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Monday
Sep102018

Serena Williams' US Open Penalties Were Not Sexist

I cringe every time I see another celebrity post about the supposedly appalling sexist discrimination Serena Williams faced at the U.S. Open. The bottom line is, she reacted petulantly to adversity, and the umpire was well within his rights to not just penalize her a game, but send her packing altogether. Now, it's a good thing he didn't. The outrage over the perceived discrimination towards Serena already puts an undeserved asterisk next to Naomi Osaka's first Grand Slam title. Osaka played better, and deserved to win. 

Serena Williams isn't just the best women's tennis player in history, she's the most dominant athlete in history. No iconic athlete has ever run roughshod over their competition the way Serena has, both comprehensively and for anywhere near as long. Not Tiger Woods in his prime. Not Michael Jordan. Not anyone. The only person I can think of that eviscerated their competition with anywhere close to the level of ruthlessness is Mike Tyson, and he only did it for a handful of years. Serena has done it for two decades. Like it or not, when you're a living and active legend, you are under a microscope. Everything you do becomes headline news. Everything you stand for? That's headline news too. Any time your veneer cracks and you show a moment of weakness? The vultures circle and descend. 

I sure hope nobody takes this article as that; taking an opportunity to be unnecessarily critical of someone who rarely gives the haters a window. It's the opposite, in fact. You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger Serena Williams fan than me. I am in constant admiration of her on-court dominance, off-court grace, perpetual class, you name it. Let her actions when members of the crowd, in a stunning display of assholery began to boo Osaka, serve as a shining example of why. 

I was also pretty pissed when they decided to ban her from wearing her iconic black outfit at Roland Garros. THAT was sexist, and probably a few other things too. 

But penalizing her on-court behavior at the U.S. Open? No. In fact, NOT penalizing her would have been sexist. In tennis, as well as all sports, male athletes are rebuked for their in-competition behavior at a rate that exponentially exceeds women. This is 99% because male athletes are generally churlish adolescents who lack the impulse control to behave in any way other than spoiled rich kids, but still, the point stands. In order for something to be sexist, it has to be applied (or not applied) to someone on the basis of their gender. And in tennis, you can't smash your racket, and you can't verbally abuse the chair umpire. Just ask John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Jeff Tarango, Nick Kyrgios, and any number of men who have done it. Just because women have the emotional maturity to not throw toddler-like tantrums when something on the court doesn't go their way doesn't mean they get a pass when they slip up. 

Yes, I'm sure you can find a video of Roger Federer losing his trademark composure and dropping a few f-bombs in the direction of a chair umpire, and not getting punished for it. I've seen it. Should he have gotten warned? Probably. Had he already smashed his racket and received illegal coaching in the play leading up to his tantrum? Doubtful, so let's stop it with the non-sequitur comparisons.

Sexism, in sport and and life, is a real problem. It's shocking and more than a little depressing that in 2018, we still haven't societally addressed and eliminated it sufficiently. In an evolved society, sexism should be vanishingly rare. But it isn't, and part of the problem is the peanut gallery's inclination to floodlight every perceived sleight as sexism, racism, or whatever category of discrimination you want to apply. When we do this, we dull the piercing blade of the spotlight on actual acts of discrimination, turning it into the butterknife that is the floodlight. 

Stop it.  

Friday
Jun222018

NHL Mock Draft

1. Buffalo – Rasmus Dahlin, D, Frolunda HC
2. Carolina – Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Barrie Colts
3. Montreal – Filiop Zadina, LW, Halifax Mooseheads
4. Ottawa – Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas J20
5. Arizona – Brady Tkachuk, LW, Boston Univ.
6. Detroit – Oliver Walstrom, RW, US U18
7. Vancouver – Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan
8. Chicago – Evan Bouchard, D, London Knights
9. NY Rangers – Ty Smith, D, Spokane Chiefs
10. Edmonton – Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst Titan
11. NY Islanders – Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Assat
12. NY Islanders – Joe Veleno, C, Drummondville Voltiguers
13. Dallas – Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds
14. Philadelphia – Joel Farabee, LW, US U18
15. Florida – Bode Wilde, D, US U18
16. Colorado – Rasmus Kupair, C, Karpat
17. New Jersey – Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds
18. Columbus – K’Andre Miller, D, US U18
19. Philadelphia – Vltali Kravstov, RY, Traktor Chelyabinsk
20. Los Angeles – Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea HF
21. San Jose – Martin Kaut, RW, Dynamo Pardubice
22. Ottawa – Dominik Bokk, RW, Vaxjo Lakers
23. Anaheim – Serron Noel, RW, Oshawa Generals
24. Minnesota – Akil Thomas, C, Niagra IceDogs
25. Toronto – Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax Mooseheads
26. NY Rangers – Ryan McLeod, C, Mississauga Steelheads
27. Chicago – Grigori Denisenko, LW, Loko Yaroslavl
28. NY Rangers – Alexander Alexeyev, D, Red Deer Rebels
29. St. Louis – Ty Dellandrea, C, Flint Firebirds
30. Detroit – Benoit-Olivier Grouix, C, Halifax Mooseheads
31. Washington – Nicolas Beaudin, D, Drummondville Voltigeurs

Thursday
Jun212018

NBA Mock Draft

Pick Team Player Position  School/Country
1 Phoenix Suns DeAndre Ayton C Arizona
2 Sacramento Kings Jaren Jackson Jr. F/C Michigan State
3 Atlanta Hawks Marvin Bagley III F/C Duke
4 Memphis Grizzlies Luka Doncic G Slovenia
5 Dallas Mavericks Mohamed Bamba F/C Texas
6 Orlando Magic Wendall Carter Jr. F/C Duke
7 Chicago Bulls Michael Porter Jr.  F  Missouri
8 Cleveland Cavalier Trae Young G Oklahoma
9 New York Knicks Kevin Knox F Kentucky
10 Philadelphia 76ers Mikal Bridges F Villanova
11 Charlotte Hornets Lonnie Walker IV G Miami
12 Los Angeles Clippers Collin Sexton G Alabama
13 Los Angeles Clippers Miles Bridges F Michigan State
14 Denver Nuggets Shai Gilgeous-Alexander G Kentucky
15 Washington Wizards Robert Williams F/C Texas A&M
16 Phoenix Suns Aaron Holiday G UCLA
17 Milwaukee Bucks Kevin Heurter G Maryland
18 San Antonio Spurs Zhaire Smith G/F Texas Tech
19 Atlanta Hawks Mitchell Robinson C High School
20 Minnesota Timberwolves Donte DiVencenzo G Villanova
21 Utah Jazz Troy Brown G/F Oregon
22 Chicago Bulls Brandon McCoy C UNLV
23 Indiana Pacers De'Anthony Melton G USC
24 Portland Trail Blazers Chandler Hutchinson F Boise State
25 Los Angeles Lakers Grayson Allen G Duke
26 Philadelphia 76ers Dzanan Musa F Bosnia
27 Boston Celtics Anfernee Simmons G IMG Academy
28 Golden State Warriors Bruce Brown  G Miami
29 Brooklyn Nets Jalen Brunson G Villanova
30 Atlanta Hawks Gary Trent G Duke
Pick Team Player Position  School/Country
1 Phoenix Suns DeAndre Ayton C Arizona
2 Sacramento Kings Jaren Jackson Jr. F/C Michigan State
3 Atlanta Hawks Marvin Bagley III F/C Duke
4 Memphis Grizzlies Luka Doncic G Slovenia
5 Dallas Mavericks Mohamed Bamba F/C Texas
6 Orlando Magic Wendall Carter Jr. F/C Duke
7 Chicago Bulls Michael Porter Jr.  F  Missouri
8 Cleveland Cavalier Trae Young G Oklahoma
9 New York Knicks Kevin Knox F Kentucky
10 Philadelphia 76ers Mikal Bridges F Villanova
11 Charlotte Hornets Lonnie Walker IV G Miami
12 Los Angeles Clippers Collin Sexton G Alabama
13 Los Angeles Clippers Miles Bridges F Michigan State
14 Denver Nuggets Shai Gilgeous-Alexander G Kentucky
15 Washington Wizards Robert Williams F/C Texas A&M
16 Phoenix Suns Aaron Holiday G UCLA
17 Milwaukee Bucks Kevin Heurter G Maryland
18 San Antonio Spurs Zhaire Smith G/F Texas Tech
19 Atlanta Hawks Mitchell Robinson C High School
20 Minnesota Timberwolves Donte DiVencenzo G Villanova
21 Utah Jazz Troy Brown G/F Oregon
22 Chicago Bulls Brandon McCoy C UNLV
23 Indiana Pacers De'Anthony Melton G USC
24 Portland Trail Blazers Chandler Hutchinson F Boise State
25 Los Angeles Lakers Grayson Allen G Duke
26 Philadelphia 76ers Dzanan Musa F Bosnia
27 Boston Celtics Anfernee Simmons G IMG Academy
28 Golden State Warriors Bruce Brown  G Miami
29 Brooklyn Nets Jalen Brunson G Villanova
30 Atlanta Hawks Gary Trent G Duke
Wednesday
Jun132018

Should MLB Suspend Players Who Get Ejected After Being Removed From the Game?

Let's talk about a hypothetical situation. You're a Major League Baseball pitcher, and you're on the hill. The home plate umpire has been, at least in your eyes, squeezing you all game long. Either that, or he's Angel Hernandez and nobody really knows what the hell he's doing. You're battling and struggling, but keeping your team in the game, all the while keeping your mounting anger at the plate ump's perceived slights at bay. Then it happens. The manager comes out to get you. You've reached your pitch limit, or maybe got into a jam, and you hand him the ball. You can say whatever you want now, right? Oh sure, you might get run, but who cares? You're not on the hill again for another five or six days. 

Umpires have a pretty tough job. Some verbal abuse from players and coaches, and a lot of it from fans, is part and parcel of the deal, but MLB benefits when everybody gets along for the most part. These umps range in ability and performance from outstanding to appalling, and everything in between. I'd also bet Pete Rose a substantial sum of money that at least a few of them have a serious gambling problem -- for what other explanation can there be for their consistent mind-bogglingly poor performances? They also tend to have fairly short memories, so by the time a pitcher who berated a particular umpire gets around to that same umpire calling balls and strikes again, he'll have been hollered at by so many other players that it's a non-issue.

But does that make it right? 

Just in the past few days, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner were tossed out of games they were departing anyway. Sale is purported to have called the plate umpire...uh...one who does un-biblical acts with his maternal parent, while Bumgarner... let's just say I have a tough time writing about him without bringing my personal feelings into it so you can read about his ejection here. And in a few days, both ace pitchers will take the hill for their respective teams again.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jun132018

World Cup Predictions 

The USA is not in the World Cup that begins the day after we find out the USA will host the World Cup in 2026. It has been hard to get revved up for the next month of soccer without the USA, Italy, Netherlands and Ghana competing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be a fun watch. I looked through the groups and break down who I think will get out of each group and who will win the cup.

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, & Uruguay

I have Uruguay winning the group behind the easiest footballer to hate, Luis Suarez, but they have plenty of talent in Edison Cavani, Diego Godin, Maximiliano Pereira and more. They are a solid team but nothing special as you will see in the knockout rounds. Russia actually has a good shot to win the group behind big Russian names that aren’t well known to casual soccer fans. Alexandr Golovin is a special young talent at CSKA Moscow, while the Miranchuk twins from Lokomotiv will really open eyes at this year’s tournament.  Egypt will finish third behind star Mohamed Salah, while Saudi Arabia will struggle to secure a point.

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, & Iran

This one is very top heavy, but I have Portugal tabbed to win the group. Behind Christiano Ronaldo, you have the likes of Bernardo Silva, Bruno Alves, Pepe, and more. They simply have more talent and are a better team than runner ups Spain, who I don’t see having the scoring to make it deep into the tournament, but good enough to get out of the group and possibly one more match but not go on a run. I see Morocco finishing third with Iran struggling to get a point, much like the other team from the Middle East.

Group C: France, Australia, Peru, & Denmark

France might have as much talent as any team in the tournament, and should cruise through the group. There is so much talent in fact, Karim Benzama, Anthony Martial, Adrien Rabiot, and Aymeric Laporte will all be watching the tournament from home. The second team from the group may very well be determined on Friday when Peru and Denmark face off. I see Denmark knocking off Peru behind the star Christian Eriksen and a plethora of forwards they have on the squad. That leaves Australia last in the group, but I know I will tune in to see Tim Cahill in likely his last World Cup.

Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, & Nigeria

There is not a traditional “Group of Death” this year, but this may be as close as it gets. Argentina features arguably the best player in the world. Iceland is coming off a fantastic showing in the Euros two years ago that made them the darlings of the soccer world. There might not be a better midfield duo in the tournament than Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic for Croatia, and Nigeria features vets Victor Moses and Mikel John Obi. In the end I see Argentina finishing first while Croatia is a very strong second.

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, & Serbia

Brazil has been a quiet team heading into the World Cup for the first time ever, but I still see them coasting through a solid group. Serbia has the veteran leadership to escape as the number two team, just ahead of Costa Rica followed closely by Switzerland.

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, & South Korea

This is another really interesting group that will have Americans unsure of how to root. Do you pull for rival Mexico to represent the CONCACAF or do you root for them to face an early exit. Germany is easily the best team in the group and will run away with it, while I do see Mexico just holding off Sweden with South Korea coming in last.

Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, & England

If France is the most talented team in the tournament, Belgium is 1B. They may actually be able to roll out Youri Tielemans and Adnan Januzaj as subs, which is a nice luxury for head man Roberto Martinez. England has a special group of players that may make them a threat in Qatar in four years, but they definitely have enough to finish second in this group. I see Tunisia having a good showing and actually finishing third in the group, ahead of Panama.

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, & Japan

This might end up being the least interesting group of all, but there is some sneaky talent here. Robert Lewandowski is still an elite goal scorer and will carry the club to a win in the group. Senegal is solid but will finish last in the group. The Colombia vs. Japan game on Tuesday will be more important than some expect. With a new coach at the helm, veteran stars Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda, and Shinji Okazaki are seeing more time on the pitch for Japan. That said, I think Colombia has just enough to finish second in the group over Japan.

Round of 16:

Spain over Uruguay
Portugal over Russia
France over Croatia
Argentina over Denmark
Brazil over Mexico
Germany over Serbia
Belgium over Colombia
England over Poland

The best match here will be France and Croatia, as Croatia has the team to push France to the brink, but France just has too much talent. If it is Spain against Russia rather than Portugal, I could see the hosts advancing to the quarters.

Quarter Finals

France over Spain
Portugal over Argentina
Belgium over Brazil
Germany over England

This would make for an incredible Quarter Finals to watch. France has incredible talent knocking off an undermanned Spain club. The two best players in the world face off yet again in Portugal and Argentina. Belgium’s talent is just too much for the always dangerous Brazil club. German and England face off in a rivalry that is always fantastic.

Semi Finals

Belgium over France
Germany over Portugal

The two most talented teams face off with Belgium coming out on top, while the best team overall in Germany knocks off arguably the best player in the world.

Third Place Game

France over Portugal

This is typically the least interesting match in the tournament, and there is a real chance Ronaldo doesn’t even play in it, but France will get the chance to show their depth and take third.

Final

Belgium over Germany

In a final that will have people worldwide really confused by the far too similar flags, it is talent that wins out over team play. I see Belgium lifting the cup in a final that could be epic.