WBEZ | Sports http://www.wbez.org/news/sports Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en FIFA officials arrested on charges of bribery and corruption http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fifa-officials-arrested-charges-bribery-and-corruption-112096 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/0527_fifa-headquarters-624x416.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Seven top FIFA officials were arrested this morning at a luxury hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, where soccer&rsquo;s international governing body was gathering for its annual meeting.</p><p>The arrests, on charges of accepting bribes and kickbacks dating back many years, were made at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice.</p><p>Also today, Swiss federal prosecutors announced that they have opened an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which went to Russia and Qatar respectively.</p><p><em>Here &amp; Now</em>&rsquo;s Robin Young gets the latest on the charges, and how they&rsquo;re rippling through the soccer world, from WBUR reporter Curt Nickish, who is in Switzerland.</p><ul><li><em><a href="http://www.wbur.org/about/people/curt-nickisch" target="_blank">Curt Nickisch</a>, business and technology reporter for WBUR. He tweets&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/CurtNickisch" target="_blank">@CurtNickisch</a>.</em></li></ul></p> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fifa-officials-arrested-charges-bribery-and-corruption-112096 For Bears chairman, plenty to second guess in McDonald case http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bears-chairman-plenty-second-guess-mcdonald-case-112095 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP720335860662 Small_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>LAKE FOREST, Ill. &mdash; Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey said Wednesday he has repeatedly second-guessed his decision to approve the Ray McDonald signing and asked himself what he could have done differently.</p><p>McDonald was released Monday following a domestic violence arrest in Northern California that police say stemmed from an assault on a woman who was holding a baby. McCaskey said he thought the Bears were thorough before signing the defensive end to a one-year deal in March and had the safeguards in place to make the move work.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve asked myself that question a lot. What more could I have done?&quot; McCaskey said. &quot;Is there somebody else we could have consulted with? Should I have taken more time to make a decision? I don&#39;t know. We thought we had a good structure, a good support system. We thought we had safeguards in place in case something like this happened.&quot;</p><p>Did the move affect the chairman&#39;s confidence in new general manager Ryan Pace.</p><p>&quot;We have complete confidence in Ryan,&quot; McCaskey said.</p><p>He said he was not involved in the decision to release McDonald because &quot;I didn&#39;t need to be. They knew what needed to be done and did it.&quot;</p><p>McCaskey said his reaction to the arrest was, &quot;Sadness for the child, for the child&#39;s mother and the entire situation.&quot;</p><p>As for McDonald&#39;s release, running back Matt Forte had a different reaction.</p><p>&quot;My first initial thought was, &#39;Man, we could have used him on defense,&#39;&quot; he said.</p><p>The Bears knew they were taking a risk when they signed McDonald. The San Francisco 49ers released him in December citing a &quot;pattern of poor decision-making.&quot;</p><p>That move came just a month after Santa Clara County prosecutors declined to file charges against McDonald in a separate domestic violence investigation stemming from an arrest on Aug. 31 while celebrating his 30th birthday at his Northern California home. Prosecutors cited conflicting versions of what happened, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a lack of cooperation by the alleged victim, McDonald&#39;s fiancee, in explaining their decision.</p><p>But his trouble continued.</p><p>In March, McDonald filed a defamation lawsuit against a woman who had accused him of rape.</p><p>McDonald says security camera footage will show a consensual sexual encounter occurred in his hot tub. Police say the woman doesn&#39;t recall any sexual encounters and reported blacking out after drinking alcohol and falling at McDonald&#39;s home.</p><p>She said she went to police after waking up naked next to McDonald. The Santa Clara County district attorney is looking at the case.</p><p>McCaskey initially balked at signing McDonald but changed his mind after the player paid his way to Chicago for a face-to-face meeting. He spoke to McDonald&#39;s parents. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who came from the 49ers, put in a good word for him, too.</p><p>But McCaskey said he did not reach out to the accusers or any of the lawyers involved in the cases because he did not want to interfere in any criminal or league investigations.</p><p>&quot;I thought a lot about that, too,&quot; McCaskey said. &quot;Not just before signing him but since. One of my concerns was the bias anybody has in that situation. An alleged victim wants to make sure that charges are filed. An alleged perpetrator is doing everything he can to make sure that charges aren&#39;t filed. So that was part of it. But a larger concern to me was that I didn&#39;t want to interfere with any criminal investigation or with any league investigation by talking to the child&#39;s mother.&quot;</p><p>McCaskey said the Bears had a &quot;good dialogue&quot; with anti-domestic violence agencies before the McDonald signing and afterward. But he insisted it was the Bears&#39; decision to release him.</p><p>The decision to sign McDonald raised all sorts of questions, particularly since they are coming off a five-win season and not widely considered contenders. Plus, domestic violence became a major topic of conversation in the NFL last year because of a series of high-profile cases involving players, most notably Ray Rice.</p><p>McCaskey was asked about the possibility of the NFL punishing teams that sign players who get arrested. He said the league is not considering that, as far as he knows.</p><p>&quot;I haven&#39;t heard any discussion about that, either on the committee or among the membership,&quot; said McCaskey, a member of the NFL&#39;s conduct committee. &quot;It might be something that would be worth the discussion (but) I don&#39;t know that there was any consensus on that issue at all.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bears-chairman-plenty-second-guess-mcdonald-case-112095 Bears release Ray McDonald after domestic violence arrest in California http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-release-ray-mcdonald-after-domestic-violence-arrest-california-112084 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP720335860662 Small.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SAN FRANCISCO (AP) &mdash; The Chicago Bears released defensive end&nbsp;Ray&nbsp;McDonald&nbsp;following a domestic violence arrest in Northern California that police say stemmed from an assault on a woman who was holding a baby.</p><p>McDonald&nbsp;was taken into custody at 7 a.m. Monday on suspicion of domestic violence and child endangerment, Santa Clara police Lt. Kurt Clarke said.</p><p>Police say the assault happened at his home in Santa Clara. He was found about three hours later at a home in San Jose and arrested.</p><p>Police did not disclose if the woman or the baby were injured.</p><p>The Chicago Bears released a statement Monday afternoon about the decision to letMcDonald&nbsp;go.</p><p>&quot;We believe in second chances, but when we signed&nbsp;Ray&nbsp;we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear,&quot; General Manager Ryan Pace said in the statement. &quot;He was not able to meet the standard, and the decision was made to release him.&quot;</p><p>Bears guard Kyle Long quickly reacted to the move by tweeting &quot;Good riddance.&quot;</p><p>Chicago signed&nbsp;McDonald&nbsp;to a one-year contract in late March knowing it was a gamble given his history of legal issues.</p><p>Chairman George McCaskey even acknowledged at the time that he initially told Pace not to go after him. But McCaskey came away impressed from a face-to-face conversation that he described as &quot;very candid, very forthright&quot; and &quot;difficult&quot; afterMcDonald&nbsp;paid his way to Chicago.</p><p>McCaskey talked to&nbsp;McDonald&#39;s&nbsp;parents but didn&#39;t talk to any lawyers involved inMcDonald&#39;s&nbsp;cases or the accusers.</p><p>He cited a league investigation and said: &quot;An alleged victim I think much like anybody else who has a bias in a situation there&#39;s a certain amount of discounting what they have to say. But our personnel department had done its work looking into his background and the incidents and we had the benefit of two coaches who had been with him with the 49ers.</p><p>&quot;I spoke with Vic Fangio and came away very impressed with what Vic had to say about him, that he&#39;s well-liked by his teammates, by his coaches, his strong work ethic. That he&#39;s considered a leader on the field and speaking to Vic and&nbsp;Rayespecially I was convinced that he&#39;s sufficiently motivated to make this work.&quot;</p><p>McDonald&#39;s&nbsp;agent, Tom Condon, did not immediately return calls for comment Monday afternoon.</p><p>In December, the San Francisco 49ers released the 30-year-old, citing a &quot;pattern of poor decision-making.&quot;</p><p>In letting him go late in the season, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said, &quot;Ray&#39;s&nbsp;demonstrated a pattern of poor decision-making that has led to multiple distractions to this organization and this football team that really can no longer be tolerated.&quot;</p><p>His release from San Francisco came just a month after the Santa Clara County district attorney&#39;s office announced it had declined to file charges against&nbsp;McDonaldin a separate domestic violence investigation stemming from an arrest on Aug. 31 while celebrating his 30th birthday at his Northern California home.</p><p>Prosecutors cited conflicting versions of what happened, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a lack of cooperation by the alleged victim,&nbsp;McDonald&#39;s&nbsp;fiancee, in explaining their decision not to pursue charges in the domestic violence investigation.</p><p>But his trouble continued.</p><p>In March,&nbsp;McDonald&nbsp;filed a defamation lawsuit against a woman who had accused him of rape.</p><p>McDonald&nbsp;says security camera footage will show a consensual sexual encounter occurred in his hot tub. Police say the woman doesn&#39;t recall any sexual encounters and reported blacking out after drinking alcohol and falling at&nbsp;McDonald&#39;s&nbsp;home.</p><p>She said she went to police after waking up naked next to&nbsp;McDonald. The Santa Clara County district attorney is considering whether to file criminal charges.</p><p>McDonald&nbsp;had been signed by the 49ers through the 2015 season. He had three sacks in 14 games last year and had 19&nbsp;1/2 sacks in eight seasons with the 49ers.</p></p> Mon, 25 May 2015 14:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-release-ray-mcdonald-after-domestic-violence-arrest-california-112084 In Baltimore, a different historic moment: A fan-less baseball game http://www.wbez.org/news/baltimore-different-historic-moment-fan-less-baseball-game-111962 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap104892546963_custom-d40167f1b73db77f04a3eb0651cf27e42e8fcd8c-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="image-insert-image ">History was made in Baltimore Wednesday: The Orioles played the Chicago White Sox in what the league says is the first Major League Baseball game to be closed to public.</div><p>So players came on the field to no cheers and a home run was marked by the crack of a bat and only a few isolated claps.</p><p>Here&#39;s video of the first pitch:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Here&#39;s first pitch from White Sox and Orioles <a href="http://t.co/Q3ssanz6tF">pic.twitter.com/Q3ssanz6tF</a></p>&mdash; Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) <a href="https://twitter.com/ChiTribKane/status/593477271828180994">April 29, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>And video of a three-run home run by Orioles first-baseman Chris Davis:</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="600" src="https://vine.co/v/e7mqZ6zmwtK/embed/simple" width="600"></iframe><script src="https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js"></script></p><p>NPR&#39;s Don Gonyea is at Camden Yards this afternoon and he reports that he saw just a small amount of police presence outside the stadium.</p><p><a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12781465/baltimore-orioles-chicago-white-sox-series-finale-played-wednesday-closed-public">ESPN reports</a>&nbsp;that it is believed that fan-less games have been played in the minor leagues. The network explains:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The Baseball Hall of Fame and John Thorn, MLB&#39;s official historian, said they did not think there ever had been a closed-doors big league game, although there have been instances in the minor leagues.</p><p>&quot;Thorn said the lowest attendance for a major league game appears to be six when Worcester hosted Troy in a National League matchup on Sept. 28, 1882.&quot;</p></blockquote></p> Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/baltimore-different-historic-moment-fan-less-baseball-game-111962 Settlement in NCAA head injury lawsuit gets first hearing http://www.wbez.org/news/settlement-ncaa-head-injury-lawsuit-gets-first-hearing-111896 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/concussion.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO &mdash; A U.S judge will soon get his first chance to scrutinize a reworked deal in a class-action, head-injury lawsuit against the NCAA.</p><p>A Friday hearing in Chicago follows Judge John Lee&#39;s December rejection of the first proposed settlement.</p><p>The second isn&#39;t dramatically different.</p><p>It also requires the NCAA to create a $70 million medical fund to test current and former athletes in contact and noncontact sports for brain trauma. And like the first, it would toughen return-to-play rules after a concussion.</p><p>Lee complained the first agreement was murky in places, and the new settlement seeks to provide clarity. That includes new evidence to address Lee&#39;s concern that the $70 million for testing won&#39;t be enough.</p><p>He may take several weeks before giving a thumbs-up or down to the new proposal.</p></p> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 09:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/settlement-ncaa-head-injury-lawsuit-gets-first-hearing-111896 Can embracing March Madness make your office more productive? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-embracing-march-madness-make-your-office-more-productive-111742 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bball cropped.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>The snow is melting. The potholes crackling. The sun shining. And yes, it&#39;s <a href="https://youtu.be/8q6X-N4sJ1o">March Madness</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s thrilling, it&rsquo;s exciting, it&rsquo;s quintessentially American. Some 77 million people across the country are expected to come down with some form of March Madness this year. Pete Kadens is one of those people.</p><p>&ldquo;For a couple years out of college, I worked for a big company out of New York. I hated every minute of it, frankly&mdash;but there were two days I hated more than any other,&rdquo; Kadens said.</p><p>Those two days were the Thursday and the Friday of March Madness.</p><p>&ldquo;I saw that actually no one was working. There weren&rsquo;t smart phones but people brought in mini televisions, had them under their desks,&rdquo; Kadens explained.</p><p>Firms like Challenger, Gray &amp; Christmas <a href="http://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/its-march-madness-years-madness-could-cost-19b" target="_blank">calculate</a> the cost of such antics. They estimate a $1.9 billion loss in productivity---when workers like Kadens spend time researching picks, filling out brackets and watching games on their computer...they&rsquo;re not working.</p><p>But Kadens made a commitment to his post-college, cubicle-confined self: If he ever started his own company, he was going to be different.</p><p>&ldquo;My company would have vacation days. And together, instead of working, we would celebrate and watch March Madness,&rdquo; Kadens said.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s exactly what he did. Every year, his company, SoCore Energy, cancels work on the first Friday of the tournament. He invites employees, clients and vendors to come meet at a bar to enjoy some drinks, some games and some outside-of-the-office time with coworkers.</p><p>The rationale, Kadens said, is much bigger than his love of college basketball.</p><p>&ldquo;The NCAA Tournament is all about David vs. Goliath. And everyone, I don&rsquo;t care who you root for, everyone wants to see the underdog win,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Kadens said seeing employees with their family and friends helps him understand the biases they bring to the table.</p><p>&ldquo;This event gives us a forum to meet those people and understand someone&rsquo;s underlying bias--why John acts this way--that gives you more context...there&rsquo;s a rationale to it, it&rsquo;s not just, let&rsquo;s go have fun,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But, as it turns out, there may be some merit to the party plan. NYU Professor <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/leeigel/2015/03/17/stop-the-insanity-about-ncaa-march-madness-ruining-workplace-productivity/" target="_blank">Lee Igel</a> seems to think so&mdash;he&rsquo;s an expert in decision making and behaviors at work in the sports business.</p><p>&ldquo;We would&#39;ve thought it completely insane to let people take the time, away from their work on company dime, to go off and do something like watch basketball games or fill out brackets,&rdquo; Igel said.</p><p>But he says that type of thinking is outdated.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>According to Igel, the nature of &ldquo;work&rdquo; in America has changed. 100 years ago, most people worked with their hands. In the 21st Century, we&rsquo;re working with our minds. It&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;knowledge work.&rdquo;</p><p>He added there&rsquo;s no need for fake spreadsheets or secret live streams--it will ultimately hurt companies in the long run. And further, Igel argues, today&rsquo;s workforce needs these periodic distractions.</p><p>&ldquo;We need people to actually get away from the same thing, over and over and over again,&rdquo; Igel said. &ldquo;This idea of indulging in March Madness with cloak and dagger, we don&rsquo;t need that anymore, we don&rsquo;t live in that world, we don&rsquo;t work in that world...stop the insanity over March Madness.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 12:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-embracing-march-madness-make-your-office-more-productive-111742 After ugly brawl, Northwest Indiana hoops teams are cleared to play http://www.wbez.org/news/after-ugly-brawl-northwest-indiana-hoops-teams-are-cleared-play-111646 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Indy-BBall-2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A judge in Northwest Indiana issued a temporary restraining order on Monday that will allow two suspended high school basketball teams to compete this week in the state tournament. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s been nearly a month since the bench-clearing brawl near the start of a boys&rsquo; basketball game between Griffith and Hammond high schools. A video of the Feb. 7th fight was posted to YouTube and soon the national media took it up, including ESPN.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0l4I3QFEtyw" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Days later, Bobby Cox, head of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, handed down what some had dubbed the &ldquo;death penalty&rdquo;:</p><ul><li>Suspension of the last remaining games of the season, meaning Griffith forfeited six games and Hammond four.</li><li>A fine of $500 paid to each school the teams were supposed to play on the road.</li><li>No tournament play.</li><li>Completion of an online course about sportsmanship.</li><li>10 players from each team were also suspended by their respected schools for five days.</li></ul><p>Cox said the IHSAA was trying to send a message that such brawls would not be tolerated. It was the first major fight since another big brawl of two high school football teams in October 2013. A task force was set up to recommended stiffer penalties for the future. &nbsp;</p><p>But a team of lawyers representing Griffith and Hammond high schools argued that Cox went overboard. And on Monday &mdash; after nearly six hours of testimony &mdash; Lake County, Indiana Superior Court Judge John Pera agreed.</p><p>&ldquo;The action by (IHSAA) was illegal, arbitrary, excessive and contrary to law,&rdquo; Pera stated from his bench in Crown Point in extending the Temporary Restraining Order.</p><p>The TRO allows both teams to practice to compete in the opening rounds of the Indiana state basketball tournament. Both teams will open tournament play against other teams at Gavit High School in Hammond. Griffith plays Thursday and Hammond on Friday.</p><p>&ldquo;These kids have gone through a lot the last two or three weeks and it&rsquo;s good for them to get back on the court and have an opportunity to compete in the tournament,&rdquo; said Larry Moore Sr., Hammond High&rsquo;s Athletic Director whose son is head coach for the team. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what it&rsquo;s all about. Indiana basketball.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Cox said he was disappointed in the judge&rsquo;s ruling.</p><p>&ldquo;We felt like we were enforcing our rules. We had a just penalty and the court has decided that&rsquo;s not such,&rdquo; Cox said who sat in the courtroom next to the IHSAA&rsquo;s attorney Robert Baker.</p><p>In court, Baker listed a number of brawls at recent high school football and basketball games. The last one, in October 2013, involved football coaches and players fighting on the field. Players were suspended for one game but the teams were allowed to compete in the state tournament that season.</p><p>After that, Baker said the IHSAA created a task force that recommended tougher penalties for future incidents. For the first incident, a one game suspension. For the second offense in the same year, a two-game suspension.</p><p>But Michael Jasaitis, one of the three attorneys on the case for the high schools, said Cox went well beyond the recommendations for tougher penalties.</p><p>&ldquo;Compared to prior punishments issued by the IHSAA the last four years, this was disproportionate and excessive,&rdquo; Jasaitis said. &ldquo;Everybody involved has already expressed remorse, has apologized and doesn&rsquo;t condone those activities. However, punishments need to be consistent.&rdquo;</p><p>Another issue that came up in court is that the suspended students had no grounds to challenge the penalties. That&rsquo;s because under the association&rsquo;s own rules, the students were not &ldquo;affected parties,&rdquo; only the schools were.</p><p>Judge Pera found that argument to be &ldquo;disingenuous&rdquo; by the IHSAA.</p><p>The attorneys for the students said the players were &ldquo;the most affected&rdquo; parties of anyone in the case and should be allowed to challenge the suspensions.</p><p>Another concern for players was that in missing the state high school basketball tournament known as &ldquo;Hoosier Hysteria,&rdquo; they might lose out on potential scholarships.</p><p>Griffith senior Anthony Harris testified that offers from local colleges to play ball next year have all but evaporated. Harris said he had been fielding offers from South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill., and Purdue University Calumet in Hammond.</p><p>&ldquo;I apologize to Bobby Cox,&rdquo; Harris said from the stand. &ldquo;We all make mistakes.&rdquo;</p><p>Hammond and Griffith hope to use the episode as a &ldquo;teachable moment.&rdquo; The schools will sit down together for dinner later this month and learn about sportsmanship from E&rsquo;Twaun Moore, a former East Chicago, Ind. standout who now plays for the Chicago Bulls.</p><p>&ldquo;Both Hammond and Griffith young men made a bad judgement but they both did everything they can to show their remorse for it and we think the court&rsquo;s order was appropriate,&rdquo; said veteran Northwest Indiana attorney Rhett Tauber representing Griffith in the case.</p><p>Baker said he&rsquo;s unsure if the IHSAA plans to appeal the decision.</p></p> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-ugly-brawl-northwest-indiana-hoops-teams-are-cleared-play-111646 White Sox icon Minnie Minoso dies http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/white-sox-icon-minnie-minoso-dies-111639 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Minnie Minoso 1955 AP crop site_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>▲ LISTEN&nbsp;</strong><em>WBEZ&#39;s Yolanda Perdomo talks with Morning Edition host Lisa Labuz about Minoso&#39;s life and career.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">...</p><p>Minnie Minoso, the seemingly ageless Cuban slugger who broke into the majors just two years after Jackie Robinson and turned into the game&#39;s first black Latino star, has died, a medical examiner in Illinois said Sunday.</p><p>The Cook County medical examiner&#39;s office did not immediately offer further details. There is some question about Minoso&#39;s age but the Chicago White Sox say he was 90.</p><p>Minoso played 12 of his 17 seasons in Chicago, hitting .304 with 135 homers and 808 RBIs for the White Sox. The White Sox retired his No. 9 in 1983 and there is a statue of Minoso at U.S. Cellular Field.</p><blockquote><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/minnie-minosos-first-game-106394"><strong>Hear Minoso tell the story of his first game in Comiskey</strong></a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/white-sox-icon-minnie-minoso-dies-111639#obama"><strong>Obama: Minoso will always be &#39;Mr. White Sox&#39;</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>&quot;We have lost our dear friend and a great man,&quot; White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a release. &quot;Many tears are falling.&quot;</p><p>Minoso made his major league debut with Cleveland in 1949 and was dealt to the White Sox in a three-team trade two years later. He became major league baseball&#39;s first black player in Chicago on May 1, 1951, and homered in his first plate appearance against Yankees right-hander Vic Raschi.</p><p>It was the start of a beautiful relationship between the slugger and the White Sox.</p><p>Minoso, regarded as baseball&#39;s first black Latino star, was a Havana native who spent most of his career in left field. He is one of only two players to appear in a major league game in five different decades. He got his final hit in 1976 at age 53 and went 0 for 2 in two games in 1980 for the White Sox, who tried unsuccessfully over the years to get the &quot;Cuban Comet&quot; into baseball&#39;s Hall of Fame.</p><p>&quot;When I watched Minnie Minoso play, I always thought I was looking at a Hall of Fame player,&quot; Reinsdorf said in an informational package produced by the team for a 2011 Cooperstown push. &quot;I never understood why Minnie wasn&#39;t elected.</p><p>&quot;He did everything. He could run, he could field, he could hit with power, he could bunt and steal bases. He was one of the most exciting players I have ever seen.&quot;</p><p>Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso Arrieta was selected for nine All-Star games and won three Gold Gloves in left. He was hit by a pitch 192 times, ninth on baseball&#39;s career list, and finished in the top four in AL MVP voting four times.</p><p>Despite the push by the White Sox and other prominent Latin players, Minoso has never made it to Cooperstown. His highest percentage during his 15 years on the writers&#39; ballot was 21.1 in 1988. He was considered by the Veterans Committee in 2014 and fell short of the required percentage for induction.</p><p>&quot;My last dream is to be in Cooperstown, to be with those guys,&quot; Minoso said in that 2011 package distributed by the White Sox. &quot;I want to be there. This is my life&#39;s dream.&quot;</p><p>Minoso, who made his major league debut with Cleveland in 1949, hit .298 for his career with 186 homers and 1,023 RBIs. The speedy Minoso also led the AL in triples and steals three times in each category.</p><p>Playing in an era dominated by the Yankees, Minoso never played in the postseason.</p><p>&quot;Every young player in Cuba wanted to be like Minnie Minoso, and I was one of them,&quot; Hall of Fame slugger Tony Perez said. &quot;The way he played the game, hard all the time, hard. He was very consistent playing the game. He tried to win every game. And if you want to be like somebody, and I picked Minnie, you have to be consistent.&quot;</p><p>Minoso appeared in just nine games in his first stint with the Indians, but he took off when he was dealt to Chicago as part of a three-team trade in 1951 that also involved the Philadelphia Athletics. He went deep in his first plate appearance against Yankees right-hander Raschi, and hit .375 in his first 45 games with the White Sox.</p><p>Minoso finished that first season in Chicago with a .326 batting average, 10 homers and 76 RBIs in 146 games for the Indians and White Sox. He also had a major league-best 14 triples and an AL-best 31 steals.</p><p>It was Minoso&#39;s first of eight seasons with at least a .300 batting average. He also had four seasons with at least 100 RBIs.</p><p>&quot;I have baseball in my blood,&quot; Minoso said. &quot;Baseball is all I&#39;ve ever wanted to do.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">President Barack Obama&#39;s statement about Minoso<a name="obama"></a></span></p><blockquote><p>For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be &ldquo;Mr. White Sox.&rdquo;</p><p>The first black Major Leaguer in Chicago, Minnie came to the United States from Cuba even though he could have made more money elsewhere.&nbsp; He came up through the Negro Leagues, and didn&rsquo;t speak much English at first.&nbsp; And as he helped to integrate baseball in the 1950s, he was a target of racial slurs from fans and opponents, sometimes forced to stay in different motels from his teammates.&nbsp; But his speed, his power &ndash; and his resilient optimism &ndash; earned him multiple All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves in left field, and he became one of the most dominant and dynamic players of the 1950s.</p><p>Minnie may have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie&rsquo;s quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could.</p><p>Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and fans in Chicago, Cleveland, and around the world.</p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:24px;">More from the WBEZ archives about the baseball legend <a name="playlist"></a></span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="380" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/85470411&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 12:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/white-sox-icon-minnie-minoso-dies-111639 Gentrification and Jackie Robinson West Little League: Was the playing field ever even? http://www.wbez.org/news/sports/gentrification-and-jackie-robinson-west-little-league-was-playing-field-ever-even-111564 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jackierobinsonwest1_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It was the feel good story of last summer. Thousands of Chicagoans tuned in--and turned out--for the boys of Jackie Robinson West.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s the thing that we actually needed this summer with all of the different violence...to really bring people together to show what we can do,&quot; Chicago Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th) said.</p><p>Many other politicians showed support--Mayor Rahm Emanuel organized watch parties, rallies and parades during the team&#39;s August run.</p><p>When the champions returned home and paraded the streets of Chicago, Maria Hamilton, 83, stood at the corner of 79th and Halsted Streets. She wasn&#39;t a baseball fan, but said it was exciting and she felt proud watching the local kids play on the national stage.</p><p>&quot;They smiled, they never pout or say nothing...they go right ahead and do the best they can in the game. And I really think they&rsquo;re going to go places,&quot; Hamilton gleamed.</p><p><br />The whole city was electrified; giddy even.<br /><br />But, amidst the excitement, there were signs that something was off, in some cases literal signs.</p><p>Like the one the mayor of south suburban Lynwood put outside village hall to celebrate the village&rsquo;s &quot;own&quot; Jackie Robinson West player. Or the congratulatory posts on social media from Illinois House Rep. Robin Kelly, calling out two players from South Holland and another from Dolton, all outside the city limits.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />When WBEZ asked Nedra Jones, the mother of the team&rsquo;s home-run hitter, Pierce, how much of her time was occupied by baseball, she said, &quot;A hour there, two-and-a-half-hour practice, an hour back, three or four times a week.&quot;<br /><br />The signs were eclipsed by the city&rsquo;s newest and brightest stars.<br /><br />The Little League World Series games shattered ESPN ratings records. The kids were all over TV, newspapers, social media, even the White House.<br /><br />Dave Zirin, sports editor at The Nation magazine, said it felt all too familiar.<br /><br />&quot;It feels just so typical--the ways in which the media built up this group of young kids for the all the obstacles they confronted and then now is taking a seeming glee in tearing them down,&quot; Zirin said.<br /><br />He says gentrification is the real scandal in this story.<br /><br />&quot;The amount obstacles of obstacles and hoops that Jackie Robinson West had to go through just to field a team is something that Little League Inc. never took into account--it&rsquo;s the most unequal of possible playing fields,&quot; Zirin explained.<br /><br />He believes baseball has become a casualty of urban gentrification. And that there&rsquo;s a reason leagues look for players outside their boundaries.<br /><br />&quot;Little league is such a suburban operation,&quot; Zirin began. &quot;And the boundaries in the suburbs, by necessity, don&rsquo;t only mean a greater number of kids who play baseball--but a greater number of fields, a greater number of community centers, a greater amount of infrastructure than cities could possibly hope to compete with.&quot;<br /><br />There are twice as many baseball fields in Evergreen Park as there are in Roseland.<br /><br />There may as well be no parks in the far South Side neighborhood, according to longtime Roseland resident James Brown.</p><p>&quot;We&rsquo;re out there in Roseland--if I&rsquo;m not mistaken there&rsquo;s six parks. And you could ride past those parks on any given day and they&rsquo;re not being utilized,&quot; Brown said.<br /><br />The high school football coach spent last summer in the car with his son Semaj, 12, taking him and friends to and from baseball.<br /><br />&quot;I gotta take my son all the way to Englewood to play in a program that&rsquo;s nice...that&rsquo;s sad,&quot; a visibly upset Brown shared.<br /><br />There is a league in Roseland, but Brown said there&#39;s no coach.<br /><br />Little League International has more than 6,500 teams participating in 90 countries around the world. The U.S. is broken down into regions and districts. There are six leagues in District 4, which covers the Southeast Side of Chicago, all the way down to near Calumet.<br /><br />Before the start of the 2014 season, Little League International changed residency rules to allow little leaguers to play where their school was located. The goal, they said, was to &quot;ease the burden on parents and guardians.&quot;<br /><br />But where a kid lives and where they go to school can be quite different in Chicago.<br /><br />It gets more complicated, Brown&rsquo;s sister, Victoria Harper Peeples explained, when neighborhood violence and resources are taken into account.<br /><br />&quot;We (are) stressed out just trying to make sure, &lsquo;did I put them in the right school, did I let &lsquo;em hang with the right friends, did I put him on the right baseball team?&rsquo; There&rsquo;s just so many things that we have to do as parents, and we always put on the spotlight.&quot;<br /><br />Harper Peeples put her two boys on the Englewood team too. She still felt angst, even right after the boys won their championship game last summer.<br /><br />&quot;I mean, it&rsquo;s no chance that mom or dad could make a mistake. It&rsquo;s like, we almost have to be perfect individuals, at least in the sight of our children,&quot; she explained.<br /><br />Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson held a pair of news conferences in as many days, calling the league&#39;s decision &ldquo;inappropriate.&rdquo; He invoked the legacy of Muhammad Ali, who had his heavyweight title stripped when he refused to enlist.</p><p>&quot;Champions don&#39;t belong on the ground,&quot; Jackson began, &quot;and so, they stand up.&quot;<br /><br />He encouraged the players and parents to stand up and fight. Ousted JRW president Bill Haley hired high-profile attorney Victor Henderson, who said there are no plans for a lawsuit at the moment. Henderson will also represent the players, and said no one should question their integrity.<br /><br />&quot;It may to pass that &#39;i&#39;s were not dotted and &#39;t&#39;s were not crossed and if that happens, then we&rsquo;ll cross that bridge when we get to it...but we&rsquo;re not there right now,&quot; Henderson told reporters on Thursday.<br /><br />Henderson said he intends to investigate the league&rsquo;s decision to strip the team of its title. He said that on the baseball field, and in life, it&#39;s important that the same rules apply to everyone.<br /><br />&quot;Whether it&rsquo;s Ferguson County, Missouri or whether it&rsquo;s Eric Garner in Staten Island or whether it&rsquo;s Jackie Robinson in Chicago...there should just be one set of rules,&quot; Henderson began. &quot;We don&rsquo;t want one set of rules for a team for Chicago and another set of rules for a team in Evergreen Park. We don&rsquo;t want one set of rules for the police and another set of rules for young black men&hellip;&quot;<br /><br />In light of the involvement of attorneys, Little League International said it is not commenting on the decision, except to say they&rsquo;re standing by it.</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez"> @katieobez</a></em></p></p> Sun, 15 Feb 2015 12:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sports/gentrification-and-jackie-robinson-west-little-league-was-playing-field-ever-even-111564 Jackie Robinson West stripped of Little League title http://www.wbez.org/news/jackie-robinson-west-stripped-little-league-title-111534 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jackierobinsonwest1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Little League International has stripped Jackie Robinson West of the national title that the Chicago team won last summer after an investigation revealed it had falsified boundaries to field ineligible players.</p><p>t was a stunning Wednesday announcement that came months after the all-black team, whose ages ranged from 11 to 13 years, captured the attention of the country and the hearts of its hometown.</p><p>The baseball organization said it also found that after the league had changed the boundaries some team officials went to surrounding leagues to convince them to go along with what they&#39;d done.</p><p>&quot;This is a heartbreaking decision,&quot; Stephen D. Keener, the Little League International president and CEO, said in a statement.</p><p>&quot;As painful as it is, we feel it is a necessary decision to maintain the integrity of the Little League program,&rdquo; Keener said. &ldquo;No team can be allowed to attempt to strengthen its team by putting players on their roster that live outside their boundaries.&quot;</p><p>The team has been suspended from Little League tournament privileges until new leadership is found. The team&#39;s manager, Darold Butler, is also suspended, and an administrator from the district that includes Jackie Robinson West has been removed from his position, according to the statement.</p><p>The journey of the team riveted the city, all the way to its loss in the World Championship game to South Korea, and when it was over, thousands of people lined Chicago&#39;s streets to catch a glimpse of the boys as they were paraded by bus from their South Side baseball field to a downtown park.</p><p>There were countless heartwarming stories about the team, including an effort by major league players to contribute money so the parents in the blue collar community could attend the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and another about Cubs players huddled around a television watching the team during a rain delay at Wrigley Field.</p><p>The team was treated to a trip to the major league World Series and to the White House to meet President Barack Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama.</p><p>In October, the organization launched an investigation when a coach from the nearby suburb of Evergreen Park alleged that Jackie Robinson West had violated rules by poaching top suburban players.</p><p>The story, which was first reported by DNAinfo.com, appeared to end in December when the national organization said it had uncovered no violations. But the organization said it would reopen the investigation if new information surfaced. About that same time, the organization learned of questions about boundary maps involving multiple leagues, and the investigation resumed.</p><p>&quot;Little League International...learned that Jackie Robinson West Little League knowingly expanded its boundaries to include territory that belonged to other leagues in the district without the approval from the other leagues or the Little League International Charter Committee&quot; and used the &quot;falsified boundary map for their 2014 tournament,&quot; the organization said.</p><p>League officials did not immediately return calls for comment. Throughout the investigation, the team has maintained that no cheating occurred.</p><p>Local civil rights leaders rallied around the team and their parents, all stunned by the decision. A news conference was called Wednesday afternoon at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition on the city&rsquo;s South Side.</p><p>St. Sabina&rsquo;s Fr. Michael Pfleger questioned whether the same type of investigation would have occurred if the team in question were &ldquo;from another place, another race.&rdquo;</p><p>Pfleger said he hears constantly hearing about pulling the race card.</p><p>&ldquo;Why is it keep being put back in the deck, is what I want to know? This is reality; you&rsquo;re telling me that the same kind of obsession, of stalking going over this for months would&rsquo;ve been going on if the Las Vegas [team] had won?&rdquo; Pfleger asked.</p><p>Venisa Green, mother of catcher Brandon, said she first heard the news on the radio as she was driving her son to school.</p><p>&ldquo;No one even reached out and called for a parent meeting to let us know that this was taking place or that this was even on the table,&rdquo; Green said.</p><p>She and her husband are both city employees. She said they work very hard to keep their son safe and out of trouble--a difficult task, she says, in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;What would you rather happen Little League: For them to be killed on the streets of Chicago?&rdquo; Green asked.</p><p>She said she--and the boys--had no idea or dealings on any boundaries or borders. She says all the parents want their kids in the college pipeline--and not the prison pipeline.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Rev. Jackson said the league&rsquo;s decision calls the parents&rsquo; character into question.</p><p>&ldquo;Implied is the parents knowingly defrauded the league. And that the children won based on fraud, not on ability,&rdquo; Jackson said.</p><p>Jackson is planning to host a reaffirmation of the team&rsquo;s championship on Saturday.</p><p><em>The Associated Press and Katie O&rsquo;Brien contributed to his report. O&#39;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez"> @katieobez</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 07:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/jackie-robinson-west-stripped-little-league-title-111534