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Hawks owner to sell after 'offensive' email

ESPN.com on the second NBA owner this year to lose his team due to doing some racist stuff:

Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is selling his controlling interest in the team, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Sunday.

In July, Levenson self-reported an email he wrote to the team’s co-owners and general manager Danny Ferry in August 2012 that he called “inappropriate and offensive.” The league commenced an independent investigation after being made aware of the comments.

Levenson writes in a statement that the racially offensive comments came as he pondered ways to bridge Atlanta’s racial sports divide and increase fan attendance at Hawks’ games.

"In trying to address those issues, I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive," he said. "I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests (i.e. hip hop vs. country, white vs. black cheerleaders, etc.) and by stereotyping their perceptions of one another (i.e. that white fans might be afraid of our black fans). By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans."

I guess this one is going a lot more smoothly than the Donald Sterling fiasco though.

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The Simple Technology That Accidentally Ruined Baseball

Derek Thompson writing for The Atlantic on the effects of the adoption of strike zone cameras in Major League Baseball:

The strike zone morphed in the age of camera technology, as well. Before cameras, it turned out, umpires had been ignoring strikes around the knees. Pitches between 18 and 30 inches above the plate, which are technically in the strike zone, had been called balls for years. But the presence of cameras encouraged umpires to lower the strike zone.

As you’re about to see, this swung the balance of power from the batters box to the pitching mound, shutting down baseball’s thrilling home-run parade and inaugurating the Era of the Pitcher.

He summarizes some research and data by Brian Mills, and there are some neat graphs.

However, it’s probably best to ignore the title and final several paragraphs of the article and just focus on the data, because the numbers aren’t clickbaity and don’t evangelize.

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Madden ratings guru has the players' attention

Arnie Stapleton, AP:

[Donny] Moore is the “ratings czar” for “Madden NFL,” the man responsible for making sure the popular video game’s virtual avatars accurately reflect their real-life counterparts.

Moore uses all sorts of metrics and measurements to come up with ratings. Then, he tweaks the numbers weekly after watching all the games and pondering feedback from fans and even the players themselves.

Among the guys he underestimated were Washington running back Alfred Morris and Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, both of whom started a season with mid-60s ratings and finished in the high 80s. It works the other way, too. Ray Rice started last season at 95 and finished at 82.

I love how apparently there’s just this one guy who makes up every single number in that game.

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San Francisco Giants win protest over rain-shortened loss in Chicago

Chris Haft, MLB.com:

San Francisco’s protest of its loss to Chicago on Tuesday was upheld on Wednesday by Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations. Torre agreed with the Giants’ stance that the flawed deployment of Wrigley Field’s tarp meant that the game should have been suspended instead of awarded to the Cubs, who led, 2-0, when rain halted activity after the regulation 4 1/2 innings had been played.

"Were we surprised? Sure," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "How many of these have been upheld? Nine? 10?"

The precise number is unknown, but winning such an appeal is definitely rare. It last occurred in 1986, when a protest by Pittsburgh — that a game against St. Louis had been called too soon — was upheld.

Yes it’s the first successful protest lodged in twenty-eight years, and it’s over fuckin’ rain.

Incidentally, the last one was also over fuckin’ rain.

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Michele Roberts, N.B.A. Union’s New Leader, Confronts Gender Barriers

Andrew Keh writing for The New York Times about Michele Roberts, who was recently elected executive director of the NBA players’ union, the National Basketball Players Association:

She said she was all too aware that if she was selected, she would represent several hundred male athletes in the N.B.A.; she would deal with league officials and agents who were nearly all men; she would negotiate with team owners who were almost all men; and she would stand before reporters who were predominantly men.

She did not flinch. “My past,” she told the room, “is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.”

Holy shit.

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The NFL Passes Out Crippled Surface Tablets to Quarterbacks

Joshua Brustein, Bloomberg Businessweek:

The digital revolution is finally coming to the NFL—sort of. The league’s preseason kicks off Sunday, and the Hall of Fame Game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants will be the first game in which tablet computers are allowed on the sidelines. Thirteen Microsoft Surface tablets will be present on each sideline, and the coaches in each box will have access to another dozen.

But just as the NFL preseason is football in name only, the devices that the players will be using aren’t tablets in any normal sense of the word. The league reached a $400 million deal with Microsoft last spring to make its Surface tablets the exclusive computer of the NFL sideline, albeit with several conspicuous alterations made to the company’s standard tablets. The NFL’s Surface tablets have had their cameras disabled and can connect only to a private in-stadium wireless network. The devices can only run a single program, which allows people to browse through digital game photographs.

It’s not exactly a groundbreaking moment of innovation in football.

The NFL is comically serious about this sort of thing.

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Baseball’s craziest game?

Shane Tourtellotte writing for The Hardball Times about the July 22, 1986, baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets:

What did this game have that was so bonkers? All will be revealed in good time, but I can offer a few teasers. It had one of the most serious brawls baseball has seen in the last half-century, one that spelled the beginning of the end of the career of a well-known player … who wasn’t even in it! It had two ejections in two separate incidents even before the brawl. It boasted protests lodged by both managers. And most notably, it had a lineup manipulation so astonishing, it got several paragraphs of analysis in The Book.

This is incredibly long, but it’s also one of the best baseball stories I’ve ever read in my life.

Here are Colin’s live reactions as he was reading it:

Colin: what

'Ili: KEEP GOING

Colin: what

'Ili: KEEP GOING

Colin: oh boy

'Ili: IT GETS BETTER

Colin: Oh god putting pitcher in the outfield

'Ili: ALMOST THERE

Colin: LMAO

Colin: OMG

Colin: I CANT BELIEVE IT

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Alice Coachman, 90, Dies; First Black Woman to Win Olympic Gold

Richard Goldstein reporting for The New York Times:

Alice Coachman, who became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal when she captured the high jump for the United States at the 1948 London Games, died on Monday in Albany, Ga. She was 90.

Her daughter, Evelyn Jones, said she had been treated at a nursing home for a stroke in recent months and went into cardiac arrest after being transferred to a hospital on Monday with breathing difficulties.

Wonder if I should make an “I’m sad because I never heard of this person until they died” tag.

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National Labor Relations Board rules in favor of Northwestern football players attempting to unionize

It’s been a couple of months since I checked in on the football players at Northwestern University who are trying to unionize, so let’s see if SI.com has anything new to report:

In what could be a potentially landmark moment for collegiate athletics, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the Northwestern football players who are attempting to form a union on Wednesday. In its ruling, the NLRB said that the players had the right to form the first labor union in the history of college sports.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA EAT IT

This was only a ruling by a regional director, so it’s going to be immediately appealed, but this is a tremendous and novel victory.

This piece I’m linking has some commentary by Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, who weighs in on the scope of the ruling and the future.

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"I wanted to wash that game away"

Mike DiGiovanna on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball beat for the Los Angeles Times:

Left-hander Hector Santiago came up with a new and peculiar way to cope with a rough outing Saturday.

After giving up six runs and five hits in five-plus innings of a triple-A game against Arizona in which his teammates made four errors behind him, Santiago drove straight from the Diamondbacks’ field in Scottsdale, Ariz., to his home in Goodyear, Ariz., bypassing the Angels’ complex in Tempe.

Santiago, whose next start will come in Dodger Stadium on Thursday night, pulled into his driveway, went to his backyard and “jumped into my swimming pool with my uniform on,” he said. “I wanted to wash that game away.”

Sports players are weird.