Sixty-One And Counting …

Congratulations to Aaron Judge on his 61st home run of the 2022 MLB season.  I said here about 2 months ago that if he hits 62 or more home runs, I will consider that he is the proper MLB record holder for home runs in a single season.  The Yankees have 7 games left to play…

One other baseball note this morning …  I have a question for all Chicago White Sox fans:

  • So, how are things working out with Tony LaRussa managing your guys?

That was a very bad idea even before it ever popped up in Sox owner, Jerry Reinsdorf’s consciousness.

Moving on ….  The NFL has traditionally strived for “parity”.  Former NFL Commissioner, Bert Bell said, “On any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team.”  That is almost a mantra for the league.  The standings so far this season adhere to that maxim.  There are only two teams at 3-0 as we head into October; there is only one team that is 0-3.  The rest are bunched up in the middle – – ignoring the tie game which showed on that day two teams were equally capable or futile depending on whether you took the points or laid the points.

College football, on the other hand, has never sought or tried to pretend that there is parity among the major schools that field football teams.  College football has always been a game of “Haves” and “Have Nots”.  But that history might be changing slightly thanks to the transfer portal that has been created.  It is only a slight exaggeration to say that every college athlete – in any sport but I am only considering football here – is a free agent every year.  Therefore, a very good player at “Perennial Powerhouse U”, who is relegated to the bench because there are two excellent players ahead of him on the roster, can choose to go anywhere he can be confident of a starting job.  In that way, “Traditional Doormat College” gets access to talent they would not have had before the days of an unfettered transfer portal.

This player choice/mobility is good for ‘parity”, but it makes the players appear as mercenaries and that may not be beneficial for college football as an institution in the long run.  Rather than focusing on what might be a problem down the road, look at the “parity benefit” that seems to have happened this year.  There are 131 schools playing Division 1-A college football this year.  We have not yet reached October and only 3 of those schools have failed to win a game so far.  Those three are:

  1. Colorado
  2. Colorado State
  3. Georgia State

Granted, some of the teams that have won one game to date will end the season with only that one victory on their ledger; but my sense is that at the end of September in years past there were far more winless teams floating around out there.  Maybe a dozen or so at this time of the year?  As Peter, Paul and Mary once sang:

“For the times, they are a-changing…”

Next up …  The NCAA ceded control over college football to the various conferences about 25 years ago.  It maintains a façade of regulation in the form of eligibility criteria and rules governing recruiting, but the NCAA is about as competent as Inspector Clouseau in its oversight roles.  The measure of the NCAA’s incompetency in those sorts of roles is clearly demonstrated in a sport where the NCAA maintains direct control – – men’s college basketball.  The NCAA has been investigating Memphis University and coach Penny Hardaway for allegedly providing “improper benefits” to a recruit for the last several  years.  This week the Independent Accountability Resolution Panel (IARP) reached a conclusion in this matter.  Please ignore the fact that the NCAA member institutions have recently voted to get rid of the IARP entirely and focus on the IARP’s decision alone.  If you do that, you might understand why the IARP was voted out of existence.

The panel found:

  • Coach Penny Hardaway did indeed provide “impermissible benefits” to players including recruit, James Wiseman.
  • The provision of those “impermissible benefits” were not, however, major violations.
  • Memphis will pay a trivial fine; it will vacate a few wins because it used players who were ineligible – – due to having received “impermissible benefits” – – and it will be “on probation” for two years.
  • There will be no “postseason ban”; Memphis can continue to participate in March Madness should they win an automatic bid or should they be seeded by the Selection Committee.
  • Coach Hardaway will not even suffer a tongue-lashing – – notwithstanding the finding that he provided the “impermissible benefits” to players (note the plural noun here).

It seems to me that the folks at the NCAA and the folks on the IARP investigative team failed to finish reading Dostoevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment.  There is a crime that was committed; in the novel, the perpetrator suffers punishment; in the Memphis case, there is no punishment.

If the “impermissible benefits” provided here were nothing but the equivalent of a jay-walking ticket, maybe someone can tell me why they are “on the books” in the first place?

Finally, here is a cogent observation by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Ireland’s Ceola McGowan, 31, who just won the women’s title at the World Double Bit Axe Throwing Championships, is also an avid pole-dancer.

“Now THAT’s a modern biathlon the Olympics should consider.”

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



3 thoughts on “Sixty-One And Counting …”

  1. They should be required to explicitly list those “Impermissible benefits” with estimated value. If some kid gets to Northwestern from rural Montana, says he had never had Chicago deep dish before, and a guide gives him a small pie, they put “Pizza at lunch, $15”, let it show that. That is a technical violation, but not one that can be expected to swing an opinion.

    The line for “major violations” should also be written out. At one time, at least, I knew someone studying for a police test. The difference between larceny and grand larceny was a fixed dollar figure. Minor/major violations should have such a line.

    1. Ed:

      I like your thinking here. Just because my mind often goes off in strange directions, how might one report the value received by a recruit if the “benefit” involves sexual favors? Lots of possibilities here and none of them are good…

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