Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Hookers, no blow (yet) watch.

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Hugh Freeze, the football coach at Ole Miss, resigned “effective immediately” last night.

If he resigned, why am I spinning this as a firing? ESPN:

Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, in a Thursday night news conference announcing the move, said Freeze, 47, resigned after confirming to him and athletic director Ross Bjork “a pattern of personal conduct inconsistent with the standard of expectations for the leader of our football team.”

Clarion-Ledger:

If Freeze didn’t resign, athletic director Ross Bjork said the university would have exercised the termination clause in his contract for “moral turpitude.”

“Moral turpitude” is another of those phrases that I love. But I digress: what happened here?

From what I’ve been able to put together reading the press coverage, Houston Nutt, the former Ole Miss coach, is suing the university. As part of the discovery in his lawsuit, his attorney was able to get six days worth of Freeze’s phone records from his university issued cellphone. Freeze was allowed to redact his personal calls from the records, but did not redact what’s being described as a “one minute” call to a 313 area code number “associated with websites that advertise a female escort business based in Tampa, Florida”.

Freeze’s initial explanation was that it was a wrong number call. That’s plausible to me, given how short the call was. But apparently the university dug deeper into Freeze’s phone records:

“In our analysis, we discovered a pattern of conduct that is not consistent with our expectations as the leader of our football program,” Bjork said. “As of yesterday, there appeared to be a concerning pattern.”

Freeze, who had about $2 million left on his contract for this year, $5 million next year and $5.15 million for the 2019 season, will not be paid going forward.

So that’s $12.15 million down the drain. Why? Because a highly paid football coach wasn’t smart enough to use a burner phone for his calls to escort services.

Quick followups.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver, aka “War Machine”, was sentenced yesterday. (Previously.)

Yeah, he got life.

Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver will be eligible for parole in 36 years, when he will be 71 years old.

ESPN obit for Jimmy Piersall, which I note here for the following reason:

But Piersall also had furious arguments with umpires, broke down sobbing one day when told he wouldn’t play and got into a fistfight with the New York Yankees’ Billy Martin at Fenway Park, followed minutes later by a scuffle with a teammate.

As far as I can tell, there is no Wikipedia entry, or other comprehensive list, for “People Billy Martin Got Into Fistfights With”. This seems like a failing of the Internet, and perhaps one I need to remedy here. But would it be easier to do a list of people Billy Martin didn’t get into a fistfight with?

Obit watch: June 5, 2017.

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Jimmy Piersall, noted center fielder for the Boston Red Sox.

Piersall was an outstanding center fielder, a solid hitter and a two-time All-Star, playing in the major leagues for 17 seasons.

However, he was better known for off-field reasons:

The Red Sox demoted Piersall to the minors in June 1952, hoping he could gain control of his emotions, but his antics continued, and he entered a mental hospital in Massachusetts a month later. He remained hospitalized for six weeks, undergoing shock treatment and counseling for a nervous breakdown.

He returned to the Red Sox, and later wrote a book about his illness and recovery, Fear Strikes Out.

“Mr. Piersall’s courageous description of his struggles with manic depression, now called bipolar disorder, helped bring the disease and its treatments out of the shadows,” Dr. Barron H. Lerner, professor of medicine and population health at the New York University Langone Medical Center, wrote in The New York Times in 2015. “It was really a big deal 60 years ago.”

The book was also famously adapted as a movie, with Anthony Perkins playing Mr. Piersall.

“I hated the movie,” Piersall wrote in his 1985 memoir. Perkins, he said, gave a fine performance but looked foolish trying to play baseball. He maintained that the movie included events that had never happened, and that he had never blamed his father for his breakdown.

(The 1985 memoir is The Truth Hurts.)

And hey, I haven’t brought this up in a while!

Piersall later had broadcasting jobs with the Texas Rangers beginning in 1974 (doing color and play-by-play for televised games) and with the Chicago White Sox from 1977 to 1981, and was teamed with Harry Caray. He ultimately was fired after excessive on-air criticism of team management.

Yes, Jimmy Piersall does indeed show up in Mike Shropshire’s Seasons in Hell. As I recall, at one point he threatens to beat the crap out of Shropshire: they later made up when the team was sold and the new owner hired Mr. Piersall as a salesman and doubled his salery.

Obit watch: May 30, 2017.

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Frank Deford, noted sportswriter.

As you know, Bob, I am not a sports fan. However, I am a fan of reading, and frequently encountered Deford’s work in collections of sports-writing, or in back issues of SI at the doctor’s office, or other places I don’t remember now. Heck, I even read large parts of Alex: The Life of a Child: I want to say it was reprinted in Reader’s Digest or some damn place.

Point being, I always kind of liked the guy, or at least his writing. I wasn’t really a fan of his NPR work, to be honest. But that probably had more to do with it being NPR than him personally.

“I think there are more good sportswriters doing more good sportswriting than ever before,” he wrote in “Over Time.” “But I also believe that the one thing that’s largely gone out is what made sport such fertile literary territory — the characters, the tales, the humor, the pain, what Hollywood calls ‘the arc.’ That is: stories. We have, all by ourselves, ceded that one neat thing about sport that we owned.”

Also among the dead: former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

Obit watch: May 28, 2017.

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Gregg Allman, of the Allman Brothers Band and “married to Cher” fame.

In 1977, Mr. Allman and the singer Cher, to whom he was married at the time, released the album “Two the Hard Way.” (They were billed on the cover as Allman and Woman.) The project was poorly received by critics and the record-buying public alike.

Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame baseball player, perfect game pitcher, and later a congressional rep and a senator frim Kentucky.

He was the second pitcher, after Cy Young, to win at least 100 games, record at least 1,000 strikeouts and throw no-hitters in both the American and National Leagues. When he retired after the 1971 season, his 2,855 strikeouts were second only to Walter Johnson’s 3,509.

And, of course, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor and soccer theorist.

Jesus, Joseph. and Mary.

Monday, April 24th, 2017

I really feel sorry for this poor kid and his family, which is why I’m avoiding cheap jokes and political agitation.

A suburban Chicago college student who was killed during a track and field meet was struck by an errantly thrown hammer while standing near the field during warm-ups, authorities said Monday.

I did get to wondering how many other people have been killed in track and field events over the years. Wikipedia does not have a list, but this article claims “25 reported cases of people being struck by thrown objects in high school track and field from 1992 to 2012”, resulting in four deaths. Not included in that figure is the December 2014 death that prompted the article. I’m not clear if that figure includes the 2012 death of a German offical who was hit by a javelin, or if those figures are US only. I also turned up a 2013 report (which I won’t link to, because it is from the Daily Fail) of a Houston high school athlete who was killed by a discus. (Oddly, it aparently hit him in the hip, not the head, and he died of unspeciied complications about a week later.) I assume this 1997 report is included in the stats above.

Tomorrow is promised to nobody, so keep your eyes open.

Obits and firings: April 14, 2017.

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Dan Rooney, of Pittsburgh Steelers fame, and former ambassador to Ireland.

A powerful voice in the NFL for decades, often out of the public eye, he helped settle two players’ strikes, served on many league committees and was a confidante and adviser to three commissioners. He fought to give more opportunities for minority coaches to ascend in the NFL, an effort that prompted the adoption of what is known as the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority coach in the process of hiring a head coach.

As Lawrence noted in a comment yesterday, it looks like Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s death is being considered a suicide. I didn’t want to say so at the time, but that’s what I was afraid of.

Some wisdom from other, better people:

…as the Bloggess says, depression lies. Depression tells me that it’s never going to change. Depression tells me that there’s no hope, that I’m going to feel this way forever. Depression tells me I’ve tried everything to get better and it doesn’t work. Depression tells me that I’m a failure as a husband, a father, a friend. Depression tells me that I suck at my job — that if clients are happy with my work it’s only because they are deluded.

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Firings after the jump.

(more…)

The thrill of victory…

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

…and the agony of defeat.

It was a nice run, though. Maybe next year.

(And yes, I owe Lawrence $5.)

Obit watch: March 16, 2017.

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Bob Bruce. Mr. Bruce joined the Colt .45s in 1962 (he’d previously been with the Detroit Tigers) and pitched for them, winning 15 games during the 1964 season.

Of greater historical significance: when the Astrodome opened and the Colt .45s became the Houston Astros, Mr. Bruce was the starting pitcher for their opening game in the Astrodome.

In five seasons in Houston, Bruce went 42-58 with a 3.78 ERA.

Royal Robbins, noted climber. He was most famous for his advocacy of “clean” (“leave no trace”) climbing.

“I think that we were drawn to our ethical stance because it was harder that way, frankly, and I think whatever’s harder has to be better,” Robbins told Outside magazine in 2010. “That’s why I have so much respect for free soloists these days.”

I’m not sure that I buy the “whatever’s harder has to be better” philosophy, but there is a certain resonance to the meta-idea:

He added of Robbins, “His philosophy was that it’s not getting to the summit but how you do it that counts.”

gonzaga

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Once again, I’ve bet Lawrence $5 that Gonzaga will win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

This year, though, I did it grudgingly.

It isn’t that I don’t think Gonzaga has a chance: they probably have their best chance in years. It isn’t that I didn’t want to take Lawrence’s money again, after already taking $5 from him when the Cubs won. After all, I should give Lawrence a fair chance to win his money back. And I would feel stupid if Gonzaga did win this year, and I didn’t bet.

So what’s my grudge?

Last fall, Gonzaga hired Melissa Click. Yes, that Melissa Click.

I’d be willing to agree that everyone deserves a shot at redemption. But not on my dime, and not necessarily with my active support. Also, I think part of deserving a shot at redemption involves atonement for your actions, and I haven’t seen any evidence of that from Ms. Click.

On the other hand, it wasn’t the basketball team that hired her, and should I punish them (and Lawrence) for the actions of Gonzaga’s administration? That seems unfair.

So, grudgingly, I am preparing myself to lose $5 betting on a team I can’t quite bring myself to cheer for. Life is suffering.

Obits and firings: March 10, 2017.

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Sweet Angel Divine, aka “Mother Divine”, passed away a week ago Saturday.

She was about 91. (One of the tenets of her religious movement was a disregard for chronological age.)

Mrs. Divine was the widow of Father Divine:

A charismatic preacher since the early 1900s, Father Divine — or the Rev. Major Jealous Divine, to give him his full title — declared in 1932 that he was God and attracted legions of devotees drawn by his message of racial equality, clean living, communal living and cash-only financial transactions.

One of the best things in the St. Clair McKelway collection Reporting at Wit’s End is his profile (with A. J. Liebling) of Father Divine at, more or less, the height of his empire. “Who Is This King of Glory?” might be available online, too, but when I went to the New Yorker website, it looked like you needed a subscription to read it there. In any case, I commend the McKelway/Liebling profile to your attention.

Scot McCloughan out as general manager of the Redskins.

And the Brockster out as quarterback in Houston. Speculation (both in the sports media and from people I know in Cleveland) is that the Browns aren’t going to keep him, either.

The Texans cut their losses with Osweiler after one season. He signed a four-year $72 million contract, including $37 million guaranteed, last year. Even though the Texans won the AFC South and advanced to the divisional round, he played poorly.

Edited to add: Well. The Browns have cut Bobby ThreeSticks now. And nobody thinks His Brockness is going to be asked to hang around. So who’s quarterbacking come fall? The season is closer than you think…,

Silly season.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

A few random items, some more silly than others.

  1. “I like pineapples, just not on pizza. I do not have the power to make laws which forbid people to put pineapples on their pizza. I am glad that I do not hold such power. Presidents should not have unlimited power. I would not want to hold this position if I could pass laws forbidding that which I don’t like. I would not want to live in such a country. For pizzas, I recommend seafood.”
    (I don’t have strong feelings about pineapple on pizza, but I like this guy.)
  2. Wayne Shaw is a backup goalkeeper for the Sutton United soccer team. “His own team referred to him as the Roly Poly Goalie. He is 46 years old, 6-foot-2 and somewhere around 322 pounds, or 23 stone as the British papers usually put it.” During their game against Arsenal on Monday, Mr. Shaw ate a meat pie on the sidelines. There was a spot bet that he’d do this, which paid off at 8-1.
    Problem: Mr. Shaw admitted that he was aware of the spot bet; and, while he didn’t bet personally, he was aware of other people who had. This could be considered “spot fixing”.

    On Tuesday, Shaw was forced to resign from the club after the Football Association’s gambling commission said it would investigate if consumption of the pie was a breach of betting regulations.

    (For the record, it was a “meat and potato” pie. The paper of record does not report the pussy content of the meat pie. Also, note that this silly article already has two corrections appended.)

  3. I haven’t been following this story closely (the Atlanta newspapers aren’t part of my nutritious media breakfast) but the NYT has a rundown of the Atlanta city contracting scandal, which includes bricks through windows and dead rodents left on doorsteps.