Conspiracy Theories, Scandals and Public Trials: The Houston Astros Investigation on Twitter

By Griffin Olah

Griffin is a second-year undergraduate BGSU student from North Ridgeville, Ohio. He is a Sport Management major and a Journalism minor. His primary sports interests are baseball and football, both collegiate and professional, but he is also interested in basketball, MMA, boxing and hockey

The Houston Astros are a topic that has been discussed ad nauseam within the sports world. Everyone is focusing on the punishment, the crimes, and the reactions. The investigation, however, is no longer the focus. If you remember back to the middle of January, however, you may remember the craziest day in recent baseball history. This is the day that social media handed down the confirmation of the Astros cheating scandal that the MLB was looking for. Instead of a private investigation, the Houston Astros were tried by the public eye for the world to see, spawning some of the greatest stories in recent memory.

Once allegations came down, a relatively unknown podcast host and Yankees fan by the name of Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien saw his following grow faster than he could ever imagine. O’Brien, the proprietor of Jomboy Media, was best known for posting the video of Aaron Boone’s now-infamous “Savages in that Box” rant on Twitter (Young, 2019). When he saw the Astros allegations, however, he transformed into internet sleuth. When the world was in disbelief of the claims of the Astros cheating, O’Brien delivered a bombshell packed into a simple 2:20 video on Twitter. O’Brien cracked the code and found video proof the Astros cheated.

O’Brien’s initial tweet was retweeted over 37,000 times and liked more than 100,000 times. A lesser-known media man was now an internet sensation and the leading authority on everything Astros related. Then, the talk about buzzers leaked and Jomboy Media again went to work to expose the latest scandal. O’Brien found a new image containing what may have been an electronic buzzer on Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos’s batting glove. 

At the same time as O’Brien’s image came to light, a new account vied for interest. After the Astros fired manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, the Red Sox firing manager Alex Cora and the Mets firing their manager Carlos Beltran, it seemed like the scandal was done. Then, the buzzers came to light. 

A private account on Twitter, @S0_blessed1, began a tweetstorm that changed the landscape of MLB. The anonymous account accused Astros superstars Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman of wearing buzzers under their jerseys to relay signs to them. Curiously, the account apologized to their “tio,” which means uncle in Spanish. Speculation immediately ran as to who the uncle was and why this person was exposing more possible methods used by the Astros on their way to a now tainted World Series victory. 

As the identity of @S0_blessed1 was being searched for, many reputable sources agreed with the account’s claims. Cincinnati Reds pitcher and noted critic of the Astros Trevor Bauer confirmed that he had heard talk within MLB about the Astros wearing buzzers. O’Brien also confirmed he was hearing similar things from sources in MLB. 

Amid this media storm, many people were looking for the identity of the anonymous account. Based on the “tio” comment, many pointed to Carlos Beltran, the disgraced former Mets manager. Since the account broke the news of Beltran’s firing days before the Mets formally announced it or any other major media outlets carried it, many believed the owner of the account was close to the former player and manager. 

Twitter then took the bait from Beltran’s “niece” and ran with it. Kenny Ducey found the home run in the ALCS that was mentioned in the “niece’s” tweets and slowed down the end of Altuve’s trot. The slow-mo video seems to show Altuve holding his jersey tight against his body and telling the mob of teammates at home plate to not rip off his jersey. Then, there is the disputed audio of Altuve possibly saying “I’m wearing a wire.” 

That last part, as already stated, had been disputed. Some have said that it is Altuve speaking Spanish, which many people would not be able to lip read and equate to a wire. Altuve himself did not dispute the fact that he didn’t want his jersey torn off, telling dugout reporter Ken Rosenthal that he, “got in trouble with [his] wife” for taking his shirt off on television in the past (Garro, 2019, para. 9). In the past few days, Carlos Correa came out and confirmed that Altuve’s wife was not happy with him for taking his shirt off and also mentioned an “unfinished tattoo that looked kinda bad” on his collarbone that he didn’t want to show on television (Anderson, 2020, para. 7). 

Obviously, possible proof that Altuve was wearing a wire in the 2019 postseason, which was not part of the Commissioner’s Report, would make the scandal grow even more with possibly worse repercussions. While immunity was granted to the players in relation to the investigation into the 2017 iteration of the sign-stealing scheme, a new investigation may not be so kind. The potential ramifications are mind-numbing to think of, and the accusations themselves destroy any possible respect or goodwill for the team. 

Without Twitter and the dedication of the public to get to the truth, none of this would come to light. While the Commissioner conducted his own report, the findings are limited when compared to the scope of the Twitter investigation. Clearly, all Twitter sources are not to be trusted, and some here are untrustworthy. As the days wore on and the tweets from @S0_blessed1 became more and more ludicrous and eventually disappearing, the account’s credibility was called into question. Eventually, it was determined that the account was run by a noted Twitter troll, or someone who dispenses false information for comedic or personal value, and almost none of the information was considered true. But if the account made up all its claims, why is there so much evidence supporting it? 

Twitter is often seen as a cesspool of false and fake information, which is true in part. Some believe that it has no value in modern society, which can also be true. Nobody, though, can diminish the role that social media, and Twitter, in particular, played in the investigation into the Astros’ nefarious ways. One of the main principles of journalism is to be the watchdog for larger government entities, corporations, and organizations. On January 16. 2020, Twitter took on that role and conducted its own investigation. Without internet sleuths like Jomboy, Kenny Dacey and so many others, the full extent of this scheme may never have been realized. Maybe in the future, Twitter and the public as a whole can solve more of these mysteries and bring to light the wrongdoings of teams, organizations, corporations and other massive entities like the Houston Astros.

References

Anderson, R.J. (2020, February 16). Astros’ Carlos Correa fires back at Cody Bellinger, reveals new reason why Altuve didn’t want jersey removed. CBS Sports. Retrieved from: https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/astros-carlos-correa-fires-back-at-cody-bellinger-reveals-new-reason-why-altuve-didnt-want-jersey-removed/

Bauer, Trevor [@BauerOutage]. (2020, January 16). I’ve heard this from multiple parties too, for what it’s worth…[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/BauerOutage/status/1217888647468310528?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1217888647468310528&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fsports.yahoo.com%2Fa-new-astros-cheating-conspiracy-theory-has-set-twitter-ablaze-205503577.html

Ducey, Kenny [@KennyDucey]. (2020, January 16). Altuve making sure he keeps that jersey on (via r/nyyankees)[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/KennyDucey/status/1217888139072745474

Garro, Adrian. (2019, October 19). Congrats to the Astros for clinching a trip to the World Series in the most adorable way possible. Cut4. Retrieved from: https://www.mlb.com/cut4/jose-altuve-keeps-jersey-on-after-winning-alcs-with-homer

Jomboy [@Jomboy_]. (2019, November 19). Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/jomboy_/status/1194348775965437952?lang=en.

Jomboy [@Jomboy_]. (2019, November 18). I have no idea what an electronic buzzer looks like but someone just sent me this as a ‘maybe that’s[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/jomboy_/status/1196525061659906050?lang=en

Oz, Mike. (2020, January 16). A new Astros cheating conspiracy theory has sent Twitter into a frenzy. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved from: https://sports.yahoo.com/a-new-astros-cheating-conspiracy-theory-has-set-twitter-ablaze-205503577.html

Young, Dennis. (2019, August 17). Jomboy is obviously good for baseball, and the Yankees should lighten up. New York Daily News. Retrieved from: https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/ny-jomboy-savages-mlb-bill-simmons-20190817-hho4pn2mlvcghjdmlozroxh4se-story.html

A Moment the Media Missed

February 2, 2020

By Kelsey Kohlman

Kelsey Kohlman graduated from BGSU’s Sport Management program in December 2013 and has been working at ESPN in the Stats and Information Group (SIG).

It was December of 2013 in my final week of being an intern for the Charlotte Bobcats (Hornets). The Lakers had just beaten Charlotte in a close game, and I was doing my normal postgame intern duties of going back and forth from the court, to the locker room tunnels, to the printer, to the media room, etc. However, soon that night was going to be unforgettable.

There was a young boy decked out in Kobe gear from head to toe in the tunnel leading to the locker rooms. Literally, I didn’t know that many Laker accessories existed lol. He was a quadriplegic in a motorized wheelchair with a trachea coming out of his throat. I couldn’t help but notice he was beaming with excitement everytime I walked past him.

A few minutes later, I just so happened to walk by the boy again (with a cart full of monitors) just as Kobe was coming out of the locker room. This was the boy’s “Make a Wish.” Since the hallway was too narrow to squeeze past, I got the pleasure of witnessing such a heart-warming interaction that I will never forget.

This wasn’t a 1 minute hello and good bye. Kobe squatted and put his arm around the boy’s shoulder and they started talking like they had known each other for ages. No awkward silence, no forced interaction, no sad puppy eyes, and no negative annoyance body language that some celebs may show when doing a “checkbox” quota meet and greet. It felt more genuine than I would have ever imagined.

The parents were standing near me, behind their son, probably because they didn’t want their son to see them bawling uncontrollably. Their happiness and being overcome by emotion was so evident, it made me tear up.

Kobe, the boy, and both parents then began walking toward my office, to an empty room where they could all chat in a more private setting. As I followed not far behind to continue on with my work, I just couldn’t get over how genuine Kobe looked/felt/sounded, how overly-happy this child was, and how something so simple can mean so much to a struggling situation..if done right. And Kobe did it all right that night.

Kobe was never a favorite for me, but seeing that interaction has always “hit” and stuck with me. I’ve told this story many times before because those few minutes were so shockingly heartfelt.

Millions of these “moments” happen each year. Am I saying Kobe was the best person to walk the planet? No. But I am saying people have so many sides to them. A superstar athlete can have a tender touch and a warm heart. A person that has had rough acts in the past can rebound and evolve into something greater.

Thank you Kobe for that memory. It will never fade, and in my eyes, it was better than anything you had ever done with a basketball.

Seahawks look to replicate past success, bring back Lynch and Turbin

By Pershelle Rohrer

January 3, 2020

Pershelle Rohrer is a first-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

The Seattle Seahawks brought back two familiar faces on December 23, 2019, signing running backs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. The move comes after Seattle lost their top three running backs for the year due to various injuries, leaving rookie Travis Homer as the only active running back on the roster (Rost, 2019).

Lynch began his first stint with Seattle when he was acquired from the Buffalo Bills in 2010. He quickly became a “Seattle sports icon,” according to John Boyle (2019b, para. 6). Lynch played with the Seahawks from 2010 to 2015, helping the team to two Super Bowl appearances. He had four consecutive seasons in which he rushed for 1,200 or more yards (2011-14) and led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2013 and 2014. (Henderson, 2019). The five-time Pro Bowler retired briefly before returning to play for his hometown Oakland Raiders in 2017 and 2018 (Marek, 2019). 

Just three weeks ago, Lynch was handing out tequila shots to tailgating Raiders fans prior to the team’s final game before next season’s relocation to Las Vegas (Marek, 2019). Last Sunday, he was playing for an NFC West division title as the 11-4 Seahawks took on the 12-3 San Francisco 49ers (Alexander, 2019). He impressed in his return, rushing for 34 yards on 12 carries, including a 15-yard run, and leaping for a 1-yard touchdown in a 26-21 loss to the 49ers (Stecker, 2020).

Seahawks general manager John Schneider had discussions with Lynch about a return before the 2019 campaign, according to head coach Pete Carroll (Gustafson, 2019). In regard to his return to football after his year-long retirement, Lynch said, “At my age, this is a great opportunity to be able to come in and be able to help when needed, get in and do my little thing and get out, hopefully be able to help them go ahead and get to the Super Bowl that they should be playing for” (Boyle, 2019b, para. 7).

Lynch’s return to the NFL generated excitement throughout the NFL, as he was “entirely out of the NFL rumor mill in 2019” (Marek, 2019, para. 5). Andy Nesbitt (2019) wrote, “You have to believe that just his presence alone will pump up the team heading into a game that will decide the NFC West title” (para. 5). Brandon Gustafson (2019) said, “It’s clear fans of the team are excited about Lynch’s return” (para. 19). Julian Paredes (2019) described, “The jury’s still out on whether Lynch remains the dominant player he’d been for nearly a decade, but his return brings life to a team whose season was all but lost to injury” (para. 8).

NBA player Jamal Crawford, a Seattle native, and former Seahawks punter Jon Ryan expressed their excitement on Twitter:

Pete Carroll, referring to Lynch, said, “The circumstances rolled just at this time, and he could have four or five games left in him, maybe that’s what we need” (Boyle, 2019b, para. 5).

Just hours before the Lynch signing, Robert Turbin announced his return to Seattle on Instagram, posting a picture in front of his locker with the caption, “…Happy to be back HOME” (2019). 

Turbin was drafted in the fourth round by the Seahawks in 2012 and was part of the draft class that included seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and six-time Pro Bowl linebacker and Turbin’s Utah State teammate Bobby Wagner (Boyle, 2019a). Turbin played alongside Wilson, Wagner, and Lynch from 2012 to 2014, rushing for 928 yards in 1,231 attempts (good for 4 yards per attempt) in 48 games for Seattle (Henderson, 2019). He also caught 43 passes for 427 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Seahawks during those three seasons (Dajani, 2019). Following his years in Seattle, Turbin played for the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, and Indianapolis Colts (Boyle, 2019b).

While the signing of Lynch is drawing more attention, an Associated Press article emphasized the importance of Turbin as both running backs prepared to play their first games in over a year. Lynch was not expected to handle an entire workload, and Turbin had the potential to take a significant number of snaps as a result. It was unknown at the time how the carries would be split between Turbin, Lynch, and Homer (“Robert Turbin the,” 2019). Turbin did not have any offensive snaps in Week 17 as Homer and Lynch split the workload (Stecker, 2020). However, that does not mean that he will not be a part of Seattle’s game plan as they head into the playoffs.

The Seahawks, who were third in the NFL in rushing yards per game this year heading into Week 17, found themselves “desperate for help at tailback” (Rost, 2019, para. 6) after they lost their top three running backs for the season. The injuries occurred over a fifteen-day span. Rashaad Penny tore his ACL in a Week 14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise suffered a fractured hip and a broken arm, respectively, in a Week 16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Carson rushed for over 1,000 yards for the second straight season and entered Week 16 as the NFL’s fourth leading rusher (“Seahawks officially bring,” 2019). 

The additions of Lynch and Turbin help the Seahawks rebuild their running game as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in five years. The two running backs are “a backfield tandem blast from the franchise’s past” (“Seahawks officially bring,” 2019, para. 1), reminding fans of the back-to-back Super Bowl appearances that the team enjoyed in 2014 and 2015 (Gustafson, 2019). It remains to be seen how Lynch and Turbin impact the remainder of Seattle’s season, but an initial assessment after their first game gives a positive outlook for the Seahawks. Brent Stecker (2020) emphasizes the importance of a strong group of running backs, writing, “Suddenly that run game that has long been a trademark of Carroll’s Seahawks teams – the same one that was eroded away by injuries late in the regular season – looks to be back just in time for the playoffs” (para. 9).

The Seahawks (11-5) will play the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) on Sunday in a win-or-go-home matchup. Fourth-seeded Philadelphia comes into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak while Seattle has lost two straight games. The Seahawks were 7-1 on the road during the regular season and defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia, 17-9, on November 24th. Carson Wentz will be making his first career playoff start after missing Philadelphia’s successful Super Bowl run two years ago and last year’s playoffs due to injuries (Booth, 2020). Fifth-seed Seattle aims to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2015, and Lynch and Turbin could play important roles for the Seahawks as they start their playoff campaign on Sunday.

References

AdamSchefter. (2019, December 23). Beastmode officially is back in Seattle. Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks have an agreement, and Seattle has a new RB to line up against SF during Sunday night’s NFC-West-deciding showdown. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1209330496490094593?s=20

AdamSchefter. (2019, December 23). And so one day after the Seahawks lost Chris Carson to a fractured hip and C.J. Prosise to a broken arm, the Seahawks went retro RB and signed Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1209334252057366528?s=20

Alexander, M. (2019, December 24). Seahawks first-round bye chances take a hit, but they’re not dead yet. Field Gulls. Retrieved from https://www.fieldgulls.com/2019/12/24/21036818/seattle-seahawks-first-round-bye-chances-take-a-hit-nfl-playoff-scenarios-2019

Booth, T. (2020, January 2). Seahawks-Eagles preview. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved from https://sports.yahoo.com/pressure-nothing-eagles-prepare-seattle-200801255–nfl.html

Boyle, J. (2019a, December 17). Seahawks Russell Wilson & Bobby Wagner selected as starters for 2020 Pro Bowl. Seahawks.com. Retrieved from https://www.seahawks.com/news/seahawks-russell-wilson-bobby-wagner-selected-as-starters-for-2020-pro-bowl

Boyle, J. (2019b, December 24). Seahawks sign running backs Marshawn Lynch & Robert Turbin. Seahawks.com. Retrieved from https://www.seahawks.com/news/seahawks-sign-running-backs-marshawn-lynch-robert-turbin

Dajani, J. (2019, December 24). Seahawks bring back Robert Turbin, Marshawn Lynch after losing numerous running backs to injury. CBSSports.com. Retrieved from https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/seahawks-reportedly-to-sign-robert-turbin-still-working-with-marshawn-lynch-on-deal/

Gustafson, B. (2019, December 27). Seahawks’ Pete Carroll explains how Marshawn Lynch returned to Seattle. 710 ESPN Seattle. Retrieved from https://sports.mynorthwest.com/740450/seahawks-pete-carroll-marshawn-lynch-seattle/

Henderson, B. (2019, December 23). Seahawks add RBs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. ESPN.com.Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28362887/seahawks-add-rbs-marshawn-lynch-robert-turbin

JCrossover. (2019, December 23). Man, man, man.. My favorite player is BACK!!! @MoneyLynch back with the @Seahawks. Christmas came early!!!!! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/JCrossover/status/1209337833640431616?s=20

JonRyan9. (2019, December 23). I hope my old #24 jersey still fits. #BeastMode [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/JonRyan9/status/1209291330435731456?s=20

Marek, G. (2019, December 24). Marshawn Lynch will face the 49ers on Sunday, 2 weeks after handing out shots at a Raiders tailgate. SFGate. Retrieved from https://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Marshawn-Lynch-Seahawks-49ers-Raiders-tailgate-14930215.php

mattschniedman. (2019, December 23). Marshawn Lynch was serving tequila shots at a parking lot tailgate in Oakland eight days ago for the Raiders’ last game there. Now he’s gonna start for the Seahawks in the playoffs. Legend. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/mattschneidman/status/1209170987905945600?s=20

Nesbitt, A. (2019, December 24). The NFL world reacts to Marshawn Lynch rejoining the Seahawks. USA Today. Retrieved from https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/12/seahawks-marshawn-lynch-agree-on-deal-beast-mode-is-back

Paredes, J. (2019, December 23). Beast mode: Marshawn Lynch officially returns to Seahawks. Q13 Fox.Retrieved from https://q13fox.com/2019/12/23/beast-mode-marshawn-lynch-officially-returns-to-seahawks/

robertjturbin. (2019, December 23). Never give up on God… He’ll never give up on you. Happy to be back HOME [Instagram post]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/B6b8bulnEud/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Robert Turbin the other part of the running back reunion in Seattle. (2019, December 27). Q13 Fox. Retrieved from https://q13fox.com/2019/12/27/robert-turbin-the-other-part-of-the-running-back-reunion-in-seattle/

Rost, S. (2019, December 24). The 3 questions: How much will Lynch’s return impact Seahawks?. 710 ESPN Seattle. Retrieved from https://sports.mynorthwest.com/739909/the-3-questions-how-much-will-lynchs-return-impact-seahawks/?

Seahawks officially bring back RBs Lynch, Turbin. (2019, December 24). Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved by https://sports.yahoo.com/seahawks-officially-bring-back-rbs-070730564.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAKL5VqT9VdSjNDgQOrUczx_Mt1NNG-U7_JKla5Fm5OaEKjUEQxkMG8yrZOxWTFRo-wpvyOPbE_XPJ8eN6mSoTDaSW4ECwu812VN0-OjD291w-U1aaEVbcyNi5qKPp9aec9Fw0RKaXims0QiMFyoCyR5Oo_KOlwXPQo37oIfUgpXe

Stecker, B. (2020, January 3). Seahawks’ run game ‘has some stature to it’ again thanks to Lynch, Homer. 710 ESPN Seattle. Retrieved from https://sports.mynorthwest.com/743669/seahawks-run-game-has-some-stature/

How “Wonder Boy” Luka Doncic is making an early MVP case

By Pershelle Rohrer

December 15, 2019

Pershelle Rohrer is a first-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

Luka Doncic may be only twenty years old, but his youth isn’t stopping him from impressing early in his second NBA season. The guard from Slovenia is off to a hot start for the Dallas Mavericks this year, collecting awards and accolades for his play and drawing attention from the media as an early MVP favorite.

Doncic was crowned Rookie of the Year for his performance during the 2018-19 season. He became just the second rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, joining Oscar Robertson as the only other player to accomplish the feat (“10 things to know,” 2019). Doncic currently leads the league in triple-doubles (7) and holds the record for the most triple-doubles before his 21st birthday (15). His efforts earned him the October and November player of the month award as well as the Sports Illustrated 2019 Breakout of the Year Award (“Mavericks’ Luka Doncic,” 2019). 

Doncic is playing like a superstar, continuing to “assault the NBA record book” (Owens, 2019). He recently recorded his 19th straight game of at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, breaking Michael Jordan’s record since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976. He only trails Oscar Robertson (29 games from 1964 to 1965) in such games all-time (Owens, 2019). He is the second player under 21 to record a 40-point triple-double, joining his idol LeBron James in accomplishing the feat (Rader, 2019). He is third in the NBA in scoring, second in assists, and twelfth in rebounds among all players, practically averaging a triple-double with 30.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game (“Luka Doncic,” 2019).

The third overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, Doncic has helped revive a Dallas Mavericks team that finished 33-49 last season. The Mavericks are red hot, having won 10 of their last 12 games en route to a 16-7 record, which is good for third in the Western Conference (“Dallas Mavericks”, 2019). Doyle Rader (2019), a contributor to Forbes, illustrates Doncic’s impact on the organization, writing that “The team looks rejuvenated and the atmosphere inside the American Airlines Center is buzzing and vibrant.” 

Doncic was supposed to be good, but he became a breakout star much sooner than anticipated. He is projected to not only be selected to his first NBA All-Star Game, but he is in MVP conversations already, being mentioned among players such as James Harden, who leads the league in scoring, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James, one of the greatest players of all time (Manrique, 2019). 

Doncic could have been one of the rare rookies selected as an NBA All-Star last season, but he was overlooked by the media in favor of veteran players. All-stars are selected through a voting process that includes fans, players, and the media. Doncic received 4.2 million fan votes, which was third only to LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo but he did not receive the media and player votes to qualify as a starter (Golliver, 2019). He was then bypassed by the coaches, who selected the reserves. The media missed out on the opportunity to help send one of the league’s most intriguing young stars to the All-Star game, something that many fans would have loved to see. Like Rader (2019) said, “Everyone wants to experience their own piece of Luka magic” (para. 17).

Despite not being selected as an all-star last year, Doncic is considered a lock for this year’s game by most media members unless something goes drastically wrong. However, they also have the opportunity to potentially make him the youngest MVP in NBA history. Derrick Rose was 22 years old when he won the award in 2010-11. Doncic will be 21 years old at the conclusion of the season, and his current numbers are similar to those of Russell Westbrook in his 2016-17 MVP campaign.

Doncic’s stellar play causes him to receive heaping praise from many media members. Mo Dakhil (2019) writes, “Luka Doncic is running the Dallas Mavericks offense the way a maestro conducts an orchestra” (para. 1). Mike Prada (2019) argues that he is a top-five player this year. Mary Louise Kelly (2019) claims that sportswriters are already suggesting that he could potentially be an all-time great. From the beginning of the calendar year to now, media members have gone from leaving Doncic off the All-Star ballot to considering “Wonder Boy” a legitimate MVP candidate. As the season continues, Doncic’s development is something to watch for as he tries to become the youngest MVP in the history of the league. 

References

Dakhil, M. (2019, December 9). The play that’s turned Luka Doncic into an MVP candidate. Bleacher Report. Retrieved from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2866004-the-play-that-has-turned-luka-doncic-into-an-mvp-candidate

Dallas Mavericks. (2019). ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nba/team/schedule/_/name/dal

Golliver, B. (2019, December 11). Who’s got next? Luka Doncic leads 10 deserving first-time NBA all-star candidates. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/12/11/nba-all-star-game-chicago-debut-candidates-luka-doncic-pascal-siakam/

Luka Doncic. (2019). Basketball Reference. Retrieved from https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/d/doncilu01.html

Luka Doncic is only 20, but he could be the next MVP of the NBA. (2019, December 5). NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/12/05/785253971/luka-doncic-is-only-20-but-he-could-be-the-next-mvp-of-the-nba

Manrique, B. (2019, November 25). Can Luka Doncic really become the youngest MVP in NBA history? Clutch Points. Retrieved from https://clutchpoints.com/can-luka-doncic-really-become-the-youngest-mvp-in-nba-history/

Mavericks’ Luka Doncic wins Sports Illustrated’s Breakout of the Year award. (2019, December 4). Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/sportsperson/2019/12/04/luka-doncic-dallas-mavericks-sports-illustrated-breakout-award

Owens, J. (2019, December 8). Luka Doncic passes Michael Jordan for modern-day NBA record. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved from https://sports.yahoo.com/luka-doncic-passes-michael-jordan-for-modernday-nba-record-022245607.html

Prada, M. (2019, December 4). The secret to Luka Doncic’s rapid rise into a leading MVP candidate. SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/nba/2019/12/4/20993740/luka-doncic-dallas-mavericks-mvp-race-stats-highlights

Rader, D. (2019, November 22). Luka Doncic is breaking records and making his case for MVP. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/doylerader/2019/11/22/luka-doncic-mvp-breaking-records-triple-double-dallas-mavericks/#5b74310977e8

10 things to know about Mavs’ Luka Doncic, including his signature moment vs. the Rockets, some amazing shots, and more. (2019, May 31). The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/mavericks/2019/06/01/10-things-to-know-about-mavs-luka-doncic-including-his-signature-moment-vs-the-rockets-some-amazing-shots-and-more/

Ma-Home Alone

Image result for patrick mahomes

By Ben Kelley

December 11, 2019

Ben is a first-year undergraduate BGSU student from Uniontown, Ohio. He is a sport management major and a journalism minor. His primary interests include professional and collegiate football.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs played up to the New England Patriots this week, with Mahomes leading his team to a 23-16 victory. However, the game almost resembled a Home Alone movie script rather than an NFL play-calling sheet.

Upon the Chiefs’ arrival in Boston last weekend, a container holding the equipment of thirty-five players went missing. The container was later found in Newark, New Jersey, and delivered to Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts before the game’s 4:30 start time. If the container had not been delivered, over half of the Chiefs’ roster would have been missing their helmets and shoulder pads (Schefter, 2019). Without the proper equipment, the players could not have played. If the players could not play, then the game would have ended in the first forfeit in NFL history (Farrar, 2019).

According to the 2019 NFL Rulebook, “If a team forfeits a game, the opponent will be declared the winner by a score of 2-0, but the points will not be added to the winning team’s record for purposes of offensive production or tie-breakers” (“2019 official playing,” 2019, p. 41). Doug Farrar makes note of this in his article “Chiefs avoid first forfeit in NFL history after equipment is diverted to New Jersey,” but other implications of the would-have-been forfeiture are not discussed by sports media (Farrar, 2019).

Both the win-loss records for the Patriots and Chiefs would have been affected by a forfeiture. The Chiefs victory would not have occurred, and the team’s record would have been 8-5. The Patriots would have gained a victory, and their record would move to 11-2. Playoff spots would not have changed, however, as each teams’ status as division leaders would remain the same. A record of 8-5 would still be good for first place in the AFC West, while the Patriots would have stayed as the AFC East winners with a record of 11-2. (“2019 NFL standings,” 2019).

A forfeiture would have also prevented one of the roughest outings for a refereeing crew this season. Multiple significant calls went against the Patriots, with two would-be touchdowns not being called. On one occasion, safety Devin McCourty punched the football out of Travis Kelce’s hands, and Stephon Gilmore picked up the football and began racing to the end zone. However, the whistles blew before Gilmore reached the end zone, signaling the end of the play.

The Patriots responded on the ensuing drive by scoring a touchdown to make up for Gilmore’s non-touchdown. Patriots’ receiver N’Keal Harry caught a pass, avoided stepping out of bounds, and dove into the end zone for six points. However, a referee blew the whistle when he thought Harry went out, and the play was not ruled a touchdown. Since Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick already had to challenge the referee’s decisions twice in the game, he was out of challenges to use. As such, the play was non-challengeable and since it was not ruled as a scoring play, the referees were not forced to review the play.

However, the referees showed little bias in the grand-scheme of penalty-calling.  Kansas City ended the game with ten penalties for a total of 136 yards against themselves. New England was only called for five penalties, with twenty-five yards against the team (“NFL Matchup,” 2019).

Ironically, the Chiefs shot a video of themselves as the actors from Home Alone two months ago. At least referees and Patriots’ fans alike can get some laughter out of the game.

References

Farrar, D. (2019, December 8). Chiefs avoid first forfeit in NFL history after equipment is diverted to New Jersey. Touchdown Wire. Retrieved from https://touchdownwire.usatoday.com/2019/12/08/chiefs-try-to-avoid-first-forfeit-in-nfl-history-after-equipment-is-diverted-to-new-jersey/

NFL Matchup. (2019, December 8). ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/matchup?gameId=401127930

Schefter, A. (2019, December 8). Chiefs get gear after it’s mistakenly sent to New Jersey. ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28252143/chiefs-get-gear-mistakenly-sent-new-jersey

2019 NFL standings & team stats. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/index.htm

2019 Official playing rules of the National Football League. (2019). NFL.com. Retrieved from https://operations.nfl.com/media/3831/2019-playing-rules.pdf

The (lack of) Soccer Coverage by ESPN

By Breven Miller

December 10, 2019

Breven is a second-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. Originally from Jackson Township, Ohio, Breven is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. His interests lie in all sport, but he has a particular passion for football and soccer.

Soccer is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world. I don’t think you would find someone to refute that point if you tried, it’s pretty much common knowledge. Why is it though, that the rest of the world cares more about soccer than we do in the United States? Certainly there are a few reasons: our men’s national team has never been high quality (though the women’s team is consistently one of the best), our domestic league pales in comparison to one like the Premier League in England, and we arrived at the soccer party pretty late. These would all be pretty reasonable arguments as to why soccer isn’t as important in America. However, I want to bring a new idea to that table: that American media outlets (ESPN, I’m looking at you) don’t give soccer the attention that it warrants. 

A great example of some questionable analysis from a specific ESPN employee about soccer came on Pardon the Interruption just before the Premier League started this past August. Of course, Pardon the Interruption features Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon (most of the time) and airs every possible weekday on ESPN. Just before the Premier League began the current season, the two did a “preview” of the season (for clarity, Kornheiser was not on this particular showing, instead it was Frank Isola). To start, this was not a major headline in the show, signifying that the beginning of quite possibly the most popular soccer league in the world was merely an afterthought. I’ll focus on Wilbon in particular since Isola did some research and found some decent analysis to be had. 

Wilbon began by picking Manchester United to win the Premier League this season. He cited the fact that they still have Paul Pogba and that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had been there “a while.” Paul Pogba has only ever played to his full potential at Manchester United for small stretches, while I’m not too sure who would consider a half of a season to be “a while” if they understand how soccer clubs tend to handle managers. Beyond this, when Isola mentioned the Champions League and how Premier League favorites Manchester City might want to focus on winning said Champions League instead of focusing on the Premier League, Wilbon said, “Isn’t (the Premier League) the most prestigious league championship in the world in this sport?” Not only is that debatable initself, but not everyone can win the Premier League! The Premier League is just the English top division of soccer, therefore a team like FC Barcelona can’t win the Premier League (since they play in Spain). It’s pretty obvious here that one of the more influential analysts at ESPN has absolutely no idea how soccer functions internationally, which is one of the things holding soccer back in America. 

I’ll give credit where credit is due: ESPN shows a decent amount of soccer. MLS games make it to the mainstream ESPN networks, along with some games from the Italian Serie A, and occasionally even the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) makes an appearance. Soccer even makes a fair number of appearances in SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays. Where ESPN lacks heavily is in analysis, and what’s odd is that they used to give the analysis more airtime! ESPN FC used to be a show that ran fairly often on the ESPN networks. This was their soccer analysis show, and it does still run. However, it only runs on ESPN+, which is a subscription-based streaming service on top of what one might already be paying for ESPN. Adding to this is the fact that apart from the people working in the soccer department at ESPN, not many seem to have a lot of knowledge about the game or the players. If you watch SportsCenter, the only time you’ll ever hear about soccer is in the Top 10 Plays, and I would be willing to bet the analysis is slightly misinformed. A mispronounced name or two never goes amiss.

According to a 2018 poll, interest in soccer in America has gone up 27% since 2012. Six years is a really short time for that number to be so high, meaning that growth in interest is pretty steep. With that stat in hand, wouldn’t it only make sense for ESPN to start covering soccer more comprehensively? Would it not behoove the most well-known sports news network in America to at least become educated on the most popular sport in the world when it’s only gaining traction in their country? The way I see it, they might fall behind if soccer isn’t adopted soon. Oh and by the way: see what ESPN FC or any other soccer experts say about Manchester United’s chances at winning the Premier League, even before the season started.

They never had a chance and they still don’t. Thanks, Michael Wilbon.

References

Isola, F & Wilbon, M. (2019, August 8). Pardon The Interruption. ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRvn9OJcGuA

LoRé, M. (2019, April 30). Soccer’s growth In U.S. has international legends buzzing. Forbes.com. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaellore/2019/04/26/soccers-growth-in-u-s-has-international-legends-buzzing/#5705c94117f1

Baltimore is Built-For-More: Defending NFL Defenses

Image result for baltimore ravens defense

By Ben Kelley

December 2, 2019

Ben is a first-year undergraduate BGSU student from Uniontown, Ohio. He is a sport management major and a journalism minor. His primary interests include professional and collegiate football.

If you’ve ever played EA Sports’ Madden NFL 2005, then you might remember the video game’s selling point: the hit-stick. The “hit-stick” was a new feature that allowed you to force a heavy hit onto a ball-carrier by flicking the right stick of a video game controller. EA Sports had a simple reason for introducing the concept: in Madden NFL 2004, users were having trouble with stopping the electric dual-threat quarterback Michael Vick, and players needed a defensive counter. That counter would become the “hit-stick” (“Top 25 features in Madden,” 2013).

Ray Lewis, a former inside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2005. With Lewis and the hit-stick headlining the game, Madden NFL 2005 took on a defensive approach to virtual football gaming.

It’s now 2019, and quarterback turnover has become a common theme throughout the current NFL season. As the league approaches the fourteenth week of regular-season competition, eighty-six quarterbacks have attempted at least one pass during a game. Of those eighty-six quarterbacks, only sixteen have started twelve games this season. Out of those sixteen, only nine have winning records as starters (“NFL passing,” 2019). Five of those quarterbacks play for a team with a top-six defense in points allowed; four of those starters have a defense ranked in the top-four in points allowed (“NFL opposition & defensive statistics,” 2019).

One team with consistent quarterback play and a top defensive unit is the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens currently have the sixth-best defense and have compiled ten wins and only two losses. Their quarterback, Lamar Jackson, has statistically lit up the league this season. Jackson has thrown for 2,532 yards with a pass-completion percentage of 66.5%, with twenty-five passing touchdowns and only five interceptions in 2019 (“NFL passing,” 2019). In addition, Jackson has rushed for 977 yards and seven touchdowns this season (for comparison, Jackson is currently ranked eighth in rushing yards in the NFL) (“NFL rushing,” 2019).

Sports media has taken note of Lamar’s play in 2019. Sean Wagner-McGough (2019) of CBS Sports claims “Jackson is our MVP after 12 weeks” (para 2). Zach Frydenlaud (2019) of Complex not only thinks that Jackson has the MVP award wrapped up, but that Jackson “is the future of the league at QB” (para 6).

However, Baltimore’s defense deserves a share of the credit. Baltimore’s defense is currently ranked sixth in points allowed, and they’ve caused nineteen turnovers in 2019. Only New England, San Francisco, Buffalo, Minnesota, and Chicago sit ahead of the Ravens in points allowed, and each of these teams has a winning record. Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Dallas each sit behind Baltimore in points allowed, and each of those teams are at .500 or above. As a whole, the top nine defenses in points allowed all have a record at .500 or higher.

New England and San Francisco each own a record of 10-2, yet their quarterbacks are not playing at the highest of levels. Tom Brady currently holds the 21st best quarterback rating, and Jimmy Garoppolo holds the 10th best quarterback rating (“NFL passing,” 2019). Tennessee is on their second quarterback of the season, and they’re 7-5. Chicago’s quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, has a rating of 84.4 for 24th place, yet the Bears have a record of 6-5 (“NFL passing,” 2019). Pittsburgh is now relying on their third quarterback this season, yet the Steelers sit at seven wins and five losses.

While scrambling dual-threat quarterbacks may appear to be the future of the NFL, strong defensive play is making its case to be labeled as “the future of the NFL.” Each of the top nine defenses in points allowed this season have kept their teams in playoff contention, despite below-average quarterback play or turnover at the position. It’s as if we’re living in the world of Madden NFL 2005, and the “hit-stick” has made its appearance.

References

2019 NFL opposition & defensive statistics. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/opp.htm

2019 NFL passing. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/passing.htm

2019 NFL rushing. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/rushing.htm#rushing_and_receiving::rush_yds

2019 NFL standings & team stats. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/

Frydenlaud, Z. (2019, November 25). Lamar Jackson is not only the NFL MVP but the future of the league. Complex. Retrieved from https://www.complex.com/sports/2019/11/lamar-jackson-mvp-and-future

Top 25 features in Madden NFL history. (2013, August 2). EA Sports. Retrieved from https://www.easports.com/madden-nfl/news/2013/madden-football-history

Wagner-McGough, S. (2019, December 1). NFL MVP race, week 13: Lamar Jackson begins to pull away from Russell Wilson, Stephon Gilmore makes his debut. CBS Sports. Retrieved from https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-mvp-race-week-13-lamar-jackson-begins-to-pull-away-from-russell-wilson-stephon-gilmore-makes-his-debut/