Welcome to 2018 everyone! Granted as of Wednesday we are 31 days into the month, and this greeting would have been better made on New Year’s Day but, it is better late than never. And the opening month of the year has given us great games, interesting stories and people, and new information on and off campus that needs to be talked about. So here we go.
5. Vladimir Guerrero was Baseball’s Unicorn
The recent Baseball Hall of Fame election class is headlined by some of the game’s best players from the last 40 years. Alan Trammell and Jack Morris will finally find themselves in Cooperstown after decades of waiting, while Chipper Jones and Jim Thome strolled into western New York on their first ballot. Trevor Hoffman became the first of the modern day relief pitchers to make the Hall. Despite the talents of all these players, outfielder and former MVP Vladimir Guerrero distinguished himself with a never-seen-before repertoire. In the outfield, his arm was one of the greatest the game had ever seen. At the plate, he destroyed the idea that plate discipline was important by swinging, and hitting, anything he could reach. And despite this, his strikeout numbers remained low, as his on-base percentage and batting average remained high. Guerrero was an anomaly in the sport.
4. Cleveland Really is a Factory of Sadness
We love to hate teams. How else would you describe our obsession with seeing the New England Patriots and Alabama Crimson Tide lose? Only problem is that they really do not lose, at least when it matters. Bama just won their fifth National Championship of the Nick Saban era, while New England is about to play in their eight Super Bowl of the Brady/Belichick era. Imagine if these coaches were on the same staff! Wait, they were, with the Cleveland Browns in the 1990s. The team was so bad they moved. Wow, that place is really a factory of sadness.
3. (In James Earl Jones voice) They will come
January usually means the beginning of snow around the nation, and this January was no different. For two glorious days, snow fell on the campus, leaving the university to look like a Christmas greeting card. So what do you do? Stay inside, read, clean or sleep? No. Grab a football, go to the EUC lawn and wait. Okay, maybe bring someone to throw the pigskin for a few minutes, but within a half an hour, you will be playing a full contact game of football with random students. Bring it, and they will come!
2. UNCG Basketball Future
The men’s basketball team has been around the best in the SoCon for the entire season and will compete for the championship come March. The women’s team, after losing multiple valuable players from last year’s team, has played well in their retooling season and will be working to finish above .500. But more importantly, what needs to be discussed is the fact that it seems like both teams are in the midst of well thought out plans for success. Wes Miller, for more than half a decade, has built the program to a championship caliber point it is today. In her second year, Patterson seems to be following that formula. Like Miller, Patterson’s inaugural season was successful before losing seniors to graduation and struggling in the sophomore campaign. However, it is clear that both these coaches will be around as long as they want to here with the direction the teams are going.
1. Larry Nassar, Michigan State and the NCAA
Despite the fact that this is called “Five Things I Learned” it is painfully obvious to anyone who slightly follows the NCAA that they have selective outrage. This past month, former trainer for US Gymnastic and Michigan State University, Larry Nassar was sentenced 40-175 years in jail for sexually abusing about 150 girls and women he was suppose to assist. The assaults were first reported in the 1990s, and it was not until September of 2016, a year after Nassar had been let go by US Gymnastics, and he was then working with Michigan State, when The Indianapolis Star reported on two former gymnasts who accused Nassar of sexual abuse did his past finally caught up with him.
And despite his conviction, this story is not over. Michigan State’s President, Lou Anna Simons, was forced to resign. Athletic Director Mark Hollis was forced to resign as well. There have even been calls for the resignation of football coach Mark D’Antonio. Why you may ask? Because according to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, at least 16 different football players have been named in rape accusations since 2007. And according to a report from Nicole Auerbach of “The Atlantic,” NCAA President Mark Emmert had been informed of 37 reports of sexual assault since 2010. Only recently has an investigation into the program begun, appearing in many ways as “saving face.”
Selective outrage is the best word for this. If a little birdie flew into Mark Emmert’s desk and whistled, “the backup point guard for Slippery Rock College might have gotten a buck for signing a booster’s hat,” the NCAA would bring Woodward and Bernstein to find out the truth. When finances are being threatened, there is no feet dragging. For sexual assault, you need to metaphorically pull the AD, NCAA, University President and boosters to get them to even look at the problem.