Tag Archives: Football

How to talk to your kids about Richard Sherman

While trying to keep an open mind, I’ve been watching the arguments unfold the past couple of days in the wake of Richard Sherman’s bombastic remarks after the Seahawks defeated the 49ers in the NFC championship game.

Outrage was in abundance that night, with many football fans denouncing Sherman as an ungracious lout and vowing to root for the Broncos in the Super Bowl to spite him. (I’ve read, too, that there was a lamentable racist slant to many attacks on Sherman, although I  observed none from those I follow on Twitter.)

A contrarian view came up in response to the denouncers, and that is that it was “refreshing” that a player would speak so openly in an era of the NFL devoid of controversial figures.

My take?

I approach it the way my father did when teaching me about sportsmanship, and I hope I conveyed the same message to my own children: Compete as hard as you can. Never taunt, never boast, never gloat. When the game is over, be gracious in victory or defeat. Shake your opponent’s hand and say “good game.

That’s the code you follow to become a man (or woman).

I wouldn’t have to ask my father what he thought of Sherman’s outburst, and I’m sure my kids don’t have to ask me what I think.






Exit, 49ers, and bring on baseball!

With the 49ers’ overtime loss to the New York Giants still stinging sharply, I turn to my blog and the prospect of another baseball season for solace.

As a (baseball) Giants fan, it was weird — and damned annoying — to hear chants of “Let’s go, Giants” ringing out from Candlestick Park after today’s NFC Championship game.

The baseball Giants have their roots in New York, of course, and I guess that must count for something. In my New York/New Jersey years, I followed the (football) Giants and will likely be rooting for them in the Super Bowl.

But it’s going to take several days before I get the disappointing end to the 49ers’ season out of my system. Give me time to heal, please.

A worthy baseball blogathon

The Ball Caps Blog has been dormant since the passing of the Baseball Solstice, and it stirs to life to today with a recommendation that you check out the blogathon over at Old Time Family Baseball. It’s a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders, a worthy organization that is even more impressive under its French title, Medecines Sans Frontieres.

While baseball is always top of mind for me, I’m preoccupied with football today as the San Francisco 49ers host the New Orleans Saints in an NFL divisional playoff game.

The baseball season ends, and winter begins

It’s no coincidence: The baseball season concluded last night as the Cardinals knocked off the Rangers in St. Louis, and it’s snowing this morning in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York.

What more do fans of the Phillies, Pirates, Yankees and Mets need to remind them that the 2011 season didn’t go their way?

But what a season it was! The Pirates were winning for most of the first half of the year, while two hours away in Cleveland the Indians were leading the American League Central, and the Tigers eventually won that division.

The Brewers got back to the playoffs for the first time in 29 years, and the Diamondbacks smoked the National League West.  The Red Sox dominated for so long, then fell apart.

The Rangers rolled through the season and the American League playoffs to get another crack at the title. And the Cubs still sucked.

But the best story of all was the Cardinals, coming from way back to sneak into the playoffs as the AL Central Wild Card and ultimately win the World Series in seven games.

The series got better ratings than in previous years, helped by wild and crazy Game 6, which is already a big chapter in more than a century of Major League Baseball lore.

Baseball’s detractors will coldly point out that the playoffs’ and series’ ratings pale in comparison to the ratings the National Football League games get, and there’s no arguing the point.

The NFL has our wallets.

But baseball has our hearts.

Labor troubles, the NFL and a bit of perspective

National Football League owners and the players’ union broke off negotiations today, and a whole lot of stuff I don’t understand will follow.

What I do understand is that if the football season is delayed or scrubbed, I will survive and life will go on.

That’s a lesson I learned from the long Major League Baseball strike that washed out the last month and a half of the 1994 season and canceled the playoffs and World Series. As that strike approached, I thought suspension of play would cut me to the core.

It didn’t.

While I missed listening to the Oakland Athletics day in and day out and scanning the headlines for news of the other teams, I shrugged it off and went about my daily routine. I was happy when play resumed the next season, but not overjoyed.

I have little memory of the 1981 strike, likely because I was preoccupied with the pending birth of our first child. I was in high school during the brief strike in 1972, and I probably took it as  positive because there was less chance the Indians’ games in Cleveland would get snowed out.

The strikes chipped away at the corners of my loyalty to the game, and while distrusting the owners and never siding with them, I tended to fault the players more as their salaries sailed farther and farther away from my middle class bearings.

But the more I’ve read of baseball history, and the history of pro sports in general, the more I’ve come to see how the owners have taken advantage of the players over the decades.

In pro sports, there’s plenty of money to go around. I hope football works out its troubles for the sake of everyone, most especially the beer vendors and souvenir hawkers and others whose modest earnings hinge heavily on the riches of the  NFL.

Peering past Super Bowl Sunday to the start of Spring Training

We have one more week of bread-and-circus hoopla leading up to the Super Bowl, and then we can shift our full attention to what really matters: baseball.

Spring training is just around the corner. Knowing that pitchers and catchers will soon be breaking out the balls and mitts keeps us going through the cold months.

As much as I anticipate the return of the daily ritual of baseball, I know that these long weeks of winter are necessary to keep the love of the game alive.

For this San Francisco Giants fan, this will be the shortest off-season in my lifetime. I hung on every game through the end of the World Series, which ended in November, for goodness’ sakes. The new season starts early, on March 31.

Bring it on.


Oakland Raiders cut Cable, and other musings on big-league coaching

Word is out tonight from the Bay Area that Al Davis has given the heave-ho to Coach Tom Cable, who guided the Raiders to an 8-8 record this season, their best in recent years. Evidently improving operations is not enough in Oakland, where it’s “just win, baby.”

Or so it’s supposed to be.

The Raiders have been a sorry spectacle the past few years. Cable may not have been the most articulate or dynamic figurehead for the Silver and Black, but at least he figured out a way to improve the team. That can’t be said for Mike Singletary, who got sacked with one game to go in the 49ers’ disappointing season.

Being the head coach or manager in the NFL, Major League Baseball or any other top-level league has its rewards. But in the end, most coaches get kicked in the hindquarters.

In the mid-70s, my father dropped a mid-summer note to Cleveland Indians manager Jeff Torborg, who was soon to be chucked after another dismal season by the Tribe. Torborg sent my dad a postcard with a picture of him in uniform on one side. On the back, Torborg’s handwritten note thanked my dad for whatever kind words he had sent. I can’t remember precisely what Torborg wrote, but it was a gentle note, something along the lines of “this stuff comes with the territory.”

I asked my dad what he’d written. He’d sent a note of sympathetic encouragement, noting that the managers never get enough credit if the team wins and certainly bear the brunt of the blame if the players fail.

That’s the way it has always been in pro sports. The coaches-to-be of the Niners, Raiders and multiple other franchises about to announce dynamic new leadership should keep that in perspective as they head to the rostrum to announce their commitment to winning, to reaching the “next level,” to bringing glory back to this storied franchise, yada, yada, yada.

Savor the day, mi amigos. This may be the best day you have at the helm.