Full credit to Nationals OF Bryce Harper, who proved during Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Mets that even during a down year, he’s fully capable of going head-to-head with Yasiel Puig when it comes to disrespecting-the-game hysteria. As CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman explains, Harper letting Scott Rice off the hook last night didn’t escape the notice of of bench coach Randy Knorr.
“The thing about Bryce right now that’s tough: He gets frustrated,” said Knorr, who had to take over for an ill Davey Johnson mid-game. “I don’t think he does it intentionally, but he’s gonna have to start picking it up a little bit, because we’ve got everybody else doing it. He gets frustrated at times and it just comes out of him. It’s something we’ve got to fix.”
Harper found himself at the plate for the biggest at-bat of the night, with two on and two out in the eighth, the Nationals trailing by a run. Mets manager Terry Collins countered with reliever Scott Rice, banking on Harper’s well-documented struggles this season to hit lefties. Rice, though, fired three straight fastballs low and inside to fall behind in the count 3-0.
With the NL’s hottest hitter, Jayson Werth, standing in the on-deck circle, a walk felt like the ideal outcome for Harper. Knorr, though, gave his 20-year-old slugger the green light, and Harper responded by fouling off a 3-0 fastball on the lower inside corner.
Harper then swung at Rice’s 3-1 fastball and rapped a sharp grounder right to second baseman Daniel Murphy. The crowd of 35,008 let out a groan, and Harper slowed down a couple of steps out of the batter’s box, assuming the inning was about to end.
But Murphy bobbled the ball, and though he recovered in plenty of time to make the throw to first, Harper’s lack of hustle in that situation still didn’t sit well with others.
There’s a fellow on the satellite radio — I’m having trouble remembering his name, I think it rhymes with “Screamo” — who routinely suggests “player-safety” is some sort of code for the sissification of the once-glorious NFL, and attempts to litigate over alleged brain damage amount to little more than a carefully orchestrated shakedown.
Never mind that the gentleman in question makes a living (albeit a modest one) commenting on and chronicling the exploits of more impressive physical specimens than himself. Ironically, this is same chat show host who claims he’s never seen dude-on-dude pornography. And why would he? For one thing, it’s way less exploitative than professional or collegiate football. For another, he’s not being paid to whack off over it.
Oh, and then there’s Pete Prisco. Lucky for him, he’s no longer an NFL beat reporter, otherwise he might have to explain to the human beings he covers that at the end of the day, he considers them to be little more than male hustlers or cannon fodder.
Slate made news a few weeks ago by noting that it wouldn’t refer to the Redskins by name. But that’s a different media outlet, one with little reason to cover an NFL team. MMQB isn’t in the belly of the beast, it IS the beast, part of the media machine that keeps the NFL atop the sports news cycle every minute of every hour of every day. If a site with the imprimatur of King, one of the most established voices in the NFL, can make this change, it sends a definitive signal to the team, the league and to fans: it’s time to take a hard look at this name.
Regardless of what team owner Daniel Snyder and a vocal group of pro-Redskins-name fans hope, wish or believe, the name issue’s coming to a head. Somebody sometime soon is going to ask Robert Griffin III, point-blank, if he supports the use of the name “Redskins.” And the way he answers will determine the shape of this story for the immediate future. If he thinks the name should go, it’ll eventually go. And if he thinks it should stay? Then Snyder has all the court-of-public-opinion weight he needs to fend off any critics.
Summoned from his Calistoga, CA vineyard for a comment on Matt Harvey’s season-ending injury, Hall of Famer Tom Seaver tells the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden, “all this babying of pitchers — pitch counts and innings limits — is a bunch of nonsense.” Citing the lengthy careers of such innings-eaters as Juan Marichal, Ferguson Jenkins, Warren Spahn and Steve Carlton, Seaver promises, “most of these pitchers today would like to realize their full potential and pitch more.” If nothing else, that’s great news for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
“These kids today, they want to be men, they want to be foxhole guys, but they’re not being allowed to do that,” Seaver said. “Imagine if these computer geeks who are running baseball now were allowed to run a war? They’d be telling our soldiers: ‘That’s enough. You’ve fired too many bullets from your rifle this week!’ ”
The old “Franchise” was really getting worked up now as he spoke by phone. He acknowledged that in Harvey’s case, the Mets didn’t go overboard in the babying and did let him be “the man” this year, going deep into games. (“They did all the right things with him. It’s nobody’s fault this happened. It just did.”) But he hopes this will not scare the Mets into putting more stringent innings limits on their other top pitching prospects, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero.
“There is no set numerical value you can put on a pitcher,” Seaver said. “They’re all different. What’s important is to get into the pitcher’s head, to know what he’s made of.”
Though the chances Steve Lonegan being elected for any office higher than dog catcher are pretty slim, his career prospects aren’t necessarily limited. For instance, he seems fully qualified to host midweek evenings on Sirius/XM’s Mad Dog Radio.
Here’s the hopelessness in all of this: It means something but will accomplish nothing. My little divestment from all things Florida sports won’t change anything or have any significant ripple effect on the world of sports. There will be no mass following; more will disagree with me than agree.
I’m not from Florida so my investment isn’t high, and this isn’t South Africa in the apartheid era, so my actions aren’t clear. Yet, I’m the same person who refuses to watch the Masters until they change their policy toward women members (to me, the additions so far are tokens), who took a stand that I still hold today against Notre Dame over the difference in treatment it executed in the departures of Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis, who in 2007 stopped filling out NCAA brackets because I feel they are counterintuitive to the essence of March Madness. Why change now?
This is my Yasiel Puig swing at taking a stance while using sports as the scapegoat. As a sportswriter and fan, sometimes that’s all we have.
Indeed, Jackson isn’t based in Florida. He’s done a good deal of work for in recent years for ESPN Chicago, but he’s yet to be called upon to analyze the Florida Panthers’ offseason. In the view of an actual Florida journalist, New Times’ Kyle Munzenrieder, Jackson’s not being entirely constructive in this instance :
There are simpler and more direct ways to feel like you’ve done something if you disagree with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, like, say, donating a little bit of money to a Florida-focused gun control PAC, or finding a vulnerable incumbent Florida legislator who supports the law and ponying up $10 to his or her’s strongest competitor.
Jackson’s stance likely comes because he’s a sports columnist who wouldn’t normally get to write about issues outside of sports, so he’s found a dramatic way to let his feelings be known about the Zimmerman verdict in a way that includes sports.
….besides the guy whose wife was limo’d to the Bon Jovi concert. Rolling Stone’s angel dusty profile of embattled former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez (“The Gangster In The Huddle”, was co-authored by notorious plagiarist / serial Belichick-baiter Ron Borges of the Boston Herald, and as you might expect, the Hooded Casanova fared poorly in the article. While admitting that “much of the feature is outstanding,” Boston Sports Media’s Bruce Allen considers the contributions of Borges and collaborator Paul Solotaroff easy to identify (“You can tell precisely where Borges’ takes over the narrative (the stoop-to-conquer Patriots of Bill Belichick) and when he gives it up. It’s not a smooth transition at all”).
By adding Borges to the story, someone with an axe to grind against the franchise, and who left the Boston Globe under a cloud (shouldn’t that have been a RED FLAG?) undermines the effectiveness of the feature.
Question: What does the Boston Herald think about this? How could they not even get an exclusive excerpt out of the fact that their writer was working on this? How can they not be pissed?
Inspire Pro Wrestling, the new Central Texas independent promotion profiled here earlier this summer, presents their 2nd-ever card this Sunday night at the gorgeous, newly-booze licensed Marquesa Theater. Tickets are a mere $10, parking is free, and after an almost universally acclaimed debut show in July, you’d be a fool to miss the followup. I’m not gonna say your mother raised a fool because I’ve no experience in child-raising and besides, maybe it wasn’t totally her fault. Sooner or later, you’re gonna have to start taking ownership of your own shitty decisions.
Dusty Baker moved 2B Brandon Phillips out of the Reds’ cleanup spot to 2nd in the batting order Wednesday, a decision one Cincy scribe summed up thusly on Twitter ; “Reds go from a hitter with a .320 OBP in the 2 hole to one with a .310 OBP.” Phillips had a pair of hits and scored two runs in the Reds’ 10-0 rout of St. Louis, but not before responding to the aforementioned (mild) critique :
Of Phillips’ treatment of C. Trent Rosecrans, the latter’s employer promised, “this will not affect our coverage of the team or Phillips,” which is their mature way of saying, “hey, we’re not the NY Daily News”
This is Nevin Shapiro. Although you have dogged the s— out of me for 24 months and 9 days to be exact as of the writing of this letter, I still feel as if I need to make you aware and educate you on the reality and truth behind your commentary regarding UM and this fraudulent operation known as the NCAA. I am mailing you an article from this past week’s USA Today which discusses the USC probationary status for a parallel comparison. You can choose to not read it, as this is your right, but I recommend that you do for the mere fact of being fair to your loyal readers and giving them reality as opposed to fantasy. Let’s be clear and I’ll be respectful yet direct in this letter, which will lay out facts not hypotheses to you. USC got four years probation for what amounted to 2 individuals, Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. That is two players, and that investigation took approximately four years. Here is the math and it comes with an explanation. The University of Miami had 114 players involved, 72 of which were confirmed because of what the NCAA thought was used in the initial Yahoo Sports story, and the reason it wasn’t 114 and “only” 72 I have no idea. That amount didn’t even include walk-ons or maybe they just weren’t scholarship players. There were 6 coaches involved,the entire equipment staff and 3 University Administrators and specifically 2 Athletic Directors, though they weren’t completely guilty, just ignorant by selective amnesia. OK, so let’s do the math: 2 players = four years of investigation and 4 years of probation. So what does 125 or so coaches, players and administrators deserve penalty-wise and how long should this have taken? Let’s be realistic and practical. Forget my current criminal position and here are the reasons why. For one, nobody and I mean nobody outside of my internal camp realize or know yet what happened in my case, as I was victimized with my lender’s money. That will come out shortly once my “guilty plea” is withdrawn. That is another matter for another time and will come to light eventually. Here is the second reason: 9 years worth of bank statements (cash & check deposits), credit card statements, deposed Federal Testimonies and FBI written interviews were presented as evidence. So, in fact, it wasn’t my word, it was the documented evidence that subordinated this investigation. So how can you sell to your readers that this is ridiculous and taken too long? Maybe the NCAA is a sad oufit, I don’t disagree. But this was also the worst case of violation of rules with no “institutional control” that has ever taken place, SMU included, though in a different era. Read the rest of this entry »
• Hernandez was a heavy user of angel dust, and had become so paranoid over the last year that he carried a gun wherever he went.
• He surrounded himself with a cohort of gangsters, and cut himself off from his family and teammates.
• Hernandez had so infuriated his head coach, Bill Belichick, with missed practices and thug-life stunts, that he was one misstep from being cut.
• In college his coach (then-University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer) may have helped cover up failed drug tests, along with two violent incidents — an assault and a drive-by shootout outside a local bar.
While I find nothing humorous about the charges facing Hernandez, I would personally like to offer $25 to any reporter willing to use the phrase, “thug-life stunts” when questioning Belichick at a future press conference.
OK, poses indirectly. Tuesday’s scoreless draw between Chelsea and Manchester United struck the Guardian’s Barry Glendenning as something a bit shy of scintillating. Or to be precise, “Last night’s highly anticipated match between teams picked by two of the most cautious managers in Premier League history was one of those contests that was so incredibly boring, an army of ludicrously pretentious hipsters immediately took to the comments sections of assorted websites to post lengthy missives in which they tried to appear cool and knowledgable by pretending they’d found the game genuinely fascinating, going completely over the top in their praise of what looked to the Fiver like some fairly bog-standard defending against two sets of very toothless attackers”
Put it this way: if Stoke City and West Brom had played out a stalemate like that it would have been flung in the bin marked ‘unwatchable dreck’. For no other reason than the participation of Chelsea and Manchester United, this became “the football equivalent of a chess match”.
Luckily, with so much (not) happening in the transfer window, this is a time of year when actual football plays second fiddle to the really entertaining business of the Turgid Game: feverous, ongoing speculation about unspeakable, tedious nonsense. And perhaps with that in mind, José Mourinho attempted to provide something in the way of excitement and entertainment by doing an impression of an angry police chief in a 1980s Eddie Murphy movie and giving Wayne Rooney “48 hours” to decide whether he wants to leave Manchester United and move to Chelsea. In less than 24, it became apparent that the striker will not be handing in a transfer request and will therefore almost certainly be staying put. It is a state of affairs that will come as great news to False Nine Inside-Out Wingers 4-2-3-1 Fiver, if only we can wake him up to let him know.
Thus far in the NFL preseason, Tim Tebow’s done zilch to demonstrate he’s earned a future role in the New England Patriots’ on-field plans, though the owner calls him, “a joy to be around.” In the wake of the Aaron Hernandez mess, the Boston Herald’s Karen Gurigan is not above suggesting that even if he’s thoroughly overmatched as a pro QB, Tebow might be a better face of the franchise than, say, a guy in an orange jumpsuit.
Even if there’s a grand plan down the road for Tebow and he was signed as a two-year project, or merely a goodwill ambassador for the locker room for the time being, it’s still a roster spot. How can Belichick justify keeping him over someone who could have an impact in every game on special teams, or more? How does Tebow warrant a spot over a player now on the bubble such as Brandon Bolden? Or Michael Hoomanawanui?
That’s the burning question. At this point, four days before the final roster cuts are made, can someone still change Belichick’s mind, if it’s even necessary in Tebow’s case? Sure sounds like it.
“I think there are a lot of conversations still going on. I don’t think there’s a whole lot that’s set,” Belichick said. “There’s a lot of things we’re still kicking around. Some things will take care of themselves; some things will settle themselves. Other things we’ll have to make a decision on. When it comes time to make that decision, we’ll get as much information as we can, and try to make the best decision we can for the team.”
But is Tebow best for the team? On the field, the answer is a resounding “no” based on the evidence provided. It’s probably an overwhelming “yes” if the question was asked with a qualifier to include his presence in the locker room or in the community.
Former U.S. Senator (R-MA) Scott Brown sitting in with Cheap Trick at the Hampton Beach Casino might be the lowest moment in Granite State live music history since the closing of Chantilly’s Speedway Lounge.
While ESPN2′s Keith Olbermann made the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta something of a celebrity last night — mocking the scribe’s claims that Rex Ryan’s job was in jeopardy, sans any source beyond his own suggestions — Non-Metallic K.O. was beaten to the punch earlier in the day by none other than possible GOP presidential hopeful Chris Christie. The New Jersey Governor visited WFAN’s Craig Carton Monday morning, and in the view of Mehta colleague/defender Bob Raissman, demonstrated he might be the Next Great Angry White Guy on sports talk radio (shame for Sirius/XM’s Mad Dog Radio they’ve already got a pile of ‘em). “Unlike his current job, where he’s held accountable (okay, maybe semi-accountable) to Jersey residents, sports radio bloviators are never held accountable for what they say — ever,” sneers Raissman. But hey, enough about Dino Costa, let’s get to Christie’s comments.
“Idiot. The guy (Mehta) is a complete idiot. Self-consumed, underpaid, reporter . . . the only way he’s empowered is because we’re spending all this time talking about Manish Mehta,” Christie ranted. “Who, by the way, I couldn’t pick out of a lineup and no Jets fan gives a damn about… We shouldn’t be giving this dope, you know, the amount of airtime we’ve given him already.”
The Guv gets it. He did not take the high road. Plus, he showed a lack of self-control — two more of the Ten Commandments. And it wasn’t like Mehta was Christie’s only target. He took down one of our favorites, John (Pa Pinstripe) Sterling, too.
“I don’t want to hear one more thing from John Sterling,” Christie demanded. “The guy just turns my stomach. I can’t take Sterling.”
Having sliced payroll en route to what’s likely to be a 105 loss season, there’s considerable consolation for Houston owner Jim Crane in a published report that he stands to rake nearly $100 million in profits. “That’s nearly as much as the estimated operating income of the previous six World Series championship teams — combined,” writes Forbes’ Dan Alexander. Perhaps sensitive to any suggestion it’s crazy lucrative to avoid, y’know, fielding a competitive team, newly ensconced team president / former toast of the Williamson County business community Reid Ryan tells the Houston Chronicle’s Reid Laymance that Forbes is off the mark.
While not offering a figure to counter the report, Ryan said, “We’re going to have expenses that are higher than our revenues, and that doesn’t make (the team) profitable.”
He added, “There is no doubt that the numbers are wrong in the Forbes article. If they were right, I’d look like the guy who had done the best job in three months ever (since taking the job in May). The fact is that the numbers are wrong.”
Forbes does not count the Astros’ profits (or losses this year) in its 45 percent stake in CSN Houston but notes:
“As the largest stakeholder in CSN Houston, the Astros absorbed the brunt of those losses. FORBES considers regional sports networks separate businesses and does not include their losses or gains in its operating income estimations. But even if the Astros’ roughly $23 million loss were included, they would still have an estimated operating income of $71 million, higher than any team in history.”
The network lost $63 million in its first year because of distribution problems in the Houston-area. Only 40 percent of the market can get the network, which also airs the Rockets.
Crane was not available for comment Monday. However, several hours after Ryan’s comments, the team issued a statement that it was “disappointed” by the “significant inaccuracies” in the Forbes.com story but would not disclose information on the Astros’ finances.
(THURSDAY ADDENDUM : Forbes’ Maury Brown, he of the oft-quoted around here Biz Of Baseball, picked apart Dan Alexander’s take on Houston’s TV deal, stresses, “the Astros are not the most profitable MLB club in history…they are most assuredly not even the most profitable this year…the story is not only off-base, it has to be classified as grossly inaccurate.”
OK, for starters, let me be very clear that I am rescinding my earlier trade offer. But if you’re the sort of person who thinks I’d relish an opponent’s misfortune, you don’t know the real Randy L. Sure, I’m a little competitive. Whether I’m gunning for trophies with my world-class Labradors, sending gift-baskets to persons who’ve written unsolicited, favorable Yelp reviews for NYY Steak (HINT, HINT) or playing the office game, “See Who Can Look Thru Cashman’s Browser History The Longest Without Vomiting” (I’m up to ten minutes — and it isn’t easy), I don’t like to lose. But on a terrible day like today, we’re no longer a city of Yankee fans and Mets fans. We’re a city of New York baseball fans, bonded in our concern for a tremendous young talent.
Admittedly, I’ve disparaged Fred and Jeff Wilpon in the past, but I am certain they’re tearing themselves up over what’s happened to Matt Harvey. They’re probably asking themselves, should they have continued to parade Harvey in front of sparse crowds during meaningless games in the hopes of making payroll? Should the Mets have employed a medical staff with some proper credentials, rather than diplomas from institutions like the one portrayed in this classic film? And should the Mets have simply accepted my all-too generous trade offer when it was still on the table?
Fred and Jeff, take it from me. Nobody ever won in the game of life by playing the “shoulda” game. For starters, they’re two entirely different games. That would be like winning the Westminster Kennel Club Best Labrador Trophy while competing in a spelling bee. It’s just not gonna happen.
Instead, I think the Wilpons and their nearly-invisible fan base are best advised to concentrate on the future. With time and effort, Matt Harvey might somehow recover from this ghastly injury, much the way our own Joba Chamberlain showed genuine courage in returning to the lineup. With luck, Harvey might someday scale the heights that saw him start this past Summer’s All-Star Game. You know, the one where he committed felonious assault against Robinson Cano.
CAN YOU MOTHERFUCKERS SAY “KARMIC PAYBACK”?
Denied the services of this murderous thug, the stench of the Mets’ extended 2013 garbage time ought to be overwhelming, but let’s think about what’s really important here. At least Flushing is a little bit safer, and isn’t that really a bigger deal than a contraction-candidate’s desperate attempts to stay solvent? Who amongst us would put the battle for 4th place in the NL East ahead of the health and safety of our fellow New Yorkers?
In theory, there is supposed to be a wall at ESPN between the business side and the journalism side. But, like many walls across the earth, it tends to exist to separate the powerful from the powerless. One former employee said to me, “The ESPN wall is about as effective as the Great Wall of China. It can look impressive but there are plenty of ways around it and lots of holes. It’s an idea but like many ideas it doesn’t work in practice.”
A current ESPN journalist said to me, “I don’t think those on the business side are bad people. But what you have are people with utterly opposed jobs. Their job is to keep the broadcast partners happy. Our job is to investigate them. That theoretically could produce a creative tension but the power imbalance is ridiculous. It’s like they’re Mike Tyson and we’re Evander’s ear.”
“People talk about the divide between journalism side and the business side but this has revealed just how bifurcated even the journalism side has become,” said one journalist at the network. “Many here who are supposed to be on that side don’t care because they’re not really journalists. It’s not their fault. They’re producers. They’re television personalities. They’re entertainers. In a month they’ll stop caring [about the decision to pull out of League of Denial] if they even care now.”
One top journalist described (the potential conflict) as follows : “Our corporate strategy right now is to go all-in on football no matter the cost [to journalistic integrity]. We are going all-in on football at a time when you have damn near 5,000 people suing the sports that made them famous [for head trauma]. You have empirical evidence that something is going on with this game that is really dangerous. We are now carrying water for a game that is on a deeply problematic trajectory. We are going all in on this sport and this sport is in peril.”
I realize Jets head coach Rex Ryan has in the eyes of most, simply burnished his laughing stock credentials by throwing QB Mark Sanchez into a high-risk / zero reward situation last night, but let’s try to be fair. What better way for for Ryan to refute insinuations he’s irrationally loyal, if not downright obsessed with Sanchez, than by exposing the latter to serious injury in this most meaningless of scenarios?
I’m not sure how you’d conduct an interview with ESPN football analyst John Clayton and not ask him his feelings about Jeff Hanneman’s passing or give him a chance to taking a shot at former colleague Sean Salisbury, but the New York Times Magazine’s Tony Grevino seems to think he knows what the readership wants.
Did you ever think you’d be on TV? Never, no, I never did. You would figure that you’d have to have a certain look to be on TV, and obviously I don’t have that kind of look. I mean, you are what you are. So, no, the last thing I thought I’d be doing was TV. Fortunately I can talk through anything in a very crisp clip and try to get all the information quickly. That kind of surprised me that I was able to do that.
There’s lots of speculation about your hair, specifically that you have a secret ponytail. ESPN has these things called glow points. It’s a camera that’s in my house so that I don’t have to go down to a studio and the company doesn’t have to pay for the satellite. When you see me on camera, it’s the same angle all the time. When Dan Patrick left the network, he started the rumor that I have a ponytail that you can’t see. Obviously I don’t have enough hair on the top of my head to make a ponytail. But if you go on Twitter, it’s a constant question: Do you have a ponytail?
Whom do you follow on Twitter that would surprise people? P. Diddy and a bunch of rappers. That would probably surprise a lot of people.
Since it’s pretty unlikely Angels owner Arte Moreno will fire himself, it’s a safe bet that one or both of Jerry DiPoto and Mike Scioscia will pay the price for a second consecutive season of pricey futility. On Saturday, CBS Sports.com’s Scott Miller reports that months before Moreno doubled down and brought in Josh Hamilton, 1B Albert Pujols nearly came to blows with since departed OF Torii Hunter, with Miller calling the former, “ the most expensive example of the organization-wide dysfunction that Moreno has both created and fueled with his temperamental and impulsive decisions.”
During a 12-3 blowout on August 17, 2012 in which Jered Weaver was hammered for nine earned runs in three innings, some players were unhappy when the emotional ace threw up his arms in disgust when one of the infielders dove for a ground ball and failed to make the play.
During a 10-8 implosion the next night in which starter C.J. Wilson was cuffed for seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, some players grew weary of Wilson’s chirping in the dugout – especially when he began giving advice to hitters. Hunter sharply told him to pipe down and the two had words in the dugout.
Immediately following that game, veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins called for a players’ only meeting. Pujols called out Weaver for showing up a teammate the night before. Then he turned his attention on Hunter, blaming him for the dugout altercation with Wilson. What Pujols did not know at the time was that Wilson and Hunter already had made amends, with the pitcher apologizing to the outfielder for overstepping his bounds in the dugout immediately following the game.
“Albert, you’d better get your facts straight,” a seething Hunter told Pujols.
Pujols said something back, and Hunter jumped him for being a bad teammate and pouting all season whenever he failed to get hits in a game, even in games the Angels won … and now he was going to call others out?
“Shut up, Torii,” Pujols snapped.
It was then that Hunter, from across the clubhouse, lost it and charged Pujols. Hawkins and outfielder Vernon Wells had to restrain him. The meeting proceeded from there, and when it was over, tempers still heated, Hunter had to be physically held back a second time from going after Pujols, who is described as wanting no part of the fight.
It’s eye-opening stuff. Who knew that Vernon Wells made a viable contribution to the 2012 Angels?
“Frontline,” the PBS public affairs series, and ESPN had been working for 15 months on a two-part documentary, to be televised in October. But ESPN’s role came under intense pressure by the league, the two people said, after a trailer for the documentary was released Aug. 6, the day that the project was discussed at a Television Critics Association event in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Last week, several high-ranking officials convened a lunch meeting at Patroon, near the league’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because they were prohibited by their superiors from discussing the matter publicly. It was a table for four: Roger Goodell, commissioner of the N.F.L.; Steve Bornstein, president of the NFL Network; John Skipper, ESPN’s president; and John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president for production.
At the combative meeting, the people said, league officials conveyed their displeasure with the direction of the documentary, which is expected to describe a narrative that has been captured in various news reports over the past decade: the league turning a blind eye to evidence that players were sustaining brain trauma on the field that could lead to profound, long-term cognitive disability