Plunk ‘em!

Tunney Side of Sports
On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS June 12, 2017, #644 Up Next… “Plunk ‘em!”

After further review…That unwritten rule in major league baseball has a “get-even” twist to it. San Francisco Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland threw a 98-mph fastball that hit Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper on his right hip during a recent game at AT&T Park, in retaliation for a pair of home runs that Harper hit off him in the 2014 playoffs. There is little doubt that the intent of the pitch was to exact revenge for the home runs and Harper’s subsequent hubris trips around the bases when the two exchanged words. The irony is that the Giants went on not only to win that series but also the World Series that year! Wouldn’t that neutralize any hard feelings of a three-year-old grievance?

Harper charged the mound, dropping his bat as he left the batter’s box, then wildly throwing his batting helmet in Strickland’s direction. Punches by both players ensued, followed by both dugout benches charging the mound area, either to break-up that fight or maybe to land a few punches on their own; such scuffles usually have a little of both. Plate umpire Brian Gorman immediately ejected both players. Strickland was suspended for six games. Harper drew four.

Strickland received a longer suspension since as a relief pitcher he is not expected to appear in every game. Harper, an everyday position player, was given four games, but after his appeal, Major League Baseball authorities reduced his suspension to three games. The TunneySide doesn’t understand why Harper’s suspension was reduced. MLB had several days to review the evidence from the melee and decided on a four-game suspension. What new circumstances appeared that caused them to change that suspension?

A more important issue is why major league baseball permits such revenge tactics to continue. The unwritten rule of self-policing from the pitcher’s mound must be eliminated. In days gone by, some managers would encourage pitchers to “plunk” a batter, either to prove a point or to keep a long ball hitter from digging-in. The TunneySide believes that MLB managers today are not of that thinking. Yes, pitchers do throw “brush-back” pitches to keep the batter from crowding the plate and giving himself a better chance to reach balls on the outside corner. But they are strategic pitches, not assaults with a deadly weapon.

Throwing at a batter to intentionally hit him is an act of cowardice, and an admission by the pitcher that “I can’t defeat you within the rules, so take this!” Should an intentionally thrown pitch hit the batter’s head, concussion or even death may occur. It’s just too dangerous.

Will you log-in your opinion on a pitcher intentionally throwing at a batter?

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To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.

Jim’s books are full of inspiration and interesting stories. Please visit his online store to learn more.

Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports

Be sure to get Jim’s book ‘Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports’ by clicking this link or using the email above to contact Jim directly.

These TunneySides take issues from real-life situations and relate them as inspiration for the betterment of others.

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Millennials!

Ickey ShuffleOn the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS June 5, 2017, #643 Up Next… “Millennials!”

After further review…If you have watched Micah Tyler’s YouTube song on millennials that goes “MIL-LEN-NIA-Ls,” you may understand what’s behind the millennials’ thinking. Of course, many older adults are skeptical whether there is any thinking going on in the heads of today’s millennials, often referred to as Generation Y. In case you are wondering how millennials are classified by age, they are those born between 1979 and 1999.

While the TunneySide is not an advocate of labeling, we have given way this time for the purpose of identifying generations. For example, this writer falls into the traditionalists’ category, which is followed by the baby boomers, then Gen X, then Gen Y. There are facts and myths about each of these categories, but there is no arguing the impact millennials are having on today’s society.

According to the TunneySide, one of those impacts is on the National Football League, along with other sports leagues. As an example, have you noticed at college football games most fans/students in the crowd are standing, not sitting?  The guess is that’s the reason they call that area of the stadium “stands.” Traditionalists and baby boomers would prefer sitting since advanced age has its limitations. The influence of millennials is becoming far more relevant.

The NFL has altered its policy for the 2017 season that will allow celebrations on the field by the athletes, for performing an act they were paid to do. When a player crosses the goal line to score a touchdown, he may now perform his style of a dance and can do it with other teammates as well. This was previously against league rules, penalized by the on-field officials and often followed by a league monetary fine. Of course, there is that line drawn by the NFL, continuing to prohibit a player from taunting an opponent or performing an act that is sexually suggestive.

Many believe millennials, who seemingly have become the NFL’s target audience, demanded this change by calling the NFL the “No Fun League.” Traditionalists thought the fun in football was a breakaway run, a spectacular catch (many one-handed now that gloves are worn by all players), an excellently thrown pass, or an exceptional athletic move.

One of the concerns about this change is that players will now be personally challenged to invent a new and exciting maneuver to outdo anything previously – politely called “one-upmanship” –- where one player looks at another’s celebration and says, “I can do better than that.” In that sense, how far have we really come from the “Ickey Shuffle,” the signature move of former Cincinnati running back Ickey Woods, who performed his own style of dancing after scoring a touchdown – 30 years ago?

Will you log-in your opinion of the NFL 2017 rule change on celebrations?

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To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.

Jim’s books are full of inspiration and interesting stories. Please visit his online store to learn more.

Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports

Be sure to get Jim’s book ‘Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports’ by clicking this link or using the email above to contact Jim directly.

These TunneySides take issues from real-life situations and relate them as inspiration for the betterment of others.

Posted in NFL, Tunney Side of Sports Columns | Leave a comment

Overcoming Adversity!

devlin-obituary-jerry-bergmanOn the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS May 29, 2017, #642 Up Next… “Overcoming Adversity!”

After further review…The Tunneyside admires those who have overcome an adversity which they did not create. Two of those individuals are close professional speaker colleagues: Chad Hymas and W Mitchell. Both are confined to a wheelchair for life yet travel the world – yes, you read correctly, the world – speaking to audiences about dealing with disabilities. As Mitchell has said. “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it that counts.” Both are in the Hall of Fame of the National Speakers Association.

With nearly 40 years’ association with the Special Olympics, I have become a fan of special athletes. My involvement has been as a spectator, judge, and awards presenter at the California Special Olympic summer games. My assignment was to provide encouragement and congratulations to participants. Yet I came away inspired and full of hope for others in this world for who struggle to overcome difficulties. I have been blessed with the opportunity to speak to Special Olympic volunteers in several states and I remain a fan of those people as well.

The above is a prelude to the following tribute for a fellow NFL official who recently passed away: Jerry Bergman died at 87. He had 30 years of NFL on-field experience. His expertise as an official is confirmed by his assignments to officiate four super bowls, seven conference championships and numerous playoff games, along with the many important regular season games he was assigned. More than a top official, he was valued friend.

But the real story is the disability Bergman had to overcome. As a kid growing up in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pa. he was in the field one day as a thresher was mowing the hay, when another kid (horsing around) playfully pushed him and he fell into the path of the thresher, severely disfiguring his arm. A doctor’s skill saved his now-withered arm but left him with just a couple of fingers.

Overcoming adversity, he played quarterback on his high school football T*E*A*M with the late Pittsburgh Steelers owner, Dan Rooney, as his halfback.

Bergman was a high school, then college, official, before moving to the NFL in 1966. He was an official that every official would want on a crew. He “had your back” and was a learned official of the NFL rule book. He never let his disability prevent him from being in front of millions of people every Sunday. Further, he served as the secretary-treasurer of the NFL officials association for 18 years and was part of the committee that convinced the owners to establish the officials’ pension plan. That was a precursor of the plan that exists today.

ll you treat any adversity you face as a challenge to better yourself?

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To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.

Jim’s books are full of inspiration and interesting stories. Please visit his online store to learn more.

Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports

Be sure to get Jim’s book ‘Another 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports’ by clicking this link or using the email above to contact Jim directly.

These TunneySides take issues from real-life situations and relate them as inspiration for the betterment of others.

Posted in Sports, Tunney Side of Sports Columns, Uncategorized | Leave a comment