JOHN GRANATO

The ever changing world of sports

The ever changing world of sports
Odell Beckham Jr. is giving his team a headache. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The world is changing at a pace that even kids can’t keep up with. The phone you just bought last week is obsolete. A robot is two months away from taking your job. I just saw an ad for a flying car.

Sports may be one of the last frontiers that remains unchanged. If you hit a grounder to short with a man on first it’s probably a double play, a hundred yards rushing is still the standard for a good game and no one has ever come back from a 1-0 deficit in soccer.

But there are some alarming trends that are changing sports. Let’s start with fashion. The guys are dressing differently these days. Seen Russell Westbrook lately? How about Chandler Parsons? Cam Newton? James Harden had an interesting layout in GQ. You can see that here.

Very colorful. Not something I would try to pull off but no one wants to see me in yellow leather pants, myself included.

They’re certainly not hurting anyone with their style. That’s not the case though with today’s NFL wide receiver. For some reason that position has drawn sport’s biggest divas and nut jobs. From T.O. to Dez to Odell these guys are revolutionizing the game with their antics. If they aren’t catching enough passes somebody’s going to pay and it’s usually their quarterback, but not always.

Dez Bryant called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones clueless and LB Sean Lee a snake. He turned down nice money in Baltimore and wouldn’t sign with Cleveland but says he still wants to play. Oooookay.

Terrell Owens set the standard for not only burning bridges but blowing them to smithereens. In a 2004 article for Playboy Magazine T.O. was asked if his former 49er quarterback Jeff Garcia was gay. T.O. answered “Like my boy tells me: If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it’s a rat.”

On Donovan McNabb: “He’s a funny guy, not funny ‘ha ha.’ Me, personally, I don’t do well with two-faced people.”

At least with Dez and T.O. they went after their QB’s after they had left the team. Saying those things while in the locker room could create some serious problems. Case in point, Odell Beckham Jr.

Last month Odell made headlines with his interview on ESPN with Josina Anderson. When asked what was holding him back in the Giants offense he said “everything.” When asked if Eli Manning was the problem he said “I don’t know.” When asked if he was happy with the organization that just gave him a $95 million contract he said “It’s a tough question.”

This week Giants owner John Mara wished Beckham would get back to making headlines on the field instead of off it. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”

No chance John. Odell is the same guy who lost a fight with the kicking net, got fined for peeing like a dog in his touchdown celebration and has conversations with sideline air conditioners.

The Giants are a complete mess (other than when they play the Texans) and the Raiders notwithstanding, the worst team in the league.

Maybe I’m old fashioned but you’d never hear a guy criticizing his coaches, quarterback and organization while he was still playing there but thanks to guaranteed money it might be something we’ll see plenty of in the future.

What can the Giants do? Fine him? They did. And? Anything more than a slap on the wrist would draw the ire of the players’ association. They can’t cut him. The salary cap wouldn’t allow it.

What can the Steelers do with Leveon Bell? His teammates broke the unwritten rules by calling him out for holding out. Is a man’s money no longer sacred? Apparently not.

James Harrison is telling him to fake a headache or hamstring all year and cash paychecks. Earl Thomas decided not to practice a few days then flipped off his sideline as he was being carted off the field. His own sideline? I don’t remember that ever being done before. What happened to the good old days when you flipped off the other team when you were hurt?

The line of what you do and don’t do has been moving for a while now. Authority had never been questioned before Latrell Sprewell choked his coach P.J. Carlisimo. We haven’t had that extreme in some time but it’s nothing now to criticize the coach if things are going badly.

In recent years we’ve seen high school football players taking out the referee with intentional hits and catchers ducking on a fastball that catches the ump in the chest. I wouldn’t mind if that happened to Joe West but it wasn’t him so I feel like you shouldn’t do that.

I’ve ceased to be amazed by anything that happens on or off the field anymore.

What’s next? A player retiring at halftime of a game? Wait...



 

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Justin Verlander will start for the Astros on Friday night. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (22-28, third in the AL West) vs. Oakland Athletics (21-31, fourth in the AL West)

Oakland, California; Friday, 9:40 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 26 strikeouts); Athletics: Ross Stripling (1-8, 5.19 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 32 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -170, Athletics +142; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series at home against the Houston Astros on Friday.

Oakland has a 21-31 record overall and a 12-14 record in home games. The Athletics have hit 65 total home runs to rank third in the AL.

Houston is 22-28 overall and 8-13 in road games. The Astros have a 13-4 record in games when they did not allow a home run.

The teams match up Friday for the fifth time this season. The Astros lead the season series 4-0.

TOP PERFORMERS: Brent Rooker has 11 home runs, 17 walks and 32 RBI while hitting .286 for the Athletics. Max Schuemann is 12-for-35 with a double and two RBI over the past 10 games.

Kyle Tucker leads Houston with 17 home runs while slugging .638. Alex Bregman is 9-for-38 with three home runs and six RBI over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Athletics: 2-8, .225 batting average, 5.25 ERA, outscored by 27 runs

Astros: 7-3, .272 batting average, 3.13 ERA, outscored opponents by 20 runs

INJURIES: Athletics: Esteury Ruiz: 10-Day IL (wrist), Darell Hernaiz: 60-Day IL (ankle), Alex Wood: 15-Day IL (rotator cuff), Paul Blackburn: 15-Day IL (foot), Joseph Boyle: 15-Day IL (back), Freddy Tarnok: 60-Day IL (hip), Luis Medina: 60-Day IL (knee), Sean Newcomb: 60-Day IL (knee), Aledmys Diaz: 60-Day IL (calf), Miguel Andujar: 10-Day IL (knee), Ken Waldichuk: 60-Day IL (elbow), Trevor Gott: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Jose Urquidy: 15-Day IL (forearm), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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