Around the horn on a variety of sporting topics
Political activists pile on when they can. Witness Donald Sterling, whose pathetic act has become cause No. 1 on the racial equality scene and has apparently cost him his Los Angeles Clippers. The senile old coot, a problem for decades, has suddenly become Public Enemy No. 1.
This week's spotlight has gone to Daniel Snyder, whose stubborn refusal to change the nickname of his NFL Washington Redskins has led to cancellation of the team's trademark registration.
I'm not quarreling with the idea that "Redskins" is a racial slur, nor that it would be wise for Snyder to change the club's nickname to "Skins" or "Scoundrels" or anything that is less offensive. If nothing else, think of the marketing possibilities with a new logo and nickname.
But "offensive" can be subjective, which still doesn't slow down the politically correct parade. Witness the Oregon Board of Education's 2012 decision to prohibit Native American-themed nicknames at the state's high schools, effective 2017. (I've written on this subject a couple of times, most recently in a July 25, 2012 column entitled "What's in a Name?") We're talking about "Indians," "Braves" and "Chieftains." In addition, seven schools called "Warriors" were allowed to keep the nickname but ordered to drop logos and mascots that depict Native Americans.
I'm not sure where those changes stand. Communities fought the change for a variety of reasons, foremost being that local tribes supported the nicknames. After all, there is proud tradition there, and certainly nothing derogatory in the term "Braves" or "Chiefs" or Warriors." A Sports Illustrated poll of Native Americans a few years back showed that more than 80 percent saw no problem with Indian nicknames.
And where do you draw the line? What about Fighting Irish? Vikings? Celtics? Devils?
Maybe over time they'll all fall, and we'll just do away with team nicknames. I hope I'm not offending anyone by suggesting that.
Why in the world would Mark Massari walk away from a job as athletic director at a Division-I school -- Cal Santa Barbara, no less -- to return to Oregon State as deputy AD?
Several reasons. One, Massari misses football, since the Gauchos have no team. Two, the Napa, Calif., native and former Sacramento State middle linebacker has family here, with his parents retired in Tigard and brother Matt a lawyer in Portland. Three, Massari and wife Kim feel Corvallis is a great place to raise their children -- Madeline, 10, and Joey, 8.
And there's his good relationship with OSU AD Bob De Carolis, who hired Massari and with whom he worked from 2002-08.
"I like the opportunity to do something at the Pac-12 level," Massari says. "I love working with Coach (Mike) Riley on projects such as Valley Football Center and helping put together a brand recruits and fans identify with."
Massari, 45, was heavily involved with the Raising Reser and Sports Performance Center projects and wants to aid De Carolis in getting the west side of the football stadium renovated. Massari is understanding of the way old-timers talk about the way things used to be, but wants to help OSU athletics move forward and grow in the future.
"The next generation of Beavers are from the (2001) Fiesta Bowl era," Massari says. "They don't know the past. They expect success. You don't want to give them revisionist history.
"We're having some of our greatest years in several sports -- baseball, gymnastics, wrestling. Football is always respectable. Our brand is this: We'll never get outworked, and we'll never get outcoached. If we lose, we tip our hat. That's the Beaver way. The fans respect that work ethic. I'm really excited about that part of it. I hope I can help with, 'Here's where we want to go, and look at what the university has to offer.' "
The late Tony Gwynn made his mark on so many people, and not just because he was one of the great hitters in major league history.
Corvallis native Donny Reynolds -- the older brother of Harold -- never played with Gwynn, but got to know him, first during Reynolds' time with the Padres. Donny was an outfielder who played 87 games with San Diego in 1978 and '79, while Gwynn -- who played with the Padres from 1982-2001 -- was a two-sport star at San Diego State.
"One day, I was with a bunch of Padres taking batting practice at San Diego State, getting ready to head to spring training," says Reynolds, 61, who lives in Portland and is an area scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. "All of a sudden, a kid comes walking through the outfield toward us. Somebody says, 'That's Tony Gwynn, the point guard for the basketball team.' He took batting practice with us, and I was thinking, 'Not a bad hitter.' "
Gwynn and Reynolds became casual friends over the years. There were plenty of similarities in their personalities, and beyond.
"Harold was in spring training with the Padres one year, and Tony was there," Donny says. "I went up to him and said, 'Hey Tony, you know something funny?' And he said, 'Yeah, I know, everybody says we talk alike.' "
It's true -- their voices were remarkably similar. Donny laughs about it today.
"Tony was the ultimate professional, but there was more to it than that," Reynolds. "He was good people -- very easy to talk with, very open to talk to anybody. As he got more notoriety through his career, that never changed."
Hillsboro Hops pitching coach Doug Drabek, who won the 1990 National League Cy Young Award, pitched often against Gwynn, with poor results. Gwynn was 23 for 49 against Drabek, a .465 average.
"He had such a great hand-to-eye coordination, and he had a game plan," Drabek tells Comcast Sports Net Northwest's Dwight Jaynes. "He knew his strengths and weaknesses. He didn't try to do more than he was capable. He studied the pitchers. He knew the strike zone. He was very good at fouling pitches off to get to his pitch. If you just laid it in there, he had enough juice to hit it out. He was one of those extraordinary hitters. Being able to do it for 20 years, it's tremendous."
Selfishly, I'm hoping Mike Johnston doesn't get the Vancouver Canucks head coaching job he has interviewed for. Johnston, who has done such a terrific job as general manager/coach of the Winterhawks, interviewed this week with the NHL club's team president, Trevor Linden, and general manager Jim Benning.
There are ties there. Johnston coached Linden -- once a member of the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers -- when Johnston was associate head coach of the Canucks. And he knows Benning, one of my favorite ex-Hawks who had a 10-year career as an NHL defenseman and still makes his offseason home in Portland.
Word is the frontrunner for the Canucks job is Willie Desjardins, who coached the Texas Stars to the American Hockey League championship this season. Others being interviewed include John Stevens, assistant coach with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, and former Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma.
Speaking of favorite ex-Hawk defenseman, Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference is the NHL's 2014 recipient of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, for leadership qualities on and off the ice and humanitarian contributions. Ference, one of the best guys to come through the organization, was a pillar on Portland's 1998 Memorial Cup championship squad.
The Pac-12 could be the premier conference in the country for quarterbacks this fall.
Starters on 10 teams -- all but Washington and Arizona -- return if Utah junior Travis Wilson, who suffered a concussion late last season, is allowed to play.
I'd rank them this way: Oregon junior Marcus Mariota, UCLA junior Brett Hundley, Oregon State senior Sean Mannion, Arizona State senior Taylor Kelly, Stanford junior Kevin Hogan, Southern Cal junior Cody Kessler, Wilson, Washington State senior Connor Halliday, California sophomore Jared Goff and Colorado sophomore Sefo Liufau.
Can we have a moratorium on media reports on trades involving Kevin Love until Minnesota pulls the trigger?
One day a deal with Golden State -- Klay Thompson, David Lee and a first-round draft pick for Love and Kevin Martin -- is imminent. The next day, Warriors general manager Bob Myers called the trade "unlikely, right now, today."
If you consider Tim Duncan a power forward -- I always have -- where does he rank among the greats in the game at his position?
I put him second, behind only the "Mailman," Karl Malone.
Duncan is 24th on the NBA career scoring list with 24,904 points, behind only Malone, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett among power forwards. Duncan ranks 12th on the rebounds list with 13,940, behind Malone and Garnett.
Duncan's five championship rings trump anything Nowitzki or Garnett has achieved.