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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brett Lawrie Loses His Cool

Brett Lawrie
Brett Lawrie, 2011. Image: Keith Allison
Earlier this week, we ran a TKN article about a soccer player whose emotions got away from him and helped cost his team the game (Poor Sportsmanship Leaves Door Open For Man City Soccer Victory).
On Tuesday, Brett Lawrie — a baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays — also lost control of his emotions.
Lawrie was batting, and the umpire made a couple of calls that Lawrie disagreed with.
In Major League Baseball (MLB), there are four umpires including the home-plate umpire. He is the one who decides if a pitch was a “ball” or a “strike.”  The pitcher pitches and when the ball crosses home plate the umpire makes a quick decision as to whether it was a good pitch (called a strike) or a bad pitch (called a ball).
If a batter gets three strikes against him he strikes out. If a batter gets four balls against him he gets a ‘walk’ and is allowed to go to first base.
Lawrie has a reputation for being a fiery guy. He felt that the home-plate umpire robbed him – twice.  The first time, the count was 3-1 (Lawrie had three balls and one strike against him). The next pitch that came in was wide of the strike zone. Lawrie thought the umpire would definitely call it a ‘ball.’ In fact, he was already on his way to first base when he heard the umpire yell “strike!”. Understandably frustrated, Lawrie slowly made his way back to the batter’s box for the next pitch.
(An interesting note here is that a batter should never ‘assume’ a call and take off the way Lawrie did — it’s poor baseball etiquette (against the game’s unwritten rules) because it’s viewed as showing up the umpire. Umpires do not like that.)
On the next pitch, which was high and outside of the strike zone, Lawrie felt really robbed when he heard the strike call. The result was Lawrie being called out on strikes–he had struck out.
Lawrie couldn’t believe what had happened. He began yelling at the umpire. The umpire than ejected him from the game.
Lawrie took off his helmet and threw it down onto the ground. It bounced up and hit the umpire, Bill Miller. For that action MLB handed Lawrie a four-game suspension.
Lawrie is appealing the suspension. Until the suspension is reviewed he is still able to play.
There’s no question that Lawrie had a reason to get upset. He deserves a suspension for exploding on the baseball field. But his reaction was understandable; both pitches were very questionable strike calls.
As a young player, though, and one with tremendous potential, Lawrie is beginning to learn how emotions can influence performance at the major-league level.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

University Students Protest Tuition Hikes in Quebec

Protesters in Quebec in April.
Protesters in Quebec in April, 2012. Image: Jeangagnon
University students in Quebec have been protesting.
They have been told that the government is going to raise their tuition fees. In this case, “tuition fees” are the fees people pay to attend university.
Traditionally, Quebec has some of the lowest tuition fees in Canada. Only students in two provinces: Newfound and Labrador and Manitoba, pay less to attend university.
However, the increase will be the largest in the province’s history. The government intends to raise tuition by $1,625 by 2017. Students will pay $325 more each year for the next five years.
Student groups say the increase doesn’t go towards improving the quality of the teaching, and the hikes will force some students who can’t pay the extra money to drop out of school or take a second job. They worry that students who come from low-income families won’t be able to afford higher education.
As a result, students have been demonstrating on campuses in Quebec. The protests started about 14 weeks ago.
This week, some protests became violent.
In Sainte-Therese, Que. a group of students, teachers and parents was protesting at College Lionel-Groulx. Protesters were told to leave, but when they didn’t, police were called in. They used tear gas to get the crowd to disperse.
There have been other protests in the province. In Montreal, the Jacques Cartier bridge was blocked; and about 200 protesters tried to break in to a meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Montreal. And on Wednesday (yesterday), more than 100 protesters shut down classes at the University of Quebec in Montreal by taking over the school’s downtown campus.
Many of the protesters wear a red square as a symbol of their protests.
Some other students, who are against the protests and who aren’t as worried about the tuition increases, are wearing green squares in opposition to the protesters.
About  a third of university and college students are boycotting their classes in protest of the tuition increases.
Some people say the protests are becoming symbolic, and are about more than just the tuition fees; they say the protests are against “authority” in general and have to do with general unrest.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two men rescued in Labrador

Some RCMP officers seemed to be in the right place at the right time in Labrador on Tuesday.
While on route from Makkovik to Hopedale the RCMP Air Service spotted a man on sea ice waiving for help. He was about 19-kilometres from Makkovik.
The RCMP plane signaled to the man that he’d been seen and continued to its destination. After landing the police contacted a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter that was already in the community. One of the officers hopped on board the chopper and flew back to pick up the man.
The chopper picked up the stranded hunter from the ice. Apparently his snowmobile had broken down.
He had no survival gear with him besides his hunting rifle. He was taken back to Makkovik.
Coincidentally, in an unrelated incident, another man also had to be rescued from the shoreline about 40-kilometres south west of Hopedale.
His snowmobile also broke down on the ice but he managed to make it to shore. When he got to land he activated a GPS device that broadcasted a signal for help.
Again the coast guard chopper was sent out. The man was recovered without injury or further