Friday, May 31, 2013

A couple shout outs

One in a great while I step away from my usual sports nonsense to write something personal. First, here's to my dear friend and lifelong (well, not exactly, but it seems like eons) pal CC. The times we've had, the miles we've travelled, and the stuff we've seen and done along the way. It's been a helluva ride. Plus the occasional idea he's given your truly to run with and rant about in this forum. So basically, I can't be held totally at fault for the insanity you read here. Some of them were CC's idea. Blame HIM.

And here's to new acquaintances Jack and Laura. Jack's a rider too, and Laura sort of is. But yours truly thinks it would be a great improvement in her riding career if she'd quit falling off the motorcycle -- especially as a passenger. A tip to Laura -- before you're allowed to upgrade to the actual riding seat, where you have to use both hands and both feet, and eyes and ears, and brains, and you know -- a lot of stuff -- it's a real good idea to outgrow that falling off for no reason bit. Trust me. Besides, the other riders have enough going on out on the road to be concerned with. We don't need to be dodging your butt as it's rolling down the highway. For God's sake -- get a grip, girl.

Yet there's another shout-out that is even more relevant. Mine. You see, as I write this, I do so under great duress. Usually I'm on my own, but this time I have the proverbial sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Or at least a ferocious critic sitting next to me waiting to pounce any second. Scary stuff. So the shout-out is indeed mine --- as in HELP. You think it's easy churning out this tripe 5-6 times a week? Try doing it with a 125 pound piranha sitting next to you.

But things could be worse. I haven't yet got to the stage where I've fallen and can't get up. That's Laura's thing, as I mentioned earlier.

At any rate, CC, though now a Floridian, but a Brooklyn native and life-long Jets fan, reminded me it was Joe Namath's 70th birthday. Wow, how the time flies. It seems like just a few years ago that Joe Willie guaranteed a Super Bowl victory over the mighty (and heavily favored) Baltimore Colts -- and delivered. And we old-timers can remember when Joe Namath actually not only wore panty hose in a game played in frigid weather to keep his legs warm, but went on to advertise it. Back in those days -- when men were men and all that crap -- it took a lot of guts to do such a thing. Namath grew a Fu Manchu moustache, invested in a bachelors club, and once said he'd rather go to Viet Nam than get married. Such behavior raised a lot of eyebrows, certainly wasn't the norm in the NFL, and Joe caught some serious heat for being so brash back then.

But you know what? He always found a way to back it up. The career numbers for Namath aren't really impressive. He actually lost more games than he won, compiling a 68-71-4 record, and was exactly .500 as a starter, going 64-64-4. He threw far more interceptions (220) than he did touchdowns (173).

Nevertheless, few would doubt Joe Namath certainly left his mark on the NFL. To this day, he's ranked amongst the top 100 players to ever play the game. If nothing else, Joe Willie was a difference maker. Happy 70th to him, wherever he is.

Thanks for the idea, CC.

Personally, the sword of Damocles has so far mercifully spared me, so perhaps I'll live to write more boring nonsense.

But somehow, for no logical reason whatsoever, I'm getting some very strong inner-type vibes that somewhere out there, Laura just fell down again. Not sure why that is. Just a hunch. Good luck, Jack.

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's...

Holy cow, Superman himself has decided to grace us with his presence again. Or -- as some golf fans have no doubt noted -- Eldrick Woods has opted to once again come out of seclusion to play another tournament.

You see, Tiger gets to pick and choose which tournaments he'll play. He's not like the other pros that are out there entertaining the fans every week, and BTW, trying to make enough bucks to support their families. No, Tiger's way past that now. Despite his gross marital infidelity, which was widely reported a while back, and also despite his on-going penchant to curse and otherwise act like a spoiled brat on a golf course when things don't go his way -- while all around him are behaving like the gentlemen golfers have historically been -- Eldrick has no worries. He's still got enough money flowing in from endorsements to buy your entire neighborhood and turn it into a giant practice putting green whenever he feels like it, and an army of groupies that the Beatles and the Stones combined would have been envious of back in the day. Personally, I think of those that worship Tiger as somewhat akin to the "dead-heads" that followed the late Jerry Garcia's band around. If that's what yanks their crank, then by all means go for it -- but I didn't understand the fascination with the Grateful Dead then, and I surely don't understand it now with Tiger. Then again, I guess every cult following has their own reasons.

At any rate, Tiger is now playing the Memorial (Jack Nicklaus' tourney in Ohio). This is one of his favorite stops because he's had so much success there in the past. You won't see Eldrick participating in other "non-major" tournaments where the course doesn't suit his game. Quite the contrary. If a particular golf course has given him fits in the past, don't look for Woods to show up at that tournament anymore. Various reasons will come from various "spokespeople" on his behalf, but in the end, Tiger's not going to tee it up unless he thinks he has decent chance of winning. Further, while the other guys are out there travelling to and from, and playing vastly different course set-ups on the PGA tour leading up to it, Tiger has the luxury of routinely take a couple weeks off before a "major" to hone his game to that particular course. Guys like Jack and Arnie used to play them all. Tiger gets to pick and choose with a couple weeks of practice under his belt. Is it any wonder he seems to play well at the majors?

Somehow, over the course of time, any event Woods is entered in ceases to be a PGA tournament, and turns into the Tiger show. How else to explain what we see on TV?

Watching the highlights on ESPN, yours truly saw it happen yet again. See Tiger hit a 5 wood 260 yards into a green. Impressive. See Tiger hit a wild shot over another green into the rough somewhere. Any duffer can do that. See Tiger roll in a 10 foot putt. Hey, this is a PGA tournament. These guys are all good or they wouldn't be there. Ten foot putts are getting holed every couple minutes. This is a big deal because it's Tiger? See Tiger chump a chip shot on the fringe of a green. I can do that. So can you. This is a highlight?

And, of course, there's always the mandatory Tiger TV interview after his round has been completed, with the cameras, microphones, and awe-struck reporters asking him questions like Eldrick is the second-coming of Nostradamus, or maybe Charles Barkley.

See Tiger 6 shots behind and tied for 27th place after only one round of play.

A question.....

Instead of force feeding the public TV highlights and lowlights of some dude that played decidedly mediocre -- how come we don't get to see the really good shots and performances of those that were so much better than him on this particular occasion? Obviously, there was a slew of them, but they get ignored to once again bring us the Tiger show.

Some other guy on the course can make an 80 foot putt at the same time Eldrick decides to eat a banana -- and guess which one the TV cameras will zoom in on?

Nothing against the dude. He's a great golfer at times.

But c'mon. Enough is enough with the hype.

There's a reason they call it the "leaderboard". How about showing the guys that are on it?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Emotions on the Red Wings

It's too bad the Red Wings were eliminated, but you know what I feel more than anything else?


At least it's over.

Don't get me wrong --  I was somewhat disappointed to see them lose -- though Chicago's a lot cooler town than Detroit and, in my opinion, the Black Hawks' jerseys are the best in all of sports -- for whatever that counts.

Thing is, the hype was getting to be too much. Over and over Red Wings' fans were told....

1) The LA Kings barely snuck into the playoffs last year too, but won the Stanley Cup. Anything can happen when a team gets on a roll.
2) Down 3 games to 2, the Red Wings came back to beat the favored Anaheim Ducks, the 7th and deciding game being played in Disneyland land.
3) As the Wings stretched their series lead to 3-1 over Chicago, the cliches came out. Jimmy Howard, their goaltender was "standing on his head". Personally, I've never seen a goaltender do that before, but it would be interesting. "Unsung heroes" were making their presence known. I know they skate really well -- but they sing too? Or maybe we're supposed to break out in a song about them. I dunno.
4) The Red Wings weren't supposed to get this far anyway. They're playing on house money.
5) As the Black Hawks slowly climbed back into the series, from down 3-1, to 3-2, to 3-3, the tension mounted. Could the Wings pull off yet another improbable game 7 victory on the road against a supposed superior team?

As it turned out -- nah. The best team won. And in a way I'm glad. Why?

Because the talking heads and scribes had the Red Wing faithful so worked up into a lather, like this was the Super Bowl or the 7th game of the World Series. And it was only the quarterfinals of the Stanley Cup tournament.

Had they moved on into the semis against LA, the winged-wheel fans would have got wound up even tighter yet by the media.

Hey, it's important in it's own way, but playoff hockey isn't exactly nuclear war, or worse, divorce court. Is it asking too much to at least wait until one's team is in the Finals before driving people to power-drink, pop pills, and stand outside on ledges of tall buildings contemplating their mortality if things don't work out?

So yeah, I'm kind of glad it's over. Because even had the Red Wings defeated the Black Hawks -- it was only the half-way point to Lord Stanley's Cup.

Sure, the players would be OK, but I'm not at all sure the Motown fans could stand another couple of series' with even MORE media induced pressure. Everybody has their breaking point, and Detroit's in bad enough shape as it is.

The last thing Motown needs is a few thousand hockey-crazed lunatics running amok to make matters worse.

After all, they've already got that problem. In fact, they've had it for a long time.

Something about the fans of a team that wears Honolulu blue and silver.

One's enough.

And let's get real. The Red Wings were a mediocre team going into the playoffs, compiled a mediocre 7-7 record while there, and are still a mediocre team after it's all over.

Ain't nothing to get worked up about....

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Loose cannons

Idle thought: A lot of people have been ticked off at a lot of Presidents over the years but, down deep, they didn't or don't want anything bad to happen to them. Know why? Because they were smart enough to have a loose cannon along as a VP that would be even worse. President Joe Biden? President Dick Cheney? Back in the day -- President Dan Quayle? Scary stuff. Though he didn't make it to the Oval Office -- John McCain would have been the safest of them all. Would you really have wanted a potential President Sarah Palin having access to nuclear launch codes? Brrr.

But enough about politics and back to sports. Needless to say, they have their fair share of loose cannons as well.

Yours truly tuned into the NBA playoff game earlier tonight between Indiana and Miami "in progress". The first thing I saw? A technical foul called on a player for no apparent reason. After a short while, it appeared the players couldn't make sense of other calls, the coaches were equally exasperated, the fans certainly couldn't figure it out -- and even the announcers -- never at a loss for words -- were trying to gloss it over. But they didn't have a clue what was going on either. The game finally progressed to the point where one expected total pandemonium be break out at any second.

What the hell was going on?

But then I looked closer and, yep, there he was. I should have known. Joey Crawford was the lead referee of the game.

Strictly in my opinion, Joey Crawford is to the NBA what Jerry Springer is to talk shows. No matter how well intentioned the participants may start out, they'll find a way to turn their civility and/or professionalism into a free-for-all approaching total anarchy. Like Dracula fed on blood, these guys seem to feed on madness.

Jerry Springer I understand. A lot of people seem to derive some sort of satisfaction from seeing other people on TV that are even more screwed up than THEY are.

But I don't understand Joey Crawford. I dare say most would agree the best officials in any sports contest are the ones that go unnoticed, while the game proceeds smoothly along. They make their calls and sure -- players, coaches, and partisan fans will sometimes disagree -- but such is human nature when one is rooting for one side or the other. Yet I suspect most would begrudgingly admit the refs get it right 90+% of the time, even if they don't like it. And the game goes on.

Thing is with Crawford -- he's not content with merely reffing the show, he wants to BE the show.

And what I REALLY don't understand is why the NBA keeps trotting this guy out there to call big games. Crawford's been a ref since 1977. Somewhere during the course of all those years, you'd think the NBA would have figured out -- I mean, c'mon, they have people that review the performances of the refs, right? So what the hell is he still doing out there wreaking havoc?

Another idle thought: Huh. Maybe NBA commissioner David Stern and his cronies are big time Jerry Springer fans.

That would explain it.

But it doesn't make it right.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A single shining act of pure class

Guys like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and Michael Jordan never would have done it. It's highly unlikely you'll ever see modern day stars like Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant do it either. But Marc Gasol did.

For those who don't know who Marc Gasol is -- he's a 7 foot center for the Memphis Grizzlies, who just got eliminated (actually swept) by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Western conference finals. And by the way, he also won the NBA defensive player of the year award this past season. That's quite an achievement for any player.

Memphis was already down 3-0 in the best of 7 series against San Antonio, and the Grizzlies were playing at home in Game 4. Certainly, they were desperate to win that game and would give it all they had to pull it off and extend the series. It was time to play HARD. To hell with the other team -- do whatever it takes to win this game. Time do get down and dirty. A single basket made or missed might well make the difference in the outcome.

While Spurs' guard Tony Parker was taking a routine jump shot, Marc Gasol, about a foot taller, attempted to block it. Gasol missed the ball, but inadvertently came down with one of his arms and smacked Parker in the face. Though obviously unintentional, Parker hit the floor, and appeared to be concerned with his right eye. The shot was missed, Memphis rebounded the ball, and headed the other way down the court. With Parker down, it should have been 5 on 4 and resulted in an easy basket for Memphis.

But something extraordinary happened. Gasol didn't run the other way with his teammates.

Genuinely concerned about a possible injury to an opponent that he had accidentally caused, Gasol leaned over Parker and offered his hand to help him up.

No, you won't see it in the box scores, and it probably won't show up on the highlight reels.

But for that one brief moment in time, Marc Gasol did something that is very rare in sports these days.

With all of it's ramifications and hype, the game became secondary to him. He was more worried about a fallen opponent.

And THAT is the epitome of a class act.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Miami Heat. Awe inspiring

Just a couple days ago yours truly thought the Miami Heat might be in trouble against the Indiana Pacers. Indiana was undefeated at home in the playoffs so far this year, and they seemed to match up pretty well against the Heat. And then Lebron and Co went into Indianapolis and...

Put on a jaw-dropping performance. Seventy points in the first half alone on 63% shooting, with only one turnover? Tell ya what. No team, from any place, in any era, in the history of the game could withstand an onslaught like that. 70 points in the first half against a defensive minded physical team? Incredible.

It wasn't that Indiana was that bad. They actually played fairly well. And most everybody acknowledges that when Miami gets on a roll, they're really good. But coming out of the gate in this game, the Heat kicked it up to a level that I'm not sure has ever been seen before. They were THAT good.

Whether or not Miami can sustain that level of play in subsequent games remains to be seen, but notice has definitely been served. When those guys get it going on all cylinders -- look out.

Yours truly earlier wondered how Miami would react after having been defeated in their own building in Game 2. The Pacers were confident.

Then the Heat rolled into Indianapolis and rung the bell like Quasimodo on steroids in Game 3. Now it remains to be seen how the Pacers will respond after such a thumping in their own house.

Hard to say. Indiana might bounce back to win Game 4 to make it interesting again. Regardless, the Pacers lost home court advantage, and to win the series will have to win yet another game in Miami -- no small feat.

Then again, if the Heat take off in warp drive for the next game with all phasors and photo torpedos blazing like they did in this one, well..... they WERE the favorites -- right?

I haven't seen anything that good since Angelena dumped Brad and was on her knees begging for my private company. And then I woke up. I HATE it when that happens. The waking up part, that is.

But the Heat are no dream. They're very real, and unless they slack off or Indiana figures out something very soon, there will be no waking up from that nightmare.

This series could still get interesting, but somehow I suspect how it's going to turn out is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Tony Kanaan. Indy 500 champ

A lot of things have to come together, at just the right time, to win the Indy 500. Certainly, a very fast, well-handling car is required. So is a great driver, a top-flight pit crew, and most of all, a healthy dose of luck. Any driver will tell you that without Lady Luck smiling on them, they have little chance of winning the race.

The cars travel at such incredible speeds, and so many things can go so wrong in the blink of an eye at the Indy 500, and have in the past. Drivers have lost their lives, and many more have been severely injured during the runnings at the Brickyard. Despite attempts in the past to slow the cars down somewhat in the interest of safety, engineering break-throughs seem to keep making them faster. This year's average speed was a whopping 187.4 MPH. Now maybe that number all by itself doesn't sound so impressive, but when one considers all the pit stops and laps run under the yellow caution flag for various reasons, to AVERAGE 187 MPH is mind-boggling. Having been there several times, I can attest from personal experience that if one watches the race on TV, they can't even begin to appreciate just how flat-out eye-popping fast those boys and girls in their racing machines whistle around that track. If ever there was a sporting event where TV doesn't do it justice -- it's the Indy 500. I would strongly recommend one make the pilgrammage at least once during their lifetimes to see it live and in person. When they say it's "the greatest spectacle in racing" -- they're not kidding. It's an experience you'll never forget.

Which brings me back to Lady Luck. The famed Andretti family had a lot of it at the Indy 500, mostly bad. Despite oftentimes having the best car, Grandfather Mario won the race just once, way back in 1969. In subsequent years, it seemed like he was cruising towards the checkered flag, and something would go wrong. His son Michael tried for a generation, and was often the favorite, but Lady Luck looked the other way year after year. He never won it.

This year's winner, Tony Kanaan, looked like he was destined to be jinxed as well. He had raced the 500 for over a decade, and most years led it at one point or another, only to have something unforeseen come about to deny him victory. That included everything from a mechanical malfunction, to the weather, to even pit mishaps, once with his own teammate. But again, a lot of it has to do with Lady Luck. If rain is possible, some cars may choose to come into the pits for fuel, and others will stay out on the track racking up a few more laps. Whether the rain comes or not, and how soon, and for how long, can easily make the difference as to who wins the race. One crew's decision to pit at a certain time could turn out to be brilliant, while another crew's decision to "stay out" could be a disaster. Or vice-versa. It's like trying to read Mother Nature's mind. Good luck.

At that, because of his bad luck over the years, Tony Kanaan had become somewhat of a sentimental favorite. Not only amongst the fans, but begrudgingly, even amongst his fellow competitors. They knew the story.

And this year he finally won. On the last restart coming off a caution, lap 198, also the last run under the green flag, Kanaan pulled a daring, if somewhat risky move, to weave his way through traffic and once again take the lead. Thing was, being in front in this race was a very precarious position. The lead was changing hands on seemingly every lap. Someone from behind would draft, then swing out to pass the leader, only to see it happen to them on the next lap.

It was highly likely in the last two laps the lead would change yet again, if not several times. Then a car back in the field wrecked, bringing out the caution flag. Unlike NASCAR, the Indy 500 doesn't add a few laps at the end of the race just to make sure it finishes under the green flag. 200 laps is 200 laps, and the race is over, regardless of how it finishes.

In the end, Kanaan got to cruise the final 2 laps under the yellow flag into victory lane.

Lady Luck decided to smile his way.

So here's to Tony Kanaan. A good guy, a helluva racer, and a worthy Indy 500 champion. He earned it.

Let the celebration begin in his native Brazil.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The NBA. Indy/Miami. Interesting

Yep, I freely admit I didn't think any team could seriously challenge the Miami Heat on their quest for another NBA title. Barring Lebron James getting injured, yours truly just couldn't foresee any other team capable of beating them in a 7 game playoff series. Now it may be time to reassess.

No, the Indiana Pacers haven't beaten them yet in their current playoff series, far from it, but this is starting to get interesting. After splitting the first two games in Miami, both dogfights, Indy has reclaimed home court advantage. The Pacers are yet to lose at home in this year's playoffs. Can Miami storm into Indy and take control of the series? Maybe. Never underestimate what the defending champs are capable of when they get on a roll -- but the Pacers would appear problematic for the Heat, for a few reasons.

The Pacers aren't the least bit intimidated by the Heat. Quite the contrary. They appear to be very confident they can defeat Miami. Yes, Miami got more press throughout the year, while Indy pretty much flew beneath the radar, but don't be fooled. The Pacers are the real deal -- just in a different way.

Miami has it's superstars like Lebron, Wade, and Bosh, but Indy's got other things that may be even more important over the course of a long playoff series. They're bigger and stronger across the board. They're deeper with the amount of quality players they can rotate in and out of the game, without their level of play noticeably falling off.

And perhaps unlike what Miami has become accustomed to when playing other teams -- there will be no run and gun dunkathon for easy points. Indiana simply won't allow it. They contest everything, all over the court. While most casual observers merely follow the basketball, they might fail to notice how good Indiana's defense is. The Pacers' defense seamlessly switches coverages from man to man depending on what the other team presents. On the rare occasion an opponent gets an "open look" for a shot, he'd better do it in a hurry, because somebody's coming -- fast -- and usually the defender is bigger than the shooter.

Getting points in the "paint" against Indiana is brutal. When any opponent gets the ball under the basket, he'll likely find at least three very tall Pacers standing next to him just waiting to block his shot, and rough him up a bit in the process. Kick the ball out to the perimeter, and somehow the Pacers seem to get back out there in a hurry as well. No, Indy doesn't have anybody that's "superstar" status like Miami, but as a team, they're quite formidable. Plus, they've got several guys that can shoot the lights out as well as crash the boards. Miami definitely has it's hands full with the Pacers.

Yeah, Miami will definitely "bring it" when they roll into Indianapolis and try to kick the Pacers to the banks of the Wabash.

But I wouldn't be so sure about that. I suspect in their heart of hearts, Lebron and Co. aren't either right about now.

The Pacers are convinced they can win. They just might be right. The theory here is -- the longer the series goes, the more it would seem to favor Indiana, because their abundance of big bodies will take it's toll and wear down the shock troops of the Heat. And wouldn't it be something if the Pacers actually knocked them off? With the Indy 500 race thrown into the mix -- it would definitely be a good week in Hoosierland.

Yep, this is getting interesting......

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The wrong Red Wings

So far, everything is proceeding as usual. When yours truly picks a team to win, the best thing you can do is bet on the other one -- because I'm ALWAYS wrong on such things. In the words of Hank Jr., it's a family tradition, which I explained in a previous post a while back.

I didn't think the Red Wings would even MAKE the playoffs. Wrong.

Surely the Anaheim Ducks would knock them out in the first playoff round. Wrong.

C'mon. The Chicago Black Hawks are vastly superior. They'll dispatch the Wings in 5 games, 6 at the most. Wrong again.

True, the Chitown/Motown series isn't over yet, but certainly the Wings, with a 3-1 series lead, are looking pretty good to move on. Hope I didn't just jinx them. OK, Chicago's going to storm back and win the last 3 games. There. Considering I'm always wrong -- that ought to do it.

In the other western semifinal, the LA Kings and San Jose Sharks are slugging it out. I kind of figured that series to be a coin flip. Even yours truly can't screw up a coin flip -- I think. I hope.

In the east, the Boston Bruins have a strangle hold on the NY Rangers with a 3-1 lead. The Beaners will likely move on.

Yet while the hopes of the Red Wings and their fans keep growing, there's little doubt which team is the class of the field.

It's the Pittsburgh Penguins. They're torching the Ottawa Senators, a really good team themselves, and will likely roll through the Bruins to get to the Cup Finals. If Detroit happens to make it that far -- they have zero -- repeat ZERO chance of beating Pittsburgh for Lord Stanley's cup.

Sorry Sidney (Crosby). I've long admired you for your phenomenal skills, but I have to play this family tradition jinx thing the right way. Or maybe the wrong way. Not sure about that. This being wrong to get it right stuff gets confusing after a while.

Thing is, at heart, I'm still a Red Wings fan.


Sergio and Tiger

It's no big secret pro golfers Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods don't like each other much. Hey, it happens. Whether it's players in other sports, movie stars, teachers, cops, construction workers, even the clergy -- you name the profession -- and some people rub others the wrong way for various reasons. It's just human nature. Always has been, always will be.

But now Sergio Garcia finds himself back peddling, apologizing, and in damage control mode because he dared to take a swipe at Tiger about serving him fried chicken. It was similar to a swipe former pro golfer Fuzzy Zoeller took at Woods after Tiger had won the Masters tournament back in the 90s. As I understand it, the winner of that tournament gets to pick the entree for the official dinner the following year. Zoeller said something about Tiger opting for fried chicken and collard greens. He caught a bunch of flak too. (If I remember right, as it turned out, Tiger decided on cheeseburgers.)

Obviously, both comments have been construed as some sort of ethnic slurs, because for some reason, there are those that think all black people of overly fond of fried chicken. How that came to be -- I have no idea. But it's silly.

And so is this latest "feud" between Sergio and Tiger.  It's WAY overblown. A few questions ---

Even if Garcia had uttered a profanity laced out-and-out racial slur towards Tiger, do you think the majority of everyday men and women around the world would really care about it? I think not. Most of us have experienced that sort of thing countless times during our lives. Is it right? Probably not. Does it happen? Of course. Such disparaging words or references can be about race, gender, heritage, religion, politics, age, physical traits, intelligence, and a lot of other things. It's just a part of life. Most of us just shrug it off -- even when it's personal -- and we surely don't care about what others are saying to or about each other somewhere else on the planet.

But when such a thing occurs between high profile people, two things normally happen. First, the media gets its bowels in an uproar and pours gasoline on the fire. Most of them could likely personally care less, of course, but it's a story, and they'll do their best to turn a marshmallow roast into a blazing inferno. Second, when it involves people in the public eye, some such folks tend to be overly sensitive when someone says something about them they don't like -- even if it's true. It's basically an ego thing. They have to protect their precious image at all costs. So they'll either snipe back or play on public sympathy. All the while, the media willingly fans the flames.

Let's get a few facts straight. Sergio Garcia is a Spaniard. Tiger Woods is an American that happens to be half black. Sergio took a swipe at Tiger about fried chicken. The story exploded.

Do you think if it had been ---

A German Formula One driver taking the same swipe at an Italian F1 driver about spaghetti, or..

A Swedish hockey player teasing a Russian counterpart about borscht, or...

A Canadian gymnast poking fun at a Chinese competitor about rice, or....

Etc, etc, etc, this would be such a big deal? I highly doubt it.

But it was the precious Eldrick Woods on the receiving end. Why that should make a difference, I don't know, but evidently it does.

Even Tiger himself jumped in and said Garcia's words were wrong, and hurtful. Many have bought into that.

I don't. First, I don't know whether or not Tiger likes fried chicken. No one seems to notice that he's never said one way or the other. If he does, then the politically correct crappola aside -- Garcia wasn't wrong. At that, maybe Fuzzy had some inside info about some of Tiger's favorite foods back in the day. Beats me.

And second, if Woods finds such a remark hurtful, that man needs to get out of his bubble-wrapped celebrity ivory tower and spend a little time with the commoners. Perhaps he'd learn some harsh realities about the every day world. Couldn't hurt.

In the meantime -- between Garcia and Woods -- it's a couple of golfing multimillionaires that have been pampered and catered to their whole lives acting out the equivalent of a 3rd grade playground squabble through the press.

Two words....

Who cares?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The NBA draft. Winners and losers

Actually, team-wise, it's kind of tough to find a winner in the draft. That's because the current crop of eligible college hoopsters they'll be picking from doesn't really offer any can't-miss prospects. It seems every one of them that shows potential could just as easily turn out to be a bust as well. In other words, it's not exactly a bumper crop. But ya never know. There might be a diamond in the rough here or there. As they say -- Ya pays yer millions and ya takes yer chances.

Losers? Well, let me put it this way. I remember Urkel and Barney Fife. And the Revenge of the Nerds movie was yuk-worthy. They all had something in common. But what I saw at the NBA draft took that to, excuse the tired cliche, a whole new level. While many of the other 13 draft eligible teams sent presidents or CEOs and the like to represent them, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert put his son on stage, while proud papa watched from a front row seat.

Now Dan Gilbert is one thing. You don't become a billionaire and owner of an NBA team if you're a dummy. True, there are those that think Gilbert is somewhat delusional. How else to explain him continuing to predict his Cavs will be NBA champs every year? If I could send a message to Mr. Gilbert, it would be this -- Hey Dan, this isn't working out. There's a reason your team is in the lottery every year. They ain't no good, and ain't GONNA be any good any year soon. You might want to give it a rest before you lose what little credibility you have left.

But that boy of his had yours truly gaping in awe. I'm sure he's a very nice young man, and probably smart as a whip. But is THAT what the next generation of NBA owners is coming to? To me, he made Barney Fife look like Rambo. Urkel got upgraded to Terminator status. This is not a good thing -- in my opinion.

And wouldn't you know it? The Cavaliers wound up with the #1 draft pick. As the Gilberts were jetting away on their Lear of Gulfstream or whatever, they sent out a tweet predicting yet another Cleveland Cavalier NBA championship. They're up above the clouds again, in more ways than one. Sigh.

By the luck of the draw, the Orlando Magic wound up with the #2 pick.

And that's where we can separate a winner from a loser. No, Orlando's not going to win anything anytime soon either. I'm talking about the first two players that get drafted. Sure, in most years, a player would like nothing better than to be the overall #1 pick. It guarantees more money.

But in this case -- ask yourself one question -- if you were one of those players -- would you rather spend the next 3-4 years in dreary Cleveland next to Lake Erie, or in sunny Orlando next to Disneyworld?

All things considered, sometimes being #1 can make you a loser.

In my opinion, #2 looks pretty good right about now.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Oklahoma tornado

I know the rules. They were clearly laid out to me many moons ago, and I haven't forgotten. I'm supposed to write about sports. Straying too far from that might well land yours truly in some serious hot water with the powers that be.

Yet every once in a while, something happens (usually bad) that makes sports seem unimportant in the whole scheme of things. That would be the tornado that earlier ripped through the outskirts of Oklahoma City.

It was reported as being 2 miles wide. 2 MILES WIDE?  Holy cow -- that's frighteningly incredible. As it weaved it's path of destruction, entire neighborhoods were not just destroyed, but are GONE. Over 50 already confirmed dead, including over 20 little kids in an elementary school that was also demolished. Sadly, there's a lot more people, and schoolchildren, that are still unaccounted for. The death toll will likely rise by the time everything gets sorted out -- what's left of it. Mother Nature can truly be awesome in a terrible way with what she is capable of unleashing at times on us mere humans.

Yes, the infinite variety of sports touches the lives of billions of people the world over. Not even counting the athletes themselves, their fans will cheer, boo, worry, argue, sit on the edge of their seats in anticipation, and lord knows, one way or the other, a lot of money changes hands over those various contests throughout the year. This is a big deal.

But win or lose, those teams and players will be back next year to try again.

Tragically, some mighty fine people in Oklahoma, including a bunch of innocent kids, won't get that chance.

So for now, bring on the hot water, if need be. But sports can wait.

My prayers and deepest sympathies go out to all those who were so horribly affected by this disaster in Oklahoma.

Nuff said. 

It's all relative

That didn't take long. Just one good game. After the Red Wings beat the Black Hawks in Game 2 of their playoff series, the local pundits are once again bragging up the honor and the prestige that comes with wearing a Red Wings jersey. It's like the "winged wheel" is somehow special in the sports world.

If you believe that, then it stands to reason you've also believed the Dallas Cowboys are truly "America's team", and Armageddon would quickly be upon us if the Lakers hadn't made the playoffs.

Personally, I'm not buying into ANY of that nonsense. They're pro sports teams. They win -- they lose. They go up -- they go down. For the most part, it's a bunch of players in stick and ball sports making millions that likely couldn't pass a fairly administered 9th grade proficiency test. And we, the fans, pick up the tab. So who's the real dummies?

It's pretty much the same thing with the Olde English D on Detroit Tigers uniforms or the NY Yankee pinstripes. Somehow this is supposed to be special. It is and it isn't.

Yes, it's special because any player that wears such a uniform is special himself. I've long said you can take the last player on the bench, from the last place team in whatever pro league you want to talk about -- and whoever that is -- that guy's REALLY good. Criticize him if you wish, but he beat out thousands of others just to get there.

But no, just because he plays for a certain team doesn't make him -- or them --  any more special than any other team and it's players.

Do you really think for a second the Cowboys' jersey is special in any other NFL town with its own rabid home fans? I doubt it. It's just hype. You can buy into it -- or not. I don't.

Same thing with the Red Wings. They might have a few fans that follow them on the road, but their winged wheel doesn't mean squat in any other NHL city. They're just another team. Detroit is a member of the original 6 in the NHL? How much do you think that matters to fans in such places as Columbus, Nashville, San Jose, etc?

For that matter, yours truly has never understood just what a "red wing" is, at least in hockey. I have a few old timer biker friends that sport red wings on their vests -- but that was for doing something that I absolutely can't discuss in this forum. If you want to know -- go ask a biker.

On another note, earlier today my boss, the sports editor, actually paid me a compliment, but also said he didn't want to make my head any bigger than it already was.

Considering how many people would no doubt swear under oath that yours truly was, is and always will be a pinhead -- I'm not quite sure what to make of all that.

I guess it's all relative.

And I think that's where I came in.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

NASCAR All-Star race. Say what?

Actually, yours truly didn't even see the race. I only caught the highlights later on ESPN. Perhaps it's the Jethro syndrome that seems to keep coming back at me once in a while. Something about being an international playboy, and having to fight off the pretty girls with a stick a few hours ago. Maybe I should go back to being a double naught spy, or a brain surgeon. Life was simpler then. Nevertheless....

Jimmy Johnson won the race. but I have one question. What the hell was Danica Patrick doing out there? By it's very definition -- this was supposed to be an All-Star race.

One normally thinks of any All-Star contest in various sports as the elite "players" putting on a show. So since when does Danica rank amongst the elite in NASCAR? She's never won a single race, nor really even came close. The only notable thing she's done is win the pole position at the Daytona 500. At that, when the kid gloves finally came off on the last lap of that race, other drivers were blowing by her left and right. Other than that, unless drivers get points for wrecking cars and doing photo-ops, she's pretty much been a bust, certainly no pun intended.

Yeah, I know. Danica made it into the race through a vote by the fans. Just like all the other all-stars in different sports do. Well, guess what? Not that it's a big time revelation -- but those NASCAR fans are obviously crazy. Why would they vote in a rookie driver that, despite having top-notch equipment, doesn't even seem to be competitive? Because she's a woman and some people think she's pretty? Excuse me, but that's not a good enough reason. This was an all-star race, ferchrissakes. A limited field. Like other sports, it's supposed to be the best competing against each other.

So what's next? If Beyonce takes up golf -- will she get an invitation to play at the Masters? What's the difference? Danica isn't afraid to go fast? Big deal. Lots of people can and would be willing to put the petal to the medal and turn a steering wheel to the left. That doesn't mean they know what they're doing either, much less make them some sort of all-star. They'd probably wreck too.

Yes, Ms. Patrick wound up at the back of the pack -- no surprise there -- but because she got in -- somebody else more deserving got left out.

And that's not right.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The NHL and the "look".

Uh oh. The LA Kings are getting that look about them again. Remember last year, when they barely snuck into the playoffs? Then they got on a roll, and next thing ya knew, presto, Lord Stanley's hardware was in LA-LA land. Fast forward a year, and they're up to their old tricks. Look out.

Idle thought: Is there another arena anywhere that hosts 3 professional sports teams (Lakers, Clippers, and Kings) like the Staples Center?

In the east, Sid the Kid Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins is once again showing he's the real deal. A hat trick against the Ottawa Senators. The Penguins are probably as skilled as any other team not named the Chicago Black Hawks, but their goalie makes some bone-headed moves once in a while. Coming 15 feet out of the crease and letting the puck get behind him? Oops. Chalk up a goal for the other guys. Having the puck in his glove while the opponents were on a power play, then trying to drop it off to one of his defensemen, with the Senators swarming around like a hungry school of piranhas? Bad idea. No goal resulted, but he lucked out on that one.

Uh oh. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is starting to get that look again too. The deer in the headlights once the playoffs start look -- but with a slight twist -- an attitude.

Q & A Dept.

Didn't hear the question, but Babcock responded to a reporter by saying he/she should just basically chill. Everything would be alright with his Red Wings.

Response yours truly would had loved to hear a reporter come back with ---

Hey Coach, whether your team wins or loses makes no difference to us. Our job is to report it either way. And if anybody in this room sounds worried after your team got taken to the woodshed in the first game -- it's YOU.

Bet that would have got interesting.

Idle thought II: Can a head coach send a reporter to the penalty box? Give him/her 2 minutes for "roughing" his company line and/or ego? That would be a scary precedent.

So who's going to win the Stanley Cup this year?

Beats the hell out of me. In the west, the Black Hawks are the most talented team, but those pesky LA Kings.....

In the east, Pittsburgh's probably the best, but they haven't got past Ottawa just yet, and the Bruins and Rangers are a couple of nitty-gritty teams with a fair amount of talent themselves. Whoever comes out of that series will be no pushover. Tough call.

The Red Wings? They've got a shot -- but only a very long one. Forget all that stuff about championship pedigree because it's totally irrelevant. Ask the LA Lakers, or the Boston Celtics, or the NY Yankees, or even the Montreal Canadiens about that. What happened in years past doesn't matter. Different players and different times. That was then, and this is now.

Even if the Red Wings somehow get past the Black Hawks, they'll likely have the defending champ Kings waiting on them in the western conference finals. Did I mention LA is back on a playoff roll lately? Then whatever beast comes out of the east in the true Finals.

But ya never know.

Stranger things have happened in Detroit.

Brandon Inge, a career .234 hitter, made over $40 million playing in Motown for 12 years. He had more srikeouts than homers, walks, and RBIs combined. And he was a fan favorite!!


At any rate, here's hoping the Red Wings overcome the odds and march on to glory. Obviously, with all the other messes that are going on there, Detroit could use some good news wherever they can get it.

Maybe one of their sports teams winning a championship would help ease the pain, if only for a little while.

It ain't gonna be the Lions any year soon. They've got that look about them again too. Losers.

Trust me on that one......

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The NBA crystal ball

Idle thought: Notice all those handicapped license plates everywhere? So why is it I'm beginning to think the people driving those vehicles suffer from a MENTAL handicap? How else to explain some of the retarded stuff they do on the road? Yeah, I know that's not politically correct, but neither am I, and proud of it. Anyway, onward....

In the east, the Indiana Pacers and NY Knicks are slugging it out. Ahead 3-2 in their series, they go back to Indianapolis for Game 6, and the Pacers should close it out. They'd better, because they surely don't want to go back to Madison Square Garden for a Game 7. That could get dicey. But it really doesn't matter.

The Miami Heat awaits the winner and, barring any major injuries, it would be a huge upset if Lebron and Co. lost to either Indy or NY in the conference finals. Like them or not, the South Beachers are just too good.

In the west, Memphis will take on San Antonio in the conference finals. Memphis flew underneath the radar all year, but those guys are brutes. On the other hand, San Antonio is probably the smartest team in basketball, with the smartest coach, Gregg Popovich, as well. With all due respect to both teams, it would seem a matchup of brains vs. brawn is coming up. It should be interesting.

San Antonio has been good for so long, nobody can remember when they weren't. But they're getting old. The LA Lakers, a contender for decades, seem to be coming apart at the seams. Denver's pretty good, as are the LA Clippers, and the Okla City Thunder will no doubt return to being a threat once injured Russell Westbrook comes back next year. As great as he is, there was no way Kevin Durant could beat other very good playoff teams all by himself. And they made a big mistake letting guard James Harden get away to Houston.

But you know who the team of the future might very well be? The Golden State Warriors. They're already really good, and they're the youngest team in the league. Yeah, San Antonio just eliminated them in 6 games, but these guys are coming. Plus, they've got a terrific young head coach themselves in former player Mark Jackson. It won't be easy, because other teams will get better as well, but check out the Warriors in a couple years after they've added another piece or two, and got just that much more experience under their belts.

And by then, those beasts in Miami will likely be getting on the back side of their bell curve. For now, they're definitely a cut above everybody else, but they're not getting any younger either.

I'm just saying.......

The King and his Court

Besides true royalty over the centuries in various countries, others have been referred to as the "King". In years past, there was the king of swing, the king of pop, Lebron is often called King James, and of course, there was the one and only Elvis, to mention but a few.

But this is about another King. Old timers will fondly remember Eddie Feigner, the King, and his Court. Feigner was likely the greatest fast-pitch softball pitcher that ever lived -- and ever will. He and his Court were a travelling road show. And, oh my, what a show they would put on.

Feigner's team only consisted of him on the pitcher's mound, a catcher, one infielder, and one outfielder. While travelling around the country, they would give advance notice of what towns they were heading to, and dare them to put together the best softball team they could. Get whoever you can, they would say. It doesn't matter. Put the best 10 players you can find from wherever on the field, and the 4 of us are going to roll into your town, on whatever field you want to play on -- and not only beat them -- but humiliate them.

And they would. The King and his Court were that good. Some have likened them to the Harlem Globetrotters, but that's not really a good comparison. For the most part, the Globetrotters games were scripted, complete with the referees knowing what was going to happen -- and playing their parts. Most of the Globetrotters' game were against a team called the Washington Nationals, and though they never came right out and admitted it -- few would doubt the Nationals knew what the script was too, and played along as the "straight" men in a comedy act.

Sure, the Globetrotters possessed various amazing talents, but they likely would have been crushed if they'd taken on an NBA, or maybe even a top college team that was serious about playing.

On the other hand, the teams that faced the King and his Court wanted nothing more than to win the game. They played to the best of their ability. But it was never enough. Usually not even close. Thing is, besides Feigner being virtually unhittable when he wanted to, the other guys on his team could flat-out hit. While the local opposing pitcher might have been used to dominating batters from other teams he had faced, the Court would make it look like he was throwing up batting practice. They'd hit one rocket after another.

As part of the show, Feigner would put on a blindfold while pitching. Of course, the infielder had to stand next to him for two reasons. First, in the unlikely event a batter hit a pitch back at the King, he would have been defenseless. And second, he needed somebody to catch the ball his own catcher was throwing back to the mound. Normally, after putting on the blindfold, the first pitch would be a fastball whistling behind the head of the opposing batter. That would not only get his attention, but strike a bit of a fear factor. Where's the next one going to go? But Feigner had that down to a science. Even with the blindfold on, he knew exactly where he throwing the ball. Typically the next 3 pitches would be strike one, strike two, and yer out. Whiff, whiff, whiff.

Sometimes he'd even pitch from second base, though when he did that, the other batters would at least be able to hit the ball. They might even score a few runs, but that was all part of the plan.

Occasionally, given the King's team had only one infielder, an opposing batter would lay down a bunt. Anything to get on base. What always happened next was comical. Neither Feigner, his catcher, nor his infielder would even make a move toward the ball. When the bunt finally stopped rolling in the infield, they were more than happy to let the opposing batter circle the bases for a home run, while pointing at him and laughing the whole way.

Oh yeah, those guys could talk some serious smack. They'd not only ridicule the other players, but get after people in the crowd. But it was always in a playful fun-loving sort of way. Nobody ever got mad. Far from it. It was funny, and just part of the show.

Afterwards, they'd head to a local bar somewhere and yuk it up, before heading to the next town.

Yours truly had the pleasure of not only seeing those guys and their amazing talents on a few occasions, but having a few post-game beers with them, back in the 70's. What a bunch of characters they were, and the stories they would tell. I never knew whether all that stuff was true -- though I didn't doubt it -- but oh man, talk about laughing until you cry....

So OK. The King of Swing (Benny Goodman) is gone. The King of Pop (Michael Jackson) recently went to Neverland, Elvis Presley is presumably still resting comfortably beneath Graceland, and who knows what heights and glory await King Lebron James?

But I'll never forget King Eddie Feigner and his Court.

They put on a show of all shows -- for decades. They were probably in a town close to you somewhere along the line, and I hope you got to see them. Because like the Flying Wallendas, such an act will never come around again.

And what a hoot they were.

Especially after the game.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The silence is deafening

Well OK. Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia had their little war of words through the press following the Players Championship. Garcia said Woods breached golf etiquette by causing some sort of stir amongst the crowd while Sergio was in the middle of his back swing -- hence he hit a bad shot.

Woods said the course marshals had told him Garcia had already swung, so Tiger felt free to go ahead with his own swing. To be sure, every swing Eldrick makes gets a roar out of the gallery. Problem is, later on the marshals denied ever having told Woods any such thing, and further said Woods showed "lack of character" by making such a claim. Unless one believes the impartial course marshals are lying, it would appear Tiger was being a little less than straightforward about the entire matter.

Nonetheless -- who gives a rat's ass?

Let's look at a few realities in other pro sports as a comparison.

In basketball, besides screaming and flailing their arms, the home fans routinely wave streamers (handed out by the home stadium itself) behind the basket when a member of the visiting team is attempting to shoot free throws. It's just part of the game.

In the NFL, oftentimes the crowd roars so loud when the visiting team is attempting an offensive play, the players themselves on the field have to resort to hand signals to communicate. You'll never hear a post-game whine by the visitors over how loud the crowd was. They understand it goes with the territory.

In major league baseball, fans routinely boo and shout various not-so-good things at various players -- sometimes even their own if they're playing bad enough. This is totally acceptable. The people in the seats paid the price of admission, and they've always had a right to "needle" players however they feel like -- short of things like racial slurs or gross profanity, of course. The players hear all this. Good grief, they've probably heard such distractions and catcalls since "little league". It's no big deal to them. Just another day at the ballpark.

Can you imagine what sort of backlash a player would face in basketball, football, or baseball, if he complained that the crowd noise threw him off his game? He'd be ridiculed, and rightfully so.

So who decided it was OK for fans to yell whenever they want in some sports, but they have a gag order placed on them at certain times in others?

In golf, everybody has to be hush-hush QUIET when a player is actually playing. If anybody dares yell or pop a flash from a camera during a player's backswing, it's entirely possible the perpetrator could be booted off the course. Or at the very least verbally assaulted by a belligerent caddy.

Same thing in pro tennis. When a player is getting ready to hit a "serve", silence is mandatory. A fraction of a second after the tennis ball has initially been struck, the crowd is allowed to start cheering again. On rare occasions, the crowd might actually boo a player if they think he/she is being unsportsmanlike. Usually that involves a player acting like a spoiled 7-year old throwing a tantrum on the court, when they're not getting their way.

But for some reason, booing has always been unheard of in golf. It's OK for some fan to scream, "YOU DA MAN!!!" a millisecond after Tiger Woods hits a shot. But if that same fan hollers out, "YOU'RE A BUM!!!", particularly at a major tournament, being booted off the course would be the least of his worries. He'd be lucky if he didn't wind up in Guantanamo with others that were deemed to be terrorists. They take this golf stuff seriously at places like Augusta National.

And you know what? It's just wrong.

Other pro sports require the same level of concentration to be successful while their games are going on. In the NFL or NHL, one momentary mental lapse might result in a player waking up in the locker room wondering what happened -- or worse. Those other guys don't care, and they're playing for keeps. Stuff happens. Again, it goes with the territory. Nobody makes these players subject themselves to this. Quite the contrary. The competition is ferocious to even make it to the professional level.

But horrors, poor downtrodden and abused Tiger and Sergio had to have their little girl cat fight (hiss) over one of them possibly causing the crowd to make a little noise. What's worse is the media trying to make a big deal out of it. To which I say ---

Shut up. Did I mention the rat's ass? These guys might be pros, but they're not athletes. How do I know this? They don't even carry their own equipment during the course of a game. While making millions, the hardest hit divas like those guys are ever going to take would be missing a cut at a major tournament, or maybe the paparazzi chasing after them in their precious personal lives.

The hypocrisy of etiquette in various sports is one thing. Tiger should have been able to play his game without worrying about causing a stir in the crowd that might have affected Sergio. Crowds have always erupted all over the course as different players make great shots here and there. Sergio was whining.

But Tiger shouldn't have said what he did about the course marshals giving him the go-ahead -- which apparently never happened.

Lying is never cool. Better to man up, or at least shut up. That cover-up thing only makes things worse in the end when it all comes out. One would think Eldrick would have learned that lesson from Elin a while back.

Come to think of it -- that turned out to be quite a hit too.


Monday, May 13, 2013

The panic button

It's coming, you know. Maybe not today, tomorrow, next week, or even next month. But make no mistake. Though it's not as predictable as the sun rising in the east, or Tiger Woods wearing red and black on Sunday -- it's going to happen. And there's nothing you can do about it.

What I'm referring to, of course, is when some team, in some sport, in some city isn't performing as well as they were expected to. The scribes and talking heads will be quick to offer up a myriad of reasons as to why such a thing could be happening. Some will make sense. Some won't.

If the situation becomes particularly acute, as in a losing streak, or horrors, that team might actually miss the playoffs, or worse yet, god forbid, have their "backs against the wall" in "do or die time", sometimes more drastic measures are called for.

This is when the above pundits will ask the immortal question --- "Is it time to hit the panic button?"

Oh yeah, it's coming around eventually, because it always does, but personally, I never did understand the logic in that. Just to be sure, I looked up the official definition of the word "panic". According to my Webster's dictionary, "panic" is defined as -- sudden overwhelming terror, often affecting many people at once.

If our favorite team is losing -- does it make sense to panic? The scribes that offer up the question never panic. They'll move on to the next story. Another day, another column. No big deal. But evidently they think we, the fans, are supposed to panic.

I fail to see how jumping out of tall buildings, or setting our hair on fire and running naked through the streets screaming like we just got out of Judge Judy's courtroom or survived the Jerry Springer show would be helpful to that same favorite team.

Thankfully, there's no such thing as a real "panic button". If there was, the sports scribes would have had this country in a state of total anarchy a long time ago.

Hey, it's only games. Mostly played by athletes that will make more money in one year than the average fan will make in his/her lifetime. And win or lose -- they'll do it again next year, and the year after that, etc. You've never seen owners, front office personnel, coaches, and players panicking. Why should fans?

Besides, if there ever was such a thing as a real panic button, I suspect it was worn out decades ago. Even buttons can only be pressed so many times before they don't work anymore.

Push the doorbell of the Detroit Lions all you want, but those chimes haven't rung since Eisenhower was President. Many have even beaten on their door like Fred Flintstone asking Wilma to let him back in after he locked himself out, but the only people that seem to answer somehow have been eerily reminiscent of the Addams family. They're creepy and they're oozing, mysterious and losing. Close enough.

At any rate, the next time you read or hear something about "pushing the panic button" coming from some overkoolaided scribe that couldn't care less him/herself --  don't worry about it.

Do what I do. Boot those pesky Playmates (or Chippendales -- whichever applies) out of the house, pop a beer, grab the remote, hug your 4-legged kids, and worry about the next dumb blog post later.

Works for me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Leftover rants

Justin Verlander flirts with yet another no-hitter one game, then gets beat by the Cleveland Indians shortly thereafter. Despite all the hoopla about Verlander being the best pitcher in the game -- he's a rather journeyman-esque 4-3 right now. By the way, whatever happened to that "Fastball Flakes" cereal that was named after him? Is that supposedly still out there? I never did see it on the grocery store shelves. But I'm a Sugar Frosted Flakes kind of guy anyway. When it comes to tigers and cereal, Tony still gets my vote. He's been grrrreat for a lot longer than Justin.

You've probably seen the commercials featuring LA Clippers superstar Blake Griffin going back in time to give his younger self a little advice. Blake the man tells Blake the boy to "keep lifting", and someday the boy will look like him, as the elder version not so sublety refers to his physique.

How hilarious would it have been if the younger version responded with, "Whoa, if I keep pumping iron I'm going to grow up to play on an under-achieving team and even uglier than I am now? Forget that, I'm heading to Mickey D's to pig out".

And it's a Kia commercial. A South Korean auto company. C'mon Blake. Can't you find an American car to endorse? In other terminology, KIA stands for killed in action, which is exactly what some of those, ahem, friendly Asian auto companies would like to see happen to American manufacturers. Guys like Griffin making ridiculous salaries, which are paid for by Americans, and can drive any kind of vehicles they want, don't seem to understand they're stabbing many everyday American workers in the back by doing such commercials for a quick cha-ching. If for no other reason -- I'm glad the Clips got bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

To my knowledge, no member of the Detroit Lions got arrested in the last week. Every little positive step helps. Knock on wood, but don't hold your breath. As long as coach Jim Schwartz is the head zoo-keeper -- anything's possible. That's like having Gary Busey or Charlie Sheen in charge of a summer camp for kids. Trust me, you really wouldn't want to know what your beloved offspring might be up to under such tutelage. If the little darlings eventually arrive back home safe and sound, and no fingerprints, mug shots, or rap sheets were involved along the way -- be happy. It could be worse. A lot worse.

Unconfirmed rumors have it that after having been properly pampered on a tropical island of luxury for the last few months -- a certain Princess has once again opted to spend a little time amongst the lowly commoners.


Maybe I'll hear from her.

Stranger things have happened.

Or maybe not.

Those blue-bloods can be a finicky bunch sometimes.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Life in Michigan

Ah yes, nothing like waking up to the furnace chugging away, switching over to the air conditioner by mid-afternoon, then hoping the heat comes back on before one climbs into the sack again to call it another day. Only in Michigan.

The Red Wings seem to be like that. They're hot, they're cold, they're as unpredictable as Michigan weather. Whether they'll beat the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of their playoff series is a coin flip. Does it really matter in the whole scheme of things? Other than owner Mike Ilitch getting a few more serious cha-chings for the home games at Joe Louis Arena another round of playoff action would bring --- not really.

Could the Red Wings actually win the Stanley Cup? Sure, they've got a chance, though not a very good one. There's a lot of teams that are better than they are, but hockey's a funny game. If a team gets "hot", and the puck bounces their way often enough, anything can happen. Unlike football or basketball, there's really no such thing as an "upset" in hockey. A couple pucks rattling off goal posts here, or a couple being deflected off skates, bodies, or sticks into the net there, for improbable goals -- and it's pretty much a crapshoot -- especially in the playoffs. One team can carry the play for most of the game, but if they catch a couple bad breaks -- they might very well lose. It's just the way it goes.

Barring a slew of major injuries, the Detroit Tigers should cruise to become the AL Central Division winners again. When the playoffs start, it's another crapshoot. Are they the best team on "paper"? Possibly, but that doesn't matter either. Over the course of a long season, good pitching and good hitting will add up. But a lot of luck is involved in winning baseball games too, particularly in a playoff series. If the hitters are smacking the ball, but right at defenders, instead of "where they ain't", sometimes the best team doesn't always win either.

The Detroit Pistons? If you've been watching the NBA playoffs, ask yourself one question. Do you really honestly think the Pistons are anywhere remotely close to being able to compete with these teams? As other young teams get better, the Pistons are still floundering, and they can't even seem to find somebody to be the head coach!

The Detroit Lions? What can you say that their history hasn't already? Their latest claim to fame is they've signed all their draft choices. Well congratulations boys. Things are looking up. Right. This is a team that didn't win a single game within their own division last year, and stumbled and bumbled their way to a 4-12 record. They've got a pass-happy quarterback, one terrific wide receiver, and not much else. Ask yourself another question. Do you really, I mean REALLY think that team will get anywhere near sniffing a Super Bowl any year soon? If you do, then the Ford family loves you, but yours truly strongly suggests you consider checking out another Ford. Like Betty Ford's rehab center. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

At that, after 4 years at the helm, head coach Jim Schwartz has compiled a 22-42 record. He's still cocky. Worse yet, the hard-core Honolulu blue and silver faithful, incredibly enough, still think this guy is great. Ask yourself yet another question. Do you think proud NFL franchises like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, San Fran, Dallas, etc., would give such a coach a contract extension after posting a 4 year record like Schwartz? Of course not. He'd be gone.

Only in Michigan.

But hey, the furnace is almost 30 years old, and it just kicked on again.

Things could be worse.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tora! Tora! Tora!

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve".

That statement is attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor back in 1941.

With all due respect to the "day that shall live in infamy", those same words might aptly be applied to the Chicago Bulls waltzing into Miami and winning the opening game of their playoff series with the Heat. After Miami had swept Milwaukee in the first round of playoffs, they had some time off waiting to see who their next opponent would be. The Bulls finally closed out the Brooklyn Nets to qualify. Perhaps Miami dozed a bit in the interim.

Historians generally agree that it took the US a couple years to fully gear up for all-out warfare, but once it did, Japan was in a heap of trouble. It only took the Miami Heat a one game wake-up call. Now I fear Chicago, with or without Derrick Rose, is about to experience some of that terrible resolve as well. They definitely woke up the sleeping giant in Miami, and he's pissed.

Though the final score of Game 2 was 115-78, a whopping 37 point margin, it could have been a lot worse. Miami was ahead by almost 50 while the game was still only in the 3rd quarter. This was not just a convincing victory. It was a flat-out beatdown. A rout. When's the last time anybody heard of a team yanking it's starters and emptying the bench, in a playoff game, no less, shortly after the 4th quarter started? The entire quarter was nothing but "garbage time" to the Heat.

After the US jumped in and went all-out, WWII was over in about 3 and a half years. Japan surrendered unconditionally. The Chicago Bulls likely won't surrender under the same terms, but there can be no doubt of who's going to win this war with Miami. It will likely take a little over a week -- no nukes required -- unless one counts Lebron and Dwyane -- and entail far less casualties.

Yes, back in the day, Japan had a choice and made the wrong one, while the Chicago Bulls were obligated to start this NBA playoff war. But make no mistake. The basketball army representing Obama's home town is going down. Hard. The other guys just have too much firepower.

Yamamoto knew what he was talking about.

Bad things usually happen when one wakes up a sleeping giant by slapping him.

Shaq, Charles, Kenny, and who?

If you've been watching the NBA playoffs on TNT, which I think is short for Turner Network Television, (I'm pretty sure it doesn't have anything to do with the high explosive type TNT -- sometimes their programming has about as much pop as a sparkler in the rain), then you've seen the "panel". That's the 4 guys that analyze a whole bunch of stuff before the games start, after each quarter, and when the game is all over.

It consists of Charles Barkley, other former NBA players Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal, and some white dude that serves as the "moderator". I have no idea what that guy's name is, nor do I care. He never played the game and just blathers on like moderators do with useless sound bytes while directing the verbal traffic amongst the other three. I suspect he could disappear entirely from that panel and not only would nobody notice, but the conversation would get a whole lot more interesting.

Well, maybe. Kenny Smith talks a lot, but it seems he's always looking for a way to take a jab at Barkley. For whatever reason, Smith comes across as an inferior personality type looking to snipe at those he is jealous of. It's like he's always got something to prove. Meanwhile, Barkley sits back, listens, and often has to stifle a grin.

At that, Barkley just won an Emmy for the second year in a row, for being the best on-air TV sports personality. The moderator couldn't wait to repeat that every chance he got. This is what moderators do. To his credit, Shaq politely clapped every time. Barkley was humble about it and said the right things. He couldn't have done it without the excellence of the hard working people behind the cameras that he so enjoyed working with. Though maintaining proper decorum, Kenny seemed to take the news like someone kept reminding him his wife just snatched half his NBA pension in divorce court. Let's just say he didn't look overly thrilled at Charles' latest honor.

But if the moderator was deleted, then what would happen? Kenny would yap even more. Barkley would have to fill more air time -- and that's not his forte. Despite his wise-cracks galore, Barkley's never really been one to carry a conversation. Besides being able to laugh at himself (an admirable trait indeed), his strong point seems to be saying a lot with just a few words.

To be sure, when it comes Barkley's turn to talk on the "panel", the man shows amazing insight into the game. When they dial up the replays, he'll point out things I dare say Kenny, and most certainly the moderator and average fan, didn't notice.

While congrats are in order for Sir Charles scoring another Emmy, yours truly thinks another award should be in order. A statuette, to be presented to Shaq. After all, that's pretty much what he is on that program. A statue. When everybody else is done talking, the moderator will finally look at Shaq expecting him to contribute something worthwhile to the discussion.

Thing is, when it comes to being profound, it might be fair to say Shaq's words of wisdom are usually about as deep as a kiddie pool -- for chihuahua puppies.

Then again -- maybe he's still thinking about how he fell into the financial windfall of those Buick commercials. You've seen them and, like Barkley once pointed out, you'll never see Shaq getting into or out of that car. He's either outside standing next to it -- or crammed into it, talking about how comfortable and stylish it is. If memory serves me correctly, Wilt Chamberlain once did Volkswagen "beetle" commercials much the same way.

I didn't buy it then, and I ain't buying it now.

RIP Wilt, but I still get a huge kick out of Sir Charles.

Needs a little work on his golf swing, though.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A dirty rotten scoundrel

Most everybody would agree Lebron James is currently the best basketball player on the planet. In fact, there are many, including yours truly, that think he's the best ever. Like it or not, Lebron can do things on the basketball court that Michael Jordan never could. Yes, Lebron is bigger, taller, and stronger, but hey, it is what it is. Sure, there are also many that continue to use the "Jordan standard" as a yardstick for measuring Lebron's greatness. After all, they claim, Michael won 6 championships and Lebron has only won one to date. And that's just wrong.

In individual sports such as golf and tennis, it would be fair to compare championships won, ala Tiger Woods and his chase for Jack Nicklaus' marks, but when it comes to team sports, any such comparison should be irrelevant. No matter how fantastic any athlete is on any particular team, unless he has a pretty good "supporting cast", the chances of winning a championship are slim.

Remember Ernie Banks, the long time Chicago Cub and Hall of Famer? He never even sniffed a world series, let alone won one.

How about Dan Marino, of Miami Dolphins fame? He set a lot of NFL passing records, some of which still stand -- but he never won a Super Bowl.

Larry Bird was the best college hoopster in the country while at Indiana State, but Magic Johnson had a better supporting cast at Michigan State, so the Spartans won the national championship in their "showdown". There are others that fall into the same category. Championships in teams sports don't necessarily define an individual player's greatness.

This year, Lebron James was an obvious choice for NBA MVP, and he won the award in a landslide.

In fact, it was only one vote shy of being unanimous. Which brings me back to the dirty rotten scoundrel. That would be one Cary Washburn of the Boston Globe, who cast his ballot for NY Knicks star Carmelo Anthony instead. People were outraged. How dare Washburn do such a thing, they screamed. Is he blind, prejudiced, not paying attention, or just plain stupid, they fumed? Stephen A. Smith, the yappy little runt and apparent Spike Lee wannabe (in my opinion), that fancies himself an NBA expert, wanted Washburn called on the carpet to explain why he commited such sacrilege by not voting for Lebron.

Well, guess what? Smith (his initials being SAS, which is just about perfect) and company need to shut up. Washburn didn't just fall off a turnip truck or parachute in from another planet yesterday. He EARNED his credentials over many years to become an MVP voter. Further, he could vote for whoever he damn well felt deserving of the award, and it's not like he picked some guy from his home town team. It was Carmelo Anthony.

Question -- in the world of professional sports, who do most Bostonians hate more than anybody else? Answer -- anybody from New York. Had Washburn voted for a Celtic for MVP, perhaps it should have raised some eyebrows. But a Knick?

And let's not forget that while Lebron outpaced him in a few other personal statistical categories, Carmelo won the NBA scoring title this year. He's a fantastic player in his own right too.

So what's the big deal about the vote not being unanimous anyway? It never has been before. And even if it was this year, Lebron's trophy wouldn't have gotten any bigger, or worth any more money, assuming his contract has such an incentive clause built into it.

In the end, Washburn wasn't a dirty rotten scoundrel at all. He's just a man that knows a helluva lot more about the NBA than most of those that want to see him tarred and feathered and ran out of town.

And he cast his vote accordingly.

Good for him.

One more thing....  in case I failed to make it clear above.....

Shut up SASSY. Go hang out with Spike and be happy. You two deserve each other.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse

They make such a cute couple. Though they come from vastly different parts, and cultures of the country, both are NASCAR drivers. Both are also technically "rookies" on NASCAR's top circuit, the Sprint Cup. Who amongst us with an ounce of gossip coursing through our veins (which is everybody) isn't fascinated by such a relationship? After all, away from the track, one of them is a big time sex symbol. Countless throngs of members of the opposite sex absolutely drool at the thought of even being in the same room with such a person. And if Danica could find a way to beef it up a little bit between her biceps -- she wouldn't be too shabby either.

Idle thought: Last time I looked, Danica was driving a Chevy on the track. With her being 31 years old, and Ricky only 25 -- would I be out of line if I said poetic justice might be served if Ford Motor Co. brought back a NASCAR racing edition of the Cougar, just for her?

Such a cute couple indeed. Until towards the end of the Talladega race. There was nothing cute about how the dynamic duo performed there. In fact, it was flat-out ugly.

With the laps winding down, Ricky Stenhouse tried to make a lane toward the outside of the track that wasn't there. He bumped another car, sending it out of control, which in turn caused a massive pile-up taking many of the remaining cars out of the race. Others were quickly wrecking every which way.

But Danica, trailing the action, wasn't about to get caught up in all that. Nosiree, Go Daddy. Just because her sweetie made a bad move that caused a few million bucks worth of damage to other cars was no reason for Danica to succumb to all that boy nonsense. No way was she going to let those pesky drivers with the Y chromosome decide to end her day. She appeared to instantly implement a fall-back plan of her own. Though her car was initially untouched by others, it looked like she decided to make a hard right into the wall -- wrecking herself. That would teach those boys.

Danica pounded the steering wheel and pouted while yet another of her mangled cars was being towed back into the garage area.

The moral of the story? A few simple letter changes to their names would get it just about right. Forget Stenhouse and Patrick. How about Henhouse and Patwreck?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sex ran amok in the NBA

Well OK. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Brooklyn Nets in Game 7 of their playoff series. That wasn't supposed to happen. The Bulls hadn't won a Game 7 on the road in forever. Plus they were missing 3 key players.

First and foremost was superstar guard and former league MVP Derrick Rose, who appears to be on some kind of mission to set the all-time world record for milking a sick leave. Though he was medically cleared to play weeks ago, Derrick doesn't feel like it just yet. Also forward Kirk Hinrich, who was out with a calf injury. On top of that, big man Luol Deng was out with complications from a spinal tap.

Wait a minute. Spinal tap? Dang. Deng went into labor? I didn't even know he was pregnant. Just a few days ago, he didn't "show" at all. I guess congratulations are in order and here's hoping the baby is OK and all, but who knew?

Yours truly kind of figured Jason Collins' "coming out" would change a lot of things, but this sexual freedom stuff is getting out of control if men start popping out babies. Then again, once Deng tightens back up a little bit and returns to the basketball floor, maybe he can get Rose as a nanny for the newly born mini-Dengster. It's not like Rose has anything else to do these days. But between them, if breast feeding somehow comes into the picture, I don't want to know about it.

Regardless, the Chicago Bulls next face the daunting task of taking on the reigning world champion Miami Heat. Lebron and Co. are well-rested, have everybody healthy and, last time I looked, none of them were pregnant. Plus the Heat will enjoy home court advantage.

Look for this to be a quick series. Yeah, I remember. The Bulls stopped Miami's winning streak a while back. But the only way this isn't a sweep is if secret orders come down from on high in South Beach to let the Bulls win one game in Chicago, so Miami gets another (cha-ching) home date in Game 5.

It's really not even a close call. The Bulls might not get knocked-up -- but they'll get knocked around like red-headed step-children of yore, and more importantly on the scoreboard.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Best comeback of all time?

Now that was one pitiful showing. The NY Knicks at the Boston Celtics for Game 6 in their opening round playoff series. Boston was beyond terrible.

Only 10 points in the first quarter? Another measly 17 in the second for a halftime total of 27? Good grief, many high school girls' basketball teams put up more points than that -- in a whole lot less minutes of play.

If they weren't throwing up bricks or having their shots blocked, the Celtics were committing stupid fouls, missing lay-ups, and generally playing like they couldn't wait for their season to end. Noted Boston shooter Paul Pierce was 2 for 20. At one point they had more turnovers (18) than field goals (15). Needless to say, that's bad basketball at the NBA level.

Beleaguered Boston head coach Doc Rivers looked like he needed one -- as in a head doctor -- a shrink. If Rivers had any hair to pull out, surely he would have done so.

Though the Knicks weren't exactly lighting it up themselves, midway through the 4th quarter the Celtics found themselves behind by a whopping 26 points. The fat lady in Beantown was ready to belt out her tune.

Then something very strange happened. The Celtics scored a few baskets. Then a couple more. The all but dead crowd came roaring back to life. Next thing ya know, Boston had gone on a 20-0 run. The Knicks looked like they were crumbling faster than the Twin Towers in their own city a few years ago. Holy comebacks, Batman, could the oldest team in the NBA actually pull off such a miracle on hardwood to extend the series to a Game 7?

Of course not. Are you nuts? Nobody comes back from 26 points down midway through the 4th quarter. The Celtics are history -- outta here.

But it was interesting there for a few minutes....  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Notable quotes of the day

Best quote of the day. "The greatest thing about being famous is all the free crap you get".  Ya gotta love Sir Charles Barkley. He's one of the few that can and will say it like it is -- and get away with it.

Worst quote of the day. "There's no such thing as a make-up call". This during the Denver Nuggets-Golden State Warriors game, after the refs had botched a call, then quickly rebotched another one the other way to even things out. Ya gotta hate those play-by-play announcers that are too spineless to say out loud what is obvious to everybody else watching the game.

Best comparison of the day. Seeing as how the famous Martha Stewart and NBA player Jason Collins both recently made news splashes regarding their, ahem, personal preferences -- Jay Leno wondering which one would attract more male suitors in the near future.

Worst idea I've seen in a long time. Some fine chap named Alejandro Agag, who is a co-owner of a football (soccer) team in jolly old England, wants to introduce what he thinks will be the next world-wide racing craze. This is Formula E, as in electric. Similar to Indy cars, they're battery powered. The good things are --  they can go from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds -- quicker than a NASCAR ride, and have a top speed of 170 MPH. Plus, no noise pollution or those pesky exhaust emissions. The bad things are going from 0 to 60 is irrelevant, 170 isn't going to impress anybody, and the batteries are only good for 25 minutes. Then the drivers have to change cars. Well, good luck selling that in America, Alex. We dumb-ass American race fans just so happen to like cars that go a lot faster, make a lot of noise, and nothing like the smell of burning tires/exhaust fumes from high octane gasoline/alcohol/ nitro methane gets our juices going more. Unless there's a high speed wreck, with cars getting airborne and crashing every which way, of course. And we've come to expect pit stops that last maybe 12 seconds -- not 10-15 minutes while some E car driver gets extracted from his car and reinserted into another one. Maybe he better stick to soccer across the pond. Surely he jests. Then again, perhaps the joke's on us. After all, his name is "A-gag", right? Those English blokes can be a tricky sort sometimes.

Best idea I've had in a long time. Stopping this ridiculous blog post right here -- before it gets even dumber than it's already been.

The new Detroit Pistons coach

Forget Joe Dumars, I'll send my resume straight to the big man himself -- Tom Gores. It will read as follows:

Hey Tom

Now that you're the head dude of the Palace, Pistons, and all that, I wanted to run a couple things by ya, bro. First, obviously you didn't know what the hell were getting into with the Pissed-ons. It appears that dumb heiress broad Karen Davidson was smarter than you thought. How else to explain her selling you a load of goods like that team? No prob, my brother, everybody screws up once in a while.

But you need a coach. I can help you out there. My qualifications? None. Zero. Nada. I wouldn't have a clue what to do with that rag-tag bunch. But hey, neither did Lawrence Frank, or the guy before him, and the guy before him. It doesn't even matter. Those clowns aren't going anywhere any year soon. If you're half as smart as your PR department and the local media says you are -- you already know that.

I still can't figure out why you dumped Frank, frankly. Paying a dude 3.7 million large for doing nothing doesn't sound like the best of plans to me -- especially when God himself couldn't have got that team into the playoffs this year.

But tell ya what, TG. I'll cut you some slack. I'll take the job for a measly 2 mil a year. That's a bargain by today's NBA coaching standards. Better yet, seeing as how you're originally from the hood, I'll go you one better.

Get rid of that electric company and change the hill back to Pine Knob, along with letting folks bring in their own coolers again so they can party like in the old days -- and I'll take over that sad-sack bunch at 2, or is it 3? Chumpionship Dr. at half the price. A paltry 1 million a year. Where you gonna beat a deal like that, dude? Hell, you probably spend more than that on your hair.

Can I whip the Pistons into championship contenders in a year or two? Of course not. Are you nuts? But nobody else is going to do it either, and they'll want a lot more money.

Besides, some of those "promotions" your people have been advertising lately are really lame. No wonder you barely fill half the seats. There's a better way. I know this girl who's tapped into a network of, shall we say "exotic dancers". Get her on board, and her people will put on a show that will pack every seat in the house. The customers wouldn't care how bad the team was on the floor. Let those girls roam the aisles, and I guarantee you'd never see an empty seat again. Of course, no kids would be allowed, and you might have some 'splainin to do to the league office, but hey, you've got people that can handle such minor details.

So let's do it this way. I'll give you 2 weeks to think it over. The siren song of another riding season is already calling out to me and my Harley. If you expect me to give that up, I need a commitment from you in short order. Once I get caught up with the wind in my face again..... well, don't say I didn't give you a chance. Snooze, ya lose.

Like you, I'm a little picky about who I give my phone number out to. When you want to contact me, call sports editor Jeff Kuehn at the Oakland Press. You'll quickly find out he's the REAL head dude/mover and shaker when it comes to sports in this town -- and he knows how to get in touch with me. No offense, but yours truly is a little skeptical when you California folks come back to Michigan with a bazillion dollars and start throwing your financial weight around. But in time, if you convince me you're a trustworthy and reliable kind of guy that knows when to keep him mouth shut -- I'll give you a phone number that will reach me personally. However, you have to prove yourself in a big way before you earn THAT status. Besides, Jeff has better things to do than relay your messages.

It's up to you. Personally, I couldn't care less. I've got better things to do than fly all over the country babysitting a gang of tall skinny dudes that think they can play basketball. But in the neighborly spirit of Michiganders, I'm willing to suck it up and give you a hand in your time of need. Just trying to help out.

Hope to hear from you soon. Don't mess around, man. The weather's looking good and the sweet song of the pipes is getting louder -- and harder to fight off.


John Leach

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The topsy-turvy NBA playoffs

No NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. But this year might be the first. In fact, it could happen a couple different ways. The Okla City Thunder took a 3-0 lead on the Houston Rockets, only to see them storm back and win the next two, the last being in Okla City. Now they go to Houston for Game 6. If the Rockets win at home to force a game 7, entirely possible, if not likely, who knows? Since the freak season ending knee injury to Okla City superstar Russell Westbrook, the Thunder don't seem to have very much, well, thunder. Their chances of returning to the NBA Finals appear bleak, at best.

In the east, the NY Knicks ran out to a 3-0 advantage over the Boston Celtics, and that scenario is playing out much the same as the one above. Boston won the next two, the last in Madison Square Garden, and now they go back to Beantown for Game 6. For the most part, Boston is an old team, and without the services of their own superstar guard Rajon Rondo, but they seem to have acquired a little fire in their bellies lately. Plus, the Knicks look like their wheels are falling off. They have 4 guys standing around waiting for Carmelo Anthony to do something. That's not going to get it done. That series could easily go to a Game 7 and who knows situation as well.

It wasn't a 3-0 situation -- merely 2-0, but most thought the LA Clippers, the new best team in La-La land, would dispatch the Memphis Grizzlies. Then the Grizz came back to win 3 in a row. The Clips now have to go to Memphis and win to just survive.

Idle thought -- I wonder if after such high expectations, if the Clips gets bounced in the first round -- will the TV folks still be showing those Chris/Cliff Paul commercials every 10 minutes -- or will they disappear?

In the meanwhile, the current odds-on favorites to reach the Finals -- namely the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs -- swept their series' and are getting a rest, while they await their next opponents.

Also getting a rest are the Detroit Pistons. A long one. After yet another miserable season, they await the draft. Even if everything goes right for them, no given by any means, they're likely at least 2-3 years away from being serious contenders. Somehow GM Joe Dumars escaped the axe this year, but former head coach Lawrence Frank did not. His head rolled. So not only are the Pistons in the market for talent, but also for a new head coach.

Yours truly is thinking about applying for that job.

More on that next time.