KAZ’S KORNER

 

 

 

I have played, watched and umpired many baseball games, watched, broadcast and covered tons of high school and college football games, most of which began with the playing of the national anthem, and have stood up at attention for each and every one of them.

Of course, I didn’t have any political issues so I just assumed that’s what is supposed to happen before the game begins.

However, more than 65 years after standing for my first national anthem, all of a sudden it is the focal point of a huge problem for the National Football League that has stopped many fans from watching the games on television and has especially slowed down the whirring of the turnstiles at most of the stadiums.

The NFL owners didn’t have much to say when Colin Kaepernick first knelt down at San Francisco 49ers games a couple of years ago. But when they noticed how this one gesture has affected the bottom line of their balance sheets, it suddenly became a big problem.

And because so many former fans stopped watching NFL football, several sponsors bailed out of their advertisement agreements causing profits to decline even more.

Last Wednesday the NFL owners swung into action and agreed upon a new policy requiring players to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” on the field or wait in the locker room.

The new rule stipulates that the league could fine teams with players who don’t follow the guideline on the field.

This has done little to quell the debate that has grown into one of the country’s most divisive issues over the past couple of years.

On Thursday, New York mayor Bill de Blasio claimed on national television that not standing for the national anthem “was just plain un-American.” His comment came on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.

According to an article appearing in the Washington Post last weekend, the short answer to the question “do NFL players have First Amendment rights on the football field?” is no.

“NFL teams are private companies, making the First Amendment a mostly moot point. The players can be subject to discipline or termination as employees if they don’t follow the rules,” the article continues.

“The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private institutions,” Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law and a constitutional law expert told the Washington Post. “Private employers can fire employees for their speech without having to worry about the First Amendment.”

It’s strange that the NFL cannot fine the players who choose not to stand on the field for the national anthem. The league can only fine their teams and then the team can discipline the players.

However, fines are normally negotiated with the NFL Players Association where there are set rules as to how much players can get fined.

And if the NFLPA is worth its salt, it must go toe-to-toe with the owners as a matter of principle and promises it will, according to Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle.

The new rule states that if players choose not to stand for the anthem, they must remain in the locker room until it ends.

But if the entire team doesn’t show up on the field when the anthem is being played, it will anger the crowd of fans who will know what they are doing and will be just as upset as they have been when players knelt on the field for the past two seasons.

As far as the two Lone Star State franchises are concerned Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones says he’s more interested in merely focusing on playing football while Houston Texans’ owner Bob McNair has made it clear he wants EVERY Texan standing for the national anthem, period!!

I believe the NFL owners got together to enact this new rule merely to fade some of the heat being put on them by the television networks who pay humongous dollars to broadcast the games and from the sponsors who notice empty seats in the stadiums that never had vacancies before.

KWICKIES…Whoever thinks they can’t play baseball in the Piney Woods of Texas better think again because both Jasper and Kirbyville are still alive and well in the UIL State Baseball Tournament. Jasper (32-6) whipped Waco Robinson in the Class 4A semifinals last weekend and will face Salado (28-4-2) while Kirbyville (27-8) will take on Clifton (25-4-1) in the Class 3A regional finals after beating West twice last weekend. The Buna Lady Cougars fell to Grandview (40-1) last weekend but did something no other softball team was able to accomplish this season–they beat Grandview 4-0 Saturday after losing 1-0 Friday. Unfortunately, the Lady Coogs lost the rubber game 6-2 to finish a great season at 37-5.

The Houston Astros’ bullpen collapsed for the first time this season Sunday at Cleveland, going into the bottom of the ninth inning leading the Indians 8-3. Cleveland scored most of their runs with two outs but managed to clip the Astros’ relievers for five runs to tie the score at 8-8 and send the game into extra innings. Astros’ designated hitter Evan Gattis belted a homer (his second of the game) in the top of the 13th inning. But the Indians countered with one in the bottom of the frame to tie the game 9-9. Brad Peacock started the bottom of the 14th inning and Cleveland’s Greg Allen belted the first pitch over the wall giving the Indians at come-from-behind 10-9 victory.

Houston Astros’ “Little Big Man” Jose Altuve had a series he’ll never forget this Memorial Weekend by setting a franchise record of 10 straight base hits at Cleveland and then capping it off with a home run against the New York Yankees Monday to assure ace Justin Verlander of his seventh victory against two setbacks. The major league record is 12 consecutive hits set by Boston Red Sox’ Pinky Higgins in 1938 and tied by Detroit’s Walt Dropo in 1952.

Last year’s American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge hit his 70th career homer in his 231st career game Saturday, becoming the quickest player in major league history to get there in games played. Ryan Howard held the previous mark at 233 games.

Northwestern Louisiana defeated New Orleans 7-5 last weekend at Sugar Land to win the Southland Conference baseball tournament championship and will represent the SLC in the NCAA regionals.

JUST BETWEEN US…The NCAA released their regional playoff sites and schedules last weekend and I found out my grandson Logan Smith and his Army West Point (36-22) team will be playing in the Raleigh, N Car. Regionals as the No. 4 seed against the hosting top-seeded North Carolina State (40-16) at 6 p.m. Friday. No. 2 seed Auburn faces No. 3 seed Northeastern with the winners clashing for the regional championship. ESPN will monitor the action.