Basketball League for Whites Only?

Fran over at the Parish Blog of St. Edward the Confessor pointed me to this article on

A new professional basketball league called the All-American Basketball Alliance (AABA) sent out a press release on Sunday saying that it intends to start its inaugural season in June, with teams in 12 U.S. cities. However, the AABA is different from other sports leagues because only players who are “natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league.” AABA commissioner Don “Moose” Lewis insists that he’s not racist, but he just wants to get away from the “street-ball” played by “people of color” and back to “fundamental basketball.” Lewis cited the recent incidents of bad behavior by NBA players, implying that such actions would never happen with white players:

“There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.” […]

He pointed out recent incidents in the NBA, including Gilbert Arenas’ indefinite suspension after bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room, as examples of fans’ dissatisfaction with the way current professional sports are run.

Are you kidding me? We have a black man in the White House and yet overt racism still continues. Anybody else offended by this?

What cities would possibly allow them to have outposts? Well…they are supposedly looking to the Southern part of our country–where perhaps they’d have a better reception. What could some possible team names be?

Kissimmee Klansmen comes to mind. No offense to the great city in Florida.

Lying and the Information Overload

Mark McGwire lied.

And his lying was in no way small potatoes as far as the world of baseball is concerned. Because of his deceit, many people, myself included have been unwilling to simply accept his half-hearted apology so that he might be more inclined to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame.

But is McGwire’s lying, in the greater scheme of things, more worthy of a scathing backlash than say, lies told by our former President about Saddham Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction which hoodwinked a nation into getting behind a pre-emtive attack? Is McGwire’s lying, in the greater scheme of things, more worthy of our continued distrust than AIG exectuives who clearly lied to the American public about their portfolios. How about lying about an alleged affair with an intern in the White House by another former President. What about the lie that Tiger Woods tells us when he pretends to be faithful to his wife but instead has dozens of women on the side? Nixon and Watergate? Hillary and Whitewater? Jimmy Swaggart?

The freeflow of information in today’s society places us all in the precarious position of judging what we pay attention to. We all are our own program directors today–setting up RSS feeds to customize the information that we want to receive. The news media has become a 24-7 battle to entertain eyes and ears and not merely to be journalistically solvent. Getting the story on first often takes precedence over getting it right as well because we are constantly moving and news outfits are competing for our clickthroughs.

So when a popular sports star admits that he’s a cheat, why does he gain more attention than others who don’t admit deceit? While I have problems with McGwire, I wonder why he has incensed my passions more than those who haven’t even admitted their obvious deceptions of the American public in far more serious matters than a ballgame could ever hope to capture?

The issue is clear. We care more about being entertained than we do about serious matters that take our time and our energy and that lead many of us to feel helpless to ever seriously think that we can make change in society.

“They’re all crooks.”
“It’ll never change.”
“It’s not worth my time.”

We’ve all said it. And before it gets worse we should start putting out energies where they really need to be.

Even a blogger like me who jumped the gun on his favorite sport but failed to be as passionate about matters that I should be more inclined to speak boldly about in these posts.

Mea culpa. I might as well ask for forgiveness too…it seems like that’s the latest trend.

Mark McGwire’s Penance

While he’s not exactly breaking a story, Mark McGwire, the baseball-bashing slugger who captivated Major League fans and became the first player to eclipse Roger Maris’ single season home run record announced the news that he was a cheater yesterday. I say that intentionally. While playing with the Oakland A’s and St Louis Cardinals, McGwire says that he took performance enhancing drugs. Some will say that baseball had no rules in place with regards to the substances he took at that juncture, but let’s face facts, McGwire got help and that smacks of insincerity at minimum.

A friend from my radio days spoke to me of an interview he once did with McGwire. McGwire had been an oft-plagued injured player at several points in his career with Oakland suffering from heel and foot injuries. In the interview McGwire mentioned (with a surly attitude, I might add) that he thought that he was a victim of heredity. His numbers were down, he said, because he had bad feet and that it took a long time to recover from those injuries. As someone who also has suffered with heel injuries, I can sympathize, but still, that’s not a good excuse for taking roids.

McGwire repeated that song yesterday. He said he felt he owed it to his teammates and to the fans to get back out on the field as fast as he could. He also mentioned that his teams were paying him a lot of money and he felt he owed it to the management to get back on the field. So he took the drugs to try to recover faster. I believe him, to a point but what McGwire doesn’t realize is that besides healing faster, the dog days of August often makes the bat a bit heavier because of the long grind of the season that takes its toll on everyone. With steroids, there are no dog days of summer.

Unfair advantage: McGwire.

Some will say that admitting his mistake is admirable. He certainly didn’t come completely clean when he testified in congress. Others will say that we all knew he was on the juice back when he was playing and we just didn’t want to know the truth. Others will claim that we just don’t care about drug use and we all just want to see good baseball. And even others will state my earlier claim: baseball had no rules on the juice then, so McGwire didn’t break any rules that were on the books.

And that is a bunch of horsefeathers. And a look to baseball’s past tells us why.

A consequence of any sports’ season is that players get hurt and that many of them play hurt. I once asked Phil Rizzuto, the hall of fame Shortstop and a character in the broadcast booth for years for the Yankees, if he ever played hurt. He said he played hurt almost every year because he was afraid someone else was ready to take his spot. “I threw some dirt on my leg and moved on. We all did that unless we thought we’d hurt the team.”

Rizzuto mentioned a second and more important reason why anybody who played in the non-steroid era should blanch at McGwire’s lame-excuses today. That reason is the following statement: “We wanted to make the post-season every year because we needed the money! None of us wanted to have to work in the offseason.”

And McGwire took drugs to keep a much larger paycheck. If he was hurt and felt that badly about it he could have done the admirable thing and simply gave the money back–or even donated it to charity–a opportunity that he still can do. I haven’t heard one of these roid users even suggest that they might donate or even return all, or even some, of the money they earned during the steroid era because they weren’t honest with the fans and have damaged the integrity of the game. McGwire is just another greedy fatcat, who longed to inflate his numbers to gain fame, prestige and of course money.

Why did McGwire come clean? Very simple, he fears that he has damaged his chances of making baseball’s hall of fame. He’s failed to garner even 25% of the votes of the writers over the last four years. He won’t have too many chances left and he needs to boost that total quickly. It’s the latest ploy, begging forgiveness in an insincere manner. Much like the rich man who didn’t let Lazarus eat scraps from his table, McGwire isn’t asking for forgiveness here. He is asking for pity. It’s all about McGwire and not about integrity.

Mr. McGwire, I loved seeing you play. How about you return some money to the Cardinals and A’s? How about even using your fame to help promote steroid awareness in high schools and colleges because God knows you’ve caused enough damage to younger athletes already? How about you ask Major League baseball to place an asterisk next to all of your records during the years that you took performance enhancers? How about admitting that you were greedy for fame, money and records that you did not rightfully earn?

If you did that, your request for forgiveness might come from a more sincere place. One of the first rules of going to confession is to admit your sins with honesty and humbleness and then to do some kind of penance. Perhaps that’s a lesson that Mr. McGwire needs to recall?

Believe in the Power of the Doggie Jersey

I’m not much into superstitions but…

The New York Jets won their playoff game over the Bengals yesterday, and more importantly, my dog haze was wearing his Jets jersey. Every time he wears it –the Jets win. Believe in the power of the doggy jersey!

I wanted to get him the number “1/2” but they don’t do fractions.

While we’re discussing Dogs and sports, Clark Gillies who played for the Islanders in their glory days when they won 4 Stanley Cups dumped a can of dog food into the illustrious trophy and let his mutt eat his dinner. Someone asked “Why did you let that dog eat his food out of the Stanley Cup ?”

His response was brilliant: “Because he’s a good dog!”

And trust me from the stories I have heard about that Cup, the dog’s mouth might have been the cleanest thing to touch the inside of that cup in years. In fact, it was probably more dangerous for the dog than any of the players.

And speaking of hockey, I attended my first Sabres game last night at HSBC Arena with my newfound friend Steve Spear (husband of the legendary youth and young adult minister here, Patty Bubar Spear). He got me up to speed on Sabres history and while we left saddened by a Buffalo loss to Colorado, they at least got a point by taking the mighty Avalanche to a shootout. A great game and a great time with a new friend.

I was never a huge hockey fan. I mean I rooted for the Islanders in their hey-day and then got to work on Rangers broadcasts and I have a picture of me with the Stanley Cup thanks to the Devils future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur (who brought the cup to the radio station and let me carry it out to his car!). But I was lukewarm about the whole thing, riding the wave when hockey captured the attention of New York City as the Islanders did in the 80s and the Rangers Stanley Cup season after a 54 year drought. But I always thought I should have been a bigger hockey fan, because by and large hockey players are the nicest pro-athletes around. I don’t think any Met or Yankee would let me touch the World Series trophy, much less, carry it out to the car. The intimacy of that trophy is renown. I even told my wife at our wedding to hold her bouquet up like she was holding the Stanley Cup.

She just looked at me oddly. And yet, she married me anyway!

Regardless, Steve informed me that these Sabres have never won the cup. Well, fasten your seat belts because there’s a dog who’s about to get this gift very soon…

Believe in the power of the Doggie Jersey…

And go Sabres!

Once in a while…I still have some sports thoughts

I guest columned an item on the Mets Police retiring #8 for Yogi Berra and Gary Carter.

Retire #8 on 8/8
Two Hall of Famers have worn #8 for the Mets and yet that number has not been retired. It’s not a stretch to think that the Mets could retire #8 for both Gary Carter and Yogi Berra the prolific manager of the 73 “Ya Gotta Believe” pennant winners.
Berra was an astute manger for 4 years with only the 1974 season being a blight on his record. He brought the team back from a huge deficit and got the players to believe in themselves with a little help from Tug McGraw’s rallying cry. McGraw often said that it was really Berra’s managing style that enabled the players to believe in themselves and led them to that pennant. To top matters they spanked the Reds in the playoffs and in a crazy world series he took the mighty A’s to 7 games–all an almost impossible feat to accomplish for any manager. We forget he was also a coach with Hodges on the 1969 Miracle Mets (in fact he was a coach since 1965), so you can’t say he wasn’t involved or around long enough with the Mets to merit inclusion. While more well known as a Yankee, Berra deserves to be acknowledged as someone who contributed much to the Met franchise as a coach and manager.
Carter was the missing piece to the 1986 World Series Champions. The young Mets pitchers needed someone to be a leader within those 60 feet 6 inches. Carter led them well for 3 years until his career began to wind down. He helped spark that team into the cocky bunch of players who never felt they were out of a ballgame even when things looked bleak. In game 6 of the 86 World Series Carter started the rally with a single that led to the improbableMookie Wilson grounder through the legs of Bill Buckner.

I love this Mets Police blog because it has a good take on all the stupid stuff that the Mets do as an organization–a big reason why I can’t root for them any longer. Read the rest here and then agree or disagree.

Bob Sheppard Update–well…not really.

At the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese’s conference for Faith Formation where I’m tomorrow’s keynote speaker, and I ran into this story (Hat tip to The Mets Police) on Bob Sheppard who still doesn’t seem up to par two months after his intended goal of returning to the Yankee Stadium PA Booth.

As first reported here on Googling God on July 7th, Sheppard may in fact have trouble simply staying awake for 9 innings.

The solution as mentioned in the Newsday column might be to have Sheppard do the opening lineup and first few innings and then hand things off to Jim Hall who should get the permanent position anyway when Shep officially retires.