Commentary

This is Stupid, and, Of Course, It Involves Guns

I refuse to believe that people in Arkansas are this stupid:

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill regarding a person’s ability to carry a concealed handgun into various buildings at a public university or college into state law. However, House Bill 1249 will not allow all legal gun owners to carry a gun to a football game in the state of Arkansas.

Football games will be considered a “sensitive area,” which require enhanced training in order to be allowed to carry a gun into a football stadium. The law supposedly trumps any provisions already in place to prevent guns from being allowed on the premises.

“The enhanced level of training is very important, and I am convinced the public will be more safe,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This bill, in my view, reflects the view of the general assembly.”

The view of the general assembly is, "beer plus college football plus shenanigans is enhanced by the presence of guns as long as you have enhanced training."

What the hell is that, by the way? Well, to me, it's something that the police chief's kid gets in order to wave around in front of people. It's what people with a lot of money and influence get when they want something from the local sheriff. It's kind of a no-brainer. If you are smart enough to pass "enhanced level of gun training" class, shouldn't you also be smart enough to know that a football stadium is exactly where you don't take your gun?

What happened to common sense? Do you know where you need to carry your gun? Not at a college football game, that's where.

Jeff Fisher

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Jeff Fisher was fired yesterday, and everyone seems to think they know why:

Jeff Fisher, whose job security became baffling as he led the Rams through years of mediocrity, was fired today as the team’s head coach. The team announced the move this afternoon.

Fisher was fired after perhaps the single ugliest loss of his coaching tenure, a brutal blowout at the hands of the Falcons on Sunday that ensured he would have his fifth consecutive losing record at the helm of the team.

Fisher's record was awful, but there are plenty of teams with losing records this season. There are plenty of teams in the NFL right now that are under-performing. Fisher wasn't fired because he was losing. Fisher was fired because the front office of the Los Angeles Rams is in complete and utter disarray. They extended his contract and then they fired him? That's dysfunction at the franchise level. What did the recent franchise relocation have to do with this? Who knows? 

Were it not for the close loss in Super Bowl 34 to the Rams, Fisher (then coaching the Tennessee Titans) probably would have ended up a more obscure figure. I believe his finishes this stage of his career with as many regular season losses as Dan Reeves, but don't give up hope. Fisher will probably come back as a coach in some capacity.  Guys like him end up being someone's coordinator for offense or defense almost immediately.

Megan Kalmoe is Pulling For You, America

AP London Olympics Rowing Women

Oh, my word:

"My request to everyone who is fixated on s--t in the water: stop. Stop trying to ruin the Olympics for us," Kalmoe wrote in an essay for theGuardian.

The 2012 bronze medalist in quadruple sculls noted that it does no good to complain about the water quality and that there have been similar concerns about the host cities of each of the past few Olympic Games. While the pollution is an issue (not just for the Summer Games, but for everyday life in Brazil), she is just thankful Rio has put in a lot of time, effort and money to host the Olympics.

Now that the Opening Ceremonies on Aug. 5 are just days away, the 32-year-old Kalmoe doesn't want to talk about the water quality. She is ready to compete: "If you are that insecure about where we stand, America, let me be the one to say it. I'll say it, if it will allay your fears and put some of these issues to rest: I will row through s--t for you, America."

Do we really need to censor the word "shit" here? I don't think that we do. I think that these will be the Olympics where a lot of cowardly people stayed home. The bravest and the best of us are headed to Rio. Whiny ass titty baby bitches need not apply.

Baylor University Won't Do the Decent Thing

Baylor University has thus far refused to release anything resembling a written report that would cover a slew of recent sexual assaults and convictions. It refuses to acknowledge that there is a serious problem and we know this because they won't even pretend to be transparent and honest about the investigation into what happened to derail the athletic program:

The former Baylor president Kenneth W. Starr complained that he had never seen it. Baylor’s alumni association called for its release. The Big 12 Conference has asked for it — twice.

But there is one problem. It — a written report of an investigation conducted by an outside law firm in the wake of several sexual assault allegations and convictions involving Baylor football players — does not exist.

“Various voices have called for the release of the ‘full report,’” the university’s interim president, David Garland, wrote in June after the Board of Regents demoted Mr. Starr and fired the football coach Art Briles.

The lawyers’ report, however, “was delivered in the form of an oral presentation that fully and comprehensively presented the individual and aggregated findings and the evidence supporting the findings,” Mr. Garland said.

Baylor’s decision to forgo a comprehensive report — after an investigation that granted the lawyers what the university called “unfettered access,” more than 65 interviews and one million pieces of information including emails and personnel files — has frustrated not only the supporters of the punished administrators but transparency advocates, who wonder about the impartiality of the lawyers the university hired to investigate itself and whether Baylor is withholding information publicly to protect itself from criticism, lawsuits or both.

Getting rid of Ken Starr was a good start, but the university needs to realize that a lack of transparency and accountability only leads in one direction--downwards, into a spiraling morass of lawsuits, negative media coverage, and banishment for the athletic program. 

The Big 12 needs to suspend Baylor until a report is produced. Period. End of story.

Who Else is Tired of Curt Schilling?

If you're Curt Schilling, and you're already on thin ice, why would you get yourself fired like this?

On Wednesday evening, ESPN announced it had terminated the MLB analystfollowing repeated political discourse on his feed, which some tabbed as hate speech. Said the company in a statement: “ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

Schilling met with ESPN management on Wednesday in Bristol, Conn., as he was scheduled to work Baseball Tonight on Wednesday night. The company declined to say the executive that delivered the news, but no such decision would be made without the approval of ESPN President John Skipper and ESPN Executive Vice President of Programming and Production John Wildhack.

For those unfamiliar with how we got here, Schilling apologized last September for his tweet comparing the number of Nazi sympathizers in Germany to the percentage of modern Muslim extremists. That tweet prompted ESPN to remove him from its Little League baseball coverage. He was then removed from ESPN’s postseason coverage following an exchange with editors of the sports blog Awful Announcing.

If your political activities and beliefs--which don't have anything to do with calling baseball games unless you've run out of ideas--have gotten you in this much trouble, the best thing to do is to decide whether or not you want to have a job.

Do you?

Then don't do stupid shit like this because, hello, it's 2016, nobody cares about your free speech bullshit, and when they fire you, you're not a victim. You're just dumb.

Really, these things are not hard to figure out.

Tom Brady is a Handsome Fellow

Personally, I think criticizing the work of a courtroom sketch artist is like going after a fifth grade orchestra for muffing their third piece of music for the day. Tom Brady is guilty as sin and the NFL is obviously in collusion with the courtroom sketch artist to make him look like a Bulgarian sex offender.

Somehow, they gave him the most subtle fu manchu in Patriots history.

Manufactured Outrage in Hockey


The hit sustained by Patrick Kane warranted a penalty, and the scrutiny that it got, and nobody is happy that he's going to be out of hockey for the next three months. The era where headhunters and goons deliberately injured scorers is long over, and the game isn't about that sort of thing anymore. This is the modern era of the NHL, which is a faster game played by skilled puck handlers. It's physical, but it isn't like we see chiclets on the ice every night.

I mean, the guy apologized. In the olden days, which nobody remembers, who cares what they did? These are millionaires who hop from team to team.

A fear of revenge would mean nobody would ever get on the ice. Come on.

Richie Incognito is the Face of the Buffalo Bills Now


This is not how you want your tenure as a head coach to start--with a Richie Incognito issue.

I don't know what Rex Ryan thinks he's going to get out of a player who has uniformly been considered a detriment to good order and discipline. You might get a renewed level of effort out of him, but you'll never get him to buy in and contribute in a positive way. The NFL has failed to deal with poor player conduct and now Incognito is the face of the Bills.

How much do you want to bet that they will cut him in August?

The Mainstreaming of Problems in the NFL


This is the way it starts.

When they are discussing your major and minor controversies on entertainment shows, you're in trouble. And this year, the NFL borrowed more trouble than it knows what to do with.

It's not enough to name bullshit committees and dump a little money on research and give out pithy payouts. It's not enough to run a few Public Service Announcements. It might not be enough to simply break a player and drive them out of the league.

Marshawn Lynch is the number one problem in the NFL right now, if you're an owner trying to control the labor pool. Lynch is the one thing that the NFL won't tolerate, and that's a star who defies the League's inviolate rules on maximizing revenue streams and exposing the players to good publicity. So, of course they're going to do whatever they can to make him worse than Hitler and eliminate his defiant pronouncements from the public consciousness.

The problem is, Lynch is not being unreasonable enough and the popular culture has latched on to the excessive zeal that the NFL has used to break the man. This is the unexpected outcome that exposes the NFL for not only being unfair and ridiculous but overly punitive as well. The NFL is an owner's league and operates as if the rise of powerful stars is anathema to the business model. Stars are fine, so long as they do nothing to impact revenue streams.

I just can't figure out what Marshawn Lynch's refusal to mouth cliches is doing to hurt the league. If anything, congratulate him on being thoughtful enough to hold back, right? No, the NFL can't do that. Lynch is breaking through to the fans by refusing to play along with the need for sports writers to fill their columns and their wire stories with what amounts to little more than moral lessons and conformity. Lynch, being a Millennial, sees through the phony world of sports writers and their magnification of inane details (those gold shoes are a distraction! you can't be a cancer in the locker room! we have to establish the running game!) and he represents a modern threat to the outdated morals of the game.

Bud Selig Has a Terrible Legacy


If you're a billionaire who owns a baseball team, everything you will read below is absolutely true:
Bud Selig is the greatest commissioner in baseball’s history. I and some others first claimed that about a year ago, and I see no reason to change that assessment. The executive summary of the Case for Bud, keeping in mind that his job has been to serve baseball as a sport and the owners as a favored constituency, not to make the general citizenry happy:
  • Since the 1994-95 strike, he has reigned over two decades of labor peace, with multiple collective bargaining agreements being ratified without a work stoppage;
  • Baseball’s attendance has skyrocketed, with teams averaging over 2.5 million tickets sold a year, whereas when he took over half the teams didn’t even draw two million;
  • Tremendous revenue growth. Baseball is now a nearly $10 billion a year industry. Revenues were just over a billion a year when he took over. More significantly to the owners, the value of franchises — the appreciation of which is how these guys make serious money — have gone through the roof;
  • A near complete turnover of the ballpark inventory in the game. With a couple of exceptions, every team that has wanted a new ballpark has gotten one and damn few of them have had to pay for most or, in a lot of cases, any of these palaces;
  • The successful adoption and exploitation of online media and online platforms which is unmatched in professional sports. Indeed, MLB Advanced Media serves as the digital platform for many other sports and entertainment outlets;
  • Innovations like the wild card, interleague play and expanded playoffs which, while distressing to baseball purists, have helped drive those revenue and ticket sales increases and — maybe more significantly — shook baseball out of the mindset that nothing can be changed in the game without an act of God and the ghost of Honus Wagner appearing to 18 of the 30 owners in a vision on the top of a mountain; and
  • The taming — relatively speaking — of the performance enhancing drug scourge that peaked in baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s.
If you are a fan of baseball, congratulations for surviving the Bud Selig era. The game has abandoned many fans, especially anyone who considers themselves an actual fan of how the game was intended to be played.

Miami Marlins fans still don't show up to watch their team play. That's an accomplishment?

The game has robbed the public blind. The building of publicly-funded ballparks all over the country has come at the expense of local governments. They now have less money for education and infrastructure. Congratulations, baseball owners. You have looted the public treasury in order to make your franchise more valuable. Threats of contraction were concocted in order to throw up monuments to folly. No one who thinks rationally could conclude that having a city build your ballpark for you so you can watch the value of your franchise balloon up is an achievement. You didn't build that has never been more apt.

Instant replay? Really? That's an "achievement?" That's a cop-out.

Bud Selig has managed to move the Milwaukee Brewers from the American League to the National League while moving the Houston Astros into the American League. The fact that Selig used to own the Brewers is irrelevant--baseball has been improved by these shenanigans, don't you see?

And steroids are consigned to the history of the game. You can see that in the fact that nobody hits that many home runs anymore. All that has been confirmed is this fact--cheating was far more rampant than previously understood. Congrats, baseball. Your record book should come with asterisks on the front.

Baseball is now a game played in front of white middle-class Americans by Hispanic players. You have to be fairly wealthy to see more than a few games in one season. And the diversity of the game has been all but eliminated.

Hail Bud.

The NCAA Quietly Forgets What Happened At Penn State


There is absolutely no reason to "restore" 112 wins for the Penn State Football Program, other than to prove that all that matters is winning in college sports and not, ahem, all of the sexual abuse carried out against children.

Someone somewhere must really hate Bobby Bowden. They took away twelve of his games because an academically ineligible player played in those games. They took away 112 of Joe Pa's wins because he tolerated the sexual abuse of children in his facilities by not wanting to know about that sex stuff or whatever.

The NCAA knows what's worse, and shut up, that's why.

Penn State's football program is synonymous with blind allegiance, willful disregard of the law, and Jerry Sandusky having his way with young boys in the shower. Why would the NCAA make a move like this? Oh, money, you say?

Well, that's exactly it. Penn State is betting that, with the restored wins and the scholarships it can now offer prospective players a chance to play for a school that allowed the old ball coach to dictate to everyone how things were going to be and who was going to get away with sexually abusing minors. Joe Pa has that much power, even after his death? Really?

I would think that we would have waited at least a generation before trying to cover up what happened and forget all of that child sexual abuse carried out on Penn State property by a Penn State employee. I guess not.

There Are No Clocks in Baseball


Baseball, being a perfectly good game the way that it is already played, is played without a clock.

Yes, an umpire can urge the pace along in a game. An umpire can call bullshit on just about anything that looks like a delaying tactic or an attempt to buy some time. But the important thing to remember is that there is no clock.

Baseball is not sacrosanct nor is it precious. The game has changed over time and it will change. But there is still no clock.
A 20-second pitch clock will be used in Double-A and Triple-A games in 2015, reports Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi.
Major League Baseball owners are seeking changes with the players union concerning the pace of play during games, according to the report. But the majors will not use pitch clock this season.

Eventually, a pitch clock could be used by the majors as well, according to the report.

The owners could approve pace of play measures during meetings on Thursday, but nothing would be implemented until the players union signs off on it.
This attempt to speed up the game is just greed speaking through an effort to get people to watch the game and get excited. Someone somewhere is mad that they're not making more money because a game takes too long to play. So it's designed to get people to accelerate the thing--which is the game and how it is played--that was never designed to please owners, advertisers, businessmen or fools in the first place.

There's no goddamned clock in the game and now you think you can make money putting one in now?

Nope.

There is a strategy behind delaying the pace of the game. When a $125 million dollar pitcher blows out his arm struggling to keep pace with the pitch clock, then come and talk to me about the inherent wisdom of speeding up a game that never had a clock in it, ever.

If You Win, You Can Get Away With Anything


Like I've been saying, if Johnny Manziel had won anything during his brief tenure with the Cleveland Browns this past season, his off the field behavior would be a non-issue. There are plenty of losers out there and no more than a handful of winners. The winners can do whatever they want and the losers will be subjected to the NFL's stodgy lifestyle analysis and the whims of billionaire owners, none of whom are losing any money by putting a lousy product on the field. Pardon me if I'm not impressed by the idea that him partying had anything to do with the fact that the Browns were pleading with Rex Grossman to come back and save their season.

Did Jimmy Haslam give his team a chance to win this past season? Does that even matter anymore with free agency and parity in the league being what it is nowadays? If Haslam cared what his fans thought, he'd discount tickets for next year as an apology for the fact that he didn't find the best players. Call me when that happens.

Johnny Manziel and the NFL's Tired Old Cliches


So the kid wasn't so great in his NFL debut. So what?

Now that he has prostrated himself so that NFL writers can lecture all of us about teamwork, maturity, and practice (we're talking about practice? Not a game, practice? - thanks NBA), I would expect that, between now and this time next year, running Johnny Football out of the game will be the blood sport of the post-Tebow era.

Sportswriters project their worldview onto athletes and, in so doing, can crank out between one and five columns that they wouldn't already have had to write. All they have to do is look for a kid like Manziel and get all serious and tell everyone about the sanctity of the team sport.

This is all bullshit because if Manziel had won and not gotten hurt, he'd still have three girls on his lap before and after "practice."

If you win, you get to keep doing whatever you want. If you lose, take a knee and kiss the ring.

The Minnesota Vikings Are a Hapless Franchise


For the first time since 1983, the Minnesota Vikings will not be sending a player to the useless human endeavor known as the Pro Bowl:
For the first time in three decades, the Vikings did not have a player selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Vikings had a pair of strong candidates in defensive end Everson Griffen and safety Harrison Smith, but they were edged out by other top performers at their positions in voting done by fans, coaches and fellow players.
The last time the Vikings were not represented at the Pro Bowl was 1983.
In his first season as a starter, Griffen ranks eighth in the NFL with 12 sacks through 15 games and also has recorded 51 tackles. But he was not one of the six defensive ends selected.
Smith, meanwhile, is tied for fifth in the NFL with five interceptions and his three sacks are tied for the most among defensive backs. But six other safeties were picked.
While no Vikings made the Pro Bowl through the voting process, there is a chance that Griffen, Smith or another Vikings player could later be selected as an alternate.
If this sort of thing still mattered, I'm sure it would be an issue. I don't know that I've even ever seen a Pro Bowl game. Why do they still play it? Are they afraid that the NFL junket to Hawaii will cause someone to actually feel a measure of outrage that they were denied a chance to go play a meaningless game?

The Minnesota Vikings remain a hapless franchise. They should sit down with the team that plays in Washington D.C. and figure out who can claim the mantle of worst professional sports franchise ever.

Colts Player Arrested in D.C.


Joe Lefeged, Colts safety, arrested in D.C. | WJLA.com

If you're going to raise hell in the District of Columbia, at least make your friend sit down:
Police say officers stopped the car for speeding and because another passenger in the car, 23-year-old Aaron Timothy Wilson, was standing completely upright in the backseat.
Mr. Lefeged was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people doing the wrong things with the wrong items in the wrong car. That's pretty much the end of his career unless someone comes up with an alternative real fast. When the Indianapolis Colts go to training camp in the months ahead, there are plenty of people who are willing to be the next Joe Lefeged who don't raise hell in the District.

I'm beginning to think that there are people out there who are in the NFL who don't want to be in the NFL. Let them get out of professional football. Really, it's not that hard to understand. If you want to play football and make a good living, get yourself as far away from the kind of people who bring guns and liquor in cars into Washington D.C.

Chris Kluwe Was Gotten Rid Of


The Minnesota Vikings have proven, once again, what a classless organization they are when it comes to dealing with players.

Chris Kluwe "had to go" because of what, exactly? Because he was a "middling" punter? The distance between him and the best punter in the NFL amounts to a few yards per punt and little else. That can certainly make or break a game or two, but so can having an inexperienced punter try to break into the league and so can having a guy who has played multiple games against your division opponents. If Kluwe had collapsed, statistically, and been the worst punter in the NFL last season, I wouldn't argue against him being cut. He did not do that. He played adequately for his position which, I'm sorry to say, isn't even that important.

The Vikings are free to do whatever they want but don't tell me getting rid of Kluwe was a "football" decision. They got rid of him because he was an outspoken supporter of ending bigotry in professional football. The NFL has a lot of problems, and hating people who are gay is one of them right now. If you area  player and if you speak out against this, you are going to be gotten rid of.

That's all.

Don't Lose the Ball in the Fog


I was mildly amused to see Wrigley Field and Cellular Whatever field where the White Sox play engulfed in fog. They did not call the game, as far as I know, and I don't know if the conditions were bad enough to cause them to lose track of the ball in the outfield, but it was an interesting sight to see on television. I didn't know that this was "commonplace" or if it is something that happens once or twice a year.

It's Chicago. Who cares?