I hope we all paid our appropriate respects to “Old Glory.” The July 4th holiday and the celebration of our Independence is complete. It’s a great time of the year. The vacations were good, so were the cookouts, the family reunions were wonderful, and the time off from work is always nice. So, what now? Next up is football!
Pulaski County’s football team returned for off-season workouts this week after an 11-day break. The VHSL mandates a 10-day dead period, and the Cougars got a bonus day. PCHS resumed workouts in the weight room and on the practice field each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. There will be a four-day break each week. The players were happy this week. They got a little break from the high heat. The squad meets at 9 am and workouts usually go about two hours.
The squad will keep this schedule until the last week of July. Then official practice for the 2019 season begins on Thursday, August 1. The first live action for the public will be on Saturday, August 17 on what promises to be an interesting day of football. It’s the “Harvey’s Touchdown Classic.”
The “Harvey’s Classic” will get underway in Dobson Stadium at 11 am that morning and will feature varsity and junior varsity round robin action between the Cougars, Bluefield, W. Va., and Magna Vista. All three teams are looking for banner seasons. The following Friday will see action back at Dobson again as the Cougars and Radford will battle in a “Benefit Game” on August 23. That will be a 7 pm kickoff. The following Friday, August 30 will see the Cougars officially open the season in Dobson against Northside.
Sometimes it gets a bit humorous how some seem to think professional athletes are marketed. The head of the Major League Baseball players union was critical over the marketing of Boston Red Sox player Mookie Betts. He’s good, very good. He was the American League MVP last season. That speaks for itself, however, Clark goes overboard. “Mookie should be a household name.” Really? I know a lot of people who likely don’t even know his name, inside or outside the house. He says Betts should be a one name guy. I think that’s up to other people. I’m a Red Sox fan. To me, his name is Mookie Betts.
Clark even thinks that people outside the baseball world should know who Betts is. I think that’s up to the people. I think Clark is wrong. Betts had a marvelous season and the Red Sox are defending World Series champions, however, this year his batting average is .272, not .340. He has struck out 60 times, almost as many as he did all last season, and his on base percentage is .392, a huge drop from last season. His numbers are still very good, but good enough to be doing commercials for Charmin? There are five batters in the everyday lineup for Boston with a higher batting average than Betts. Last year is last year. This is this year, and it’s not the same.
Is it juiced? Obviously. Astro ace Justin Verlander certainly thinks so and said so during All Star festivities. Verlander says the company that manufactures the baseballs is owned by Major League Baseball, so they know. The company is Rawlings. The powers that be in baseball say no, the ball is not juiced, but it certainly seems to have more drag and carries farther. Baseball speculates it could be because the seams are tighter. No kidding. Just one simple fact is explanation enough. The Minnesota Twins at the All-Star break had already hit more home runs than that team did all of the 2018 season. There are almost 80 games still left to be played. So yes, the ball is juiced.
Politics and Sports:
Every time there is some sort of global competition in sport the aftermath seems as much about politics as the event. The United State women’s soccer team won the World Cup last week. Now it’s about politics. How much you get paid. Can’t we just win a nice event, be happy, and celebrate a win for the good old USA? Apparently not because some people like to use sports as a platform to explain how much about our country they don’t like.
I’m not going to get deep into this subject because I believe in one simple aspect of sport. I always think simple is better. In short, your sport, be it individual, team, male or female is at the mercy of the public. The public determines the importance of your sport. I’m not a soccer fan, but before you criticize me for not being a soccer fan understand that I am a hockey fan and you are likely not, but I won’t criticize you. For the record, I think the Stanley Cup Playoff is one of the great sporting events in the world. I loved Bobby Hull, the “golden jet” on skates. I enjoyed the St. Louis Blues winning this year because as a teenager my favorite player was the “Bloody Red Baron,” Red Berenson of the Blues. And if you want to make something silly and political out of that go ahead. But I was impressed by the following, and it pretty much expresses my opinion about athletes injecting politics into sport.
It was the first day of camp for the “Hat Tricks”, a minor league hockey team in Connecticut. Coach John Krupinsky had something on his mind and wanted to express it to the team. Over the past few years Krupinsky has seen professional football players and women’s soccer players disrespect America by taking a knee during the national anthem, and various other displays of disrespect. He wanted to make sure his hockey players understood that sort of unpatriotic nonsense would not be permitted on the “Hat Tricks.”
“We’re not women’s soccer, and we’re not the NFL,” he told his team. “If there’s anybody here who’s going to be disrespectful to either the American or Canadian national anthem, grab your gear and get the (bleep) out now because you’ll never see the ice in this arena. We don’t have that problem in hockey. We’re better than that.” Krupinsky works for the Danbury, Conn. police department. I don’t think I need to add a thing.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot