Willie Horton Can Change the World (via Sports on Earth)

Horton_cbo69kqg_715cb9noStill, nothing showed Horton’s character more than that July weekend in 1967, when rioting began on a Saturday night in Detroit. The Tigers hosted the New York Yankees for a doubleheader the following afternoon, and Horton stood in left field studying his teammates, the visitors, the fans and something beyond the grandstands at Tiger Stadium.

“I kept seeing black smoke in the distance, and I thought it was just a fire somewhere,” Horton said, and he was correct. It was carnage from the second of what would be five days of rioting that would take 43 lives and wound more than 1,000 other people. When the second game ended, Horton discovered in the clubhouse what was happening. “I was sitting there, getting ready to take a shower,” Horton said, “and then I got to thinking. I just said to myself, ‘Man, I’ve got to go.'” … Read More

(via Sports on Earth)

Michigan State Final Four Preview

Michigan State’s back in the Final Four, and they take on Duke tonight at 6:09 on TBS. In the spirit of the Final Four, here are four good reads on the 2015 Spartans to get you ready for tonight’s game:

Go Green!

The (Walking) Death of Sports on Earth

soe

Last month, in a story that was poorly reported to the then-staff of the site Sports on Earth, to say nothing of the general public, it snuck out that, in some order, USA Today had pulled out of its partnership with MLB that supported the site and ninety-five percent of the site’s staff had been let go. The soldiering-on of “senior writer” Will Leitch (which is far from nothing) aside, SoE exists today at best as a sort of undead shell of the vibrant self Leitch and its former staff had built in what I called an important “second chapter” of the site’s history.

As David Roth, Keith Olbermann, and even Leitch himself have commented, the whole thing came as a surprise even to the writers, many of whom found out about the great “unwinding” for the first time on Twitter.

We have tracked the rise of Sports on Earth since its birth, and we’ve highlighted plenty of their many well-done stories in the past. From a technical standpoint, SoE was designed for optimal reading on a tablet, and, for me, it held the position of go-to breakfast-table reading for a long time.

I was just a reader. For The Classical’s David Roth, the whole thing was more personal, as he was friends and colleagues of many of the dispatched writers, many of whom also had written for The Classical. I learned about Sports on Earth’s demise from Roth’s extended obituary, which also expounds upon the challenges of sustaining and supporting interesting sports writing in today’s media landscape.   Continue reading

Tony Stewart and Our Need to Know (via Sports On Earth)

tonystewartWe have become a culture that is obsessed with knowing. Our age, with the technology we have at our disposal, is supposed to be different than the ones that came before. There is a sense that all the mysteries of the past can be solved, that gaps in our knowledge are the result of insufficient resources and incurious, casual minds. If there’s anything the information age has brought us, it is the implicit understanding that information, because it is everywhere, can thus tell us everything.

This is the single organizing principle of our age: The sense that there is an inalienable truth, and that we can find it. DNA evidence. Targeted micro-marketing. Cognitive profiling. Data journalism. Instant replay. An undocumented incident that might have been dismissed as folklore or happenstance in the past is pored over for clues now. A meteor appears out of nowhere? Dozens of Russians have dashboard cameras to document it. A plane falls from the sky and lands in the Hudson River? Photos of it are loaded to Twitter before 95 percent of the country even knows what Twitter is. A couple doesn’t give a foul ball to kid who wants it and they’re excoriated on the Today show the next day. Not knowing is not acceptable. We can access our collective power to find out what happened, and why.

And a nightmarish accident happens on a dirt racetrack on Saturday night. A man — a boy, really — dies. Someone captures it with a cellphone. This has to provide us answers. This has to give us some truth. This has to give us some justice. … Read More

(via Sports On Earth)

Ray Rice’s suspension in context

In news today that was mostly (but not totally) condemned as tone-deaf and inappropriate, the NFL suspended Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games, but no preseason games, practices, or training camp activities, and docked his pay for a third game, for beating his then-fiancee, Janay, until she was unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator at an Atlantic City casino this February. That the NFL has a serious domestic abuse problem became frighteningly clear at Rice’s post-beating press conference (which I unfortunately had to highlight here). Today’s mild sanction did nothing to change that nauseating narrative.

Deadspin put together a list of “other notable NFL suspensions,” which offers some context for Rice’s two-game sanction. If you want to read the list, with all of the details and circumstances, it’s available here. I’ve attempted to distill the list to the basics below.    Continue reading

The Birth of Instant Replay (via Sports on Earth)

almostperfectFour years later — to the day — it’s still nearly impossible for me to listen to Jim Joyce’s postgame interview after missing the call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga his perfect game.

Go ahead. Give it a try.

Jim Joyce, on the day that call was made, had been a major league umpire for 21 years. He had umped two All-Star Games, two World Series and 14 postseason series. An ESPN Magazine poll of players named him the best umpire in baseball by a rather wide margin. He was at the absolute top of his profession.

And then he made the biggest mistake an umpire could make, at the worst possible time, calling Jason Donald of the Indians safe on a close play at first base, when it was clear to everyone else that Galarraga had beaten him to the bag. … Read More

(via Sports on Earth)

A Narrative That Doesn’t Feel Good (via Sports On Earth)

ray_rice_v0hi4q40_wk2hhulmWhy would she marry him?

It’s the natural question that arises after watching the video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging the unconscious body of Jenay Rice from the elevator where he knocked her out. Then his fiancée — the video was taken in mid-February before their wedding later that month — on Friday she stood by him as his wife for a stomach-flipping press conference. The disgust starts with the monstrous obliviousness of Ray Rice’s stating, “Failure is not getting knocked down, but not getting up,” and ends with Jenay Rice sharing the blame for his unconscionable crime. That so many wonder how this situation could end with Rice easily avoiding jail time and marrying the woman he battered betrays the willful ignorance of a society that enables him.

Violence is how abusers keep their victims from escaping. Wondering why Jenay Rice would stay requires a focused ignorance of a world in which roughly one third of murders against women are committed by an intimate partner. In this world, the threat of death, expressed or implied, can keep anyone captive.

Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL have seemingly normalized domestic violence as a learning experience for the abuser. Apparently, the crime isn’t the crime itself, but failing to offer a mawkish homily on how the crime made you a better person. The future of domestic violence in sports is here now. … Read More

(via Sports On Earth)

The Essential Michael Sam

Following NFL draft prospect Michael Sam’s announcement about his sexual orientation (he’s gay) last weekend, many people wrote and said many stupid things. Many more, I hope and believe, wrote and said positive things. The reality, though, is that few of us knew Sam’s name a week ago, which is a little bit baffling when we found out he was the top defensive player in the top college football conference, perhaps the truest testament to the bandied axiom that this is the football age of offense. As a result, the other reality this week is that few people’s responsive comments have been insightful or of much consequence.

Thankfully, there have been exceptions. The first was the video SB Nation/KSK’s Matt Ufford made the day after Sam’s announcement:

The second was Jeb Lund’s intelligently written article for Sports on Earth, posted later that same day, which took aim at Sam’s critics with precision.

The other two items are the dispassionate scouting reports of SoE’s Russ Lande and MMQB’s Greg Bedard. Lande holds some optimism for Sam’s draft position, while Bedard is more cynical, even going so far as to write that Sam may not be drafted at all.

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One has to think that Sam has a better chance of playing in the NFL– whether a team takes him in the draft or offers him a chance as an undrafted free agent– than Jason Collins had of extending his NBA career following his own sexual orientation announcement. As those scouting reports imply, though, it likely will be impossible to know whether or how Sam’s announcement affects his draft outcome this May.

Comprehensive Super Bowl XLVIII Preview

As you can see from the above graphic, this year’s Super Bowl, already dubbed the Snow & States’ Marketing Rights Bowl, pits New York against New Jersey in a battle for subpar beach superiority. You do not have subpar taste, however, because you’re reading ALDLAND’s Super Bowl preview, the only one you’ll need to prepare yourself for the game on Sunday. What follows is a compilation of the most interesting, entertaining, and essential Super Bowl XLVIII content, concluding with the least interesting, entertaining, and essential Super Bowl XLVIII content, my game prediction:

  • First and most important: the game begins at 6:30 Eastern on Fox.

Don’t drag me into this Richard Sherman thing

Knowing roughly how the internet works, I had a pretty good idea that Richard Sherman’s postgame interview with Erin Andrews would elicit a substantial amount of “discussion” as I watched it on Sunday night. I also had a reasonable suspicion that that discussion would become a discussion about the discussion. That’s because, as I wrote here the next morning, Sherman’s interview was not all that remarkable when compared with other works in the same genre.

In the immediate aftermath of his comments, a lot of people said racist things about him, including labeling him a “thug.” The new online sports media critics (shorthand: Deadspin), collectively about which I’ve attempted to write before, preemptively steeled themselves against charges of racism by 1) labeling Sherman’s critics racists and 2) wholly endorsing Sherman’s comments.

It’s important to take the nation’s temperature on race issues periodically, but the race element of this discussion isn’t particularly interesting or nuanced, even though it does come with an Ivy-League-esque twist. However bluntly they did so, Deadspin et al. are right to stand up against racist tendencies in our discourse. Does that mean they need to go all-in with Sherman, though? No.

Continue reading