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Courtside: MLB’s bizarre plan to save its season might just save America’s pastime

first_imgBaseball fans, rejoice: The finish line — or, more appropriately, the starting line — is in sight. MLB has made concerted efforts in recent years to grow the game to a broader demographic, and frankly, those efforts haven’t gone far enough — a baseball aficionado like myself can acknowledge that much. Knocking a few seconds off the average game by automatically issuing intentional walks instead of requiring four half-assed lobs wide of home plate can only go so far in attracting a younger audience that seems increasingly drawn to the flash and flair of the NBA and NFL.  Bad news: It’s probably not happening. As of last week or so, the NBA has been preparing scenarios to fully shut down the remainder of the 2019-20 season.  If baseball returns in May — far earlier than anyone originally expected — those who have been turned off from baseball because of its perception as slow and boring will come crawling back to their television sets for America’s national pastime even if simply because it’s the only option.  Despite all the league’s shortcomings when it comes to spreading the game, it might get bailed out by the unlikeliest of catalysts: the coronavirus pandemic.  The problem for MLB isn’t that the games are too long, it’s that the league thinks that’s the problem. Meanwhile, it has failed to take the essential step that its American major-sport counterparts have long since figured out by now: marketing its own players. It’s why, according to YouGov, 91% of Americans have heard of LeBron James, 88% have heard of Tom Brady and only 43% have heard of Mike Trout. The league seems more preoccupied with the Sharpie colors on players’ cleats than the fact that maybe, just maybe, fans are drawn to personality more than tradition.  On Monday, ESPN Major League Baseball insider Jeff Passan reported that MLB is considering a plan to locate all 30 teams at Arizona hotels and use various Spring Training facilities and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field in Phoenix to hold games possibly as early as May. I realize this is an ideal situation for absolutely no one. I just want baseball back, and in my eyes, everything else is gravy — but I realize I’m far outnumbered by my equivalents in the basketball sphere. For the basketball diehards, especially those in Los Angeles, it’ll be a tough pill to swallow. But come May, if there’s anything, anything happening in the sports world, even those who (incorrectly) claim baseball is boring will come to their collective senses and compromise. MLB will likely do everything it can to make baseball happen this year not just because it wants Bryce Harper’s 2020 MVP campaign to materialize, but also because it wants the pastime to become the present-time and future-time as well.  It’s exactly what MLB needs. If the league can find a way to grasp the moment and run with it, the impact will last well beyond the scope of the current crisis. Based on Passan’s report, the early signs indicate that MLB is realizing this opportunity. The league is considering regularly equipping players with microphones during games to provide an enhanced broadcast experience for viewers similar to the in-game interviews broadcast crews often held with players during Spring Training. Exposing an expected high number of fans to the concept that baseball players are actually living, breathing human beings with personalities rather than robots who stand around trying not to fall asleep all game should do wonders for the game’s appeal. For every MLB fan who can’t wait to see Houston Astros take 95 to the ribs once baseball returns, there are 10 NBA fans dying for a chance to see LeBron take on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA Finals or Zion Williamson cap off his rookie season with a New Orleans Pelicans playoff chase. In general, it’s becoming increasingly evident that fans would push everything else aside just for a chance to see the 2019-20 NBA season played out until one team reigns supreme. Nathan Ackerman is a sophomore writing about sports and sociopolitics. He is also an associate managing editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Courtside,” typically runs every Friday. The concept that MLB can actually capitalize on the fact that U.S. society has shut down due to a virus that has taken thousands of lives in the last few weeks is incredibly bittersweet — and far more bitter than sweet. Though the road has been depressingly unfortunate and tragic, the destination is one that MLB can use as an opportunity to provide desperate fans with the entertainment we’ve so sorely been lacking ever since college sports were called off March 12. To say it would be a stray from the norm would be quite the understatement. The league could use electronic strike zones and seven-inning doubleheaders, ban fans from attending and mandate that players sit in the stands six feet apart rather than in the dugout during games.  It’s a golden opportunity, and Major League Baseball should be chomping at the bit. Nevermind how indisputably bizarre the plan is — should it go into action, which is still far from a certainty as it currently stands, the league’s status as the sole operating sports league in the United States would put it in a prime position to largely alleviate one of its most pressing concerns of the past decade.last_img read more

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Elections delay wearing Guyanese people’s patience thin

first_imgDear Editor,The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) is deeply concerned regarding the continued delay in the hosting of National and Regional Elections in our country. It is a now well-known fact that elections ought to have been held nearly six months ago. The reality is that today we are really no closer to the hosting of the elections. From recent media reports, we learnt that elections possibly can be held in March 2020, one year after they were constitutionally due. This has to be a record of sorts, we believe.The FITUG is conscious that, among other things, the elections deadline slipped because of what has been recognised as a baseless case challenging the legality of the No-Confidence Motion. While it is opined that the unnecessary and costly pursuance of the legal gymnastics was one of the means to delay the inevitable, the Guyanese people, notwithstanding the clarity they have on the matter, are today being denied their inalienable constitutional right to exercise their franchise in free and fair elections. We hasten to remind, again, that this right was won out of the struggles of the Guyanese working people.The Federation has seen and heard of several of the rationales regarding the reason(s) for the protracted delay in the hosting of elections. While we will refrain from offering a specific comment, we well recognise there seems to be more than what meets the eye. The delays have, undoubtedly, caused us and many Guyanese to be anxious and apprehensive. And, the continued delays have only served to heighten anxiety and worry. At this time, when several important national matters remain unaddressed, the bedrock of our democratic foundation, it appears, is being taken for granted by those who hold the reins of power and authority. This is neither in our interest or well-being and can well set a very negative precedent for the future.The FITUG is aware that, over the years, huge sums have been allocated to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to improve the organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness. Apart from State support, friendly and supportive bodies have also lent their assistance and expertise to improving the functioning of the electoral body, undoubtedly, in recognition of the important role it plays in our country. It is, therefore, for us, a great disappointment that the body, it seems, is unable to get its act togetheewr and undertake its significant function in upholding our nation’s democracy through elections that are free and fair and free from fear as well. Indeed, as Stabroek News reported on September 9, the conduct of elections with acceptable outcomes within a short space of time is not outside of the remit of the electoral body. It obviously brings into question what is preventing GECOM from repeating past feats on this occasion.Our constitutional clock is essentially now beyond the midnight hour and yet we continue to hear excuse after excuse being invoked. Undoubtedly, the patience of all right-thinking Guyanese has worn thin and the need for credible elections within a short space of time cannot be underscored. The unnecessary procrastination has caused us too much time and the need for further delay cannot be excused. At this time, it is our view that the use of the House-to-House data remains questionable at best and really should be set aside. Certainly, the time-tested Claims and Objections remains the best approach to address non-registered, eligible voters.The FITUG, at this time, looks to the new Chairperson of the Commission, Justice (retired) Claudette Singh to take decisive action. The Chairperson had publicly committed to upholding the law, which has been dissected in recent times, and for which the consequences are now as clear as day. Continued temporising by the Chairperson is not in our country’s interest and we look to her to live up to her “Iron Lady” moniker.Sincerely,Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyanalast_img read more

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3 committed to High Court for trial

first_imgGreenwich Park stabbingThe three men charged with killing 22-year-old Dewaun Baksh of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo (EBE), on New Year’s 2016 were all committed to stand trial in the High Court when they appeared at the Leonora Magistrate’s Courts on Monday.Dead: Dewaun BakshRocky Lallu, 28; Dhanraj Goberdhan, 30; and Abdool Hussain heard that a prima facie case was made out against them, and as such, they will stand trial in the High Court before a Judge and jury at the next sitting of the Demerara Assizes.On January 1, 2016, at Greenwich Park, East Bank Essequibo, at about 21:30h, Baksh was picked up and rushed to the Leonora Cottage Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.The young man, who had returned to Guyana after five years to celebrate Christmas with his family, left home in the company of two of his brothers to celebrate the New Year.They reportedly left home at about 17:40h to visit Bushy Park, Parika, but subsequently went to Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara and then to a popular shop in Greenwich Park.Abdool Hussain and Rocky LalluHowever, while there, Rafeek Baksh, the youngest of the three brothers recognised a man whom reportedly had a relationship with his sister some years ago. The man was with a group of men.Rafeek reportedly approached and asked the man if he remembered him to which the man answered “no”.One of the men from the group misinterpreted what was asked and proceeded to use abusive language towards Rafeek. Dewaun approached and enquired of his brother if he was ok and as they turned to walk away, they were attacked by the group of men with glass bottles.Dhanraj GoberdhanIt was during the attack that one of the men broke a glass bottle and stabbed Dewaun about his body.Lallu, Goberdhan and Hussain were later picked up and charged for the murder.last_img read more

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