Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

If you are a Brave then move to North Carolina otherwise you are going to have to go shirtless

The NCAA reminds me of a vacuum.
It sucks the life out of college athletics.
I first came to that conclusion when I was still a young lad and Cleveland State got banned from postseason play for Manute Bol, who never even set foot on campus. While Kentucky, pre-Pitino at the time, running a well-known dirty program got a slap on the wrist.
And c'mon lets look at the shenanigans taking place the last few years in Columbus for “The” Ohio State University. If the same took place at say Ohio University, I think much harsher sanctions would take place.
My real problem with the organization is that it outs the sanctity of the student athlete while selling its soul for cold hard cash at any opportunity.
If Bowl games didn't rake in the cash, do you think for a second that their argument that playoffs would cause too many missed classes play would just dry up?
The NCAA won't let Colorado football player Jeremy Bloom keep his endorsement money from his Olympic skiing but allows players who sign large Major League baseball contracts to play college football.
And, while it sounds good to say there is a plan in place to punish schools whose players don't graduate, the plan makes no sense. The Ohio State hockey team's entire roster was on path to graduate, many with honors, then those who were drafted quit school to join the NHL minors. So if a team has its kids go to class and they leave to pursue a career. They are punished more harshly then those who don't even pretend to care if their linebacker is attending basket weaving 101.
And now the NCAA has banned hostile mascots from its tournaments. The NCAA's executive committee decided that while the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots at individual schools, they could ban the iamges for their postseason tournaments.
Nicknames or mascots deemed "hostile or abusive" will not be allowed on team uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Walter Harrison, the University of Hartford's president and the committee's chairman.
"What each institution decides to do is really its own business outside NCAA championship events,” Harrison has been quoted as saying. "What we are trying to say is that we find these mascots to be unacceptable for NCAA championship competition."
Well not for football, since there is no tournament for that. I mean really having the name Seminole appear in the College World Series is just wrong, but the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is an appropriate environment for the nickname.
And while I still don't understand what is so hostile about an Illni, a Ute or a Chippewa, this is the true hypocrisy.
North Carolina-Pembroke can still be the Braves because as NCAA president Myles Brand explained the school's student body has historically admitted a high percentage of American Indians and more than 20 percent of the students are American Indians.
So Braves is good to go at Pembroke but a terrible menacing problem at Alcorn State and Bradley.
So you are forced to be PC unless you are a fifth of what you are offending?
Do you think 20 percent of Notre Dame is Irish or does the name have to go to?
Florida State is already threatening to sue because they want to keep the nickname Seminole. The school's president T.K. Wetherell blasted the NCAA and threatened legal action on Friday, the Tampa Tribune reported.
"Florida State University is stunned at the complete lack of appreciation for cultural diversity shown by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's executive committee. ... That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole Tribe of Florida as culturally 'hostile and abusive' is both outrageous and insulting," Wetherell said Friday in a statement.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida passed a resolution in June supporting the school's use of the nickname and tribal images. Seminole tribes in other states have disagreed with the Florida group.
I am not saying this is an easy topic. It is a very American thing to criticize Australia for their treatment of aborigines and South America for destroying rain forests when 150 years ago we were completing Manifest Destiny.
As a country, we have a difficult past. A past that has allowed for a country now that has more freedom than any other country in any other time of the world. So I am not lightly brushing over whether Indian mascot names are offensive or not. Maybe it is wrong. We conquered many nations to make this land our country. Are we honoring them with our baseball and football nicknames or devaluing their culture?
Here in Cleveland, we are very tolerant of offending others with our mascot. Am I comfortable with an offensive caricature? No. Of course not. And that is why Slider is hugging the kids rather than Chief Wahoo. But I use the word Tribe freely? Is that offensive?
Many schools have dropped an Indian related name over the years. From my time living in Michigan, I know that many at Eastern Michigan are still upset about losing the Huron nickname.
Many schools that haven't say it is because they are honoring Native Americans.
Arkansas State University, whose teams are known as the Indians, believes that their use of the mascot is done with respect and the school's sports teams will continue to use it.
"It is our objective to represent Native Americans in a dignified and stately manner," ASU athletic director Dean Lee said. "We believe that our use of the nickname 'Indians' and 'The Indian Family' as our mascot affords the Native American customs and history the fullest respect and integrity."
You can't really say that about our baseball team nickname and mascot now can you.
But really what does it say when our nation's capitol's beloved football team is called the Redskins. I wonder how that sits at the United Nations every time we want sanctions against nations where one cultural group is oppressing another.
I am not here to settle the debate. I am not going to quit rooting for my team because I don't like the name. But when I wear a Cleveland cap I choose one without Chief Wahoo.
The real problem is the NCAA pretending to be the morality police. Do I think maybe that Southeastern Oklahoma should drop the Savages nickname. Yes but for the NCAA to legislate it for their tournaments, for me, is just another example of their hypocrisy.
If you believe something is wrong then ban it. Don't make up silly rules that you can enforce when you feel like it and not when you don't.

Jump aboard, there is plenty of room on this bandwagon

It was like the golden days but even better.
The Jake was packed and rocking. Cheeseburgergate was blowing over. And our hero Travis Hafner shook off his cobwebs and delivered a blow to put the hated Yankees on the brink of their first sweep in Cleveland since 1970. Before I was born and back when George Steinbrenner wanted to buy the Indians.
Then it was like a punch in the stomach. Watching those two balls sail into the night and those vile New York fans come crawling out from under their seats to celebrate was disgusting.
Before the game, the feeling that the playoff run was actually viable was thick in the air. That incredible optimism of July 4th was back. But after the game, the bandwagon sure felt a lot lighter.
Attempting to sweep the Yankees, folks, is not what it used to be. It feels fun to kick Gotham while its empire is crumbling, but the truth is they are not a good baseball team. Their line-up one through six is scary as ever but they have no pitching. Unless Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter and Mike Mussina all find a time portal to five years ago, this team will not be playing in October. They only have three relief pitchers. And eventually, like last year, their arms will fall off.
The reason the Indians will be playing in October is because pitching is where we’re strong. The Oakland A's lead us by four and a half games, partly for the same reason. And they are extremely hot right now but we will be very soon.
I know Bob Wickman scares the hell of out you. You would rather he be pouring pints than throwing big pitches but he is leading the league in saves. After Thursday's debacle, he came back to shut down the Tigers on Saturday and Sunday. He is the point man for the American League's best bullpen. Sunday is a perfect example, our starter Scott Elarton walked the bases loaded in the sixth. David Riske used one pitch to defuse the danger then teamed with Bob Howery and Wickman to shut out the Tigers the rest of the way.
After Detroit's starter walked two in the eighth inning, their bullpen was greeted by a three run blast by Ronnie Belliard.
And it is not just our bullpen. The Indians are one of the few teams in the American League who have five quality starters with a sixth (Jason Davis) safely stored in Buffalo for emergencies.
During the glory years, we only got to experience one true playoff race and that was the year we didn't make it. While other teams scuffle to find warm bodies for their fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, we go into every single game with a realistic chance to win. You know your starter has at least six good innings in him with a veteran bullpen to close the door. CC Sabathia has quietly straightened his hat and hopefully his career. Jay Westbrook, Cliff Lee and Kevin Millwood have all been consistently steady all season. Elarton has pitched himself into a big contract next year. His defense gave up three runs on a Little League homerun as part of a five run second inning on Sunday but he kept battling, throwing up goose eggs until the offense caught up.
And the offense is catching up, Jhonny Peralta has blossomed into a superstar. Travis looks like the real deal. And most importantly, Victor Martinez is becoming our captain right before our eyes. Next time you are at a game or watching on TV, try to watch Victor. He gets so excited when his teammates do well. That is the type of player who raises the level of play of those around him. After a tough start, he has been on fire since the All Star break hitting over .400.
A healthy Hafner completes the line-up. You have three good sticks at the top in Grady Sizemore, Coco Crisp and Peralta for the big boys Hafner and Martinez to knock in.
It was at that Yankee game last Thursday, when I looked up at our batting line-up. Our batting averages are starting to look like a pro team's should. The top six hitters are all now over .270.
Don't look now but the Indians have assembled some awesome talent that is only scratching the surface of what they will do.
The Cavaliers had a great off-season. The Browns look to be moving forward the right way. But the Indians are there. Are they flawed? Yes. Will they make our stomachs turn and our hearts skip a beat. Yes.
But they are going to make a real run this fall. While the Yankees have no visits left, it is usually a happy ending that has the fans wound up and excited.
There looks to be more of those moments during the season's last two months. There are just 50 games left. Don't worry, the bandwagon makes frequent stops to let you back on board.