**cough, cough, cough**
Sunny’s Side hasn’t been very sunny lately. I have been dealing with an illness for the past month. If you’ve been hit with sickness this fall season, you might know what I’m talking about.
So yes, I am playing a bit of catch-up (again) in the sports world this week. And boy oh boy, do I have some thoughts….
BREAKING NEWS: No, I’m not really breaking news here, but as I was typing this week’s Sunny’s Side, news did “break” regarding El Tri.
With a huge Mexican fan base north of the border, in border states especially, the news is not surprising. From now through 2022 – that feels weird to type – the Mexican National Team will play a match at AT&T stadium.
It won’t only be a match, however. The idea is to create an interactive atmostphere – Fútbol Fanfest – surrounding the match. Involvement in civic activities is expected to take place throughout the year. Growing the sport, as well as promoting a childhood reading program are just two of the initiatives involved in the plan.
Quite a coup for Jerry Jones and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But, FC Dallas also hopes to gain a bit from the attention Mexico brings to the community. “For us, this is a huge opportunity for growing soccer here in North Texas. This is a global game that we want to develop locally,” Jimmy Smith, FCD Chief Operating Officer.
El Tri’s first match will be June 9, 2019.
SEATTLE MARINERS: Speaking of feeling sick.
Ever feel like after a sickness, you start to feel better and then WHAM!, you’re down for the count again. Some days you feel great and you want to conquer the world. And other days…not so much. You go to the doctor. They give you a prescription in hopes that it will fix you up, but you still feel blah.
2018 has been that kind of year for Seattle Mariners fans. The team started strong, spending time in first place in the American League West. Optimism was high. Then, Robinson Cano gets suspended. Felix Hernandez was never King Felix again. The injury bug hit and they were never the same. No playoffs.
If that wasn’t enough during the season, the news got worse this off-season.
Last week, they traded away their #1 ace, James Paxton, to of all teams, the New York Yankees. In return, the Mariners added three prospects, including their top one, Justus Sheffield. This came on the heels of Seattle trading their starting catcher, Mike Zunino, to the Tampa Bay Rays less than two weeks prior.
In-between those trades, a bombshell was dropped by their former director of high performance, Lorena Martin. Accusations of racism toward Latinos and sexism were leveled by Dr. Martin on social media. Dr. Martin had been fired in October by the Mariners organization in the first year of a three year contract. The team refuted Dr. Martin’s accusations, but Major League Baseball is currently conducting its own investigation.
Now, Mariners brass has confirmed that 2019 will be a “step back.” Winning in 2020 and 2021 is the goal.
With a farm system ranked last heading into 2018 to begin with, their top pitcher and catcher gone, an investigation hanging overhead and a rebuild mode in progress, the ailment afflicting Mariners fans may hang around awhile.
ADRIAN BELTRE: Speaking of the Mariners, a hearty congratulations to former Mariner Adrian Beltre on a successful career. The 39 year-old Dominican announced his retirement from baseball last week.
Beltre is a shoo-in for the Baseball Hall-of-Fame. Don’t @ me or us at Somos Sports. Beltre is a HOF’er. Whether he gets in on the first ballot or not – and we know how screwy some of those HOF voters can be (more on that in a moment) – is up for debate. But Beltre deserves to be in the Hall.
Over the mythical 3,000 hit number to get into the HOF, Beltre also knocked well over 400 homers, rated a plus-95 WAR and was a star with the glove defensively at third base. There were times watching him in the field that you thought, how did he snag that?
But, it went beyond the stats with Beltre. He played with an intensity, but that came from the passion he had for the game. Adrian Beltre loved playing baseball. Never was this more evident for me than when Beltre would face his old teammate and good friend from his Mariners days, Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez has mentioned in the past how much Beltre helped him as a young player coming up to the big leagues. A lifelong bond and friendly rivalry was formed in Seattle. Beltre may have moved on to the Texas Rangers, but that didn’t stop their fun:
HALL OF FAME (part 1): On the subject of Hall-of-Fames, there are two names that should be in their respective Hall-of-Fames, but aren’t. Both happen to be Latinos.
On November 20, Tom Flores was announced as a semi-finalist for the Pro Football HOF. It is Flores’ first appearance in the semi-finals. Flores is the one that Hall of Fame voters seem to have forgotten.
When you talk about Oakland Raiders history, Tom Flores’ name is up there with John Madden.
- First Latino quarterback to start in pro football HISTORY (AFL’s Oakland team)
- Assistant coach for Super Bowl championship team in 1977
- First Latino head coach in the NFL
- First Latino coach or any coach of color to win the Super Bowl
- Coach of first Wild Card team to win Super Bowl in 1981
- Led team to another Super Bowl win in 1984
As this Raiders.com article points out, many of Flores contemporaries are in the Hall-of-Fame like Marv Levy and Bud Grant.
Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Colts and Buccaneers, as well as player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was inducted a few years ago. What’s irksome with the Dungy election is not about his induction. No, what was particularly frustrating is that afterward, some referred to Dungy as the first minority to win the Super Bowl. Not from Dungy himself, but from some fans and “media”.
It goes to show how much they don’t know their football history. He could have been overshadowed by the success and gregarious personality that is Madden. Or, the outspoken nature of owner Al Davis. Flores was able to overcome that and still win.
“Flores had big shoes to fill when he took over for John Madden and came through with two titles,” says Russell Baxter, longtime NFL/pro football writer and researcher. “He makes for an intriguing Hall of Fame candidate.”
Note: Baxter is also a big proponent of Flores’ quarterback, Jim Plunkett for the HOF, too.
Intriguing? Yes. Flores is that and more. He left his mark on football. It is high time football and the HOF voters recognize it.
HALL OF FAME (Part 2): The baseball Hall of Fame ballots went out recently. And much like Tom Flores and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Baseball Hall-of-Fame voters have ignored a Latino player once feared by some of the best in the game.
Edgar Martinez was one of the best hitters of his era. Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera (a surefire HOF’er) have both said that Edgar was either the toughest (Pedro) or the best (Mariano) hitter they’ve ever faced in their careers.
For the record, Edgar didn’t even have a great record against Pedro. Go figure that Pedro thought of Edgar with high regard despite his success against him.
Edgar is an oft-debated choice. Debated because he is, after all, “only” a designated hitter. Sure, he played third base for a portion of his career, but most know him as a DH. A .312 batting average, .418 On-Base-Percentage, On-Base-Plus-Slugging of .933 among his best stats.
Ask former players about Edgar Martinez – those he faced in the batter’s box, teammates, opposing players – they will all tell you the same thing. Edgar Martinez was one of the best hitters they have ever seen. High praise!
The DH is part of baseball. Time for voters to get over their DH-aversion and vote Edgar into Cooperstown.
End of story.
- Fútbol is life in some parts of the world. Maybe too much so in CONMEBOL (ESPN)
- Copa Libertadores violence highlights what some ignore about the beautiful game (The Ringer)
- A hearty congratulations to Phoenix FC, USL Western Conference Champions (phxrisingfc.com)
- WOOHOO!!! Mexico’s u-17 ladies are in the FIFA World Cup Final!!!