Thursday, March 31, 2011

NCAA hoops. Thoroughbreds, also rans, and KK

AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME!!!!  Well, maybe not the favorites in the men's bracket. The #1 and 2 seeds all seem to have thrown a shoe somewhere along the line. Those hi-falootin colts always were a temperamenal sort and you never know what they'll do next (and no, I'm not talking about Peyton Manning calling audibles). So who's left? Kentucky's a 4 seed but they have a blue-blooded heritage. They even wear the color. UConn's a 3. They have men's basketball too? Geno allows that? Really. There's that pesky Butler, an 8 seed, that everybody thinks will go away, but like another famous butler, they keep lurching around. And VCU as an 11? Plow horses, yet they've tilled the field all the way to the Final Four.

The basketball fillies are usually more predictable. This is when the cream rises to the top, and this year, like most others, the cream was in short supply. UConn, UTenn, Baylor, Stanford, and a couple wannabes. But wait. Baylor and their 6' 8" dominatrix got knocked off by Tex A&M. Good. One trick ponies get exposed eventually. See ya.  Idle thought: If her and Yao Ming got married and had kids -- would they be capable of dunking before they learned their ABC's?

Pat Summitt and her Lady Vols pulled a Humpty Dumpty half way up rocky top. All the queen's horses.....

Stanford, highly respected in the academic community, calls their teams the "Cardinal". Shouldn't there be an "s" on the end of that? They may churn out brilliant scientists and have good teams but this is no place for english majors.

Notre Dame's still there, but they missed the memo a long time ago. They're the Fighting Irish, but the university is named after a cathedral in Paris. Then again, the name Fighting French might draw a few yuks, but I still wouldn't recommend aspiring geography teachers go there. And somebody please inform the boys that, despite what they've been told, Notre Dame translates to "Our Lady", not "The Gipper".

So who's going to win?

On the men's side, methinks the bluegrass boys are for real, but that would go against the mysterious Kathy K's pick, which is Butler. Though I've never met her, I get this very strong feeling it might not be a bad idea to stay on her good side -- in more ways than one -- so the Bulldogs it is. (But if you read this, KK, I'll bet you a Franklin..... oh nevermind. And seeing as how you once blew through New Orleans, I hope your middle name isn't Katrina. Armani, Gucci, or whatever, if you personalize your stuff, those initials might draw a little attention, ya know?)

The ladies? Stanford will take that "s" they don't want and turn A&M into the "saggies". Outta here. The fighting whoever they are? They should have been eating Wheaties. Those Lucky Charms aren't going to cut it against Geno's palominos. And if they ever get their countries straightened out, I don't want to know what a French leprechaun looks like. Please.

In the end, Stanford couldn't keep Harbaugh and they won't keep up in the second half either. It's payback time.

UConn take that to the bank.

PS. Hope you made it to the Palace for Dennis Rodman night. It was April fool's day and Chicago was in town. That meant a lot of bulls---.
Read it either way you want.
Both work.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tiger. Tiger. Tiger. Where did I go wrong?

Dear Tiger

The stuff that you've won.
I hope it was fun.
Because now you're done.
In more ways than one.

Once upon a time you were the Dale Earnhart of golf. The Intimidator. Anybody that was ahead of you on Sunday, and saw you  "coming hard" in the rear view mirror rightfully got nervous, because if you got in the lead -- forget about it -- it's over. Nobody could pass you on the last "lap". Like the 3 car, you closed the deal.

Along the way, you racked up the wins, trophies, countless endorsements, bazillions of dollars, and worldwide admiration. You had it all. Then you messed up.

If I told you once, I told you a thousand times not to let this go to your head. Big heads are for politicians, police chiefs, and game show hosts. Even that Bonds guy, and you see what kind of a mess that got him into. But did you listen? No.

These days I can't figure out what kind of screwy rating system still has you ranked as one of the top 10 players in the world. A few of my retired buddies would likely empty your wallet in a skins game, and though a tricky disc in my back made me give up the real deal, even I could beat you on a putt-putt course. Bring on the windmills and I'll spot you a stroke a side.

Remember, I tried to tell you how all that cussing and throwing clubs wasn't cool. Ignoring adoring fans and having an arrogant caddie didn't help either. When I mentioned working on your swing, I was talking about golf clubs -- not the thing with the bimbos. Maybe you misunderstood that. At that, you became a "whale" in Las Vegas. When you walked into a casino, they knew serious money was involved and they would cater to your every whim. There were others, like MJ, or Charles, and it was rumored maybe even a great white whale was in your company occasionally, though to this day it remains unclear whether that was Moby Dick or Rush Limbaugh. Something about feasting on plankton and blowholes. No matter. Guess I forgot to tell you the wise-guys in Vegas have harpoons. Sorry. Ask Chuck about that.

Then somehow, you got this crazy idea to get married. What were you thinking? That was the most bone-headed move since I thought of making millions writing for this newspaper. Sure, she was a pretty girl and all, but you had your choice of the finest cuisine from Dubai to Pebble Beach at your service whenever you hit town. No strings. Vegas ain't too shabby either. There's some seriously good-looking babes that hang out there. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas -- at least until high-priced investigators and divorce attorneys start snooping around. Money has a way of loosening up lips. If you'd have stayed single and stuck to the game plan involving balls, holes, bunk hers, fair ways, flop shots, or even plugged lies, then done a high fade while getting out of Dodge on your Lear, you might have set records that nobody would ever surpass. Maybe even on the PGA tour as well. But no, you just had to "I do" it.

Now look at you. You're lucky to make a cut, let alone win a tournament. Since you've been declawed, I've decided not to call you Tiger anymore. You're Eldrick. That's how you used to sign your checks, remember?
If you get much worse, it will become Ellie. Go down from their and it becomes Ellie Mae.

Maybe it should have been that way all along. It's all about woods. Your name is Woods, she grew up in the woods, you hit your woods in the woods, and another kind of woods got you in this mess to start with. You both had a fondness for critters, some with 2 legs and some with 4, and some cuter, not to mention more manageable, than others.

Here's wishing you well, and be glad you did what you did to a Swede. They're a peaceful sort. Yeah, she cha-chinged you for a few mill, but it was nothing you couldn't afford, and you had that coming. Your kids are in a far-away country where nobody likes you, but maybe you got off easy. Had you pulled that with, say, an Irish girl, you might be talking to Dale right about now. They're not much into Mulligans when it comes to that sort of thing. Of course, everything has it's upside. You could look up Uncle Jed and finally get that looooooong talking to you always needed.

See you at the putt-putt course. You can wear your red shirt, bring your caddie with 14 different putters in the bag, cuss, and throw all the clubs you want, but I'm gonna whomp you like Grannie did Jethro.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Top 10 reasons why

Why should the NCAA hoops tournaments be held in India, of all places? Other than taking away any home court/turf advantages, that a pretty weird idea, right? So with apologies to Letterman, or more specifically his writers, here's 10 reasons why.

10) The players would get exposed to a totally different culture, always a good thing. They'd also have to be on their best behavior -- an even better thing. On top of that, the Indians, being an honorable people, might very well not allow any players with criminal records to go there. This would also make coaches straighten up regarding their win-at-all-costs philosophy. If they have to leave those players home come tournament time, that would make them think twice about recruiting, or keeping them on their teams in the first place. Coaches wouldn't be exempt either. If they got caught with their hand in the nookie and/or rules violations jar, maybe the Indians only need deny them visas for one month. Their own version of probation. Forget the NCAA wimps with their 2-bit fines and sanctions that have never solved anything. Make a head coach sit home while his team's half way around the world at tournament time, and it might just be amazing how quickly that program cleans up the next year.

 9)  The Indians certainly have the wherewithal to build a complex that would accommodate this tournament. Besides, they'd get their money back in a couple years from the TV folks and other sources anyway.

 8) Along those lines, there would be no dopey beer commercials. While we have "dry" counties in some southern states, the Indians have a dry country. Bud and Miller wouldn't be allowed to spend millions on ads for a high-profile sports event, which might even lower their prices here. Well, maybe not, but it's a thought.

 7) The American contingent might actually have to go without beef for 3 weeks. The Indians highly frown on such consumption, but this would be a healthy thing.

 6) Yes, the teams and coaches fly over there and stay for 3 weeks, until it's done. Players will miss classes, you say? Since when are they going to classes once the tournament starts? Pa-leeze. For that matter, you've heard of "one and dones", expecially on the men's side. How serious do you think they ever took academics?

 5) Too expensive to fly there as a fan? It can't get any worse than the domestic airlines have become with stateside flights. My guess would be the Indians would provide discount travel fare through their own airlines if they hosted this event. Besides getting, gasp, something to eat, you might even be able to take an extra bag along without having to ignore your electric bill for the next month. I would suggest it be made of leather, because it probably came from India anyway. How they don't eat beef and consider the cow sacred, yet do so much leather business has always puzzled me, but maybe that's a topic best left for others.

 4) Cut costs by leaving the cheerleaders at home. I've never been to India, but I'm pretty sure they're not too much into lip gloss, push-up bras, and pom poms.

 3) For that matter, leave the mini-bands at home too. Who cares about hearing their school's fight song every 2 minutes? When there's a break in the action, give me some sitar music so I can contemplate much deeper thoughts. Like, if the Green Bay Packers are "community owned", then who hires and fires the executives anyway? Or maybe how Matt Millen keeps getting high-paying gigs. Perhaps even how Michael Jordan might be the only celebrity in the world capable of growing a Hitler looking mustache and not be questioned about it. Stuff like that.

 2) This would also serve as a major stimulus to get Americans to go there in another way. All those 1-800 numbers that we've called over the years for customer service, only to be put on hold, highly frustrated, no satisfaction, and want to vent?  Go talk to them in person. You're there.

And the #1 reason why the NCAA hoops tournament should be held in India?

Scalpers would likely be water-boarded in the River Ganges. Like I said, they're an honorable people.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The NCAA tournaments should be in India

The NCAA hoops tournaments, both men's and women's, always take over the sports world this time of year in this country. From President Obama all the way down to yours truly, the lowliest laborer, it seems bracketology is everywhere.

March is the perfect time for it. The NBA and NHL haven't started their playoffs yet, major league baseball teams are still in spring training, and the NFL? -- well, there's an off season and then maybe there's a REAL off season. Nobody much cares about golf until all the heavyweights show up at Augusta for the Masters' tourney in a couple weeks, NASCAR anymore doesn't get interesting until their "chase" in the fall, nothing's going on in tennis, and nothing EVER goes on in soccer, at least in this country.

Despite all the attention and as terrific as the NCAA tournaments are, there's still a few things that don't seem quite right.
For instance, on the men's side, why is it that Duke and North Carolina, perennial powers, always seem to play in -- hello -- North Carolina during the first round? How come they don't get shipped to a different region of the country like most every other team? Would the results have been different had Oakland University played Texas, and UM played Duke at the Palace in Auburn Hills? Maybe.

The women's side is even worse. A prime example would be the Lady Huskies of UConn. They hosted a regional on their home court. Love them or hate them, especially their coach, few would argue if they're not the best team in the country, they're certainly in the top 2 or 3. Who was the President the last time they lost on their home court anyway? It's not fair to the other teams. Personally, I highly respect what that program has become, but tell me Storrs, Connecticut was the only venue available, and I'll tell you you might want to lighten up on whatever it is you're smoking.

Then there's Pat Summitt of Tennessee. She won't play Geno Auriemma of UConn anymore. Some say she thinks he cheated. Others say she just doesn't like him. I surmise she's used to her Lady Volunteers being winners and doesn't like the possibility of her squad getting blistered by Geno's on national TV. Besides, conference requirements notwithstanding, coaches shoudn't be able to set their own schedules anyway. That should be left to others with more objective points of view. Nobody cares about powerhouses destroying inferior opponents by 50 points. If they think they're good -- then play somebody good and prove it. It's not like UTenn and UConn just popped up this year as dominant programs. They've both been around for a while, and the way the recruiting ball rolls, will likely stay around for some time. So why not play each other and swap home courts every year? Cat-fighting aside -- you know -- for the fans?

Back to the bigger picture. There's ways to make it better.
The sites are chosen in advance, but why not tweak the "seeding" so no team gets to play in their home state, let alone their home arena for the first 2 rounds.
When it comes to the regionals and different sites, reshuffle the seeding deck. If at all possible keep teams out of their home states yet again. At that point, seeding doesn't matter anyway. Ask Pittsburgh about that. And don't tell me about last minute air-fare changes being expensive because those fans can't book them anyway until they know their team got that far.

But there's a better solution. Build a super-complex somewhere that will accomodate all this every year, and negate any home turf advantage.
I think India would be perfect. Crazy idea, you say?
There's lot of good reasons for this.
More about that next time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Say it ain't so, Joe. The story of the great white hope.

Theres this Zamboni driver. Some might consider him just your average Joe, but I hardly think so.
Turns out, he's been playing hockey since he was a little kid. Nobody knows exactly how long that is, because records don't seem to go back that far. This is not to say he's getting up in years, but if anybody's put in more miles on skates than he has, they likely started out when people had coal chutes, gas lights, and such things as milk and ice were delivered to their door.

Chances are, he knew at a relatively young age he was never going to be good enough to play at the professional level and make the big bucks, but it wasn't about that. It was a passion. Other people might feel the same fire within for golf, tennis, bowling, or maybe even non-sports activities like photography, doing needlework, or a million other things. To each their own when it comes to passions.

I prefer getting up, fetching the paper, and trying to solve the NY Times crossword while sipping a V8 with ESPN on in the background.. "Old Joe" might have already driven to the arena and laced them up for a morning skate before I fill in the first answer to a clue. I can do without the juice, puzzle and 4-letter network, if need be, because that's hardly a passion, though I will concede waking up every morning is very high on my wish list. Yet Joe without hockey might be akin to a dog accustomed to running free in a yard, and now finding itself only going for a short walk on a leash everyday, before being put back into an apartment. Both will carry on with life, but somehow it's just not as much fun as it used to be.

Bumps, bruises, concussions, and countless stitches to sew up all the cuts along the way went with his territory. It's hockey. Things happen. No complaints. Keep pushing on.

After a few decades of all the wear and tear, things got worse. Joints wore out. Thanks to the miracles of modern science, they're replaceable. The left shoulder here, the right shoulder there, and both hips, twice. Evidently, Joe has pretty good medical insurance coverage. More pain, more stitches, more recovery time, and then back to the ice. Drop the puck and let's get it on. It's a passion.

Of course, all that titanium in his body nowadays has it's drawbacks. Cold weather makes things ache, but there's another problem. Metal detectors. The trouble with them is they can't tell the difference between a potential weapon or a new hip. They go crazy when he passes through them. The first time I was with him at an airport approaching one, he told me---

"Dude, look after my wallet, change, shoes, keys, and belt. I'm going to be a while, because I've got some 'splainin to do". After the authorities finally decided he posed no danger, and could put his clothes back on, we were on our way.

Old Joe's still skating, but he's talking about hanging them up after this year. I don't believe him, and deep down I don't think he believes it either. He'll be back as long as he's able to do so. It's the passion thing, and it's not going away.

If the day ever comes where he can't play hockey anymore, you have to give the man credit for looking ahead. He knows how to pilot a Zamboni, which will keep him at the arena and near his beloved ice for the foreseeable future.

The moral of the story? Near as I can tell he's a great guy and, as passions go, hockey's pretty cool.

But stay away from him at airports. Trust me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oakland University. Where no man has gone before.

At last count, there were 342 Division 1 basketball programs in the NCAA. This year, 68 of them get to go to the "big dance". That's about 1 out of every 5, from the Northeast Podunk States, to the perennial powers. Throw in the NIT tournament, and the number goes down to maybe 1 in 3. Does this constitute elite status? I dunno.

What does it take to be a NCAA Division 1 basketball program anyway? The "divisions" certainly aren't based on student population, like high schools are. There's a lot of Division II and maybe III schools that have higher enrollments than some who participate at the Division I level. Near as I can tell, there's 3 criteria to be met.

1) You have to think you have a chance to be competitive at that level.
2) You have to meet a minimum standard regarding your venue/arena.
3) You have to cough up more money to belong to the club.

Enter Oakland University. They obviously thought they could meet the first standard and upgraded the O-rena to qualify for the second. Finding out about the third has about the same degree of difficulty as getting the truth out of that Ohio State football coach, or any politician, for that matter. While they've indeed made big strides in their basketball program, to the point where some people outside of southeast Michigan have actually heard of them, they have a long ways to go before they gain any sort of national prominence.

Yep, they won a "play-in" game a couple years ago, only to get trashed by North Carolina a few days later, and last year got a serious beat-down at the hands of Pittsburgh. Recently, it's been suggested that merely winning a "regular" game in the tournament is some sort of "final frontier". To which I say -- horse-puckey, balderdash, pshaw, and I ain't buying it.

Getting to the tournament barely puts them in the top 20% of the "curve". That's the classroom equivalent of a B minus. Other than another paycheck for the university, winning one game doesn't mean squat. If aspiring to be mediocre is their ulimate goal, they can stop pressing on. They're there
The final frontier shouldn't be about making it to the round of 32. It should be about winning the whole thing and being champions. Too much, too soon, and that's ridiculous, you say? Consider Butler University, just last year. They made it to the championship game, and were one basket away in the final seconds from winning it all. By the way, OU in Rochester, by most accounts a pretty well-to-do neighborhood, has about 4 times the student enrollment of Butler, in Indianapolis, which has some not-so-good neighborhoods. But they almost pulled it off against the mighty Dukies. Did I mention that Duke has roughly half the student population of OU?

You think Butler will be satisfied this year with winning just one tournament game? I doubt it. They've set their sights higher, and so should OU. Aim low, and the best you can hope for is to hit the bottom of the target. Why not shoot for the bulls-eye? Despite the name, so far, these guys aren't Grizzlies. Those animals strike fear in people, and command a lot of respect. Currently, the Oakies are koala bears. Cute, cuddly, playful, and Rodney Dangerfieldish. One way to change that.

Final frontiers are what you make of them.
Given a few more articles, I'm thinking Pulitzer.
Yeah, I know, but if Ocho and Terrell can get their own TV show, then anything's possible.
My work is done here for now and I must be going. Another matter requires my immediate attention.

Maximum warp, Mr. Sulu.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I am God. And I'm thinking about Plan B

Maybe someday I'll write something that's semi-intelligent, but in the meantime this make-believe world has it's advantages. If a Detroit Lion can say his team could go 16-0 next season, assuming there is one, and be believed by some, then I should rightfully have no worries about any fantasy I could ever come up with. Last time I was an NFL owner. I could be the President, the Pope, or the Dalai Lama, but this is supposed to be about sports, so I'm going to bypass those second-tier guys and go right to the top this time.

No, I don't look like George Burns, but he was pretty good, and granted, I'll probably never reach Charlie Sheen level, because he's OVER the top, whatever that means, but hey -- I'm working on it -- OK?
There was a guy in the Oval Office a while back that claimed to be the "decider". He was a flea on a T-Rex compared to me in the sports world. I'M the the decider and I'm thinking about a different strategy.
You pitiful little nits sometimes refer to me as a TV network executive.

For years I've been paying billions for the "rights" to televise sporting events. Baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf tournaments, the Olympics, you name it. It's been costing me a fortune. In order to get my money back I sell commercial time at exorbitant prices to people hawking anything from ramen noodles to luxury cars, and everything in between. It's literally a cast of thousands. Did you see those Super Bowl rates per minute? I haven't felt that way since a couple hours after my senior prom.
They have their tax write-offs, but it still costs them some serious dough, which drives up the price of their products. They want to get THEIR money back, so in the end, you pay more for tuna fish, toilet paper, insurance, or whatever. If you think this is unfair, sue me. I'll shoot some discount air-time rates to the law firms that regularly advertise for a little quid pro quo (I think that's Latin for "payback", but even I don't know everything). Want to take them all on? Good luck with that and you still won't know what I look like.

Where does all this money I put out "up front" go? Mostly to the owners of pro franchises. Of course, the players got wind of this a while back and wanted their slice of the pie. Sara Lee advertises too. Ain't that a hoot?. Somehow the players didn't see the humor in that. They were referring to the green stuff, and not anything that Jolly Giant or Bird's Eye puts out there either.

Next thing you know, players' salaries have gone ballistic. Some of those guys are even making more than I am and, remember, I'm THE MAN. This can't be right. Throw in free agency, and somewhere along the line my money wasn't enough to cover the costs. An example might be a starting pitcher. Let's say he makes $10 million a year and starts 35 games, which means he only works a couple hours every 5 or 6 days. Bet you'd like a job like that.  Baseball fans know about "pitch counts", and 120 is a lot. Assuming he didn't get shelled in the first few innings and lasts that long, he's making around $2300 every time he throws the ball. .An intentional walk to an opposing batter? That's 9 grand for 4 lob tosses, 6 feet outside. If that pitcher somehow gets hurt, he still draws his full salary, and another guy comes along to take his place. Cha-ching, Act II.  So guess what? The ticket prices went up. If you've taken a family of 4 to very many games, and aren't a pro athlete yourself, you might just know about those ramen noodles.

Back to my Plan B. Maybe I'll say STOP. While it was kind of fun deciding where and when games were going to be played, and getting to call my own time outs, I'm not paying for this anymore. I'll be more than happy to televise the games, but I shouldn't have to keep forking out enough money to cure the entire planet's hunger problem for this "privilege". What would happen then? Yeah, I know, there's a few other TV gods like me that might see it as a business opportunity, but what if they got on board with this, and all the geese quit laying 24 karat eggs?

My network would reduce it's costs in a very large way. Ad rates would go way down, which means air time would become available to smaller businesses or individuals that could never afford it before. With any luck, I'd be able to get rid of those cavemen, the heathens tearing up everything while wanting to know what's in your wallet, that duck, lizard and even the dopey girl that's selling insurance policies out of shoeboxes at some sort of sanitarium. And don't get me started on the drug company commercials. There's always shots of logs or tree trunks when they advertise pills for a certain male dysfunction, and water-water everywhere when it has something to do with curing bladder problems. I always did hate that end of the business, but I had to pay the bills, right? Besides, you'd be paying less for all the other products in the end. Did I mention toilet paper?

The rich folks that have become accustomed to my largesse would no doubt huff and puff and threaten to blow my satellite dishes away, but they need me more than I need them. I've got hundreds of things I can air, but most of them only have one product to offer. Without TV, they're in deep doo-doo. You've heard of those uprisings going on in Africa and the Middle East? Think of the stadiums and arenas being sold out and still no TV for the sports bars with their 20 giant screens, let alone the couch taters, and see what happens, right here in the gold old USA. Forget level orange, red, or any other color the bureaucrats could come up with. This would be DefCon1 to the franchise owners.  A true state of emergency. They'd be forced to act quickly to survive the inevitable revolution, which would come quickly. That also means they'd have to come back to me to turn the cameras and microphones back on at a better price to you.. Then they'd be very busy in their own backyards trying to control costs. The outrageous player salaries would have to get more in line with the real world. Eventually, that would drive the ticket prices down, and maybe you mere mortals could afford to go to games and have a piece of meat on the dinner table once in a while too.

I appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers for my infinite wisdom, but you can arise from your knees now and wipe the tears of joy from your faces.
To further show my benevolence and good will upon mankind, I shall perform yet another miracle.
If all this works out, William Shatner can escort that duck out the door, because he's history too.  Enough is too much and I've just about had it with that guy. Now would be a good time to start speaking in "tongues", because I never understood him either.

OK, so maybe I'm not God, but be forewarned, lest you take my network's name in vain. The next time you're watching your favorite team at the most critical moment -- ZAP -- I can put Heidi back on. Or the Beeve. Or the Good Ship Lollipop. Rile me up bad enough, and you might be looking at Judge Judy in 3-D hi-def. How would you like to be on the edge of your seat screaming for your sports heros one second, and see that coming at you the next in surround-sound?

It's enough to make even me say amen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An NFL owner finally comes clean

I spent over 30 years at GM as a card carrying member of the UAW. That makes me a union guy. Uninformed people can say what they want about unions, and what they've stood for over the years, but only an idiot would claim that wages, benefits, and working conditions to this day, even in non-union places of employment, would be better had the unions never existed. It was only the possibility of unionization amongst their work forces that got non-union shops to start treating their people decently. Pensions wouldn't exist. No vacations. Illness/injury/maternity leaves? Tough. Go look for another job when you're able to return to work because somebody else would have already taken your place.
That said, I'm going to pretend I'm an owner of an NFL team in the ongoing NFL - NFLPA negotiations.
I'm very rich. I didn't get to be a billionaire because I was stupid in the business world. The inheritance didn't hurt, but I could have done the same thing myself, honest.
That pesky players' union is threatening to decertify (again) when the collective bargaining agreement expires, which might be any day. Then they'll go crazy with law suits and it appears they have a friendly federal court judge in Minneapolis that will hear all the cases. He's already trying to take away my free TV money, party-pooper, which I think is around $125 million bucks. That's gross. (A little inside billionaire humor there, heh-heh.) Taxes? You're kidding, right? Besides, I have Samantha in accounting looking after that. She tells me it's in the "bag". Not bad to look at either. If I was a little younger... but I digress.
What's the smartest thing for me to do? Nothing. I'm not going to lock my players out. If they want to come to my stadium to practice, they're welcome to do so. Door's open. They can watch film and lift weights to their hearts' content. I'll even throw in a locker room attendant to clean up after them every day. And what's a little hot water and ice anyway?
If commissioner Roger Goodell and the league make me lock out the players, then they can take the heat. I tried to be nice about it, so don't blame me when the likes of icons such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees take the witness stand and try to make me out as some sort of greedy monster.
I'm a nice guy. Now it's back to business. I think I was in charge of selling something, but sometimes I can't remember what. Maybe I need to talk to Sam again.
If you think I'm dumb, consider that krafty guy in New England. He bought the wrong team. Even I know where the true cheese-lovers are, and it isn't Foxborough. Try Green Bay. They even wear it on their heads.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brigham Young and the honor code. Is it right?

Recently, Brigham Young University dropped Brandon Davies, a star basketball player, from their team, because he had broken the school's honor code by having sexual relations while enrolled there.
According to Jeff Kuehn, the OP sports editor:
"For the record, the code requires students to be honest, live a chaste life, use clean language, abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and illegal substances and attend church regularly.
Davies, by violating the code, cannot represent the school or play on the team, but he is allowed to be with his teammates on campus and watch practices".
Did BYU get it right? Let's look closer.
Prep stars in the athletic world are basically free agents. If they're good enough, they'll have multiple scholarship offers to choose from at the collegiate level. Parental and peer pressures aside, nobody can make them go to a certain college or university unless they want to. Even if they only get one scholarship offer, it's still a choice. They don't have to go there. It's not like they get drafted.
There's little doubt Davies was made fully aware of the above mentioned honor code before he signed on at BYU. He chose to do so anyway. That was, in effect, a contract. If one breaks the terms of a contract, sometimes adverse consequences come into play. Davies was/is a basketball player and, near as I can tell, he's still getting a full ride (free education) at BYU. Had his scholarship been revoked, there would be no issue of hanging out with his teammates or watching them practice, because he wouldn't even BE on campus  To date, his punishment has consisted of not being allowed to "represent" the university. But he's still there, presumably going to classes -- for free. That raises another question nobody's talking about.
What about the vast majority of the student population that are not on athletic scholarships and signed the same honor code? What happens to one of them if they do the same thing as Davies?  Other than academic scholarships, another small minority, most of the kids have to pay their own way, and tuition's a major cha-ching these days. Ask a parent. Assuming the same honor code applies to all at BYU -- how would they be punished? The only tool the school would have is to suspend or expel them. Does that happen when they see a "normal" student offender drinking coffee or tea? I don't know, but I suspect a lot of it goes on, let alone the other things. After all, these are college kids. Do you really think for a minute that none of them -- well, use your imagination.
This is not to judge BYU's policy one way or the other. They have their own rules, and are entitled to them.  If kids want to go there, sign on to the honor code, and reap the benefits of an education provided by a highly respected university, then I wish them well.
Personally, I probably wouldn't have lasted a couple hours there in my college days, before I rightfully got the boot for my own vices at the time, but there's a difference.
I never signed that honor code. Davies did.
I'm a lot older than he is, and certainly can't match his ability on the court, but there's another honor code that supersedes that of even BYU.
In the end, despite talent, and maybe even fame and fortune --- a man's only as good as his word.
Somehow I think Mr. Young would have approved of that.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March Madness. And a little name dropping.

First, thanks to Nancy, aka The Asparagus Queen, for suggesting the following topic.
Whew. The Super Bowl is over, the Packers are the champs, and I haven't seen Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes since that game. Could he be related to the Rooneys that own the Steelers and is keeping a low profile?  Nah. Probably not. Anyway, all the hoopla over beer commercials and Christina Aguilera botching the national anthem is fading away in the rear view mirror.
But what's that faint rumbling sound off in the distance? Is it an approaching thunderstorm? An earthquake? A swarm of locusts? Did Charlie Sheen's plane just touch down at Metro?
Nope. It's water coolers in offices all across the country. They're beginning to vibrate in anticipation of what is coming soon. That can only mean one thing. March Madness draws near.
Every high school with a basketball team theoretically has a shot at glory. I admit I don't know much about the prep scene, other than I'm pretty sure I was there once. Besides, I hear something else. Not sure, but it might be Scott Burnstein getting his always insightful bytes revved up for showtime. Or maybe it's the mighty Kosmo putting his crystal ball through a dynomometer test to see if it will withstand the high RPM's involved when crunch time comes. Yours truly once went all the way to Alcatraz to score a couple Kosmo shirts. The K-man drives a hard bargain sometimes. At any rate, those guys are good and they'll be all over it.
And then there's the NCAA hoops tournament. This is the time when memos, spread sheets, accounts receivable, bomb threats, incoming nukes, an alien invasion, or even Hillary and Rush lip-locking next to your water cooler would be ignored in favor of a higher calling. Bracketology.
It's also the time when the staffs in every office don't have much to worry about while goofing off. That's because the boss is still behind closed doors wondering how in the hell his/her #3 seed got knocked off by a #14 in the opening round. Everybody in the office knows it, so they don't want to show their faces. It kind of works out, in that way.
Dark horse and cinderella stories are nice, but realistically there's usually only 5-6 teams, both men or women's, that have a legitimate shot at being champions. (And yes, Deb, that includes your beloved Pat Summit and her Lady Vols, but I still think she and Geno should get into the "octagon" and settle it once and for all).
And then what happens? The Tigers will be, yawn, underway. The Pistons are a mess. The Lions don't even know if they'll be playing next year, the Europeans are dominating golf, and wake me up when the Red Wings start the playoffs. NASCAR has mandated their drivers race in CoT cars, as in Car of Tomorrow. That acronym could be interpreted in other ways. Crashes on Tracks. Close on Tri-ovals. Calamity on Tires. Some might even say it's Called obvious Tedium, until the "chase" starts in the fall.
And then there's....
Wait a sec...  Uh oh. My #1 source Janet just informed me that Nancy works for a law firm. With a bunch of legal eagles and all that.
In that case, I have a correction to make. I formally retract my opening statement and humbly apologize for calling her the Asparagus Queen.
Make that the ALLEGED Asparagus Queen.
Whether I know anything about sports or not is debatable, but like Dirty Harry once said -- a man has to know his limitations.