RIP Jimmy Piersall

Jimmy Piersall died over the weekend.  To say he was a “colorful character” would be a monumental understatement.  Back in the 60s, he hit his 100th career home run in a game and ran backpedaling around the bases.  I guess the “unwritten rules of baseball” had not been unwritten back then because no brawl ensued and he was not the target of a beanball in his next at bat.  If that were to happen today, they would need to call out the National Guard.

Rest in peace, Jimmy Piersall.

By the way, Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald had this comment recently regarding a baseball brawl:

“There was a Giants-Nationals brawl after Hunter Strickland threw at Bryce Harper. How silly does this make NHL players feel? The playoffs are winding down and the biggest sports brawl is started by guys named ‘Hunter’ and ‘Bryce.’”

For reasons that have never been crystal clear to me, ESPN televises the National Spelling Bee.  I know the “E” in ESPN stands for “Entertainment” but I hardly find the Spelling Bee entertaining.  I know the “S” stands for “Sports”; and while there is a clear and definite winner at the end of the spelling bee, I doubt that a significant number of people would call it a sport.  Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times found a way to link the National Spelling Bee with a minor kerfuffle going on related to the current political situation:

Ananya Vinay, a sixth-grader from Fresno, Calif., won the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling:

  1.  “marocain”

  2.  “Krzyzewski”

  3.  “covfefe”

For the record, I can spell “Krzyzewski” but neither of the other two words on that list…

Obviously, I do not think cheerleading is a sport.  It can be a very athletic endeavor/performance, but I don’t think it is a sport any more than I think rhythmic gymnastics is a sport.  According to reports/rumors, the IOC may consider cheerleading as a sport and may think about including it in the Olympic Games in the future.  Oh my …

I know that cheerleading has a tradition here in the US but I do not recognize it as a routine happenstance in many international sports.  For example, I do not recall ever seeing cheerleaders for English Premier League games or for UEFA Cup games or for FIBA basketball games or for Australian Rules Football games or for Rugby games or for …  I have seen cheerleaders for CFL games and I recall feeling very sorry for the young ladies given the weather conditions of the game I was watching.  As I recall, it was in Winnipeg and it was really cold and there were gale force winds …

My point is that cheerleading does not seem to have much of a “world-wide footprint”.  Are there cheerleaders in Kazakhstan?  How about in Mali or in Iran?  And please do not get me started on how cheerleading fits into the Olympics’ motto of “Faster … Higher … Stronger” which derives from events related to warfighting skills from times past.

Once again, let me borrow an observation from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times related to cheerleading in the Olympics:

“Cheerleading could become an Olympic sport by 2024?

“All for drug tests, stand up and holler!”

According to reports coming out of Minneapolis, the FBI is investigating the University of Minnesota Ticket Office regarding allegations of fraud.  Brent Holck, who was the head of the Ticket Office has been fired, and now the FBI is involved in a case that may have been ongoing for a while now.  According to the Athletic Director at Minnesota:

“It was a very sophisticated and complex scheme and it was deliberately done … In essence, we had tickets that were distributed for Gopher events. We had tickets that were used but the revenue was not tying back to those tickets.”

He also said that the scheme was brought to light by an internal audit of “Gopher sports tickets”.  In addition, the school now believes that this “scheme” had been ongoing for at least 6 years but when pressed to say how many tickets were involved or how much money had been diverted to improper destinations, the school could not provide specifics.  Perhaps that is because the FBI is involved and the investigation is ongoing.  However, the wording here is a bit strange…

The only way I can think of that would justify saying this has been going on for “at least 6 years” is this pair of situations:

  • The internal audit found a recent problem and subsequently traced that problem back 6 years in the past.  Now if that is the case, the school would know the problem is that old.
  • To say the problem is “at least 6 years old” means there is a likelihood that it is even older.  So, does that mean there are insufficient records starting 7 years ago to detect the problem or does that mean something different was ongoing starting 7 years ago?
  • Or – more ominously – does this mean that the accounting system used by the university is not adequate to dredge up fine scale details of transactions more than 6 years old?

For the record, the alleged sole perpetrator here is the now-fired Brent Holck.  He was hired to the job in 2008 and had occupied that job until his firing a couple of months ago in 2017.  Perhaps that is the basis for thinking the ticket fraud has been ongoing for more than 6 years.

By the way, none of the reporting I have read indicates why the FBI is involved in this investigation as opposed to the local or state police and district attorneys.  There is more to come from this before all is understood…

Finally, let me return to Dwight Perry for a third time today for another item related to cheerleading:

“A high-school cheerleader in El Paso was arrested on suspicion of submitting a false police report after she confessed she made up a story that her home had been burglarized so she could keep her uniform instead of having to turn it in.

“She was released from jail after posting bond of two bits, four bits, six bits, $5,000.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “RIP Jimmy Piersall”

  1. Perhaps I am a bit cynical, but it seems the purposes of naming cheerleading as a sport had more to do with Title IX and not the athletic aspect of the activity. As you may recall, one of the reasons many schools dropped football had to do with the gender equity requirement, in that approximately equal numbers of scholarships are supposed to be available for each gender. That is why typically the university sports programs will have more women’s teams than men’s teams, especially if there is still football at the school. If one looks at even a relatively small 70-scholarship team that is a lot of ladies to put under scholarship in sports that will not generate the revenue. Of course John McKay at SC made do with 50 for years and the Trojans did not suffer (enough, remember everybody hates SC in the Pac-12).

    With that said, cheer teams do compete with some seriousness, but as long as a sport requires judging without objectivity on “artistic” terms it will always be dubious in my eyes as well. It’s like the Supreme Court definition of obscenity: “I know it when I see it”, and you just might get the “Russian judge” that day.

    I agree there is no involvement necessary for the feebs unless state lines were crossed. Perhaps some of the money sloshed into Wisconsin or to Iowa. Insert your own joke here (like the one about why the Mississippi River flows South).

    1. rugger9:

      You are not cynical; there would be less of a willingness to give cheerleading scholarships absent Title IX.

  2. Holck had to have help, either witting or unwitting, because as a public university the Gophers would have had some kind of audit process for taxpayer protection. Even these are not infallible (many examples) but I do find it hard to believe that someone would not have noticed such significant amounts of missing money. Here in CA, our head of the UC was able to hide slush funds for years but eventually the audit caught them.

    1. rugger9:

      The school – so far – asserts that this was a one-man show. Like you, I wonder how and why this went undetected for more than 5 years if indeed there is some sort of audit system in place that does more than “check the boxes” on a form.

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