The Brett Phillips, World Series Hero Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: The following podcast includes explicit language not restricted to words, beginning with F. S, B and Q.

S2: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor. This is Hang Up and Listen for the week of October 26, 2020. On this week’s show, we’ll talk about the likely and unlikely heroes of this World Series, which the L.A. Dodgers are leading three games to two over the Tampa Bay Rays. ESPN’s Myron Metcalf also join us to discuss the financial challenges of college sports during a pandemic and how one Division one school is considering dropping sports entirely. For our final segment, we’re going to have a hang up and listen gameshow. Stay tuned as our panelists interrogate our mystery guest. Try to guess who he is and why he’s here. And you, the listeners can play along at home or not. It’s really up to you.

Advertisement

S3: I am the author of The Queen, host of Slow Burn Season for Residents of Washington, D.C. and for one week only, the presenter of What’s My Line? Also in Washington, D.C., it’s the author of the book Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic playing to win this brand new catamaran.

S4: Stefan Fatsis. Hello, Stefan.

S5: You know how much I love Sports Challenge.

S4: I do. And catamarans. Are you, Dick Thornburgh? I’m just a lonely catamaran salesman trying to get this catamaran off my lot. With us from Palo Alto, Slate staff writer, the host of Slow Burn Season three, playing to this totally different brand new catamaran. It’s Joel Anderson. Welcome, Joel. What the hell am I with a catamaran?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: You’re by the ocean right there. Come on. You’re just crawling in catamarans that kind of marinas. A boat, right? Yeah, it’s just some sort of a sailboat. But I don’t know how to swim. I don’t want to be on the wall. I don’t want to be in the water.

S7: All right, fine. You can donate your catamaran.

S5: I think Stanford has a varsity sailing team, or at least did until they cut a bunch of sports.

S6: I think they did no longer. Yeah, it might have been one of the victims.

S5: There was a moment after game four of the World Series on Saturday night when that Tampa Bay Rays, whose name you probably had never heard before or if you had didn’t remember it because it’s Brett Phillips and not say something more beautiful like Randy or Sarina or Manny Margot, also actual names of other previously unknown Tampa Bay Rays. Anyway, there was a moment after Brett Phillips had airplanes in the outfield and was dogpile by his teammates when the camera cut to him sitting in the dugout, bent at the waist, being attended to by someone not in a uniform. Maybe the team trainer. Phillips hadn’t done the first interview with Fox. That was another guy you might not have heard of, Kevin Kollmeier. So when I saw the shot of Phillips in the dugout, I was genuinely worried about Brett Phillips celebration, injury, heart attack, nervous breakdown. And he would have been understandable, but fortunately were not the case. Brett Phillips was, I’m guessing, just overwhelmed and needed some quiet time before going back on the field and giving one of the purest postgame interviews ever to my pal Ken Rosenthal of Fox.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S8: Finally, did you see all the craziness with Randy scoring? You know, I honestly, it’s hard to believe right now that things are going like that. Just happened. Once I saw Randy slip, I was like, oh, sure, at least we tied it up and then he missed the ball. I don’t know what happened, but then he scored. And next thing I know, I’m an airplane and on the field and I get down piled and there I am talking to the boys.

S5: Here I am talking to the boys. The Rays lost game five on Sunday night. Game six is Tuesday. We’ll get to that. But Josh, we have to start with Brett Phillips and one of the most joyful moments that you’ll ever see in a sports game. It was really it was really lovely, wasn’t it?

Advertisement

S9: Yeah, he’s just barely over two hundred. He was brought to the Raiders in a trade with the Royals just as depth and to be a pinch runner.

S3: He’s known for being fast and he came into the game as a pinch runner. And I was thinking about this like the reason that baseball has, I think, a number of postseason heroes, like unknown postseason heroes that seems out of proportion with other sports, I think is because, you know, there are deep rosters, but there are there are deeper rosters in football. But I think it’s because baseball out of the major sports that we have here in this continent, it’s the only one that has substitutions that are both unlimited, like unlike soccer, where you can only get three per game, like in baseball, you can sub in and out anybody that you want, but they’re also permanent. Like in basketball. You can make as many substitutions as you want, but the person you sub out can come back in the game and say, I’m in hockey, but in baseball, you know, you start your best guys, your you know, your you know, the second string is on the bench. But then often at the end of the game, especially if it’s a long game, goes the extra innings or if it’s you know, there’s a lot of scoring is there wasn’t this one the lineup that ends up on the field bears little resemblance to the one that started out. And you often have to say about the better players in exchange for you know, in this case, Phelps came out in a pinch runner and just happened. Have to come up to bat, and so I think it’s a neat thing about baseball, where the lesser known guys get opportunities in the most consequential parts of games. Whereas, you know, Joel, I was trying to think about this with the NBA playoffs, the only example I could think of is like Talin Horton Tucker, like, had scored five points in the second quarter in game four against the rockets go Western Conference semis in the you know, in in the second quarter. It’s like, you know, at the end of the game, it’s going to be like LeBron and Anthony Davis taking every shot or, you know, maybe Duncan Robinson is sort of a decent start.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: But, you know, but he’s like a D three player. And, you know, I mean, I get it, but I’m just. Yes, you’re right. I mean, if you get it, you’re trying to undermine me.

S5: You if you didn’t casually watching the NBA this year, you would know who Duncan Robbins was, right? I would have heard the story about this kid that started at Williams College and made it to the NBA, whereas even if you were an attentive baseball fan, you probably didn’t know who Brett Phillips was. And that is exactly right, Josh. It’s sort of like the beauty of the unheralded hero, the player who comes up with an opportunity to do something crazy. And in this case, everything that happened was crazy. It wasn’t like he just hit a single and the winning run scored. It was like the comedy of errors that allowed the game winning run to score.

Advertisement

S6: Yeah. And that’s actually you call it the comedy of errors. That’s the thing that sort of gets me about the Dodgers fan, because that could I mean, for all of the like celebration and the hoopla that went over had ended for the rays, that could have just been a crippling moment for the Dodgers to, like, blow it like that. I mean, have to areas like that in a moment.

S7: And given their recent postseason history.

S6: Yeah, you would just have to think if you’re a Dodgers player or Dodgers fan, like, oh, we are curse like we are actually not going to ever be able to close the door on this. So to see them bounce back in game five like that to me spoke a lot about like, you know, I guess whatever the foundation of that team is and, you know, it it leads back to Clayton Kershaw. I guess the thing is that there’s not actually a thing such as momentum in baseball, the momentum, only the momentum as the next day’s starting pitcher started. Right. And then the luck that is involved with the the good fortune that the Dodgers have to have. Clayton Kershaw, you know, one of the best pitches of this generation up next, like it could have been set up to have been a nightmare. And and what actually happened is that, oh, the Dodgers just righted themselves the next night.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Right. And what’s what’s important to point out is that it could have also been a nightmare because of Hal Clayton Kershaw has been perceived as a postseason pitcher. The narrative around Kershaw, even though he was three and one going into Sunday night’s game in this postseason, and he pitched really well, the narrative over the course of his career has been that he’s been mayor. Five hundred pitcher Hibara, like, it’s not the narrative stuff and it’s the reality, right. The truth of what the Yankees are going into this postseason was above five in the postseason over his career versus two point something over the course of his regular seasons.

Advertisement

S9: Well, before you get on to Kershaw and I would like to I want to listen to Joe Buck’s call of the Brett Phillips single to win Game four and the insanity that ensued Jansen.

S7: So there’s a lot of people have pointed out correctly that was a really good call by Joe Buck, he was presented a fairly substantial challenge. It was a raid before him on the field and described everything accurately and with emotion. So maybe we’re having a slight Joe Buck isn’t here some appreciation for his work in the booth, which he doesn’t usually get. But the thing that I wanted to point out about the play is that too often, in my view in baseball these days, the highlight, which really isn’t much of a highlight and Sam Miller wrote a piece about this is a home run. It’s like not interesting to like either watch except for like the second in which the ball contacts the bat.

Advertisement

S3: It’s not really that interesting to call, although announcers have their distinctive homerun calls and they put a lot of English on it. But the thing that was so fun about this play and you can hear it in that call, is that so much shit happened. It goes on for like 20 seconds. And that’s the great thing about baseball. It’s like seeing Ken Griffey Jr. go from first to home. And as you know, the tension of, like, you know, the ball going to the outfield and the relay and is he going to slide and frier and there were and that’s it. They had memory for me. But that’s the thing that makes baseball and makes the playoffs, baseball playoffs so fun and good is to have these like more attenuated moments rather than the game be decided by just like the crack of a bat and then it’s over.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Well, I would say to extend that thought out that, you know, the thing that I like about international soccer or World Cup is that every moment is so fraught, like every goal, you know, it’s like life or death, essentially. Right. That’s what postseason baseball recaps just for me in a way like regular season, because obviously the stakes are just not the same. But in the postseason, everything that happens has so much weight riding on it. Right. Like every moment is so fraught. And so when it comes down to that sort of situation, like that’s the sort of stuff that makes people fall in love with the game and like that’s the stuff that keeps bringing people back. And that’s why postseason baseball, I mean, it has a level of drama that not even the NBA or the NFL can sort of recreate because of the dynamics of the game.

S5: Right. And I don’t think you could you could construct a series of events and a setup like that one on Saturday night. I mean, this this dominant closer who’s had some issues throwing ninety eight again, Jansen, Kenley, Jansen against the last guy on the bench who by happenstance is inserted into the game. He’s like batting only because there was nobody left to bat. They had one player left on the bench and that was the backup catcher. And then it’s a little flair single into center field. The first fielder flubs, the ball makes a throw in to the cutoff man who turns and throws it to the catcher offline. So that’s number two. Number three is the catcher isn’t even aware that Harris Arena has turned third after the flub in the outfield and it’s coming to home. So he’s anticipating he’s got to make a play. So he sweeps, makes a sweep tag before the ball gets there. The ball ricochets away. Arocena thinks he’s going to get thrown out. So he stumbles and falls and then recovers and slaps home.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: I mean, it was one of those the joy and the beauty of it was that it was so unexpected, but also the combination of factors that led to that moment.

S9: There is a story in The Wall Street Journal by Jared Diamond about Brad Phelps’s wife going to the game, but leaving before the ending. So she didn’t see his at bat in person.

S3: And it’s like kind of a fun and cute human interest story, or it’s actually kind of like dad, not grounds for divorce, but it’s like a sad testament to our times. Like, she has not been with him for the last several months because of the players having to quarantine during the playoffs. And she could have had the opportunity. But she has a job in Florida and she didn’t want to ask for time off from the job. Then she goes to the stadium and it’s the first time she’s seen him in person in like more than a month. And they’re only able to, like, say hi at a distance from the outfield. And so, you know, it’s like, again, on the one hand, it’s like, oh, like what a what a fun thing. Like she, like, left. But the game early on the other hand, it’s like, you know, this is baseball being played in a pandemic. And they have fans at the stadium in Arlington, Texas, and it’s like really good games. And while many teams and it’s also like actually being played at a time when the World Series is traditionally being played. And so there’s a lot about this World Series that seems like kind of strangely normal. And it took that actually to remind me of what the larger context is here, where you say it is normal.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S10: But I mean, again, I hadn’t even thought about the pandemic piece of this. And you just said it like that because I’m thinking, oh, man, how awesome would it have been to. The Game four ending in Tampa. You know what I mean? Like and to have it before it’s fans, you know, one of the few times that you could fill out Tropicana Field. Right. And to be sort of denied that moment to see a stadium explode and, you know, a town sort of rally and celebrate a team like that, that piece of it was missing. Like, I know that it was cool to have the camera follow, you know, Brett Phillips running around in the outfield and the guy’s dog problem and everything. But, you know, I still think that, like, missing the fans is a piece of this, that you just is something you just can’t recreate. Like, no matter how many cardboard cutouts you put in the outfield stands or whatever, and, you know, you know, smart camerawork, it just doesn’t. It does it still can’t replace the feeling of having a full stadium in postseason baseball. Like that’s a big part of this part of the year for me.

S7: Yeah, I think that’s totally true. But I also feel like that might be the first moment since sports resumed that you could actually drop into, like, highlight reel of, like, greatest moments in sports. And you actually wouldn’t know that it was happening during a pandemic.

S5: Yeah, yeah. Josh, you had mentioned that these have been two evenly matched teams and the games have all been pretty good. And that was the case on Sunday night in game five to final score was four to two. There were no lead changes in this game. There were no lead changes actually in games one, two or three either. So until that crazy game four things proceeded without too many surprises. But the one thing about Game five that sort of followed the theme of the ending of Game four and what you mentioned, Josh, is that there was stuff that we love to see that we don’t get to see that much in baseball anymore. There was a triple there was a bunt single and there was an attempted steal of a home by Manny Margaux. And when that happened, I was like my gasped like when I saw him take off, like he’s feeling holy shit. And that was another sort of fun moment that made me love baseball for what it is and particularly the World Series.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: Yeah. And there was also I’d like to circle back to Clayton Kershaw. I like this guy, you know, in the very kind of classic sports way, like trying to transcend what he had done in the past and do something, you know, elevate his team and elevate himself in a moment where it mattered.

S3: And he and he pulled it off. And like Louisa Thomas had a good piece about this in The New Yorker about even as a neutral fan, the kind of stress of watching him pitch in the World Series, knowing the weight of all that. So you can only imagine what it was like for him or for a Dodgers fan.

S7: But the thing that I hadn’t realized when I read this piece on the website Beyond the Box score, is that I knew that Kershaw wasn’t the same pitcher that he had been in terms of velocity, that he was getting by with a little bit more finesse, that his fastball speed had declined. But he actually went to one of these facilities. And Ben Lindbergh writes about this a lot in his book, The MVP Machine. These places that players go now in the offseason to do like kind of development and learn new pitches, learn new skills. So he went to this place called Driveline and he actually added miles per hour to his fastball, not that much like one point two miles per hour. And so it’s not I don’t think there’s anything particularly suspicious about it. But, you know, it’s rare for a guy to throw a little faster and, you know, an age thirty to season than he had in his age. Thirty one season. And so that’s the thing that I think is cool, is that with Kershaw, he’s a guy who’s going to be in the Hall of Fame, somebody he’s made a crap load of money. He’s one of the maybe the best pitcher of his generation. And rather than just like going back and doing it over again and hoping that he gets different results, he’s actually just like trying to get better and trying to, like, actively do things to allow himself to be more successful in the postseason rather than just hoping it would happen.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: Yeah. And even even in that moment, with the steal of a home or the attempted steal of home, you saw how athletes prepare and why Kershaw was able to register that out. I mean, he said after the game that, you know, he was pitching, he’s got this really elaborate windup. He raises his glove pretty high, which gives runners an opportunity to get a big jump. And you watch the replay and Kershaw goes into that high glove raise and Max Munsie, the first baseman, starts pointing at the runner, taking off from third. And Kershaw steps off the rubber and deliberately quickly gets the ball home and they get him by like a millimeter. And he said after the game, that’s something that we practice because of the way that he throws the ball. So I thought that was really, really cool and very fun to watch from both ends, both the balls that it took for Margo to take off and try to steal home because they were aware of Kershaw’s delivery. But then Kershaw’s response and the catchers play at home, too. It was a great play.

S6: Yeah. I mean, to Lewis’s piece to about this just sort of the anxiety you have watching Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers sort of go through this. I mean, I’m not the sort of person that’s going to be rooting for the Dodgers. I mean, I’m tired of them.

S3: Whining about the twenty seventeen World Series or whatever, but I mean, they also just have this enormous payroll and to think of them as like an underdog like team that we all need to rally around so they can finally win is a bit risible.

S6: Right. Although I do like I do like the idea that they pay. Right. That they’re not doing this sort of, you know, trying to win around the edges and not not pay and not attract the best product on the field. Right. So I think they should be rewarded for that. But I’ve been trying to think about with Clayton Kershaw, how many great no doubt, Hall of Famers that you have this sort of anxiety around them in these sort of moments. And I couldn’t come up with many like maybe like Peyton Manning, you know, when they play in a big game or whatever, and you still like as great as they are, you still just don’t necessarily trust them. Right. And like maybe Shaq, like, I’m just thinking, like when Shaq when they would come to the free throw line at games, like when he was at its peak and there was still like this hole in his game and you could exploit it and you could see the like just the tension that the Rosett on his own team, the people that there wasn’t necessarily this belief. And so to that extent, I’m sort of happy to see the Dodgers get over this, because I think that excellence should be rewarded in sports and because baseball’s postseason is an imperfect measure of excellence and it’s not necessarily the best sample size. It’s good to see, you know, excellence be rewarded, even though, you know, I do have like some personal affinity for the Rays. But, yeah, it’s if this ends with the Dodgers winning the World Series, great, because they’ll they’ll shut the hell up about twenty, seventeen and, you know, a good team will be rewarded and like, that’s all you can ask for a sports fan.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S11: It’s hard to pretend UC Riverside, the large university about an hour east of Los Angeles, has ever made much of an impact on the college sports national landscape. The school disbanded its football team in 1975. The men’s basketball team has advanced to the NCAA tournament in twenty three years. In fact, only two sports programs have advanced to the NCAA is in the past decade men’s soccer in twenty eighteen and women’s indoor track and field in 2016. But UC Riverside seems poised to become a national symbol of the catastrophic financial cost of the coronavirus pandemic. Our guest for this segment, ESPN’s Myron Metcalf Amato, wrote last week about the challenges facing the school where they’re considering eliminating all 15 sports for cost savings of twenty three point two dollars million. UC Riverside is currently the most subsidized Division one program in the country, with more than 90 percent of annual revenue coming from student fees. That’s just one reason school officials are targeted the athletic department for elimination. So, Myron, you wrote, quote that the chancellor is expected to make a final decision sometime before the end of the calendar year, but possibly as early as next month. So if you had to guess, what do you think is going to happen there?

S12: That’s a really good question. You know, I think what I can say is cutting the entire athletic department is a real thing, you know? I mean, this isn’t like just something they kind of threw out. There is a possibility among a hundred different options. So I think it’s a real thing. And you considered a subsidy and you consider the financial challenges that every school has happened, but especially the schools that don’t have, like the major power five football pipeline. Everyone’s got to make some tough choices. So my hope is that they find a way to keep going. And I talked to a lot of people who said, hey, student fees are not increased on that campus in almost 20 years. And there seems to be some support for that to raise student fees to maybe make up for that gap. But we’re also in a pandemic. So I don’t know that anybody can make any assumptions about new revenue streams. So I guess I would say it feels realistic to me that they may announce that they are ending sports at UCR and that feels like a real possibility.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: So, Myron, when you say that you wish that they figure out a way to save sports here, why do you feel that way?

S9: Like do you feel like if they decided to drop down from D1, make these, like, club sports or what would the harm there be?

S12: I think it’s a fair question when I say I hope they get a chance, keep going. I just feel, you know, a certain sympathy and really empathy for the athletes. I’m a former college athlete playing at a D to school. You know, I know what it’s like to play a sort of an under radar program and the possible impact that can have on your life. So I do feel for them. And then you you talk to people. I mean, it’s a lot of jobs. You’re talking about potentially eliminating and impacting. So, yeah, I think in that regard, I do hope they hope they find a way in terms of dropping the level. That’s the conversation they have to have. And that’s the conversation that just have, I think, every school in this country that doesn’t have a multimillion dollar TV contract or football program that’s just pouring in revenue year after year has to really think about what they want to be going forward. Like, can you keep up with the Joneses? Because I think a lot of schools don’t realize that. They just can’t. And I play D to football. Right? Not that long. I wasn’t as good as Joel. Right. But I was I was good enough to be like a dude out of Milwaukee to get a D to partial scholarship and track scholarship. So I understand what it’s like to not be Daewon and sort of the, you know, the perception attached to that. But like, who cares? You know, at the end of the day, you still have opportunities for student athletes. You’re still playing the sport. And I think that has to be something that schools like UCLA and others consider going for.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Right. Because that’s the it’s really shifting the thinking of what sports in college as opposed to college sports need to be. I mean, it makes a lot of sense for schools that aren’t Big five that don’t generate any revenue. Because let’s be clear, UC Riverside doesn’t generate revenue from sports when the school talks about its twenty three million dollars in revenue for the athletic department that comes out of student fees and the university’s overall budget, there’s no money coming in here. So the idea to me is that you’ve got to move away from this ingrained notion that losing intercollegiate sports at NCAA level would somehow be devastating. You know, we shouldn’t be perpetuating the idea that college would be less of an experience. For all due respect, Meyer second tier athletes for whom sports might have been time consuming but won’t be central to the rest of their lives. And that’s not to say we should take away the opportunities to go to college for athletes to get partial or full scholarships. Universities are fully within. Their rights and abilities to admit the exact same students and have them play sports but have them play at a different level, whether it’s D three or club.

S12: Yeah, I mean, conceptually, that makes a lot of sense. But the tangible impact of that is a little different. I mean, you have to untangle a lot of things, like at the end of the day, we will have a conversation about what the Division One landscape look like we should have done at 40 years. You know, like when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played against each other in the NCAA tournament for the national championship and like the sports, were taken off the collegiate level and TV contracts were emergent. That was the opportunity to say, OK, we’re going to set aside the wealthier schools and let them do their own thing, and then we’re going to put everybody else in this different category. What changed all that really is the NCAA tournament. And if you are a school in the Big West, like UCR, you’re still going to benefit financially from that. So there is some financial payout being attached to a Division One institution. And you’ve also invested in facilities and all of these other things to make yourself a Division One school so I can understand how programs and this position are going to do everything in their power to hold on to that D one affiliation. But I do agree that, like, whether you want to do it or whether you’re forced to do it, I think collegiate sports are going to change dramatically here in the coming years because financially it’s not sustainable for for a number of programs. And for me, I’ve always thought that, like Power Five should split entirely, do their own thing and every sport. And you could eliminate a lot of these challenges if you have something that’s keeping up with the Joneses attitude. But a lot of schools are just unwilling to do that because they appreciate, you know, the front porch theory, they call it. Right. I read one. There’s this impact on the university. That’s just not true for every school, like having D1 sports doesn’t sell your school for every institution. For some, certainly. But I know. But I just think there’s a lot of things that you’re going to have to unravel to go from where small time to one school to. All right, let’s just go these three. And I think most schools are going to try to hold on to do one as long as possible. And I think that’s what you can do.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: What’s that saying with throwing good money after bad, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I read another story you wrote about Hawaii, right. That’s another big West program. And I didn’t even I guess because we haven’t even gotten to that point in the season yet, we had to start thinking about all these other smaller schools starting to play sports. But like the logistical challenges that remain for all of these other schools that are broke as hell, like trying to play like, can you just talk about that real briefly? Because, I mean, it isn’t I don’t even understand how the University of Hawaii is going to pull off a basketball season like this.

S12: I go a step further, Joe. I don’t know how anybody’s going to pull off a college basketball season. I think college basketball set up to have far more complications in football. You move to indoor arenas and football, you can say the SEC is going to play the SCC a bunch of big budget schools, the same standards for testing. They have the money to pay for. They’re playing each other basketball as everybody plays everybody in November, December, at least that’s the goal. And that’s sort of the economy, the small schools, kind of the bigger schools get those big games. And I just don’t think a lot of schools can afford what the NCAA wants, which is testing three times a week throughout the season. I just talked to an athletic director of a non PA five school who said he’s already spent four hundred thousand dollars on test and that was four hundred thousand dollars that they had never planned for in their budget. So you add that on top of the pandemic and layoffs and furloughs, you have a whole lot of schools that just have to make, I think, some tough decisions. The Hawaii story. So my sister lives in Hawaii. She lives in Maui. I knew like. Yeah. What was going on the entire time because she was like, yeah, you can’t just come to Hawaii, like, you’ve got to quarantine fourteen days and now it’s the standard of to come to the island you got to test negative beforehand. So like schools are like, OK, I got to get that test before I leave. How does that work. Schools on the island come to the mainland are like, you know, what are the logistics of that odyssey? College basketball has a lot of problems with testing protocols, standards, and I just think you have a whole lot of complications in a weird season.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: So I think I need to take over this plan because Joel’s going to be scheming about how to get an invite to Hawaii.

S4: But I think I could actually I don’t know if I believe it.

S9: I’m going to try to work it out, but I think I could mount an argument for UCR is actually. A great example of a school that should have done sports like Miren, you paint a portrait of the school where it’s a majority minority campus. Eighty three percent of the students receive some form of aid.

S7: We’re talking in the abstract about, oh, they could just have club sports and you know, but in that case, given the world that we live in, would a lot of the athletes were getting an opportunity to go to the school and get an education, have the same opportunity. And also, if we’re just talking about this is a strict budget line item situation, is that an acknowledgement that the universe, this university or other universities don’t see athletics as having any kind of academic purpose or educational purpose like you don’t we don’t hear about the budget numbers and the revenues and losses for other departments at a university, and maybe that’s fair. Maybe maybe we should all just be clear eyed and say that athletics don’t serve any kind of educational academic purpose, these institutions. But it doesn’t seem like that’s the argument that the schools are making.

S12: It feels like it goes back to school. You have some leaders, like some presidents, who are all about athletics all day, every day. We have other schools are like, it ain’t all that. So I think like they’re comparable problems, right. The power fives, even a school like UCLA, like Ohio State, doesn’t need the subsidy, but they also have a bunch of donors who subsidize that program, too, right? Yeah. And they have a bunch of people who come to that stadium every Saturday and they subsidize that program, too. It’s like it kind of depends on like how you view the word subsidy right. At the end of the day. Yeah. There’s a product that you can sell to the general public in ways that you can’t.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: UCR, if I can jump in for a second, like the Ohio State thing, you could argue that the moral issue there is the fact that a lot of the ah, you know, the revenue that’s generated by primarily black athletes and basketball and football gets redistributed to these other no revenue sports that are more, you know, selling that they’re more they’re more white athletes.

S7: I mean, it’s just. Yeah, yeah. Redistributed from black black students, black athletes to white ones. Whereas at UCR, it seems like actually the revenue is being distributed to the black athletes or athletes of color.

S5: But it’s the revenue is, you know, the revenue that Ohio State is revenue that they’re generating off of the backs of the athletes who perform as entertainment that people want to watch and therefore they have the opportunity to make hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually. The difference that UCR is that the athletes are playing because they love playing and the university is giving them an opportunity to play. And I think that there’s there’s got to be a middle ground here for schools like UCR. And I don’t know if it’s a Division three model or if it’s a different model that says we still want you to play and we still want you to come to our campus and have the opportunity to play, but we’re just not going to subsidize it at the same rate that we used to.

S12: Yeah. Again, if you’re UCR, the argument there is you won’t get the same caliber athlete and they enjoy being at the division one level for some of the reasons that I listed. You can go D3 and you can recruit such good athletes, but it is a different attraction like so speak from experience. My bias is, and I think everyone should always admit they’re biased in the journalism world because we all are biased to some degree. I was that kid, right? So I was the kid who didn’t apply to college until May of my senior year because I was waiting on somebody offered me a partial scholarship. That’s how I was going to school. And I grew up in poverty. I grew up in a middle class family like that was about to get a partial scholarship, play football at this new school at about four or five different offers I was looking at that was about it, and I turned that into the career I have now. So I understand like what that can do, that college experience, having access to that. And even me, I don’t know if I would have been as motivated without football to go to college. You know, I come from educated parents, all my brothers and sisters going to college. But it wasn’t for me like college for me was like, where can I go play ball? You know? And I think there are a lot of people who think like that. And it’s not just black athletes. I think it’s a lot of athletes in general. So I do think there is a financial element there and attraction there where someone’s going to help you pay for school. Right. And you do lose that when you go down to the Division three model. But I think the pandemic has changed.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: And I think UC Riverside doesn’t operate in a vacuum. I mean, it’s going to be extremely hard for one school to make this step. It’ll be not as hard for a group of schools to make this step, to still be able to say to students that will still give you a scholarship, you’ll still be an opportunity to play. The model is just going to be different. You’re not going to travel around the country. We’re going to if you if you don’t play football, you’re going to play more games at one time. There’s going to it’s just got to be it or play shorter seasons. It’s just got to be a different model.

S6: That’s why I was thinking that, like, it seems like this is the sort of decision that should be made in concert with like other uses. Right, like, right, Irvine, Santa Barbara, San Diego, whatever, like so they don’t have to do this alone and I can’t imagine that UC Riverside is the only school in the UC system that is going through this, like, financial catastrophe. Right. Like I mean, certainly there are a lot of other schools bearing this sort of burden. And so if like one school does it, theoretically, they’re having conversations with all these other schools within that system about what with the consequences of that might be.

S12: I think UCR is first, but not last, all because a lot of schools that they’re going to find themselves in the same position where they’re saying, can we afford to support this program financially going forward? Can we afford everything attached to having sports on campus? Even if you go to a D three model, you’re not offering scholarships. You still going to have staff, coaches, facilities, maintenance and all these other elements that you have to pay. So I do think a number of schools will find themselves in that spot. But it’s a number of schools that probably should have thought about this years ago in terms of the benefits of jumping into this one. But once you do it and you’re affiliated with the Division one conference, it’s just more difficult to to untangle all of that. And I think UCR is trying to figure that out. Now, the people in the athletic department are saying, listen, we can raise student fees, we can fix this financial gap and we can keep moving forward. This is a this is a short term solution that the school is is offering right now. But it’s going to hurt things down the line. Whereas the school, I think, is saying there’s a lot of money we just don’t have right now. They’re expecting to lose thirty two million dollars from the state and it could grow. That number could grow. So I think UCR has an argument, but I think the argument that the school is making is makes a lot of financial sense, unfortunately, in terms of what they can and can’t support in the middle of a pandemic.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Well, I mean, obviously, we have a lot to look forward to coming up here. We’ll find out soon enough who’s going to play basketball and who isn’t and what’s going to happen with UCR. And hopefully we can have you back on, Myron. And I appreciate you shouting out my athletic skills because has happened once a week per podcast. So when you went ahead and brought it up, I didn’t have to do it myself. So Joel’s contract. It’s true. It’s true.

S12: He was the fastest 10 year old in the country.

S6: I was like the fastest D in my neighborhood so that, you know, depending on the neighborhood, that could be a big deal. I just I just had to be. Chris was shot up. Chris, thank you. Thanks, everybody.

S7: On this week’s bonus segment for Slate Plus members, we’re going to talk about the remarkable return of Big Ten football, all thanks to our president, Donald Trump. Please note that Donald Trump had nothing to do with the return of Big Ten football. Any suggestion otherwise is blatantly false.

S13: And now I would like to welcome you all to hang up and win America’s favorite sports themed game show. Joining us as always, our panelists, Joe Anderson and Stefan Fatsis. Thank you for being with us tonight on a catamaran is at stake here. I understand. And Stefan, thank you. Great to be with you, Josh. And we’re delighted to have our celebrity guest for this week. Bruce, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your time.

S14: All right. Now everybody is going to get to know Bruce, John, Stefan. You can ask him any question that you like. Your goal is to figure out why he has joined us on the show today. The only hint I’ll give you is that he is a sports innovator. And don’t worry if it seems like you guys need some help, I will help you out, but maybe you won’t need any help. So who wants to get started? You can ask anything you like, anything, OK?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: I mean, who are you, Bruce? Not asking me. Asking what sport you played. OK, we can ask what sport. OK, Bruce. What sport. Deploy a play. College football. Oh OK. Oh I’m excited.

S14: Now Bruce, you know that Joel played college football as well.

S15: So we go, OK, Joe.

S6: OK, where were you originally from, Bruce? Really? From Arkansas. Oh, OK. What part of Arkansas?

S15: From Little Rock, Arkansas.

S6: Oh, man.

S5: OK, did you go to a major college and play football?

S15: I think it was a major college.

S7: You could just ask him where he went.

S6: Where did you go to? Where did you go to school? I went to the University of Arkansas. Pine Bluff. Oh, OK. Oh, man. What position did you play? Bruce Lee quarterback.

S9: Joe, I’ll explain to the listeners if they don’t if they don’t remember what’s what’s your connection here?

S6: Well, I mean, I always like to say upby maybe my my parents met there. My mother is from Pine Bluff, so. Oh, man.

S5: OK, Bruce, what did you attend? Arkansas, Pine Bluff and play quarterback in the 1970s, UAP being played in the nineties.

S6: My father tended to play quarterback and he said, OK, no illegal Googling Stefan. I’m Googling nobody. Nobody nobody is Googling. Nobody’s Googling. You say quarterback, right, this year.

S9: All right. So here’s a here’s a hint. So, Bruce, when he was playing quarterback for you, IPB in the nineties, I mentioned that he’s a sports innovator. You know what what his innovation was? He made a suggestion that nobody had ever suggested before. And his team kind of employed a strategy upon upon Bruce’s suggestion.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: Did your team ever punt, Bruce?

S15: We did it. We did fine. Yes.

S9: I like where your head’s at that stuff. And now not one of these teams that never punted.

S11: Did your team huddle, Bruce?

S15: We huddle. We are. Yes, we are. A little bit. We were we were no huddle where we deploy the strategy.

S9: Huh? How do you think they’re doing so far, Bruce?

S15: They they in the right direction. They’re headed in the right direction.

S6: Oh, man.

S9: OK, so here’s another hand for you guys. I wanted to Bruce, come on the show, because what his innovation was is really apropos to something that was in the news and football this weekend and in college and in the NFL.

S6: Huh, in and what happened this weekend? Oh, man, hold on. Nobody got coronavirus. I think this kind of virus and the man I’m trying to think what happened this weekend did like the two point of it was the first two point conversion. Did you go for two point conversions every time? No, sir.

S9: OK, there was a two point conversion in that game, though. OK, ok.

S6: Oh, man. I think I know your last name though. Now, do you want to give him a hindrance here?

S15: His strategy was this is only been used at the end of games, so that’s a good hand. Oh, and again, maybe at the end of games and a lot of people don’t think that. I didn’t think it was actually a strategy that should be used.

S5: My brain as a kicker says that you guys onside kick it all the time. But that’s not the answer.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S15: No, that was I would place that as a strategy also. That would it would be in the same category as the onside kick.

S9: All right. I got one more hand for you guys. And this is when I talked to Bruce yesterday. He told me that he came up with a strategy playing a college football video game on Sega Genesis.

S6: What’s what man was it was a Bill Walsh College Football. So I think I had that.

S15: Yeah. Yeah. We used to play it all the time in the hall when the dorms on campus.

S16: Oh, my God. OK, man, let me get one more here. And several of us became coaches and we use it still to this day.

S11: Oh, man, I’m just running I’m trying to run the gamut of every possible game this week.

S15: Also tell tell John where you where you live now all I’m now in Houston, Texas, coach, high school football, Madison Tech.

S6: Madison High School or south southwest side. Yes. Right after. Yes. Yes. A hair gel. You can understand why I was excited to have presentation over Madison. That’s what’s on the back of the day is the new Madison.

S15: Now we have a new new school.

S1: And Bruce, does the innovation have to do with the quarterback position specifically?

S15: Well, no. The strategy has to do put it like the strategy had to do with last minute game hero heroics, last minute heroics.

S6: All right. I’m going to go with it like they were going to say, Joe, it’s not not like a hook and ladder like that. You run a hook and ladder.

S15: It’s similar to that. You’re warming up.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: Oh, all right, Stefan, you want one more gas and then we’ll have just we’ll have Bruce tell the story.

S5: I’m thinking we got close. Oh, I know what it is. You didn’t score a touchdown. Took it to the one yard line. You could have run it. Oh, my God.

S7: All right. This time the story of what happened that’s happened in this game. Nineteen ninety four in a playoff semifinals.

S16: We were actually playing in western Montana in nineteen ninety four semifinals of the NBA playoffs. It was a shootout. The game was a shootout. I mean I think it was sixty to fifty three. Final score.

S15: However, Western Montana had the ball running the clock out and it was still enough time in the game where they had to actually run plays.

S17: So we were trying to figure out what we could do to get the ball back, you know, with opportunity to control the destiny of winning the game or tying the game going over.

S14: So I think you you guys were down by one and they had the ball with like ninety seconds to go.

S17: Let them do this. I think that’s what it was. The coach called a timeout and came over to the sideline and the team our team came over to the sideline and with me playing quarterback out and starting quarterback at the time I was a backup quarterback. But how about the head coach who was Lee Harmon at the time, allowed the quarterbacks to have a safety and, you know, an offensive strategy? Because, you know, we used to meet with him all the time. And so when the team came over the sideline, I went over to the head coach. You say, coach, you always get the ball back. If we let him score, he looked at me and was like, OK, OK, we do it anyway. You know, it came about because we used to play video wise college football all the time in the dorm. And my former teammates said, you, Sharon, who is now the head coach at Bastrop High School in Louisiana, you know, we used to always talk about, you know, the opportunity of being coaches because, you know, we knew what we wanted to be a time. You know, we were all in school studying. I was studying kinesiology because I wanted to coach. He was doing the same thing. A couple other people, my teammates. Well, anyway, we just always come up with new strategies to talk football in the dorms. And one thing we used to do was if the game was on the line and, you know, the game was close, we always wanted the ball at the end to dictate whether we were going to lose. So we to let you score the tomorrow. So, you know, this came up in the game. And like I say, coach, I mean, was it was nice to listen to me and we went out and let them school. But when they did, that was the most amazing thing, because, as you know, the play was developing. You can see the coach on the sideline jumping up like photo, but the door was wide open to the end zone and he scored. They kicked the field goal went up by eight and we went ninety three yards and we had a two point play. We had been working all year long, so we knew it was going to work. We scored a touchdown, got the two point conversion, went on to win in overtime.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Wow. And so wow briss.

S9: In my research I couldn’t find any other example of anybody allowing the other team to score on purpose before you came up with the idea.

S7: Is that what you’ve what you’ve come to understand, that you were the first one to suggest this in a real non video game, baseball game?

S17: Well, I mean, the thing about it is that, you know, I went to high school and going to ABC and being in a situation where a lot of things that we did on campus will. Innovator, you know, we didn’t have a lot of resources, so we always had to think outside the box. So, you know how we could do this, how we could do that, how we could advance this, how we could be. And I’m not saying, you know, me making this call was more in line with some of the greats of ABC News and ideas that have stimulated from, you know, from there. But just looking back on it, we had never heard of it. And, of course, you know, at the time you didn’t have the World Wide Web of social media. So they did do it. It would be, as you know, broadcast as it is now. But it’s definitely you see other coaches and programs employed. You know, our strategy to help you.

S9: That’s crazy. So I will give the floor over to you guys, Joel and Stefan, in a second.

S7: But before I do that, we’ve got a clip that we want to play. And you didn’t have the World Wide Web back then, but you did have SportsCenter with Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick. Let’s listen to Clint.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S18: Pine Bluff in black. They troll western Montana. Forty six, forty five for the buck. Thirty left and they were just intercepted. So on the sidelines, Pine Bluff third string quarterback Bruce Witten Junior tells his coach, let him score now or they’ll just run out the clock, whatever, to get the ball back so they get out of the way of western Montana. All snow, western Montana. Fifty three, Pine Bluff. Forty five, Pine Bluff down by eight. They get the ball back. At least they’ve got a chance.

S9: So breath, you’re immortalized by Keith Olbermann on SportsCenter.

S6: That’s that’s incredible, man. I must have been incredibly cool at the time.

S15: Yeah, well, yeah, it was cool, you know, at the time everybody on campus enjoyed it. We were playing for opportunity to go to the national championship. We just came out the death penalty in ninety three. It was our second year back from the death penalty. And, you know, it was it was really an emotional time for the university and the program coming off the death penalty the same year back. And we were playing for an opportunity to win a national championship. It was really an enjoyable time. But not only the football program, but the university.

S6: You know, I’m just floored. So like you said, you wanted to get into coaching. So like after you graduated, did you get right into coaching then? And where did you go?

S15: I did it. It was amazing. My first coaching job was at University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff. I was a student assistant there, and Coach Harmon actually started my coaching career out there, my year there. I went and was a graduate assistant for Patrick Nix is. No, I mean, it’s an amazing time. I work with maybe three or four college football’s top coaches at a very young age. Me and patronage was the exact same age. He was the head coach of Henderson State. And I was a guy would never get interviewing with him. And that was one of the things that interested him about me working with. And we were the exact same age at the time. He got the opportunity to be a head coach and he was giving me an opportunity to start my coaching career on this staff. We had chores. Kelley, who is now at Alabama, used to be the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, Florida State, a couple of different places. Doug Meacham, who is the offensive coordinator at TCU now, you know, of course, passionate. He’s a high school coach in Alabama now, Submerse.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: Twenty five years in coaching, have you ever had the opportunity to let the other team score again?

S15: I’ve never had to employ that strategy, but I have been blessed to make some other calls, you know, in many ways. And we’ve never had to use that strategy.

S5: But when you see it on TV, when other when it happens in other games, what do you think?

S15: I just smile. I just, you know, is is amazing. Like I said, I went to a small school HBC you know, we don’t get a lot of the publicity or the recognition. So, you know, when I when I see things like that happen is is just another significant to me is just another significant part that I feel like HBC to play in the grand scheme of things.

S9: That’s great. And yeah, we’re glad to be able to give you the publicity that you deserve. Yeah. You know, it seemed like a thing that you you guys had an advantage in 1994 was the element of surprise, like you mentioned, that the other coach was telling him to kneel down. But it’s not like at that time players were really used to the idea of the other team letting them score and the idea of kneeling.

S7: Whereas in the games this weekend that I mentioned, so Indiana, Penn State and then Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions in the NFL, both the you know, the Penn State runner and then Todd Gurley for the Falcons, they both understood what, that they should kneel, but they accidentally scored touchdowns. They accidentally fell into the enzymes which allowed Indiana and Detroit to come back, but it must be it must be harder now Breus, to pull this off than it was for you guys in 1994.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S15: You definitely know that they understand there’s a possibility that it could happen. But whenever you put a football players head, you know, it’s hard to tell them not to go touchdown. I mean, this was the baby story. It was always did in that red zone. So, you know, it’s hard for you to tell somebody not to go score, you know, when it’s there. I mean, it is is just difficult. I can only imagine what was going through a person’s head that has the ball with opportunities for a touchdown. It’s going to be hard for him not to go ahead and score. It would be for me.

S14: Joel, did you ever have the opportunity to intentionally not score a touchdown?

S6: No, but I took every chance, that opportunity I had. But I found out along with the other not the running back mentality or the quarterback. It’s got to be I on the defense. I’m scoring stop on the other F. Yeah.

S15: You know, when you called me and reached out to me yesterday, the reason I started playing it again and my husband twenty five years is I can still see the guy with the ball in the coach running on the sideline trying to stop. But, you know, like you said at the time, the element of surprise, you know, people didn’t think about it. So, you know, the coach, it doesn’t know him as the player was actually taking place. And by that time, it was too late.

S9: Well, Bruce, when Junior, it was such a delight to have you on and to give you credit, Josh, he really got his man.

S6: I mean, this was right up the alley, bro.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S15: This was so much fun. I appreciate you guys having.

S4: Now it is time for after Bols, I’m still on a high from our game show. I think we’re all winners, Stefan. No catamarans for all winners.

S6: We cannot deny that you deliver on your promise that that was going to be fun.

S3: That’s all I wanted to hear. So just some more details that we didn’t get into in the segment. The quarterback starting quarterback for UPB during that game was Chris Robinson. And we got to know that he threw for six touchdowns in that victory, Anthony Norris scored nine passes for one hundred sixty five yards and four touchdowns and was a 60 to 53 victory. I will not mention the upby lost in the finals to some school at Oklahoma. That’s not important. But the thing that I thought was really cool about the story and John Stafford, I think you can both appreciate this, is that you have this backup quarterback who goes up to the coach. Leigh Hardman is like, we should try this crazy thing nobody’s ever talked before. He’s like, OK, like a lot of times, you know, you wrote about this in your book, Stefan. I mean, like the coaches take all the fun out of the game for players. They don’t listen to players. They tell you even though they’re not seeing what the players sing on the field, they think that they know best. They don’t allow the players to be creative and have any input. And so when I asked Bruce, like, were you surprised that Louis Hardman took your advice, he was like, no, because, you know, he always let us have input. And I thought that was really cool.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: And I think we should therefore honor Lee Hardman with the name of our after balls this week. Josh, what’s your Lee Hardman?

S3: My Lee Hardman is about a good piece of journalism that I read last week. Kent Babb had a really good profile in The Washington Post. It was of Andrew Giuliani.

S14: The younger Giuliani, who is Rudy’s son, got famous at age seven for acting up on stage during his dad’s inauguration as mayor of New York, making faces and whatnot. It was cute. When he got older, he became estranged from his dad and began to spend a lot of time with his surrogate father, Donald Trump. What a great choice for a surrogate family. They played a lot of golf together. They continue to play a lot of golf together. And Andrew is now thirty four years old. And on the government payroll, your tax dollars are paying him to be the White House’s, quote, sports liaison, which seems to involve him doing lots of interviews with right wing media wherein he claims credit for himself and the administration vis a vis sports being played during the pandemic. In an interview with Newsmax as well as on Twitter, nothing ever good happens when when you start the sentence, whether in an interview with Newsmax. But but anyway, Andrew Giuliani said you played a role in Big Ten football coming back and that he was, quote, in the room for these discussions. But can bad doing the Lord’s work reached out to Big Ten schools. Twelve of the fourteen. Yes, they’re fourteen schools in the Big Ten told him they had no idea who Andrew Giuliani was. So I just wanted to read all of that into the record. But there was something else that caught my attention and Babbs story. Giuliani played golf at Duke, at least for a while. The coach at the time kicked Giuliani off the team. Among his alleged infractions was having a temper tantrum and destroying his driver during a round, then replacing it during the round, which is against the rules and lying about replacing it. He also allegedly injured a teammate by tackling him too hard during a football game. It makes a little more likable. What’s he also got in a fight with a teammate which culminated in Giuliani throwing an apple at the dude’s face rather than transfer and find a new team to play on. After getting kicked out the team, Giuliani filed a lawsuit saying that the coach had conspired to secretly expel him. According to Golf Digest, Giuliani argued, quote, that his enrolment at Duke constituted a contract in which his payment of two hundred thousand dollars in tuition and fees across four years brought him, among other things, lifetime access to the university’s golf facilities. So after getting kicked off the team, he still wanted to be able to play golf at the facilities for life. The suit asked for that access, compensatory damages, exemplary damages, legal fees and a ruling that student athletes enjoy contractual rights. As Babb writes in his piece on the Post, Judge Wallace Dixon of the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina recommended that the suit be dismissed, which it ultimately would be in 2010. Among the reasons that Dixon cited in his ruling, Giuliani was attempting to change arguments between the complaint and the brief, which he likened to trying to change clubs after hitting the golf ball. The judge also wrote that the plaintiff’s reliance on foreign student policy manuals is evidence of a contract as a swing and a miss. And that plaintiff attempts to take a mulligan with this argument. However, this shot also lands. And the drink.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Oh, he loves this dude. Darn good lord. You can call him motherfucker. Joel, it’s OK. Yeah, you saw me. You saw me stifle that.

S9: Kouta Grozier is that the judge said the Giuliani’s complaints brought to mind the movie Caddyshack, the character of Karl Spangler, played by Bill Murray, in which Fackler assesses a long range shot as described in courthouse news thusly, he’s on the final hole. He’s about four hundred fifty five yards away. He’s going to head about a two iron, I think. So the judge was having a great time writing this ruling, mocking our young plaintiff. And I think just as a general rule, I haven’t done the full data analysis here. But when the judge quotes Caddyshack in discussing your argument, you’re probably not going to win the case. And so Andrew Giuliani, unsuccessful plaintiff, unsuccessful sports liaison. Yeah. Your tax dollars at work.

S6: Who knew that Duke would have a more unpopular athlete than Grayson Allen?

S2: Allen lowered on that note. That’s our show for today. Our producer is Melissa Kaplan, Plesner Pasha’s. And subscribe or just reach out to Slate dot com slash hang up and you can email us and hang up at Slate dot com for Joel Anderson and Stefan Fatsis, I’m Josh Levine. Remembers on Moubayed and Happy Birthday Abati. Hey, happy birthday to my mom to throw that in there. Happy Birthday Dolls Mom. Anzelmo birthday and thanks for listening.

S3: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate plus members, and this past weekend, all was the long awaited return of Big Ten football. They had made a big show about how they were canceling the season, postponing the season on the advice of doctors. And they didn’t stick with that. There’s a lot of pressure from the players themselves, including Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields from coaches, from fans. There’s like a lawsuit filed by Nebraska players, which was kind of a ridiculous Andrew Giuliani esque lawsuit. But but still, there was a lawsuit. And then, you know, as I got into a little bit into my after ball, there are these ridiculous, untrue claims by Donald Trump and Andrew Giuliani that the president and the administration got Big Ten football back, which is not true. But all that being said, all they did say they weren’t going to play. They did play this weekend. How did you feel seeing the Big Ten back?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Well, I mean, for them at least, it’s hard to have a better rollout than what they had. Right. Ohio State retained its status as the league’s best shot at making the playoffs, and they look as good as advertised. Michigan looks good. I mean, we don’t want to get our friend Ben Mathis a little too excited, but they look really good with Joe Milton as a quarterback and they look good in that way, that Jim Harbaugh’s teams looked good when they were really good. They can run the ball and they’re very physical. And that seems like a really good antidote to whatever it is that Ohio State is doing. And they had this crazy, dramatic opener that led off all the highlight shows with Indiana beating Penn State, as we talked about. And Bruce came on and all that, like, you know, this dramatic upset, you know, Indiana, a long time underdog program, knocking off big brand Penn State. That’s awesome. But then, look, the next day we hear that Wisconsin’s quarterback may have tested positive coronavirus. Right. And it just so it’s like for all the good will that they built up on Saturday where they have these exciting, great games, it’s great roll out big names. Everything is going well, but it’s always undercut, like all of these games that every sport pretty much has had, with the exception of the NBA and the NBA, it’s undercut by the presence of coronavirus. And so now we’re going to have to see we’re going to have to wait to see what happens if Graham Mert’s infected other people, if he’s going to have to sit out and if he has to sit out, he may have to sit out for two to three weeks, which will affect Wisconsin’s prospects. So, I mean, I don’t know, Stefan. I mean, to me, it just sort of no matter how good things are, it’s the folly of this whole enterprise always sort of surfaces at some point.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: Well, and these are the cities that Big Ten schools are located and are hotbeds of coronavirus. And the schools themselves basically ignored or refused to adhere to the request of mayors of 11 of the 14 big tent cities that sent them, sent the schools letters making some basic requests about how to proceed. And I’ll quote from the letter because it’s worth hearing. You know, the mayors wrote, We know the history of football within our cities. They generate a lot of activity, social gatherings and the consumption of alcohol. These activities within our communities have also been associated with an increased spread of covid-19. To help us slow the spread and be prepared for increased activity, we humbly request a few practical measures that the Big Ten conference can take to ensure we have the tools we need to combat the spread of covid-19. And among those were making decisions based on games and practices on community population, positivity rates, working with local officials to establish those rates and deter people from coming into town hosting fewer or no games in late afternoon or evening because they are associated with increased activity. Well, that’s one thing that they’ve totally ignored. Three of the seven games on the opening weekend had nighttime kickoffs for TV. Michigan Michigan State is at noon on Halloween, but Ohio State is playing at night on Halloween, which seems crazy, I guess.

S10: Penn State pathway to Penn State. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

S3: I mean, there’s this headline I’m reading on NPR right now. You have Michigan students understand place order, but football can still kick off like Michigan. Ann Arbor is a place that this contrast and tension and I guess hypocrisy seems to be at the the highest level where, you know, only being allowed to, you know, leave home to do like essential activities. And I guess for football being one of them, but, well, let me stop you right there.

Advertisement

S5: The percentage of local cases in the county and Arbour’s county that come from the University of Michigan, 60 percent of local cases are students, 60 percent.

S7: So, Joel. Is it’s always annoying to me, at least when Big Ten schools fans of Big Ten schools get on their high horses and talk about how they’re like basically morally superior to, you know, sex schools and SEC fans.

S3: And that’s not to say the reason that it’s ridiculous is not because sex schools and s.E.C. Fans are in the right.

S7: It’s because they tend to be convinced, think that they’re better. I think that they’re better or morally superior. So is it fair for us to, like, hold the Big Ten to this high standard that they themselves love to make a big show about like, you know, we don’t cheat. We, like, actually care about academics. We like follow the rules and like, you know, are they, like, kind of exposing themselves for being just as like hypocritical, just as football obsessed as the rest of us are?

S10: Oh, absolutely. I mean, from Nebraska, like pushing, you know, threatening lawsuits to, you know, Michigan.

S6: Maybe they’ll argue that Nebraska is actually a big aid school. And so for them to get there, they’re sort of new there. But then, I mean, think about the headlines that we heard coming out of Iowa this just over the summer. Right. About Kirk forensics program and the way he runs it in the way he treats his players like that. Like I mean, that’s sort of your medium and Big Ten program, right? Just you know, they’re not great. They’re not not terrible. They’re just OK. And they’re always sort of in the middle. And it’s a good academic school, but not great. You don’t like it. It’s right there in the middle. And you got that sort of, like scandal hanging over the over the program. And people just sort of brush it away now that football has started again and. Yeah, no, I mean, I’ve never bought that shit. I mean, you know what it is? It’s interesting. And again, we’re bringing up Michigan, but I feel like Michigan is responsible for a lot of that because they hold themselves out. As you know, they are one of the top public universities in the country. Right. But they also want to pretend that they don’t fall victim to some of the same mania that accompanies their football fandom. And it’s just not true. And I mean, as you see, like right now, they’re standing athwart public health recommendations and just just leaning in right now.

Advertisement

S7: And it’s just like they’re just like everybody else, like they’re not they’re not doing anything different or behaving any differently, better or worse. Right. Than anybody else. And like Stefan, going back to Joel’s construct here of the media and program, like the media in college football program is immoral and corrupt. And so just like welcome. Welcome to the family man.

S5: Yeah. I mean, and the pandemic has done nothing more than highlight that to a new probably level that we weren’t even aware of. You know, we were aware of screwing black athletes, in particular, screwing all athletes out of revenue. We were aware of the draconian rules that athletes are made to follow and what they’re made to go through to restrict their ability to take advantage of their names and images and also to move freely from one school to another if a situation doesn’t work for them. But the pandemic is sort of, you know, made us realize just how crass so much of this is. We didn’t mention that the produce head coach tested positive last week. Do you really think there you go. Symptoms from chills, the chest tightening. Hey, the guy asked if you could coach remotely tonight.

S6: Good for him. Oh, that’s the guy that played in the NFL. And did he play with the league? You played like with a concussion, like right after the week. Jeff, is that Jeff Brown? That’s the guy. I mean, so the guy. Yeah. I mean but I mean, one thing I will say is you can take this, but so with the acknowledgement that everybody is equally complicit in how terrible this is, it’s still good to see bad things happen to Penn State, because I just thought, you know, I mean, like every state is like I’ve I mean, they’ve had one of the most egregious scandals in the history of college sports. I mean, that was just within this decade and now things are back to normal. It’s still fun to me to see them lose and lose in the way that they did in a particularly agonizing way. And maybe they shouldn’t have lost because I mean, I don’t think Michael Penix quite got to the point in time, but it still was fun to see them lose.

Advertisement

S7: It’s great to connect the, like, one of the biggest moral failings of our age to like the joy in seeing a guy stretch out for the pylon. It’s been like going from from from low to high or I don’t know. I don’t know what. But yeah, I mean, we’ve talked about it before. We will continue to talk about it. But just like our ability as as humans, like whereas hypocritical as anybody else, just to like, you know, talk about how it’s wrong with our playing and also be able to like revel in the like, you know, details of these games and and watch them all like our shit stinks to man.

S6: Yeah, man. Greg Chandos getting celebrated this weekend. I mean, that’s just kind of like I mean I mean, if we’re going to you can will always have bad coaches to fall.

S5: Back on and I think my favorite bad coach anecdote of the weekend was Ohio State’s Ryan Day apologizing. Did you see this to Nebraska after the game? Because in the final minute, their freshman quarterback didn’t take a knee and ran into the end zone to make it 50 to 17 instead of 45.

S7: The theme, a theme of the program on the program.

S5: Yeah, in scoring or not scoring, his explanation was just weird. He apologized, but he also said, I had a younger quarterback in the game and I didn’t feel like we had the personnel to take the knee.

S6: What have been lots of poor excuses. Imagine if 25 years ago, if you if you told us that somebody would be apologizing for not being merciful enough to Nebraska at the end of the game. Just imagine.

S7: That’s good. Thank you. Plus, members always appreciate your membership and attendance, which is not mandatory, but appreciate it. And we’ll be back with more next week.