Apologies are in order for you, my loyal column readers who send me emails and voice mails or tell me in person how much you love my rants and opinions.
Or even those who tell me you don’t agree with my opinions but love reading them anyway. You’re wrong when you disagree with me, but I appreciate your readership nonetheless (if this were a text or Facebook post, I’d toss in “LOL” right here to let you know that was a bit of sarcasm).
It’s been a little while since I filled this space with fun-filled pontification, and the result is a ton of sports thoughts in my head. So let’s empty the mind …
• Celebration time: As I was driving running errands last Sunday after the awesome victory by the Chicago Bears (hey, who needs a better draft position when you have a future hall of famer at quarterback!), I was listening to one of the Chicago radio postgame shows with a pair of former Bears and a moderator (that describes four different stations, so good luck in guessing which one) and heard something from a caller that made me angry.
Now mind you, the Bears won so calls are supposed to be happy. But this guy who sounded close to my age was angry about end zone celebrations.
To paraphrase his complaint, he said players who celebrate too much after scoring a touchdown are bad influences on kids watching on TV.
Yes, I was downright angry, yelling at the radio while driving by myself.
Remember, this season the NFL changed from calling too many penalties on end zone celebrations and enhancing the stigma that it’s the “No Fun League.” Instead, players are allowed to perform a fairly quick choreographed celebration, many times with teammates, immediately after the TD.
What’s wrong with that?
Remember Billy “White Shoes” Johnson and his famous end zone dance, or Ickey Woods (the “Ickey Shuffle”) or Jamal Anderson (the “Dirty Bird”)? They were entertaining and were better for the game, so I love the NFL for not being strict anymore.
People like that radio caller need to get a life and realize there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun. He probably doesn’t like home run celebrations in baseball, either, even though most former Major League pitchers say the best way to prevent them is not to give up home runs.
• Hall of fame debate: Speaking of baseball, former Detroit Tigers Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were voted in by the Modern Era Committee (formerly called the Veterans Committee). Next month, the baseball writers will vote for regular nominees, and one of those possible entrants is Edgar Martinez, who got 58.6 percent of votes last year (75 percent needed for election).
The Baseball Hall of Fame is the most debated of the major sports because it’s been around the longest and very subjective. Do you believe more modern statistics are more important (WAR, JAWS, OPS) or are you old school and still care about the basic ones (ERA, RBI, AVG, etc.)?
I’m in between, understanding that WAR (wins above replacement) is important, that pitching wins are overrated and on-base percentage means more than batting average, but also sticking with the premise that career accumulation also means something.
So let me get this out there before the votes come from a group of baseball media members who straddle both sides of the aisle on what’s important stat wise.
If Martinez (predominantly a designated hitter in the American League) EVER gets elected to the Hall, then former and beloved White Sox outfielder and DH Harold Baines has to go in, too, or the Hall is a sham.
Martinez may have a better career batting average (.312 to .289) and WAR (68.3 to 38.5), but Baines is much better in the benchmark categories that I grew up revering.
Baines had lots more hits (2,866 to 2,247), runs batted in (1,628 to 1,261) and quite a bit more home runs (384 to 309). Getting close to 3,000 hits versus being more than 700 from that benchmark number still means something to me.
But hey, if you think I’m being biased as a White Sox fan, I also think Sammy Sosa is getting robbed by the voters, too, with just 8.6 percent of the vote while other alleged steroid guys are getting much more (54.1 for Roger Clemens, 53.8 for Barry Bonds, 23.8 for Manny Ramirez).
I don’t believe steroid-era guys should be treated differently. Steroids were not banned in baseball while they were playing, just like amphetamines weren’t banned in the 1970s and 1980s when plenty of hall of famers were popping pills.
So that said and all things being equal, Sosa is easily a hale of famer with more hits than Martinez, who isn’t immune to steroid accusations, either, at 2,408, 609 career home runs and the only player to hit 60 HR in three seasons.
• Potpourri: Wow, I didn’t think I could rant so much about those two things. So let’s empty the rest of my thought in rapid-fire effect.
Yes, recently retired kick returner and former Bears’ star Devin Hester is a hall of famer, period. He was the best ever at his position and that’s good enough for me.
Derek Jeter is bad for baseball as an owner. He’s just selling off players and home runs left and right (Giancarlo Stanton and his 59 dingers, then Marcell Ozuna and his career-high 37 homers), just like previous Miami owner Jeffrey Loria. Oh, and in the “things that make you go hmmm” category, Stanton was traded to Jeter’s former team, the Yankees, for virtually nothing. Major League Baseball needs to think about rescinding those trades like other pro leagues have done (remember Chris Paul’s trade to the Lakers being nullified by the NBA).
Sports gambling is close to being allowed in multiple states, leading to the real possibility that it could be legalized nationally. Please, oh please … this needs to happen. It happens everywhere all the time anyway in the form of fantasy leagues (I’m in second place in my NBA fantasy league, thanks to James Harden) and if it’s taxed, it could help the added debt that Donald Trump tax plan will bring. I’m betting on it.
Thank you PGA for not allowing overbearing fans from calling out golfers because they see a rules violation on TV. Your rules are already too strict, but at least players don’t have to worry about a fan that likes another golfer better watching their every move thinking they’re the golf police.
It’s way past the time to get rid of disparaging Native American nicknames. Yes, I’m talking to you Washington Redskins. Yes, I’m talking to you, Knox High School Redskins. Heck, anyone with the name “Indians” is included, too, since the race of people who were in this country before us were NOT Indians. They were named that supposedly because Christopher Columbus thought he landed in India. But if you want to keep “Indians” then let’s at least agree that “Redskins” is a racist description of Native Americans and go from there.
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at email@example.com or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.