Tag Archives: ESPN

OHSAA Title Game Brews the Controversy

By Kaleb Page

April 1, 2015

In the Division II state basketball championship in Ohio there was an ending that you might not see again (at least for a long time). An ending involving a dunk…how is that anything newsworthy?

What happened at the end of that dunk is what really caught the attention of not only people in the state, but people nationally as well.

The game was between Cleveland Central Catholic and Defiance High School. The game was closely contested coming down the stretch. With under a minute in the fourth quarter the score line was 37-35 in favor of Central Catholic. At roughly 45 seconds on the clock, Central Catholic star player Antwon Lillard drove the lane and took off.

Moving fast down the lane Lillard’s momentum springs him to the hole for a big slam. The slam gives his team a huge four point lead to essentially cement the championship. If you remember from earlier I said it wasn’t the dunk that got the reaction it was the after that initiated the debate.

As Lillard dunked he hung on the rim and swung his legs up until he finally landed on the floor. After that action one of the referees gave Lillard a technical foul for hanging on the rim. If you watch the video below you can draw your conclusion on if it should have been called or not (starts at 34 seconds).

This call resulted in two free throws for Defiance and the ball. The bulldogs made both free throws and went on to score on that possession; forcing overtime. Once in overtime the tough nature of the game picked back up, but Defiance walked away the DII Ohio state champion with the final score of 49-45.

“A player can hang from the rim if he is protecting himself from injury if a player or players are underneath him. There were not any players underneath him, and he pulled himself up and swung excessively.” – Denny Morris, OHSAA excutive explaining the ruling (via Cleveland.com)

The national media from USA Today Sports, ESPN, Sporting News, etc. took the story and looked to spread this interesting ending to a big game. Controversy on whether or not the call was right has raged on in any of the comment section you find within an article on this topic.

With that said, I think it is important the national media shows this big ending to a state championship but, it’s important to be fair and not make the referee this huge villain.

Even with the call Defiance had to go to the line and knock down two high pressure free throws. Then when they got that possession they had to work for that basket to tie it and take it into overtime. Yes the call was huge, and yes the call set up for the end result but it still takes capitalizing on. If Defiance misses those free throws are we even sitting here today debating this call as much as we are?

I doubt it.

It is rough to lose that way and you have to feel for those Central Catholic players. At the same time, credit is due for Defiance finishing the job. Circumstances out of your control come up in any sport but it is key to really get past it and focus on what you can control.

Maybe that is the true story line here to realize.

Worry about the things you can control because things will happen you can’t control and when the things you can’t control do happen it is important to keep carrying on.

No ‘Hard Knocks’ in Cleveland: Browns make their Best Off-Season Move Yet

By Kaleb Page

March 25, 2015

The NFL off-season has been in full swing with many moves between teams, players and even coaches. When a move is made by the Cleveland Browns, the avid fan base is all over it to let their thoughts be heard.

This Tuesday the organization made arguably its best move of the season and it didn’t even involve a player, coach or even draft picks.

All eyes are on the Browns and more than likely to see what they will mess up this time. This move by the organization tops the moves to add Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, etc.

The Cleveland Browns have officially declined taking part in the acclaimed NFL series ‘Hard Knocks.’ The series, which chronicles the journey of a team from the beginning of training camp until the start of the season, needs a team for this upcoming NFL year. This series has had many memorable seasons like ones with the Jets and Bengals, and being on the inside of the Browns would have set up some must see television.

Especially how the dynamic is between Johnny Manziel and the coaching staff seems way off. From an outsiders view it seems nowhere near what you would expect for someone who was drafted by the organization in the first round. I think it would have been another opportunity for those watching just to go ‘that’s typical browns’ or further provide proof that it is truly ‘the factory of sadness.’

I do think it is in the best interest of the team to decline this sort of thing. Take into account the quarterback issue the team has, the holes the team has across the board and even executives in the organization with their comments; this distraction of television cameras is definitely not needed right now.

Head coach Mike Pettine has had experience with the show as an assistant with the Jets. He made it a point (in an interview on ESPN) that a big factor in him saying ‘no’ to this was the Manziel factor.

“When we decided not to volunteer for ‘Hard Knocks,’ we discussed everything that was involved with it. [Manziel] is certainly something we needed to consider.” – Mike Pettine, Browns Head Coach

I find it interesting how the organization really puts Manziel out as the problem or even the key factor for mishaps. Yes I know Manziel has had his problems and as a young guy growing up as a fast track star, definitely needs to shape up, but there comes a time when the organization just needs to stop the underlying narrative of ‘blame it on Johnny.’

Bravo Browns, you made your best move of the off-season by staying away from the spectacle that is ‘Hard Knocks.’

Can we just not ruin your good move by throwing someone under the bus though?…Please?

 

Let Pete In

By Kaleb Page

March 19, 2015

The year was 1989 and Major League Baseball brought down the lifetime ban on one of its greatest players. A player that is the all-time hits leader for the highest level of baseball and known for his remarkable hustle on the field.

That player is none other than Pete Rose. The legendary Cincinnati Red (and Philadelphia Philly) was found guilty of breaking one of baseballs biggest rules: There shall be no betting on the game of baseball.

A simple rule that was more or less brought into effect after the Black Sox scandal that rocked the baseball world back in the 1920’s. However, Pete broke that rule and bet on the game while managing for the Reds. It wasn’t just the betting that found ‘charlie hustle’ in the MLB doghouse, it was also is insistence that he was innocent.

Ultimately Rose was found to be lying and banished from the game of baseball for life; an unfitting end for one of the most iconic players in the history of baseball.

A three-time World Series champion, 17 time All-Star and three-time national league batting champion (with 4,256 hits) should have a more prestigious ending than being shunned by the sport he gave so much to.

The debate over this topic has raged on especially with the likes of past commissioner Bud Selig. Selig was a major proponent of the ban and kept a firm stance all the way to his retirement this past year to keep Rose out of baseball.

The video above is from a past ESPN First Take episode where they debated the issue of Rose’s ban along with what might happen. It is interesting to see this story play itself out and develop even more as there was a new development in the case.

This week Rose sent a formal request to new commissioner Rob Manfred. This formal request asking for the removal of his lifetime ban. This new commissioner said he will consider the request, but wants to get all the facts in place (along with talking to Pete) before making a decision.

The video above is a more recent video from First Take where they talked a bit more extensively on the possibility of Rose’s reinstatement. The debate on the show is an interesting one and one that I have heard many times before.

As a Cincinnati Reds fan I know it is hard to contain the resentment towards the league about this ban on Rose, especially when players that do performance enhancers merely get a slap on the wrist in comparison to Rose’s punishment. It has been 26 years of time spent banished from the game of baseball.

That time should be up now.

I think those in the media that say time has been served are absolutely right. It has been long enough, for a man who played the game hard night in and night out, to get the honor he so rightfully deserves. He deserves much more than a cheesy commercial about being in the hall when he shouldn’t, and instead a formal enshrinement in Cooperstown next to the other legends of the game.

For Pete’s Sake!…Lift the ban.

Kevin Stallings Has Some Nerve Talking About Sportsmanship

By Ellen Chlumecky

March 2, 2015

There have been some great coaches in the history of sports. Coaches like Mike Ditka, Herb Brooks, Pat Riley, Pat Summit, and Vince Lombardi, made history by being dedicated, courageous, and obviously very tough. I’m sure that one of them has given their share of screaming matches with their players; however they probably weren’t broadcasted on television. I don’t think Kevin Stallings will be making the top 10 coaches of all-time list in the near future. This incident might be the reason why:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12390679&ex_cid=sportscenterTW

As you can very clearly hear in the video, Stallings says to Wade Baldwin, “I’ll kill you.” The reasoning behind his screaming was because he heard that Baldwin was clapping in Tennessee players’ faces after the final buzzer sounded. After Stallings heard of this poor sportsmanship, Stallings confronted Baldwin during postgame handshakes and demanded that he apologize. Baldwin appeared to ignore the Vanderbilt coach. This resulted in Stallings’ outburst.

While Stallings apologized for his comments in a release by the university, does it really make it acceptable? While he did mention that it was his haste to resolve the situation the spurred the inappropriate reaction, it doesn’t exactly make it acceptable. While everyone has their flaws, a statement of that nature should never be uttered by a coach to one of their athletes or one of their students.

Stallings said that Baldwin has “got some things to learn, some growing up to do if he’s going to play in this program.” Isn’t that a little ironic? It seems as if Stallings might want to join Baldwin in that little “growing up” process he’s supposed to be participating in. While he’s apologized to the student, you never know what Baldwin is thinking either. While he tweeted that he wasn’t offended or took not offense, do we know for sure if he’s nervous or scared about what Stallings said to him?

At the end of the day, the coach is someone who is supposed to be a role model and someone the athletes are not supposed to be scared of to come to with problems or concerns. Most of the time, they’re their first line of contact whenever something is happening in their life. Would you feel safe reporting to a coach that has once threatened to harm you? It’s hard to understand why someone would feel so comfortable screaming such obscenities on the court in front of fans, families, other fellow athletes, and students. There is a fine line between being tough and being cruel. While I understand what Baldwin did was immature and selfish, hold in your anger till you can calm down and rationally talk to your players.

 

 

The Walls of Rodriguez are Crumbling

By Kaleb Page

February 20, 2015

Years ago as a young kid looking to get my hands on sports books to read, I came across a book about an athlete that intrigued me. I had this feeling that he was going to be a special player even more so than he already was. This player was a young budding star in the MLB playing shortstop for the Texas Rangers.

His name was Alex Rodriguez.

As the years passed, I guess my feeling did come true with how Rodriguez turned into a larger than life athlete in the MLB. Eventually he inked a deal in 2007 with the marquee team in the league, the New York Yankees, a deal so astronomical it still can blow your mind (10 years for $275 million).

Now as I mentioned earlier Rodriguez grew into this larger than life figure on the field, and it wasn’t just figuratively speaking either; it was definitely literal too. As soon as he switched from the Rangers to the Yankees he began to grow from a decent sized player to a rather hulking man who eventually moved over to third base.

With the eventual steroids scandal that rocked the MLB and prominent player being popped for it, one player had a big mark on his back. That player just so happened to be Rodriguez and rightfully so was he questioned and looked to since he had such a quick body transformation. In fact, back in 2009 Rodriguez sat down on ESPN admitting his usage of steroids from 2001-03.

However, this story was just merely a scratch on the surface with how Rodriguez was involved in the world of steroids.

Then in 2013 Rodriguez found himself back in another ring of steroid use when trying to rehab from hip surgery. As it came to light, his involvement with Anthony Bosch and Bosch’s Biogenesis corporation dropped Rodriguez in even bigger trouble.

His involvement resulted in him missing a substantial amount of time in 2014 (162 games) and with Bosch’s conviction Tuesday (four years in prison); Rodriguez is toeing the line of being banned from baseball for good.

I find it interesting that Rodriguez has been laying this low for this long. It has been far different from guys like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa or even Mark McGuire in how the media handled their steroid convictions. It seemed as if the storm around their convictions raged on for months and never ended (maybe in part to the time the convictions came out).

It will be interesting to see where this whole thing goes, especially with baseball season approaching. It also will be interesting to see the dissection of a statement issued by Rodriguez on Tuesday trying to distance himself from not only Bosch but his past involving steroids. As spring training approaches and more is made of his statement, I wonder if it will grow to the level we saw with Bonds.

I can remember watching TV and all you would see is every stadium Bonds attended full of signs against everything he did. Will it be the same this season for Rodriguez if he plays? I can’t imagine it being any easier than it was with Bonds. This mainly being due to how adamant he was way back when about being clean and then turning around admitting his guilt. I also see the media scrutiny and pressure from questions before or after games ramping up as well.

I’m sure as Rodriguez wrote that letter today, he thought back to a time when things were much better, a time where a young kid like me was picking up a book about him being the next big thing to look up to.

Now kids see him as nothing more than another baseball cheat.

As the walls come tumbling down it makes you think ‘oh how the mighty have fallen.’

Betting in Sports: NBA Commissioner Silver has a Vision

By Kaleb Page

February 5, 2015

Sports and betting is almost as synonymous as peanut butter and jelly. Always you are seeing the over/under on a game, the line and other betting points for nearly every game or sport. One sport that has been rocked in the past with sport betting is the game of basketball and not at the lowest levels, but at its highest platform the NBA.

Back in 2007 the NBA was faced with a huge scandal involving then referee Tim Donaghy and betting on games. In ESPN’s column they said it was one of the ugliest gambling scandals to hit a professional sports league since the last two major ones involving the MLB in 1989 and 1919. At the time it hurt the integrity of the league because if an official was betting on games and/or games he was involved in then what is to stop the outcome from being fixed?

As the years passed since that huge incident and formal statements by the league against gambling were released; a new voice emerged on sports gambling. When David Stern retired, he turned the league over to long time associate Adam Silver. Silver assumed the role of commissioner on February 1, 2014 and shortly after taking the position released a op-ed for The New York Times with an interesting stance  on betting.

“I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.” – Adam Silver

Quite the statement for the new commissioner to make, especially after a relatively short time since a big scandal involving his league and betting happened. However, if you look at the op-ed by Silver his points make perfect sense. He pointed to how so much has changed since laws enacted back in 1992 made it illegal to gamble on sports in all states (except Nevada). One change being that even though the law was put in place, gambling on sports is still there and increasing in popularity each year.

Another great point made was that other countries have made betting on sport a legal and regulated practice that cuts away the dark ambiguous areas seen here in the U.S. with betting laws. For example, in England they have betting kiosks at stadiums that are legal and regulated by the government. With many changes globally, commissioner Silver made the motion toward Congress to adopt their old framework on sports betting. This will hopefully allow sport betting without compromising any integrity of the game at hand.

I think commissioner Silver is absolutely right with his thinking, and with the push to make gambling and sport less of an ‘underground’ practice. It will definitely take someone in the power position that is forward thinking and able to provide a clear vision to make this happen. Silver fits in perfectly with both of those criteria.

I am glad he is the new commissioner of the NBA because he seems to be a leader who gets it. By ‘it’ I mean, he knows he has the power to progress things and make actual change, while also knowing that he needs to be willing to adapt to each situation. If you happen to be a fan of NBA basketball then I think you should feel good about what commissioner is in place for the foreseeable future.

More commissioners I think should look to him (even though he is relatively new in his role) for how to conduct themselves. While in a position of power it is fine to have a personality and speak your mind in an eloquent manner. It will be interesting to see where this goes and if the plan by Silver gains more movement.

Challenge and innovate past the status quo…that seems like the mindset for Adam Silver.

Below is an interview between Adam Silver and Outside the Lines reporter Andy Katz on various NBA topics and issues. If you want to get to the specific talking point of sport betting you can skip to three minutes in the video.

Protecting the Official: A look at a proposed bill

By Kaleb Page

February 2, 2015

With today’s society in America, the emphasis on sport and getting kids involved from an early age has never been higher. What could also be said about that fact is how the pressures and seriousness taken on by parents, players and fans is even higher as well.

At what cost is all this pressure? Are we all losing the fact that at an early age, while it is good to build skill and be competitive, that the game itself (being played by kids) should be fun? Another thing that should be mentioned as well is that parents are setting some poor examples for their kids at these sporting events.

In the state of Michigan, Senator Morris Hood III from Detroit is sponsoring a bill to hopefully curb this behavior in his state. In a Detroit Free Press article  the bill came to be after refs from lower Michigan came to Hood’s office after an incident where a soccer referee died days after being assaulted. Hood went on to say that the these refs had issues in the past of being harassed during a game and then followed out to their cars (even all the way home).

The bill that is still in the proposal stage will make assaulting a referee a felony. A three-year sentence in prison that could also come with a $10,000 fine. If the bill passes Michigan will join 23 other states that have similar laws like California, Florida, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Texas and Nevada just to name a few.

I think this is a good bill to have. You should not be allowed to go on the field or court of play and go after a referee. Even as a player you shouldn’t even be remotely close to hurting an official. I think as more and more we see the competitiveness of youth sports rise there needs to be more checks on how officials are treated.

Now I know we all do it, we all complain about a call here or there but it doesn’t mean we have the right to go off and assault the official. I remember watching an Outside the Lines report on ESPN about these cases growing in the United States at an alarming rate. It truly is sad to see people ruin a kids game by making a complete fool out of themselves.

I for one have been in games growing up as a kid where we had play stopped as a parent from another team ran on the court to go at a ref and once a coach even got ejected but wouldn’t leave the floor peacefully.

I hope this bill goes through and if anything a bill for all states is made. It is time to put out of control parents, fans and sometimes even players in their place for good. No more should we be having people doing their jobs (officiating just a game) in fear.