Friday, January 28, 2011

Coffins are boring. Give me a live one anyday


Pro football keeps tweaking its rules. Sometimes it's for the safety of the players, such as clamping down on helmet-to-helmet contact, or outlawing "horse-collar" tackles and crack-back and chop blocks.
Other times, it's to make the game more interesting. Field goals were getting too easy with the advent of soccer style kickers, so they moved the goal posts back 10 yards. That was so more teams would try for touchdowns, rather than take the easy 3. 
Kickoffs used to come from the 50 yard line, but stronger kickers were booming it out of the end zone. So they moved it back to the 40, then the 35, and now it's at the 30. All of this was meant to ensure the kick returners would get a chance to actually run the ball, rather than the offensive team automatically taking it at their own 20, because returning kicks is a crap shoot. Sometimes very little happens, but once in a while, the guy just might break free and go all the way.
Knowing this, the NFL rule makers put in another penalty. If the kickoff goes out of bounds, then the receiving team gets the option of taking the ball at their own 40. That could conceivably be a 39 yard penalty. Pretty severe.  But they wanted, just like the fans, to see what might happen when a really fast guy started sprinting upfield into the oncoming herd. Maybe he gets blown up at the 10, or maybe he "takes it to the house". Only one way to find out so, for the most part, nowadays when a kickoff goes out of bounds, it's a mistake.
That said, how come punts are treated so differently? They're similar to kickoffs, given some dude with a strong leg boots it way up in the air, another fast guy waits for it to come down, risks his life, or at least a few body parts, and attempts to return it, while the same thundering herd heads downfield with malice aforethought.
If a punter kicks the ball out of bounds, intentionally or not, there's no penalty, but there should be. It denies the punt returner, another potential game-changer, and the fans, a chance at yet another electrifying play. Ya never know. If this happens, the receiving team should have options. They can take the ball where it went out of bounds, or at their own 40, like kickoffs, or given better field position, have a 15 yard penalty assessed from where it went out of bounds in the first place.
Put another way, if the punter is booting it out of his own end zone and the ball goes out of bounds at midfield, then the receiving team gets it at the 35. They're already in field goal position without even having to run a play. Teams might rethink this strategy and we get to see a return. More action.
Besides, the ultimate punt winds up in the "coffin corner". That's probably because most teams are dead once they get the ball there. Usually they'll run 3 plays for short yardage just to get enough room for their OWN punter. Boring. 
Sure, 99 drives yards have occurred, but they're about as rare as Peyton Manning turning down a TV ad.
Weird bounces happen close to the sidelines, you say? I don't care. It's 11 on 11 and they're called "special teams". If they're so special, then handle it. Punt it down the middle and let's see what happens.
C'mon, Lions' fans. Own up. When you see Devin Hester of the Bears waiting on a punt to come down -- don't you get a little nervous? Bet you wish he played for your team.
That's what I'm talking about. Ya never know. 
 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The hairiest thought of all


No pun intended, but this hair thing in the NFL has gone on long enough. There's blond locks, dread locks, straight locks, and frizzy locks. Here's hoping Detroit Lions' defensive lineman Ndahmukong Suh (pronounced Sue) never grows it out. He might displace a lot of water and require a wide berth, but Michigan already has the Soo Locks connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron to accommodate large freighters carrying a big load, so he would hardly be an original.
Now far be it from me to say how men should wear their hair, because styles change and I've gone through a few phases myself. In college, mine got to be very long. Then I had to cut it off. Near as I can remember, it had something to do with getting a (gasp) job.
Many years later, for some reason, I grew a pony tail. After a while it just got to be too high maintenance. Or maybe it was that time in the barber shop getting trimmed up, when I held a small mirror in front of me, and could finally see the back of my head in the big mirror on the wall. Things had thinned out back there some. The pony tail looked like a long rotten hairy banana in bondage growing out of the bad side of a peach. Not good. So snip. That was gone.
But back to the NFL. I don't begrudge these guys doing whatever they want with their hair, but there's a reason all of them have their names and numbers on the back of their jerseys. It's so fans in attendance, announcers, and TV watchers can tell who's who. Lately, a lot of them have got to the point where their names are completely covered and, left unchecked, the numbers will disappear soon.
This is the same league where they mandate players dress "appropriately" coming and going from the stadium, have their fashion police strictly regulate everything from tucked in jerseys, to what color and style shoes, socks, wristbands, and even mouthguards they can wear; everybody has to have their chin strap snapped on both sides of their helmet before a play begins -- but yet it's OK with them if hair gets in the way of identifying players? Something is wrong here.
Sure, making a tackle by dragging a guy down by his hair is technically legal, but that rarely happens. It's the macho thing. Maiming is fine, but don't mess with the hair. Too sissified. So the running backs and receivers don't worry too much about it. On the defensive side? They know that grabbing their hair is off limits. It's called holding. Tweet. 10 yard penalty. And you'll notice very few offensive linemen with flowing manes. Given what goes on in the trenches, they know better. Same for quarterbacks. A few games like that with defensive linemen coming at them grabbing, ripping and tearing at anything they can get hold of for an advantage, and the back of their heads would look worse than mine.
Bottom line? In the interest of freedom of expression and all that, these guys should be able to grow their hair as long as they want, but it shouldn't get in the way of the ID things on their backs. A few suggestions:
They can get a bigger helmet and cram it all up underneath.
They can braid it and snap it down with the chin straps mentioned above. Just don't cover up the team logo. The fashion meter maids would not approve. Tweet. 10K ticket.
They can get creative and weave it through their face masks. As long as they can still see, this has the advantage of making them even more intimidating looking, but the disadvantage of, once done, no matter how bad they might want to take off their helmet for a breather while on the sidelines -- well -- good luck with that.
There's a much simpler way. Just tuck it inside the jersey in the back. It will eventually come out and fly around anyway, you say? Got it covered. Duct tape. No, not on the undershirt. It won't stick so well there. Tape the pretty boy's hair down directly to the dry skin of his back before the game starts. That hair's not going anywhere.
These guys pride themselves on being able to deliver and absorb vicious hits and popping right back up with nary a whimper. Macho men indeed. 
Just make sure the cameras are rolling and the audio's turned up when that tape gets ripped off. We'll see about that.
As for me? Not so macho. I'll stick to key locks, combination locks, maybe even occasionally eat a bagel with lox -- and I'm not looking in that mirror again.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This is personal

If this results in me having to face the paper's cyber firing squad for getting personal, then so be it. I'll worry about that later.
For now, I made a couple promises and they will be kept.
First, there's my long-time Florida friend Mel, a transplant from Brooklyn, NY, and a die-hard Jets fan. The times we've had on the bikes over the years.....  The promise was to give him a shout-out if the Jets made it to the Super Bowl. I'm hollering at ya, bro.
The other concerns my local friend Debbie, an equally die-hard Chicago fan, that got the same promise if Da Bears also made it. It's not right to shout at a woman, so here's to you, Deb.
But wait a minute. Both their teams lost, so why did I say that? For a couple reasons.
If there's anything better than a true friend in this world, I don't know what it is. Just because the scores of the games didn't obligate me to keep my promises, doesn't mean I didn't want to take this opportunity to do so anyway.
What does this have to do with sports?
Mel and Deb have something Detroit fans don't. Contending teams to root for. Love him or hate him, in just 2 years, Rex Ryan has transformed the Jets from nobodies into the talk of the country. They beat Indianapolis and New England on the road, and were dominating the Steelers in the second half before time ran out. They're young, and will be back. The Bears seem to plod along under the radar, but when the dust clears, they always seem to be around. Both teams have not only played in the Super Bowl before, but won it.
What do football fans in Detroit have? The Lions. Since the first Super Bowl over 40 years ago, the Lions have never even advanced to a game for the right to PLAY in it, let alone win it. They went 6-10 this year, a major improvement over years past. Their coach will probably get a contract extension, season ticket sales will rise, along with the prices, and fans will pack the stadium, clad in Lions' paraphernalia, to cheer the team on. If a 6-10 record for the Jets or Bears had happened this past year, the coach likely would have been fired, and the teams would have been booed off the field.
It all depends on your level of expectations.
Personally, I'm hoping Mel packages up a little of that Florida weather and sends it my way. His idea of cold these days is a lot different than mine.
And Deb? See you at the office.
A cold one once in a while is a good thing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ron Artest is coming back to kick butt and it's going to hurt

The Beach Boys had a hit song a long time ago called Help Me Rhonda. I'll get back to that.
Remember Ron Artest? The dude that played the lead role in Malice At The Palace a few years ago during a game against the Pistons? He stormed the stands in a rage after getting hit by a few kernels of popcorn and maybe a few drops of soda, while laying on his back, and tried to wreak major bodily harm on a terrified kid. Yeah. That guy.
He's had a new part for a while playing for the LA Lakers. You know, the land of glitz, Kobe, courtside movie and rap stars, the Zen Master, and all that.
Turns out, Artest might have another career move in mind. He's got 3 more years left on his Laker contract, at which time he'll be 33, and when that expires, thinks he might give the NFL a try as a tight end.
I hope he does, for several reasons.
First, he'll quickly find out that while the NBA might be somewhat of a contact sport, comparing that to the NFL is like comparing a fender-bender to a train wreck. Those personal fouls he whines about in the NBA will take on a whole new dimension in the NFL. My guess would be the only thing he knows about chop blocks is associated with his in-house chef carving up an expensive piece of beef.
Speaking of prime meat, trying to box out a tall, skinny 180 pound guy from getting a rebound is light years removed from picking up a musclebound, blitzing 250 pound linebacker, much less finding himself in the position of trying to block a rushing defensive end. Either one goes way beyond a few kernels of popcorn hitting him, and that liquid won't be soda. It might be spit, sweat, blood, or maybe something embarrassing in his own britches, but I think we can safely rule out Coke, Pepsi, or Gatorade.
Finally, there's a better reason I'd like to see him try this. Tight ends have to catch passes too. Sure, they can run the easy 5-yard and out routes, but eventually he'd have to go over the middle into a zone defense, where linebackers and hard-hitting safeties would, in effect, take him back to the beginning.
Ron Ron would get steam-rolled like he did that kid at the Palace and, ironically, he'd find himself in the same position he was in when it all began. Flat on his back -- but this time it would hurt. A lot.
While looking out the earhole of his helmet and trying to readjust the body parts that were still functioning, being the smart guy he is, I have little doubt he would do the same thing he did once before.
Namely. he'd run into the stands again, but not for the same reason.
He'd be looking for that kid, or anybody else for that matter, to hide behind.
And that song? It would still plead for help, but this time it would be SUNG by Ron-duh.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A scary sports name


My name is Leach. As you can probably imagine, I've been teased a lot about that over the years. The junior high school mentality was brutal. But it could have been worse.
Some sports teams have nicknames that seem odd or don't even make sense. I'd bet you can come up with lots of them if you thought about it for a few minutes. Though it's old news, I'm going to pick a couple, as an example. 
On Christmas Eve, the Hawaii Bowl was played. The University of Tulsa came-a-calling to Honolulu. 
Hawaii's football team is now called the Warriors, but not that long ago, it was the Rainbow Warriors. That was a pretty cool name. Beats me why they changed it because, after all, there's lots of rainbows in Hawaii, and not that long ago there were indeed many warriors on those islands.
When Captain Cook sailed through there about the time we were fighting our own Revolutionary War, he named those territories the Sandwich Islands. So I guess it could be worse. In the end, even without the rainbow, just the name Warriors sounds a heck of a lot better than the Reubens or BLTs.
What really puzzles me, though, is the Tulsa football team's name. They're called the Golden Hurricanes. Last time I looked, Tulsa was still in Oklahoma, and while they may get their not so fair share of nasty weather in the form of  tornadoes or draughts, I don't remember any storms with names blowing through those parts. Put another way -- the chances of a hurricane happening in Tulsa are about the same as a volcanic eruption in Pontiac and, if I may exclude Mt. Patterson, there's no molten lava just beneath the surface. It's impossible. Can't happen.
And what's up with the "golden" bit anyway? I saw a hurricane in Florida once and there was nothing golden about it. It was gray.
Then again, as the Hawaiian football team's name could be worse, so could Tulsa's. Tornadoes usually bring unwanted torrential rain, but during draughts, people pray for it. Either way, it's mostly all about water. Some you welcome and some you don't. So if the good people in Tulsa insist on sticking to the golden color they chose for their team, but admit they never have hurricanes, and only occasionally get undesirable showers, then connect the dots, and that team just might be called the Tulsa .........
Yep.
It could be worse. A lot worse.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

If I'm Ryan -- I'm flyin

In case you haven't noticed, there's been a very sinister conspiracy going on for a long time to take over our minds. It's called the Ryan Syndrome.
Everybody loved Irene Ryan as Granny Clampett. Ryan Seacrest is all over the airwaves. Rarely does a year go by without Meg Ryan in a blockbuster film. Ryan O'Neal was part of the best "love story" of all time. Jack Ryan is the hero of renowned author Tom Clancy's books and films. Buddy Ryan came along and won the Super Bowl in 1986 with the Chicago Bears. Tom Hanks got in the act with Saving Private Ryan. I clicked over to ESPN and who was spouting off?  Bob Ryan, of the Boston Globe. There's even a soap opera named Ryan's Hope.
Maybe it started in 1951 when J. D. Salinger wrote the classic book Catcher in the Ryan. Roy Orbison woefully crooned about Ryan in 1961. The rock group Eagles followed up with Ryan Eyes in 1975. Not exacty true, you say? Close enough. They were merely subliminal references planted in our minds by the Evil Ryan Empire.
They're everywhere, I tell ya.
Now, love him or hate him, and there's probably little middle ground, we have Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets.
What he's accomplished is impressive. In just a couple years he's taken a mediocre Jets team and turned them into very serious Super Bowl contenders. They appear to be as good as anybody right now.
Consider: Come playoff time, they went into Indianapolis and knocked off the Colts. No small feat. They followed it up by whipping the Patriots in their own back yard. An even larger feat.
How did this happen? A few reasons.
The Jets have lockdown cornerbacks that effectively remove the opponents' wide receivers from the game plan. They stick to their man like a federal indictment.
Second, future Hall of Famers like Manning and Brady are given a lot of credit for their passing games, but none of that happens without protection from their offensive line. Those guys are used to dropping back, and going through 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and maybe 4th reads, before having to throw the ball. The Jets don't allow that. Opposing QBs get to look at their first choice, maybe the second, and then BOOM happens. Peyton and Tom found that out the hard way. Get them out of their comfort zone, make them speed everything up, and they start looking more like Joey Harrington.
Now the Jets go to Pittsburgh, where Big Ben and his Big Bad Steelers await with their terrible towels. Can they pull it off? Beating them would complete an awesome road win trifecta, and be a colossal feat. We'll find out next Sunday, but I wouldn't underestimate these guys, given their last 2 games.
One last thing. If you happen to know how to get in touch with Rex Ryan, please don't tell him about my repeated references to "feats". Some say he has a fetish about such things.
I wear a size 11, but he doesn't need to know that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rip Hamilton exposed

Richard Hamilton of the Pistons recently got benched. Was it lack of productivity on the court, keeping him healthy for a possible trade, or something else? Beats me, but a lot of folks have been saying he got disrespected by not being allowed to play. For all those people, I have 2 words. Shut up.
This is a guy, at age 32, that's made well over ONE HUNDRED MILLION dollars, and counting, to play pro basketball for 11 years. To put that in perspective, that's probably more than your grandparents, your parents, you, spouses past or present, significant others, children, and maybe even grandchildren have, or will ever have earned in the course of their entire lifetimes -- COMBINED.
He likely lives in a house most of us would consider a mansion, replete with butler, maid, chef, pool boy, and gardeners. Also likely is a fleet of high-end imported cars, and a fancy boat or 2 moored in places we in the Detroit area would rather be right now, for whenever he gets around to them.
As an NBA player, he's had world class medical treatment, with no copay, and his family probably has similar coverage. Top of the line training facilities and a free massage at the snap of a finger? No problem.
At that, what did he ever have? A broken nose? Big deal. Maybe he should talk to his much lesser paid NHL brethren about their teeth, stitches, and other things they man up about and never mention -- or the NFLers about ACLs, broken bones, concussions, and the average length of their pro careers.
While on the road with the team, he's flown on a plane that would put normal first class accommodations to shame, stayed in 5 star hotels, and been provided meal money while out on the town, as if he needed it.
Now, certain folks are pining and whining away because he didn't play a game or two. It's disrespectful, they say.
So let's all have a sob fest for poor Richard. Oh, boo hoo hoo. The poor man. How will he ever survive? R.I.P. Mr. Hamilton.
Shut up.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The real story behind instant replay


Like it or not, instant replay is here to stay. Most sports have adopted some form of it already.
Tennis has their "eye in the sky", and within a few seconds after a disputed call, the digital monster pops up imagery and wham, it is what it is and "play on" ladies and/or gentlemen.
Basketball has it's version, which is mostly confined to whether or not a shot was already in the air before the buzzer sounded. That usually takes about 30 seconds for the courtside refs to determine.
Even stodgy old baseball has given in a little, allowing umpires to review close calls when it comes to home runs being fair or foul, or possible fan interference. Sometimes the men in black will huddle up on the field, talk it over, and make the call -- normally pretty quick. If they're still not sure, they head through the home team's dugout to a mysterious room somewhere and check out the replays. Even then, within a minute or two, they're back with their ruling. Case closed. Play ball.
Hockey's a little different. When an iffy goal is in question, as to whether the puck ever crossed the line, was batted in by a high stick, or maybe an offensive player was in the crease, the ref goes over to the boards and puts on a set of headphones. He doesn't view anything. Regardless of where the game is being played, the people that make the decision, in this case, are sitting in front of video monitors in Toronto, headquarters of the NHL. They decide, relay it to the ref over the phone, and he informs the teams, crowd in attendance and TV watchers. All that doesn't take too long either -- usually less than a minute.
One would think the NFL, with all their billions and forward thinking ideas, would have this down pat by now. Hardly. Truth is, they've got more hitches in it than Charles Barkley's golf swing.
Some plays are reviewable and some aren't. I'm not sure anybody, including the officials on the field, know all the rules. Coaches can throw a red hanky to challenge a call, but if it goes against them, it costs them a timeout and they can't challenge again for the rest of the half. At that point, some of those guys whine and cry so much, that maybe the hanky will come in handy for another reason -- like wiping away the tears or blowing their nose in it. Hopefully it's replaced with a new one, because if I was an official that might have to pick it up later..... well, nevermind.
But it gets more confusing. Inside the 2-minute warning of both halves, the rules change. ALL plays are subject to "booth review". So why not just do it that way all the time, check out any close calls, and get rid of the hankies? This would be a great idea if you liked games to last about 8 hours. Which brings me to...
The most confounding thing. When a play is reviewed, we at home normally see 5-6 different angles of it, always in slo-mo, and usually at least 3-4 times. All this takes maybe a couple minutes. We know what happened and could make the call in a heartbeat. Assuming the so-called guys in the booth are watching the same thing, why does it take them 8-10 minutes to figure it out and, even then, get it wrong half the time? It doesn't make sense. After all, those guys are supposed to be experts and even we couch taters can see the obvious. How can this be? I have a theory.
Nobody knows who these guys in the booth are, right? More importantly, nobody knows WHERE they are. Remember, in hockey, dose boys are in Toronto and speak fairly decent English, ay? Perhaps the NFL, in it's globe-trotting aspirations, has set up a call and video review center in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or wherever we get connected to when we dial an 800 number for customer service from a large company. If the ref on the field, "under the hood", has to slog through all the same phone prompts, only to finally get connected to someone he can barely understand -- while the only sport THEY understand is the "other" football, then it's probably a miracle it doesn't take him a couple hours. But it doesn't make it right. 
Then again, maybe all the above lost a little something in the translation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Lions' jinx finally solved


The Lions won their last 4 games. The local scribes and talking sports heads are saying things are looking up, the building blocks are there, it's finally turned around, and they're on a roll. The playoffs next year are a possibility and the Super Bowl isn't out of the question.
Yeah? I won 4 hands in a row at blackjack once and was on a roll too. After taking a nature call, I went right back for another session. Guess what happened? Needless to say, I'm pretty sure the power brokers in Vegas aren't too worried about me showing up again. They know me about as well as the NFL knows the Lions when it comes to Monday Night Football. Remember Rodney Dangerfield and his "respect" bit? It's like that. So go buy your season tickets, jerseys, caps, and all that other Honolulu blue stuff and keep hoping. I have 4 words for you.... 
Suckah -- ain't gonna happen.
Why not? It was preordained long ago. 
A lot of people blame the Fords, like they're some sort of jinx. I'll get back to that.
Daryl Rogers and his bird-watching? Wayne Fontes with his cigars and golf carts? Bobby Ross being clueless about the pro game? Millen and his years of ineptitude? Didn't matter.
Bad drafts? Fuhgettaboudit.
All the M coaches like Moeller, Mornhinweg, Mariucci, and Marinelli? They could have hired people named Maraschino, Mozzarella, Madonna, Manson or even Machine Gun Kelly, and it still would have been the same. Maybe a tad more interesting, but still the same.
Everybody's missing the real reason.
It all goes back to Nov. 8, 1970, in Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, 5 years before the Superdome. Some guy named Tom Dempsey, that few had ever heard of, trotted out for the rag-tag Saints to attempt a last second field goal against the Lions, who were leading 17-16. The man had half a foot, yet was attempting a kick from seven yards longer (63) than had ever been made in the history of the NFL at that time. The Lions' defense was laughing at him. I watched it on a TV with rabbit ears. You know what happened, but do you know why?
An indisputable and unquestionable authority informed me that a higher power intervened and mandated "anyone remotely associated with the people responsible for the Edsel shalt not ridicule thy likewise handicapped neighbor, therefore they are now cursed for the next 50 years."
Only 10 more to go.
I have a perfect vision that 2020 is the year they win the Super Bowl.
Yeah, I know. So sue me.

Finger licking good


Auburn won the so-called national championship. They went undefeated and hurray for them. Are they the best college football team in the country? Beats me. The Horned Frogs of TCU, yikes, whatta name, can claim the same thing. Without any playoffs, there's no definitive answer, but the people running the BCS are getting rich and don't care.
The Auburn Tigers vs the Oregon Ducks was a foregone conclusion anyway. Forget the trick plays and misdirections. When it's speedy little guys against speedy bigger guys, over the course of a whole game, the big guys win. And whoever heard of a duck whipping a tiger?
Thing is, I'm sick of the "almighty" southeastern conference (SEC). If it's not Alabama this, it's Florida that, with an occasional LSU thrown in. They might have huge student populations and good ole boy boosters with deep pockets, but I'm not so sure how bright they are. No other conference is dopey enough to have 2 teams with the same name (Tigers).
Then again, the Big Ten's no better. They can't even seem to count. It was 10, been 11 for a lot of years, now going on 12, but they're still stuck on 10. If this is the best their braintrust can do, I would not recommend schools from this conference if you're an aspiring math major. 
But if two teams had the same name, it might get interesting. Can you imagine the Illinois Fighting -- Boilermakers? If you were in Champagne, of all places, watching a game at a sports bar -- what should you drink? If the waitress set a bottle of Miller Golden Draft on the bar, should you Gopher it? Would someone Badger you? A Buckeye's some sort of tree with a disagreeable odor and funny looking fruit; a Nittany Lion sounds like a 4-legged grandma that churns out those wool sweaters twice as fast as mine used to. Well.. you get it.     
Closer to home, yeah, there's no wolverines in Michigan except at the zoo and the original Spartans became extinct a couple thousand years ago, due to routs from superior forces.
But back to the SEC. Forget about football or any other sports, for that matter. They have one redeeming quality that makes them tolerable. Something came out of there that has not only affected our lives, but has spread across the world.
The Colonel's secret 11 herbs and spices, and I really don't care if he got the count right or not. Works for me once in a while.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rough tough Chicago


Borrowing an old song lyric, Chicago's my kind of town. Hard working, down and dirty, and blue collar. No place for sissies.
This is the city of Al Capone, Bugs Moran, Elliot Ness, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, the stockyards, and Cicero Street to this day isn't a place for the feint of heart. There's a lot of history that goes along with Chicago.
What does this have to do with sports?
It's also the home of Da Bears. Like them or not, in typical Chicago style, they have their own history.
Consider: George Halas (Papa Bear) was one of the founding fathers of what is now the NFL, which just happens to be the King Kong is the room of all things sports these days, at least in this country.
The Bears don't play at some domed stadium named after a bank, credit card, or phone company -- that would be too wimpy. They play in the elements, sometimes brutal, at Soldier Field. Soldiers -- discipline, combat, heroism, valor, never leave a man behind, purple hearts, forward march -- and all that stuff. It just seems to fit.
They've featured incredible talent at times, like Gale Sayers and Walter Payton, but mostly they're known for being tough. Careers and reputations aside, just the names of Butka, Ditka, Dent, and Urlacher, amongst others, sound like guys that would probably rather pound a couple beers, and maybe heads, rather than sip some girlie drink through a straw with a mini-umbrella sticking out of it, and fret over political correctness. The Monsters of the Midway.
Of course, there's another team called the Cubs that live in the same neighborhood, but after all, cubs are only baby bears, we tend to think of them as playful and cute, and don't expect too much out of them. But I digress. 
Sadly, for the above reasons, Da Bears have absolutely zero chance of winning the Super Bowl. Why? Because they've gone against their entire heritage. Given such a team and town, with all that history, there's no way that happens with a head coach named Lovie. This is sooooo wrong.
He might very well know the game, but I have one question I'd really like to ask him. "Even if you somehow changed your gender and race, how did you get off Gilligan's Island anyway?"
The Cleveland Browns might not win anything either, but at least they manned up and got rid of a guy named Romeo a while back. Wasn't the original Romeo a player in a sad tragedy that's been remembered for countless years? Well OK. Maybe that kind of fits for Cleveland, as in "wherefore art thy, championship?" -- but it didn't make it right.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dreams


With all due respect to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and acknowledging his "I've got a dream" speech encompassed all mankind, I nevertheless reserve the right to have my own sports related dreams, as insignificant as they may be by comparison.
I dream someday my grandchildren will live long enough to see the Lions win the Super Bowl and the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. None have been born yet.
I dream someday either Serena or Venus Williams, after losing a tennis match, won't blame it on cramps, injury, illness, bad calls, solar flares, global warming, or whatever other excuse they can think of, and just say, "I got beat, fair and square."
I dream for more sports owners like the Pistons' late Bill Davidson -- limelight avoiding rich people that use their own money to build a stadium or arena, rather than hammering the taxpayers, put it in a place where hundreds of innocents don't get thrown out of their homes through "eminent domain", and not only show up for the games, but seat themselves down where the action is, amongst the "common folks", instead of in a luxury suite. I salute you Mr. D. Rest well.
I dream Joe Dumars finds his way out of the current sorry mess the Pistons have become, from uncertain ownership, to former in-house guru Tom Wilson bailing for greener pastures, all the way down to a pretty lousy team on the court. He's a class guy and has earned a break.
I dream Mike Ilitch or his heirs will take a time out from mega-buck corporate business ventures, and remember how they got there in the first place. Howsabout a little more cheese and pepperoni and a little less crust?
I dream Danica Patrick finally makes it to the Sprint Cup series of NASCAR, then throws another one of her hissy fits, and gets up in the face of one of the hot-headed young drivers now occupying that circuit  On or off the track -- that might get interesting.
I dream of what might have happened had the Ford family written Bill Parcells a blank check, and given him full authority over all football operations when he was available a few years back, and still had the fire within.
Of what the all-time rushing record would be if Barry Sanders had hung around a few more years.
Of Pete Rose getting his rightful spot in the Hall of Fame while he's still alive.
Of Ernie Harwell finally being able to chat with all the baseball greats that came before his time.
Of Steve Repko being in the same room.
Of sports agents and general managers settling contract disputes in the "octagon".
Of medium-rare prime rib at... Oops. Scratch that. This is supposed to be about sports. Sorry.
Of Manny and Floyd getting it on.
Of the Cowboy cheerleaders getting it off.
Of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens being hooked up to a polygraph, and the results mattering.
Of another team from another city bringing as much joy to their fans as the Saints did last year.
Time out. Reality check.
I have little doubt there will be times when I'm fresh out of rants. Please feel free to suggest a topic -- if you don't mind entrusting a maniac, bwahaha, to elaborate on it.
And if you get a minute Martin, I'd sure appreciate it if you could round up John, Bobby, and Abe to give me a little pep talk. Bringing along that light bulb guy from Menlo Park couldn't hurt either. Now HE had ideas.
I dream they, and you, help me out.