Friday, June 19, 2009

Free Kicks: O's, Golf, & a Somber Note Edition

I have a lot to say, so no unnecessary intro. Let's just line up for the kick...

Huff, Puff, and Blow the Mets Away
Well, Aubrey Huff did it again- but I can’t give him all the credit for winning the game last night as the Orioles came back to win in the bottom of the ninth. Francisco Rodriguez did not have his best stuff last night, and clearly was struggling to get the ball in the zone. When K-Rod finally forced one in the strike zone Aubrey Huff found it and made it count. Now, if the Orioles had a winning record all the analysts would say how the 9th inning shows that the team “knows how to win,” but I will hold myself back from rehashing that rant at this particular moment. However, all that said this team put together one heck of a comeback, and there is no way to take away from their performance. Against one of the top closers in the game, the O’s didn’t hurry their swings or get over-anxious at the plate. There are more than a couple major leaguers who would start swinging away after getting into a pitcher’s count like Adam Jones did in the at-bat that sent in the tying run. Instead, he patiently watched balls miss high, miss away, miss down, and finally give him the walk. Nor was he unique- the same team that was pressing a week ago is taking long, thoughtful at-bats.

What surprised me most about this game is how it happens to be the first 9th inning comeback of the season for the Orioles. It certainly seems odd to me, especially for a team that became known for their late-inning comebacks a couple years ago. Oh well, I am sure O’s fans will take it however they can get it.

Bethpage Blunders
The fact that they played at all yesterday was incredible given the conditions out on the course, but I worry a great deal about how the PGA is handling the fallout from the course being rained out after one group got even 11 holes in. I understand there isn’t anything they can do about the weather, but why not just push the whole event back a day now that one day was all but rained out entirely? Instead they are looking at certain players having to play 36 holes today while some will only be playing 25 and forcing a 7:30 tee time for those who already had to trudge through the muck yesterday and sacrifice shots to the weather while those who didn’t start were waiting in the clubhouse. In golf every shot matters; so don’t tell me it will all balance out when you go out in the rain, get soaked and exhausted trying to make it through 9 holes, then have to get up at 5:30 in the morning the next day- oh yea, and they are starting Round 2 at 4:00 PM.

And then the fans who actually came out and sat through that mess of golf yesterday won’t have their tickets recognized today by the course. I am sorry, but these people paid to see the first round of the U.S. Open, not to see half the players go half the course and go home. When tickets are going for about $100 a head, this isn’t a small expense for people. This act shows a complete disregard for their fans at a moment when their fans are the ones committed to coming out and seeing the game despite the conditions. Moreover, when they extend the Open through Monday (and they will), I am sure they will have a whole other set to tickets to sell, just to put a little more money in their pocket. In this economy it is good to know that golf hasn’t lost its elitist streak entirely.

A Question of Values
Donte Stallworth killed someone. It was dark. He killed someone. The guy was running across the street. He killed someone. Stallworth allegedly flashed his lights to notify the guy he was coming. He killed someone. Stallworth is going to give the family a lot of money for their pain and suffering. He killed someone. Is there something I am not understanding about this process that makes it okay for someone to kill another human being and only get 30 days in jail? I know Donte is paying out money to the family but they could easily get the money through a civil suit if they wanted to. Furthermore, why do we care whether his family is content with the settlement; why should it matter?

I will never understand what makes someone drink and get behind the wheel of a car, and I will never understand why there are people who think that it is alright to get off with a slap on the wrist. I do understand that this was an accident and that he didn’t do anything intentionally- except for drive drunk, which was all he had to do to take a life. Any time someone makes that kind of “mistake” and someone else winds up dead, it is time for more than 30 days in prison. His conscience should make him want to go to jail, but unfortunately we don’t live in a world where accountability matters. This man would be more vilified in this society if he was a baseball player who used legal steroids when the game didn’t even ban them. There is something very wrong with our values when Manny Ramirez's steroid use invokes more outrage than running someone down in your car.

Are we so inured to death that a dog’s life (see Michael Vick’s 18 months in prison) is that much more valuable than a human’s life? I understand that what Vick did was intentional, but when Donte Stallworth got behind the wheel of his car he was just as responsible as Vick was for the death that occurred on his watch. He may not have meant to fire, but he loaded the gun and took the safety off.

Why don’t we care?

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