Angry Sports Guys Acting Dumb

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - October 03, 2007
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Call it the week of four angry men - eight fewer than needed to really get the dander up of jurors No. 3 and 10, but enough to recognize the need of Henry Fonda’s enlightened intelligence.

Oklahoma State’s head coach Mike Gundy got things going with a three-minute-20-second post game tantrum over comments made by Daily Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson about Cowboy quarterback Bobby Reid. Carlson suggested that coaches had lost confidence in the player, and that he may not have the guts to tough out minor injuries or the confidence to perform under pressure. She quotes Reid from an article by another Oklahoman reporter, Andrea Cohen, in which he talked about his pregame nerves.

“I get sweaty palms. I get the butterflies in my stomach. I sweat lot,” he said then. “I’ve been playing this game for 15 years. And I can honestly say every game I’ve played in, I’ve been nervous. It’s not so much me being scared; I just get to a point where I start worrying about a lot of things I can’t control.”

At the press conference, Gundy glared at someone, obviously Carlson, and screamed how it was unfair to attack a “kid,” and likened his feelings to that of a mother having to help console a child who was teased for dropping a pass in a pickup game or because he was fat. He went on to say that three-fourths of the information was untrue and called it fiction. Unfortunately, when queried by Carlson about what facts she had gotten wrong, Gundy declined to offer an example saying, “I don’t have to.” Good retort.

In a week of overheated macho bullcrap, this was the worst. A head coach at a large university talks about the impropriety of criticizing an adult old enough to vote, drink and walk a post in Iraq, all the while screaming at a woman in a manner that could be construed as a physical threat. At one point Gundy shouts, “... come after me! I’m a man! I’m 40! Write something about me or our coaches, don’t write about a kid that does everything right.”

Carlson may have gone overboard suggesting Reid was soft because his mother was feeding him chicken before the team’s charter flight prior to the game, or that he showed disconnect from his team by laughing on the sidelines as they were losing to Troy, but whatever errors she made failed in comparison to Gundy’s actions. It’s fine to stick up for your players, but it is simple cowardice to verbally attack a woman without even having the guts to discuss any perceived errors in her reporting.

Gundy said he questions what this country has become when stories like this can be written. If Gundy really wants to discuss the direction of the nation, he should look no further than the 81 percent of 11,686 respondents to a television poll that said Gundy acted appropriately or the 98 percent of the 1,400 e-mails the school got in support of the coach.

* It’s amazing to think that the namesake of the company that brought us such peaceful playtime activities as Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-O and the My Little Pony Memory Game could be such a hyper-aggressive, short-fused powder keg. But Milton Bradley has been just that during his time in the Major Leagues.

It could be that Bradley is just not wired correctly or that he has more in common with Trouble, Battleship, Aggravation and the designed-to-be-unstable Jenga. Whatever the reason, something was bound to go wrong when Bradley met Mike Winters.

Baseball let this happen. By allowing its officials to get into verbal altercations with players and managers, the league has created a caste of elitist officials who believe they can never miss a call and are in the right to shout down any descending opinion. Or in this case, to stir up trouble between a player and the home plate umpire by telling the umpire that player had thrown a bat at him following a called third strike.

In every other sport, officials are supposed to be the invisible, non-emotional interpreters of the rules. In baseball they are part of the show. That’s why this incident happened. For far too long Winters and others umpires have been an unregulated force of confrontation. While Winter’s guilt is obvious, we would be remiss to think that Bradley didn’t have a hand in the encounter.

After the game Bradley admitted that his past behavior has been a problem, but that he had no intent of harming Winters and that he just wanted the first base umpire to hear what he had to say. No matter how contrite Bradley may have sounded after the game, he still had to be restrained by first base coach Bobby Meacham and manager Bud Black. That’s one physical discussion.

* Atlanta corner back DeAngelo Hall rounds out the fourfecta with his sideline tirade at head coach Bobby Petrino and an assistant.

Being that the coaches were to blame for his three penalties that included two personal fouls during a single possession, Hall decided to straighten things out. So did Petrino, slapping him with a $100,000 fine. By this time we’ll know if he was forced to sit out an entire quarter due to his transgression. The discipline is a joke. Apparently, his behavior is bad enough to cost him some cash, but not bad enough to risk putting a game on the line. Hall filed an appeal with the union, saying he felt the punishment was unjustified. As a manner of scale, he may be right. With his signing bonus, Hall will make $2.46 million this season which means he earns $38,437. 50 per quarter. Therefore, Hall is playing 1.6 quarters for free. Fight the power!

Looking back

Talk about a lot of work for nothing. In 1892, while pitching for the Chicago Colts, “Wild Bill” Hutchison could manage only a .500 record even with a 2.74 era. A season after winning 25 more games than he lost, Hutchison could only muster a 36-36 mark while pitching a back-breaking 622 innings. Between 1890 and 1892, Wild Bill averaged 595 innings pitched. It may be why he only lasted nine years in the league.

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