02.28.14

Plain Dealer : Time For The Tribe To Kick Chief Wahoo To The Curb

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner, When Mascots Are Attacked at 11:41 pm by

(my 2005 proposal that Cleveland introduce a new mascot based on a popular local icon still require has gone unrecognized by the region’s largest daily).

In the eyes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s editorial board, merely de-emphasizing the Indians’ Chief Wahoo caricature isn’t going nearly enough. “A demeaning symbol is a demeaning symbol, regardless of degree,” argues Friday’s editorial. “It’s a little unsettling that it hasn’t happened by now. Why cling to Wahoo when it so clearly offends?”

One might wonder whether, if Greater Cleveland were a faster-growing region, if it didn’t feel so defensive about its hard-luck professional sports teams, it would have found the collective self-esteem before now to part willingly with Wahoo.

But the Indians shouldn’t wait to win a World Series or for the city to hit boom times to discover the well of decency and understanding within itself to dump the Chief.

The team should do it now. Take the heat. Deal with the backlash. Move on. It can be done thoughtfully, by simply acknowledging the mixed emotions of all involved.

Then the city and the team can send a message to the world that it gets it. And Indians fans, all of them, can root for the team, unconditionally.

It’s A Fair Bet Private Eye Is Not Counting The Days Until The Austin X-Games

Posted in olympics, Recommended Reading, Sports TV at 7:06 am by

(Team GB’s Jenny Jones reminds The Zapper she’s only a couple of opponents’ drug test failures from becoming the numero uno woman snowboarder in the world)

Of the BBC’s recently concluded coverage of the Winter Games from Sochi, Private Eye’s The Zapper considers the lesser of the Olympiads something less than crucial viewing (“what a disparate, distant event like this needs is some kind of narrative chassis, a story that gives the whole sprawling pageant focus and reroutes the headlines from corruption, government-sanctioned gay-bashing and no snow”).  That said, perhaps the Zapper’s biggest hang up is the Winter Games’ emphasis on “a whole load of sports we don’t understand”.

In freestyle snowboarding, for example, that left us with two shouty men bleating vaguely scatological non-sequiturs as men in baggy pants pinged up and down like popcorn in a pan : “The backside air was smooth, but it wasn’t massive”;  “The front ten is the shire horse of halfpipe riding.”  It was at least encouraging to see that Coleman and his redoubtable balls live on in the next generation of sports broadcasters.

“‘The Seatbelt'” said Dom Harington, commenting on some obscure snowboarding move.  “It’s like an alligator giving birth : very rare.”

“They’re reptiles — they lay eggs,” pointed out his partner.

02.27.14

Hayhurst : The Minors As We Know ‘Em Are Exploitive To The Max

Posted in Baseball at 7:18 pm by

Former Jays reliever Dirk Hayhurst (above) has chronicled the grim minor league experience in “The Bullpen Gospels” (his third book “Bigger Than The Game” is published next week), and as such, the journeyman-turned analyst/journalist is uniquely qualified to weigh in on 3 former minor leaguers’ class action lawsuit against MLB, claiming the Uniform Players Contract is sham. In a blog post from last week, Hayhurst bemoans the moment “it became out of fashion for minor leaguers, who truly do get paid like shit, treated like shit, worked like dogs, and screwed when injured, to complain about any of it.”

Baseball has the money to at least alleviate the minor league struggle. It just doesn’t have anyone telling it that it must. In fact, it will tell you that if it did alleviate things players wouldn’t work as hard to make it to the top; that they wouldn’t want it as badly if the minors were comfortable. Gosh, thank you, MLB, for being so considerate.

And thank you, major league players, for not speaking up and allowing this wonderful, character building cycle to continue. For those who may not know, the MLBPA routinely bargains away the rights of minor leaguers and amateurs even though minor leaguers and amateurs have no say at, representation on, or power over the MLBPA’s negotiating table.

Odd, isn’t it, that Baseball will tout it’s charitable efforts and desire to see change in suffering communities. That it will set up institutions to help kids break out of poverty and punch their tickets to its meat grinder, wherein it will turn them into live stock, expect them to behave as such, and toss them right back into the dirt when they fail?

02.26.14

Paging Steve Mills : A Dark Horse Candidate For Mike Woodson’s Job Has Emerged

Posted in Basketball, Lower Education, Rugby, Sports Journalism at 9:49 pm by

I don’t know if former Chicago Sun-Times freelancer Clyde Travis (above, left) has any basketball coach experience, but he’s very well versed in delivered REAL TALK to underachieving players. According to this item from last Thursday’s Romensko.com, Travis was so disillusioned with the effort put forth by top ranked Curie (IL) in a 58-56 win over  Hyde Park High, hee delivered a postgame lecture in the former’s locker room, one that mysteriously wasn’t mentioned in his Sun-Times account of the game.

I hope you all gave yourselves a good round of applause. You know why? Because you all stunk that shit up worse than anything I’ve seen. That was the worst exhibition of basketball that I’ve seen in about 30 years. And not that they weren’t trying, it’s that you guys did not come out focused. You are the number one team in the state, and they played like they were the number one team in the state. …

The word that I would use in terms of looking at how you all played was it was a very unintelligent game. ….”

Travis has since been deemed surplus to requirements by his paper, though there might be some slim consolation in knowing news of his exploits have reached all the way to South Africa, where IOL’s Kevin McCallum attempts an analogy almost 5% of you will understand :

How our media cousins from Cape Town would have loved to have been allowed into the Ellis Park change rooms to have a natter with the Stormers after they were belted by the Lions. Tears streaming down their little faces, they would have told them that was the worst exhibition of rugby seen by them in the last 30 years, glossing over the 1999 Super Rugby semi-final and the odd Currie Cup final.

It starts with the slow use of “we” instead of “South Africa”, progresses to wearing a team’s jersey in the press box, then to screaming for your team from your media seat. Before long, you find yourself in a changeroom giving motivational speeches. The horror of doing a Travis.

The Former Roger Murdock Weighs In On A Gala Even Lamer Than The Austin Music Blogger Awards

Posted in Basketball, Cinema at 9:33 am by

OK, the above headline cannot fairly be attributed to NBA Hall-of-Famer / thespian powerhouse / jazzhound Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but having already taken a crack at analyzing Lena Dunham’s “Girls” in the pages of Esquire, Kareem now takes aim at the Academy Awards, declaring, “there’s a reason Oscar has a sword covering his crotch: It’s to hide the fact that he has no balls.” While reserving high praise for Steve Coogan’s “Philomena” (and who amongst us cannot wait for a Coogan/Abdul-Jabbar collaboration?), Kareem was particularly not-blown-away by David O. Russell’s “American Hustle”, calling the film, “a complete failure as history and as drama.”

Whenever “American” is used in a title, the filmmakers are announcing that the story is meant to convey some deeper insight into American culture and psyche (as in American Psycho, American Me, American Graffiti, American Beauty, American History X, and so forth). That doesn’t happen here. The story structure is the same as the much superior Goodfellas, multiple voiceovers by unreliable narrators justifying their actions as they build toward a major real-life heist. Two problems: First, the story is predictable and therefore boring. You know what the characters are going to do and say before they do it or say it. Second, the characters are so unlikable that you never really care what happens to them, so there’s no suspense. I’m fine with unsavory characters, but if they aren’t likable they must be compelling. These characters aren’t. There’s a lot of thematic posturing with characters discussing “survival,” as if that’s the big insight into American culture: Everyone’s on the take, justifying it as survival. That’s not particularly fresh, nor particularly American. Having a cool ’70s soundtrack, disco dancing, and elaborate hair does not a historical drama make. In the end, what do we learn about the time period or America or humanity? Not much. The main thing we learn is that Amy Adams has some awesome blouse tape.

Keane To Carrack : Learn To Cut A Promo, For Fuck’s Sake

Posted in Football at 9:09 am by

You might expect former Manchester United captain / horror-tackle specialist Roy Keane to take issue with last night’s listless showing against Olympiakos, but while providing post-match analysis for ITV, Keane seemed to think his old club’s lack of vigor extended to their sad sack interviews afterwards, Michael Carrack’s in particular. From the Telegram :

Keane reacted sharply to a post-match interview from Carrick, who succeeded him in the United midfield in the mid-2000s, in which his demeanour appeared jolted by what he had experienced.

“That interview was just like the performance: flat. He should say a bit more, have a bit more urgency even in his interview,” Keane said.

“That just reflected United’s performance tonight: flat, with no urgency.

“They keep saying, ‘Ah, well, next game, next game’. For some of them there won’t be another game for them. That’s the reality.”

Carrack’s wife, Lisa, had the following reply (since deleted) :

02.25.14

Good Kickers Are Apparently Very Hard To Find In The Big Ten

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 7:03 pm by

Earlier this month, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke (above) refused to answer questions about the December expulsion of K Brednon Gibbons, citing “federal laws and stuff.”  Ten days after a local blog accused the Ann Arbor News of burying the story about 2009 rape allegations against Gibbons, the same paper’s Kellie Woodhouse reports Michigan is being investigated by the US Department Of Education for their not-quite-timely or transparent handling of the matter :

It remains unclear why four years passed between the incident and the expulsion, when U-M first received a complaint about Gibbons and when it began investigating the incident. It’s also unclear when the football program became aware of the investigation, and if it acted appropriately after it found out.

U-M has repeatedly declined to comment on the investigation, citing student privacy laws.

The school also denied Freedom of Information Act requests relating to the investigation, citing student privacy and section of the act that allow the university to refrain from “disclosing information that would constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy.”