I was always a huge fan of get-a-way games. Those are typically Thursday afternoon major league baseball games that stand in-between both squads getting on a plane for weekend series somewhere else. For the away squad, it’s often the only thing keeping them from a return flight home. For the home team, it’s often keeping them from a cross country flight and a reasonable dinner hour. So needless to say, the game plays at something of an up-tempo. I once saw the Mets break two hours on a hot July day. Fans barely had time to get through the Shake Shack line before the final out. Guys were swinging at pretty much anything in the atmosphere, and the pitcher looked like a tennis ball machine – just one right after the other.
I have long understood that college is a kind of suspended reality from the real world. It’s four years of limbo that separate the parental control of adolescence to the crime and punishment model of the adult world. In college, you are privileged – encouraged, even – to make mistakes. In some cases, that’s good. Like taking an acting class, or finding out you’re not good at fly fishing. But that latitude often extends beyond the benign to more questionable. Things that in the real world would earn you an arrest or even a conviction – and all the downside that comes with that. That’s what happens in the grown-up world. You commit a crime, and you suffer the consequences.
It was hard to tell former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling what to do, when the NBA and collective America wanted him to sell his team because of racist commentary. That’s because Donald Sterling was, and is very wealthy. In fact, at a net worth of $2.8 billion, he’s the 223rd richest person in America. So making Donald Sterling do something is like getting the chief of police to move his car. He just doesn’t have to. That is, until he’s replaced by, say, the secretary of defense. That’s essentially the case for the NBA, which strong armed the sale of the Clippers to Steve Balmer, who at $22.5 billion is the nation’s 18th wealthiest. It’s cliché, but Balmer could essentially buy and sell Donald Sterling – eight times, in fact. Which made it much easier for the league to strongly encourage this transaction, equipped with the knowledge they’ve got the biggest kid on the block in their corner. That, more than anything, made it much easier to get rid of one aging racist bully.
I’m going to state an uncomfortable truth. I’m not a huge Derek Jeter fan. Right now, that feels a little like admitting you’re not a fan of puppies and kittens. But it is what it is. I’ve just never been a huge fan of the baseball player commonly known in these parts as The Captain.
The NFL is like a giant vacuum. It pretty much sucks the air out of everything around it. That’s why in May, in the middle of the baseball regular season and the NBA playoffs, all people can talk about is the NFL draft. It’s an American obsession, caring more about professional football than baseball, basketball, hockey, global affairs, and your kid’s birthday combined. That’s the way the NFL likes it.
It’s a safe default to assume you’re always being watched. The notion of privacy is as antiquated as afternoon tea time and top hats. Particularly if you’re somebody, you live your life as if it’s on TV.
You know what they say in sports. There’s nothing like that 18th title. That’s the mantra right now for tennis star Roger Federer, who’s hoping to do just that in this final week of the US Open. Federer will play Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals, the next match in what has been a relatively simple run towards the event’s final weekend. Federer would be a favorite in both this match and the semifinal, although could face the top seeded Novak Djokovic in the final, if all stays to form. Djokovic defeated Federer in the Wimbledon final earlier this year, which some assumed might be Roger’s last chance, as they say.
25 years is a long time. Perhaps not in true historical terms, like compared to the history of dinosaurs. But in the context of an average human lifetime, 25 years is a considerable chunk. That duration, 25 years, is now how long baseball record holder Pete Rose has been exiled from the sport for gambling on it as a player and a manager. Rose, of course, holds the major league baseball record for hits at 4,256. He made 17 all-star games and managed for five seasons. But, he also bet on baseball, including his own team, while he was in the sport. That, of course, defies the sacred code of any sport, the idea that someone on the field of play compromises the integrity of an unscripted outcome. So for that reason, compounded by the egregious tenor of his gambling habit and adversarial denial of its occurrence, former baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti essentially banned Rose in perpetuity in exchange for not pursuing any additional penalties, which would likely get really legal really fast. Giamiatti died soon thereafter, and the ban continued on, now almost in tribute to the former commissioner. So ending this 25 year ban feels about as easy as unmasking the tomb of the unknown soldier – even if we can do it, it’s not going to get a lot of support.
Life is confusing. I’m not talking about things like taxes or un-assembled furniture, which are offensively so. I’m talking about the daily quandaries, like whether gambling should be legal, or whether you should let your kids play with water guns. By all estimations, life is lived largely outside the lines, in the greys that color your daily existence.
To be honest, most of us have a hard time simply understanding the context of last week’s car racing death of Kevin Ward Jr., who was killed during a bizarre confrontation on a dirt track in Canandaigua, NY. After crashing out of the race, Ward left his car and walked onto the track in a confrontational manner. After narrowly missing being hit by one vehicle, he was struck to his eventual death by one driven by NASCAR star driver Tony Stewart, who himself has a reputation for hostility at the race track.