Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Weekly ACC Roundup - Week 4 (Good Things Happened)

Simply put, it was a really good week for the ACC. How good? Consider this:

  • Syracuse won.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Yard Goats and Politics

Nope, no politics here. Or baseball either.
Hartford, Connecticut, is a perfectly nice city. I went to college not to far from there, and people would actually on occasion say things like "Let's go to Hartford." Voluntarily, even.

In those days, Hartford had a hockey team, which we ignored. That team later moved to North Carolina. This appears to have changed little for either the city or the hockey team (though to their credit they did win a Stanley Cup, much to everyone's surprise) Fast forward a few years, and you find the mayor of Hartford pining for a sports team of his very own.

Which is why Hartford then spent a stupid amount of money to purloin the AA team that played down the road in New Britain. New Britain, for those of you not familiar with the fine points of Connecticut geography, is maybe 20 miles from Hartford. I'll say that again: 20. Whole. Miles. Moving the team was the equivalent of moving boxes of stuff you're not using from the closet to the garage. Functionally, it accomplished pretty much nothing, except funneling a bunch of public money to the stadium developer.

And here's where it gets fun. The stadium for the freshly minted Hartford Yard Goats - and really, this whole mess is the gods of baseball exacting their retribution on the team for going with such a God-poundingly stupid name - was supposed to be ready to go for Opening Day, 2016.

It wasn't. But hey, it would be almost ready, right? A short road trip and then it would be good to go.

Except it wasn't. And it wasn't and it wasn't and it wasn't, to the point where there was yelling about lawsuits and the contractor got fired and the Yard Goats ended up spending their entire 2016 season on the road. Which, incidentally, is what's being blamed for Rockies call-up David Dahl slumping badly in September; apparently the wear and tear of a season-long road trip took it out of him.

But hey, the worst was over, right? The city was going to find someone to finish the construction and the Yard Goats would be settled in for the 2017 season.

Really, you'd think they would have expected it. The inspection report on the work that had been done just came back. In it? Cracks in the concrete. Doors the wrong size for the gaps they're suppsoed to seal. Busted drains. Crumbling steps. Improperly poured slabs. Exposed rebar. Eroding concrete. Even a hole in the floor of one men's room that gave unobstructed views to the room below. 

This, they're going to fix during a Connecticut winter, with no contractor in place, in order to be ready for April 2017. The odds, as they say, are not good.

And once again, we are reminded that it was all unnecessary. That a bit of political grandstanding - (because the revenue numbers used to justify moving the team a few exits up I-91 are essentially inconsequential) borked the city, the team, the players, the Eastern League, and the folks who worked at the stadium in New Britain who lost their beer vending gigs for what was literally nothing. That this was done for optics and to put some cash in the pockets of people who, presumably, might support a re-election campaign or two.

There's a word for that: Politics.

Remember that the next time you hear someone talk about how they want politics out of sports, or how sports isn't the right place for politics, or something something something shut up and play because you make a lot of money something something. There are big, visible moments of politics in sports, like the 1968 gold medal protest in Mexico City, or the movement that Colin Kaepernick's started. There are small moments of politics in sports, too - everything from Luke Scott using his constitutionally protected right to free speech to say idiotic things about the president to Tony LaRussa stumping for animal rights or trundling off to a Glen Beck rally. There are ways politicans use sports, using giveaways to sports teams to boost poll numbers because they're not The Guy Who Lost The Team. And there's the politics in sports that we barely even notice because it's become normalized - think about the mandatory "God Bless America" at baseball games, or camo uniforms (and if you think that's not politics, you haven't been paying attention for the last couple of centuries).

So the next time you feel the urge to complain about "politics not having a place in sports", remember: big or small, whether you agree with a particular element or not, it's always been there. Just ask the Yard Goats. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The End of An Era

On my coffee table, there are Brooklyn Dodgers yearbooks dating back to the 1950s. They're full of pictures of guys like Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella and Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese, and also guys like George "Shotgun" Shuba, whose memory largely rests with obsessives and nostalgics and collectors. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Weekly ACC Roundup Part 3

Things we already knew that were put on display in week 3:

  • The better teams in the conference can and will routinely beat the stuffing out of early season cupcakes. That being said, Clemson-SC State got so bad the teams agreed to knock six minutes off the second half to make sure that there were actually going to be some survivors headed back home on the SCSU team bus, a magnanimous gesture by Dabo Swinney that will no doubt come back to bite him when someone complains that Clemson's average margin of victory wasn't big enough and thus his team shouldn't be in the CFB playoff.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Central Michigan deserves win over OSU; incorrectly applied rule is dumb & should be changed

I am going to go out on a limb here, and say what no one else is even talking about on this game.  Am I the only (wannabee) sportswriter out there with the courage?  Apparently.

Central Michigan deserves the win, because the rule is dumb, and what the refs did is actually how the rule should be.  Here's why.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Weekly ACC Roundup, Week 2

Before we get to anything else, let me say this:

845 freaking yards of total offense. EIGHT HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE. That's what Louisville ran up against Syracuse. That is roughly half a mile. That's obscene. That', UNC's run defense is thanking God tonight they don't have to face that this season. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Refs Are Unfair

Yes, Oklahoma State got screwed by a bad call in their lost to Central Michigan. 

Friday, September 09, 2016

Mandatory Tim Tebow Baseball Post

In no particular order:

Tim Tebow has been signed by the New York Mets to a minor league deal for $100K. He will be assigned to Port St. Lucie. These are the facts on the ground. Beyond that:

  1. Tebow may be a freakishly good athlete, but he's 29, hasn't played baseball competitively in a decade, and apparently has the pitch recognition skills of a wobbegong. This also describes Michael Jordan, whom as you may recall hit about .202 as a minor leaguer. So the odds of Tebow achieving any kind of baseball success are minimal. In other words, Tim Tebow, you are no Michael Jordan.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Your Weekly ACC Football Review, Because I'm A Glutton For Punishment

Officially, the ACC had a good opening week. Not as good as the AAC, but hey, you pays your money and you takes your chances. 11-3 is pretty good, especially when one of those losses came from two of your own teams playing one another in Ireland, of all places.

Note to John Swofford: they have far more violent sports than football over in Ireland. You're not impressing them, and you're certainly not impressing them with a 17-13 Georgia Tech-Boston College slap fight.

The End of Season Durham Bulls Blues

There's no more baseball in the Triangle now. Not after Monday. Not out Zebulon way, where the Carolina Mudcats were well-meaning but not very good this year. And not in Durham, where the team leader in batting average for the Bulls hid under .260.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Ryan Howard's End

The Phillies are kind of awful this year, which is OK. They were supposed to be awful, and to be fair they've been quite a bit less awful than they were supposed to be. They've had some exciting moments, to with some Fred Merkle-level awful baserunning. They've had some nice moments from some young players, and they've said goodbye to pretty much everyone left over from the glory years.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

TGIS! (a.k.a. how many football stadiums have I been to?)

Thank God it's September.

For those of you who have read my posts in the past, you may recall that I am on a mission to see all of the FBS stadiums, specifically home games if possible.  The number of FBS teams currently hovers around 128, including the addition of Coastal Carolina, the rebirth of UAB, the loss of Idaho, and the likely loss of New Mexico State - so far I have been to 115 of those stadiums (or 114 or 113 or 112 of them, depending on whether you let me count UAB yet, or whether you make me take off Idaho and/or New Mexico State).