Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Detroit Tigers. Could they blow it?

I, for one, have found some of the recent chatter interesting, and perhaps even premature when it comes to the Detroit Tigers.

Detroit area beat-writers, columnists, and talking heads have been asking manager Jim Leyland how he's going to set up his starting pitching rotation in the post-season. Of course, these are dumb questions. Leyland doesn't know what's going to happen a month from now. Nobody knows.  What if one of the starters gets injured? Tests positive for PEDs? Either one of those would throw a monkey in the works.

But wait a minute. This is all assuming the Tigers are a lock for the post-season. Not so fast. Last time I looked the Tigers were 5 games ahead of those pesky Cleveland Indians in the loss column, with about 27 games to go. A decent lead? Sure. A lock? Hardly.

Tiger fans need only harken back to last season. With about the same month to go, the Chicago White Sox were cruising along with a similar lead. Remember what happened to them? They went into a tailspin, the Tigers got hot and, presto, the Chisox were on the outside looking in and the Tigers went on to the World Series. It can happen. A 5 game lead can evaporate in one measly week, let alone a month. If the Indians somehow overtook the Tigers for the AL Central division title, things might get rather dicey in Motown. Out in the east, assuming Boston wins it, the Tampa Bay Rays are nipping at the Tigers' heels as far as overall record and wild-card status are concerned. As are the Oakland Athletics out in the west. The Baltimore Orioles aren't out of it, and with the NY Yankees getting a few of their long-injured players back -- who knows what they might do in September? Any of those teams are capable of reeling off a 22-5 record in the next month.

It's entirely possible the Tigers could play otherwise respectable .500 ball for the rest of the season, but if other things fell the wrong way -- they could find themselves in the same position as the Chisox last year. I'm just saying a lot stranger things have happened over the years in baseball. Good grief, Brandon Inge once thought he was Home Run Derby material. That didn't work out so well either, but I digress.

At that, the Tigers' supposedly awesome starting pitching rotation just found themselves collectively shelled by the Oakland A's. Every one of them got lit up like the proverbial pin-ball machine. Are the rigors of a long season with so many innings pitched finally taking their toll? Maybe. Or maybe it's just a coincidence. Stuff happens.

The Tigers were fortunate to escape a sweep by the A's. After getting bombed in the first 3, and trailing 6-1 in the finale, they somehow mustered a rally to squeak out a win.

But this might not bode well for the Tigers. With their starters hitting the showers so fast, the Tigers' bull-pen comes into play in a large way. And most everybody would agree the Tigers' bullpen is the very definition of a crap-shoot. You roll the dice and hope for the best. Even Leyland himself has acknowledged he needs 6-7 innings out of his starters, so as not to wear out the "pen". That's further assuming the relievers are effective when they take the mound -- no given. Sometimes they're great. Other times they serve up batting practice.

And now fearsome slugger Miguel Cabrera appears hobbled a bit by a mysterious injury. Will he shake it off and return to form, or might it be something more serious? Nobody knows at this point. Delete Miggy from the line-up for any extended period of time and the Tigers become a lot less formidable.

Tell ya what, tho. I wouldn't be going all-in with my kids' college tuition funds right now on how the Tigers will fare in the post-season. They have to get there first. And contrary to what the "homers" would have you believe -- it's not a lock just yet. Did I say stuff happens?

Consider: If you were to gamble your kids' future with such a bet now -- and lose -- they would be deprived of the education they need to survive in the modern world. And then they might grow up to be just like yours truly. Worthless, dysfunctional idiots.

That ought to be enough to scare the bejeebers out of any responsible parent in the Detroit area.

But by all means, keep rooting for your heroes sporting Ye Olde English D on their caps and uniforms.

We'll all know in a month.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Johnny Manziel and the NCAA

Enter the defendant. That would be one Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football.

Enter the prosecution. That would be the NCAA.

Not long ago, Manziel autographed a whole bunch of stuff. Most reports say he signed his name to various items over 4000 times in a few different sittings.

The NCAA, in their, ahem, infinite wisdom, smelled a rat. Surely Manziel got paid for doing such things, so they let loose their dogs of war, otherwise known as the infractions committee, to nail this culprit.

Nevermind they didn't have any evidence that Manziel had committed such a heinous crime against humanity as a famous college athlete actually -- HORRORS -- getting a few bucks in return for the countless millions he has generated not only for his own university (Texas A&M), but for the NCAA coffers as well.

But oh my, they looked. And they looked some more. They probed into every possibility they could think of  trying to find something -- ANYTHING -- they could use as evidence that Manziel had received illegal compensation. (Actually it's not illegal -- just against NCAA rules).

Yet in the end, despite all the NCAA's horses and all the NCAA's men, not to mention their dirty tricks department -- they came up with nothing. They couldn't show that Manziel had ever accepted a nickel, let alone the thousands they had originally suspected him of taking. No mysterious deposits in a bank account, no recent purchase of something he otherwise should not have been able to afford, not even a coffee can with a few C-notes buried in his back yard. Nothing. Nada. Zip. An off-shore or Swiss bank account? Puh-leeze. Yours truly is fairly certain those type people wouldn't consider a single key-stroke over the possibility of setting up an account for a measly few grand. They've got much better things to do than waste their time over chump change.

At that, what seems to get lost in the argument is Manziel's parents are quite well to do. This was recently brought to the forefront when the persecutors went after Johnny because he was sitting courtside at an NBA playoff game. How could he afford that, the myopic ones protested? Turns out his parents bought him the ticket. Oops. Inadmissible evidence. Perhaps someday the NCAA zealots will  add another rule whereby any student-athlete isn't allowed to have parents that have done well in life. I wouldn't put it past them.

Seemingly thwarted at every turn in their relentless pursuit of Johnny Football, the NCAA did what any other prosecutor would do. Huff and puff, and threaten -- all in the hopes of reaching a plea bargain. They can't just let this go and admit they were wrong all along. Oh hell no. Prosecutors don't operate that way. They want a conviction -- ANY kind of conviction, so they can somehow justify the otherwise absurdity of their baseless inquisition in the first place.

And it appears they got it. Texas A&M has agreed to suspend Manziel for the first half of their opening game against -- football fodderous Rice, which they could likely beat by 40 points with a cheerleader playing quarterback. In return, the NCAA has signed off and considers the matter closed.

In a murky statement, the officials at A&M conceded that Manziel may have been guilty of an "inadvertent violation".

Johnny Football's crime? By signing so many things, he should have been aware that such items could be sold by others to make a profit.

If it wasn't so outrageous, it would be laughable. Consider the sports paraphernalia business that has gone on forever. Athletes sign things. Sometimes other people sell them to make a few bucks.
But somehow it was determined that Manziel should be punished because he autographed a bunch of stuff.

Just think about it, and draw your own conclusions.

In my opinion, some rule changes need to be made indeed. When the NCAA inquisitors are going after an athlete, coach, or university -- then OUT with them. Have the names and pix of the investigators published wall-to-wall, like what happens to their "suspects". Check out their bank records, who they associate with, sex lives, any criminal history, etc, etc. In short, put THEM under the microscope, as well. Why should they have the right to ruin other peoples' lives while remaining faceless and nameless themselves? Even when they get it wrong, like the Manziel case, they're never held to any degree of accountability.

They should be.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why pitch to Miguel Cabrera?

Recently, Detroit Tigers' manager Jim Leyland made an astounding statement. When asked if he was an opposing manager, would he consider "pitching around", if not intentionally walking Miguel Cabrera? Leyland replied he might, if there was a "singles" hitter batting behind Cabrera.

Well, no kidding. Give that man a Marlboro. If the good people in Oslo had a Nobel prize category for stating the obvious, Jimbo would win in a landslide.  But Leyland went on to say he wouldn't do it considering Prince Fielder bats behind Cabrera.

Really? Does that make sense? Or is Leyland up to yet another of his not-so-clever ploys? Let's take a closer look.

In a very recent snapshot, Miguel Cabrera was batting .360, with 43 home runs, and 130 RBIs. The man doesn't appear to have any weaknesses at the plate. Be they fastballs, sliders, curves, change-ups, doesn't matter. Besides anything in the strike zone, he can hit high, low, inside and outside pitches -- hard. Whether the pitcher is a righty or lefty doesn't seem to make any difference either. The man's a walking-talking wrecking machine when he steps into the batter's box. To boot, he's been on a home-run hitting tear since the All-Star game. It seems like every game -- there goes another one.

On the other hand, Prince Fielder had 20 homers, 88 RBIs, and was hitting about .260. A full hundred batting average points behind Cabrera. On top of that, Fielder isn't exactly fleet of foot.

The question would seem to be -- why pitch to a proven stud that can hurt you, when you can walk him and have a decent chance of the guy behind him grounding into a double play?

Yeah, Fielder's 2013 stats beat the hell of out, say, the numbers long-time Tiger Brandon Inge used to put up. But .260 doesn't exactly pose a clear and present danger.

If you're an opposing manager -- which guy would you rather pitch to?

I know what I'd do. Whatever happens, I am not, repeat NOT going to let the most dangerous hitter in the world hurt me. I'd put him on base every time and take my chances with the next guy.

Jim Leyland keeps hoping nobody else will figure that out.

We'll see.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Running on the field. The hypocrisy of TV

Earlier yours truly watched some of the Minnesota  @ San Fran NFL exhibition game. Likely to the surprise of few, the 49ers were giving the Vikes a bit of a beatdown. Then something else happened not once, but twice.

That was a fan running on to the field. Hard telling what provokes certain fans to do such a thing on rare occasions. Maybe too much alcohol, maybe a dare or a bet, or maybe their lover just jilted them in the stands a few minutes earlier and they snapped resulting in them running amok. Who knows?

But the TV people are the ultimate hypocrites when such things happen. In their, ahem, infinite wisdom a while back, the TV folks, likely with the approval of the NFL, decided when such things happened they would not show the person or persons running on the field. Evidently, they came to the conclusion that giving an "idiot" air time would only encourage more copycats to do the same. After all, EVERYBODY wants to be on TV, right?

Not so fast.

Nobody knows for sure what goes through the minds of people that decide to run on the field. It could be a lot of different things, and being on TV might have nothing whatsoever to do with it. Certainly, everybody knows you're not supposed to do that, but who knows what might prompt an individual to do such a thing?

Enter the hypocrisy.

During the Minn--San Fran game, when the "infidels" ran amok on the field -- the TV people pulled back their video coverage to a shot from the blimp hovering overhead. The TV viewing audience was not allowed to see such a "travesty".

However, the audio feed was alive and well. The crowd in attendance was roaring, obviously getting a big kick out of what was going on. They loved it.

At the same time, the TV announcers were giving a blow-by-blow analysis like an old Joe Louis fight only carried on the radio of what was going on. Yet some genius producer in charge of such things decided the TV viewing audience at large around the globe shouldn't be privy to what was really happening. We got a far-away blimp shot showing the entire stadium, parking lots, and some of the surrounding neighborhood. All while the TV announcers continued to blather away about what they could see -- and what we were denied seeing.

They want to tell us all about it, but we aren't allowed to view it? Obviously, they think we are all frail children. We CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH. I beg to differ, and I dare say others would agree with me.

We've seen other things are TV that are much more graphic. War zones. Bodies lying in the streets after explosions.

But evidently, if they allow us to see a person running on a football field -- much to to the delight of the fans in attendance, while the TV announcers themselves chuckle and describe the action -- we're all going to want to do such a thing. This could get out of control. Puh-leeze. We're adults here. We can handle it. Trust us. If our team is bad enough, we might put bags on our heads and wave silly signs in the bleachers, but few of us are going to run amok on the field of play.

And even if we do -- that's a good thing in a way. It gives all those lazy cops that drew "football duty" a chance to burn off a few calories chasing us down. Surely, they'll replenish them later while in various doughnut shops scarfing up the freebies they think they're entitled to.

In the meantime, if the TV people still want to treat us like children by taking away the picture -- then the least they could do is turn off the microphones of their own announcers.

Maybe they could even cut to a re-run of the movie "Heidi". That worked out well. Right.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

All time longest field goal

Way back in November, 1970, some place-kicker with half a foot named Tom Dempsey trotted on to the field for the New Orleans to attempt a ridiculously long field against the Detroit Lions. No way was he ever going to make it, but with only 2 seconds left in the game, and the Saints trailing by 2 points -- what did they have to lose? It was later said the Lions were chuckling -- even after the kick was away. Yuk yuk yuk. Right up until it went through the uprights and then it wasn't so funny anymore. A 63 yard field goal, by far the longest in NFL history at that time.

Since then, almost 43 years later, a few have equalled Dempsey's mark, but it is yet to be surpassed. Back in Dempsey's day, soccer-style kickers were still a rarity. Yet over the years, soccer-style kickers have proven to be so superior in length and accuracy, that every single team in the NFL, and I dare say the vast majority of college and even high school football teams currently have soccer-style place kickers. Straight-on place kickers became extinct quite a while back.

But it seems odd that after all the years since Dempsey's feat (no pun intended) no other kicker has broken the record. Not even by a single yard.

There are likely a few reasons for this. First, unlike the old days, when a missed field goal try was spotted at the 20 yard line of the opposition, nowadays the other team will take over at the same line of scrimmage where the missed field goal originated from. This could be a difference of 30+ yards. Field position is important. Give the other team the ball somewhere close to midfield, and they're only a decent play or two away from being in field goal position themselves. Better to send in the punter and have him try to pin the other team deep in their own end of the field. Barring a huge play, they have to grind it out for a while to get down field, and anything can happen in the meantime. A fumble, an interception, who knows?

Other things work against such long field goal attempts. If a team is winning in a blow-out, where field position didn't matter anymore, to attempt such a field goal would certainly be perceived as rubbing it in. Make it or miss it, it would cause a lot of hard feelings, and they'd be crucified in the press, perhaps rightfully so.

No, the situation has to be just right for such a thing to happen, and it doesn't come around often. Chances are, it would have to be in the waning seconds of the first half or, like Dempsey, as the clock was expiring in the fourth quarter of a close game where the field goal could make the difference.

There have certainly been kickers around that were capable of breaking the record. Jason Elam, formerly of the Denver Broncos tied Dempsey's record. As did Sebastian Janikowski, still with the Oakland Raiders, who has long since been known as having a "monster" leg. But they never seemed to be in the right spot at the right time to make history. There are likely others. The Detroit Lions have a 28 year-old Norwegian place-kicker named Havard Rugland, AKA "kickalicious", trying out for their team who appears to effortlessly kick balls through the uprights that would be good from well over 60 yards. But it looks like they're going to dump him in favor of 38 year-old journeyman David Akers. BTW, Akers also shares the record, but 38 when a 28 year-old equal or better boomer is available, likely for a lot less money to boot? C'mon. But hey, it's the Lions. They do things like that.

Nevertheless, here's a name you might want to remember -- Greg Zuerlein. Never heard of him? Me neither until earlier tonight. He's a place kicker for the St. Louis Rams. In a game against the Denver Broncos, Zuerlein did something very impressive. With only a couple seconds remaining in the first half, he booted a 58 yard field. Sure, that's still 5 yards short of the record, but it was at the top of the uprights as it sailed through and smacked the net behind. It looked like it might have been good from 70 yards. Yes, it was only an exhibition game and wouldn't have counted as an official record anyway -- but this guy's got some kind of leg going on. Put him in the right situation at the right time, and..... who knows?

And I don't want to hear about the thin atmosphere associated with Denver's "Mile High" stadium, whereby such kicks travel so much farther. Baloney. It's not like it's outer space, no gravity, and all that. If the air was THAT thin, the players would be dropping like flies from oxygen deprivation. You've never seen that happen. If a kicker has a serious wind at his back in an open-air stadium -- that would make a big difference. But thin air? Get outta here. That's always been a bunch of hooey.

At any rate, remember the name Greg Zuerlein. He's certainly got the capability of breaking the record. I, for one, would love to see him in just the right spot at the right time, for such a chance.

Could happen.

Ya never know.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Patriots - bad. Lions - same old

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were having a rough go of it in the first half of their exhibiton game against the Detroit Lions. Despite his legendary status, Brady looked totally out of sync in the passing game.

Perhaps it's understandable. After all, his once super-stud tight end Aaron Hernandez currently sits in jail on a murder charge, and the "little engine that could" Wes Welker departed via free agency to Denver. (A receiver going from Tom Brady to Peyton Manning throwing the football their way, with a couple million dollar raise to boot? Yes, things have been good in Wes Welker's world lately). For that matter, pretty much the entire Patriots team is undergoing a radical turnover. But the Patriots have been there, done that. Under coach Bill Belichick's guidance, few would doubt they will rebound quickly.

To be fair, the Lions have their own share of problems. Megatron Calvin Johnson was sitting out the game, but few would also doubt he won't be ready to go for the regular season.

But the Lions' problems are far deeper. Highly touted (at least in the Detroit area) safety Louis Delmas is still a big question mark. Delmas had surgery on his left leg last August. It wasn't like he'd suffered a devastating knee injury, ala Adrian Petersen of the Minnesota Vikings a while back. No, his procedure was for "persistent tendinitis". Thing is, it's a whole year later and he still can't even practice everyday, let alone what might happen when things get harder, faster, and more brutal in regular season games. Yes, Delmas is known as a team leader. He's vocal, works as hard as he can, and is a fan/media favorite. But if he can't get nor stay healthy enough to play on a regular basis, there will come a time when he'll have to be considered a "bust". No matter how much of an inspiration he may be while rooting his teammates on, a team just can't keep paying a guy millions of dollars a year if he can't play.

The same could be said of receiver Ryan Broyles. In the last two years, he's had major surgery on both knees. He's not ready to go yet either. The chances of him holding up through an entire season with linebackers, corners, and safeties whacking away at him? Not good.

And just when we thought Ndahmukong Suh had outgrown (though yours truly remains far from totally convinced) his stomping, neck-wringing, and other cheap shots -- along comes Lions' defensive lineman Willie Young.

After Tom Brady and the Patriots were backed up close to their own end zone, Brady went back to pass. Long after he threw the ball, Willie Young gave Brady a shove, grabbed his jersey, and taunted him while putting a finger in his face. All this after the ball had already fallen incomplete, and 8 yards deep in the end zone. Needless to say, flags flew. There's dumb, there's stupid, and then there's the total goon category. And yes, this is the same guy that got caught both holding and for yet another personal foul in the last game -- on a PUNT -- to his own team. Incredible. Move over Suh. You've got a protege. Evidently, head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham either don't understand what's going on, don't care, or have no idea how to make their players act like professionals. Regardless of whatever talent he may or may not have -- this guy's gotta go. No other team would tolerate such nonsense.

Not to be outdone in the Lions' on-going archives of futility , Lions's tight end Tony Scheffler experienced contact while running a pass route. The ball fell incomplete and Scheffler immediately started waving his hands for a penalty flag. He finally got one. Against himself. Offensive interference. But hey, fellow tight end Brandon Pettigrew actually had a couple balls thrown his way and didn't drop them. Praise the lord.

It's sure looking like 38 year-old journeyman place kicker David Akers will make the roster. That means 28 year-old "kickalicious" sensation Havard Rugland would have to go. Noted scribes have pooh-poohed the idea of Rugland beating out Akers. When the game is on the line, who would you rather have kicking for you, they say. An experienced vet, or some You Tube sensation. Good question. Akers just missed a 30 yard field goal, a chip shot by NFL standards, while kickalicious has previously pounded field goals dead-center through the uprights from 50 yards -- with plenty of leg to spare. Given the 10 year age difference, and the probability Rugland would sign a contract for considerably less money than Akers -- who would YOU want as your kicker going forward indeed?

Yet one has to remember, it's the Detroit Lions. From their long-time owner William Clay Ford on down -- they've always seemed to live in their own little world.

As opposed to the Patriots, the Lions have been there, done that too, only on the opposite end of the spectrum. This is Schwartz's fifth year, and his team looks no more disciplined and organized than when he first took over the rag-tag 0-16 squad.

And methinks the rest of the NFL teams, along with late-night talk-show hosts, hope they stay just as they are.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Little League World Series

Earlier, yours truly tuned into a LLWS game between some team from California and another from Connecticut. Having no loyalty to either, who should one root for? The way I saw it, it had to be the boys from Connecticut. After all, the state of California has a whole lot of things going on, not the least being sports teams coming out of their ears. If you count up the big-time colleges, and add all the "big 4" pro sports teams that reside in California -- I don't know what the final number is. But it's a lot.

On the other hand, Connecticut doesn't have a single pro team -- in any major sport. It would seem their biggest claim to fame is Geno Auriemma's Lady Husky hoopsters at UConn. Well OK, they've got Yale, but "ivies" only count on job resumes or if you want to be President someday. In the sports world -- they pretty well suck.

So I was rooting for the Connecticut boys. On with the game.

Unlike the major leagues, little league games are only 6 innings long. Typically, a game will be played in well under 2 hours. But not this one. It dragged on, and on, and on. Yes, it eventually went into "extra innings", but that wasn't the cause of the game being so ridiculously long. It was the coaches.

By the time I tuned it out, the California coach had stopped play 7-8 times while huddling up with his players on the pitcher's mound. When he wasn't doing that, he was appealing plays long after they were over for reasons that didn't appear to exist. This guy LOVED his camera time. Not to be out-done -- finally the Connecticut coach got in on the action for some of his own photo-ops. And the game dragged on some more.

What is it with these guys? It's a bunch of 12 year olds. Maybe they win, maybe they lose. This is something they're going to have to get used to later in life. (For that matter, all but one team will eventually lose.) The coaches seem to forget this isn't about how much air time they can get while prolonging the game. It's a chance for kids to do something special. It's about THEM. They know what to do. Chances are, all those barely pre-teens have been playing the game since they were 4-5 years old. They wouldn't be in the Little League World Series if they already weren't really good. So get out of the way and let them play. Is that asking too much?

We wouldn't see this much drama in a Game 7 of a Major League World Series that was tied 14-14 heading into the 9th inning. Pitchers pitch. Hitters try to hit. Fielders field. Somebody's going to win, and somebody's going to lose. It's not that difficult a concept.

Tears may be shed, but it's not the end of the world.

Somebody needs to tell the little-league coaches that.

Win or lose, those kids will be just fine -- if the coaches stop messing with their heads and just let them play.

And in the end, isn't that what kids are supposed to do? There will come a time when life's trials and tribulations rear their ugly heads, and they'll have to deal with it -- but for now, just let them play and have fun.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems simple enough to me.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Von Miller. The secrecy/lunacy continues

Denver Bronco's defensive wrecking machine Von Miller has been suspended for 6 games. This was for running afoul of the NFL's drug "policy". Sounds simple enough, but upon closer inspection, one is left to wonder -- just what ARE the rules anyway?

According to USA Today, one source says Miller tested positive for marijuana back in 2011, and in the same article another source claims a positive test had nothing to do with his recent suspension. So which is it? Is that too much to ask? If he smoked dope two years ago and tested positive, as a first time drug offender, Miller would have been slapped with a 4 game suspension. But that didn't happen.

Two years later, the NFL wanted to up the punishment. They were talking about 8 games, maybe the whole year, but it was negotiated between the league and the union to settle on 6. Miller has accepted this suspension, but yours truly doesn't understand what's going on here.

Assuming he was "dirty" back in 2011, why didn't they punish him then? According to the same article, a first-time offender would be subjected to a 6 game suspension if he didn't successfully complete the first phase of the program, and had two subsequent violations during the second phase.

Stop right there.

What are these "phases" anyway? Does he have to blow and drop everyday in Phase One? Maybe Phase Two means giving motivational speeches to high school kids and selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door. Beats me. Sports fans have no idea what's going on, and it appears the media doesn't either -- else they'd give reports with, god forbid, a little substance to them, in place of their usual sensationalism and wild conjecture.

Here's what I think I know. This whole brouhaha over drug policies in various sports needs to be WAY more transparent. Why should the leagues and unions be allowed a "confidentiality clause" in their agreements when it comes to such things involving players?

Out with it. We, the fans, have a right to know. After all, one way or the other, we're the ones paying for all this. It's not the scribes that get in to games for free with their press passes and sit in the press boxes, nor the talking heads on TV that seem to have nothing better to do than try to turn some kid setting off firecrackers into the possibility of imminent nuclear war -- or at least a terrorist attack.

But that's what they do. If they don't know, or understand what's REALLY going on, it appears they just wing it as they go along. Anything to fill out a column or clog up air time with giga sound bytes.

Personally, I'd prefer a little more truth and objectiveness about such things. And some hard facts wouldn't hurt either, before they go running off again with their next story.

As for Von Miller? I'm not convinced even he completely comprehends what has recently happened.

In his mind, maybe it's better to accept the 6 game suspension than the alternative.

That would be him standing up and saying, "Hey, wait a minute. This isn't right. I'm going to fight it". That would likely result in him being high on the NFL's "hit" parade forever.

Like they say, it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

But pissing off Roger Goodell and his NFL henchmen is a downright bad, repeat BAD, career decison. Those guys have LOOOOONG memories.

Se you on Oct. 20, Von. Keep your head up.

More dumb commercials

Well, let's see. As a long time Jeopardy! fan it pains me to say this, but these Alex Trebek commercials have to go. Obviously recorded months ago, they feature Alex himself trying to lure people into sitting in the studio audience during tapings of Jeopardy! While standing out in the cheap seats, Alex says he never gets to sit down while the show is in progress, and the "view's pretty good from here".

Just one problem with that. Alex has been sitting down behind his podium for several months now. C'mon NBC, get with the program.

Former US Senator from Tennessee Fred Thompson is still hawking "reverse mortgages" in the wee hours. This is obviously directed at senior citizens such as himself. Free money, retain complete ownership of your own home, while enjoying your golden years, and millions have already reaped the benefits of this incredible offer -- quoth the Fredster.

There's a lot of things wrong with that. First, most senior citizens aren't awake at 2-3 in the morning when these commercials typically air. Second, there's no such thing as "free money". The companies offering this deal are buying up equity in the homes -- and if the homeowners live long enough for the company to get a controlling interest in said properties -- guess what might happen? Does the word "curb" sound familiar?

Worse yet, as the ad is fading away, the honorable Mr. Thompson is strolling back into his mansion with the perfectly manicured lawns and gardens. C'mon Fred. Do you really need the money that bad?

But OK, somehow I have to tie this into sports.

Hmm. Got it.

Shaq, and his Gold Bond commercials. If anybody ever really believed Shaq crams himself into a compact Buick for his everyday ride, then they gotta love his latest commercials. You know, the ones where the Big Aristotle spritzs himself with a bit of the magical spray and then shimmies like he's about to have his way with Rihanna, Beyonce, or Tyra. Please.

Besides, if I remember right, Gold Bond started out as foot powder. Then again, maybe they couldn't make a bottle of that stuff big enough to accomodate Shaq's reputed size 22 feet. That takes a lot of powder. I sure hope they changed the scent for the body spray. Smelling like Air Jordan #5 isn't exactly my idea of being sexy.

I dunno, but some of this stuff just doesn't seem right somehow.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hey man

While watching the preseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins, a couple things jumped out at me.

First, there was Pittsburgh's first-year wide receiver coach Richard Mann. It wouldn't be fair to call Mann a rookie. After all, he's been around football for a long time. Four years at the high school level, another eight at the college level, and a whopping 28 more bouncing around the NFL. According to my math, that's 40 years worth of football experience.

So you'd think he'd know better than to do what he did.

As one of his own receivers was heading out of bounds after catching a pass, the receiver got shoved a bit by a Washington defensive back, causing him to tumble -- right into Mann. Down he went. With apologies to the late Ernie Harwell, the replays showed Mann just standing there like the house by the side of the road -- until he got bulldozed.

Maybe Mann wasn't paying attention to the play. That would seem to be inexcusable as a coach. And if he was -- here's a little unsolicited advice for him --- Hey Mann, when a receiver and defensive back are heading your way full speed, and you're only a couple yards out of bounds -- get the hell out of the way!! If he walks across highways like that, Mr. Mann might not see a sophomore season in Pittsburgh.

The other was the on-going saga of Robert Griffin III, aka RGIII. The media just can't seem to get enough of this guy. Sure, last year as the Redskins' rookie QB, he put up some decent numbers. As we all know, he suffered a serious knee injury towards the end of the season, which had be surgically repaired. Some blamed coach Mike Shanahan for leaving him in the game when he was obviously injured. Others claim a head coach only knows what a player tells him when he asks the player if he's still OK to play. Towards the end of any season, most every player in the NFL is dinged up a bit. Some can play through whatever ails them, and some can't. It's not an exact science. During the heat of a game, there's hardly time to ship a player off for an MRI and a thorough diagnosis. The coaches and players typically only have a couple minutes to make a decision. Go or no go? RGIII went, and got his knee blown up, if it wasn't already. It's not necessarily someone's fault. Sometimes it just works out that way.

However -- coach Shanahan had made it quite clear that RGIII would not be playing in any preseason games this year. Better to let him heal for a few more weeks until things start counting. Probably a prudent decision. Can't hurt. Besides, the Skins aren't going anywhere this year anyway. Unless the Packers, 49ers, Falcons, Saints, Seahawks, and maybe Vikings all spontaneously combust between now and January, the Skins have little to no shot of even sniffing the Super Bowl.

So what is the big deal over RGIII anyway? It's almost like a few months ago when everybody seemed to think the LA Lakers possibly not making the NBA playoffs would be akin to the apocalypse. Hey, if they didn't, I was pretty sure the world wasn't going to end. And like the Skins, they were nowhere near championship caliber. Even if they did make the playoffs, they'd get blown out in an early round. Turns out they did, they weren't, and they were. Life is still going on last time I looked. So what was all that hype about?

Under NO circumstances was RGIII going to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers. So.... why was he on the sidelines in uniform? That's just another jersey to launder after the game. A waste of water and detergent. Perhaps instead of prancing around the sidelines yukking it up with his teammates, Griffin might have considered being more professional about it and going "upstairs" into a booth, where the serious football analysts sit. As barely more than a rookie, he has a lot to learn, and what better way to do that than hanging out with the people that dissect the game?

Worse yet, why was he wearing that floppy white Panama hat while styling around? It's not like the game was being played somewhere in the tropics under a blazing sun with 100+ degree temperatures. It was played in DC -- at night. Hello?

Yep, RGIII has a great smile, is immensely talented when healthy, and perhaps a glorious future career in the NFL awaits him.

But for now, even if his knee gets back to 100%, Mr. Griffin better start rehabbing something else.

His mind. Because the guys in the other jerseys on game day couldn't care less about his smile, his photogenic presence, and certainly that ridiculous Panama hat. Their job is to plow him under like last week's trash at a landfill, and they take it seriously.

Hey man, hope the knee gets better, but lose the hat. The other guys pay attention to such things too, and I dare say they didn't like it much either.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A-Rod and the....Mob??

Regardless of who you might be rooting for or against, there's no doubt this whole A-Rod situation keeps getting wackier every day.

I haven't seen this many whacks since Michael took over the Corleone family from Don Vito. With merely 40 to her credit, Lizzie Borden pales in comparison. Tony Soprano would hang his head in shame as an underachiever.

According to an AOL story circulating about (hey, if it's on the internet, we all know it's true, right?), the whacking has ratcheted up in the Big Apple. This isn't just about A-Rod fighting his Bud Selig mandated suspension anymore. Others have jumped in.

Enter stage right NY Yankees' President Randy Levine. Never heard of him? Me neither. But this is the sort of thing that happens when the patriarch of a "family" passes on to that big shipyard in the sky like the late Don (Firing George) Steinbrenner did a while back. It's always a scramble to see who will emerge as the next "boss", Don Steinbrenner's apparently clueless inheriting ninos aside. And isn't that the way it always seems to happen? The old man fights and claws his way to the top, whacking everybody that gets in his way, but after he's gone his spoiled kids don't even seem to know which end of a gun the bullets comes out of? But I digress...

Also enter stage left one Joseph Tacopina, A-Rod's latest "mouthpiece".

Loyal lieutenant Brian Cashman, the long-time general manager of the Yankee family, seems to have been brushed aside. This turf-war has gone on to higher authorities. Idle thought: "Cash man" is the perfect name for this guy. As basically the "bookkeeper" of the organization, it was Cashman that negotiated all those bazillion dollar multi-year contracts the Yankees still find themselves saddled with -- including A-Rod's.

And now the gloves are off. It's hardball time.

The mouthpiece says the Yankees tried to influence A-Rod's hip surgeon to make sure the operation didn't go exactly perfectly, so he wouldn't be able to play any more, and the Yankees could cash in the insurance policy on the $114 million dollars they still owed him.

The Underboss countered with saying the family had provided A-Rod with top notch medical care and he'd be more than happy to release all of A-Rod's medical records. All Rodriguez has to do is say OK. Am I the only one that sees a disconnect between those two arguments?

But then it gets more interesting. Levine also said he's willing to provide transcripts of all phone conversations between A-Rod, the team, and the doctors.

Stop right there and think about that.

How, pray tell, would the family be privy to the content of such conversations unless they had recorded them somehow? The Yankees are certainly a storied baseball franchise, but they aren't exactly the CIA or the National Security Agency that can play political football with such issues. Unless A-Rod signed off on having these conversations recorded -- highly doubtful -- presenting such evidence to Fred Horwitz, the arbitrator that will likely eventually hear A-Rod's appeal of his suspension -- could very well blow up in the Yankees' face. You're not supposed to do that.

The mouthpiece Tacopina appears to be licking his chops over such a showdown in "court". To boot, he claims to have a ton of emails back and forth between his client and the Yankees, which will further torpedo the family's case. Hey, nothing illegal about that. If his client (A-Rod) decides to entrust his attorney with to and from personal correspondences made via the internet -- that's admissible evidence in ANY court. There's a difference. A big one.

And now there are those that claim A-Rod had his own lieutenants somehow procure information from Biogenesis on other players, including a couple of his own teammates -- only to have it leaked to authorities to somehow bolster his own case.

This has to be the dumbest theory I've ever heard. First, without subpoena powers like Major League baseball apparently was granted, there's no way A-Rod would have access to such information. And second, why would A-Rod, who's trying to get back in the good graces of his teammates, do such a thing to further damage his credibility in his own clubhouse? It doesn't make any sense.

And of course there are still the morons that claim Rodriguez has never admitted to using PEDs. Contrary to their delusions, he most certainly has -- publicly. A-Rod himself called a press conference a few years ago and said he "used" while with the Texas Rangers, but stopped in 2003. In the last 10 years, it appears no evidence to the contrary has ever been found, much less presented.

And don't look now, but it seems A-Rod can still play at a high level. After missing the majority of this season recovering from surgery, and a short stint in the minor leagues, it looks like he's quickly getting his old swing back in the "big show". His batting average keeps creeping up and earlier tonight yours truly watched him sock a home run to dead center field in Boston's Fenway Park.
Quite a poke.

So in the end, what do we have?

In this corner is one Joseph Tacopina, sometimes referred to as the most hated lawyer in New York -- by prosecutors. They hate it when they get out-smarted, and Joey Tac has done so many times. He's now representing Alex Rodriguez.

And in the other corner stands the full might, fury and unlimited budget of not only Major League baseball, but Randy Levine, Prez of the NY Yankees, who is seemingly on a mission to "ice" that little twerp once and for all. After all, the Yankees DO have a contract on Rodriguez, right? But who would have thought they would take it literally?

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Perhaps even Lizzie, Don Vito, and Tony will tune in from beyond to learn a little something about modern day whacks.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The strange case of Tim Tebow

Few would doubt that quarterback Tim Tebow was a phenomenal football player while at the University of Florida. If a Heisman trophy and a national championship aren't enough, to this day TT still holds a slew of all-time records, not only at Florida, but in the SEC, and a handful of overall NCAA marks as well. Very impressive stuff indeed.

But then came a problem. The NFL. The jump from college to the NFL is a huge one. Most everybody on the field is bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, and the game itself speeds up a lot from anything even the best of players saw in college ball. Sometimes "can't miss" superstar college studs go bust, and other times lowly draft picks or even completely undrafted players eventually find their way to stardom. Tom Brady (sound familiar?) was only a sixth round draft pick out of Michigan and he seems to have done OK.  Maybe not so familiar is Tony Mandarich. He was the second OVERALL pick out of Michigan State many years ago (chosen right after Troy Aikman) and he quickly crashed and burned. It seems the NFL can make stars of unlikely college players, while at the same time being brutal on those that were "destined" to succeed. It giveth, and it taketh away.

But this is about Tim Tebow, and things don't seem to have worked out very well for him since he turned pro. First he landed with the Denver Broncos, the former kingdom of John Elway, currently a big-time exec for the team. Though Tebow actually fared quite well during his stint in the Mile High city, fast forward a bit and, oops, here comes Peyton Manning to join the team. It could fairly be said the arrival of a player of Manning's status means somebody else has to go. Guess who? (Detroit Lions fans might want to consider what would happen if Aaron Rodgers somehow signed on with their team. Methinks their hero Matthew Stafford would be holding a clipboard in a hurry, his ridiculous salary aside.)

Off to the New York Jets. Sadly, Tebow couldn't even seem to beat out Mark Sanchez, he of the infamous butt-fumble and often times has looked like a cut waiting to happpen himself. But it was Tebow that got cut. Not being able to beat out someone like Sanchez was definitely not a good sign.

Enter the New England Patriots to save the day. Their mad, if stoic genius head coach Bill Belichick has been known to take on other teams' castoffs, reclamation projects if you will, and make productive players out of them.

Obviously, the above-mentioned Tom Brady is still their starting QB, but Brady's 36. Could Tebow be groomed to step in and replace him someday? Stranger things have happened. Never underestimate the mad genius.

Then I watched him play an exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. Before I mercifully clicked elsewhere, Tebow was 1 for 7 passing, for a grand total of 1 yard, had thrown an interception, and was nowhere near close on several other throws. My gosh, what has happened to this guy's skills since he left Florida? It's almost unbelievable -- and tragic.

So what does Belichick do with him? Obviously, he's not pro QB material. He's not big enough to be a lineman, on either side. Not fast enough to be a linebacker, and I think we can safely rule out cornerback, safety, or wide receiver. He doesn't possess the shifty moves required to be a regular running back. Hand him the ball 20 times a game, and he wouldn't last long in the NFL. The other guys would eat him alive. Can't kick or punt, and special teams would seem to be a stretch. Those guys are kamikazes and I just don't see Tebow fitting that mold. And again, he's not fast enough.

It would seem the only thing left is tight end. At his height and weight, Tebow might have a shot at that position, if he can catch and block. Nobody seems to know. And the Patriots recently experienced a vacancy at that position. Something about a guy being held in jail on a murder charge.

Don't get me wrong. Tim Tebow is a fine, God-fearing man, and probably has more moral character and ethics in his little toes than most other NFL players will ever achieve in their lifetimes.

But somehow I keep getting this feeling that Tebow is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I wish him well, but the NFL is, after all, a brutal business in more ways than one.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Detroit Lions and Shakespeare

Though a die-hard fan for many years, yours truly finally accepted the inevitable with the Detroit Lions. Some things just aren't meant to be. When Barry Sanders walked about 15 years ago -- that was good enough for me. I walked with him. I dare say I've saved a lot of money and aggravation since making that decision.

But once in a while I can't help but take a peek at them on TV. And so I did as they were playing the Cleveland Browns in their second exhibition game. What did I see?

Ndahmukong Suh, the noted stomper of yore, roughing the opposing quarterback long after the ball had been thrown. Tweet. 15 yard penalty.

Newly acquired free agent Reggie Bush got called for a personal foul far away from the play. Tweet, another 15 yards.

Not sure who wears #98 as a defensive lineman for the Lions, but whoever he is doesn't fool around when he jumps offsides. He charged a full 10 yards into the Cleveland backfield before the ball was snapped. Tweet. You can't do that. Another 5 yards. On the very next play, he jumped again, but got back before the ball was snapped.

See Batman QB Matthew Stafford apparently totally lost without his Robin wide-receiver Calvin Johnson. See Matthew throw the ball on a completely botched screen-pass play that should have resulted in a pick-6. Fortunately, the Cleveland defender dropped it.

With merely a few seconds to go in the first half, see Lion's defensive lineman Willie Young get called for holding AND a personal foul -- on a PUNT. There go the flags again. Tweet, tweet.

See the defensive secondary running around like the Keystone Kops trying to figure out who's supposed to be covering who.

See Cleveland -- CLEVELAND -- spanking the Lions 17-3 at halftime. And the score should have been a lot worse.

The second half didn't matter. In an exhibition game, second halves are just the second and third stringers on the field trying to make the team. The final score of the game is irrelevant.

Yep, so much for the latest peek. I'm still convinced I did the right thing all those years ago when I walked with Barry.

From what I saw, it's still the same old clown act. They're not going anywhere this year either, nor likely any year soon.

To be clear, I don't hate the Lions anymore than I hate the leaves that fall from the big tree in my backyard every fall. Like the Lions, the falling of the leaves is just one of those things that happen at a certain time every year.

However, the leaves necessitate a bit of work on my part. And I have to go to the local hardware store and buy a bunch of bags to rake them into. This costs me a few bucks.

Not so with the Lions anymore. I can just ignore them.

It's much cheaper and WAY less aggravation than it used to be.

Better yet, my advice would be -- stop thinking of the Lions as some life and death drama like Romeo and Juliet or MacBeth. They're more like A Comedy of Errors. Fans of Shakespeare have known the difference for hundreds of years.

I wonder why Lions' fans can't seem to figure it out?

Just kick back, appreciate it for what it is, has been, and likely always will be, and have a few yucks.

Try it. You might like it.

Worked for me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rightful Detroit Lions' captains

It seems defensive tackle Ndahmukong Suh is making a push to be a captain of the Detroit Lions. In the NFL, captains are typically voted in by their teammates. But this is far from an exact science, at least in quantity. One would think an offensive captain, a defensive captain, and a captain of special teams would suffice, but that's not always necessarily so. Some teams have up to 5-6 captains. You can see them all when they come out to midfield for the "coin toss" before a game. Why so many captains would seem to be a good question. It's certainly not like that in the military. Can you imagine a half dozen captains for every 53 soldiers? Throw in several lieutenants and a bunch of sergeants, and nobody would be left to take orders to do the REAL fighting. Too many chiefs and not enough indians.

It's not that way in other pro sports. In the NHL, every team has only one captain. He is easily recognized by the prominent "C" stitched on his uniform. Yes, they may have a couple "assistant" captains denoted by an "A" on their own jersies, but there is only one true team leader, and everybody knows who that is.

Though a guy like Derek Jeter is often referred to as the captain of the NY Yankees, Major League baseball teams don't have captains. In Jeter's case, it's just a word of mouth thing -- not an official title -- and he certainly doesn't boast a "C" on his uniform.

Considering the NBA, obvious team leaders like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James aren't officially captains either. There is a very good reason for this. The measly rank of captain would hardly befit the ego of someone like Kobe Bryant. If anything, he would prefer to be a 5-star general, but alas, throw in the "fruit salad" on the front of his uniform, and all that hardware would surely slow him down. And we mustn't have anything covering up the collage of tattoos such players usually boast. That just wouldn't do.

Which brings me back to Ndamukong Suh. Is he worthy of being a captain for the Detroit Lions? Let's see. He hasn't stomped on anybody lately, wrung a quarterback's neck, wrecked a car, been arrested, and appears to have finally discovered an IQ. Can a bit of maturity be far behind?

Alas, Suh, along with any of his Lion teammates should NOT be captains. NONE of them. They haven't earned it. Who then has, you ask?

Simple. The Lions should go through the list of their long-time season ticket holders. From Tiger Stadium, through the Silverdome years, to the current Ford Field, some of these folks might go back 50 years. They have suffered through decades of ineptitude, but have kept ponying up the bigger and bigger bucks to hang on to and upgrade their season tickets every year.

If anybody deserves to be team captains, it's THOSE folks. Start with the highest seniority man/woman and offer them a team captainship. If unwilling, go to the next in line, and the next, and so on, until 4-5 captains have been designated. Give them free replicas of Bobby Layne jersies with a "C" sewn on them, and THESE people get to go out on the field for the coin flip -- not some yahoo player millionaires who would jump ship in a heartbeat to another team given the chance and even MORE millions.

Of course, there could be a problem with that. It would be totally understandable if anybody that's held Lions' season tickets for that long now has the brains of a turnip. A half century of team/media hype and high expectations -- only to see them crash and burn every year can do that do a person. Poor devils.

But for those that are still somewhat cognizant -- I think they should get the first crack at being captains.

It only seems fair.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Miguel Cabrera vs Chris Davis

Last year, Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera became the first triple-crown winner in major league baseball since Carl Yastrzemski of Bosox fame way back in 1967. For his superb performance, Cabrera also raked in the American league MVP award.

This year, Cabrera is putting up spectacular numbers once again with his bat. Last time I looked, he was leading all of baseball with a whopping .366 batting average, had 37 home runs, and 111 RBIs. If his production rate stays at or near the same for the rest of the season -- and there's no reason to think it won't -- could Cabrera win, gasp, back-to-back triple crowns? It's never been done before -- ever.

Just one problem. A guy named Chris Davis that plays for the Baltimore Orioles. Davis was hitting a very respectable .306, and was only one ribbie behind Cabrera with 110 of his own. But alas, he has 43 home runs -- 6 more than Cabrera. In the world of major league baseball, that's quite a few.

Could Davis stop "leaving the yard" so often while Cabrera got hot with even more dingers? Maybe. But lately, Cabrera has indeed been hot, hitting one every game, and still finds himself 6 behind -- again, at last look.

And leading the RBI race by merely one with over 40 games left to go is hardly a slam dunk. A lot can happen in a month and a half -- either way.

With all due respect to Chris Davis, yours truly had never heard of him before this year. It could be that he's having one of those freak seasons -- like Roger Maris had back in 1961, when he hit 61 homers to surpass the long held record of 60 by Babe Ruth. Or perhaps he's come of age and will rack up several more seasons like the current one. Nobody knows, and time will tell.

But Miguel Cabrera has certainly proven he's no fluke. No, Cabrera isn't fleet of foot and he won't be winning any Gold Glove awards for his defensive play, but with a bat in his hands, this dude is flat-out dangerous.

At 30 years old with 358 career home runs, he's not yet on the radar regarding the all-time marks of folks like Aaron, or even Bonds. Those are a long ways off. He'd have to hit 40 a year for 10 more years, to even be in the neighborhood. Given the ridiculous amount of money players make today, it's highly unlikely Cabrera will even PLAY ten more years, even if he stayed healthy -- never a given either. Nor will he likely ever approach the all-time RBI total. After (almost) 11 very impressive years in the majors, Cabrera's still 1000 away from bearing down on such legends as Ruth or Aaron. Batting average?  Though Cabrera's current .366 average is an eye-popper -- Ty Cobb had a CAREER batting average of the very same number. No one will ever touch that. Fuhgetaboutit.

But Cabrera has a decent shot at pulling off something all the legends in baseball before him never did. Back-to-back triple crowns.

And wouldn't that be something?

From what I can tell, Chris Davis seems like a fine man, a pro's pro, and I wish him all the best.

But I wish he'd cool off with the homers for a little while.

It just isn't everyday, or year, one gets a chance to witness history being made.

I had a dream

No disrespect to the late MLK, but the rest of us have dreams too sometimes. And mine was a doozy.

Millions of sports fans finally rose up and demanded change across the board.

The Major League baseball season? It's way too long. They are not allowed to start until the NBA and NHL playoffs have been concluded, or Memorial day, whichever comes first. Nobody cares about those early games anyway. They're supposed to be the "boys of summer", remember? So act like it. Further, the playoffs and World Series must be concluded before the party stores start stocking up with Halloween candy. Shorten the regular season up to 100 games and instead of 162. That's enough. And get rid of that nonsense about a designated hitter. From T-ball through college pitchers have to take their turns at bat, and those in the National League STILL do. That would throw the records out of whack, you say? Hey, given the steroids era, they're already out of whack.

Same with the NBA and NHL. 82 games is too much. Shorten it up to 40 -- max. And they're not allowed to start until after the Super Bowl is over. The purists aside, few pay attention to basketball and hockey while college and pro football are still going on. The gorilla in the room is alive, well, and getting bigger. All those early hoops and skate games in November and December? Outta here.

But the masses, gaining momentum, demanded even more. Sick, tired, and financially worn out by escalating player salaries, the mob drew the line. No athlete, regardless of how talented he/she may be, shall have a salary of more than $1 million dollars per year. This $8 dollar stale hot dog on a soggy bun and $10 watered down beer stuff has to stop. We can't afford it anymore. Besides, if the athlete is THAT good, on top of the million bucks, they'll likely make plenty more through product endorsements.

Further, those multi-year contracts are history. Nobody can project what an athlete might do NEXT year, let alone 6-8-10 years from now. That's ridiculous. Every jock signs a new contract every year. This has the added benefit of keeping them "hungry". We've all seen the production of many players plummet once they've been guaranteed long-term financial mega-bucks.

The NFL having 4 pre-season games is a farce. In the first 3 games, the starters might play a couple series, and then the scrubs come in. In the fourth game, the starters rarely play at all. This is not acceptable. Cut the pre-season down to 2 games. After all the off-season prior practices and scrimmages, that should be sufficient to determine who's going to stay -- and who's going to go. Enough with this nonsense.

Which means the NFL should lengthen it's regular season to 18 games. 20 would be better. 30 better yet. Let them play twice a week instead of once. It would be brutal on the players, you say? Who cares? It's not like anybody's making them do this, and there will be lots of guys standing in line for a shot to show their stuff.

Which brings me to the disabled list. If a guy's making big bucks for playing a sport, but gets hurt, then of course the team should pay for his medical bills. But they shouldn't have to pay him the same salary they would have if he was still on the field. Call it sick-leave pay. Let's say half. Seems fair enough. All the better to make them work harder in rehab.

Though I could be imagining it, during the course of my dream, I seem to have this faint remembrance of Detroit Tiger manager Jim Leyland strumming a ukulele while running naked through a field of tulips singing something about tip-toeing through his bullpen.

And then I woke up and the sheets were drenched in sweat.

Whew. I'm all for the masses having their way in the world of sports, because they pay for it, but sometimes this can get a little scary.

Maybe I should cut back on the Mountain Dew before I go to bed.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Jason Dufner and Caddyshack

Like that old guy used to say on the commercials for an investment company (Smith-Barney?), Jason Dufner won this year's PGA championship the old-fashioned way. He earned it.

Unlike certain other well known golfers that seem to immediately jump from puberty to having PGA cards in their back pockets, Dufner had to fight and claw for years just to have the chance to compete at the highest level.

Indeed, Dufner spent several years in the "minors", otherwise known as the Nationwide Tour. From 2001 to 2006, with the exception of 2004, when he was finally brought up to the big leagues -- only to be sent back down again for lack of production -- Dufner struggled mightily just to eke out a living in the pro golf world. Needless to say, the competition is brutal, and the on-going influx of young foreign born hot-shot players that probably couldn't spell Q-school if you spotted them all the consonants and a vowel, let alone ever having to go through it, certainly didn't work in his favor.

Yet he persevered. (Is this corny enough for you yet? Hang on, it gets worse.)  Finally, in 2009, Dufner played well enough in yet another go-round at Q-school to re-earn his PGA card, and he's been on tour ever since.

In 2011, Dufner made some big news. Like Carl Spackler, Bill Murrey's character in the classic movie Caddyshack, he came out of nowhere. At the PGA championship in Atlanta, Dufner held a 5 stroke lead with only 4 holes left to play. Yessirree, he'd make those rich country club ladies bark like a dog. Sorry. Got carried away there for a second in the movie mind-set.

Alas, he would eventually choke it away, only to lose to Keegan Bradley in a playoff. He had his first PGA tour win, and a major at that, all but in the bag, only to watch it sink faster than Judge Smail's boat when Rodney's anchor dropped through it. (So this is your wife, huh?. A lovely lady. She must have been something before electricity. Wanna make 14 dollars the hard way, baby?) 

OK, OK, I can't help it sometimes. I loved that movie.

Nevertheless, Dufner certainly didn't choke it away this year. A stroke behind going into the final round, he stared down and outplayed Jim Furyk, no lightweight himself, to win the 2013 PGA championship. With a major title now on his resume, I don't think Jason Dufner has to worry about losing his PGA card again any time soon. And that $1,445,000 paycheck ought to tide him over for a week or two. That's a very impressive sum for 4 days work. Not sure, but that might even be more than A-Rod made during the same amount of time. That's when you know you're REALLY in the big leagues. Well, the tournament WAS in New York, right?

All of which leaves me with two questions ---

Is Smith-Barney even still around or did they old-fashion themselves into extinction?  And much more importantly ---

I'm wearing that same black and white pork-pie hat in the movie as I write this. So where's my free bowl of soup?

The Detroit Lions' place-kicker dilemma

As is well known, long time and I dare say Hall of Fame worthy place-kicker Jason Hanson retired from the Lions after a glorious professional career -- all with the Lions. After all those years, the poor devil never even tasted a single playoff victory, but that's a story for another day.

In their infinite, ahem, wisdom, the Lions' brain-trust quickly signed one David Akers to replace Hanson. But then something unexpected happened. Some Norwegian guy named Havard Rugland posted a YouTube video showing off his prowess kicking a football and it went viral. Perhaps even William Clay Ford, who has owned the Lions since about the time the Beatles made their US debut on the Ed Sullivan show, briefly awoke a bit early from another of his 7-8 year slumbers, and took note. Perhaps.

At any rate, Rugland came to be known as "kickalicious", and though he'd never participated in a football game at any level before, Rugland was invited to try out with the Lions. Many thought some dude called kickalicious was nothing more than a novelty. A way of generating temporary attention for the decades old woebegone Lions, but no way was he to be taken seriously. Then something even more unexpected happened. Turns out, this dude can flat-out kick. Not only accurately, but long, REALLY long, and he makes it all look effortless. He boomed a couple 50 yard field goals in his pro debut, with plenty to spare.

One way or the other, head coach Jim Schwartz and the aforementioned "brain-trust" are going to have to make a decision in a few weeks. No NFL team keeps two place-kickers on their final roster. Somebody's gotta go.

So let's see. In the the red corner, we have David Akers. He's certainly been around. As an undrafted free agent, Akers tried out, but failed to make the Atlanta Falcons or Carolina Panthers. Eventually signed by the Washington Redskins, Akers played one game, made two extra points and missed two field goals. He was cut. Claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Eagles, he was shipped over to NFL Europe for a stint with the Berlin Thunder. Finally, he returned to the city of brotherly love, and racked up a few seasons as a pretty decent kicker. For whatever reasons, Akers left Philly and wound up playing for the SF 49ers last year, making it all the way to the Super Bowl. The 49ers didn't seem overly concerned with keeping him around so, presto, he's a free agent again and lands in Detroit. Yep, this guy's been around indeed. By the way, Akers is 38 years old, only a scant few years younger than Jason Hanson was when he hung up his cleats after last year.

In the blue corner, we have Havard Rugland. The polar opposite of Akers, Rugland has no experience whatsoever in the NFL. All he seems to know how to do is kick a football, and very well at that. Rugland is 28 years old.

So which kicker will the Lions keep? C'mon. Of COURSE it will be Akers. Even though he's running on the fumes of his NFL career, and Rugland appears to have a stronger, more accurate leg and could be their kicker for another decade or so, one thing never seems to change.

It's the Lions, remember? Give them a chance to screw something up, and they will.

And you know what? Somewhere out there, other GMs and head coaches from various NFL teams probably hope the Lions cut "kickalicious". Because he'll get snapped up in a heartbeat. Unlike the Lions have proven over the years, they know talent when they see it. A 28 year old dude booming field goals that split the uprights that would likely be good from 60+ yards away?  Only the Lions would be dumb enough to let a commodity like that get away in favor of a guy whose performances over the years have led him from team to team looking for a job.

Of course, I may have to eat my words. William Clay could wake up any second, take another look around, and issue a few orders before going back into hibernation. It's theoretically possible. But I suspect if the kicker decision is left up to Martin Mayhem and his cocky swaggering head coach, he of the 22-42 career record, the worst by far in the NFL, I'm betting they go with Akers, who will likely provide them with a few achers over the season.

Sorry to be redundant, but it's the Lions, remember? This sort of thing is what they do.

Come final cut-down time, if yours truly is wrong about which kicker they keep, then I shall do my best to atone for my misjudgment. It would be easy to write another column eating crow, humble pie, and all that.

I'll go you one better. Come to Detroit on Sept. 8, the Lions home opener against the Minnesota Vikings. I'll be the guy with the Matt Millen mask running laps around the outside of Ford Field buck naked while completely body painted in fluorescent Honolulu blue and silver.

Yeah, I think that would be quite enough to repay my debt to the Lions' faithful society.

We shall see.......

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Riley Cooper and the true idiots

If it wasn't so pitiful, and obviously meant to stir up a hornet's nest that should be left alone -- it would be comical. That would be the talking heads trying to breathe new life into the Riley Cooper story. It appears their motto is whatever it takes to (re)sensationalize that which is otherwise old news.

You remember Riley Cooper. He's the Philadelphia Eagle wide receiver that got caught on camera at a public event a while back saying the word "nigger". Because Cooper happens to be white, this was considered an outrage by many of different stripes. Nevermind the fact that particular word is quite commonplace and acceptable amongst others -- Cooper was taken to the media/public woodshed. Evidently, such terms are OK for some people to use, but taboo for others. Nevertheless, Cooper quickly "faced the music" and issued a public apology. That's pretty much all he could do. Most of those concerned found it acceptable and moved on -- but some still look for ways to drag it on -- and on -- and on. Draw your own conclusions as to who are the true race baiters. Anything for publicity, regardless of whether it has merit.

On that note, the latest issue of Sports Illustrated has an article by one Jack Dickey (page 20) that shows how far some are willing to blindly reach in pursuit of the non-story. The article started off about Cooper, then cited his "idiot defenders, who crafted false equivalencies and mangled the Constitution", while daring to claim first amendment rights to free speech. Sure, that argument is certainly debatable in some cases, but like others now seem to prone to do, Dickey then proceeded to extrapolate into la-la land in pursuit of his own agenda.

Somehow, Dickey took Riley Cooper saying the "N" word and tied it into the 2014 Olympic Games, which will be played in Sochi, Russia. According to Dickey, Russian leaders aren't fond of homosexuality. Though it's legal, such things that might promote it in public, like hand-holding, rainbow flags, and any associated media coverage of same would be construed as "damaging to minors". Such "gay propaganda" is highly frowned upon, at the risk of foreigners risking detention or deportation.

Dickey ranted on about whether Russian authorities would or would not enforce such non-laws during the Olympics. While he was at it, Dickey also found a way to disparage China's bad record of human rights and environmental protection when they hosted the 2008 Olympics. Then he went on to project Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 Olympics, being swarmed by protesters over high taxes and corruption. Incredibly, Dickey even went so far as to include Istanbul, merely a finalist for the 2020 games, but not a done deal, as having their own protest movement going on. How Dickey can profess to know what may or may not be going on in Istanbul 7 years from now would seem to be Nostradamic indeed.

All of which leave yours truly with just one question....

What the HELL does all that have to do with Riley Cooper saying the "N" word at a concert a couple months ago?

I'm telling ya. Give some people a peanut, and because they're predominantly grown in the south, which was once the home for slavery, which was an issue during the Civil War, which eventually led to segregation, Jim Crow laws, mass demonstrations, landmark integration legislation, Supreme Court rulings, affirmative action, etc --  and they'll find a way to blow it up into the absurd.

Hey, it was only a silly peanut to start with. Eat it or don't, but I see no need to start another war over such a trivial thing.

And such would seem to be the case of Riley Cooper. Just leave it be and everything will be alright.

PS. Now that the NFL pre-season games have started, there's a few talking heads yapping about how Cooper might get popped by defensive backs. True, the vast majority of defensive backs in the NFL are black. But guess what? Show me a defensive back that doesn't try to punish a receiver after he's caught the ball -- and I'll show you a defensive back that will quickly be looking for another job, because he won't be on the team for long. It goes with the territory and every wide receiver knows it, regardless of what color he is. Who's kidding who?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Tigers. The good, the bad, the ugly

Though it took them two-thirds of the season -- finally-- the Detroit Tigers have put some distance between themselves and those pesky Cleveland Indians in the AL Central Division. It wasn't supposed to be this close for this long. Barring a major swoon in the next couple months, Jim Leyland's boys should cruise into the playoffs.

Then it becomes a crap shoot. Looking back at last year, many were likely surprised when the Tigers swept the NY Yankees in the ALCS. Equally surprising was the SF Giants brooming the Tigers in the World Series. Currently, the defending world champion Giants find themselves mired in the cellar of the NL West, 13 games behind, and hopelessly out of playoff contention. Funny, or maybe not, how that works out sometimes. As this is written, the Tigers are tearing it up riding a 12 game win streak. Right now -- these guys are good.

But for every good, there has to be an equally bad. It's like when somebody makes a pile of money. Somewhere, somehow, somebody else is losing it. And that just might be a decent analogy to another form of Tiger.

That would be Eldrick Woods. That Tiger seems to have lost his once famed ability to win a golfing "major". Sure, Woods is still ranked the #1 player in the world and, yes, he continues to win tournaments. On some of his favorite courses over the years, Eldrick remains all but unbeatable.

But over the last 5 years, Woods has stunk it up in the majors. In 2008, most thought Tiger was a lock to easily pass Jack Nicklaus' record of winning 18 such events. Now one is left to wonder if he'll ever win another one. Further, Tiger himself used to say winning majors was the yardstick he wanted to be measured by. Excuse the pun, and with all due respect to his current flame Lindsey Vonn, it appears her man has been coming up woefully short.

Once again, Tiger will have an early tee time on Saturday. That's because he's 10 shots behind, and only made a rather generous cut by a couple strokes. Woods will be in the clubhouse after his round is complete before the leaders even tee off. When it comes to Tiger's expectations of himself, this is bad.

Of course, the Tiger groupies remain ever hopeful that their hero will mount a monumental charge on Saturday to get back into contention. Four words.

Don't count on it.

Amongst the army of golfers ahead of him are a slew of world class players, and they aren't ALL going to choke when the pressure ratchets up. These guys have been there, done that before too. For that matter, with few exceptions, it's been Tiger himself that's racked up a recent history of his wheels falling off on the weekends in major tournaments.

Bottom line?

Stick a fork in him. He is not -- repeat NOT -- going to win the 2013 PGA. Not even close.

Before the season started, there were those (hi Al) that predicted Woods would not only win a major this year, but maybe two, three, or gasp, even the Grand Slam. Yours truly remained dubious of his winning just one, and scoffed at the notion of winning them all.

What the future bodes for one Eldrick Tont Woods is certainly unknown. He might very well continue to win some tournaments, remain #1, lead the money list, and have various other accolades showered upon him.

But from what I've seen over the last 5 years, it appears Tiger has developed this unenviable tendency to choke on the weekends in majors. Maybe he's thinking too much about those chicken bones that were suggested by Fuzzy Zoeller and Sergio Garcia getting lodged in his throat. Beats me.

But of late, his major play has become decidedly minor.

And that's ugly.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

So who cares?

Sometimes I think we were better off back in the old days, when we only had 5 or 6 TV channels to pick from. At least there always seemed to be something decent to tune into. These days, I have a couple thousand choices available and everything's boring. Or maybe I'm just getting old and senile.

The talking sports heads are all a-flutter over who will be the Philadelphia Eagles' starting QB this year. Mike Vick or Nick Foles. Guess what? Who cares? With a rookie NFL head coach (Chip Kelly) bringing in his own brand new coaching staff and installing a different system -- the Eagles aren't going anywhere this year. They'll be lucky to wind up 8-8. Wake me up when they win a playoff game, which brings me to...

The Detroit Lions. Even Rip Van Winkle didn't sleep as long (20 years) since the Lions last won a playoff game (1991). In fact, they've only ever won one PERIOD since Super Bowls started way back when LBJ was President and the Viet Nam war was just starting to heat up. And come to think of it, those were the days of the 5-6 TV channels mentioned above. And 8-track audio tapes. And the Beatles were still the rage. Yours truly had just been blessed with his first great-grandchild. You know -- a LONG time ago.

Now the Lions have picked up cast-off free agent running back Reggie Bush and drafted a defensive end named Ziggie, who played a grand total of one year of football in college. But this will be the year, chant the Honolulu blue and silver koolaid addicts. Right. They still have the Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson stat show and not much else. So I say, who cares? They ain't going anywhere either. For that matter, I'm thinking the Eagles will win another playoff game before the Puddytats.

Evidently, there's a massive manhunt going on in northern California and Oregon for some guy suspected of murder and kidnapping a kid. I live thousands of miles away. Shoot me a bulletin when he crosses the Mississippi heading east, and maybe I'll keep an eye out for him. Until then -- why should I care? I've got enough evil-doings happening within a 25 mile radius of my house to be concerned with, so excuse me if I don't get overly worked up about something that's happening on the other side of the continent.

With the PGA tournament, the last "major" of the year upon us, the golf talkies are already handicapping Phil and Tiger. Phil won the British Open a couple months ago. Tiger hasn't won a major since 2008. Tiger has more major wins (14) than Phil (5). But in the last five years when they've been paired together on Sunday, Phil has outplayed Tiger every time, to the tune of 19 strokes. That's a lot. So when you add it all up -- what do you have?

Who cares? First, they both have to make the cut on Friday -- no given. Then they both have to get to the top of the leader board on Saturday, before they would constitute the final pairing on Sunday. The odds against that are very high, considering all the best golfers in the world will be participating. Look at how many different players have won the recent majors. Of the last 16 events, there's been 15 different names. The competition is brutal these days.

So let's see. Obama and Putin are diplomatically hissy-fitting again. Congress went on summer vacation while obviously learning (and accomplishing) nothing during their last semester. The turmoil in the Middle East rages on as lives continue to be lost, and this innocuous blog post will no doubt be scanned by some nerd in an intelligence agency somewhere. Just in case.

But I'm supposed to be concerned over who wins an MVP, whether the Lakers or Yankees make the playoffs, Kobe or Lebron tweets, Shaq's latest body spray, or Wes Welker's take on former coach Bill Belichick? Please.

Do I really need to say it again?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Suspension quirks and questions

Yeah, I know. Enough with ranting about Major League Baseball's suspensions for alleged PED users. Move on already. I get that but, A-Rod's appeal notwithstanding, now that the dust is beginning to clear, a few questions remain.

One of those slapped with a 50 game suspension as a first time drug policy offender was Jordan Norberto, formerly a pitcher for the Oakland A's. By formerly I mean he was released by the A's on May 8th of this year. No other club has picked him up in the meanwhile, so Norberto hasn't played a Major League game in 3 months. That's about as free as a free agent gets.

Question: Even though he isn't on a Major League roster, is Norberto's 50 game suspension currently ticking down as the games go by? Or if another club signs him some time in the future, will the suspension begin then? Beats me.

Same thing with Alex Rodriguez. He was given a 211 game suspension, obviously designed to keep him off the field until the 2015 season. But A-Rod is allowed to keep playing pending the outcome of his appeal. Knowledgable baseball sources say arbitrator Fredric Horowitz likely won't issue his final ruling until November or December. In other words, A-Rod will be able to finish this season with the NY Yankees.

Question: If Rodriguez's suspension is ultimately upheld by Horowitz, which is the equivalent of a Supreme Court ruling -- no more appeals allowed by either side -- then how does the original 211 game suspension play out? Would it start on opening day next year and last a couple months into the 2015 season? Or would A-Rod get credit for "time served" this year, even though he never served it while continuing to draw his ridiculous salary, to boot? Beats me.

Looking at the bigger picture, yours truly is still at a loss trying to understand why MLB imposed a suspension over 4 times longer on A-Rod than they did the others.

Question: Do you think if MLB had given Rodriguez the same 50 game suspension as all the others, he might have accepted it, and all the bound to get messy appeal stuff could have been avoided? Beats me.

Moral of the story. Methinks MLB went overboard in their vendetta against Rodriguez. Now they've opened up a Pandora's box. What will come out of it remains to be seen. Had they exercised a bit of restraint and common sense, what will likely happen in the future regarding A-Rod and possibly a precedent setting case could very well have been avoided.

If Bud Selig and Co. prevail, that's one thing. If they lose -- God help them. The inmates might very well wind up running the asylum again, like they did a generation ago.

And I suspect that would not be a good thing for baseball.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A-Rod's suspension travesty. The kangaroo court has ruled.

There's so many things wrong with how the whole Alex Rodriguez scenario has played out that's it's hard to know where to start. But let's take a look at it anyway.

In case you haven't noticed, it seems nowadays the majority of lemmings that readily believe anything they read, or see/hear on TV or the internet, with the media being the biggest culprits by fanning the flames, wants to be a "witness for the prosecution". Nevermind trivial stuff like having hard evidence of wrong-doing, many just can't seem to wait to join a lynch mob. Keep piling on the innuendos, embellishment, and allegations long enough, and next thing you know the masses will swallow it -- hook, line, and sinker. He must be guilty. Get the rope, pick out a big tree, and we're gonna have ourselves a hangin'. Yee-ha.

But that doesn't make it right. Consider.....

Many are now saying Major League Baseball came down so hard on A-Rod because he denied ever using performance enhancing drugs, ala Lance Armstrong. That's just a flat-out lie. In 2009, of his own free will and accord, Rodriguez admitted using PEDs when he was with the Texas Rangers, but stopped using them circa 2003. After his voluntary mea culpa in 2009, MLB sat pat and took no action. Nothing happened. Rodriguez played on.

In the interim, few would doubt A-Rod has been "tested" often, but never turned up a positive sample. Sure, the same could be said for Lance Armstrong, but continually testing negative hardly goes to proof of substance abuse. That's absurd. Only a kangaroo court that had already reached a verdict before any evidence was presented could jump to such a conclusion.

And that's just it. There was no court. Just allegations made and a sentence handed down. Excuse me, but didn't we leave out a big step here? You know, like that pesky little thing called a trial, where both sides have to put their cards on the table, and a supposedly impartial judge or jury deliberates before rendering a verdict?

MLB issued an official statement saying A-Rod's punishment was for his use and possession of various substances over a period of years. Really? Well gee, he told them that 4 years ago. And it's been a decade since he claimed he stopped with, so far, no evidence shown to contradict him. Perhaps the players' union would be wise to include some form of a statute of limitations in the next collective bargaining agreement. Right now, it appears MLB can go back as many years as they feel like to punish someone at their whim.

It gets worse. The hypesters would have us believe Rodriguez "obstructed" MLB's investigation. Translation? If someone accused of a crime exercises their right to remain silent, they will be labelled "uncooperative". Let the piling on begin. If they advise others to do the same, then they're some sort of evil conspirators that are "obstructing justice". The feeding frenzy will be on. All to often, the original presumption of innocence until proven guilty gets chucked out the window in the process. They've even gone so far as to insinuate Rodriguez was recruiting others to takes PEDs. In other words, he was a "pusher". Excuse me, but somehow I find that hard to believe.

But few seem to notice -- or care. And that's a scary thought. Yeah, it's easy to lay back and pile on out of ignorance when it's happening to somebody else -- but I dare say one would see it from a whole different perspective if it was happening to them, or a loved one. Especially if they were innocent.

This is not say A-Rod is innocent. What he's done or not since 2003 is unknown to yours truly. Likely to anyone reading this, as well. You may think you know -- but if you're honest with yourself -- deep down you know you really don't.

I've heard the talking heads say MLB has paper trails and mountains of evidence against Rodriguez  but, ironically, never heard MLB make that same claim. Maybe they do, and maybe they don't.

Thing is, A-Rod can continue playing because he's appealing his suspension. The first step will be to Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB itself, which will likely be a slam-dunk affirmation of the original sentence.

But eventually, if Rodriguez sticks to his guns, this whole mess will wind up in front of an arbitrator. Like a real court. At that point, MLB will have to show their supposed mountain of evidence. It will be put up or shut up time. Selig and his henchmen better hope they have the goods beyond a reasonable doubt, or the entire state of Wisconsin won't be able to supply the eggs that will be thrown in their face.

The vast majority of the other players on MLB's hit-list accepted their 50 game suspensions as first time drug policy violators. One could surmise that rather than fight it, and risk the further fury of MLB in the future, they just want to get it over with. Take the whupping, go away for a while and, most importantly, fall off the radar screen of the media vultures. Come back next year with a clean slate. It makes perfectly good sense.

Yet A-Rod poses a unique case. If he rolled over and accepted the suspension, he'd be pushing 40 before he was allowed back on the field, and would have been away from that level of competition for a year and a half. Whatever skills he stills possesses likely would have eroded away to next to nothing by that time -- the considerable money the Yankees still owe him be damned.

Two things. Obviously, Rodriguez wants to play -- now. And second, why not fight? At this point he really has nothing to lose.

Instead of all the rumors, suspicions, and heresay that we're being bombarded with -- here's a novel idea. Have everybody put their cards on the table and let the chips fall where they may. By appealing his suspension, basically this is all A-Rod is asking. He got convicted and sentenced without a trial and wants an open and fair hearing. Seems fair enough to me.

The horde of armchair prosecutors will get over it -- eventually. They will no doubt find a slew of other fish to gut and fry along the way in their minds -- even if they've never dropped a line in the water.

Though I must admit they're world class when it comes to baiting hooks.

Johnny Manziel and the Raven

First things first. Here's a shout-out to a certain lady that has recently checked out my lunacy in this forum. She's known as the Raven and hails from North Carolina -- not far from Charlotte. Serious NASCAR country. Always did have a thing for southern girls. They get my motor red-lining every time I hear their drawl. What a fine upstanding southern belle like the Raven could possibly find interesting in my rants would seem to be a mystery. But it is hoped yours truly can hold her interest for a while longer. Perhaps even nevermore. And feel free to quoth me on that. Besides, she promised me lunch. Hold the grits, please. I suspect even the deep, dark Edgar Allan Poe would have cowered when confronted with a bowl of that stuff.

Now Texas A&M quarterback, and last year's Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel is front and center in the sports news. Evidently, for all the wrong reasons.

Well, let's see. He tweeted something negative about his school a while back. My answer? Who cares? This is America. He can pretty well say whatever he wants. And besides, those who live and die by tweets issued by others should really consider getting a life.

Johnny Football pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of being involved in a bar fight a few years ago. Answer? This is a big deal? When I was his age, it was the rare exception NOT to get into a scuffle once in a while.

Manziel left the Manning quarterback camp early. So what? It's not like he deserted and went over to the other side while in the military. Peyton and Eli may very well be field generals on the gridiron, but I'm pretty sure they don't have the power and wherewithal to confine someone within one of their camps. Manziel could come. He did. He could go. He did, when he felt like it. This is a big deal?

Ah, but now the talking heads are all a-twitter over Manziel possibly making money over autographing football paraphernalia. The dreaded NCAA infraction committee is looking into it. Early unsubstantiated reports (sound familiar?) have it that Manziel might have agreed to a 5-figure deal with a shady character to provide his John Hancocks. Well, that shouldn't be too hard to check out. Unless he's got a whole lot of Ben Franklin's stuffed in a coffee can or buried in his back yard, one would think bank records would quickly tell the story.

Here's what people tend to forget. Manziel comes from a rather well-to-do family. Do they hand out penalties for that these days too? A while back, the media made a big deal over Manziel sitting courtside at an NBA playoff game. Some of those idiots still do. If they'd have looked a little deeper before their usual hatchet jobs, they'd have discovered his parents provided him with the ticket. Maybe his parents should be water-boarded for having the financial means to give their son a present.

Yours truly has no idea where this whole latest investigation will go, but one thing strikes me as odd.

Why would Manziel put his college career in jeopardy, and likely fall far down the NFL draft boards next year, when a 5-figure payout would seem to be chump change to his family in the first place?

Something is wrong with this picture. And I think it just might be the media propaganda.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Grass, MLB, and A-Rod

So why is it that -- I can pay big bucks for a bag of Grade A guaranteed-to-grow in sun or shade grass seed, spread it in even more high dollar bags of Mircle-Gro topsoil, including covering it with the recommended 1/4 inch, and lovingly water it every day -- and no grass grows. But when wind-blown lawn clippings find their way into the vegetable garden, every last one of those suckers seems to take root and sprout up overnight like Jack's beanstalk? I dunno. Sometimes Mother Nature can be a real bi---, well, you know.

Enough with Bud Selig and Major League Baseball rattling their sabers and threatening this and that for the guys on their PED hit-list. It's been months now. Whatever incriminating evidence they may or may not have isn't going to change. Do something or shut up.

Thing is, they HAVE to do something. After all the hype, which they've likely generated themselves with various "leaks" through "anonymous sources", and the ensuing media circus, there's no way MLB can back down. They're in way too deep. Right or wrong, legally, contractually, or collective bargainly with the players' union, they have no choice but to keep their heads lowered and charge. Anything less than that would strip Bud Selig of whatever shred of credibility he may or may not have ever had amongst the masses. So SOMETHING has to happen. I just wish they'd quit with their ivory tower circle jerk and get on with it already.

At that, it's also been reported many of the players on MLB's list have already agreed to accept 50 game suspensions and not contest them. That's their choice. But nobody would doubt Alex Rodriguez headlines the marquis. He's their current poster child, and they want to make an example of him. The latest anonymous sources say MLB is going to slap A-Rod with a 214 game suspension. An arbitrary number picked out of a hat? Hardly. That just so happens to be how many games are left in this (Yankee) season combined with the 162 in 2014. So Rodriguez would be done until the 2015 campaign when he'd be approaching 40 years old.

Just one problem. It seems A-Rod doesn't want to roll over and play dead. After trying to negotiate a settlement with MLB, presumably for a much lesser penalty, talks broke down. Now both sides are digging in. MLB has the might of it's office and virtually unlimited financial resources to wage such a war. Rodriguez has 3 high-falootin legal firms in his own corner. A serious team of some mighty shrewd and likely cutthroat legal-eagles are raring to go.

This could get ugly.

They say something will likely happen in a couple days.

Yeah? Well the guy who sold me that grass seed keeps telling me the same thing.

Come to think of it -- he looked a lot like Bud Selig.