bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Tony Stewart involved in a fatal accident at a dirt track

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NASCAR drivers are a hot-headed bunch. They drive around in these little compartments at very high speeds for hours on end, their cars banging into other cars and getting cut off and messed with constantly. I am amazed at how often I see these guys, after they have been wrecked, run out on the track toward the car that they feel wronged them, gesturing and yelling and sometimes throwing things. I have always felt that this was a rather dangerous thing to be doing. On Saturday night at a dirt track in upstate New York, my fear that someone would get killed doing this became reality.

Tony Stewart, a three-time champion in the Sprint Cup series, was racing on a dirt track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday night. I guess it was a warmup for Sunday’s Cup race at Watkins Glen. During the race, Stewart’s car and a car driven by Kevin Ward Jr., a 20-year-old driver, made contact. Ward’s car hit the wall and that was the end of his race. He was so angry about the incident that he came walking down the track toward the cars that were passing under caution to yell at Stewart. He was wearing a black firesuit, making him hard to see, especially since these tracks are not lighted in the same way that a NASCAR track is. The video certainly makes it look like he was not exactly very visible. It looks like Stewart must have spotted Ward at the last second and swerved left to try to avoid him. The dirt track and the sudden throttle made the right rear tires kick out to the right, hitting Ward and pulling him down before throwing him almost 50 feet. The impact killed the young driver.

If someone wronged you on the road, would you walk out onto the highway to shake your first at him? The cars were not running at full speed, of course, but they are still going by pretty fast, even if the caution speed looks slow on television. How is it that these sanctioning bodies even allow that to happen? Anyone who is in a wreck has to make a mandatory visit to the infield care center, but it is apparently okay for him or her to first walk out onto the track where there are moving cars. Ridiculous. Tony Stewart himself has done this many times, going as far as throwing his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s windshield and nearly climbing up onto Kenny Irwin’s moving car. I feel certain we will see some kind of rule change happen from this tragedy. Perhaps it would be good to hand out automatic suspensions to anyone who walks onto the track that way. That should put an end to it pretty quickly.

Stewart was understandably quite shaken by this terrible accident. He skipped the Watkins Glen race on Sunday and has not yet said whether or not he will race at Michigan this week. The law enforcement people investigating the accident have said that no criminal charges will be filed. A young man lost his life, and I sure hope something positive comes from his loss and maybe this won’t happen again.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Greg Oden, who played for the Miami Heat last season, was arrested on Thursday after he reportedly punched his ex-girlfriend in the face.

3) Dan Jennings, a pitcher for the Miami Marlins, was nailed in the head with a hit off the bat of Jordy Mercer of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday evening. He suffered a concussion, but nothing worse than that.

4) Linval Joseph, a defensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings, was shot in the leg while at a club in Minneapolis on Saturday. Eight other people were also injured at the club when a gunman started shooting. Joseph’s wounds were reportedly not serious.

5) Colorado Rockies catcher Michael McKenry allowed David Peralta of the Arizona Diamondbacks to steal home on Friday by repeatedly lobbing his tosses back to the pitcher rather than throwing the ball normally. Peralta simply timed his sprint well. A steal of home is a very exciting play, and this could have been a Good Sports story for the heads up play by Peralta, but I can’t get over the ridiculousness of McKenry’s throws that allowed it.

Good sports:

1) Andrew Wiggins, the number one overall pick in the recent NBA draft, appears less and less likely to ever suit up for the team that drafted him, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team is rumored to be ready to trade him to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Kevin Love. The NBA’s online store has offered refunds to anyone who purchased a Wiggins Cavaliers jersey due to the likely deal.

2) A.J. Allmendinger, who was suspended by NASCAR a couple of years ago for a drug test failure, took his redemption story a big step forward on Sunday when he won for the first time in his Sprint Cup career, beating heavy favorite Marcos Ambrose to the finish on the road course at Watkins Glen. The end of this race was fantastic to watch, as these two accomplished road racers gave it everything they had.

3) Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship at Valhalla on Sunday after a thrilling finish, holding off Phil Mickelson and Ricky Fowler, among others, to win his fourth major.

4) A team from Philadelphia won its way to the Little League World Series on Sunday, led by Mo’ne Davis, a thirteen-year-old girl who pitched them to the victory. The total count of girls who have played in the LLWS is still under twenty.

5) The San Antonio Spurs hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach on Tuesday. Hammon, who was an all-star in the WNBA six times, will be the first-ever female coach in NBA history.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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