Sports In Briefs

Sports rants from an industry exec who maintains the passion of a fan

Archive for January 2010

South Carolina and the $25,000 lesson

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The South Carolina Gamecocks basketball team knocked off #1 and previously unbeaten Kentucky Tuesday night, setting off a raucous celebration that saw fans storm the court.

One day later, South Carolina’s coffers were $25,000 lighter, the result of a Southeastern Conference fine.

Gamecock fans exuberance cost the program $25,000

It turns out the SEC has a policy in place to levy progressive fines if fans at a basketball or football game rush onto the playing field during or after a game. The first such incident earns a $5,000 penalty, which increases to $25,000 for the second offense and $50,000 for the third offense.

South Carolina guard Devan Downey, who implored fans to join the celebration, was unrepentant after the game when asked about a potential fine: “I’m pretty sure the university’s got some money somewhere to pay the fine.”

The prevailing attitude when a school is fined for rushing the court is mild surprise. In a world where the sports pages are invaded by offenses of varying nature, exuberant celebration appears to be the least of our worries. After all, the same day the fine was announced, the NBA saw fit to suspend two players, including superstar Gilbert Arenas, for drawing guns on each other. So a few fans got excited because of a landmark win ignored the “Authorized Personnel Only” signs. Big deal, right?

Not exactly.

People casually point to the SEC’s rule as being instituted just weeks after the infamous “Palace Brawl” that saw Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons players fight with fans at the Palace at Auburn Hills. But the rule was actually put in place as a result after a University of Georgia fan was accused of punching Florida Gator Matt Walsh after a basketball game.

The policy was quickly put in place for the safety of all parties involved – although the rule falls under the conference’s sportsmanship guidelines. To date, the SEC is the only conference to have such a rule.

And there’s a damn good reason to have such a rule. Let me rephrase that: There’s a hollow reason to have the rule – it’s called public relations. But there’s a far better reason to enforce the rule, and we’re seeing more and more evidence of it.

The Palace Brawl is probably the most egregious spectacle to date, but it’s hardly an isolated incident, nor is the trend limited to pro sports. A year before the SEC saw fit to pass the rule, Nebraska football player Kellen Huston knocked out a celebrating Missouri fan with a sucker punch. Gators basketball player Brandon Powell threw a punch at a Vanderbilt fan who had stormed the court after the Commodores knocked off then-#1 Florida in 2007.

Blount (white stocking cap) being restrained by an Oregon coach

More recently, we watched as officials restrained Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount when he tried to engage several fans, just minutes after Blount punched a Boise State opponent. Even Tuesday night, rumors circulated that Kentucky player DeMarcus Cousins punched a South Carolina fan during the mayhem.

Not every example of fan pandemonium results in violence. Sometimes, it’s just tedious, as it was when Texas Tech fans rushed the field three times before the game was even over in the Red Raiders’ upset of Texas in 2008.

In fact, one of the most famous plays in college football history is considered so in part because of extra people on the field. The Cal-Stanford game in 1982 ended with “The Play”, a series of Cal laterals and Kevin Moen scoring the game-winning touchdown… as the Stanford band scattered from the playing field and end zone.

But more and more, fans on the field or the court can lead to nothing good.

Emotion runs high in athletic contests, and occasional violence can be the result of such passion. When violence occurs between participants, it is quelled quickly and punishment is meted out. It’s called sports justice.

But the more we blur the line between the field and the stands, the more we also blur the line between player and fan. It’s not so much that fans become players, but by invading the players’ realm, they subject themselves to whatever might happen on the field of play. And from here on the couch, any fan that crosses that line, be it alone or with thousands of his closest friends, deserves just about whatever happens to him.

Besides, what can reasonably be expected from this equation:

Several frustrated visiting players who just suffered a crushing defeat, plus

Thousands of delirious fans celebrating a victory, minus

Security necessary to shield the players from the fans or provide safe passage off the court or field?

It’s a recipe for disaster, one that someday will make the Palace Brawl seem like a kindergarten tiff.

Ultimately, precautions must be proactive. A few senior citizens in yellow jackets or a simple rope line, as was used in South Carolina, can’t hold back a wave of fans, no more than they can hold back waves at the shore. More substantial barriers between fans and the playing surface are out, since they devalue all those big money seats down below.

Which means it comes down to security. And what is security but manpower and training? If an athletic department wants to evaluate this by the numbers, they’re one day going to realize that increased security for an hour or two is far less expensive than increasing fines. Or escalating incidents.

Sure, maybe it’s a sign of the times. We’ve taken an innocent act of pure jubilation shared by a team and its fans, and we’ve injected trepidation and fear and violence.

So more conferences need to follow the SEC’s lead and institute rules. And athletic directors need to take this more seriously than South Carolina’s Eric Hyman, who joked that fans were giving him $1 bills to pay the fine. And fans need to remember they’re fans, they bought a ticket to revel in the stands.

Stay where you belong, so monumental victories can remain memorable because of the triumph, not because of what they spawned immediately afterward.


Written by sportsinbriefs

January 28, 2010 at 1:15 am

Superstar vs. Enforcer: The rules of the rink

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Thursday night, the Philadelphia Flyers skated to a 2-0 shutout of the New York Rangers, a game that sparked debate throughout the hockey world. (Editor’s note: Before we get to far into this, and in the spirit of full disclosure, let the record show that I am a lifelong Flyers fan.)

No one was arguing about whether the resurgent Flyers are a playoff team, or if goalie Ray Emery is back in form following abdominal surgery. The fact that there were four fights between the fierce rivals wasn’t a surprise, either.

Daniel Carcillo fighting Sean Avery

But fisticuffs were at the core of the controversy – that, and the unwritten code that players in all sports adopt when they put on a uniform. In this case, it was a fight between Philadelphia enforcer Daniel Carcillo and Rangers sniper Marion Gaborik, a leading contender for NHL MVP.

In hockey, fighting is a penalized but still legal element of the game. But while anyone can skate, pass, and shoot, it’s understood that only fighters fight. Leave the other team’s star players alone, unless you want your own stars targeted.

And so the Rangers were all sorts of fired up.

When order was restored and the penalized were escorted to the box, Brandon Dubinsky let fly some unprintable words at Carcillo, prompting off-ice officials to calm both players. Rangers coach John Tortorella turned his verbal abuse towards the Flyers bench and coach Peter Laviolette.

The final whistle did nothing to temper emotions.

“I think it’s disrespectful,” said New York defenseman Marc Staal. “He doesn’t look that smart to me, and he showed it tonight,” quipped goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Added Tortorella, “There’s simply no honor in that at all. It’s pretty embarrassing.” Later, he sarcastically called Carcillo a “brave guy”.

The one thing these Rangers have completely ignored is this simple fact: Gaborik dropped his gloves first. When the scuffle began in front of the Philadelphia net, Carcillo ended up paired with Gaborik, and the two locked together and spun behind the net. The Ranger forward was the first to drop the gloves and begin swinging… well, maybe flailing is a better term.

So what was Carcillo to do? Wait for a more appropriate opponent to step forward and then engage him? Stand there and take it with a smile?

Laviolette said it best after the game: “Gaborik dropped his gloves first. Danny [Carcillo] can either get punched or drop his and fight.”

The unwritten rule about protecting star players offers one equally unwritten caveat: You can’t protect an opposing star player from himself.

If Gaborik was going to drop the gloves with Carcillo, he knew quite well what he was getting into. After all, Carcillo had twelve fighting majors thus far this season, and he’s led the NHL in penalty minutes each of the last two years. In contrast, Gaborik had one prior fight in 550 career NHL games.

Gaborik slapped at a surprised Carcillo a few times to open the bout. Then the Flyers tough guy lobbed back a few solid punches that sent his opponent to the ice. Once Gaborik fell, Carcillo stopped punching, adhering to another part of the code: A pugilist doesn’t hit an opponent once he’s gone down or he’s defenseless.

Maybe Gaborik figured he could surprise Carcillo. Perhaps he’s tired of getting pushed around, so he thought a well-timed fight could send a message to future opponents. Or maybe he wants to plead temporary insanity.

John Tortorella was fighting mad

The truth of the matter is that all the Ranger vitriol should be directed at each other, particularly New York defenseman Dan Girardi. Girardi was only feet away from his star teammate at the time of the fight, and he did little more than lean over and ask Gaborik if he was OK when the altercation concluded.

Which brings us to another tenet of the code: In an altercation, the willing and able defend their less-combative teammates. In other words, fighters stand up for snipers. New York had to look back little more than a week for a widely-publicized example of how this is done.

On January 12, perpetual pest Steve Downie of the Tampa Bay Lightning coaxed reigning MVP Alex Ovechkin into dropping the gloves. But just as they were about to engage, Matt Bradley, Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals teammate, flew in to fight Downie. The superstar got to play the tough, but his teammates knew where to draw the line.

And perhaps that’s who the Rangers were so angry with Thursday night. Not at Carcillo for picking on their star, and not at the Flyers for cultivating such perceived thuggery. Maybe they were just mad at each other, because no one in that locker room had the stones to stand up for their man.

Sure, now the Rangers are in a collective huff. They say they’ve circled March 14 on their calendar, which is when the two teams meet again, this time at Madison Square Garden.

Lundqvist even went as far as to say, “We will remember this for sure, and he should be ready for it.”

Well the Rangers have nearly two months to decide just who is going to defend their honor, because nobody bothered to do anything more than talk about it Thursday.

Written by sportsinbriefs

January 22, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Briefs Bits

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If there were any moment that underscored the need to change the selection process for the NBA All-Star Game, it’s now. The mere possibility that Allan Iverson and Tracy McGrady could start is appalling, even if it is an event for the fans. Iverson bolted from the Memphis Grizzlies after just three games this season, landing in Philadelphia with the 76ers. Even more embarrassing is McGrady, who played in 46 minutes this season before the Houston Rockets banished him while they try to work out a trade.

Heralded Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, the 21-year-old lefthander who has been clocked at 102 mph, signed a six-year, $30 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds? Cincinnati reportedly outbid the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels, among other teams. The Reds, really?

If you’re ever in need of a healthy chuckle, peruse the injury reports in the NHL. In a sport where an injured player’s weaknesses can easily become targets in a battle on the boards, teams are increasingly hesitant to put a bullseye on even the most obvious injuries. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Danny Syvret was taken into the boards recently and left the game clutching his shoulder after it was obviously separated. On the report, it’s an “upper body injury”. A player with a “lower body injury” gets knee surgery – and the injury report remains the same. My favorite is the concussion that is labeled an “upper body injury”. Expect the reports to get even more nebulous as teams approach the playoffs, too.

To Dallas Cowboys fans who complain that Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings ran up the score with a meaningless late-game touchdown last week: “Waaaahhhhhh!” If you don’t want the other team to run up the score on you, a more effective approach might be a better defense.

To the Minnesota Vikings: Beware of the long collective memory shared by teams and their fans. Sometime, no matter if it’s next year or in five years, the Cowboys will exact some revenge. Of course, unless it’s a playoff game, the revenge will be meaningless, but at least Dallas will feel better.

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January 19, 2010 at 11:08 pm

The Colts are the Spurs, and what is the GBL thinking?

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Thoughts from across the sports world, from the comfort of the couch…

It hit me after the Indianapolis Colts’ workmanlike victory over the Baltimore Ravens: The Colts are the NFL’s San Antonio Spurs of recent vintage. Consider the similarities: Championship-caliber teams that could beat you on either side of the ball. Unquestionable leaders in Peyton Manning and Tim Duncan. Strong supporting casts that recognize the value of being role players.

What makes the two teams so similar, though, is the team-first attitude they both share. Players aren’t clamoring for the ball, the spotlight, or the payday. Every member plays like the success of the team rests on his shoulders, no matter how large or small his perceived role. Championships are won by everyone, and the stars eagerly step out of the limelight to share the glory. And the attitude is shared throughout the organization, instilled in each team by modest coaches who preach that when you play as a team, the result is greater than the sum of its parts.

What else makes them similar? Character. Despite the success each team has had over the last decade, they continue to avoid the trappings of modern athletes. In an era when statistics all too often count arrests along with wins, and sports headlines are littered with stories about who feels slighted and who wants more, the Colts and Spurs have remained drama-free and out of the police blotter.

Machinelike precision. Leadership. Character. What a refreshing concept.

Minor league baseball is well-known for creativity, and independent baseball may push that outside-the-box-but-still-on-a-budget thinking even further. Still, a recent announcement by the Golden Baseball League left me shaking my head that they may be pushing things too far – to the detriment of the league.

The GBL has added teams in Maui, Hawaii, and Tijuana, Mexico, for the 2010 season, becoming the only pro baseball league with teams in three countries. But to call the GBL “far-flung” would be an understatement, especially for a level of ball that is traditionally described as a bus league. Chico, Calif., was a member of the Northern Division – where it was more than 750 miles from its nearest divisional opponent (Victoria, B.C.), and nearly 1,500 miles away from northern outposts Calgary and Edmonton. In the south, a pair of southern California locations (Orange County and Long Beach) were joined by two Arizona clubs and a team in St. George, Utah. Throw a team in Tijuana and add flight to Maui, and how does this league hope to overcome its travel costs to make any money?

In an equally curious move, the GBL has decided to abandon the designated hitter and play with National League rules. With all due respect to the DH nay-sayers, it’s hard enough to find pitchers that can wield a bat at the big-league level. To expect indy league pitchers will be able to do anything more than lay down and die is rather foolish. It might make the GBL unique (from the couch, we can’t recall another independent league that plays without the DH), but no more entertaining than regularly scheduled ritual sacrifices.

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January 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm

A Needle, a Gridiron, and the Supremes

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For all the battles grabbing headlines on the court, the ice, and the field, one taking place in a courtroom might have the most lasting impact.

And for a refreshing change, it’s not a criminal court. In fact, it’s the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court.

Arguments were held Wednesday in the case of American Needle v. NFL. The ramifications of the case extend well beyond the merchandise licensing that is at the core of the suit, beyond the NFL itself. In fact, it’s no stretch to say the case’s impact will be felt far outside of the sports world.

The suit could impact not only the sports merchandise you buy, but the tickets you purchase, the games on TV, the players you watch, the stadiums teams play in, the branded video games you crave… even your credit card statements, health care bills, and fast food fix.

At issue is the NFL’s exclusive headwear deal with Reebok, part of a sweeping league-wide contract signed between the two parties in 2001. Prior to that, American Needle had been a licensed supplier of caps for NFL teams.

The manufacturer filed suit in 2004, arguing that the exclusive deal was a violation of antitrust regulations. The NFL consists of 32 independent businesses, American Needle claimed, and any agreement between the organizations that stifled competition was a clear antitrust violation and hurt consumers. The example cited frequently in court documents was a cap that went for $19.99 when American Needle made it, but a few years later went for $30 with a Reebok tag on it.

The NFL countered that the 32 teams operate as one single unit, since no one team can truly exist on its own. The single-unit concept is what allows the league to operate properly and compete with other forms of entertainment, said NFL attorneys.

The suit was tossed in lower courts and appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, and that’s when things got interesting – and dangerous. While American Needle wanted the lower court ruling overturned, the league wants the ruling to be expanded.

See, the NFL believes that it is a single unit in more ways than just peddling headwear. It schedules as a unit, strikes television deals as a unit, agrees to rules of competition as a unit, and negotiates agreements with its primary employees (players) as a unit. As a result, even though it is made up of 32 teams, it’s a single entity, and it shouldn’t be subject to those pesky antitrust regulations.

Outwardly, the NFL has said that such a ruling will provide a convenient shield from frivolous lawsuits, which it considers the American Needle filing to be.

Sensing that the NFL might be on to something here, other sports properties have gotten involved as well. The NBA, NHL, NASCAR – even the NCAA – have filed amicus briefs on the NFL’s behalf. Hey, if the NFL can get a free pass like this, every other league has a great argument for the same treatment. (Major League Baseball, which has had its own antitrust exemption for nearly a century, has steered clear of the case, so as to not disturb its own competitive advantage.)

But freedom from antitrust statutes has wide-ranging impact in the game. Nothing is to say that a league with an antitrust exemption can’t decide to impose a league-wide coaching salary structure. The league would retain total control over franchise locations, even if the team is owned by Al Davis. Since the league engages in revenue sharing, teams could vote to establish a minimum ticket price to maximize revenue. No matter what the issue, from the draft to merchandise to media to franchise sales, leagues with antitrust protection can act with a selfish disregard for everyone, including fans.

Justice Sotomayor easily saw through to the NFL’s transparent goal: “You are seeking through this ruling what you haven’t gotten from Congress: an absolute bar to an antitrust claim.”

Recognizing the danger, most player associations have lined up to file briefs supporting American Needle. Not to be naive, the players don’t care so much if a Reebok hat costs $30 or if skyrocketing ticket prices shut out all but the wealthiest fans. No, they’re worried what a league with an antitrust exemption afforded by the Supreme Court might do to hurt them. While owners might struggle to directly cut player salaries, rules could be enacted that limit player movement or require cumbersome compensation for free agents – both of which would serve to curtail competition for players and indirectly stifle salary growth.

Arguments of Wednesday were at times interesting, amusing, and ill-conceived. American Needle’s arguments were focused on merchandise, the unfortunate focus of its case, one that it is likely doomed to ultimately lose. To the notion that teams are competing independently in the sale of merchandise, Justice Breyer countered that it was unlikely fans are trying to decide between buying a Patriots or a Saints shirt.

Speaking to the merchandise issue, the NFL made a rather silly claim. It argued that league deals, like the Reebok contract, are primarily designed to allow the league to better market the game. A strong unilateral relationship with Reebok strengthens football’s attraction versus other forms of entertainment, spurring television viewership and ticket sales.

In other words, if you believe its attorney, the NFL signed with Reebok not for better or more expensive hats, but because it would increase ticket sales.

Justice Scalia shot this laughable notion down in open court. “The purpose is to make money,” he said. “I don’t think they care whether… [it] promotes the game.”

The NFL delegation was at least smart enough to stay away from labor issues, which would have raised the ire of every union short down to the United Brotherhood of Lemonade Stand Workers. While the NFL Players Association expressed its concern over what a Teflon-coated NFL could do to its players, the league countered that the case has nothing to do with “union issues”.

Of course, that’s true. The case has nothing to do with union issues. What the league will do if it wins has lots to do with the union, however.

Quietly, there has been consternation that the case could have sweeping impact well beyond sports. Any other industry in which independent businesses share a strong common link has its eyes on this case. Health care networks, credit card banks, even fast food chains all share an interest in the outcome. A ruling for American Needle could leave these businesses open to antitrust lawsuits, while a broad victory for the NFL could leave consumers out in the cold. As one media outlet said, with such wide-ranging implications, the suit could have an “unpredictable and unsettling” impact.

So how is it likely to play out? Early indications are that the case is likely to be sent back to the lower court, and the NFL and friends are unlikely to earn their Teflon antitrust shield. It’s likely that American Needle will ultimately lose in the lower court, however.

And what should we, the sports fans, think from the comfort of our couch? If the Supremes shoot down the NFL’s argument, it would be a victory for fans. Sports are based on competition, two teams battling for victory. If one team always had the advantage, the outcome would be a given, and no one would watch. For a game to be attractive to fans, both teams have to have a shot at winning.

In a way, the same holds true off the field. If the league could behave however it liked, with no threat of penalty or retribution, it would likely die. Decisions would alienate fans, players, vendors, and broadcasters, until the league’s only audience would be itself. Any league’s ongoing success is based on an adversarial system, in which all stakeholders provide a series of checks and balances against each other. Though it occasionally results in strikes and other unfortunate circumstances, it also keeps everyone honest – or at least as honest as they can be expected to be.

Written by sportsinbriefs

January 14, 2010 at 3:54 am

McGwire Took Steroids… Now Get Over It

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Mark McGwire‘s admission Monday that he did in fact use steroids during his career was as surprising as a Milton Bradley meltdown. Some people expressed shock that McGwire, who refused to address the subject at the 2005 Congressional hearings, finally came clean. But from the couch it became apparent that St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa must have made it a condition of McGwire’s hiring as hitting coach.

What’s curious and disconcerting all at once is the way this “revelation” has once again sparked the debate about the legitimacy of records from the steroids era – and the hypocrisy of the whole argument.

Yes, McGwire used steroids. So did Jose Canseco. And Rafael Palmeiro. And Alex Rodriguez. And Andy Pettitte. And a growing list of players from superstars to forgettables. As a result, many people argue the home run records broken in the last 12 years should be wiped from the record books. They contend Roger Maris and Hank Aaron should be returned to their rightful place, and 61 and 755 should be reinstated as hallowed numbers.

I just don’t buy it.

What bothers me most is the theory that performance-enhancing drugs are new to baseball over the last 20 years. Steroids were effectively added to the list of MLB’s banned substances in 1991 (though testing didn’t begin until 2003), but that was as a result of reports that Canseco might be juicing. Testosterone was added in 2003, HGH in 2005. The Mitchell Report went on to air baseball’s dirty laundry in some sort of sordid mea culpa in 2007.

Meanwhile, amphetamines have been a staple in baseball since the 1940’s. By all accounts, every trainer in the big leagues would toss a “greenie” to players to combat fatigue and injuries. Tired between games of a doubleheader? No problem. Out too late last night? I’ve got what you need. They weren’t even hidden, sitting in bowls in the middle of clubhouses everywhere. By the 1980’s, players could choose from clubhouse coffee with or without the amphetamines already mixed in.

And this wasn’t just a scheme for the injured or the journeymen. All-time great Willie Mays reportedly had his “red juice”, a liquid amphetamine. Hall of Famer Willie Stargell and all-star Bill Madlock were noted as the amphetamine sources in the Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse. Even “Hit King” Pete Rose admitted he used them as well. It was widely accepted that greenies were common in the clubhouse of the legendary New York Yankees teams starring Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, long before Jim Bouton‘s controversial book, “Ball Four”, asserted that up to half of all big league ballplayers were taking amphetamines.

The Mitchell Report did not include amphetamines, but not because baseball didn’t see the problem. The concern was that while a slim percentage of players were using enhancers like steroids and HGH, the percentage of ballplayers ingesting amphetamines would be much higher. So baseball sacrificed the few for the good of the game, and for the same reason, intentionally left greenies out of the Mitchell Report.

Arguments have been made that steroids, HGH, and the like are strength enhancers. Amphetamines, while they raise the heart rate, are more known to be “cognitive enhancers”, effectively improving the performance of the brain and upgrading focus, concentration, and reaction time. How is one group more or less extreme than the other?

Interestingly, many fans of the game will argue that it’s hardly a simple physical contest. Sure, physical tools give players more to work with, but the mental aspect of the game is at least equally important. So why are substances that improve brute force treated with such disdain, while drugs that improved mental acuity were given a pass?

If, as is being argued again following McGwire’s admission, his records should be tossed out with Bonds’, who else loses records? Does Ty Cobb become the all-time hits leader because Rose admitted using amphetamines? Are Mays’ 660 homers tossed because of his red juice? Should a full-scale investigation be initiated to determine if Mantle, Ford, Maris, or Yogi Berra were using as well? How many players on a team have to be proven to have used before that team should be forced to forfeit its World Series title?

If the players in question lose their records, who else should lose out because they too had an unfair advantage? Maybe Babe Ruth‘s home run totals should be erased, since he never had to face the talent of the Negro Leagues. Bob Feller never had to concern himself with the rigors of cross-country travel, so we’ll toss his efforts as well. Bob Gibson‘s 1.12 ERA has to go too, because he benefited from the high mound, which was such an obvious advantage that it was changed the following season. Not only were Gaylord Perry‘s records not adjusted even though he was caught cheating, but he has since been voted into the Hall of Fame – maybe now he should be tossed out.

If the arguments of the last paragraph sound a little far-fetched, then you are starting the grasp the hypocrisy of dismissing some records while allowing others. Ford Frick‘s asterisk aside, baseball performances aren’t stricken because the circumstances in which they were posted didn’t match the environment of their predecessors. The evolution of the game and the debates it prompts contribute to the beauty of the game. The irony is that even when we knew it was happening, when suspicion gave way to outright accusation, we still embraced these players and their performances.

What happened, happened. What was achieved is a part of baseball’s lore and record books. Accept it and move one… or get a mighty big – and arbitrary – eraser.

Written by sportsinbriefs

January 12, 2010 at 4:50 am

Posted in Baseball

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Hello From The Couch

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In a digital world, this is what passes for an introduction. If we were in a bar, I might buy you a drink; if we were in pre-school, I’d probably kick sand at you. But we’re on the internet, so I have to do this thing…

It should come as no surprise that this blog will be (primarily) about sports. I’m not going to report the news, there are far too many sources for that already. I will be writing about sports. I’m not going to talk like we’re at a sports bar and I’m trying to impress everyone with my knowledge. You can’t buy me a beer if you like what I say, and try as you might, e-mailing me a virtual beer will leave me rather unfulfilled.

No, I intend to write as a fan. When I say fan, I mean someone who is emotionally invested in a sport, be it baseball, football, hockey, or mixed doubles foosball. Sports become great when we no longer consume the game like a customer eats a restaurant, but we actually feel like we’re part of the game – as if we can walk into the kitchen and start talking entrees with the chef. We use words like “we” when speaking about our favorite teams. We organize our schedules to make sure we can watch a game, because a news report or SportsCenter highlights could never do it justice. And we watch the game alone, screaming at the TV, leaping up from the couch…

Forgetting that we’re still in our underwear.

And with that visual firmly in mind, I welcome you to Sports In Briefs.

I will warn you about several things before we even get under way. I am one of the lucky few who has managed to parlay my love of sports into a career. I have worked in minor league sports for more than 15 years, mostly in baseball. This means that I have a bit of an insider’s view, though not nearly as much as people might think. It also means that I tend to talk as much about the business of sports as I do about the games themselves. It’s not that my views are mercenary and not purist, but I instead try to strike a balance between the two. I simply have the luxury of experiencing both sides.

You may also read a little more about minor league sports here than elsewhere. It’s just that so much time in and around the minors offers me a wealth of stories and insights to share. Anyone who loves sports should spend some time in a minor league ballpark, at a minor league arena, and with a minor league team. You’d catch yourself smiling so much that it’s not fair. As a result, some people may not like this blog. Too bad, this is my couch; if you don’t like it, get your own.

Also, I can’t promise to write every day. In fact, I can pretty much promise that I won’t write every day. I will promise, though, to write when something interesting strikes my fancy and I get the time to do so.

If you like what I write, please let me know. If you don’t, let me know that too. If you want my opinion on something or you’d like to suggest a subject, don’t hesitate to write – then brace yourself. And if you simply don’t care and you stop visiting, I’ll still be alone on the couch, screaming at the TV in my underwear… and that’s OK too.

Welcome again to Sports In Briefs.

P.S. Pay no mind to the current appearance of the blog. As I get more time and (a few) people show some interest, I’ll start dressing it up. In the meantime, we’ll make do.

Written by sportsinbriefs

January 12, 2010 at 2:53 am

Posted in Admin