Monday, August 29, 2011

The Detroit Lions. Love, hate, and apathy.

Despite what some Joe/Jane Schmo beat reporters and/or columnists might write, not all of us have a love/hate relationship with the Lions. These people get paid to do what they do, because it sells papers, which is in their best interest. Some of them are very good at the hype game, while others -- well -- maybe not so good.  But in the end it all boils down to what individuals think about that team, scribes or not.

Sure, some people will always love the Lions, much like hard-core partisans will always love Republicans or Democrats, no matter how much these people keep getting ripped off by the very folks they profess undying loyalty to.

On the other hand, how can you really hate a football team? I could no more hate the Lions than I could all those leaves I have to rake in the fall. I'll get back to that.

When I was a little boy, my dad would take me down to see the Lions play at Tiger Stadium. I remember the likes of Alex Karras, Roger Brown, Joe Schmidt, Wayne Walker, Pat Studstill. Gail Cogdill, and a QB named Milt Plum, amongst others. For road games, Dad and I would hunker down in front of the TV with a ring of pickled bologna, a pack of saltines and a couple Nehis.

Fast forward. I have my first car and first real job (Dad has lost interest -- an omen?) and somehow I find a way to save up enough of my burger-flipping money to get to a game with a couple friends here and there.

Fast forward. College years. Tight budget. The Lions still in Tiger Stadium. I've met another super-fan, who drove a Coke truck, and when we couldn't afford or get tickets for home games, we'd drive up to Saginaw, barely outside the 75 mile TV black-out zone at the time, to a K-Mart on game day. It was a pretty cool set-up. They had reclining chairs in front of the bank of TV screens. Arby's was right across the street when halftime rolled around. Yeah, we got hassled initially about "moving along", but eventually they came to expect us every other Sunday and it worked out. (Bringing a sandwich and a Coke back to the guy that always seems to be on duty probably didn't hurt either.) We saw Chuck Hughes die on the field with Dick Butkus frantically waving for help on that bank of TV screens, though it wasn't confirmed until we heard it on the radio on the way home down I-75.

Fast forward. The Silverdome is built. My Coke truck bud has relocated. I've started my career at GM and, BTW, I'm married. First house, big mortgage, couple car payments, couple dogs, lots of home improvement projects -- the usual back then. The wife's not interested in the Lions, but another guy I met in the shop is. If I remember right, the end zone tickets used to go on sale at the Dome the Tuesday before the game. If you weren't standing in line outside the box office at 6:AM, you had no chance to get tickets. So one of us had to come in late for work every couple weeks. Somehow that worked out, and we'd normally go to 4-5  games a year.

Fast forward. A ton of players. A few different coaches. Saw Utley get paralyzed. A linebacker, Reggie something come perilously close to the same fate, which ended his career. I've spent literally thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars, driven a lot of miles, and sat in front of countless TV screens over the years to watch them. Yep, there were good times, the most notable being when the Lions routed the Cowboys back in the early 90's for their only playoff win to date. I was there, and I can't remember ever being in a place that was louder than that. And lord knows, I've been to my share of rock concerts. It was incredible. But then the Lions got humiliated the following week and the balloon popped. More importantly, another feeling started to set in. Apathy.

Still, even though I pretty well knew the Lions were going to be mediocre at best for the foreseeable future, I hung in there for a few more years. I really don't know why other than to say perhaps watching Barry Sanders in person was worth the price of admission all by itself. Dumb? Probably, but that's the only reason I can think of.

When Barry took a hike, during his prime, no less, not to be confused with my "prime" fan years, that was good enough for me. I  walked away too. No more love, but certainly no hate. It just didn't matter anymore. That goes back to the apathy that I mentioned above.

Much has been made of Matt Millen's tenure and what a disaster it was. Like many others, I've spoofed him in the past, but I could do so objectively. You see, I had detached myself from the Lions long before he ever came on the scene. In fact, I've never been to Ford Field for a Lions game and I have absolutely no desire to do so. It would be like taking my ex-wife out to a fancy dinner and a show. I mean, what's the point?  No hard feelings and I wish them all well, but over is over.

Given my history with the Lions, I think it would be a fair statement to say I've paid my dues. The next time you read or hear a reporter talking on the subject, remember this --- chances are they never paid to get into a game in their lives. They never missed work standing in line at 6 in the morning, much less drove to a K-Mart a few counties away to watch a game when that was the only option. No, they get free parking, take the elevator up to the press box to the best seats in the house, and likely get free concessions. The late George Plimpton once wrote a book called Paper Lion. It was an interesting read about what really went on regarding that team at the time. He walked the walk, if only for a short time.

Most of the Joe/Jane Schmos have never had to pay a price, but they want to tell everybody what they should be thinking. Perhaps another book should be written about them. Paper Fan.

However, anything's possible I suppose. If the Lions want to get my attention again, then wake me up when they're in the Super Bowl. I don't want to hear about winning a division or playoffs. That's chump change for the Schmos to write about. Actually win the Super Bowl and I might consider going back to see a game. Maybe.

Until and unless that happens, I really don't care. And I might not even then.

Here's a guarantee. If there's one thing in the whole sports world that talking heads, beat reporters, columnists, magazine or on-line scribes, and anybody else associated with the like doesn't comprehend --  it's apathy.

Someone much wiser than I am once laid some heavy thoughts on me. They went something like this --

The end of a relationship has nothing to do with anger, harsh words, criticism, bitterness, or feelings of resentment. To experience any of that means you still have an emotional investment at some level. When you become totally indifferent and just don't care one way or the other anymore -- then it's over. To try and recapture that which has slowly been lost over a long period of time is highly unlikely. Accept it for what it is and move on.

In my opinion, she had a very good point.

Those leaves in the fall that I mentioned earlier? That particular tree got cut down and eventually burned in my fireplace.  It wasn't personal. I used to really like that tree but, like the Lions, after a while it got to be more trouble than it was worth. So I moved on. (Ironically, I might not have a house at all, let alone a nice fireplace, if I hadn't stopped spending money on the Lions.)

But show me the Super Bowl, and maybe I'll plant a sapling. Just for old times sake. In a hundred years nobody's going to know the difference anyway.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Michael Vick is really a white guy?

Could have fooled me. It seems a certain 4-letter network has photoshopped a picture of him into what he would look like if he was white. Not to worry. It's only make-believe. Besides, as we all know, white guys can't run that fast. Or was it jump that high? Either way, it should come as no great surprise the talking heads are trying to stir up controversy where there isn't any. Maybe their Nielsen ratings have dipped a bit and they're desperate to make a splash. Who knows?

If they want to nip/tuck a Vick pic and put it out there -- more power to them. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if MV himself got a yuk out of it. He's back making millions as a starting QB in the NFL, and probably couldn't care less about such nonsense.

Hopefully, Vick has learned from his mistakes, and he should consider himself quite fortunate indeed. One never knows what might be coming next.

Remember, this was only an altered photo. It could have been much worse. Let's not forget that in real life the late Michael Jackson claimed his amazing transformation was natural, destiny, an act of God -- something like that. Imagine the scenario if Vick was still in prison and the same thing happened to him. One night he went to bed a macho-man, and the next morning he woke up looking like the latter-day MJ. .

Now THAT would have been a problem.

He sure would have been popular, but I don't think it would have had anything to do with autographs.

Given it was dog-fighting that landed him in the joint to begin with, MV just might have developed a whole new appreciation of dogs in general -- especially adult females.

Let's put it this way -- if Jackson had it right -- depending on when, where, and how it goes down,  that "by the grace of God" thing can turn out to be a bitch sometimes.

Yep,Vick could have done a lot worse than the NFL, millions, and a doctored pic.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pat Summitt, legend in the making

I didn't want to write about this, because it's a delicate subject. If you've read my stuff, you know about bulls in china shops.Yet somehow I got strong-armed into doing it by my friend Deb. She can be persuasive at times. The nature of the beast, I suppose. Anyway, a promise is a promise, so onward.

Pat Summitt, the renowned head coach of the University of Tennessee's Lady Vols basketball team, was recently diagnosed by no less an authority than the Mayo Clinic, as having entered an early stage of dementia. Summit herself confirmed this at a recent press conference. She also adamantly stated there would be no "pity party", and vowed to not only fight on, but to continue coaching. Given her nature, this should come as no surprise. If there's one thing she is, besides being a great basketball coach -- it's feisty.

As far as being a coach, her stats are off the charts. 1071 wins over an ongoing career that's spanned 38 years. Simple math will tell you that equals an average of 28 wins per year. Most college basketball coaches never get 28 wins in ANY year. She's now 59 years old (sorry about the age thing ladies, but stats don't lie), and she somehow had the wherewithal to become a head coach at the age of 22. That's unheard of.

At that, it's probably a fair statement to say Summitt is one of those people that have polarized others. Some have put her on a pedestal, while others don't think so highly of her. Women probably favor her a lot more than men, and the people of Tennessee no doubt have a vastly different opinion than those in other states with competing basketball teams. I've heard her mentioned as being anything from a goddess to a lipless lesbo. Chalk it up to human nature and fans.

There are those that will point at her accomplishments and say she's the best college basketball coach of all time, men's or women's, and they would have a compelling argument. Then again, there are others who might counter by saying that for many years, there were only a handful of lady collegiate basketball teams that could even compete at a high level, so she racked up hundreds of "cupcake" wins. They would also have a good point.

Not so many years ago, small school teams like Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion ruled the roost. Then Summitt came along, swept them aside, and built a dynasty in Knoxville, including 8 NCAA National Championships. Impressive stuff.

But times, they keep a-changing. Once Summitt was queen of the rockytop, pun intended, she didn't like being pushed aside by the new kid on the block, especially a man, and more especially the man being that smart-mouthed pipsqueak fromn UConn -- one Geno Auriemma, who all of a sudden was not only winning national championships, but out-recruiting her for the best high school players.

Summitt claimed that Auriemma had cheated in one way or the other, so even though the whole country wanted to see the game(s), she refused to put UConn on UT's regular season schedule. It came across to most people as a combination of sour grapes and the fear of getting a beatdown on national TV. Besides, something's fundamentally wrong with that anyway. No coach, from preps to pros, should have any say-so as to who their team will play. This should be left in the hands of others to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest, personal or otherwise. This is not to say Coach Summitt didn't run a squeaky clean program, but you've seen the results, at various schools in various sports, of giving a college head coach too much authority. It's a recipe for disaster. But I digress.

Nowadays, the times of dynasties are likely over. Too many schools have jumped in where they seemingly had little interest before. They've spent millions on top notch arenas and facilities, hired whip-smart coaches and staffs, and have an army of recruiters beating the bushes for stars in the making. Serious competition is coming like dandelions in the spring. You never know where they're going to pop up. Who amongst you would have foreseen Texas A&M ever being crowned national champs just a couple years ago?

Regardless, Coach Summitt's place in the Hall of Fame of college athletics is already a given. I hope she hangs around and wins another 1071. Somehow I think she's just about ornery enough to pull it off.

But just for old times sake, what I REALLY want to see is her and Geno in the octagon. The pay-per-view price doesn't matter. I'll sell my Harley, take out a home equity loan, whatever it takes, to tune it in.

I'm thinking Pat would wear him down and eventually make Geno tap-out, via some sort of submission hold.

So OK, Deb. Promise made and promise kept. Please feel free to comment. I don't know how you talk me into these things.

Maybe it's because I think so highly of your girls.

. .

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Family Feud or sports? You decide

It's almost spooky how much sports has come to resemble game shows. Here's a few examples.....

Lingo.  Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chisox. After 5 tries, I still can't understand some of those words either.

Baggage. Plaxiico Burress, Mike Vick, Terrell Owens, Adam "Pacman" Jones, etc. The list is long. Tough call.

Wheel of Fortune. Anybody drafted in the 1st round by the NBA.

1 vs 100. A Chicago Bears fan wearing a jersey in a Green Bay sports bar on game day at Lambeau.

Let's Make a Deal. General managers and agents.

Deal Or No Deal. Those same people when the player is holding out for a better contract.

Jeopardy. This gets complicated. Regular jeopardy is when a guy finds out his team drafted a hot shot college kid that plays his position. Double jeopardy is when his team went out and got a free agent for his position, and paid him 3 times what the original guy was making.

Daily Doubles? Dustin Pedroia of the Bosox.

Final jeopardy is when a guy is 40 years old, and still thinks he can put a beatdown on the reigning world champion in his weight class in the "octagon". That is a bad, repeat, BAD, idea.

Minute To Win It. You're typical major league baseball "closer".

The Price Is Right. Anybody a big market team signs in their never-ending quest to....

   1) Put them over the top for a possible championship, or....
   2) Prove they're about as fiscally responsible as the U.S. government, which results in.....
   3) An average family of 4 skipping a house payment to attend a game.

That "come on down" thing just might wind up being their credit rating.

Even some of the old game shows are still relevant. Consider....

To Tell the Truth. See Mike Vick above.

Concentration. Peyton Manning.

I've Got a Secret. Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel or, currently, the Miami Hurricanes.

Hollywood Squares. Offensive linemen trying to be slick with starlets on Rodeo Drive.

The Newlywed Game. When former jocks become "analysts" and will say or do just about anything on TV for a few bucks.

The Dating Game. Check the latest tweets from A-Rod and Derek Jeter. Or maybe the tabloids.

Joker's Wild.  2 words. Chad Ochocinco.

The Match Game. Outrageous  pay-per-view prices to watch the boxing bout of the century which, amazingly enough, seems to happen every 6 months or so.

Yet there's one that puts all the rest to shame, which brings me back to the beginning.

Family Feud.  Frank and Jamie McCourt, owners of the LA Dodgers (for now). Forget about doubling or tripling the points. The survey said.......

This "fast money" round just isn't working out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Little League World Series. Rigged?

I don't know, but some very strange things are happening. Remember a few years back when the team from Taiwan was so dominant? Then it was discovered they were allegedly falsifying birth certificates so older players could compete. Hey, when you're 26, competing with a 28 year old doesn't matter. But there's a huge difference between being 12 and going up against 14 and 15 year olds.

I wouldn't be surprised if those kids got preferential treatment too. A free bowl of rice here and there, and maybe they even gave them tricked out rickshaws to pull around town. Cheating in amateur athletics? The utter nerve. I'm sure glad that could never happen in this country. Ahem.

At that, there is no more Taiwan team. Yeah, there's a team from the same island, but now they're called Chinese Taipei. That's likely our way of bowing down to Communist China, which is hypersensitive to that island having any standing of it's own in the international community. They claim it sttill belongs to the mainland.

The kids don't know the difference. They just want to play ball. Yet it's probably a good idea to grant China this small favor, because if they ever foreclose on the mortgage we have with them, they'd probably own everything west of the Mississippi.  The hell of it is -- they don't even HAVE a team in the Little League World Series. Maybe that's because they're too busy trying to figure out how to pass off 9 and 10 year old female gymnists as being 14 for the next Olympics. Remember that?

It gets worse. The Canadian team features twin brothers that are several inches taller and appear to be older than their teammates. Those kids are dominant players. Guess where they were born? Yep, Taipei. How in the hell did they wind up on the Canadian team?

And why is it the Saudi Arabian team consists of so many blond kids? They look American, talk American, act American, and have American names. There's not a Faisal in the bunch. What's up with that? Fake beards might be a little over the top, but you'd think they could at least dye their hair. Maybe even prayer mats in the dugout facing Mecca. Something's wrong here. I smell infidels. Off with their toe-heads.

Some of it's just silly. The Pennsylvania team is in the Mid-Atlanticdivision. Really? The only thing I know going on in the middle of the Atlantic, besides submarines and fish,  is a whole lot of salt water.

The Kentucky team is in the Great Lakes Division. And just what Great Lake are they within a 3 hour drive of anyway?

I dunno. Just when all the politics have died down until the next so-called Doomsday, and the sports media are catching their breath anticipating the start of the real NFL season, the NASCAR "chase", and the baseball playoffs -- WHAM -- up pops the Little League World Series with all it's shenanigans.

It's enough to drive a man to drink. Hmmm. Maybe I'll go see the Peavulture for a little rheumatiz medicine.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Phil Mickelson and his meds

If you ever watch golf, you've probably seen the commercial. Phil says one minute he's on top of the world and the next, he has this thing called psoriatic arthritis. Evidently, that disease involves inflammation of the joints and can be quite painful.

Phil recommends consulting your rheumatologist about taking a drug called Enbrel. It worked for him.

Time out. I didn't know there even WAS such a thing as a rheumatologist. While Phil has the means to go see such specialists, most of us can't afford a simple office call to our local "take 2 aspirins, drink 8 glasses of water, and get lots of sleep" doctor. There's no more of that "call me in the morning" stuff either. They're probably on the golf course. Maybe with Phil.

Anymore, if you don't have health insurance, you're lucky to get treated for a broken bone. What do you think would happen if you walked into an emergency room and told them your joints ached? Chances are you'd starve to death before your name was called to see a doctor.

But good for Phil. I hope he keeps pounding the golf ball, racking up the millions, and taking his designer meds.

In the meantime, some of us common folks have joints that ache occasionally too. What kind of remedies are available to us?

Think Granny Clampett and her rheumatiz medicine. Yep, that's the ticket. It might not cure it -- but you won't care -- at least for a little while. You see, there's this guy that goes down to West By Gawd Virginny every so often, and he comes back with -- no -- maybe I shouldn't go there.

Either that, or if you're clever enough to find the Peavulture I mentioned in an earlier post -- she'lll fix you up.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remember Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce?

A surprising development has occured. Are they going back to change the record books to credit AG with a perfect game because of a blown call by umpire JJ?  No..

In the meantime, probably few Tiger fans have noticed, or even cared, that Galarraga is with the Arizona Diamondbacks these days. Won 3, lost 4, and pitched a grand total of 42 innings with an ERA of 5.91. In his 5 year career, he's a sub-.500 pitcher. Not exactly the stuff legends are made of.

But every once in a while, an ordinary type athlete accomplishes something totally unforeseen, and even bordering on the incredible. Sure, they have to be fairly good to start with, but everything else has to fall in place perfectly,  In other words, there's usually a lot of luck involved as well. It almost happened to Armando, but for that one blown call at first base.

Umpire Jim Joyce was vilified nationally, and I think it's a safe bet to say he didn't want to hang out in Detroit sports bars for a while. He acknowledged his mistake, and even tearfully apologized. That's all the guy could do, but some people will never let it rest.

Yet when it comes to umpires, who really knows them best? Would you concede it's probably the players?

According to a just-released poll by Sports Illustrated amongst major league players -- guess who they voted the best umpire by a wide margin?

Yep. Jim Joyce. The 2nd place guy got about half as many votes and nobody else was even close.

So maybe he blew a call in a freak game for a journeyman pitcher, and will live in infamy amongst Tiger fans forevermore.

But he must be getting a whole lot of other stuff right for (all) the players to rank him #1.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Detroit Tigers, the panic button, and space invaders

How can those 3 things possibly be related? Let a twisted mind explain.

Let's face it. The Tigers are a mediocre club playing in a sub-par division. At the time of this writing, the teams in the AL Central division were a collective 26 games under .500. That should tell you something about how they stack up against everybody else. If the Tigers were in the AL East, they'd be about 10 games behind. Further, if that were the case, they'd have to play teams like the Bosox and Yaniks, clearly superior clubs, a lot more. They could easily be 20 games behind and all this hoopla about a pennant chase wouldn't be happening. But it is.

And what's up with this whole "panic button" thing anyway? It seems like every time a team hiccups somebody's talking about pushing a panic button. Well, let's see. If I buy into that philosophy and the Tigers lose 3-4 games in a row, should I stock up on canned goods, bottled water, and build a bomb shelter? If Justin Verlander gets hurt, should I wrap my house in plastic sheeting? If the Tigers fail to make the playoffs, should I run naked through the streets, raping, looting and pillaging?

I think not. Can't remember which company it was, but somebody advertised an "easy button". That's the one for me.

It's not like the hostile Berserkazoids from the star system Limbeck have come to impregnate our women and enslave our men in di-lithium crystal mines on the planet Zombie.

No, it's just baseball. So relax. Every little thing's gonna be alright.

That easy button comes in handy sometimes. I highly recommend it.

(On a personal note -- now when Lynn, aka the dreaded Peavulture, goes on the warpath, it's time to panic. I'd rather take my chances with the Berserkazoids)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A salute to Jim Thome

Thome, currently of the Minnesota Twins, hit his 599th and 600th home runs last night. Out of all the umpteen thousand guys that have played major league baseball -- he's only the 8th man to reach that plateau. That in itself is very impressive. That fact that he did it against the Detroit Tigers is irrelevant. However, for a little local perspective, consider that Al Kaline, who many Tiger fans think was the best player ever to wear the Olde English D throughout his long and brilliant career -- hit 399 home runs. That's no small feat, but it's a far cry from 600.

Further consider that Thome has always been amongst the most popular players with both teammates and opponents alike. He plays hard, but he's a gentleman, a good sport, and has a sense of humor.

Throw in he's a devoted family man; no sordid affairs, no DUIs, no drugs or 'roids, no gambling, no dead dogs, no gun incidents, no talking smack, and no acts of stupidity at after hours clubs. He doesn't wreck cars. He wrecks fastballs.

I'm happy to see a class act like Thome reach such a milestone.

Cooperstown awaits him in a few years and it couldn't happen to a nicer and more deserving guy.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ndamukong Suh. Aggressive or dirty?

While briefly watching the Detroit Loins' game last night, I saw Suh, a defensive lineman, pick up the opposing quarterback and slam him to the turf. This was after the QB had already thrown the ball. Suh knew that.

It was dirty and an obvious attempt to seriously injure another player.

Granted, there's a fine line involved here. Running backs and receivers are going to get hit hard when they have the ball. Linemen engage on every play and beat the snot out of each other. Kickoff and punt returners have to deal with the kamikaze squad coming down field at them. Vicious hits, blocks, and tackles abound. It's the nature of the game.

Yet there comes a time when the inmates of the asylum need to abide by a few rules, to guarantee their OWN survival. That's why the refs throw flags for "personal fouls". It normally involves something a player did to an opponent that was unnecessary in the flow of the game and, more importantly, a deliberate attempt to injure.

This is not Suh's first infraction. In his short career, he's pulled a few other nasty stunts along the way. Yes, the local Detroit sports media and most Lion fans will chalk it up to aggressiveness, but it's not. It's dirty.

What usually happens to dirty players? In baseball, if a pitcher plunks a hitter, and it's deemed intentional -- you can pretty well count on somebody on that pitcher's team getting a fastball in the ribs by the opposing pitcher. Hockey? Send a goon after our star player and we'll send a goon after yours. NASCAR? If you wrecked me, I'm going to find a way to wreck you in a future race. Such is the way it goes.

People with their own biases can rationalize just about anything, but at the end of the day, the "players" know what's going on.

Other players and coaches around the NFL are well aware of Suh and his occasional shady tactics. Even if they weren't directly involved -- they have film on everything. Don't think for a minute they don't know what he's done.

If he keeps it up, don't be surprised if a payback comes around. All it takes is two offensive linemen with an attitude. One guy holds him up and the other throws 300 lbs. into one of his knees.

Yep, that would be a personal foul. Chop block. The ref would throw his flag and a 15 yard penalty would be assessed.

But Suh would still be heading to the OR so they could put him back together again.

Here's hoping he sees the error of his ways sometime soon.

If not, he might have to learn the hard way that those other guys are trying to make a living too, are just as tough as he is, and they have a way of evening things out in the long run.

Ndamukong needs to quit with the dirty stuff or else, as Johnny Cash once sang, he'll find out life can be rough in the NFL for a boy named Suh.

Or something like that. Close enough.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'll bet you a beer

It is now 1:15 AM Saturday morning. A while ago, I peeked at the Dettroit Lions game vs the Cincinatti Bengals. The Lions were ahead 31-3. The game's over by now and I have no idea what the final score was, but chances are, the Lions won handily.

In the morning, I'll go get the newspaper and turn on ESPN in the background, while sipping a V-8, my waking-up beverage of choice.

Here's where the bet comes in. Between a print reporter or a talking head, after all the hype that's been fed to Lions fans about players finally grasping the system, the offensive and defensive coordinators remaining the same, QB Matthew Stafford being healthy, a terrific draft, key players being picked up through free agency to upgrade certain positions, talk of winning the NFC Central Division, playoffs, and even Super Bowl aspirations -- after blitzing Cinci, at least one of those same people will tell you.....

Let's not get carried away. It's only one pre-season game, a long way to go, anything can happen, blah, blah.

To which I say -- they were trying to whip the masses into a frenzy for the last few months with optimism, and now, after a rousing start, they caution them not to get carried away. It would be nice if they made up their minds -- ya know? Some of those diehard folks actually believe that stuff.

Of course, this is only a guess. I could be wrong.

We'll all know in the morning.

BTW -- I prefer Miller Lite.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A quickie. Mariano Rivera

The elite :"closer" for the Yanks blew a couple saves and gave up a couple home runs. Some of the talking heads think Armageddon must be upon us -- or at least New York.

Hey, I don't care HOW good he is. Those guys he's pitching to? They're major league hitters. The last guy on the bench for the worst  big league club is REALLY good, or he wouldn't be there. It's not like the fat kid with freckles on a little league team. Believe it or not, once in a while they're going to hit the ball. Hard.

It happens.

So what's the big freakin deal?

A quickie. Steve Williams

While Tiger's got the media hooked like a bunch of heroin addicts, even having been in his proximity seems to be intoxicating to some.

How else to explain that Steve Williams, merely his FORMER caddy, is getting more air time than all the rest of the pro golfers combined?


Chad Ochocinco and some terrible puns

So Chad Ochocinco (nee Johnson) has gone from the Cincinnati Bengals to join the Brady Bunch in Foxborough.

If a guy wants to change his name to his uniform number, more power to him, but why not just change it to Chad Eightyfive? What's Spanish got to do with it?  He was born and raised  in Miami.  Hmmm. On second thought, nevermind.

Consider -- if Chad goes blazing down the field and Tom Brady throws him a 50 yard pass -- would be call it the "spanish fly" pattern?

At that, I wonder about a couple things. What would have happened if he got to New England and the #85 was already taken by another guy, that wouldn't give it up? Say they assigned him #1. Would he change his name to NumeroUno?  That might not sit well with...

The man in the hoody, head coach Bill Bellichick, who is known not to tolerate a whole lot of ego crap out of his players. He runs a tight ship. If the new guy starts flapping his gums and pulling the same antics he did in Cincinnati, between Bellichick and the veterans in the Patriots locker room, they'd likely put him out to dry blowing in the wind like freshly laundered sheets..

Which begs the question..... would he then be a -- gasp -- hanging Chad?

That was in Florida too, wasn't it?

Funny how things go proceso completo (full circle) sometimes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Setting the record straight with Tiger

I've zapped Tiger Woods a few times but it isn't personal. I dare anybody to review my older posts regarding him and point out where I told a lie. While 99% of the people are busy idolizing him, I have this little problem called being objective, that I can't seem to shake. Tough job -- but somebody's gotta do it.

I find it somewhere between comical and sad that other writers and/or talking heads will refer to someone such as myself as a "Tiger hater". I don't hate the dude. Never met him. If I ever did, I'd look him in the eyes, shake his hand and say, "pleased to meet you",  just like I would anybody else. Thing is, I wouldn't bow down and kiss his ass, like so many others are wont to do.

Was he the best golfer for many years? No doubt about it. Is he world famous? Absolutely. Does the fact that he's a black man in a predominantly white man's sport enter in to it? Right or wrong -- of course it does. It's like Danica Patrick. An average driver on what little is left of the Indy car circuit, mediocre at best in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the minor leagues of stock car racing, and now is creating a media buzz over her possible jump to racing with the big boys. Do you think for one minute that doesn't have anything to do with her being a woman, with a pretty face, no less?

But Tiger's just a man with faults and weaknesses like every other man. Or woman. 100 years from now, if the nitwit politicians haven't blown up the planet by then, people will look at his plaque in the golfing Hall of Fame and say the same things we say about Ty Cobb right now. "Oh yeah. I heard of him. He's was pretty good, way back then". And then they'll move on and forget about it.

So call me a Tiger hater if you want, because I refuse to jump on the bandwagon of the poeple that worship him. Folks like that remind me of something ex-Prez George W. Bush once said. "If ya ain't fer us -- yer agin us". That was quickly followed up by the insinuation that if you disagreed, you were somehow unpatriotic and anti-American. It had something to do with one of the countries he decided to invade. I forget which, but I disagreed at the time. Given only those two choices, I thought, well George, I guess I'm agin ya. You only gave me two choices and I picked one. For that matter, I don't know what patriotism means any more, except waving flags, giving more money to already rich, corrupt politicians, or getting killed or maimed in an undeclared  war that was unnecessary in the first place. I'm an American, though. I was born in this country. For some reason, that pesky little thing about being objective keeps getting in the way. The First Amendment's pretty cool. Ain't freedom of speech a hoot?  But I digress.

Do I root against Tiger? I suppose, in the same way I root against the LA Lakers, the NY Yankess, Peyton Manning, and all things Lebron in Miami. It's not personal -- I'm just sick of hearing about it over and over and over again.

I like a good juicy porterhouse steak too, but if I had to eat it for breakfast, lunch and diinner every day, it wouldn't be very long before tuna fish or macaroni and cheese started looking pretty good. Enough of a good thing can be too much after a while.

An aside. My friend Deb and her girls tell me the real reason Eldrick fired his caddie Steve Williams is because Steve is messing around with Tiger's ex, Elin.

Two quick thoughts on that.
1) Somebody please say it ain't so.
2) If true, I do not, repeat, DO NOT, want to see the video.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I need a break. Stat!

There's WAY too many worthless statistics in sports these days. Most everyone, from the owner on down to the players, would agree that pro sports is a business. What are other businesses doing in these lean economic times? Streamlining. So why not do the same in sports when it comes to stats?

Let's take baseball as an example. Starting pitchers? Wins and losses, earned run average, and maybe strike outs only. Get rid of all that junk about facing left or right handed batters, home or on the road, day games vs. night games, cold weather or warm weather, etc. etc. Who needs it?

Relievers? That's become a mass of confusion. There's long relievers, middle relievers, and short relievers. Is this a ball game or a clothing store? There's "set-up" men. They gets "holds", another stat that I don't understand. I thought that had to do with wrestling, or offensive linemen. Then there's closers. They only appear when they have a chance for a "save". Few people understand what constitutes a "save" either. And just why is it a closer only seems capable of throwing 20 pitches or so before they're gassed?  They probably threw more than that in the bullpen warming up. If shortstops only had enough stamina to last one inning, I'm thinking they wouldn't be around too long, regardless of how good they were  Guess I don't get it.

Hitters? Average, home runs, and RBIs only. Maybe throw in stolen bases for the speedy guys. That's all we need. Get rid of slugging percentage and OPS, whatever that means, and all the rest of the useless numbers that nobody understands. These days, the talking heads will inform you that some guy was the 1st left-handed batter in the last 327 days to hit a double off a right-handed pitcher that weighs more than 200 pounds, in a ballpark that's less than 20 years old, and also has a grandmother living in Peoria, with a chihuahua named Spike.

 I don't need this.

The same goes for all the other sports. TMI.

Yeah, the information superhighway is here to stay. I get that.

But even supercomputers are finite. Keep loading them up with all this worthless information and one day -- BAM -- that highway will start looking like Michigan's roads.

On that note, this is.........

Sealed with a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Much A-Rod ado about nothing

Here's a headline I saw on the net.

"The slugger allegedly took part in illegal, underground gambling -- and one high stakes game nearly ended in a brawl".

Conider that statement for a second or two.

First, I don't really care what Mr. Rodriguez does in his spare time. Where he goes, what he eats, the brand of car he drives, who he sleeps with, and any other details, hobbies or activities are none of my business. Or yours.

Illegal, underground gambling. Sounds ominous, doesn't it? It's just more overhyped fluff about nothing.

Why should anybody care if this dude wants to play in poker games? Oh, that's right. The law says it's illegal. Our legislators, in their infinite wisdom and benevolence, decided that allowing such activities to take place might lead to people gambling away everything they have and, hence, to a life of crime out of desperation.

Yet it's legal for someone to get addicted to playing the lottery, lotto, keno, scratch-off tickets, and what ever other games the state can come up with. Evidently, if a person loses everything they have to state-sponsored gambling, they will remain model citizens -- but if they lose it to a bookie or in a poker game amongst friends, they'll turn into John Dillinger. The hypocrisy has been screaming but nobody's listening.

How about bingo halls? Bring on the old ladies with their dawbers -- but it's still gambling. They put a few bucks down and wait for numbers to be drawn. The difference? That hall has paid for a permit, fees, and is being taxed.

If those same folks were playing the same game in one of their houses, they could be hauled off to the hoosegow.

Back to A-Rod. What's this guy making? 20-25 million a year? Whether or not any athlete is worth that sort of money might be a topic for another day, but let's do a little math. At 20 million, and assuming he loses a third of that to his agent and taxes, that comes out to about $35,000 a day. Cash. Take home. Every day. All year. 365.

That's another reason the "high stakes" part of the headline was so silly. Hell, he could probably afford to hire some world class poker players, the so-called "high rollers", as gardeners and pool boys.

Just a hunch, but something tells me that if A-Rod wants to be stimulated by a game of chance, it's not going to involve dawbers, Old Maid, Go Fish, matchsticks, or coins on the table. It's going to be for serious cash, or what's the point? Oops. I forgot again. The state doesn't get it's cut when money changes hands. Off to Gitmo with A-Rod.

And I highly doubt it's underground either, unless he's in one of Dick Cheney's bunkers. Where did that dude go anyway? Hmmm. Maybe he's the dealer. Sounds about right. Nevermind. I don't want to know.

Oh yeah. Almost forgot about the brawl thing. That's another non-starter. Major league baseball players have a lot of skills-- but when it comes to fighting and brawling -- they're just pitiful. I'll go all in saying those ladies in the bingo hall could take them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tiger Woods is back

For the last couple years, golf fans have seen a lot of new faces emerge on the PGA tour. Whether it's young guns from the US, Europeans, Asians, South Africans, Australians, or anybody else -- it's been kinda cool. Who amongst you didn't like the story of Rory McIlroy, the young Irish kid, winning the US Open?

All that just came to a screeching halt. Yep, the elephant, one Eldrick Tont Woods, has lumbered back into the room.

All his personal problems aside, this guy hasn't done diddly squat as a golfer for about 2 years, yet just announcing he's going to play in a tournament brings the media out in hordes. What is it with this guy? Better yet, what is it with the media? He hasn't even teed off on the first hole yet and there's been a press conference, and wall-to-wall coverage by the talking heads.

If he happens to win the tournament, which I doubt, they'll probably rewrite the Bible to include another verse about the Second Coming. If he merely finishes, it will be called a minor miracle, and we'll hear all about his leg injuries, over and over and over and over again. If he bombs out? Get ready for an endless media buzz loop about how much he must have been suffering, came back too fast, and is heroic for even trying.

In the meantime, while he's on the course, we won't get to see as many of the other talented players anymore. It will once again turn into the Tiger Woods show. See Tiger drive. See Tiger walk. See Tiger take a divot. See Tiger eat a banana. See Tiger putt. See Tiger 10 shots behind on the leaderboard. See Tiger in another press conference while the tournament is still going on. Etc, ad nauseum.

How much is enough of this guy, anyway?

Kind of ironic he's making his highly trumpeted and ballyhooed return at a tournament called Bridgestone.

Aren't those the Japanese tires that were blowing up on cars a few years ago?  Remember that? They smoothed that over, but like the tires, Eldrick coming back to the tour blows up the coverage of so many other talented people. You won't see much of them anymore and that's a shame, because these guys are really good. They're friendly too, and don't think they're some sort of royalty. Imagine that.

Just when I was starting to get back into watching golf, Tiger's going to hog the spotlight again and mess it up.

He has enough money and I wish he'd consider an alternative.

Like maybe playing on the Swedish circuit.

Now THAT would be interesting.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jered Weaver got it right. Ordonez and Guillen were chumps

There's certain unwritten rules in sports.

You don't step on a person's putting "line" on a golf green.
You don't check the goalie when he's out of the crease.
You don't tackle a guy by his hair.

And in this case, you don't hot dog when you were lucky enough to hit a home run off an ace pitcher. Most professional ball players understand you put your head down, run around the bases, and go back into the dugout to be congratulated by your teammates.

But not Magglio Ordonez of the Detroit Tigers. This is a guy that, of late, has made a mountain of money, while accomplishing a mole hill of production as a major league baseball player. Clearly towards the end of his career, which was nothing spectacular even at it's highest points, he lucked up and hit a home run against Jered Weaver of the LA Angels. For some reason, Maggie struck a Ruthian pose and watched his "shot".

Weaver yelled at him to just run the damn bases -- as well he should have.

For another unexplainable reason, this didn't sit well with Carlos Guillen, Ordonez's fellow Venezuelan teammate and countryman. Over an hour, and a full 4 innings later, Guillen lucked up and hit a home run too. Carly's nothing special either. He's a guy that's lasted a long time in the major leagues, and been basically a journeyman player. The last couple years, he's been about as serviceable as Lions' QB Matthew Stafford. In other words, he's making a whole lot of money, while being hurt more than he's healthy. He got WAY out of line pointing fingers and mocking Weaver. Very unprofessional and definitely not cool.

After generating an incident like that, it likely never crossed Guillen's hot-headed little mind what was going to happen to the next hitter, which happened to be catcher Alex Avila, who was innocent, but in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'll guarantee you Tigers' manager Jim Leyland knew what was likely to happen. Avila was going to get a 95 MPH fastball in his ribs, because of what the Terrell Owens wannabe did before him. That's another one of those unwritten rules.

But Weaver didn't do that. Though Tiger fans would likely disagree, Weaver is every bit as good a pitcher as Justin Verlander. As such, he has pinpoint control of where he throws the ball, and a message needed to be sent. He could have hit Avila on his leg, his butt, his ribs, or even stuck it in his ear if he wanted to. Instead, he threw it a foot over his head, for which he was promptly ejected. The umpire was wrong.

Weaver was exactly right in what he did. He was respecting the long honored baseball code by sending a "message", but not hurting anybody.

Look at it this way, Tiger fans. Had a couple of Angels hit home runs off Justin Verlander, then mocked him, what do you think JV would have done with the next batter? Probably drilled him. For that matter, Avila likely would have been shaking in his cleats had it been the likes of Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, or Randy Johnson on the mound. Pro sports are getting wimpier every year, but I digress.

Kudos to Weaver for being a pro about it. Maybe Maggie and Carly will learn something from that -- but I doubt it.

Fans on the field? Bring on the show

Watched any baseball games on TV lately, and seen a fan run on the field? I doubt it.

That's because somewhere along the line, the TV folks, in their infinite wisdom, decided showing such things would encourage more fans to do the same. Evidently, they reason some folks will do just about anything to get on TV, and if they don't beam it to the masses sitting home in front of their boob tubes, people will eventually realize the futility of it, stay in their seats at the stadium like good little robots, and truth, justice, and the American way will prevail once again.

They're wrong. It's stilll going to happen here and there.

A scenario:  Joe Fan has been struggling trying to make ends meet in a lousy economy. He finally saved up enough bucks to go to a game with his significant other. After parking, tickets, programs, pretzels, hot dogs, ice cream, and a couple beers, he's pretty well tapped out. Thoughts of ramen noodles and turning off the AC at home for the next month are dancing through his head.

He's been slowly gettting cooked by the sun in 95 degree weather, his team is hopelessly out of contention for any playoffs, and they're getting pummeled once again at home. His date is telling him what a klutz he is for this stupid idea in the first place, and now, ramen noodles be damned, he wants one more beer. After trudging all the way back to the concession stand, he discovers they cut off beer sales at the end of the last inning. Back to his seats he goes, where his beloved informs him that any idiot knows you can't buy beer after the 8th inning.

At that point in time, a capillary pops in his brain, and he charges onto the field. Being on TV is the last thing on whatever's left of this poor guy's mind. Then again, maybe he's thinking that whatever interrogation room he winds up in will be air-conditioned. Anything to get out of the heat, and it DID get him away from that unappreciative shrew. Let her cook for another couple hours and find her own way home. Who knows what lurks in such hearts and minds?

The point is, while all this is going on, what do we see at home? The cameras will zero in on the players, who often seem amused at whatever this guy is doing, while a pack of typically overweight security guards chase him around. (The Mike Curtis attitude -- the linebacker that absolutely blasted a fan that dared run onto the field --  is a relic of the past. These days people want entertainment wherever they can find and afford it). The TV folks will pan the crowd, and we can watch them pointing, smiling, and laughing at the unexpected show. They're loving it.

But we don't get to see it on the tube. That's just wrong.

These guys pose no threat to anybody.

It holds up the game? Puh-leeze. When you get the pitchers to stop shaking off 4 signs when they only know how to throw 2 pitches, and the batters to stop stepping out of the batter's box after every pitch, to unfasten and refasten velcro, scratch, stretch, take a couple practice swings, say a little prayer, and re-check the signs from the 3rd base coach -- then maybe that argument will hold water.They go through more worthless details than a Tom Clancy book. What's next? Tweets?

If a fan wants to run on the field and have a little fun, then why not? A lot of times it's a lot more entertaining than the game itself.

And people at home that sat through an entire boring ball game should be able to see it -- dammit.

Maybe I'll run on the field someday.. It's not about getting on TV. I couldn't care less about that. Tolerating a woman giving me a hard time? Take a number. Even ramen noodles and/or mac and cheese aren't  so bad when times are tough. You get used to it. There's just one thing holding me back.

I WOULD like to keep the AC on for another month or so.