Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Hustle

Pete Rose has filled papers to get reinstated to Major League Baseball with the new Commissioner Rob Manfred.   Rose who was banned for life in 1989 for betting on Cincinnati Reds games as the manager.   He is baseball all-time hit leader with 4,256 hits and other numerous records.  The opinion is mixed on if Rose should be reinstated and allowed into the Hall of Fame. There were never any reports of Rose betting as a player, but as a manager.     Should the new Commissioner allow Rose back into baseball or keep him out for life.     This is how I look at it Rose should not be allowed back into baseball, but they have allowed him to attend events like the All-Century Team during the 1999 World Series because sponsors wanted him there.  That to me sends a mixed message they will keep Rose out of the Hall of Fame, but will use him to market the game and making money.   Rose’s career should be rewarded with him being in the Hall of Fame, but baseball can’t compromise the integrity of the game by letting him in.   The compromise should be let him in the Hall of Fame, but the plaque should also say that he was banned for life for betting on baseball.  Another reason baseball take this issue very serious is that Miami Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart is being investigating for betting on sports via of direct message to sports gambling experts, and they don’t want any more reports of MLB players in any way to associating with gamblers in any way.

Entitlement

Some athletes feel that the laws don’t feel apply to them. Jameis Winston who led the Florida State who led Florida State to the BCS title and the Heisman Trophy in 2013.   Winston is now getting ready for the NFL Draft, and he has a lot talent to be the first overall pick.   However his off the field incidents such as dealing with alleged sexual assault, and was not charged.  Plus dealt with will stealing crab legs from a Pulbix store in Tallahassee, accused of stealing soda from a Burger King, and being suspended against Clemson for saying an internet meme that was disrespectful of women.   The university and Winston could deal with possible civil suit.  Florida State has criticized for putting victories about doing the right thing.   NFL players are not immune for off the field problems.    When Roger Goodell became NFL Commissioner he wanted to make players accountable for the off the behavior.  Goodell has been inconsistent in dealing out punishment to players.   The NFL’s personal conduct policy has not been changed since Goodell announced their would be changed at his state of the league press conference before the Super Bowl.    I hope the athletes realized that any off the field behavior could take their career in an instant.  It bothers me they take their athletic gifts for granted.  No one is above the law and athletes should know better than that.

MY BOOK NHL

The NHL has always tried to be a national sport, but some of the rules have prevented it  from growing into national prominence.   They have adopted some rules such as the quiet room in dealing with concussion.   They need to do more work in deal with this issue.  Several stars have received concussions, but the one that had received the most attention was Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He was out from January 2011 to November of 2013 and shed a lot of light on this issue. They have to change the type of equipment players uses today such using helmets with Kevlar padding.  The shoulder pads should also have the same type of Kevlar padding as well to less the force of the hits.    Enforcement of the rules is the job is the Department of Player Safety, and the problem of the suspension policy is the consistence of the punishment. Some hits are punished with 2 game suspension and other are punished with 5 to 10 games suspension.  There has to be a consistence in dealing out their punishment,  Here are some of my ideas in dealing with hits to the head and check from behind.

1.  Automatic Game Misconduct for head shots and hits from behind.

2.  10-20 game suspensions for head shots and checks from behind to show the NHL is taking this issue seriously.

3. Referees have to be consistent in their calls not just during the game but the whole season.   Call the penalty in June during the Stanley Cup Finals as well as October during the regular season.

4.  Have a clear illustrated rules on checks from behind and several penalties for it such as 10 to 20 games suspension for an illegal check to the head or from behind.

The NHL has discussed  some of these ideas in GM Meetings in the past, but the old Canadian mentality is very prevalence into the way the league handle concussion and hits from behind.  There is too much gray area in dealing with hits from behind whether a player’s head was moving, the angle of the hit, or the intent of the hit and the player’s position along the boards or on open ice.

Another problem the NHL deals with marketing its players when Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky were in their prime they got some national commercials but they were in Canada.    Gretzky playing with the Los Angeles Kings was able to get the attention the sport deserved in the United States.  He did some national commercials, talk shows and hosted Saturday Night Live in 1989.   The game has grown in the West Coast of California and Florida because of grass-roots programs and roller hockey out there.   Another way to market the game is to put it on national television and NBC is able to cover the playoffs and the Stanley Cup Finals and they do a great job, and the ratings show it. Last year’s Stanley Cup Finals between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers got huge ratings and attention for the sport. The only time the NHL has gotten attention is when a bench clearing brawl or an injury to a star player.They have allowed hooking and the holding to keep the score down. After the lockout that canceled the 2004-2005 season they changed the rules to increase scoring. The changes were 4 on 4 in overtime and the shootout to kept the fans interest in the game. However, the overtime period in the playoffs is still the same with period after period until there is a winner. This week General Managers meeting they have been talks of making 3 on 3 in overtime and getting rid of the shootout.   The NHL has always been considered a niche sport and not on par with the other three major sports. In the 1970s, the NHL got attention for brawls and nonsense from the Philadelphia Flyers who won two Stanley Cups for their antics. The Flyers got called the Broad Street Bullies for their behavior.  The NHL should try to make rules to protect the star players, increase scoring, and get the attention that they wants and that is for all of the right reasons, and not for the wrong reasons such as brawls and other nonsense.

BIg Ben Big Money

Ben Roethlisberger signed a 5 year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers that is worth $99 million dollars and with incentives it could be worth $108 million dollars.   In the NFL teams need a franchise quarterback in order to win a championship, and Ben has been a proven winner.  The Steelers have been going from a veteran team to a young team and last year return to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus.   In the draft, they have to go heavy into the defense and already have a backup running back by signing DeAngelo Williams to 2 year contract.   This team could be a Super Bowl contender and they have a tough schedule in 2015, but now have the quarterback who could lead them to a 7th Super Bowl title.

Pirates Set Sail

The Pittsburgh Pirates have started playing exhibition games and there are a few questions that have to be answered.   Can Pedro Alvarez make the adjustment to playing first base and be healthy.   Can A.J Burnett find the form that he had in 2013 and will they re sign Neil Walker.  Will Charlie Morton be healthy and be a part of the starting rotation staff, or will Vance Worley or Jeff Locke make it.   Can the bullpen be strength like it was two years, and will be the bench be improved with Sean Rodriguez and Corey Hart.   Who will replace Russell Martin behind the plate and will Andrew McCutchen have another MVP season.   These answers will be revealed on Opening Day on April 6th against the Cincinnati Reds.

Orange Squeezed

The NCAA has punished Syracuse basketball and football with 5 years probation, vacated 108 wins from the past several years, reducing of 3 scholarships for the next 4 years, and Basketball Head Coach Jim Boeheim suspended for the 9 ACC games.      The reasons were extra benefits from boosters up to $8,000 for 3 football players and 2 basketball players to volunteer at the YMCA, failure to follow proper drug testing procedures, academic misconduct, and illegal booster activity. The only surprise is that the NCAA didn’t hit them with a post season ban.   Boeheim should be held accountable for the program mistakes and he should be fired for these actions.  It will be tough for them to be in the post season with the reduction of scholarships.

MY BOOK NCAA

Sports has always dealt with corruption all the way back to ancient Greece.   Some of the governing bodies are the problem.  One of the main culprits of this corruption is the NCAA.      The NCAA is a 6 billion dollar business, but the Student-Athletes can’t make any money.  The Miami (FLA) case had revealed that at times the NCAA is willing to punish a university without all of the facts be proven.   The NCAA rulebook deals with amateurism.  However, the amateurism rule is their way of avoid paying taxes.  Their own enforcement officers have violated rules in the Miami (FLA) case, and threw out keep evidence.  Another example of the NCAA rules is the Penn State regarding the Jerry Sandusky case.  Penn State was given a 4 year bowl ban and scholarships reduced.  Some people believed that Penn State accepted the punishment to escape the Death Penalty, and lose two seasons of football.   Last year, the NCAA has eliminate the bowl ban and Penn State has full scholarships after two years of dealing with the punishment.  Another problem they are dealing with is illegal benefits received from boosters.  There a lot of college kids live in single parent homes, and can’t afford to turn down any benefits.  Even if they are illegal and could help their parents.   Should college athletes get a piece of the $6 billion dollar pie, and would that solve some of the problems.   Paying college athletes wouldn’t solve all of its problems.  The reason if you paid a college football player x amount of dollars what would a female lacrosse player get paid.   With title IX female athletes would want to get a share of the wealth as well.  Last year Northwestern football players wanted to form a union, and the National Labor Relation Board approved       However, 60 of 76 players would vote against the union, but the walk-on players were not allowed to vote plus the final results will never be known.   If the union was allowed how will it affect other sports.  Basketball and football are the two biggest revenue sports in the NCAA.  If they have a union what about the other sports that don’t have the revenue that football and basketball have.  Could these other sports have their own union and try to get revenue themselves.

Should the NCAA or any other governing body clean up college sports.  It is nearly impossible to get rid of illegal benefits from boosters.   The NCAA board of directors gave the big five conferences  (ACC,SEC, PAC-10, BIG-10, and the BIG-12 will have autonomy, and that means they can make rules, plus make important decisions.  One of the decisions is whether football and basketball players are entitled to additional benefits including a stipend.   However, if they allow a stipend for basketball and football players what will happen to lesser sports.  Plus, with Title IX there might be a few lawsuits on the horizon.    That kind of autonomy is a scary thought because they can make rules and smaller schools could not keep up financially.  That would widened the gap between the BCS and non BCS schools.   Who has the deepest pockets and want to help universities become successful on the athletic fields, but too many times it has compromised the main purpose of colleges and universities and that is to educated young people.

The NCAA is also dealing with licensing the images of college athletes on video games.   Some student-athletes should get some of the money that of licensing deal between EA Games and the NCAA.     In 2008, former UCLA and NBA player ED O’Bannon sued the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company for using his likeness in a video game.  By January of 2011, he was joined by 20 former college athletes including Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson.  EA Games and the Collegiate Licensing Company settled out of court for 40 million dollars.It would have netted $4,000 dollars for as many as 100,000 current and former student-athletes in EA College Football and Basketball video games as far back as 2003.  Last year federal judge Claudia Wliken allowed the lawsuit go to trial and by August ruled in favor of O’Bannon.   He was not doing it for himself, but for future student-athletes who will make some money.

Sometimes college and universities cut academic corners for student-athletes and that gets them in trouble. In, 1999 Minnesota had academic problems with their basketball program and it cost them a lot of success under Head Coach Clem Haskins. Notre Dame Football has won eleven national champions and still have high academic standards.  The past two years have been plagued  by academic problems.  In 2013, starting quarterback Everett Golden was suspended for cheating on a test.  Then last season 5 players were suspended for academic dishonesty. There were WR Devaris Daniels, Safety Eiler Hardy, Linebacker Kendall Moore, Cornerback Keivarae Russell and Defensive Ishaq Williams.   Moore already graduated and was taking graduate courses left the university, but Daniels, Williams,and Hardy were considering returning in 2015.

Like Notre Dame in football, North Carolina in college basketball is synonymous with winning with five national championships. However, they have been having problems with off the court problems.  Forward P.J Hairston was let go due to impermissible benefits up to $2,000 from rental cars from a felon in the Durham area named Fats Thomas.   On July 28, 2013 Hairston was also suspended for driving recklessly and speeding.  Hairston would play for the Texas Legends in the D-League and currently play for the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA.    Then, Rashard McCants a player from the 2005 National title team said that he took phony classes and tutors wrote his class work.  McCants announced it after there were ethical issues in the university African and Afro-American Studies.  Former teammates disputed McCants claims. The NCAA reopened their investigation of UNC athletes.  In January of this year, McCants’s sister Rasharda and former football Devon Ramsey would have a class action suit against the university and NCAA for not getting the education they deserved.

This is not the first time North Carolina has dealt with academic issues.  In July of 2010, several football players were interviewed over alleged gifts, extra benefits and involvement with an agent.    The University would suspend defensive tackle Marvin Austin and ten other players.  Then in October Austin was expelled and the NCAA  declared wide receiver Greg Little and defensive tackle Robert Quinn were permanently ineligible for getting improper benefits.  The NCAA would  begin a separate investigation of academic fraud with a tutor. The tutor’s name was Jennifer Wiley, and according to source close to the investigation she wrote papers for players.   In March of 2012, the NCAA was found guilty of academic fraud and other infractions.  The football program got a bowl ban in 2012, reductions of 15 scholarships, and  3 years on probation.  This would cause then Head Coach Butch Davis to get fired.   Then in early 2014 Mary Willingham, who was a tutor who went to the national media about her concerns on the university.  In an ESPN Outside the Lines interview she talked about the literacy rate of student athletes and 34% didn’t meet the rate.  She would sue the university and reached an out of court settlement, but will not return to the university.  She and university professor  Jay Smith wrote a book about the scandal at Chapel Hill called Cheaters and it is out in book stores.  Now that the NCAA is not legally responsible for any academic fraud at North Carolina.

The NCAA should get real on academic reform and with the scandals at Notre Dame and North Carolina they should institute academic standards and clean up all of the cheating in college sports.