THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
Stefon and Soccer
Okay, SNL's Stefon (as portrayed by Bill Hader) actually doesn't have anything to do with this post, but based on the way the author of the original article presented it, only Stefon could make it work.
Back in early 2017, a soccer match in Brazil turned into a brawl. That brawl then turned into a potpourri of other things. Follow me as I introduce this brawl as Stefon...
"This brawl has everything: riot police, tear gas, fans playing tug-of-war over a banner..."
Credit to Sam Klomhaus of the18.com for starting this. Check out http://the18.com/soccer-news/match-brazil-devolved-violent-game-tug-war for the original clip too.
Laughs aside, though, take a look at the clip at the brawl between Gama and Brasiliense. Ultimately, after the players started fighting, the fans followed suit in a mass looting spree that would have made old-fashioned pillagers jealous. "Let's rip this banner down and hope nobody else wants it!"
I don't even know if words can properly describe what happens with the exception of stating that if you had a fear of traveling outside your comfort zone, then you definitely shouldn't head south.
Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
The 2017 World Baseball Classic was filled with excitement this year. In only it's fourth incarnation, the tournament is picking up steam and finally beginning to capture the attention of some of the stars who are yet to play in it (like Mike Trout).
That is, unless, you are Adrian Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, the All-Star 1st Baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the biggest name on Team Mexico, went on a tirade after Mexico thought they had advanced to a tie-breaker game against Italy, only to find out that they misinterpreted the rule and actually lost out to Venezuela, who would instead face Italy for the right to move on in the tournament.
Here's the scene: in Pool D, which was the first round of the tournament being played in Mexico and featured teams from Mexico, Venezuela, Italy, and Puerto Rico, the top two teams would move on to the second round after Round Robin play completed. Each of the teams in the pool would play a total of three games: one against each of the other opponents. Puerto Rico went 3-0; the others all went 1-2.
So three teams were tied for the second seed and the chance to move on.
The tiebreaker rules state that they would use a formula to determine which of the two tied teams would play in a tiebreaker game for the right to move on; the third team would simply be eliminated. That formula calculated defensive runs allowed over defensive regulation innings in games against the tied opponents (just trust me on this...it's so complicated that even I wanted to yell at television). Originally, the media announced that Italy and Mexico were the two teams that would play. However, upon re-examining the rule, noting an error, and re-calculating, Mexico was to be eliminated and Venezuela was to play Italy; they edged them by a fraction of a run.
Oh yeah, and Venezuela beat Italy and moved on.
Gonzalez and all of Team Mexico went public with their displeasure after filing an official protest and following all of the protocol to try to get their team back in that game. But it went all for naught.
"They're trying to be the World Cup," Gonzalez said, "but they're not even the Little League World Series."
Gonzalez made it quite clear he will not participate for Mexico or any team again in the future.
Gonzalez also made sure that Major League Baseball and all WBC officials knew he thought they "had no integrity," calling everything they do "a bunch of BS." He also laughed and said it was good to be out of the tournament.
By the way, Gonzalez hit .143 in the tournament, going only 1 for 12.
If that doesn't smell of a sore loser, I don't know what does.
A note to Mr. Gonzalez: we all get it. It's a shame that you were told you were moving on, then had to deal with the reality of the situation due to a technicality. But what you just exhibited is the behavior of a 9-year-old who just takes his ball and goes home when it doesn't go his way.
By the way, a quick reminder to him and all of Team Mexico: your manager, Adrian's older brother Edgar Gonzalez, was ejected in the final game for arguing balls and strikes. So the real joke here is your team.
Many other teams are having fun. Not only are you not due to your own choice of behavior, but you can also bet that Mexico will probably also not be a host city in the future either.
Back in March, Dr. Stewart Cotterill wrote an entry in his blog about the detriments of abuse of sports officials. The best part, however, was that he used scientific evidence to back his claim about how ridiculous it is to abuse officials.
Dr. Cotterill first praised an 18-year-old soccer official for leading a "strike" of officials who were tired of being abused. Over 2,000 local officials in the United Kingdom refused to work as part of this movement to protest the abuse they take on a regular basis.
Cotterill threw his support behind these officials by using sound reasoning and a scientific experiment he conducted while studying sports psychology to further prove why disagreement with officials does nothing but "shoot yourself in the foot."
Cotterill's first example of his support was summarized by the fact that officials rarely, if ever, reverse a call which may bring disagreement from players or coaches. The study he ran on the subject involved working with the university rugby team at his home turf of the University of Gloucestershire. Throughout the course of a match, he encouraged the entire team to be respectful of the officials and to not argue with officials. As such, the opposing team began to dispute calls, and eventually the close calls began to go in favor of his rugby team. Now, officials are taught to be fair and just and never favor one team or participant over another, so the argument seems to go against the training of good officials. But officials are human; and no matter how much an official tries to do his best, it is certainly possible that the psychological subconscious begins to activate in a way that causes calls to go in favor of a well-behaved team.
Cotterill goes on to list other reasons to support his cause, such as discussing how harboring the negative emotions towards officials causes those negative emotions to manifest in a way that detracts from the skills and performance of the athlete. In short, getting upset at an official will make you play worse. He also references the fact that athletes have no control over how officials do their job, so spending any time worrying about the behavior or officials is a waste of energy and will also subsequently detract from the performance of the athlete.
It's nice to know that people like Dr. Cotterill are on the side of the officials. Now if only more people understood the importance of his argument...
Back in early June, the Yankees held a small lead in the AL East as they faced a two week schedule against division opponents. When it came time to play the Red Sox in the middle of that stretch, everyone naturally began to get excited over the return of the rivalry. The outcome? The Yanks won two of three in convincing fashion. That's baseball, right?
Well, the issue was that the social media team working for the Yankees used this as an opportunity to take a dig at the Red Sox. Following each victory, the Yankees posted a picture on Instagram with the score listed as "Yankees X, The Team In Second Place Y."
I'm a big Yankees fan, but even I have to call them out on such immature behavior. You're the Yankees: you are the pillar of class in both baseball and sports. Your icons of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera never showed anyone up. Controversies would actually arise when players on your team would celebrate in a fashion that was not akin to the Jeters and Riveras (see Joba Chamberlain). Why is taking this shot at the Red Sox necessary?
The Yankees are better than this.
The Kids Aren't Comedians
Bob Cook is a contributor to Forbes, among other news outlets. He submitted an editorial for their online Sports & Leisure section which was published on February 11, 2017, entitled, "Is There A Place For Trash-Talking In Youth Sports?"
In the piece, Cook compares the practices of "trash-talking" (or "chirping" as it can also be known) to what amounts to the methods of insult comics used during performances in comedy clubs. Further, he began to opine about the loss of "good trash-talking kids" as our society moves on through time, providing reasons as to why we are failing to raise good trash-talking kids. He cites the suggestion that parents need to stop trash-talking so that the kids can have a chance to "practice their art."
The fact that Bob Cook is a parent makes me feel sorry for his kids.
How can a grown man with any sort of conscience or sense of ethics actually endorse trash-talking, especially at the youth level? Is he actually endorsing the idea of letting 7-year-olds hurl insults at each other so as to learn bad habits and make completely misguided decisions about priorities and what actually matters in life? If I were a rich man, I'd probably start a trust fund to cover the co-pays his children will have while seeking therapy for the rest of their lives.
I doubt Bob Cook will ever read this entry into the blog. But I'll take solace in the fact that I'll probably never have to come across this guy in my life and travels.
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.