Sam

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Opening Day – smorgasboard for the masses

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Well another baseball season is just around the corner. How I used to look forward to Opening Day and the traditional matinée between the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves.  That game used to be the only game played on Opening Day while all the other major league teams went into action on the following day.  The Reds-Braves opener had all the sacredness of National Holiday.  Just as Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday in November, so the Reds-Braves contest was held on the first Monday in April.  That the opening game was never nationally televised – not even when Hank Aaron opened the 1974 season one home run shy of Babe Ruth’s record – but simply played for the enjoyment of the sun-soaked denizens of Crosley Field or Riverfront Stadium gave it a decidedly small town feel – an echo of baseball’s origins in Cincinnati.

But things have changed under the shrewd commisionership of Bud Selig.  This year, for example, on the same day the Yanks and Bosox meet in the season opener – a Sunday night game slotted for a prime time national broadcast – the Giants will be playing the Mariners in the last exhibition game of the Cactus League season.  A few years ago,  the Yanks and Red Sox opened the season – in Tokyo of all places – while a week of spring training games back home was still on the schedule. This is sheer lunacy.  Why does the league have to tinker with every sacred tradition ? The reason of course is money.   I just hope the next commissioner of Baseball – hopefully someone along the lines of Bart Giamatti ( pictured in his early days at Yale) or Fay Vincent, two individuals who never would have even thought to tinker with the Braves- Reds  opening day tradition  –  will put an end to this madness.

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March Madness: Sacrificing a future for a W

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2010 at 2:15 pm

March is a great time to be out of work. I can sit home and watch March Madness all day.  And that is what I have been doing today, since 9 am.  I just finished watching the St. Marys – Richmond game which St. Mary’s won handily because of some great perimeter shooting from their Australian players, of whom they have five ( three are regular starters).  I must admit that although I root for St. Marys because they are a local team, I feel a little miffed that they have brought so many players over from Australia to play basketball .  Shouldn’t these spots on the team go to local kids,  many of whom come from the inner city and for whom the opportunity to play college basketball may open some significant doors in life ?  I am sure that there were a lot of kids from this demographic who tried out for the Gaels’s team this past winter but who could not make the cut because coach Randy Bennet had decided to recruit from Australia where the kids are older and have more experience playing organized ball. Some of the Australian players on Bennet’s team are in their mid -20s  which, to me at least, just makes a complete mockery of college basketball. I mean would John Wooden have done this ?
In short, we all know that a winning college sports program is big business nowadays and many coaches have a win at all costs attitude.  You expect this from college basketball factories like Ohio State, U Conn, Kansas, Michigan State et al. You don’t expect it from a small Catholic liberal arts college in Moraga, California with an enrollment of 3800 students.  Nothing is scared anymore. Not even the NCAA Tournament.

The morally bankrupt Texas Rangers

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm

The big story in baseball today is that Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last year.  The bigger news, to me at least, is that the Rangers are standing by Washington and allowing him to keep his job. This is a reprehensible stance on the part of the Rangers management. 

Just a few days ago an American couple who worked at the US Embassy in Mexico were brutally gunned down as they returned home from a child’s birthday party.  Their own 1-year-old child, in the back seat of the car, was unhurt but there was a profoundly tragic image of a Mexican policeman holding the child as his colleagues went through the bullet riddled SUV. The violent mexican drug wars that the media have been reporting recently are the direct result of an insatiable US demand for Cocaine among other drugs. This is acknowledged by both the US and Mexican governments.   In a sense then it is recreational Cocaine users like Ron Washington who are indirectly responsible for the murder of the US diplomat and her husband. For they are the ones creating the demand.  Not only is it absurd to allow Washington to keep his job after he tested positive for Cocaine ( he is after all a manager and managers are not supposed to fail drug tests), but given the fact that the spate in drug related violence is happening on the Texas-Mexico border one would expect  the Rangers management would have terminated Washington’s contract immediately,  if  for no other reason than to send a message to their own community that they do not condone any activity that has led, even indirectly, to the deaths of thousands of innocent Mexican and American citizens since the drug wars began in 2006.  

A final thought on this post: I wonder what the Rangers’s first ever manager would say about all this were he still alive. That would be Ted Williams of course.

Tiger Woods and the new morality in American sports.

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Well, it is no surprise that Tiger Woods has announced that he will participate in this years Masters.  In fact, Tiger’s break from golf was very disingenuous coming as it did in golf’s offseason; to this point Tiger has missed only 3 “minor” tournaments. I think we knew all along that he would be back for the Masters because it just seems like the, pre-packaged made for TV sports “comeback”  that we have come to expect from the major networks. It doesn’t matter that Tiger was absent not because of a torn fibula or rotator cuff but  because he had been caught cheating on his wife with a parade of busty bimbos and was too ashamed to appear in public.  And what will the reaction of the galleries  be ?  I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone at Augusta cheered Tiger just as Dodger fans cheered Manny Ramirez upon his return last year after a 50 game suspension for steroid use. The plain fact is that athletes nowadays are not held to very high standards. An athlete can do something disgraceful, such as Marion Jones, or act with complete hypocrisy, such as Tiger,  but as long as they have not lost their game people will cheer for them.  In all honesty, athletes have always been given a break. When incidents of supposed domestic violence in Willie Mays’s marriage were reported  in the San Francisco papers in 1961 no one really cared – according to James Hirsch in his new biography of Mays.  But there was nevertheless a moral code which, if transgressed, made it difficult for a player to continue to compete in the public arena.  A good example is Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich who in the mid 1970s swapped wives – and eventually their entire families – and were subsequently booed in every city they played in.  Both were out of baseball in a matter of a few years despite promising careers.  The Tiger Woods scandal has had all the sleazy headlines of the Kekich-Peterson affair and Tiger for his hypocrisy should hear thunderous and incessant jeers upon his return. But this will not happen. because people, as I said, just don’t care anymore.

Willie Davis 1940-2010

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

Saw in this morning’s paper that Willie Davis passed away yesterday. Even though I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area a Giants fan, I always liked Willie Davis. Like my idol, Willie Mays, Davis played Centerfield and batted third in the Dodgers lineup. He was svelte and fleet as a gazelle but, unlike Mays, Davis did not generally hit for power.  I remember going to a Giants Dodgers game in 1970 and the memory of Davis’s performance that day is seared into my memory. He was 4-5 with 2 singles, a triple and a home run.  Maybe that is the day I became a Willie Davis fan.  He went on to hit .305 that year and the next year was selected to the NL All Star team, one of two all-star selctions in his career. Still there was something sad about Davis’s career as he never quite fulfilled the promise of his early years and, despite a solid career,  he is probably most rememberd by longtime Dodger fans for his fielding miscues in the 1966 World Series. Davis ended his career in Japan where he became a convert to Buddhism.  Maybe in Buddhism Davis found the tranquillity he was never able to find as a ballplayer. For someone who hangs on to his Willie Davis memory there is serenity in that thought.

Ah, Spring is here….

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2010 at 8:43 am

I see that A-Rod is in hot water again, this time for his association with a Canadian doctor who is suspected of providing HGH to US athletes.  Here we go again. Although some people in baseball- because of the implementation of more stringent drug testing – have declared the Steriod Era over, the use of performance enhancing drugs (funny but doesn’t PEDs  sound like PEZ ? ) like HGH will continue to destroy the National Pastime. There is still no test for HGH and I suspect that many ballplayers who used steroids have simply switched over to HGH.  In fact, I was watching the Chisox-Cubbies Cactus League game the other day and every guy in the White Sox lineup looked like Popeye, even diminutive Omar Vizquel.   In short, one just does not know anymore if what occurs on the field is legitimate or not.  The only way to restore integrity to the game would be to impose widespread mandatory drug testing and then to issue lifetime bans to repeat offenders.  If a player knew that his livelihood was on the line, I am sure he would think very hard about using a performance enhancing supplement.  But of course MLB will never take these steps. The Players Union would have nothing to do with it and the entire season ( and all the gate receipts) would be subject to a strike and cancellation.  So this season, once again, with every home run we will wonder  “was that legit?.” Sadly, the answer will be “probably not.”