Friday, September 30, 2011

Why I prefer Russians

Yeah, I know. The college and NFL football seasons have kicked off, the baseball playoffs are coming up, and NASCAR's "chase" has started. Hockey and maybe basketball are on deck. So with all this going on in America -- why would anybody in their right mind be thinking about Russians?

Because we need more of them here to set examples in the sports world. Anti-American and outrageous you say? I don't think so.

Consider: When's the last time you heard of a Russian athlete coming to North America to make a living and play a sport at it's highest levels -- and getting in trouble? You haven't. There's no alleged wife or girlfriend beatings, no late night "club" incidents, no dog fighting, no guns, no association with people that may or may not have committed a violent act, no drugs, no steroids and, last time I looked, people like Pavel Datsyuk didn't have a "posse".

The Russians don't talk smack to the media and public after they had a good game. Quite the contrary. They quietly go back to work getting ready for the next one. Stupid commercials, like Deion Sanders becoming a fairy to hawk a product for a few bucks? Russians have far more dignity than that. Ever heard of a Russian athlete holding out for more money while under an existing contract? I doubt it. A deal is a deal, and they honor it.

While the powers that be have been busy since WWII trying to pit Americans against Russians, and had a great deal of success doing so over the decades -- the people here and the people there are pretty much the same. (I can remember in grade school going through a drill, whereby we'd have to line up in the hallway and sit down with our heads between our knees in case of nuclear attack. In hindsight, it was ludicrous, of course, and just meant to cause fear and hatred.) There's a few rich ones, a lot more poor ones, crime and corruption. Politicians and others on both sides have exploited this to their own advantage. The US refused to play in the Moscow Olympics in 1980 because the USSR had invaded Afghanistan. The Soviets returned the favor in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Athletes on both sides that had trained since childhood just to have a once in a lifetime chance of participating in the Olympics -- were denied. Fast forward a few years and the US is the occupying force in Afghanistan and looking for a way out that won't cause a loss of face. The militaries have changed, but Afghanistan is still Afghanistan. Nevermind the countless thousands that have been killed or maimed in the process. It's crazy, if you think about it. But I digress.

I think maybe the Beatles had it right a long time ago.

Well, the Ukraine girls really knock me out.........
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout.

Take me to your daddy's farm.
Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out.......

But mostly --

Come and keep your comrade warm........
I'm back in the US--

Yep, that's it.

But while I'm here, when it comes to class, give me Pavel over Deion any day.

Does Russia churn out world-class athletes?  Da.

Would any of them ever turn themselves into Tinkerbell for a few bucks?  Nyet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quick Hits and maybe a break

I might have to take a break from the usual nonsense presented here for a while. I bought a new computer and am having a helluva time transferring programs, files, data, etc, from the old one. To boot, the old monitor I'm looking at now is fading fast and I can barely read it any more. Typing semi-blind has it's disadvantages. How are you supposed to proofread something you can hardly see?

At any rate, a couple parting thoughts----

Why is it that ChiSox manager Ozzie Guillen got "released" from his contract when every other manager gets "fired"?
Why is it that players from other countries, notably Russia and Japan,  can come to America not knowing a word of English, and within a couple years speak it semi-fluently, but after 3 or 4 decades Ozzie is still spouting the same gibberish?
The Detroit Tigers?  They're one out of 8 teams with a seat at the Final Table. I give them the very same 1 chance in 8 of being World Series champs. You never know what's in the cards.
Why is it the Oakland Press features extensive daily coverage of high school athletics in print, when all the kids are on-line anyway --  leaving the old-timers (not on-line)  that go fetch their paper every morning, and who could care less about prep coverage, little to read in the sports section? It seems backwards somehow. The people that actually buy the paper are complaining, but nobody seems to be listening.
The Detroit Lions? For reasons I explained in an earlier post about a month ago, I don't root for them or against them. Wake me up when they get to the Super Bowl and maybe I'll pay attention. Until then -- apathy.
Given the Detroit Pistons, does anybody around here really care if the season starts on time or, for that matter, is played at all?
Hi to CC, Deb, Dawn, Stoner, N&R if you're still there, cuz, Cat, and whoever else has tolerated my rants. Thanks, and catch up with ya later -- I hope.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kobe Bryant

Nobody seems to be paying attention anyway, but the NBA is still in lock-out mode. The owners and the players union have dug in, won't budge on a couple major issues, and appear to be nowhere near a settlement.

Some players, notably Kobe Bryant, as if he needs the money, are looking to play elsewhere. Italy, China, and Russia have been mentioned as possible destinations for him to take his talent.


I suppose pasta is a good thing, with the carb-loading and all, and the women are beautiful, unless one disrespects them, and then such an offender better hope that lady doesn't have brothers with crooked noses named Dominic and Rocco. That could get ugly -- quickly.

China has a booming economy. They have lots of bucks that Americans USED to have. Kobe could do well there, as long as he doesn't mind being "shadowed" every place he goes. That has nothing to do with adoring fans. Kobe may or may not be allowed to bring along his entourage, or "posse", but it wouldn't matter anyway. If there's one thing nobody disputes about China -- it's they have some serious manpower.

Russia? Kobe was always known for keeping his composure and rising to the occasion on the basketball court when the game was on the line. I wonder how cool he'll be when he's rising into the skies on some of those Russian airplanes carrying him across a few time zones from game to game that, by the way, have had this nasty little habit of crashing lately. Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated perhaps said it best.  "The money is green, but the knuckles are white".

I've never much cared for Kobe Bryant, but I wish him well in his endeavors.

Besides, no matter how outrageous he could be from time to time, Kobe never even approached the world-class guys in that sort of behavior.

It seems we have a US Congressman that is against rich people paying more taxes, because he can barely afford to feed his family on the paltry $400,000 he now makes a year. Now THAT'S outrageous.

Unless he has upwards of 50 children, I'm not buying that argument. Of course, that would never be allowed to happen in China these days. It's pretty much one and done.

Maybe we should give Kobe his job in Congress, and send that uppety schmuck politician over to China for an attitude adjustment.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Detroit Lions and being pregnant

I'll admit, I didn't do my homework on this one. I don't know why, other than it was just one of those days. Stuff going on here, stuff going on there, and I just didn't feel like researching a bunch of stats. So I'm winging it from memory. If I get something wrong, email the sports editor. If that doesn't work, try the executive editor, the publisher, or the chairman of the board. If that still doesn't work, get hold of your congressperson, the President, the Pope, God, or even Charlie Sheen. I don't care. It's been one of those days.

That said, the Lions are 2-0 after getting by Tampa Bay on the road and blistering KC at home. What are we already hearing? Some of their receivers are working on their end zone touchdown dances in practice. Gimme a break.

Here's where the memory part comes in. Back in the 90's, after the Lions had a similar start to a season, they had adopted the Queen song "Another one bites the dust". The late Freddie Mercury  blared from the speakers at the Silverdome at a bazillion decibels. Barry Sanders was running wild. Al "Bubba" Baker was sacking opposing quarterbacks. Head coach Wayne Fontes was known for his big smile, big cigars, and cruising around in a golf cart. It was discovered later that a starting safety for the Lions, who had the nickname "Spider", seemed to be on some sort of mission to impregnate as many women as he could.

I don't know whatever happened to the original Spiderman, but I would imagine with him being a high profile athlete and making a lot of bucks --- when those babies started popping out, the mamas probably came-a-calling for some dough. Spiders might be mysterious creatures that can spin a lot of webs, 8 legs and all, but good luck with that with the Friend of the Court in Oakland County, even back then.

That team started off 4-0, and the fans were delirious with joy. Even though the Silverdome had a seating capacity of about 75,000, ridiculous by today's stadium standards, Lions' tickets weren't that easy to get. Of course, the prices of those tickets, parking, concessions, souvenirs, etc, went up like a helium baloon, but fans snapped all that stuff up anyway.

Then, guess what? The balloon popped. The Lions took a serious nosedive and didn't even make the playoffs that year. The only ones that bit the dust in the end was them.

Fast forward a few years. Freddie Mercury died of AIDS. The Lions hired Matt Millen.

Now, they're 2-0, and they're talking about dance routines. This is not only arrogant, it's stupid. Worse yet, the local media has picked up on it and is fanning the flames. I can maybe understand the younger football players, who rightfully don't care about what happened in the past, getting all geeked up, because they don't know any better.

I can even excuse the kool-aided local reporters, because they desperately want to write about a winning team.

But shame on you if you're a fan that goes back a ways. YOU should know better.

Oh well. Stranger things have been known to occur. Maybe they'll go to the Super Bowl. For that matter, maybe I'll be sitting at a desk in the Oval Office at that time. Let's just say I wouldn't bet on either.

However it plays out -- look at the bright side.

It beats getting knocked up by a spider.


Monday, September 19, 2011

All hail the Chrome Cowboy

Who do you think are the hardest-core NFL fans? Raider Nation out in Oakland? Their owner, Al Davis says. "Just win, baby", and he doesn't appear to care much how. Those folks can get pretty rowdy. Pittsburgh Steeler fans have their "terrible towels", and up in Green Bay they wear cheese on their heads. Of course, in Green Bay, they don't have much else going on, but I always did wonder -- for a team that's supposedly owned by the fans --  who hires and fires the front-office personnel anyway? Beats me.

Yet you can combine all the above, liquor them up, and even give them some serious steroids, but there's one guy that puts them all to shame.

His name is Mel, and he's a close friend of mine. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but I actually have a few friends. Mel and I first crossed pathes many years ago in, of all places, a campground just north of Daytona where we both found ourselves for Bike Week.

He was born in New York and got moved to southern California as a military brat. Mel did his own armed services stint where he got moved around a lot more, but eventually drifted back to NYC, got married, established a business, and settled down.

Mel became a hard-core Jets fan. He well remembers Joe "Willy" Namath, and not only his famous prediction that the Jets would beat Johnny Unitas and the mighty Colts, which as we all know happened, but also the flap about Namath wearing panty hose to stay warm.

Back to Daytona, same campground, the following year. Mel had this Harley that was unbelievable. You name the accessory or the piece of chrome that was available from Harley-Davidson, and that bike had it. Depending on the angle of the sun and which way you approached it, it could be blinding to look at. There were always bike contests that Mel would enter, and he'd always win a trophy. Near as I could figure, the judges must have worn welder helmets to even look at it.

Somwhere in that time frame, while Mel was going through more chrome polish than the rest of us were gasoline, he got tagged with the name Chrome Cowboy. I can't remember for sure if I'm the one that came up with it or not, but I was there. For any of Mel's friends that may read this, you now know his true identity.

Back to Brooklyn a few years later. Though he's seen a lot of years, coaches, and players come and go, Mel's even more entrenched as a Jet fan. The Big D involving marriage rears it's ugly head, so he retires and moves to Florida. At that, Mel still makes occasional pilgrimages back to his old neighborhood, but perhaps for different reasons than you might expect.

Having bounced around Florida here and there for a few years, you'd think Mel would forget about some NY team that actually plays in New Jersey, and develop a loyalty for a team closer to where he now lives. You would be wrong. He's even more hard-core. When the Jets beat the Cowboys on 9/11, I most definitely heard about it. There were the media accounts, and then there was Mel. He's still celebrating.

Rex Ryan is his hero, and he can't wait until playoff time for another crack at the Steelers, the Brady bunch up in Foxborough, Manning Schmanning, or whoever else gets in the way. Anybody coming out of the NFC doesn't matter. That's a mere formality in the Super Bowl.

Is he right? Hard to say. Here's what I know for sure ----

Like Jim Croce once sang ---

You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit in the wind
You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and
You don't mess around with........ Mel

At least not when the Jets are playing.

One last thing. Joe Namath didn't leave a lasting legacy with the panty hose bit. That came and went. However, if Mel were to prance around in them at certain locations we both know about in Florida during Bike Week, that would be forever. This is not recommended. Joe Willy lived through it. The Chrome Cowboy might not.

Love ya, bro.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Enough with the jerseys already

From Oregon to Maryland, athletic jerseys have been a hot topic lately. Some are "approved" by the media, while others are mocked. Yours truly says everybody seems to be missing a more important point. There's a way to end all this nonsense. Stop paying so much for shoes. I'll get back to that.

It used to be that college football teams had 2 sets of jerseys. One was white and the other featured the predominant color(s) of the school. To boot, they had one set of helmets, one set of pants, one set of socks, and  2 sets of shoes. One for grass and one for turf. Not any more..

These days universities, supposedly places where young people go to obtain higher knowledge, somehow see the wisdom in spending mega-bucks on team wardrobes. Their fiscal policy iis not my idea of what should be taught in Economics 101, let alone graduate school. Of course, many of the players that wear this stuff probably never learn to even spell  "graduate", let alone actually do so, but that's a separate matter.

Nowadays, it's all about fashion statements and/or keeping up with the proverbial Jones'es. If the University of Henry  trots out new uniforms, you can bet Henry State won't be far behind. There's throw-back uniforms, legacy uniforms, and besides the old home/road uniforms, many schools have seen fit to add a few different colors for "special occasions". In some cases this will include a different set of helmets, socks, etc, as mentioned above. And cleats? I wouldn't be surprised if the larger programs had 8-10 different varieties for various conditions.

With the possible exception of the footwear, none of this stuff really matters on the field of play. Different uniforms and helmets arem't going to make the players any bigger, stronger, faster, or smarter than they were before. All this gear isn't exactly free. Somebody has to pay for it. Guess what? It's you.

I could make an argument about higher ticket prices, concessions, and even student tuition, but it wouldn't hold water. That's because people paying attention would counter with, "You're crazy, Leach. Nike pays big bucks to these universities to put their "swoosh" on everything, and they provide that equipment for free".

Personally, I don't know how that works but, at best, it's a half-truth. While certain athletic apparel companies seem to dominate the landscape, check the labels on the inside of the goods. Chances are, you'll see Made in China. Or Korea. Or Taiwan. Or some other Asian country. Unless these companies want to run afoul of federal regulations, that's the one little detail they can't get around.

It's no longer a big secret that the people actually manufacturing these products typically work in long-hour sweat shops churning out thousands of these products every day. If they're lucky, they make enough money to feed themselves and their families. It beats starving, but that doesn't make it right..

So let's put the pieces of the puzzle together. Our student athletes get the flavor of the month when it comes to athletic wear. Universities get paid big bucks to put a company's logo on all this stuff. Perhaps that company even throws in the goods for free. It's a win-win-win, right?

Not quite. Again, there's a reason these companies are manufacturing overseas. There's no child labor laws, let alone a minimum wage. Between material, labor, and bulk shipping costs, I'm guessing they might have $5 invested  in a particular item that you will fork over a couple C-notes for to buy off the shelf. Even if you don't care about foreign kids being cruelly used and abused -- there's profit, and then there's obscene profit..

How do you think these companies can afford to give all this stuff away? It's because you're subsidizing it. Here's a challenge. Go try and buy a pair of tennis shoes that are made in America. Last time I tried a few years back, I looked at a huge display and told the clerk I wanted a brand made in the USA. She didn't know if they had any. So I checked the tag on every single display shoe. There was only one, almost hidden up in the corner. The brand was Saucony, which was located in Maine. I think they've since gone out of business. Guess that'll teach them to pay a decent wage.

At any rate, this all started about jerseys. While the pundits debate the pros and cons of the latest "creations", at it's roots, they don't seem to realize it's just so unnecessary and a colossal waste of money.

And that point I was going to get back to? Sure, everybody needs sneakers/tennis shoes. I get that. None made in America anymore? Sadly, I get that too.

But when you buy them, just get the cheapest ones available. Chances are, you're not a world-class marathon runner or an NBA star. You don't need top-of-the-line stuff. Hell, they're going to wear out in a year anyway.

However, for those of you that insist on having the latest and greatest when it comes to foam, gel, lift, custom stitching, all the other whistles and bells, and don't care about the price, I hear the swooshers have a product coming out soon that should be right up your alley.

For the meager price of about $300 you can own a pair of these beauties.

Not sure, but rumor has it they may be called "Air Heads".

Personally, if anybody out there has a pair of Keds or All-Stars in a size 11 -- call me.

By the way, take another look around. The only state this uniform madness doesn't seem to be happening in is -- yep -- you guessed it -- New Jersey. If you figure that one out, bring along the Keds and a new stylus for my Marantz turntable and we'll do some serious negotiating.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Novak Djokovic. Know when to hold em, fold em, or walk away.

Pro tennis keeps changing it's dominant players and personalities. Lately, Novak Djokovic, a Serb, is "the man". A 64-2 match record with 10 tournament titles, including 3 of the 4 "majors" this year?  That's about as dominant as it gets.

He's the best thing since Rafael Nadal, who was the best thing since Roger Federer, who was the best thing since Pete Sampras, who might have been the best thing since, hmmm, maybe John McEnroe back in the 80's. Johnny Mac was known to throw temper tantrums on the court when things weren't going his way. He'd whine and cry like a spoiled 4th grader while verbally abusing line judges and especially the umpire sitting up in the chair at mid-court. Though he was a terrific player, that behavior was childish, and sometimes even embarrassing.

I sure am glad today's players like Serena Williams don't do any things like that any more. Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe things haven't changed that much after all..

At any rate, Djokovic has a serious flaw in his game plan. No, it's not on the court. He doesn't appear to have any weaknesses there.

After swatting Nadal like a mosquito to win the US Open in NY, he double-faulted on another front.

First, before he hopped on a plane back to his adoring fans in Serbia, he got suckered into appearing on the same stage as Regis Philbin. The former "who wants to be a millionaire" host. The guy that has set the all-time record for most hours logged on TV. Notre Dame's version of Don Rickles and Robin Williams combined into one body on steroids.. Yeah, THAT guy. Bad idea. I'm surprised Regis didn't pick up on his initials and refer to his (Regis') alma mater.

Then he tried to dance with Kelly, or Kathy, or Katie, or whatever her name is. Worse idea.

Don't get me wrong. I'm rooting for Djokovic and hope he goes on to win a lot more tournaments for many years to come. He seems to be a class guy, and when he's not playing tennis, word has it he's quite the partier, especially in his homeland. You have to like that combination.

But I think he should forget about Regis and Katrina or whatever next time and save his moves for the tennis court.

I missed Letterman's show last night. Please tell me Novak didn't wind up reading the Top Ten list.

He won the title, the trophy, the big bucks, and he shouldn't keep messing around in a country that's chock full of people waiting to exploit him. In the words of Horace Greeley -- go east, young man.

Or something like that.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

How the NFL and NBC dissed 9/11. An opinion

9/11/11, the 10 year anniversary of a horrific terrorist attack on this country, should have been a lot of things. It was a day to mourn not only the innocents that perished in the World Trade Center, but also the brave men and women who gave their lives trying to save others. Even starting a few days ago, scribes wrote, talking heads talked, flags flew, memorials were held, and Amercians from Maine to Hawaii reflected on what had transpired. The events of the original 9/11 brought people together in this country, if only for a short while, until the politicians bastardized it to their own advantages, probably unlike anything since Pearl Harbor. Forget everything else -- we were Americans, dammit, and we were mad as hell. Anything anti-American was going to be swept aside in our patriotic zeal. As it turned out, in a cruel ironic twist, that involved a few of our own civil rights (see politicians above), but perhaps that's a narrative best left to others.

Nevertheless, this is a sports blog, and what could be better than the Dallas Cowboys. the self-anointed America's team, visiting the NY Jets on Sunday night? NBC said this was being broadcast from New York, NY. Not quite. Actually the Jets play their home games across the Hudson river in New Jersey. Yes, it's not far from Ground Zero, but it certainly doesn't qualify as NY, NY.

OK, that was hype and I can overlook it. Al Michaels was going to give the play-by-play. He's best remembered for uttering those immortal words, "Do you believe in miracles?", as time was expiring during the Olympic hockey semi-final in 1980, where a bunch of our college kids had just taken down the mighty Soviet Red Army team. As you know, that clip has been shown thousands of times since then, and old Al doesn't seem to mind one bit. He likes being wrapped in the stars and stripes, probably not to mention the royalties. Ahem.

In the studio booth sat Dan Patrick. He's got a radio show, a TV gig, and writes for Sports Illustrated. The dude's got bucks. Next to him was Tony Dunge. He used to play in the NFL, is best known as the former coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and when he's not on camera, he travels around preaching morals and the American way. He's got big bucks too. Neither one of them needs to do this sort of thing. I think the third guy was a former basketball player. What he's doing analyzing a pro-football game in a mystery to me but, then again, Bob Costas, who always seems to find his way onto high profile NBC sports broadcasts, likely assumes most fans think his hair is real.

We had the Cowboys and the Jets, an all-American play-by-play guy, and it was going down on the first Sunday of the season pretty close to Ground Zero on the 10th anniversay of 9/11.  On top of that, it's the National Football League, and last time I looked, unlike MLB, the NBA, or the NHL, every single NFL franchise is based in the good ole US of A.  What could possibly go wrong?

WHAM. This broadcast is being brought to you by Hyundai, a South Korean auto-maker. The signs were everywhere. On desks where the talking heads sat. In the background. Everywhere. Dan Patrick puckered up and smooched his way into a Hyundai commercial.

Any other day would be bad enough, but considering this day was an anniversary of a terrorist attack on our country, how dare the NFL and NBC allow this to happen. Both entities are multi-billion dollar enterprises. Do they really need to whore themselves this way? Have they no shame?

I was mad as hell, clicked it off, and called a friend to vent. I found out later that it got worse. The half time show was brought to those still watching by Toyota. Then Nissan jumped in later in the game.

I might catch a lot of flak for this, but I don't really give a damn. When the National Football League and a major US TV network are sucking up to Korean and Jap car companies for sponsorship on a day we're supposed to swell with pride for being Americans, something is horribly wrong. Let's not forget, thousands of our soldiers gave their lives and limbs to save the South Koreans from the Communist menace in the early 1950's. We protect them to this day. Toyota and Nissan would probably like nothing better than to see American car companies go under forever. These are the same friendly folks who brought you Pearl Harbor. While they're dumping their cars over here, they slap a big fat tariff on anything we want to ship over there. And guess what? We protect them to this day too.

I'm a hard core football fan, but more importantly I'm an American, and that was just about enough to piss me off.

I'll check out who won tomorrow, but no way was I going to watch that broadcast.

A few suggestions.

Dan and Tony. Be more selective before you go on camera. A little class never hurts.
Al. If you want us to keep believing in miracles, then turn down anything that's sponsored by a foreign entity. You can afford it.
The NFL. If you want to call yourself national, then ACT national.
NBC. Wake up. There's probably several reasons for your ratings, but this sort of nonsense isn't helping. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cat scratch fever.. in Carolina

Nothin could be finah coaching Coastal Carolina in the mooooorrrning. Well, OK, scratch that, but their football coach, David Bennett, went off on a rather bizarre rant about not wanting any cats on his team. Besides meowing a lot, he mentioned how the little critters sneak in through screen doors and can't find their way back out, amongst other things. Bennett made no kittles about it -- he wants dogs -- make that dawgs -- on his team. At least he didn't start barking or grab a reporter's pant leg in his teeth and shake it, so I suppose it could have been worse.

But wait a second. A look around the landscape of sports serves up some very interesting nicknames. There's the terrapins (turtles), ducks, owls, beavers (no comment), and even the horned frogs. Our ursine friends are covered with bears, bruins, grizzlies, and even cubs.

Yet the felines seem to dominate. Consider tigers, panthers, jaguars, wildcats, and lions. There's even "nittany" lions at Penn State. Do you have the faintest idea what that means? I didn't either until I looked it up. Nittany derives it's name from a mountain lion that used to roam Mount Nittany, in the area of where the Penn State campus now sits. I'm pretty sure there's not too many mountain lions on that campus anymore. Then again, there's no wolverines in Michigan except at the zoo. Don't laugh, Spartan fans; the Romans obliterated your heritage a couple thousand years ago. In case you hadn't noticed, if you're still eating Little Caesar's pizza, the joke's on you. Notre Dame calls itself the Fighting Irish but the original Notre Dame is in France. Beats me how all this stuff works, but so it goes.

Conversely -- and nail me if I'm missing something -- the only team I can think of named after a dog is the Georgia Bulldogs. There's no beagles, bassets, collies, boxers, labs, poodles, let alone chihuahuas or pomeranians. And not a terrier in the bunch, though you'd think the Staffordshire terrier (pit bull) might be appropriate for a football team. Despite the Vick controversy, it's not like it was the dogs' fault.

Yeah, the Cleveland Browns, named after their legendary coach/owner Paul Brown, has it's "dawg pound" where the crazies reside. But Paul Brown left that team to go start a new one in Cincinnati. The Bengals. Yikes. Another cat. See what I mean?

Let's get back to David Bennett and Coastal Carolina where this all started. He doesn't like cats. He wants dogs. Coastal Carolina's nickname used to be the Trojans. At that time, the University of South Carolina was basically their mother, but when they gained independance, they wanted a new name. USC was, and is, known as the Gamecocks, so while CC wanted to show their appreciation to their "mother", copying their name just wouldn't do.

Somehow they arrived at what they thought was a fair compromise and took the name Chanticleer for it's sports teams. Turns out, this was a reference to a witty rooster in Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", which were written in the late 1300's. Seeing as how Columbus wouldn't "discover" America for another centuiry, I think it's a safe bet to assume nobody back then was overly concerned with sports names in a place they didn't even know existed.

Yet I can get on board with Bennett. One way or the other, I've been associated with a few dogs in my life. Even came to be fond of a couple. For now, I'm quite content with the two 4-legged ones (yorkies) that are both sprawled out on the bed waiting for their nightly belly-rubs as I write this.. But I digress.

Itt seems Bennett was off-target in his rant. Despite his reference to dogs, cats, and even a few meows thrown in, he missed the obvious.

His team is the Chanticleers, which presented him with a much better option.

Bennett should have flapped his arms and, going a little further along into the lyrics of the song I mentioned to start this mess --

 "If I had Aladdin's lamp for only a day,
I'd make a wish and here's what (he'd) say"....


Now that would have been just about perfect.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lies, lies, and more lies

I just wanted to watch Jeopardy. My mom hooked me on that when I was a little boy and I've been addicted ever since.

So I clicked on channel 4 a few minutes after 7, expecting the Wheel of Fortune to be on. I could mute that for a while which would give me just about enough time to take care of a few bills and then get back to Alex. It was the Finals of the Teachers Tournament and, needless to say, from what I saw of the semis, those were 3 very sharp individuals.

Oops. President O'Bama was addressing the nation about a jobs bill. Well OK, he's the Prez, so I'll listen up. A rousing speech it was indeed. Like him or not, this dude can stir people. Given the Sharks-Jets, Bloods-Cryps mentality of Washington DC lately, to get members of the other party standing up and applauding is no small feat. But in the back of my mind, there was another reason I was tuned to channel 4.

Saints at Packers. Even the network execs saw the wisdom in not preempting that for some sort of dumbass rebuttal speech to the President's address. The last 2 Super Bowl champs getting it on at Lambeaui. This was supposed to happen at 8:30.  NBC had a digital count-down clock on the screen, telling us exactly how many minutes and seconds were left until kickoff. 7:41, 7:40. 7:39, etc.

They lied.

When that timer ran out, we were, ahem, treated to Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, the play-by-play guy and the analyst, respectively, giving us their insights on the contest that was supposed to have already started.

That was followed by a Geico commerical.
Then an E-trade commercial.
Then a Subway commercial.
Then the NFL plugging itself with a commercial.

Back to Lambeau. The Packers are just now making their grand entrance onto the field. The cheesers go wild. I want a feaking kick-off already.

Nope, not yet. Here comes the national anthem that should have been played 20 minutes ago.

Then, of course, there's the mandatory fly-by with a few fighter jets, which is basically just a waste of time and jet fuel.

Now more wisdom from Al and Cris.At this point in time,  I swear, if I see one more commercial with a lizard or a cave man before I see some football, I'm going on a jihad.

So what happens next? Some lady sideline talking head wants an interview with Clay Matthews, a linebacker for the Packers. He's known for his engine running at high RPMs all the time anyway, but she has to stick a camera and a microphone in his face just seconds before the opening game of the season at his home field with a very good team as oppinents and a national TV audiience, to boot. Matthews is no doubt geeked  to the max, but NBC, in their infinite wisdom, just has to kill a few more minutes with some goofy reporter that probably knows as much about football as she does brain surgery. And here's an idea. If the TV folks have to put a female on the sidelines for sound bytes in an atmosphere supercharged with testosterone, why not get one that's Playboy quality, instead of Better Homes and Gardens or Field and Stream?

Listening to the Prez was pretty good. Missing Jeopardy wasn't so hot.

But when it comes to that clock and countdown?

They lie.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Justin Verlander.

The ace starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers is having a phenomenal year. At last count, he was 21-5, has been virtually unbeatable for the last couple months, threw a no-hitter, had another near miss 1 hitter, and shows no signs of letting up. Ever since pitchers like CC Sabathia in NY and Josh Beckett in Beantown showed they were human after all, unless Verlander crashes and burns for the next month, which is highly doubtful, he's a no-brainer for the American League Cy Young award.

But MVP? No way. Loyal Tiger fans will disagree but let's gets real about this. Verlander's the best pitcher going this side of the Phillies' starting rotation but, after all, he's just that. A pitcher. A one dimensional player.

He doesn't hit for average and he doesn't hit for power. In fact, he doesn't hit at all. He can't steal bases because he's never ON base. Nobody knows if he has the speed and range required of an outfielder to go catch fly balls. For that matter, nobody knows if he can even handle a pop up, because he doesn't have to. Besides catching the ball the catcher keeps throwing back to him, can he field at all? Unknown. For the most part, his fielding consists of one-hoppers hit back to the mound and a lob toss to first base.

Yet there's a much more important reason he should not be considered as an MVP candidate. Given a 5-man starting rotation, an occasional rain-out, and a day off in the schedule here and there, Verlander only plays roughly once a week. Out of 162 games, he'll probably only appear in maybe 35 of them. That leaves 120-some games where he makes absolutely no contribution whatsoever. On the days he doesn't pitch, the Tigers might as well let him wear a T-shirt, bermuda shorts and sandals because he's not going to play anyway.

What about if something weird happens, like a 20-inning game, where they need every last guy,. you say? That would likely be a 6-7 hour affair. Maybe along about the 17th-18th inning  JV could  go throw on a uniform. They might stick him out in right field and hope for the best, but I'll flat out guarantee you he wouldn't be pitching on his off days. He might get a chance to bunt, though. That's another thing nobody knows if he can do.

I heard a stat from a "homer" talking head a few days ago. 14 times this year Verlander has won a game when the Tigers had lost the previous one. Is Verlander that good or is the last guy in the starting rotation that bad? Half empty or half full? All depends on how you want to look at it.

When it comes to MLB players, there's the big 5. Hitting for average, hitting for power, running, fielding, and throwing. Verlander can throw with the best of them, at least from 60 feet, 6 inches, about once a week. That's about it.

Verlander might run the table and go 26-5 this year, which would be highly impressive for a starting pitcher. But let's not forget his teammates who are fielding grounders, making some specatcular plays in the outfield , stealing bases, turning double plays, and giving him some serious run support. If they don't score runs, it's impossible for him to win.

Verlander's a terrific pitcher, but I don't care if he went 35-0. He's still a one dimensional player that only appears about once a week. It seems silly to me that a pitcher would ever be considerd for the MVP. Yeah, I remember, Willie Hernandez won both the Cy Young and the AL MVP for the very same Detroit Tigers back in 1984, and Roger Clemens pulled it off in 1986, but that didn't make it right. I can think of several relief pitchers (how's Mariano Rivera grab ya?) since then that have outdone anything Willie  ever accomplished, and while Verlander may be very good -- The Rocket in his prime he's not.

Verlander for the AL Cy Young? Absolutely. That should be unanimous. He should be marked #1 on every ballot.

But MVP? No way. That should also be unanimous. He should not be considered on any ballot.

Doesn't it just make sense the Most Valuable Player should be very good at more than just one thing and, for crying out loud, at least play in most of the games?

Would we be having this same conversation if an NFL QB threw 6 TD passes every game but only played in 3? I don't think so. How about an NBA player putting up 50 points or an NHL player scoring a hat trick every game, but only playing in 15? Would you consider them for MVP? I doubt it.

Cy Young yes.

If MVP stood for Most Valuable Pitcher, or Most Valuable Parttimer, I'd be all for it.

But Most Valuable Player? No way..

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

NASCAR's huge ongoing marketing mistake

Baseball, basketball, football, hockey and even soccer to a lesser extent, have figured this out. But not NASCAR.

When it comes to sports related paraphernalia available to the average fan, he/she has a wide variety to choose from. There's caps, T-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, cigarette lighters, windbreakers, and countless other items for sale at your local sporting goods store. They all bring in a tidy little profit to a league, a player, or a team. A few bucks here, a few bucks there, multiply it by thousands of fans, and the next thing you know -- you're talking serious money.

But what's typically the big ticket item? A jersey with the team logo. Fans will pay hundreds of dollars for "genuine" jerseys, though in reality, sometimes they're just cheap knock-offs of the real thing. You see them everywhere. Some fans put so much faith in those jerseys that they'll keep wearing them even after the player, whose name and number are featured  on the back, has spurned their team and town, moved on to another team through free agency, come back to be instrumental in defeating that original team, and even gloated over it. It's amazing. Either that, or they couldn't afford to buy any other clothes after purchasing that jersey.

Think of the "Cup" cars and what comes to mind? Decals plastered all over them. You name the product, from spark plugs and oill filters to laundry detergent, and chances are they have a decal on the car. It works both ways. The racing tream wants to squeeze every last dime they can get out of sponsors, while likely getting free or heavily discounted prices on the products, and the sponsors get a little name recognition on TV for those same products. That's all fine and dandy.

But what about the drivers? They have all the same product logos stitched on their racing uniforms. Other than being quickly panned on TV for the national anthem, and only the winner hopping out of his car in victory lane, the exposure for all those stitch-ons is virtually zero during the course of the race, while they're in their cars.

This is where NASCAR is missing a golden marketing opportunity. They don't have jerseys to sell.

Instead of alll that advertising crap on their uniforms that nobody pays the slightest bit of attention to anyway, why not do it like the other major sports? Put their car number on the back, their name across their shoulders, and a team logo, say Roush, Gibbs, Hendricks, Childress, whatever, on the front.

The car itself has been doing all the advertising for the usual 3-4  hour duration of a typical race. The racing uniforms need not be redundant about it.

Name, car number, and "team", with a little imagination thrown in for color schemes -- no sponsors allowed --  is all they need to do with jerseys, and watch them fly off the shelves. Cha-ching.

To the good folks in charge of NASCAR, I would say this -- seeing as how it was my idea -- if you decide to pursue this course of future revenue, I would expect to be reasonably compensated.

I'm a man of modest means. I'm thinking ten percent might be satisfactory. Every time you get a Franklin from those jersey sales, I get a Hamilton. Giving up 10% of a cash cow you never had before would seem to be more than fair.

However, final decisions on such matters must be worked out with my agent, Henry.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Myth Busters. Tom "Killer" Kowalski

I never had the pleasure of meeting Tom "Killer" Kowalski. By most accounts he was a helluva journalist and an even better man. His sudden passing at the age of 51 shocked and saddened many who had come to know him in one way or the other over his illustrious career.

Yet, with all due respect, something needs to be cleared up. In the last several days, I've heard many people say he could cover the Lions so well because he played the game for them once upon a time.

Tom started his sports writing career barely out of high school at the Oakland Press, moved on to other pastures,  and eventually got a radio and TV gig, where many of you saw him on the pre-game shows of Lions' games.  He was really good at all of that stuff and highly respected on many levels. It's very rare for a professional sports franchise to honor a media person, but the Lions have seen fit to do so. That should tell you something about how highly Kowalski was thought of.

But let's get the record straight and maybe even settle a few bets. Tom was a multi-talented guy, but no, he was never an offensive lineman for the Lions, or any other NFL team. While he was certainly well-versed in pro football over his years of experience covering it, and may he RIP, he never played the game. Nor was he ever a "professional" wrestler. That was another guy, a generation before Tom, and only a "stage" name anyway.

Let's celebrate Tom's life for what it was, not what it wasn't.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Serena Williams and Gilda Radner

Serena is one of the top female tennis players in the world, but she's certainly not unbeatable. The thing about her is, she won't give credit to an opponent who has just dispatched her. You'll never hear Serena say, "I got beat, fair and square. She was better than I was today and deserved to win".

Oh no. With Serena, there always seems to be a multitude of excuses. A sore foot, a twisted knee, an ingrown toenail, something with an elbow or wrist, headaches, cramps, or whatever the whine of the day is. What's next? The balls weren't bouncing right? Solar flares? Global warming? Halley's Comet?

Serena will never jsut humbly admit defeat. Perhaps the late, great Gilda Radner put it best  in one of her roles on the original Saturday Night Live.

Like her older sister Venus, it would appear Serena has come down with an illness of her own. Mysteriously, the symtoms keep changing.

If it's not one thing -- it's another.

But it's always something.

We came to know it as Roseanne Roseannadanna Syndrome.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Venus Williams has been sick

VW says she's relieved to finally find out why she hasn't been performing up to her old standards on the tennis court lately. Evidently, she has something called Sjogren's Syndrome. A quick Google search discovered the most common symptoms of that disease are dry eyes and a dry mouth. It may well be that she is inflicted by the malady named after a Swedish eye doctor. The good news is -- this is treatable.

However, another explanation is worth considering. There's a little known disease that she may also have contracted that would explain her recent play, particularly in the latter rounds of tournaments, when the pressure is on, and she's staring at a world class player across the net.

The symptoms are similar to Sjogren's, but also include an irrational feeling of dread. This is known as the syndrome of Deppuhw Nitteg. Sadly, there is no known cure or treatment available at this time.

You can do all the internet searches you want but no information on this mysterious illness seems to be available. To learn more about Venus' other possible affliction, which includes the above mentioned dry eyes, dry mouth, and especially an unexplainable fear that may have affected her play in the last couple years --  simply spell Deppuhw Nitteg backwards.

(Thank you for the mindset, Al Jaffee. You've been one of my heroes for over 40 years).

Al Jaffee you can Google. That will tell you more.