bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Baseball is here!

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It snowed a couple of weeks ago. The day that this column will post will have a high temperature that is about thirty degrees colder than the day before here in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Yes, it’s spring! With spring comes one of my favorite things. Rain. Wait, no, not rain. The woodpeckers waking me up in the morning don’t top the list either. Wait, I remember…baseball!

Every year, I get excited for the start of baseball season. For many of my 46 years, that excitement manifested despite the fact that the Philadelphia Phillies, the baseball team that is so near and dear to my heart, were very unlikely to factor into the championship picture. In April, though, that hardly matters. Sure, come July, my enthusiasm would often wane and my expectations would plummet, but neither of those things would prevent me from flipping the channel over to the game anytime nothing more compelling was on. At the beginning of the season, my mind could be easily convinced that the boys in red pinstripes could be far better than the prognosticators were expecting. Each one of the players on the team would have the best year of his career, right? Why not?

The really amazing thing about this phenomenon is that it really didn’t matter how many years of failure preceded each spring. Between 1984 and 1993, which encompassed my late teenage years and my early twenties, a time where cynicism is often at its height, the Phils finished above .500 exactly once. That year was 1986, when they went 86-75 and yet still finished over 20 games behind the eventual World Series-winning New York Mets. Despite all of that, I approached the beginning of every season with optimism and excitement. When the team made it to the World Series in 1993, there was no bandwagon-jumping on my part, as I had been rooted firmly in the front seat all along.

So here we are, at the outset of another season of baseball. Despite a championship in 2008 and the franchise’s best-ever record in 2011, the Phillies are expected to be the worst team in the league this year. The experts are predicting a win total in the sixties, with a hundred losses within the realm of possibility. Yuck. Many mistakes have been made by team management over the last few years, and the club is showing the results of those decisions. Is my enthusiasm dampened by all of this? Well, I am not expecting a title this season. Still, my overarching thought is that I can’t wait to go to a game. It’s baseball season.

Good sports, continued:

2) You have to love a good troll job. Back in February, the Cleveland Browns announced changes to their helmet that ended up being just a slightly brighter color, much to the amusement of critics everywhere. On April 1st, the Cincinnati Bengals, in-state rivals of the Browns, took advantage of April Fools Day to tweak their friends to the northeast by announcing their own supposed helmet change, which was similarly uninspiring.

3) The NFL has hired its first full-time female official. Sarah Thomas has twenty years of experience at various levels, including NFL preseason games.

4) Not willing to be cowed by the odds, the Wisconsin Badgers beat previously undefeated Kentucky on Saturday to reach the NCAA Tournament championship game. This was no fluky win, either. Wisconsin played strong the whole game and won by seven.

Bad sports:

1) Last Tuesday, NASCAR announced major penalties levied against Ryan Newman and his race team for illegal manipulation of tires used during the previous week’s race at Fontana. Newman was penalized 75 points in the championship race, while his crew chief, Luke Lambert, received a monetary fine and a six race suspension. Two other members of the crew who deal with tires were suspended as well. The team is appealing the decision.

2) Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana was suspended for 80 games by Major League Baseball last week after he tested positive for a performance enhancing substance. He professed ignorance as to how the stuff got into his system, of course.

3) After Kentucky’s loss to Wisconsin, Wildcats guard Andrew Harrison got himself into some hot water when he mumbled some foul language near a microphone that was turned on when a question about Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky was asked of another player. Whether or not you think the “n-word” should be used by anyone, the “f-word” is going to get you in trouble every time.

4) Several weeks after his trade from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Buffalo Bills, running back LeSean McCoy is seeming like less and less of a good sport. This week, he told a Philly paper that he thinks he was dealt because coach Chip Kelly would like all of the positive attention to be given to him rather than to star players. Get over it, Shady. Have fun in Buffalo.

5) Kevin Olsen, a quarterback who was kicked off the University of Miami football team last fall after he was arrested for DUI and possession of a fake license, was let go from the Towson football team this week for a violation of team rules. Sounds like a good kid.

6) The NCAA final game between Duke and Wisconsin on Monday was an exciting one, won by Duke after a closely contested battle. There was some controversy, though, about a couple of very bad calls late in the game that helped finish off the Badgers. In the last couple of minutes, a ball that went out of bounds off of a Duke player’s finger was awarded to the Blue Devils despite the use of replay by the officials. Everyone watching at home could see the touch by Justise Winslow, but somehow the refs could not. The worst part was this happened only a minute or so after Winslow clearly stepped out of bounds on a baseline drive but was not called out of bounds.

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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2 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: Baseball is here!”

  1. After reading last week’s post about Indiana’s law that was passed (vaguely sports related but I read it anyway), why not mention in the bad sports portion about the coach who tweeted about burning down the place? Even if tweeted in jest, that would fall under your definition of “bad sports”, no? At least be consistent in your criticism of everything about the issue unless of course, you are ok with the idea of burning down the pizzeria for expressing their opinion (right, wrong or otherwise). Or maybe you just missed it in the news. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt but here’s the story that was overlooked.

    http://www.elkharttruth.com/news/schools/2015/04/01/Concord-High-School-coach-suspended-over-Tweet-about-arson.html

  2. Hi there, Disappointed –

    Thanks for reading. First, I did not see that story, which is the most basic reason it was not mentioned here. Second, my story was sports-related because I focused on the reaction from the sports world. The story you linked is even less related to sports that mine, although the offender was a coach. I called out the contributions of some very high profile sports figures, while this is a high school coach. That said, what she tweeted was absolutely “bad sports” in every way. I may be on the same side of the issue as her, but I detest what she said and she deserves punishment for it. Violence and destruction is not the answer here, and advocating it, even in jest, is totally irresponsible.

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