Archive for the ‘baseball’ Tag

Behind Major League Baseball’s Top Teams

A damning analysis of the Astros being very cheap negotiating with their players: Certainly part of corporate attempts to maximize profits and lower labor costs which are happening throughout the United States

I’m surprised that the MLB union, which is the strongest among professional sports, has not been fighting harder for these players.

Astros exemplify the player-unfriendly bent of analytics


Book Festivals

The Library of Congress Book Festival ends today. George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia continues its 10-day fest Fall for the Book until next Sunday. Covers popular fiction, historical fiction, history, biography, sports and culture.

Sportswriting: Baseball, Basketball, and Historical Perspectives@ George Mason Regional Library

Sep 26 @ 7:30 pm – 8:45 pm

Cultural historian Brett L. Abrams and Mason communications doctoral student Raphael Mazzone, co-authors of The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington DC Basketball, join long-time journalist Tom Dunkel, author of Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line, to talk about their books and the art and craft of sportswriting in general. Sponsored by the Friends of the George Mason Regional Library.

Overpriced Seats at Stadiums

For years many of us have wondered, who could afford to buy the best seats at the new stadiums. Yes, corporations can buy some, but they usually like the suites in the middle tier of the stadium or arena. Some celebrities and wealthy buy court seats or sit behind the dugouts, but they make up a small number of the population. There are many seats that are empty and everyone can see this on television.

Here’s an article that challenges announcers to mention this fact:

We must be seeing things. Rather, we must not be seeing things.

The public used to rely on the media to fight for it, to go to bat for the bat-less. Not so much anymore. Most in the news take their corporate orders — real, tacit and imagined — or make themselves available to be bought and sold to multiple masters, restricting what they would otherwise report.

Thus, ugly, smack-you-in-the-senses realities go ignored. Worse, on TV, we’re often told to ignore what we see and instead believe what we’re told.

While we understand that local broadcasters are frightened to tell certain here-and-now truths about the teams that employ them, MLB’s national networks have no such restrictions.

SOMETHING FISHY: Shortstop Jose Reyes swings in front of prime empty seats at Marlins Park — but don’t expect baseball’s TV announcers to comment on this epidemic.

SOMETHING FISHY: Shortstop Jose Reyes swings in front of prime empty seats at Marlins Park — but don’t expect baseball’s TV announcers to comment on this epidemic.

Heck, for the billions paid to MLB in rights, ESPN, Fox and TBS should insist that their announcers speak all truths. What’s MLB going to do about it, not cash their checks? Forbid them from bidding next time?

In other words, ESPN, Fox and TBS might have — could have and should have — spent the last four seasons hammering a point so embarrassing to MLB that it might have shamed teams and Bud Selig to exact greater-good changes.

Specifically, the best seats in new parks — those most often in view throughout telecasts — are so over-priced that they’re going empty, greed-wasted. After all, these are ballparks where ballgames of pre-undetermined value are played; they’re not destination resorts.

Over the weekend, the Mets played the Marlins in Miami’s new, climate-controlled stadium. The Marlins were returning from an 8-1 road trip.

Yet, clearly visible during Friday night’s telecast on SNY and throughout Fox’s on Saturday afternoon, many of the best seats — hundreds, if not thousands, behind the backstop and along the infield lines — went unoccupied.

On Fox, not only didn’t play-by-player Rich Waltz and analyst Tim McCarver seem to notice, they seemed to think that we didn’t either. In fact, they seemed to see people where we saw none.

“Another big crowd here, on a Saturday afternoon” said Waltz, after applauding the new park.

“They built it here in Miami,” said McCarver, “and they have come.”

The biggest big ticket for Marlins home games is $250, dirt cheap by Yankee Stadium standards, yet still illogically expensive to watch any baseball game. The family of four, with eats, drinks, travel and parking, is reaching for over $1,000 to attend a game.

No thanks, they’ll sit upstairs, or at least outside the Yankee Stadium-type moat that separates and designates — a financial caste seating system. Above and beyond such seats is where crowds now begin to gather.

Read more:

Bummed Yankee Fan

I watched and felt the disappointment. But I’m already sick of all the tired columnists and reporters in the NY Daily News, NY Post, and ESPN who can only see Yankee failure and not Detroit’s success.

Love to see one of the reporters hit Benoit’s nasty sinker that he threw to ARod to strike him out in the seventh. The best ARod could have done was foul it off his foot. Maybe he could have done that but this year he didn’t. That doesn’t make him the main reason the yankees lost.

At least there are a few columnists who can see more clearly.

“A lot of people at Yankee Stadium were enraged at A-Rod … those people are idiots”

Oct 7, 2011, 9:40 AM EDT

Alex RodriguezReuters

We had a nice little burst of Yankees rage this morning, with writers who blamed everyone (A-Rod) for everything they could think of, never once acknowledging that (a) the Yankees, on the whole, out-pitched and out-hit the Tigers in the series; but (b) sometimes the ball just bounces the wrong way for you and anything can happen in a five game series.

Larry Koestler of The Yankee Analysts, however, supplies us with a healthy dose of sanity this morning, putting the Tigers victory over the Yankees in reasonable perspective. He notes that A-Rod was likely still feeling the effects of his nagging injuries, and notes that the numbers bear that out.  He notes that A-Rod wasn’t the only hitter who stunk up the joint. He also takes the seemingly crazy position that, hey, the Tigers actually won this series, it wasn’t simply a matter of the Yankees losing it.  Credit Max Scherzer and the Tigers’ pen for (mostly) limiting the damage and preventing those big Yankees innings we all assumed would happen last night.

This may be less satisfying for all of you than blaming A-Rod.  It does, however, have the added benefit of being true.

RFK Stadium: 50th Anniversary

Columnist Tom Boswell offered an interesting piece on RFK Stadium at its 50th anniversary. When the Dc United gets a new place to play there will be little need for RFK Stadium. Will it be another big blowup event like the demolition of Veterans Stadium in Phladelphia and Three Rivers in Pittsburgh?

Thomas Boswell
Thomas Boswell

RFK Stadium: After 50 years, it’s still personal

View Photo Gallery —  RFK Stadium, which turns 50 years old this week, has a special place in D.C. sports lore. The stadium’s days as home to D.C. United are likely numbered, as the club is looking to build a soccer-specific stadium somewhere in the D.C. region.

By , Published: September 30

RFK Stadium never got the love it deserved. The stadium was in
the wrong part of town. (Mine.) It never entirely beat the rap. That didn’t keep it from being, over a lifetime, my favorite structure in Washington.

For me, it even tops the Capitol. If you were a kid growing up in Northeast Washington in the ’50s, that is a mountainously high hurdle because, back then, the Capitol grounds were perhaps the biggest, best playground in the world.

Former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs talks about his favorite memories from RFK Stadium, where the Redskins played until 1996. The stadium turns 50 this year.

Former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs talks about his favorite memories from RFK Stadium, where the Redskins played until 1996. The stadium turns 50 this year.

Fifty years ago this Sunday, when RFK opened for its first Redskins game, the west side of the Capitol, looking down the Mall at the Lincoln Memorial, was a scene that cannot be imagined today, or perhaps even dreamed of as part of our future. Families spread beach towels
for picnics. My parents would come with a jug of ice tea
and sandwiches, and my
friends and I would have the
run of the place (until we
couldn’t run another step).

For a kid who lived just a 10-block walk away, it was like having access to the backyard of a billionaire. You could play hide-and-seek amid groves of huge trees so dense that, from a few feet away, you might be invisible.

Then, when you got a little older, you could rocket down the steep sidewalk on the Constitution Avenue side on bicycles or skates, scattering adults who might have been senators. It really is Capitol Hill. None of us could even coast our bikes all the way to the bottom. At some point, you flew so fast (usually standing on the pedals) that you got scared and just had to tap the brakes.

Cops? They only chased you if you played ball in the alleys. The Capitol grounds belonged to America. How could you deny kids?

And when it snowed, my God — go on, tell me all about your hill.

That’s the astronomically high “emotional investment hurdle” that any new destination had to surpass to get top billing in the Kid World of my youth.

Then, miraculously, the unseen but suddenly benevolent forces of the adult universe opened that huge snow-white spaceship of a stadium with the wavy architectural lines that still make almost every other design in town look old-fashioned. Yes, you can call it a formative experience. In fact, it’s possible that I still haven’t overcome it. I’m lucky it wasn’t a pool hall.

* * *

To grasp what having a big-time stadium just a bike ride from your house meant in those days, consider this: When RFK (then named D.C. Stadium) opened, the NFL and major league baseball had as much “mind-share” among me and my peers as all forms of entertainment combined would hold now for a teenager. We had rock ’n’ roll. We had the Redskins and Senators. And we had any game we could invent, such as “chase” across the roofs of a block of row houses with gaps between some of them.

Yes, as longtime Washingtonians know, basketball was always hot at the grass roots in the whole region. But in a town with no NBA or NHL teams, and where college basketball was still dormant, the glamour was condensed in the Redskins and Nats — separate, but pretty darn equal in our hearts.

Both teams had been great once — Sammy Baugh, Walter Johnson— but both had been lousy long enough that “bad” was their identity. These days, with a thousand amusement choices, losing matters. Then, they were yours, and you absolutely loved them regardless. The snide child hadn’t been invented.

So to us, the new stadium didn’t provide proximity to rotten teams. It put our heroes in our laps.

However, though I grasped it slowly, I eventually realized that ballparks and stadiums are also among our most personal places. Our memories may be of teams, games or rock concerts, but they are also, perhaps primarily, about those who went with us. And what it meant to watch together.

For example, I didn’t realize that baseball on summer nights was an emotional sanctuary. Then one night my mother, who had a stressful job as a congressional speechwriter, said, as a full moon rose over yet another awful Senators team, “This feels like being in church: the ritual, the peace.”

My father was the Redskins fan. He also had helped found the union at the Library of Congress. For my birthday, he took me to a Redskins game. Strikers surrounded the front gate with “Unfair” signs. My father, I’m certain, never crossed a picket line.

I said, “Let’s go home.” He said, “Go in.” So we did.

Even stadiums that get bad-mouthed as much as RFK for being out-of-date and insufficient cash machines for team owners last for decades and span generations.

When my son was the same age that I was when RFK opened, I took him, and his best buddy, there for a symbolic occasion — but not a game. It was his first rock concert — an all-day festival, with a huge mosh pit in front of the stage. We sat in the upper deck behind high schoolers passing their joints. My rule was: Come back every hour. They did. But in the end, we did more talking about all the things they’d seen than any music played.

* * *

My favorite RFK memory isn’t the return of baseball in ’05, or any World Cup game or U2 concert. It is, as it should be, an instant of Redskins glory, but with a personal twist.

On Dec. 31, 1972, for the first time in my life, a Washington team had a chance, with one more victory, to play in its sport’s ultimate game — in this case, the NFC championship against the Hated Cowboys. (Little known fact: That is the official name of the Dallas franchise.)

The Post’s Dick Darcey, the best newspaper sports photographer of his time, knew the Redskins so well that they sometimes swore him to secrecy, then told him parts of their game plan so he could be in the best position to get shots of key plays. For Dallas, they had scripted a bomb up the right sideline from Billy Kilmer to Hall of Famer Charley Taylor but wanted to save it for a pivotal moment. When the time came, Dick had a tipster.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins led, 10-3, at the Dallas 45-yard line. A score for a 17-3 lead would be a Cowboy crusher. In the press box, one of our writers said: “Look at Darcey. Here it comes.”

Carrying equipment that seemed to weigh as much as he did, Dick was sprinting from midfield, where all the other photogs were, toward the north end zone. He got to the goal line just in time. Kilmer threw it about as far as he could. Taylor beat his man by a stride. And Darcey snapped one of the best Washington sports shots ever taken, with the ball on Taylor’s fingertips just as he’s about to run straight off the page and into your breakfast cereal bowl.

When a stadium stands for 50 years and hosts several teams in various sports, and even has a pope drop in for visit, there are a multitude of memories that we hold in common.

And we grip them as passionately as Joe Gibbs, who loved the raucous place so much I thought he would cry when Jack Kent Cooke built a much bigger but less advantageous home for his team. What are we going to do without those sections of lower-deck seats that bounce up and down, he’d ask “Mr. Cooke.” And how can we duplicate the volume that rumbles out of an upper deck that sometimes seems to move like a minor earthquake as the crowd stomps and sways?

The answer, of course, is that you can’t. The past is gone. And it wasn’t better. Just different. Besides, come on, be honest: By the time the 21st century arrived, the place was often a dump compared to modern norms.

What remains unique — but entirely personal to each of us who remembers RFK — is the people with whom we shared the place, the stories that belong only to us, not merely to the public record.

As athletes often say when a world title is won: “They can never take this moment away from us.”

We get to say the same, except it felt like we had a million of ’em.

Out In Major Leagues

Versus Television showed a fascinating documentary on Glenn Burke, the Los Angeles Dodger and Oakland A who was out of the closet while on these teams.

As a gay man and a huge sports fan I already knew Burke’s story. When I played gay softball in Boston there were other people who played minor league professional baseball who were on teams. Burke played semi-professional gay softball after leaving professional baseball in the early 1980s.

The documentary asks tons of people to discuss Glenn’s story and is a great look at his childhood through the days in the Castro as its sports king. Burke certainly faced prejudice from several managers, including Tommy Lasorda and Billy Martin. I had no idea that Lasorda had a gay son and that he was not reconciled with that fact, which is very sad.

The documentary does a good job of asking how Glenn Burke’s homosexuality hurt him among the team leaders.

The documentary misses an important question and focus: how did Burke’s homosexuality affect his baseball playing.

Burke is a four-tool man: run, hit with power, great arm and great defense: lacking hitting for average. What happened when he reached the show is that much of the talent remained unrealized.

When Burke was traded from the Dodgers, probably through Lasorda’s machinations, a person in the documentary asserted he was hitting .250. Actually, Burke played in sixteen games, scored two runs, drove in two runs, had no home runs and was hitting .211.  Not a valuable utility player’s statistics.  His average barely rose in the 1979 season in Oakland. My question is did Burke put in the work necessary to make himself a better ballplayer? We heard he spent a lot of time in the Castro District having a ball. No problem except you have to do your job well or it is possible that you will lose it. This is called work ethic and gay or not, it is vital.

We hear from players on the Dodgers and the Athletics that Burke would frequently not ride on the buses or sleep in the same hotel as the team. This is bad for team morale and chemistry. The documentary did not ask the players if heterosexual players did something similar. Did big stars do this? Did they have women and groupies waiting for them to drive them away as Burke did? If they did, how did the other players’ on the team react?

Money, Power or Both

NBA lockout. Money: Owners claim that 22 franchises of 30 teams are losing money.

Players say only half that many teams are losing money.

Power: owners want to pick who plays on their teams.

Players: like LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh all decide to go to Miami Heat.

Top 100 teams with largest average salaries per player:

Los Angeles Lakers are fourth with an average annual salary per player of $.65 million, only two Spanish soccer teams and the NY Yankees are higher. Here’s the kick: NBA teams paid players an average of $4.6 million a year, the highest of any league. They had all teams on the list with the Minnesota Timberwolves the lowest average salary of $2.6 million.

Major League Baseball had 18 of 31 teams ranked ahead of the lowest paying NBA team (Timberwolves– 40% paid players less than any NBA team)

National Football League had 7 out of  32 teams ranked ahead of the Timberwolves (only 20% of the NFL teams paid more in salary than the lowest NBA team)

National Hockey League had 5 out of 30 teams ranked ahead of the Timberwolves (only 16% of the NHL teams paid more in salary than the lowest NBA team).

Any wonder they are fighting over money and power is what gives the side ability to win the splitting up of the money duel.


Pro Sports Live

Who goes to see professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey? Remember when LeBron James joined Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and there were hundreds of empty seats? How many teams can afford the big salaries of these stars if they do not but fans in the seats?

The National Football League (NFL) owners are sending out season ticket purchase orders only one month after the season ended. As one columnist said, who gives their money away to buy something half a year before they are going to use it? Expedia and other websites are trying to teach consumers to wait until the last minute before they purchase hotel or airline tickets.

These days there are similar websites, like StubHub, for tickets to pro sports. Fans know this so they know that the value of having to have a season ticket has dropped a lot. You can get in to most games. Particularly here in Washington, DC for the Redskins have a 91,000-seat stadium and the Wizards have sold 80 percent of their home games seats, good enough for the last one-third of the league.

There may not even be an NFL season this year with the collective bargaining agreement needing to be renegotiated. Imagine if you bought tickets only to see replacement players like in 1987. Will fans even watch that on their televisions, particularly with all the HD, wide-screen plasma televisions?



Disappointment with Washington

Sure I could be talking about the White House, the Congress, Democrats and Republicans. Most of you already feel bummed about them so my saying so would not be a surprise.

It’s a move by Washington’s sports team that seems like one in their history of bad moves. The Nationals lost Adam Dunn and will get two draft picks back. Wow! Let’s see  minus 76 home runs and in exchange the team gets two questionmarks.

How do you sell that one to your fan base? The Nationals had enough difficulty drawing warm bodies to their home games.

Here’s the analysis of the pros:

The losers in all of this are the Nationals, who probably could’ve locked up Dunn for something in the range of three years and $30 million at the All-Star break, when Dunn very much wanted to stay in Washington. After deciding to not make that deal, the Nationals’ leadership opted to not trade Dunn when the interest in him was at its hottest, in July; they failed to get any major league ready young players, which is exactly what they have a desperate need for today.

Their lineup without Dunn suddenly looks very different — significantly weakened. Without Dunn hitting in the middle of the order, there is no reason for opposing pitchers to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman.

 Time will tell whether Dunn’s departure will erode Zimmerman’s feelings about the future of the franchise. Zimmerman, you may recall, had talked openly and repeatedly about how he wanted Dunn to remain with the team.

The Nationals have been damanged, writes Adam Kilgore, and he spoke with Zimmerman. From Adam’s story:

    “To me, this is the place where I want to be, where I want to be for the rest of my career,” Zimmerman said. “The only reason I wouldn’t want to play here is if I thought we didn’t have a chance to win … I still believe that we will.”Zimmerman was clearly frustrated though, and it’s a frustration that assuredly will represent the overwhelming majority of the team’s fan base. “I hope that this plan they have intact — I guess this is one of the years we were supposed to take that next step and become one of the teams that gets those free agent guys,” Zimmerman said. “They’ve told us and the fans to be patient. Hopefully this is one of the years we start acquiring impact guys and taking the team to that next level.”

Batting for Gays

There are more provacative sportswriters out there than one would believe. Sports are also a great window into cultural and social attitudes.

Racial prejudice openly displayed itself during the early to mid-20th century in restrictions on players in major league baseball and football. In the late 20th century, it came in a more subtle rejection of a League, when baseketball television ratings dropped during the 1970s.

Attacks on gender and sexual difference usually included deriding words. Most players kept their behavior to their self, as we have seen with pro football player Dave Kopay, and Washington Redskins all-pro Jerry Smith in the 1970s and 1980s and Billy Bean among baseball players in the 1990s.  Magic Johnson faced gossip after contracting HIV- and Isiah Thomas raised eyebrows with his kissing.

While female tennis players like Martina Navatrola and Renae Stubbs,and  rugby player Gareth Thomas came out after years, most were finished playing. Ian Roberts of Australian Rules Football declared his sexuality but articles have recently asked why few have followed and Jason Akermanis was recently suspended for anti-gay comments.

I include below sportwriter Jason Whitlock’s recent piece on the travails of an openly gay umpire.


Let’s start with transparency. The analogy comparing black people’s fight for equal rights and gay people’s makes me uncomfortable.

You can’t conceal skin color in a closet or anywhere else. Denying gay people the right to marry doesn’t equate to denying black people freedom, the right to vote, equal education, etc.

Umpire Billy Van Raaphorst 

Umpire Billy Van Raaphorst.

Edmonton Journal 

But I am not a fool. Discrimination is discrimination. Debating degrees of intolerance is pointless and counter-productive.

What happened to Billy Van Raaphorst inside a tiny independent league baseball stadium on July 31 was as despicable as anything Jackie Robinson endured breaking into the majors 60 years ago.

And the story of how Billy Van Raaphorst’s childhood dream of becoming a Major League umpire turned into his nightmare companion illustrates how little progress we’ve made in the super-macho sports world as it relates to tolerance of homosexuals.

On the last day of July, for the second straight game, Van Raaphorst tossed flamboyant Edmonton Capitals manager Brent Bowers in the first inning.

Bowers argued balls and strikes from the dugout on the 30th. A close play at first base set him off on the 31st. On both days, Bowers played to the crowd, rolling up his sleeves and mocking the 6-foot-4, 220-lb Van Raaphorst with a “gun show.”

On the 31st, Bowers took things a step further, launching into an anti-gay tirade that would make Mel Gibson blush.

“You know what I heard?” Bowers screamed. “I heard you are a f—ing (expletive). The rumor from several managers and people at the league is that you are a (expletive) … So what do you do you f—ing (expletive)? Do you take it up the f—ing (expletive), you (expletive)?”

As his verbal meltdown continued, Bowers, a second-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1989, bent over and grabbed his ankles.

“Is that how you like it, you f—ing (expletive)?… I know he’s a (expletive),’’ Bowers ranted. “I was told by Garry Templeton (a manager in the league) and Kevin Outcalt (commissioner of the league) that he is a f—ing (expletive).”

Van Raaphorst, a former 290-pound center at San Diego State, resisted the urge to defend himself.

“I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t hit him,’” Van Raaphorst remembered. “I felt trapped. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.”

How appropriate. Van Raaphorst, 34, spent much of his early life trapped by his sexual orientation.

The middle son of former Ohio State and San Diego Chargers kicker Dick Van Raaphorst, Billy was born into the stereotypical, All-American family. His oldest brother, Jeff, starred at quarterback for Arizona State, winning the 1987 Rose Bowl MVP. Billy’s younger brother, Mike, served as Carson Palmer’s backup at USC.

The Van Raaphorst name carried and carries significant weight in Southern California. Billy was not coming out of any closet.
As a kid, he played football and fantasized about calling balls and strikes inside big league ballparks.

He was a good enough player to crack the two-deep and start a few games at San Diego State. He shared a locker room with Kyle Turley, Ephraim Salaam, La’Roi Glover, Az Hakim and several other future pros.

Billy never quite fit in.

“We all kind of assumed there was something different about Billy,” Turley said. “Billy was a good dude, a good teammate, a stand-up guy, but he was just a different cat. There was always something a little quirky about him. He was never the macho, alpha male.”

Van Raaphorst dislocated his right knee his fourth year at San Diego State, quit the team and immediately pursued his passion for umpiring. He enrolled at the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School, the Harvard of umpiring. He graduated No. 1 in his class. He joined the minor league system and began the arduous task of earning his way to the majors.

Things sailed along smoothly until he reached double-A ball in 2001. His ranking plummeted to No. 27. The next year he dropped to No. 45 out of 47 umpires and was released from the minors.

He said his dramatic fall coincided with his decision to live as a gay man.

“I knew I was gay pretty much all my life, but I’d never acted on it until 2001,” Billy told me on Monday. “I’d suppressed it so hard trying to fit in in college football and minor league baseball. I’d never been to a gay bar until 2001. I’d never had a boyfriend.”

He visited a gay bar in early 2001. He started dating a Tulsa man later that year. He began lying to his umpiring crew about his post-game activities and whereabouts instantly.

“I can’t prove that they found out, but it’s my belief they did,” Van Raaphorst said. “I started getting a lot of questions about who I was dating.”

He crashed in double A. An umpire isn’t on the major league radar until he reaches triple A.

“It’s a significant accomplishment and speaks to his talent that he reached the double A level,” said Pat Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball. “There are only 68 major league umpires. It’s a select group.”

Billy wanted to complain and fight his 2002 release.

“There were certain family members and friends who didn’t want all of the attention that would’ve brought,” said Van Raaphorst, who is now regarded as a top-flight collegiate umpire. “The worst two decisions of my life were to not come out (as gay) and to end my (Tulsa) relationship because I was scared.

“I don’t make decisions out of fear anymore. I try to make fearless decisions now.”

Good for Billy. Bad for Brent Bowers.
The Golden Baseball League initially suspended Bowers for two games and fined him $500. The punishment did not satisfy Billy or common sense. Umpires across the GBL rallied in support of Billy and threatened a work stoppage. The league and the Edmonton Capitals forced Bowers to resign.

“I wish I had those 10 minutes back,” Bowers said from his home in Chicago. “It was just heat of the moment. I felt like (Van Raaphorst) hurt me and hurt my team, kicking me out of the game two days in a row. It doesn’t justify it. It was totally wrong. I apologize. I would apologize to anybody. I’ve grown up so much in the past week.”

The Edmonton Capitals announced they were making all of their employees go through diversity training. They might want to make room for a former employee.

“I didn’t care that (Van Raaphorst) was gay,” explained Bowers, who has yet to apologize directly to Van Raaphorst. “My mom works with a lot of gay hairdressers and I joke around with those guys all the time. My cousin, she’s a lesbian. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as people are happy.”

Let’s end with transparency.

I’ve been the neanderthal idiot in the locker room. I’ve been the neanderthal idiot employee suspended and banished to diversity training after a 1998 taunting exchange with New England Patriots fans.

Intolerance is a disease, whether sexual, religious or racial, that we all must fight on a daily basis. The cure is for each of us to realize we’re all capable of being just as stupid as Brent Bowers.


E-mail Jason or follow him on Twitter. Media requests for Mr. Whitlock should be directed to Fox Sports PR.