat. The Cards GM points out that Peralta served his time and admitted his mistakes.
Still, what message does this send? Should teams spend more time considering a players character? I wonder if Peralta would have gotten as much from other teams. I believe there was plenty of interest, but I think he couldíve been signed cheaper. I think teams might need to start adding PED stipulations into contracts. The case of ARod shows the importance of foresight in the matter. The Yankees could have saved themselves time, money, and aggravation if theyíd had such a clause. If Iím a GM in the MLB, any contract I sign has this built in. If a guy wonít sign it, I donít need him.
Speaking of the MLB, the Hall of Fame ballot was released today. The Veterans committee has 10 people to choose from. The baseball writers have 36. This group includes no doubt, first ballot players like Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas as well as notable holdovers like Craig Biggio and Jack Morris. That should mean we SHOULD get a new member to the club this year. Biggio finished last year with his name on 68% of the ballots.
Well, thatís it for me this week. Happy Thanksgiving to my blogging family. I hope you all have great weekends. Take a moment to see which Lions team shows up. Iím not worried about who Green Bay has at QB; they could all beat the Lions. I leave you with your word of the week.
Black Friday, noun
The Friday following Thanksgiving. Stores have incredibly low prices for a few hours inciting mass hysteria, death, car crashes, and lost children so you can get 8 DVD players for the price of 3.
Joe: Wanna go check out Target tomorrow?
Zach: No way, man, it's Black Friday.
Welcome to the Weekly Grumble with the other brother AFD. My brother and fellow Detroit Lions fans might be a bit hung over today. You see, yesterday marked a hard to get through anniversary for us. †November 22, 1963. Fifty years ago that day William Clay Ford Sr. bought the controlling interest in the team for $4.5 million. Somehow, the team is now worth nearly $900 million.
We were coming off some great decades then. The Ď50ís saw the Lions at their strongest. We had a franchise QB in Bobby Layne and won three Championships. Then we traded Bobby and he cursed us. The 60ís found the Lions and Packers butting heads with the Packers gaining the upper hand. The Lions would make the Playoff Bowl several times. This game was a contest between the runners up from the two conferences the NFL was divided into at the time.†
The Ď70ís saw the NFL and AFL become one and the Lions joined the NFC Central. We were permanently pitted against the Packers, Bears, and Vikings. We also almost gained Marvin Gaye as a player. He bulked up, but was cut early. You can still hear Mel Farr and Lem Barney singing back-up on ďWhatís Going OnĒ. The 70ís saw the Lions fall into mediocrity and worse. Weíve made the playoffs a few times, but Layneís curse remains.†
Fordís leadership has also been questioned. While weíve made the playoffs, even won one game, but have not come close to another championship. Weíve had some hall of fame players: Lem Barney, Curley Culp, Charlie Sanders, and Barry Sanders to name a few who played during Fordís ownership. Weíve also had some questionable leadership decisions; Google search Matt Millen. Detroiters question how committed Ford is to the team. He devoted little money it seemed. He put losing teams out, including the worst in NFL history. Ford hasnít made being a fan of the Lions easy. Itís hard to say if heís the factor that turned the Lions from a perennial contender to a laughing stock, but it was a steep fall for fans. While things look better, we can all hope for a better tenure for the man who takes over. We just have to wait for the end of Fordís tenure.
In other owner news, Jerry Jones has recently announced †that heís doing some of his best work as an owner. This comes with the Cowboys in the middle of another .500 season and after the Cowboys crushing 49-17 loss to the Saints. Jonesí best work has also translated to four playoff appearances in the last 10 seasons and one win. Jones celebrated his best work by announcing Jason Garret as the head coach next season. With Jonesí track record, however, Garret better put together a playoff appearance and winning season.
In the MLB, A-Roid is claiming his legal team ďcrushed itĒ in their recent hearing with the MLB. Really? From what I heard, Rodriguez got upset and left cursing the arbitrator out. Sounds like some roid rage. Also, it doesnít sound like anyone who should be confident or think a hearing went well.
The hot stove is heating up. The biggest move so far being the Tigers-Rangers deal. The Rangers got Prince Fielder. The Tigers got Ian Kinsler and cash. ESPN has been mixed, but many seem to be counting the Rangers as the winners here. I feel both teams got what they wanted. The Rangers got another big bat, though they overpaid. Again. The Tigers got an infield. We scored pretty big with Iglesias, but adding Kinsler really shores up our middle infield. Kinsler also gives us speed on the base path. †The deal also gives us cap room. The question being will the Tigers use this for more free agents or to keep Scherzer.†
We certainly have options. We have the option to move Cabrera back to first. Castellanos can get playing time at third, first, or DH. We still have Victor Martinez. Thereís an off chance Detroit tries to bring in another bat, but I think the money is better saved for Scherzer.
The Cardinals have been busy as well. Former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter has announced his retirement. On the heels of that, the Cards were involved in a four player trade with the Angels overnight. The Cards delt Daivd Freese and reliever Fernando Salas for young center fielder Peter Bourjos and prospect Randal Grichuk. The Angels get better at third base and more playoff experience. The Cards get a great young player in Bourjos. Bourjos is coming off a strong third season. He improved his average by .050. He had his best season in 2011, but could be just what the Cards need in center.†
Iíd like to close by thanking IHM for filling in for my Wednesday. I had a chance to come back home to Michigan early before the holidays. I need the time to get my certification for PA ready and get everything set for my upcoming wedding. My bro did a great job and itís always nice to see a return of Whip it Out Wednesdays. Thanks as always for the read. Iíll get everyone caught up with a word of the week.
Google Holiday, noun
A special occasion recognized by the Google homepage. Google traditionally commemorates the event with some kind of doodle. Sometimes its an actual holiday like Valentines day, Chinese New Year, or Independence day for another country. Sometimes its an obscure reference to someone who died over a century ago.
Man1: Dude, did you know that May 31, 2013 was Julius Richards Petri's 161st birthday?