Well, I was overly optimistic yesterday when I said that Mel Tucker would be fired by Halloween. I thought that Michigan State would wait until after the hearing set for early October and then wait a decent interval before deciding to ditch Tucker as their head football coach. Not so, Michigan State cut bait yesterday afternoon and is first in line among major football programs in search of a new coach for 2024 – – unless you consider Northwestern a major football program.
Another high-level position in the sports world opened in the last couple of days. It was pretty clear that it would eventually need a new incumbent and that eventuality just came to pass. Luis Rubiales had been the president of the Spanish soccer federation until earlier this week; he is the man who stands accused of sexual assault in Spain for kissing one of the women on the Spanish women’s national team during the celebration of Spain’s victory in the women’s World Cup Tournament in Australia. Given the level of rancor that escalated from that act and his initial defiance in accepting any blame or responsibility for his action, it was clear he would have to be replaced somewhere along the line. Now, he is gone.
- [Aside: I read a report that a new law in Spain removes the distinction between sexual harassment and sexual assault and provides criminal sanctions for any sexual act that is non-consensual.]
In addition to the outrage voiced by the victim in this episode and the levels of outrage that have come in her support, it was clear that Rubiales’ position as the leader of Spanish soccer was going to be a problem. Overhanging the tension(s) within Spain regarding this matter is another issue:
- Spain – – along with Portugal, Morocco and possibly Ukraine (?) – – are trying to assemble a multi-party bid to host the FIFA Men’s World Cup Tournament in 2030. The other major bidding consortium for the Tournament is Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
- FIFA will make its choice for the venue in September 2024 and FIFA wants not to have to make that decision with the shadow of this sexual assault allegation overhanging everything.
Moving on … The two job openings described above were inevitable; there were no “ifs” involved, only “whens”. This next issue was not really inevitable, but it is hardly shocking either. CBSSports.com reported yesterday that Pacman Jones was arrested yesterday morning at Cincinnati International Airport for allegedly “causing a disturbance prior to takeoff.”
Evidently, the crew identified Jones as an “unruly passenger” and asked the airport police for assistance in whatever was taking place. The airport police removed Jones from an aircraft and booked him into the local hoosegow. Jones was released later in the day and he – naturally – denies that he was a problem or that he ever made any “terroristic threats”. According to Pacman, what he was trying to do was to change seats on the plane; he contends that the charger did not work at his assigned seat and that he needed his charger to keep his tablet functional because he would need the tablet at the flight destination.
Somehow, a request for a seat change wound up with a call for the gendarmes and a booking (short-term to be sure) at the Crossbars Hilton. If I told you that story with no names or geography included and gave you ten guesses as to the identity of the central figure in the story, I think more than a few of you would have come up with Pacman’s name as you filtered through the possibilities. Controversy and Pacman Jones seem to attract each other like magnets.
Switching gears … They say that in the business of stand-up comedy, timing is everything. Well, that can sometimes apply to the sports world too. Back in 2018, the Baltimore Orioles were stinking it up on their way to a final record of 47-115. It turned out to be Buck Showalter’s eighth and final year as the manager of the O’s. As you might imagine, attendance at O’s games that year went in the tank; attendance in 2018 was 500,000 fewer fans than had shown up in 2017.
One of the marketing whizzes came up with a promotion for one of the home games. It was going to be Buck Showalter Snow Globe Night and fans in attendance would get a snow globe with Showalter’s likeness as a tchotchke to take home with them. [Aside: It’s probably a collectible item these days!]
All was going swimmingly until Showalter took umbrage at one of the umpire’s decisions in the game. Not being bashful by nature – – and probably frustrated by the team’s performance for the season – – Showalter was a bit too vigorous in his protestations. You guessed it; Buck Showalter was thrown out of the game on Buck Showalter Snow Globe Night. Timing is everything …
Finally, having mentioned that an umpire provided an intervention during Buck Showalter Snow Globe Night, let me close with this definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Umpire: A person trained to communicate his or her feelings by combining elaborate hand gestures with deep authoritative grunting noises.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………