For 24 years, Pete Rose has waited. Since Major League Baseball handed down his lifetime ban on August 25, 1989 for betting on games, Rose has waited for his moment of redemption. Oddly enough, that moment may come soon, and if so, Rose has players like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun to thank.
In an excellent article in USA Today, Bob Nightengale has suggested that, in the controversy surrounding Biogenesis and MLB’s suspension of over a dozen players for using performance enhancing substances, Rose emerges looking like a “sympathetic figure.”
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If you know me at all, you know that I’m a big fan of the College World Series. It’s a summer highlight for me every year, even when my Georgia Bulldogs aren’t playing. One facet of the CWS that bothers me year after year is ESPN’s coverage of it (I’ve actually written about it before). This year was the same old-same old.
Seven of the teams on the CWS are from the South: South Carolina, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Florida, Virginia, Texas, and Texas A&M. The other team was California. Can you guess which team was talked about and favored by ESPN more than the others in their coverage? You guessed it…California. And can you guess what metaphor ESPN’s commentators used to talk about California’s team? Right again…Cinderella.
Don’t get me wrong…I have to give California their due. Faced with their program being cancelled after this season, the Cal baseball team, along with their selfless coach, worked hard to have a successful season and raised enough money to keep the program around for at least seven years. So they have an inspiring story.
However, as usual, ESPN shows favoritism to a team from the West Coast, and they overuse the Cinderella metaphor. After Virginia beat Cal in an 8-1 trouncing more appropriate to the stepsisters than to Cinderella, Mike Patrick predictably said, “Virginia ends Cinderella’s run.” Of course it was more about California losing than about Virginia advancing.
ESPN needs some new metaphors, and they need to drop the favoritism. I really do love ESPN (especially since they’re part of the Disney family), but it can be infuriating at times.
It’s so easy to get cynical about professional sports. Every day it seems like there’s some sort of scandal sending shockwaves through the sports world. But once in a while a story comes along that proves that there are some true class acts in professional sports.
On March 6, University of Georgia baseball player Johnathan Taylor was paralyzed following an onfield collision with teammate Zach Cone. Taylor is still confined to a wheelchair and has undergone extensive grueling rehab. The team and fans have rallied around him, praying for him and wishing him well.
This week, in the 33rd round of the Major League Baseball draft, the Texas Rangers drafted Taylor along with Cone, who was drafted 37th overall.
The selection of Taylor was one of the feel-good stories of the three-day draft. In the first round, the Rangers used the No. 37 overall pick to take Georgia’s Zach Cone, who was involved in the devastating outfield collision with Taylor in a March 6 game against Florida State.
Cone and Taylor remain best of friends and celebrated Wednesday’s announcement over the phone. Taylor was undergoing rehabilitation at Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta that has continued since surgery for a broken neck. He is paralyzed from the waist down.
“JT was so pumped up and couldn’t have been happier,” Cone said. “He was very surprised and not expecting it to happen. I was very happy for JT because I knew being drafted was something he always wanted.
“It’s an honor for me to get drafted by the same team. It says a lot about the Rangers. It means a lot to JT, me, and both of our families.”
Georgia baseball coach David Perno said, “This was truly a classy move and a great gesture on the part of the Texas Rangers organization.”
“Classy” is the right word. I’m impressed with the Rangers organization. Between Josh Hamilton’s second chance and drafting JT, I’ve made the Texas Rangers my second favorite baseball team…and my favorite American League team. Here’s to the truly classy guys in professional sports.
Josh Hamilton wound up losing the Home Run Derby to Justin Morneau (where the home run totals are reset for the final round), but in his interview afterwards, Josh told Erin Andrews..right there in front of a capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium and millions of viewers at home…”I want to give thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I want to glorify Him in all I do.”
What more can you say? What a class act…
In the last two days, I’ve seen two incredible stories of baseball and faith…
Yesterday, the Covington News profiled my friend Keaton Anglin, one of our students at Eastridge. His story of suffering an injury that nearly took his life while doing local mission work a few years ago, with the possibility of not even being able to use his right arm, only to rebound, become a seriously talented high school infielder, and use his story to share Christ with others is inspiring. I’m so proud of Keaton for all he’s accomplished.
Tonight, Josh Hamilton, an outfielder for the Texas Rangers, set the record for the most home runs in the first round of the Home Run Derby. Josh was the first overall pick in the MLB Draft in 1999. He nearly ruined his life with drugs and alcohol before giving his life to Christ and rebuiling his baseball career. After finishing the first round of the Home Run Derby, he told ESPN’s Erin Andrews, “it’s amazing what God has done in my life and how quickly He’s done it.”
These two stories of ball players finding — and tapping into — the true purpose in life should be an inspiration to us all.
I can’t believe my Georgia Bulldogs baseball team are one win away from a national championship! They pulled off a 7-6 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs in truly dramatic fashion. I can’t wait for tonight’s game.
Now on to my frustration with the game. The sports media really needs to get a new vocabulary. I don’t think I’ve heard the word “Cinderella” more times than I did during the game, even when Kenzie was watching Cinderella literally every day. ESPN’s coverage resembled what I imagine the Fresno State home coverage would sound like; I had to mute it for a while because I was sick of hearing how “scrappy” they were, how they were “making the most of their hits,” and again, the references to Cinderella. Two articles on ESPN.com this morning use the C-word, and one of them basically worries about whether Fresno State can bounce back.
ESPN even needs to get new anecdotes about both teams. I heard the same story twice…and practically word-for-word…about how one Fresno State player is putting off surgery on a ligament in his hand until after the CWS. Mike Patrick and Orel Hershiser mentioned at least three times how Georgia pitcher Joshua Fields gave up four runs in his last non-save outing. And I hope tonight will be the last time I hear the story of how Coach David Perno told Gordon Beckham in 2006 that Beckham would be the one to lead Georgia back into the CWS.
It’s the same old story for ESPN…if a team from California or New York is involved, there’s noticeable bias. And it’s not just Georgia fan sour grapes; I noticed it in the games with North Carolina, and I notice it a lot when I don’t have a Dawg in the fight. As much as I love ESPN, they can frustrate me so many times.
Oh well… GO DAWGS!!!!!!
I must be making up for lost time…
Saturday, we went to a UGA baseball game for the first time in years. I’ve forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Kenzie seemed to have a good time too!