Milton Kent | WYPR

Milton Kent

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse.  He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.

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When Orioles fans recall the great moments of the 2015 season, at least they'll have the weekend.  The Birds swept a three-game series, keeping the hated Yankees from clinching home field for Tuesday's wild card game.  But even those fleeting moments of glory couldn't lessen the pain of knowing that, unlike last season or the 2012 season, the Orioles would not be playing past Sunday.  And unlike the last three campaigns, 2015 will end with the Orioles failing to garner a winning record.

We’re just past Labor Day and with its passing comes the unofficial end of the summer.

And the end of this summer marks the end of arguably the most visible year for women in sports in decades, if not ever.

Notice that I didn’t say the best year. Women have been having great sporting years for, well, years, setting records, winning Olympic gold medals and conquering heretofore unclimbed mountains.

For any number of reasons, baseball remains the one sport where comparisons between players of different generations can’t be dismissed out of hand.

The one thing about baseball that has not changed for the better over the years is in the quality of announcers. The men who call the game today simply aren’t as good as their predecessors.

The labor union has taken a tremendous beating over the last 30 or so years, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the sporting realm.

By comparison to the baseball union, which has historically been strong, the NFL Players Association has seemed ineffective and weak.

It’s late August already, and while attention among sports fans in much of the country has turned toward the impending NFL season, there are almost as many who eagerly await the start of college football. One of those places is in Waco, Texas, where the Baylor faithful hope this will be the season their Bears lead them to the promised land of a national championship.

As teams begin to report to training camp this week, I continue to find myself in a bit of a quandary over how a sport whose leadership shows such a continued indifference over how the public perceives it much less how it treats its players can still thrive.

University of Maryland president Wallace Loh has proposed to break with tradition once again, by allowing the sale of beer and wine to the general public at the football and basketball arenas on campus beginning in the fall.

Know how you hear about the launch of a new product or the opening of a big summer blockbuster movie…and your reaction is a big yawn. 

That’s largely the feeling from this corner over last week’s news that executives of soccer’s international governing body were arrested on corruption charges.

I guess I’m supposed to be upset or at least concerned that 14 FIFA officials were indicted on charges of bribery, money-laundering and racketeering involving tens of millions of dollars over the past two decades.

If your interest runs deeper than touchdowns, tackles and fantasy stats, you have to admit that loving the NFL of late feels rather unsavory. Just last week, a league-authorized investigation found probable cause that support staff of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots may have altered the size of the footballs that were used during playoff games. And it may have happened with the knowledge and/or instruction of their heartthrob quarterback Tom Brady.

For the last seven decades, it’s been baseball, more than our other major sports, that has led the way in terms of its connection to the broader American social fabric. And nowhere was that association on greater display than last week during the unrest that rocked Baltimore to its core.

Ah, the first week of April in Baltimore, a time when the senses are stirred anew by the smell of freshly mown grass on the Camden Yards diamond and the sound of bat hitting ball, along with the sight of piles of nervously bitten fingernails.

By this time next week, the 2014-15 college basketball season will be but a memory. And with the Maryland men’s advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010, that memory is a pleasant one. But, over the weekend, the Terps and coach Mark Turgeon got news that could make next season tip way past pleasant all the way to delirious.

LeBron James proclaimed he was stunned that his 10-year-old son was already the subject of recruitment by college basketball coaches. James has to be acting if he wants to convince anyone that he’s not aware that recruiting of kids is going on. How could he not? The practice of attempting to attract youthful talent into the pipeline of sports has gone on for well over a century, back to the dawn of intercollegiate athletics.

Sad to say, a group of kids who desperately needed encouragement and positive reinforcement got the worst lesson of all last week: that the adults they thought they could trust to give them a moment of joy had instead exploited them.

In those first minutes and hours after the Ravens’ 35-31 loss to New England Saturday, there was a palpable sense of sorrow around town. And it was understandable. For three hours, fans had been taken on the proverbial roller coaster ride.

Let’s start 2015 with a little hypothetical: Let’s imagine that you’ve been driving a clunker for years and you finally have the opportunity to upgrade. But, instead of the sports car you’ve always wanted, you get a minivan.

Remember a few weeks ago, just after the Orioles lost to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series, when we wondered if the season the Birds had would be enough to forget the sting of coming up short in the quest for a World Series title?

    

Former Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush returned to the Detroit Lions lineup Sunday after an extended injury, but his biggest contribution came before the game.

Ray Rice's indefinite suspension from the NFL in September seemed at the time to be the last word on the subject. But a ruling last Friday from a retired federal judge sitting as an arbitrator overturning the suspension raises many more questions than it answered.


Signs of intelligent life are starting to emerge from College Park. First, there was the August announcement that the school would guarantee scholarships to student-athletes until graduation, regardless of how they perform on the playing field. Then, there was the decision of the Board of Regents of the University System that coaches’ bonuses would be tied to the academic performances of their teams. Now comes word that one of the great and historic buildings in all of college athletics may get a second life.

Perhaps you’ve seen the public service announcement where, Alex, a basketball player, realizes that he was the last to touch the ball before it went out of bounds in a critical late-game situation.

It Could Happen...

Sep 30, 2014

When the Orioles broke through into the American League playoffs two years ago for the first time in nearly a generation, the feeling around town was like parents watching their child perform in their first musical recital.

You’re just so darned happy that your kid is holding a violin that anything that comes out of it, even if it’s the wrong note, is OK.

It’s two years later and even if the Orioles weren’t expected to win the American League East when the 2014 campaign began, expectations have now been raised.

Last month, in a Baltimore hotel, Rob Manfred became baseball commissioner-elect.

Even if Marie Antoinette never actually said “Let them eat cake," the attitude of obliviousness towards the needs of the less fortunate certainly exists.

Sometimes, the measure of a good team lies not in what it does, but what it doesn’t do under pressure.

It isn’t often that you see a public figure, much less the commissioner of the National Football League, shrink before your very eyes.

Does a single bad act obliterate the good that a person has done over a period of time?

When baseball officials were looking for someone to take part in this year’s Home Run Derby portion of the All-Star Game celebration, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones wasted no time volunteering.

It’s always helpful to seek out other people’s thinking on big issues.

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