SHOOTINGS TOOK PLACE NEAR MANY SPRING TRAINING SITES
Very seldom is a current-event topic discussed publicly by professional athletes. But the recent senseless shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at Parkland, Fla. has really gotten the attention of major league baseball at most sites while the players are battling for their jobs this season.
As a token of respect for the 17 slain victims and those who still are recovering from the tragedy, MLB has distributed baseball caps with “SD” on the front that each player, coach and even the spring training umpires will wear if they choose.
“Baseball sought an apolitical approach, but the caps engaged a topic that is fomenting discourse and anxiety throughout the country, although a uniform connotes solidarity, gun violence does not.
“Given a timely reason to publicly share opinions they normally keep behind clubhouse doors, several Astros spoke openly about guns, school safety and concern for America unlike how they have before,” the article stated.
Our defending world champion Houston Astros are training within 100 miles from the site of the shootings and were interviewed last week by the Houston Chronicle baseball writers, with their comments published in Sunday’s edition of the newspaper.
“There’s a lot of discussion and dialogue happening over this stuff, but we’ve got to look this problem in the face and call it what it is,” pitcher Collin McHugh said of the shootings. “This is not an isolated incident, it’s an epidemic.”
There has been an average of about five school shootings in a month since 2014, including incidents that were not mass shootings, according to the nonprofit “Gun Violence Archive”.
“Columbine’s not even in the top 10 for school shootings,” utility man Tony Kemp pointed out referring to the 15 students fatally shot at the Colorado high school in 1999. “It is scary sending your kids off to school. They should feel safe but are they going to return safe?”
Marwin Gonzalez, who grew up in Venezuela where there was plenty of violence and crime, said he did not see “that kind of craziness” in the schools and malls in Venezuela. However, Gonzalez was not comfortable suggesting a way the United States could reverse the trend.
Despite dozens of players in the NBA and NFL voicing a disagreement with President Donald Trump, most athletes walk a tightrope when discussing divisive issues. A few of the Astros like relief pitcher Chris Devenski and third baseman Alex Bregman preferred not to speak about the issue.
“For the students of that school who have decided they’re going to stand up and say something, I’m proud of them,” World Series MVP George Springer said.
McHugh pointed out that his answer for a way to combat gun violence: “Gun control. For me, it’s simple.”
Veteran reliever Tony Sipp said he keeps a handgun for “protection in the house” but added that the world would be safer without semi-automatic weapons.
Outfielder Josh Reddick is in favor of making it more difficult to obtain a semi-automatic weapon and suggested a “psych test” might be necessary for certain firearms purchases.
“Guns aren’t the problem,” Reddick summarized. “It’s the people buying them.”
KWICKIES…I couldn’t really get into watching the Winter Olympics the last couple of weeks and caught myself wanting to see mishaps instead of praising the winners. I knew the United States didn’t have much of a chance with the likes of Norway, Canada and Germany where many of the Olympic sports in those countries are like baseball and football here. I did miss seeing perhaps the most exciting event when the United States hockey team upset Canada for the first time in 20 years 3-2 in a shootout last week.
I feel sorry for versatile Orange freshman Jack Dallas because he’s thrown eight innings in two starts for the Lamar Cardinals and has received zero runs so far this season. He’s given up four runs on two homers and a sacrifice fly and was the losing pitcher of record in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Hofstra where Lamar was the victim of a no-hitter. I also saw Jack’s picture in a Jefferson County newspaper at quarterback when the Cardinals spring football practice began last week.
The Lady Cardinals softball team waited until the sixth inning to explode for seven runs to erase an Alabama A&M 9-2 deficit and went on to win 10-9 in the Cardinal Classic last weekend.
Coach Andy Reid has a way of finding great talent in the draft, but he also has a way of getting rid of problems if they exist. Last week ESPN.com announced that the Kansas City Chiefs will trade Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams when the NFL’s new league year begins March 14. The 25-year-old Peters is considered on of the league’s best cover cornerbacks, intercepting at least five passes in all three seasons with the Chiefs. But he also has several character concerns like getting booted from a close game for throwing a flag into the stands after a crucial penalty. Peters also was tossed off his college team at Washington after a run-in with his coaches.
JUST BETWEEN US…I couldn’t figure out why I wanted to rush home this weekend to watch the PGA Tour Honda Classic, after not paying much attention to any others so far this season. It was the appearance of Tiger Woods. I’m well aware that he will never wow the fans like he used to 10-15 years ago, but his presence on the golf course still is exciting. Tiger hasn’t won a tournament since the Bridgestone Open five years ago. And he may not win another for the rest of his career, but he’s back and is competing well. He stayed within a few shots of the youthful leaders, which made me want to watch him play, although he faded Sunday and finished 11th at even par. Jason Thomas won the event on the first hole of a playoff against Luke List.