Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Suh's penalty not enough

Ndahmukong Suh of the Detroit Lions was just suspended for 2 games due to his actions against a Green Bay player on Thanksgiving. Eveybody's seen the replay countless times, so no need to get into the particulars of what happened.

I don't think it's nearly enough. Remember, in only a year and a half as a pro, Suh's already accumulated quite a "rap sheet" for such behavior. It's not like he's a first time offender, by any means. The word "habitual" comes to mind, and we all know, Lindsay Lohan aside, what usually happens to habitual offenders when it comes sentencing time. They get the hammer, and deservedly so. Besides, LL seems to have issues with substance abuse, while Suh seems to have a problem with attempted maimings. Quite a difference.

At that, one is left to wonder what might have happened. When he picked up a quarterback and threw him head-first to the ground, what if the guy broke his neck and died or was paralzyed? Same thing with twisting off a helmet on another guy. If that helmet had stayed intact, something in the neck had to give. That could have been an instant fatality. Would he have been punished more if either of those guys had suffered catastrophic injury, or even died? On a lesser note -- when he stomped on the Packer's arm, had the guy suffered torn ligaments or tendons, nerve damage, or any other injury that could have ended his season, if not his career -- would Suh have been suspended for more than just 2 games? Nobody knows.

You might say, you're crazy Leach. None of that happened and shoulda, woulda, coulda doesn't count. I would disagree.

If you shoot at somebody, but you miss? That's attempted murder. Attempted kidnapping, but the plot is foiled. Attempted rape, but the woman gets away. Attempted armed robbery, but you don't get any goods. What normally happens in any of those scenarios? The perp gets a lengthy prison term even though, technically, nobody got hurt. If he/she has a prior history of such behavior -- they'll go away for a very long time.

Given Suh's track record, yours truly thinks he should have been put out for the rest of the 2011-2012 season, playoffs or not. In the meantime, he can go back to New York and have another talk with Roger Goodell and/or his representatives in such matters, just to make sure he "gets it".  If he came back next year and pulled another goon stunt, put him out for a full calendar year. After that, if he was even stilled wanted, and came back yet again, only to commit another act of thuggery -- then he would have proven himself incorrigible and deserving of a lifetime ban. Bye.

Certainly not in Suh's defense -- but I've never bought into the remorse thing. It never used to be that way. If you do the crime -- you do the time. Remorse is optional. When the time's up, you got out. Period. If it was an accident, you obviously didn't mean for it to happen anyway, so what's the necessity of showing remorse? Sympathy for the victim? Sure, but it was an accident. Why should the defendant have to beg for forgiveness over something they never wanted to happen anyway? It's all about apologizing and begging these days, and who one can get to believe it -- and I'll never buy into that. The powers that be want folks to "man-up" and admit their wrongdoings, but then attempt to break them down into snivelling wimps to get off a little easier -- which, in the the end, only makes it harder, and I find something horribly wrong with that picture.

Of course, in Suh's case, these are no accidents. It's deliberate. To me, whether he shows remorse or not is irrelevant, but it's about time he got introduced to the hammer.

He's appealing the 2 game suspension? On what grounds? He has a history and the tape doesn't lie. Maybe he hopes to get it reduced to one. If I was the guy in charge of deciding this, I'd say, "Upon further review, the call is reversed. The suspension will now be for the duration of the season".

See ya next year, Ndammy. Straighten up.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The NBA. A better way

Before anything else, if you're an NBA fan, and have been following whatever news came out of the negotiations for the last couple of months -- I highly recommend you check out Phil Taylor's article on the back page of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. Though it's fictitious -- it's really funny, especially the parts about David Stern. Bravo to PT.

That said, it appears they have at least a tentative deal in place and if both sides approve it, and the lawyers go into warp speed drafting up the fine print, it looks like we're going to have pro hoops this year after all.

Owners have been losing money and players have been losing money. Businesses, their employees, concessionaires, parking lot attendants -- you name it -- they've all been losing money. Who's been saving money? Joe and Jane fan. Regardless of the temptation, they weren't able to skip a house payment to go see a game. Hmmm. Guess there's a couple ways of looking at this.....

Unlike the NFL management/union stand-off a while back, which had the whole country in an uproar, this one pretty much flew under the radar. The masses didn't care. The media will normally go crazy shining a spotlight on Justin Bieber if he gets a zit, but they were ominously subdued about the NBA snafu. You'd think that would tell those people something.

By most accounts, a shortened season will start around Christmas. This is where the "better way" comes in.

Why not start their season about that time every year?  The NBA, like the NHL, has always taken a back seat while the gorilla in the room, the NFL, is playing anyway. Instead of the NBA finishing off their season in June, why not finish it up in August every year? From June to August, barring a weekly NASCAR race, and an occasional golf or tennis tournament that's worth watching -- there's nothing going on anyway except baseball entering it's midseason "dog days" of summer. The June-August window would give the NBA prime exposure with little competition to worry about. Better yet, by the time they crowned a champ in August, the NFL would be coming on board again. Perfect.

Except for the Detroit Pistons. While my heart goes out to those that may be adversely affected -- even if the contract is approved -- do they REALLY have to play? I mean -- what's the point? They're going to get drilled like a newfound oil reservoir in Texas. What's worse is the Palace is a dry well right now. Yours truly doesn't understand why hired hands will get paid millions when they can't produce any Texas tea.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Smokies and bandits

I think it started in the south somewhere. Maybe with Paul "Bear" Bryant of Alabama. I'm talking about the "smokies" on the field escorting coaches around after a football game.

It used to be it was maybe a couple skinny guys that reminded one of Barney Fife doing a little moonlighting. Not any more. Nowadays, there's some beefy skin-headed brutes out there that look like they belong in the World Wrestling Federation.

You know who I'm talking about. The guys with the flat-brimmed hats, Popeye arms, and drill sergeant attitudes that one would normally expect to be hiding behind an interstate overpass with their radar on and their CBs tuned to channel 19. Yeah, those guys. And it's no longer just a southern phenomena -- they're everywhere -- at every game -- from football powerhouse universities all the way down to the lowliest Podunk State. Which raises a few questions.....

First, who's paying for these guys at the games? If it's the home university, then somebody's double-dipping somewhere because they're already on the taxpayer rolls. Conversely, if they're assigned there by their sergeant, captain, chief, whatever, then the taxpayers are getting ripped off. Instead of being out catching criminals, these guys are watching a football game for a few hours -- just so they can escort some coach off the field when it's over. No matter how heated the team rivalry might be -- has anybody ever heard of renegade fans attacking a coach after a game? Not me. Which leads me to....

What if it DID happen? The home team just suffered a beatdown by an archrival, with the opposing coach running up the score to rub it in, and the players dancing and mocking the crowd to the point where the fans anger boiled over into riot mode. What then?

If only a few crazy fans ran onto the field -- the whole team of highly-conditioned football players, in full pads, helmets, and all, wouldn't just sit around and watch their coach get abused. They'd handle it.

Yet if a few thousand torqued-up maniacs came pouring onto the field with mayhem on their minds -- what good are the "smokies" going to be anyway? They'd be overwhelmed in a matter of seconds. The dumbest thing they could probably do would be get belligerent and start with the mace and pepper spray. I don't know what would happen to them -- but it wouldn't be good.

So what's the point in their presence there?

They're like Barney Fife with an unloaded gun and only one bullet in his pocket. If a true emergency arises, they're useless anyway.

Better they should do something to earn their keep.

Best case scenario?

Since Andy retired, I hear Mayberry's grown up some, and is looking for a new sheriff and a few deputies these days.

Want perks? Talk to Opie. He just might be able to get them in the movies.

Beats sneaking around under overpasses too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Conrad Dobler vs Ndamukong Suh

Old timers will remember Conrad Dobler. He was a right guard for the St. Louis Cardinals football team back in the 70's. Born in Chicago, drafted out of the University of Wyoming, and played next to a right tackle named Dan Dierdorf, of University of Michigan and announcing fame.

Back in his heyday, he was known as the dirtiest player in the NFL. This is a guy that had no qualms about slugging Mean Joe Greene, and kicking Merlin Olsen in the head, amongst other stunts. A few of his quotes over the years ---

You know how defensive linemen jump up with their hands in the air to knock down passes? Every time I saw one do that, I'd punch him in the solar plexus. That would keep their hands down.

I only bit one guy: Doug Sutherland of the Minnesota Vikings. He got his fingers through my face mask and I don't think they were there to stroke my mustache. So I bite one finger in my life, and I don't even chew on it. The legend grew from there. It's almost like I'm worse than Jeffrey Dahmer.

My father gave me a piece of advice: Never buy anything that eats while you sleep.

I like tits. If women had three, it would be even better.

Never get into a pissing match with a skunk.

One game I knocked the crap out of Merlin Olsen. If you wanted to see it on instant replay, you had to go to the kitchen because I knocked him so far out of the TV frame....... It's been twenty years since I played him, and I'm still on his f---ing mind. And I like that.

If it flies, floats, or f---s, rent it.

On an alliterative note -- proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance.

Pain is a state of mind.

And maybe the best one? 

Some people get vasectomies. I used to give 'em.

What's this have to do with anything? Enter Ndahmukong Suh of the Detroit Lions, currently regarded as the dirtiest player in the NFL.

His coaches and teammates have talked to him. The NFL has repeatedly fined him and even counselled him in person about changing his ways. Nothing changed. An old-fashioned trip to the woodshed for a good whupping will never happen, although it's an interesting thought.

No, there's only one way Suh will wake up and smell the personal fouls. In a perfect world, there would be a few Doblers in the NFL, that Suh would have to line up across from. Guys just a strong, just as dirty, that also couldn't care less about public perception. Granted, the NFL would cringe at the thought -- but the fans would absolutely love it. Tell me the talking heads on TV wouldn't drool over such a scenario, and I'll tell you you're wrong.

In other words, a healthy dose of his own medicine. I'm thinking that after just one game against someone like Dobler, Suh would have a whole new way of looking at things.

As Conrad might have said -- You want to cheap shot one of my guys? OK. Hope you never wanted to have any kids. Remember that bit about vasectomies and skunks? Let's get it on.....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cool Hand Luke and Ndamukong Suh

Like the man said -- "What we have HERE is a failure to communicate".

If he's not summoned for his latest bit of thuggery, it might not be a bad idea for Suh to ask for another audience with the NFL honchos in NY. Only this time, both sides should bring interpreters, because it seems somewhat obvious they weren't speaking the same language last time.

Even the staunchest Detroit Lion fan would have to concede Suh's actions in the Green Bay game were far, FAR, out of bounds. Sure, his team was getting beat. Sure, he was frustrated. But he's also a professional and, as such, should know the difference between a football game and a bar fight.

In a football game, one doesnt't grab an opponent who, by the way, doesn't even have the ball, wrestle him to the ground like a rodeo calf, jump on his back, pound his head into the turf a few times and, just for good measure, stomp on him as he's walking away. Not that it should matter, but this all occured in the most hyped game the Lions have played in for many many years. It was the only NFL game going on at the time, hence enjoying a monopoly of pro football TV fans, on a national holiday, was broadcast world-wide, and no doubt had an audience in the hundreds of millions of viewers. Rest assured, the above honchos in NY were watching as well.

And he pulls THAT sort of stunt? Well, good luck with the fine that's coming, because it will be hefty. Being suspended isn't totally out of the realm of possibility either. The NFL is very image conscious these days, and giving them a black eye in one of their showcase games will not sit well with them.

It seems Ndamukong and Luke have/had some other things in common. I wouldn't doubt for a second Suh could eat 50 eggs, but he's going to have to learn, like Luke did, that "I'm shaking the bush, Boss" thing will only be tolerated so far. Likewise, it appears Suh keeps digging a hole with his "goon play" and filling it back in with talent. Think what you will, but I suspect, like Luke's bosses, Ndamukong's superiors in NY will win this battle in the end. He's like an incoming warhead on their radar screen right now, and this sort of thing has to be eliminated -- or at least neutralized. They'll wear him out, and if he still won't abide by the rules, he'll BE out.

On a related note, Suh had stated in the days leading up to the game that the Packers, their 10-0 record aside, weren't perfect. Indeed they're not, but they're vastly superior to the team Suh plays on --  from top to bottom, and I dare say at every position on the field.

Think about it. Who do the Lions have that could "start" for the Packers? Stafford displacing Rodgers? Please. Running backs? Linebackers? The defensive secondary? Tight ends? The offensive line? Kickers? Coaches? Schwartz vs McCarthy? One's a defending Super Bowl champion that hasn't lost a game for the last calendar year. He's humble. The other has a 15-28 record as a head coach. He's got swagger. Hello? Even the FANS own the Packers, as opposed to a seriously elderly gentleman that inherited a car company, and makes an appearance about as often as Haley's comet.

Calvin Johnson, you say? Maybe. He's terrific in Detroit, but in Green Bay he'd be just another receiver. They're loaded at that position.

Suh himself? The Packers would never tolerate such a lack of discipline. That's just another reason they're so good. He would have either straightened up his act by now or been gone, likely traded elsewhere for a high draft pick. In years past, the Oakland Raiders would have seemed a perfect fit for him, because they prided themselves on taking in misfits and mavericks. But Al Davis, their principal owner for decades, who championed such a philosophy, recently passed away. Though some of their fans continue to revel in the skull and crossbones mentality, the Raiders have actually quietly been shifting from gangstas to professionals for several years now. Would another team be interested in Suh? Maybe, if they were willing to take on all the negative baggage (media attention) he would bring. It's doubtful that a perennial contender, especially one that values it image, would take a chance on that. Maybe a team that has nothing to lose by trying it. In another words, a lousy one.

If Suh keeps persisting in his bull-headed ways, another line from that movie comes to mind.

"I'm taking it off, Boss".

His shirt? Close. It might end up being his NFL jersey. Any jersey. Forever. And given his talent, that would be a shame.

Like Luke, Suh will be polite and say "yes sir" and "no sir" to the right people, when the occasion calls for it, but when it comes right down to it, he just has to do his own thing.

And we all know what happened to Luke in the end.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lions and Packers

A lot of other people have sounded off with a various number of reasons why the Lions can beat the Packers on Turkey Day. Offense, defense, QB play here, pressure there, special teams, home field crowd hyped to the max, biggest game in years -- you name it.

Slice it, dice it, and analyze it any which way you want, but in the end, only one thing matters.

The team that scores the most points -- wins. Period.

Methinks that will be the Packers.

Like they say, the battle is not always to the strongest nor the race to the swiftest -- but that's the way to bet.


Here's giving thanks for a lot of things.

For my parents. Enough said.

Some people say health. Yours truly says for being born in the first place, arguably human, in the US of A, and having lived through a lot of things I probably shouldn't have.

For all the good people I've met along the way, because they made life so much better.

For all the bad people I've come across because, in a sense, I learned from them.

For all the friends I care a great deal about, and can only hope they feel the same way towards me.

Even for my ex, bless her little heart. I think.

For my beloved yorkies, that I wouldn't trade for any amount of money.

Even for that nosy neighbor of mine, who I really wish would get a life and stop spying on everybody, because it could probably be worse, but I'm not sure how.

For a roof over my head and enough other stuff to get me by.

Especially for being fortunate enough to experience a lot of things many others never will -- both good and bad.

For whatever tomorrow brings, because if I wake up -- it's a good day. Some won't. Check the obits. If you're in there, it's a very bad sign.

Finally, begrudgingly, even for that no good, dirty rotten scoundrel of a sports editor -- one Jeff Kuehn -- that somehow talked me into this blogging mess in the first place.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NASCAR. The way it should be

Congrats to Tony Stewart, new king of NASCAR. The final race to determine a champion in Homestead, Fla, featured a lot of things.

Carl Edwards, the points leader going in, qualified first and sat on the pole. Meanwhile, Tony Stewart started way back in the field. Stewart suffered some damage to the grill of his car, had to pit, and fell all the way back to 40th, while Edwards was cruising around the track in the lead. Game over, right? Not quite.

Somehow, car by car, Stewart clawed his way back up through the field. There was a lengthy rain delay. In the latter portion of the race, fuel mileage came into play. It appeared as though Stewart, who was trying his best to conserve fuel, had out-foxed Edwards. Edwards was going to need one more pit stop to have enough gas to finish. But the race gods said no. Another lengthy caution flag came out when it started to drizzle again, but not enough to stop the cars, which enabled Edwards to conserve enough fuel himself to finish the race.

When the final green flag waved, it was all out to the finish. Stewart got the jump, pulled out to a one second lead, and Edwards was never able to close the gap until the checkered flag.

But you know what was really cool about it? Two things.

Everybody else got the hell out of the way and let the leaders race.

Better yet, when it was over, Stewart didn't gloat over winning, and Edwards offered no sour grapes about coming up just short.

Stewart was humble and gave thanks for his good fortune, while Edwards said he drove as hard as he could, but it just wasn't enough.

Millions of dollars and a place in history were at stake, but both raced clean throughout the contest, and were class acts even when it was all over. There never WAS any trash-talking. Imagine that.

One can only hope certain athletes in other sports were taking notice.

The Detroit Lions and the NFL

The Green Bay Packers played a horrible game at home and were probably lucky to get past a not-so-good Tampa Bay team. Maybe they were already looking forward to the Lions on Thanksgiving. Conversely, the Lions stood around and watched a not-so-good Carolina team with a rookie QB put up a lot of points on them in their own house. Maybe they were already looking forward to the Packers.

The pressure of the Turkey Day spectacle rests squarely on the shoulders of the Lions. Why? Because the Packers at 10-0 are going to be division champions and have a lock on the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Lions have done no more than waltzed through a fairly easy schedule, to date. They've beaten the bad teams and lost to the good ones. Now the big boys are coming to town, followed by a date with Drew Brees down in the Big Easy. We'll see about all that....

Elsewhere, Jay Cutler of Da Bears broke the thumb on his throwing hand. Probably out for 8 weeks, which gets into playoff time. Like him or not, I dare say nobody has suffered more abuse, be it physical punishment on the field, or the media trashing him for one reason or another. If Matthew Stafford of the Lions had to take even half that beating, he might be curled up in the fetal position, thumb in mouth, calling for his mama, and shipped off to be heavily medicated somewhere. Cutler's one helluva tough QB, and after enduring all of the above, and finally getting Da Bears on a roll -- now this. It's a shame.

The Buffalo Bills, after a hot start, have reverted to usual form.

Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin, of the Eagles and Giants respectively, continue to employ bone-headed strategy in play calls and game management, but somehow miraculously not only keep their jobs, but stay in contention. Amazing.

Rex Ryan of the Jets has toned down his rhetoric after a few beatdowns. Not sure if that's a good thing or not. If nothing else -- he was entertaining.

Bill Bellichick of the Patriots has been too quiet. Somebody should be scared. The Mad Genius is always up to something....

Barring a monumental collapse, which is unlikely, Coach Of The Year is a done deal. Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers. Given what he had to work with going in -- who would have ever seen THAT coming? Talk about a quick turn-around.....

Some misguided soul recently stated that Ndahmukong Suh isn't really a dirty player. He's just avenging wrongs done to his own teammates -- as far back as last year. Then he went on to cite a recent poll taken amongst the NFL players, (and nobody knows players better than other players) where Suh, by a 4 to 1 margin over the runner-up, emerged victorious with the dubious honor. 4 to 1?  What comes after landslide? Damn near unanimous?  Something about defeating one's own argument comes to mind.....

Don't look now, but the Cowboys are back in the hunt. A couple more wins and that ever-loveable Jerry Jones will be back, front and center, for more photo-ops and sound bytes. Sigh.

Steers and queers

Yep, I'm referring to the immortal line spoken by Lous Gossett Jr. in "An Officer and A Gentleman".  If you saw the movie, you remember that. "The only thing that comes out of (fill in the blank) are steers and queers, and I don't see no horns on you, boy".

It's a shame Lou isn't available to analyze college football these days, because it appears that sort of insight might be helpful.

How else to explain ----

While the other major football programs, especially those ranked in the Top 20 in the country, are deep in their conference schedules, and beating each other's brains out -- Sweet Home Alabama played Georgia Southern. GEORGIA SOUTHERN?  Is this supposed to be some sort of punch line from that ever-loveable mercenary, Nick Saban?

Googling Georgia Southern reveals they're located in Statesboro, a town in southeast Georgia, and call their team the Eagles. However, breaking out my trusty atlas, I couldn't even FIND Statesboro. Looking a little deeper, I discovered at least the Allman Brothers once had a tune called Statesboro Blues. It was an instrumental. Evidently, they couldn't think of anything to say about it either. But at least they were there -- maybe -- if it even exists.

Yours truly thinks the only good thing that comes out of southern Georgia is vidalia onions and Sweet Georgia Brown -- and I didn't notice the Harlem Globetrotters hyping this game. Don't remember any horns either -- unless you count the CBers yapping away -- good buddy.

After getting beat in their own backyard by LSU, Bama watches Stanford go down out west in a tough conference game, Boise St. lose (like they were ever going to be given a shot anyway - even if undefeated), Okla St. take it on the chin at Kan St., and guess what -- the mighty Crimson Tide gets to play Georgia Southern -- at home -- no less.  Perhaps somebody should remind the good folks in Tuscaloosa that patsies are supposed to be scheduled at the BEGINNING of the season --  not when it comes crunch time.

Perhaps only Bama could get away with that, and not be called out on it. Please don't say it was already on the schedule, because that won't hold water. The schedules might be set a year or two in advance, but when's the last time Alabama WASN'T in the Top 10, jostling for position in the polls? They knew what they were doing -- but it doesn't make it right.

In the end, it's looking more and more like there will be a rematch pitting LSU against Bama for the title. Yep, the same 2 teams that couldn't even score a touchdown between them in the first game. If you're into defensive dominance, a baseball game that drags out for 11 or 12 innings and winds up 1-0, or maybe watching a few hours of soccer praying for a goal -- any goal -- that would be the game for you. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer seeing the whole variety of talent. Running backs breaking off big gains, QBs making deep strikes down the field to receivers making spectacular catches for serious yardage, and -- gasp -- a few touchdowns actually scored. Bring on a few QB sacks, lots of hard hits, perhaps a goal line stand, a couple fumbles, an interception here and there, maybe a punt or kickoff returned for a touchdown, trick plays, and I don't care who wins. At least it will have been entertaining. This is precisely what we will NOT get from the above mentioned rematch. Those teams are like Apollo Creed and Rocky slugging it out with nerf gloves. Not exactly exciting stuff.

Thing is, everybody keeps hammering away at us saying how vastly superior the teams in the SEC are to everyone else. Maybe they are, and maybe they aren't. But if everybody you know keeps telling you over and over and over again your name is Gertrude, eventually you might start to believe it. Not sure, but I think that's called propaganda, or, is this case, hype.

Somewhere, I suspect the mercenary is licking his chops and smiling. All the way to the bank.
For the record, vidalia onions are the best, and I've been to a lot of sports stuff, but the Globetrotters are truly in a class of their own, when it comes to blending unbelievable skill with entertainment.

Never had the pleasure of meeting Georgia Brown, though. Maybe she could straighten out this whole college football mess. Lord knows, we mere mortals can't seem to get it done.

Friday, November 18, 2011

NASCAR's final race

At least for this year. And it's not really a wide-open chase anymore. Everybody else has been eliminated and it all boils down to 2 drivers, their cars, and teams, to determine who displaces 5-time champ Jimmy Johnson, and assumes the throne.

It's either going to be Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart. Who to root for? Beats me. One guy's called "Smoke", and the other does backflips. That's probably a push.  Edwards drives a Ford and Stewart drives a Chevy. The official name of the event is "The Ford 400", so it doesn't take a mental heavyweight to figure out who the sponsors will be pulling for.

This is where it gets confusing. The race will be held at Homestead -- but nobody seems to actually live there. If Edwards is trying to close ground on Stewart during the course of the race -- would it be fair to call it the "Chevy Chase"? But wait. Didn't a guy by that same name used to imitate a Ford? See what I mean?

Yours truly takes solace in the fact the invasive Japanese species has been eliminated for now. Joe Gibbs should be ashamed of himself. A deeply religious man, who prides himself on patriotism, Joe stands behind mom, apple pie, the red, white, and blue, and --- Toyota? Somewhere along the way, Mr. Gibbs seems to have hung a hard right on a NASCAR oval.

And what's up with all that anyway? Isn't NASCAR supposed to be all all about American racing? That "N" in NASCAR stands for national. Give it a few years, and if things proceed like others have, it might be renamed JASCAR.

Consider what's left of the Indy car series. After the big feud that pretty much destroyed an American icon, most every driver on that circuit runs a Honda engine these days.

Why is that? A couple reasons. The Japanese are notorious for taking an original American idea in technology, analyzing it, making it smaller and cheaper, adding a few whistles and bells, then selling it back to the American public -- in the meantime running many American businesses out of dodge. Cameras and TVs are gone -- now they're working on cars.

Secondly, when it comes to auto racing, the American companies dropped the ball.to allow this to happen in the first place. Don't tell me the American auto manufacturers can spend billions to open plants in Mexico, Brazil, China, and who knows where -- but can't afford a few measly million to develop superior racing engines. If you do -- I won't believe you.

For that matter, look at history. A great deal of the technology that finally finds it way into passenger cars has it's roots not with some MIT engineering grad poring over a draft board, but rather with racing teams that are always looking for something new that will give them an edge over the competition. With apologies to Walt Disney, these are the true "imagineers" when it comes to innovation in automobiles.

So who's going to win this Sunday? Your guess is as good as mine. I just hope the other guys stay out of the way and let the Top 2 have a clean race. It would be a shame if some hot-headed, nitwit Toyota driver, and you know who I mean, did something stupid to screw that up.

But that's just sort of what the whole bunch of them do -- isn't it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fallen heroes. Guilty. Or were they?

Maybe we should just do away with the entire legal system and let the "court of public opinion" rule the day.That seems to be what has been happening anyway.


Barry Bonds went from a wiry outfielder hitting a lot of home runs to a muscle-bound guy, big head and all, hitting a ridiculous amount of home runs. Allegations of steroid use ran rampant. Many say his statistics should have an asterisk behind them because he cheated -- even though steroids were legal at that time. But, wait a minute. Despite all the power and resources of the federal government trying to prove he ever even TOOK them -- they could not. In the end, their case collapsed, and all they were able to obtain was some minor obstruction of justice conviction. Bottom line? Legally, Bonds is still innocent of the drug-related charges, but the court of public opinion has ruled he's guilty, and that's all that seems to matter.

Remember Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa dueling it out for the home-run championship one year back in that era? Eventually, both were summoned to testify before Congress when our trusty legislators, in their infinite wisdom, decided to jump into the steroid snafu and get to the bottom of it. End result? Lots of bluster-filled speeches, but no proof of any wrongdoing. Certainly no convictions. Yet, the court of public opinion ruled once again. Guilty. As an aside, if ANYBODY ever needed performance enhancing drugs, it's probably Congress, but that's another issue.

Surely you remember Rafael Palmeiro pointing into the camera and saying, "I have NEVER taken PEDs". He would test positive for the same a few months later. Congress was outraged and the COPO handed down another guilty verdict. But hang on. Can anyone say for sure that Palmeiro didn't start steroid use until AFTER that hearing? The honest answer is -- no, they can't. Bottom line? It looked bad and that's good enough for a conviction. I disagree. Appearances aren't sufficient evidence for me to send someone into purgatory somewhere. Show me proof.

Same with Roger Clemens. The Rocket's currently embroiled in a similar situation. He said this, another guy said that. This needle has traces of an illegal substance, but the one over there has traces of a B complex vitamin booster. Maybe either or both were once stuck in his butt, and the plunger pushed -- and maybe they weren't. What really happened? We don't know, and likely never will, but the COPO has spoken. Guilty. Nevermind that Clemens was an absolutely dominating pitcher long before PEDs ever came on the scene, and was known in his latter pitching years to be a work-out fanatic. Bottom line? Yours truly suspects the prosecutors already know they're chasing another loser, and this will fade away. But Clemens will be forever tainted by the allegations in the COPO. Perception, rather than facts, rules the day -- and it's not right, let alone fair.

There's other examples in the sports world of injustice inflicted by the COPO. Pete Rose and his gambling. Many came to believe that should somehow detract from the fact he's the all-time hit leader in the major leagues. a record that will likely never be surpassed. That's just wrong.

Many in the Hall of Fame were drunks and womanizers, most while married. Somehow the COPO doesn't want to be bothered by that.

Who was the ultimate offender that started all this? Perhaps Shoeless Joe Jackson of the infamous 1919 Chicago "Black Sox". For his part in allegedly throwing the World Series, baseball Commish Kennessee Mountain Landis barred him from baseball. "Say it ain't so, Joe", the fans pleaded.

Here's what you might not know. Landis didn't make that ruling until after the following year, 1920, a full season after the scandal was supposed to have occured. To his credit, maybe he wanted to wait until all the facts were in.

In the meantime, he was likely feeling a lot of heat from the COPO. They had already ruled again. Guilty. Shoeless Joe was given the permanent boot.

Turns out, Joe was acquitted by a judge of any wrongdoing. Years later his teammates would come forward and finally attest to his innocence. On top of that, Jackson racked up some very impressive statistics in that 1919 World Series, which would hardly seem to be the work of a man that wanted his team to lose. Joe professed his innocence until his dying day in 1951, but it didn't matter. The COPO was no longer interested and had moved on. He owns the third highest batting average off all time but, to this day, almost a century later, despite his innocence, he remains ineligible for the Hall of Fame. Current Commisioner Bud Selig was asked to reinstate him in 1998, and the motion was tabled. Nothing happened. 13 years later, Joe's still dead, but he hasn't received his rightful due. While the COPO stays busy wreaking more havoc on people and their reputations, before all the facts are known, it seems they have little interest in righting wrongs of their own doing. Those instances are always kept quiet and swept under the rug. For that, we should be ashamed.

As regards Bonds, etc., and others that will surely come along? Maybe we won't live long enough to ever know the full truth, but the COPO has been wrong before and will surely be wrong again. Let's just not start convicting people and sending them off to a dungeon somewhere, until we KNOW they're guilty. Is that too much to ask?

Currently, Jerry Sandusky, a former coach under Joe Paterno at Penn State, stands accused of engaging in sexual acts with young boys. The COPO has reared it's ugly head and said, "OMG, 40 charges? He must be guilty. What a monster. Life in prison is too good for him. Make him suffer".  

Did he do it? I don't know. Neither do you. Yours truly thinks the COPO is running amok again. Whether it's 40, 4000, or 4 million charges -- here's a weird idea. How about being patient, bringing in all the evidence and testimony, and convicting him on just ONE before we send him off to an execution chamber somewhere? 

Sandusky continues to maintain his innocence. Here's an even stranger idea. What happens if he's right? Amongst the rest of the witch hunt, Joe Paterno would have been fired for not talking enough about a crime that didn't happen? Can you imagine what the repercussions of that would be?

The COPO wouldn't care. They'd just move on. Let's face it. Americans always need someone to hate. Osama's gone, along with Gadaffi. Despite our provocations, those pesky North Koreans and Iranians seem intent on minding their own business. We're cool with Russia, looking to expand business with China, and when's the last time you heard of that evil Fidel down in Cuba? We just can't seem to find a bad guy.

Maybe we should bring back Lex Luthor of Superman fame. The Joker, Riddler and Penguin are possibilities. Odd Job? Dr. Moriarty? How about Star Trek's the Wrath of Khan, from whence this blog derives it's name? Dammit, we need somebody to hate.

The COPO will wither up and blow away without a dastardly villain to cast aspersion on, even if they have to invent one.

Perhaps I can save them the trouble. After all, he's been right in front of their faces all along dragging $100 bills through trailer parks to see what chases them -- and then exploiting those poor souls for his own advantage on national TV, no less. What could possibly be more sinister than that?


Check out the Jerry Springer show and get back to me.

The dude's got some serious Baggage you might want to look into too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bobby Knight and Coach K. A love fest

Legendary hoops coach Bobby Knight and long time Duke head coach Mike Kzyewk -- Krzysk -- Krzwsk -- damn, no wonder they coach him Coach K, did a TV interview with some reporter lobbing softball, check that, marshmallow questions their way. This was because the younger Coach K had equaled Knight's record of 902 wins, would soon surpass it, and supposedly everybody could hardly wait to get their "take" on it.

The current Dukester was a point guard for Knight way back when he was coaching Army -- before the Indiana years that made him famous. Evidently, they've stayed close over all these years.

And, oh my, what a love fest it turned into. One couldn't have done it without the other's leadership example. The other was beside himself giving out compliments to his finest student.

"You're the only one I ever called Coach".

You quickly grasped the game, stuck to your principles and your success reflects it. On and on it went, ad nauseum.

I couldn't remember being so moved since Ali McGraw kicked the bucket in Love Story. Or maybe James Caan dying off in Brian's Song. Come to think of it, Caan got machine-gunned in The Godfather, trashed in Roller Derby, and kept having his legs broken by Kathy Bates in Misery. Hmmm. Maybe the producers are trying to tell him something -- but I digress.

At any rate, the two K men were falling all over each other dishing out compliments. Perhaps they should have pinned medals on each others' chests and saluted. Truly an "army of one", and all that.

Yours truly is of the opinion they should have just planted a big old wet sloppy kiss on each other and got it over with. Or maybe belly-bumped. Turn around, shake their tushes, and bump those too. Even better, why not get naked and sword-fight with certain other body appendages? How cool would THAT have been? If the TV folks wanted ratings, I dare say that would have made them rise dramatically -- no pun intended.

Turns out Duke went on to knock off Michigan State for K...ski's 903rd win. Knight was on hand to congratulate him (pass the tissues again please), and let the celebration party begin. Hats off to Coach K.

Maybe if he hangs around for enough years he'll have a shot at catching the true record-holder. That would be Coach Summitt at Tennessee. She's the leader, and a long way from being in the clubhouse. Indeed, she's still out there tearing up the course.

Betcha Coach Pat would have got a kick out of the sword-fight, though.

Just a thought.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Detroit Lions got exposed

Sure, they're a lot better than they used to be, but that's like saying ramen noodles are better than road kill.
Stop and think about who they've played. The Buccaneers? Turns out they're terrible. The Chiefs are unpredictable. They can be really good or really bad. The Lions caught them on a seriously bad day. The Vikes? On a scale of 1 to 10, they're about a 2. Beating the Cowboys down in Big D might have looked impressive, but they're a weird team as well. Lots of young talent, but sometimes Tony Romo seems to drift off into the twilight zone, like he did in the second half against the Lions. The home win over the Bears seemed legit on the first Monday Night game the Lions participated in since a few Presidents ago.

Then San Francisco came to town. Nobody would have guessed that in Jim Harbaugh's first year as head coach they would be an elite team, and maybe the jury's still out on that one, but they dispatched the Lions.

Then Atlanta, another home game. The Falcons probably rate about a 6 on the scale. The Lions lose again.

Off to Denver. The Lions won convincingly. Not sure what to make out of the Tim Tebow experiment, but other than Indianapolis, and maybe Miami, the Broncos might just be low men on the totem pole. Yes, in the NFL, a win is a win, and it doesn't matter if it was by 40 points or just one.

But consider: The Lions then had a bye, which gave them an extra week to prepare for the Bears game. The Bears, meanwhile, had played last Monday night on the road. They had a short week.

And looked what happened. The Lions' so-called dominating defensive line was a non-factor. Jay Cutler, Da Bears' QB, might have got hit a few times, but when it mattered his passes were crisp and on the money. In the meantime, Lions' QB Matthew Stafford got rattled, pulled a Romo, and started throwing to guys in the wrong colored jerseys.

Only after the game did Stafford state that he played with a fractured finger on his throwing hand. That's lame. First, if he was injured, therefore incapable of throwing the ball properly, then he shouldn't have been out there. That's what back-up QB's are for. Remember what Drew Stanton did in the last 4 games last year? 4 wins. Second, those passes he threw were tight spirals with plenty of zip on them. He just got fooled by defensive coverage, burned repeatedly, and doesn't want to admit it.

Just a thought, but when superstar wide receiver with the ball (Calvin Johnson) meets superstar defensive end (Julius Peppers) with forearm clothesline take-down, the wide receiver is going to lose every time. Betcha CJ remembers that one.

And what the hell planet was the Lions' special teams coach on, kicking the ball to Devin Hester? The man's merely the greatest in NFL history at returning kick-offs and punts for touchdowns. How many times does he have to prove this before testosterone-brained coaches stop challenging him and start to comprehend it? Hey, just a 30 yard punt that goes out of bounds is better than a 60 yard boomer that winds up back in your own end zone resulting in a quick 6 for the bad guys. Same with kickoffs. Whatever it takes -- keep it away from Hester. The dude can hurt you -- quickly.

So next week Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers come to town. They're about a 2 on the scale. The Lions better win that game along with when the above-mentioned woeful Vikings come to town in a few weeks.

Because other than that -- it gets tough. The Packers come here on turkey day. They're a 10. On the road at New Orleans with Drew Brees? I wouldn't count on that one. Way out in Oakland with the resurgent Raiders? Approach with caution. San Diego comes here. Never know about those guys. If Philip Rivers is on.....

Too early to say, because a lot of things can happen in the NFL, but here's one thing I'm pretty sure of.

If the Lions want to get to the playoffs -- it would probably be a very good plan to have it already sewed up and not have to count on winning their last game with the Packers at Lambeau Field. Those guys are an 11 at home in cold weather.

Impossible on a scale of 1 to 10? Maybe, but how many times have you heard an athlete say he's giving 110% and never thought twice about it? Isn't that impossible too?

As for the Lions? They've feasted on lesser teams but lost to good ones. More good ones lie ahead than bad ones. I'll grade them out at a 6. Maybe a wild card team for the playoffs -- only because the good teams have been busy beating up on each other -- but it will end there quickly. A lot of Matthew, Calvin, an over-hyped defensive line, and not nearly enough of everything else. Too many weaknesses, which the Bears just exposed.

And here's a shout-out to Deb, my die-hard Bear fan friend.  That took a lot of  -- um, no, you don't have those -- well at least "something" to walk into Ye Olde Watering Hole filled with Lions fans, clad in Bears stuff, and not only root for them, but bang a coffee can with a bear head sticking out every time they scored -- which was often. Remind me to stay out of your way.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A time to panic

Well, stick my tongue in a lamp socket and call me Thomas Edison. I was shocked -- SHOCKED -- I tell ya.

The announcers said the crowd on the scene was absolutely stunned, thunderstruck, bewildered, and at a loss for words. Our nation would be outraged. Grab the family and the pets and huddle in a corner of the basement, because mass hysteria is surely soon to come. Ground all air traffic, go to red alert, Defcon 1, and warm up the warheads.

So what could possibly raise that level of alarm? Is an army of Mike Tyson clones on the march to eat our children? Did William Clay Ford sell the Detroit Lions to Matt Millen? Have Howard Stern and Glenn Beck just announced they've consummated a "civil union"?

Oh no. According to the announcers, it's way worse than all that. How's your bottled water supply?

It seems Western Kentucky actually had the audacity to score a touchdown on #1 LSU. Yep, the same LSU that waltzed into Alabama and beat them last week. The very same Tigers that haven't allowed a touchdown in the first quarter for the last 13 games. Got tuna fish?

Evidently, the Hilltoppers from Bowling Green didn't get the memo. This... is...not...supposed...to...happen. Surely, it must be some sort of crime against humanity. The talking heads of this country simply won't tolerate such behavior. Infidels. When they're brought to justice, off with their heads. Mac and cheese?  Campbell's soup?

The way people overreact sometimes is just unbelievable. Only a FOOL would get caught up in such nonsense.

By the way -- final score -- LSU 42  WKU 9.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go take the plastic sheeting off my house.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spartans, Tarheels and an aircraft carrier

I suppose it's kinda cool when we have the luxury of holding a basketball game on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. They're basically floating cities of wartime operations, hence capable of wreaking great havoc somewhere, so to have any of them parked, therefore not needed, would seem to be a good thing.

Michigan State took on North Carolina on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vincent in San Diego and kept the score reasonably close. That's about all the Spartan faithful could reasonably ask for. After all, UNC is the #1 ranked collegiate team in the country, and MSU isn't even in the top 20.

Some things seemed odd, though, while others were probably predictable.

The giant radar screen of the ship kept going round and round pinging away, but what for? Would it have mattered if it detected incoming hostile planes, missiles, UFOs, or even Roseanne having overdone the helium again and coming their way with an attitude? No. By the time they tore up the basketball floor, dismantled the bleachers, got the civilians off the ship, and started their engines (not to be confused with the Indy 500), if the boat was even still afloat, Roseanne might well be the Captain. How's that for a scary thought?

Both teams wore their own versions of "camouflage" uniforms. One word. Cheesy.

All the players had USA stitched across their backs for names. Well OK, it was Veterans' Day -- a time to show patriotism and  honor those past and present that have served in our armed forces. And ya gotta admit -- it beats the hell out of Ochocinco or He Hate Me.

President Obama showed up. No surprise there. Earlier he was at Arlington National cemetary in Virginia honoring the war dead. A few hours later he pops up on an aircraft carrier on the west coast. That dude gets around. But what was it with him wearing a flight suit? It's not like he flew in on an F-15, 16, 17, 18, whatever they are these days. I'm thinking Air Force 1.

Besides, even if I'm wrong about that, didn't another President try that stunt a while back? Coming in on a fighter plane and touching down on the deck of an aircraft carrier, then announcing "mission accomplished"? We all know how THAT worked out.

Then again, trying to land a fighter plane in the middle of a basketball game probably wouldn't be such a good idea either. Even the best team of spin-meisters would be hard-pressed to explain that little bit of "collateral damage". And unless the color settings on my TV are out of adjustment, someone might want to remind the First Lady's wardrobe department that this country's colors are red, white, and blue -- not red, white, and black.

Ah well. It was just a college basketball game. Things won't get REALLY interesting until the NCAA tournament starts in March.

The true Madness? That will come around next fall. It's called an election year.

Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez

Saturday night they get it on in Vegas. This might be one of the few fights worth plopping down whatever the pay-per-view price is, because it's likely to be quite a slugfest.

Most Americans are aware of Pacquiao but I'm not so sure the same can be said about Marquez. Thing is, this guy's no slouch. He's won titles in 3 weight classes and has a record of 53-5-1, with 39 knockouts.

More importantly, he and Pacquiao have duked it out twice before in very close contests. In 2004 Pacquiao knocked him down 3 times in the first round. That's a pretty deep hole to climb out of -- especially on the judges' scorecards. Marquez somehow survived the early onslaught and the match went the distance only to end in a draw. Translation? Basically Marquez won the rest of the fight.

In 2008 they squared off for a rematch. Pacquiao won a very close decision. How close? According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, if one judge had scored just one round differently -- Marquez would have won. That's close.

So this is no gimme for Pacquiao. It should be an all-out rock-em, sock-em, non-stop war, in which both fighters are likely to get dinged up.

And where is Floyd Mayweather while all this goes on? In the catbird seat. I'll get back to that. Remember, Floyd's undefeated. One of those victories was over the same Marquez in 2009. Some say he's afraid to fight Pacquiao, and he may well be. The Filipino congressman is every bit as fast as Floyd and he hits harder -- with both hands. Plus he's a southpaw. Lefties are used to fighting righties, but not vice versa. Advantage -- leftie. Mayweather and his camp say they haven't signed on to fight Pacquiao because Manny won't agree to Olympic style drug testing. That excuse went out the window a long time ago. The Pacquiao camp has repeatedly said their fighter will submit to any drug testing whatsoever. They just want the fight to happen -- and I dare say most boxing fans the world over would agree with that.

So why is Floyd in the catbird seat? Two reasons. First, even if he never fights Pacquiao, as long as he's undefeated, like it or not, he'll go down in history as one of the best boxers ever. If he fought Pacquiao and got beat, there may be no guarantee of a rematch, and that would tarnish his legacy. No one knows how long Pacquiao will keep fighting and don't scoff at him being a congressman because he's very serious about a political future in his homeland. If he fought and defeated Mayweather -- what better time to retire? Manny already has all the money he'll ever need, and as CM of SI said, in 2013 he plans on running for governor (likely unopposed) of his province. In 9 years, he's expected to run for President. That most definitely qualifies as being serious.

The other reason? If Marquez defeats Pacquiao, and don't underestimate that possibility, Mayweather can point to the fact he already defeated Marquez, now a "superior" fighter, and Pacquiao doesn't deserve a "shot". If Pacquiao prevails, Manny's already on the record as saying he'd like to fight Mayweather but it's really not that important to him. Floyd can stall for a couple more years, knowing full well Manny will be a governor by then, and likely retired from boxing anyway. Either way -- he's got an "out".

Besides, who ever heard of a high-ranking political person getting into the ring to settle things with an opponent? That would be lunacy, right?

Hmmm. Maybe that's not a bad idea.

That certain "primary" circle jerk that's going on right now?

How much more entertaining would it be to throw the whole bunch of them in the "octagon", and see who finally emerges victorious?

Now THAT would be worth the pay-per-view price.

I'm thinking Manny wins this fight and goes into semi-retirement, but leaves the door open for one last mega-bout. No, not Mayweather. How's the Mittzilla Thrilla in Manila grab ya?

I'd pay double for that one.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Paterno and choices

He just got fired. Did he have it coming or was he a scapegoat? These days, it's hard to tell anymore.

Few would question that not all the facts are in yet, but with the media blitz and that pesky "court of public opinion" basically having already tried and convicted him -- something had to give.

Enter the Board of Trustees at Penn State University. Does anybody know who these people are? Not me. They seem akin to a grand jury, whereby it's a few faceless and nameless individuals that meet in secret, but whatever they decide has the power of changing peoples' lives -- often in a bad way. Then they go back into seclusion somewhere.

According to their spokesperson, they carefully weighed and considered all the factors involved in this mess, then decided to sack the President of the University and Paterno. Whoever these people are -- they must be geniuses with extraordinary telepathic powers. How else to explain that in a matter of a few hours, they could completely analyze this situation and act accordingly?

But wait. Upon fielding questions from reporters, the spokesperson said such things as, We don't know that yet -- or --  I can't answer that -- or -- we're looking into that -- or -- I don't know -- or -- the investigation is ongoing, etc, etc.

My questions would be -- if you don't know all the facts, then why are you firing people? What kind of kangaroo court IS this?

Oh right. Forget due process and everyone's supposed right to have their day in court. There's that thing called image, which must be protected at all costs. The "best interests of the university" and all that. Good grief, they even put a gag on Joe Pa by cancelling a regularly scheduled press conference. Everyone wants him to talk, but he's not allowed to talk, and then he gets fired for -- not talking in the first place. Do you see something wrong with this picture?

Let's cut to the chase. Is Joe Pa a bad guy for his "inaction"? In the end, it all boils down to laws and morals. No one questions that Joe Pa followed the law. The moral thing is trickier. What's immoral to some is perfectly acceptable to others. Smoking, drinking, cursing, intercourse outside of wedlock, sexual positions and preferences for that matter, abortion, killing animals for sport, even eating meat -- the list is endless. Everyone has their own morals and, as far as I'm concerned, to each their own. I'm still trying to figure out why I always had to eat either fish or mac and cheese on Fridays in the school cafeteria when I'm not Catholic. What kind of dumb rule was that? Did a Board of Trustees cook that one up somewhere? Sorry, got off track there for a second.

The point is -- the law is the law, and if one runs afoul of it, one's supposed to pay the consequences. But morals are a choice. Anyone that thinks combining the two into a one size fits all is fooling no one but themselves. That will NEVER work.

Many say Joe Pa had a moral responsibility to call the cops. That's their opinion. Maybe Joe Pa didn't see it that way. If so, that was his moral choice, and he was entitled to it.  Bottom line is -- he didn't do anything legally wrong. What would he have done if it was his own grandkids, you say? Maybe he runs to the cops. Maybe he takes matters into his own hands. Maybe he does the same thing he did or didn't do in this matter. I have no idea, and neither do you. It's irrelevant anyway. Whose kids were allegedly involved shouldn't matter.

It makes one wonder sometimes where all this is going -- or maybe we're there. Cameras at every busy intersection, cameras in every place of business one walks into, the "eyes in the sky" that see us but we don't see them, phone taps, internet monitoring, cop profiling of cars, and the politically correct police adding and deleting words from our language, amongst other things.

Now people want to get into the business of dictating moral choices.

Silly me, I thought this was still America, not Josef Stalin's USSR. Nowadays, it seems like somebody always has to go the gulag, even if they didn't commit a crime. You have a choice. Snitch on your friend, or wait until they snitch on you, but somebody's going.

Call me nostalgic, but I liked the old ways better.

It might just be similar thoughts have occurred to Joe Pa.

An afterthought -- for all you armchair judges, juries, and executioners out there that have already decided Paterno's guilt -- one question......

Bet you thought the same way about OJ and Casey Anthony. How did THAT work out?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Penn State affair

Be they columnists, talking heads, deejays, beat reporters, internet uploaders, you name it -- it seems everybody's always in a rush to judgment when a scandal breaks.  They want to convict or exonerate some person or persons before they have the faintest idea of what really happened. Sadly, a lot of us regular folks get caught up in the rhetoric before we know the facts either, and become polarized. It appears this is the case in the Penn State snafu. Though I don't expect it to be popular, yours truly offers an alternative way of considering this mess.

Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator at Penn State under Joe Paterno, is front and center as being the alleged perpetrator of some very sordid acts. Did he commit them? I don't know. At this point, neither do you. Even assuming he did, Joe Pa is caught up in all this. Yet consider:  What did Joe Pa do when notified of possible wrong-doing by Sandusky? Sandusky had already resigned from his football position, therefore he didn't report to Paterno anymore. Paterno forwarded the information to his superiors at the university. Many are of the opinion that Paterno was under some sort of "moral obligation" to report it to police. Perhaps, but so-called moral obligations can be a slippery slope -- as in -- where does it end?

If one witnesses the likes of a horrific car accident, a mugging, a rape, an armed robbery, or even a shooting -- then what happens? One can go home and hope others charged with solving such matters figure it out, or they can come forward to the police and prosecutors with their information. If they choose the former, their life goes on as usual. If they choose the latter, they can look forward to being interrogated, subpoenaed, likely being grilled on a witness stand eventually, and their names splashed all over the media in the meanwhile. If the case involves a noteworthy person and a big enough crime, one's entire history will be put under a magnifying glass for all to see. This is not meant to defend Joe Pa in any way, or anybody else for that matter, but I can certainly understand why some people turn a "blind eye" to such things anymore. Without alluding to biblical passages, yours truly thinks sometimes being an upstanding citizen might get you crucified in the end. It's easy for people not involved in such a situation to kick back and throw out opinions. OK, the crosshairs are a phone call away -- and you have a choice -- what would YOU do?

Just a crazy idea, but how about we wait until all the facts are in before jumping to any conclusions?

Here's a shout-out to Raoul for tearing them up on "the ticket" again. In my opinion, you're absolutely right on the money. Keep after em.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Strange goings on in the NBA

Not that it matters, but I was a proud member of the UAW at GM for over 30 years. That means, at heart, I'm a union guy. That said, there comes a time to be objective.

If you've followed the on-going negotiations between the owners and the players union in the NBA over hashing out a new contract, it's rather obvious things haven't been going well, to say the least.

Without getting into the particulars about revenue sharing and a "hard cap", apparently the 2 main issues holding back an agreement -- there's a few things that, if true, seem to be rather strange.

1) David Stern is the Commissioner of the NBA. He was appointed by the owners to represent their interests, and while an army of lawyers is no doubt involved -- in the end -- he makes the call on final contract terms for those owners. Sure, they have to vote on it, but that's pretty much a rubber stamp. Conversely, Billy Hunter is the Executive Director of the players' union. You'd think he'd make the same call from the opposite side -- right? Maybe not. Derek Fisher, of LA Laker fame, was voted in as President of the union by those same players. Hunter and Fisher seem to have differing opinions as to reaching a deal. Throw in an equal army of lawyers and -- just who makes the final call from their side anyway, before recommending it to the players to vote on? (Another rubber stamp) If they don't even know who's in charge -- this does not bode well.

2)  Some say approximately 50 players -- hard-liners, if you will, are advocating decertifying the players union. If successful, that would eventually involve the court system to hammer out an agreement. They need only ask themselves one question:  How well did that work with their NFL brethren just a few months ago?  Answer:  It didn't. 

3) At that, why is it that the players, their agents, union reps, and lawyers can collaborate on any and all such matters in the name of "standing united", and be just fine -- but if a few owners get together to discuss the same thing -- they're accused of "collusion", which is illegal?

4) Recently, someone had an article printed in the Oakland Press whereby they claimed 30 of the 32 owners were operating in the "red".  By not playing the games they were actually saving money. Really? That's an amazing statement on 2 fronts. First, considering not even the players' union, with all their legal eagles, have access to the "books", this person either has a hot-line to the almighty, incredible telepathic abilities, or is just full of it. You decide. Second, people that own NBA franchises are most likely billionaires. They didn't get to that stature by making stupid business decisions. Saving money by not playing games? Then why would they want to buy the franchises in the first place? So they could eventually go broke? Count me amongst the highly skeptical on that analysis.

So what happens if they never reach an agreement and the whole season is lost? Forget about players going overseas and all that, because it doesn't matter. Project further. The owners of the franchises aren't going away. If there's no union contract, eventually "scab" players will enter into the equation. It's happened before. Being a union guy, it hurts me to say this, but in this case, maybe starting over again might be a good thing. I'm all for a good wage, decent benefits, and a retirement plan, etc., but the salaries in the NBA are just flat out ridiculous. There's a reason why it causes the "average family of 4" to skip a house/rent payment to attend a game and, in my humble opinion, given the current state of the economy, that reason just doesn't add up.

How's it all going to play out? I have no idea. Thing is -- very few seem to be caring all that much.

You'd think both sides would at least peek out of their ivory towers and take notice of that. Obviously, they haven't. Much like politicians, they're too busy fighting amongst themselves to pay attention to the one thing that should matter most, the people -- in this case, fans.

It's almost like a couple arguing over assets during a divorce. If both parties could be fair and objective, they could probably sit down and calmly iron it out in a few hours. Yet greed always seems to rear it's ugly head on one side or the other -- sometimes both. And guess who wins in the end, after a long and drawn out battle?

The lawyers.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Andy Rooney

I know this is a sports blog and that's where I'm supposed to channel my insanity. Yet, every once in a while, something happens that compels me to deviate from the usual sticks and balls. There's that, and I suspect the boss gave up hope on me a long time ago as far as being anywhere near predictable -- but so far I haven't got fired and, last I heard, there's been no uptick in his meds -- so maybe I can get away with this.

Andy Rooney just died at the age of 92, only about a month after he retired.

Though I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, he's been one of my favorite people for many years, no doubt for his show-ending spots on 60 Minutes.

Sure, he was old school, yet he had a knack for showing us things that are right in front of our faces -- but we don't see. Better yet, he'd espouse his opinion, and really didn't care what people thought about it. I dare say being politically correct was not high on his priority list. Andy would just point out the obvious, express it in a humorous way, and let the viewers draw their own conclusions. A rare combination indeed that yours truly found very admirable.

Maybe he's now giving some old-fashioned advice to St. Peter on a better way to operate gates.

I hope so.

What could this possibly have to do with sports? Just that Andy seemed to be a good sport about most everything, and that's just going to have to be close enough.

He was truly one of a kind and may he R.I.P

Boise State. The Rodney Dangerfield of college football

Yep, they don't get any respect. Over the last few years they merely have the best record in major college football, but they never get a chance to play for the national championship.

Their schedule is too weak, you say? Maybe, but after their conference commitments, there's only so many games left, and they can only play other schools that are willing to play THEM. You won't see college football powerhouses getting in line to play these guys because, frankly, I think they're scared to death of them. Getting beat by a "small-market" team would plunge them in the polls and likely cost them a lot of money when the end-of-season farce that's called the "bowl system" comes into play.

Tough competition? In 2006 they had a crack at Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. They beat them. In 2009, they got TCU, then ranked #3 or 4 in the country in the same Fiesta Bowl. They beat them. What do these guys have to do to get a shot at a national championship?

Now the Big East conference is about to lose some teams and they've extended an invitation for Boise State to come on board. But that's only for football. All their other athletic programs aren't welcome. Back to the Rodney thing.  So what will happen if they take the offer? Their conference "stature" will go up a notch and the plane rides will get a lot longer for them and other teams they get matched up against.

So they're movin' on up to the east side. Will they finally get a piece of the pie? Probably not. They're still from Idaho, which the TV people would hate when they consider their precious ratings, not to mention sponsors, aka the money people. And while coaches, writers, and computers supposedly calculate the rankings of college football teams, I highly suspect the TV execs quietly have a say-so too. Idle thought: Ever consider who may have programmed those computers in the first place?

Look at what's already happening. #1 Louisiana State is about to play #2 Alabama. Somebody has to lose, right? Yet the talking heads are already yammering about a rematch in the championship game. Okla St. is still unbeaten, as is Stanford, as are the Rodneys. There's something very wrong with that picture.

Then again, it's the SEC, aka Super Enormous Conference, or maybe Stupendous Economic Clout. Some of those schools might have larger student populations than the whole state of Idaho. Hell, for that matter, if a few of their boosters got together, and pooled their resources, they could probably BUY Idaho. This is not lost on the TV people. Trust me.

So it is what it is and alas, I fear my beloved Rodneys will continue to be disrespected no matter what they do.

People can make up all the reasons they want, but if BSU stays unbeaten, while others falter, the only way I'm going to be convinced they're not worthy of a title shot is if they get it, and get trashed. Only one way to find out.

The loser of Bama/LSU might get preferential treatment over an unbeaten team? Please. If for no other reason, ask yourself this. While watching the championship game, which would you rather have? A choice between a fine Idaho potato and a bowl of grits -- or a choice between a bowl of grits and another bowl of grits?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ben Wallace

You've probably read the stories about the NBA star in the papers. He got popped for a DUI and some gun charges a while back, but did you ever really think about how all this supposedly went down?


From what I gather, he was initially pulled over for driving "erratically". That was never fully explained. However, in Oakland County, many motorists call it something else. "Dodging potholes". They're everywhere. So who knows?

Wallace admitted to having 4 beers in the course of 2 hours, and his blood-alcohol level registered .14, well above the .08 limit. Guess what? If 4 beers in 2 hours gets a man of his size to almost double the limit, then some petite lady stopping off to unwind with a small glass of wine on her way home from work would likely be a potential criminal as well.  We all know what menaces to society THEY are. Given those standards, even if they drive perfectly, why not just pull over every patron exiting a sports bar on football Sunday?  Chances are they're ALL over the limit. Might as well arrest the bar owner, bartender and waitress too. They were aiding and abetting. And you wonder why the jails are bursting at their seams? This is getting out of control....

Wallace had an unloaded gun, which was legally registered to his wife in Virgina, in a backpack in the backseat of the car. An original additional charge of carrying a concealed weapon, a 5-year felony, was brought by prosecutors. Puh-leeze. First, he stated he forgot he even had it in the backpack and evidently the cops believed him. Second, if his life was threatened and he remembered the gun, what would he have to have done? Crawl in the back seat, open up the backpack, retrieve it, open up the console where the bullets supposedly were, fish around for them, load the gun, and then he could have possibly defended himself. By then, his assailant would have had his/her way and been long gone, or died laughing.

Legally, it doesn't matter that Ben Wallace brought a lot of joy to Detroit Pistons fans. He's just a man and should be treated like everyone else. Yet consider what happened. By most accounts, he's been a model citizen. Hardworking, humble, and just quietly going about his business. Someone for kids to look up to -- no pun intended. He certainly never had a criminal record before -- but he does now.

He's up for 93 days in the county slammer when he gets sentenced next month. Even if he avoids jail, there will likely be a hefty fine, because he can afford it. Conversely, if it was a homeless person living in a dumpster, he/she just might prefer doing the "time" -- especially with the winter months coming up. Depending on one's station in life, 3 hots, a cot, and a shower might look pretty good. Who knows?

Wallace will also likely have to pay "court costs". Silly me, I always thought our tax dollars paid their salaries and expenses. (Can you spell "double-dipping"? Hmmm. Maybe we should ask Darnell.....)

Hopefully Big Ben will come out of all this just fine and continue to be who he's always been.

He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, under the wrong circumstances, and he has to pay the price.

Justice is supposed to be equal for all -- right?


Ben in Oakland County.

Lindsay Lohan in LA.

I rest my case.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A sports junkie cries out for help

It's not easy being me. There's a lot of stuff that goes on that most people are completely unaware of.

You've heard about the "whales" in Vegas? They're penny-ante players compared to me. When I show up they call me T-Rex. It's kinda cool watching all the casinos dim the lights for a second to acknowledge the arrival of my customized Lear at the airport. Nobody ever notices the fighter plane escort because they broke off just before touchdown.

Tropical island hopping can get old, especially when your family owns most of them. Ever heard of St. John's? That's me. St. Charles? My dad. My uncle Thomas was married to Kitt. Croix was their pet parakeet. You get the picture.

Yeah, it's tough sometimes, but every once in a while I find my way home -- only to inevitably have to face that pesky Swedish bikini team that insists on hanging around here for some reason. They keep the house nice, cook reasonably well, give pretty good body massages and other small pleasures, but after a while -- they get boring  -- ya know? After I please them all yet one more time, they get kicked to the curb so I can settle in to watch some sports.

That seems to be a problem. It's a Tuesday night. The World Series is over. No NFL football. The NBA is still out in never-never land somewhere. The NHL? Even the "most interesting man in the world", one Barry Melrose, won't be able to jump-start fan interest in hockey until the Super Bowl is over next year and the playoffs draw near. And what channel can you you find them on in the meantime anyway?

Click. Click. Click. No golf, tennis, bowling, rugby, or lacrosse. Anxiety was beginning to set in. More clicks. I'd settle for polo, badminton, croquet, even synchronized swimming. Wasn't happening. Northern Illinois was playing Toledo on ESPN2, but Jeopardy was coming on. I opted for Alex and hoped a sports category would pop up. Nope. I began to shiver uncontrollably. The only other time in my life when I experienced such "down to the bone" coldness was talking to my ex's divorce lawyer -- but I won't get into that.

At any rate, this withdrawal thing isn't easy. It's kind of like what happened after my senior prom, but much colder.

Hopefully better days lie ahead. I can do without Vegas, the islands, and even Swedish meatballs, though I must admit the latter has a way of stimulating my appetite on occasion.

Yet my health seems to depend on getting a daily sports "fix".

Final score -- Northern Illinois 63, Toledo 60. Helluva game.

But I didn't watch it -- honest.  Would I lie?