Don’t try this at home: a 36-year-old accountant plays goalie for the Blackhawks
Here’s why it would never work in football, basketball or baseball
5:34 PMYou know the scene in Rudy where members of the 1975 Notre Dame football team lift the titular character on their shoulder pads and carry him off the field? Such a heartwarming, grit-into-greatness underdog story of an objectively mediocre kid who Chester and Spike’d his way onto the field for a big-time college football program.
In 2018, we now have Rudy 2 (or 2 Rudy 2 Furious, or the Nike-inspired Ru2y).
On Thursday night, 36-year-old accountant Scott Foster suited up as an emergency goalie for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks when they faced the visiting Winnipeg Jets because of injuries to starter Anton Forsberg and backup J.F. Berube, and a demotion of Jean-François Berube to the team’s minor league affiliate earlier in the week. Foster, who played hockey at Division I Western Michigan, was signed to what’s called an amateur tryout (ATO) contract, which was for just one day and came with zero compensation.
Unlike Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger, Foster actually played admirably in his lone outing, playing in 14 minutes against the playoff-bound Jets and stopping all seven shots he faced. His 1.000 save percentage would tie him for the league lead if he were eligible.
Hockey, as Stu Hackel at The Hockey News pointed out, has one of the weirdest rules of any of the major American sports leagues that allows any Joe the Plumber to lace up his skates and go up against real-life professional athletes. “It’s the only pro sport with the potential for someone not on the roster to come out of the stands and actually play in the game,” Hackel wrote.
And while the Bow Wow-led Like Mike inspired many basketball fans to believe they, too, could cross over Jason Kidd or Allen Iverson, what Foster managed to accomplish on Thursday is next to impossible in the other three major sports. In essence, no amount of “intelligence,” “intangibles” or “determination” is preventing any nonprofessional from getting washed if they step on the field, court or diamond.
National Football League
If you ever wanted to experience a ruptured spleen, broken back and concussion all at once, just try returning one kickoff against an NFL special teams unit. No amount of padding is saving you from a 280-pounder running 20 mph at you with nothing in his way by air and resistance. A 36-year-old who used to play tight end for Miami (Ohio) 10 years ago wants zero parts of James Harrison in the open field. Harrison would fold that person up like a fitted sheet and toss him on the sideline like he was taking out the trash. Brian Bosworth was the baddest man on the planet until he met Bo Jackson, so there’s nothing but blood and guts in the future for any lesser person against NFL competition. Go be a family man rather than try this.
National Basketball Association
Remember that time DeAndre Jordan murdered Brandon Knight? Or the time Kyrie Irving made Knight look like he was doing the Wobble on the court? Or the time Nikola Pekovic ran through Knight like he was just a child? What I am trying to say here is that if a 6-foot-3, 195-pound man like Knight gets embarrassed nearly every night, what chance does Robert Jones from Queens have against a charging LeBron James coming down the court? Deflecting a 90 mph hockey puck is peanuts to Shaquille O’Neal caving in your chest like the hood of a car. There are no longer “posterizations” in the NBA, either; the second you get dunked on or crossed over like Wesley Johnson, that clip has already been shared on Twitter more than 200,000 times. There’s no coming back from being on the wrong side of a meme. I am almost 100 percent certain that Johnson hasn’t been seen since what James Harden did to him.
Major League Baseball
What baseball lacks in contact, it makes up for in nostalgia and danger. For one, no matter how many times you visited the batting cages at your local miniature golf facility, you’re not making contact with any ball that Clayton Kershaw or Noah Syndergaard are sending across the plate. In hockey, you can at least use your body to deflect the puck; there are no such safeguards in baseball. A 100 mph fastball is doing one of two things: 1) safely landing in the catcher’s mitt or 2) ricocheting off your skull because you played the game the “wrong way.” That’s the real danger in the majors. Brain aneurysms are handed out like candy in that sport because someone had the nerve to flip his bat 12 feet into the air. How do you think you’d manage when you’re desecrating the sanctity of baseball by not paying your dues by riding on a musty bus to the middle of North Dakota to play in front of 1,500 fans? Even if the pitchers don’t get you, there’s a guy at second base ready to fracture your leg or a 72-year-old coach trying to run up on you from the dugout. High risk, zero reward.
Embezzlement at Howard is an embarrassment
Anonymous posting on Medium exposed the mismanagement that university had to address
10:43 AMTwitter went into a frenzy after records that alleged Howard University financial aid employees embezzled $1 million in financial funding were posted by an anonymous author on Medium this week. The university’s student newspaper, The Hilltop, gave details of how the story received mass attention after a social media post from the student activist group HU Resist.
The long held suspicions that our university is stealing money from us have been confirmed. We deserve better. We demand better. It time to take back our university #StudentPowerHU#FrederickMustResign
— #StudentPowerHU (@HUResist) March 28, 2018
Many Howard students were already skeptical of the administration on campus, and this latest news of financial wrongdoing has only increased tensions between administrators and students.
“I had heard people before saying that money was being embezzled, so this wasn’t the first I had heard of something along these lines,” said Lawrence Dow, a senior sports management student from Philadelphia. “It made me think they figured out something was wrong but wanted to avoid public embarrassment, so they instead tried to keep it as quiet as they could. It made them seem untrustworthy to me.”
Dow is not alone. As the news broke on Twitter, HU Resist started the #StudentPowerHU movement on the social media platform. Students using the hashtag voiced their displeasure with the university, and some even called for the resignation of Howard president Wayne Frederick.
— L 💋 (@mountaindewbs) March 28, 2018
In the morning, @HowardU will lie and deny and blame and do anything to avoid the truth. Don’t let them get away with this. Hold them accountable. The numbers don’t add up. #FrederickMustResign #HadleyMustGo
— #FrederickMustResign (@veritas1867) March 28, 2018
Frederick did release a statement in response to the report that included the dismissal of six employees for “gross misconduct and neglect of duties.” However, even with the president’s statement, students are still unhappy and looking for more transparency between the students and administration. So Frederick issued a second statement after meeting with students Wednesday.
BREAKING UPDATE: @HUPrez17 releases statement in response to anonymous authored Medium post alleging Howard University financial aid employees stole $1 million dollars in financial aid funding. pic.twitter.com/LwrQYiSUet
— The Hilltop (@TheHilltopHU) March 28, 2018
“I think the strife between students and administrators already existed,” said Dow. “This will probably further exacerbate it, and I would be beyond shocked if there wasn’t protests.”
HU Resist has already published a list of demands for the administration. But there has been no word if a formal protest has been planned to challenge Frederick’s leadership.
— #StudentPowerHU (@HUResist) March 26, 2018
The name of a former student-employee has surfaced on Twitter as having taken money from the Howard financial aid office. But he has denied any connection to the missing funds.
This is a story that we will continue to follow as more developments arise.
Baseball is back — and in a weird spot
For the first time in a long time, it feels like the sport is having an identity crisis
9:44 AMFor some people, Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season is amateur hour. Like New Year’s Eve, driver’s ed courses and cooking classes. You show up, complete the task, then claim for the rest of that particular time cycle that you’re good because you’ve completed the requirements of being a baseball fan.
But for me, Opening Day is a tradition that I’ll probably hold on to longer than any other. Not because I want to eat a hot dog and drink a beer with a bunch of other people, but because of the journey it represents. Hack sportswriters will all tell you that everyone starts at the same place and thus everyone can conceivably have hope for a successful season. That’s a false utopia, but whatever.
This year, though, baseball is in a weird spot. People who grew up watching the game as casual fans now feel alienated from the game because it’s too specialized, too long and too boring. All are understandable feelings. For the first time in a long time, it feels like the actual sport itself is having an identity crisis.
Minor League Baseball is experimenting with putting a runner on second in extra innings to make things more exciting, apparently. MLB is putting a limit on mound visits as a way to try to shorten games. One franchise, the Arizona Diamondbacks, is bringing back the bullpen car to liven up pitching changes, and in Baltimore, the team is letting kids age 9 and under into games for free because that’s what they’ve come to.
If I’m being real, it’s heartbreaking. The sport has understandably turned to various gimmicks to try to improve ratings and attendance, and at the risk of sounding like the oldest man in Oldmanistan, it’s sad. To be clear, bullpen carts are incredible and letting kids into the park is even better. It’s not about the specificity of the gimmick, it’s about the fact that baseball is no longer good enough.
Look around the league and tell me who the people are who move the needle the most. The guys with the personalities, who play like they don’t care what opponents think and just want to have a good time playing. You can see it in the World Baseball Classic when players represent their home nations, and you can see it at lower levels of the game, where the notion of decorum and code are a little less rigid.
As a kid who grew up a baseball fanatic in a city without a big league team, I fell in love with the characters on the field, doing my best to connect with their personalities as humans and players, far more than my allegiance to the success of any one team. And those years of the ’80s and ’90s, there was a large swag element that was noticeable, and from far more people than just the stars. Now, if a team has a manager who curses a lot and a player who wears his hat askew, they’re looked at as loose cannons.
All this is to say that it’s an important season for the big league product. When I sat on a panel at the winter meetings in Orlando, Florida, I was asked what big league teams could do to improve the television experience of baseball. There’s a monumental focus on time, when the reality is about the game. If people don’t want to watch guys field ground balls, make throws and foul off pitches, then they just don’t.
Throwing bells and whistles into random parts of the sport is not going to draw people to the yard or their television sets. Baseball has become too monolithic in style, with the personality of the game we’re told to draw on as a child to endear ourselves to the game erased by adulthood with the wholly idiotic phrase “that’s not how you play the game.”
I’ve been to probably 10 ballgames already this season. None of them in the big leagues, but the passion was equally present. The Opening Day crowds across the nation are an interesting indicator of who the big leagues are trying to draw. There are those who show up for the experience and those who show up for the game, while most people do both. But are pitch clocks and batter’s box restrictions going to bring them back to the park? Unlikely.
If a game is entertaining, it doesn’t really matter how long it is. That’s the whole point of the sport. And the players are the ones who make it so. But as long as those in the ranks are operating on a code that strips the diamond of what originally made it delightful, the fans will know better. Everyone who shows up this weekend to watch hardball is there to have fun. Whether they do or not will likely be on the guys in uniform, not the ones in the commissioner’s office.
Ben Simmons calls Karl-Anthony Towns’ shot
Towns drops 56 on Hawks, whom Simmons told him not to worry about
7:16 AMBen Simmons is set to make just $6 million this season, but he could easily make nearly 100 times that if he plays the lottery Friday.
The Philadelphia 76ers rookie guard is obviously some kind of wizard or prophet based on his ability to predict the future, so why not take a stab at Friday’s reported $500 million-plus Mega Millions jackpot?
Let’s rewind first.
On Tuesday night, Simmons was playing something called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds over a livestream (reading that sentence is like reading Spanish or Mandarin), and was joined by Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. At one point, the third-year 7-footer told Simmons he had to hop off because 1) it was bedtime and 2) he had a game the next day.
Simmons wanted to keep playing, so he asked Towns who the Timberwolves’ next opponent was. Towns responded the Atlanta Hawks, to which Simmons quipped: “You got plenty of time.”
.@BenSimmons25 told KAT he has "plenty of time" to play PUBG with him because the Wolves play the Hawks tomorrow 😂
(va SimmoTheSavage25/Twitch) pic.twitter.com/qZWoyQ5Ujf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 28, 2018
We haven’t seen that level of disrespect from a rookie since Daniel Puder sized up Kurt Angle on WWE SmackDown.
Anyway, Simmons turned out to be correct, as Towns laid a franchise-record 56 points on the Hawks on Wednesday night, including 26 in the first half. This was the third-highest point total the Hawks have allowed, behind only Michael Jordan’s 61 and Larry Bird’s 60. This also continues a rough seven-day stretch for Atlanta, who lost to the Sacramento Kings in front of fewer than 2,000 fans on March 22 because of protests outside the Kings’ arena.
Karl-Anthony Towns’ 56-point game is the third-highest point total the Hawks have ever allowed behind Michael Jordan (61) and Larry Bird (60) pic.twitter.com/Y4jBgbyCIL
— Martenzie Johnson (@Martenzie) March 29, 2018
But back to Simmons. If the young guy can predict a player’s first 50-point game, there’s no telling what else he knows.
New rule aimed at eliminating lowering of head to make contact could change the way football is played
The wording of the rule will be finalized later this offseason
6:44 PMThe rules changes coming out of the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando, Florida, are aimed at addressing a few of the league’s most controversial issues from recent seasons. Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday discussed catch rule adjustments that we all knew were coming, and most fans believe are overdue. The hope is that simplifying criteria for a catch will lead to less ambiguity and fewer Monday morning controversies.
Those alterations will have a substantial impact on the game, but the impact will be minor compared with the potential effect of a rule meant to eliminate lowering of the helmet to initiate contact for any player. The penalty for violators can range from 15 yards to ejection or even suspension. Depending on the wording of the rule, which will be finalized later this offseason, it could completely change how football is played. But it also might ensure that the NFL football will continue to be played for decades to come.
Andy Reid on diversity in coaching: Just do the right thing
Kansas City coach has the league’s only black offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, on his staff
6:20 PMORLANDO, Florida — During the Super Bowl, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the NFL has too few coaches of color in the pipeline on offense. That’s a problem during an era in which owners prefer to pick from that side of the ball to fill openings.
“The trend now is offensive coaches,” Goodell said.
And Eric Bieniemy of the Kansas City Chiefs is the league’s only African-American offensive coordinator. So how can the gap be bridged?
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has some thoughts. Reid was recently honored by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the group that helps the NFL oversee compliance with the Rooney Rule, for his contributions to furthering opportunities for candidates of color in coaching, front-office and scouting roles.
The answer to improving diversity in the ranks on offense, and coaching in general, is simple: Just do the right thing.
“I’m into good coaches,” Reid said. “I don’t get caught up in all the color. I don’t do all that. I can’t speak for other people on that. I talk to everybody. When you see me at the Senior Bowl, I’ve always got people coming up [to me] and I talk to ’em. Young guys. I don’t care what color they are, let’s talk some ball.
“As long as a guy loves ball, he’s got aptitude and is willing to work, I’m all in on him, man. And that’s what Eric Bieniemy is. That’s what I like. Just open your heart, man. Do what’s best for the game. I don’t care what color you are. Do what’s best for the game.”
Under Reid, Bieniemy is in a good spot. And that’s a big part of it, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson said.
“Eric Bieniemy is with Andy Reid, who’s definitely about diversity and about giving guys opportunities,” said Jackson, one of the NFL’s seven African-American head coaches. “There’s a lot of head coaches that feel that way too. But you have to be in the right situation at the right time.”
Off-White founder Virgil Abloh named artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton
The Illinois-born son of Ghanaian immigrants is noted for his ‘fascination with irony, with memes, and with context’
6:56 AMThe news broke just a few moments after midnight on March 26. Virgil Abloh, founder (in 2014) of the upscale street wear label Off-White, and a former creative director for Kanye West, is the new artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton. Vuitton, a staple of fashionistas around the world, is according to The New York Times, “one of the oldest and most powerful European houses in the luxury business.”
Known for a relentless work ethic, and his deep influence within the style world, Abloh is at the cutting edge of global fashion. His collaborations alone — Nike, Vans, and Levi’s among them — seem never to be not trending, whether on Instagram, or on the glossy pages of magazines. His portfolio also includes an upcoming project with Ikea, and a retrospective of his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The Illinois-born son of Ghanian immigrants, Abloh is noted for his “fascination with irony, with memes and with context.”
Abloh, who has an undergraduate civil engineering degree and a master’s in architecture, is Vuitton’s first African-American artistic director. He’s in a rare but rising space for black designers: Olivier Rousteing is currently creative director of Balmain, and Ozwald Boateng was designer for Givenchy men’s 2003-07. Vuitton though, from its classic monogram to its brightest and most whimsical eras, is Vuitton.
The house captures imaginations, whether they be on relaxing on the decks of yachts or the standing in a subway platform. At a panel a few years ago, Abloh said, “My motivation is, in part, a bit of angst that comes from feeling like I don’t belong; that our generation doesn’t belong. I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t just going to be a consumer; that at least one of us would appear at the end of a Parisian runway.” Talk about speaking it into existence.