Mind Over Sports

Archive for November 2013

I believe they are.  But Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, doesn’t seem to get it. Even pro golfer Notah Begay III, who is a Navajo, said on ESPN’s Outside The Line: “If you ask me, it is offensive. And I think it’s just a very clear example of institutionalized degradation of an ethnic minority.” Snyder seems to have forgotten that many of his players are members of an “ethnic minority” and have probably sided with America’s Native American population who believe the name “redskin” is a racial slur. Let’s hope that at the end of the NFL season Snyder doesn’t point the finger of blame at Coach Mike Shanahan and his great quarterback Robert Griffin III, when he should be pointing at himself.

The NFL, and specifically the Washington Redskins, have a history of situations where team owners interfered with team performance. Before he passed away,
NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh said that he suspected that the 1940 NFL championship game – a 73-0 route by the Chicago Bears – was not what it seemed. Baugh believed some of his Washington Redskin teammates tried to lose as a way to spite the Redskin’s owner. Baugh, when he turned 85, said that his teammates were furious with Redskins owner George Preston Marshall and allowed the Bears to run up the score. Baugh acknowledged he had no proof and said he never came forward because he was never asked. Baugh said some of his teammates were upset with Marshall because he had taunted the Bears after Washington defeated Chicago 7-3 two weeks before the title game. “I think it happened because of what the owner did for two weeks,” Baugh said. “He put things in the paper running the Bears down. You don’t want to help the other team. You shouldn’t say things like that. It made us so mad. They decided not to play. Look at the game. How many times do you beat a team two weeks earlier in a real close game, and two weeks later you don’t do a thing? I don’t think we even wanted to win.”

I’ve always maintained that any NFL team who is going to play Denver at home are at a disadvantage because of the mile-high stadium UNLESS they arrive in Denver 3 or 4 days prior to game time so they can become acclimated to the high altitude. While watching the game on television last night, I noticed from time to time the camera showed Chiefs players sitting on the bench with oxygen masks. So I went to the Internet and the best I could determine was that the game was played November 17th and the Chiefs arrived in Denver November 16th. If this is true, it could be the reason why Payton Manning wasn’t sacked once in the entire game. The defensive linemen may have been too exhausted and gasping for breath.

This is a no-brainer. If one single Native American believes the name “Redskins” is a racial slur, then who is Redskins owner Daniel Snyder not to agree. I would offer this one piece of advice to Mr. Snyder: If you can walk up to a Native American and call him a “Redskin” to his face, and not be embarrassed, then I would say there’s no need to change your name. But, Mr. Snyder, if you can’t, then make the change. I doubt there is one NFL fan in the entire Washington DC area who would not attend a game because of a name change.  Go Warriors!

I was interested in comments made about Clint Hurdle, National League Manager of the Year, in today’s USA Today: “…he de-emphasized pitching counts among starters so they would focus on going deep into games.”

Beliefs play an important role in determining how many pitches a pitcher can throw before his arm tires out. But keep in mind, it’s the pitcher’s beliefs, not the pitching coach’s beliefs, that affect the pitcher’s performance.

There are many examples on record where pitchers threw more than the limited number of pitches allowed today, and were no worse off for having done so. Though it’s true that there are many new pitches today that didn’t exist years ago, and some of them have been known to damage a pitcher’s arm. However, even some of today’s pitchers believe they pitch better when allowed to exceed the number of pitches normally authorized by the pitching coach, and go the entire nine innings.

Here’s an example of a Letter to the Sports Editor that appeared in The Kansas City Star, April 30, 2000. The writer wrote: “I hope Tony Muser (then manager of the KC Royals) and all of the Royals’ pitchers read about Justin Green, a pitcher for Cameron (Oklahoma) University who pitched all 17 innings in a game recently. The next day he worked an 11-hour shift at a restaurant and showed no arm problems. I think the problem in professional baseball is that the pitchers do not throw enough. A few innings in a game is all they usually throw and then they have to rest for five days. Relief pitchers do even less work, and for the Royals, most of their ERAs are awful.”

But even Green’s remarkable feat didn’t compare with a performance by two pitchers in the same game on May 1, 1920, at Braves Field, when both Boston’s Joe Oeschger and Brooklyn’s Leon Cadore pitched all 26 innings in a 1-1 tie. Two days later Oeschger was back on the mound again pitching part of another 19-inning game.

“Code Red” is a term popularized by the film “A Few Good Men.” In the NFL, specifically the Miami Dolphins, it took the form of hazing (bullying) while team coaches looked the other way.

For those of you who follow my column, you might remember that in November 2011 I recommended that all hazing be discontinued by the NFL. Coaches and team owners, I wrote at the time, should insist that hazing become a thing of the past. These are not young college students; they are mature men playing a violent game and a great deal is at stake in their lives.

Here’s the latest example, as reported on the Internet:

Miami Dolphins’ Richie Incognito’s harassment of teammate Jonathan Martin included text messages that were racist and threatening, two people familiar with the situation have said. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin, a second-year pro who graduated from Stanford, is biracial. Incognito, a guard in his ninth NFL season, is white. The 30-year old Incognito has been suspended from the team and the case not only leaves his career in doubt, but an associate professor at the University of Miami School of Law said he could face criminal charges since there’s an indication that some form of extortion was involved.

I believe one of the reasons the Kansas City Chiefs were off to such a slow start during the 2011 season, and played so poorly, was the result of a locker room fight that broke out during preseason between two team members, and it affected team chemistry. The fist fight, according to unnamed sources, was a result of Dwayne Bowe hazing rookie Jon Baldwin. Baldwin would have none of it resulting in a confrontation between the two players. Baldwin fractured his right thumb and because it was in a cast, was unable to play when the season started. There are ways to build team chemistry other than hazing, and in this case, the hazing had the opposite effect for which it was intended.


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