Sports Shorts

* Enough of the criticism of Rays pitching. As in its non-traditional reliance on “non-starting” pitchers to “start” games and pitch for an inning or two. It helped the Rays to an unexpectedly successful (90-win) season last year. The criticism is establishment-rooted. The players union sees payroll implications. Old-schoolers want traditional starting pitchers to, well, actually start games. That’s understandable, if not compelling. Isn’t winning the ultimate priority among those who compete in the athletic arena? And without getting analytically creative, the Rays would not have won as much last year. That should be the last word.

* So if you’ve ever wondered why it is that no NCAA or SEC championship is ever staged in Mississippi, here’s the formal answer. The Mississippi state flag still has the Confederate stars and bars in one corner. No one wants a championship event in any sport to be upstaged by another variation on a controversial, racist-history theme. Just ask South Carolina. It was under a similar ban until it took down the Confederate flag that had long flown in front of the state capitol in Columbia.

* It’s called the “No Hits” bill. It’s a bipartisan bill in Massachusetts that would ban organized youth tackle football until after seventh grade. It’s all about protecting growing brains from traumatic injury. It’s all based on studies increasingly showing that children who began playing tackle football before the age of 12 were at greater risk for cognitive, mood and behavioral issues late in life–as well as conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head. And, BTW, what’s wrong with flag football while you’re still a pre-teen? It’s all about common sense, protecting our kids–and parental buy-in.

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