Today in sports: Fenway Park celebrates a century of obstructed views, the NFL is undervaluing draft-eligible arrestees, and the two ways of profiling a racehorse.
Fenway Park opened 100 years ago today. Long time. Baseball romantics like ESPN's Buster Olney are writing loving tributes to Fenway's historical import and the faintly mystical experience of watching a game there. What they're not mentioning is that Fenway Park, baseball gods bless it, is a dump. A picturesque dump, but still: a dump. Behold, some of Fenway's inconvenient truths.
Rickety, tiny seats. They're a problem, unless you're the size of the small child on the right. And even he looks a little cramped.
(Flickr via @andrewmalone)
Obstructed views. Fenway has lots of them. But at least you're in the shade!
(Flickr via @jackheddon)
Quick: Fenway Park concourse or prison movie set? (It's a Fenway Park concourse. Nobody waits in line 45 minutes to get food in prison movies.)
Ted Williams. Best left fielder ever. Maybe the best player ever, and he lost almost five seasons due to military service. Mercilessly booed by Fenway crowds throughout his career. This is worth considering.
(Via Wikimedia Commons)
The NFL Draft is a hit-or-miss proposition, but it would be less hit-or-miss if GMs could get over their fear of drafting prospects with "character issues." So says Hamilton College economics student Kendall Weir. For his senior thesis, Weir took all 1,200-odd players taken from 2005-2009 and grouped them in four categories. "1.) Players with no suspensions or legal problems in college; 2.) Players suspended one game or more for violating team or university rules; 3.) Players arrested and charged with a crime; 4.) Players arrested, but not charged." Weir crunched the numbers and determined Group 4 provides the best value: "On average," writes AP spors columnist Jim Litke, they were drafted "15 to 25 spots lower than players who performed similarly during their college career" from group 1, and averaged two more starts as rookies. As usual, sample size problems apply, asdoes the difficulty of assessing performance in, say, a right guard: but you can't overlook that games started figure is an eye-opener. [AP]
Another unnerving piece about lax safety standards at American racetracks, this one by Chris Jones, so you can expect lines like "Teller Jones was not a horse of distinction until he died." It's outrage bait, but outrage bait well-done. [ESPN the Magazine]
If the story of Teller Jones is a good reminder of why one should not wish to turn into a horse, Bill Finley's lovely profile of Notinrwildestdremz, a 4-year-old Filly making her first start Sunday at Aqueduct, is a reminder of why people love the races and sportswriting about the races. Notinrwildestdremz was one of 177 starving horses rescued from the farm of prominent breeder Ernie Paragallo in April 2009. She was adopted, along with two of her broodmates, by Brooklynites Sean and Angelika Kerr. The Kerrs used Facebook to amass "120 partners, one of whom put up only $25, in what they called 5R Racehorse Stables, for rescue, rehabilitation, racing, retraining and retiring" in the hopes of getting the three horses started on racing careers. Only Notinrwildestdremz made it. Finley notes her times are slow and she's roughly the size of a Great Dane. He also notes that none of that really matters. "Sometimes horses don’t have to be runners to be winners." [The New York Times]
Jose Canseco is back in the show. And by show, we mean the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball. He signed a one-year contract with the Worcester Tornadoes (!!) and is expected to be their designated hitter when the season starts in May. [ESPN]