Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shovelling off to Buffalo

Last year the Detroit area experienced a record snowfall, approximately 96 inches over the entire winter. Residents found it difficult to cope.

Now imagine that same amount of snow -- 8 feet -- were to fall in the course of four or five days. Everything would stop. Consider some ramifications:

Forget businesses, any unfortunate soul that experienced an in-home medical emergency (heart attack, stroke, etc.) would be in even direr straits. Ambulances and EMS personnel wouldn't be able to get there to assist them.

Pregnant women going into labor would have their babies the old-fashioned way, at home. All the pre-natal planning in the world would go out the window if driving to the hospital becomes impossible.

Woe be it to one if they were to lose power and not have a back-up generator, much less food in the house.The utility repair crews would be paralyzed as well. Eight feet of snow would rise above first floor windows blocking out daylight. It would be like living in an igloo with the entrance snowed in. Maybe okay for eskimos, but not recommended for city folks. Cars and small trucks outside would be completely submerged in the white stuff. Disappeared.

But this is basically what has happened to parts of Buffalo over the last couple days. And two or three MORE feet of snow is supposed to be on the way.

And on the sports front, the Buffalo Bills are scheduled to host the New York Jets this Sunday. Though they may be terrific football players, unless they can sprout wings and/or have a Star Trek transporter at their disposal, many Bills' players are snowed in just like the other residents. They can't get to the stadium. More on that to follow.

Stadium authorities have offered 10 bucks an hour plus free game tickets to anybody that wants to show up and help shovel out the open-air Ralph Wilson facility itself. Hundreds of thousands of tons of snow have to be removed. Good luck with that. First, the only way to get there is by snowmobile. Are we to believe football fans are crazy enough to bungee shovels to their Arctic Cats and Skiddoos, just so they can do such back-breaking work for a measly Hamilton per hour? Hmmm. Of course they will. Something about those free tickets. They'll come in droves. I can almost smell the two cycle exhaust fumes from the far side of Lake Erie.

Yet with the city still pretty much buried, and even more bad news on the way, it remains doubtful whether even the stadium itself can be made fit to play. And not counting those lunatic snowmobilers with their free tickets, how many people would show up?

Even if the teams themselves can somehow find their way to the stadium, this game should not be played. Why? Because it would give one team a huge advantage over the other.

While Buffalo has been under siege from the blizzard, the NY Jets have gone through just another week of usual NFL practice at home in Jersey. If the Bills' players can't get out of their own homes, obviously they haven't been able to practice this week. Yes, while reports have it the Bills' coaching staff has sent various plays and strategies to their players via Ipads, that hardly takes the place of real practice in preparing for an opponent.

In the event the game in Buffalo on Sunday is deemed unfeasible, alternate venues have been suggested. Perhaps Detroit, Pittsburgh, or DC, all teams that will be on the road this Sunday, so their stadiums are "available". It's not without precedent. Years ago, when snow collapsed the roof on the Vikings' stadium in Minnesota, the upcoming game was moved to Detroit -- and it worked out -- sort of. That's assuming Vikings' season ticket holders and others that had paid big bucks to see the game within a 20-30 minute drive of their homes didn't mind travelling about 700 miles by car, gas, motels, and all, for the same privilege.

It would be much the same for Buffalo fans were the game to be moved to any of the above mentioned alternate venues. We've all seen those pesky "hidden costs", like various surcharges and fees on bills, but this is getting ridiculous. Imagine having to drive 12 hours both ways to pay your electric bill, because it was the only place available to keep the lights on. I dare say most folks would not be happy with that scenario. But NFL football fans aren't most folks. They'll even travel overseas, at the cost of thousands of dollars, to see their bottom feeding team play another school of carp.

The talking heads keep ranting on whether or not Buffalo and their stadium will be fit to accommodate the game this Sunday. Maybe it will, and maybe it won't, but they miss a far more important point. This decision has to be made quite soon. Typically, for a Sunday game, the road team (Jets) travels on Friday. Once aboard an airliner at 35,000 feet, it's normally a really good idea for the pilots to know what their destination is. Those holding patterns have their limits. Something about a finite amount of jet fuel, and avoiding a possible mutiny. Besides, the travelling secretary of the team is usually much better off if he knows what town to arrange bus pick-ups in and make hotel reservations for the players, coaches, trainers, waterboys, etc., before they actually touch down.

Once on the tarmac, calling an entire fleet of cabs, even if the drivers speak English and have bathed recently, to take them all to a giant Motel 6 is not exactly the optimum scenario for a plane load of millionaires and their minions. Even if the proprietors of such an establishment left the light on for them, it's likely a fair statement to say the team esprit de corps would take a serious hit under such circumstances.

No matter what, whether the game can be played in Buffalo or elsewhere, it would be grossly unfair to the Bills. They haven't been able to practice all week while the Jets have. The only fair thing to do is cancel it. But how to make it up at a future date?

Simple. Don't. Give them both a tie on their records, a refund to those that had purchased or shovelled their way to tickets -- and tell them all to be happy.

It's the Bills and the Jets who, BTW, happen to play in the same division as the New England Patriots. Guess who the division champ is going to be? Who cares who would have won or lost such a game? Does any person this side of the afore-mentioned snowmobile lunatics seriously believe either has the remotest shot at making the playoffs? Not a chance.

It doesn't matter. Let it snow.







Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Adrian Petersen. Wait a second....

The star Minnesota Viking running back is back in the news. We've all heard of how he "switched" his kid a few months back. NFL Commish Roger Goodell has suspended Petersen without pay for the remainder of this season, not to be considered for reinstatement until at least April of next year. The Union is crying foul. Let's look a little closer.

In his statement, Goodell cited a few reasons for handing down this punishment. These included the fact the kid was only 4, and duh, daddy was a lot stronger, and also because Petersen hasn't shown "remorse". But wait a second....

Yours truly can't remember anything that happened when I was 4, but hasn't forgotten the belt that would flog my backside (both mom and dad) when I got out of line early on in grade school. It only took a few of those to realize there were some definite no-nos. Right or wrong, running afoul of parental law could get painful. Having seen the photos, this is not to say Petersen didn't go a bit over the top with his switch -- I believe he did -- but who am I to judge how a parent in a different part of the country disciplines their child? One thing I do know is the lessons of that belt stuck have stuck with me to this day. Even though I could now get away with some things -- I still don't do them -- because I know they're wrong. Though I didn't like it much at the time, I thank my parents for instilling those values in me.

And this whole remorse thing has gotten way out of control. As the man once said, if you do the crime, you do the time -- and then it's supposed to be over. As a child, such things as disrepecting an adult or getting caught stealing anything -- even a candy bar from the local store -- guaranteed a date with the belt. I still say please and thank you to this day, to people and even children I don't know, and wouldn't dream of stealing anything, nor will I tolerate a person in my life who I know does steal. When I got caught as a kid, I paid the price -- but then it was over. I knew mom and dad still loved me, but there was no need to drag it on. The message was clear and understood. There are lines not to be crossed.

Not any more. These days it's not enough to just do the time for a "crime". The jurisprudence system has gone all in on "remorse". They expect any defendant to grovel, admit they're a terrible human being, go to counselling, etc., etc. And when it comes to high profile cases -- re-enter the likes of Adrian Petersen.

The media wants him to grovel. His employer, the NFL, wants him to grovel, and no doubt millions of ordinary people who have been brain-washed expect him to grovel. But wait a second....

Why should Petersen grovel? He had his day in court, pled guilty to a misdemeanor, and was sentenced accordingly. It's supposed to be over. However, the NFL has this pesky (very grey area) clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which states the league can impose further punishment over and above the court system for behavior deemed to run afoul of their own standards.

Perhaps that's fair enough -- to a point. Once Petersen was implicated in the "switching", he was placed on a mysterious thing called the Commissioner's Exempt List. Basically, he couldn't play for the Vikings, but would continue to receive his salary, pending the outcome of his case.

As mentioned above, this has been resolved in court. Remember, Petersen was convicted of only a misdemeanor, not a felony. At that, the "plea bargain" made sense for both sides. While the media coverage and graphic photos of "junior's" behind fanned the flames, one must also remember this happened in Texas. The prosecutor likely didn't relish the idea of going for the kill by presenting such a case to a jury of Petersen's peers. Many folks in the Lone Star State don't much cotton to the government telling them how they can and cannot discipline their kids. That would have been a roll of the dice indeed -- by both sides. It would have depended on the 12 folks sitting in the jury box.

To date in 2014, Adrian Petersen has only played one game for the Vikings before he was shelved. But wait a second....

He's been paid his full salary for the next 9 games. Former player and current talking head Jerome Bettis said nothing is more important to a player than actually playing. Even the money. Though perhaps well-intentioned, methinks the good Mr. Bettis knows better than that in his heart. If that were the case, everybody would play for free -- just for the honor of being in the NFL. Please, Jerome. Fans can be dumb, but not THAT dumb.

Petersen's salary is roughly $14,400,000 this year. Let's round it up a tad and say he stood to make a million bucks a game. He's collected 10 game checks, but only played in one, while perfectly healthy. Most people in the real world would be thrilled to collect their full salary for a couple months while not having to go to work.

But pending an appeal, and good luck with that, Roger Goodell has cut off Petersen's million dollar a week free-ride gravy train. Yo Adrian is not happy. The Union is not happy. And I'd wager Mrs. Petersen is definitely not happy. The NFL's view is that Petersen hasn't been punished at all so far. He's collected almost 9 million bucks for doing nothing. A valid point.

Most NFL analysts, experts, talking heads (you know -- the geniuses) have suggested that Petersen running afoul of the NFL's "personal conduct" code would normally result in a six game suspension -- without pay. They've also suggested, and likely rightfully, that the league is hammering Petersen as a make-up public relations call on how bad they botched the Ray Rice incident. But wait a second. What if....

Petersen were to come out and say tomorrow that he'd give back 6 game checks to the NFL, or the charity of their choice, but wanted immediate reinstatement? He's clear in the courts. It would have cost him roughly a whopping 6 million dollar fine and, even by Jerome Bettis's standards, the agony of sitting out three more games. Or maybe even give all 9 back, with the stipulation he doesn't have to go see a bunch of NFL mandated shrinks, much less grovel with pseudo remorse. He did the crime, he did the time, he paid the fine, and it's over. Let's rock and roll.

And wouldn't that be interesting?


 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Al Kaline and Giancarlo Stanton

Al Kaline, the former "Mr. Tiger", will soon be 80 years old. He retired as an active player 40 years ago after the 1974 season. Al Kaline is, and will always be, in the Hall of Fame. Though it might seem blasphemous for those in the Detroit area-- looking back at his career stats -- one can wonder if he truly deserved the plaque in Cooperstown.

After all, over 22 seasons, he never hit even 400 home runs (though 399 is pretty close). He had a career batting average under .300 (but .297 is a leaner). Only three times in those 22 years did he drive in more than 100 RBI's. Twice in Eiesenhower's FIRST term as Prez, and again in 1963 when JFK eventually made his fateful trip to Dallas. Over Kaline's career, he averaged a rather modest 72 RBIs per season. He was an above average outfielder with a terrific arm, but not much of a base stealing threat due to mediocre speed. Taken together in modern times, would those stats get him enshrined these days if he'd just retired last year? Maybe, maybe not. But times were different back then.

Kaline was also the first Detroit Tiger to get a salary over $100,000 for a year. And that didn't happen until 1969, in Kaline's 17TH season. Sure, the price of everything was a lot lower back then. Bearing inflation in mind, here's a few examples:

In 1969, gasoline typically sold for around 20 cents a gallon. Not long ago it was $4 a gallon, at least in America. Other countries pay much more. So gas has gone up by a factor of twenty.

In '69 a pack of smokes cost about 30 cents. Now the same pack costs roughly 6 bucks. An increase by the same factor of 20, though most of it is due to politicians taxing tobacco products for as much as they can get away with -- not the tobacco companies gouging people. Funny thing about that. States keep passing laws forbidding smoking in various places including, incredibly, bars. It's as if they want to get rid of it altogether. But they don't REALLY want that, because if it happened, they would lose out on billions of dollars in revenues. Who's kidding who?

Seats to a baseball game in '69 typically came in four varieties. For a buck, one could sit in the "bleachers". Two bucks got one in the "grandstands". Another Washington opened up the mysterious world of "reserved" seating. One might be eight rows back from the playing field -- or maybe 30. You coughed up your three bucks and hoped for the best -- preferably not sitting between two fat guys smoking big cigars with bullhorn voices that never stopped yelling. And of course, there was the cream of the crop, known as "box seats". They'd cost you a whopping $4, but dammit, you were close enough to your heroes to hear them talk, spit and scratch their cups.

Thing is, back then even young kids with brand new drivers' licenses could afford to go to a game with a few friends, if mom or dad would let them borrow the car.

Fast forward to the present. Without getting into ticket prices, though it might be a fair assumption to estimate they've gone up by at least the same factor of 20, we have one Giancarlo Stanton.

Stanton has been in the major leagues for 5 years, all with the Marlins. Like Kaline, he's an outfielder, although much taller and heavier. Also like Kaline, Stanton is hardly a speedster. Lou Brock on the basepathes he is definitely not. However, to his credit, during those five years, he's averaged 31 home runs per year. Impressive. Yet also during those same five years, he only had over 100 RBIs once -- last year. His five year average is 80. Not bad, but hardly earth-shaking. And here's the kicker -- Stanton's career batting average is a mediocre .271. Last year he improved slightly to .288. That's a respectable batting average in today's game, but no more.

And what just happened? The Marlins inked Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year contract worth $325 MILLION dollars -- the largest in sports history. The math is simple enough. That averages out to $25M a year -- for a 25 year-old guy with a five year career average of .271. They're on the financial hook until Stanton is Tiger Woodsish at the ripe old age of 38. And we all know what happened to his game in recent years. Thirteen years, when the guy could flame out or be injured at any time? Have the Marlins lost their minds?

Which brings me back to the Al Kaline comparison. Getting that $100,000 contract was a big deal back then and, yes, inflation has taken its toll over the years as mentioned above.

But are we to believe Giancarlo Stanton is worth not a factor of twenty, but 250 TIMES what Al Kaline was? For 13 more years that he hasn't even played yet?

Something is very wrong with this picture.

And this, dear reader, is exactly why young kids can't afford to go to ball games anymore.

It truly is a shame.

Or perhaps just flat-out shameful.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Detroit Lions. Coming crossroads

The Lions got beat fair and square in Arizona by a better team. This is what happens when a good, but not great QB (Matthew Stafford), a superstar receiver (Calvin Johnson), and other weapons of so-called offensive mass destruction (Golden Tate, a bevy of tight ends, etc.) run into a team with a defense that can neutralize them all.

Though the Cardinals were without starting QB Carson Palmer, and former Lion QB Drew Stanton did his part to help out the Honolulu blue and silver cause by throwing a couple interceptions (he also threw for over 300 yards -- not too shabby), the game swung on the Cardinals' defense. Their very talented cornerbacks and safeties were in the hip pockets of Johnson, Tate, and company all game long. Plus, their defensive front pretty much stuffed the running game of the Lions. End result -- Detroit could only manage 6 points for the entire game. A total offensive production of two field goals isn't going to get it done in the NFL these days.

After a rather weak first half of their schedule, where the Lions piled up a 7-2 record, they finally had to play a really good team on the road.

Next week they get the dubious honor of visiting New England. After a slow start, Belichick and the Brady Bunch have reeled off 6 wins in a row. The last two have been particularly noteworthy. They trashed Peyton Manning and the Broncos by 3 touchdowns and, earlier tonight, waltzed into Indy and did the same to Andrew Luck and his AFC South division leading Colts. The Pats are definitely on a roll, and few would think the Lions will have much of a chance in Foxborough next Sunday.

So for the sake of argument, let's say the Lions are 7-4 after that game is played. Then come the crossroads.

Out of their remaining five games, four of them are definitely winnable. Two against the Bears, and dates with the Buccaneers and Vikings. Let's also assume they lose their finale in Green Bay. Besides the Packers owning the Lions at Lambeau Field in recent decades, Aaron Rodgers and his own crew of cheesers have been on a roll as well. They just blistered a pretty good Philadelphia Eagles team by over 4 touchdowns and seem to be firing on all cylinders as well.

Idle thought: In two weeks the Pack hosts the Patriots. THAT will definitely be a game worth watching.

In the Detroit area, much praise has been lauded on new head coach Jim Caldwell. He's gotten rid of the losing culture. He runs the team like a CEO. No stone goes unturned. The players have all bought into his system. And that's great -- except it sounds familiar. Didn't they say the same thing about Jim Schwartz and the guy before him -- and the guy before him, etc.?

Here's a couple things that are indisputable. First, the Lions were in much the same situation last year with their record. They had several "winnable" games remaining and were supposed to cruise into the playoffs. Instead, they crashed and burned.

Second, Jim Caldwell has yet to coach the Lions in December, much less January, when they typically freeze up like the turf at Lambeau.

Though the Lions' faithful (see suckahs) are once again chugging the Honolulu blue and silver koolaid with visions of a deep run in the playoffs (gasp -- Super Bowl?) dancing in their delirious heads --  an objective person could look at their body of work so far this year and conclude they are an average team at best. Three straight improbable fourth quarter comebacks to win in recent games when they likely should have lost them all? And two of them coming against teams with losing records, all replete with bizarre last-second plays and questionable calls?

Nonetheless, such is the way it goes in the NFL these days. On any given day, with a little luck......

But if the Lions are predictably blown out by New England, to lose two straight to good teams, then will come the crossroads indeed.

Will they regroup and win the games they "should" to make it into the playoffs? Or will they practice their usual December origami and revert back to the puddy-tats we have all grown to love, and scorn, over the years?

One thing's for sure. The Lions don't want to pin their playoff hopes on winning that last game in Green Bay.

So can they take care of biz in "winnable" games? Who knows?

Just about the time Santa Claus in making his yearly toy run, a few days before the Green Bay game, the picture will definitely be clearer.

Melvin Gordon

Though a bit premature, and assuming he stays healthy for another couple months, let's all welcome Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon to the green room of the NFL draft in Chicago next April 30.

He won't sit there long, and he's probably not going to get drafted by the NFL team he has wanted to play for his whole life. But the junior would have to be absolutely crazy not to declare for the draft after he's played in whatever bowl game the Badgers wind up going to. He'll likely be a Top 5 pick. His draft stock will never be higher. The welcoming to the multi-millionaire club draws nigh.

And though he hasn't publicly said so, it's hard to believe Gordon's dream wouldn't be playing for the Packers. He was born, raised, and grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was a high-school football star there. Gordon snubbed out of state scholarship offers, including Iowa and Michigan (turns out, a smart move), to play for Wisconsin. The man has "cheeser" written all over him. But unless the Packers somehow trade up on draft day, there's no way Gordon will be playing his professional home games at Lambeau Field. He'll be long gone before the Packers would otherwise pick. Besides, the Pack already has a featured running back in Eddie Lacy, a terrific young talent out of Alabama. So for the first time in his football life, Melvin will likely find himself playing for a team in another state.

In the recent game against Nebraska, Gordon broke the all-time single game major college football rushing record by accumulating 408 yards. The "all time" thing itself is noteworthy enough. That takes in a lot of players, even future NFL Hall of Famers that were hot stuff in college. Names like O.J, Billy, Barry, and Eric come to mind.

True, Gordon only surpassed previous record holder LaDainian Tomlinson's 406 yards by a measly two. But while at TCU, Tomlinson accomplished his feat against UTEP, which was, and remains not exactly known for it's defensive prowess -- or any prowess for that matter.

What's truly incredible is Gordon racked up his 408 rushing yards in only the first THREE QUARTERS against the #16 Cornhuskers. He would sit out the entire fourth quarter. On a reasonable 25 carries, Gordon averaged 16.3 yards a pop. Had he been left in for the final quarter against a defense that was obviously worn down -- he might well have rushed for another 100-150 yards, setting the mark so far out of sight, nobody would ever approach it again. It was a Melvin kind of day, and hats off to the Kenosha Kid for setting the record. Very impressive indeed.

Note to Melvin. Don't get carried away with the "On Wisconsin" stuff and be silly enough to return for another year. Yep, you're the big man on campus right now and have pretty girls galore fawning all over you. But you're also always one play away from a potential career ending injury. If that happens, you'll stay in Wisconsin, but probably not working at the kind of job you had planned on. And there's the little matter of a few million bucks at stake.

Congrats on the record, and may you rack up monster rushing yardage in the Iowa, Minnesota, and whatever bowl game your Badgers land in to pad your stats even further.

But when that is said and done -- here's your bucket list......

Do not pass GO and/or collect $200 under the table from a Wisconsin booster trying to lure you back for your senior season.
Declare for the NFL draft and hire an agent, preferably not Bieber, or anybody he hangs out with.
Work your butt off for the next several months to not only stay in shape, but get even stronger.
Stay away from the clubs and bimbos. Lots of things can happen with that combination, and most of them are bad. The NFL scouts will have you under a microscope.
Then hope like hell some good team trades up to draft you. A few years in Jacksonville or Oakland is not exactly the best scenario.

Be looking for you in the green room next year.
Good luck.





College football. The latest hits

The polls will look different when they come out again in a couple days. Of course, this year the only poll that really matters is the last one following the regular seasons and conference title games. The surviving Final Four get a shot at the national championship. The others will go bowling for dollars elsewhere. Strike up the marching bands, but it really doesn't matter much.

Yet it was interesting how things played out today. As mentioned before in this space, it seemed very strange that the #1 team, Miss St. could be 8 and a half point underdogs to Alabama, ranked #5. But did anybody really think Miss St. was going to beat the Tide in a showdown game? Not me. Granted, Bama had to withstand a second half comeback to narrowly prevail 25-20, but a win is a win, especially against the so-called #1 team. Count Alabama amongst the top 4 when the new polls come out. Miss St. may or may or drop out of the magical quartet, but they're going to at least fall a notch or three.

And now a word from our sponsors. I don't know about you, but yours truly much prefers the Super Creepy, Painfully Awkward, and Crazy Hairy versions of Rob Lowe. At least they're interesting. The "original" is about as stimulating as a tofu meat loaf -- or unflavored yogurt. Blander than a sugar free vanilla shake.

Elsewhere, #4 TCU held on by the thinnest of frog hairs to defeat unranked Kansas 34-30. Maybe they stay in the top 4 -- and maybe not.

Reigning champs and undefeated Florida St. has danced close to the flame several times this year. It's likely a pretty good bet that most folks outside of the Tallahassee area have been waiting -- and even hoping -- the Noles would finally get burned. But once again they came back from over a two touchdown deficit to defeat yet another team. This time it was Miami, 30-26. The 'Canes had numerous chances to "stop the chop", due to FSU turnovers and QB Jameis Winston throwing passes that would normally be intercepted. But Miami turned it over in key situations themselves, and dropped the easy "picks".

End result? Flor St. will definitely stay in the Top 4. And how could they not? They're the only remaining undefeated team.

By virture of sitting at home courtesy of a bye week, with Miss St.'s loss, Oregon will likely become #1. The Ducks have a couple patsies in Colorado and Oregon St. to finish their regular season. But then a Pac 10 conference championship game with #6 Ariz. St likely looms. This will be played in Levi's Stadium, in Santa Clara, home to the San Fran 49ers. Sounds fair enough as a neutral site between teams from Oregon and Arizona.

Yet somebody has to lose that game. Whoever does will likely fall out of the championship playoff picture. Oregon's only previous loss came at home to unranked and not-so-good Arizona, 31-24. On the other hand, Ariz. State's only loss was also at home, but they were blitzed 62-27 by UCLA. How can a team be ranked #6 when they suffered a 35 point beatdown at home? As this post is being written, the Sun Devils trail the woeful Oregon State Beavers in the fourth quarter. Even if they come back and win the game, this is not a good way to impress the pollsters.

The moral of the story? When it comes to who makes the Final Four, Oregon and Flor. St., appear to be almost locks. That only leaves two spots open and raises a few questions. Will TCU get in? Do you think they would have a chance against the Big Boys?

Will the Crimson Tide continue to roll, or might Miss St. bounce back in the SEC conference championship game?  And what about Baylor and Ohio State, both one-loss teams that have been on a roll lately? Do they still have a shot?

Oops. Arizona St. just went down to the lowly Beavers. Color them gone.

Two more weeks of regular season mayhem and then the conference championship games. A lot can happen, and probably will.

And though yours truly is no fan of Nick Saban and his uppity ways, methinks when the dust has finally settled in January, Alabama's going to be champs again. Sigh.







Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kentucky basketball. No shame

To no one's great surprise, once again the Kentucky Wildcats were the pre-season #1 team. Despite their recent history of "one and dones", head coach John Calipari seems to reload with magnum force every year. Remember the Univ of Michigan's Fab Five from back in the 90's? Though they never won a championship, what Kentucky is doing would be like the Wolverines recruiting a similar class of freshmen for several years in a row.

But there's a downside. Like the cult classic novel and movie "Wild In The Streets", when the new generation takes over, somebody's gotta go to make room. And there's only so many spots on a college basketball roster. Which means, sometimes the geezers, at the ripe old age of 21 or 22, might get eased out to pasture. In the book/movie, anybody over the age of 30 was rounded up and sent to camps, where they would be forever dosed on LSD. It's not quite that extreme with Kentucky basketball, but let's just say surviving the annual purge to become an upper-classman on that team should come with a medal. A worthy feat indeed.

In fact, Calipari has so much young talent that's he's been experimenting with a wholesale "platoon" system. Start the game with five former prep All-Americans, and after several minutes pull them all out for Squad B -- also five former high school sensations. That's a serious amount of shock troops coming at the other team in waves. What the young Wildcats may lack in real-world maturity, they more than make up for in height, talent, and of course, tattoos. The Bluegrass state is one of the toughest in the nation when it comes to enforcing marijuana laws, but evidently they're all in when it comes to body art on their teen-aged basketball players.

Kentucky may or may not go on to win the national championship. We'll find out next spring. But being the consensus all-around #1 team going in, they should be ashamed of themselves for the competition they have scheduled in the early part of this year.

During their summer "exhibition tour" in the Bahamas, the Wildcats twice played the Puerto Rican Reserves and the Champagne Chalons Reims -- who and whatever they are. Sounds French. Do these guys make bubbly wine at their day jobs? Are they old-world kinfolk of country singer LeAnn? Beats me, but this doesn't exactly come across as tough competition for a #1 team to face. At that, Kentucky split two games with the Dominican Republic. Sure, they churn out lots of terrific baseball players, but they've got a hoops team too? Who knew? Of course, if Jamaica could have an Olympic bobsled team that would finish higher than the best USA team -- anything's possible. Idle thought: Where did they practice at?

Before Kentucky gets into conference play, their schedule is even more shameful. Granted, they have to play both Kansas and Texas at neutral sites (heaven forbid they should have to play a true road game before conference action begins), but check out the rest of the teams they have lined up----

Pikeville. Ever hear of it? Not me.
Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon has a team?
Buffalo.
Boston.
Montana State.
UT Arlington.
Providence.
Eastern Kentucky.
Columbia.

And guess what? If lining up patsy row wasn't bad enough, all these games will be played on Kentucky's home floor at Rupp Arena.

Nothing like stacking the deck to rack up a bunch of easy wins.

For such a proud and storied program, it appears they have no shame either.