Category: Sports

“A ballplayer spends a good piece of his life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”

The New York Daily News:

Ex-Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton was a 20-game winner, won two World Series games, spent 10 years in the big leagues — and made a bigger impact with a pen in his hand than a baseball.

The author of the groundbreaking hardball tell-all “Ball Four” died Wednesday following a battle with a brain disease linked to dementia, according to friends of the family. The Newark, N.J., native was in the Massachusetts home he shared with his wife Paula Kurman after weeks of hospice care. He was 80.

Bouton, who made his Major League debut in 1962, threw so hard in his early years that his cap routinely flew off his head as he released the ball. By the time he reached the expansion Seattle Pilots in 1969, the sore-armed Bouton reinvented himself as a knuckleballer.

Bouton spent that season collecting quotes, notes and anecdotes about life in the big leagues for his acclaimed book “Ball Four.” Released amid a storm of controversy, the account of Bouton’s tumultuous year was the only sports book cited when the New York Public Library drew up its list of the best books of the 20th century.

In “Ball Four,” Bouton exposed in great detail the carousing of Yankees legend Mickey Mantle, the widespread use of stimulants (known as “greenies”) in Major League locket rooms, and the spectacularly foul mouth of Seattle Pilots manager Joe Schultz.

“Amphetamines improved my performance about five percent,” Bouton once observed. “Unfortunately, in my case that wasn’t enough.”

But the book caused most of his old teammates to ostracize him, and he was blackballed from Yankees events for nearly 30 years until the team in 1998 invited Bouton to the annual Old-Timers Day event.

Bouton, across his 10-year pro career, posted a mediocre lifetime record of 62-63, with an ERA of 3.57.

But for two seasons, on the last of the great 1960s Yankees teams of Mantle, Maris, Berra and Ford, Bouton emerged as a top-flight pitcher.

In 1963, he went 21-7 with six shutouts and lost a 1-0 World Series decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Don Drysdale. A year later, Bouton’s record was 18-13 with a 3.02 ERA and he won a pair of World Series starts against the St. Louis Cardinals.

And then he developed a sore arm in 1965 that derailed a promising career that started just three years earlier. Bouton’s career ended after the 1970 season with the Houston Astros, although he returned for a five-game cameo with the Atlanta Braves in 1978.

Post-baseball, Bouton became a local sportscaster with WABC-TV and then WCBS-TV on the evening news, enjoying ratings success at both stops.

Ball Four was a book unlike any other in baseball until it was published, but you knew that.


Megan Rapinoe’s history lesson

Joel Engel writes to U.S. women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe:

First, let us congratulate you and your teammates on a sensational World Cup championship. You made us proud.

You know us, right? The country you’ve represented so ably on the pitch? Because—hope this doesn’t sound weird—we’ve kind of had some small role in your success. No question, you worked for what you’ve accomplished with the talents you were fortunate to be blessed with. But never forget you that had the opportunity to do so. That you’ve made the most of those opportunities delights us; it’s what we’re all about. But we do wonder why you’d discount the privilege you enjoyed of having had those opportunities that are, sad to say, deprived to most people around the world.

Correct us if we’re wrong. But our understanding is that most or all of you and your teammates came from middle-class homes (or better) and were allowed and encouraged to take up organized sports at early ages. All (or most) of you went to college and I’d be surprised if any of you paid full-tuition.

This is . . . not the norm around the world. It should be! But this is a form of privilege that’s been granted to you by dint of your birth and we kind of thought that you’d (1) be grateful for it, and (2) would recognize it for what it is and be humble about how many of the women you competed against in France did not have the same advantages.

Because let’s be honest: If you’re a female soccer player, being born in America is like winning the lottery. The U.S. women’s teams have now won four World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals, and eight CONCACAF gold cups—that’s the kind of domination that no national team in any country in any sport, male or female, has ever achieved. Something must be going right with America and our support of women’s athletics. USA! USA!

So we were kind of confused the other day when you explained your refusal to sing the National Anthem. We’re not quite sure what upsets you. “I think for detractors,” you said, “I would have them look hard into what I’m saying and the actions that I’m doing. Maybe you don’t agree with every single way that I do it, and that can be discussed.”

Well, back atcha. Aren’t we entitled to the same benefit of the doubt?

Let’s discuss whether there’s a country that has made more progress on virtually every human rights front in little more than a generation? In fact, let’s discuss how some countries are actually going backwards. Surely you’ve noticed that France and Germany and the UK and much of the rest of the world are trying to criminalize the kind of speech rights you’re now famous for exercising.

“I know that I’m not perfect,” you said, “but I think that I stand for honesty and for truth and for wanting to have the conversation and for looking at the country honestly. I think this country was founded on a lot of great ideals, but it was also founded on slavery. And I think we just need to be really honest about that and be really open in talking about that so we can reconcile that and hopefully move forward and make this country better for everyone.”

What we hear you saying is, we should look past your imperfections and focus on your intentions. Okay, well, again, back atcha. Right there in the preamble to our Constitution it says, “in order to form a more perfect union…”

You see? “More perfect” expressly states that we’re a work in progress. And aren’t we all! And we have this Constitution—the oldest in the world—that allows for every generation to amend what was originally set down and try to make “this country better for everyone.”

There’ve been 17 Amendments added to the original 10. True, not all of them have made things better. The 16th, 17th, and 18th were giant mistakes that backfired spectacularly (though fortunately the 18th was repealed). But all were passed with the intention of making things better: for example, the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, and limiting presidents to two terms.

So if we’re going to “be really honest” about slavery and “hopefully move forward,” you might acknowledge that chattel slavery ended more than 150 years ago. It was a legacy of our colonial master, England, which at the time practiced slavery in every one of its colonies and territories, and had for over a century, before the American Revolution was a glint in the Founding Fathers’ eyes.

Read the accounts of the Constitutional Convention to see how fiercely slavery was debated. Yes, it would’ve been wonderful if the antislavery voices had prevailed. But keep in mind that if slavery had been disallowed from the beginning, about half of the original 13 colonies wouldn’t have joined the “united” states. Then what? Then no United States. The fact that it was a primary topic of discussion and argumentation at a time when slavery existed on every populated continent and had since the beginning of time was a moral victory without precedent in history.

Here’s the progressive historian Sean Wilentz, from his book No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding:

[A]lthough the framers agreed to compromises over slavery that blunted antislavery hopes and augmented the slaveholders’ power, they also deliberately excluded any validation of property in man.

This exclusion, insisted upon by a majority of the delegates, was of profound and fateful importance. It rendered slavery solely a creation of state laws. It thereby opened the prospect of a United States free of slavery—a prospect some delegates deeply desired and many more believed was coming to pass. Above all, it left room for the new federal government to hinder slavery’s expansion, something which, after the Constitution’s ratification, slavery’s opponents struggled to achieve.

Kind of amazing, no? Imagine the guts it took for the Founders to force this exclusion at a moment when it threatened to derail the entire creation of the country. Again: USA! USA!

About twenty years later, the importation of slaves was prohibited, and a few decades later, 2 percent of the country’s population (4 percent of men) died fighting a civil war to end slavery. No other country did that. Have there been racial issues and prejudice since then? Absolutely. There’s not a mixed-racial society on Earth that doesn’t suffer issues like that, and ours are compounded by the lingering hangover from both slavery and Jim Crow. But has there been astounding progress, in law and hearts and minds? The answer is an unqualified yes. You can want to improve things more without misunderstanding the amazing scope of progress we’ve already made together.

Frankly, we don’t really care if you sing the National Anthem or stand there like Han Solo in carbonite. Either one is your right. This isn’t North Korea, where citizens fear they’ll be tortured or killed if they stop applauding Fearless Leader. This is in itself another point in our favor. But whatever.

But we do have a question:

Did you notice how loudly and enthusiastically the French players and spectators in that jammed stadium sang their national anthem, La Marseillaise, before your quarterfinal match against France? These people adore their anthem. No matter where or when it’s played, they stand up straighter, sing at the top of their lungs, and frequently hold back tears—like that scene in Casablanca. Sometimes the French just burst into singing the anthem while waiting for a train. And French coaches don’t seem to have much problem getting a plane of French citizens to sing along.

Now for the record: We love France. We do. Without France, we might very well not be here. And, without us, neither would France. But it must be said that France is . . . not perfect, either. They have had historical problems with how they treat immigrants. And racism. There’s rising anti-Semitism. And France hasn’t exactly achieved egalité in women’s rights, either.

Compared with that, America looks pretty good, no? If you’d been French, would you have sung their national anthem? We sure hope not.

If you don’t speak French, you might hear the tune and think La Marseillaise is the best drinking song on the planet. But it’s actually the most martial of all the national anthems, and has been since it was written during a period in the bloody French Revolution when France was flinging itself into wars against other European powers—in this case, before France attacked Austria.

Take a listen:

Let’s go children of the fatherland,

The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!

To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let’s march! Let’s march!
May impure blood
Water our fields!

Makes the “Star Spangled Banner” look pretty admirable, actually.

As you saw, several members of the French team you played against were young women of color. Their families had come from former French colonies in Africa like Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Cameroon. Repeat: former colonies. Meaning countries that France, competing with other European powers, fought over and occupied for centuries in order to steal their natural resources and enslave their people. We never did that.

It wasn’t all that long ago, probably during your parents’ lives, that the last of those African colonies were granted their freedom from France. Only after a war. And beaucoup de problèmes remain. In fact, many of these young women grew up in what the French call “les banlieus,” essentially suburban slums inhabited mostly by immigrants with little hope of being accepted as fully French and only slightly more hope of a better future—unless, of course, they played soccer and showed French football officials they could be useful. Yet they sang as loudly and passionately as everyone else; same with the young men on the French U-20 team, many of whom have colonial heritage.

By contrast, our national anthem was inspired by seeing a flag still flying over a fort that had been attacked by the British in 1814, soon after they’d invaded Washington and burned the White House, the Capitol, and other buildings and before attacking Fort McHenry in Baltimore. The siege lasted a full day and night, but in the morning the American soldiers who’d withstood the barrage raised a large flag—as Francis Scott Key saw with his own eyes from a boat in Baltimore Harbor. Not for nothing was the War of 1812 nicknamed “The Second American Revolution.” (By the way, the lyrics Key wrote were paired with a tune that really was a popular drinking song.)

You’re probably too young to remember a term that used to be thrown about wherever Americans traveled after World War II: “The Ugly American.” It was a pejorative that referred to, as Wikipedia puts it, “loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric behavior of American citizens.” Given that “USA” is on your jersey, we were embarrassed to hear that sentiment directed at you and the team, beginning with your 13-0 slaughter of Thailand in the first Cup game, when Team USA celebrated each goal as if it were the Cup clincher, and crescendoed when Alex Morgan mimed drinking a cup of tea after scoring against England.

“Wah-wah-wah,” you said sarcastically, insisting that men aren’t criticized for similar displays of grandiosity and unsportsmanship.

As it happens, you’re right about that. Which explains why our national pastime is baseball, not football or basketball (or, for that matter, soccer). In baseball, guys make plays that defy the laws of physics, but baseball’s culture is nonchalance, so players pretend it was no big deal; that it’s what they’re being paid for; that they’ve done it before and will do it again.

Sure, back in the dugout, their teammates will go a little crazy and maybe push them onto the field for a reluctant, and quick, curtain call if the fans demand it. But they don’t perform for the crowd because the unwritten rule is: Never show up the other team. Those who do can expect a little chin music next time they come to the plate.

In football, it seems like every sack, or tackle, or first down, or reception produces a celebration or an arms-wide “I did it” for the crowd. Same with dunks and three-pointers in basketball. Kind of like what you did after scoring the first goal in the championship game and running to the corner of the pitch.

But isn’t this . . . not good? Isn’t it the kind of behavior we should be trying to discourage in athletes? Because when you respect the other team, you respect the game.

The idea of athletics is to try to live up to our highest ideals. Not revel in living down to the debased standards of others.

Besides—not to put too fine a point on it—but it’s a really bad look given your enormous privilege. Thailand’s per capita GDP is 1/9 of America’s. They went through a military coup in 2014. When you go crazy after scoring the 8th goal against those women you maybe look like Cobra Kai. Nobody roots for Cobra Kai.

All right, Megan, we’ll let you go enjoy the fruits of your victory. You’ve earned your place in the Pantheon, and we hope you’ll use it constructively. As someone who’s been so blessed and so privileged, please encourage other young women to take advantage of their opportunities in this country that are unparalleled anywhere else in the world, and urge them to work hard for what they want, just as you did.

And as a P.S., I’d also ask you to indulge me by listening to Whitney Houston’s version of the National Anthem. It’s a game changer.

And I’m (not) proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free …

The U.S. women’s soccer team will play the Netherlands for the Women’s World Cup title today.

About them and one particular player, Jerry Newcombe writes:

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. I can’t fathom the ingratitude of American soccer star Meghan Rapinoe’s attitude toward America.

Writer Warner Todd Huston notes, “Rapinoe raised eyebrows in the 2018 season by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem even though she is playing for the U.S. Women’s National soccer team. Her taking a knee only came to an end starting in the 2019 season because the team passed a rule requiring players to stand during the anthem. But she right away said that she would never sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ again, nor would she place her hand over her heart because she hates America.”

Sadly, she is by no means alone. There are millions of ungrateful Americans today.

I remember years ago seeing one of The Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson which showed one dog in his den showing another dog his mounted, stuffed trophies on his wall. There were a couple of stuffed cat heads and bird heads and also a human hand mounted on the wall. The host dog was saying to his guest, “And that’s the hand that fed me.”

What a fascinating contrast. Last week a man and his infant daughter tragically drowned trying to get to this country through illegal means. And yet the soccer star who was born here has nothing but contempt for the land of opportunity that has given her so many opportunities.

This reminds me of people who are ungrateful to the Lord, even though every beat of their heart is by His grace. When He says, “Enough,” it is over and then comes the judgment.

President Lincoln reminded us of our need for thankfulness to God when he called for a day of fasting and prayer during the conflict that tore this country apart.

On March 30, 1863, he wrote, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven ….But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.” [Emphasis added]

Our own prosperity as a nation has caused us to forget the Lord, said our 16th president: “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

With another Fourth of July upon us, I think it is a good time to recall why we should be grateful as Americans. This country was born through the sacrifices of those who went before us.

What is the Fourth of July? It commemorates that date in 1776 when 56 men in Philadelphia, representing three million people, agreed by voice vote to adopt the final wording of our national birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence.

They knew their lives were on the line by voting for independence from England, and a handful of them paid the ultimate price for this declaration. Several of them were specifically targeted by the British.

The document declared that the rights of man come not from the king or the state, but from the Creator. It declared that when a government interferes too much with God-given rights, the government ultimately becomes illegitimate.

This declaration came years after futile attempts to work with the king to bring about an acceptable peace. But as the “men of Boston” put it, according to the great 19th century historian, George Bancroft: “While America is still on her knees, the king aims a dagger at her heart.”

We seem to forget the sacrifices of the founding fathers who bequeathed the freedoms, and subsequently, the prosperity we enjoy in this country.

A key founding father John Adams declared: “It is the will of heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever…” America would become its own nation, separate from England.

Adams adds that if we have to endure hardship because of it, God will still help see us through: “[I]t may be the will of heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, the furnace of affliction produces refinement in states as well as individuals; but I submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.”

The men who birthed America and declared independence laid everything on line, as they trusted in God.

Why should Meghan Rapinhoe be grateful? Because she was born in a country which gave her opportunity to “write her own script” as some might put it. It is hard for me to comprehend ungrateful Americans.

It’s not hard for me. When people read about this country’s past — legal slavery until the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, women’s (lack of) rights — some people assume that this country hasn’t progressed all, despite the fact that, for instance, Colin Kaepernick is not a slave, Rapinoe can legally vote and do everything else a man can do, and both have the First Amendment right to express themselves as they please, though there is nothing in the First Amendment that shields anyone from the consequences of their free expression.

Meanwhile, the team has found something else to complain about, the New York Post reports:

Megan Rapinoe considers Sunday to be the final insult.

Just a few hours after the United States and the Netherlands meet in the Women’s World Cup final in France, Brazil or Peru will celebrate winning the Copa America, South America’s men’s championship. And then at night, the United States or Mexico will win the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the men’s title of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

A TV triple of championships for some is yet another slight for others.

“It’s ridiculous, and disappointing, to be honest,” said Rapinoe, the star American midfielder.

FIFA said playing the three finals on the same day would boost attention for all.

“The scheduling of the different events has gone through a comprehensive consultancy process, which has involved all key stakeholders and taken into account different aspects of the women’s and men’s international match calendars,” the governing body said in a statement. “It is a rare and exciting occurrence.”

CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani told The New York Times, however, the decision to schedule the Gold Cup final for Sunday was not deliberate and was due to a “clerical error.”

“It’s terrible,” said former American midfielder Aly Wagner, now Fox’s lead World Cup match analyst. “It is so disturbing to me that the Women’s World Cup does not have its own day to stand on its own and have a final to highlight these tremendous athletes and their work and their accomplishment. They wouldn’t dream of doing it to the men. Why would they do it to the women?”

FIFA announced the Women’s World Cup dates at the emblem launch on Sept. 18, 2017, then revealed the full schedule the following Feb. 9.

CONCACAF did not announce the expansion of the Gold Cup from 12 teams to 16 until Feb. 26, 2018, then said last Sept. 27 that the final would be held at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 7. South America’s governing body made the Copa America dates known since at least early 2018 and said last Dec. 18 the final would kick off at 4 p.m. EDT.

The Women’s World Cup final will start at 11 a.m. EDT on Fox, followed by the Copa America final at 4 p.m. EDT on ESPN+ and the CONCACAF final at 9:15 p.m. EDT on FS1. Telemundo, a sister network of NBC, has Women’s World Cup and Copa America Spanish-language US rights, while Univision has the Gold Cup.

“I really am a believer in the rising tide lifts all ships,” said David Neal, executive producer of Fox’s World Cup coverage. “Because of the timing of them, it’s probably not going to hurt anybody.”

Advertisers don’t seem to think the three finals will cannibalize each other.

“It doesn’t alter in any way shape or form what we plan to do. I’m not sure whether it’ll splinter viewership or not,” said Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer of Visa, one of six FIFA partners.

Advertisers focus on their product’s marketing and activation and pretty much ignore the other tournaments.

“The priority for Coca-Cola is the FIFA Women’s World Cup and we’re going to do everything we can to bring a lot of attention, a lot people in front of TVs, to watch the game, to watch the final,” said Ricardo Fort, head of global sponsorships at The Coca-Cola Co., another FIFA partner. “Too bad for the other finals. I’m pretty sure the Women’s World Cup final is going to be a big global event again.”

My prediction is the U.S. will win this morning, and it will have negligible impact on growing women’s soccer in this country. They are trying to plant in waters they poisoned.


Politics’ triumph over sports

The U.S. women’s soccer team takes on Great Britain in a Women’s World Cup semifinal at 2 p.m.

In keeping with the idea that the best way to generate support for your team is to alienate your potential supporters, Sue Bird writes:

This is my World Cup Semifinals preview. The title was supposed to be “So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend (and 10 Other Things I Want You to Know Before the World Cup Semifinals)” but we ran out of space. My bad. Thanks for reading. GO USWNT. …

First of all, I’ve gotta get this on the record, if it’s not already clear: I’m SO proud of Megan!!And the entire damn USWNT. That’s why I’m writing this article, mainly. So if you could do me a favor, let’s just take a second, for real, and appreciate this RUN my girl’s been on?? Like, take away all of the “extra” stuff — and just focus for a second on the soccer alone. Two goals against Spain. Two goals against France, WHILE A GUEST IN THEIR MAISON. I want to hit on a lot of other topics while I’m here, and trust me I will — but I just think it’s also really important not to forget what this is actually, first and foremost, about, you know? It’s about a world-class athlete, operating at the absolute peak of her powers, on the absolute biggest stage that there is. It’s about an athlete f*cking killing it.

It’s about Megan coming through.

(3) O.K. so now that that’s out of the way, I’ll answer The Question. The one that’s probably most on your mind. And by that I mean: What’s it like to have the literal President of the literal United States (of literal America) go Full Adolescent Boy on your girlfriend? Hmm. Well… it’s WEIRD. And I’d say I actually had a pretty standard reaction to it: which was to freak out a little.

That’s one thing that you kind of have to know about me and Megan: our politics are similar — after we won the WNBA title in Seattle last season, no way were we going to the (f*cking) White House! — but our dispositions are not. And as we’ve been talking through a lot of this “stuff,” as it’s been happening to her, you know, I’ll be honest here….. some of it scares the sh*t out of me!!

I mean, some of it is kind of funny….. but like in a REALLY? REALLY? THIS GUY??? kind of way. Like, dude — there’s nothing better demanding your attention?? It would be ridiculous to the point of laughter, if it wasn’t so gross. (And if his legislations and policies weren’t ruining the lives of so many innocent people.) And then what’s legitimately scary, I guess, is like….. how it’s not just his tweets. Because now suddenly you’ve got all these MAGA peeps getting hostile in your mentions. And you’ve got all these crazy blogs writing terrible things about this person you care so much about. And now they’re doing takedowns of Megan on Fox News, and who knows whatever else. It’s like an out-of-body experience, really — that’s how I’d describe it. That’s how it was for me.

But then Megan, man….. I’ll tell you what. You just cannot shake that girl. She’s going to do her thing, at her own damn speed, to her own damn rhythm, and she’s going to apologize to exactly NO ONE for it. So when all the Trump business started to go down last week, I mean — the fact that Megan just seemed completely unfazed? It’s strange to say, but that was probably the only normal thing about it. It’s not an act with her. It’s not a deflection. To me it’s more just like: Megan is at the boss level in the video game of knowing herself. She’s always been confident….. but that doesn’t mean she’s always been immune. She’s as sensitive as anyone — maybe more!! She’s just figured out how to harness that sensitivity.

And I think Megan’s sensitivity is what drives her to fight for others. I think it’s what drove her to take a knee. The Megan you’re seeing now? It’s the stronger version of the one who knelt in the first place. All the threats, all the criticism, all the fallout — coming out on the other side of that is what makes her seem so unfazed by the assholes of the world now.

I think in trying to help others, Megan has cemented who she is.

Whatever career Bird plans, I predict it isn’t going to be in writing. Mature people know the correct times for obscenities and the incorrect times. Bird evidently does not

I could point out, as I did Friday, that alienating your potential audience is bad business, but that would be like talking to a brick wall, because their feelings are more important than anything else. (And evidently their sexuality is more important to themselves than anything else about them.)


On women’$ $occer

The U.S. women’s national soccer team plays at France in the Women’s World Cup today at 2 p.m. Central time.

John Phelan writes about the team and its complaint against the United States Soccer Federation, and an ugly truth therein:

The US women’s soccer team is currently playing in the World Cup in France, defending the title they won in 2015. They’ve had an incredible start, scoring 18 goals in the group stage—a record for the tournament—and beating Spain to reach the quarterfinals.

Some see this success as fresh evidence in support of the case for equal pay for male and female players. According to a lawsuit filed on March 8 by the US women’s soccer team, their players are being paid less than the men, in some cases earning just 38 percent of their pay per game.

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) denies the pay differences are related to sex. This week, the two groups agreed to enter into mediation to resolve the dispute.

The pay gap feud entered the national discussion in 2018 following an impassioned speech from FIFA world champion Abby Wambach. The New York Times reports:

In spring 2018, Abby Wambach, the most decorated soccer player in American history, gave a commencement address at Barnard College that went viral. The player who had scored more goals than any other, male or female, in international competition described standing onstage at the ESPYs the year after she retired in 2015, receiving the Icon Award alongside two peers, Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant. “I felt so grateful,” she recalled. “I had a momentary feeling of having arrived; like, we women had finally made it.”

As the athletes exited the stage, each having, as Wambach put it, “left it all on the field for decades with the same ferocity, talent and commitment,” it occurred to her that while the sacrifices the men made for their careers were nearly identical to her own, their new lives would not resemble hers in one fundamental way. “Kobe and Peyton walked away from their careers with something I didn’t have: enormous bank accounts,” Wambach said. “Because of that, they had something else I didn’t have: freedom. Their hustling days were over; mine were just beginning.”

I don’t doubt Wambach when she says that she, Manning, and Bryant “left it all on the field for decades with the same ferocity…and commitment” and that “the sacrifices the men made for their careers were nearly identical to her own.” But if there is a case for equal pay, this isn’t it. The first hard lesson is that pay is not dependent on your effort but on your product.

… Abby Wambach was paid less because her efforts generated much less product—revenue—for her employers than Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant’s comparable efforts generated for theirs. When Bryant played his last game for the LA Lakers in 2016, they sold $1.2 million worth of Bryant merchandise that day. I can’t find similar figures for what Abby Wambach generated for her last team, the Western New York Flash, but I doubt it was anywhere near that.

So what’s the story with revenues for the US men’s and women’s soccer teams? The Wall Street Journal reports:

In the three years after the U.S. women’s soccer team won the 2015 World Cup, U.S. women’s games generated more total revenue than U.S. men’s games, according to audited financial reports from the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Doesn’t this disprove US Soccer’s argument that the difference in pay between the men’s and women’s teams is “based on differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex”?

Not so fast. These figures relate to “gate” and “game” revenues. But, as the WSJ points out:

…ticket sales are only one revenue stream that the national teams help generate. U.S. Soccer brought in nearly $49 million in marketing and sponsorship revenue in 2018, nearly half of its $101 million operating revenue, according to federation records.

US Soccer sells these broadcast rights and sponsorships as a bundle, not separately for each team. As a result, it’s hard to tell how much of, say, Budweiser’s sponsorship is attracted by the men’s team and how much by the women’s. Presumably, sponsors are paying to get their name in front of potential customers. Considering that data show TV viewing figures for the men’s team are higher than for the women’s team, this might suggest that the men’s team is the attraction for a disproportionate amount of that broadcast and sponsorship revenue. This would explain the pay disparity.

If pay is dependent on the product, what decides the value of that? This is the second hard lesson. Not only is your product not related to your effort, but the value of that product is also determined subjectively by the consumer.

Abby Wambach and Kobe Bryant play different sports, so maybe it’s unfair to compare them. The US women argue that they are underpaid relative to men playing the same sport. How can the same output be valued differently? …

Why wouldn’t US men’s and women’s soccer be perfect substitutes? Maybe sports consumers are sexist. Maybe the women’s product isn’t as good as the men’s in some objective way. From a pay perspective, the reason is irrelevant. There is no economic reason why similar effort should yield similar pay and no reason why different products should yield similar pay.

The US women currently in France have won three World Cup titles. The US men have never won a World Cup and failed to even qualify for the 2018 tournament. The women’s team’s achievements are hugely impressive. If you want to reward them with cash rather than words, put your money where your mouth is. Show you value their product by spending on it.

Apparently in the view of at least one team member, getting people to spend money on their product is not necessary, based on this CNN report:

American women’s soccer co-captain Megan Rapinoe is not planning to go to the White House if the national team wins the World Cup.

A reporter from Eight by Eight, a soccer magazine that looks at the sport and its place in culture, asked Rapinoe if she was excited about going to the White House if her team wins the Women’s World Cup.

“Psssh, I’m not going to the f*****g White House,” she fired back before the reporter finished the question. “No. I’m not going to the White House. We’re not gonna be invited. I doubt it.” …

In May, Rapinoe called out the soccer’s leadership for not doing enough to level the pitch for men and women players. She acknowledged “strides” had been made toward the better treatment of women, but FIFA essentially has “unlimited resources” and a historic lack of investment in women’s games.

“I would like to see a major paradigm shift,” she said.

Rapinoe is also one of 28 players suing the United States Soccer Federation, alleging the men’s national team earns more than they do even though they play more games and win more matches

But, as Phelan noted, generate less revenue than the underperforming men’s team. And yet apparently Rapinoe is fine if conservatives do not support her soccer team.

50 years of bad baseball

No, this blog isn’t about the Brewers.

It’s about their predecessor and that team’s replacement, as Art Thiel reports:

The Mariners Saturday will be acknowledging, or commemorating — “celebrating” doesn’t seem quite the right word — the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Seattle Pilots, the awkward runt of MLB that lasted a single season. Enough time has passed that the criminal ineptitude of the operation now seems more like a childhood prank on the order of stuffing Aunt Thusnelda’s wig down the toilet.

To salute whatever that was, the Mariners are staging another Turn Back the Clock event ahead of the 1:10 p.m. Saturday start of the game against Baltimore. The players will wear Pilots uniforms and the first 20,000 fans will receive a replica cap, complete with the “scrambled eggs” trim on the bill.

Sadly, there is no scheduled appearance for buccaneer Bud Selig, the Milwaukee car salesman who in 1970 bought the Pilots out of bankruptcy for $10 million and made them the Brewers. If the ceremony included placing the early-day Clay Bennett in a dunk tank at home plate, a sellout would be guaranteed.

Alas, the best participant witness they can summon is Gary Bell, who pitched a complete-game, 7-0 win over the Chicago White Sox April 11, 1969, the Pilots’ first home game at Sicks’ Seattle Stadium in Rainier Valley. It was the harbinger of nothing.

Now 82, Bell, who had his 12th and final MLB season in Seattle, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. That will generate hundreds of lame jokes about his joining the Mariners’ current rotation. Then everyone can sit back and enjoy bags of popcorn at the 1969 price of 50 cents, the club’s magnanimous financial/nutritional instant ritual to reconnect with the ancients.

It is too bad the promotion doesn’t include distribution of copies of Ball Four, the seminal book by Pilots pitcher Jim Bouton that ripped the skin off the game and became one of the turning points in 20th century American sports journalism/literature. Much of the book was Bouton’s bemused reflections on the hapless Pilots and the tawdry customs and characters that populated America’s then-most popular sport.

Bell’s appearance Saturday evokes the irreverent mention of him by Bouton in the book:

Gary Bell is nicknamed Ding Dong. Of course. What’s interesting about it is that “Ding Dong” is what the guys holler when somebody gets hit in the cup. The cups are metal inserts that fit inside the jock strap, and when a baseball hits one it’s called ringing the bell, which rhymes with hell, which is what it hurts like. It’s funny, even if you’re in the outfield, or in the dugout, no matter how far away, when a guy gets it in the cup you can hear it. Ding Dong.

It’s funny, unless you’re Mitch Haniger. But we digress.

The larger narrative Saturday is that the Mariners are offering up something beyond Bell, hats, popcorn, video and music of yesteryear (yes, there will be an organist playing live).

They are offering the 2019 season as a replica of the 1969 season. It may be a reverence for history unparalleled in the annals of sport.

The Pilots finished 64-98, 33 games back of the division lead, thanks in part to the terms of expansion regarding player acquisition that left them largely with castoffs and unproven youngsters. The under-capitalized team drew 677,944, 20th among 24 MLB teams, thanks in part to a hastily renovated minor-league ballpark that opened with only 19,500 seats, some of which were still damp with fresh paint, and tickets priced among the highest in baseball.

The 2019 Mariners are operating under no similar constraints.

The franchise, originated from a settlement of a lawsuit over the Pilots departure that was destined to prove the American League team owners to be a gang of scofflaws, scalawags and brigands, is owned by prosperous members of the community. They operate a vast regional monopoly with its own TV network in a spectacular, rain-proof stadium funded by taxpayers, who once gathered in sufficient numbers (3.5 million in 2002) to lead all of MLB in attendance.

All of these advantages that have accrued over a half-century put the lie to the claim from many critics in MLB, from the 1960s through the the mid-1990s, that Seattle was a bad baseball town. It was, instead, a town of bad baseball.

Then. And now.

Entering Wednesday’s games, the Mariners were 31-46, a winning percentage of 40.3. Maintaining that pace for the balance of the 162 games would give the Mariners a 65-win season.

Again, the Pilots won 64. As did the Mariners in 1977. Both were first-year expansion teams.

If the Mariners fall off their their current languid pace just a tick — the pending trades of starter Mike Leake and other older veterans with a lick of value makes the proposition seem likely — they can match the win totals of predecessors from long ago.

The case can be made, then, that the 2019 outfit is tantamount to Seattle’s third expansion baseball team. Given the number of World Series appearances in the half-century (zero), the 3/0 ratio is one of the more astounding counting stats in baseball history.

The regression makes clear they are Benjamin Buttons of Baseball.

The difference between then and now is, of course, intent. The 1969 Pilots and 1977 Mariners didn’t want to be bad, but were crippled by outside circumstances. The 2019 Mariners, despite benefiting from the accrued advantages mentioned above, want to be bad.

The modern-day purpose of deliberate badness, we have been told, is to acquire younger, better, cheaper, contract-controllable talent in order to have, down the road at a time unknowable, sustained competitive success at a high level.

The psychological problem is that nothing in MLB’s largely misbegotten half-century in Seattle offers hope of that possibility. Nor does the volume of MLB teams currently tanking along with the Mariners suggest that strategy will do anything but become more difficult. The competition is more intense for the same talent. The small middle class in today’s game means there’s too many teams in the same shallow end of the pool.

Not counting two strike-shortened years, the Mariners have had 11 seasons in which they had fewer than 70 wins, including six seasons of 61 or fewer. The full-season franchise low was 56 in 1978. In 43 years including this one, they have had four seasons of playoffs.

Since the Mariners have failed as a have-not team and a have team, with a bad stadium and a great stadium, with local ownership and non-local ownership, with no local TV revenues and lots of local TV revenues, the aspiration should be to set the franchise record of 55 or fewer victories. Everything else has been tried.

At least this time, the club won’t go bankrupt and move to Milwaukee.

As of Wednesday, 17 of the 25 active players were not on the roster at the end of last season. That’s expansion-level churn. For the rest of the season, I’d stick with the Pilots uniforms and 50-cent popcorn as physical reminders of the attempt to go where no Seattle team has gone before. And never wants to go again.

As it happens, YouTube has video and audio of the 1969 Pilots:

The documentary shows different attitudes about the Pilots from what Bouton wrote about in Ball Four. If Bouton is to be believed, the Pilots spent more time doing, shall we say, other activities than baseball — not quite to the level of the fictional North Dallas Forty, a thinly veiled portrayal of the 1960s Dallas Cowboys, but suffice to say Ball Four was a real shock to baseball fans when it was published. (My thought upon reading Ball Four and North Dallas Forty was to want to be a pro athlete, irrespective of whether I had any actual athletic skills.)

All of this shows how much professional sports has changed in just the past 50 years. It is unconscionable that any major pro sports league would allow an ownership group as undercapitalized as the Pilots’ owners were to own, by purchase or by expansion, a team. One would think Major League Baseball was mortified to have a franchise sink into bankruptcy after one season. The Pilots made the United States Football League appear to be a model of financial stability, and you know what happened to the USFL.



The revival of rainbow guts

Readers who know that my strange interests include sports uniforms (none of which I got to wear as a player) may know about the garish Houston Astros uniforms of 1975 to 1986.

The official colors were yellow-orange, orange and burnt orange, to go with white and navy lettering.

The white star was replaced by a navy blue star for the 1975 rollout. The pants numbers eventually disappeared.
The original proposal included these hats.
The warmup jackets in the middle had to be worn one game by the umpires when their luggage got lost. Home plate umpire John McSherry did not look good.

People who like that uniform design called it “Tequila sunset” (the opposite of “Tequila sunrise”). Those who didn’t called it “rainbow guts.”

It turns out that the recent WIAA state baseball tournament I covered on the radio included three teams with similar uniforms, including the team for which I announced, Mineral Point (Tequila moonset?) …

… the team that beat Mineral Point to win the state Division 4 title with an undefeated record, Webster …

… and a team in Division 1, Green Bay Preble (Tequila tornado warning?):

Apparently the return of the “rainbow guts” uniforms is a nationwide trend:

Northwestern did it in purple.
Louisville did it in red. Most people think light red is pink. That is incorrect; pink is really light magenta.
Cal State–Fullerton combined its orange and blue colors.

After the Astros decided they were tired of wearing the previously shown uniform all the time, they created a road version with the “sunset” just on the shoulders, a look emulated (and then some) by the Charleston Rainbows:

As for the University of Hawaii (Rainbow) Warriors …

Not sure who this is, except that this school seems to have combined black and gold with the “We Are Family” Pirates’ yellowgold pants.
Whitewater not-Wisconsin.
This looks more like a rugby shirt than the rainbow jersey.

This look is obviously an acquired taste. I kind of like it for the Astros, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. The saving grace is that whether a rainbow uniform is a good idea or not, it will never look as bad as this:

When old sports announcers get together

I just finished four weeks of announcing spring sports on the radio, with two games in the WIAA state baseball tournament in Grand Chute.

The word “spring” should be in scare quotes, because in several games the weather was only spring-like because the calendar says it’s spring. Two games featured temperatures in the 40s, spitting rain and high winds. Of course, this being Wisconsin, two days the weather was perfectly fine — partly cloudy and in the 70s.

The state baseball tournament was highlighted, if that’s what you want to call it, by a seven-hour rain delay between games on day two, which forced two Division 2 semifinals to move to first thing Thursday, with one of them being played at Appleton West. That is what can happen when you try to jam six baseball games into one day. You hope for no rain, but this spring that has been a forlorn hope.

I’m glad I got the work in, not merely for financial reasons, but because baseball and softball are two sports in which I have done relatively little work, and therefore probably need to improve the most. I still do not really have a home run call, though those are possibly overrated. (Marty Brennaman is retiring this year after 46 years announcing the Cincinnati Reds, and he’s never had a consistent home run call.) I did get to use a phrase from the late Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell (which may have pleased the stations’ market manager, a Michigan native), when an opposing pitcher struck out looking: “He stood there like a house by the side of the road and watched it go by.”

We got to use the home radio booth at Fox Cities Stadium, though we shared it with another announcer (more about him presently) and TV people from Eau Claire and Rhinelander. The TV kids (they were young enough to be our sons) had to sit through an aspect of the game identified by Bob Costas, that baseball is the best hanging-around sport there is. In the majors and minors, people hang around the batting cages, watch batting practice and shoot the breeze. At state between games, announcers sit in the press box and throw out top-this stories with other announcers and media types.

My contribution, as readers would expect, was what I call The Wauzeka Incident (fellow announcer takes on press box stairs, and everyone loses), which involved someone who was at state, who before Wauzeka failed to follow the teacher admonition to not lean back on your chair, with predictably injurious results, during a game. A discussion about worst weather to announce in included, on my part, announcing a football game on the roof of a press box in 50-mph winds, followed by a baseball game during a tornado warning. (Which was then delayed for two days.)

I also mentioned my one radio soccer experience, which included a not-great performance by myself and the high school goalie/color guy, who doubles as my oldest son. I think we were bailed out by the fact the game went to overtime and penalty kicks. Once again in my case, a not-great announcing job got bailed out by the quality of the game. (Kind of like my first radio volleyball experience.)

The announcer who followed us Thursday got to call a tight state championship game, which included this seventh inning. The previous night, their team’s top pitcher threw a five-inning no-hitter. The next afternoon (with his broadcast running against his need to get home for an important 5 p.m. dinner date), his team’s pitcher ran out of pitches in the seventh inning. (High school pitchers have to stop pitching after 100 pitches, a rule that is supposed to prevent arm injuries, but also leads to unintended consequences.) The team’s third pitcher came on, with the score tied and runners on base, but only threw a few pitches before he grabbed his pitching elbow and had to leave with an injury. So the team’s fourth pitcher came on, in a tied state championship game in the top of the seventh inning. Six runs later, the road team won the title.

The story I can add to my yet-to-be-published unauthorized autobiography includes the first night in a hotel, in which I was awakened at 2:45 a.m. by someone retching somewhere outside our room. That’s 2:45 on an early Wednesday morning. (Presumably outside the hotel too, but I didn’t feel like getting up to check.)

One thing I managed to do was to get my father’s old band, of which you have read here, mentioned on, of all things, a rock radio station’s Facebook page. The morning show asked listeners to give a weird fact about their father in five words. It should have been “Southern Wisconsin’s first rock band’s first piano player,” but editing required “First Wisconsin rock band pianist.” That may have made people wonder who in the world that was. We also discovered, to our chagrin, that the Appleton pizza restaurant we visited last year (with me bringing back a pizza for our family) and wanted to visit this year was closed due to lack of employees.

If you ever wanted to know what sports announcers do between games, you just read what we do between games.


A voice of summer and fall

Today would have been the 100th birthday of a sports announcer you may not have heard of recently, but could be heard all over your TV — Lindsey Nelson, as chronicled by David J. Halberstam:

Beginning in the 1950s, Nelson graced play-by-play television and radio microphones nationally and locally for four decades. He is one of only four men to receive the Pro Football Hall of Fame‘s Rozelle and Baseball Hall’s Ford Frick Awards, (Curt Gowdy, Jack Buck and Dick Enberg).

In New York, Lindsey will always be remembered as one of the three initial voices of the Mets. In the rest of the country, Nelson was known for his football broadcasts. He did tons on network television and radio, and was used often by NBC and CBS on both the NFL and college football.

From 1962-78, 17 Mets seasons, Nelson was joined on both radio and television by Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner. They were a beloved threesome. Nelson said, “We never had a cross word.” The Mets broadcasts were structured and predictable. Kiner clutched his cigar, Murphy his cigarette and Nelson his inanimate object, generally a pencil. Each called their innings with a seductive charm.

During their early overlapping years in the Yankees booth, Red Barber pontificated, Mel Allen emoted happily, Phil Rizzuto brought a neighborly warmth and Joe Garagiola blamed the Yankees demise on “termites in the bat rack.” Nelson said, “We didn’t have to be funny. Our jokes were down on the field.” The Mets were notorious for futility until the late 60s.

The Mets trio out-survived eight managers from Casey Stengel who rings a bell with everyone to baseball’s Joe Frazier who rings a bell with no one.

While Nelson was excellent on radio, his strength was television. Lindsey said, “On television, you simply write cutlines for the pictures. On radio, you paint the whole canvas with words, pace and information.”

On television, the Mets were an immediate hit. When Lindsey learned that the Mets were planning to carry 120 of their 162 games on the tube their first year, Nelson took advantage of the growing number of color television sets. He started wearing garish and lurid sports jackets that he bought off the rack. It drew attention away from the staid air crew at Yankee Stadium. You’d mention Nelson and many would say, ‘Oh, the guy with those loud jackets.’

When Lindsey was honored with the Frick Award, the Hall’s spokesperson Bill Guilfoile aptly said of the jackets, “They clashed with his soft southern drawl.”

Nelson said that the two New York baseball teams “were a clash of competing cultures. The Yankees represented dignified efficiency and the Mets represented futility but were unwilling to recognize and admit it.”

When Nelson was a Mets announcer, NBC-TV’s World Series coverage always included an announcer from the participating teams. And so when the Mets inexplicably won the 1969 World Series and got to the 1973 World Series …

Like other human beings, Nelson dealt with family issues. His older daughter, Sharon, was born retarded. His beloved wife Mickie died suddenly while on vacation in Spain. His longtime Mets statistician Art Friedman said, “Lindsey couldn’t handle booze. He had been on the wagon for twenty years. But when Mickie died, he was off the wagon for a while. One drink and he was out”

Nelson was very private. Kiner said, “As friendly as we were, I never felt I really knew him.”

After the 1978 season, Nelson left the Mets unexpectedly and joined the Giants broadcasts where he followed legendary announcers like Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons and Al Michaels. After three short seasons in San Francisco, he told a writer, “I have been a stranger in a strange land.” He was gone. It was the last baseball he did.

Longtime Notre Dame fans remember the years when live college football on network television was limited. So on Saturday nights, Fighting Irish games were shown in a recorded, condensed version of one hour. Lindsey voiced them and is often heard saying, “As we pick up the action later in the quarter…”

Nelson passed at age 76 in 1995, after suffering for years from Parkinson’s. Like many other early network television sportscasters, Lindsey was a member of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation. He grew up during the depression and served the country in the European theater during World War II in a correspondent’s and communication role. He was always fascinated by the military. In his seasons doing the Mets, he was known to often have a military related book with him on airplanes and bus trips.

In one of the great coincidences in sports broadcasting history, Nelson and legendary announcer Jack Buck were both injured in the Battle of the Bulge.

Nelson was born and reared in Columbia, Tennessee and was hardly a child of the privileged. His dad was a traveling salesperson and Lindsey’s mom was in his words, “the greatest influence on me.”

As a student at the University of Tennessee, he “devoted every waking moment to thoughts of the Vol fortunes on the gridiron.” He tutored athletes in freshman English, spotted for the radio announcer and was a stringer for newspapers. In other words, he got hands-on experience early.

When the Vols advanced to the 1940 Rose Bowl, Nelson, a student at the time, traveled to Pasadena and served as a spotter for NBC Radio’s Bill Stern. Ted Husing and Stern were then America’s top two sports announcers. In his early years on-air, Nelson considered himself a protégé of Stern. Their play-by-play styles were somewhat similar. Both were upbeat, called games enthusiastically and did so with a sense of urgency.

Nelson was chosen to be a spotter for the former football game between the reigning NFL champion and the College All-Stars at Soldier Field in Chicago. He was going to be paid $5, back in the days when $5 was pretty good money. So he rode the bus from Tennessee to Chicago, where upon arrival at the All-Stars camp he found out that the broadcast had been canceled because NBC decided to carry a speech by Vice President Henry Wallace. So Nelson was in Chicago with all of 50 cents. His choices with 50 cents were lodging or food, so he bought a copy of the Chicago Tribune “because it was the thickest paper in town,” found a spot in Grant Park that night, laid ou the paper on the grass and slept there that night, bought breakfast the next morning and then hitchhiked to Tennessee. The fact I once slept on the floor of a hotel room covering a state baseball championship pales in comparison to that.

After the war, Lindsey returned to Knoxville where he broadcast minor league baseball and University of Tennessee football games. In 1950, for that matter, Nelson met Vin Scully who was in Knoxville to cover the Alabama-Tennessee game for CBS Radio. Scully had begun doing the Dodgers the summer before. Lindsey was also an announcer for the Liberty Network which recreated baseball games. In one thirty-day span, he recreated 62 games. It’s nice to be young!

A big break came in the early 50s, when he was hired by Tom Gallery who was the first ever administrative director of NBC Sports. In a hybrid role, Lindsey did lots of supervisory work for Gallery, called college football games and beginning in 1957 teamed with Leo Durocher on NBC’s Game of the Week. He also was the play-by-play announcer for the network’s NBA broadcasts.

Nelson went through mostly ups in his career and a few downs. On network TV, he did Cotton Bowls year after year, the Rose Bowl and two World Series when the Mets qualified, in 1969 and ‘73.

Here is a down:

In his wonderfully written autobiography, Hello Everybody, I’m Lindsey Nelson, he writes “Networks have a unique way of dealing with situations in which they have people that they have decided for some reason or other not to use. The weapon is silence. You just don’t hear from anybody.”

Bob Costas labeled Nelson, “a cheerful chronicler.” One of Nelson’s later assignment was doing the NFL on CBS Radio. Lindsey would always paint an environment of infectious enthusiasm. Fans got a sense that he’d rather be nowhere else other than the ballpark. I can recall a game he did from old Candlestick when the Niners were dominating the NFL. Lindsey: “Wherever you went around San Francisco this morning, the subject of conversation was this 49ers team. Whether it was the hostess turning over the tables at a restaurant, the cab driver or the doorman, they all wanted to talk about Joe Montana and today’s big game.”

He never changed. Early in his career as he was just beginning to surface on the national scene, Variety wrote, “Lindsey Nelson has been touted for many years as one of the tip-top grid casters. Precise, methodical and efficient, he may not have the color of Bill Stern, the heartiness of Mel Allen, the analytic powers of Red Barber or the glamour of Ted Husing, but as an information purveyor who’s right on top of the play, he’s almost prescient, the peer of any and the superior of many.”

As time evolved, Nelson developed his own friendly personality on-air and was loved by many throughout the country.

The baseball stadium at the University of Tennessee is named in Lindsey Nelson’s honor.

Packer fans of, uh, long experience are familiar with Nelson’s work: