JJ Redick expresses debatable opinions and draws strong reaction; NBA journeyman gets attention

                                          The Most Hated Man in the Game



Josh Donaldson, if he’s not careful, might be playing The Grinch next Christmas. At the moment he’s the most hated man in Baseball. His crime: needling White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson by calling him “Jackie.”

Doesn’t sound that bad, but if you know Donaldson’s reputation for being an instigator and that he’s been on seven different teams, you know that Donaldson didn’t say “Jackie” as a compliment. The talking heads on the MLB Network and SNY have carved Donaldson up, for causing the kerfuffle last Saturday.  White Sox manager Tony LaRussa called it “racist.”  ESPN’s talking heads seemed to agree that Donaldson greatly offended Anderson, but it was Stephen A. Smith who pointed out that Donaldson willingly faced the press Saturday to explain and did so without a script or a public relations man standing next to him. For his troubles MLB gave Donaldson a day off and an undisclosed fine.

Donaldson is one of those guys who likes to get under your skin. He likes to jabber and trash-talk opponents. This particular opponent didn’t like it, but I haven’t heard Anderson say that Donaldson’s words were racist, only disrespectful. If there was a hidden racist intent meant by calling Anderson “Jackie,” only Donaldson can say.

One pundit suggested that Donaldson has become the most hated man in the game, and that the Yankees might not feel like Donaldson is worth the aggravation anymore. At this point, Donaldson needs to make a very public statement, apologizing for his trash-talk and mean-spiritedness, and make it clear exactly what his intent actually was.

J.J. Redick, Welcome to National TV 

J.J. Reddick has been a breath of fresh air on ESPN this season. Seen mostly on ESPN’s “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith and on other daytime talk formats on the network, Reddick has come forward as a very knowledgeable veteran of 15 NBA seasons with some surprisingly interesting commentary.

Recently the “First Take” crew (which included “Mad Dog” Russo that day) was debating who the five best point guards were of all time. Bob Cousy did not make their list despite making the NBA’s all–time 75th anniversary team and playing on six NBA champions (all with Bill Russell).

Reddick’s reason for the slight was that, “he played against plumbers and firemen,” a comment that Cousy took offense to. “People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing other people,” Cousy said, and then pointed out he played against a fireman named Wilt Chamberlain. But even Cousy can’t argue the level of defense in the NBA in the 50s was patchwork.

Many others have criticized Reddick for the comment as well, including former college coach Tom Penders, saying Reddick was nothing more than a journeyman player, and therefore had no right to criticize Cousy. Reddick’s comment was flip but that’s okay, because he’s on a show that calls for sarcasm and opinionated guests. And the fact that Reddick was a journeyman player has little to do with his educated opinion, which ESPN is paying him for. What Reddick was referring to was that when Cousy began his NBA career in 1950 the league was very young and many players had off-season jobs.  

Goodbye Triple Crown 

This year the Kentucky Derby winner (Rich Strike) passed on running in the Preakness because it was just two weeks after the Derby. And now the winner of the Preakness, Early Voting, is going to pass on running in the third jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, because its trainer Chad Brown doesn’t want his horse to have to race with just three weeks rest.

In this day and age great trainers won’t race their good horses any more frequently than once every six weeks, pointing out the horses need recovery time.  The days of a Seabiscuit running every week or two are over. The age of three huge races in a five-week period is gone. Only Bob Baffert had success doing that of late and he’s been suspended for some of those horses testing positive for drugs. There’s industry talk of spreading out the Triple Crown running the Preakness on Memorial Day Weekend and the Belmont on July 4th Weekend. That would attract more quality runners.

NBC has the Derby through 2025. There will always be an interest to see that. But with fewer and fewer great horses in the Preakness and Belmont, ratings are sure to slump. Recently Fox bought the rights to broadcast the Belmont for 10 years beginning 2023. We wish them luck.


Rich Podolsky

Rich Podolsky, an established writer and reporter since the 70s, has been a staff writer for CBS and has written for ESPN, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Palm Beach Post, the Wilmington News Journal, College & Pro Football Newsweekly and TV Guide. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers' Keystone Award for writing excellence. A fan of music from the 60s and 70s, he is the author of "Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear," which relates how Kirshner discovered Bobby Darin, Carole King and Neil Sedaka among others, and "Neil Sedaka, Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor,” which tells the inside story of Sedaka’s comeback. His new book, “You Are Looking Live!” is about CBS’ revolutionary pregame show in 1975 which introduced Brent, Phyllis, Irv and The Greek to America.

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