Monday, July 23, 2012
While I am sure most readers already know the penalties being enforced, let's note them here since I will try to touch on each of them later. Penn State has received a fine of $60 million dollars, a four-year postseason ban, a scholarship decrease of 20 for the next four seasons, and all wins vacated from the 1998-2011 seasons. Note that this was not the "Death Penalty", but in my opinion equally just to all sides.
The Death Penalty would have meant no football in State College for at least one season (possibly more). On one hand, the penalties for the football team are likely worse as they are than had the Death Penalty been issued. In general, they will be very hard pressed to be competitive with a schedule that includes Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska annually, and even if they are, it will be for not since they are not allowed for play for a conference championship or in bowl games.
On the other hand, allowing the program to continue to schedule and play football games means that the punishment does not branch all the way down to the local level of State College. By that, I mean the restaurants, stores, bars, etc. of central Pennsylvania will still be able to operate to higher patronage on game day. The local economy is not the the major focus here, but they should be unharmed by this decision. Furthermore, the fans of State College can continue to support the program as they choose fit. They are not forced to sit on their hands and watch Pittsburgh, Temple, and the Big Ten play every Saturday with no true interest. For those reasons alone, I commend the NCAA for finding a ruling that punished the program, but not those who are not directly connected to it.
Many argued for the past few weeks that the punishments were not going to help the victims, and that the rest of the world was just out for blood. I don't agree with that line of thinking. A murderer being sentenced to life in prison is not going to bring a victim back to life. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the acts committed by Jerry Sandusky, and indirectly by others in the program are irreversible. You can't simply avoid punishment because those acts can't be undone. Punishments are consequences for previous acts.
Nevertheless, the NCAA and Big Ten did find a way of doing right by the victims in one way. The NCAA fined them $60 million which must be paid over the course of five seasons ($12 million per). Meanwhile, the Big Ten will be handing over Penn State's share of the Big Ten bowl revenue for the next four seasons (estimated to be at $13 million over that time). That breaks down approximately to a loss of $15 million per season from 2012-2015, and $13 million in 2016. Obviously, that is a large amount of change to any one of us, but for an athletic program that profited $15 million this past year, and $18 million the previous year, this is certainly doable.
If either group wanted to go for the kill with revenue, they could have booted Penn State from the Big Ten, or prohibited them from broadcasting their games. So long as they still receive their Big Ten television contract, this is a survivable penalty.
Much of the rest of the sanctions affect the athletes (past, present, and future) of Penn State. Let's not suggest this is the end of the world for any of them, and that the penalty only affects them as many have done. The vacating of wins from 1998-2011 could be said to affect everyone who was part of the program for those years. I don't believe that. The players and staff who were not involved still received a free education (players), or a paycheck (staff). They can still talk about their time at Penn State, and the bowl games they participated in. To those individuals, they won those games, and no one can take away their stories. Penn State has not won or tied for any conference championships over that time, so they are not being wiped out of the record books for anything along those lines. If anything, this affects only the legacy of Joe Paterno. He is no longer the winningest coach in football. It seems more fans are upset about losing that title for Florida State's Bobby Bowden above all else.
Obviously, the scholarship sanctions will directly affect the number of future athletes who can be offered to play at Penn State, or the number that will choose to play through this period. Therefore, it is the current athletes that lose the most. However, the NCAA has granted their release, and they can move to any program they wish that will accept them. For those who choose to stay, they lose a chance to play in bowl games or for any titles.
Now for anyone who denounces that only the current players are being hurt by this, let's look at it from a different perspective. In the past couple years, big time programs like USC, Ohio State and Miami have been hit by scandals. Those programs along with Penn State are known for grabbing top recruits from across the nation. No one could disagree with any of this. However, during all those other scandals, how often was it noted that only two programs never had any NCAA violations? Those two programs were Stanford and Penn State. So when a top recruit was deciding between Penn State and Ohio State, can anyone suggest that Penn State did distance itself from the Buckeyes by mentioning how squeaky clean they have stayed over the year? Fact of the matter is, Penn State benefited from athletes as well as non-athletic students by maintaining such an image. In reality, that image should have vanished over a decade ago when the first report came about. Therefore, I do not buy into the notion that only the current players are being hurt by the NCAA sanctions. In reality, these players were hurt by the lies told by the Penn State athletic department, not the NCAA. The penalties are always going to affect the current program the most, but you can't simply avoid punishments because of that.
It is sad that college football has grown to such proportions that it can become a bigger priority than the safety of human beings, especially children. Nevertheless, that is what happened, and that same lack of priorities would be repeated if such a program went on without receiving any consequences. Penn State has won many games over the past 13 seasons because of it's untarnished image, great recruits, and large revenue stream. It is impossible the measure the differences that may have occurred if action was taken sooner. The current players, the fans, and the legacies are punished with these sanctions, but that does not mean the true victims should be forgotten. It is not simply a loss for Penn State, but a loss for all programs, athletes, and fans when we lose a grip on such priorities.
Friday, July 6, 2012
This isn't anything new. After all, he claimed he was the second more important black in the game of baseball behind Jackie Robinson. He has claimed to be "the best in baseball", and suggests that he was the most important cog in for the New York Yankees teams of the late 70s while everyone else was nothing more than a minor role. True or not (I suggest not), going on a soap box for yourself while suggesting the captain of your team is a negative influence doesn't necessarily win you any points in my book.
In his latest rant, he suggested that Hall of Fame players Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Kirby Puckett, and Bert Blyleven do not deserve to be in the Hall as if he is Cooperstown's Ambassador to the rest of the world. To be fair, I don't believe all of those players deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, but to suggest none of them belong is ridiculously far-fetched.
Don Sutton: Sutton is not a Hall of Famer in my book. He is merely the product of longevity, and nothing more. Sutton had an above average career from the start, and was somewhere between good and excellent between 1970-77. An eight year stretch like that is nothing to scoff at, but the era was not exactly in favor of hitters much. After 1977, he really only had one great season (1980), but otherwise was a decent starter most years. The thing is, his career continued until 1988 meaning much of the second half of his career was average. Longevity should count for something, but not everything. Voters and fans attach themselves to the ability to win 300 games at the Major League level. It's a great achievement, but it's a stat for pitchers that mean more than it should. Sutton took 23 seasons to reach a win total of 324. He spent 16 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers who had winning records in 13 of those year, including briefly dominating the National League in the late 70s. More often than not, the teams Sutton was on after the Dodgers including the Astros, Brewers, and Angels were very good teams. Now, he was part of those teams and deserves credit. However, the second half of his career I believe he was a #4 starter in an era that only used four starter. There is only one other player with less than Sutton's 324 wins, but more than 300 who pitched more seasons, and that is Phil Niekro.
out of the water. Meanwhile, Blyleven retired third all time for career strikeouts with numbers not terribly worse than Ryan's. Despite much argument against Blyleven in the past, I have come around to supporting his induction even though I will be quick to point out that he is one of the very few who was never elite.
That is my take on those players anyway. Reggie Jackson is a Hall of Famer, even if his personality leaves something to be desired. Despite what he may enjoy implying about others, Jackson is in fact an extremely overrated Hall of Famer himself. Often, he is lumped with greatness because he played for the Yankees, or hit over 500 home runs. I hope most have learned to let those types of achievements go by now.
Remember what I said about longevity? Jackson hit his final 99 home runs in the last five years of his career. Over those five seasons, WAR suggests that a replacement level player would have outperformed him. Despite the fact that he still had some pop in his bat, his teams, the Angels and Athletics would have been better off without him. Not surprising when he .223 or less in the majority of those seasons. Does 464 home runs still scream Hall of Famer the same way? Meanwhile Jackson was a horrible outfielder. I would go as far to say that while he may have been an elite hitter with the New York Yankees, he was not an elite player. With Oakland and Baltimore, his skills as the plate were so good, he was still an elite all around player despite his poor performance in the field. By the time he went to the Yankees in 1977, his hitting still outweighed his fielding, but not so much he was elite in my book.
Many of his accolades relate to his playoff performances, after all, he was Mr. October. Yet once again, people relate too much to home run totals. Yes, his 1977 and 78 postseason performances were ridiculous. He had plenty of other good series as well. However, there are many other players I would want on my team before Reggie Jackson in the postseason. Give me a Steve Garvey from that same era who was a far better hitter and fielder in the postseason. Hell, I'll take a Derek Jeter today.
We could all debate any of the names mentioned above whether they belong in the Hall of Fame or not. In my opinion, a Hall of Famer doesn't get much more overrated than Reggie Jackson, even if he is better than some of the aforementioned. Nonetheless, it is the classlessness that only Jackson can offer to suggest that these guys don't belong in his company.