Baseball pioneer. Former Springfield assistant baseball coach Justine Siegal made a little history this week when she threw batting practice for the Cleveland Indians.
Straight down the middle, the long way (New York Times)
In doing so, she apparently became the first woman to throw batting practice to a big-league team.
Breaking baseball barriers is nothing new for Siegal. She was profiled a couple of years ago in NCAA Champion magazine when she was believed to be the only woman serving as a college baseball assistant coach.
The day-to-day progress for women athletes over the last 40 years has been slow, but stories like this make you appreciate that the advances are real. Women nowadays have more opportunities than ever before, and they are turning those opportunities into better performance.
If you don’t believe that, just ask the Cleveland Indians.
“She did great,” backup catcher Paul Phillips told the Times. “She would have fit right in if you had not seen her ponytails.”
Where’s the line? Holy Family men’s basketball coach John O’Connor was suspended after a video surfaced of him shoving a player in practice.
The video, which is imbedded in the USA Today story, shows the coach shoving a player to the floor in anger and then kicking at him while the player was on the floor.
O’Connor is heard to say: “Got a little (expletive) blood on ya? Good!”
No doubt this will ignite discussion about what’s acceptable when it comes to motivating athletes. It looks to me like it crosses the line into unacceptability, but I know plenty of people out there will say that the hub-bub over the video reveals the wussification of America.
One question that probably won’t get asked much is whether such outbursts actually lead to better performance. It’s hard to believe that they do.
Big raise raises eyebrows. Some faculty members at Texas Tech are angry after hearing that football coach Tommy Tuberville will get a $500,000 raise.
Tuberville’s $500K raise annoys Texas Tech faculty (The Associated Press)
Whether Tuberville deserved the raise or not, you can understand the faculty’s frustration – at Tech and wherever else this scenario plays out. The story notes that the state has cut Texas Tech’s funding by 8 percent and that more cuts are possible; in response, officials killed $3 million in faculty raises this year.
“(There’s) a question of the symbolism of what this says about the university’s priorities,” John Curtis, director of research and public policy for the American Association of University Professors, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
“If you’re at a time of cutting academic programs or freezing or cutting salaries for faculty and other employees, and you have a raise for the football coach − even if the money is there − it sends a completely wrong signal about where the priorities of the university are.”
There’s nothing easy about the question. Institutions like Texas Tech have all sorts of money invested in their athletics programs and, by extension, their football programs. But difficult economic times are going to shine a bright and steady light on these kinds of concerns.
Maybe it’s time to repair some collective fences.
Agent to the rescue. Super-agent Scott Boras wouldn’t be at the top of most lists to fix the problems of college athletics, and he showed why in a story last week in the Macon (Georgia) Telegraph.
Boras’ ideas for fixing NCAA issue have merit (Macon Telegraph)
“For me, the NCAA is not the governing body that is best capable of administrating the business of college sports,” said Boras, who was speaking at Georgia Tech’s preseason baseball benefit. “There has to be a legislative enactment. There has to be Congressional and or federal policies whereby this process — which is a multi-billion dollar industry — is governed through a committee modernly.
“We can’t live with antiquated rules.”
After a while, he gets to his main point: “The reason why I say federal legislation is because we’ve got to bring this to an understanding where we’re talking about the labor force. Much like the person working in the cafeteria where state labor laws apply to them and federal labor laws, the same thing has to apply to these athletes.
“There has to be a factor melded into it that this is generating millions of dollars and we need policies that will allow for stipends to be given to the athletes like other financial aid recipients get from their jobs. Just give them those same rights.”
Boras’ pitch is impassioned, but the question is whether student-athletes are in fact a labor force. Plenty of perfectly reasonable people believe they are students, not employees.