Setting the World on Fier

By Griffin Olah

November 21, 2019

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

Since baseball’s inception, teams have looked for a leg up over their opposition. Whether that is the development of signs from coaches, the shift or stealing signs, it is expected and even encouraged that teams innovate new ways to win. The Astros, however, have taken it to a new level. Earlier this month, former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers dropped a bomb on the unsuspecting baseball world: the World Series winning team in 2017 cheated.

In 2017, reports came out that the Boston Red Sox were using an unapproved Apple Watch in the dugout. Naturally, that revelation turned to thoughts of cheating, and the opponent did nothing to dismiss those. The New York Yankees, arch rivals of the Red Sox tossed in accusations that the Sox were stealing signs from their catcher. The MLB launched an investigation into the team, and found them guilty of cheating. On September 15, 2017, Commissioner Rob Manfred fined the Red Sox for their scandal and created a new discipline protocol to deter future teams (Davidoff, 2019).

At the same time, however, a far larger scheme was underway, which can now implicate 3 different MLB managers. In Houston, the Astros had a few veteran additions off to a slow start. It was then that a slumping addition who is yet to be named and a team official concocted the plan: they were going to electronically steal signs. Throughout the season, the Astros perfected the system: using a camera placed in center field to pick up the signs from the catcher, sending it to a laptop in the tunnel, where a staff member banged on a trash can to signal the coming pitch to batters (Passan, 2019). 

Fast forward to today, where the Astros are almost a certifiable dynasty. They’ve been to the past 3 World Series, hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy only in 2017. Mike Fiers, a pitcher on that World Series team had just given an interview to The Athletic where he detailed how the Astros stole signs during all home games at Minute Maid Park in 2017. The baseball world exploded, shrapnel strewn all across the baseball landscape. Did the Astros cheat their way to a championship? Who ran this whole operation? Was Alex Cora, former bench coach and current Red Sox manager, involved? What about former Astros DH turned Mets manager Carlos Beltran? Information was at a premium, and nobody could pay the price.

The media, of course, jumped at the bomb Fiers threw into the world. Every major sports news outlet was looking into the Astros allegations, and the MLB opened another investigation almost immediately. Some sources tried to prove or disprove the allegations. Most, however, either ignored, or misused statistical evidence. One ESPN article cited the Astros success on the road, both in win-loss records and batting lines (Schoenfield, 2019). While these are good surface-level stats, they don’t tell the full story. Home and away splits can illustrate the differences between the Astros’ play in Minute Maid Park and away from it, but sign stealing won’t show up as a large impact on traditional stats. If one was to look at isolated power (ISO) and strikeout rate (K%), the numbers would tell a different story. Stealing signs is going to give the hitter an upper hand, that part is undebatable, but that advantage may not be evident in hits. ISO is simplified to slugging percentage minus batting average, which shows the player’s raw power (Slowinski, 2010). The MLB average ISO is .140, with higher values showing that players are hitting the ball harder for more extra bases and home runs (Slowinski, 2010). The Astros in 2017 paced baseball with a .196 ISO as a team, .56 higher than average (“Major League Team,” 2019). The Astros also bested the league in K%, which shows the percent of at-bats where batters struck out, with 17.3%, which was only 1.2% lower than the second place Indians (“Major League Team,” 2019).

Most articles, however, strayed away from making judgements. They simply relayed the information and waited to learn more before going after the Astros’ rings. Some, however, made sure to point to the Astros’ checkered past. During the 2018, reports from Cleveland and Boston of a uniformed Astros employee recording the dugouts made the MLB first investigate the Houston franchise (Passan, 2019). This came along with allegations from that same year of Astros players clapping signals to tell the batter what the coming pitch was ( Passan, 2019). While the past of the Astros is important, constant reminders and retelling can sway opinions. If the narrative that the Astros are cheaters is pushed by the media, an investigation into the allegations can become difficult. Fans make up their notions of what happened, and those fan ideals can destroy a franchise.

While gathering information is vital in the process, making sure it is properly relayed is important. Statistics are among the few ways, along with video, to show the Astros have stolen signs. If their numbers are drastically higher, which some advanced stats like ISO show, then maybe there is creedence to Fiers’s claims. Those numbers, however, have to be given and shared with the public, as opposed to selective stats like batting average that can paint an incomplete and biased picture of the problem. The media has done a good job overall so far in their coverage of the Astros, but as always, some things could be better. It just so happens that with advanced sign stealing techniques, advanced and traditional stats could be the problem

References

Davidoff, K. (2019, November 21). Rob Manfred: Statement puts Astros in ‘serious’ sign-stealing trouble. New York Post. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2019/11/21/rob-manfred-the-statement-that-puts-astros-in-serious-sign-stealing-trouble/

Major League Team Statistics. Fangraphs. Retrieved from https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=1&season=2017&month=0&season1=2017&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&startdate=2017-01-01&enddate=2017-12-31&sort=4,a

Passan, J. (2019, November 12). Ex-Astros pitcher Mike Fiers: Team stole signs with camera. ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28066522/ex-astros-pitcher-mike-fiers-team-stole-signs-camera

Schoenfield, D. (2019, November 12). What you need to know amid Astros sign-stealing accusations. ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28066847/what-need-know-amid-astros-sign-stealing-accusations

Slowinski, S. (2010, February 15). ISO | Sabermetrics Library. Fangraphs. Retrieved from https://library.fangraphs.com/offense/iso/

Ridin’ Dirty

By Brody Hickle

November 21, 2019

Brody Hickle grew up in Bluffton, Ohio and now studies Sport Management at Bowling Green State University. The third-year undergraduate student minors in General Business. His primary sport interests are hockey and football.

Remember when Ty Cobb used to sharpen his spikes? Remember the Detroit Bad Boys? If you look up the definition of a dirty player in the NFL, you may find a picture of Vontaze Burfict, an NFL linebacker who now plays for the Oakland Raiders. He was suspended early in the 2019 season when the Raiders took on the Indianapolis Colts. His suspension was due to an illegal helmet-to-helmet contact with the Colts’ tight end, Jack Doyle. As he ran to the locker room, he grinned arrogantly to the crowd. Throughout his career, Vontaze Burfict has been fined over 20 times due to illegal hits. His most infamous illegal play came during a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he connected with Antonio Brown’s helmet, in a game that the Bengals lost. With all this said, many in the media question if Burfict should still be in the NFL.

Along with being fined, Vontaze has faced several suspensions. CBS NFL sports declares him one of the most penalized defenders in NFL history. CBS provided a case where Burfict was still with the Bengals, and they were playing the Kansas City Chiefs during the second week of preseason (Brinson, 2017). Will Brinson tweeted out a video that showed this hit as a typical example of what Burfict has done in the past, and continues to do. If you aren’t familiar with Burfict, here is an example:

With this hit, according to the NFL, you can see that it was clearly a dirty play that warranted a suspension. But, ten years earlier, this hit would have been legal. So, do you think he’s only doing his job, or is he playing dirty?

An earlier article brought up the point that his career was in serious jeopardy, but it was not because of his fines/suspensions (Gaydos, 2015). Although FOX news brought up the illegal hits he made, they also pointed out that he had seven concussions. Plus, he may have had concussions in high school. Perhaps this could be a reason he wants to hurt people on the field. FOX provided the following video in which Vontaze suffered a brutal concussion, and then smacked his trainer who was simply doing his job (Gaydos, 2015).

To return to the most recent case where he hit Doyle, Gutierrez (2019) mentions that Burfict may just be getting singled out in the NFL when it comes to his dirty hits. We all know that there are players out there who want to hit hard. Occasionally, some in the media believe that any athlete once in awhile will lay a dirty hit, but Smith (2019) cites Vontaze Burfict’s agent, who suggests that “the NFL is treating Burfict differently from other players” (para. 2). Gutierrez (2019) also mentions that Derek Carr told the media that Vontaze was heartbroken, because he thought his career was over. Is he being overlooked and singled out? The video below provides evidence that Burfict was clearly targeting Doyle, and he even laughed after getting ejected.

With all this said, many in the media suggest that Burfict is the dirtiest player in the entire NFL. Personally, I agree with the media. I have read about ‘dirty’ linebackers, but I think Vontaze Burfict may be one of the dirtiest ever. Perhaps he does not fear what others think, because he continues to do it. After the perspective that the media provides, it seems that they believe that his career may be coming to an end within these next few years. Will Burfict continue with his ways, or will he prove them wrong?

Brinson W. (2017, August 28). Vontaze Burfict suspension: Here’s the hit and why it is under new NFL rule. CBS SPORTS – NFL. Retrieved from: https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/vontaze-burfict-suspension-heres-the-hit-and-why-its-illegal-under-new-nfl-rule/

Gaydos R. (2015, December 27). Controversial – NFL Linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s career reportedly in jeopardy due to sseventh concussion. Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/sports/controversial-nfl-linebackers-career-reportedly-in-jeapardy-due-seventh-concussion

Gutierrez, P. (2019, October 2). Derek Carr: Vontaze Burfict’s ‘heart is broken,’ QB says ban isn’t fair. ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27750699/derek-carr-vontaze-burfict-heart-broken-suspension

Smith, M.D. (2019, October 6). Agent says NFL singled out Vontaze Burfict for unfair punishment. NBC Sports. Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/agent-says-nfl-singled-out-vontaze-burfict-for-unfair-punishment/ar-AAIm2wV  

 

The Miami Dolphins’ Approach to Team Building

By Ben Kelley

November 18, 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.

Is there an approach to team-building synonymous with the 2016-2017 Cleveland Browns and the 2008 Detroit Lions? One might say ‘tanking’ and point to the historic amount of losses each team endured as part of a master plan to acquire higher draft picks. Higher draft picks usually equate to better players to choose from in the draft, and better players usually mean a championship squad. In 2008, the Lions would lose all sixteen of their games and were awarded with the first overall draft pick. The Browns used the same plan in 2016 and 2017, winning one game in two years and getting two first overall picks during that span.

With the 2019 Miami Dolphins showing an inability to remain competitive paired with a willingness to trade away talented players, sports media have pointed to the Dolphins as the most recent example of a team willing to ‘tank’ for future talent. One article makes no haste in proclaiming the tank: “The Dolphins organization is not trying to be a contender in 2019. Its goal all year has been to load up on cap space and draft picks in lieu of wins.” (Stites, 2019, para 3). Another article stresses the importance of a Dolphins’ loss to another winless team, the Washington Redskins: “We’re not going through this suffering to not get the first spot [of the 2020 NFL Draft]. Are we all in agreement that this loss must happen?” (Noa, 2019, para 2).

However, sports media is mislabeling the Dolphins intentions. The team is not trying to lose for the sake of draft picks – the Dolphins are trying to follow a blueprint that is not necessarily ‘tanking’ to build their championship core.

First, look no further than Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores. Flores’ resume includes four championship-winning seasons as a coach for the New England Patriots, including the 2018-2019 season where he served as the defensive play-caller (Brian Flores, 2019). With his success in New England, Flores knows what kind of a team is needed to win, and he will most likely try to implement New England’s winning culture in Miami.

Second, Miami currently has a young core of players, including cornerback Xavien Howard and quarterback Josh Rosen. Howard, who made the 2018 Pro Bowl as a Dolphin, was recently extended to the 2024 season on a $76.5 million contract (Stites, 2019). Rosen, a first-round pick in 2018, was acquired via trade before the season for a 2019 second-round draft pick (Stites, 2019). If the Dolphins are trying to throw their own games, then why would the team spend big money and draft capital for a Pro-Bowl cornerback and potential franchise quarterback?

While the Dolphins’ 2019 season looks like a classic example of tanking, the team is not aiming to lose as many games as possible. The team is making calculated decisions to build a championship team – and is giving out big contracts and trading draft assets to do so. The team’s young core of players has already won two games this season and could win a few more before the end of the season.

References

Brian Flores. (2019). Miami Dolphins. Retrieved from https://www.miamidolphins.com/team/coaches-roster/brian-flores

Noa, K. (2019, October 10). Quite possibly the most important game for the 2019 Dolphins. The Phinsider. Retrieved from https://www.thephinsider.com/2019/10/10/20908650/quite-possibly-the-most-important-game-for-the-2019-dolphins

Stites, A. (2019, September 29). How the Dolphins are tanking the 2019 season, in 3 steps. SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2019/9/15/20861089/miami-dolphins-tanking-2019-draft-picks-cap-space


Igniting MLB’s Cold War: The Coming Battles on Labor

By Griffin Olah

November 12, 2019

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

Last winter, the hot stove sat cold. Top of the line free agents like Craig Kimbrel, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Dallas Keuchel waited and waited as minor signings and under-the-radar trades filled the feeds of baseball news. It stayed like that until March, when Machado and Harper both signed an excess of $300 million and a surprise Mike Trout extension broke the bank at $430 million. In a span of a few weeks, the hot stove heated back up to its former glory, then fell cold once again, leaving talented players like Keuchel and Kimbrel unemployed into the regular season.

Naturally, talk turned towards owner collusion and tanking. And that led to the biggest problem facing Major League Baseball in the coming years: Labor Strike.

The current CBA for the MLB is set to expire in 2021, and negotiations have been nearly nonexistent so far. Not since 1994 have players sat out of regular season baseball action, and the threat is imminent. After the last offseason, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is closely watching the market for this coming offseason. After small changes done by owners -such as a luxury tax, a cap on international free-agent spending and the proposal to cut down the number of minor league teams- they now have a plethora of excuses to answer why they don’t want to give away massive free-agent payouts. The MLBPA, however, is ready for a fight.

That fight might have already started. On November 5th, Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopolous, on a conference call, divulged that he was already in contact with 27 other teams and knows what their free agent goals and trade targets are (Nightengale, 2019). As soon as this went public, sirens went off at the MLBPA offices. Here, a current GM is possibly admitting to collusion on the part of owners. The next day, MLBPA Chief Tony Clark announced the MLBPA would be investigating Anthopolous’s statement. (Nightengale, 2019). Following Clark’s announcement, Anthopolous “walked back his words, saying he misspoke, didn’t discuss free agents or the free-agent market, and that he apologized for the confusion” (Passan, 2019, para. 12). 

Like any situation regarding the complicated labor structure of an industry, this is just the start of an incredibly complex issue. The media, however, seems to be in agreement: the owners are greedy and just looking to keep their own money. Some point to the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays, with the league’s lowest payroll, made the playoffs, or that St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt said that owning a team in baseball isn’t as profitable as many people think while his team, that he bought in 1995 for $150 million, is now valued at $2.1 billion (Stephen, 2019). These proponents of players’ rights believe that the owners make enough money to share it with the players they employ and have no right to suppress the market as they have the past two offseasons. It’s understandable that not every team is in a market like Los Angeles or New York or Boston where money comes rolling in from TV deals, sponsorships, and other sources, but teams like the Cardinals have the money. They can afford to bump the luxury tax line and flirt with crossing it. This makes the fact that Red Sox owner John Henry wants his team to slash payroll even more egregious (Shaikin, 2019). If a team that historically pays out the top salaries in the league wants to cut payroll to save money, maybe something is amiss among the owners.

In a complex issue, however, there are two sides, and one is not recognized. What about the owners and the teams’ perspective? Do all the players agree with Tony Clark coming after the people that write their checks? Sure, there will always be a vocal section of dissenters for any topic, but do they represent the ideas of all the players? The media only focuses on what’s wrong with the owners and why they need to change. Instead, how can the system be fixed? Yes, the trend of increasing revenue and decreasing salaries is concerning to anyone on the players’ side, but in the age of superstar mega-contracts like Harper, Machado, and Trout, can teams afford to pay anyone else? Owners are not the only ones in the wrong in this situation, and that needs to be recognized by the media and the MLBPA in order to create a CBA that can help everyone in the game, not just the owners or the players.

References

Nightengale, B. (2019, November 6). MLBPA launches investigation into Braves GM Alex Anthopolous after free agency comments. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/columnist/bob-nightengale/2019/11/06/mlb-alex-anthopoulos-free-agents-mlbpa/2513159001/

Passan, J. (2019, November 7). Union chief’s rebuke of GM heats up baseball’s cold war over free agency. ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28025583/union-chief-rebuke-gm-heats-baseball-cold-war-free-agency

Shaikin, B. (2019, October 19). MLB’s next collective bargaining agreement could reward younger players sooner. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2019-10-19/mlbs-next-collective-bargaining-agreement-reward-younger-players-sooner

Stephen, E. (2019, November 7). Tony Clark’s statement on collusion was a necessary stand against MLB. SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2019/11/7/20953616/tony-clark-mlbpa-statement-collusion-mlb-labor-war

Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Carrasco wins prestigious Roberto Clemente Award

By Pershelle Rohrer

November 3, 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.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco was selected as the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award on Friday, October 26. The award is given annually to the player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field” (“VOTE: Balloting underway,” 2019, para. 1). Carrasco was presented with the award before game 3 of the World Series in Washington, D.C. He is the third Indians player to win the award, joining Jim Thome (2002) and Andre Thornton (1979).

Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia in late June and missed over three months of the season while receiving treatments. However, that did not stop him from making positive contributions to the community, both in the United States and around the world. He provided box lunches to the homeless in Tampa, Florida during the offseason, awarded scholarships to single mothers, traveled to Africa to distribute clothing and school supplies, and donated toys and money to his native country of Venezuela (Axisa, 2019). He also visited cancer patients in hospitals, even as he was undergoing his own treatments, and “received the 2018 MedWish Humanitarian Award,” along with his wife, Karry, in November 2018 (Noga, 2019, para. 8). His contributions to the community led to his fifth-straight nomination from the Indians and his ultimate selection for the Clemente award.

Each team nominated one player for the award in September, and they were recognized on Roberto Clemente Day on September 18 (“VOTE: Balloting underway,” 2019). The selection process occurred through a panel that included MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred; media members from MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN, TBS, and MLB.com; and Vera Clemente, Roberto Clemente’s widow. A fan vote took place through September 29 and counted as one vote cast alongside the panel.

Carrasco’s selection is viewed highly by the media. Media members select the winner of the Clemente Award and saw his contributions as meeting the criteria for representing Clemente and his own philanthropy. Roberto Clemente was a 15-time All-Star who was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Originally called the “Commissioner’s Award,” the accolade was created in 1971 and renamed in Clemente’s honor in 1973 (Justice, 2019). 

Carrasco began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. When he was a player there, Sal Artiaga, Philadelphia’s director of Latin American operations, told Carrasco, “You could be Clemente” (Brown, 2019, para. 11). Carrasco’s selflessness followed him to Cleveland when he was traded there in 2009, and he continued his involvement in the community through hospital visits, autograph signings, helping veterans, and giving to the underprivileged. Tim Brown (2019), who writes for Yahoo Sports, shows the impact of Carrasco through the headline of one article: “In a world with many problems, it also has selfless people like Carlos Carrasco.”

One of Carrasco’s sayings regarding his cancer diagnosis is “I may have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me” (Carrasco, 2019, para. 47). He wants people to see that they can rise above their circumstances and defeat any problems they may be facing. 

Carrasco returned to the mound on September 3 and pitched as a reliever for the remainder of the 2019 season. His goal is to be ready for spring training in early 2020.

References

Axisa, M. (2019, October 25). Indians’ Carlos Carrasco wins 2019 Roberto Clemente Award. CBSSports.com. Retrieved from https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/indians-carlos-carrasco-wins-2019-roberto-clemente-award/

Brown, T. (2019, October 25). In a world with many problems, it also has selfless people like Carlos Carrasco. Yahoo Sports. Retrieved from https://sports.yahoo.com/in-a-world-with-many-problems-it-also-has-selfless-people-like-carlos-carrasco-185646178.html

Carrasco, C. (2019, September 27). I may have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me. The Players’ Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/carlos-carrasco-cleveland-indians

Indians’ Carlos Carrasco honored with Roberto Clemente Award. (2019, October 25). ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/27927326/indians-carlos-carrasco-honored-roberto-clemente-award

Justice, C. (2019, September 12). Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco nominated for Roberto Clemente Award. news5Cleveland.com. Retrieved from https://www.news5cleveland.com/sports/baseball/indians/indians-pitcher-carlos-carrasco-nominated-for-roberto-clemente-award

Noga, J. (2019, September 12). Carlos Carrasco earns fifth straight Cleveland Indians nomination for MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award. Cleveland.com. Retrieved from https://www.cleveland.com/tribe/2019/09/carlos-carrasco-earns-fifth-straight-cleveland-indians-nomination-for-mlbs-roberto-clemente-award.html

VOTE: Balloting underway for Clemente Award. (2019, September 12). MLB.com. Retrieved from https://www.mlb.com/news/2019-clemente-award-vote-nominees-announced

Kelechi Osemele and a Power Struggle in the NFL

By Griffin Olah

October 29, 2019

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

Kelechi Osemele is an eight-year NFL veteran offensive lineman. He has suited up for the Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets with great success, making two Pro Bowl teams. This season, he experienced something a lot of NFL players go through: an injury. In training camp, Osemele suffered a labrum injury, but continued playing. He then reinjured the same labrum in a September 22 matchup against the New England Patriots. Still, Osmele continued to play. On October 2, however, he was diagnosed with a torn labrum after his injury against the Patriots. Here is where the story of Kelechi Osemele diverts from the path of normalcy in the NFL.

On October 2, Osemele decided he wasn’t healthy enough to practice. He was nursing a torn labrum, an injury to the shoulder that made moving 300 pound lineman incredibly difficult and painful. He sat out that week, and on Saturday October 5, the Jets fined their offensive lineman. Osemele continued to sit out of practice as he considered options for his shoulder. The Jets felt Osemele “could’ve played through” his injury and had surgery in the offseason if it was necessary (Cimini, 2019, para. 11). Osemele went to see other doctors and get other opinions, with two separate doctors recommending surgery. On October 25th, Osemele underwent surgery on his torn labrum and a cyst that developed near the injury without the team’s permission. Throughout Osemele’s absence, the Jets fined him for conduct detrimental to the team, taking away each week’s game check, the maximum amount possible under the current CBA. With his contract, this amounted to a $579,000 fine each week, simply for missing practice and doing what he believed was the best option for his body (Cimini, 2019). Finally, on October 26, the Jets released Osemele outright.

The media as a whole has sided with Osemele on the issue. Many news outlets point to the lack of comment from the Jets, who “have yet to comment since the dispute came to light” (Cimini, 2019, para. 7). Having a team embroiled in a conflict with a player surrounding his body is a bad look, and not releasing a comment on the situation can make the team look even worse. Others have taken the opportunity to bash the archaic rules of the NFL about player safety and player power. They talk about how “players have little reason to trust teams,” even after the NFLPA got players the right to a second opinion (Powell, 2019, para.17). For years, the NFL only allowed contracted players to speak to team doctors, and in the instance of Kelechi Osemele, that only led to more injury and a greater problem. 

In this instance, the media is on the right side of the battle. Kelechi Osemele is a football player, but he is also a person and deserves control over his own body. If he doesn’t think he is healthy enough to play and has unaffiliated doctors recommending he go under the knife, he has the right to that surgery to better his own life. This is a point that the media rightly does not dispute as they champion for player rights and fair treatment. The problem, however, lies in the lack of exposure. This is not a headline story, though it should be. A player is taking on the NFL over injury treatment in the league, and possibly taking legal action. Sure, it isn’t a concussion or other brain injury that draws the attention of the masses, but it deserves the same, if not more attention. The NFL is treating its players poorly, and the media needs to make that known. Articles can be written from many perspectives and attack various levels of the league, but without constant exposure and the knowledge of the public, the story of Kelechi Osemele’s fight will go unheard and the NFL can continue with its detrimental ways.

References

Cimini, R. (2019, October 26). Jets cut Kelechi Osemele amid injury dispute, surgery. ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27934491/jets-cut-kelechi-osemele-amid-injury-dispute-surgery

Powell, M. (2019, October 28). A player with shoulder pain, and a league happy to turn its back. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/26/sports/football/jets-osemele-injury.html

Joe Maddon hire signals new hope for Los Angeles Angels

By Pershelle Rohrer

October 24, 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.

The Los Angeles Angels hired Joe Maddon as their new manager on Wednesday, October 16. Maddon returns to Anaheim after previously spending 31 years with the Angels organization as a player, coach, and manager. He will receive $4 million a year as part of a three-year deal as the Angels look to rebound from a 72-90 season, their worst since 1999. 

Maddon was the bench coach for the Angels when they won their lone World Series title in 2002. He managed the Tampa Bay Rays from 2006 to 2014 – leading them to the playoffs four times, including their only World Series appearance in 2008. He was hired as the manager of the Chicago Cubs in 2014, led them to the playoffs in 2015, and brought them their first World Series title in 108 years in the 2016 season. The Cubs made the playoffs in four of Maddon’s five years as manager, but after finishing 84-78 in the 2019 season, Chicago decided to move in a different direction. 

The media looks at Maddon’s hiring as a positive for the Angels. Given Maddon’s previous accomplishments with Chicago and Tampa Bay, the Angels have expectations that he will be able to replicate that success with a team led by one of baseball’s best all-around players, Mike Trout. Maddon is “credited with changing the culture” in Chicago, transforming a young rebuilding Cubs team to championship contenders in just a year (“Joe Maddon agrees,” 2019, para. 12). David Baumgarten (2019) of The Atlantic describes Maddon as positive, nurturing, and charming, citing his willingness to allow young players like Javy Báez to play through their mistakes along with the witty stories he shared with the Chicago press. Descriptions of Maddon in such a positive manner emphasize the media’s belief that he has the potential to revive an Angels team that has struggled for over a decade.

When Maddon was hired in Chicago, the team was nearing the end of a rebuild, something that the Angels have avoided for years. Dave Sheinin (2019) from The Washington Post explains Los Angeles’ winning approach that replicates the Cubs’ mentality through their hiring of Maddon in 2014: “The Los Angeles Angels, by hiring Maddon on Wednesday to be their manager for the next three years, appear to be placing a similar bet on the now-65-year-old skipper – minus the rebuild” (para. 3). The Angels have missed the playoffs for five straight years, including four straight losing seasons, and they haven’t won a postseason series in ten years. Sheinen also suggests that hiring Maddon could put the Angels in the race for Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole this offseason. Similar to the Cubs’ signing of Jon Lester in 2014, Maddon could become an attraction for Cole, who is from Orange County, California, bringing them another star to play alongside Trout. The parallels between the 2014 Cubs and the 2019 Angels highlight the potential for Maddon to bring new life into the team where he spent the first 31 years of his career. 

Overall, the media looks at the Angels’ hiring of Joe Maddon as a move that could transform them from a struggling team to a contender. His history of success in Chicago and Tampa makes him a promising hire, and after thirteen years away, the Angels hope for an exciting homecoming and the return of a winning culture in Anaheim.

References

Baumgarten, D. (2019, October 10). Joe Maddon was doomed by his own success. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/10/joe-maddon-cubs/599731/

Bollinger, R. (2019, October 21). Angels to introduce Maddon as skipper Thursday. MLB.com. Retrieved from https://www.mlb.com/news/joe-maddon-angels-manager

Joe Maddon agrees to be new manager of Los Angeles Angels. (2019, October 16). ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/27859727/joe-maddon-agrees-new-manager-los-angeles-angels

Kepner, T. (2019, September 29). Joe Maddon will not return to Cubs next season. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/29/sports/baseball/joe-maddon-cubs.html

Sheinin, D. (2019, October 16). By hiring Joe Maddon as manager, floundering Angels hope to replicate Cubs’ rise. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/10/16/by-hiring-joe-maddon-manager-floundering-angels-hope-replicate-cubs-rise/