Friday, June 4, 2010

Good sports....well, mostly

A few sports observations in today's post....

First, farewell and congratulations to Ken Griffey, Jr.  He announced very quietly and very indirectly this week that he was retiring from major league baseball after 22 seasons, eight of which were spent with my Cincinnati Reds.  Now, let's be fair...Junior got a lot of flak from fans and the media while he was with the Reds, because his contract was so large that it prevented the Reds from acquiring other players, and he began to physically break down and experience major injuries for the first time in his career.  But when he was healthy, my, he was something to see.  Even after he had lost a step he was still capable of producing thrills on the field, smashing majestic home runs with that oh-so-sweet swing of his and robbing opposing batters of home runs with electrifying catches at or even over the outfield fence!  He was a quiet, private guy, from all reports, but loved and respected the game and his teammates and I wish him well in the next phase of his life!

I would also like to congratulate everyone except Commissioner Bud Selig for their respective roles in the perfect game that wasn't a couple of nights ago in Detroit.  If you missed it, a pitcher for the Tigers named Armando Gallaraga was about to pitch that rarest of feats, a perfect game (no hits, no walks, no batters hit by a pitch, no errors).  Last batter grounds to the first baseman, who flips to Gallaraga covering first, and that's that, but umpire Jim Joyce calls the runner safe. And a short time later admits a mistake and that the runner should have been called out.  Since that occurred, Joyce showed a tremendous amount of class and grace, as did Gallaraga (who received a new Corvette for his almost-perfect game) and the Tiger fans, who could just as easily attempted to boo Mr. Joyce out of the state of Michigan when he reported for home plate umpiring duty the next day.  But the Commish decided that, no, the "human element" has always been a part of baseball, etc., etc.  Another gaffe by Bud Light...one wonders if the game will implode before he exits the stage, ever so reluctantly.

Now, before I close, I want to comment on the latest situation surrounding Kentucky basketball, coach John Calipari and departing guard Eric Bledsoe.  Mr. Bledsoe's grades weren't great in his junior year of high school, but he changed schools and his fortunes improved, allowing his new school to compete for the Alabama state high school championship and for him to be recruited by major universities, ultimately signing with Kentucky for the most recent basketball season.  But it seems that the NCAA is now investigating his classroom improvements in his senior year of high school, despite having cleared him (academically) to play college basketball.

Universities have to rely on the NCAA Clearinghouse to approve players for competition, but apparently the investigative arm of the Association reserves the right to check things out after the fact and second-guess their own Clearinghouse, which is what appears to be happening here.  One would hope that the NCAA will eventually clear their own house of this inconsistent procedure.

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