Showing posts with label Politics in Sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics in Sports. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2009

They Weren't Going to Win Anyway

As much as I believe the case had merit, and it certainly did, there was no way the United States Supreme Court was going to take this case:
A group of native Americans have lost their bid to force the Washington Redskins pro football team to change its name because they consider it to be a racial slur.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court, in a one-line ruling, refused to take up the case. The action lets stand a decision by a federal appeals court in Washington that the native Americans had waited too long to bring their challenge to the Redskins trademark, and thus forfeited any right to sue.

Some analysts view the case as political correctness run amok. But for nearly 40 years, native American organizations have been working to end the use of Indian names and symbols as sports mascots in the US – at high schools, colleges, and among professional teams.

They have had significant success at the college and high school levels, persuading officials that Indian names and mascots for sports teams are derogatory and demeaning to native Americans. For example, between 1991 and 2008, 11 high schools and two colleges discontinued the use of "Redskins" as their team name. They include Miami University in Ohio and Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma.

Similar efforts at persuasion have been aimed at the Washington Redskins football team, dating from 1972. But the team insists that its trademark team name does not disparage native Americans. The team has invested millions of dollars to enhance and promote the trademark name on telecasts, in advertising, and on merchandise.

The Redskins name originated in Boston in 1933. The football team was called the Boston Braves, but the owner decided to rename the team the Boston Redskins in honor of the team's head coach, William "Lone Star" Dietz, who was a native American, writes lawyer Robert Raskopf in a brief filed on behalf of the team.

The name became the registered trademark of the team in 1967. The seven native Americans didn't file their lawsuit until 1992 – 25 years later.

You've heard of companies that are now too big to fail? The Washington Redskins are a marketing franchise too big to challenge. I don't buy the idea that it was a bunch of fans on the Supreme Court that slapped this down. I think the considered legal opinion of the court was, take this case, and that's going to open up a floodgate.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Turmoil for the National Hockey League's Players Association

Things do not look so hot right now for stable relations between the players in the National Hockey League and the owners:
Less than two years after his hiring, Paul Kelly is out as as executive director of the NHL Players' Association, union sources confirmed to

The story was first reported by TSN on its Web site.

Kelly's firing came Monday following an hours-long meeting by the 30-member NHLPA executive board.

Kelly was hired in October 2007 following the firing of Ted Saskin, who was alleged to have ordered the spying of NHLPA player e-mail in the midst of a membership uprising against his leadership.

Before joining the NHLPA, Kelly was a partner at Kelly, Libby & Hoopes, a Boston law firm that specializes in internal investigations and complex civil and administrative litigation. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, and was involved in the investigation of former NHLPA leader Alan Eagleson.

This kind of turmoil can either lead to finding a good replacement who will represent the players or it can lead to the hiring of someone who will take them into yet another labor stoppage and yet another disaster for rookies and aging veterans. The head of a players association is a make-or-break position for a sport. Find the wrong person, and you end up with a disaster. Find the right person, and you end up with everyone getting a reasonably good slice of the pie that's out there.

Bottom line, though, is that the National Hockey League needs to continue repairing its image and it needs to keep the product on the ice. Bad relations with management could kill the sport.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Would Someone Tell Ozzie Guillen That There Are No Candy-Assed Ballclubs?

Isn't anyone tired of Ozzie Guillen's act yet?

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had a warning for the rest of the league: Hit our players and our pitchers will retaliate.

Chicago White Sox manager said he'd rather be suspended for speaking out than have his players continue to be hit by pitches.
Guillen was upset Sunday after Paul Konerko, Scott Podsednik and Gordon Beckham got hit by pitches by the Cleveland staff a night earlier in Chicago's 8-5 win. Guillen acknowledged he didn't think the Indians were throwing at them, but he's had enough of watching his players get hit.

"Yesterday I get upset, they hit one guy and they throw in into another guy. I got upset. I know for a fact they're not throwing at nobody, but enough is enough," Guillen said. "I have Konerko bruised all over the place. Around the league, be careful because we're going to hit people. I don't care if I get suspended because I need to protect my players."

The White Sox have been hit by pitches 45 times this season, fifth in the majors. The Indians have been hit 65 times, most in the majors.

"When we went to Cleveland they hit two guys, not on purpose, but someone can get hurt out there. You can pitch in, but if you don't know how don't do it," he said. "It gets to the point when they hit us seven times, 20 times in one week and we hit one and they're the headhunters and that's a [problem] with major league baseball."

The umpires are there to protect the players. When they fail, of course a team is going to throw at players. This often causes the umpires to overreact. If you focus on doing the right things in a game, you can overcome what's happening. If your team is lousy and can't play good fundamental baseball, throwing at the other team's players is going to lose games for you.

Is there a single organization at the Major League Baseball level that fails to understand this? Is there one organization that is incompetent, candy-assed, and cowardly enough to try to win games by throwing at players?

Ozzie Guillen's mistake here is that he should just tell his pitchers to throw at opposing players when he decides to give them the sign to do so. That allows Guillen to control the flow of the game and accomplish whatever he thinks he needs to accomplish to send a message. The last thing he should ever do is telegraph that fact by speaking it out loud. This is where the silence of the manager accomplishes a great deal more than being a blowhard.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Taking a Risk on a Broken Player

Technically, when you pick someone up off waivers, you're not really being cutting edge and risky, unless one were to go out on the waiver wire right now and pick up Jose Canseco (which would be more insane than risky). I think it is interesting when a team takes a chance on a disgraced player who has been injured--will the desire to prove himself overcome any physical infirmities?

The Minnesota Twins picked up one Mr. Carl Pavano today:

The Twins agreed Friday to send the Cleveland Indiansa player to be identified later in exchange for Pavano, a one-time All-Star whose career derailed in New York during four injury-ruined seasons with the Yankees.

"He's certainly had a significant injury history over the last few years, but he has been healthy this year," Minnesota general manager Bill Smith said from Detroit, where the Twins were scheduled to play the first-place Tigers later Friday. "We've had good reports about him on and off the field, and we're hoping that he can provide some innings for us down the stretch."

Is this really the move that a contender would make? Stranger things have happened. The Twins actually made a move before the trade deadline, getting Orlando Cabrerafrom the Oakland A's. ESPN makes bank with these kinds of "redemption" stories, and the hamfisted critics make hay with players who have been ridiculed by the large market media goons.

Pavano, given Torii Hunter's old number 48, was expected to join the team in Detroit. With an off day on Monday, the rotation for next week was not yet set.

Whenever he pitches, the 33-year-old Pavano will take the mound still trying to erase the embarrassment of those four infamously bad years in New York.

After an All-Star, 18-win season for Florida in 2004, the right-hander signed a four-year contract worth almost $40 million with the Yankees.

He won nine games during the entire length of that deal, making only 26 starts. Ridiculed often in city tabloids and by the franchise's proud fans, Pavano drew the ire of Yankees teammates, too. They questioned his desire and work ethic during his time on the disabled list, and he even picked up the derogatory nickname "American Idle."

Ouch. That was certainly a smack-talking handle to give a man who pulled down that kind of money for sitting on the bench. My question is, how does anyone know whether or not a player actually has desire? Fans can tell when a player seems to be dragging ass and not trying--isn't that the number one sport for haters of Manny Ramirez to engage in? But how do you really know when an injured player is playing the disability benefits game? Is it in the way he hustles himself into a seat on the bench so he can sit, rapt at attention, for the duration of the entire game, furiously scribbling notes and squinting with one eye closed at the radar gun in the distance? Is it in the bitchy clubhouse gossip that leaks out to the New York Media? Is it in the way the player wears his uniform tight at the crotch to give him less wind resistance as he saunters into the clubhouse after the game? I'm sure someone has had this suggestion before, but not paying someone who is hurt probably wouldn't work.

The media in the Twin Cities is pretty bad, actually. Many of the sports writers who work there are insufferable clowns who have no chance of moving up to a larger market or the national scene. There really is no viable criticism of sports there, there's just Sid Hartman and his endless droning on what is, and what is not, good for management. Hartman, of course, lost money to Bernie Madoff, and, like any good media personality, refuses to say how much he lost.

Being big in the Twin Cities is like being the biggest thing in Buffalo, Mr. T.O. No one will stop and give you the key to the city and no one in the relevant part of the country even cares that they love you there.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Anti-Trust in College Football Gets a Hearing

Wilder Penfield, world famous neurosurgeon, also played football at Princeton

You're not going to find many converts to the idea that the Bowl Championship Series is a good thing. If you're for it, chances are, your university is making money through the system. If you're against it, you're probably just another regular joe in America who just wants to see some worthwhile games at the conclusion of the college football season.

When I played football at Princeton in the early 1960s, I will confess that the best days of Princeton football had passed and larger schools in the south and west of where we were had begun to make their ascent to dominance. To this day, however, no school rivals the number of championships won by Princeton.

In my day, there was a chance, at least, of a return to the national championship for Princeton. An outside chance, at best, but there was still a chance. Today, there is virtually no chance whatsoever of that happening, and that is because of the Bowl Championship Series, also known as the BCS, which all but precludes an Ivy League team from participating.

One U.S. Senator thinks that the BCS has a few anti-trust issues:

RCS [Real Clear Sports]:Most college football fans wouldn’t know it, but you may represent the best hope to reform the nearly universally detested BCS. Other than the President, you have been the most prominent and outspoken BCS opponent in Washington. In fact, you’ve previously held hearings about the BCS and you’re on the record calling the BCS “Un-American.”

But, although loathed, the BCS is the status quo, has some powerful support and has proven resilient. Practically speaking, what can Congress do bring about BCS reform?

Sen. [Orrin] Hatch [R, UT]:As far as I’m concerned there are antitrust issues involved here, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that college football fits as a commercial enterprise. These BCS schools – in fact all of the schools of any size – market there teams like they would a commercial product. In the case of BCS schools they receive substantial revenue in return. Some of them outside of BCS do too, but certainly they get an advantage if they play in a BCS conference. Also, it isn’t just the schools and conferences that are involved here. There are the TV networks, the corporate bowl sponsors, and others as well.

Our antitrust laws are designed to prevent people from acting in agreement and coordination to reduce competition. I think that’s precisely what we have going on with the BCS.

I’m a member of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, and its Ranking Member. We already have plans to hold another hearing to look into the antitrust implications of the BCS. Hopefully we’ll be having that hearing within the next few weeks. And we’ll look at these issues very soon. Like I say, I think there’s a pretty clear case that the BCS is exclusionary. There’s no question that the way they’ve designed it, has a negative impact on the schools left on the outside. So I think it’s important for us to determine whether or not the system is legal, and personally I don’t think it is.

There is a larger article for Sports Illustrated written by Senator Hatch here, and it says this:

Although there seems to be a fair amount of public support for these efforts to expose and potentially remedy the unfairness of the BCS, some have questioned whether, given all the challenges our nation faces, it is appropriate for the federal government to expend time and resources on college football's bowl system. However, I believe the case for government involvement—whether from Congress, the courts or the Justice Department—is compelling.

First and foremost there are serious questions regarding the legality of the BCS. The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits contracts, combinations or conspiracies designed to reduce competition. I don't think a more accurate description of what the BCS does exists.

Under the current plan six conferences, which include slightly more than half of the teams in Division I-A, receive automatic bids to play in the five most prestigious and lucrative bowl games—even if teams from the other five conferences have had better seasons. For instance, in 2008 the only two undefeated I-A teams (Utah and Boise State) were from non-BCS conferences. And two other outside teams (Brigham Young and Texas Christian) finished higher in the BCS rankings than at least one of the champions of an automatic-bid conference. Yet only Utah was invited to play in a BCS game. And although the Utes had plenty of big wins, the BCS system denied them the chance to play for the national championship. So while every conference is technically part of the BCS agreement, the existing arrangement intentionally and explicitly favors certain participants.

In addition, every team from a preferred conference automatically receives a share from an enormous pot of revenue generated by the BCS, even if they fail to win a single game. On the other hand, teams from the less-favored conferences are guaranteed to receive a much smaller share, no matter how many games they win. The numbers are staggering. Last year the Mountain West Conference had one team qualify for the BCS, Utah, as did three of the automatic-bid conferences. Yet under the BCS formula the Mountain West received $9.8 million—roughly half of what the three bigger conferences got. And despite having the nation's only other undefeated team, Boise State, the Western Athletic Conference received just $3.2 million in BCS revenue.

This disbursement scheme places teams from these smaller conferences at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring staff and improving facilities. Because of their increased visibility and status BCS schools also receive an unfair advantages in recruiting top players and coaches. These inequities also extend far beyond the football field, as many schools in the country depend on the revenue generated by their football teams to fund other athletic programs and academic initiatives.

I don't think Senator Hatch is being a regional pest or showing his bias for the rough treatment that Utah received, I think he genuinely gets it that the issue of the BCS could be a winner for the Republican Party.

This speaks to a belief that I have long held that Democrats don't get football; they prefer soccer where the scores are not kept and where everyone gets a trophy. In football, men are beaten and left to roll in their own sick on a field in plain sight of all. Bones are snapped, minds are bent, fingers float on shattered hands, knees are bent back in ways they are not supposed to be bent, crowds are wowed, careers are ended, fortunes are made, and women get to watch and that's about it.

Is it football season yet? Is it just around the corner? Good, I cannot wait.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Is There Anyone Meaner Than Jim Bunning

Jim Bunning

And I think it's a good kind of mean, not a distinctly evil kind of mean. It's major league baseball pitcher mean, the kind of mean that comes back and bites a person in the ass:

Jim Bunning was the toast of Detroit when he threw a no-hitter for the Tigers in 1958.

Now, after opposing a federal bailout for the auto industry, the Republican senator from Kentucky can't even get a gig signing autographs at a suburban sports-card show.

Bunning was to appear Sunday at the Gibraltar Trade Center in Taylor. Fans would have paid $35 for Bunning to sign a baseball and $55 to sign a bat.

But Bunning was kicked off the schedule after he helped derail an auto-industry loan package in the Senate Thursday night.

I don't know what this accomplishes--it just means that a collector who wanted to get his Jim Bunning autograph cannot get it and put it on the Internet and make a slight profit from it. Bunning voted against auto industry reform because he is, inherently, a mean and vicious man who just happens to be a U.S. Senator who honestly opposes such a thing, you see.