August 19, 2011

Friday Randomness: Non-Home Runs, Depressing Statues, International Brawls, a 12-year-old Ace, Madness in Miami, and a League of Their Own.

I am waiting in Court on this overcast muggy Friday, reading articles on my Blackberry.  26 Federal Plaza is buzzing with news of Obama’s reformed immigration policy, but I am stuck thinking about what a wild week this was in sports.  A few thoughts, in no particular order:

What is with all of these controversial home run calls against the Yankees? Last night, Justin Morneau hit a deep drive down the right-field line that was initially ruled a home run, only to be reviewed and overturned as a foul ball.  Morneau eventually struck out and Ron Gardenhire was ejected.  Fun times on Jim Thome Night in Minnesota.  The Yankees won 8-4, but C.C. looked anything but stellar.  I feel like the Morneau call, however, was karmatic retribution for Billy Butler’s non-home run home run from Wednesday night.  He smacked a ball to left-center which hit the top padding of the wall and then ricocheted back onto the playing field.  Originally ruled a home run, it was reviewed and the call was affirmed.  Which is dandy and all, except for the fact that the ground rules clearly state that the ball should have been ruled a double.  Billy Butler’s smile said it all, which was kind of amusing.  But the incompetence of the umpires is far from amusing.  It is especially ridiculous that the umps had no fucking idea what the ground rules were for the stadium where they were working.  Abysmal.  And it acts as further evidence that we desperately need a fifth umpire in an instant-replay booth at all times.

Well, this is sort of creepy. Don't get me wrong. What happened to Shannon Stone is a tragedy of epic proportions. My heart breaks for his 6-year-old son, Cooper, who was left alone as his father plunged to his death at the Ballpark in Arlington; for a dedicated father and firefighter, who kept asking about his son on the stretcher and died far too young; and for a family who will never be the same again. But do we really need a giant bronze reminder of this horrific event as a tribute to the fans? Couldn't they have made a Shannon Stone charity or planted a fan memorial tree in front of the park or…anything that would maybe inspire hope instead of sorrow? This was not a historic incident, but a terrible, terrible accident.  I do not mean to belittle it in any way whatsoever.  I commend the Rangers for the thought; their hearts are in the right place. But frankly, this is sort of weird and depressing. 

The brawl between China and Georgetown was unfortunate on so many levels.  It was titled a friendship match, which is now just ironic.  It obviously occurred in China, a political hotbed of controversy (where Vice President Biden happens to be at the moment), so the episode is being covered like an international incident.  It is another highlight for our corrupt NCAA.  I mean, the pictures are shocking in their severity.  But I think John Thompson III deserves such praise for the diplomatic and gentlemanly way that he handled the situation.  He somehow rounded up his team, got them off the court and onto the bus, and removed the Hoyas from an extremely volatile situation.  He released a carefully worded statement that I thought was perfection.  And he deserves a huge gold star.  I know that I am a Duke homer, but it was very Coach K-like and incredibly admirable. 

Miami, Miami, Miami.  Sadly, I think they are deserving of the death penalty, but will not (and ultimately, should not) receive it.  The Yahoo piece was devastating and brilliantly written; if even half of the allegations are true – and it looks like there is a ton of hard evidence – Miami is fucked. The extent of the scandal, like a never-ending web of corruption involving 70-something players and a multitude of coaches, is particularly shocking.  And it makes UNC and USC look like mere blips on the NCAA radar.  A full post is coming next week. 

The Little League World Series kicked off yesterday.  Billings, Montana beat the kids from Rapid City, South Dakota, marking the first time that Montana has ever won a LLWS game. Warner Robins, Georgia, home to the great Dalton Carriker, lost to Louisiana in a 2-0 nail-biter.  The sluggers from Hamamatsu City, Japan crushed Aruba, 12-1.  But I think the player that is going to steal the show is Jorge Jacobo of Mexicali, Mexico, whose team beat Chinese Taipei yesterday.  This kid has a nasty breaking ball and a hard fastball; he struck out 12 batters and shut out Chinese Taipei for the first time in LLWS history.  The craziness continues tonight, so if you are bored this weekend, check it out.  

This was basically the highlight of yesterday for me.  Bill Simmons, in his annual National Sports Collectors Convention photo essay, took a picture with the real-life Dottie from A League of Their Own! This piece always makes me want to attend the NSCC, but now I feel like I simply must go next year.  Anyone want in?  

Okay guys, I am out. I hope you all have great weekends and please check back on Monday!

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