Sunny’s Side: Astros, Halftime & More

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By Sunny Cadwallader /photo courtesy of Getty Images

No Matter the Scandal, We’ll Still Watch

The Houston Astros held a press conference Friday.

The End.

If only.

Spring Training has begun Рpitchers and catchers having reported to camps in Florida and Arizona. After a tumultuous off-season, the Houston Astros held a press conference.  Present were new manager, Dusty Baker, players Alex Bregman and José Altuve and owner, Jim Crane.

Apologies – sincere or not is in the eyes of the listener – notwithstanding, the press conference was deemed by many to be a public relations disaster.

Crane seemingly both apologized and didn’t apologize.

In other words, as many others have said, they’re sorry they got caught. They still have their championship and playoff winnings. Crane still reaped the benefits ($$$) of the Astros’ success over the past few years.

They ain’t giving it back.

In today’s social world, judgment has already been laid down against the Houston Astros organization. This isn’t the first time the Astros have bungled in the PR department. (Think Roberto Osuna and former assistant GM Brandon Taubman.) Chances are, with Crane still in charge, they’ll blow it again.

Yes, it is going to be a long season for the Houston Astros and their fans. They will be vilified in the press, on social media, on TV and radio shows and the road fans. At least, the first time they go through an opposing city. Then, all bets are off.

Baseball will still be played. The Astros will have a bullseye on their back throughout the season. No doubt their AL West rivals won’t shed a tear if the Astros don’t play well. But, what if they do?

What happens if the Astros are in first in the AL West at the All-Star Break? How will the league, media and fans view them? Their every step or move they make will have been scrutinized up to that point. What then?

It just doesn’t matter.

When money is on the line, some athlete, some team, some organization, will look to gain any advantage they can get. It’s only wrong if you get caught, right? If you don’t get caught, you win championships, gold medals, trophies, fame, sponsorships and money.

Greater knowledge and greater technology combined with greater resources, well, this is what you get. Cheating, skirting the rules, doping – every opportunity to gain the advantage. To win.

This isn’t the last we will hear of an MLB team’s wrongdoing. It would be ignorant to think this is exclusive to baseball.

  • NFL: Saints bounty, Patriots deflated balls.
  • NBA: Tim Donaghy, Malice in the Palace, DV scandals, Donald Sterling.
  • NHL: Racism, Rick Tocchet/Janet Gretzky betting scandal.
  • NCAA: Amateurism (Ay yi yi), racism, point shaving, gambling, murder, boosters & so on & so on.
  • Soccer: FIFA (Ay yi yi part 2), CONCACAF (Oy vey), murder, drugs and racism.

In individual/other sports…Lance Armstrong, Russian Olympic teams, (East) German Olympic teams, USA Olympic teams — let’s just say Olympic teams overall, shall we? — marathon, triathlon, boxing or all combat sports judging, rugby (doping, cheating).

The higher up you go in the sports world, the more money is involved. And, where more money is involved, the temptation to gain the advantage and win at all costs is hard to resist.

We keep watching. We keep cheering. We keep celebrating. Heck, we in media keep writing.

As long as those things remain, nothing will change.

*

A Latina Halftime

I did not watch the Super Bowl. Yes, I missed a great game or so I’ve been told. But, I learned a long time ago that I don’t have to watch the game to know what’s going on. Twitter allows me to do whatever else I want to do and while still being in the know with the latest game happenings.

That said, I did turn on the tv for one thing: the halftime show.

Rare is it when I actually watch a halftime show. Usually, I wait to see the highlights on Twitter or watch it on YouTube or some other site.

Two Latinas united to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show in Miami (see Sunny’s Side). Shakira and Jennifer Lopez entertained the masses at this year’s game. The Latin flair of Miami was the perfect setting for these two powerhouse women.

First, let me say, I got up and danced a little bit. Can’t help it. It’s just part of who I am. Shakira, I think, is who was singing at the time. Don’t ask me which song because I have no clue. It was upbeat and fun and I danced.

Both ladies represented their cultures, their heritages in their own way. Whether it was Puerto Rican, Nuyorican, Colombian or Lebanese, their performances reflected what we’ve come to know and expect from these cultures.

For the most part, I enjoyed it. That said, I think the envelope was pushed a bit much in a couple of instances. But, it didn’t surprise me at all.

This is who they are. It is what makes Jennifer Lopez, JLo or Shakira, well, Shakira. They are uninhibited, yet calculated in every thing they do. The planning and rehearsing and work they put into their performances not only at halftime, but wherever, is reflected in what you see.

What you see is what you get with Shakira and JLo. Is that a bad thing? Only you can decide that.

When Latinas – who are far too often ignored in discussions of sports, race and culture – have an opportunity to stand in the spotlight, I will root for them to succeed.

Shakira and JLo succeeded.

¬°Felicidades, Chicas!

*

What’s Next?

As soon as the Super Bowl was over, my mind was already on to the next thing.

  • We’ve got the NBA All-Star Weekend going on.
  • The aforementioned Spring Training is off and running (no pun intended) – first games of the season begin March 26th.
  • MLS kicks off its 25th season on Leap Day, February 29th.
  • March Madness is right around the corner.
  • NHL and NBA Playoffs are not far behind.
  • Mixed in there is a little bit of Champions League and all of the other Copas and Cups around the world. Men’s soccer Olympic qualifying too.
  • Outside of March Madness, there are plenty of other NCAA championships decided.
  • Wrestlemania 36 plus however many UFC events they schedule over the next few months.
  • Will Canelo Alvarez find his next fight soon?

With so many sports to choose from over the next few months, what are you looking forward to the most?

I am fascinated with the world of soccer. Despite all of the tensions, racial incidents, the writhing on the pitch with sheer agony, I still love watching the world’s game.

Champions League is a fascinating drama. Heading into the round of 16, some of the most storied clubs in football are not in top form, either on or off the pitch.

FC Barcelona with Lionel Messi started off strong in La Liga. A mid-season manager change and a disgruntled Messi toward former teammate and now team Director of Football, Eric Abidal, has left many questioning the star’s future with the club.

Truth be told, there’s always drama with FC Barcelona, as are rumors of a Messi exit from Spain. But, there is something about this season that feels off at the moment. A recent semi-final loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey last week was a stunner, to say the least.

Their fortunes can change as they face middle-of-the-Serie-A-pack Napoli in the first leg next week. But, any hint of a subpar performance from the Blaugrana and the rumblings will rise.

Meanwhile, Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are having a decent enough season. However, they are 22 points – yes, really – behind Liverpool who sits atop the Premier League. It’s all but over in the EPL this season.

City will face a strong, young Real Madrid in the Round of 16. Guardiola is no stranger to the La Liga team, but Madrid is playing at a level not unlike a few years back when they were UCL victors.

They better make the most of it now, however, as today UEFA banned Manchester City from the Champions League for the next two years. An investigation found the club violated UEFA licensing and financial regulations and failure to cooperate in an investigation.

Can’t wait for next week.

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Sunny’s Sides

  • Chicharito, visa secured, ready to go with LA Galaxy (MLS)
  • El Tri Femenil misses out on Olympics again (MedioTiempo Spanish)
  • Devin Booker – finally – a NBA All-Star (Suns.com)