The personality and intrinsically entertaining human being that is Ozzie Guillen tweeted an interesting photo Sunday. The Miami Marlins manager posted the pic (above) of he and his wife having dinner in Madrid with some friends. The caption reads, “dinner in madrid yes we having good time, stanton, ricky and petey. cenando en madrid que bueno.”
Ozzie’s three pals are Giancarlo Stanton, Ricky Nolasco and Bryan Petersen, who just happen to be players on the Marlins’ roster. How many times have you seen a coach or manager either vacationing with his or her players, or meeting up with them for dinner while abroad?
After I saw this tweet, the story below seemed less shocking.
One of the several issues plaguing the Marlins concerned pitcher Heath Bell, who was none to pleased with a lot of things in Miami. The Marlins unloaded Bell, shipping him off to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and seemingly with barely both feet out the door, the Miami Herald published these secrets from the inside:
“Unhappy with his diminished role, the bitter Bell was openly critical of pitching coach Randy St. Claire, the training staff, Marlins catchers, sportswriters, and even the Showtime production crew that filmed The Franchise. Bell said he was portrayed too negatively during the reality series.
“For the Marlins, the final straw might have come the final week of the season when Bell, in a live radio interview, said it was “hard to respect” manager Ozzie Guillen.
“The following day, Bell’s teammates, in a show of support for Guillen, turned on the manager’s weekly radio show inside the clubhouse, raised the volume, and made Bell listen to Guillen state that he no longer respected Bell “as a person.”
Upon reading this anecdote, I was immediately transported back to the 8th grade where stuff like this happened all of the time. Picking sides, bullying, humiliating your peers, etc.
I’m not saying Bell is a nice guy who got the shaft in this situation, but that sure seemed like a catty move for a group of adult men. Then again, pro athletes as a whole, aren’t necessarily considered the most mature population segment of adult society.
But this begs an important question. Should a manager or coach be that close to his or her players? Can you properly discipline your employees and garner respect while on or close to their “level?”
In Ozzie’s first season as manager, the Marlins finished dead last in the NL East with a 69-93 record and 19 games back of the division-winning Nationals.
In my few stints as a manager, I found the line between friend and boss incredibly difficult to draw since I really liked most of my employees and considered them friends. Depending on each individual, some listen to you and do what you ask as their boss because they respect you as a friend, while others do the opposite, undermining your authority because they consider you an equal.
Terry Francona did the impossible, breaking the curse and bringing multiple World Championships to Boston. Once his tenure as Red Sox skipper came to an end, various reports revealed that he had allegedly become so close with his players that he rarely disciplined the group when necessary and because of that, he “lost” the team.
Could Ozzie’s close-knit relationship with his players be one of the many reasons why the Marlins absolutely sucked last season? I don’t know the answer, but I think it is a topic worth exploring.
Well isn’t this special?
A few friends of mine have had that “uh-oh” moment (typically in Vegas) when they realize the nice, sexy stranger they brought home for the evening is no longer in their hotel room and has run off with money, jewelry, electronics, etc. Oops!
A few SMU football players one upped that scenario as they were taken by not just any sexy stranger, but by a lady of the night.
According to CBS Dallas/Fort Worth, three SMU football players reported to police in April that an escort hired by one of the players, linebacker Uchenna Nwabuike, had stolen more than $3,000 worth of laptops, televisions and video games from their off-campus house.
Nwabuike told authorities that he had “made a deal with the suspect to have sex with her for $50” but that “he did not pay the suspect for the acts that she performed,” after which he and his roommates left her in their house while they attended SMU’s end-of-year banquet on April 28.
Apparently these guys don’t read the morning paper or watch the news, otherwise they would’ve taken the hint from our very own Secret Service agents that it’s best to pay the kind woman what you promised her, or else you can expect a s*** storm.
Perhaps we can chalk this one up to youthful indiscretion?
One last note… multiple electronics including laptops, televisions AND video games,onlyworth a combined three grand? Damn, these dudes are cheap!
Add this anecdote to the list of reasons why college athletes should get paid more money.
(here’s a link to the news story: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7548847 )
Tiger who? Despite the fact that the world’s most famous golfer was out of the running down the stretch, all eyes were on the 18th hole of the Open Championship when Adam Scott arrived at the tee.
Adam Scott, looking for his first major victory, could taste it after playing 68 holes of solid golf. The Australian started the final round of play with a four-shot lead and continued to roll Sunday. But from 6 shots back came Ernie Els who surged his way up the leaderboard, birdying four holes on the back nine. Back in the clubhouse with a one-stroke lead and awaiting his fate, was Els. Adversely, Scott had bogeyed the 15, 16 and 17, yet still had a chance to force a playoff on the 18th if he could just make par.
It came down to a seven-foot putt that went left. No par. No playoff. No win for a watery-eyed Adam Scott. Instead, four consecutive bogeys on the final holes of the Open Championship.
Four-shot lead with four holes to play. It was a collapse of Greg Norman-esque proportion, Scott’s fellow Aussie, often times remembered for all of the wrong reasons.
Scott and Els, two men of different eras and different countries, yet both very likable guys whose play on the back nine gave viewers a taste of the best and worst that the game of golf has to offer.
Els, the affable elder statesman (at age 42), getting to play comeback kid for his first major title since the winning the Open Championship in 2002, had to put a smile on the face of anyone who has ever played the sport.
On the other hand, if you’ve ever hit the links, your heart was likely breaking right alongside Scott’s as we all know just how quickly the magic can slip away out on the course.
Els finished at 7-under 273, with a one-stroke lead over Scott. Ouch.
If there is anything Scott can take away from this debacle, it’s this:
@McIlroyRory: Big congrats to Ernie!! 4 time major champion! Know how Adam feels right now, not a great place, but he will be back! Too good not to be!
Remember young Rory McIlroy’s EPIC collapse at the Masters in 2011? Our Irish homie shot the worst round by a leader going into day four in Masters history! Talk about a downer, right?
Well, McIlroy came back two months later and won the U.S. Open. A bad loss enhances motivation. That’s a great set-up for a talented player like Scott who will surely get another shot, just as McIlroy did.
Going into the Open Championship, World No. 1 Luke Donald and of course, Tiger Woods, were the two names on everyone’s tongue.
While Woods absolutely plays a role in getting eyeballs to the TV initially, great play and dramatics will keep people watching, whether Tiger is a threat to win or not.
Luckily for the sport and golf fans alike, the final round of the Open Championship gave us the perfect combination of joy and heartbreak to keep us glued to the TV.
Today I accidentally caught myself using “Dream Team” in reference to the USA men’s basketball team competing in the 2012 London Olympics. I quickly corrected myself as the words sounded blasphemous the second they left my lips.
The 1992 “Dream Team” is irreplaceable, not only because of the star-studded roster, but because that team was a historical first that will never be duplicated in Olympic competition as far as the U.S. is concerned. It is, however, absolutely possible for the dominance and ferocity of the first NBA player-led Olympic team from the USA to be replicated.
The 2012 men’s team has one thing the 1992 didn’t… an uber-talented, healthy roster from top to bottom. Remember, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson may have been the most famous names on the Dream Team, but they were both at the end of their careers, serving primarily as figurehead fan-favorites and were no longer the most talented men on the basketball court. Bird was in such poor health that he didn’t participate in practice and his teammates said he could hardly walk because of severe back pain.
That is not the case as the 2012 roster is deep with skill and talent. Despite a lack of size without marquee players like Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin, Team USA is still chalk full of hoops greatness.
So then what is holding the 2012 squad back from that top-tier where the original Dream Team resides? Well, the guys have to play the games before we can crown them kings. Period.
Team USA has looked great in two of three international games played thus far. Brazil gave the guys a bit of trouble, exploiting USA’s lack of size down low but not enough so to beat the red, white and blue.
If the Americans will be tested by anyone at all in London, Spain and Argentina will do the honors. And they’ll have the pleasure sooner rather than later as the U.S. will face two of the world’s best teams for some pre-Olympics friendly fun within the next few days.
Interestingly enough, the exhibition games are being played at Palau Sant Jordi, the site of the Dream Team’s gold medal game in Barcelona back in 1992.
The U.S. faces Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola on Sunday, the two NBA stars, leading an Argentine team that won the gold medal in the 2004 Athens Games. Tuesday, the U.S. is up against a ridiculously stacked Spanish team that ultimately lost to Team USA, taking home silver in the 2008 Beijing Games. If you recall, that game was no gimme as the U.S. could’ve been beaten by the Spaniards.
Speaking of Spain, the national team has seven current or former NBA players, plus another two whose draft rights are owned by NBA teams, on the roster. Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka headline the group that is incredibly talented, despite losing phenom Ricky Rubio to injury during the NBA season.
Back in 1992, Team USA beat opponents by an average of nearly 44 points per game in Olympic play. But there was no Manu Ginobili playing for Argentina, or Pau Gasol representing Spain. Instead, those guys were young kids inspired by the NBA stars they were watching in the Olympics on television.
The presence of the Dream Team in 1992 changed the course of history for international basketball, ultimately ensuring that no team could ever dominate at Team USA’s level again, by way of increasing the popularity of the sport worldwide.
Could another American team come close to earning the “Dream Team” name? It’s unlikely. The 2012 team definitely has the star power, but do they have what it takes to dismantle significantly tougher teams than the Americans faced 20 years ago? We’ll find out soon enough.
Just like us fans, Roger Goodell is likely praying for the start of the NFL season to hurry up and get here. Not because the NFL commissioner loves the game, which surely, he does. Instead, the football season serves as a major distraction to keep the NFL’s players from getting into trouble, aka, getting pinched by the cops.
28 active NFL players have been arrested (as of July 20) since Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 5) according to ArrestNation.com, along with four guys receiving citations and one being formally charged. In full disclosure, Lions DT Nick Fairley accounts for two of the 28 arrests in that time period. Nice job big man. Way to be consistent.
Before we get into what this means (if anything) for football, and whether or not this is an athlete-arrest epidemic, let us take a look at a few of my favorite crimes some of these guys allegedly committed:
- Disorderly Conduct
- Driving under the influence
- Suspicion of third-degree assault with substantial bodily harm
- Fugitive warrant (so hard core…perhaps my favorite of the bunch)
- Possession of marijuana
- Third-degree criminal sexual conduct
- Failure to carry insurance (yes… car insurance. Seriously)
- Possession of marijuana
- Misdemeanor assault
Despite my wisecracks, there is some pretty serious stuff listed above. Many of the arrests were for DUI or similar infractions. This is not good, no matter which way you slice it.
But is this out of the norm? Not as of late. 30 NFL players were arrested during the same time frame in 2011, according to the San Diego Union Tribune’s database of NFL arrests (https://www.utsandiego.com/nfl/arrests-database/).
In contrast, there were 17 arrests From Aug. 1 2011 to Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 6, 2012), according to the Union Tribune arrest database.
After five to six month of a completely regimented lifestyle provided by an NFL season, some guys seem to travel too far to the other side of the freedom spectrum.
Too much spare time coupled with pro sports money can prove to be one bad combination for some folks.
Folks like young Dez Bryant, one of the six player-arrests to be made public within the last six days from 7/15-7/20.
Bryant might indeed be the next coming of Michael Irvin in Dallas, but for all the wrong reasons. The troubled Cowboys receiver was pinched after his mother called the police accusing Bryant of slapping her face, pulling her hair and ripping her clothing during the alleged assault.
Bryant’s arrest comes after a string of negative incidences, none of which involved an arrest. Going into his third NFL season, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy has been inconsistent on the field while also showing flashes of brilliance. Various accounts of Bryant’s troubled upbringing have been published over the past few years, and Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are certainly aware.
Just like teams force players to take physical exams before each season starts, why not bring in a psychotherapist to sit down with each guy for an hour or two for a mental health evaluation? Chris Henry could have used one. So could PacMan Jones. How about Michael Vick?
Some arrests may be considered equal by the law, but that is not the case in the court of public opinion. When your typical fans hear about Adrian Peterson’s arrest at a Houston nightclub, he is likely to get some slack considering his clean record and good-guy image. Bryant, on the other hand, hasn’t been afforded the same treatment for obvious reasons.
As annoying and cliche as it is, “perception is reality,” and the NFL does indeed have some problems in the perception department.
Lockout. Head injuries. Bankruptcy. Suicide. Dementia. Shootings. DUIs. Foot fetishes.
Okay, well, a foot fetish is no biggie, but the rest of the NFL’s issues are substantial. The league tries a traditional method of prevention with the Rookie Symposium where current and former players, along with other speakers, warn the NFL’s newest members of the myriad of distractions and deal breakers they could potentially face during their careers. While the symposium is a start, it’s not enough.
Commissioner Goodell has yet to publicly address the string of player arrests this offseason, and I’m not sure that he needs to. Will people stop watching football because guys are getting popped for DUIs and assault? Probably not, at least not to any measurable degree.
In looking at the big business picture, perhaps the league doesn’t view these discretions as a detriment. Why not? Take a gander at this info nugget from an article on The PostGame from Oct. 2011:
“The numbers don’t lie. One in every 45 National Football League players (2.2 percent) is arrested. The national arrest rate is 1 in 23 (4.2 percent), according to the FBI in 2010. What does this mean? Technically, NFL players get in 47.6 percent less trouble than your average Joe.”
But that doesn’t make it right. Goodell has been criticized for his authoritative rule and heavy hand. I have, for the most part, agreed with Goodell’s disciplinary actions but the league needs to find a better way of preventing its core of rich and talented young men from making one mistake too many.
Penn State University needs an overhaul. Period.
An independent investigation into the child sex abuse scandal that rocked the campus and collegiate football powerhouse revealed a massive coverup by legendary coach Joe Paterno along with some of the most powerful administrative employees like the athletic director and university president.
When the news of a police investigation of alleged child molestation by former Penn St. coach Jerry Sandusky broke back in November of 2011, thousands of students, alumni, and others came forward, blindly supporting Sandusky, and even moreso, Paterno, claiming that he bore no responsibility for the several alleged incidences of child rape that often took place in his own locker room.
Well people, its time to open your eyes and wake the hell up. The proof is in the pudding, as emails proved Paterno knew of the allegations and used his power to keep the abuse an “in house” secret. The athletic director and university president allowed this to happen, letting Paterno’s ego and air of invincibility take priority over innocent children.
Is it fair impose a “death penalty” on the football team, punishing players and students that had absolutely nothing to do with the atrocities committed by Jerry Sandusky with the help of Paterno and other administration brass?
No, it’s not fair to the players, students or other staff who would lose their jobs with the suspension of an entire athletic program. But what other possible punishment would be drastic enough to break through the gigantic egos of those who coach and run successful, cash-cow athletic programs?
Success breeds power, and power leads to arrogance which often results in poor decisions meant to benefit the minority instead of the majority. A year-long suspension for a coach, or scholarships taken away just isn’t enough to penetrate the psyche of people whose power is so monumental that they think the rules don’t apply to them.
Joe Paterno got off easy. Perhaps a relatively swift fatal illness at an old age was a cleaner exit from this world than a prison stint as an elderly, high profile inmate behind bars for aiding a child molester.
While Paterno’s death will ultimately benefit the university in terms of helping Penn St. shake this stigma sooner than if he were alive, traces of who we thought was a glorious man are still littered throughout the campus and the larger community.
The statue must come down. Buildings must be renamed.
Unfortunately, the bad nearly always overpowers the good in terms of press coverage and lasting impressions. While Paterno undoubtedly changed many lives for the better, his legacy will forever be tarnished. Our memories of Paterno will not be a smiling man being carried off the field by adoring players, but instead, an old, desperate fellow begging the troops to rally behind him on the front lawn of his home. A man in a strange state of semi-denial with no intention of ever telling the truth.
The entire Paterno family has to disappear from the Penn St. campus. Current and former players need to stop publicly defending JoePa and his family. It’s time to submit to the truth, to reality.
If it were up to me, I’d impose a death penalty on the entire university. Shut down Penn St. for two years. Drop all endorsements of athletic teams and academic departments. Cut funding. Freeze time for two years. Force the brightest intellects and athletes to take their talents elsewhere, benefiting institutions that don’t allow a monster to terrorize children on its campus.
Obviously, that would be beyond unfair to thousands of students, teachers, faculty, staff, etc. It would be absolutely awful.
But you know what else isn’t fair? Being an 11-year-old child subjected to anal rape. It isn’t fair that an old man and his cronies would rather perpetuate a legacy of lies than protect dozens of children from a lifetime of mental anguish resulting from physical rape.
While the victim’s wounds will never fully heal, time will eventually restore dignity to Penn St. as an academic and athletic institution. In 20 years, Penn St. will likely have earned back its stellar reputation with this disgraceful injustice serving as a little blip in the back of our brains.
And that’s okay. Do the crime, serve the time. The university deserves a chance to once again be an impactfull member of our society. But not until after it serves a sentence severe enough to send a message to the rest of the all-powerful college sports community.
One thing we’ve learned from the Dwight Howard sweepstakes is that no deal is a sure thing until it’s done. Signed, sealed, delivered.
First it was the Nets. Then it was the Rockets. Then it was the Lakers. Now it’s the Nets. Again.
In the last 24 hours, Yahoo! Sports hoops gurus Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears have reported a proposed deal revolving around the Magic center that would involve movement of more than 10 players between four teams.
While the Lakers are still interested in a trade that would send Andrew Bynum to Orlando in exchange for Howard, Bynum’s hesitation to sign a long-term contract with the Magic has significantly hampered L.A.’s ability to strike a deal, according to a source (as well as several previously published reports).
As a result, Bynum’s reluctance left the door wide open for the Brooklyn Nets, who along with the Magic, would lead the way in this four-team deal, according to Y! Sports. When doing a deal with so many moving parts, its only natural that there will be a few hiccups in the process.
One piece of this gigantic puzzle, as reported by Marc Spears of Y! Sports, would send Kris Humphries (sign-and-trade) to the Cavaliers with a one-year contract. Problem is, the Hump is interested in a four-year deal, which is understandable. Who doesn’t want some job security?
One guy who has a LOT of power in this situation is agent Dan Fegan, who represents both Howard and Humphries.
How do you convince Humphries to go against his own best interest, basically for the sake of another one of your clients? Humphries (along with several other players said to be on the trading block) would have to agree to a sign-and-trade for the deal to happen.
As an agent, a multi-year deal for Humphries would certainly be in Fegan’s best interest as more years equals more money (and mo’problems, no doubt). But it seems like this is quite a predicament for Fegan and his clients, Humphries in particular.
Plus, if TMZ’s reports of Humphries’ impending fatherhood are accurate (http://tinyurl.com/cevmfze), the financial security of multi-year contract will be of even more importance.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to watch how this part of the deal plays out. If Humphries refuses to do a sign-and-trade to the Cavs for a measly one-year contract, can the teams involved get creative and find a way around the Hump?
As if we weren’t already glued to this damn story, the Howard-Humphries connection just adds one more element to this so-called Dwightmare.
To read the Yahoo! Sports’ story on the proposed mega-deal involving the Magic, Nets, Cavs and Clippers, click this link: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nba—nets-emerge-again-as-strong-contender-to-land-dwight-howard.html
A few days before the brightest stars in baseball head to Kansas City, the All-Star Game has already seen several curve balls come its way.
From the surprising dominance of knuckle ball pitcher R.A. Dickey to the emergence of rookie Mike Trout and controversy surrounding fellow young buck Bryce Harper’s spot on the roster, baseball’s most famous heavy hitters seem to be an All-Star afterthought.
Rookie vs. Rookie
Well hot diggity dog, look who snuck his way onto the NL All-Star roster? Yes Harper-haters, the Nationals stand-out 19-year-old weaseled his way into a trip to Kansas City, thanks to Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton who will miss the game and undergo knee surgery. Bryce Harper has felt the heat on a national level since gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16-year-old, and I’d say he’s met the challenge in his first season in the Majors.
In 63 games, the right fielder is batting .282 with 8 home runs, 25 RBI and .472 slugging.
Over in the AL, fellow rook Mike Trout blows Harper out of the water, statistically speaking. The 20-year-old is hitting .342 with 12 HR, 40 RBI and .564 SLG in 64 games, not to mention his excellent fielding skills. Oh ya, he also leads the AL with 26 stolen bases.
While Trout had long been considered a stud by baseball insiders, he was relatively unknown to those outside “the know.” Trout didn’t face nationwide pressure the way Harper has, or the expectations of carrying an entire big league ball club.
Anyone in their right mind agrees that Trout is an All-Star (despite not making it as a starter) but the debate rages on in regard to Harper.
Being selected to an All-Star team isn’t only about statistics. It’s about representing each team in the league. Sometimes it is strictly numbers based, other times it’s a popularity contest (decided by the fans), and once in a while the game is used to show respect for a player’s overall career rather than his accomplishments in that season.
What’s wrong with selecting Harper, whose numbers are absolutely respectable? More importantly, he has reenergized a first-place team and its fans while drawing millions of eyeballs from all over the country to the sport. With all of the BS tarnishing baseball over the last several years, the sport could use a guy like Harper, who thus far, has brought nothing but good PR, not to mention blessing the world with the great new catch phrase, “that’s a clown question bro.”
Hopefully the 2012 All-Star game will turn out to be an anecdote told in conversation several years from now: “I watched those two share a field at an All-Star game in their rookie season, before they became two of the best to ever play the game.”
You can’t go wrong having these two on the All-Star roster.
The Unexpected Rise of R.A. Dickey
Nobody saw this coming. Not even R.A. Dickey himself. The Mets knuckleballer has had one hell of a ride. The man has battled many demons in his life, from suffering sexual abuse to an injury expected to be career-ending to deep emotional depression. At age 37, Dickey finally hit his stride with a 12-1 record and 2.40 ERA earning him his first-ever All-Star spot.
Dickey’s career seems to have played in reverse, starting out as a highlight touted first-round draft pick before doctors discovered he had an elbow injury, condemning him as damaged goods. The more Dickey aged, the stronger he grew, learning, and now seemingly perfecting the art of the knuckleball pitch. In June, Dickey made history throwing back-to-back one-hitters.
Despite unquestionably earning a spot as an All-Star starter, the unique and rarely used pitch that got Dickey to this level may keep him out of the starting lineup in Kansas City.
Tony LaRussa, managing the NL team is concerned that his starting catcher, the young Buster Posey of the Giants might struggle to receive knucklers behind the plate. Since the fans voted Posey a starter, LaRussa might feel forced to relegate Dickey to a backup spot. Plus, the outcome of the MLB All Star game now actually means something to teams in World Series contention.
It would be an ironic shame if the talent that makes Dickey so spectacular forces him out of the starting lineup, but he is still an enigmatic figure with a story that fans love. Being a first-time All-Star at age 37 is a great enough accomplishment to keep Dickey happy and the fans in his corner.
Andrew Who? Fans, Meet Andrew McCutchen
News of the injured Giancarlo Stanton proves to be the gift that keeps on giving. First, Bryce Harper learned that he would replace Stanton on the NL All-Star roster. Then, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen got the call that he would take Stanton’s place in the Home Run Derby.
The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t get a lot of love from the media, understandably so considering the franchise has been one of the worst in baseball for many years. It’s mean, I know, but it’s the truth. On the bright side, the Pirates have a potential superstar on their hands as McCutchen, in his third year in the Majors, is having an outstanding season thus far.
In 81 games, McCutchen is hitting .362 with 18 HR (including two in Sunday’s win over the Giants) and 60 RBI. His .362 average leads all of baseball. Not too shabby for a 25-year-old playing in Pittsburgh.
In fact, McCutchen has the highest batting average by a Pirate at the All-Star break since World War II.
Win or lose, McCutchen’s Derby appearance should create some buzz for the emerging star by giving the country an opportunity to get to know the Pirates’ young standout.
During last year’s Wimbledon tournament, I wrote an article about the heinous grunting in tennis after Caroline Wozniaki, one of the top women on tour, criticized a fellow player’s incessant noise making.
“I think there are some players who do it on purpose,” Wozniaki told The Guardian during Wimbledon in 2011. “They don’t do it in practice and then they come into the match and they grunt. I think they [officials] could definitely cut it.
“If you grunt really loudly your opponent cannot hear how you hit the ball. Because the grunt is so loud, you think the ball is coming fast and suddenly the ball just goes slowly. In tight moments, maybe the grunt helps them with getting less nervous.”
The Women’s Tennis Association heard the complaints of Wozniaki and the fans loud and clear, as a new plan to curb excessive grunting and shrieking is now in the works. WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster addressed the situation at Wimbledon last year saying the matter deserved attention and she followed through big time, unveiling a few measures to be taken in the future.
According to USA Today:
The umbrella scenario, unanimously green-lighted this month at Roland Garros in Paris by representatives of the four majors, the International Tennis Federation and the WTA players’ council, would include:
• The development of a handheld device — a kind of Hawk-Eye for noise — for umpires to objectively measure on-court grunting levels.
• A new rule setting acceptable and non-acceptable noise levels based on acoustical data gathering and analysis.
• Education at large tennis academies, national development programs and at all levels of junior and lower-tier professional events.
The new measures are designed not to punish or affect current players, instead aiming to start at the youth level in hopes of curbing unnecessary noise before it ever becomes a habit.
If you’ve never noticed just how nasty the vocal emissions can get on a tennis court, well, you’ve probably never watched a match and therefor likely wouldn’t be reading this blog post. But just in case, here’s a reminder, care of last year’s The Guardian article:
“The shrieks of the 2004 Wimbledon champion [Maria Sharapova] have been compared to a pneumatic drill and have been measured at more than 100 decibels. [Victoria] Azarenka’s grunts are longer and higher-pitched, and were described by one Wimbledon watcher this year as “like Mickey Mouse in distress.”
Umm, I’d say that’s a fair assessment. I’ve watched many a match on mute because the grunting drives me nuts. I’m all for the this new, seemingly diplomatic larynx legislation, especially considering the WTA consulted current and former players, as well as sports science and psychology experts.
But what about the guys? According to the USA Today article, ATP spokesperson Kate Gordon expressed that “the issue is not perceived to be a problem on the ATP World Tour and has not been raised.”
Hey ATP, I just watched the men’s doubles final at Wimbledon, complete with a +3 hour-long soundtrack of low groans and grunts. Sure, the boys aren’t typically murdering our ears with high-pitch squeals made famously annoying by the girls, but their sounds are bothersome all the same.
The ladies are often guilty of disturbing the peace, but so are the gentleman. The same rules should apply to both tours. The WTA does not yet have an implementation schedule for this new plan, but I’m looking forward to the day when I won’t have to even think about muting my TV during a match.
Some are calling the rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen in UFC 148 not only the biggest fight of the year, but perhaps the most anticipated event in the history of the sport. Just ten years ago, the Ultimate Fighting Championship barely had a history to speak of, much less the ability to gain national media attention and millions of viewers.
Here we are in 2012 where the public has demanded to go backwards from the evolved technology of helmets and pads in violent sports to a more primal, bare bones form of combat between two nearly-nude dudes in front of the entire village.
Sure, UFC isn’t as barbaric as medieval times, nor is it comprised of freestyle playground fight moves. Dana White and the rest of the UFC gang have hit the jackpot in terms of balancing a sense of primitive fighting with the technique of mixed martial arts. The rise of the UFC has proven the public’s appetite for dirty, yet sophisticated fighting.
The popularity of the UFC was certainly aided by “right place, right time” circumstances as boxing, which was a top sport worldwide for decades, started a swift decline. Sports fans still wanted a primal and violent sport, but few quality fighters existed in boxing, thus, it was time to look elsewhere.
Individual martial art disciplines weren’t easy enough to follow for a casual fan, as sports like Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu lacked the accessibility of mainstream boxing in the United States. Why not combine the most entertaining (and violent) techniques and throw them together in the same Octagon?
Stroke of genius.
Mixed martial arts grew in popularity by way of small-town showcases, the way boxing had been prevalent in cities big and small over the years. Anybody could “claim” to be a fighter and get in the ring. Does it mean they were skilled or talented? Hell no, but it connected your average Joe to the emerging sport.
After its inception in the 1990s, the rise of the UFC in the 21st century coincided with the popularity of cable television, a consumer demand for sport like never before, and of course, social media.
White and the UFC have been masterful at cultivating physical talents with a knack for hype and self promotion. As boxing dwindled, struggling to harvest young, marketable talent (minus a select few like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, obviously), UFC was promoting the hell out of its product, getting its fighters as much exposure as possible.
The sport gained worldwide popularity, in part, due to the international influence intrinsic to the various fighting styles.
When a sport has a villain who is despised by an entire country (I’m looking at you Sonnen), I hate to say it, but in this day and age, that isn’t a bad thing. These fighters talk trash and truly sell a bitter, hated rivalry that may or may not exist when the cameras aren’t rolling. The point is that human beings find conflict fascinating as it draws us like moths to a flame.
The UFC has taken nearly two decades to build, and Saturday’s rematch between Silva and Sonnen might just take the sport to its highest peak yet.
The Los Angeles Lakers are considering an offer from the Orlando Magic that would send Dwight Howard to L.A. in exchange for Andrew Bynum, a source close to the situation tells PepperOnSports.com.
I know, I know. You’ve heard it all before. Here’s the fun part:
The source says the Lakers have informed one player that he might be part of the package deal and that he could be traded at any moment.
The Lakers are “very interested” in acquiring Howard, according to the source.
Depending on which hour you inquire about a Bynum-for-Howard swap dictates the type of news you’ll get regarding the topic, so your guess is as good as mine. But as of Thursday afternoon pacific time, the Lakers front office phones were blazing hot with Howard chatter.
Whether or not the trade happens, it sure is courteous of the Lakers to give players with trade-potential a heads up in hopes of making a tough transition smoother. Stay classy, L.A.
Follow me on twitter @Jackie_Pepper
Ahhhh yes, the so-called “coronation of King James” finally happened Thursday night as the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 for the NBA Championship. LeBron James, the self-proclaimed King, earned his crown in his ninth season in the League, leaving everyone asking questions like “is this redemption,” and “does a title signify the pinnacle for James and will it quiet the haters?”
With one notch on his Championship belt comes a level of respect for James that even the toughest of the haters must acknowledge. You don’t have to like the guy or forgive some of the crappy choices he’s made in the past, but with this title comes the confirmation that LeBron is more than just a superstar; he’s a winner.
James has experienced a true career evolution, but in reverse. As a high school phenomenon, James was, without earning them, handed the keys to the kingdom -based on talent, not results- before making an NBA roster. While he was a celebrity from Day 1 and showcased an arsenal of offensive skills in his very first season as a Cleveland Cavalier, it took James a few years to get his defense up to par, which elevated his game and reputation significantly.
Since becoming the complete package circa 2009, the question seemed to be not “if” but “when” James would win a Championship and enter the elite ranks of the NBA.
For years, nobody doubted James’ talent, instead, using non-basketball reasons to pick the man apart. From the rumored affair between ‘Bron’s mom Gloria and Delonte West, to Handshake-gate vs. the Magic, to The Decision and The Heatles, much of the James-hatred was self inflicted.
The criticisms of being unable, and even worse, unwilling to take “big” shots tainted James’ on-court image just enough to change the question to, “will he EVER win a title?”
Individual talent is no longer good enough for those playing team sports. The debate exists, “can you be at the most elite level without a Championship ring?”
Look at Dan Marino, or Peyton Manning before he finally led the Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2006?
With career averages of 27.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 48 percent shooting in 39.9 minutes per game, PLUS a host of hardware including three MVP awards, four NBA All-Defensive First Team honors and eight All-Star appearances, all that remained was a Championship to put a bow on an already-Hall of Fame worthy career.
John Stockton & Karl Malone, TOGETHER, never won a championship.
Eglin Baylor never won a championship.
Charles Barkley never won a championship.
Reggie Miller never won a championship.
Dominique Wilkins never won a championship.
Patrick Ewing never won a championship.
These guys are some of the best to EVER play the game of basketball, an opinion backed up by the fact that each one is a member of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Had James failed to win a title during his career, he would still be in great company. That said, he would be haunted forever, just like the men listed above remain, to this day.
Michael Jordan won his first of six Championships in his seventh season. It took Shaquille O’Neal eight years, and poor Dirk Novitzki toughed out 13 seasons before winning it all.
While second place is indeed the first loser, there is something to be said for the fact that James had already been to the Finals twice, with two different teams. Neither the Cavaliers nor last year’s Heat team would’ve made it there without James on the roster.
Every great individual basketball player needs a good team surrounding him (or her) to win at the highest level. It took James a LONG. ASS. TIME. to get the right people around him on the court, clipboarding on the bench and sitting in the front office before he could possibly put on a ring.
After Miami’s Big Three went through all kinds of trial and error in its first season together, the players finally fell in place this year as the Heat figured it all out. Miami completely dismantled a Thunder team that looked unstoppable, losing a mere three playoff games heading into the Finals.
There would be no taking a backseat for James in the Finals this year, no sir. He did not defer to his teammates. James was the first option, period. That says a lot when Dwayne Wade is on the court as well. I don’t care if Wade looked old and beat up at times, he’s still a damn good basketball player who was dwarfed by LeBron in this series, a few specific moments aside. James averaged 28.6 ppg and 10.2 assists in the series, earning him the title of Finals MVP.
After the series-clinching Game 5 win, Wade said of James, “I don’t know if I could be happier for another guy, another man to succeed in life as I am for him.”
Talk about a different tune. Not so long ago, word would occasionally leak from Cleveland depicting a young, cocky and often times selfish player who was so untouchable that the head coach was afraid to discipline him, causing resentment among fellow Cavs players. Now, it sounds like James is clearly adored by his Miami teammates, including Wade, the brightest of stars in his own right.
The haters will keep on hating. “Well, how many rings will he get? I mean, Mark Madsen has more rings than LeBron.”
True. But who cares?
In my book, all it takes is one, therefor James can finally rest on top of the mountain and enjoy the view.
Well isn’t this special? The Arizona vs Florida St. game was a snoozer from a competitive standpoint as the Wildcats trounced the Seminoles 10-3 en route to a berth in the College World Series Finals. Luckily, things got slightly interesting in the top of the ninth as one young man was quite ambitious in going after a foul ball. Watch the video above to see the kid land himself in a compromising position.
So close, yet so far, seems to be Tiger Woods’ motto these days as the golf legend continues to seesaw between success and disappointment on the course.
I suppose it’s no fault of Tiger’s that people overreacted to his U.S. Open lead after 36 holes. Since when should a halftime lead ever be presumed safe, in any sport? While perhaps tickled with a minor sense of excitement, Tiger knows that Saturday is just the beginning, especially in a Major Championship.
On the other hand, tied for the lead going into the third round at Olympic was no a shock as Woods won the Memorial Tournament heading into the U.S. Open, enhancing his resume with top five finishes in five tournaments played this year.
Just when you think El Tigre has all of the pieces in order for a 15th Major victory, the puzzle falls apart and ends up in a scattered pile on the scorecard. What we witnessed with Tiger’s Memorial victory and subsequent U.S. Open collapse mirrored that of his Arnold Palmer win and Masters meltdown.
Tiger can easily go from unbelievable tee shots and back-to-back birdies to literally scaring the birds in the sky with ugly swings before landing in the trees and taking out their nests. Let’s not even discuss his putting issues.
Every golfer experiences days, rounds and even entire tournaments plagued by inconsistent play, but we still can’t come to grips with the fact that Woods is now just like “ever golfer,” something he never was before.
People love to champion the underdog while hating winners, and now Tiger somehow fits both bills. He’s the Yankees and the Mets at the same time.
Love him or hate him, golf is not the same without Tiger in contention. Period. His presence alone creates a unique drama that no other golfer can generate.
The good news for the sport is that Tiger is finally back on his game, as much as any golfer can be after more than three years of professional misery. Rome wasn’t built in a day and athletes don’t exactly become winners overnight (well, aside from Jeremy Lin). It has taken a long time for Tiger to rebuild his physical game and more importantly, his mental fortitude. He has the tangible tools to win more Majors, but his mind seems unable to sustain the top-notch physicality and focus that guided him, pre-personal life collapse.
Tiger will win another major and he’ll do it soon. It might take the rest of this season, getting a few more PGA Tour wins under his belt, before winning a Major next season. That seems like more of a natural progression than winning a Major this year.
Will he ever be the Tiger of old? No, primarily because he lost too many critical years of his professional youth and at age 36, he is now bordering on plain old “old.” But Woods has too much talent not to find enough of his former self to win a few more Majors.