Virginia and Vanderbilt For The College Baseball World Series Title

One thing we know going into the NCAA College Baseball World Series in Omaha starting today is that there will be a first time champion when the final out is made. Neither school has been to the finals before and it will be the first ever meetings between the two universities in baseball. And if Vanderbilt wins, it will be the first men’s national championship in over 120 years of competition. Both schools have had great years and deserve to continue playing this week and it is nice to see different schools in the Championship Round. Don’t get me wrong I would rather see my four-time champion Cal State Fullerton Titans advancing but that can’t happen all the time.

That is what my rant is about this time. Fans need to take a big spoon full of reality and get over the idea that if their team doesn’t win the title it has been a bad year. This is most prevalent in college football but it infects all aspects of college athletics. To get to the Championship Round, Vanderbilt had to go 10 innings to eliminate a college baseball power, Texas, on a two 0ut infield squibber and some at Texas aren’t sure that the coach should return next year. Are you kidding me? Let me put some Castor Oil in that spoon full of reality for you just to make it a little more unpleasant.

The University of Texas is a good example of what is wrong with college athletics, in my humble opinion. This past season head football coach Mack Brown was forced out of his job by the big money boosters who threatened to stop being so generous if changes weren’t made. And of course they were totally justified because, well because the Longhorns had a terrible season, 8 wins 5 loses. And in the last 3 seasons their overall record was 25-14. That just isn’t acceptable, now is it. Don’t get me wrong, I want to win as much as anyone and I want to win all the time. But get a grip, that isn’t a healthy attitude.

A record of 30-21 in the last four years must have seemed like a terrible dry spell because Coach Brown had set the bar so high in the previous 6 season with an overall record of 69-9. But fans can’t be happy with being on top just some of the time and when your coach has led you to such great heights has let you down by having 1, that is ONE losing season in 16 years on the job, well it is obvious he needs to go. The great fans of Texas of course had a Facebook page, Fire Mack Brown where all the knowledgeable fans could demand the dismissal of Brown because he obviously couldn’t return Texas to its rightful place at the top of college football.

Sure college football is big business and I can’t shed too many tears for Coach Brown, he will make more with a buy-out than most American’s will earn in 10 years of hard work. But you have to put that in the perspective of the sports world we live in, ESPN headlined it this way, “Mack Brown’s Buyout Only $2.75 million.” And while that is a paltry sum for many it goes to my point that things have gotten out of hand. Gregg Doyel, national columnist for CBS Sports has problems with the culture as well.

“See my point? My point is this: Texas football is out of control, an enormous dog being wagged by a tiny tail, a $100 million enterprise that funds an entire athletic department and created an entire television network and held hostage two or three BCS conferences in the past few years. Texas football is a monster, and monsters don’t move with precision. They stomp around in the forest, flattening trees until they emerge into the clearing and trip and fall and land right on top of someone’s house.”

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Isaiah Austin Diagnosed With Marfan Syndrome

Although a fairly enthusiastic sports fan, I no longer follow the way I once did so the headline left me with two questions, first who is Isaiah Austin and secondly what is Marfan Syndrome? The answer to the first gap in my knowledge of who’s who in sports, turns out to be that Isaiah Austin is a 20 year-old young man from Arlington Texas and standing 7′ 2″ tall was a standout basketball player at Baylor University with realistic hopes of a lucrative career in the NBA. Then I added a little medical knowledge by finding out that Marfan Syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue and approximately 1 in 5,000 people are born with it. There are many signs of the disease including being tall, having long arms, legs, and or fingers. It can also affect vision and Austin is also partially blind. One of the dangerous and potentially life threatening aspects of Marfan Syndrome is heart problems, especially related to the aorta. This is a reason his continued participation is a strenuous sport such as basketball is too dangerous.

Of course the good news is that because the NBA gives very thorough physical exams the condition was finally diagnosed and although a career ender might be a life saver. Baylor coach Scott Drew is hoping Austin will now return to Baylor, finish his degree and serve as a coach with the Bears program. It is also inspiring to see how Austin has reacted to his situation, Tweeting,  “Words can’t explain how thankful I am for the time I had to play this wonderful sport. It changed my life forever. I would love to thank everyone who reached out to me. Toughest days of my life. But not the last! Life goes on. GOD IS STILL GREAT!”

We all react to events in our own way and I have great doubts I could have handled the situation with such grace as Austin. Hopefully his acceptance of the misfortunes of life and his ability see where he has had blessings and look to the future will serve to inspire others.

 

Homophobic Chant from Mexico Fans at FIFA World Cup

UPDATE:

An article in the New York Times asks why so many World Cup fans dislike Argentina. A poll by YouGov/Upshot asks, “Which country is your least favorite in the World Cup?”, and Argentina seems to be the favorite as the least favorite. The relevance to this post, regarding civility from the fans, is further down in the story which points out that even in the 1920’s fans did what they could to get under the skin and in the heads of opposing players. At that time Brazilian players were showered with the chant of “macaquitos“, or little monkeys, in Buenos Aries. So the more things change the more they stay the same I guess. At a pre World Cup match in Buenos Aries just over a week ago, Argentine fans vented outside the stadium with their not so friendly feelings towards Chile, “All I ask from God is for all Chileans to die.” Hey, at least they get right to the point!

 

Not going to make a lot of fans with this one. I can only plead with you to First Think. Then Think Again before attacking me for not being completely gay about this story. Once again my head is about to explode because a problem is being attacked, but through a politically correct lens, not looked at thoughtfully and thinking about all of the consequences of any actions to be taken. Evidently many fans at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil have been directing chants at the opposing team that are considered by many to be, well lets see, racist, homophobic, bigoted and signs of extreme nationalism.

Media reports are not entirely accurate, I can say that because they are reporting different facts. The Hollywood Reporter points out that Brazil and Mexico could be disciplined for the actions of their fans and I would bet the powers that be are surprised by the reaction of their readers. According to the Reporter, FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, has campaigned in recent years to snuff out bigotry in soccer. He has been a strong advocate for points deductions, saying “sporting sanctions are the only effective punishment.” Now, Think about this. Points deductions? What could possible go wrong with this? They are talking about punishing a team for the actions of THEIR fans. Which opens up the chance for rabid supporters to appear to be fans of the opposition, behave badly and thereby help their real team win. More problems with the initial reporting are brought up by many commenters at the Reporter site questioning the actual meaning of the term “puno”.

The report in the Wall Street Journal is the best I have seen so far although their headline mentions only Mexico as a dastardly culprit . The Journal reports, ” Héctor González Iñárritu, director of national teams at the Mexican Football Federation, told the Mexico City newspaper Milenio that FIFA could issue a fine. But he added that further sanctions were unlikely, saying the jeer is outside the federation’s control.” Makes sense to me.

At the same time the Mexico coach Miguel Herrera, has his own take on the situation saying basically that it is much to do about nothing as he defends the fans. He says it is just a folksy part of the game and a tradition in Mexico in this interview with  Radio Red Spanish.  Herrera adds, “FIFA should be worried about more serious things.” Now just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it right but those trying to change the CULTURE are up against it. I know how it is, I stopped going to high school games decades ago because of the behavior of the students. The vulgar language that had become acceptable, even back then with adults paying no attention to what their little devils were up to and the, in my opinion disrespect shown during the playing of the national anthem was more than I wanted to endure. I guess I’m a little put off today by those who are so upset with their particular sensitivities when these self-same people didn’t and don’t, care about my feelings and possible negative consequences that have been brought about by a more vulgar society. While I might be empathetic with some goals of people and organizations such as Network FARE I can’t support their work because they have a narrow field of view.

With age come wisdom. Sometimes. Age may also bring senility. Anyway, living a long time means a lot of experience that many younger people or those who just don’t pay attention know nothing about. I lost interest in the Olympics many decades ago when the Games were hijacked and used for political expression. At the same time the great liberals of the time were all exercised about nationalism being displayed, especially by Americans who rooted for their country to win. Imagine that, and they put pressure on to stop keeping metal counts and standings. The horrors. The movement was basically by American liberals against anything American and didn’t have a lot of success at least at the time. But it laid the groundwork for what we see today.

I’m not in favor of fans behaving in any way they please. But with the movements of today, we will have to sit in total silence to keep from offending anyone. Team names? The Fighting Irish and the silly leprechaun mascot? I am offended. The Demon Deacons, get real, that has to do. What can we do? Just have numbers? Team 1 and Team 2? No, that wouldn’t be fair, some would assume Team 1 is better than Team 6 just because of the number. Change can be good. Treating other people well is a good thing. But there is a difference between good behavior and Orwellian thought control.

Tony Gwynn’s Death Makes Addison Reed Think, Stops Using Smokeless Tobacco

Tony Gwynn, one of the great pure hitters in Major League Baseball history, lost his battle with cancer last week. The cancer, he says, was the result of years of chewing tobacco, a practice that has been part of baseball since it’s very beginning. MLB has been discouraging the use of smokeless tobacco for years because it is known to increase the chance of cancer. And while the use by players has been in decline there are many who haven’t been able to kick the habit. Addison Reed of the Cincinnati Reds was one of those who kept telling himself he would quit, soon. The slap to the head for him came with Gwynn’s passing, it finally brought home the reality of what could happen because of his habit.

First Think, Then Think Again. Easy enough to say but the reality is we don’t usually do the hard work of thinking through issues. We shortcut the process to come to the conclusion we want to reach regardless of how the facts stack up in an argument. Then there is the problem of actually going through the process of analyzing a situation, really trying but in the end making the wrong decision. If you read the articles I have linked you will see that there is nothing new here, just guys who have made a decision and nothing that is said can change their behavior until an event becomes the trigger that makes change possible for them. That trigger for some is the birth of a child, a death such as Gwynn’s or even a dream.

 

This isn’t a screed against the use of smokeless tobacco, unlike the editorial board of the Modesto Bee which wrote that, “We MUST Snuff Out Smokeless Tobacco Use“. They call this a teachable moment which it is, and hopefully will open more eyes and save others from the suffering from cancer that can be a result of a nasty habit. Of course it is a legal product and untold numbers of people have dipped and enjoyed it from childhood without becoming a cancer victim. We are all different and what makes me happy may not do anything for you. Obviously I am a little “prissy” for others, I watch an outfielder chewing and spitting all game long and the chance of him succumbing to cancer doesn’t bother me as much as the idea of the other outfielder having to make a head long dive for a screaming line drive and winding up getting tobacco juice, spit, on him. That is plain nasty.

Many of us suffer from bad habits and just don’t have the necessary motivation or will power to escape. Many of us have bad habits and thoroughly enjoy every moment of them despite any negative consequences. The power of thought is amazing, we can convince ourselves what is good is bad, and what is bad is good and leave me alone it is of your business what I like to do. It is never easy to make others do the right thing even though I know very well what you need to be doing. However, culture can be changed to advance public health, is the conclusion of Robin Silverstein of the University of Minnesota in her great presentation, Smokeless Tobacco and Baseball.

Rest in peace, Tony Gwynn and condolences to your family. May your story be the trigger that helps others possibly avoid something so avoidable.

Penthouse Of New York City’s Woolworth Building Asking Price: $110 Million

If I were going to invest $110 million in real estate it wouldn’t be for the Woolworth Building’s new penthouse. Not that it isn’t worth it, I’m just more of a wide open type who likes more land than is provided with Manhattan real estate. But then, for me, a $110 million investment for anything would necessarily involve some sort of fraud to begin with so it really doesn’t matter. For someone who actually has the financial resources to afford it, the upper nine floors of this historic New York building at 233 Broadway, will make a spectacular home.

The neo-Gothic style Woolworth Building went up in 1913 and at that time was the tallest building in the world at 792 feet. President Woodrow Wilson ceremoniously turned the building’s lights on by pressing a button in Washington D.C.. The ornate, cruciform lobby (tours are available) was granted Landmark status in 1983 but had been closed to the public for the past 12 years. There was also a pool in the basement, when the building opened in 1913, one of its selling points was a health club complete with indoor pool and Turkish bath, open “day and night.”

I won’t be buying because a lobby tour ticket is about all I can really afford but if you are the one with the cash burning a hole in your pocket, I would love to be invited for a visit.

Well that isn’t going to happen I’m sure but here are some spectacular photos.