Saturday, July 4, 2015

Who's screaming now? Surprise!

In the world of sports a lot of screaming goes on. The fans in attendance at arenas and stadiums are certainly vocal. Pretty much the same goes for sports bars when the patrons are watching their home team. A great play by one of their own will result in standing whoops, fist-pumping, high fives, and maybe another round. Conversely, if the bum refs or umpires blow a call (perceived or real) that goes against their heroes, there will still be vocal outrage, and maybe a few peanuts or french fries bounce off the flat screens.

[Despite the frustration, it's generally not a good idea to throw pizza squares, burgers, or hot wings at the video equipment. First of all, that stuff's expensive to start with and, second, the management would likely frown on such behavior. Coney dogs are definitely out.]

But there's other screaming going on and the source is somewhat surprising. I'll get back to that.

In recent years the fairer sex has made fantastic progress when it comes to covering sporting events. It's not a bit unusual to see women in a variety of roles that were once male only territory. Some of them have done their homework and know their stuff, while others are just pretty faces without a clue. Then again, the same could be said for some of the guys. Seen Bruce Jenner lately? Ahem.

Thing is, right or wrong, women have long had the reputation of being more prone to screaming than men. Sure, the guys will let out a triumphant whoop here and there over a notable accomplishment, but the girls still do a lot more yelling overall when it comes to athletic participants. They are many on the women's pro tennis tour that shriek every time they hit the ball. This is why God invented mute buttons when watching such a match. Years ago, US soccer player Brandi Chastain famously ripped her shirt off after scoring the winning goal to show the world -- well -- maybe it wasn't that big of a deal. Ahem again.

But now the tables have turned. The men are doing all the screaming, particularly amongst game announcers and TV talking heads. Be it a baseball, basketball, hockey, or football game, the men will completely lose it when describing a good play. Their voices rise and the words come fast and furious like they just witnessed the Second Coming. What we have just seen must be the greatest feat of all time in the world of sports -- according to them. And it will be something else even greater tomorrow.

Example: Ever heard a male Latino announcer describing a point scored in soccer? GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!! And then more gibberish that Artoo Detoo would be hard pressed to decipher.

Baseball outfielders making diving catches are routine these days. But when one does it, count on seeing it as some sort of phenomenal highlight. Every home run over 400 feet is considered as some sort of "monster shot". Nevermind that back in the pre-steroid days, guys with inferior bats and deader baseballs used to hit 500+ foot home runs. (Whatever happened to that?) If one of those occurred today, the male announcers might well spontaneously combust.

Dunks in the NBA are still celebrated like some sort of Herculean feat, though they happen constantly. And isn't a 6 foot 8 or above player dunking the ball a little like a pro golfer making a 6 inch putt? I mean, how many different fancy ways are there to do it? It still only counts for 2 points or 1 stroke.

But the XYer talking heads will go ballistic over a routine dunk. To their credit, the XXers remain a little more subdued over such things. To them, every hockey goal or 50 yard touchdown pass isn't a classic. Sure, they're coached up to bring the hype, but so far they seem to have retained a manner of sanity when the mundane happens. Contrary to their male counterparts, everything is not the "greatest".

It should be noted that on a certain sports network a couple XXer talking heads are seriously preggers. Nothing wrong with that. It is necessary to propogate the species, though the thought of the next generation of talking heads being even more hyper-excitable than the current one is somewhat scary. Either that, or these girls have been hanging out with Joey Chestnut doing some serious competitive eating training. An even scarier thought.

What's that? Joey just lost his hot-dog eating title at the Nathan's Coney Island contest?

Wow. All good things must, urp, come to an end sometime. And the new champion is a guy named Stonie? Really? Actually, it makes perfect sense. Anybody that can eat 62 hot dogs and buns in only 10 minutes most definitely has a world class case of the munchies.

And the male announcer screamed with excitement like King Kong himself had just taken the stage with a rogue Kardashian in tow. The ladies were probably horrified. Who wants to go out on a date with, much less get serious with a guy that makes Jethro Bodine look like an anorexic when it comes to vittles? Yikes.









Happy Fourth of July!!!

Ah yes. Independence day. Ghosts of the founding fathers are in the air. Did you know both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day within five hours of each other in 1826 -- on the Fourth of July? What an incredible coincidence!!

Fly the Stars and Stripes proudly, but don't pull a Bubba Watson. Bubba once purchased the Dukes of Hazzard car. You know, the General Lee. At least one of them. Over the course of the show, almost three hundred 1969 Dodge Chargers were used, because they rarely survived a jump without major damage. Bubba's decided to paint over the Stars and Bars on the roof of his version with the Stars and Stripes. How stupid is this? Why not change it from orange to pink and rename it the General Grant while he's at it? One is not supposed to alter historical artifacts in the name of political correctness. They were what they were and should remain unchanged. Bubba's wimping out. I always did wonder about that pink driver he uses.

Fireworks will be everywhere and what great fun. Have a dog that becomes scared when the booms and bright lights start going off? Do what I do with my toy yorkies. Put them on my lap facing the screen and call up this blog. It's enough to put anybody to sleep. Maybe even into a coma. Either way, the boom/flash problem is solved. However, if your critters are smart enough to actually read but keep twitching for a few days after looking at one of these posts -- do not be alarmed. This is normal behavior and it will go away eventually -- I think.

Be safe in whatever you do and if you can't remember how many drinks you had -- it's too many to drive a car. Call a cab, get another ride, crash on somebody's couch -- whatever -- but don't try to run the gauntlet of cops that will be everywhere. They have a room for you and you won't like it. Plus, it will get mighty expensive before it's all over. Though the odds are with you, it's not worth the risk. The jails will be chock full of people -- cha-ching -- before the weekend is over. Don't be one of them.

On a lighter note, the Pistons just traded for a few guys and the Red Wings have a new coach. Hope springs eternal. The Tigers have been underachievers so far this year, but you never know. They could go on a run and make some noise in the playoffs before it's all over. The Lions? Well -- faces and coaches keep changing -- but it's still the Lions. Can't blame it on their long time owner anymore. But over 50 years of futility don't lie. Some things just aren't meant to be.

And Joey Chestnut will go for his tenth straight title at the Nathan's Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Sixty-some hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes? With a quart or two of water to wash them down? Amazing. From slim and trim to the nine months pregnant look in ten minutes. Betcha he doesn't drive anywhere either when his 4th of July festivities are over. And talk about morning sickness.....  We watch the spectacle but have no clue what suffering comes after. Whatever it is -- it's probably not pretty.

Regardless, happy birthday America. You're now 239 years old. Despite some of the nitwit politicians over the years, this thing just might work out yet.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Speaking of Tigers.....

Well OK. The Pittsburgh Pirates just completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Roughly half the season is over and, after all the local hype and hoopla about how great they were going to be, the Motowners find themselves at 39-39. The very definition of an average team.

The Tigers are 6 games behind the division leading KC Royals and should feel fortunate it's not worse. The Royals have been in a mini-slump losing their last 4. Detroit is also trailing Minnesota in it's own division by a few games and those pesky Cleveland Indians are only a couple more back.

At a mere .500, the Tigers are in 7th place in the wildcard race with only two spots available. Can they turn it around? Maybe, maybe not.

The Tigers have a few bright spots. Miguel Cabrera continues to be what he is. 'Nuff said. Catcher James McCann has far exceeded all expectations, at least in the short run. Outfielder J. D. Martinez keeps pounding the ball. Shortstop Jose Iglesias was supposed to be slick with the glove, but is also sporting a gaudy .330 average so far. Yoenis Cespides in left field has definitely been an upgrade over last year's whozit situation.

But they have flaws galore as well. The same Iglesias has a history of putting up a good first half of a year -- but going into the dumpster in the second half. We'll see. Despite his lofty reputation, second baseman Ian Kinsler has been underwhelming so far. Third baseman Nick Castellanos remains an enigma. He's gotten better with the glove, but has never hit major league pitching like most thought he would.

Pitching-wise David Price is the real deal, but the rest of the starters are hit and miss at best. It's now halfway through the season and former ace Justin Verlander is yet to win a single game. Anabel Sanchez can be Tom Seaver one game and a batting practice pitcher the next. Pretty much the same goes with the others. They are whoever the Tigers could procure after losing Max Scherzer to free agency and trading away a couple of former decent starters. Some days they're good -- other days it's pinball machine time.

To assert the Tigers' collective bullpen is a bit iffy is like saying there might be a few casualties if nuclear war breaks out. Let's just say these guys aren't the most reliable relievers the game has ever seen.

All in all, the Tigers are probably just about where they belong at .500. A few assets, but a few liabilities as well.

And then there's another Tiger, one Mr. Woods. He just shot a very good opening round at the Greenbriar Classic. Four under par. Greenbriar has long been known for surrendering low scores, and the early leader is at 8 under par, but a 66 is a vast improvement these days when it comes to Woods. Will he be able to hang on Friday or crash and burn again? Hard to say. But there was the obligatory press conference. Eldrick could shoot 90 or 135 for 18 holes, but the media still wants to hear his thoughts. Why this is remains a good question. The man's ranked #220 in the world. Any other American falling that far would have to go back to Q-school to regain their PGA card. But with Tiger, the fascination remains. Incredible.

To boot, the Greenbriar is pretty much a second-tier tournament on the tour. Few "big names" even showed up to play in it. The heavyweights are all getting ready for the British Open in a couple weeks. If Tiger ever had a chance to do well in a tournament, this is the one. Here's wishing him the best but, again, we'll see.

If it turns out Eldrick is in contention on the back nine on Sunday -- this would be a big deal. And OMG, if he actually were to win it -- Katie bar the door and get ready for the biggest sports media blitz in recent years. He'd be front page news. Probably get another cover on Sports Illustrated. THE KING IS BACK!!!.  Sound the trumpets, yon peasants kneel in awe, line up the endorsements and TV talking heads and put the harem on notice. Or at least another blonde girl.

But if the opposite happens and Tiger bombs out and misses the cut against a weak field in a second-class tournament, he might as well give it up. It's over. Why even bother going over to the Old Course of St. Andrews for the British Open? Just so he can be blistered by 20 or 30 shots again by the young guns?

Let's get real. What's the chances of the #220 ranked golfer in the world winning a "major"? Even making the cut is a long shot. But because it's Tiger, there will be press conferences and photo ops galore. Count on it.

One is left to objectively wonder how bad and for how long this guy has to get before the trance wears off and people come to their senses. That's not even to mention his history of boorish behavior on the course, being discourteous to fans, and his well-publicized adulterous shenanigans not long ago. But he's always the perfect gentleman when the cameras are rolling.

This is a hero? One word.

Puhleeze......

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Poor girl and sorry boys

It really is sad. During the ladies' World Cup soccer competition England had made it all the way to the semi-finals where they faced Japan. And the Brits lost because -- one of their own players accidentally kicked the ball into her own goal??? I pity the girl when she arrives back home in now not so jolly old (soccer crazy) England. Can you imagine how bad she'll be roasted by the media and citizens alike? Maybe she could hook up with Edward Snowden. Neither really did anything wrong, but they could probably sympathize with each other's plights.

An interesting recent article by Doug Ferguson of the AP. He pointed out that after Tiger Woods finished last season ranked #32 -- already quite the fall -- half way through this year Eldrick has tumbled to a bottom-feeding #220. But this is what happens when one shoots more rounds in the 80s than in the 60s and is typically 15-20 shots behind after two rounds in any given tournament. The absolute clincher? According to Ferguson, Tiger's presence at this week's Greenbriar Classic contributes no points -- as in ZERO -- to the strength of the field. Wow.

Idle thought: If Tiger gets any worse, might they consider negative impact numbers in the future when he shows up at a tourney? After all, Woods is already pre-qualified for any tournament he wishes to play in based on his illustrious past. But if he's stinking it up THIS bad at #220, he's taking the place of another higher ranked golfer that might want to play in the tournament. Typically a field is only around 150-160 guys to start with. The PGA might want to re-examine their exemption rules before this gets even more embarrassing.

Joba the Hutt (or is that Mutt?) Chamberlain entered a Detroit Tiger came earlier this evening. He promptly gave up a couple moon shot home runs to Pittsburgh Pirate batters. Granted, the Tigers' bullpen remains in a state of flux. That's one way of putting it. Another would be it's a cluster****. If Tiger starting pitchers can't go deep into games  -- they're in trouble. When will the Tigers ever figure out that there's a reason the Yankees gave Chamberlain the boot? Namely, he more closely resembles a batting practice pitcher than a reliable reliever. Mediocre fastballs and hanging breaking pitches over the middle of the plate are a recipe for diaster. Crack. There goes another one.

Know what's really odd? The Tigers considered Chamberlain a bargain at a measly million bucks a year. By today's standards that's cheap. It's also the reason ticket prices have become outrageous and you have to pay 10 bucks for a nickel's worth of cheap beer. Want to go to a game with the average family of four and enjoy yourselves while partaking in a bit of food and drink? Might have to skip a house payment. Decisions, decisions.

Then again, it's a bargain when one considers Justin Verlander. He's being paid a whopping $28,000,000 this year. It's almost half over and the fastball flakes man has yet to win a single game. There's ridiculous, absurd, preposterous, and even mind-boggling. What comes after mind-boggling? Beats me, but whatever it is, if you're going to games you're paying for it.

Idle thought II: The next time one of your local baseball reporters tells you this or that player was a bargain at a mere few million -- send them an email and ask them how much they have to pay to go watch the games.

Between the British futbol player, Tiger Woods, Joba Chamberlain, and financial albatrosses such as Verlander, tis a sorry state of affairs indeed.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wimbledon.

Serena Williams appears to be on track to win another major tennis tournament. As far and away the #1 female player in the world, it would be almost shocking if she didn't add this year's Wimbledon title to her already impressive resume. One never knows if and when an injury may occur but, barring that, Serena's been on a roll of late demolishing opponents.

That's a good thing for Americans in two ways. First, when Serena loses, we always have to listen to the whiny excuses. If it wasn't cramps, it was sunspots. Or food poisoning. Or aliens conspiring against her. It was always something. On the rare occasion Williams was defeated she could never woman-up and just admit she got beat fair and square.

The other reason is Serena Williams represents the only decent player Americans have to offer these days at the highest levels of tennis.

Look down the list of the women's rankings. The next American is her sister Venus, who's ranked 16th. While once a force, few would doubt Venus is on the back side of her bell curve. Has been for a few years. Venus can dust off a couple early round powder puff opponents in any given tournament to earn a paycheck, but she's never going to win anything of note again. Beyond VW, one can find such unnotable American names as Sloane Stevens and Madison Keys further on down the list. They're good, but there's a legion of European players that are better. When Serena hangs up her racket in a year or two, good luck waiting for the next lady American champion. It could be a while.

It's much worse on the men's side. For the most part, there's the Big Four. Novac Djovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka. A Serb, a Swiss, a Brit, and another Swiss. Yes, Rafael Nadal, a Spaniard, always lurks. But after suffering various physical ailments, or perhaps fighting off (or not) the hoard of beautiful women that would love his "companionship", his game seems to have tailed off. He's a handsome rascal and with that, plus the millions of dollars, let's just say Rafi isn't exacting hurting for Grade A female company if he so chooses.

Yes, much like Serena, Federer is towards the end of his career as well. But top-ranked Djovic could hang for a few more years, as could Wawrinka. Murray's long been a terrific player, but he mostly seems to be second best.

Thing is, the top ranked American these days is John Isner. He checks in at #17. When's the last time you heard of him winning anything? Guys named John Sock (31st) and Sam Querrey (44th) are in the rankings. Ever hear of them? For that matter, there are only 5 American male tennis players ranked in the top 100 worldwide. Like the ladies' side of the ledger, the men's rankings are chock full of European players.

So Americans would be well served to enjoy Serena Williams' success while it lasts. When Father Time comes a-calling for her tennis prowess in the near future -- as he surely will -- let's hope we won't have to listen to another world-class whine out of Serena blaming global El Nino, Tea Party advocates, or the Bruce/Caitlin thing working in tandem against her. Sometimes it's just time. Stars rise and fall and others take their place. Tiger Woods knows a little bit about that -- or at least he should.

But when Serena is gone, Americans might well find the tennis cupboard quite bare for many years to come......

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Bonehead Files. Russell Wilson

Evidently, all the rain that is typical in Seattle has leaked through Russell Wilson's scalp and waterlogged his brain. Through his agent, Wilson has made it known he wishes to be the highest paid player in the entire NFL. Not eventually. Now.

Russell seems to be a nice enough sort of guy, but this sort of grossly overvaluing his worth has earned him a place in the Bonehead Files.

Like any NFL quarterback, Wilson was great in high school. He spent 3 years at NC State playing football, and his last year was the worst. His coach had expressed concerns that Russell's dabbling in baseball was detracting from his football mentality. So they parted ways and Wilson transferred to Wisconsin. The Badgers won the Big Ten that year but got beat in the Rose Bowl by Oregon. No shame there.

Though he had put up some pretty good numbers both passing and rushing for Wisconsin, when it came NFL draft time, Wilson fell all the way to the 12th pick of the 3rd round -- 75th overall. The Seahawks needed a QB and they took a "flier" on Wilson. It's not like other teams were clamoring for his services.

As we know, that turned out well. Within a few short years, Wilson would be a Super Bowl champion. Just a few short months ago, they made it back to the Big Dance again -- but lost.

But here's the thing. The main reason why Seattle has been so good in recent years was largely due to Wilson's original rookie contract. Four years at a total of roughly $3 million. To be sure, that sounds cheap but, hey, he was only a 3rd round draft choice to begin with. Nobody expected him to be a Brady, Manning, or Rodgers. For that matter, he still isn't. Yes, he's mobile and quite accurate with his throws, but didn't his own bonehead pass likely cost the Seahawks another Super Bowl victory in the waning moments back in February?

By not having to shell out big bucks to Wilson, the Seahawks had money to spend elsewhere on terrific players. Their defense was ferocious and some guy named Marshawn Lynch seemed to be a pretty good running back, to put it mildly. It wasn't so much about Wilson leading them to victory, but more about not screwing it up. The Seahawks were loaded across the board.

Recently, they obtained All-World tight end Jimmy Graham, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, via free agency. He more than offsets the recent loss of Golden Tate to the perennial wannabe Detroit Lions.

Whether or not the Seahawks are foolish enough to give RW a mega-contract remains to be seen. But they can't have it both ways. That pesky thing called a salary cap would come into play. If they shower Wilson with money, some other high-paid players that made the team great in the first place would have to go.

Further yet, does Russell really have the audacity to think he's worth more than, say, Tom Brady? Didn't he just win another Super Bowl? And doesn't Brady have the opposite history of Wilson by getting more done with less? The Pats have a long history of either cutting or letting All-Pros get away in free agency. They'll go out and find players few ever heard of, plug them into the system, and presto, they keep winning. Forget about the recent deflategate ballyhoo. You don't beat the other team by 6 touchdowns because the footballs were (allegedly) a half pound under pressurized. It was a blowout. The vastly superior team won.

Look at it this way. If Russell Wilson had been on a lesser team for the last few years instead of the Seahawks, he might be fighting to keep his spot on the roster. He's OK, but not all THAT.

The highest paid player in the game? Get outta here Russell.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Bonehead Files. You have earned it.





Sunday, June 28, 2015

A big news week

Well, let's see. The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and upheld Obamacare. The Confederate flag is under siege and the two escapees from a New York prison have been accounted for.

The Detroit Red Wings drafted another Russian and the Pistons picked a guy named Stanley with their first choice. Let's hope he's a steamer and not one of those pesky box cutters. Regardless, the woeful Pistons are years away from being championship contenders even if everything breaks right for them in the future.

The Detroit Tigers have won a few and lost a few to remain barely above .500. They're currently 6 games behind the AL central division leading KC Royals (a whopping 8 in the loss column). Did you know that going all the way back to the 60s the Tigers have never made the playoffs when trailing by that many games at this point in the season?

No news Dept. The Detroit Lions are post OTAs/minicamps and pre-preseason. Not much going on. Like other NFL teams, they probably have 90-some guys on their roster right now. In the next couple months that will have to be pared down to 53. Cuts are a-coming. Maybe Stanley can help them out. Ahem. And why even bother paying 20-30 guys they already know don't have a prayer of making the final roster?  It's just more laundry to do and mouths to feed. A total waste of time and money.

All quiet on the Michigan/Michigan State football front -- for now. But you just know that will kick into hyper-gear in a few weeks. Everybody wants to see how new UM coach Jim Harbaugh's team will stack up against the proven Spartans of Mark Dantonio. We'll all find out on Oct. 17 when they lock horns in Ann Arbor. Thing is, it might not even matter. Coming off a national championship, the dreaded Buckeyes from Ohio State appear to still be the class of the Big 10, or 14, or whatever they are. And what's with that anyway? How can a conference still call itself the Big 10 when they have 14 teams?

The US ladies soccer team will finally face some serious competition. They've barely eked by during their "group stage" and the first two games of the knock-out phase against much lesser opponents. Now they've reached the semi-finals and have to play the big girls. We'll see.

Phil Jackson thought he deserved a few votes as Executive of the Year for presiding over the NY Knicks? Really? Weren't they pretty much pitiful all the way around last season? PJ's long been known for his triangle offense. Recently in Madison Square Garden that has consisted of Carmelo Anthony, who can't even spell "defense" let alone play it, and a courtside yappy chihuahua named Spike Lee. The third side of the triangle seems to be missing. Like, you know, putting a decent team on the floor. Phil, Carmelo and Spike more closely resemble Larry, Moe and Curly than any sort of respectable NBA triumvirate. Nyuk nyuks where appropriate.

Lebron James and Kevin Love opted out of their contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Interesting. Might they be headed elsewhere? Probably not. It appears as if both are willing to rework their deals to make cap space so the Cavs can sign another mega-player and possibly win a championship. In other words, take a cut in pay to make the team better. Horrors!! If true, whoever heard of such a thing with modern day athletes? Then again, what's the difference between making $20 million or 15? It's still an obscene amount of money. How many fancy houses, boats and cars do they need anyway?

Last but not least, still no word from Roger Goodell and his minions over Tom Brady's appeal of his deflategate suspension. What, pray tell, is the hold up? All the evidence and testimony are in. Nothing's going to change. So get on with it already. Make the call and we'll see what happens next.