Monday, March 31, 2014

Detroit Lions. Sold and moving

Well, that didn't take long. After the recent death of long time Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford, it appears their sale is imminent, and they'll be moving to Los Angeles.

William Clay never would have allowed this to happen, of course. But sometimes when the patriarch of a family passes on, his heirs no longer want to be troubled with continuing to run the business he spent decades building. Much easier to "cash out" and live the life of luxury without all the hassle. From mom and pop stores, to farmers, to multi-million dollar enterprises, it happens all the time.

Even though the Lions had a fairly pitiful track record for the last half century under the late elder Ford's watch -- no doubt this will still come as quite a shock to their fans. Yes, the team itself had become somewhat infamous for perennially disappointing them but -- dammit -- it was still their team. To their credit, the Honolulu Blue and Silver faithful hung in there year after year, always with the hope that next year just might be the one. For those folks, yours truly feels a profound sense of sadness.

Yet it appears that after the 2014 season, the Honolulu Blue and Silver will cease to exist. What their new name and uniform colors in LA will be has yet to be determined.

But I suppose time marches on and, like they say, the NFL is definitely a business. On that note, while Detroit will lose an historic franchise, few would doubt the folks in LA have long desired another NFL team, since the Rams left for St. Louis and the Raiders briefly passed through years ago. And there can be no question LA will offer much greater marketing opportunities for the team itself than Detroit ever could. So like most anything else, when somebody gains -- somebody else has to lose.

Still, one is left to wonder -- what will become of Ford Field? It's a jewel of a venue and not even 12 years old -- quite modern as stadiums go. And in less than a year from now it will sit basically unused? Spare me the tractor pulls and geriatric rock band concerts. Please.

Then again, perhaps something good will wind up coming of all the above in the end.

Remember what day today is.

April Fools.

The (mens) NCAA Final Four

Or as they call it in all other sports -- the semi-finals. How it came to be in college basketball that merely reaching the semis is celebrated in much the same fashion as having been truly delivered to the Promised Land, finding that pesky but ever-elusive Holy Grail or, OMG, unearthing a Rosetta Stone that is finally capable of deciphering politicians would seem to be a very good question. The definitive answer? Not a clue, but I'll offer three things as possibilities.

1) Slick marketing, which preys upon....
2) Blind hope, which is only possible if there are millions of...
3) Lemmings, who will always be suckers for -- go back two lines.

Oh, and there's the scads of money to be made by the smart people when the above quite unholy trinity comes together and starts interacting about this time every year. March Madness indeed.

Nevertheless, it is what it is, and the Final Four (though it will officially be April madness by then) looks to feature a couple interesting match-ups.

Florida vs. UConn. The Gators being there is no surprise. After all, they went into the tourney as not only a #1 seed, but also the #1 ranked team in the country. Besides cruising through the first four rounds of the tournament, they've won 30 in a row. Very impressive stuff.

On the other hand, most thought UConn would never get to this point. As a #7 seed, it was understandable they survived their first two games. But knocking off #3 Iowa St. in the Sweet Sixteen was a bit of an eye-opener. And who would have thought they could defeat the likely heavily favored and trendy pick Mich St. Spartans in the Elite 8? Yet they found a way.

Most would think Florida will have it's way as well with UConn, and they might be right. But guess who was the last team to beat the Gators before they started their 30 game winning streak mentioned above? Yep, the very same Huskies, way back on December 2. So UConn already knows they can not only play with Florida, but are capable of beating them. This game might not be the blow-out I dare say so many are expecting, and could well turn out to be very interesting. We'll see.

On the flip side, Wisconsin squares off with Kentucky. Another tough one to figure. Though UK entered the tourney as a #8 seed, they certainly had a tough road to get to the Final Four. Along the way, they knocked off previously undefeated and #1 seed Wichita St., turned around and dispatched #4 seed and defending national champ Louisville, then followed up by defeating #2 seed Michigan. That means they beat three of the four teams in last year's Final Four while, incredibly, starting 5 freshmen. (Yep, the first team to advance this far since the very same Michigan started their own vaunted Fab Five in 1992, way back when a guy named Clinton was first running for President and yours truly had a pony tail instead of a bald spot).

Given how head coach John Calipari's program has become synonymous with the "one and done" thing as his potential sophomores bolt to the NBA year after year, it remains amazing how that program can stay so highly competitive year after year as well, while featuring kids fresh out of high school. But here they are -- again -- and like them or not, you have to give them credit.

Most would likely think the Wildcats will slam dunk Wisconsin, but I wouldn't be so sure about that. The brutes from Cheeserland shouldn't be taken lightly. Sure, they didn't have nearly as tough a path as Kentucky, but let's not forget they weren't supposed to beat the other Wildcats, #1 seed Arizona either. But they did, in convincing fashion, in front of a mostly hostile crowd. To boot, the players that get the majority of the minutes for Wisconsin are predominantly upper-classmen. A couple years older, stronger, and with more experience than the young phenoms from Lexington. This game could get interesting as well. Will the peach-fuzzers run wild putting on a highlight reel? Or will the "old dudes" systematically grind them down and wear them out over the course of the game? Beats me.

Like the immortal Yogi Berra once wisely said -- that's why the fat ladies play the games, and it ain't over until Dick Vitale sings. Or something like that. Close enough.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

UM/MSU. Outta here

Well OK. Ya win some, ya lose some. Between Michigan and Michigan State in the NCAA hoops tourney -- yours truly went one for two. I picked MSU to win against UConn (they didn't), and UM to go down to Kentucky (they did). Regardless, no matter how you want to slice it and dice it -- the representatives of the Mitten State got kicked to the curb within a few hours of each other in the Elite 8. There will be no joy in Sniderville.

Across the stat sheet, State seemed to enjoy a slight advantage in most categories over UConn, including shooting %, rebounds, and assists. Plus, they didn't turn the ball over that much. However, one glaring stat jumped out. UConn went 21-22 from the free throw line, while MSU only had 8 attempts, making 7 of them. A 14 point swing at the charity stripe. And that, as they say, pretty much summed up game, set, and match. Despite their supposed superior talent, the Sparties committed too many fouls against a lights-out free throw shooting team, and it wound up coming back to bite them in their collective green and white butts.

Most Michigan fans no doubt think their team lost a heart-breaker on an improbable long-range last-second shot by a Kentucky player. True, it was a low percentage shot, but it went in and that's just the way it goes sometimes. Yet I would submit something else finally came home to roost on the Wolverines in a bad way. The absence of big man Mitch McGary, lost for the season due to back surgery. Time after time, a Kentucky shooter would miss a shot, only to have their own big men crash the boards, and dunk/slam a short offensive rebound back into the basket. If McGary was there -- that probably doesn't happen. UM was well-known for prospering or struggling depending on how well their bevy of 3-point sharp-shooters fared on any given night. But what got overlooked in the whole process was their lack of size and physicality close to the basket. Kentucky exposed that in a big way, no pun intended. So yeah, that last second shot could easily have been off the mark resulting in overtime, and then who knows? Yet the Maize and Blue faithful can zip it when it comes to the whining I suspect we'll be hearing out of Ann Arbor in the next few days. Though it was indeed a close game, their team ultimately got beat fair and square by another team that found a way to exploit a weakness that has been there all along.

All of which contributed to creating a couple very interesting match-ups in the Final Four. That will take place down in Jerry Jones' Big D North palace next week -- sometimes referred to as YEE-HAH land with the giant yippee-ki-ay boob tube overhead. And c'mon. A Final Four just wouldn't be a Final Four without a platoon of bimbo cheerleaders shaking their -- um -- pom-poms, right?

Taking a look at those games -- next time.


Miguel Cabrera's new contract. Insanity

The Detroit Tigers recently signed slugger Miguel Cabrera to a long-term contract extension. That sounds good. After all, Cabrera has been absolutely tearing it up with his bat for the last few years. Besides winning American League MVP honors, in 2012 Cabrera was the first "triple crown" winner in the major leagues since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski way back in 1967. Obviously, the man can hit for average, belt homers, and drive in a bunch of runs. He even seems to have straightened out his personal life after being found drunkenly incoherent in his car at the side of a Florida road a while back. The Tigers locking him in long-term would seem to be a great idea -- right? Not so fast.

Cabrera will turn 31 in a few weeks. Right now, he's likely in the prime of his career. Again, the man is indeed fearsome with a bat in his hands. But in that respect, Cabrera's pretty much a one way player. He can hit, but not do much else. Certainly, he doesn't possess much foot speed. In other words, he's slow. Defensively, the only position he can really play is first base. Sure, the Tigers put him at third when they finally shed themselves of the woefully inept bat of Brandon Inge and, Prince Fielder, another plodder came on board. But that was only because they had to find a spot for Cabrera, due to Cecil's boy being even more limited in his defensive capabilities. Yet few would doubt Cabrera was a defensive liability at third base. And let's face it. The list is long of major league teams sticking a guy who can hit at first base, but can't do anything else better than your brother-in-law in his over 40 softball league.

Nevertheless, the numbers themselves are mind-boggling. Cabrera's in line to make roughly $30 million annually, for the next 10 years. Guaranteed. Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski, no doubt with the blessing of owner Mike Ilitch, trumpeted this as a prudent financial move to lock in their epic slugger for the long term. And yes, in 6-7 years, given inflation, $30 million a year, or roughly $82,000 every single day, 365, won't buy as many burritos or Reese's cups as it does today. I get that, but somehow I think Miggie will be able to barely scrape by when Hillary is having the decor of the Oval Office re-arranged for her second term. Sorry. Ahem.

However, while Ilitch, Dombrowski, the Tigers, and their faithful media throngs consider this contract extension a good move -- yours truly thinks it is not only totally insane, but a slap in the face to sports fans everywhere.

I've long railed about why the average "family of four" sports fans have to skip a house payment to attend a game. Besides outrageous ticket prices and parking fees, there's a reason why they have to cough up 10 bucks for a watered down beer worth maybe a nickel. Nothing like a ball park frank? You got that right. Where else would you pay $6 for a leathery hot dog on a soggy bun? And the last time I was there and went to what I will very loosely refer to as the "condiment" stand to dress up a couple of those dogs, I'd swear that relish was moving on its own. Horrors! The pickles are alive. This was definitely not a good sign.

Obscene contracts like Cabrera's (and others) are EXACTLY the reason attending sporting events has become so pricey.

Yet if Dombrowski was thinking long-term, then let's take a look at those same long-term implications from another viewpoint.

As mentioned above, Cabrera is now 31. Would any objective person reasonably doubt that as the years go by, and Cabrera gets into his mid, then late 30s, his skills will diminish? Sure, right now, he's all that. But he's also not exempt from the forces of Mother Nature and Father Time. That dynamic duo always has, and continues to bat 1000 when it comes to aging and athletic prowess. As the former goes up, the latter inevitably goes down. Cabrera is no exception. It's highly likely in just a few years, let alone 10, his productivity will start to taper off -- perhaps dramatically.

Consider another possible scenario. Good health is a blessing -- not a given. And who knows what the fickle finger of fate may have in store for Cabrera? There's always a chance he could suffer a disastrous event along the way. Besides various sports-related injuries, even something totally unforeseen like a serious illness or car accident could happen, that could not only diminish his capabilities, but BANG, end his career entirely. Abruptly. God forbid, but ya never know what tomorrow will bring -- let alone the next 10 years. Yet the Tigers would still be on the hook to pay Miggie $30M a year until Chelsea starts thinking being a US Senator would be pretty cool. Somehow that picture doesn't seem quite right.

For the above reasons, yours truly would humbly submit the Tigers were not prudent, but foolish locking themselves into such a deal.

And $82,000 a day, EVERY day, 365?

That's just insane.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Big 10 and the Final Four

Now that was one I dare say most folks, including yours truly, wouldn't have predicted. Wisconsin just knocked off #1 seed Arizona in the western regional final and punched their ticket to the Final Four.

Sure, the Badgers were a #2 seed themselves, but I further dare say many thought they weren't worthy of such status. After all, they didn't come close to winning the regular season title or tourney even within their own Big 10 conference. By making them a #2 seed, basically the NCAA selection committee was saying they were somewhere between the fifth and eighth best team in the entire country. And how many of us really believed that? Not I.

It could certainly be argued Wisconsin had the easiest road to arrive in the Elite 8. Even after dusting off patsy American U, Oregon and Baylor weren't exactly murderer's row. But the Arizona Wildcats were a whole different animal. To boot, the game was played in Anaheim, a suburb of LA. Home of the original Disney Land and all that. Also, not far from Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl.

Where am I going with this? In effect, Wisconsin taking on Arizona in Anaheim was much like a Big 10 team taking on a Pac 10 team in the Rose Bowl. Even though it's technically a neutral site, guess who basically has home court/field advantage with the fans in attendance?

So for those reasons, yours truly gave the Cheesers little chance of moving on. Every time Arizona would go on a bit of a run to get ahead by a few points, I thought -- that's it. It's time for Wisconsin to finally fold up their overrated tent and go home. They can't hang with these guys. Boy, was I ever wrong. They not only kept coming back and hung in there during crunch time but, even despite a few terrible calls that went against them, found a way to prevail in the end. Hats off to the Badgers for a well earned victory indeed. As their own fight song goes -- On Wisconsin -- to the Final Four.

Elsewhere in the tourney, Dayton made quite a splash this year. As an #11 seed, they defeated #6 Ohio State, #3 Syracuse, and fellow surprising #10 Stanford. Impressive stuff, but though they put up a valiant fight in the regional finals, nobody really expected the Flyers to get past overall #1 Florida. And they didn't. The Gators validated their pass to Arlington as well.

#4 seed Michigan State was, and remains a trendy pick to win it all. They narrowly edged  #1 seed Virginia in their bracket. Not a great surprise. Next up, the Spartans get #7 seed UConn, quite a surprise themselves, for a berth in the Final Four. While Geno Auriemma's Lady Huskies continue to march on, it's highly doubtful their male counterparts will get past the Spartans.

Probably the most interesting game features Michigan and Kentucky. That's a very hard game to pick. Besides the above-mentioned Michigan State, the other trendy #4 seed picked to reach the finals was defending champion Louisville. But in the Battle of the Bluegrassers, Kentucky claimed bragging rights. They're on a roll and seemingly getting stronger every game. Michigan's a quirky team. They've definitely got some lights out shooters, and if most of those 3s are finding the bottom of the net, they can run and gun with the best of them, and are capable of beating anybody. On the other hand, they're not particularly big or physical, and teams that have the personnel to play up in their faces all over the court have exposed them as being vulnerable. That, and the occasional brain fart the Wolverines typically feature during any game. They had the Tennessee game well in hand, only to go into mind-freeze, and almost let it get away at the end.

Yet for the sake of argument (though I think they're going down) let's assume UM defeats UK in the regional final.

Besides Florida, we could be looking at three Big 10 teams in the Final Four. And who would have thought that remotely possible when the tournament started?

Bad Boys and REALLY bad boys

Well, let's see. Lebron James of the Miami Heat racked up a triple-double (17 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds) in only three quarters of action against the Detroit Pistons. King James sat out the entire fourth quarter, because the game had gotten so out of hand by then, the Heat didn't need him, else who knows how gaudy his game stats might have been?

The Heat was also without fellow super-star Dwyane Wade, starter Mario Chalmers, eagle-eye shooter Ray Allen, and recently acquired big man Greg Oden for the entire game.

And basically their second-string still beat the Pistons by a whopping 32 points, 110-78 -- on Detroit's home court. That's pretty bad.

At halftime of the game, the Pistons honored their 1989 championship team. Back then, the likes of Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman and Co were known as the "Bad Boys". It must have pained them to be in attendance and witness just how REALLY bad the Pistons have become.

It was interesting Joe Dumars, a Hall of Famer, and the Pistons' long-time president of basketball operations, didn't address the crowd during the ceremony. After all, he was a member of that 1989 team. Who better to take the microphone and deliver a keynote speech, working those in attendance (the few, the proud, the idiots with nothing better to do) into a frenzy? Or at least maybe waking them up.

Then again, it's probably not a bad idea for Joe D to lay low these days. Given what a sad-sack bunch the Pistons have become in recent years under his watch, keeping a low profile would seem to be very advisable. Besides, he probably has other more important things on his mind than giving a speech about something that happened 25 years ago. Like retirement plans, or getting his resume in optimal order for his next job, if he can find one.

That's because his goose in pretty well cooked with the Pistons. Before the season started, relatively new owner Tom Gores said he expected them to get to the playoffs this year. Not only is that not going to happen -- the Pistons are dangerously close to becoming a joke.

So in the words of the late, great Ernie Harwell -- when this season finally mercifully ends -- I suspect Joe D will be LOOOOONG gone. Dumars is definitely an upright dude and a pillar of society, but when it comes to the "what have you done for me lately" test in pro sports -- what can he possibly say to Gores that's believable to keep his job? And let's face it. Billionaires don't get to be billionaires if they're not paying attention to the bottom line and bigger picture. What does Gores likely see with the Pistons? Wins are down. Losses are up. Despite various shameless promotions, the Pistons continue to struggle to get people to attend their games, because they're nowhere close to being contenders. And then there's that pesky payroll, whereby he's shelling out millions and more millions to players, on contracts Dumars negotiated, who don't look to become any more competitive in the NBA any year soon. Throw in the merry-go-round of head coaches that have come, gone, and not made a difference. And all this ultimately falls directly in the lap of Joe Dumars.

But I suppose it could be worse.

Consider a couple other teams. The Philadelphia 76ers have lost 26 games in a row -- tying the all-time league record of futility. But despite that horrendous streak, the 76ers are still ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks in the standings. So how bad are THOSE guys? And what comes after bad, and REALLY bad? "Turrible", as Charles Barkley would say?

And don't look now, but the 76ers finally broke through with a win. And guess who they defeated? Yep, the Pistons. Not only beat them, but gave them a beatDOWN to the tune of 123-98. A 25 point whupping. That knocks the Pistons down another notch in the adjective department. Let's try pitiful.

Oh my. The Sixers? By 25 points? Say it ain't so, Joe.

Friday, March 28, 2014

NCAA rim shots

If you've been watching the NCAA tourney, you've probably seen the Sprint commercial. It starts off showing a cute little girl playing the piano. That's great, though I have no idea what it could possibly have to do with phone service. Problem is -- the piano playing audio we hear on the ad doesn't match what that little girl's fingers are doing on the keyboard. Not even close. Hey Sprint. Can't you and your ad people at least get that part right? Or is truth in advertising asking too much?

I love Charles Barkley. Always have. What a hoot. From his TV commentary to his golf swing -- the dude's hilarious. Even some of his own commercials are yuk-worthy, but the latest versions give me pause.

From Alec Baldwin to Samuel L. Jackson, the line is long of those that have hawked a certain credit card over the years, while wanting to know "what's in your wallet"?  Remember those vikings running around a few years ago looting and plundering everything while advertising for the same company?

Here's what I know. Years ago, yours truly had one of those credit cards in his name, but I didn't know about it. Somebody had signed me up. Though I never physically possessed that piece of plastic, I was the master member on the account. Next thing I knew, I got a bill out of the blue for over 16 thousand dollars. Yours truly isn't one to sweat a few bucks, but 16K had a way of getting my attention.

So I called them up to straighten it out. It went something like this----
1) Spend a few minutes trying to navigate your way through the automated voice prompts.
2) Get put on hold for 15-20 minutes.
3) Explain the situation to a service representative, but they can't help you. It falls under the purview of another department. Please hold while they transfer you.
4) Another 15-20 minutes.
5) Go over it all again only to be told this sort of matter requires a supervisor. Please hold.
6) 15-20 more.
7) After explaining it yet again, be told by that "supervisor" such a case needs to be brought to the attention of the fraud unit. Please hold.
8) Yep.
9) The person at the fraud unit sounds suspiciously like the first person I talked to an hour and a half ago.
10) Say you are getting tired of the runaround and demand to talk to somebody that can resolve the situation.
11) Repeat steps 2 through 8. It is now over 3 hours and absolutely nothing has been accomplished.
12) From 1 to 10 above, get hung up on along the way.
13) Start all over.

It took me a couple weeks of this madness on a daily basis before the matter was finally resolved.

So with all due respect to Al, Chuck,Sammy Jack, and those loveable heathens, that piece of plastic is the LAST thing I want to be associated with again. And NO, it was never any of their damn business what's in my wallet anyway.

Kentucky/Louisville was a very compelling matchup. How could any hoops fan NOT get caught up watching such a rivalry game? As you know, UK prevailed and will move on to meet Michigan for a berth in the Final Four.

It was almost mandatory viewing but, in a way, it was hard to watch as well. Why? Because of the coaches. John Calipari of UK, and Rick Pitino of Louisville. Dealing with a credit card company is one thing. But these guys..... This is not to say they're somewhat unctuous, but every time I see either one of them on TV, I feel the need to go take a shower for some reason. Viewing both at the same time for a few hours while their teams are playing each other had a way of -- well -- let's just say that long, hot, bubblebath soak I just climbed out of made me feel a lot better.

A parting shot. Ya gotta love that Lowe's commercial. You know, the one with the average schmuck putting the finishing touches on his self-installed ceiling fan, then going over to wall, and flipping the switch to turn it on? Only then to watch it short out, drop from the ceiling to smash his coffee table. And in the next scene, watching that fan get thrown through his front window into the yard. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but I suspect we've all had days when Murphy's Law kicked in and were tempted to do something similar. Nonetheless, unlike Sprint, THAT'S truth in advertising.

And last time I looked, Lowe's was the major sponsor of a pretty good NASCAR driver. Some guy named Jimmy that's won a few things in the last several years. That honesty thing has a way of working out sometimes......

Virginia/Michigan State -- who wins

Wow. Can that be right? The Virginia Cavaliers were the first team in 15 years to play a whole NCAA tournament game without grabbing a single offensive rebound, when they defeated Coastal Carolina 70-59 in their first round contest?

Meanwhile the Spartans of MSU have long been known for absolutely pounding the boards on both ends of the court?

Say no more. Virginia might well have the #1 defense in the country, but Michigan State ain't exactly Coastal Carolina either.

Spartans win.

The utter stupidity of some things

Nevermind all the major problems that continue to beset the USA. Turns out, there's a push underway by a few of our Einsteinish legislators to outlaw on-line gambling. I don't partake myself, but good luck with that. Given most of the host sites already originate from foreign countries, just how do these "worthy" Senators plan on enforcing such a law? Monitor every American's desk-top, lap-top, Ipad, smartphone, etc? Well, OK. They're already doing that in the name of supposedly keeping us safe. But short of shutting down the "world wide web" entirely, which is beyond even their pompous control -- despite the typical election year propaganda -- this is an utterly ridiculous idea.

Head men's basketball coach Steve Masiello of Manhattan College recently had an opportunity to move up in the hoops hierarchy. The head coaching job at South Florida was evidently his for the taking. Just one problem. His resume. It said he received a degree in communications from the Univ of Kentucky back in the day. But upon doing a background check before officially hiring him, the USF folks discovered the UK folks said he had never received a degree from their university. Oops.

Now Masiello might be one heckuva great basketball coach, but he also knew damn good and well all along that he never got that degree. So why did he lie about it? It was stupid. In this day and age, where most everybody can thoroughly check out anybody else's complete bio on-line in about 10 minutes -- did Masiello really think South Florida was going to start paying him big bucks without checking him out first? Dumb, dumb, dumb. And if he lied about that -- then what else might he have lied about along the way?

I just read an article about Masiello where the author said it was only a minor "infraction". It was suggested Masiello be fined an undisclosed amount of money and perhaps even suspended for a few games. But after paying that debt to society, or more specifically the NCAA, Stevie should be allowed to carry on with his career ambitions, wherever they may take him. That sounds great, and I couldn't agree more. But again, there's a problem.

Though it's pretty obvious Masiello wished to leave Manhattan College for the greener (in more ways than one) pastures of South Florida, he never officially resigned from the former, and the latter apparently has dropped him from consideration in lieu of his false resume. Masiello's in no-man's land right now regarding being a head coach. So who's going to fine him or suspend him? If you're the person in charge of hiring a new head basketball coach at South Florida, would you have brought a guy in only to immediately slap him with a suspension? How incredibly stupid would that have been?

Oh, it gets even dumber. As this is written, Manhattan College is technically still stuck with him. So what do they say? Everything's on hold while Masiello "reviews his degree status" with the Univ of Kentucky.

So what's to review? UK has already confirmed he never got a degree. The transcripts don't lie. Whether he was one class or ten classes short is irrelevant. One either attained a degree or they didn't. And one shouldn't pretend they have one if they don't. Good grief, yours truly got a BS in engineering from Oakland Univ many moons ago. That stood for Bachelor of Science. But at least it was real. In Masiello's case, a BS degree seems to stand for something quite different.

The above mentioned author went on to say if every college coach that got caught in such a lie was fired -- there wouldn't be any college coaches. To which I say BS, of course.

It would simply mean institutions of higher knowledge have honest coaches, as well it should be. These guys (and gals) should be under a microscope at all times. They should be held to a very high standard. While athletics definitely play a huge role at the collegiate level (see revenue), most coaches would agree they're guiding their young charges through life as well during their time at university. And if the student-athletes know a head coach can rise to great fame and fortune, based at least partially on a willful lie at his/her very roots -- then yours truly would submit this is definitely sending a very wrong message to those they are supposed to be educating. Coach lied, got away with it, and is making mega-bucks anyway? That certainly sets a bad example for the young minds looking up to their coaches for guidance when times get tough. OK for them to lie? Must be OK for me too. While that might not exactly fall into the stupid category -- it definitely leaves a whole lot to be desired in the entire scheme of things.

But going back to my original thought of stupidity -- methinks I'll try my hand at a little 5 card stud online before those ever-loveable legislators pass their law, and SWAT and Navy SEAL teams come crashing through my door to send me off to Gitmo with the rest of the terrorists.

At least I'm not lying about it.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jim Leyland and Tiger Woods

I have no idea whether former Detroit Tigers' manager Jim Leyland and renowned golfer Tiger Woods even know each other. But if not, a third party should introduce them because not only do they have things in common, they could make a spectacular dynamic duo.

Consider Leyland. He stepped down last year (or was quietly pushed out the door, who knows?) and most assumed he was retired from baseball. But no. He couldn't stay away. Leyland evidently assumed some mysterious position within the Tiger hierarchy, but nobody seems to know just exactly what his job is or what responsibilities, if any, it entails. It's a secret.

Nevertheless, Jimbo showed up in Lakeland, site of the Tigers' spring training, and recently offered up some words of wisdom regarding Danny Worth -- a long-time Tiger prospect that can never quite seem to get over the hump and stick in the big leagues. After yet another terrific showing in the grapefruit league -- once again Danny Boy is headed back to the minors.

Quoth the Marlboro Man -- I think Danny Worth deserved to make the club out of spring training. Or maybe not. He should have been on the team, but he shouldn't have. Very rarely do guys get screwed coming out of spring training, but..... they got screwed. That's just the way it works.

Well gee, thanks Skipper. It's all crystal clear now. Here's one for you. Confucius say -- man who manage Pirates, Marlins and Rockies for 14 years while compiling overall winning percentage of .486, then fall into sweet gig with Tigers for 8 more years, should bless fortune cookies.

Like Leyland and baseball, Tiger Woods can't seem to stay away either -- from the cameras and microphones. Eldrick has complained of "back spasms" of late, causing him to withdraw during the midst of certain tournaments, and skip others he would normally play altogether. Has he really been hurt, or is his game in such a shambles that he doesn't want to embarrass himself out on tour? Only Tiger knows for sure.

Yet it seems odd that Tiger could play the entire 72 holes, and win his last major -- the 2008 US Open -- while gutting it out in Rambo fashion on one leg -- but now "back spasms" have put him out of commission. It reminds yours truly of Serena Williams, another #1 ranked player in the world, though in a different sport.

Between Serena and Eldrick -- as long as they're cruising to wins -- everything is hunky dory. But if they get beat, an "injury" of some sort always seems to be involved. Make of that what you will, but neither has ever been willing to step up and say they just played bad. "The other guy/girl were just better that day and deserved to win" is a phrase that has yet to come out of either's mouth. There's nothing wrong with an athlete being confident, even having some swagger. Yet every once in a while, showing a little humility might just go a long ways with the viewing public as well.

Back to Leyland and Woods. Not sure if Jimbo golfs or Eldrick has a clue about baseball. But these are two alpha-males if we've ever seen them. While both attempt to guard their private lives like the Secret Service guards Obama at the White House -- neither can seem to stay away from the microphones for very long. One way or the other, they continue to want their voices to be heard -- dammit.

So here's an idea. Get Leyland and Woods together to sing a song. Let them belt out a rousing rendition of "Ebony and Ivory" ala Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder did back in 1982. If it was such a hit then, then why not a remake?

Jim sitting on my left and Eldrick to my right, while I sat on the middle of the piano bench providing the accompaniment. Add my yorkies on our laps rounding out the 5 part harmony with their back-up vocals. Now THAT would no doubt be a YouTube sensation. I'd even promise not to smoke a Marlboro or complain of a sore back during such a performance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

UConn and Notre Dame

Somebody's got it wrong, because it can't be both ways. According to a recent Sports Illustrated article penned by Lindsay Schnell, if both the Lady Huskies and Lady Irish hoopsters continue to remain undefeated -- which is probable -- they'd meet in the NCAA championship game on April 8.

Yet according to an ESPN bracket yours truly is staring at right now -- they're on a collision course in the SEMI-finals. I'm betting on ESPN. I think the editors at SI missed that minor gaffe. It happens.

Nevertheless, it certainly appears like these two teams are heads and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Barring a rash of injuries or a highly unlikely upset in their next two games -- it's almost a lock one of them will go on to become national champions.

Talk about two juggernauts. Notre Dame is 34-0. Only twice all year long have they won by less than 10 points.

UConn is 36-0. Their smallest margin of victory has been 11 points, and their AVERAGE margin of victory is a steamrolling 35 points.

In other words, eventually, something's gotta give. As outstanding as both these teams are -- there can only be one champion. Somebody's gotta lose. Given their recent history against each other, which team will prevail would seem to be a very good question.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw recently lamented (whined) that UConn and head coach Geno Auriemma "couldn't find a date" on their schedule this year to play the Lady Irish. In effect, she was basically calling Geno a "chicken". Bawk, bawk, bawk and cockadoodledoo. On that front, Ms. McGraw has a valid point. Just last year, when both teams were in the same conference, Notre Dame and UConn met three times. Twice in the regular season and once in the conference tournament, with the Lady Irish sweeping the trifecta. Now they're in different conferences, so no such mandatory regular season games are on their schedules.

Yet it should be noted that -- when the NCAA tourney rolled around last year, the Lady Huskies crushed Notre Dame 83-65 in the semi-finals while going on to win yet another championship. Going undefeated through the regular season is all well and good, but getting knocked out when it counts the most (see this year's Wichita State men's team) quickly makes a team a mere footnote in history. When the Big Dance starts, few remember or care what happened in the regular season or conference tourneys. It's put up or shut up time. And last year, when the lights were the brightest and all the pressure was on -- Little Miss Muffet and her crew definitely got shushed and kicked back to their collective tuffets.

But if there's a team capable of knocking off mighty UConn, it's certainly ND. Going back to the history thing mentioned above -- ND has defeated UConn in 7 of their last 9 meetings. Very impressive stuff, but history doesn't really matter. Those were different teams with different personnel. Great players have graduated and moved on, while young phenoms have taken their place. Same schools, same head coaches, different chemistry. And in the NCAA tourney, the only thing that really matters is right now, or at least the next game.

Idle thought: What's up with the venue scheduling in the ladies' tournament? Besides being the #1 ranked powerhouse they are -- UConn got to play their first two games in their home arena? If they ever had a chance in the first place, how colossally unfair is that to the other teams? And moving into the regionals -- guess where fellow powerhouse Notre Dame will play their next two? Yep, right back in their own land of leprechauns. Talk about tilting the playing field. Unbelievable. Couldn't the NCAA committee find neutral sites somewhere to at least give the games the remotest semblance of being fair?

Uh oh. Just saw another ESPN bracket that said the lovely Ms. Schnell of SI was right in the first place. UConn and ND won't clash until the Finals indeed. I wish they'd make up their minds. At least they all agree the Final Four is going to be in Nashville.

Either way, I suspect the Lady Huskies will have to square off against the Lady Irish in Grand Ole Opry country to settle this thing once and for all.

Who will win? No idea, but I think a huge marketing opportunity is being overlooked in the time remaining before the two teams eventually clash on the court.

From outward appearances, Ms. McGraw and Mr. Auriemma don't seem to like each other much. Professional jealousy? Maybe. A personal thing? Who knows?

There's a better way. Cage match. The octagon. In the blue corner, we have Miss Muffet, the Princess of the kingdom of Curds and Whey. In the red corner, we have Geenarino, the Canoli Kid. No biting or eye gouging allowed. Other than that -- do what you gotta do -- and may the best pompous coach win. Are you ready to rumble? Then let's get it on for real. Ding.

Perfect. The actual game between their teams in Nashville will probably be interesting. But which match would you rather see?

Ladies NCAA hoops

While the men certainly get most of the attention, including the media, packed arenas and TV coverage -- let's not forget about the ladies. They have a tournament going on too and, like the boys, some of these girls are really good. It's a shame more isn't written and said about them, so few people seem to show up at the arenas, and what little TV coverage they get is on an obscure cable station or two.

Sure, the boys are taller, stronger, can run faster, jump higher, and they often feature a lot of dunks. But the girls -- at least those of the really good schools -- have something else going on. The ultimate in fundamentals and overall team play. No, one won't see too many dunks in a girls' game, but they make up for it in other ways. Their discipline, precision, and how they execute as a team is a joy to watch indeed. Shooting? The girls are just are adept as the boys, even from 3 point range. Plus, as a whole, they're a heck of a lot more deadly from the "charity stripe" than their male counterparts. While the boys work on their alley-oops and spectacular dunks in practice, the girls shoot hundreds of free throws -- and it shows. And when you stop and think about it -- which is more important? There might be 8-10 dunks over the course of a game, but there's likely to be at least 30-40 free throws as well. Defensively, the boys have nothing on the girls. The fairer sex long along ago learned how to seamlessly switch coverages in a "man-to-man" defense when picks happen, quickly rotate to the ball, help out on the "weak side" when necessary, or even fall back into a zone if they think it will be more effective against their opponents. It's hardly a bunch of cute little girls with pigtails running around trying to score an occasional basket. The ladies are flat-out good these days, know exactly what they're doing, and are every bit as talented as the men -- though in different ways.

But besides the on-going popularity gap -- there's another huge difference between the ladies and the men when it comes to NCAA tournament hoop time -- at least for now.

The men's field features several teams that could potentially become champions. Certainly no one can discount Florida. They remain the top ranked team in the nation and have looked to be as formidable as ever during their first two tournament games. Many have picked Michigan State and Louisville to meet in the championship game. But Louisville has to get by Kentucky, and MSU by #1 seed Virginia in their bracket. Arizona still lurks in the West, as does under the radar Wisconsin, and who's heard a ping from San Diego State lately? It could even be a team such as Michigan makes another magical run as they did last year.

In other words, it's wide open. A key injury here, a cold shooting night there, those pesky refs botching a critical call at a critical moment -- and anything can happen. Parity is alive and well amongst the boys.

The ladies' tourney would appear to be quite the opposite. Like football back in the days of Bo, Woody, and 3 yards and a cloud of dust, there was Ohio State and Michigan. One of them was going to win the Big 10. The other 8 schools were nothing more than also-rans to fill out schedules.

And this year, it looks to be much the same in NCAA ladies' college hoops. There's the Big 2, and everybody else. UConn, Notre Dame, and the other 62 teams that started the tournament. Either team getting upset before they eventually clash is highly unlikely. This is not meant to be disrespectful to excellent teams such as Stanford, South Carolina, Tennessee, and a few others. But, across the board, the girls haven't yet reached the parity level of the boys.

This could be attributed to a couple factors. Much like John Wooden's UCLA teams of yesteryear that won so many championships, once a school becomes known as "elite", the bluest of the blue chip prep stars want to go there. Success breeds even more success and the beat goes on. And unlike the boy collegiate super-stars that often jump early for the riches of the NBA, the college girls typically stay for their full 4-5 years of eligibility. It only makes sense. Even if they're good enough to "go pro", no such millions await them in the WNBA. The minimum salary in that league is $36K, the max $105K. The average -- $72K. In the whole scheme of things, not a bad wage, but they won't be buying yachts, mansions, and Lamborghinis either. Better to stay and get their degree just in case the pro roundball thing doesn't work out. This also has the built in advantage of upper-classwomen tutoring the new kids on the block to make them even better along the way. And again, the beat goes on.

Still, methinks this year's tournament is all about Notre Dame, UConn and 62 wannabes. The Lady Huskies versus the Lady Irish. The insufferably pompous mini-Italian stallion Geno, versus the equally insufferable pseudo fashion plate and whiny Miss Muffet.

Taking a closer look at those teams -- and the coaches -- next time. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Michigan/Michigan State NCAA roads

Much is made of "seedings", different brackets, and which teams have the easier/tougher road to advance deep in the NCAA hoops tournament.

Though starting off in different brackets (UM in the Midwest, and MSU in the East), both teams had it relatively easy in their first two rounds.

UM easily dispatched lowly Wofford, then cruised to a win over over-matched Texas. Next up, they go to Indianapolis for the regionals to face Tennessee. The Volunteers are a decent team, but shouldn't pose a huge problem for the Wolverines. Also, UM greatly benefited when Mercer -- MERCER? -- knocked out Duke in their opening game. The Blue Devils would have been a much more formidable opponent than Tenn, but those things occasionally happen. Assuming UM gets by UT, that's when things start to get dicey. They'd face the winner of the Bluegrass Shootout, which will be decided on the same day between Louisville and Kentucky. Though Kentucky has been flying under the radar, give them credit for what they've already accomplished. They knocked off a pretty good Kansas St. team, then turned around and toppled #1 seed Wichita St. That's a pretty tough road so far. Conversely, many have picked #4 seed, and defending national champion, Louisville to make it all the way to the final game. Either way, Michigan would have their hands full in such an Elite 8 contest.

Michigan State has had it even easier so far. The first two games against Delaware and Harvard? Sure, it could be argued that upsets can happen, but it could also certainly be argued the Spartans have enjoyed a stroll in the park through those first two games. However, MSU's first big test comes a game earlier than UM's. They have to face #1 seed Virginia in the Sweet Sixteen. The cakewalks are over. At that, this should be a very interesting game. Amongst other things, MSU is known for its defensive tenacity. They hound the other team all over the court and nothing comes easy against the Spartans. But the Cavaliers feature the #1 ranked defense in the entire country. They typically make life very difficult for the other team as well. Something's gotta give here. It will likely be shooting percentages -- on both sides. If both teams hold true to form -- the final score might more resemble that of a high school game, rather than big time college basketball.

Idle thought: Michigan, in the Midwest bracket, played its first two games in Milwaukee. OK, beer city is definitely in the "midwest". But remember, Michigan State is in the East bracket. So how is it they came to play their first two games in Spokane, Washington? I'm no geography professor, but I'm pretty sure Spokane's about as west as you can get on the continental United States. Meanwhile, a few teams in the South bracket played their first games in Buffalo. And just what, exactly, is Buffalo south of? Canada, barely.

No wonder they call this March Madness.

Friday, March 21, 2014

March madness indeed

Turns out, the Eastern Kentucky basketball team has a  6' 8" forward named Eric Stutz. They call their team the Colonels. Huh. Kentucky Colonels. Why do I have this sudden hankering for chicken with 11 secret herbs and spices? Regardless, yours truly would submit the good Mr. Stutz went to the wrong school. He should have gone to Cincinnati to play hoops. Then we would have a modern-day Stutz Bearcat. How cool would that be?

Remember Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State? It's hard to forget him given how much the media is fawning over him in their attempt to recreate his image since he assaulted that fan at Texas Tech a while back. Not to say I told you so -- but I told you so. It's like that incident never happened. Look to the right side of this page and click on "Repackaging Marcus Smart".

At any rate, during OSU's opening tournament game against Gonzaga, Smart benefited from a phantom foul call which resulted in him getting 3 free throws. Up went the first one. A brick. For some reason, all 4 of his teammates on the floor gave him congratulatory hand slaps. Free throw #2 was away and -- another brick. Another round of high and low fives. On his last attempt -- Brick III. The way the propaganda has been going, I was half expecting Smart would receive a standing ovation. Nevertheless, since Smart seems so prone to throwing up bricks from the charity stripe, it could be argued that, like Stutz above, he went to the wrong school as well. Much better had he attended George Mason. Those masons would have taught him how to get his bricks in order. As an added benefit, masons have secret handshakes. They would never lower themselves to the glad-handing public folly the OSU Cowboys exhibited on the court.

In a very impressive effort to offer fans wrap-around coverage of all the NCAA hoops action, there are 4 different TV stations covering games. Mighty CBS, and cable outlets TBS, TNT, and truTV. If one can click back and forth fast enough with their remote, they can pretty well keep up with all the action. Then again, prolonged exposure to such activity comes with its risks as well. Trying to simultaneously keep pace with a dozen or so useless stat-spouting screaming announcers, who all seem to jabber just a little bit faster than your average MSNBC host, could easily result in many viewers completely losing whatever sanity they had before they started clicking. Imagine. Millions of self-flogging naked maniacs running wild in the streets holding up posters of their God -- Dick Vitale. This could get ugly indeed, so proceed at your own peril, lest you wind up being one of them.

At that, all 4 broadcasts seem to have something in common. Cinderella teams. Cinderella this and Cinderella that. Cinderellas seem to be everywhere. Granted, the NCAA hoops tournament has been called the Big Dance, and (no pun intended) could even be considered a "ball". But there was only one Cinderella at the ball in the original story, normally credited to French author Charles Perrault, way back in 1697. This modern day Cinderella thing is getting out of control. Way too many of them. They need to get together, pick one "Cinderella", and stick to it. Whoever that team is better hope they don't have to play a late game that goes past midnight, else they might collectively turn into pumpkinheads, kind of like Charles Barkley. And how scary would that be?

Wow. Duke got knocked off by Mercer in their opening game? The Blue Devils were exorcised by Macon's finest bacon. North Carolina was going down to Providence. Quick, somebody call the FBI, Homeland Security and the US Army Corps of engineers. Obviously, some dastardly villain has mined Tobacco Road when nobody was looking. They were all probably too busy clicking to pay attention to such things.

What's that? The Tar Heels came back to barely squeak out a win at the end?

OK. Nevermind. Tobacco Road is safe for another day. Whew. That was a close one.

Yep, NCAA hoops can be fun to watch in more ways than one.

Now please excuse me. I have to go put the finishing touches on my Dick Vitale placard. Given a few thousand more clicks over the weekend and the weather getting a tad warmer -- one never knows when they might snap and get this insatiable urge to...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Warren Buffett's billion dollar hoop challenge

Most have likely heard of multi-billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffet's NCAA hoop challenge. Though the offer technically originates with Quicken Loans (and who knows about that pesky Dan Gilbert? He hasn't seemed quite right since his Cleveland Cavaliers lost LeBron James a while back),Warren Buffett himself is guaranteeing it. And the good Mr. Buffett is definitely a man of his word.

Fill out a perfect bracket, and win a billion bucks. If you plan on living for at least another 40 years, ou can take it in $25 million annual installments, or a lump sum of $500,000,000. Kind of like winning a mega state lotto. And then the feds and state will pound you for taxes, and thousands of people you never knew will all of a sudden be your best friends in dire need, and -- well -- you get it. All that aside, it sounds great. Just one problem. The odds.

According to a Duke mathematics professor, the odds of filling out a perfect bracket are 148 pentillion to one. In layman's terms, that translates to one chance in 148,000,000,000,000,000,000. Or as the Dukie number cruncher said, about the same odds as finding a single atom of a single snowflake in a blizzard. Put another way, about the same shot the Detroit Lions have of winning the Super Bowl. Sorry, couldn't resist. Ahem.

However, the professor said this stat was based on picking games at random. Like flipping a coin. If one is somewhat knowledgeable about college hoops (and isn't everybody a genius at this time of year?) the odds get considerably better. Only a billion to one. The same amount as the potential payout.

I'm telling ya, Warren Buffett now only knows what he's doing financially, he's a helluva fair guy. And charitable? Off the charts when it comes to good causes. The list is long. Amongst other things, he and his son Howie are now donating millions to help save the rhinos in Africa from poachers. One of the greatest attributes of my buddy Warren is, despite his wealth and fame, he never lost sight of the common man in need. Just last week, he came over to dog-sit my yorkies when I was called away on urgent business of my own. Right.

Nevertheless, it doesn't look like anybody is going to collect on the billion dollar gambit this year. For that matter, since bracketology even started decades ago, with all the millions or billions of people that have filled them out during that time -- nobody has picked the winners of all the games. EVER.

To boot, the cannon-fodder "play-in" games aside, consider what's already happened on merely the first real day of the tournament. Ohio State apparently became the first casualty. As a #6 seed, the mighty Buckeyes went down to #11 seed Dayton. Ouch. So much for in-state bragging rights. It was projected that roughly 81% of all brackets crashed and burned with how that single game turned out.

#12 Harvard knocked off #5 Cincinnati. That probably trashed at least another 10% of the brackets. In somewhat of a stunner, #12 North Dakota State just kicked #5 Oklahoma to the curb. How many more potentially perfect brackets fell by the wayside? Likely a whole bunch.

And this is just the first day of the tournament. Other somewhat surprising results are sure to follow in the next few days. The guess here is that by the time the tourney has merely whittled itself down to the "Sweet 16", nary a perfect bracket anywhere will still be alive.

No fool, that Warren Buffett. I dare say his billion is quite safe this year. Besides, the money is better spent elsewhere than giving it to some couch tater that lucked up and nailed the bracket. He'd likely go money crazy and probably wind up doing something stupid that cost him his life. Saving the rhinos and the like are far nobler causes indeed.

As for the Lions mentioned above hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy? Warren Buffett may be a financial genius and philanthropist extraordinaire, but even with all his billions, the man has his limitations when it comes to performing miracles......

The bastardization of NCAA hoops

March (and April) madness is upon us again. Certainly everyone would agree the NCAA basketball tournament is one of the greatest annual spectacles in American sports. From the President and millionaire CEOs on down to every day folk, it seems most get caught up in it. Brackets here, brackets there, brackets everywhere. It's like one is hopelessly out of touch with society if they don't fill out a bracket. God bless them and different strokes, but yours truly has never bought into that theory.

I've never filled out a bracket and, as the years go on, contrary to public opinion, it makes less and less sense to me. Most would likely say the NCAA (mens) hoops tourney keeps getting better and better. It's growing, there are now "play-in" games to involve even more schools, and everybody theoretically has a chance at glory. To all of which I say one word -- balderdash.

It's not getting better, it's getting more watered down. Teams from schools with ZERO chance of becoming champions are allowed to compete. Along that line, consider the terms we have not only come to accept, but hold in high esteem.

"The Sweet Sixteen". "The Elite 8". And the Holy Grail itself -- the "Final Four". Disregarding the first two, even the Final Four only means a team made it to the semis. While a notable accomplishment, nowhere else in the sports world is it trumpeted to the heavens like it is in NCAA hoops. And let's face it, in the end, three of them have to lose anyway and few will remember they were even there. Quick -- besides Louisville and Michigan in the national title game last year -- who were the two teams they defeated in the semis to get there? Bet you don't remember. See what I mean?

But back to the point of being watered down. A team such as Cal-Poly made it into the tournament while going 10-19 in an already pitifully weak Big West conference. But by improbably winning their conference tournament, they got invited to the dance. In a "play-in" game, they defeated an even sorrier Texas Southern team. Guess what's going to happen when Cal-Poly squares off against #1 seed Wichita State? Try red-headed stepchild. Woodshed. Beatdown. Blowout.

Sure, such schools will collect a check, and get brief national TV exposure while travelling to a place they've likely never been before. Besides the players and staff -- throw in the moms and dads, cheerleaders, and student body faithful that can somehow afford to attend such games -- and this is a big deal -- at least to them. I get that.

Yes, I understand the money thing about filling arenas all over the country. It's a big cha-ching in several different ways. Yet the fact remains, while the tournament is getting bigger, it's also getting more watered down. And that doesn't make it better. I would humbly submit it makes it worse.

The NCAA hoops tourney is supposed to be about the best squaring off against each other after the regular season is done. Instead of expanding the field, they should shrink it. Forget 68 "qualifiers". 32 teams would be more than enough. The Top 25 in the season ending polls, plus 7 more "at large" bids to round out the field. And who's kidding who? No team outside the Top 25 has a prayer to win the championship anyway. If it's supposed to be about the best -- then MAKE it about the best.

Big schools with huge enrollments would dominate, you say? Not necessarily. Look at Duke. They're a relatively small private school. But somehow they built powerhouse basketball programs. On the other end of the spectrum are some enormous public universities like Alabama, which has certainly been dominant in football -- but whose basketball team might well get run out of the building by a not-so-good team such as Cal Poly. Funny how those things come to be.

Some of us old-timers can remember when the NHL consisted of just 21 teams. At the end of the regular season -- 16 of them made it into the playoffs. In other words, a team had to be a bottom feeder NOT to make it into the playoffs. Sure, it was all about filling arenas at inflated ticket prices -- but objectively speaking --  how dumb was that? Speaking of being a geezer, yours truly can remember the heady days of when the National League champion faced the American League champion in the World Series. No playoffs. Finish first in the regular season in your league to advance to the Fall Classic, or go home. Nowadays, there's 3 division winners in both leagues plus a "wild card" or two -- or is that three?

And look around. The NFL is considering expanding their playoff format even further. The PGA tour touts it's Fed-Ex Cup. NASCAR has its ten race "Chase" at the end of the season. If they wanted to get serious about it, only the Top Ten cars from the regular season would be allowed in those races. Whoever finishes last in the first race is out, and so on, until the final race only has two cars. But of course it will never work that way, because like the above examples, there's too much money to be made by allowing the also-rans to clog up the field as well. Why? Deep pocketed sponsors, who don't care about competitiveness, as long as they get their name and product out there.

The moral of the story? From NCAA hoops to the rest of the sports world -- pitting the best against the best at the end of a season has been phased out. Instead, it's been bastardized in favor of the almighty buck.

And call me what you will -- a purist, old school, or just plain retarded -- but I don't much care for what all this has come to.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The problem with Jim Irsay

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay currently finds himself in hot water. He got busted for DUI, possession of controlled substances, and is potentially facing four felony counts. Very serious matters indeed.

Of course, Irsay hasn't been convicted of anything yet, and time will tell how all that plays out. At that, there are many that demand Irsay be punished immediately. There can be little doubt the historical "presumed innocent until proven guilty" foundation of the American justice system has become lost in the prosecutorial shuffle/propaganda of recent times. Once charged, the masses automatically assume the defendant is guilty. We see it all the time, but that certainly doesn't make it right. Yet, for the sake of hypothetical argument, let's assume Irsay is guilty of the crimes he has been charged with.

The justice system aside, this would seem to pose a major dilemma for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell rode into town as a "law and order" type Commish. Over the years, he's come down hard on various players for various infractions, be it on the field or off. He's handed down fines and suspensions galore in an attempt to "clean up" the game. Holding players to high standards of professonalism is a good thing. Along that line, Goodell has been consistent with holding coaches and front office personnel to a higher standard yet. When they step out of line, they get rightfully smacked -- as it should be.

But here's the problem. Jim Irsay is an owner. One of 32 that appointed Goodell as their league representative in the first place. Technically, he still reports to them. Let's not forget, if enough owners become displeased with Roger's performance, they can fire him as well. So they are no doubt paying close attention as to what sort of punishment their own sheriff attempts to hand down on one of their brethren. What is appropriate to placate the masses -- and how much is too much lest one of them find themselves in a similar future predicament? This could be a slippery slope, and Goodell certainly realizes a few different forces are at work here.

Many scribes and talking heads are clamoring for Goodell to come down even harder on Irsay BECAUSE he is an owner, and should be held to higher standards yet. That all sounds well and good in principle, but the most relevant question remains -- just what exactly can he do?

Fine Irsay? OK. How much? A million, two million, five million? Those sound like big numbers until one realizes Irsay's reputed worth is north of $1.5 billion dollars. Even a whopping $15 million dollar fine would only take away a paltry 1% of his assets. Chump change. He doles out more for some of his employees (players) than that.

Suspend him? That would seem to be problematic as well. Goodell may wield a lot of authority, but he hardly has the power to tell the owner of a company he is no longer allowed to run it as he sees fit. Just a guess -- but methinks the other owners would not approve of such a thing being allowed to happen.

As long as we're in the world of hypotheticals -- what if Goodell attempted to both fine and suspend Irsay, but the owner refused to acknowledge either? What recourse would the Commish have at that point to enforce his edicts? Goodell is a Commissioner, not a judge, so jail time is not an option.

More drastic measures such as removing Irsay as an owner? Hey, this is a guy that invested hundreds of millions of dollars to buy a team in the first place. You can't just kick him to the curb.

Forcing the Colts to forfeit games until Irsay complied with punishments handed down by the league office? Good luck with that. Not only would Colts' ticket holders slap the NFL with a massive class action lawsuit, they'd likely be joined by thousands of fans from other cities around the league that were deprived of their games because the Colts weren't allowed to show up. The good Mr. Goodell would not only be out as Commish -- he'd be lucky to escape jail time himself. Let's just say that's not a viable option either.

But let's take another look at the big picture. Jim Irsay got busted for DUI and having a few "unauthorized" prescription drugs in his vehicle. Even if found guilty of all four pending felony counts -- do you really think a billionaire is going to wind up doing a stretch at the Gray Bar Hilton over such a thing? Color me doubtful.

Right about now, I'd bet Roger Goodell is having a harder time sleeping than Jim Irsay. The Commish definitely has a problem on his hands, with no easy solutions in sight.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out......

Words from our sponsors

This whole bracketology thing is out of control. Over and over and over we'll see or hear so-called "experts" prognosticate on the various possibilities. Enough already. It's not World War III -- it's a basketball tournament. And these clowns don't know who's going to win any more than arm-chair point guards like you and I anyway. That's why they play the games. Good grief -- given the continuous loop droning, even some commercials started to get interesting.

Wow. A burger, fries, large soft drink, and an ice cream sundae for only 5 bucks? When I win my long overdue Pulitzer -- forget Disneyworld. Been there, done that. I'm going to Dairy Queen. That's a helluva deal.

Uh-oh. That pesky Joe Theisman is back talking about his prostate problems again. Well gee, Joe, if you're going to put all that out there to the viewing public while hawking a product for a few bucks, then why not go whole hog? Throw in an HD video of your latest colonoscopy so we can all vomit in unison. Then again, this Super Beta stuff he's advertising appears to be an amazing product. By him merely popping just a few pills a day, not only does Joe get relief, even his wife feels more refreshed and younger. Hey. If one can take some pills and they also rejuvenate your significant other, who is not partaking -- that's some powerful stuff indeed. That has to rank right up there with (I Love) Lucy's "Vita-meata-vegamin" and Larry, Moe and Curly's "Brighto".

And of course, there's the missing jetliner over in Malaysia, or wherever. De plane, de plane. What happened to de plane? For the last 11 days and counting, CNN has been droning on about it seemingly 24/7. News anchors ask the same dumb questions over and over again of even more "experts" as to what could have possibly happened. Yet at the end of every segment -- they always arrive at the same conclusion. Nobody knows. So what's the point? Here's a novel idea. Come back when you DO know something. In the meanwhile, quit wasting the viewers' time with all the clueless chatter. It's enough to make a guy's prostate go into spasms. And then he might wind up having to buy some of Joe's meds. Hmmm. Could a massive prostate pill conspiracy be afoot? And where was Theisman when that plane disappeared anyway? Maybe he's behind all this. Check out his alibi. It makes about as much sense as anything else they've come up with so far.

Dang. Just caught the tail end of another one. Somebody's offering an 800 number for a windows diagnosis. So what's to diagnose? Mine are made of glass, which comes in real handy when one wants to look outside. They'll get my attention when they offer to come over with Windex and paper towels to clean them for maybe 5 bucks. That would be even better than the Dairy Queen special. When the snow finally melts, perhaps I could get them to pick up the sticks in the backyard and clean the gutters as well, for an extra five. Or maybe they were talking about a different kind of windows. Beats me.

I sure wish that basketball tournament would hurry up and start. All this stuff can make you crazy(er) after a while.....

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sex, Dick Vitale, and Michigan State



OOH BABY!!!!!!!

Now you decide. Was yours truly having sex while writing this post, or did I get caught up in Dick Vitale mode while watching college hoops? Answer below.

The NCAA "committee", which is just a tad more secretive than the CIA on steroids, has made their selections to fill out the brackets. As usual, some higher seedings appear logical, others are head-scratchers, and the lower half of the teams are just there to give the big boys somebody to play in the early rounds. Basically cannon fodder to fill an arena somewhere. Such schools collect a big check, and get brief national TV exposure, but their teams are also in line for a serious dose of shock and awe that would have made Dick Cheney proud -- if anybody could find him. Sorry. Ahem.

Yet something extrordinary has occurred before the Big Dance even starts. The smartest people on the entire planet -- utter geniuses (sometimes known as ESPN analysts) -- have already weighed in and are unanimous in their opinion of which team will cut down the nets as champions when the final whistle blows.

Michigan State.

Far be it from yours truly to question the collective Nostradamesque wisdom of 5 obviously superior minds, but MSU being their unanimous choice is a bit of a head scratcher itself -- for some of us common folks with inferior intellects.

After all, the Spartans go into the tournament as merely a #4 seed. Given there's four different sub-brackets of 16 teams each, that means the above mentioned "committee" has deemed MSU to be somewhere between the 13th and 16th best overall team in the tournament. Further, that would roughly correspond with their current national ranking.

But before the official madness even begins, all the "experts" are picking Michigan State to win it all. Interesting indeed.

Memo to Tom Izzo and the Spartan players. Though you will be collectively under a microscope for the next three weeks, with your every move analyzed and dissected, and though you will be considered a disappointment -- and likely ripped by the talking heads -- if you wind up anything short of champions --- no pressure.

Answer to original question.

Both. Nothing like getting it on while doing a little writing, and Dick Vitale has a way of pumping a guy up -- if you know what I mean.

Just kidding.......

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Michigan hoops and what-ifs?

It's kind of ironic when one thinks about it. In a 2013 NCAA preseason poll, the Univ of Mich men's basketball team checked in at #8. Through the course of the regular season, the Wolverines would rise, fall, and rise again. And in the end, they wound up just about right back where they started. #8.

Yet few would doubt that Michigan has had a very successful season. They swept arch-rival Michigan State in their two regular season meetings, and cruised to the Big 10 crown. As this is written, UM and MSU will square off for a third time tomorrow to decide the Big 10 conference tournament championship. Will it be a 3-peat or will MSU finally exact some revenge? Only the shadow knows, but it should be a great game.

But just for kicks, let's ponder some what-ifs. Remember, UM made a somewhat surprising run all the way to the NCAA championship game last year, before bowing out to Louisville, which most had thought all year long was the class of the field. At that, it was hardly a blow-out. The Wolverines gave the Cardinals all they could handle for most of the game, only to come up a bit short in the second half and eventually lose 82-76.

Following that, star players Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. declared for the NBA draft and were both snapped up in the first round. Hardaway currently plays for the mediocre at best NY Knicks, while Burke has faded into obscurity toiling away for the woeful Utah Jazz. But it's hard to fault either. After all, they're both multi-millionaires doing what they always dreamed of doing. Playing in the NBA.

But back to the what-ifs. Both Burke and Hardaway could have come back to Michigan to play another year. Given what UM has already accomplished this year without them -- how good might they have been WITH them? Further, current UM big man Mitch McGary, a star player himself, was lost early this season due to back surgery. Throw him in the same mix, and Michigan might well have been unbeatable this year -- right?

Not so fast. It doesn't always work that way. In fact, though it seems illogical, sometimes it can even be counter-productive.

How so? One word. Chemistry. No sport requires more inter-action between its players than big-time basketball. Sure, talent is a necessary commodity, and star players are a great asset, but only if they can mesh well with their teammates. One superstar may take a team a long way, but it's rare such a team will get over the hump to win a championship. Ask Lebron about his Cleveland years. Or Larry Bird while at Indiana State.

In Michigan's current case, if Burke, Hardaway, and McGary were still on the floor -- one thing is certain. They would be a completely different ball club. But all that much better? Maybe. But maybe not as good either. To boot, their absence has allowed other players to step forward and show their stuff.

And who could argue with what UM has achieved thus far this year? Team chemistry can be a funny thing, and raw individual talent doesn't necessarily guarantee long term success. Excuse the cliches, but when a basketball team is a well-oiled machine, hitting on all cylinders, and every player on the floor knows where his teammates are going to be and what they're going to do next before they even do it -- they can go far. Michigan would seem to be a prime example of that. Yes, guard Nik Stauskus has emerged as one of the best pure shooters in the country, but few would consider him to be a superstar. What Michigan has right now is chemistry. And it's working.

There's other examples, even at the NBA level. Most would consider Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers a superstar. Earlier this season, when he was still rehabbing from an injury, the Lakers were somewhat holding their own. But when Kobe came back front and center, their record got worse.

Same with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. He's a superstar in his own right, but while he was out with an injury of his own, the Thunder were rolling everybody. When Westbrook came back, they started to lose games most thought they should easily win.

In both cases, yours truly would submit the teams had established chemistry without them, and putting them back in the mix upset the proverbial apple cart.

Kobe's nearing the end of his career and the Lakers are terrible anyway for lack of talent elsewhere. You gotta have at least SOME.

Yet will the Thunder be better with Westbrook than without in the long run? Of course. Eventually. Once the chemistry gets right again. But it takes time. And in the meanwhile, other cohesive teams will take advantage of any such crack in the armor of an opponent.

Oops, it now IS tomorrow. Gotta get some sleep. Big game to watch today.

Go Blue, or is that Go Green?

Know what? It doesn't much matter who wins this game. It's not like anybody's going to get eliminated. Just another trophy that will quickly be forgotten.

The REAL Big Dance starts next week. Then it matters. Who finished where in the Big 10 will be old, and quite irrelevant news.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Phil Jackson. Quite a guy

So Phil Jackson just got hired by owner James Dolan to be the next president of the NY Knicks? I'll get back to that.

PJ himself has had an amazing life when it comes to basketball. And there can be no doubt that the man has certainly been a winner.

Even as a player for the same Knicks over four decades ago, Jackson was a part of two NBA championship teams (1970 and 1973 -- though in the former he didn't actually play, due to being out following back surgery). Going back even further, he led his Williston, North Dakota high school team to two state basketball titles in the early '60s.

But in the minds of most, Phil Jackson remains primarily known as the guy with 11 NBA championship rings as a head coach, the most of all time -- 2 more than the legendary Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics.

Sure, despite how savvy they may be, or how big their egos or cigars, coaches can't win championships without talented players. Auerbach had Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Tommy Heinsohn, and a couple Jones boys that were pretty good too along the way.

Likewise, Jackson's teams never seemed to be lacking in talent either. During his run with the Chicago Bulls, he had a couple guys named Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, amongst others. Still, he was there for 9 years (1989-1998) and won 6 NBA championships. No matter how you slice it or dice it -- that's an amazing record. Many teams are lucky to get to the playoffs at a .667% clip, let alone win championships.

However, Jackson and then Bulls GM Jerry Krause didn't exactly see eye-to eye. Major internal friction was afoot and it was only a matter of time before somebody had to go. It was Jackson.

After a year off, PJ landed in la-la-land, home of the LA Lakers. There, he would inherit another couple of superstars named Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal -- amongst others. He'd fallen into another rose garden. Five more NBA championships would be had in the next decade. Very impressive stuff indeed. On top of that, while making $6 million a year, the highest in NBA coaching history -- he was shacking up with the billionaire owner's daughter. Does a gig get any sweeter than that?

Alas, gigantic egos had been busy clashing in glitzville all along, the Lakers suddenly looked to be trending downwards, and Jackson bowed out after the 2010 season.

Fast forward to the present. Jackson's going home in a way, to become the president of the team he once played for.

But this time around he's not taking over a team already loaded with talent. There are certainly big egos in the Big Apple, but there's even bigger dysfunction. That team's been a train wreck on more than one front for quite a while.

So here's the deal. If Jackson, at 69 years old, can somehow wave his magical Zen master wand and turn a grossly overpaid clown act into a champion, then he should be awarded a much higher honor.

Pope Benedict should put him on the fast track to sainthood, because Jackson will have been a miracle worker indeed. Or at the very least sprinkle some holy water over Phil and shoot him out of a Vatican howitzer. Not sure how all that works, but I've heard being cannonized is a step in the process.

And just think. If the Knicks owner holds true to form, Jackson will likely get a yearly salary that will make his once measly $6 million from the Lakers look like chump change.

Plus, since the recent passing of Lakers' owner Jerry, if he can talk his daughter Jeannie Buss into walking down the aisle to be wed in holy matrimony, Jackson might be a position where he could conceivably call the shots on both the Lakers and the Knicks at the same time. One overtly and the other behind the scenes -- or is that under the sheets? An interesting scenario.

Supposedly, Jackson has spelled out his life's philosophy in a book titled "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance". The past strategy of yours truly in that regard has been to keep a trickle charger on it all winter long, then say a short prayer just before trying to get the old Harley started in the spring for yet another riding season.

Obviously, there's something to this Zen thing. I think I'm going to read that book.

Couldn't hurt.

Rethinking Pete Rose

Writer Kostya Kennedy recently penned a very interesting article on Pete Rose for Sports Illustrated. It's now 25 years, a quarter century, that Rose has been banned from baseball, keeping him ineligible for the Hall of Fame. Should his exile continue -- perhaps forever -- or is it time to let bygones be bygones and finally welcome him back? Let's take a look back at basically what happened.

It was certainly no secret Rose liked to gamble, even during his playing days. In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with that. It's legal and lots of players from different sports visited casinos to take their chances. Still do.

A big issue was whether Rose bet on baseball itself. Back in those days, the establishment of Major League Baseball regarded anybody (particularly one of their own) placing wagers on their sacred games in somewhat the same fashion as Joe McCarthy did when he went after the "commie sympathizers" back in the 1950s. Let's just say they were paranoid.

In hindsight, of course, most of this was nothing more than nonsense. Propaganda foisted upon a gullible public in an attempt to whip them into a frenzy, all under false pretenses orchestrated by people in power for their own continued benefit. BTW, look around. A lot of that is still going on these days too.

A baseball player or manager betting on a game, even back then, shouldn't have been a big deal -- unless they were in a position to affect the outcome of that particular game. In other words, if a guy plays for Team A, but he bets on a game between Team B and Team C, over which he has no possible influence, then no harm, and no foul. It's just a bet. Yet ever since the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal -- almost a century ago! -- MLB will get their bowels in an uproar over the slightest hint of anything involving gambling. (It should be noted that when the evidence finally all came out -- Shoeless Joe Jackson was officially exonerated of any wrong-doing, and Joe professed his innocence until the day he died in 1951 -- but he remains banned from his rightful place in the Hall of Fame to this day. Make of that what you will.)

But in Rose's case, the kicker was him betting on his own team, while he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds back in 80s. What was worse was he denied it for a long time. He lied. As the evidence continued to trickle out, it eventually became apparent that Rose had indeed bet on his team. He was hit, no pun intended.

Thing is, when all was said and done, it also became apparent that Rose only ever bet on his team to win. Had he bet on them to lose, this would have been a whole different can of nefarious worms. But he didn't.

Nevertheless, there are those that say that even if Pete was betting on his team to win any particular game, he might still have abused his managerial authority for his immediate financial gain, at the detriment of the team in the long run.

How so? Like Kennedy said in the SI article, maybe he would overwork a particularly hot relief pitcher that needed rest to win a certain game. An interesting theory, and entirely possible.

But as Kennedy further pointed out, even a relief pitcher himself in that situation at the time, one Rob Murphy, a left-hander, refuted such a notion. Though making the most appearances of any reliever over the 1987 and 1988 seasons (163, which equates to about every other game), Murphy obviously saw things otherwise.

According to Murphy -- "The idea that Pete might have overused me or overused some other pitcher I was in the pen with, I never saw that at all. I'd just about say it was a ridiculous idea. If anything, I wanted to pitch even more times than I got in".

So what does all that add up to? While betting on his team -- only to win -- his own players at the time say he did nothing out of the ordinary as a manager. And if there's ever been anyone in the entire world of sports that was driven to win more than Pete Rose -- yours truly is certainly open to suggestions.

But yes, Pete was dead wrong when he lied about it. However, MLB ran a scam on him as well. If only he would finally fess up, they said, it would be taken under consideration. He did, and they gave him a life sentence anyway. If Rose had continued to lie and stonewall, he couldn't possibly have wound up worse off.

So 25 years later, here we are. The all-time hits leader in the history of the game is still denied induction into the Hall of Fame. Is that right for what he did or didn't do? Opinions certainly vary.

The majority of the public wants Rose to get his plaque in Cooperstown -- as do most MLB players -- from Rose's time to the present. Yet there remain baseball "purists" that still object on "principle". Besides the league itself, for the most part these are "old schoolers", particularly baseball writers, who will forever cling to the notion that baseball should be a chaste, innocent, virginesque type of game. These are the same folks that overwhelming elected Gaylord Perry, the reputed master of the spitball, to the Hall of Fame. Along with a boatload of drunks and adulterers. Ty Cobb was known to be a very mean-spirited sort of guy, and allegedly once even killed a man, but while Rose surpassed Cobb's decades old hit total -- alas -- he bet on his team to win. Guess who's in the Hall and who's not? Am I the only one that sees something seriously wrong with this picture?

Take all this in the context of baseball's infamous "steroid era", which was beginning just about the same time Rose was hanging up his spikes. Once sacred stats, such as Hank Aaron's career HR total and Roger Maris' one year mark were not only broken, but obliterated. People like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who would otherwise have been slam-dunks into the Hall of Fame may or may not ever get there (though neither has ever been found officially guilty of substance abuse -- but that's a column for another day). In the meantime, Pete Rose has twisted in the wind for 25 years. Only recently, since the PED mania has died down, is his "case" finally being reviewed. Well, it's about time.

As Kennedy said, Rose was banished for the incalculable damage he MIGHT have done to the foundation of the game. Steroid users are reviled for the damage they actually did.

There's a difference.

A big one.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Weird stuff on the Internet

At times stuff that pops up on the Net sometimes is somewhere between making one want to say, "shut up, stupid" or "damn right". Here's a few examples:

Judge Judy has recently filed a lawsuit because some dude dared to use clips of her show to promote his own business. She finds it offensive. Nevermind the shrewish pseudo-judge has made millions by being highly insulting to everyone who's appeared in her TV kangaroo courtroom over the years -- she just won't tolerate this. Three words to Judith. Shut up, stupid.

Kobe Bryant is front and center speaking his own pseudo wisdom about the woeful plight of the last place LA Lakers. Kobe's been shut down for yet another season due to yet another leg injury (while making a whopping $24 million), but somehow the self-professed Black Mamba seems to think he's turned into Confucius. Kobe say this. Kobe say that. Kobe solve problem. Kobe need same three words as Judy. Shut up, stupid.

Some reporter got whacked in the head by a woman swinging her purse. Hey, when a person says they don't want to talk to a reporter, but the newshounds persist on dogging their target with incessant questions, while sticking a microphone in their face with a cameraperson filming everything a few feet away -- and they've already been told to back off -- then they deserve to get whacked. Damn right.

A lady in a New York restaurant found a lizard head in her salad. That's scary. What could possibly be worse than that? Donald Trump's head popping up through the lettuce and talking to her. That would be downright terrifying. Damn right. Then again, one could have the pleasure of telling the Donald what so many have likely wanted to say for years..... Yep, you got it. Shut up, stupid.

Alas. Amy and Matt Roloff have separated after 26 years. Just one question. Who the hell are Amy and Matt Roloff and why should anybody care? Thousands of couples split up every week. Wake me up if Michelle kicks Barack to the curb in front of the White House, which seems to be a bit of a misnomer itself in recent years. To the person that put this on the Net as supposedly big news -- shut up, stupid.

A cop gave a 2-year old girl in her toy car a $4 dollar ticket for improperly operating her vehicle. Yes, the ticket was real. The cops think it's funny, but besides the story being beamed world-wide, that little girl's name just went into various law enforcement databases. Damn right, or shut up stupid don't apply. That's not funny -- it's outrageous.

Kind of like this article, but I couldn't think of anything else. And yeah -- I'm pretty sure I know what you're thinking about me right now.

Shut up, stupid.

Well OK, then. I get it.

Damn right.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Golden Tate and Seattle/Detroit

If early reports are accurate, premier cornerback Aqib Talib, formerly of the New England Patriots, signed on with the Denver Broncos. Within hours, the Pats made a move, signing free agent corner Darrelle Revis, whom the Tampa Bay Bucs had released for salary cap purposes.

Though considering his years with the NY Jets it seems like Revis has been around forever, he's only 28. Not exactly young by NFL standards, but hardly a geezer either. Actually, between knowledge of the game and physical ability, Revis is probably at his peak right now. And few would doubt he remains one of the best cover corners in the league. Let's not forget, there's no guarantees in the NFL. There's a reason it stands for Not For Long. Elite franchises like the Broncos and Patriots understand that the window of opportunity to be a champion is very often brief. Things can change a lot in just one year, so plug in the best players you can get and go for it NOW, while you have the chance. In the meantime, the Detroit Lions, who desperately need help in their secondary anyplace they can find it -- sat back and watched the world go by -- again. Or it could be that players like Talib and Revis wouldn't have the slightest interest in going to a team/city like Detroit.

Ah, but the Lions signed free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks. Certainly the Lions were in need of quality help at the wide receiver position -- as they are at most other positions -- but this is an interesting acquistion on a few fronts.

No doubt Calvin "Megatron" Johnson is amongst the best, if not THE best wide receiver in the NFL these days. His height, speed, hands, moves, etc., make him a formidable weapon indeed. Between QB Matthew Stafford and Johnson himself, both have racked up big-time passing stats in the last few years. But as the Lions' record has shown -- one trick pony acts -- despite how good they may be -- aren't nearly enough to get a team anywhere close to championship caliber.

For that matter, Tate would seem to be the polar opposite of Johnson. Calvin's always been a mild-mannered, humble sort of guy. He goes out, does his job at a very high level, and pretty much shies away from the spotlight. Conversely, Golden (a seemingly fitting name) has a rather sizeable ego. Ever since his time at Notre Dame, and on to the NFL, Tate's been more in the mold of Terrell Owens than Barry Sanders. A showboat, a hot-dog, and even a taunter. When he makes a play, it's all about look at me, look at me. How his apparent need for being high-profile will fit into the Lions locker room with Calvin Johnson, the new coaches, and other players remains to be seen.

Yet that begs the biggest question of them all. Why would Tate leave Seattle to come to Detroit?

Seattle is a beautiful thriving town. Detroit is a bankrupt crime-ridden wasteland.

What's even more puzzling is -- why would a guy leave a Super Bowl champion team that looks to remain a major force for years to come -- only to go play for a team that has a losing culture dating back a half century?

Sure, maybe Tate and his agent wangled a few more bucks out of the Lions than the Seahawks were willing to pay him. Or perhaps the Seahawks decided they were better off without him and his ways, and he'll be replaced through the draft which is rich in wide receivers this year. Hard to say.

But leaving Seattle and that team, to come to Detroit and THAT team?

Wow. I know money talks, but c'mon. What's a million or two here and there when it comes to being a winner, and all the glory that comes with it? Talk about going from the penthouse to the outhouse.

The only ring he'll get in Detroit is in his bathtub or on his cell-phone. Bad move, Golden.