IFAB Approves Goal-Line Technology
July 5 – The International Football Association Board (IFAB) unanimously approved two separate goal-line technologies for future use. This decision may finally open the door for change in the sport. The two systems, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, will be implemented at the FIFA Club World Cup in December. If the evaluations of the systems are positive goal-line technology could eventually be used at the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. According to the BBC the door is also now open for the Premier League to use the technology “midway through the 2012-13 season.” The decision today sends a message to UEFA’s President Michel Platini. Hopefully Platini will be more open to the use of goal-line technology at UEFA-sponsored events, instead of relying solely on the addition of a referee at the goal line. Viewers of the match between England and Ukraine realize that this still is an imperfect system. However, UEFA’s handling of the racist behavior of fans at the Euro 2012 is telling. The European soccer federation does not have a problem with lagging excruciatingly behind the times.
Women in Soccer
Another item that was approved by the IFAB with much less fanfare was the lifting of the ban on women wearing headscarves during games. Before Thursday’s vote, “players were prevented from wearing a headscarf, or hijab, at the sport’s highest level for safety reasons and on religious grounds.” This will hopefully be a positive change going forward for soccer. The international leaders in charge of governing sporting associations are hardly the most progressive on social and technological issues. However, both decisions today signify that the leaders are willing to make a change.
Intercollegiate Athletics and the Olympics
Per the previous “On the Fringe” — titled The Current Reality of College Athletics — cutting “non-revenue” sports also has a much larger consequence. As Liz Clarke of the Washington Post reported, the “retreat from higher education’s traditional model of offering a broad array of sports stands to undercut the nation’s Olympic prospects in the future.” The reality is that sports — such as swimming, gymnastics, water polo, and track and field — that are more widely viewed and enjoyed during the Olympics, rarely receive the same attention outside of an Olympic year. Part of the onus falls on the smaller sports, who need to find ways to be self-sufficient – with endowments, fundraisers and better money management. However, schools also must also take a more balanced approach of managing their budgets than just simply cutting the “lesser-know” sports. Our future in the Olympics depends on it.
The Current Reality of College Athletics
July 3—Austerity is a word that is used commonly in our current political and economic situation. The United States and other countries around the world are looking for ways to balance their budgets and prevent another global economic recession. The cost-cutting measures have extended to the local level. State and local government are slashing funds for popular departments and programs to address their fiscal challenges. These cuts have had a ripple effect on many different levels of society. One of these areas is intercollegiate athletics.
Take for example the University of California. In September of 2010, Cal’s athletic director Sandy Barbour and UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau announced that it would cut baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse from “intercollegiate competition” and the school’s rugby program would become a varsity club sport. The Cal fans responded in force by donating to help keep the teams. By February of 2011, three teams had been reinstated – men’s rugby, women’s lacrosse, and women’s gymnastics. By May, the status of the men’s gymnastics team had been restored and by June, during an inspired run to the College World Series, the Cal baseball team was “officially reinstated” by the University. The response by donors and fans of the sports helped salvage their futures. However, a New York Times article also identified issues with Title IX, which may have helped force the University to reinstate the teams. Either way, a major blow to the University’s athletic department was averted. However, the reinstatement of teams destined for elimination at Cal may prove to be an anomaly.
Flash forward to yesterday.
The University of Maryland officially announced that it would go through with the cutting of seven teams. In November, the University had stated that it would cut eight varsity athletic teams based on the recommendations of the “athletic commission” of Maryland’s President Wallace Loh. Men’s and women’s swimming, men’s tennis, women’s water polo, men’s cross-country, men’s indoor track and field, and the acrobatics and tumbling team – formerly known as competitive cheer – were cut. Men’s outdoor track was the only team that survived for the time being. The program was able to raise almost $900,000, however according to the Washington Post, the team must “still collect $1.88 million by Dec. 31 to ensure the program’s survival for 2013-14.”
The argument for cutting athletic programs to trim budgets is understandable. Universities across the country are not able to sustainably support so many athletic programs. Also, small sports like gymnastics, water polo, swimming, track and field, cross country, etc. are easy targets. Basketball and football bring more prominence – in TV contracts, ticket sales, and national exposure – than the other “low profile” sports.
However, there should be no “sacred cows” in intercollegiate athletics. Football programs on average do not generate enough money to sustain themselves or even other teams. For example, according to an analysis by the NCAA, released in Aug. of 2010, “between 50 and 60 percent of FBS (Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision) football and men’s basketball programs have reported surpluses for each of the last six years, a percentage that has been relatively stable. Still, that means almost half of the subdivision’s so-called “revenue sports” don’t cover their own expenses, let alone pay for the non-revenue programs.” The release from the NCAA does acknowledge the fact that the numbers may be based on the economic recession or a greater overall problem and only the future time will reveal the answer. That being said, the information reveals that football and basketball programs may not be as successful financially as previously thought. Hopefully, the next University that wishes to trim money from its athletic budgets will consider putting all of the sports on the table.
Some call him the next Mickey Mantle or Rickey Henderson, but rookie outfielder Mike Trout’s statistics are most comparable to a man who debuted in 1970 at 19 years old, while drawing Willie Mays comparisons.
By Ian Massey
Everyone and their Shih Tzu has seen the highlight reel catch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgZZpj8gPcw&sns=tw) of 20-year-old Angels centerfielder Mike Trout nearly hurdling the outfield wall at Camden Yards in Baltimore this past week.
Many expected 19-year-old Bryce Harper to blossom into the LeBron James of baseball in 2012, but Mike Trout has outshined boy wonder. Harper has eight home runs, with a .274 average, 22 RBI and eight stolen bases in his first 57 games in the majors. Trout is hitting .339 with nine home runs, 33 RBI and 22 stolen bases in as many games, leading the American League in batting average. The Washington Nationals’ rookie, Harper, certainly hasn’t disappointed, but not even he could top what Mike Trout is doing in Anaheim this season. On July 1, Trout became just the 20th player in history to be selected as an All-Star before age 21.
After hitting .220 with five home runs in 40 games in 2011, Trout started the season in AAA Salt Lake. As Albert Pujols was off to the roughest start of his professional career and the Halos dipped from World Series favorites to left-for-dead within one month of the 2012 season’s commencement, Trout was waiting for his chance to shine.
The Angels were 6-14 on April 28, when they called the phenom up to be their leadoff man. Since then, the Angels are 38-21.Back in the hunt in the AL West and leading the wild card race, the Angels can attribute the turnaround to a spark plug who has been compared to Mickey Mantle and Rickey Henderson, just two months after riding the bus as a member of the Salt Lake Bees.
Trout simply has the “it factor.” He runs the bases like Jose Reyes in his prime. He hits for average like a Tony Gwynn on Weight Watchers, and he tracks flyballs like Torii Hunter on speed.
On June 22 against the Dodgers, Trout was on first with catcher Bobby Wilson on second in the bottom of the sixth inning. Up stepped Torii Hunter to face Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley. With a 6-5 Angels lead, Trout and Wilson took off on a double steal. Halfway to second base, Trout was on his horse as Hunter lined a shot into right field. Trout hit the inside corner of the bag, taking third, but didn’t stop there. As Hunter strolled in for a routine single, Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier came up firing to the plate, but it was too late. Trout scored from first on a routine base hit that was fielded cleanly.
After the game, Hunter said that he was fortunate that Trout was on first base and not sluggish designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
“Trout is like my little brother,” Hunter told reporters after the game. “He’s my best friend, so I’m really excited that he did that for me – giving me that extra RBI – and I’m going to take him to McDonald’s.”
Whether it has been Jim Edmonds, Darin Erstad or Hunter, the Angels are no strangers to fleet-footed outfielders robbing home runs, and treating the outfield lawn as their personal slip-and-slides, but Trout brings more excitement and tools to the table than Angels of the past.
19 years ago, Trout was learning to talk while Tim Salmon was becoming the Angels’ first Rookie of the Year recipient in franchise history. The one they call Mr. Angel, Salmon – a notorious slow starter – never made an All-Star game appearance. Trout has already topped his fishy predecessor with his first All-Star appearance scheduled for July 10.
The Angels hooked Salmon, reeled him in, and were fortunate enough to have the King Fish retire as an Angel in 2006 with a franchise record 299 career home runs. When Trout’s career is said and done, if he’s played 15 seasons averaging 22 home runs, he’d retire with 330 home runs. And that’s modest! The kid can’t even buy his teammates a round of beers yet, but he’s on pace for approximately 22 home runs, 81 RBI, 54 stolen bases, and 196 hits in a month shortened rookie season.
Currently hitting .339, a healthy estimate would be a .315 average at season’s end. If Trout played until 38 years old, averaging 25 home runs, he could end up with 450 big flies. On pace for 54 stolen bases in 2012, Trout could average 40 swiped bags for 18 seasons to become just the 11th player in history to steal 700 bases. Again, this is all based on the rookie’s first 57 games in 2012, but guess how many players in history have ever stolen 700 bases and hit 400 home runs? Zero!
While Trout’s ticket to Cooperstown is far from being punched, if there’s anyone who could compile 400 home runs and 700 stolen bases – it’s him. When a 20-year-old has virtually locked up AL Rookie of the Year award before the All-Star break, and is in contention for a Most Valuable Player award, there’s something special there. Forget nerves or adjusting to the game, he’s giving pitchers headaches and making them adjust to him.
As for the Mickey Mantle and Rickey Henderson comparisons – well, Mantle hit 535 home runs with a .298 average and just 153 stolen bases. Trout is much faster, swiping 22 of 25 bases this season, but lacks Mantle’s power. If he remains a leadoff man for years, expect Trout to lead the league in hits, rather than competing for home run titles. 535 home runs is just a bit much for Trout – unless he plays until age 45. Mickey Mantle? That’s a long shot.
Rickey Henderson hit .279 with 297 career home runs, both of which Trout should surpass if he lives up to the hype. But no baseball player will likely ever surpass Henderson’s 1406 career stolen bases. Rickey used to steal second base up by 10 runs in the ninth inning, and then third base for good measure. Trout isn’t bush league and will likely never even come close to Henderson’s 130 stolen bases in 1982. Trouty is the next Rickey? Not so fast.
You could call him the next Torii Hunter, a nine-time gold glove award recipient with approximately 20 home runs a season in 14 years in the big leagues, but Trout trumps Hunter on the basepath and in terms of efficiency at the dish. Hunter has just 181 stolen bases in his career; Trout should reach that number by 2015, if not sooner. The 20-year-old already has 26 stolen bases in 96 career games. Hunter is a .274 career hitter with a .333 on-base-percentage. While the sample size is small, Trout is hitting .339 with a .395 on-base-percentage in his rookie campaign. Imagine what he’ll do in his prime at 27 years old: 40 home runs? 80 stolen bases? .380 batting average? Maybe not all at once, but any of those feats are doable for the Angels’ rookie leadoff man.
So if it’s not Mickey or Minnie, or Rickey or Lucy, who can we compare young Mike Trout to? In terms of career statistic predictions … nobody. It all depends on the kid’s ability to stay healthy and humble. 162 games can wear down the fittest of players. A $200 million contract can lead to complacency or pressure. A torn ACL could rob him of prime years. You never know in the big leagues. But if Trout is a long ways away from peaking, there’s no telling what he could do. No baseball player has ever hit 400 home runs, hit .300, and stolen 700 bases – Trout just might.
If you’re looking for someone to relate Trout to in the short-term, you’ll have to go back 40 years to 1972 for the best comparison. In 1972, Houston Astros outfielder Cesar Cedeno was in his third season. Like Trout, he started his MLB career at 19. Cedeno was referred to as “The Next Willie Mays.” If Trout doesn’t miss another game for the rest of the season, he’ll play 140 games. He’s on pace for 22 home runs, 81 RBI, and 54 stolen bases. In 1972, Cedeno played 139 games, hitting .320 with 22 home runs, 82 RBI, and 55 stolen bases. Spooky, huh?
Whatever happened to Cedeno? He hit .285, but he was batting 1.000 when it came to hitting mistresses. Ending his career with 199 career home runs, Cedeno stole 550 bases in a career that was haunted by arrests, domestic disputes, and entitlement. He played the game aggressively, like Trout, but it often led to nagging injuries. Off the field, he was charged with assault multiple times, breaking a glass over a man’s head in a bar fight. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter after wrestling his girlfriend for a gun, which fired and killed the woman in 1973 – Cedeno was married at the time. He later attacked another girlfriend in 1988, and was charged with assault and resisting arrest (Note: the Trout and Cedeno comparisons are based on statistics, not citizenship).
Whether it’s running in from centerfield after robbing a home run, dusting his uniform off after swiping a base, or answering questions in a postgame interview, Trout always has a bouncy body language, and a prominent smile. The New Jersey native likely won’t be a liability off the field – a la Cedeno.
If Trout stays healthy, stays consistent, and stays faithful, he just might become the ultimate measuring stick for future generations of phenoms. With Vernon Wells’ contract coming off the books for the Angels at the end of 2014, owner Arte Moreno and company must re-sign Trout before he hits the free agent market. The catch and release policy shouldn’t apply to a Trout. The Halos desperately need to hang on to the future of their franchise. After all, Seattle Mariners left fielder Mike Carp, San Diego Padres pitcher Anthony Bass, and Atlanta Braves reliever Robert Fish couldn’t replace Mike Trout – he’s a keeper
July 2– Spain dominated Italy 4-0 in the final of the Euro 2012 tournament and won an unprecedented second-straight Euro tournament and also a third-straight major tournament. The Spanish won the 2008 European Championship, the 2010 World Cup and now the 2012 European Championship. Finally the attention can turn to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Will Spain be able to repeat as the World Cup champion? Will FIFA learn from UEFA’s handling of the racist actions of fans at the Euro 2012 tournament?
More News From the Pitch
UEFA has done it again. The body that oversees European soccer has asked for a delay on a decision to approve goal-line technology. FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter said that the technology was “no longer an alternative but a necessity” at the World Cup in Brazil. However, UEFA’s president and secretary general are not convinced. UEFA’s president Michel Platini said in response to a reporter’s question on the technology, “Are you sure that it works? … No one today has seen the trials. I’m against technology itself because then it’s just going to invade every single area of football.” Platini’s argument is valid but once again is an example of the organization’s urge to stay rooted in the past. Besides, UEFA has many more pressing issues on its plate: reports coming out of the Euro 2012 tournament suggest that UEFA “manipulated” live coverage of the semi-final match between Germany and Italy. Also, UEFA’s handling of the racism at the tournament was questionable. As Kris Voakes concludes in his article for goal.com titled Disproportionate punishments undermine UEFA’s new hard-line disciplinary stance, “UEFA clearly still has a lot to learn.”
U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials
For Natalie Coughlin, the road to the 2012 London Olympics was anything but easy. After failing to qualify for the team after the 100-meter backstroke and butterfly, Coughlin had one final race make the roster. She needed to finish in the top-six of the 100-meter freestyle race to make the 4×100 relay team. Coughlin finished in sixth and punched her ticket to London. The 29-year-old, who will be competing in her third Olympics, has 11 career Olympic medals.
What a comeback for Anthony Ervin. The co-Olympic Gold medalist in the 50-meter freestyle in the 2000 Sydney Olympics will be in the pool for an Olympic Games once again. Ervin capped off an incredible comeback to the sport after he stopped swimming at the age of 22. The U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials will wrap up tonight from Omaha.
On the Fringe by Stephen Hobbs
More fines handed out for fan misconduct
June 29—On Thursday, UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body announced fines of €20,000 ($25,000) for the Spanish soccer association and €30,000 ($37,000) for the Russian soccer federation for “improper conduct of its fans (racist behavior, racist chanting). This completed the process of “disciplinary proceedings” that began on Tuesday. The biggest concern that I have is how the sport will move forward. With the spotlight of the European Championships leaving Ukraine and Poland, the culture seems unlikely to change. Also, the behavior of the fans from all different countries is truly unfortunate. Coming into the tournament, the focus was on the problems of racism in the two host countries, however, fans from countries like Croatia, Russia and Spain have also participated in racist activity. The Euro 2012 tournament has shown that the tradition of racism in the sport is an issue that stretches beyond national borders.
Women and sports
For the first time in history, Saudi Arabia will allow women to compete in the Olympics. Before the decision, there had been talk that the Saudi team would be disqualified for the games on the basis of gender discrimination. Unfortunately, the countries only likely participant, show jumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas, won’t be able to compete because her horse is injured. The “subtle reform” is a step in the right direction for the country, which is hardened by strong conservative religious values. Fortunately, the Olympics are an opportunity to bring these issues to an international stage, as the games are never disconnected from global politics. Hopefully these reforms will last.
The 40th anniversary of Title IX was celebrated last Saturday, June 23, and it initiated many different discussions about the law. Most importantly it signified how much has changed in 40 years and what more still needs to be done. Here are just a few of the opinions of the overall evaluation of Title IX. In no way is it a complete picture, but it is an opportunity to bring about a more holistic discussion of the complex law.
Kenneth L. Shropshire sheds an interesting light on Title IX in an article for the Huffington Post. In one of his paragraphs he describes the wording of the law: “Title IX is just 37 words long. The impact of those words has been more than could have been imagined, even though there remains so much more to do. ‘No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.’ Ironically there is not a specific mention of sport. The law is, appropriately, limited to the United States. But the spirit of the law is needed globally.”
Another of the major talking points surrounding the law is its influence on men’s sports. Gloria Goodale wrote an article, for the Christian Science Monitor, on this issue.
William Rhoden of the New York Times commented on the inequality between white and black women under Title IX.
Finally, the athletic director for the University of California, Sandy Barbour, who is one of the few female Division 1 athletic directors in the country, was interviewed about Title IX on Cal’s athletics website.
Why do we doubt Michael Phelps?
June 28– Unfortunately for Ryan Lochte, no matter how good he is, he will always be compared to Michael Phelps. Although Phelps has said that he will retire after the 2012 Olympics, he is continuing to make huge statements in the pool.
On Wednesday, Phelps defeated Lochte in the final of the 200 freestyle, which was billed as the second showdown between the two swimmers, at the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials in Omaha. Phelps’ signature trait is his ability to find a way to win. Although Phelps did lose to Lochte in the 200 individual medley, in the first match-up between the pair at the Trials, he still qualified for the event. When the time comes for the two to face of in the 200 I.M. in London, don’t bet against Phelps. During his historic run to eight gold medals in 2008, he somehow found a way to beat Milorad Cavic by the slimmest of margins in the 100-meter butterfly. The race went down as one of the most unforgettable moments of the Beijing Olympics.
That being said, the competition between these two swimmers is outstanding for the sport. It has brought an expanded level of exposure to swimming and their rivalry will only fuel the fire of young athletes looking up to these two outstanding competitors.
So please, don’t let Phelps overshadow what Lochte has accomplished so far in his swimming career. The man is an outstanding swimmer. He already has six Olympic medals; three gold, one silver and two bronze. He just has had the unfortunate task of continuously trying to beat one of the greatest Olympians ever.
The Pac-12 Network is going to do something exciting for fans of lesser-known college sports. Last week, the new network, which begins in August, released a schedule of field hockey, men’s water polo and cross country events that will be broadcast this fall. Although this may not excite fans across the country, this is perfect for a conference that prides itself on succeeding in every single collegiate sport. For example, take the recent release of the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup final standings for the 2011-2012 fall, winter and spring collegiate seasons. The Stanford Cardinal won the honor for the 18th consecutive season and the Pac-12 had three teams in the top-10 and six teams in the top-25. Stanford University finished first overall with 1448.25 total points. More than 100 points ahead of Florida, which finished in second with 1314 total points. UCLA finished in third place, Southern California in seventh, California in 11th, Arizona in 19th and Oregon finished in 24th.
The Ugly Side of Sports: Racism at the Euro 2012 (Part Two):
June 27–Racism is once again a talking point at the 2012 European Championships on the eve of a semi-final match between Spain and Portugal.
On Tuesday, UEFA handed out fines for racist activity by spectators. German fans were seen displaying a neo-Nazi banner in the stands during a match against Denmark on Sunday, June 17 — UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body announced the fine on Monday – and the German soccer association will now have to pay the $31,200 fine.
According to the Associated Press, “Germany has now been disciplined for fans’ behavior at all three Euro 2012 group-stage matches, and paid fines totaling $50,000.”
On Tuesday, UEFA handed out more fines for the “improper conduct” of fans during the tournament. The Croatian soccer league, which was already fined for an earlier incident, was cited for “incidents during their match with Spain – including the display of racist banners.” The match against Spain occurred on June 18. As Aleksandar Holiga of the Guardian argues, “The problem with Croatia’s nationalistic fans starts at the top.”
UEFA’s disciplinary body also announced that it would take action on two more incidents on Thursday, June 28.
The first case involves Spain’s soccer association “for the improper conduct of its supporters (racist behaviour, racist chanting) at the UEFA EURO 2012 Group C match against Italy in Gdansk on Sunday 10 June.”
The second case concerns Russia’s soccer federation “for the improper conduct of its fans (racist behaviour, racist chanting) at the UEFA EURO 2012 Group A game against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw on Friday 8 June.”
Racism is an issue that UEFA has tried to address but it is apparent that the problem is ingrained in the culture of the sport. In 2001, UEFA partnered with the Football Against Racism in Europe Network (FARE) to help control and eliminate the issue. However, it is obvious that a lot of work still has to be done and the discrimination of minority players, by spectators, will continue. A report by the BBC on the bouts of racism in the Euro 2012 host countries, Poland and Ukraine, shows why. UEFA must make progress on dealing with racism before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
U.S. Olympic Trials (Swimming)
Lochte vs. Phelps (Part Two)
Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps had another showdown in the pool on Tuesday. However, this time it was only a semi-final. Lochte defeated Phelps in the semi-finals of the 200 freestyle by .02 seconds. The pair finished first and second overall heading into tomorrow’s final.
Cal product Dana Vollmer won the 100-meter butterfly and returns to the Olympics once again. Although she is only 24 years old, she is already competing in her fourth Olympic Trials. In 2000 she competed at the age of 12. In 2004 she qualified for the Athens Olympics, on a relay team, and she won a gold medal, “despite dealing with two heart conditions and recovering from a torn knee ligament.” In 2008 she was hampered by injuries and did not qualify. Her journey back to the Olympics is an incredible story.
On Tuesday Brendan Hansen qualified for his third Olympics, capping off a long journey back to the sport. After the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Hansen retired. However, four years later he is back again. Hansen won the 100-meter breaststroke with the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.
Water Polo is the greatest sport in the World
Congratulations once again to Tony Azevedo and Ryan Bailey for making their fourth Olympic team yesterday. Both men are the first male water polo players in the history of USA Water Polo to compete in four different Olympics.
On the Fringe: The USA Men’s Water Polo team pick their roster and the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials begin in Omaha.
Water polo is the best sport in the world
June 26—The 2012 Men’s Water Water Olympic Team roster was released on Monday and there a few new faces on the team but also some established veterans. The USA women’s roster was announced last month.
Tony Azevedo will serve as the team captain for the United States. This is the fourth time that Azevedo has made the Olympic team. Joining him on the team will be another USA water polo stalwart, Ryan Bailey, the team’s center (similar to a center in basketball), is also on his fourth Olympic Team.
The roster is mostly the same from the U.S.’s 2008 Silver Medal winning squad except for three changes. John Mann replaces J.W. Krumpholz as the back-up center to Ryan Bailey. Chay Lapin replaces Brandon Brooks as the back-up goalie to Merrill Moses, and Shae Buckner replaces Rick Merlo as another attacker on the squad.
Here is the official roster for London from the USA Water Polo website:
2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Water Polo Team (Hometown/College/Club)
Tony Azevedo *#^ © – Attacker (Long Beach, CA/Stanford ‘03/NYAC)
Ryan Bailey *#^ – Center (Long Beach, CA/UC-Irvine ‘98/Newport WPF)
Layne Beaubien#^ – Defender (Coronado, CA/Stanford ‘99/NYAC)
Shea Buckner – Attacker (Villa Park, CA/USC ‘10/NYAC)
Peter Hudnut ^ – Defender (Encino, CA/Stanford ‘03/NYAC)
Tim Hutten^ – Defender (Seal Beach, CA/UC-Irvine ‘08/Newport WPF)
Chay Lapin – Goalkeeper (Long Beach, CA/UCLA ’09/Shore Aquatics)
John Mann – Center (Newport Beach, CA/California ‘07/NYAC)
Merrill Moses^ – Goalkeeper (Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine ‘00/NYAC)
Jeff Powers #^ – Defender (San Luis Obispo, CA UC-Irvine ‘03/Newport WPF)
Jesse Smith #^ – Utility (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine ‘05/NYAC)
Peter Varellas^ – Attacker (Moraga, CA/Stanford ‘06/Olympic Club)
Adam Wright #^ – Attacker (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA ‘01/NYAC)
For those of you looking for more water polo coverage, check out Peter Hudnut’s blog.
Michael Phelps is still pretty fast
At the Olympic Trials on Monday Ryan Lochte defeated Michael Phelps in the 400 Individual Medley in their first match-up of the Trials. Phelps was not the favorite going into the race, so that fact that he lost is not a surprise, but he still was able to finish in second place and qualify for the Olympics.
However, what caught my eye though was that “It was Phelps first loss in a final at the U.S. trials since July 13, 2004, when Ian Crocker defeated him in the 100 butterfly.”
Phelps vs. Lochte part two?
They will compete against each other in the 200 freestyle on Tuesday night.
Visit the USA swimming’s official website for more information on the trials.
Wait for that paper, Matt Forté
By Will Robinson
During the time it takes for a snap of the ball, an NFL career can end as fast as it begins; it’s an unforgiving, high-risk game.
Before the 1999 NFL season, Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis was the class of NFL rushers. After four professional seasons, Davis made three All-Pro teams including a 2,000-rushing-yard season. At that point in his career, it seemed like a Davis bust in Canton would be a mere formality. He was an essential cog to John Elway and Mike Shanahan’s offense that won two Super Bowls.
Four games into the 1999 season, Davis’ career was effectively over. He tore his ACL and MCL while he tried to deter the Jets from returning an interception — he missed the rest of the season.
The next season featured Davis playing just five games due to a stress fracture in his leg. The next year, both knees were scoped; he played only eight games. In August 2002, Davis retired after playing 17 games in three injury-riddled seasons.
Everyone has to get theirs while they can.
So it should be no surprise that Chicago Bears running back Matt Forté will likely hold out to seek a better deal. The Bears franchise tagged their star running back last March, which leaves both sides without a long-term contract.
Through the first 12 games of last season, it can be argued that Forté was football’s most complete back. He could run, catch and blocked well. Chicago’s offense relied on Forté. And that’s why he wants some contractual stability and assurance.
Though his leverage coming off a great season that was ended by an injury is lower than it could be, the star back does not want nor deserves to sign just a one-year franchise tender. Holding out is his way to complete a deal should the situation requires drastic action.
Though he’s remaining optimistic about the situation, he is listening to the sage advice of Chi-town native Kanye West: “F— you, pay me.”
New general manager Phil Emery has no bargaining room. Imagine how the conversation concerning the reluctance to pay Forté would go:
Emery: Hey, Matt. We really can’t afford to give you a long-term deal. Your knee scares us. You’ve been great and all, but we would like it if you signed the tender and reported for camp. To us, running backs are disposable!
Forté: Hmm… thanks, Phil. But I’ll just hold out.
E: Then we’ll just move on without you until you decide to show up.
F: What’s your backup plan?
E: … Kahlil Bell.
OK, Bell isn’t so bad to warrant imaginary Matt Forté laughing about him. But he’s no Forté.
Emery has the right to exercise executive power as the new man in charge. And while everything has gone swimmingly, Emery must be careful to play the situation correctly. Playing hardball with a team’s best player on one side of the ball jeopardizes the structure and foundation of one third of the team. Their offense heavily relies on Forté’s presence and versatility. Leaving quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Tice to play with receiver Brandon Marshall and Bell undermines the offensive game plan.
Ultimately, Forté will report and sign. That’s inevitable. But succumbing to the one-year deal would not allow Forté and other franchised players to make a statement that future stability obviously outweighs a quick financial fix such as tailback Chris Johnson did last offseason.
Davis only managed one contract extension during his career — a five-year deal after his rookie year valued at $6.8 million, just shy of $10 million deal in 2012. As a sixth-round pick, he never held out, though he surely could have after his historical season. No one knows how the game will go. Good on you, Matt Forté. Get paid. Because it could all go away on one bad break.
Leaving Timely: One of the best running backs and gentlemen of the NFL retires with dignity
By Ian Massey
I was riding shotgun one day in the passenger seat of my dad’s gourmet foods truck.
“Hey LT,” he said, with the phone to his ear. “Sure I’ll swing by around 3:00 today.”
I didn’t really think much of it. He turned to me and asked if I wanted to head down to San Diego for the day to sell boxes with him. I was hesitant, because it was opening day of the Major League Baseball season.
“Why don’t we go home and grab your Tomlinson plaque?” he added. “Want to meet LT today?”
My dad’s rhetorical question quickly inspired the most impatient car ride of my life. As a newborn San Diego Chargers fan, at 14, having survived the Ryan Leaf debacle, my fanhood had spiked recently as a result of my favorite player – LaDainian Tomlinson. LT could stop on a dime, bend over to pick it up, and drop it in the jockstrap that his defender left behind.
He was the Barry Sanders of my generation, my dad always told me. He’ll get stopped for a loss four out of ten carries, but when he breaks one, it’ll be on SportsCenter. One year prior to his only MVP season, I was going to do what no defender could – catch LT in his prime.
When we arrived at his house, a bubbly black woman walked out to meet my father. She introduced herself as LaTorsha. I shook Mrs. Tomlinson’s hand and asked if I could get her husband’s autograph at some point. LT was inside the house doing a radio interview, but LaTorsha assured that he’d be out soon.
I overheard Phil Nevin blasting a home run for the Padres on the radio as my dad piled up the boxes of ribs to fuel LaTorsha’s man with protein in what would become the most important offseason of LT’s career.
We moved to their garage, as I kept my mind occupied, stocking the freezer with white boxes filled with ribs, cutlets and filets. Then, there he was. LT walked into the garage as LaTorsha caught him up to speed.
“Hi Ian, I’m LaDainian,” he said with his Texas drawl and palm extended.
The first thing that came to mind was, “No shit! I’m standing here with your picture in my hand. I’m your biggest fan!”
Instead I said what any other star-struck kid would, “Can I please have your autograph?”
Not “What’s the secret to your success?” or “Can I take a picture with you?” When I have kids, they won’t be carrying around sharpies and plaques, but cameras. I’ll never sell that autographed plaque, but I would later realize that a picture would have meant more.
LT introduced himself by first name and he cared to say mine. Antonio Cromartie, LT’s teammate in San Diego and in New York, couldn’t recite the name of his children that he has fathered in various cities throughout the country if you gave him three days to study.
There was no showboating with LT, he didn’t do his signature “tip me up and pour me out” teacup move that he made after scoring touchdowns, and he wasn’t mum. He was a gentleman, through and through. LT always wants to make a difference, whether it’s in the community or in the fourth quarter.
The first professional football player that I had ever met, Tomlinson with his pads off wasn’t as big as I expected him to be – he was three inches taller than me at the time, but on my level. LT signed his initials, along with the No. 21, on a plaque that featured him running downfield with three Kansas City Chiefs on the turf in the background, having just felt the wrath of one of his spin moves.
It sticks with me to this day as the best few moments of my upbringing. And it was ever more memorable on Monday when LT announced his retirement from the NFL at the age of 33.
When Hank Aaron was 33 years old, he hit .309 with 39 home runs and 109 RBI. Wayne Gretzky scored 38 goals and compiled 92 assists at the same age. At 33, Tom Brady threw 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Aaron played in 155 of 162 MLB games, Gretzky started 81 of 82 NHL contests, and Brady was behind center for all 16 games at 33. They all made it look easy, playing virtually every day without issue, and doing so in the prime of their careers. For an NFL running back, though, on an age scale ranging from Bryce Harper to Brett Favre, 33 typically means that your career is about as flaccid as Favre’s sexts.
On Monday, Tomlinson – a 33-year-old running back – received his first senior discount, signing an unpaid contract to retire in the same city where he started his professional career: San Diego.
LT retires ranked fifth in NFL history with 13,684 rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns (145), and with the third most touchdowns (164) in league history.
Tomlinson is sure to be a first-ballot hall of famer, despite never winning a Super Bowl ring. Often criticized for being absent come playoff time, LT averaged just 46.7 rushing yards in seven career playoff games, scoring four times. In the AFC Championship game on January 20, 2008, the Chargers handed the ball to LT two times for five yards, before LT exited with a toe injury. Disappointed, LT sat on the bench, emotional, with his signature visor covering his eyes for the rest of the game. The Chargers wound up losing 21-12, failing to score a touchdown and noticeably weaker without LT’s presence in the backfield. With a healthy LT, the team may very well have stopped the New England Patriots’ chase of perfection before the New York Giants could pull off the feat in the closing minutes of Super Bowl XLII.
The Chargers had just 35 wins in the six seasons preceding the Tomlinson era at Qualcomm Stadium. In his first six years with the club, LT led a high-octane lightning bolt offense, winning 52 games. After experiencing just two double-digit victory seasons in the 1990s, the Bolts had four double-digit win seasons in LT’s nine seasons in San Diego, including a franchise best 14-2 season in 2006 – the same year that Tomlinson was named MVP and recorded a scored a record 31 touchdowns.
A banner career with the Bolts was followed by a solid two years in New York. Tomlinson continued to prove his worth as a member of the New York Jets in 2010, before showing signs of slowing down in 2011. Tomlinson ran for 914 yards in his first season as a Jet in 2010, upping his yards per carry average from 3.3 to 4.2 with the team in green. But 2010 was Tomlinson’s first season scoring less than 10 rushing touchdowns. Last season, LT became more of a check-down receiver than a between-the-tackles tailback. He averaged a career-high 10.7 yards per reception, while rushing for a career-low 280 yards on just 75 carries.
Tomlinson steps away from the game without ever going under the knife for surgery, with fresh legs, and with dignity.
There’s something to be said for the type of man Tomlinson is and always was for his teammates. He led by example on the field, carrying the Chargers on his back at times. While he wasn’t always a verbal leader, LT was the poster boy of citizenship off the field.
The guy simply loved the game, often citing his experience taking a handoff from Emmitt Smith at a youth camp in Texas as one of the more impactful moments of his upbringing.
When the Tomlinsons were first married, LT often explained during his 2006 MVP season that LaTorsha fought to have him kick a football out of the bed – he had always slept with a pigskin by his side.
His retirement is a humble realization that his best years were behind him, that a Super Bowl isn’t always in the cards, and that he had done enough for a game that could break his leg in two.
When a running back attempts to be the Jamie Moyer of the sport, hanging on until gray hairs are prevalent, it often leads to long-term damage. Just ask Jerome Bettis how tough it is to walk up and down the stairs after a Sunday afternoon on the gridiron, at 36. The Bus often couldn’t bend over to play with his kids throughout the week, because of the toll the game took on his legs. But every Sunday he was back out there.
LT made the right decision to hang it up. Tomlinson played his heart out for 20 years, 11 of which in the NFL, and had the good sense to know when it was time to pack it in.
In 2001, the Chargers traded the rights to the first overall pick in the NFL Draft to the Atlanta Falcons. They received Tim Dwight, the fifth overall selection, and two picks that were later used to select Reche Caldwell and Tay Cody. The Falcons took Michael Vick, while the Chargers landed Tomlinson with the fifth pick.
Off the field, Tomlinson spent his money on charities, rather than engaging in illegal dogfighting rings – a la Vick. He founded Tomlinson’s Touching Lives Foundation, which promotes education and helps struggling families through scholarships and donations.
OJ Simpson and Jim Brown may have had higher yards per carry numbers than LaDainian Tomlinson, and maybe you can make the argument that there is only one LT – Lawrence Taylor – but of those four, you won’t find a better human-being.
Tomlinson married his college sweetheart, LaTorsha, in 2003 after the two met at Texas Christian University. LaTorsha fell in love with LT, because he was a “Mama’s boy.” She knew that if he adored his mother, he would adore her.
The two now have a healthy young family. The Tomlinsons may introduce their son, Daylen (23 months old), to playing running back in the future, a position that hasn’t been so friendly to other athletes’ legs. Hopefully he inherits LT’s work ethic – oh, and the spin move too.