On the Monday Night Football telecasts, one of the features is the naming of the “Gruden Grinder”. This is a guy who is not a star player but someone who always works hard and hustles thereby making significant contributions to his team. Well, the Kansas City Royals are not only the Champions of the baseball world, they are also the “Gruden Grinders” of the baseball world. In the deciding game of the World Series last night, the Royals trailed going into the top of the 9th inning but there was no “aura” around the game that hinted that they would go meekly into the night. Indeed, they did not; they scored 2 runs to tie the game and send it to extra innings. The Royals stole 4 bases last night; it seemed as if they had some sort of “tell” on the Mets’ pitchers letting they know when to run.
The other thing about the World Series as a whole that doomed the Mets beyond the no-quit attitude of the Royals was the Mets’ bungling in the field. Not only were there errors to allow baserunners (six recorded errors in five games) but there were plays that should have been scored as errors that were not. The prime example came on the tying run in the top of the 9th inning. When Eric Hosmer made his dash home from third, Luke Duda had him stone-cold out with an accurate throw and the Series would be heading back to Kansas City for Game 6 as of this morning. That throw from first base was not in the same area code with home plate and/or catcher Travis d’Arnaud. The official scorer did not call it an error; I guess it would have had to have gone over the screen behind the plate for him to think the throw went where it was not supposed to go.
Kudos to Frank Thomas after the game on Fox Sports. In the aftermath of the Royals’ win and their first World Championship in 30 years, everyone seemed upbeat and focused on praise for the grittiness of the Gruden Grinders of baseball. Thomas dropped this line about the Mets in the Series:
“The Mets have nothing to hold their heads down for – except, they didn’t play that well, and they gave away this World Series.”
That may not be an uplifting thought at the end of a World Series, but it is on target. The Mets had been about the hottest team in baseball for the final 6 weeks of the regular season and were on top of their game playing the Dodgers and the Cubs. Against the Royals, they played only marginally well. Frank Thomas gave us a Howard Cosell-like analysis but without any bombast or seeming nastiness. All he did was to cut to the chase…
Back in the summer, ESPN and Bill Simmons “went in different directions”. Simmons adopted the persona of The Sports Guy in many of his writings and he was the founder and guru for Grantland.com. The website lived on for 6 months without him but ESPN shut it down last week.
I liked Bill Simmons’ writing – particularly when he wrote about the NBA. Having said that, I must admit that I had become tired of some of his literary devices that stretched some of his essays north of 5000 words. I also liked several other regular writers there including Bill Barnwell, Matt Hinton and Graham Parker and read them regularly. My favorite writer there was Charles P. Pierce and I like him enough that I have already started to search for whatever new Internet haunt he might contribute to.
Grantland.com was different from the other writing that appears on ESPN outlets. There was very little “cheerleading” there and many of the articles looked analytically – not stat analytics but thought analytics – at a variety of issues. I may not have read it every day, but I did check out what was new there every day.
I doubt that it was profitable for ESPN or Disney but I also doubt that whatever losses it incurred were not covered in the “rounding off error” within Disney’s Statement of Earnings. I for one will miss it…
Speaking of folks who have parted company with ESPN in the past few months, Colin Cowherd has moved to FOX and has a new show simulcast on FS1. He can be a pompous jerk at times; but for the most part, his ideas have a rational base beneath them. Every once in a while, he has something on his program that makes you sit up and ask yourself if you really heard what you thought you heard.
An example of that was on a recent program when Len Dykstra made this claim:
Dykstra said he had hired private investigators to follow MLB umpires around when they were on the road to get some dirt on them. That dirt would nominally be used to get Dykstra an expanded strike zone in exchange for keeping the dirt under the rug.
As outré as that may sound, Dykstra also claimed that it had worked for him. That can only mean that he blackmailed/extorted/coerced an MLB umpire or umpires to add some subjectivity into their calls. I have two things to say about that:
1. If true, this is far worse than what Tim Donaghy did.
2. Given Dykstra’s history of prevarication, I would need a bit more evidence that this sort of “transaction” ever took place.
Here in the US, we often hear of situations where a player – or a parent of a player if we are talking about youth sports – goes berserk over being cut from a team or not being selected for some team or honor or thing of that nature. After the person doing the ranting and raving calms down, we all remember that he was a jerk during the ranting and raving but it is over and we move on. That is not the way things happen in Abu Dhabi.
A mid-fielder named Abdullah Qassem was not selected to be on the UAE National Team. According to The Daily Mail, Qassem made indecent gestures and ranted at the coach who selected the team; another player recorded on video the rant and the commentary; the recording made it to the Internet. A court in Abu Dhabi found both players guilty of:
“… using telecommunications services to offend and hurt the feelings of others, and displaying a recording that breached public ethics through the web”.
The two players were each sentenced to 3 months in jail for this societal breech. Here is the link in case you think I am kidding. Recall this story the next time you read about some parent going nuts over some real or imagined slight directed at one of his/her offspring…
Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald about NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup which will culminate in the Miami suburb of Homestead:
“This is 14th year we’ve hosted the grand finale, and I still can’t believe they have it in Homestead. It’s like the NFL putting a Super Bowl in Fargo, North Dakota.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………