Thursday, September 21, 2017

You know you stink when.....

You're the Detroit Tigers.

If it wasn't already obvious, now even the ever-politically correct pundits are piling on. No, they won't come right out and say it like yours truly just did, but it's clear enough.

Consider the playoff chase in the American League. Houston and Cleveland are locks. Barring a monumental collapse, so is Boston. The NY Yankees appear to have all but nailed down one of the wild card spots. Yet the Tigers were mentioned regarding the second, and final wild card spot.

No, they don't have a prayer, having been eliminated long ago. Did I mention they stink?

Yet the Motown puddy-tats have a role to play. It's called patsies, whipping boys, baseball's version of the Washington Generals -- like that.

The final playoff berth is currently occupied by the Minnesota Twins. But only a few games behind lurk the LA Angels, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Texas, KC, and Seattle. They're all still theoretically in the hunt should the Twins falter.

But the usual gang of idiots, excuse me, experts, have proclaimed the Twins will indeed capture the coveted post-season spot.

Why? Because of their remaining dozen games or so, seven of them are against, yup, you guess it, the lowly Tigers. It's like these games are walk-overs -- automatic Ws.

[BTW, in the opener, the Twins pummeled the Tigers 12-1.]

Detroit has gotten so bad as to be embarrassing. If thirty games under .500 (it might be 40 before the season is over) and apparently dead set on finishing last in the American League (if not the entire majors) isn't bad enough, consider what they've put on the field in recent times.

Of their starting pitchers, NONE has more wins than losses. When the bullpen inevitably is called into action after the starter has been rocked, things get even worse. It's little exaggeration to say they're throwing batting practice to the opposing teams.

They dumped their top pitcher for "prospects", and the other half-way decent one (though he was under .500 as well) is lost for the season with arm problems. Possibly of the Tommy John variety. If so, he'll likely be lost for next year as well.

Also shipped out were their three best hitters this year. More of the dreaded prospects came in return.

They have a couple aging players that were once very good, even excellent. Alas, they've zoomed onto the back sides of their bell curves of late. These guys are grossly overpaid and underperforming to the point where no other team will touch them, even without having to give any players or prospects in return. So the Tigers are stuck with them.

Manager Brad Ausmus, who once used to spit through his teeth every five seconds or so for no apparent reason, appears to be appalled to the point where his mouth has gone dry. Poor Brad knows he's gone after this season mercifully ends. But it doesn't matter who the Tigers bring in to replace him. Short of deity -- see miracles -- a mere mortal will be inheriting the same rag-tag bunch.

Add it all up and what do you have?

Not sure, but it ain't pretty, which brings me back to the title (and first sentence) of this post. See above.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Detroit Lions and my ex-wife

I wouldn't have found out until a bit later, while laying in bed watching the late night version of Sportscenter on ESPN, but evidently the Detroit Lions won the Monday night game over the NY Giants.

How do I know this? Because while catching up on AOL news (and playing a few games of Free Cell) a message came in. So I clicked on it.

The way the powers that be set up this blog (stuff way over my kindergarten computer head), any comment on a post, new or old, is immediately relayed to yours truly as an email. It's a pretty cool feature.

This particular message happened to come from a reader named Mach. I have no idea who Mach is, not even whether it's a man or a woman. But he/she is an occasional commenter (nemesis? LOL) and evidently a Detroit Lions fan.

Nothing wrong with that. I used to be as well. But after faithfully rooting for them for decades, not to mention going to countless games and spending a boat load of money, I'd finally had enough of their losing ways. So when Barry Sanders took a hike almost 20 years ago -- so did I.

Yes, I was there in the Silverdome when the Lions trashed the Dallas Cowboys 38-6 for their only playoff win in the Super Bowl era. I've never heard anything so loud in my life.

Thing is, I don't regret it one bit. I honestly don't know how much money I haven't spent on them in the last couple decades, but it's a lot. Also, I totally gave up rooting for them.

Yet there was Mach's message, I think trying to rub in the fact that the Lions had prevailed. He/she was doing some big time cyber-cheering.

And that's fine. To each their own.

But the truth of the matter is I really don't care about the Lions any more. Haven't for a long time.

There have been many people over the years, including my boss, sometimes known as an editor, that keep telling me I'm going to regret it when the Lions finally win a Super Bowl, because I jumped off the bandwagon.

They are wrong, if indeed that were to happen, which I still highly doubt.

To me, it would be like my ex-wife getting remarried. Sure, if it had happened just a few months, or maybe even a year or two after we split, it might have generated some form of sorrow on my part. Maybe. I honestly don't know, because it didn't happen -- at least to my knowledge.

But after a few years, let alone the ten or eleven, whatever, its now been, all such potential feelings get completely nulled out. Like the Lions, I don't like her or dislike her. They're both just out there somewhere.

What they do is absolutely no concern of mine. Over is over. Finito.

So for all Lions fans, including that pesky Mach, by all means do whatever yanks your proverbial crank. Keep rooting for them, if you wish. That's fine too. I was in that boat once myself and had a lot of good times doing so. But over the years I just couldn't take the annual frustration any more. So I walked, as mentioned above.

Were the Lions to actually win the Super Bowl, I have little doubt the city of Detroit would celebrate like it never has before. The Lions claiming the Vince Lombardi trophy would generate excitement and partying that would dwarf those seen when the Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings won championships.

And maybe they will some day, perhaps even this year, though I'll believe it when I hear about it, because I don't watch them any more nowadays any more than I keep tabs on my ex.

I would wish those that "hung in there" nothing but joy.

Personally, it would be just another day to me. No biggy.

Because once and for all -- again -- I......just..... don't...... care. I did my time as a faithful soldier and then decided to move on to other things. And hey, besides the money, what's two decades of NOT being frustrated worth?

Again, no regrets whatsoever, and that won't change if the Lions do the seemingly impossible.

Do you hear me Mach/boss/world?

Oh, and thanks for the idea Mach. I was kind of stumped what to write about tonight. That worked out just fine. LOL

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Golovkin/Alvarez. Say what?

No, I didn't pony up the 100 bucks to watch the Mayweather/McGregor "fight" for a couple reasons.

Yes, I could have afforded it but, hey, a C-note is a C-note. That can buy a week's worth of groceries and/or a couple tanks of gas. Besides, who to root for? Both are pompous arrogant asses. The good news was -- one of them had to lose. It's goes without saying what the bad news was. We know how that turned out. And I'd like to think most would agree it was more a spectacle than a true competition between pugilists.

But the Golovkin/Alvarez fight was different. These are two world class boxers that went into the fight with a combined 86-1 record. And at a "discounted" $80 it was mighty tempting. Yet in the end yours truly didn't click on the "buy" button for this one either (though I had my finger on it for a while wavering back and forth).

Thing is, I'm so very glad I didn't, because I would have been outraged.

After all the build up and hype -- it ends in a draw?

So basically the $30 million or so generated by the paying fans one way or the other was for naught? As in nothing was accomplished? Like it never happened? Preposterous.

You just know there will have to be a re-match and the whole charade will play itself out again.

This should NOT have been allowed to happen.

Boxing and its rules are stupid enough already without having championship matches end in a tie. It's an insult -- slap in the face -- to those that traveled to watch it live or ponied up the bucks to watch it on pay-per-view.

Surely there must be a way to avoid such a thing happening again.

Speaking of obtuse, why is it that the famed "10 point must system" whereby the judges have to give the winner of each round 10 points isn't scored more realistically? OK, if a round if fairly close, score it 10-9. But if a guy gets knocked down or otherwise beaten up throughout those three minutes, they only score it 10-8. That's wrong. Depending on how lop-sided the round is, score it 10-6, 10-3, or even 10-0. What's wrong with that?

Second, we've all heard how some judges can go back at the end of the fight and change their scoring for earlier rounds. That smacks of potential corruption, so eliminate it.

Third, boxing is the only sport where nobody knows what the score is until it's all over. So post the scores on a scoreboard like every other sport does throughout the fight. The fighters, their corners, the fans both at the arena and at home will know, round by round, who's ahead and behind. Once the score is locked in by each of the ring-side judges after every round, we wouldn't have to listen to all the speculation/blather, which is usually wrong, about who's winning. It's right up there on the board for everybody to see.

[Idle thought. Some claim if a fighter knew he was hopelessly behind, he might "mail it in". Perhaps. But if a baseball team is down 10 runs in the ninth inning, they don't just walk off and forfeit. They play it out. And you never know when a spectacular rally and/or knockout might happen.]

Finally, if the totals of the judges amount to a draw after 12 rounds of boxing, do what all the teams in other sports do. Call it extra innings or overtime. In the case of boxing, a 13th round, which the judges would be prohibited from ruling as a 10-10 round. They have to pick one or the other.

End of fight and we would have a winner. Hey, championship fights used to go a full 15 rounds in the old days, so I don't want to hear about how a potential 13th round would exactly be the end of the world.

One way or the other, this "draw" stuff has got to go. Drawing is for artists, chess players, and old-time gunslingers -- not boxers.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

More idle thoughts

You can't help but laugh at some of the TV commercials these days. See one that claims the participants are "real people" -- not actors.

Well OK. But by just doing the ad -- see reading a script someone else wrote --they BECAME actors. Second, it implies actors aren't REAL people. So what are they? Cyborgs? Aliens? Cocker spaniels?

Just when you think it can't get any worse department.

It's no secret the Detroit Tigers have waved the white flag of contending and gone into full-blown rebuild mode. They've dumped their best pitcher and three best hitters.

But holy cow. They just got absolutely pounded by the last place White Sox who put up 17 runs while pounding out a whopping 25 hits, and left another dozen or so on base?  If there was ever a case for the "mercy rule" being applied to Major League baseball games -- this would be it.

It's an oft-used cliche, but the Tiger pitchers, one after the other, appeared to be throwing batting practice indeed.

The Tigers have not only gone from bad to terrible, they're downright embarrassing these days.

And don't look now, but those same Chisox are only a single game behind the Motown puddy-tats for last place in the entire American League, with still a few games left to go in the current series.

Tiger manager Brad Ausmus surely knows he's gone after this season mercifully ends. He probably can't wait for it to get over.

Watching the Tigers these days is like watching a rock thrown out of a high flying plane. Down, down, down it goes, picking up speed on the way. The only thing that remains is the thud (see the conclusion of the regular season) at the end. Pitiful.

Along the same line, here's a question. How is it that Marvin Lewis continues to keep his job as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals?

Year after year they've stunk it up.

They just turned in another yawn-fest, bonehead game, at home, against the Houston Texans, who aren't very good themselves. Another loss. Like their feline cousin Tigers, the Bengals don't look like they can beat anybody either. Every facet of their game is sub-par, and that's being kind.

Lewis, and by extension his staff, are clearly clueless what to do about it.

So why, tell me why, does the Cincinnati ownership/front office (notice I won't use the phrase "brain trust", because it would be laughable) keep sticking with him?

He's proven over time, years and years, that he's WAY over his head as an NFL head coach.

It's shameful.

Of course, if the good people of Cincinnati are dumb enough to keep ponying up big bucks out of their hard-earned money to watch such a clown show at the stadium -- they should be ashamed of themselves too.

Maybe that clueless thing is contagious.

Lord knows Detroit Lions' fans have had a bad case of it for over half a century.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dodgers and Indians

True, the stat geeks always seem to coming up with trivia from hell that nobody much cares about. I mean, who gives a rat's behind about some guy/girl being only the first player in history from Peoria with a grandma name Gertrude that came in third at a golf tournament, or had a top-ten finish at a NASCAR race? Things like this are where expressions such as TMI and gag me with a spoon originated.

But every once in a while, something truly noteworthy happens. Who saw Broadway Joe knocking off the mighty Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III? Or the OJ murder verdict? Or the results of the last presidential election? Definitely stuff to sit up and take notice of.

Along those lines, enter the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians.

For a while, it appeared as if the Dodgers were going to steam-roll their way to the best regular season record of all time. Then the wheels fell off.

They are the only team in Major League Baseball history to have compiled a 15-1 winning streak with a 1-15 losing streak in the same season. Super hot early -- super cold of late. Maybe they roll into the World Series and actually win it. Or maybe they get bounced early in the playoffs. If you're a betting person, good luck trying to figure out the odds on the LA-LA Landers chances of success.

On the other side were the Cleveland Indians. Remember, they came within a whisker of winning the Series last year. Only a late rally by the Cubbies finally did them in. Given the Chicago north-siders hadn't won a WS in over 100 years, how could anybody begrudge them finally getting that monkey off their backs? This was a good thing.

Yet despite returning so much talent this year, the Indians struggled to be only a .500 team in the early months of 2017.

Yours truly often wondered.... What's wrong with these guys? They're clearly better than everybody else in their division, so how come they're not winning more games? A hangover from the heartbreak of the 2016 WS isn't supposed to last THIS long.

And then finally it kicked in. When you've got the best starting rotation in all of baseball, team speed, hitters galore, a lights out bullpen, a manager that's been there done that, and terrific defense all over the field, it just HAD to happen eventually.

But nobody saw a now 20-game winning streak ever happening either.

Thing is, the Dodgers had amassed such a great lead that even going into a funk for the last month wouldn't derail their playoff eligibility. They'll be there.

If they get hot again in October, like earlier in the year -- look out. Could happen.

Conversely, Cleveland may have peaked just a tad early. Can they keep this going for the next six weeks? Likely not.

And if after being so hot they revert to being cold when it matters most, well, who knows? Sure, they're a lock for the post-season as well, but good luck trying to sort THAT scenario out too.

It's baseball. The last place team can beat the first place team on any given day. It happens all the time.

Throw in the Houston Astros, who were already a terrific team from top to bottom having added former Detroit Tiger pitcher Justin Verlander to their rotation, and who would dare count them out?

The wild card races in both leagues remain very interesting with lots of teams still having a legitimate shot to get there. If any of them can reel off a .700 winning percentage for the last 20 games or so -- they're probably in. If any slip to .400 -- they're probably out. And lots of them will play each other before the playoff field is finally set.

And who knows? Some team that snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season just might wind up winning it all.

Yet for my money, the current winning streak aside, methinks the Cleveland Indians are the most talented team, top to bottom, of them all.

But that doesn't mean they're going to win it. They could get bounced early as well.

All it takes is one short slump, and yer outta here when the post-season starts.

Regardless, this has been quite a year in Major League Baseball.

And that Stanton guy from the Miami Marlins might just hit over 60 homers with nary a whisper of the once dreaded steroids.

Pity the mighty NFL, always the gorilla in the sports room, has cranked up another season. And the roundy-round boys and girls of NASCAR are about to enter their "chase" (playoff) races.

These will certainly detract from baseball viewership.

Still, all in all, pretty good stuff from the stick and ball folks.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Lions and Nats. Another year

Detroit football fans are celebrating. HURRAY!!!  They managed to defeat the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener. So-called wunderkind QB Matthew Stafford will no doubt be hailed as a hero once again. After all, the "come-back kid" pulled another one out.

Thing is, Arizona's not a very good team. For that matter, neither are the Lions. They remain horribly flawed in several areas. But a win is a win, dad gum it, and let another season of the usual misguided Honolulu blue and silver mania begin.

Yet the brutal truth is inescapable. The Lions aren't going anywhere this year, any more than they have in the last several decades. To think they are even remotely capable of contending for a championship this time around is pure folly.

But the suckers buy in every year. The "one born every minute" adage of P. T. Barnum seems to be in their collective DNA.

Matthew Stafford himself represents the classic good news/bad news scenario. He just re-upped with the Motown puddy-tats for another five years.

The good news is, the modern day Georgia Peach is financially set for life. Likely so are his kids and grand kids, if he ever has any. He's rolling in dough.

The bad news is, he just kissed any chance of winning a Super Bowl good-bye. By the time this contract expires, his "prime" years will be in the rear view mirror. And it ain't gonna happen in Detroit given their history, current situation, and projected future. They're light years away from being taken seriously as contenders.

The Lions may show flashes once in a great while, but overall they are, and have always been perhaps a C- team.

2017 will be no different. Lead em on. Then let em down. A sure as it gets cold in Detroit in the winter, you just KNOW it's going to happen -- again.

On another even more pitiful front are the Washington Nationals.

They just clinched the National League East. Pop, pop, pop, went the champagne bottles in the locker room afterwards.

Never mind that the rest of the teams in that division are pretty much awful. Between Miami, NY Mets, Atlanta, and Philly, none of them are within 5 games of even sporting a .500 record.

And like the Lions, you just KNOW the Nats will lead em on, only to let em down -- again. They'll choke in the postseason, because it's just what they do. Always have. Talent galore, but their collars always get super-tight in October.

See wunderkind pitcher Stephen Strasburg pitch another gem. This dude has some fabulous "stuff". He can bring 100 MPH heat and has a devastating breaking ball as well.

Alas, he's like the aforementioned Matthew Stafford used to be. A proverbial china doll waiting to break.

Can anybody remember the last time he made it through an entire season without injuring one part or another on his body? Especially his throwing arm?

And hey, there's still 20 games left. Plenty of time for him to go on the injured list, and don't be surprised if it happens -- again. Unfortunately, that appears to be in HIS DNA as well. Lead em on, then go on sick leave while still collecting millions, and the team collapses like a house of cards when Hurricane October hits.

It remains truly amazing how fans of both these teams continue to believe -- year, after year, after yet another decade, after having been led down the proverbial primrose path for so long, with a hammer waiting to hit them in the head at the end of it -- every year.

Hey, y'all go for it, if that's what yanks your crank.

Be happy, if even for a short while -- again.

But you just know what's going to eventually happen.

Or at least should by now.

Some things just aren't meant to be......

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The usual dreary Big 10 football

It was somewhat surprising Michigan would open the season against a worthy opponent such as Florida, at a neutral site of course. After a semi-impressive win, they got back to their old ways. Scheduling patsies before the conference season begins -- at home, of course. Cincinnati? Really?

Ohio State, the former #2 team in the country, just got blasted at home by a pretty good, if boring Oklahoma team. Hey, when one team controls both sides of the line of scrimmage throughout, it's a pretty safe bet they'll come out on top. Let's not forget these are the same Buckeyes that marched into the football playoffs last year, only to be absolutely obliterated by Clemson. Their #2 ranking was a sham to begin with this year. Kiss that goodbye, by a long shot. They'll be lucky to remain in the top 10 after such a woeful performance against the Sooners.

Elsewhere, the usual mighty Alabama should be ashamed of themselves. They might well be the #1 team in the country -- again. So why is it they load up their pre-conference schedule with patsies as well? Fresno State? Really? Maybe the Campfire Girls had a previous commitment they couldn't get out of to make the trip to Tuscaloosa and suit up against the Tide. Of course Nick Saban and company have never been much at being even remotely capable of shame.

It appears Penn State is back, Good for them. After the horrors that program went through with the boy-toy sexual scandal a while back, it's nice to see them thriving again.

In my opinion, the perennial sad-sacks of the Big 10 -- actually 14 -- but who's counting? -- should be relegated to a lower division, much like what happens in European soccer. If a team hasn't been able to compete for a few years, ship them down a level and bring the best ones of the lower tiers up. Do you hear me Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, and Northwestern?  Rutgers and Maryland are still going through their probationary period, but it's not looking good for them either. This was the Big 10's genius idea of expanding their audience all the way to the east coast.

Here's a thought. Other than the financial windfall (see TV and conference sharing money) that comes with it, nobody out there cares about the Big 10. True, Maryland recently went into yee-hah land and knocked off Texas. LOL. But they'll get blistered in the conference before the season is over, and Rutgers remains the weak sisters they always were. Who's kidding who?

And why, somebody tell me WHY, the Big 10 insists on keeping the same name, when they've expanded to 12, and now 14 teams? Can't they count? This might not be the best conference to spend countless thousands of dollars sending one's mathematically gifted child to in order to further their education.

If anybody seriously thinks ANY team in the Big 10 -- 14 -- whatever -- is capable of competing for a national title any year soon in football -- they've either drank way, WAY too much of the Big 10 Kool-aid, or stared too long at the sun during the recent eclipse -- without proper eye protection.

They're either hopelessly inebriated or have the vision of, say, Stevie Wonder.

In the meantime, and for the foreseeable future, the Big 10 may offer an exciting moment here and there.

But for the most part, it remains dreary football compared with so many others around the country.