Billy Joel explains things perfectly. He ends with a good song too.
Sports and athletes are different when you follow them as a kid. You don’t really see the faults of players; you just watch them play. You’re amazed at what they can do and how easy they can accomplish practically anything. As you age, the mythical qualities go away, at least for the most part. Every once in a while, those qualities come out or perhaps just the site of a childhood athlete brings out the kid in us that didn’t care about the player’s salary, what his personal life was like, and whether or not he was good to the media.
We simply watched the way they played the game. We were drawn to the charisma, whether it was a loquacious personality or someone who seemingly won every time he was out there. I found that as I got older, I started to look for players to follow who shared the same qualities as those I followed when I was younger. But, it just isn’t the same. Adulthood takes away that innocence that a child still has. It is hard to rediscover that lens, especially when comparing players to those from years ago.
There is no doubting that today’s athletes are more talented and capable of so much more. But, the old man in me says that my generation of athletes were better. I’m guessing everyone feels that way.
Looking at my list of favorite athletes, I can I was drawn to those who had some sort of struggle. They were all enormous talents, but they didn’t always play on the best teams. Or, there was something that always seem to get in the way of winning a title (for most of them ). My list isn’t the perfect athletes—Michael Jordan, the best basketball player in the history of the sport, isn’t on it. My guys were players who played with a passion. They were some of the best in their respective sports. And, none had perfect careers. I don’t know what that says about me, but it was a privilege to watch them play. Continue reading
New Media is a subject that means quite a bit to me. While I am a traditionalist in terms of writing and don’t believe in the sensationalism that many buy into on the internet, I do love the concept of New Media.
There are likely many definitions to the term New Media. I believe that new media allows for a certain intimacy that traditional media simply doesn’t have room to give. New Media doesn’t have walls. The readers can interact. A good writer takes all of this and becomes a better writer. The conversation gets deeper. The conversation, the collective knowledge, and, most importantly, the writing gets better. In its best form, New Media consistently beats the newspaper and magazine industry. The interaction between writer, subject, and reader can’t be matched by a newspaper article. Continue reading
Aside from the obvious questions about 33 year old Nelson Cruz coming off of his PED suspension, there is one key question about the Mariners supposedly pushing to sign Nelson Cruz. Is a mid-30′s player who has already shown some signs of decline suited to hit in Safeco Field? Continue reading
As the money Major League teams pay injured pitchers continues to rise–in the billions now–it has never been more apparent that teams need to invest in pitcher health. Like everything else in the sport, this change is slow, even with the medical field ready to help.
Biomechanics can hold the key to better pitching health. Dr. James Andrews and his staff at ASMI have made tremendous strides in the study of healthy pitchers. There are even companies such as Motus Global that focus specifically on the biomechanics of sports. Interestingly, one of Motus Global’s advisors is Dr. Glen Fleisig, who is from ASMI. With a biomechanical analysis, a pitcher can see the flaws–or red flags–in his delivery. With that knowledge, teams can fix flaws and give a pitcher a better chance. Continue reading
Today, we learned that Michael Young is retiring from baseball after a 14 year career. He leaves the game with a career .300/.346/.441 batting line. He played in 1,970 games and accumulated 2,375 hits, 7 all-star selections, led the league in hits twice, and won a batting title. In all, the long-time Texas Ranger who played his last season of professional baseball with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers, had a career that most players would dream of having. Continue reading
The Kansas City Royals rewarded General Manager Dayton Moore with a two year contract extension that will take him through the 2016 season. On the surface, it seems appropriate as the Royals had their first winning season since 2003 and finally look like all of that promised promise has finally started to pay dividends at the Major League level. 86 wins are a major deal, especially for a franchise that has lost at least 90 games in eight of the past ten seasons. But, the real question remains as to whether or not those 86 wins are a sign of the future or if they are simply the “Kansas City decade experience”? Continue reading
Yesterday, my daughter asked me, “Dad, when you’re an adult, do you have to put your toys away?”
I looked at my five year old with a look that I often give her. It’s always one of those “I can’t believe she asked me something like that. She’s five” looks. As usual, I took it as a very deep question. But, I paused and wondered if she was just simply asking about whether or not you had to physically put away your toys as an adult. Continue reading
One of my favorite sports clips is the one of Muhammad Ali yelling in the ring that he was the greatest and a bad man. It was a moment of a man overcoming obstacles because he had a strong, singular belief in himself. That belief is something we try to teach kids, especially athletes. An elite athlete has that belief.
After a quick search of the New York Times database, the reaction to Ali’s victory and his braggadocio wasn’t all that positive. That can largely be chalked up to the time period as the media wasn’t quite ready for an African American athlete to speak the way he did.
Perhaps, none of that has to do with Richard Sherman. As we all saw on Sunday night, Richard Sherman essentially did a WWE promo with Erin Andrews after the game. He called out 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree. He proclaimed himself “the greatest” and questioned why the 49ers would throw the ball his way on a game-deciding play.
It was one part Ric Flair, mixed with a bit of Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. One pure entertainment value, it was a classic moment. In terms of sports etiquette, it was questionable at best.
I’ll admit when I first heard it, I didn’t like it. I’ve always preferred the Barry Sanders’ act like you’ve been there before approach. But, then again, Brett Favre’s celebrations after throwing a game winning touchdown never bothered me. After a few minutes, I laughed about Sherman’s act, pictured him yelling “woo” or “whatcha you gonna do when Richard Sherman and the Seahawks run wild on you?”.
After hearing him on the Fox postgame, it was obvious that his interview with Andrews was more a result of adrenaline and euphoria as he was much calmer. His words were better measured. The message may have been the same and it was obvious that he and Crabtree have a personal rivalry, but he was rational.
I figured there would be a segment of fans who would give Sherman a hard time. After all, there is a group of fans who don’t like any of that. That side can be respected as it is always what they believe. Victory should be the talk, nothing else. Those people just shook their heads and moved on.
When I checked Twitter, I found a common theme: Richard Sherman is a thug.
A thug? Really? That seems awfully judgmental and a characterization of a man that makes us look like we are operating in Ali’s prime rather than in 2014. A man is called a thug because he had some choice words for a receiver who was chirping during the game as well? He’s a thug who proclaimed that he is the best at what he does just seconds after he knocked down a game winning pass that allowed his team to go to the Superbowl?
Evidently Ali was a thug. Evidently, Michael Jordan, the best to every play his sport and one of the game’s most notorious trash talkers was a thug.
A thug. It’s an interesting choice of words for a guy who went to Stanford, has a charity foundation, and by all accounts is a good man who is quite giving with his time. It’s an interesting choice for a man who writes a weekly column for Peter King’s site and writes it quite well.
It seems like we pick and choose who to like and who not to like. We pick who we can tolerate and who must be called a thug. Sherman evidently has to be labeled as a thug. He gets the label because he has a mouth and evidently looks like he plays the part. For a society that has supposedly advanced, this judgment contradicts every advancement made since the Civil Rights movement.
Of course, it likely makes a difference that the whole event was seen on National television in prime time. Kids were watching…gasp. The question came up on Twitter multiple times: what do I tell my kids? The answer is actually very simple. You tell them that you don’t like that and would want them to do better. You take the time to teach your kids, you know, to actually be a parent. It truly is that simple. Parents have to parent.
Sherman isn’t a thug. He’s a very good football player who believes he is the best. Every athlete has that arrogance. That’s why they made it to that level. Sherman will be the story for the next two weeks leading up to the Superbowl. He put himself there, but the story will focus on the type of man he is rather than the type of player he is.
He isn’t the problem. It’s those who want to put a label on him. It’s those who continue to pull society back in time. It’s those who use the word thug to describe an educated man who does charitable work because he looks a certain way.
People have every right to not like what Sherman did or how he conducts himself on the field. But, nobody has a right to place judgement on a man.
This is another one of those “I can check that off the list” things. USA Today comes out with an annual baseball preview magazine. It covers both the game on the field as well as fantasy baseball.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to contribute. You’ll find me on pages 30 and 31 as I write about the five teams that had the best winter and the five teams that had the worst winter.
Again, it’s one of those cool things that didn’t look like a possibility just a few years ago.