The KKK Senator

June 28, 2010

Senator Robert Byrd died at the age of 92, another of the stalwart Democratic senators leaves the stage. It might shock some to know that being a Democratic senator, he had joined the Klu Klux Klan back in 1942 at the age of 24. Or that he was a strong proponent of segregation:

“I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side… Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”

— Robert C. Byrd, in a letter to Sen. Theodore Bilbo (D-MS), 1944

But the amazing thing about the senator, was that he changed. By 1968 he was supporting the Civil Rights Bill and called previous voting the worst votes of his life. He apologized and sincerely said that he was embarrassed to be part of the KKK, an organization that appealed to him as a young man because they complimented him and gave him confidence and approval.

You will not find that kind of “flip flopping” with any elected officials today, simply because they think they would alienate their constituency and not get reelected. But he willingly and clearly switched sides on the most hot button topic of his time and was reelected for a record number of terms in office.

And that is why he should be celebrated as a man who recognized and acknowledged his mistakes, and to those who voted for him over the past 50+ years, I personally am proud of you for acknowledging his faults and supporting him anyway.

R.I.P. Senator Byrd - we shant see your like again.
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It was all over. Soccer in America was dead on the table ::BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP::. Setting back the cause a decade or more, and there was nothing anyone watching could do about it.

The American eulogy was written,

“Soccer was an ok sport. Our kids liked to play it until they were old enough to play baseball or basketball or football. It was a hard sport to try to love. Hardly any scoring, all the flopping around on the ground trying to get a foul called, and those loud vuvu-whatevers. In the end soccer died the way it lived, long, drawn out, and ultimitly a relief that it is over. It was a good frien….oh crap, the NBA draft is on, I gotta go.”

The American soccer experiment of the last 15 years was over and done and you wouldn’t be able to even mention soccer to American sports fans for a long time without getting a face full of, “oh yea, that thing? ehhh not for me”, if they were polite and you were lucky.

But Landon Donovan, with his receding hairline and “old man” label, scored the most important goal in US soccer history a minute into stopage time. And all the negative momentum that was swelling, ready to burst in a sport destroying explosion, instead channeled through this one man and released a burst of sports ecstasy 10x more potent.

And that is why soccer is a great sport, the emotional investment is higher than any other. Your highs and your lows are that much more defined and moments like this can pull people in who never wanted to be a part of it, but they have no choice.

Landon Donovan is an American sports hero. He has been the face of American soccer for so long, but maybe now more people will actually recognize that face if they see it.

I was at a pub celebrating yesterday when the men’s US soccer team drew with England in a pretty good match. The fans were living and dying with each save and tackle as true soccer fans do the world over. So when the game ended in a draw, I thought, alright well, considering we were 1 goal underdogs, and we held our own, I’m content with that.

Espn’s John Kincade however does not share my sentiments. On his show this morning he went off on a tangent about how celebrating a draw “smacks of being European”. “Not in this country” he said and he quoted an unnamed source by saying, “there are no awards for just showing up”.

In the past I have liked his show but I do not understand his thick-headedness about this. “America’s about #1” he says, #1 what? It’s not the economy, it’s not education, and it’s certainly not going to be about soccer for quite sometime when our best players go to play in Europe.

The average European soccer fan knows the US team players better than 90% of America fans!

Is he channeling 1990’s cocky America? We ain’t so hot anymore if you haven’t looked around. I’m not bashing America, I’m just saying things change and I’m pretty sure we can’t justify having this mentality without the swagger to back it up.

He then went on to say that it’s ok since we beat England at their sport, with their “arrogant European sports fans”. Have you seen the VAST majority of European soccer fans? They aren’t so much the top hat wearing, monocle sporting stereotypes from the past, they are rough and dedicated and don’t care a lick what you think.

Winning is always the best but a draw can and should be celebrated. And soccer fans the world over are so much more into it then any other fans, of course the celebration of the outcome will be modified accordingly. A soccer win or loss sends fans into adrenaline filled bouts of celebration and depression. So why wouldn’t a draw’s emotion be amplified as well? It all depends on the matchup and in this case, I am fine with it.

Just because there are rarely if ever ties or draws in the top 6 American sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football, College Basketball, Nascar), doesn’t mean they’re not worth anything. Someone’s living in the past here, and it’s time to either move forward or get out of the way.

Two big announcements in College Football are forthcoming possibly today.

1.) Nebraska will leave the Big-12 for the Big-10

2.) USC will be handed heavy penalities

Nebraska leaving the Big-12 is no surprise. The conference is heavily weighted at the front end by Texas and Oklahoma. And although Nebraska has a proud football tradition, like Notre Dame, they have maintained this without actually winning much in the last 15+ years.

The Big-10 can offer them more money, and a more level playing field where even though OSU and Penn State at the moment are at one end of the conference, Nebraska is closer to them and can outmatch many of the other programs. It also brings another big name program to sell out the non OSU and Michigan stadiums, which will help programs like Minnesota, Illinois, and Northwestern.

This might also trigger a sequence when the Big-12’s other programs leave for Pac-10, etc. Leaving some schools like Kansas stranded. Kansas has a top 5 all time basketball program, but because they lack a competitive football program they aren’t worth a thing, sad. I heard that Kentucky’s football program makes more money then their basketball…and they do not have a good football history.

The bigger story to me is the punishment of USC for past transgressions.

1.) Vacate previous wins and possibly title…this means NOTHING. No one cares, and when you ask who won the title that year, everyone will still remeber USC. You can’t take away memories.

2.) Cut scholarships down. This will hurt but not that much, schools like USC, Texas, OSU, Florida, have so much depth at every position, even cutting scholarships in half will not greatly effect the team.

3.) 2 Year Bowl Ban….BINGO! This is how you hurt programs and make sure others do not want to do the same. This will cost USC a fortune, as they have been a lock for Bowls in recent memory. This is a great decision and I hope it holds up (not reduce to 1 year)…. finally an incentive that will actively show other schools why they must behave.

Overall, this is a good day for a football fan, especially if you are a fan of the freemarket. Both of these occurrences are direct results of economics and that is the way college football works and provides such a great product on the field year in and year out.

The World Cup©

June 4, 2010

It’s almost here…about a week to go. The biggest sporting event in the world, yes… bigger than the olympics and much more profitable to the host city or country.

I am a recently converted soccer fan (since the last World Cup ©). Before that I loathed the sport from a young age. I encourage all of you, if you want to try being a soccer fan, NOW IS THE TIME.

If you watch the World Cup© and feel nothing, then this sport is not for you and never will be.

As I’m sure you have noticed and questioned the copyrigt symbols, I decided to put them in after I saw them being used in ESPN’s scrolling sports bar at the bottom of the screen and it caught my eye.

To my knowledge no other sporting (I think you only need it when using the olympic logo and not the name) requires this. You don’t see The World Series© or The Superbowl© anywhere. This got me thinking about how symbolic this can be. It is it’s own entity, the mother of all sporting events. There is nothing else that can be confused with it.

No other sport worldwide has the fandom of soccer. The shear quantity of fans and dedication (sometimes violently so) is staggering and living in the US where soccer is, at best, the 5th perfessional sport and much further down the list when including collegiate sports this makes me sad.

One of the reasons the World Cup© is so great is that it provides a forum for us to express out overblown inner feelings of drama towards other countries in a competitive yet carefree environment.

USA vs. England, need I say more. We get to live out the deep repressed ancient animosity towards our previous overlords. If you were to express this in current modern setting, you would get disapproving looks and a, “well that was 200+ years ago let it go.”

Instead we are allowed to vent these pent up emotions and let them rip in slurs, chants, and rabid patriotism. Nothing shows this better than a commerical I just saw on ESPN for the World Cup© on ABC.

It was bacially showing a monatge of our history with England, juxtaposing Revolutionary War imagery with soccer. It was fantasic and wildly successful in getting my blood boiling towards the UK who I am actually quite fond of.

It’s let getting the ok from your elderly father to try to beat him up, making up for anything he may have angered you about in the past.

You may get beat up by him or not, and that’s fine because in the end, sweating, tired, you both smile and hug and know that the grevences have been aired for now, until the next brawl and you can get back to being friends.

He may be proud of you for putting up a good fight, or even beating him, and you in return feel satisfaction that he’s the one who taugt you how to play the game and everything you know you learned from him one way or the other. And the important thing was that whichever one of you won, you went on to beat France.

And that is why the World Cup© is the present and future of world sporting events. For a month every 4 years we tell ourselves, it’s ok to be politcally incorrect, xenophobic and make fun of others and know that they will do the same to you with no mercy and when it is all said and done, you can put the flag you’ve been waiving back into the closet, wash off the face paint, and start the count down at 3 years, 364 days…

Not so perfect game

June 3, 2010

So last night umpire Jim Joyce blew an obvious call with 1 out left in the 9th inning which took away the perfect game and no hitter that Tiger’s pitcher Armando Galarraga would have had. The umpire felt awful and apologized after the game, an apology which the pitcher accepted.

Kudos for Galarraga, who has been the most levelheaded and sane person in this whole ordeal, you do not see that level of sportsmanship even from most veteran players.

This really sucks…a lot, but here is why it’s not as big of a deal as most people are saying.

The victim here is one man. A young pitcher who had the chance to do something that only 20 other player had ever done before, even though it would have been the 3rd time in about a month.

In my opinion this list breaks down into two categories, memorable pitchers, and not. That being pitchers who you would know their name for other reasons (good or bad), and those who aside from this achievement are basically forgotten. 18 pitchers from 1900-present who I feel when baseball history is/or has been written will remembered or forgotten:

Here are my two lists:

Known:

  • cy young
  • don larsen
  • jim bunning
  • sandy koufax
  • catfish hunter
  • dennis martinez
  • kenny rogers
  • randy johnson
  • roy halladay

Unknown:

  • addie joss
  • charlie robertson
  • len barker
  • mike witt
  • tom browning
  • david wells
  • david cone
  • mark buehrle
  • dallas braden

That’s an even 9-9 split and I know some of those you could argue one way or another, my point is, throwing a perfect game does not mean you will be a legend.

Better this call be blown then one in the playoffs that might cost a team the championship, and crush the spirits of 20+ men, not just one.

The position of umpire is subjective in it’s very nature, so this will happen, it is one of the reason we love and sometimes can’t stand the game, and it is here to stay. The nice thing is you’ve got a game almost everyday, so lets not dwell and let’s just play some ball.