Friday, September 30, 2016

More idle rants

In all of sportsdom, is there any team, along with their fans and certain beat writers, that whines more than the Detroit Lions? They act like a massive conspiracy is against them. It's as if bad calls are unique to them only. The refs have it in for them. Whine, whine, whine. Here's a thought --- with the exception of maybe the Cleveland Browns, what other team has been inept for so long? If the koolaided Honolulu blue and silver faithful are getting the Rodney Dangerfield no respect treatment, they've brought it on themselves. Try winning something. A couple playoff games would be a start. In the meantime, here's a box car load of cheese and crackers for them.

Remember when Buick was considered a "grandpa" car? Evidently, they're going after a new demographic. The wimp generation. Have you seen the latest batch of commercials? They're just about enough to make Pee Wee Herman and Richard Simmons look like Rambos in comparison.

A playoff quandary. What would happen if -- three teams wound up tied for the second wild card in the American League? For the sake of argument, let's suppose Toronto gets one wild card spot. Then Baltimore, Detroit, and Seattle all wind up with the same regular season record. How would they play it off? A lottery, drawing numbers out of a hat, to determine which two teams play a one game knockout while the third gets a bye? Or are there tie-breakers to determine such a format? Beats me, but it could happen.

College game of the week. Though there are several interesting ones, notably Wisconsin visiting Michigan, both well within the Top Ten, it's gotta be Louisville going to Clemson. The Cardinals have a wunderkind quarterback in Lamarr Jackson that's already made everybody forget about Teddy Bridgewater, while Dabo's bos are coming off a national championship appearance last year and sport a Heisman candidate of their own in QB Deshaun Watson.

What's that? Once high and mighty Michigan State is less than a touchdown favorite over lowly Indiana? This is what happens when a team gets thrashed in their own house by the above mentioned Wisconsin. They had a good run for a while, but the Spartans can forget about being contenders on the national stage this year, or probably even vying for the Big Ten crown. With Michigan, Wisconsin, and currently ranked #2 Ohio State in the mix, it ain't looking good in East Lansing.

In other news, we are left to question the veracity of a couple of notable "charities". Our beloved Presidential candidates both have one. Trump's outfit and the Clinton foundation. If yours truly has this right, we the people are supposed to give them money, which they in turn decide who to pass it along to while taking a hefty cut for themselves as "administrative costs". And they no doubt get a sizable tax deduction to boot. The filthy rich get even filthier.

Here's what I want to know. Out of over 300,000,000 people. the best the US of A can come up with for the highest office in the land is THESE two? A crook and a clown? Wow, this country's in more trouble than I thought....

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Detroit Tigers perfect storm

By a lot of weird fate coming together at the same time, the Tigers find their chances at making the playoffs looking up. In no particular order, consider----

The standings, of course. The Cleveland Indians sewed up the AL Central division title on Monday night by downing the Tigers -- again -- on Detroit's home field. The Tribe was partying. However, it was no big secret Detroit wasn't going to catch Cleveland anyway.

But the wild card race is where the Tigers caught several major breaks. With Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle, and Houston all still in the hunt, and only six games remaining, every game was crucial.

As the schedule worked out, Toronto had to play a series with Baltimore. The Jays had all but locked up one of the wild cards (three games ahead of Detroit), so it would be advantageous if Toronto knocked off Baltimore (two games ahead of Detroit). They did in the first game.

Meanwhile, in Game two of the Cleveland/Detroit series, the Indians played their B team. They cobbled together a line-up of whoever had semi-sobered up from the night before. And the Tigers had their horse, Justin Verlander pitching. Detroit clobbered the Indians. Coupled with the Baltimore loss, Detroit edged a game closer.

Out west, the two teams (Seattle and Houston) also had to play a series against each other. Somebody has to lose those games. If Detroit can win, they're gaining ground on somebody. The Mariners were only one game back of Detroit, and the Astros two. While they don't quite completely control their own destiny, the match-ups mentioned above are certainly playing out in their favor. I mean, what are the chances that the other four teams Detroit is vying with for a wild card spot would all be playing each other with a week to go in the regular season? Of course, if the Tigers lose in the meantime, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Further, after finishing up with Cleveland on Thursday, the Tigers finish the regular campaign with a three game set against the Atlanta Braves -- the worst team in the entire National League. The Braves have absolutely nothing to play for and probably can't wait to finally get this miserable season over.

Put it all together, and the Tigers couldn't have asked for a better scenario. The perfect storm.

And who knows, if they make the playoffs, anything can happen and sometimes does. The best teams throughout the regular season don't always prevail in the post season -- though it's difficult to imagine anybody knocking off the Chicago Cubs. They're the only team in all of the Major Leagues that will win over 100 games this year. The rest have already been mathematically eliminated.

It's right there for the Tigers. Everything has fallen their way with the other contending teams beating each other up as the season winds down.

Now all they have to do is win.

We'll all know Sunday night......

Monday, September 26, 2016

Spoofing names

As has been stated in this forum before, it appears there's no endorsement Peyton Manning won't sign on for. Among his bulging portfolio of clients is Nationwide insurance. You've likely seen the latest commercial bit of idiocy.

The Nationwide ad people came up with a little jingle we've often heard Manning sing, hum, whistle, whatever. "Nationwide is on our side". Gee, how clever.

The latest ad shows old chicken neck in a diner where the help is singing the same little seven syllable ditty but with different words. One, from the cook, went -- "Eats the same thing every time".

Boring. Here's a few alternatives I'd love to have seen the help sing.....

Probly wants it comped again.

Cheapskate never leaves a tip.

Why's he gotta show up here?

Man, I wish he'd take a hike.

Or perhaps even -- Check the dork at table six.

On another note, one has to wonder about certain names. Take Tyrod Taylor, QB for the Buffalo Bills. His parents named him Tie-- rod? Like the auto part? Really? What could they possibly have been thinking? I mean, what's next? Will we have a .....

Rackenpinion Roberts?

Glovebox Goldstein?

Windshield Williams?

Airbag Adams? Oh wait, a couple of those were debating on Channel 4 a little while ago.

How about a Camshaft Newton? What say? There's one of those already playing for Carolina? I've seen him in press conferences. That dude has the stupidest looking wardrobe of all time. Somebody needs to tell him that the fashion combination of punk, Bozo, and Al Jolson on acid look is never going to exactly impress a lot of people.

Alas, poor Greg Hardy. A terrific football talent but the man can't seem to stay out of his own way. He's in trouble again. You'd think he would have learned after being convicted of assaulting and threatening to kill his former girlfriend. Most judges tend to frown on such behavior. Besides allegedly being a bad teammate with a terrible work ethic, and a delusional ego problem to boot -- dude thinks he's some sort of sea monster -- go figure -- this time he got popped with possession of a controlled substance. Cocaine. Most law enforcement types and judges don't care much for that either.

Maybe Hardy is one of those guys that is destined for the abyss. Or at least landing in prison. He's gotta know, or at least should, that given his past, the powers that be will be keeping a close eye on him. It's almost like he's in a self-destruct mode.

Idle thought -- could this Hardy be a descendant of the original Oliver Hardy? You know, the black sheep of the family?

Either way, as Ollie used to say to Stanley.....

This is another fine mess you've gotten us into......

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Michigan stuff

Either Notre Dame was over-rated or Wisconsin was under-rated. How else to explain the Michigan State Spartans traveling to South Bend and easily handling the Irish, then going back home to East Lansing and getting absolutely pummeled by the Badgers?

The bad news is the Spartans can kiss any national championship aspirations goodbye. A team can't get thrashed in their own back yard to the tune of 30-6 and expect anybody to consider them serious contenders. The good news is MSU plays four "patsies" in a row before their showdown with arch rival Michigan.

Speaking of patsies, UM has played their usual cream puff games to start the schedule. Blowouts. Are they really that good and worthy of a #4 ranking? We'll see. The very same Wisconsin is coming to Ann Arbor next weekend. Should be a great game.

On the other hand, Wisconsin is going through a brutal stretch. After opening with a win against LSU, followed by a couple of their own patsies, they played/will play the following:

@Michigan State
Bye week
Ohio State
@ Iowa

That's quite the gauntlet.

The Detroit Lions are up to the same old antics. They beat an average at best Indy Colts team on the road, then went home to lose to the lowly Tenn Titans. Few expected them to win in Green Bay today. They didn't.

The glass half-fullers will say the Lions came roaring back to make it a close game. 34-27 would appear to be the case.
The glass half-emptiers would counter by saying the game was all but over in the first quarter with the Lions behind by three touchdowns. Green Bay was on cruise control for the rest of the game.

Next up for the Motown puddytats are Da Bears. If they can't beat Chicago at home to fall to 1-3, they can kiss another season goodbye as well. It's not like the league handed them a tough schedule. Besides their mandatory divisional games, their toughest competition would appear to be Philly and Houston and Dallas on the road. Still, the Lions being the Lions will be lucky to go 8-8. Just another year. In fact, the "gurus" at Sports Illustrated picked them to finish dead last in the NFC North with a 5-11 record. Meanwhile, the ever lovable, if foolish koolaiders in Detroit probably think their heroes can still salvage 11-5 -- maybe even 12-4. It truly is laughable.

With 8 games to go, the Detroit Tigers are still very much in the mix for a wild card spot to reach the postseason. KC and the Yanks have fallen back some. Houston and Seattle are right on their tails. And the Baltimore Orioles are a couple games up. Toronto has all but sewed up one wild card spot.

The Tigers need to go on another mini-run or get help elsewhere. As stated in this column before, it looks like it could very well go down to the last day.

Last but certainly not least, yours truly mourns the passing of Arnold Palmer at the age o 87. I never met the man, nor even saw him play in person. But I know one thing. Besides being the best golfer in the world back in the day, he was a class act all along.

RIP Arnie.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Patriots and rants

Like them or not, you have to hand it to the New England Patriots. No Tom Brady? No problem. His replacement, one Jimmie Garappolo, lasted all of two games before HE got hurt. No Jimmie G? No problem.

Many, particularly the "expert" talking heads, thought the Houston Texans would defeat the Patriots on Thursday night. Enter Jacoby Brissett, back-up to a back-up. He threw for a couple hundred yards, no picks, and a couple touchdowns. This was the same guy that wasn't good enough to start when he was at Florida in college. So he transferred to NC State, not exactly known as a football powerhouse. The Patriots won easily over a pretty good Houston team with him at quarterback.

It really is amazing how they keep pulling it off. The Pats have a couple wide receivers maybe five foot ten, a make-shift offensive line nobody's ever heard of, and seem to lose a couple prize free agents every year. But the wins roll on.

True, they didn't make it to the Super Bowl last year, but over the course of the last decade and a half or so, has there been a team in ANY sport that has been so consistently good as the Pats? Hats off to Bill Bellichick and his staff -- whatever it is they're still doing.

The Detroit Tigers keep hanging around and hanging around hoping to sneak into the playoffs. Cleveland has all but clinched the Central Division and Texas the West. Boston has finally opened up some ground in the Eastern, but Baltimore and Toronto are still a couple games ahead of the Tigers for the two wild cards. Houston has been hot lately and has drawn even with Detroit. Seattle's a game back and the Yankees one more.

So basically, there's five teams duking it out for two spots. It could well come down to the last game of the regular season. In that respect, the Tigers have a bit of an advantage. Their last three games are against the god-awful Atlanta Braves. Wouldn't it be something if, needing to win the last game of the season, the Tigers were beaten by the lowly Braves? Could happen.

Maybe there's hope department.

Finally, somebody has come out and put US soccer goalie Hope Solo in her place. At least a little. You know, the loudmouth loose cannon jerk that somehow keeps her place on the team. She had called the Swedish team cowards after the Americans were defeated by them fair and square a while back. Teammate Abby Wambaugh said Hope the dope should be professional about it and acknowledge her team was beaten at its own game.

That would be a start.  Dropping Ms. Solo on her head a few times for an attitude adjustment would be better. About six months with the Taliban would teach her some good old fashioned humility, but perhaps that's a bit excessive.

The Colin Kaepernick "no-stand" movement keeps morphing and growing. Many other athletes have joined in in various ways. In will be interesting when the NBA, a predominantly black league, starts in a few weeks. That's because the league itself has a rule that all players must stand for the national anthem. If the players sat en masse, would they fine them all? Or would the league give in and let it slide? This could be a firestorm waiting to happen, but something's gotta give.....

Monday, September 19, 2016

The bumbling Lions

I didn't watch the game. I mean, c'mon. What sane person would waste 3-4 hours of their time to check out the Detroit Lions playing the Tennessee Titans? With all the channels these days, surely there must have been something else on to get one's sports junkie fix.

A race. Baseball. Golf. One legged beach volleyball. Munchkin rugby. Skeet shooting for the blind. SOMETHING!!  Anything but Lions and Titans. Horrors!

But I did read and hear about it afterwards.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Lions had beaten the Indy Colts on the road the week before. Up, up, up went the Honolulu blue and silver koolaiders. Then the Lions, being the Lions, went home and stunk it up against the Titans. Thud. This is nothing new. It's been going on for sixty years, but the Motowners (and their fans) just can't seem to figure it out.

Detroit was called for 19 -- count em -- NINETEEN penalties? Really? It would appear that team can't grasp the most basic of concepts. On offense, there is absolutely no excuse for false starts. The players heard the snap count in the huddle and they can't remember it for the 10-15 seconds it takes before a normal play starts? On defense, offside is the same way. Thou shalt not move across the line of scrimmage until the ball is snapped. Pretty simple.

Head coach Jim Caldwell says these are things that can be cured. To which I say -- not so fast. If his players are so dense to as not understand the infractions mentioned in the above paragraph, well, as they say -- there just ain't no fixing stupid.

Let's face it. The Lions are a garbage team, in a garbage town, and have had clueless ownership since the JFK administration. (The very end of it, at least. William Clay Ford sealed the deal to become owner of the Lions on the very same day -- Nov. 22, 1963 -- that John F. Kennedy was, shall we say, losing his head in Dallas. How's THAT for a bad omen?)

Some of their hires, including the front office and a myriad of coaches, have been colossally bone-headed. It took them a mind-boggling 8 years to figure out Matt Millen was incompetent. Just recently the owning Ford family brought on their "estate planner" to be President of the team. A man who freely admits he knows nothing about football. Say what??

Not long ago they tolerated one Jim Schwartz for a few years as head coach. A notorious hothead, Schwartz may or may not have what it takes to be a decent coordinator. But head coach was obviously way over his head. The Peter Principle doesn't lie, current US Presidential nominees notwithstanding. Ahem.

And now it's Jim Caldwell. A similar scenario. JC was an OK right hand man working under other successful head coaches, but a flop when it came to running the show. Hark back to when he was hired just a couple years ago. Lots of teams had head coach openings. And all of them were filled by guys not named Jim Caldwell before the Lions finally got around to replacing Schwartz. There are reasons other teams passed on him. Namely, they wanted somebody who could win in the long run. Ever politically correct, JC says all the right things to keep the suckers in line, but the Lions will never be Super Bowl contenders with him at the helm. Forget that.

It should be noted that, given the "good old boy" coaching carousel in the NFL where the same guys have a long history of getting hired, fired, and rehired by somebody else, no former head coach of the Lions has ever, EVER been offered the job by another team. Detroit is where head coaches come to die. Of course they make millions while there, so they don't really need another job afterwards. But nothing much seems to change for the Lions. Different guy, different players, pretty much the same result. Over and over and over again.

So now here it is 2016 and the Lions are predictably right where they should be. Beat a mediocre team then lose to a bad one.

It's just another year. No doubt, during the season the Lions will chalk up a few highlights. But in the end, does anybody really think they have the proverbial snowball's chance of getting anywhere near the Super Bowl? This year or any one soon? Puh--leeze. And isn't that what it's all about?

Naturally, the Lions will also put up their fair share of lowlights as well. In the game against the Titans, quarterback Matthew Stafford made the "c'mon man" reels not just once, but twice. Watching him try to lumber down the field is bad enough, but when he got rolled up backwards by running into a much bigger defender was comical. Almost as funny as Mark Sanchez' infamous "butt fumble". On another occasion when he was attempting to run for some yardage, the Georgia Peach had the wisdom to slide before contact. Sort of. As it turned out, Stafford's "slide" looked somewhat akin to a barefoot water skier letting go of the rope. There's just no graceful way to go down. Luckily for the Lions, MS didn't hurt himself on the play. But it still looked Keystone Koppish. COME ON, MAN!!

There's a reason yours truly gave up on the Lions so many years ago. Actually several. They weren't any good. They were never any good. And they ain't never gonna BE any good.

So as I said at the start, I didn't watch the game. All I need to know is the Lions lost, again, committed WAY too many stupid penalties throughout, and their QB made the blooper reels a couple times.

Yup. It's the same old Lions. God bless em, their fans and ever faithful media, but no thanks to wasting time watching them.

Bring on the munchkin rugby. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Tracking the Tigers

The Detroit Tigers are one of those maddening teams that just can't seem to decide whether they want to make the playoffs or not. They'll win a few -- here we go -- then lose a few -- stuck in a rut.

Let's look at how they've played in September. First, a three game series on the road with Kansas City. The Tigers too two out of three from the defending champs, who are having what seems to be an off year. A reasonable result.

Then off to Chicago to play the Sox. Against a team they should beat more often than not, Detroit dropped two out of three. Consider that a game lost in the standings.

In all, a 3-3 road trip. Not bad, but not good either.

Back home to host the Baltimore Orioles for three games. The Tigers would lose two of them. The O-Birds are a team running neck and neck with the Tigers for a possible wild card spot. Winning two out of three from them was a necessity. Another game lost.

The Minnesota Twins came to town for four games. Not counting the Atlanta Braves in the NL, Minnesota is arguably the worst team in the majors. It was imperative the Tigers win at least three out of four, if not sweep them. They split 2-2. At least one more game lost -- more like two.

That's 13 games with a record of 6-7, all against teams the Tigers should beat, or have to beat. That isn't going to cut it.

Just last night, the division leading Cleveland Indians traveled to Detroit. Remarkably, these two teams had played each other 12 times and Cleveland had won 11 of them. That's OWNING somebody.

But this was a chance for Detroit to make at least a dent in the six games they already trailed Cleveland by. For the first two contests, the Tigers have/had their best two starting pitchers going -- Michael Fullmer and Justin Verlander, both win an extra day of rest.

Alas, in game one, the Tribe scalped the Puddytats once again to the tune of 11-4. A beatdown. Make that seven games behind and Cleveland's record against them 12-1. With only 15 games left, the Tigers can forget about winning the division. They'd have to run the table -- all 15 -- while Cleveland need only play roughly .500 ball the final two weeks for the Indians to sew it up. That race is virtually over. Cleveland wins.

In the AL East, it's a three way dogfight between Boston, Toronto and Baltimore to win the division. All are separated by only a couple games. And all have better records than the Tigers.

If we can safely assume Cleveland will win the Central and Texas the West, that leaves three playoff spots. The winner of the East and two wild cards. Quietly, out in the West, the Seattle Mariners have drawn even with the Tigers, and the Yankees lurk only a game behind. Even KC isn't totally out of it, a couple more games back. Same with the Houston Astros, though they appear to be fading.

So basically there are six teams fighting for the two playoff spots. Obviously, that means four of them aren't going to get there. If any of them could put together a mini-winning streak, say, 5-6 games, it would likely make the difference. Likewise, a team could quickly play it's way out of it by losing 5-6 in a row. Everybody has been beating everybody else up without a whole lot of movement in the standings. If the status quo remains unchanged until the end of the season, the Tigers are out. And Tgier manager Brad Ausmus is likely looking for another job.

As was said in this space a while back when there were 30 games remaining -- the Tigers need to make a move because the clock is working against them. As the games tick off and they plod along at 500, they're painting themselves into a corner. Fifteen games have gone by and nothing has changed for the Tigers.

It's squarely their own fault. The dropped game against the Chisox, another to the Birds, at least one, more like two to the Twins, and now the pounding they just got against the Indians. That's 5 games worth in the win loss column. Add 5 W's and subtract 5 Ls and the Tigers are not only sitting pretty in the wild card chase, but have a shot at catching Cleveland after all. But they couldn't do it.

True, it's certainly not over and anything can happen, but right now the Tigers are almost a long shot to get into the postseason. One can only imagine how owner Mike Ilitch feels about this. He shelled out over $200 million in player salaries this year. The team was supposed to at least make the playoffs -- dammit. Anything less would have to be considered a colossal failure.

And it just might go down that way. The Tigers can't count on ALL the other teams in the hunt to swoon. They have to do it themselves. And getting pounded by Cleveland -- again -- isn't a very good way to start. If the Tribe hammers them a couple more times, possible, even probable given how they've owned them so far this year, it's turn out the lights time in Detroit.

Fifteen to go. To have a realistic shot, the Tigers better plan on winning at least ten of them. Bumbling along at .500 ain't gonna get it.

Personally, I give them one chance in three.

We'll see.....