1) ESPNW’s Jane McManus was on Mike and Mike this morning discussing Ray Rice’s press conference yesterday, which she generally praised, including the fact that Rice himself used the phrase “domestic violence,” when it’s common for people in such circumstances to refer to “the incident” or some other euphemism for what they’ve done. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding as far as Rice’s future conduct. Let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, but especially his wife and daughter, that he is seeking sincerely to make the changes he says he is.
McManus is excellent. When asked by Sedano and Schlereth what the NFL ought to do moving forward, she suggested the league devote as much effort to raising awareness about and associating itself with efforts to combat domestic violence as it does breast cancer. She noted the embarrassing way the league, including Adolpho Birch, tried to defend the suspension and was especially critical of the June meeting at which Janay Palmer Rice appeared – with her husband and Ravens’ team officials present.
Schlereth has distinguished himself on this issue as especially adamant and categorical in his condemnation of the league’s failure to take this matter seriously enough and both he and Sedano said the commissioner would be making a grave error if he continued to hide behind hapless spokesmen in explaining the league’s handling of Rice’s punishment.
2) Crazy day yesterday at the MLB non-waiver trading deadline. I was a little surprised by the far greater hype surrounding the Tigers’ acquisition of David Price compared to the A’s trade for Jon Lester. Price is a terrific pitcher. But Lester is great, too, and is having the better season. It’s also grabbing headlines that the A’s gave up their clean up hitter in the midst of a pennant race. But though Cespedes is really fun to watch – especially during Home Run Derby – he’s a good, but not great player. As a reference point, Cespedes has a WAR of 3.0 so far this season – a very good year. Austin Jackson, whom the Tigers traded as part of the Price deal, has a WAR of 1.8 so far in 2014. But in the previous two seasons, Cespedes had a cumulative 5.1 WAR. Jackson – 8.7. Cespedes is 28. Jackson is 27. The Tigers made out well in their deal, especially since they have Price under contract through 2015. But in terms of improving their chances of winning in 2014, I think the A’s did better.
3) This is a week old, but I just came across Mike Francesa’s rant in defense of Tony Dungy. Francesa couldn’t understand how stupid people could be in criticizing Dungy. He thundered away, insisting that, just as Dungy said, Michael Sam *is* a distraction and provided much evidence that Sam has gotten far more attention than any other seventh round pick. Which is all true.
What’s also true is that not a single person in the entire world has disputed that.
Francesa’s diatribe is as good an instance of missing the point as you are likely to find. The controversy surrounding Dungy’s remarks last week about Sam derived from Dungy’s comment that he wouldn’t draft Sam because Sam would be too much of a distraction. So, not only did Francesa confuse “a lot of attention” (a fact no one was disputing) with “distraction” (a far more subjective question). He also failed at any point to acknowledge the part of Dungy’s statement that actually got people riled up – that Dungy wouldn’t draft him. Dungy is, of course, entitled to his opinion. And given Dungy’s track record, people are entitled to wonder whether Sam’s sexuality is more of an issue for Dungy than he wants to admit. It would be hard to be more of a distraction than Michael Vick was when he first emerged from prison. At no point during that process did Dungy, who famously vouched for Vick, suggest he wouldn’t want Vick on his team.