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Sincere Apologies

January 23, 2010

I returned back to school this week, so I haven’t had the time to update this blog lately. I apologize to all my dear readers (or, my brother and about three random people I don’t know). Expect a post soon.

Ending The Era of Talking About The Steroid Era

January 17, 2010

Yesterday, former St. Louis Cardinals great Jack Clark shared his thoughts on Mark McGwire’s recent steroid confession, in a way only somebody nicknamed “Jack the Ripper” could:

“A lot of them should be banned from baseball, including Mark McGwire. All those guys are cheaters — A-Rod. Fake, phony. Rafael Palmeiro. Fake, a phony. Clemens, Bonds. Sosa. Fakes. Phonies. They don’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.”

And to complete the rant rife with hyeprbole:

“They should all be in the Hall of Shame. They can afford to build it. They’ve all got so much money. And they could all go there and talk about the next way to rub something on your skin. The whole thing is creepy. They’re all creeps. All these guys have been liars.”

I apologize now for bringing the McGwire story up. By habit, sports fans roll their eyes at every steroid-related story in baseball. While nobody will argue that performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) isn’t a problem, the issue itself is simply annoying, especially when most of the prominent cases happened over a decade ago.

But at the same time, in baseball, there’s only one thing I hate more than talking about athletes using steroids: athletes using steroids. I don’t believe McGwire should ever be considered for the Hall of Fame for the obvious reasons — his entrance compromises the Hall’s symbolic integrity and value. Anything remotely similar to the steroid era should never happen in sports, let’s all agree on that.

So while Clark’s suggestion for a literal “Hall of Shame” sounds absurd, the idea is not new. Baseball purists ask that steroid abusers are either recorded in history alongside an embarrassing asterisk or not recorded at all. Some writers have even advocated for a “Steroid Wing” in Cooperstown (which reminds me of a nearby liquor store that flaunts Polaroids of shoplifters close to being successful).

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Who You Gonna Call? The Knicks!

January 13, 2010

According to the NY Daily News, the Knicks had a perfectly legitimate explanation for their loss to the Thunder yesterday: ghosts. The Knicks spent the night at the Skirvin Hilton, apparently a local haunted house. So haunted, in fact, that Eddy Curry only got two hours of sleep (in which he dreamt about the day he’s finally traded).

See Knicks fans, why invest in LeBron James when all you need is Ghostbusters?

Photo via Podbean.

The Rooney Rule’s Disparate Impact

January 11, 2010
tags: ,

Last weekend, the Seattle Seahawks made it obvious that they weren’t taking Pete Carroll’s verbal commitment for granted. Seahawks management moved quickly to sign the USC coach to an NFL contract — immediately firing their head coach Jim Mora, Jr. and apparently even offering Carroll the team presidency.

But one last hurdle to securing Carroll was the NFL’s so-called Rooney Rule, which requires franchises to interview at least one minority candidate for vacant head coaching positions — football’s version of affirmative action.

The Seahawks obliged. CEO Tod Leiweke interviewed Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, an African American who reportedly agreed to an interview as a “courtesy to fulfill the Rooney Rule.” But because Seattle was so set on hiring Carroll, the meeting was decried by many as a “sham interview.” One could only imagine the conversation in Leiweke’s office:

Leiweke: “Look, we appreciate you coming out, but you know we’ve already got our coach already?”
Frazier: “I know, I know. Just making the rounds. I’m off to Buffalo tomorrow.”
L: “Before you go, want to stay in here for a few more hours just to make it look like, y’know, an interview?”
F: “Common procedure.”

Like the fans, the NFL was wary of this effect. The Seahawks couldn’t just have interviewed any African American who happened to coach football, argued the Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA), the NFL’s diversity committee. FPA Chairman John Wooten first had to approve the interest in Frazier as legitimate, and then the Seahawks could pass on his resume.

The same pattern happened only a week earlier, when the Redskins interviewed Jerry Gray, their African American assistant coach, before hiring the legendary Mike Shanahan. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the bogus meetings, telling the media that both teams “complied with the rules.” Again, common procedure.

Each case here blatantly highlights the potential embarrassment of the Rooney Rule. Jay Mariotti wrote that “what was shamefully evident in both cases is that Frazier and Gray were used as minority-interview pawns in the much bigger process of hiring marquee names.” A central purpose of the Rooney Rule is turned upside-down — if anything, the rule makes any interview with a minority candidate dubious, even if it includes a very proven candidate like Frazier.

Of course, this echoes most criticism of affirmative action policy — giving special privileges to minorities is self-defeating and engenders reverse discrimination. Still, affirmative action policies are very much alive today. And through most of the past century, the Supreme Court has generally ruled in favor of considering race in hiring and enrollment, though without systematic selection.

However, in its most recent affirmative action case, Ricci v. DeStefano (2009), the Court ruled that if an employer was to discriminate in order to avoid a “disparate impact” on minorities (as the Rooney Rule does), then the employer must also prove that it would be liable for the “disparate impact” had it not discriminated in the first place. In other words, policies intended to level the playing field for candidates of all races must prove their necessity. Employers must prove that, without the policy, equal opportunity would be compromised.

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What Michael Jordan Actually Thinks About the World

January 9, 2010
tags:

Michael Jordan has been (unofficially?) tweeting this thoughts on dragons, root beer, and his love of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Whether or not the account is actually Jordan, it’s fun to speculate what exactly goes on in the very aloof mind of the world’s greatest basketball player — similar to Shaquille O’Neal‘s, except not.

Image via Buzzfeed.

Linkage: Jeremy Lin’s Armor

January 8, 2010

I’m not sure how the word “chink” got into the DraftExpress profile of Harvard star Jeremy Lin (potentially the first Asian-American in the NBA), but it did. But I mean, who didn’t think Lin’s turnover ratio was his only “chink in his armor”? In my opinion, his shot selection is also a bit slanty-eyed.

Photo via Dime Mag.

LeBron James Defies the Narrative

January 5, 2010

2010 has arrived, which means that LeBron James finally becomes a free agent on July 1st, a date which he himself declared a “very, very big day.” LeBron clearly relishes his position to toy with the decision that will determine the latter (and better) half of his career. With tongue-in-cheek, he flirts with the media like a guest on The Dating Game — Cleveland is home, New York is fun, and LA is opportune but already in a steady relationship. Basketball fans are compelled into theories (including this one) explaining why LeBron’s true personality should, of course, lead him to a certain NBA City.

Most fans insist that the Akron Hammer will remain a Cavalier after the summer. He grew up there, and thus, he wants to stay there. Anything else would be a betrayal of his hometown.

The irony here, however, is that LeBron has visibly and deliberately expressed that he wants to live in New York. Ask the man himself — his favorite city in the world is New York (favorite borough: Brooklyn, so the Nets count too).

Of course, there’s the Yankees cap in Jacobs Field during the Yankees-Indians 2007 ALDS, which he wasn’t close to apologizing for. Last week, photos leaked of his upcoming Nike “I Love New York” shoes, promptly colored in Knicks orange and blue. Although Nike has denied that the shoes are authentic, this wouldn’t be the first time LeBron expressed his Big Apple infatuation on his feet: check out his very authentic Yankee-inspired Nike LeBron James V’s. Or his NYC Taxi Cab-themed VI’s. And when he played the Knicks in November? The VII’s Red Carpet Edition, as if one was rolled out for him from Akron to Midtown Manhattan.

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