Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Fall is here.

Monday, September 26th, 2016

There was just a very slight chill in the air when I left work today. I drove all the way to my destination without having to use the air conditioner.

And in another sign that fall has arrived, we have our first major coach firing of the college football season: Les Miles out at LSU, along with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. ESPN.

He was 114-34-0 overall at LSU. But the team was expected to be a national contender this year; they had a strong squad returning from last year. Instead, they started 2-2, losing to Wisconsin in their opening game and Auburn this past week. (Their two wins were against Jacksonville State and Mississippi State.)

Obit watch: September 26, 2016.

Monday, September 26th, 2016

There were a lot of deaths over the weekend, but I was away from a computer with an Internet connection for most of it. Getting caught up:

Arnold Palmer, drink innovator, sometime golfer, and good Pittsburgh boy. NYT. LAT. Golf Digest. The prose is a little purple:

He was loamy meadows and smoky skies, river valleys and steel mills, like the plant where his father, Milfred, worked (“Steel, Michaeleen, steel in pig-iron furnaces so hot a man forgets his fear of hell”) until just in front of the Depression, Milfred took a job as greenkeeper and pro (mostly greenkeeper) at Latrobe Country Club. Nobody addressed him as Milfred, except Doris when she was of a fanciful mind. To most, he was Deacon. A few said Deke. Arnold called him Pap.

José Fernández. Miami Herald. NYT.

It may just be me, but the tone of these obits rubs me kind of the wrong way. It seems like they’re saying “José Fernández, noted pitcher, is dead. Also two other guys, but they weren’t famous baseball pitchers, so who cares?” (And, yes, I understand that they’re withholding names until families are identified. But it still kind of reads like the other two guys just don’t matter.)

(Also: strict boat control.)

Buckwheat Zydeco.

In 1978, though, he fell into the orbit of Clifton Chenier, “The King Of Zydeco,” who invited the young musician to play organ in his Red Hot Louisiana Band. “I had so much fun playing that first night with Clifton,” Dural later said. “We played for four hours and I wasn’t ready to quit.”

Bill Nunn, actor. NYT. A/V Club. He was Robbie Roberston in the Raimi “Spider-Man” movies (none of which I’ve seen) but was perhaps most famous as Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”.

Loser update update.

Monday, September 12th, 2016

NFL loser update returns tomorrow, for the record.

Obit watch: September 12, 2016.

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Bobby Chacon is dead at the age of 64.

His death was confirmed by the Riverside County coroner and attributed to a fall while he was being treated for dementia, which had been linked to brain injuries from boxing.

Mr. Chacon won the featherweight title in 1974 and the super featherweight title in 1982. He was 59-7-1 over his career (1972-1988).

In 1984, Chacon was stripped of his title in a dispute with boxing officials and promoters over his next opponent. By then 32 years old, he moved up one weight class to challenge the lightweight champion Ray Mancini, known as Boom Boom.

This inspired one of Warren Zevon’s best songs:

Also among the dead: Eddie “Crazy Eddie” Antar.

Cary Blanchard, NFL placekicker. He was 47.

Alexis Arquette, character actress and member of the Arquette acting family.

TMQ watch.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

The new NFL season is almost here. Mark our words: it will be Christmas sooner than you think.

This being a full service blog, we thought we would try to provide an answer to the question nobody asked:

Lisa Simpson.

Oh, wait. Sorry. Wrong question. The one we actually wanted to answer was “Where’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback and Gregg Easterbrook?”

It doesn’t look like TMQ has found a home this year. Easterbrook’s been responding to folks on Twitter with the same boilerplate tweet, like he has a Microsoft Word AutoText for it or something. Oddly, those tweets aren’t visible when I browse his feed with Google Chrome, but they do show up in Safari on the iPhone. The gist: if you like the column, tell the NYT.

Last year, the first TMQ didn’t run until September 15th (the start of the second week of the season) so it isn’t unprecedented for Easterbrook to get a late start. But last year was also the first year the NYT ran the column: we would kind of think that at the beginning of the second year, they would know what was in the tin, and would have already issued a go/no-go decision on TMQ.

Our impression last year was that Easterbrook was chafing under the apparent new restrictions imposed by his corporate masters (for example, no more 2,000 word digressions about how unrealistic a TV show is). We also got the less distinct impression that the editors at The Upshot were, to be frank (no, wait, Frank is Gregg’s brother the judge) tired of his (stuff). So it would come as no great shock to us if TMQ took a long hiatus. But we do plan to keep an eye on Easterbrook’s Twitter, in case we’re wrong or in case he washes up somewhere else. (With the Univision deal, maybe he could start doing TMQ for Deadspin? Or Jezebel?)

Because it is an extraordinarily dangerous sport?

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

Bu way of the Hacker News Twitter, an article from National Geographic:

Why Are So Many BASE Jumpers Dying?

In spite of the headline, this is actually a pretty good (though long) article.

This has already become the deadliest year on record for BASE jumping, with at least 31 deaths thus far. Twenty-three of those fatalities occurred this summer—six deaths in June, two in July, and 15 in August.

What’s the answer to the question? The big problem seems to be wingsuits. And specifically:

“There are a lot of people saying a lot of things about wingsuit BASE deaths. There is no single factor, and there is truth in every statement about ego, video, complacency, access, summer vacations, etc. But if we were to work on just one thing, it would be education … The simple truth is that wingsuit BASE jumpers don’t know what they are getting into, don’t know how to practice the sport safely, and don’t even know enough to know how little they know. “

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: