Yesterday, I wrote about MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, being open to rules that would limit “extreme defensive shifts”. I said I knew such ploys existed back to the time of Ted Williams and left it to baseball historians to date it even earlier than that. It could not have been more than an hour and a half later when I received an e-mail from a regular reader in Houston who is a repository of sports stats and history. He reports:
The shift was used by the Cardinals in the 1946 World Series against Williams who went 5 for 25 in that Series.
It was used earlier in 1946 against Williams by Indians’ manager Lou Boudreau and when that happened it was known as the “Boudreau Shift”.
The first use of an “extreme shift” goes back to 1924 when it was used by several teams against the Phillies as a counter to Cy Williams – a left-handed power hitter.
So, the shift was used against Cy Williams and then against Ted Williams… Is this an example of profiling?
Yesterday was Media Day in the march toward Super Bowl Sunday. As usual, it provided far more heat than light. If I may pretend for just a moment that the Super Bowl is mostly a football event around which a circus-like aura has developed – rather than vice-versa – I think the league and the folks who attend Media Day leave a lot to be desired.
Predictably, Marshawn Lynch was “uncooperative” with media questioning. His answer to every question put to him was “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” One report said that he repeated that answer to 29 questions. That behavior leads me to several conclusions:
Marshawn Lynch is not going to say anything interesting in these sorts of settings and so it is sort of stupid for the folks at Media Day not to realize that asking more questions after four or five identical responses from Lynch.
The NFLPA – and the NFLPA – negotiated into the CBA a provision that would mandate player appearances at various press events. It seems clear that both sides recognized the benefits to the “NFL brand” if players became better known to the public and so the CBA codified standard media/player/coach interactions wherein players and coaches had to attend. If not, there was a fine for I guess what you would call “breach of contract”. Marshawn Lynch has demonstrated the fecklessness of that mandate.
The “NFL brand” is not advanced by Lynch’s behavior; and when the “NFL brand” is not advanced, there is likely a deficit to both the league and to the players. The current structured and legalistic framework surrounding media interaction(s) with players and coaches demonstrates the significant limitations of the existing rules.
There is a real challenge for the NFL and the NFLPA here; and frankly, I am not sure that either side is up to the challenge. They need to modify these rules and regulations using common sense and good will as the framework for the new – and badly needed – reworked regulations. These two sides have tried the “one-size-fits-all” model and it clearly does not work. Here we have Marshawn Lynch at one end of the spectrum and in the recent past we had players like Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco who never saw a camera they did not like. One size does not fit all. Adults ought to be able to recognize that. And so, the challenge for the NFL and the NFLPA also represents a test to see if there is any real adult supervision in either organization.
One more question about Media Day if I may:
Given the juvenile sort of “look-at-me” behaviors on display (a man wearing a barrel and a black cowboy hat for example) and given the stupid and irrelevant questions asked by the people in attendance (what is Bill Belichick’s favorite puppet?) and given the spectacle of players dancing with “reporters”, who asks for a press credential to this mess and is denied one?
Honestly, the ghost of King Henry VIII – who would not know a damned thing about the NFL or American football – would be hard pressed to pose the dumbest question of the day. Moreover, do not get me started on the folks who paid $28.50 a piece to sit in the stands and watch goofs interview players and coaches. Next thing you know, those folks will pony up cash money to sit in an amphitheater and watch players and coaches eat a team meal. It’s just sad…
Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times did not attend Media Day to come up with this observation but it could have been a line of questioning had he chosen to attend:
“Super Bowl injury update: Patriots QB Tom Brady (hurt feelings), probable.”
According to a report in the SF Chronicle, after Boston was selected by the USOC as the US city to bid for the 2024 Summer Games, Boston mayor, Marty Walsh signed an agreement with the USOC that bans City of Boston employees from making negative comments about the Olympic Games, the USOC or the process(es) involved in securing the games for Boston. Negative comments here are ones that might “reflect unfavorably upon, denigrate or disparage” the Olympic Games, the USOC and/or the IOC. As you might imagine, there are folks involved with organizations such as the ACLU who do not think that agreement is a very good idea…
All I can say is that it is a good thing I do not work for the City of Boston…
Finally, Brad Rock of the Deseret News looked upon this agreement between the Boston mayor and the USOC from a different perspective:
“The mayor of Boston has signed an agreement banning city employees from speaking negatively about the Olympics.
“However, … sources say the agreement indicates it’s just fine to say any horrible thing they want about the Celtics.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………