Fan(atical) Behavior

Fan(atical) Behavior

Fans, for the most part, are who they are: fanatics about their sporting teams, entertainers, and whatever they are in support of.

It also produces an unsavory group of “habitual line steppers” to quote the late comedian Charlie Murphy.

Monday night was no different. After a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox, Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones mentioned that he heard racial epithets and one fan hurled a bag of peanuts towards him.

The easy narrative, and the usual one, is to throw a blanket on the city of Boston, given the ugly past the city has dealt with in regards to racial issues.

It’s very easy for fans outside of cities like Boston and Philadelphia to wag a scornful finger at the behavior of those fans.

The problem is…there are fans in every city that are boorish, misogynistic, racist, and rotten. To point a finger at one group and talk about how bad they are shouldn’t dismiss the fact that your fan base, or yourself, is guilty of doing the same.

That last sentence was hammered home by ESPN’s Bomani Jones during his drive-time national radio show today. This isn’t a “Boston” problem. This is an “American” problem: fans who feel they can say and do whatever at games, simply because they paid to watch it.

What a stupid concept. Illogical, ignorant, and baseless.

And, don’t give me the “I pay their (players’) salaries, I can do what I want.”

You don’t pay their salaries. The owner pay their salaries. You (fans) pay for the ticket handlers at the gate, the hot dog vendor, and the maintenance crew who picks up behind us after games. When fans misbehaves, we are embarrassing those individuals, not just players and the teams.

No popcorn vendor wants to lose business or (their jobs) behind a fan acting like a drunken sloth who has no filter.

This may sound hollow and clichéd, but it bears repeating: fans, stop being assholes. If you want to boo, just boo. If your team stinks out loud, no one’s making you stay and watch it. Next time, someone will pull out their iPhones and the world will see just how bad you are.

For the love of decency, act like humans, not cavemen at events.

“Pros And Cons” Warned Us About Crime and Sports

“Pros And Cons” Warned Us About Crime and Sports

Over the past few months, I have listened and watched how people react to news stories, and then over-react to levels that becomes irrational.

Time and again, society treats sports and entertainment like a domestic ecstasy. It’s a perfect world outside of the real world we live in, which is broken, insane, and imperfect. And once again, society point their scornful finger at sports and entertainment for being exactly what society is: broken, insane, and imperfect.

Sports mirrors society, but most of us choose to ignore that aspect. We demand perfection from those we look up to and yet we fail to see those flaws in ourselves.

I sit back with amusement. Why? Because I’m not shocked by the level of domestic violence, drug use, and criminal activity and other things that have beset the sports world, and in Hollywood.

A book I read in 1998 and I still have on my bookshelf pulled back the curtain on crime and sports back then, and we turned a blind eye and ignored it.

(Courtesy: Goodreads.com)
(Courtesy: Goodreads.com)

Jeff Benedict and Don Yeager wrote an eye-opening book titled “Pros and Cons” about the disturbing trend of violence in the NFL, on and off the field. What Benedict and Yeager exposed could easily be applied to baseball, hockey, and soccer. Back then, the internet was a new thing and “Inside Edition” was where we went to get the skinny on “everything”.

It is recommended reading for those who hasn’t followed the history of how crime intertwines with sports. After reading it, you won’t be so “shocked” by what we are seeing now.

Society feeds off of sensational stories that gets us talking and reacting, which is our modus operandi on social media, rather than making a concerted, genuine effort to understand issues.  Most of us are too lazy to delve into topics that are complex and hard to sort out.

Unpopular opinion: TMZ is not a news source, regardless how many stories they have broken or videos they have leaked. TMZ’s main purpose is to out celebrities and record their behavior, even if it means paying paparazzi and unscrupulous people to get pictures and videos of famous people in compromising positions.

Individuals like Benedict, Yeager, and others, have researched, discussed, and talked about these topics involving violence in sports long before everyone else. It’s unfortunate that it took so long. No, Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, and Colin Cowherd doesn’t get credit for “bringing light” to these subjects. They’re just like the rest of us:  whatever is the big story, they’ll pontificate about it to the public.

Sports mirrors life: there are a lot of ugly stuff going on that we think we know, but don’t know. We need to stop treating sports like a fairy-tale nirvana, because the choices and decisions that are made, as in the case of the NFL, are the same things that people make in the real world.

Some good and some bad, some really bad and some pretty good.

We just hate to admit that. It’s always someone else’s fault.

Baseball Bloviation

Greg Maddux will likely wear an Atlanta Braves hat to Cooperstown, but he will always be a Chicago Cub to me. (ChicagoNow.com)

Every year, it’s the same thing.

The Baseball Hall of Fame. Who gets elected and inducted into the hall in July.

Should be a simple thing, right?

Not according to the fools who continue to make this election process a long-running sham filled with controversy, stupid rationales, and pure unadulterated spite.

Let’s clear a few things here at the start: it was Deadspin who came up with the idea, not Dan LeBatard (DLB). Deadspin made an offer, and DLB accepted it. Deadspin offered to pay him, he refused any payment of any kind. If you don’t want to believe that, then let me direct you to the original post by Deadspin. They explained it as clear as day what their intent was.

A preface: there are members of the Baseball Writers of America who care about making the right selections, namely Richard Justice and Jayson Stark, are upfront about their decision, and clearly hope to do right by the fans and the players they choose. This group are the ones I will not lump in with the other faction I’m going to talk about shortly.

And three: people who have an opinion that is different that popular individuals are afraid to voice them, for fear of retribution. My feeling is that you shouldn’t ask for permission to say or write that you disagree with something. You can still respect then and their views, but don’t let that get in the way of something that you feel you have to respectfully go against.

This group is the real reason that every January, there is always drama about who is voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This group has idiots who treat their votes like a referendum against great players. And, they publish a list of their members for public knowledge.

Okay, here it goes….

The Baseball Writers of America (BBWAA) are the ones that all of you should be upset and mad at. There is a section of these writers, who are Hall of Fame voters, who are the most spiteful, petty, sanctimonious group of hypocrites ever to grace the earth.

A******s is a better word for them.

It’s not the system…it’s the people who vote. 

Murray Chass, Dan Shaughnessy, and several others are the ones who have given the BBWAA a black eye and worst, there is no one in the BBWAA who has the cajones to stand up to these clowns. For years this faction of arrogant jerks have continued a long, sorry practice of using and abusing their voting privileges to conduct their own personal agendas against players who are HOF candidates.

And Dan LeBatard is the bad guy?

To all of you who are sitting on your high horse and talking about how DLB made a mockery of his ballot, shut the hell up. Ken Gurnick made a mockery of his vote by essentially “playing stupid” with the “I don’t know who used what or didn’t use what, so I’m taking Jack Morris” excuse. Memo to Mr. Gurnick, Morris spent a little over 1/2 of his career during the “Steroid era”. Keith Olbermann pointed that out (see his monologue down the bottom of this post. Forward to the 1:34 mark).

I have no idea how much anguish Jack Morris, or anyone else, feels after being on a ballot for 15 years and never getting that call. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Chass’ rationale is even more stupefying. He says Biggio used PEDs. It doesn’t take a hot dog, a bratwurst, a kielbasa, and an Italian sausage to know that if a player’s name didn’t pop up in the Mitchell Report, rumors, or various sources regarding PED use, then it’s likely he didn’t use it. If Biggio did use PEDs, then prove it with evidence.

Chass offers nothing and isn’t forced to provide proof.

How did Craig Biggio fall two votes short of being elected? Look no further than Chass and Gurnick. Chass is to the HOF ballot as Phil Mushnick is to a column…they don’t deserve to have either.

The BBWAA is the group that is so proud of the fact that they: have never unanimously elected a Hall of Famer (and swear that they never will); are brazen enough to put Armando Benitez and Jim Deshaies, and not Biggio, on their ballot and boast about it, without repercussion, and this is where I get real upset, when they decided that Buck O’Neil wasn’t worthy of being elected…by citing his career numbers.

No one cares about Buck O’Neil’s stats. That’s not what people know O’Neil for. He was known in being one of the greatest ambassadors for the game of baseball. The man loved baseball so much, he gave his life to the game and its history. He should have been elected as a contributor while he was alive. People cared about his passion for baseball.

These bastards, the BBWAA, waited until he was six feet under to “finally” elect him.

Shameful and pompous.

And Dan LeBatard is the bad guy?

Yeah, that’s what Gregg Doyel, Michael Wilbon, and Tony Korheiser thinks. I wonder what they would do with their votes. Oh wait, they’ve never had a vote in any sports hall of fame that I can think of. Carry on.

I’ve had my issues with Bob Costas in the past. I respect him, and I can disagree with him. His statement on Thursday on DLB’s ESPN radio show:

…was as insult to fans.

Excuse me, Bob, isn’t that what the voters have been doing? Voting for people they like, not because they like them, but to spite those they hate and loathe?

Are you telling me that fans are too stupid to understand sports? You expect us to sit down, keep quiet, and bark when you tell them to bark and agree with your view of “what sports should be”?

Elitists like Costas, George Will, and others, including some bloggers and media critics, need a dose of crow. Fans are tired of being preached at about how to watch, talk, and think about sports . This is why fans gravitate to sites like Deadspin, Awful Announcing, and other sports links to get their news and talk about what they’ve seen and heard.

Those places don’t “talk down” to their readers and listeners. Fans have more access, virtually, to what goes on in a game, locker room, and what sports media talk about.

Bob, you’re starting to sound like the crusty old white guys who are unwilling to evolve with the rest of the world. In most places, they’re known as Republicans, but this isn’t a political blog.

For those who act like you’re horrified by what Deadspin and DLB has done, spare me the moral speeches.

Because you would have done the same damn thing, or close to it, to make a statement about the BBWA. The great Richard Justice pointed this out:

and this one.

And Dan LeBatard is the bad guy?

It’s voters like Marty Noble who get away with indefensible excuses and hateful spite, that they are never admonished for it by their own peers. But they have no problems resorting to the “do as we say, not as we do” logic on DLB, which in my humble opinion is bullshit.

It is voters like Richard Justice, Peter Gammons, Ray Ratto, and Jayson Stark who have been trying to shed light on how their fellow voters abuse and uses their votes and ballots as vengeful tools and soapbox preaching. If anything, LeBatard and Deadspin gave them an added boost in getting the public to support their cause to change this ungodly and soulless manifest destiny.

Keith Olbermann, another guy I don’t agree with most of the time, nails it with this take:

Enough of this bloviation and fake outrage towards one person, so that a group could cover up the sins of their own fellow voters. The BBWAA has no one but themselves to blame, along with the Hall of Fame. The inability to police themselves is clear and evident.

Opening Day

 

When Vin Scully gets behind the microphone, you know it's time for baseball again. This will be Vin's 62st season as the Voice of the Dodgers.

It doesn’t feel right at all this morning to be thinking of Opening Day.

It’s Thursday for crying out loud!

Baseball’s Opening Day was reserved for the first Monday in April.  The traditional first game in Cincinnati, the ceremonial first pitch by the President in Washington, and the Cubs and the Mets being “mathematically eliminated” from playoff contention for the umpteenth time…before even taking the field. In St. Louis, the Cardinals will have their grand parade of yesterday legends and today’s stars during their opening ceremonies at Busch Stadium.


Today is Opening Day, that time-honored ritual that signals the unofficial start of spring, mixed with a few lake-effect snow showers in Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland from time to time.  The San Francisco Giants, the newly crowned champions of this sport, will meet their long-time hated nemesis the DodgersJoel Hanrahan, of Norwalk, will be asked by the Pittsburgh Pirates to take the mound as a closer this season.

Meanwhile in Seattle and Chicago, heavy hearts will reside as the Mariners and the Cubs start their season without an institution and a legend:  broadcaster Dave Niehaus and former player and beloved color analyst Ron Santo. This baseball season will also be empty without the man from Van Meter known as “Rapid Robert”Tim McClelland and Eric Cooper pull out their umpire masks and stand behind the plate to judiciously call balls and strikes again.


Opening Day brings hope and hearkens emotions of yesteryear and bonding among fans, family, and friends, as we turn down the television, pull out our cell phones, and feverishly try to find an app that will let us listen to Vin Scully poetically weave a story as the Dodgers mount up a rally late in the games.

Opening Day is here, regardless if it’s on Monday or, as weird as it is, on a Thursday.

It’s time to play ball.


“The Boss” of New York: George Steinbrenner (1930-2010)

George Steinbrenner, not Bruce Springsteen, is the real "Boss." Steinbrenner died this morning of a massive heart attack.

I hate the Yankees.  I never liked them.  They have 27 World Series titles, broke the hearts of the Boston Red Sox, and are the most recognizable sports team in the world.  I couldn’t stand how George Steinbrenner, the irascible, pompous, free-wheeling owner of the Yankees would write a carte blanche check and bring in the best players in the game.

But, by saying that, there can be no question that if you want someone to be the owner of your team, or your business, George Steinbrenner would be on the top of your list.

Steinbrenner died this morning at a Tampa, Florida hospital after suffering a massive heart attack.  He recently turned 80 years old on Independence Day.

“The Boss” or “King George” as he was called in the New York daily tabloids, was one of the most influential and active owner in American sports.  Bigger than Mark Cuban.  Bigger than Jerry Buss.  Bigger than Jerry Jones.  Cuban and Jones strives to be their respective sports’ version of Steinbrenner.  There was a reason to King George’s method of “madness”:  he was driven to win. That was instilled by his father growing up in Cleveland.  That transferred to a successful career in the shipping business prior to leading a group to buy the Yankees from CBS in 1973.

CBS’ ownership (1964-1973) of the Yankees was a joke.  After their last World Series appearance in 1964, CBS viewed the Yankees as a peg in their business portfolio.  MLB saw the Yankees fall from grace.  CBS did not invest the passion and drive as Steinbrenner put into it.  Of course, George’s drive to win got him into trouble…many times.  His firing of 21 managers (Billy Martin was pink-slipped 5 times!) became legendary.  His “threats”, “demands”, and “promises” were the highlight on the back pages of the New York Post.  His scowl from his suites made players weary of his tirades after games.

King George

The Bronx Zoo fed off of Steinbrenner’s megalomaniac drive.  Two World Series titles in 1977 and 1978, and then 5 more (1996, 1998-2000, 2009).  Even though he transferred the day to day operations to his sons, the name Steinbrenner is written all over the 2009 World Series titles.  The George Steinbrenner era could be broken up into two eras:  1973-1990 and 1993-2008.  The first era was of Steinbrenner, moody, outspoken, and having his hand involved in how the team was being ran.  It’s safe to say that Steinbrenner could not trust the people he hired to do their jobs.  Billy Martin and GM Gabe Paul could attest to that.

In 1993, Steinbrenner started to change his modus operandi and started to learn how to let his people run the team and trust them to make the right decisions.  He was rewarded with a World Series title three years later thanks to the work of Gene Michael, Randy Levine, and Brian Cashman.

What changed between 1990 and 1993?  Steinbrenner was banned from baseball in July 1990 after it was discovered that he paid a small-time hoodlum, Howard Spira, to dig up information to negatively smear Yankees star Dave Winfield, whom Steinbrenner often clashed with.  During those three years, Steinbrenner, in my estimation, realized how much he missed running the Yankees and his antics and over-zealousness nearly took away the very thing he loved:  the New York Yankees.

Great leaders, in business, sports, politics, or in other spheres, learn to evolve and change their methods.  Their personalities may never change, but making little changes that help their teams or companies make them either successful or risk failing.  George Steinbrenner, for everything he was, was a winner and was willing to make changes in what he did, if it meant the men in the pinstripe uniforms winning another World Series, much to our chagrin.

If Armando isn’t upset, then why are you upset?

People make mistakes. Apologize and move on. What's so hard about doing that?

Last night, pitcher Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was going for a feat that 20 other pitchers have done:  pitch a perfect game.  On what appeared to be a bang-bang play, Cleveland shortstop Jason Donald hits a grounder, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera went to field it as Galarraga went to cover first base.  Umpire Jim Joyce misjudged the play as he thought Donald beat out the throw and called Donald safe, thus breaking up the perfect game.

Replays showed that the throw from Cabrera to Galarraga was made before Donald touched the base.  What happened next was mass chaos and outrage towards Joyce for blowing a call that cost Galarraga a perfect game.

Last night should have been an example of not just the need to expand the usage of instant replay, which is being used solely for questionable home runs.  It was an example of owning up to a mistake, as well as sportsmanship and class.  Galarraga wasn’t upset at all by the bad call.  He smiled and said “hey, we make mistakes.” Joyce was emotional and upset at himself after he saw the replay after the game.  He walked down the hallway, found Galarraga, and apologized for his error.

What’s the main idea of this story?  Do not let one mistake define your life.  Do not let someone with ‘no life’ ruin your life with their irrationality and their misplaced emotions.  We are not perfect, and those who are still bagging Joyce for not being perfect, you’re a hypocrite.

The calls for Joyce to be punished is callous and misguided.  He owned up to his mistake, which you don’t see from people these days.  He didn’t wait for a few days and leave a voice mail, or wait for several weeks as President Obama and BP did to say “we dropped the ball” on the oil spill.  Joyce apologized right away.

And that’s not good enough?

It’s too bad the talking heads on sports radio and the majority of fans do not want to see it in that angle. The mob mentality in sports is amazing and pathetic at the same time.

The only person Jim Joyce needed to apologize to is Armando Galarraga and no one else, in which he did do last night.  Not to you and not to me.  If Galarraga isn’t upset about it, then why in the hell everyone else is?

Good question Armando.  I wished I knew.

A letter to bad teams

New Yankee Stadium

The following letter was sent out to the teams addressed below…

Dear Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Florida, Washington, and whoever stinks in baseball:

For nearly a decade now, several profitable teams and us have been sending you a yearly check, as a result of a tax that was imposed on us by Major League Baseball.  MLB told us that since we are the most profitable and recognizable team in America, we had so much money that we could buy players to win championships. The intent of the luxury tax, as you call it, is to balance the playing (financial) field so that you guys can be competitive buy adding a couple of players here and there.

After further review, we are considering asking MLB to dump the luxury tax and stop giving you money.  When we looked back to see whether the tax has made any major significance, it became clear that it hasn’t.  Since the tax was instituted, only Florida was the only team that made it to the playoffs.  And after they made the playoffs, the Marlins then proceed to have a fire sale because they couldn’t afford (translation = too damn cheap) to pay their players.

Kansas City and Pittsburgh, despite changing owners, building a new stadium or upgrading a stadium, your teams still stink to high hell.  Do you mean to imply to us that even though we’re cutting a check, you idiots still can’t field a competitive team?

We’re not paying for Single-A talent here.  This is Major League Baseball. To succeed in this business, you have to spend money.

It is appalling to us, as the greatest team in sports history, to continue bankrolling free money to bad teams that has no commitment whatsoever to winning.  We guess padding your economic portfolio is a higher priority than giving your fans something to root for.

We may be the “Evil Empire” to all of you, but we know how to operate an organization and we’ll go above and beyond to bring in the best talent, keep the best players, and put out a good product.

In closing, this luxury tax that we and several other teams have to pay for is an unmitigated joke.  It hasn’t made our league any better and it doesn’t promote the “parity” that you so wanted. Stop wasting our tax dollars so that you can keep making excuses for sucking.

Sincerely,

The New York Yankees