Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sports Illustrated laugh

I admit it. I've been a long time subscriber to Sports Illustrated. Still am, and take them up on their "super-duper" bonus offer of a free windbreaker with the NFL team logo of my choice every year when it comes time to renew. Think I've got about half of them now. Don't know why, exactly. Then again, I never figured out why I kept buying Harley Davidson knives until I got the full set. But they look good in the case on the wall -- I guess. Never mind I'll never use any of them, because by trusty little Stanley pocket knife has been with me forever. Handy little sucker at times for a variety of things.

At any rate, it's probably a fair statement to say SI has some really good writers. Also some that aren't so good. Also some are just hacks. But throw in the pix and a few other features and it's a pretty decent throne read every week.

Yet of late they've made me chuckle.

Now that the Houston Astros finally won the World Series -- and congrats to them on a job well done and being worthy champions -- SI is crowing about how they predicted this four --  count em -- FOUR years ago.


They ignore the fact that they've gotten most every other prediction from their so-called "experts" dead wrong in between.

Let's also not forget their legendary "cover jinx". When they put a jock on the cover and trumpet he/she to the heavens -- chances are that very same athlete is going to crash and burn.

For example, they could never seem to get enough of one Eldrick Tont Woods, sometimes known as Tiger. They featured him a whopping 24 times on the cover. How has that worked out? Dude wound up having multiple back surgeries, upon learning of his serial infidelity his ex was apparently trying to take a divot out of his head, kids are now living in Sweden, was busted for driving under the influence, and he hasn't done squat on the PGA tour for several years. Dear Eldrick isn't even ranked in the top 700 in the world anymore. Who knew rankings went that far down? There's probably a couple people at your local public golf course that could roast him in a game of skins. As Dubya might have once said -- "Heckuva job, SI".

And now they're repeatedly thumping their chests about how they got one right four years ago.

Well, I guess it's something, but excuse me if I find it comical.

I'd say it ranks right up there with Making America Great Again, another hoot, but that would be straying from the world of sports, which my boss -- sometimes known as an editor -- might frown on.

And far be it from this humble sports journalist -- OK blogger -- to risk his wrath if he happens to read this post. Like the almighty, ya never know when he's checking you out.

No thanks. Been there, done that, and had enough butt chewings for one lifetime of this, thank you very much.

At least I like to think I've learned something along the way.

As for SI, they probably never will. Full speed ahead with their fearless predictions.

Pity they so seldom get one right.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones

To the untrained eye, it appears as if Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, is throwing a Texas size hissy fit. For once in his life, poor JJ can't seem to get his way, hence the temper tantrum.

In the wake of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell taking his prized running back away for six games, Jones has said, "I'm a gonna get ya". Further, he referred to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft as a pu$$y.

This comes at a time when the aforementioned Commish is engaged in contract renewal talks with the league owners, though he still has this season and next (2018) left on his current contract.

As we all know, the Commish is high lord and master over everything NFL, though he technically works for the owners. After all, they're the ones that hired him in the place and pay his salary. If push comes to shove and enough of the 32 owners agree, dear Roger could find himself out the door.

Apparently this is exactly what Jones wants. But given how the current system is set up, JJ might be fighting a futile battle.

Though there are indeed 32 team owners in the NFL, an NFL source has already confirmed they've collectively agreed to let a committee of only six of them decide Goodell's fate. They are.....

Arthur Blank -- Atlanta Falcons
Clark Hunt -- KC Chiefs
Bob Kraft -- Patriots
John Mara -- NY Giants
Bob McNair -- Houston Texans
Art Rooney -- Steelers

Though it's unclear whether they have to reach a unanimous verdict or only a simple majority, they will ultimately retain Goodell -- or not. In other words, Jones has no direct say-so in the matter.

Consider the above committee and how each of them may very well feel towards Jerry Jones.

In a recent game between the Falcons and Cowboys, a lopsided win by Atlanta, Blank and Jones didn't even exchange greetings, which is customary for owners before a game. A mutual cold shoulder.

Mara owns a divisional rival of the Cowboys.

McNair's team plays in the same state as Jones's Cowboys.

Throw in the pu$$y comment referring to Kraft.

Even assuming Hunt and Rooney are neutral, that's four out of six that likely don't feel all warm and cuddly towards Jones and whatever he may suggest. That's mighty tough sledding for the Big D man.

True, it's easy to recall some of Goodell's more, ahem, "controversial" moments in recent times. Spygate, Deflategate, Bountygate, and the Ray Rice and Adrian Petersen affairs, among others. Many would say the Commish botched them all in one fashion or another.

But looking at the bigger picture of his body of work suggests a far different scenario.

Though they've taken a minor dip lately, the NFL's revenues have soared since Goodell was put in charge. Everybody's coughing up bigger bucks for the product and the owners are swimming in the profits.

He navigated through a tricky minefield, and highly contentious atmosphere by hammering out a new long term labor agreement with the Players Union, which still has a few years to run.

Once the severity of brain injuries was brought to light on his watch, he and the league lawyers reached a settlement with the players, both current and past. Whether it's enough money in the pot to satisfy all is questionable, but it's a done deal.

He and his minions have dropped the hammer hard on any that would stray into the never-never land of "substance abuse", or other "conduct unbecoming" of the NFL.

These are all good things from the owners' perspective.

But Jones wants him gone anyway. Further, he's even threatened to sue the league if they dare re-up Roger for another term as Commish.

Well gee, that's probably going over really well with the other 31, let alone the gang of 6 that will make the call. Oh yeah, there's no better way to make friends than threatening to sue them if they won't let you have your way.

And put yourself in Goodell's shoes.

He's been the Commish since 2006, is in his 12th year, and still has one more to go. While exact figures are unknown over all those years, most assume Goodell has knocked down somewhere between $30-40 million a year on average. Do the math. That's approaching half a BILLION dollars.

It's likely a safe assumption that, besides his base salary, Goodell has always had an expense account as well. In other words, the tab for everything he and his family needs/wants has been picked up to boot. So somewhere, dear Roger probably has at least $300 million in banks, or otherwise invested. That's a pretty tidy sum. Most could get by on that.

Right now, Goodell is 58 years old. He'll be 60 when his current contract expires. That's prime retirement age if one has serious bucks socked away, which he obviously does.

So what's the worst that can happen to Goodell? Jones somehow gets his way and the Commish is eased out in another year and a half, with another $50-60 million added to his already huge pile of money?

Yeah, I get it. Roger loves his job and would like nothing better than to stay on as the emperor of the most successful sports enterprise in the world. That power thing can go to one's head.

But if I'm Goodell, here's what I say in response to Jones's childish "I'm-a gonna get ya" threat.

"I'd love to stay on, but if y'all are hell-bent on forcing me out -- go ahead. Make my day. I've got plenty of dough. And BTW, Jonesy, don't look now, but it's YOU that's currently being portrayed as the fool in the media".

Prediction. Goodell gets re-upped by the Committee and the other owners overwhelmingly support it. This, for two reasons. First, all in all he's done a good job as Commish.

And second, the more Jones flaps his gums and stomps his feet, the less the billionaire club of owners are likely to listen to him, much less take his side.

Man doesn't know when to shut up.

One final point. In the unlikely event Goodell is "terminated" after the 2918 season, here's a question ---

Who would they bring in the replace him? Let's hope the committee thinks that far ahead as well. This is not exactly an easy job to jump into, especially when the Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire shortly after a new Commish takes over. A new guy having to face those shark infested waters, when the union would smell blood?

Good luck with that.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

On the Jeopardy! warpath

I like to think I'm not a geek or a nerd, but perhaps I am in a certain way. For a very long time I've been a huge fan, junkie even, of the TV quiz show Jeopardy! Very seldom do I miss it.

This started a long time ago when I was only a little boy. My late mom got me hooked on it. Back then the show was on at noon, rather than it's current 7:30 PM time slot, and was hosted by a guy named Art Fleming, not the Alex Trebek we have come to know in recent decades.

The fact I would sit by mom while we both hollered out questions at noon must have meant I was on summer vacation from school, though my memory is foggy on that. Yes, I had my chores to do (and running around the neighborhood with all the other kids) and mom had her Leave It To Beaver house to clean and her soaps to watch, but we'd always find time to hook up and watch Jeopardy! Fond memories of those times indeed.

That addiction has never gone away. So yes, call me a nerd if you will. I don't care.

Then tonight, 11/16/17, something happened to put me on the proverbial warpath. Outrage! Sacrilege! Blasphemy! Off with their heads!!

The geniuses at NBC pre-empted my beloved Jeopardy! So what had happened? Surely it must be a very newsworthy event. But no.

It should be noted that Jeopardy! was winding up another Tournament of Champions. Fifteen previous (at least 5-time) champions had squared off in a two week series of shows to determine the best of the best.

After a week and a half, the original 15 had been whittled down to the Final Three. They would compete in a two day cumulative competition. Whoever won the most money over Thursday and Friday would be given $250,000 and a trophy they could be proud of for life.

And yes, I get it. These shows were taped taped a while back, but the public wouldn't know who came out on top until they aired, which was supposed to start tonight.

So what did NBC have on in its place? A football program, sort of. No, not a game, but merely a pre-game show. You know, talking heads throwing out all sorts of statistics and their own feeble opinions on what would happen when the Tennessee Titans met the Pittsburgh Steelers later on tonight.

Had it been the actual NFL game, maybe I would have understood. Heavy on the maybe.

To make matters even worse (see salt in the wound insulting), the very same yap-a-thon was airing on the NFL cable channel. Near as I know, this is a freebie channel on cable packages.

So while it's always a dumb idea to air the same show on two different channels simultaneously, it became doubly offensive when one of them zapped my Jeopardy!

During the Finals of the Tournament of Champions?

Are they nuts?

Don't they realize there are millions of us geeks out there that are screaming at their flat screens in righteous indignation/fury?

Though I'll resist the temptation, I'm beginning to understand the mind set of some people that go off the deep end and commit acts of atrocity. You can only push even a nerd so far.

The utter NERVE of these people. Who the hell do they think they are depriving the hordes of trivia buffs their fix and feeding them sports tripe instead?

Tell ya what. It's a good thing my mom isn't still around. Mess with her Jeopardy! and look out mister. I don't know what she might have done, but it wouldn't have been pretty. Somebody would have paid dearly for such an affront, dammit.

Miss ya, mom, and the old days of sitting next to you watching our black and white TV trying to get a few questions/answers right.

Say hi to Mr. Fleming for me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

UCLA's thieving three

So Riley, Hill and Ball (there's that name again -- his daddy has already made a colossal fool out of himself, big brother is a bust for the Lakers, and another one's still in the pipeline somewhere -- good luck with that), got popped for stealing in China.

This ranks them right up there with the likes of Larry, Moe, and Curly on the bonehead scale. The difference being Misters Fine, Howard, and Howard did it for the amusement of others, not real, while the UCLA trio of tramps evidently thought they were either entitled to it, or could get away with it because they play for a high profile school in the good old U S of A. Wrong on both counts.

In a predictable, if comical sideline to the story, President Trump couldn't wait to tweet out (look at me) how he had come to their rescue. Then he all but demanded thanks. The ever-illustrious, if often severely misguided Donald went on to add yon Bruins would have been facing 10 years in prison had he not intervened.

Um, probably not. A reporter on the ground in China said his sources claimed the hoopsters were more likely facing a couple weeks max in jail for what amounted to a minor theft. Plus the ususal-- cha-ching -- fine, of course. It's always about the money.

Back stateside the ever-lovable talking heads were in a frenzy demanding the stooges get tarred and feathered, or at least suspended for a long period of time, perhaps the rest of the year. Given this turned into an "international incident", such punishment (the suspension -- sans the tar and feathers) seemed reasonable enough.

So UCLA had to do something. In a move politicians would be proud of, always giving themselves an out, they have indeed suspended Hill, Riley and Ball "indefinitely". But that last word is the catch. "Indefinite" can mean anything. A game or two, a couple weeks, months, the season, nobody knows.

It might just be that when the furor dies down and those pesky reporters turn to another big deal story, the brass at UCLA could ease them back on to the team, hoping it doesn't draw too much attention. Time will tell.

But another theory has been floated as well. In the interim, the movers and shakers inside UCLA are reportedly in disagreement among themselves as to how long -- harsh -- "indefinite" should be. Again, a few games, half the season, all of it, and should they be bounced out of the school entirely? They continue to deliberate.

Yet the theory goes that if the players are out for the entire season, or longer, they might look to transfer elsewhere to get back on a basketball team/court somewhere.

And if THAT is allowed to happen, then the whole theory of holding them responsible goes up in smoke. Becomes a joke, as it were.

Though yours truly is seldom a proponent of Big Brother and his nefarious oppressive ways, this would be a case where the all-powerful NCAA should step in and take charge. The honchos there could hand down a mandate whereby these petty crooks won't be allowed to play for any of their membership institutions until at least the start of the 2018 season. If UCLA won't hand out sufficient punishment to their own, then THEY will.

That would take care of any possible transfer nonsense to escape the justice they have coming.

Yeah, I get it. Boys will be boys and sometimes they do dumb things. This shouldn't ruin them for life. But if nobody at UCLA had the common sense to warn them and their teammates to stay squeaky clean while visiting a country such as China, then they just might get banged accordingly if they did something stupid -- which they did.

[Idle thought. How quick do you think the Donald would have been to step in if the three perpetrators had been registered Democrats, or horrors, the sons of a Dem congressperson?. Good grief, might he have encouraged the Chinese to throw them into a dungeon for years?. Hmmm.]

At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few months.

Stay tuned.....

Monday, November 13, 2017

More idle rants

Now that was a stupid commercial. Can't remember what the product was -- who cares? -- but they claimed that drinking a lot of fluids just might help a person stay hydrated.

Well, no kidding. I mean, what pearls of wisdom might these geniuses come up with next to insult our intelligence? That jumping out of an airplane without a parachute just might shorten one's life span? That wearing clothes in public just might decrease the odds of being arrested? That pounding a fifth of tequila and then driving an automobile just might be a pretty bad idea? Please.

So Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers easily dispatched the Miami Dolphins. Yawn. At least dear Cam could act like an adult at the post-game press conference. This is in contrast to how we might have expected him to act after a loss. You know, the petulant child with an attitude. Pout, pout, pout, because something didn't go his way.

Has there ever been a dumber play in the history of the NFL than that the Cleveland Browns ran against the Detroit Lions late in the first half? Second and goal from the two yard line, no time-outs remaining, and only 10 seconds on the game clock? And they ran a quarterback sneak against an obviously super-stacked D line? Of course the play was stuffed. Then time ran out before they could either spike the ball or get off another play. No touchdown, not even a gimme field goal. No nothing, except embarrassment.

If I was the GM or, better yet, owner of the Browns, I'm storming into the locker room at halftime. I want to know who called that play. Whoever it was is fired on the spot. Get out -- now. This team is bad enough without monumental stupidity being added to the equation.

What's that? The Detroit Pistons are leading their division, while Lebron and the Cavs are struggling?

Two things. It's a long season and give them both time. The Pistons will crash and burn because they flat-out aren't good enough to sustain excellence. Maybe they sneak into the playoffs as a lower seed -- only to get blasted in the first round -- and who would doubt any Lebron led team won't come roaring back, quite likely making another Finals appearance next spring?

One more thing. The Pistons gave Andre Drummond a "max" contract -- on a par with the likes of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Hardin, and those guys? The same Drummond that shoots free-throws like Stevie Wonder, has no outside shot, and is pretty much useless any place further than 6-8 feet from the rim? THAT big galoot gets top dog money? Only in Detroit could they come up with such a colossal waste of dough. And you wonder why the prices to get a seat for a game are so high? Duh.

The same goes for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Does any sane person really believe he deserves to be the highest paid player in the entire NFL? But he is. The same guy that hasn't won a single playoff game since he started almost a decade ago. And probably won't this year either.

You know who this is REALLY good news to? The real top guys in the league that are coming up on a new contract. All they and their agents need to do is point at Stafford. If THAT guy, with a career losing record and nary a playoff win can get such big bucks, then obviously I'm worth a lot more. Good luck to the other GMs around the league refuting that argument. Prices just went up there too, or will soon.

And the final fan insult of the night goes to one Scott Van Pelt and his minions that keep hyping him.

They want to know"where in the world ISN'T SVP?", and keep showing pix of semi-look-alikes from wherever they can get them.

Tell ya what. There's a reason he's on the air after the late-late shows in the wee hours of the morning -- see drunks stumbling home after closing bars -- rather than prime time.

The really scary part is there's so many people out there that WANT to pass themselves off as this peanut-head.

Yikes. If you thought the situation in Washington DC with the politicians has devolved into ludicrous tripe, get a load of the four-letter network and their talking heads around 2 or 3 in the morning.

Where do they get these clowns?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

College football rankings

Well now, that was quite an interesting day. #1, or #2 Alabama, depending on which poll one believes in, came back from a late deficit to barely eke out Mississippi State. But at least they won.

Meanwhile, #2, or #1 Georgia, along the same line of poll logic, was getting smoked at Auburn. See ya Dawgs. Yer going down.

Notre Dame, generally regarded as the #3 team in the country, got trashed in Miami. Any team that names itself the Fighting Irish when the real Notre Dame has always been a cathedral in Paris -- see France -- should never be taken too seriously.

Penn State fell out of national contention with recent losses.

Not long ago, Clemson, defending national champs, somehow manage to roll over and play dead at a game at Syracuse. Syracuse? REALLY? How the heck did that happen?

Ohio State has two losses, including a severe recent whipping at unranked Iowa. The Buckeyes don't appear worthy, though the trashing they put on Michigan State today was rather impressive.

So OK. Nick the (fill in the blank) -rick of Alabama and his team will be #1 by default.

After that, good luck sorting them out. The TV talking heads, and their supporting cast of "experts" and stat geeks will no doubt be hyperventilating over which team belongs where in the next go-around of the sacred "rankings".

What's comical is the even more so sacrosanct, and mysterious "committee" will be tasked with picking only four teams to participate in a national championship playoff.

If ever there was a valid argument to expand such a field to at least eight, if not sixteen, this is the time.

After all, college teams are done playing their regular seasons in late November, early December at latest. Then they spend a few weeks waiting around to play in a bowl game somewhere.

Tell me these "student athletes" are busy studying for final exams at the time, and I'll laugh in your face. That was mailed in when they got full ride jock scholarships in the first place. Who's kidding who?

So why not let sixteen of them compete in a playoff throughout the month of December, instead of the always questionable "final four" -- never more so than this year? Every other sport does it -- at every level. And two more games to whittle the field down to four would keep them game sharp as well. What else do they have to do?

For now, the Crimson Tide of Tuscaloosa is the undisputed #1 team in the land. No doubt a slam dunk for making the above-mentioned "final four". But they'e hardly an unbeatable juggernaut, hence vulnerable.

Beyond Nick's boys, the rankings have officially become a crap shoot. Wisconsin's still unbeaten. Defending champ Clemson is clawing their way back into contention. The Canes in Miami are coming on strong. The Huskies of Washington aren't out of the question. Neither are the Okie Sooners and the TCU Horned Frogs.

With still a month to go, who knows which teams will go up -- or down -- before the regular season ends?

Even Bama could get knocked off.

How interesting -- or confusing -- would THAT make things?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Michigan State exposed

It was predictable. The train wreck waiting to happen -- Michigan State football -- finally did.

The Spartans were absolutely humbled at Ohio State. Over a six touchdown differential of eating some serious crow. Yet this should have come as no surprise to football fans paying attention to what led up to it.

Like most other major conference teams, MSU started off the season with a couple patsies.

But then Notre Dame came to East Lansing and thrashed the Spartans by 20 points. An anomaly? Perhaps, but also maybe an omen of what was to come. The Fighting Irish are pretty good this year.

After that debacle, MSU won close games over the likes of unranked Iowa and the always over-ranked and over-hyped Michigan. (The Wolverines had again been thoroughly exposed as pretenders rather than contenders. Nothing new there).

Then a couple other rather narrow victories over Minnesota and Indiana. Wins, but hardly impressive over typical Big 10 -- or is that 14? -- can't they count? --doormats.

The loss in overtime to Northwestern should have raised a few skeptical eyebrows, but any such thoughts among the Sparty faithful were quickly put to rest with their narrow victory over a then highly regarded team like Penn State. The green and white bandwagon was back in full swing.

Meanwhile, Ohio State, a perennial power, and even more so since Urban Meyer came aboard as head coach, was getting throttled at Iowa. That wasn't supposed to happen.

So do the math. The young Spartans were getting a bit full of themselves. And the Buckeyes were flat-out pi$$ed, wanting to come out and make a statement in their next game.

Which just happened to be MSU visiting the horseshoe in Columbus.

Bang. Try a 48-3 beatdown. Against MSU's supposedly stout defense, OSU ran for over 330 yards alone. The Buckeyes were having the proverbial field day marching up and down the field against the hapless Spartans. If not for a couple of dropped should have been interceptions by OSU's defensive backs, OSU might have hung SIXTY points on them. And the Spartans could only manage a meager THREE?

To be sure, Michigan State, like their cross-state rival Michigan, will wind up going to a bowl somewhere around the first of the year. But it will be of the second tier variety. Because neither is anywhere near worthy of being considered as any sort of national contender. This is what happens when the college football world has diluted the bowls to the point of a team only needing six wins to qualify and play in one. It's all about TV, advertisement bucks, more talking heads -- see money grab.

And given MSU's last couple regular season games against bottom feeders such as Maryland and Rutgers, they'll probably rack up a couple more wins. Sparty nation will be thumping their chests once again.

But it's been smoke, mirrors and hype all along.

Scroll back up and re-read the opening sentence of this post.

And it has come to pass indeed.