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Sports Shorts

D. C. Dilemma- Stop me if you’ve heard this before. There’s a guy in Washington, D. C. who some believe is not getting the job done. This commander-in-chief ain’t getting good reviews! His penchant for mishandling others is well known. Conservative people are going to stick by him, liberal people not so much. His stay has been a short one to date, but not without controversy. Lemme give you a hint: His first name starts with the letter D. You didn’t stop me, so you obviously haven’t heard this before.

There are lots of Washington D. C. baseball fans clamoring for the head of Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker as his bevy of high-priced players just succumbed to the Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series. The overwhelmingly-favored Nats did take the resilient Cubbies to the deciding game of the series but fell just short.

Poor Dusty. He is a nice guy with good intentions. Was an endearing member of the Los Angeles Dodgers team that won the World Series in 1981. One of a handful of fore-running African American managers at the major league level. But history has not been kind to him.

Baker managed the San Francisco Giants into the 2002 World Series and then mismanaged his pitching staff to hand the series to the Anaheim Angels. Up 3 games to 2, Dusty pulled effective starter Russ Ortiz, who was breezing along with a comfortable lead and still had gas in the tank, in the 7th inning of Game Six and the Angels rallied to win that game and Game Seven to complete the comeback and snatch the crown.

Subsequent managerial stops in Chicago and Cincinnati found Dusty mired in playoff anguish as he failed to advance to anymore World Series match-ups while making the playoffs on numerous occasions. With this recent loss to Chicago, Baker has now lost nine consecutive series-clinching games, a major league record. His acumen for handling pitching staffs has been questioned throughout his managerial career. His fate is in the hands of Washington general manager Mike Rizzo and it is hoped here that at least one of the letter D guys survives his tenure in Washington D. C.

Soccer’s Indignation- Just why is it that soccer does not resonate with sporting fans across the United States? Soccer seems to be the stepchild of all American sports. Funny thing is that soccer is the most-watched, most-revered sport on our planet. Europeans live, and literally, die with the sport! Soccer-fan deaths are not uncommon, as the passion and allegiance to teams is unsurpassed in all of sport.

Perhaps we don’t cotton to soccer because we can’t use our hands to play it, save for an in-bounds pass. Maybe we think we have more sense, and will retain more sense, by not wanting to engage in a sport where you use your head in order to advance the ball.

Or is it that we’re too cool to get lightly touched, fall onto the pitch as if we were bludgeoned beyond comprehension by an opposing player, lie there for a good ten minutes then jump up and run around acting uninjured as the crown roars in amazement that we have survived. Or maybe we just like the word pitch as it relates to baseball and not to a field of play.

Consequent to the fact that we snub our noses to the sport, the failing of our national soccer team recently to advance to the next World Cup was but a minor blip on the national news pages this past week. Several months ago coach Bruce Arena was ceremoniously brought back to coach our boys into the next, said World Cup. He failed miserably and abruptly resigned. Took his soccer ball home, went up into his room and shut the door on the United Stated Soccer Federation.

Feels here as if the United States just does not have the foundation in place for the sport in order to compete on the world stage. It seems rather perplexing because youth soccer in the United States seems to thrive. You are way more likely to find kids scrubbing for a soccer ball at the parks versus seeing a game of touch football being played. The state of soccer in our land is going the way that this column is going right now: Nowhere.

– By Michael Elliott