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Name Changes Comin'
[Posted Sunday p.m. …prior to conclusion of NASCAR race at Indy]
Baseball Quiz: 1) Who holds the career mark for a catcher regarding percentage of runners caught stealing at 57.4%? [Hint: Hall of Famer, post-1945. It might surprise some of you.] 2) Who holds the National League record for fewest RBIs in 150 games or more with 20. [Hint: Hall of Famer, post-1945.] Answers below.
MLB Reopens…on edge….
--The first day the Yankees hit the field at the Stadium, Saturday, Giancarlo Stanton, in a simulated game, smashed a line drive into the side of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka’s head, but Tanaka was released from the hospital after shockingly not suffering a serious injury. What a way to start, though. And the Yanks learned that DJ LeMahieu and pitcher Luis Cessa each tested positive. LeMahieu was asymptomatic and Cessa’s symptoms were “very” mild, manager Aaron Boone said.
And then we had Atlanta’s four-time All-Star Freddie Freeman, and premier reliever Will Smith and two other Braves teammates testing positive for Covid-19.
“It will be a while before we can get him back,” manager Brian Snitker said Saturday about Freeman.
Snitker said Freeman had a negative test early in the week before testing positive Friday. Snitker said he has a fever and “is not feeling great.”
Freeman’s wife, Chelsea, posted on Twitter that he had “body aches, headaches, chills and a high fever.”
“He is someone who literally never gets sick and this virus hit him like a ton of bricks,” she said. “We’ve been really strict for the last four months,” she wrote. “Haven’t gone to a grocery store, haven’t gone out to dinner once, haven’t seen our friends…and still got it.”
The 30-year-old Freeman set career highs with 38 home runs and 121 RBIs last season.
--Dodgers pitcher David Price joined the list of those opting out of the 2020 season on Saturday, alluding to health concerns because of the coronavirus, joining Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and others.
Price, who came over from the Red Sox along with superstar outfielder Mookie Betts in a five-player deal in February, posted on his social media accounts: “After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season. I will miss my teammates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I’m sorry I won’t be playing for you this season, but look forward to representing you next year.”
Boooo! [At least I would if I was a Dodgers fan.]
Price was going to be a key alongside Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler in the Dodgers’ rotation.
Following Price’s opt-out, however, Caesars Sportsbook said it is not making any adjustments to the Dodgers’ odds or season-win total, remaining co-favorites with the Yankees to win the Series at +350.
Players who choose not to play and are not considered high-risk individuals are not granted compensation or service time in 2020. Price, who has two small children, was set to earn nearly $12 million in salary (part of a $217 million contract he signed with Boston in Dec. 2015).
But Price isn’t the only one to express trepidation about playing, as Mike Trout said he’s uncertain.
“I love playing this game. We want to play,” Trout said this weekend. “It’s going to come down to how safe we’re going to be. If there’s an outbreak, you definitely have to reconsider. There’s a lot of questions. I love baseball, but I have to do what’s right for my family. It’s going to be a tough decision if something happens down the road.”
Washington Forced To Relent
The issue of the Washington Redskins’ nickname has been a longstanding one. Former team owner Jack Kent Cooke said in 1988: “There is not a single, solitary jot, tittle, whit chance in the world” that the Redskins change their nickname. “I like the name, and it’s not a derogatory name.”
A few years later, protesters picketed against the nickname at the Super Bowl following the 1991 season and the controversy has continued on and off virtually ever since.
During an interview with USA Today in 2013, owner Daniel Snyder (who purchased the team in 1999) said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.”
A Washington Post poll in 2016 found that 90% of 504 respondents who identified as Native American were not offended by the name.
The Redskins even won a victory in 2017 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office used to prevent the team from registering trademarks using the word “Redskins” was unconstitutional.
But with the death of George Floyd, everything changed. Last Wednesday, Adweek reported that 87 investors and shareholders, worth a combined $620 billion, sent a letter the previous week to three sponsors – FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo – urging them to support a name change for the team.
FedEx, which struck a $205 million, 27-year deal for naming rights to the Redskins’ stadium in 1998, then released a statement Thursday that read, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.” No sponsor has a stronger tie to the organization.
Nike removed Redskin gear from its website.
The Redskins released a statement Friday morning.
“In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name. This review formalizes the initial discussions the team has been having with the league in recent weeks.
“Dan Snyder, Owner of the Washington Redskins, stated, ‘This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.’”
Jerry Brewer / Washington Post
“There is no ‘thorough review’ necessary. The process that the Washington NFL franchise announced Friday isn’t to determine whether to change the offensive name that has been attached to the team for more than eight decades. The process is to determine how to rebrand: the timing, the level of transparency, the elimination of unintended consequences and, of course, the intricacies of the proper way to select and market a new name.
“The old name is dead. Daniel Snyder wouldn’t backtrack from ‘NEVER – you can use caps’ to a team statement vowing to consider ‘the best interest of all in mind’ without resignation that his obdurate protection of tradition must end. What has changed in the seven years since Snyder drew that hard line? Well, the world. And most of that change has occurred in a four-month sliver of this 2020 gloom because of an escalating pandemic combined with heightened tension and awareness of racism.
“During this stunning wave, in which inappropriate symbols and monuments have come down, the ultimate target is the pedestal of denial. Some people hide behind physical things and unchallenged traditions to protect their ignorance and maintain their comfortably blind lives. On this issue, Snyder can’t afford to be in denial any longer. He’s not just fighting Native American activists and other clusters of people who despise that an NFL team has such association with a dictionary-defined slur. To keep the name now, Snyder must contend with corporate sponsors who want it changed and lawmakers at various levels who could make it difficult for his franchise to do business….
“His option isn’t as simple as changing the name or abandoning hope of a new stadium in the District. It isn’t even as simple as changing the name or finding a way to replace sponsors such as FedEx and PepsiCo, which are applying pressure. The demand is more pointed: Change the name or watch one of the most valuable organizations in sports get reduced to financial impotence.
“This controversy has entered its endgame.
“If Snyder ever entertained thoughts that this would blow over as it has before he had to face a new reality on the eve of Independence Day. It’s illogical to think he can lose longtime corporate sponsors and find new ones willing to shell out tens or hundreds of millions – in this climate of pandemic and racial unrest – to a losing franchise with a racist name that has been in a constant state of instability for more than 20 years.
“It has been clear for a long time that, with Snyder, a moral appeal has no impact. Business logic is more his language, and it is speaking in harsh tones right now.”
Hours after the Redskins said they would “undergo a thorough review,” the Indians issued a statement indicating they will be performing a similar review of the franchise nickname.
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality,” the team said on Friday. “Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community.
“We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.
“With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
Cleveland became the “Indians” in 1915, previously having been called the Blues, Bronchos and Naps since their founding in 1901, and prior to that the Forest Citys and Spiders, the latter going 20-134 in 1899, its last season.
Chief Wahoo, a noble warrior, was dropped as the primary logo after the 2013 season and was finally removed from the team’s uniforms entirely in 2019.
Some famous school chants are going to fade away, such as the “Gator Bait” chant, a staple of college football, a way for Florida Gator fans to taunt opposing teams. As the marching band struck up a familiar tune, they rose from their seats by the thousands to extend their arms and make a chomping motion.
But this tradition came to an abrupt halt this month, banned for a reason that might have surprised some boosters. The term “Gator Bait” had links to slavery and an era when, according to historical accounts, alligator hunters used Black children as human bait.
“While I know of no evidence or racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer,” university president Kent Fuchs stated, “there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase.”
David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times notes that hundreds of colleges and high schools joined in a trend long ago to choose mascots that ranged from generic (Indians, Redmen, Braves) to specific (Senecas, Choctaw, Cherokees). Other minority groups came into play.
“At Pekin High in Illinois, teams called themselves the Chinks and had ‘Mr. Bamboo’ as their mascot. Athletes at Wahpeton High in North Dakota were known as the Wops.”
A recent study from the University of California and University of Michigan showed 57% of respondents who strongly identified with being Native American and 67% who frequently engaged in tribal culture practices were “deeply insulted” by caricatures based on their heritage.
Equally hurtful was fan behavior such as the tomahawk chop, a tradition at Florida State, Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Braves games.
Some schools, such as Utah (the Utes) and Florida State (Seminoles) avoided an NCAA policy against “hostile and abusive” mascots by gaining approval from local tribes. The San Diego State Aztecs and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors discarded mascots and imagery but kept their names.
Among the items on the agenda for getting the teams into training camp and having a season that begins on time is a reduction in the preseason by two games, cutting out the first and last week due to the surge in coronavirus cases through much of the country.
This comes after two events were already canceled last week: The 2020 Hall of Fame and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
So far, training camps are still projected to start at the end of July. But even that may change soon with the preseason starting later than it normally would.
The NFL and NFLPA are still discussing protocols for safely bringing players into team facilities and what happens when a player gets sick with the virus. The two sides hope to reach an agreement by end of this coming week.
For now, a preliminary plan would occupy 45 days overall, including 21 days of strength and conditioning, 10 days of unpadded practice, and 14 days of practice, eight of them padded. So if training camps commenced July 27 or 28, that would take it to Sept. 10, which is the day of the scheduled season-opening game between the Chiefs and Texans.
But nothing is official.
--Week Four in the PGA Tour’s reopening…The Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, Mich., and entering the final round….
Matthew Wolff -19
Ryan Armour -16
Bison DeChambeau -16… “Bryson” with six straight top ten finishes but no wins in that stretch.
And Bison won it….No. 6 in his still fledgling career, firing a final-round 65 while Wolff shot a 71 to finish three behind in second.
DeChambeau averaged over 350 yards on his drives today. Unreal. He is the face to watch on tour these days. No doubt. I’m not a fan…but that doesn’t mean I can’t become one. I want the best at the top of leaderboards to fuel interest…along with young guns Wolff, Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa.
--Wake Forest’s Will Zalatoris won his first pro event this weekend on the Korn Ferry Tour at an event in Colorado. Because of the truncated PGA Tour schedule, there is no promotion off the Korn Ferry Tour this year unless you win three events and Zalatoris, who has come out hot since reopening, is gunning for that.
--Nick Watney gave his first interview since testing positive for Covid-19 and he told the AP that while he still doesn’t have his full sense of smell he is feeling better after becoming the first tour player to be forced to quarantine.
Watney said he didn’t have the virus’ most common symptoms – fever, shortness of breath or a cough – but is still suffering from fatigue and loss of smell.
Actually, with the interview conducted Tuesday, day 11 of his self-isolation in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, after testing positive at the RBC Heritage, the story was he was going to drive 17 hours back home to Austin, Texas.
“I don’t want to fly at this point,” he said. “I just think all this could be a waste of time if I left early and got someone else sick. I’d feel terrible.”
Watney was awaiting his quick test ahead of his second round at Harbour Town Golf Links and he was seen in the parking lot and on the range with other players, so he told the AP, “I was very, very nervous about giving it to other people. I don’t know how I got it. I don’t feel as though as I was reckless. That part is scary. It’s like this invisible, silent thing.”
Watney said he visited a grocery store once during the week of the Heritage, but since testing positive, he hasn’t left his room. Instead, he said fellow Tour pro Bill Haas’ wife, Julie, visited the grocery store for him.
--I said this sport and golf were playing with fire in terms of the coronavirus and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson became the first to test positive since the Cup Series reopened, which is pretty amazing it’s only been one. Golf can afford to have a few test positive as the tour has, but it would be a problem for NASCAR if 5 or 6 drivers suddenly were shelved for even a brief time.
Johnson missed this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and he will not return until he is cleared by a physician. Johnson’s wife tested positive after experiencing allergy-like symptoms.
Johnson is asymptomatic.
“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” the 44-year-old said.
Johnson has made 663 consecutive Cup Series starts – the longest streak among active drivers – and at 12th currently in the standings, he was inside the playoff picture. NASCAR’s rules state a driver must be symptom free and have two negative coronavirus tests in a 24-hour span to return.
Meanwhile, though this is Johnson’s last season in NASCAR, having announced his retirement before the season started, he seems anxious to give IndyCar racing a try, specifically the 12 street and road course events.
But he has not ruled out racing in the Indy 500 someday. Previously Johnson said he had safety concerns on IndyCar oval tracks, but IndyCar unveiled a new aeroscreen windshield designed to protect the drivers from debris as they sit in the open-air cockpits.
So maybe next year we see him at Indy…which would be way cool.
Joey Chestnut Reigns Again
Yes, the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest was held under different conditions this year, but as the Shea brothers said, they were offering another example to the likes of MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL on how to conduct live sports safely. Cough cough….
When it comes to Chestnut, 36, as George Shea said in his introduction, “He is always onward, always forward…advancing the cause!”
“The rock on which he stands is not a rock…it’s the United States of America!”
Chestnut then broke his own world record by wolfing down 75 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes on Saturday to win the Mustard Yellow Belt for the 13th time in 14 years. His total topped his record of 74, set in 2018.
“It was hard,” said Chestnut, who consumed roughly 21,750 calories. “I knew I was fast in the beginning. It was like blistering speed. And the dogs were cooked really well today.”
It helped it was held indoors and the room was air-conditioned, as opposed to the normal stifling heat and humidity found outdoors on Coney Island.
Chestnut needed to devour 62 dogs and buns to hit 1,000 for his career in the contest, comparable to the 2,000 RBI mark in baseball, achieved in the modern era by only four players. But with win No. 13, he surpassed Rafael Nadal’s 12 French Open titles.
As in…Joey Chestnut stands alone among the greats in sports history. At a time when our nation needs to come together, Chestnut should be held up as a shining example of, err, ahhh….
Well, let’s just say that when it comes to eating hot dogs, this is not a Red State-Blue State issue and leave it at that for now.
Meanwhile, Miki Sudo set a world record of her own by swallowing whole 48.5 wieners and buns for her seventh consecutive win. Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas had held the record at 45 since 2013.
Both Chestnut and Sudo win $10,000 in addition to the belt. They both should be in the audience for the next State of the Union address.
--I’ll have more on the Premier League next time, but Liverpool, in its quest for a new season points record, defeated Aston Villa today 2-0, so 89 points in 33 matches, while congratulations to Southampton for a terrific 1-0 win today over Manchester City.
--Boise State is giving us a further example of the serious issues facing college sports amid the pandemic. The school’s baseball, swimming and diving teams are being cut, saving an estimated $3 million, though to be fair, Boise State had dropped baseball in 1980 and only brought it back before the 2020 season.
After the cuts, the school will have 16 total sports, six for men and 10 for women. FBS schools are required to sponsor at least 16 sports, including at least six for men and eight for women.
--Dr. Whit wanted to make sure I noted a highly contagious illness, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV2), which is killing thousands of domestic rabbits throughout the American Southwest. It’s been dubbed by one veterinarian “bunny Ebola.”
Though the quick-moving virus is “not related in any way, shape, or form” to Ebola, the ways in which it damages the body – including system-wide inflammation and in many cases, hemorrhaging – appear similar.
The USDA notes that 50% to 70% of animals who get RHDV2 will die.
There is a vaccine but it’s available only in France and Spain and can take weeks to obtain.
Lorelei D’Avolio, a veterinarian at Manhattan’s Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine, told The Cut the other day that as opposed to the coronavirus, RHDV2 is “way more infectious” and “can be transmitted on bugs, on carcasses. It can spread on water, it can be spread on shoes.”
Ralph Zimmerman, a New Mexico State Veterinarian, said, “We had one guy with 200 rabbits, and he lost them all between a Friday afternoon and Sunday evening.”
Good lord. Rabbits are going to have to start using eHarmony’s virtual dating app, which is tough for a rabbit to accept.
--A man died after being attacked by a shark off the east coast of Australia, officials say. The 36-year-old was bitten on the leg while spearfishing in waters near Queensland’s Fraser Island, north of Brisbane, Saturday. A doctor and nurse provided first aid on shore, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene when paramedics arrive.
It is the fourth fatal shark attack in Australian waters so far this year.
--A Swiss zookeeper was killed Saturday after she was attacked by a Siberian tiger in front of horrified visitors at the Zurich zoo.
The onlookers raised an alarm after watching the tiger, named Irina, attack the 55-year-old keeper, according to the Associated Press.
Other zoo workers rushed to the woman’s aid and lured the tiger out of her enclosure as first responders tried to revive the zookeeper. The woman died at the scene.
An investigation was launched into the incident, including why the keeper was in the enclosure at the same time as the tiger.
--President Trump ordered the creation of a “National Garden of American Heroes” to defend what he calls “our great national story” against those who vandalize statues and I was furious to learn that Tom Seaver and Joe Namath weren’t on the list.
Really, I was. And no Frankie Valli. And for that matter Joey Chestnut.
--We note the passing of television pioneer Hugh Downs, who was one of the medium’s most enduring, likable and reassuring presences in a five-decade career that included serving as Jack Paar’s late-night announcer-sidekick, and hosting NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s newsmagazine “20/20.” Downs was 99.
Downs was certified by the Guinness Book of Records as holding the record for most on-air national commercial television time, with nearly 10,000 as of 1985. His total of more than 15,000 hours was surpassed by Regis Philbin in 2004.
Among Downs’ many shows was 10 years hosting the game show “Concentration,” which was one of my favorites when I was sick at home in my childhood school years. I’d get a little cold and my mom, a nurse, would automatically keep me home for a week, and that meant game shows!
But it was “Tonight” that turned Paar into a national TV sensation and made Downs a TV personality in his own right after Paar began asking him to sit on the panel on a regular basis, and he became Paar’s frequent replacement host.
In a 2001 interview with the Indianapolis Star, Downs said working with the mercurial “Tonight” show host “was like riding a bronco.”
“And,” he said, “it made almost everything else I did in television seem a little bit tame, because you never knew what was going to happen – and it happened every night.”
Famously, in February 1960, Paar quit the show and walked off the stage the day after NBC censored his telling of a humorous story featuring a “WC” (the abbreviation for water closet) without telling him.
That left Downs to host the remainder of that night’s show.
“Jack frequently does things he regrets,” he told the audience, “but I’d like to think that this is not final – and that Jack will be back.”
Paar returned to the show 25 days later and remained, with Downs continuing as sidekick, until 1962 when Johnny Carson took over. Downs then became the new host of the “Today” show that same year, a job he held until 1971.
Hugh Downs was born in Akron, Ohio, and grew up on a farm outside Lima, Ohio. After graduating from high school in 1938, he entered Bluffton College in Bluffton, Ohio, but had to drop out after a year for financial reasons. His father said ‘get a job’ and Downs wound up landing one as an announcer at tiny radio station WLOK in Lima, where he initially worked seven days a week for $12.50 a week.
Downs was married for 75 years to his wife, Ruth Shaheen, who died in 2017.
--Ken P. was upset that when I wrote of the passing of Carl Reiner and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” the other day that I didn’t mention “the immortal Richard Deacon as Mel, Sally’s punching bag.”
Mel Cooley was producer of “The Alan Brady Show.”
So I felt real small after this upbraid, but I should have then noted that Deacon, who died in 1984 at the age of 63 and was a fixture on the small screen for decades, also played Fred Rutherford, father of Lumpy Rutherford on “Leave It To Beaver.”
Now let’s all quaff a beer in remembrance of the great Richard Deacon.
If you’ve returned to the office and your cube post-lockdown, and you’re reading this in the morning, take the beer into the restroom and make sure you wrap the can in paper towels before disposal. The CP, Custodial Police, have been known to end more than a few careers, sometimes before they even started.
Drinking beer in the office safely…another free feature of Bar Chat.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/7/73: #1 “Will It Go Round In Circles” (Billy Preston) #2 “Kodachrome” (Paul Simon) #3 “My Love” (Paul McCartney & Wings)…and…#4 “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” (George Harrison) #5 “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” (Jim Croce) #6 “Playground In My Mind” (Clint Holmes) #7 “Shambala” (Three Dog Night) #8 “Yesterday Once More” (Carpenters) #9 “Right Place Wrong Time” (Dr. John) #10 “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby? (Barry White… B- week…)
Baseball Quiz Answers: 1) Hall of Famer Roy Campanella holds the record for percentage of base runners caught stealing, career, at 57.4%. [Johnny Bench is at 43.47%, in case you were wondering.]
Look at Campy’s first five seasons with Brooklyn.
1948…12 SB…24 CS…67%
1949…17 SB…24 CS…59%
1950…21 SB…35 CS…63%
1951…15 SB…34 CS…69%
1952…18 SB…33 CS…65%
Staggering…needless to say, very few runners tested his arm, Campanella leading the league all five years.
2) Richie Ashburn once drove in only 20 runs despite appearing in 153 games, 1959, for the Phillies.
Ashburn hit .308 for his career, getting into the Hall of Fame through the Veterans Committee, but I forgot he had an outstanding on-base percentage, .396 lifetime, leading the league four times in that category.
And finally, July 3rd was the anniversary of pitcher Tony Cloninger’s historic day at the plate for the Atlanta Braves in 1966…as he set the modern-day record for pitchers, that still stands, of nine RBIs, slamming two grand slams against the Giants at Candlestick Park, first- and fourth-inning blasts off Bob Priddy and Ray Sadecki, as the Braves walloped San Fran 17-3. This was one of my first vivid baseball memories as a kid, reading the big headline in the sports section the day after.
Cloninger, 113-97, 4.07 ERA for his career, including a 24-11 mark in 1965, hit 11 home runs lifetime, five in 1966.
Next Bar Chat, Thursday…or sooner.