Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dan Hawkins's 5th Year at Colorado... What It REALLY Means For Dan Hawkins

At the end of his fourth season as University of Colorado head football coach, Dan Hawkins sported a dismal 3-8 record and was facing a season-ending home game against the heavily favored and CU rival Nebraska Cornhuskers. Approaching the end of a season which began with a shameful home loss to Colorado State and a humiliating road loss to Toledo and never really improved, Dan Hawkins was ready to do what he does best... blame someone else for his own failings.

What Is The Significance Of A College Coach's Fourth Year?

In major college sports, a fundamental axiom of coaching success is that a coach is best measured in his fourth year. During that year, a successful coach is still riding a wave of enthusiasm over his "newness" and a failure of a coach can no longer blame a previous regime's players since he has 4 year's worth of his own players. In fact, former Colorado basketball coach told a booster group, "If we aren't winning in our fourth year, there is no one to blame but Jeff Bzdelik." Sure enough, Bzdelik headed to Wake Forest following his third year in Boulder.

But back to Hawkins and his fourth season at Colorado. Clearly an on-field failure, it was time for Hawkins to be fired. However, with a cash-strapped athletic program facing a nationwide financial recession, Chancellor Phil DiStefano, it is believed, overruled Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn, who had made the decision to fire Hawkins and enter 2010 with a new coach. Some people close to the program even believe that Bohn actually TOLD Hawkins he would be fired, but the always-charismatic Hawkins made his case to Bohn's boss DiStefano, and Bohn was overruled. It was likely during this period where Hawkins thought he was being fired that he made the unfortunate "burned to the ground" comments.

What Do Hawkins's Comments Say About His Character?

From Hawkins's first days on campus in Boulder in 2006, those who knew him least liked him most. He brought enthusiasm, a sunny attitude, a Boulder-friendly "Zen" approach to coaching, and a commanding 54-11 record from his previous stop, Boise State. Fans, the media, Boulder locals, boosters... they all showed what came to be knows as "Hawk Love." But for those closest to Hawkins, "Hawk Love" faded and "Hawk Hate" prevailed before Hawkins had even coached a game. Off the record, even those boosters closest to the program said that Hawkins was arrogant, shirked alumni relations duties, was aloof during meetings with potential boosters, and even spent an entire in-home "get to know you" session with prominent donors on his cell phone. "A true asshole" was how one person close to the program described Hawkins... before he had even coached a game.

As the losing seasons mounted, Hawk Love dissipated even in those not-so-close to the program. Attendance at Hawkins booster events dwindled as tension as those events grew. Rather than make nice with boosters, Hawkins chose public venues to argue with and criticize those people who wanted nothing more than to see the same thing Hawkins supposedly wanted... to see the University of Colorado football team win. Late in the 2008 season, Hawkins's third at CU (and third losing season), Hawkins responded to online critics - often the most passionate, vocal, and knowledgeable segment of a fan base - by painting them all as "internet scum."

And as his 4th season became yet another failure, Hawkins resorted again, as is his wont, to cheap shots lobbed from the balcony when he made the now-infamous "burned to the ground" comment. People close to the situation believe that Chancellor Phil DiStefano, immediately before Colorado predictably lost its final 2009 game to Nebraska, was wowed by Hawkins's charisma, enthusiasm, and unfortunately Hawkins's most prominent characteristic, his excuse-making. There is even a belief in some quarters that Hawkins presented to DiStefano an elaborate PowerPoint presentation to lobby for a fifth year, a presentation allegedly seen in other venues by other folks who say it includes myriad excuses for Hawkins's failure, including the previous regime, the bad luck of close losses, the loss of key players due to injuries, and even a rationale of how firing Hawkins could financially sting the CU Athletic Department. Of course, no mention of on-field success was made by Hawkins. And he got his fifth year.

What The Fifth Year Means For Dan Hawkins

Hawkins's fifth year at Colorado has been, predictably, more of the same. Embarrassing home losses, a complete failure on the road, 5 straight conference losses, and the biggest blown lead in school history in a loss at inept Kansas. But his record isn't what will stick with Hawkins - everyone already knew he was a failure as a major college coach. His off-field performance IS what will stick with Hawkins as he attempts to seek work in the future.

Here's how Dan Hawkins failed OFF the field, and why no reputable athletic director will ever hire him again:

1. Refusal to Take Responsibility - rather than own up to his failings and be classy about his exit from CU, Hawkins chose to blame the past by saying the program was "burned to the ground". Hawkins will probably continue to blame everyone other than himself for his obvious failure as a football coach at CU. Conversely, if the next guy is successful at CU, expect to see Hawkins claim that he laid a great foundation...
2. Lack of Respect - Hawkins has repeatedly shown a lack of respect for boosters and fans, as discussed above. Further, Hawkins has showed the media extreme disrespect by acting like a boor on Big XII conference calls, and in his shameless, curt dismissal of CU Announcer Mark Johnson during a postgame interview at Kansas.
3. Lack of Perspective - Hawkins, in the face of everything obvious, continue to believe that his team is "close" to achievement, and claims illogically that success was only "a few plays away". In reality, even Hawkins's 3-9 2009 team, the key fourth year team, was 2 plays away from a dismal 1-win season, although Hawkins never admits that, instead claiming insanely that his team was "10 plays away" from a bowl.
4. Lack of Class - Hawkins, an obvious failure, has not only failed to resign and set an example for his players and for young fans of the program, he has demonstrated that he is willing to do ONLY what he is contractually obligated to do to retain his bloated salary. Curt, actually rude, contractually obligated media appearances have become the norm as a small, selfish man does the bare minimum to get paid. And recruting? Forget it... Hawkins has done almost nothing, truly leaving the talent cupboard for the poor soul who replaces him in 2011.

Remember, athletic directors are a fraternity...

Do You Think Anyone Will EVER Hire Dan Hawkins Again?
Probably Not... and It's Because He Got A Fifth Year at Colorado

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why Couldn't Mark Kiszla Write This In May?

It must really suck to have Mark Kiszla's luck. Over and over (and over and over) he makes an ass of himself with his self-serving and bizarrely craven attempts at prescience in the Denver Post. Recent example:

Kiszla, never one to pass up a cheap shot at anyone, took on Todd Helton in the above column, and Helton had REALLY struggled all year. In spite of Drew Goodman's constant insistence that Helton had transformed himself from the power hitter Rockies fans knew for years into a singles and doubles hitter, it was obvious. Todd Helton's best days were behind him. In nearly every offensive efficiency category, Helton was last or second-to-last in the league among first baseman. Helton was not only diminished, he was probably hurting the Rockies on the field (his superior defensive skills notwithstanding) and given his salary, he was DEFINITELY hurting the Rockies off the field.

The Rockies did what they could do to protect Helton, who is one of the rare baseball players in this era to spend his entire career with one organization. The team places Helton on the DL with a "sore back," an ailment so vague in nature that it brought to mind Barry Bonds's inane DL assignation of "side." Of course, this comparison insists that the question of steroids, which has haunted Bonds his entire career (and retirement) must be asked of Helton, whose astronomical offensive numbers coincided with the steroids era, but that's a column and question for another day.

Back to Kiszla, who proclaims in his Denver Post column HEADLINE that it's "Time for Helton to hang 'em up." How does Helton respond? With a 7-game stretch in which he hit .429, raising his anemic batting average more than 15 points. Additionally, in that week following Mark Kiszla's column, Helton doubles his season-long total of home runs (from 2 to 4) and RBI (from 5 to 10). A 4-for-4 game in Coors Field vs. Atlanta ignited the Rockies, and Helton had key hits in several other games.

In short, without question, the guy that Mark Kiszla wanted to retire responded by performing as the team's most valuable player in the week following the Kiszla column.

Does Kiszla have terrible luck? Terrible timing? Or is he a moron?

And why couldn't he have written his column in May? Or better yet, why can't he write another one about Clint Barmes, who has become an automatic out?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bad Calls Even Out... And Why The Weak Denver Media Doesn't Help Local Teams

This is less about Colorado and more about a follow-up to our post from last month about the horrendous Jeff Nelson call that absolutely cost the Colorado Rockies a victory (

First, let's discuss the adage that we've all heard in sports. "Bad calls even themselves out." Well, I guess the Rockies are approaching even, in a sense, because a team the Rockies are battling for a playoff spot just got cheated out of a victory.

Here's the situation. In a tie game in the bottom of the 9th inning in San Francisco yesterday afternoon, the Giants appear to score the game-winning run, as seen here:

Unfortunately, umpire Phil Cuzzi didn't see it that way, made the "out" call, and the inning continued when the game should have ended with a 1-run Giants victory over the Mets. Of course, the Giants fail to score in the 9th, the Mets score in the top of the 10th, and the Giants fail to score in the bottom of the 10th. Sure, the Giants had chances to win after Cuzzi's bad call, but had Cuzzi made the RIGHT call, the game would have ended with a Giants victory.

What does this have to do with the Denver media, you ask?

Well, the discussion about "discipline" for Phil Cuzzi has already begun, trumpeted initially by dogged NY Daily News blogger Andy Martino here: New York Mets catcher Henry Blanco's comments also didn't hurt, and they are also discussed in Martino's excellent blog. And remember, it was Martino's hometown team that was HELPED by Phil Cuzzi's inability to tell safe from out !!!

Why didn't this happen here, when Jeff Nelson cost the Rockies a victory with a disastrous call? Why didn't Troy Renck, an excellent reporter but not one to make waves like Andy Martino, trash Jeff Nelson for his obviously wrong call that cost the Rockies a game in April? Why didn't Tracy Ringolsby hammer home the blown call that definitively cost the Rockies a game during his interminable segments on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain until Major League Baseball was forced to respond, even if only with a rumor of discipline for Nelson?

I challenge you, Denver media... DEFEND YOUR TEAMS WHEN THEY ARE WRONGED!

And here's a prediction:

Due to Phil Cuzzi's obvious inability as an umpire (remember his HORRENDOUS call in last year's ALDS in New York;_ylt=AhE63pNQEHGSNZGqpx_IWNurO4d4?urn=mlb,195187 that resulted in Cuzzi being removed from the 2009 World Series umpiring crew), we will never see Mr Cuzzi work a merit-based game again. Cuzzi will never work an All-Star game; he will never work a post-season game; and it wouldn't be surprising if he's found another line of work by Opening Day 2011.

Yet nothing about Jeff Nelson polishing his resume... and his call cost the Rockies just like Cuzzi's cost the Giants.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Worst Call In History, And How It Could Help The Rockies

Jim Joyce made the worst call in sports history last night. For the rest of our lives, we will see Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers getting Jason Donald of the Cleveland Indians out to complete the 27th and final out of a perfect game. And we will see umpire Jim Joyce rule Donald safe when Donald was CLEARLY out, making the absolute worst call in baseball history.

The play unfolded as follows: 26 up, 26 down, and Galarraga makes a 1-1 pitch to Donald that Donald slaps to first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Galarraga races to first, has his foot on the first base bag, and the throw from Cabrera CLEARLY beats Donald yet Joyce calls Donald safe, totally blowing the call.

25 years ago, the SAME THING happened in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. With nobody out in the top of the 9th inning and the St. Louis Cardinals leading the Kansas City Royals 1-0 (and leading the series 3-2), the Royals' Jorge Orta grounds to Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark, who tosses to Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell covering first. Although Orta was clearly out, umpire Don Denkinger ruled him safe. Of course, Orta eventually scored, the Royals won the game 2-1, and their blowout in Game 7 gave them the World Series title. Until last night, THIS was the call that was considered the worst call in history. AND IT DIDN'T EVEN DEFINITIVELY CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME!!! Orta would have been the first out, but the Royals STILL could have scored those runs! Similarly, the Cardinals had a chance to win the World Series in Game 7, and they got blown out. So the oft-repeated statement that Denkinger's blown call "cost the Cardinals a World Series" is factually untrue.

But it is factually true that Jim Joyce's blown call cost Armando Galarraga the 21st perfect game in baseball history. Of course Galarraga maintained his composure and got the 28th out, so the OUTCOME of the game (a 3-0 Tigers victory) was not changed. But whether history views the game as a perfect game for Galarraga or as a 1-hit shutout hinges on Jim Joyce's ability to get a simple call right.

And this morning, the Sturm und Drang has begun for Major League Baseball Commissioner to overturn Joyce's blown call and award Galarraga with the perfect game that he rightly owned. People argue that, because the blown call occurred on the 27th out and definitively, absolutely nothing else could have occurred after the call to ruin Galarraga's perfect game - as opposed to if the call had occurred in the 6th inning - this is an opportunity for Selig to right a very specific and correctable wrong.

Well if that happens, the Colorado Rockies should have their April 18 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves erased and replaced with a 3-2 victory. Here's the situation:

With 26 outs completed (2 outs in the bottom of the ninth) and Braves runners on first and second, Braves first baseman Troy Glaus grounds to Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who flips to Rockies pitcher Franklin Morales covering first. Even though the throw beat Glaus, first base umpire Jeff Nelson made the exact same mistake that Denkinger made in 1985 and that Joyce made last night - he ruled the baserunner safe on a play at first where the first basemen fielded the ball and the pitcher covered. Think Glaus wasn't safe? Look at these pictures of the play:

There is no discussion. When that baseball rested in Franklin Morales's glove and Troy Glaus's foot was NOT yet on the base, the 27th out had been achieved and the ballgame was over. Only umpire Jeff Nelson ruled Glaus safe, and Morales subsequently imploded and eventually allowed a game-winning hit to Braves star Jayson Heyward.

So far, there is one difference. Jim Joyce was humble, admitted his mistake, and apologized to Armando Galarraga. However, we have not heard from Jeff Nelson. No admission of a bad call in the face of visual evidence to the contrary; no humble apology for an incorrect call that absolutely cost a team a victory, in this case the Rockies. And in a tight NL West race, what happens if the Rockies miss the playoffs by a single game? And that single game is the April 18 game where the Rockies achieved the 27th out with a 3-2 lead, but umpire Jeff Nelson, as Jim Joyce would say, "kicked the shit" out of the call...

So if Bud Selig decides, as many are clamoring for, to overturn Jim Joyce's egregious call and award Armando Galarraga with a perfect game because the umpiring error occurred on the 27th out and is "correctable," then the same ABSOLUTELY thing must happen with regards to the Colorado Rockies-Atlanta Braves game on April 18 of this year.

Overturning poor umpiring calls post-facto starts baseball on a slippery slope, and is very unlikely to happen, even in the Jim Joyce situation. But if it does...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is Drew Goodman Guilty Of Racism?

Hate to come out the box like this, but I suppose it's the things that seem like the greatest injustices that move people to act. In my case, the Fox Sports Rocky Mountain broadcast of the Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs game last night; Tuesday, May 18; has made me act.

The worst charge that can be levelled against someone is the charge of racism. Not only is racism itself absolutely inexcusable, but a charge of racism is indefensible. In the face of the charge of racism, ANYTHING a person does or says only makes things seem worse and makes them seem like MORE of a racist. So I will absolutely NOT make the claim that Drew Goodman, Colorado Rockies TV play-by-play guy, is a racist. Rather, I will simply say that things that he consistently says during broadcasts of Colorado Rockies games absolutely demand that the question be asked: "Is Drew Goodman Guilty Of Racism?" I will then provide a series of actions Goodman can take that will prove that he is NOT guilty of racism.

Three Reasons That One Might Ask "Is Drew Goodman Guilty Of Racism?"

Here are the three things I have noticed about Drew Goodman during his tenure as Rockies play-by-play announcer that make me ask that unfortunate question:

1. Drew Goodman offers unnecessary praise of white players, over-estimating specific players' abilities to contribute to the team's success, over-emphasizing the positive contributions they make to a game he is broadcasting, and superciliously commenting on their families and personal lives.

2. Drew Goodman is reticent to criticize white players, often ignoring their failures, yet is never above open criticism of black and Latin players.

3. Drew Goodman consistently uses what I feel is subtle, perhaps even subconscious, code for racism in that he often comments on the great "work ethic," or positive work ethic-related characteristics, of white players while rarely, if ever, making the same comments related to black or Latin players.

Goodman's Comments on May 18, 2010

While I have noticed the three above tendencies of Drew Goodman for years, it has only been recently that I've been sharing my opinions with friends. Having done so, my friends have begun to take similar notice, encouraging me to blog about that (and other topics). So although I have some specific memories of comments Goodman has made prior to this season, it's only been this season that I've been paying particular attention to his comments related to my feelings that it must be asked if Drew Goodman is guilty of racism.

In fact, I've even always tried to couch my comments to friends about Drew Goodman by saying, "I don't think he's a racist, but...". In fact, I've always tried to explain away what I feel is Goodman's obvious favoritism of white players by saying that perhaps he feels more of a kinship with them due to language, communication, or cultural issues. Recently, having listened to my opinion and watched Colorado Rockies broadcasts on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain with an eye on Goodman's comments related to the race of the players on which he is commenting, my friends have begun saying, "Why do you say you DON'T think Drew Goodman is a racist? Listen to his comments!" So I have been paying an even closer amount of attention to Goodman's comments this season, with regards to the race of the player on which he is commenting.

Take Goodman's comments during last night's game. One of Goodman's favorite players, Rockies second baseman Clint Barmes (who is white), comes to bat with two men on and two out in the second inning. Barmes, who is consistently among the least productive, offensively, full-time players in all of baseball when excluding catchers, does what Rockies fans consistently see him do but Drew Goodman never points out - Barmes grounds out to shortstop, ending the inning, and failing to deliver much-needed runs for the Rockies. Does Goodman comment on Barmes's repeated failure to deliver in a big spot? Nope. Goodman makes this comment as the inning ends and Fox Sports Rocky Mountain goes to commercial: "Barmes, who always goes 100%, almost beat that throw!"

Later, with no outs in the bottom of the 8th and the Cubs clinging to a 1-run lead, the Cubs' Tyler Colvin attempts to steal second base. When Rockies catcher Paul Phillips's throw skips past shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the ball goes all the way into centerfield because Clint Barmes - the same Barmes who Goodman told us "always goes 100%" - didn't hustle to back up the throw. Although Goodman spent several innings criticizing the poor defense of the Venezuelan Melvin Mora during a game a couple of weeks ago, he was unable to criticize not only the poor defense of Barmes last night, but didn't say a peep about Barmes's poor EFFORT! After Barmes's failure to back up second led to an additional base for Colvin, all Goodman could offer was "you hate to see that."

Then later in the same inning, with Cubs runners at both second and third and only one out and the Rockies infield drawn in, the Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome pops out to Barmes at second, with Barmes hustling from his drawn in position to short center to make a nice catch. But it was exactly that - a nice catch. Nearly every major league middle infielder would have made the same play nearly every time. Goodman, however, begins fawning over the play, and Barmes's effort on said play, with apparent amnesia about how it was Barmes's laziness that allowed a runner to reach third in the first place. In a pretty obvious attempt to bolster his claim that Barmes's hustle caused the catch to be made on that play, Goodman immediately begins goading his partner, former infielder Jeff Huson, into complementing Barmes. Rather than simply allowing Huson to comment on his own, or even asking Huson about that play, Goodman immediately bleats out a demand that Huson tell the viewer why the play was so difficult.

And of course, during the course of the game, Goodman had to tell the viewers that Barmes had many friends and family members at the game in Chicago, since it's near Barmes's home in Indiana. Was pointing that out enough? Nope. Goodman had to unnecessarily add that Barmes comes from "a great family."

What Last Night's Comments Mean

The examples provided in regards to last night's game, on their own, really don't demonstrate anything. But taken together, there are three major points that could demonstrate something nefarious, or even racist, about Goodman's attitude.

1. By pointing out that Clint Barmes "always goes 100%" when he hustles to first on a routine groundout to shortstop, Goodman is implying that there are SOME major league players - presumably even some Rockies players - who do NOT always give 100% effort. Who are those players, Drew?

2. When Barmes's lack of effort allows a baserunner an extra base, does Drew step up to point that out? Nope. Apparently, Goodman only points out that Barmes "always goes 100%" when Barmes is hustling, not on the plays where he doesn't hustle. Further, with the comment about Barmes's effort having been made earlier in the SAME GAME, wouldn't a comment about Barmes's lack of effort actually be warranted here?

3. What is the point of telling the viewer that Barmes comes from a "great family." Is this relevant to the broadcast? To the Rockies' on-field performance? Or is this just another way of puffing up the credentials of the white Clint Barmes, since it's nearly impossible at this stage to defend Barmes's on-field performance?

Why I Feel The Comments On Work Ethic Are So Telling

When Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Al Campanis made his despicable comments about how blacks did not "have some of the necessities" to be an on-field manager or general manager of a baseball team in 1987, he was summarily dismissed from his job. The implication Campanis appeared to make (and that cost him his job, although he later attempted to explain away his comments) was that blacks seeking managerial jobs weren't smart enough for those positions. Clearly, in 1987, it was unacceptable to say that blacks weren't smart enough for any job, but apparently Campanis thought it was OK to imply it. An old man (Campanis was in his 70's at the time) a generation ago had his career ended for making a veiled comment about the innate abilities of a minority group compared to white folks, yet as we all know, racism is still alive and well today... even if the rhetoric, particularly the veiled rhetoric, of racism has changed.

Today, no one would dare publicly claim, or even imply, that any race was mentally inferior to another, as Campanis did 23 years ago. However, to me, the 2010 corollary to that sentiment is the belief that there are ethnic groups who do not have the same "work ethic" that white folks have. As our nation deals with the unfortunate repurcussions of the desultory immigration law recently passed in Arizona, we are bombarded with more and more sound bites of people who, I feel, harbor racist views. A common refrain from this group is that immigrants, often called "those people," come to the United States of America, often called "here," and obtain governmental benefits without contributing to the system that pays those benefits, often stated as "refuse to work" or "don't pay taxes." While no one would claim that any race was mentally inferior to another in 2010, there are people who would claim, or even imply, that there are ethnicities who don't have the same inherent work ethic as whites, which is simply absurd.

In other words, I believe a code for a belief in racial inferiority in 2010 is the phrase "work ethic" and the ancillary characteristics that work ethic implies.

Again, I'm not saying that Drew Goodman harbors these feelings, or is consciously using these code words. But I am saying that his comments demand that the question be asked, particularly given his penchant for point out the work ethic of white players and rarely, if ever, pointing it out in black or Latin players. And he is a YOUNG man in a NEW generation making these comments, totally different than Al Campanis, to boot!

Earlier this year, when the Rockies played a home series vs the Philadelphia Phillies, Goodman went into great detail about how the addition of Roy Halladay, who is white, to the Phillies' roster had provided such a great example of "work ethic" to other Phillies players. By pointing out that Halladay is "never just sitting at his locker" but is always watching tape or working out, as Goodman pointed out, there is an obvious implication that some major league players do NOT have a great work ethic. But, again, Goodman didn't provide any examples of the other side of his argument.

What Goodman Can Do To Demonstrate He's Not Guilty Of Racism

There are three direct things that Drew Goodman can do to demonstrate that he's not guilty of racism, which I certainly hope he's not. Here they are:

1. Objectively criticize Clint Barmes, who is an obvious offensive failure and is a hindrance to the Rockies at this point. Goodman is not afraid to criticize other players, particularly Melvin Mora (who deserved the criticism), but the same "courtesy" must also apply to white players, especially Barmes.

2. Comment on a lack of effort by players where appropriate, if comments about "work ethic" are going to part of his on-air commentary, without regards to the player's race. Especially after pointing out that Barmes "always goes 100%", Goodman must prove his racial objectivity by telling his Fox Sports Rocky Mountain viewers when a player does NOT "go 100%." Similarly, point out hustle and "work ethic" from players who are NOT white, when appropriate.

3. Share family information about players objectively, without commentary about which players come from a "good family" unless he is willing to point out players who he feels do NOT come from a "good family." Or, better yet, explain the difference between a "good family" and a "bad family" when making comments about players' families.

Comments are welcome.