Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. Do you remember what this time of year was like when you were a kid? Waiting for the end of school was more agonizingly slow that waiting for Christmas. Summer is almost here…I know this because the official start of summer is Memorial Day. Grab your swim suit and towel; it is time to hit the pool!
Hamilton Pool near Austin...I know a guy that jumped off. 80 feet is quite a drop.
Barton Springs Pool - a spring fed pool that remains a chilly 68 year round...
Find a pool near you and enjoy the summer!
Did you hear that sound last week? It was the sound of the Big East and ACC shitting their pants. The elax in this story is the Big 12 and SEC agreeing to create a new bowl for 2014. Speculation is rampant with regards to what this means. Is this the beginning of four super conferences? Could it even be the end of the NCAA as we know it? This may not be the giant step many think it to be, but it is a step nonetheless. Here is a thought…why would the ACC and Big East agree to a four team playoff? If you do the math…6 will not go into four. But wait, you say…the four team format is only a beginning. We will eventually end up with an expanded playoff, right? Of course we will. When the big boys realize how much more money can be made, the playoffs will undoubtedly be expanded…but what changes will occur in the meantime? We have seen just how quickly things can change. All it will take is one shoe to drop and the scrambling will begin. Do the universities of the ACC and Big East really want to wait around to see how things work out? The implications are huge as are the stakes. If the Big East and ACC had held out against the four team playoff format, they might have ended up with a bid to an 8 team playoff. There would be much less incentive for a Florida State to join the Big 12, if they had an easier road to playoff nirvana. What about Notre Dame? Will they be content to watch a playoff with little chance of participating in the sharing of playoff spoils?
Many do not see the playoff system for what it really is…a lifeline. There is stability in having access to the pile of money that a playoff affords. The playoff money is the single largest pile of money available to schools. Without access to this pot of gold, a conference will have a difficult time preventing their member schools from looking for a better option. While I am certainly in favor of a playoff, I see much pain and unhappiness ahead for many college football fans. Rivalries and traditions will be forgotten in favor of more money. Money…it is always about the money. How much of this money will go to student athletes? Nada is what I expect to be funneled to athletes. The NCAA will continue to try to tell us that the student athletes are getting a deal, while building bigger stadiums and buying bigger jets to fly AD’s around the country. I guess you can file this under progress…
Were you surprised that Lawrie only got a four game suspension for his childish blowup at MLB umpire Bill Miller? I read a tremendous article by Jeff Passan last week that discusses the deteriorating relationship between MLB players and MLB umpires. Passan acknowledges Lawrie’s idiotic behavior and the incompetence of Miller, but he raises a very interesting point. Umpires see players as prima donnas and players think umpires are jerks…yet MLB expects the two to coexist. The Umpires were stunned that Lawrie only got a four game suspension for going Johnny Monkey on Miller. The players snickered at the ridiculously wide strike zone of Miller, but knew not a word would come from MLB regarding his work. What is left is mistrust…
Baseball is unique in that it allows players to question umpires without recourse. Players tend be rude toward Blue. The history of the game almost promotes belligerence with the men in blue. You can jaw and encroach all you want, as long as you do not touch the umpire. As Passan says, “that millimeter is the difference between a suspendable offense and just another argument, and it invites a culture in which the millionaires can belittle the plebeians.”
It is no wonder that some umpires are arrogant toward players and coaches. What must be remembered is that men that don the blue take on a difficult task. “Umpiring a baseball game, from Little League to the major leagues, is an eminently difficult endeavor. A man must stand at an angle toward home plate – look at the umps; none stands directly over the catcher – and judge whether a projectile hurled upward of 100 mph crossed at any point horizontally over a 17-inch-wide plate and vertically in between the knees and letters. Or whatever he wants his strike zone to be so long as it's consistent. Players want competence, sure. In lieu of that, they accept consistency. ”
Did you see Bob Davidson toss Charlie Manuel last week? As a result of this dust up, an unusual event occurred. Bob Davidson was suspended one game. This is a very rare event as typically, umpire discipline is handled behind the scenes. Why is that? Why aren't umpires held to a similar public standard as players, whose performance is an open book? It's a fair question. “Accountability remains something to which they refuse to agree because it would open them up for even more criticism. It's bad enough to take it from those at MLB; umpiring reports given out to the public would be like catnip for heckling fans. The argument is backed, of course, by the World Umpires Association, the union that continues to protect bad umps. MLB does what it can to keep the worst out of the playoff rotation, but continued substandard umpiring, even if it comes in fits and starts and represents less than 1 percent of calls, lends credence to those who argue in favor of a robot or the PITCHf/x system calling balls and strikes.” A stirring question is this…is the reputation of the umpires more important than the integrity of the game? Many players say they prefer umpires over a robot. But, one thing that comes with this is human error. Most umpires are honest and hardworking and are mortified at the thought of blowing a call.
Passan has a few suggestions to improve umpire/players relations. Several times each year, there should be a scheduled meeting with umpires and players. Have a few veterans and rookies from each team gather during the winter meeting, spring training and during the playoffs with a group of umpires. Take a few hours to discuss the game and what troubles they see. Before each series, the manager should take a few of his players by the umpire’s office to say hello. Ask about their kids and get to know them as individuals. “The umpires are owed to feel like contemporaries rather than subservients or enemies.”
“These are easy, practical solutions to a problem that festers and will not abate without intervention. Brett Lawrie is a brilliant ballplayer, one of the game's best young talents, and now he is widely regarded as a jerk because of an incendiary concoction of his own anger and a widespread disrespect for umpires. And those same umpires do their job on the offensive, lest they be the umpteenth one of their kind who gets dressed down by a player and has nothing but a thumb to fight back.”
It has often been discussed here that sports writers do a poor job of deciding which players deserve HOF entry. This is not a new problem and I was astounded to that writers have been doing a bad job for many years. Look at the stats of two players from 1962:
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB Ks BA OBP SLG TB
621 130 189 36 5 49 141 18 2 78 85 .304 .384 .615 382 (A)
695 130 208 13 10 6 48 104 13 51 57 .299 .347 .373 259 (B)
One of these players was the NL MVP and one was runner up. Which player would you choose? Player A was Willie Mays and Player B was Maury Wills. Before you think that the Dodgers edged out the Giants for the playoffs, the reverse was true. The Giants lost to the Yankees in the WS. Why was Mays overlooked? Because SF writers felt that he was not a “west coast” guy. Having begun his career in New York, many west coast writers did not take to Willie. A few even voted him 4th in the MVP vote. It is proof that there is more to the voting than just who the best player is. Things have not changed that much…
That is all I have for this week, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey:
One good thing about Hell, at least, is you can probably pee wherever you want to.
Love is not something that you can put chains on and throw into a lake. That's called Houdini. Love is liking someone a lot.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own...