Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Really, NHL?

The video clip you'll see below is disgusting. You'll see one hockey player try to behead another one.

What's even more disgusting is that the perpetrator, Raffi Torres, is such a known quantity, such a repeat offender, that his very presence on the ice is an indictment of a sport that says it's trying to clean up its act, but does nothing about it. In fact, Torres was not even penalized for the hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa.

He will, of course, be suspended. But Torres has been suspended and fined many times in the past for exactly this same sort of play. And yet he's continually allowed back on the ice. The NHL, the Phoenix Coyotes (his current employers/co-conspirators) and all who profit from hockey mayhem (yes, hockey broadcast and cable networks, I mean you) share in the blame here.

Torres is not the only thug in hockey. He's incredibly lucky to have made millions playing a sport that allows his sorry act to continue. But he's hardly alone. The NHL has taken baby steps toward addressing violence, brain damage, and dirty play--yet every time it allows a Raffi Torres to assault a Marian Hossa, the sport falls deeper into the slime.

Torres' despicable act occurred during live action. Much of the NHL's brutality happens after the whistle, when the ritualized Kabuki of the hockey fight occurs. Lame apologists will tell you that fighting is part of the sport but of course, it's not. College and Olympic matches don't tolerate it. The NHL doesn't need to, either.

But the same losers who let Torres keep going to work are making it clear: they're fine with all this. I ask you, hockey fans: are you?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Small Sample Size

Random thoughts after the first weekend of the baseball season (OK, I know the A's and Mariners played in Japan a while back, but still...) :

  • The Giants probably won't go 0-162. But watching their Big Three starters get hammered in Phoenix can't be good for the confidence. Barry Zito as stopper? You may now exhale.
  • Thanks, MLB, for giving the A's a Sunday off day. That'll help build fan interest.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is the real deal. The A's Cuban import homered in his first two Oakland starts. The Friday night blast is still rattling around out there somewhere. The Saturday shot came after he'd been drilled by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez earlier in the game. Cespedes made a point after the game of saying he though King Felix hit him on purpose. This guy is a big-leaguer.
  • Am I making too much of Buster Posey's shaky defense in the first series of the season? A bobbled chopper, a throwing error on a stolen-base attempt and a mental mistake (failed to touch the plate on a force-out play). Not the Buster we know and love.
  • I may be forced to eat these words later, but I think Brandon Crawford is going to be fine. The Giants' young shortstop made a key error against the Diamondbacks but also made several impressive defensive plays--and delivered a nice opposite-field RBI double.
  • Brandon Belt needs something. He earned the Giants first base job with a solid spring, but had a rough weekend against Arizona.
  • I like the A's outfield of Coco Crisp, Cespedes, and Josh Reddick (left to right). The A's have a near-zero chance of slipping past Texas or the Angels, but their offense ought to be a little more interesting this year.
  • Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox are 0-3. Again: Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox are 0-3.