Some things are patently obvious.
- If you overeat, you gain weight.
- If it is raining outside, you are likely to get wet.
- People with the most birthdays live the longest.
Well, the NBA just added one to that list:
- LeBron James will not be suspended for violating the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
It seems that LeBron attended a promotional event for a product he represents, and the league knew about it and let him play in the “play-in game” against the Golden State Warriors. The official explanation is that “the event did not rise to a threat level of virus spread.” Whatever floats their boat… Let me be clear about this:
- The NBA is not going to suspend Lebron James from the playoffs or require him to be in quarantine for a week or so unless he tests positive for the coronavirus 3 or 4 times in succession as do a half-dozen of his teammates along with his family with whom he has had close contact for the past 10 days.
In another report that relates to something patently obvious, Jim McMahon told a radio station in Cleveland that Bill Belichick is a [bleeping] liar. The basis for that assessment comes from actions in 1995 when Belichick was the coach of the Browns and McMahon was briefly part of the Browns’ team. Here is the obvious part:
- Bill Belichick is a football coach. The ability to lie – and be convincing about it – is an essential skill for all successful football coaches.
- Coaches lie to players – while recruiting them or while “coaching them up”.
- Coaches lie to reporters – about game plans, injuries, the abilities of the next opponent and even the coach’s personal plans.
- Coaches lie to team owners about team assets and liabilities.
- Coaches lie to fans. If a football coach spent one month speaking and writing only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, he would be drummed out of the profession permanently.
Jim McMahon was in the world of football until he was 37 years old; he played in high school, college and the NFL. He is 61 years old and just now he has concluded that one of his coaches lied to him? Stop the presses … we have a News Flash.
One more recent report says that former Eagles and Chiefs assistant coach, Eugene Chung, was told in a job interview during this offseason that he was “not the right minority”; Chung is of Korean extraction and he played in the NFL for 5 seasons prior to embarking on a coaching career. On one hand, it is shocking to think that someone with sufficient authority to make a hiring decision in 2021 would utter such a thing; how dumb is that? On the other hand, the most common synonym for “minority” in the world of the NFL is African-American and not Korean-American. The Rooney Rule was hammered out with the Fritz Pollard Alliance and not with the Syngman Rhee Alliance.
The Boston Globe has a full article on this happenstance and on Asian-American experiences in the sports world in the US. You can find it here; it is worth two or three minutes of your time.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that baseball would be experimenting with some rule changes in the minor leagues with several of them intending to increase the number of stolen base attempts. The thinking is that an attempted steal adds action to the game without necessarily adding time to the game. Well, there are some early results, and it is interesting to note that the way baseball set up the “experiments” it is possible to view the changes in isolation to see which “succeeded” and which other ones “did not succeed”.
- In Low-A games, the pitchers are limited to two “step-offs” and/or “Pick-off attempts” per plate appearance. Stolen bases in those games are up from 0.83 per game in 2019 (there was no minor league baseball in 2020) to 1.42 stolen bases per game this year. Seems as if that rule change has been effective.
- In High-A games, the pitchers are required to step off the rubber before throwing to any base. Stolen bases in those games are up from 0.80 in 2019 to 1.41 stolen bases per game this year. Seems as if that rule change has been effective also.
- In Triple-A games, the bases are slightly larger – – an 18-inch square versus a 15-inch square. Stolen bases in those games are up marginally from 0.63 per game in 2019 to 0.83 stolen bases per game so far this year. The degree of “success” here is less pronounced than in the lower-level games.
- In Double-A games, the only rule change has to do with limiting “The Shift”. It is not clear that the positioning of the infielders should have any significant effect on stolen base attempts or success. And, in fact, so far this year the change has been negligible. There were 0.76 stolen bases per game in 2019 and so far this year there have been 0.78 stolen bases per game.
Will any of this translate into changes at the MLB level? Predicting the motivations of MLB owners and players – who would have to approve any rule changes of this sort – is something akin to tea-leaf reading. And I do not drink tea…
Finally, apropos of nothing, here is an observation from playwright Noel Coward:
“People are wrong when they say that the opera isn’t what it used to be. It is what it used to be. That’s what’s wrong with it.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………