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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sporting News

I went to the local CVS drugstore this week. The clerk asked me if I wanted to contribute a dollar for fighting ALS. I said OK.
The clerk said, "It's called Lou Garry's disease."
I said, "It's Lou GEHRIG's disease." He looked puzzled.
"You know, Lou Gehrig. Played in the greatest number of major league (baseball) games in a row until Cal Ripkin, Jr. broke his record."
"Who did he play for?"
"The Yankees. Played with Babe Ruth."
"The Yankees? I HATE the Yankees!"
"But Gehrig was a good guy. Gary Cooper in 'Pride of the Yankees': 'I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.'"
"Yeah, I think I heard of that. But I HATE the Yankees! I think I'll stop asking (for ALS donations). Hope my manager doesn't notice."

Detroit Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield apparently believes there are more Latin players, and fewer black players, in MLB, because Latinos are more "manageable" than blacks. Some sports writer suggested ed that it was a Don Imus moment. I disagree; I think it was an Al Campanis moment. Campanis was the Los Angeles Dodgers executive who infamously said on Nightline in 1987 that blacks did not have the "necessities" for managing a baseball team. I actually watched that episode of Nightline, in real time - those were the days - and Ted Koppel was gently trying to get Campanis to change his statement. It was a peculiar moment: Koppel, who admittedly knew little about baseball, breaks this big story on a show ostensibly honoring Jackie Robinson. Campanis was soon fired by the Dodgers, and MLB has made an effort to get teams to at least interview minority candidates. The strange thing about the Sheffield incident is that I hadn't heard about it at all until I read it in the column.

That minor league manager's meltdown, a big hit on You Tube, is part of a larger story on ABC News Monday night about hot-headed managers. The piece suggests that you not try these tactics at your own job, as tempting as it might be.'s Jayson Stark notes that "racial issues are front and center for many Americans as (San Francisco Giants outfielder) Barry Bonds chases the all-time home run record." A recent survey found that 52 percent of fans hope Bonds doesn't break the record, while 37 percent of fans want him to surpass Hank Aaron's mark, set in 1974. "However, race plays a unique role. Black fans in the survey are more than twice as likely to want Bonds to break Aaron's record (74 percent to 28 percent), and 37 percent of black fans think Bonds used steroids, compared to 76 percent of white fans.
"Blacks are nearly twice as likely to think Bonds has been treated unfairly (46 percent to 25 percent). Why? The survey found that 41 percent of black fans think this is due to the steroids issue, 25 percent think it's because of his race, and 21 percent blame Bonds' personality. For whites who think Bonds has been treated unfairly, 66 percent blame steroids. Virtually none blame race."
The Sports Illustrated Box Seat survey yesterday asked: "Are you rooting for Barry Bonds to break Hank Aaron’s Home Run record?" It was an ongoing online tally:
Yes 11.9% 53
No 68.2% 304
Don't care 20% 89
It's generally agreed that Barry Bonds is selfish, moody and uncommunicative. I posit that that may be why he's more popular with some blacks; that he's selfish, moody and uncommunicative, and doesn't care what The Man says. In any case, I don't recall such a disparity over a sports figure since the O.J. murder trial.
All this talk about whether the commissioner of baseball should/will show up at when Barry Bonds hits home run #756, then Bonds goes on a homer drought, and he's stuck at 746, with one dinger in 51 at-bats. Will he actually break the record, or not?

I don't really follow NHL hockey, but I was rooting for the Buffalo Sabres; that didn't take. So now, I'm rooting for their old opponent, the Ottawa Senators. I'll always pick a cold-weather team over a team named for a Disney movie, the Anaheim Ducks. Naturally, the Stanley Cup goes to California.

I'm also not that hot on NBA basketball, but I'm pulling for Cleveland, even though Lebron James is the only player I can name on the squad. While the San Antonio Spurs have won championships in 1999, 2003, and 2005, the city of Cleveland hasn't won a title of any kind since 1964, when the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship (pre-Super Bowl era). The Cleveland Indians last won the World Series in 1948 and the Cleveland Cavaliers have never won the NBA Finals, or played in them until 2007.


Greg said...

You should have punched that clerk. Holy Dear God, is he an idiot. ALS, of course, doesn't have a cure because not enough people have it, so it's not profitable for scientists to come up with a cure. Wrap your head around that and tell me why private health care works so damned well.

As for Bonds, I really don't care anymore. I note how people don't want him to break the record held by a black man, yet it still somehow becomes about race. Selig should be there because he hid his head in the sand for years, and to act all righteous now is kind of hypocritical. And ultimately, it doesn't matter, because in about ten years Alex Rodriguez is going to break the record that Bonds sets.

Sheffield backpedaled a bit, as he is now saying that young black athletes don't have any role models in baseball because of all the Latino players. I tend to believe every black commentator on the "crisis" of baseball not drawing black athletes - that football and basketball are just more viable these days. Baseball used to be the place to go for athletes. Not any more.

Although I do find it humorous that Sheffield said something about seeing a black face and "there ain't no English coming out of it." Perhaps Sheffield should learn how to speak English before denigrating someone else about their lack.

Anonymous said...

Wow- that linked ABC story about managers gone wild leads off by stating that Lou Pinella manages the White Sox! (when he's not throwing dirt)