Milt Pappas died last week. When you consider that he spent 17 years in MLB winning 209 games and pitching 129 complete games, you would think that he would be remembered for his career. Pappas was twice an All-Star and over his career he struck out twice as many batters as he walked. Not bad at all; Milt Pappas was an accomplished player.
Nevertheless, he will be remembered more widely for something over which he had no control. After the 1965 season, he was traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Cincinnati Reds along with Jack Baldschun (relief pitcher) and Dick Simpson (outfielder) for Frank Robinson. Of course, Robinson continued his career that landed him in the Hall of Fame (his career OPS was .926) and Robinson became the first player to win MVP Awards in both leagues.
Rest in peace, Milt Pappas.
News came late last week that ESPN fired baseball analyst Curt Schilling after Schilling seemingly ignored warnings to temper his social media remarks on the transgender issues that are controversial at the moment. Schilling’s views were stridently opposed to what many feel are important rights for transgender individuals and I am sure than many people took offense at his remarks. This is not the first time ESPN had to deal with controversy ignited by Schilling’s socio-political views on sensitive subjects. Last year, Schilling seemed to equate today’s Muslim extremists with the Nazis of the 1930s and 40s. As a result of those remarks, Schilling earned a suspension from ESPN.
In announcing the firing, ESPN had this to say:
“ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”
As you may imagine, some folks who agree with Schilling’s stance on today’s transgender issue immediately screamed that his First Amendment rights had been violated. To steal one of HL Mencken’s favorite words:
Just because ESPN is a media company and Schilling was working for them, this matter has nothing whatsoever to do with the First Amendment. This is a matter – plain and simple – of an employer telling an employee what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable behavior. In the situation where the employee repeatedly chooses “unacceptable behavior”, that leads to termination of employment. The First Amendment has nothing to do with that.
Last week, Bob Molinaro reported in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot that the Kutztown University football team found an interesting way to conclude their spring football game. Evidently the game ended in a tie and – fortunately – the coaches did not choose to use the college overtime rules to break the tie in that meaningless contest. Rather, they decided the outcome of the game with a series of rock/scissors/paper confrontations. How great is that?
Speaking of how great something is, how great is it to be the NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions for 2016. The Villanova Wildcats have had a parade in their honor in Philly; they will surely get an invite to the White House to meet the President and now the team – via the university to be sure – has received a donation of $22.6M to renovate their on-campus arena. The gift comes from Bill Finneran, a Villanova alum – no surprise there! – who is the founder of a hedge fund.
The on-campus arena, The Pavilion, needs a makeover. It seats only 6500 folks and has no suites or “luxury boxes”. That means that prime seats for Villanova home games have deep-pocketed supporters in them while students have to scramble for the leftovers. A major part of the renovation plan here is to put in suites for the pooh-bahs and to put student fans in the prime seating areas.
The Pavilion has a sort of interesting history. From the time that it opened in 1986 until 1997, the building was known as the John Eleuthère du Pont Pavilion, the man who provided major funding for the construction of the facility. The reason the du Pont name came off the building is the reason that name rings a distant bell in your memory.
John Eleuthère du Pont was the man who became enamored with amateur wrestling and pentathlon sports and started a wrestling training facility at his Foxcatcher Farm in Delaware. Ultimately, he was convicted of the shooting death of Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz in 1997. At that point, the name of the Villanova facility simply became known as “The Pavilion”.
Back in the 1970s, the Cincinnati Royals of the NBA moved west to become the Kansas City/Omaha Kings. The team split their home town affiliation from 1972 to 1975 before settling down in Kansas City and then ultimately moving to Sacramento in 1985. Omaha then hosted a team in the Continental Basketball Association for a while but the city has been without professional basketball since 1997. However, last week the Omaha Chargers came into existence as a franchise within the newly emerging National Basketball League of America – the NBLA. The league proposes a 20 game schedule between September and November.
At the moment, the NBLA has only three franchises; the Omaha Chargers, the Sioux City Hornets and the Dakota Magic. That paucity of teams led Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald to make this observation:
“You think it looks bad when an NBA team doesn’t make the playoffs?”
Finally, here is one more observation from Brad Dickson:
“The Lehigh valley Ironpigs minor league baseball team has a new concession item, bacon on a stick. Isn’t eating this basically a cry for help?
“How about something a wee bit healthier? Say crack burgers?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………