Friday, August 4, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: the Dark Lords of Sport

Happy Friday, folks.  I hope everyone out there in Internet Land is having a day.
I'm reusing this one.  Hope you don't mind.
Let's get it on!
1. The Warrior Caste (Slate)
The U.S. military is comprised today of a large number of families who serve generation after generation. While the service and sacrifice of these families over the years are undeniable, the extent to which fighting America’s wars has become a family business should give us pause…
Okay, so yeah.  I’ve written about this before, and I do think it’s a problem.  However, it’s two-sided.  I wanted to serve.  As a high school senior, I very much felt that I needed to earn my place in my own family, and service seemed a good way to do it.  And while I don’t think that my father agreed with this, per se, he was certainly proud of my decisions.  Even my mother was willing to endorse them, though I know that the man that I became was in no way the man she’d been trying to raise.  In the end, the choice belonged to neither of my parents, however; I did what I wanted to do, and I suspect that this is true in many military families.
How do you turn that off, and more to the point, why would you want to?
To a certain extent, the country seems to have substituted respect and thanks for genuine engagement, a trade-off that serves neither constituency well. While the enmity faced by returning soldiers during Vietnam is not an era we should seek to return to, the ‘thank you for your service’ culture has left many veterans feeling raw, as though a casual thank you somehow inoculates the public from hard conversations over what we’re fighting for and whether it’s worth it. With a large population and small force, some dissociation is likely inevitable, yet the abdication of both knowledge and culpability in America today is shocking. Not only is the subset of the American public that chooses to serve incredibly small, but those who don’t no longer seem to feel as though force is being used on their behalf. The dissociation from war could pose a striking challenge to democratic norms.
This is a bigger issue.  It’s a problem when a sliver of the country is at war and the rest of the nation cannot even bring itself to pay a War Tax to support the effort.  If the effort isn’t worth a War Tax, how can it possibly be worth the lives of good men and women who want only to serve their nation?
Beyond imported arms Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia — in uniform for the first time in Tuesday’s tough 4-3 loss to the Tigers ahead of their scheduled team debuts in Cleveland later this week — the Yanks have two fledgling starters, emerging ace Luis Severino and rookie Jordan Montgomery, likely to soon be approaching career-highs in innings pitched for one season…
The rotation also features two veteran former aces, Masahiro Tanaka and Tuesday’s starter CC Sabathia, who statistically have been more effective when granted extra rest between outings, both this season and in past years.
Having them pitch less frequently, but with more consistent success, might provide a more significant boost to the playoff push than the disjointed performances the Yanks have received — more so from Tanaka than from CC — all season.
Manager Joe Girardi initially stated that the Yankees would not make use of a six-man rotation, but after reviewing the facts, that is exactly what they’re going to dothrough at least one iteration.  Good idea.  Not only because it favors Tanaka, whose best stuff is decidedly worth the effort in a “win it all” season, but also because it dramatically reduces injury risk to the team’s future stars, Severino and Montgomery.
The Yankees have been great at times this season, but they’ve also looked tired occasionally, and they haven’t played well under legitimately austere conditions.  Despite the moves the team has made this year, I still they’re playing mostly for next year.  With that in mind, getting playoff experience for this young and very streaky squad is by no means a mistake. Going to the extended rotation therefore helps everyone, from the aging vets to the rookies trying to work their way into the future without blowing up their elbows.
But it’s Los Angeles, deferring its bid to 2028, that has the more radical Olympic idea: Build almost nothing. The organizers propose a handful of temporary venues and four new permanent venues, some of which will be privately funded and each of which has a documented future use. The city has also dropped plans for a brand-new Olympic Village, instead proposing to house athletes in existing and already-planned dormitories at the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles. All in all, the city projects the games will cost $5.3 billion—not even half the cost of Rio, and in a much more expensive place to build.
Yeah, y’know, these Olympic guy either find a way to control costs in their host cities, or else they’ll be stuck holding events in places like Khazakstan, mostly for the enjoyment of local imperial potentates.
Legends Hospitality Management, which the Yankees and Cowboys founded in 2008, is reportedly in preliminary talks to run NFL on Location, a new sports travel agency. The league is looking to partner with Legends to sell tickets and travel packages for fans looking to visit stadiums around the country and signature sporting events around the world. The business vertical could be worth as much as $1.5 billion.
Seems like an obvious idea, if one that teams the dark lords of American sport in an enterprise that may very well wind up sucking yet more life out of the average fan’s enjoyment of sports.
The departure of starter Tyler Campbell and Christian Drake after their sophomore year and the loss of sophomore Malik McGue to academics has left Army thin at slotback. Senior John Trainor, junior Jordan Asberry and sophomore Kell Walker return and have all started during their careers. Behind the top three slotbacks is a bunch of untested talents. Sophomores Donovan Franklin and Malik Hancock and freshmen Fred Cooper and Artice Hobbs are some names to keep an eye on…
Army always seems to have a stable of talented young slotbacks, and this year is no exception.  In addition to the guys mentioned above, beat writer Sal Interdonato also talked about Jordan Blackman and Zack Boobas in his report on the first plebe practice from earlier this week.  
Though John Trainor will obviously be the position group leader this year, I suspect that Jordan Asberry has a real opportunity as a rising three-year starter.  He should find himself in a legitimate leadership role on an otherwise very experienced offense.  I find myself wondering if Asberry’s not in line to potentially be named a captain next year, though that depends on a lot besides what we see on the field.
Against this, I confess to some disappointment that Malik McGue has let himself become academically ineligible.  From what I’ve read, it seems like he’s still at the Academy, so hopefully he turns it around before the situation gets completely out of hand.
Monken said switching James Nachitgal from outside linebacker to inside linebacker in the spring was a move to get him on the field. Nachtigal, who played in third-down situations as a sophomore, was behind returning starters Alex Aukerman and Kenneth Brinson on the outside.
Last year’s defense ran from the inside out.  I suspect this year will run a little differently, with the outside being a tougher prospect and Army trying to crowd the middle against more power runs.  We may well see more safety play down in the box this year with the cornerbacks having more individual responsibility outside, but that’s just my personal speculation.
Army Football is 28 days away, folks!  I am very excited.
* * *
Swim Across the Sound is tomorrow, and that makes this your very last opportunity to support me and my team.  Details are in the post below this one, but the bottom line is that we are swimming 15.5 miles for your entertainment in order to raise money for St. Vincent’s Hospital’s anti-cancer programs.
Honestly, if you can’t support that, I don’t know how to help you.
As I said on Facebook, cancer sucks, but you don’t have to.  Support St. Vincent’s, and I personally will be eternally grateful.
Thanks in advance!

Also: my NFL preview with Joe from A Hoosier on the Potomac premiers on Monday next week.  I'd originally planned to go first, but I confess to a bit of cold feet.  So I have no idea who's going to lead off, but it may very well be Joe.  
Anyway, check out his blog.  He is a much better sportswriter than I am.  I've been enjoying his work quite a bit.

Finally: I've just started the third, and hopefully last, re-write of my "long-awaited" memoir, Swim, Bike, Run, Live, Love, Repeat.  I will be publishing it here in something like 1500 word chunks, but I'm also going to put a $.99 version onto Amazon if you'd rather read it on your phone, tablet, Kindle, or whatever.  Now that I've finally gotten my first ad revenue check from Google, I've realized that publishing here and self-publishing on Amazon are about equal in terms of my personal profitability, but I'll probably get 10x the audience here that I would via Kindle publishing.  So do whatever you want; I'm fine either way.
Truthfully, the entire enterprise feels like a quixotic personal quest at this point, but I've come so far with it that I simply cannot help but see it through to the end.

That's all I've got.  Have a great weekend!

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