The Great Oklahoma Cover-Up?

After yesterday’s rant regarding the “too much pasta” violation Oklahoma self-reported to the NCAA, I got a note from someone I went to grad school with. Just to give you a sense of how long he and I have been friends, we started grad school just after Noah decommissioned the Ark. His “interpretation” of the issue will give you an understanding of why we have been friends for such a long time.

His hypothesis is that reporting the excess pasta consumption is a cover-up. After all, the “improper benefits” only amounted to $3.83 by the school’s calculation. HOW-EVAH, they never mentioned how many meatballs those student athletes pounded down along with their extra servings of pasta.

I now have visions of the NCAA super-sleuths swooping down on Norman, Oklahoma to commandeer the invoices for ground beef and onions proximal to the date of this event just to be sure that pasta was the only foodstuff consumed in excess. Now that I think of it, that would be a good way to keep those super-sleuths busy because it certainly does not seem as if they uncover a lot of wrongdoing on their own…

Now that the women’s figure skating is finished in the Winter Games, I notice that Ashley Wagner finished sixth in the competition. Recall that Ms. Wagner finished fourth in the US competition after planting her keister on the ice a couple of times in that completion. She was put on the US team because the US ice skating mavens said she deserved to go to Sochi. Other than the woman who finished third and beat Ms. Wagner out in the US competition, no one should care about that decision since most figure skating decisions are based on intrigues behind the curtain.

Nevertheless, now that the results are in, we can finish the thought process for the US ice skating mavens:

    She deserved to go to Sochi to finish sixth. Hi-ho!

After the Orioles recently signed Ubaldo Jimenez, there were two prominent storylines:

    Did the Orioles take a huge risk signing a 4-year deal with a pitcher who has been up-and-down in his career?

    Why has it taken so long to sign those free agents who will require that the signing team give up a draft choice when the deal is done?

The answer to the first question is clearly obvious. The Orioles took a $50M chance that Jimenez is as good as he was in his days in Colorado or as good as he was toward the end of last season. If he is as mediocre as he was between those two periods of time, they have an albatross around their neck. The risk is clear; what is not clear is how the situation will turn out…

It is the second storyline that bothers me a bit. The press in NYC and in Boston are all aflutter with stories about signing Stephen Drew – another signing that would require the acquiring team to forfeit a draft pick. In NYC, lots of folks want the Mets to sign Drew; some want the Yankees to sign him as “infield depth”; in Boston some folks want the Sox to sign him because the Sox would forfeit their first round pick – at the bottom of the round – and then get a compensatory pick at the end of the first round which is virtually a wash. With regard to any handwringing or feeling sorry for those restricted free agents who remain unsigned, there is a simple fact to consider:

    Back in November, each one of them had a qualifying offer of a 1-year contract worth $14.1M and each one of them turned that down.

Keep that in mind as you consider Stephen Drew. He has been in the major leagues since 2006. Over his 8-year career, his batting average is .264; that is not overly impressive and is diminished even further by the fact that he has not hit .264 or better since 2010. Moreover, the last time he played in more than 124 games in a season was also in 2010. For fans of advanced stats, Drew’s career OPS+ is 98 meaning he is an average shortstop. Moreover, he turned down a 1-year, guaranteed contract worth $14.1M. In Evita, Madonna sang:

“Don’t cry for me Argentina…”

Well, don’t cry for Stephen Drew or any of those other restricted free agents out there who remain unsigned either…

As the Minnesota Twins commence Spring Training, they have two free agent pitchers added to their starting rotation – or at least that is the plan. Over the winter, they signed Phil Hughes from the Yankees and Ricky Nolasco from the Dodgers. Those signings – based on last year’s statistics – represent a lateral arabesque for the Twins. Consider:

    Last year, Hughes and Nolasco combined to post a record of 17-25. That is a winning percentage of .405.

    Last year, the Twins record was 66-96. That is a winning percentage of .407.

    This looks like a ménage-a trois made in Heaven…

Speaking of baseball pitchers, MLB now has a helmet designed for pitchers to wear to afford some protection from line drives coming back at their heads. The helmets look unwieldy and have not gotten a lot of support from pitchers themselves. One complaint is that the helmet needs a chinstrap to assure that it stays on; and indeed, a helmet is of zero value once it falls off one’s head… MLB will make the use of a helmet optional not mandatory for the time being.

Finally, here is question to ponder from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“The Detroit Lions have a new quarterbacks coach: Jim Bob Cooter.

“If he’d landed the Redskins’ offensive-line gig, would that make him Boss Hogg?”

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

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  • Doug  On February 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    The Drew situation casts a skewed light on MLB’s economic model, in that he and his agent considered free agency a ligitmate option to $14.1 milllion.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 21, 2014 at 7:22 pm


      Indeed, $14.1M is an awful lot to pay for a guy who is right about average for an 8-year career.

  • Alan  On February 21, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Your story of the meatball investigation reminds me of “the strawberry incident”…Perhaps the NCAA can dole out a portion of sand equal to the amount of meatballs each student said they ate and then compare the resulting sand volume to the missing meatball stocks?

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 21, 2014 at 7:23 pm


      I am sure that the NCAA would come up with a bizarre way to investigate and analyze the “pasta and meatball cover-up”…

  • Trent  On February 21, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    The helmet for pitchers is a knee jerk reaction to extremely rare occurrences. Just like the mandatory helmets for base coaches was. I am not sure where this ‘we must mandate safety in all things’ came from and it will kill sports at all levels.

    With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I now call for a total safety stand-down in Curling. That is, until they make safety goggles, crush-proof gloves, steel toe safety shoes and chaps mandatory. After all, they are Olympic athletes and deserve all the protections possible that monied athletes get.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 21, 2014 at 7:24 pm


      They also need airbags to cushion falls. Remember, they are on a slippery ice surface; falls could be disastrous.

    • Alan  On February 22, 2014 at 7:42 am

      Amen. Another example is the netting above the glass now at every hockey arena in North America. To prevent the one tragedy every 80 years or so, lets diminish the viewing experience of thousands every day. It won’t be long before we see similar netting screening off the first and thirst-base line lower deck seats in baseball.

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