Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Torn from the pages of the NYT.

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Two stories from the NYT that aroused my interest, for different reasons:

Emperor Akihito of Japan wants to step down from the throne. But it isn’t that simple. There’s no provision in the law that allows him to step down and have his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, take over the throne, so the Japanese government would have to change the law. But the Emperor can’t ask for that directly, because that would be meddling in politics. So he has to hint that he’d like the law changed. But people are concerned that if the government does change the law, they would be exerting undue influence over the throne. So Japan has a mess to sort out, one that’s also tied up with the question of allowing women to take the throne, and what the role of the Emperor should be in present day Japanese society.

One of the things that I found most striking about this article was a reference – which appears to have been deleted from the current version of the article, but there are comments mentioning it – to Crown Prince Naruhito’s wife, Masako, Crown Princess of Japan, who according to the article (this is also backed up some by Wikipedia) has lived in virtual seclusion for the past fifteen years battling crippling depression. That’s about the saddest thing I’ve heard in a long while.

Story number two: a man named Neil Horan, who lives in London, was upset that Vanderlei de Lima was selected to light the Olympic flame.

Why?

Neil Horan shoved Vanderlei de Lima into the crowd during the 2004 Olympic marathon, probably costing him the gold medal. (De Lima ended up winning the bronze.)

Horan has gained bursts of infamy for his public exploits. He is a defrocked Irish priest who has made an occasional habit of interrupting sports events. He frequently appears at demonstrations, wearing a green beret and a green vest — the same outfit he wore when he interrupted the Olympic marathon — claiming that the second coming of Jesus is near. In 2009, he appeared on “Britain’s Got Talent,” and his Irish dancing earned him an invitation to the second round, until executives realized who he was. He does not dispute the label as an eccentric.

I believe “asshole” is actually the word the paper of record is looking for here. But what reason does Horan have for being so worked up?

He said that he has sent de Lima two letters of apology, in Portuguese, but has never had contact with him since the fateful day in Athens. (After the 2004 Games, Horan said he planned to go to Brazil to apologize in person, but he faced charges of indecency with a child. He was acquitted by a jury later that year.)

“It’s extremely sad that he never responded to my apologies, nevertheless acknowledged them,” Horan said. “I would like to meet him and his family. But absolutely no response. I condemn him for this. He miserably failed in basic manners of human decency and courtesy.”

That’s funny. I would have said the person who failed in “basic manners of human decency and courtesy” was Horan, when he pushed an athlete that had done nothing to him into a crowd and ruined his chance at winning the race.

Seriously. This guy is upset because the man he wronged refuses to accept his apologies, or even contact him. That’s not surprising; that’s the kind of behavior you expect from delusional assholes.

“As if I was just some sort of pop star looking for attention,” Horan said. “I see it as a personal attack on me, my Christian mission and Christ himself.”

The question on my mind is: why did the NYT chose to devote space to the rantings of an attention-seeking nut?

Memo from the sentencing desk.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Remember Christopher Correa, the St. Louis Cardinals “director of baseball development” who plead guilty to hacking the Houston Astros player database? (Previously.)

46 months in prison. $279,038 in restitution.

In other news, Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca was supposed to be sentenced yesterday. The former sheriff, as you may recall, plead guilty to lying to federal investigators. He had agreed to take a plea, and the prosecution, in turn, had agreed to seek a sentence somewhere between probation and a maximum of six months in prison.

Yesterday, the judge in the case threw out the plea agreement.

Six months in prison for the man who ran the Sheriff’s Department “would not address the gross abuse of the public’s trust … including the need to restore the public’s trust in law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” Anderson said.

Baca must now choose among several unappealing options. He could go ahead with the sentencing and accept whatever punishment Anderson has in mind. He could withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial, taking his chances with whatever charges the government might decide to bring. He could negotiate a new deal with federal prosecutors for a longer sentence that the judge would find more acceptable.

Former sheriff Baca has also been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease, which may be one reason why the prosecution was so willing to agree to a relatively light sentence; if his condition gets worse, he may not be competent to participate in his defense, which could result in any trial being delayed.

How far down does the well of corruption go?

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Lawrence has been on the UT corruption scandal like flies over a cow’s head in a Damien Hirst installation.

But I wanted to make note of this story, since I don’t think it has come to his attention yet, and it also sort of qualifies as a firing.

Backgroud: until a few years back, ticket sales for UT sports were handled by the Longhorn Foundation, “the official fundraising arm of Texas Athletics”.

Historically, the Foundation has been the primary fundraising arm for UT athletics. But an internal audit reveled Foundation employees were responsible for widespread abuses regarding tickets, rewarding favored donors and printing tickets to distribute without UT’s knowledge. School officials refused to even estimate how much money had been lost over the years.

More here on the audit, which was mostly completed by June 2013, but the report “was not sent to top university officials until two years later — after UT President Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds, in office at the time of the ticket abuses, had moved on.”

I’m just going to give that one “well” for now, for reasons that should become apparent later.

Steve Patterson, who took over as athletic director after DeLoss Dodds, took ticket selling away from the Longhorn Foundation. The foundation still existed, but their fund-raising was charitable contributions – you know, donations from rich alumni who wanted good seats for football. Patterson hired a company called The Aspire Group to handle ticket sales, and they’ve apparently done a decent job: they exceeded goals for 2015. And they have a contract through August of 2017.

But. Steve Patterson isn’t the athletic directory any longer: he lasted two years. Mike Perrin is now the AD, and he wants to terminate Aspire’s contract by August 26th of this year.

Would you like to take a guess who Mike Perrin wants to handle ticket sales now?

“I believe the direction and tone of our relationships with our incredible donor and fan base needs to be adjusted, starting with the Longhorn Foundation once again leading those important relationships,” Perrin continued.
Perrin stated it was “my intention to come to an agreement to terminate our contract this summer. I am not interested in trying to figure out a way to keep this relationship active moving forward.”

So the new AD wants to turn ticket sales back over to the same crooked organization that had them previously.

And this is where we deploy the “Well. Well well well. Well.” Seriously, just how corrupt is the University of Texas these days?

Firing watch.

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Why not drop your news on one of the slowest news days of the year?

Sheryl Swoopes was fired last night as head coach of the Loyola University women’s basketball team. Chicago Tribune. Chicago Sun-Times.

Her record over three seasons was 31-62, and 14-16 last season. But the problem doesn’t seem to have been her record:

Five more players transferred after the 2014-15 season, and the university granted requests from 10 of the 12 returning players from last season’s roster to be released from their scholarships.

More:

Five former players told the Tribune in April that Swoopes was extremely difficult to play for, frequently threatening players with the loss of their scholarships, and that her unusual coaching style led to the player exodus.

Players said Swoopes cried during halftime of games and during practices while imploring the team to play better and stormed out of the gym during practice several times, frustrated at their lack of execution. At one practice, multiple players said, Swoopes sat on a chair in silence the entire time.
Swoopes also shared with teammates personal information told to her in confidence, sources told the Tribune.

Ms. Swoopes termination comes at what is apparently the end of a three month long investigation by the university, though no details of that investigation have been released yet.

Obit watch: June 28, 2016.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Bad day for sports.

Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee basketball coach. Knoxville News-Sentinel. ESPN.

She was only 64. Alzheimer’s sucks.

Buddy Ryan, one of the great NFL defensive coaches. ESPN.

Noted without comment:

Ryan later punched offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on national TV on Jan. 2, 1994, when both were assistant coaches with the Houston Oilers.

Musical interlude.

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Apropos of nothing in particular, a musical interlude to start your day:

Obit watch: June 10, 2016.

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Wanted to get this in before another busy weekend: Gordie Howe. ESPN.

By the time he retired for the second and final time in 1980 as the oldest player in N.H.L. history, Howe had set records for most seasons (26), games played (1,767), goals (801), assists (1,049) and points (1,850). He won both the Hart Trophy as the N.H.L.’s most valuable player and the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top points scorer six times.

I’ve never been a huge hockey fan, but even I knew who Gordie Howe was, and kind of liked the guy.

Firings watch.

Monday, May 30th, 2016

University of Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido has been “reassigned to a role as special assistant to the athletic director”. Which basically seems to me like a nice way to fire him without actually firing him.

During his 48-year coaching tenure, he led his teams to the College World Series 15 times, made 33 NCAA Regional appearances, won 16 NCAA Regional Tournament titles and 25 Conference Championships, while being named National Coach of the Year six times (1975, 1979, 1984, 1995, 2002, 2005).

At UT, his teams won two national championships (in 2002 and 2005) and went to the College World Series eight times.

On the dropping of shoes.

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

I have avoided writing about this for the past few days because there were a lot of rumors and “unconfirmed reports” floating around that claimed to be true, but were denied by the university.

Now I feel like I can write about this, because we finally have an official statement from Baylor University:

Art Briles out as football coach.

Ken Starr out as university president:

Starr remains the Louise L. Morrison Chair of Constitutional Law in Baylor’s Law School and has agreed in principle to serve as Chancellor on terms that are still being discussed.

Both ESPN and the Statesman report that while Starr is staying on, he will have “no operational duties at the university”.

All of this is fallout from a major scandal: basically, several people, including one Baylor athlete, stated they were sexually assaulted by other athletes (mostly football players, though “a former tennis player is the lone suspect in a sexual assault case that has been active for more than eight months”), and that the university responded badly:

Other former Baylor students have spoken to the Tribune-Herald about how the university mishandled their complaints, including one who claimed a Baylor police officer blamed her for being raped.

More: Statesman. ESPN. Timeline of events, also from ESPN.

Obit watch: May 25, 2016.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Beth Howland passed away December 31st of last year, but her death was not announced until yesterday, in keeping with the wishes of her family.

She played Amy in the original Broadway production of Sondheim’s “Company”, and had a slew of other roles. Ms. Howland was perhaps most famous as Vera on “Alice”.

Unlike many actors, Ms. Howland had never worked as a waitress. “But I just kept sitting around coffee shops and watching how it’s done, and now I can carry four dinners,” she told Knight Newspapers.

I kind of wonder if she was typecast after “Alice”: the obit says she worked “sporadically”.

She had small guest roles on “Eight Is Enough,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “The Tick.”

Also:

She and the actress Jennifer Warren were the executive producers of the documentary “You Don’t Have to Die,” about a 6-year-old boy’s successful battle against cancer. It won an Academy Award in 1989 for best short-subject documentary.

(Wouldn’t “After Alice” be a great idea for a new TV series? Linda Lavin is still alive: she could have taken over the diner from Mel. Polly Holliday is still alive, too: she could be working the counter, and then you cast someone to play Vera’s daughter, who works as a waitress…Hollywood types, you know where to reach me.)

The AV Club is reporting the passing of Burt Kwouk, who sounds like a very cool and interesting guy. He was in three Bond films, but is perhaps best known as Cato in the Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

“They were always a lot of fun because after a while I got to know Cato quite well and I liked Cato because he never argued with me and he never borrowed money from me. I liked playing Cato quite a lot,” he said of the role in a 2011 interview with the BBC.

Not exactly obits, but worth noting in my opnion: both Bubba Smith and Dave Mirra have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Quickies.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Well, baseball season’s finally gotten underway with the ceremonial throwing out of the first manager.

Fredi Gonzalez out as manager of the Braves. The team was 9-28 so far this year; he was 434-413 overall while with the Braves.

The grand jury has decided not to indict former APD officer Geoffrey Freeman, who you may remember better as the officer who shot and killed a naked 17-year-old male. (Previously.)

Obit watch: Guy Clark, noted Texas musician.

Edited to add 5/18: More Guy Clark. NYT. South Texas Pistolero. A/V Club.

Not technically a firing, but…

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

…Scott Skiles out as head coach of the Orlando Magic.

Skiles had some questions about the direction of the team and its mindset, and he clashed at times with general manager Rob Hennigan.

Skiles coached for one season, and the Magic went 35-47.

But the team started the year 19-13, and Skiles felt the team’s inability to recover during an awful January in which they went 2-12 was indicative of an overall softness within the team and a lack of a professional mindset.
One of the disagreements between Skiles and the Magic front office was about the team’s point guard situation. Hennigan and the front office regarded — and still regard — Elfrid Payton as the franchise’s point guard of the future. Skiles did not.