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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 @ 12:14pm

Let's talk

By: Doug Franz
How well would the American education system work if teachers had to yell at students every time they were wrong? When there's an opportunity to educate, should educators call students "haters" and threaten future educational opportunities simply because speaking exposed a lack of knowledge on a certain subject?

Tony Dungy said he would not have drafted Michael Sam because he wouldn't have wanted the distraction. I think Tony Dungy's comments open up an opportunity to educate and not a chance to attack.

Clay Hopper was the manager of the Montreal Royals in 1946. The Royals were the AAA affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He told Dodgers GM Branch Rickey that he wouldn't manage Jackie Robinson. When he found out he didn't have a choice, he asked Rickey, "You don't really think a n***** is human, do you?"

The Montreal Royals' spring training was the definition of "distraction." Some cities wouldn't let the Royals train due to Robinson's race. Jacksonville actually chained and locked the stadium before a spring training game without letting the team know. Imagine the anger from Royals players when they arrived to that scene. It's safe to assume not all of them were angry with Jacksonville.

Entire municipalities caused distractions which did not influence Rickey at all. He simply believed what he was doing was right. After a year of having Robinson forced upon him, Hopper recommended Robinson be promoted Brooklyn. The same Clay Hopper, who uttered one of the most despicable comments in sports history, said knowing Robinson made him a better man.

In a lot of situations, the comparisons made between Jackie Robinson and Michael Sam are way off-base. I'm not comparing the two men. I'm comparing Branch Rickey and Tony Dungy. Rickey knew there would be distractions for those who allowed themselves to be distracted. Luckily, he wasn't distracted.

No one is thinking Tony Dungy said anything close to what Clay Hopper said. This is not about who Clay Hopper was. It's about who Clay Hopper became.

I wish Tony Dungy didn't say what he said. Not because I want him to lie. I have such respect for Tony Dungy I wanted to hear that he would have drafted him. Since I know he wouldn't, I respect his honesty greatly. Tony Dungy is not a terrible man for making these comments. He's human with honest opinions. If those honest feelings offend you, talk about the subject manner in a way to educate. Does attacking Dungy's character suddenly bring out the better Dungy in the future?

If/when I say something that is offensive or disappointing to you, I would love the opportunity to learn from it and have you educate me. I want you to expose me to how you and your community have been wronged when people like me express those types of opinions. I hope you'll make me a better man, just like Jackie did for Clay Hopper.

Monday, July 21, 2014 @ 10:58am

Too good to be true

By: Doug Franz
I'm not a believer because it would have been done.

The Boston Globe and others reported the Lakers explored the idea of an Eric Bledsoe sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix for Julius Randle and a future first-round pick.

This deal is simply too good to be true. Technically, the Suns can't do the deal because the CBA demands a 30-day waiting period before a team can trade a recently-signed draft pick. That wouldn't stand in the way, however, if the deal was real. It would just delay the announcement of the trade but not the negotiations.

I get the fact the Lakers need to do something. If they really want Bledsoe, just sign him. Give him the max. After you've done that, call the Suns and work on the trade. If the Suns have reservations about matching a max deal, they can negotiate a sign-and-trade. If they don't have a problem with it, the Suns will pay Bledsoe the max and everyone gets what they want. he Lakers even get something in that scenario because they stuck it to the Suns and forced them to overpay for Bledsoe.

If the Lakers were really willing to offer Bledsoe the max, it would have already happened.

Every day that goes by, Eric Bledsoe loses a little more leverage.

Friday, July 18, 2014 @ 10:39am

Tiger has no roar

By: Doug Franz
What were you doing on November 27, 2009?

It's probably hard to remember last week, let alone almost five years ago. Tiger Woods drove into a fire hydrant on November 27, 2009.

In the life of an athlete, five years is a monstrous length of time. There's still this wonderfully positive group of people who follow Tiger's every move and still believe in him. Don't waste your time talking about how he's done in one small tournament once a year that pumps you full of hope. Name the Saturday or Sunday round in a major after the fire hydrant that looked like Tiger before the fire hydrant.

Tiger Woods is not the same guy. No one would be the same person if they experienced the self-inflicted problems of Tiger Woods at the end of 2009. The problem is that guy drew great confidence from the life he was leading. That confidence is gone. He has nothing to draw from in recent history.

Look at how few golfers are repeat winners in a major. It's easy to know why. There's too many other good golfers. Tiger has "raised" an entire generation of young golfers to understand the focus it takes to be great. The new Tiger isn't confident enough to beat all of the new Tigers he's created. For years, Tiger's talent dominated the first three rounds and his confidence was a blockade against any other golfer's ability to catch him on a Sunday. Those days are gone.

He's a man who has never come back when trailing on Sunday. In 14 majors that ended with Tiger holding a trophy, none of them started that day with Tiger trailing. If he couldn't come back when he was at the height of his game, it's too far a leap to think he can do it for the first time now.

Five years is long enough to say Tiger Woods is one of the better golfers in the game right now who will never live up to the old Tiger Woods. There's a lot of good golfers in the PGA and the current Tiger sits with them. It's the old Tiger that is the legend.

Jack's 18 majors will never be surpassed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 @ 11:08am

Strike zones and football

By: Ron Wolfley
The SEC is implementing a "strike zone" for its players and I love it. According to the rule which will be implemented this season in the SEC, players can only contact a QB above the knee and below the neck when in a "passing posture, regardless of if he's in the pocket or out of the pocket."

I like the way this rule reads and think it will become a great way to teach defenders and train their competitive cognition. It's so simple to understand. Coaches can teach it and a "strike zone" is a great way the train the player to be aggressive and smart at the same time. Strike zone says, here's where you can hit the Q. Now go get him!

But there are some grey caveats.

The defender must be a) unabated to the QB, and b) the QB or offensive player throwing the ball must be in a passing posture.

Well, define unabated. The SEC says unabated means the defender is under his own power and not blocked into the Q. That sounds good in theory but sometimes it becomes very hard to ascertain when officials see it live.

Also, define passing posture? How does that posture look if the QB acts like he's running the ball and throws it late? Or pulls the ball down in the pocket moves around the pocket and then the arm suddenly comes up and you contact below the knee?

Those scenarios represent big, fat, grey areas.

No rule changes that restrict the way a football player can contact another are ever embraced immediately and that truth resonates with me. But the game is changing and instead of throwing up my hands and walking away from the best game the world has ever known, I'd rather accept the reality and re-think the way the game is taught and learned.

And that's why I like this teaching tactic from the SEC. It seems small and insignificant but frames up the new reality in football: be physical but smart.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 @ 9:28am

Doesn't the MLB All-Star Game count?

By: Doug Franz
Obviously, it doesn't count.

The front of the National League starting lineup had MVP Andrew McCutchen, rock star Yasiel Puig, all-world shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, America's first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and the Hulk, Giancarlo Stanton to lead off the game.

In the top of the 8th, with the NL down by two, its vicious lineup was Starlin Castro (batting 69 points below Tulowitzki), Freddie Freeman (batting 13 points less than Goldschmidt), Anthony Rizzo (20 points behind Stanton), Todd Frazier (who is two points above Ramirez so we're moving in the right direction) and then the great Daniel Murphy (the only token Met). Two on, two out and the National League pins its hopes for winning home field advantage in the World Series on the only player to come from a one-bid franchise who is five games under .500 and seven games out in the NL East.

With all due respect to the Murphy family, I thought it mattered?

I'm one of the few traditionalists who does not have a problem with home field advantage being the treasure of an All-Star Game victory. I don't have a problem with fans voting for their favorites and managers trying to get everyone into the game. I hate both happening at the same time.

If it matters, Goldschmidt is the best first baseman on the roster, so he should play nine innings. If you're pulling a double-switch (which managers don't need to do in an American League park), it's understandable to pull a great player for a really good player. However, playing participation baseball is not competition at its best.

It either counts or it doesn't.

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