Phillies Get a Lesson in Inclusivity at Spring Training Camp

Major League Baseball's Ambassador of Inclusion, Billy Bean.

Major League Baseball’s Ambassador of Inclusion, Billy Bean.

When former professional baseball player Billy Bean was appointed Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion last July, the Phillies were among the first teams to invite the openly gay speaker to share his message of inclusivity. According to MLB.com, he showed up this afternoon to speak to members of the Phillies’ Major and Minor League teams on embracing all forms of acceptance.

“There’s a message of complete acceptance. It doesn’t mean that it’s specifically to LGBT people like myself. It’s for women. It’s for every race, every religion,” Bean said.

Bean has been invited to speak to 14 teams, but Philadelphia is the first camp where he spoke to both Major and Minor League Players. When he was finished, he played ball with teammates in the outfield, giving them a chance to answer questions in a one-on-one setting. “Today is a win for the Phillies,” Bean said. “The world didn’t stop spinning.”

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Welcome to Salary Cap City

salary cap city

Welcome to Salary Cap City, the sports town where we don’t win a heck of a lot, but by gosh, we have an awful lot of money stored up for future use.

The Eagles joined the party (started by the Sixers and Sudden Sam Hinkie) this week when they dropped a series of bombs on their fan base. Boom went Cary Williams and his $8 million salary. Bang went Trent Cole and his $11 million paycheck. And then the carnage culminated with the elimination of LeSean McCoy and his $12 salary cap hit in a trade to Buffalo that brought the Birds linebacker Kiko Alonso. Read more »

The Sixers Are Good at Math. The Phillies Aren’t.

sixers phillies
We already know that the Sixers stink. We expect that the Phillies — barring a miracle — will do the same during their forthcoming season. But it turns out they stink in vastly different ways.

The Sixers stink in a very futuristic way, you see, while the Phillies stink in retro fashion.

ESPN did an analysis of all teams in the major professional sports — football, baseball, basketball and hockey — then ranked how committed each is to using advanced metrics (mathematical analysis of everything about a sport that can be quantified) to improve the team on the field.

The Sixers ranked first. The Phillies: Dead last.
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A Saint and a Satan

Smith - Tark

Two of the legendary college basketball coaches passed away within days of each other last week: a saint and a satan.

Dean Smith, the gentlemanly patriarch of North Carolina hoops, won 879 games as the coach of the Tar Heels, which at one time was an NCAA Division I record. He owns now the ninth-best winning percentage of all-time and during his tenure won two national championships and got to 11 Final Fours.

Smith reeked of goodness. He was known for running a clean program even though he landed some of the best scholastic recruits in the nation and was also a liberator of sorts, having recruited the school’s first African-American player — Charlie Scott, who became one of the school’s all-time greats — while also pushing for equal treatment for African-Americans amongst local businesses.

Tarkanian on the other hand was the rapscallion who flaunted this reality: The concept of student-athlete is a myth and is only relevant to the fans of a college only when it comes with sports success. Tark “The Shark” won almost as many games of Smith. He had 29 seasons with 20 or more wins, took his Running Rebels to four Final Fours, and won the 1990 national championship with one of the most talented teams ever assembled (Larry Johnson, Stacy Augmon, Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt), blitzing goody-goody Duke in the national title game, 103-73.
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Little League Cheating in the Age of Deflategate

In this Aug. 27, 2014, file photo, members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team participate in a rally in Chicago celebrating the team's U.S. Little League Championship. Little League International has stripped Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team of its national title after finding the team falsified its boundary map. The league made the announcement Wednesday morning, Feb. 11, 2015, saying the Chicago team violated regulations by placing players on the team who didn’t qualify because they lived outside the team’s boundaries. Little League International also suspended Jackie Robinson West manager Darold Butler from league activity.(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

In this Aug. 27, 2014, file photo, members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team participate in a rally in Chicago celebrating the team’s U.S. Little League Championship. Little League International has stripped Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West team of its national title after finding the team falsified its boundary map. The league made the announcement Wednesday morning, Feb. 11, 2015, saying the Chicago team violated regulations by placing players on the team who didn’t qualify because they lived outside the team’s boundaries. Little League International also suspended Jackie Robinson West manager Darold Butler from league activity.(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Dear Little League International:

Welcome to the party!

By stripping Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West team of its title, you confirmed the sad but obvious fact that cheating is everywhere, including Little League baseball.

Many successful teams have come under fire by coaches and parents, usually in private, for allegedly breaking the rules. Sour grapes aside, it is startling that, when pressed for more detail, virtually every coach follows his accusation the same way:

Everybody does it.

One doesn’t have to be a baseball aficionado to understand that, if that’s true, you must either crack down hard on every violation, or change the rules. But retaining the status quo will only fuel people’s perception that Little League is not the wholesome organization it once was.

America’s game, and more importantly, the integrity of our children — our future — is at stake.

Regards,

The American Public

*****

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Ed Sabol, Founder of NFL Films, Has Died

Ed Sabol touches his bust after  it was unveiled during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Ed Sabol touches his bust after it was unveiled during the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Ed Sabol, who founded NFL Films, has died at age 98. The company is headquartered in Mount Laurel, N.J.

NFL.com reports:

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011, Sabol was the visionary force who revolutionized sports on camera and mythologized football at its highest level of competition.

“Through his determination and innovative spirit, Ed Sabol transformed how America watched football and all sports,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday. “Ed ignited the fire at NFL Films and was the Keeper of the Flame with a remarkable vision and dedication to telling the stories of the people who played, coached and loved the game.

“He earned the ultimate recognition by being selected in 2011 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame where he will forever be remembered alongside the men he so greatly cared about. Ed’s memory will live forever in the hearts and minds of fans around the world whenever they see the work of NFL Films and of the many people he inspired.”

Here’s the film his now-deceased son, Steve, used to introduce him at the Hall of Fame.
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Marshawn Lynch’s Upside-Down Example

NFL: NFC Championship-San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

As Marshawn Lynch made a mockery of his Super Bowl interviews last week, he also became the symbol of the persecuted black man.

In a day and age where all of us have the responsibility of thought to real racial issues, I found the Lynch caper to be a waste of some really good energy.

With Marshawn Lynch, where was the cause? He didn’t want to talk to the media. Apparently his attitude for not talking goes back to his days as a running back with the Buffalo Bills, where the press excoriated him for some off-the-field transgressions. OK, I got that. Lynch wanted to get back at the press. But where else was there a racial cause?
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Kevin Hart, Mo’ne Davis to Take Part in NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

kevin hart mo'ne davis all-star

This afternoon, the National Basketball Association announced the lineup for its 11th annual All-Star Celebrity Game, and it includes a team-up between Philly comedian Kevin Hart and Taney Dragons star pitcher Mo’ne Davis. Here’s the full roster:

Three-time MVP and comedic superstar Kevin Hart will take the court at Madison Square Garden for the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game 2015. Hart will be joined by film star Ansel Elgort; Anthony Anderson (ABC’s Blackish); Common (Selma); Little League phenom Mo’ne Davis; Arcade Fire’s Win Butler; actor Chadwick Boseman (42); America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon; former NBA All-Star and New York Knicks Assistant General Manager Allan Houston; Basketball Hall of Famer Chris Mullin; gold medal-winning U.S. Paralympic athlete Blake Leeper; actor Michael Rapaport; Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera; NBA TV’s NBA Inside Stuff presented by Samsung Galaxy co-host Kristen Ledlow; Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan; and WNBA stars Shoni Schimmel of the Atlanta Dream, Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock and Tina Charles of the New York Liberty.

The game airs live on ESPN on Friday, February 13th, at 7 p.m. According to nba.com, “fans can also view the game on WatchESPN, available on your computer, smart phone, tablet, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Apple TV and Roku.” More info can be found here.

 

Cheaters Sometimes Win

shutterstock_deflated-football-940x540

Deflate-Gate has turned out to be a brilliant tactical development for the New England Patriots, who I predict will win this year’s Super Bowl.

The Pats have evolved this week from a pack of blatant cheating weasels to the unfairly persecuted, a dramatic transition last seen in Godfather II. In front of a special Senate Committee, Michael Corleone denied he was remotely involved in organized crime, and urged the committee to absolve him of guilt with the same enthusiasm with which they accused him. Meanwhile, Tom Hagen was screaming, “This committee owes an apology Senator!”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft pulled a similar trick out of his hat a few days ago when he lectured the press and the public about accusing his organization of cheating. Kraft was crafty in his wording, but only an idiot couldn’t see through it. He said “if” the NFL’s investigation turned up no evidence of wrongdoing, he hoped that everybody was prepared to beg the Patriots for forgiveness. Or something like that. He didn’t say “when” the NFL finds no evidence of wrongdoing. He was spitting into the wind. Just like Michael Corleone.

But here’s the thing. Corleone was a gangster. And the Patriots did cheat. And no smoke-and-mirrors, fancypants dialogue can wriggle human beings from hard, cold reality.

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All You Guys Shut Up About Tom Brady’s Balls Already

NFL: Divisional Round-Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

So, have you noticed that in the past week or so, there’s been a whole lot of talk about balls? (Well, a few people might have been talking snow bombs.) Everywhere you turn, some man is bringing up balls. The Atlantic wants to tell you how the New England Patriots treat their balls. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t want anybody rubbing his balls. Patriots coach Bill Belichick says he’s handled dozens of balls. That’s too much information, man! Read more »

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