Column: Isiah Thomas ReturnsMay 18, 2015

Two leagues, two different modes of operation. League A has imposed a four game ban – one-quarter of the season - on one of its premier players, a league icon and future Hall of Famer who has made more money for the league than virtually any other player in NFL history. That player has been a model citizen on and off the gridiron for 15 years. The player’s transgression was not ratting on other team employees who were messing with the game balls, a minor rule book violation punishable by a $25,000 fine. League B recently allowed one team to hire as its president and part owner a man who has failed miserably at every single basketball-related activity he has ever been associated with after winding up a Hall of Fame career as a player. This individual is responsible for running the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Florida International University, Indiana Pacers and the Continental Basketball League into the ground while serving those organizations in various capacities including coach, general manager and president. And did I mention that while he was president of the Knicks, he was slapped with a sexual harassment suit brought by a team employee that resulted in an $11.6 million judgment?

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Column: Thoughts on Deflategate ReportMay 11, 2015

Thoughts and musings on the Wells Report and its aftermath. 1. Wells’ conclusion that it was “more probable than not” that low-level Patriots’ employees were playing fast and loose with the air pressure in the game balls used in this year’s AFC Championship game is typical NFLese. It’s the legal equivalent of the “preponderance of the evidence” used in civil cases. 2. The Report’s conclusion that Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of the nefarious activity is more problematic. Throughout his career Brady has let it be known that he prefers footballs on the low end of the pressure scale allowed by the league. In an effort to please the star quarterback, it appears as if the employees took matters into their own hands and the result was right out of a Three Stooges playbook. If Brady suspected – or even if he knew - they were breaking the rules, was he obligated to snitch on them? If an umpire thinks a batter was hit by a pitch when he wasn’t, should the batter correct the umpire?

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Column: A-Rod and Yankees Dispute HR ObligationMay 4, 2015

If Alex Rodriguez and tranquility are an oxymoron, then A-Rod and controversy are a tautology; they mean the same thing. It would take a book to chronicle all the controversies A-Rod has spawned in his illustrious career. The latest occurred last Saturday when he clubbed a game-winning home run against the Red Sox. The homer tied him with Willie Mays for fourth place on baseball’s all-time home run list at 660. Not every game-winning home run is controversial, but A-Rod isn’t your ordinary baseball player.

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Column: Barry Bonds is Finally ExoneratedApril 26, 2015

The eternal and disturbing saga involving Barry Bonds may finally be over. Last week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Bonds’ conviction on obstruction of justice charges, putting to rest - hopefully for good - a sad and frightening chapter in our country’s history. You may recall that Bonds was convicted of obstruction for a meandering, 234-word response to a prosecutor’s question during his testimony before a grand jury in 2003. The government said he should have responded with a “yes” or “no” answer, which he did when prosecutors repeated the question a short time later. But the feds claimed they were “inconvenienced” by Bonds’ initial response so in 2007 they charged him with obstruction along with three counts of perjury. In 2011 a jury deadlocked on the perjury charges but convicted Bonds of obstruction.

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Column: MLB Debuts Metal DetectorsApril 19, 2015

A day at the ballpark now begins like an airplane flight. Major League Baseball required all 30 teams to install metal detectors at their entrance gates prior to the beginning of the 2015 season. A few teams installed metal detectors last year and many others had security measures that required fans to undergo bag checks and random wandings. While those measures were voluntarily instituted, metal detectors are now standard operating procedure. The publicly stated rationale for the increased security shouldn’t surprise you. MLB says it’s all about “fan safety.” In reality, it’s all about perception and a C.Y.A. mentality.

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Column: New Ballpark Food for 2015April 12, 2015

Ballpark concessions are as much a part of the baseball experience as foul balls and autographs. And if you want to challenge your inner gastronomical self, a number of new and creative concession items are available at ballparks around the country. Some may sound appealing, others revolting depending on your constitution. The Texas Rangers introduced a fried food stand exclusively for, well, fried concoctions. One of the featured items is a Fried S’more. The name says it all: deep fried marshmallows breaded in graham cracker crust, mixed with two deep-fried Oreos on a skewer, drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped with Cool Whip.

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Column: Baseball Season is Here!April 5, 2015

“Baseball is the greatest game ever to spring from the mind of mortal man.” Bob Ryan, Boston Globe Correspondent The MLB season opened this week during what is arguably the greatest time of the year for sports fans. March Madness culminates with the Final Four for men and women and the Frozen Four will soon follow; the NBA and NHL are wrapping up their regular seasons with multiple playoff spots still at stake; and the NFL is immersed in free agency and endless discussions on the upcoming draft. But baseball, the game with the greatest parity of any sport, is the annual harbinger of spring and a reminder of what’s right with the world, despite the constant barrage of negative news that dominates the headlines. Hope – the sine qua non of sport fans – is at its peak. Every team has a chance to make the playoffs and win the World Series. Baseball also generates the most controversies and this year is no exception. Here are several storylines to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

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Column: New Women's Professional Hockey League to DebutMarch 30, 2015

In case you missed it, there’s another women’s professional sports league on the horizon. Thanks to the yeoman efforts of a former Division I hockey player, Dani Rylan, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) is set to launch for the 2015-16 season. The league will debut with four teams - the Boston Pride, The Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters. If that sounds like the league is northeast centric, it was by design. Rylan has spent countless hours putting together a business plan and strategically it makes sense to locate the teams in places where they would most likely be successful.

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    Column: Rash of NFL Players Retire YoungMarch 23, 2015

    Father time is undefeated, and by all accounts will remain so forever. The calendar catches up to all of us, regardless of what we do in an attempt to forestall the inevitable. An athlete’s career ends sooner than it does for those of us in other professions. An accountant or a banker can ply their trade for decades. But the average length of an NFL career is little more than three years. That’s why it surprised many observers when five NFL players in their prime retired over the course of a two week period in early March. Why would they retire “early” and leave so much money – in some cases, tens of millions of dollars – on the table?

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    Column: Colleges Need to Rearrange Their PrioritiesMarch 15, 2015

    Readers of this space know that yours truly will never be elected president of the NCAA fan club. I have taken the NCAA to task on a number of occasions and anyone with a passing familiarity with how the governing body operates knows there is no shortage of things to criticize. I have railed against complex and inconsistent rules, exemplified by the incomprehensible distinction between a plain bagel and one smeared with cream cheese. Not too long ago providing the former to a student-athlete was considered acceptable but the latter was considered a violation of the Bylaw that prohibits additional benefits to student-athletes. Mercifully, that mind boggling and idiotic distinction has been eliminated. Another frequent complaint is that the NCAA has repeatedly chosen to maximize revenue in lieu of protecting the welfare of student-athletes. And don’t even get me started on such topics as a lack of transparency and due process.

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