Category Archives: Sports

Gordon’s pregame leads team to postseason

Various political topics occurred to me as I considered what to write about today, but in the end I’ve got to go with something entirely apolitical: Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon‘s pre-game workout routine. My wife and I have been watching the Major League Baseball playoffs the past ten days or so with rapt attention, because our beloved Royals have been tearing it up, winning six straight and up 2 games to none against the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship.

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 8.11.20 PM

Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, whose “pregame routine is the stuff of legend,” writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. (Photo: Royals.KansasCity.MLB.com)

Gordon is a cornerstone of the team, having been a Royal since he entered the big leagues and having made two trips to the All-Star game to represent the club. He’s also a three-time Gold Glove winner.

What I didn’t know about Alex Gordon until now was just how dedicated he is to developing and maintaining on his level of on-field performance. That shows up in his daily pre-game workouts, which stretch for hours and include strength training, extensive stretching, sprints, fielding drills, batting practice and more, according to reporter Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. He manages his time efficiently and moves from one task to the next with a serious sense of purpose.

Gordon has gained a couple disciples among fellow players on the team, who now emulate the routine, and the Royals have put together a condensed video of the workout to send around as an example to the players in their farm system.

There’s a reason the country is rooting for the Kansas City Royals right now, and it’s got a lot do with the fact that it’s guys like Gordon, working as hard as he does, that brought them to where they are now – just two games away from the World Series.

2 Comments

Filed under Sports

Why did Levenson release the email?

The Atlanta Hawks released a statement today announcing that owner Bruce Levenson was stepping away from the NBA team, two years after he sent an email that touched on matters of race in a discussion of game day operations and fan attendance.

Levenson stated that his informal strategy memo to Hawks president Danny Ferry “was inappropriate and offensive,” and apologized to the team family and fans. He characterized his decision to sell his majority stake in the NBA franchise as being in the best interest of the team, the city and the league. His statement along with the complete text of the email were both published on the Atlanta Hawks website today.

In the email, Levenson shared thoughts and posed questions about boosting season ticket sales. Having been told that white males age 35-55 are the primary season ticket subscribers around the league, he speculates that a largely black attendance base and cheerleading squad, coupled with the hip hop and gospel music played at the games, was limiting the team’s appeal with this demographic.

Levenson himself had provided the email to the NBA and an investigation commenced, which is still ongoing. It seems an odd supposition that his furnishing of this document would have been unprompted, so the real question is: why did he do it?

That’s what the real reporting will attempt to answer in the next several days. Did any of the minority-share owners having anything to do with the document’s disclosure, and was Levenson pressured to release it, perhaps to preempt its release by another, hostile party?

At least four people knew of the email at the time of its writing: Bruce Levenson himself; its recipient Danny Ferry; and Todd Foreman and Ed Peskowitz, both of whom were Ccd on the email. It’s also possible of course that IT personnel or anyone with access to the computers or email systems of those four individuals could have seen the message as well. And, naturally, any of them could’ve forwarded the message to anybody.

It’s interesting that Levenson sent the message close to midnight on a Saturday night, from his iPad (as recorded by the time stamp in the email at the top, and the signature block at the bottom). Is it possible he was just tired enough or just uninhibited enough to say things in writing that he might otherwise normally not have?

The other whole angle here is of course the nature of public discussion of race, the intricate (but well defined) protocols that dialogue has developed and the strangely formulaic shape the process has assumed. Part and parcel of that part of the story is how the media has covered this issue, and how they have characterized Levenson’s statements. But that is for another day and another post.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Race, Sports

Accomplishing Goals

After 400 meters swimming, 14 miles biking and 3.1 miles running, the finish line!

This morning, I competed in The Trizou Triathlon in Columbia, Missouri. As a sprint-triathlon event, participants swim 400 meters, bike 14 miles and run five kilometers, or 3.1 miles. My only goal was to finish, and my only strategy was to pace myself!

As it turns out, this was a pretty good approach to take. I felt good the whole time, and had a blast doing it. If you read my healthy living tips a while back, you know that I’ve been in the process of getting back in shape over the last several months. Today’s test of physical fitness may have marked the end of the beginning of my venture into a new and better lifestyle, and the beginning of a new normal in terms of competitive activity level and overall health and wellness.

The picture above is as I’m approaching the finish line.  My total time was 1 hour, 44 minutes, 1 second – good enough for 543rd place out of a mere 666 participants! (The winner competed the course in a smoking 58 minutes, 2 seconds.) I definitely could have shaved some time off that but as my first event, I didn’t worry about trying to make my best time, just stay strong and steady.

I’ve got a few more pics to post soon. For the moment I just wanted to get this up here and say I’ll definitely be doing more events like this in the future! The competitive atmosphere was a thrill today, and it was inspiring and motivating not only to compete and complete, but to watch others do the same.

3 Comments

Filed under General & Miscellaneous, Personal Living, Sports

Who is Barack Obama?

Is he a Chicago White Sox baseball fan? Sure. If wearing a cap makes one so.

John Kass in the Chicago Tribune describes Mr. Obama‘s painfully awkward failure not only to name a single player from his old favorite team, but the ballpark where they play. Sadly, this unfortunate little incident is a poetic illustration of the larger life and identity of our president.

We never really knew him, and what we did, or thought we did, hasn’t always been true. I’m speaking mainly of his political viewpoints and approach to politics (presented during the campaign as moderate and post-partisan; in actuality quite ideological and partisan), but also the personal background that shaped those beliefs.

I came across this and wanted to briefly share. No further comment is necessary, I think.

1 Comment

Filed under Barack Obama, Sports

First Narcissists

On their trip to Copenhagen, the Obamas delivered characteristically myopic pitches to bring the gold home to Chicago. Thus observes George F. Will in his own characteristic style. Little attention has been given to the speeches themselves, which were not only self-absorbed but hackneyed.

This it seems, is emerging as an enduring mark of Obama addresses. Incredibly, personal pronouns have been even more ubiquitous in his speeches since becoming president than the vapid rhetorical flourishes for which he is known.

Here’s the full transcript of his address to the International Olympic Committee, and full video of the same:

Leave a comment

Filed under Barack Obama, Sports

IOC blows off Windy City, Obama

President Barack Obama failed in his bid to bring the 2016 Olympics to his adopted home town of Chicago. The International Olympic Committee eliminated the city in the first round of voting, along with Tokyo. Rio and Madrid now vie for the opportunity to host the quadrennial international games. The failed lobbying effort by the president, the first lady and media star Oprah Winfrey is a stinging defeat for Obama.

While it is an honor for any nation to host the games, I was dismayed at what seemed to develop into a vain, parochial pursuit by the president and those around him. Many city residents opposed hosting the costly festivities, but a circle of elite players coveted the attendant pride and prestige. They pressed on despite obvious complications, including crippling deficits at the city and state level and political corruption rife throughout the same. The president and his image makers and insiders no doubt lusted after the potent symbolic value of the 2016 games to cap off a potential second term and commence legacy building efforts in fantastic fashion.

Goodbye, Chicago. Ta-ta, Tokyo.

Hello, Rio? Good morning, Madrid?

I love the Windy City but let’s be glad that the IOC recognized it was not the time or place to bring the games. Perhaps now the president will be able to move on to international affairs of a more pressing nature.

1 Comment

Filed under Barack Obama, Sports

The case against the Chicago Olympics

10/02/09 1:05 p.m. CST: UPDATE: Chicago’s bid has been rejected. Read IOC Blows off Windy City, Obama

Wow…..after reading this I’m more inclined to support those who oppose the Olympics coming to Chicago. Since this is published as an open letter and I’ve seen it in several spaces in the public domain, I’m going to republish it here in full, as opposed to just excerpts. This is written by investigative journalist Ben Joravsky and originally appeared in the Chicago Reader. This is really quite a letter, so consider this highly recommended reading. Finally, the more I think about the obsession with pageantry and political stagecraft on the part of team Obama, the more likely it seems to me that this push is all about Obama (at least, for the Obama machine it is). It would not be fitting to bring the games to Chicago for that reason.

Dear members of the International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission:

Welcome to Chicago!

I know you’re here for the next few days to check out our lovely city to determine if we—as opposed to Madrid, Tokyo, or Rio—have the best plan for hosting the 2016 Olympics.

Just so you know from the outset, I hope you don’t give us the games. I’ve been against it from the start, and I could fill a book with the reasons. But I’m not here to tell you how paying for the games would cripple my hometown—if you want that, see chicagoreader.com/2016_olympics. This letter is about your needs, not ours. I’m here to tell you some things about Chicago you’ll never hear from Mayor Daley, who’s acting like a used-car salesman, trying to sell you an old beater without letting you look under the hood.

Here’s the fundamental problem: We can’t afford the games. We’re broke—and I mean damn near destitute. The public school system is about $475 million in the red and the city’s facing its own deficit of at least $200 million. Just a few months ago Mayor Daley said he’d balanced the budget by raising fees and fines and slashing the city payroll, but already expenses have risen and revenues have dropped faster than anticipated. His aides have warned that more cuts could be on the way.

The Chicago Transit Authority, which runs our public transportation system, is busted too, in more ways than one. CTA officials are in the thick of their annual budget crisis, warning of fare hikes and service cuts that could affect traffic in every part of town. They don’t have enough money to replace the old buses or repair the tracks that are falling apart.

I know it’s not your concern if it takes ordinary Chicagoans ever more time and money to get to work, especially since the 2016 bid committee has made it clear that it won’t depend on the CTA to shuttle athletes, reporters, and spectators back and forth from hotels to venues.

But thousands of people here are quietly stewing over these budget problems, since they’re the ones who always have to fork over taxes, fees, and fines to make up the difference. Mayor Daley has acknowledged that citizens won’t stand for another property tax hike, especially with thousands of families losing their homes to foreclosure during the economic meltdown.

So instead he’s hiking fees that hit tourists as well as residents. It costs more than ever to park, go to a play or restaurant, or stay in a hotel. And he’s selling off pieces of public property, including Midway Airport and the city’s parking meters. It’s starting to sink in here. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t get a call from an outraged resident bitching and moaning about how much it costs now to park at a meter—or to pay off parking tickets.

And then there are the TIFs: $550 million a year in property taxes siphoned from the schools and parks to feed slush funds that Mayor Daley controls with virtually no oversight. At the moment, the public is conveniently in the dark about them because they’re too complicated for the mainstream press to cover and our tax bills don’t reflect how much we’re paying to keep them funded. But every year the TIF take rises and sooner or later the public will catch on. (If you’d like to bone up on the subject, see chicagoreader.com/tifarchive.)

Again, I know it’s not your problem if the city is selling off public assets or keeping two sets of books. But I do think you’ll want to keep these things in mind as you consider whether the bid committee’s financial guarantees are worth the paper they’re written on.

The committee says it can put on the Olympics here for less than $5 billion, since it won’t have to acquire a lot of land or do a lot of construction. Don’t believe it. London, the host for the 2012 games, is now expected to spend $16.5 billion, nearly twice what it first estimated. And Chicago has a fine track record of delays and cost overruns on public projects. The mayor may take you on a tour of Millennium Park while he’s here, but he probably won’t mention that it cost $475 million to build—a mere $325 million more than originally projected. You might like to take a stroll along the Chicago River, but the latest extension of the riverwalk won’t be finished until June. It’s cost taxpayers $22 million—double the original estimates.

Take a drive down State Street while you’re here and see the enormous construction zone between Randolph and Washington. Block 37, as it’s known, has taken the city more than 20 years and tens of millions of dollars to develop, and under those newly constructed buildings is an unfinished train station that’s cost $250 million so far—more than twice the initial price tag.

Chicago’s bid committee has told you that it’ll raise the money through “public-private partnership.” That is, they’ll get private donors to kick in all the cash, and if somehow they don’t, they’ll be able to dip into various rainy day funds, insurance payoffs, and $500 million in taxpayer money authorized by the Chicago City Council and another $250 million guaranteed by the state legislature.

Given our financial situation, where’s that money going to come from?

People around here are going to be very, very displeased if they’re asked to cover the mayor’s enormous bet. Think of the citizenry of Chicago as a big sleeping giant. One day that giant will be stirred from his slumber. Someday, possibly very soon, it will dawn on Chicagoans that all the meters they’ve been feeding, all the taxes they’ve been paying, all the fines and fees they’ve forked over, still can’t pay the teachers and the police and the firefighters and fill the potholes and collect the garbage and remove the snow, and wonder how it is that we can still afford two weeks of international fun and games. And they will erupt.

I know it sounds like a long shot. But I’ve seen it happen before. Back in 1979, when folks got so angry they ousted one mayor—a guy named Bilandic—in favor of a relatively unknown out-of-work city employee named Jane Byrne.

And if it happens between now and 2016, guess who the public will blame? That’s right—the Olympics will be public enemy number one around here. You might even have to hand the games off to some other city, like you did with the winter games back in 1976. I know you remember that fiasco. In 1970, you awarded the games to Denver. Two years later, Coloradans voted to deny public funding for the games and you wound up having to shuffle them to Innsbruck, Austria.

If there’s a revolt over the Olympics in Chicago, it will probably be a messy one, made toxic by matters of race. Mayor Daley has been careful to include pictures of happy children from a variety of backgrounds in the public relations packets he’s been sending you. Obama’s historic election-night celebration in Grant Park made us look like one big charming melting pot. And race relations are a lot better around here than they were in the 1980s, when white folks lost their freaking minds over the prospect of electing a black mayor.

But Chicago remains one of the most racially segregated cities in the country, with a nervous tension just beneath the surface that flares every now and then over issues like crime, police misconduct, or the worth of black politicians such as Senator Roland Burris or Cook County Board president Todd Stroger. Mayor Daley usually contains the animosity by plying his black political supporters with just enough patronage to keep them happy. But the Olympic plan is perceived by many as a thinly disguised urban renewal project. They worry that Olympic “improvements” will drive working-class African-Americans from the near south side.

Granted, so far there have been no large public outbursts against the Olympic bid. You can’t even find an alderman with the guts to ask routine questions before approving the mayor’s Olympic initiatives—like $86 million in public funding for the Olympic Village. If people haven’t raised a stink yet, it’s because they’re not putting two and two together yet—2016 seems so far away, and meanwhile there are parking meters to be outraged about—or they’re scared to take on the mayor.

But it’s not because they love the idea of hosting the Olympics. The mayor waves around a poll his Olympic bid committee took a year ago that found 76 percent of Chicago-area residents favor bringing the Olympics to town. But a Chicago Tribune poll taken in February found that 75 percent are against using public money to pay for them.

Several aldermen have told me that they’ve gone along with this boondoggle because they’re afraid of enraging the mayor by voting no. I know he’s probably been pretty charming to you. But you wouldn’t like Mayor Daley when he’s angry. Some aldermen—and even a few of the business leaders who’ve kicked in money to the Olympic campaign—tell me they’re hoping you’ll do the dirty work of killing the games.

So please do us all a favor: Give the games to Rio. Or Madrid. Or Tokyo. Send them anywhere but here. And let’s all pretend like this cockamamie idea of holding them in Chicago never left the confines of Mayor Daley’s skull.

2 Comments

Filed under Barack Obama, Corruption, Sports