Friday, February 27, 2015


It appears that, finally, the fight is going to happen. The date has been set for May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Or maybe it won't. It's still two months away and, given the antics over the last few years, it's far from etched in stone. So maybe the fight goes off, or maybe it doesn't. I wonder what, if any, sort of odds the bookies are giving on THAT?

Sure, if the fight actually happens, it's projected to set an all-time record for pay-per-views and total revenue. The high rollers will pay mega-bucks to see it live at the MGM, and countless millions more will pony up $79.95 or whatever to watch it on TV at home. Sports bars the world over will pack them in like sardines and do a very good night's business, thank you. Cha-ching. It might just be the warring factions in the Middle East and elsewhere will lay down their arms for a day to watch such a spectacle. That would be a good thing.

But you know what? The fight itself really doesn't matter that much anymore. It's WAY more about hype than substance. Floyd Mayweather is 37, and Manny Pacquiao is 36. No matter how one wishes to slice it or dice it, these are two pugilists far beyond their primes.

Five or six years ago, when both were at their peak, every boxing fan wanted to see such a match happen. But it didn't. Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Mayweather. He wanted the lion's share of the purse and demanded Pacquiao undergo rigorous drug testing which, curiously, Floyd never mentioned undergoing himself. Throw in the usual shady promoters, who are basically in the slave trade, other rival factions, stir well, bring to a boil, and what do you get? A heaping pot of BS but no fight -- at least when it mattered.

It's not like either Mayweather or Pacaquiao is hard up for money and needs the fight to happen. Mayweather's total worth has been estimated around $300 million and Pacquiao's circa $120 million. With or without the fight, it's a safe bet both will be able to pay their electric bills at home, and won't be eating ramen noodles anytime soon.

Yep, Mayweather is undefeated and champion of all things welterweight. He's fought a couple decent fighters in recent years, but also cashed in on a few bums. In his spare time, he'll pop up here and there at other high-profile events, sporting and otherwise. He could be well on his way to stardom in the hip-hop world.

Pacquiao hasn't fared as well. He's not only been beaten in the ring, but knocked out. Yet in recent bouts, he seems to have regained his form. In his spare time, he's a Filipino congressman. He could be well on his way to becoming the President of the Phillipines. As a national hero, who would run against this guy in an election?

Then again, between rappers and politicians, it's hard to say which is more deserving of respect these days.

Nevertheless, here's hoping the fight really does happen. Let them both cash in and let the suckers pony up the big bucks to make it possible. The closer we get to the "magical" May 2 date, the higher gear the hype will shift into. Did I say "cha-ching"?

Five years ago this would have been "must-see". But not anymore.

It's just two past their prime fighters getting together for one last mega-payday.

If, as mentioned above, two guys that are 37 and 36 are the best of the 147 pound boxers anywhere in the world, then only one conclusion can be drawn.

The sport of boxing is in more trouble than we knew.

Kind of ironic how it works out. Mayweather is known for being shifty and elusive but Pacquiao is the politician.

Go figure. Only in boxing.

Reggie Bush. Over and out?

The Detroit Lions have cut Reggie Bush. It's really no great surprise. Bush is 30 years old, which is pushing the age limit when it comes to NFL running backs.

Yes, the Lions saved $1.7 million on his salary, but in today's world of insane professional athlete contracts, that's pretty much chump change. So it wasn't about the money.

Though Bush had been hyped as all this and all that since college, it could fairly be said he has been underwhelming in a couple different ways. In other words, between assets and liabilities, he turned out to be about average.

Sure, at USC he was the Big Man On Campus, even winning the Heisman Trophy. But it was later revealed Bush and his family had accepted "improper benefits" while he was a Trojan. Good grief, when he rolled up to the Heisman award ceremony in a limo, did he really think nobody would notice? On that note, years later, as the evidence became overwhelming, Bush would eventually give his Heisman trophy back.

So after the NCAA spooks were done turning over the rocks, USC got smacked with some serious sanctions, which would haunt them for years. But like his head coach Pete Carroll, Bush bailed and was off to the NFL.

Indeed, he would be the second overall pick in the draft, taken by the New Orleans Saints. While in the Big Easy, Bush would even win a Super Bowl. Yet his stats were never eye-popping. He would have his flashes of brilliance here and there, usually against bad teams, but he would also have his fair share of "thud" games when he would be completely stifled. For every great performance he seemed to have a dud. For every touchdown, a fumble. Roughly 4 yards per carry? Again, about average. Yes, he could catch short passes out of the backfield, but any running back who cannot won't be around very long.

But Bush had a problem over the years. Staying healthy. He incurred a variety of injuries and, in the meat market of the NFL, front offices and head coaches aren't overly fond of players making big bucks and taking up a roster spot while being on "sick leave" over and over again.

The Saints eventually wearied of Bush and shipped him off to the Miami Dolphins for a reserve safety.

After a short time in Miami, even the lowly Dolphins were willing to cut him loose.

On to Detroit where he was heralded by Lions' fans and their media as only they can do. Bush was going to put some pop into their running game. The sky's the limit.

But to no objective person's surprise, Reggie was still the same Reggie, only older. In the last couple years in Detroit, he did what he always did. A nice running play here or there, short catches out of the backfield, an occasional fumble, and more time on sick leave for various injuries.

Let's remember this was the Detroit Lions. While QB Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson continue to put up mega-passing stats every year, one of their weaknesses was/is a viable running game. The Lions currently only have three running backs under contract and all of them could be considered average at best. So for them to release Reggie Bush says volumes. If he couldn't stick with THAT team as a running back, even given his "smallish" salary, then who WILL have him?

Here's wishing Reggie Bush the best in wherever the future takes him, but yours truly surmises it might well be into retirement.

A 30 year old running back that couldn't even stick with the Lions and has a long history of being injury prone?

Two words.

Good luck.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Derrick Rose. Superstar or bust?

Chicago Bulls' guard Derrick Rose is a fantastic basketball player -- when he's healthy. And that seems to be the catch. Is he a super-star or perennially damaged goods -- a bust?

There's no questioning Rose's talents and abilities on the court, going all the way back to high school. Yet his past, present, and likely future have been a high-rollers crap shoot. Consider some of his accomplishments -- and stumbles -- along the way.....

By most accounts Rose was an "average" student at a Chicago area high school in a rough neighborhood. Not exactly honor-roll, but his grades were good enough to make him college eligible. Or were they?

He wound up going to Memphis, which was then coached by one John Calipari. That name should sound familiar. Memphis would reach the Final Four before bowing out. Rose would be a "one and done" under Calipari. That should DEFINITELY ring a bell.

As for his high school grades, an investigation later revealed at least one of them had been altered (upgraded) to bolster his college eligibility. No official culprit was ever determined, but Memphis got stuck with sanctions for two reasons. Though Rose himself claimed to be unaware of the hanky panky, entirely possible, he had also insisted one of his brothers be allowed to travel with the team. They had allowed it. That was a no-no. So the season Rose played for Memphis was vacated from the record books -- however much THAT matters.

Then off to the NBA having been drafted #1 overall by the Chicago Bulls. Still at the tender age of 20, Rose would go on to be the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 2008. But he had already experienced some tendinitis in his right knee. Though few paid any attention at the time, this would later prove to be a very bad omen of things to come. A young man in great shape not yet old enough to legally have a beer had tendinitis? That wasn't supposed to happen.

In 2009, Rose had an ankle injury which kept him out of the preseason. OK, anybody can twist their ankle. No biggie but, looking back, it was another sign.

Rose would indeed rebound, no pun intended, over the next couple years. He had a stellar 2010 -2011 season which resulted in him being the NBA MVP. For that matter, still only 22 1/2, Rose was the youngest to ever win the honor. Very heady stuff.

Headier yet was the max contract he signed following that season. $95 million for 5 years. All was well in Chitown and Derrick land. Dare I say the world of guns and Roses? Sorry. Ahem.

But the following year in the playoffs (May of 2012) Rose tore his left ACL. Surgery was required, and his rehab/recuperation time was given as 8-12 months. Obviously, he would not be ready for the start of the 2012-2013 season.

Right on schedule, 10 months later in March 2013, Rose was given a clean bill of health by the doctors. He was good-to-go -- full-tilt. While on that subject, let's not forget that big-time pro athletes get the finest medical care by the finest medical personnel in the country, if not the world. These guys know what they're talking about.

But Rose said he didn't feel quite right yet. Some thought he was "milking" a sick leave while making millions of dollars for doing nothing. Could have been. Others came to his defense and claimed only Derrick himself knew for sure how his body felt. Point noted.

At any rate, though medically cleared to play in March, Rose opted to sit out the rest of the season, including the entire playoffs which went well into June.

He would make his return in October of 2013, over a year and a half since his left knee injury (remember the original 8-12 month recovery period). By then he had collected roughly $30 million while not playing.

Sure enough, only a month later, Rose would suffer a torn meniscus in his right knee (the one that originally had tendinitis). More surgery, and out for the season again. Cha-ching.

Returning for the 2014-2015 campaign, Rose was doing fairly well, though a couple of his teammates had suffered injuries here and there that kept them out for various times.

Then bang, Rose went down yet again on Feb. 24. The meniscus was torn again. More surgery coming up, and nobody knows how long he'll be out this time. However, a doctor knowledgeable about such things said this procedure will only be of the minor arthroscopic variety. He shouldn't be out more than 6 weeks -- 8 at the max.

That means he should be ready for the playoffs which start in a couple months. But I'll just betcha, full medical clearance or not, we've seen the last of Derrick Rose this season, because that's the way he rolls. Nice work-- or not -- if one can get it. Did I mention cha-ching?

So taking all the above into account, one could reasonably ask themself this question.....

Look back up at the title of this post.....

A-Rod. One more go-round

Alex Rodriguez is thought of in different ways by different people, but a few things are indisputable.

As a teenager playing baseball, he was considered much like Lebron James would be years later. A phenomenal talent. A player who's abilities and potential were mind-boggling. The whole package -- and then some. His combination of power, speed, and defense were incredible for a man of his physical stature.

Indeed, after breaking into the Major Leagues at the tender young age of 18, he lived up to the hype -- and more.

Fourteen times an All-Star.
Three MVPs.
The youngest player to ever hit 500 home runs.
Same for 600 home runs.
He was on pace to -- maybe -- pass Ruth, Aaron, and even Bonds for the all-time home run record.

Taken alone, this was very impressive stuff. Sure, he had his detractors along the way, but that was likely more about sour grapes and jealousy than anything else. The guy was tearing it up at a record pace, and some people found ways not to like it.

Then along came the whole 'roid thing. A-Rod admitted to using while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003, and the eleven years since have sparked quite the controversy over how juiced he was or wasn't while with the NY Yankees.

Another thing that is indisputable is Rodriguez still holds the record for the largest contract ever signed by a professional baseball player. A ten-year deal inked after the 2007 season for a whopping $275 million -- guaranteed. In other words, the Yankees are still on the hook for over $60 million for the next couple years whether A-Rod plays or not.

That puts them in quite a spot. A-Rod is likely non-tradeable. He would definitely be a lightning rod drawing mostly negative attention from another team's local media. Radioactive might be an appropriate word. It's highly doubtful any other club would take on his salary, much less give up a player in return.

What Rodriguez did or did not do with "banned substances" since 2008 is a matter best left to others to haggle over. They say this and he says that. Certainly few would doubt the "court of public opinion" has found him guilty, but that always happens when the media sensationalizes allegations as they're prone to do. Something about ratings, whether they know the facts or not. Good grief, not long ago Anderson Cooper and CNN saw their "numbers" jump while reporting for an entire MONTH on a missing airplane. It's STILL missing several months later, so obviously they didn't know anything at the time -- but they sold the pseudo-hype to the masses. So who are the dummies indeed that tune in and draw conclusions over unsolved mysteries? Jimmy Hoffa/Amelia Earhart, anyone?

Nevertheless, a few facts stand out regarding A-Rod's recent and current situation. He's now 39 and will turn 40 in July. Also, he had to sit out the entire 2014 season due to his "drug related" suspension.

How many hits, homers, and RBIs he may have racked up last year if he had been allowed to play is anybody's guess. Certainly his productivity had slowed in recent years but, besides age, he had battled through injuries as well. Still, it could safely be said he would have increased his career statistics. Maybe by a little, or maybe by a bunch. It's all hindsight and speculation. Nobody will ever know because that year has come and gone. Poof.

Now he's in spring training with the rest of the Yankees. While the Yankee front office might not be pleased at the prospect, what choice do they have? For over $30 million a year, they might as well let the dude play, rather than paying him for doing nothing. He might even still be pretty good with the bat. Who knows?

Justified or not -- draw your own conclusions -- the missed 2014 season likely cost A-Rod any chance of ever becoming the all-time home run leader. Hey, had Babe Ruth, Hammering Hank, or Barry Bonds been forced to sit out a whole year, the record books might look a whole lot different.

But A-Rod is on the cusp of several notable accomplishments.

At 654 home runs, he stands only 6 behind Willie Mays for 4th place on the all-time list. Even if the Yanks only use him as a designated hitter this year -- surely he will surpass that.

A-Rod has 1969 career RBIs. Will he get a meager 31 more in 2015 to go over 2000? Likely so.

And he currently stands at 2939 hits. Sixty one short of the magical 3000 club. Can we safely pencil that in as well?

So even one more year will see Alex Rodriguez surpass a lot of milestones in MLB.

If not for the 'roid fiasco, between facts and speculation, he'd be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame when he became eligible.

But it probably won't happen. Ask Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds. They were never found guilty of anything either. Just speculation, media hype, and the gullible court of public opinion. Decades later, all-time hits leader Pete Rose continues to twist in the wind because he dared to bet on his team -- TO WIN!!  How can that be so terribly wrong?

The worst scenario of them all continues to be Shoeless Joe Jackson. Most remember him as the ring-leader of the infamous 1919 Chicago "Black" Sox that threw a world series. He was banned from baseball for life and remains so almost a century later. History will tell you Jackson maintained his innocence until the day he died -- over 60 years ago.

But if one looks it up, they will find that after all the evidence had been collected, and testimony taken, Shoeless Joe was found completely innocent years later of any wrong-doing. The fans that beseeched Jackson at the time with the famous question -- "Say it ain't so, Joe", turned out to be prophetic. It was NOT so.

Yet sadly, then and now, few bother to actually wait for the whole truth to come out before making final judgments based on nothing more than speculation. And 100% of the time such verdicts come back "guilty".

It ain't always so.

The truly tragic part is three-fold.

First, lives and careers are destroyed when people in power with their own agendas make a "statement" before all the facts are in.

Second, even if proven wrong later, the media that jumped on such things in the first place will never go back and admit they misled the public. On to the next story, and who cares about the carnage they left behind?

Lastly, the people themselves that continue to believe everything they read or what the talking heads tell them, without ever stopping to think objectively on such matters. Sometimes the deception is subtle, but other times blatant. At yet other times, it's just a matter of ignorance staring one in their face while trying to convince them of something.

Regardless, here's wishing Alex Rodriguez all the best in his comeback. Whatever he did or did not do in the past, the man has certainly already been punished enough.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kyle, Kurt, and Georges

Kyle Busch just suffered a broken leg and foot after a crash at Daytona. He's out indefinitely. But you know what? This was in a race he had no business participating in. What is it with some of these Sprint Cup drivers?

They already have a full time job in the "major leagues" of stock car racing making mega-bucks. So what are they doing playing in "minor league" games for chump change? Once in the big leagues, you didn't see stars like Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson racing around in lesser cars -- much less trucks. It was beneath their stature. It seems only the "volatile" personalities engage in such nonsense.

Brad Keselowski isn't exactly the most popular driver in the garage area, and Tony Stewart wound up killing a kid on a dirt track last year. Now Kyle is out with some broken bones. It was all unnecessary if they'd stuck to their primary jobs to begin with. Do they need to beat up on the kids with lesser equipment to feed their fragile egos? Besides, in Kyle's case, he drives a Japanese car in the most American racing series there is. Doesn't NASCAR itself bill the Daytona 500 as the "Great American Race"? So why do they allow Toyotas and hot-heads like Kyle Busch to drive them? He had an accident that will keep him out for a while. No sad tears here.

His brother Kurt has been embroiled in a he said/she said altercation with his former significant other. Lots of crazy allegations have been raised. The NASCAR brass had suspended the elder Busch indefinitely. After exhausting his appeals, the suspension remains in effect. He won't be racing for a while either. But Kurt has always had a "loose cannon" air about him in the past, both on and off the track. He can definitely pilot a race car, but one never knows what he might do next. At least he was driving a Chevy. Better than his brother.

As for Georges? Daddy Bush had his "1000 points of light". Nobody had any idea then, and to this day, what the hell he was talking about -- probably including himself.

W once famously stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier and advertised "Mission accomplished". Twelve years later, war rages on and things have become far, far worse in the entire region.

The moral of the story?

Busch/ Bush -- what's the difference? These guys are ALL nuts.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Patrick Reed and the P-whip factor

Patrick Reed is a player on the PGA golf tour, and evidently a rising young star. Last year he joined some elite company in the world of golf by becoming only the fifth player to win 4 tournaments before reaching the age of 25. The others are quite familiar names. Woods, Mickelson, McIlroy and Garcia. Little more than a month ago he won his fifth tourney. Very impressive stuff on the links but there's another side to Reed that is, shall we say, somewhat dubious.

In a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, scribe Alan Shipnuck penned a lengthy article about Reed's life that was interesting, and certainly telling, on another level.

With apologies to Shipnuck and SI, here are a few factoids in no particular order that were mentioned.

Reed got married quite young (22) to his current wife Justine in December of 2012. In the earliest stages of his pro career, Justine was carrying his bag -- sometimes known as caddying.

But she quickly got knocked up -- sometimes known as becoming pregnant. Not so long after the "I dos" Patrick Reed was a daddy to a baby girl.

Of course being seriously preggers and toting around a heavy golf bag all day don't usually mix well together --  and then there was the new mom thing after the blessed event. In short, Justine bowed out, at least temporarily, from the caddying gig.

But never fear, that job went to her younger brother Kessler. In the meantime, Justine still plots hole-to-hole stragegy with her hubbie, and this is commendable for couples, especially when it comes to playing golf tournaments. Ahem.

To boot, dear Justine also "debriefs" Patrick on any errant shots he may have committed. Further, the Mrs. also is in constant contact with Reed's own swing coach. Basically, she watches her man's every move and critiques it. This -- from a nursing major that used to work in an ER. But she played a little golf in high school and college, so evidently that qualifies her as an expert to fine tune a PGA player's game. Oh my.

Rewinding the Patrick Reed bio tape proves even more telling, and not in a good way.

According to Shipnuck, Patrick Reed's own parents and younger sister Hannah weren't invited to his and Justine's wedding. They had expressed concerns that Patrick was a bit young to "tie the knot", so they got snubbed, likely at Justine's hand. Now c'mon, this wasn't exactly a bunch of moochers trying to ride the financial coattails of a professional athlete. It was his mom, dad, and little sis, for crying out loud. Since when doesn't the groom's family get invited to his wedding?? Worse yet, they have constantly reached out through emails and intermediaries hoping to re-establish contact with their son and brother, but to no avail. Guess who's likely behind that? Can you spell c-o-n-t-r-o-l?

It gets even more pitiful. Justine's sister is the nanny for the baby -- so much for the doting new mom thing -- and her mother travels with them on tour acting as "chief of staff". Reed rents a house for the brood to share and does most of the cooking. Forget his PGA credentials, this guy needs to go back to qualifying school for his Man Card. The poor devil has become hopelessly lost in the P-whipped world.

The absolute clincher? Through a friend, Reed's parents had scored tickets for the 2014 U.S. Open and followed their son throughout the second round. Justine was also in the gallery. So what happened? Walking up to the 18th hole, Reed's mother, father, and little sister were surrounded by cops, escorted off the grounds, and had their tournament badges confiscated by a USGA official. The official told Reed's own mother he was acting on orders from Justine. So since when does a wife in the gallery have the authority to kick the golfer's own family off the course when they have tickets to be there? It was wrong on the part of the USGA to accomodate her wishes and flat-out treacherous/shrewish of Justine to demand in the first place.

So let's see. Justine got knocked up and popped out a kid in short order. Since, she's got her brother, sister, and mother entwined in Patrick's day to day life, with him footing the bills and even cooking their meals. In the meantime, Reed's own family has been totally cut out of the picture.

It's not only wrong, it's outrageous. Patrick Reed may be a world class golfer, but the man hasn't a clue what kind of web has been spun around him by his "loving wife".

Remember Mike Tyson and his marriage to Robin Givens? She had her mom (Ruth Roper) along too as chief of staff. How did that work out? It cost Tyson countless millions to finally get away from them, and he was never the same afterwards. He wound up going to prison, his career went into the dumpster, and they walked happily ever after away with a serious boatload of his money. "Robin" and "Ruthless" seemed to be appropriate names.

Here's hoping Patrick Reed remains in his current P-whipped state of bliss for a lifetime. Because if he ever mans up and takes a good look around, he might just realize what a corner he's been painted into. If things don't work out between him and Justine in the future -- this boy will have a serious cha-ching problem trying to free himself from the cocoon he's already been wrapped up in. Good luck with that if it happens.

But ditching your own parents and little sister because that's what your wife and her clan want you to do?

That's just wrong. Shame on you Patrick Reed.

Russell Wilson's rant

Two and a half weeks after it happened, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson finally shared his thoughts on the last second loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. Hmm. A thought on that number later.

And rant he did. Wilson would speak of his passion for the game, love of teammates, coaches, and the city, the best fans in the NFL, and how he will continually strive to get better.

Russell spoke of all the incredible plays he was a part of as a Seahawk, the Super Bowl victory last year, how he expects to be in another, if not many more soon.

Add in the amazing comeback wins, how he considers himself to be a leader, and a few "buck stops here" sound bytes of accountability and responsibility, and Wilson would appear to have a future in politics.

To his credit, he didn't refer to notes like many of Washington DC's "finest" often do when giving speeches, but it's likely a good bet a teleprompter was in play. No way his presentation wasn't scripted.  I mean, c'mon, the dude might be semi-bright, but he came out of Wisconsin via Ohio and Virginia, not Harvard law school, much less the ESPN "talking head" boot camp.

Indeed, Wilson spoke on a variety of football things, but conveniently danced around the topic everybody wanted an answer to in the first place. Did I mention a future career in politics? That would be the fateful pass he threw that was intercepted on the goal line which snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for his Seahawks.

Sure, head coach Pete Carroll has already tried to spin it, but at times he can be reminiscent of a carnival barker or used car salesman. Step right up. I have such a deal for you.

Wilson even mentioned "crazy" plays happening once in a while. His Seahawks have certainly been on the winning end of a lot of them in the recent past.

But if he wanted to address the most pertinent issue and be truly accountable and responsible, here is what he should have said ----

The fateful play was called by the coaches into my headset. It was a "pick" play with two wide receivers. One tries to block the path of a defensive back, leaving the other open to receive the pass. Normally, it happens bam-bam. I tried to execute it. The pass was on time and thrown to the exact spot it was supposed to be.

But I never saw the cornerback who had read the play and jumped the route to make the interception. That wasn't supposed to happen. In hindsight, it was an incredibly bone-headed call to begin with but, hey, when you're still on a rookie contract and hoping for a mega-raise next year -- you do what you're told in the Super Bowl. Besides, Marshawn might have fumbled the ball anyway. Who knows?

Regarding the Super Bowl number mentioned above. So what gives with the Roman numerals anyway? Wouldn't Super Bowl 49 have been a lot easier to comprehend than XLIX? The game is played between American teams on American soil. Always has been. Always will be.They drape a huge American flag over the field before the start of the game. The national anthem is played. Fighter jets do a fly-by. Rah-rah-rah, for the red, white, and blue. But they still number the games with ancient Roman numerals? Maybe OK for grandfather clocks, but the Super Bowl? C'mon.

An example. What other notable American event happened in MDCCLXXVI?  After one deciphers it that number becomes 1776. The birth of the country. If 1776 was good enough for our forefathers, than 49 ought to be good enough for Super Bowls.

Besides, X-LIX sounds like some sort of porno cable channel. Things will get simpler next year. Merely Super Bowl L. The easiest to understand since XL. Hmm. Are we talking Super Bowls or tee-shirt sizes at a rock concert?

I dunno, but trust me on one thing. The prices go way-way up for both.....

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kobe Bryant and Mozart


Department of Just When You Thought You'd Heard Everything

To whom it may concern,

You may wish to consider recent statements by Kobe Bean Bryant, a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. It appears the relatively young man is suffering from delusions of grandeur.

As you have surely known for some time, Mr. Bryant has never been shy about drawing attention to himself and touting his own "greatness" over the years. Yet it now seems Mr. Bryant has finally, tragically, spiralled downward into a world heretofore only known by the likes of Walter Mittys on some serious 'roids. In laymen's terms, this roughly translates into he's gone off the deep end.

How else to explain his recent comparison of himself to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?

Centuries ago, Mozart was, and remains to this day, one of the grand masters in the history of musical compositions. At age five, Mozart was already proficient on an ancestor of the piano called a clavier, and began composing. At age five, Kobe Bryant was learning how to dribble a basketball.

Mozart would go on to write many symphonies. Such epic works entailed the arduous task of composing various parts for different musical sections. Strings, woodwinds, horns, percussion, etc. When it all came together, it was a masterpiece. Kobe would go on to learn how to shoot. There's scores -- and then there's scores.

True, Mozart was never an MVP, nor was he chosen to go to a composers All-Star concert, but those things weren't exactly in vogue back when he was at his peak (roughly the same time as the American Revolutionary War and its immediate aftermath). And no, Wolfgang was never crowned a member of a World Champion team even once, let alone several times. It might also fairly be concluded that Mozart didn't make a ton of money on endorsements and have reporters hanging on his every word wherever he went.

Actual portraits of Mozart are rare, but I've never seen one where he was depicted with the Nike swoosh on any of his garments. Ludwig Von Beethoven was said to have been inspired by his music. It made him soar. Yet no record can be found of Beethoven sporting a pair of Air Mozarts while he was composing and conducting his own symphonies years later. Evidently, times have changed.

Nonetheless, there are parallels to be drawn between Mozart and Kobe Bryant.

In his final years, which history suggest were amongst his most productive, Mozart was in poor health. He got by on paltry contributions from others. Kobe's struggled with a variety of ailments in the last couple years and if one can't play -- they can't produce. He gets by on $24 million a year.

There were times during Mozart's later life when he was shunned by many of his peers. Anybody that was any good on the Lakers has bailed to get away from Kobe.

In other words, while many thought of him as a genius, Mozart had many detractors during his days. Ditto for Bryant.

The tragic irony is Mozart died just short of his 36th birthday. He had accomplished so much in such a short life. His musical genius will forever be remembered and revered.

Kobe Bryant is now -- yikes -- 36. Granted, chances are Kobe's going to be around for a while longer, but over 200 years from now will anybody still consider him a grand master of the ages? Likely not. A difference.

Finally, there's the name thing, and another noted professional athlete comes into play.

Mozart was actually christened Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart at birth. The Amadeus (which translates from the Latin as "Love God") part was added later by unknown others, likely long after he died. At any rate, given a name like that, it's probably a good thing Mozart didn't have to sign a lot of official documents, much less autographs back in the day. Talk about writer's cramp....

Bryant's parents have claimed they named him Kobe after a variety of beef best known in Japan. Why would a mom and dad name their son after a cut of meat? Worse yet, they gave him the middle name of Bean. A vegetable. Well OK, Kobe Bean was probably preferable to Brisket Zucchini -- but still....

And what was up with Tiger's folks when he came into the world? His given name is Eldrick Tont Woods. Not too many Eldricks around, but what gives with the Tont? Were they Lone Ranger fans but forgot the "O" at the end of the name of his trusty sidekick?

I dunno. Beats Kem Sabe or Hiy Silver, I guess.

In the end, Kobe Bryant saying he hits just the right notes like Mozart once did seems akin to a graffiti spray painter likening himself to Rembrandt.

Somehow it just doesn't feel right.

I really didn't know who else to plead my case to. But here's hoping your Dept. of Just When You Thought You'd Heard Everything has a subcommittee that specializes in further investigations of the outrageous and ridiculous.


The Wrathster.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ladies' college hoops players. Poof -- into the ether

While hardly an expert, yours truly is a fan of ladies' college hoops, at least at the elite level. OK, I'm a Geno and UConn sappy. So sue me.

But there's been a lot of really good lady teams over the years. Baylor had a brief run when they had the 6 foot 8 freak playing for them. Notre Dame and Stanford are perennial powers, and Texas A&M came out of nowhere a few years ago to win a championship. And of course, there were the legendary Pat Summit's Tennessee teams that constituted a dynasty not long ago. This year South Carolina is front and center.

Once thought of as little more than a bad joke required by Title IX, ladies' college basketball is growing. No, they're not as tall, as muscular, can't run as fast, jump anywhere near as high, or crash the boards like their male counterparts, but some of these girls are really really good. Better yet, they don't share the same obsession with ridiculous tats all over their bodies. Something about that Y chromosome, playing with balls for a living, and ink that is beyond my comprehension.

So yeah, I'm all for ladies' college hoops. These girls work just as hard at their games as the boys and deserve every accolade they get. But then comes....

A problem. They all but disappear when their college careers are over. The outstanding ones go on to play in the WNBA, you say? True enough, but let's consider the reality of what actually happens.

In the WNBA, the max salary for a super-star player is around $100,000. Sure, that beats the heck out of flipping burgers at Mickey D's. Conversely, the MINIMUM salary in the NBA for the last player on the bench that rarely sees playing time is an escalating scale that starts at over $500,000 for a rookie. One of those guys could BUY a fast-food franchise outlet. A big difference. Is it fair? Depends on how one looks at it. I'll get back to that.

Though ladies' college basketball doesn't get nearly the TV air time the men do -- at least they get some. But the WNBA doesn't seem to get any at all. For that matter, many sports fans don't even realize their season is going on until the playoffs start. At that, even their Finals will be relegated to a cable station rather than a major network covering it. While the men are busy slugging out seven game series' on national TV, the ladies play best 2 out of 3 and hope somebody notices.

Mega college stars one day, then poof -- into the ether. Publicly disappeared. Erased. All gone. The best at what they do in the world but with no hope of ever making more than 100 grand.

Actually, whether it's fair or not has nothing to do with it. It's all about business. Even in college, with few exceptions like some of those mentioned above, the ladies don't exactly pack the arenas with fans. At the WNBA level, it's even worse. More times than not, venues that can seat 15,000 will only have a few hundred in attendance -- or less. This doesn't detract from the skill levels of the players, but numbers are numbers.

The TV people aren't about to shell out big bucks for broadcasting rights for games that can't even seem to attract a live crowd, sometimes even with promotional giveaways. And TV doesn't exist without sponsors (commercials). Tax deductible or not, why would a marketing department of a big business want to advertise their wares to a non-existent demographic? That might be a little bit like trying to sell snow blowers in the Congo, or air-conditioning in the Yukon. What would be the point?

Why the vast majority of American sports fans don't find ladies' basketball nearly as interesting as the men's version is a good question. But they don't, and it's not even a close call. Title IX may have leveled the "playing field" somewhat regarding opportunities, scholarships, facilities, and the like, but even its strongest proponents couldn't make throngs of fans go see games they weren't, and evidently still aren't interested in attending. Of course, in today's world and economy, the average John and Jane sports fans can only afford so many entertainment bucks in their budgets. Nevertheless, would they go see a WNBA game even if it was for free? Another good question.

Here's an example of how out-of-whack this has become. Consider one Diana Taurasi. She was a high-school hoops phenom, won multiple NCAA championships while a super-star at UConn, Olympic gold medals, MVP this, and MVP that. Then she was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. She would go on to win championships there as well.

Now an 11 year veteran of the WNBA, and widely considered one of the best of all-time in the pros, Taurasi made quite a move this last season -- literally. While still under contract to the Mercury, Diana decided to take her talents to -- Russia. She is playing on a team in a league there that most Americans have never heard of, and likely never will. Why?

As an 11 year vet and still very much a terrific player, she remained stuck at around $100,000 in the WNBA. An 11 year vet at the minimum salary in the NBA would make almost $1.5 million. Fifteen times as much, even if he never played.

And that's what the Russian team offered her. $1.5 million. That raises another relevant question. Despite whatever you're making now at your current job -- if you could go to Russia and make 15 times that much for a year -- would you do it?

I know I would, so good for Diana Taurasi. Have a good time and stay out of Putin's way. He can be a right frisky fellow sometimes. See ya when ya get back.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Peyton Manning. Time to go?

Few would doubt Peyton Manning will go down in history as one of the best QBs in the history of the NFL. Certainly in the top 10, but the top 5 gets a little iffy. Despite his gaudy career stats, he only ever won one Super Bowl, and considering names like Brady, Montana, Favre, and even Bradshaw, Marino, Unitas, Staubach, Young, Layne, and others from yesteryear likely constitute preferences, and biases, as to who ranks where.

The "Omaha" man seems to think he's physically and mentally prepared for another season. Many say it's his call whether he comes back or not. That's only partially true. His current team, the Denver Broncos, have a say-so in the matter as well. If they don't want him to come back, Peyton won't BE coming back, unless it's for another team somewhere, which is unlikely.

The clock's ticking on the Broncos. They have to decide within a few short weeks (March 9) whether or not to validate Manning's 2015 contract, which would guarantee him $19 million. That would be a significant dent in the salary cap. Plus, there's the little matter of Peyton passing a physical in the interim. Given the stakes, and Manning's age, one can be certain such a physical would be quite rigorous. If he fails, then all bets are off. Yet if he passes, the Broncos are still faced with a tough decision.

Vice-President, GM, and all-around honcho John Elway would ultimately have to make the call. It's no secret that Manning never had the rifle arm of Elway, but he's overcome that with smarts on the field. Plus O-lines that gave him all day to throw, and a bevy of mighty fine receivers to throw to -- both in Indianapolis and Denver.

But just this last year, it became obvious that Manning had lost quite a bit off whatever fastball he ever had. No doubt Manning is amongst the most cerebral QBs in the game, but knowing what to do in any particular situation and still having the skill set to execute it can be different animals. Perhaps that's the biggest irony in sports -- God's little joke if you will. With few exceptions, just when one has finally figured out every little nuance of their position -- their body has become too old to actually perform it at a high level. Somewhere in the middle are the "optimum" years. It can safely be said Peyton Manning is well on the back side of his career bell curve. Smarter than ever, but certainly no spring chicken, his on-field wing-flapping and squawking aside.

Then there's the irony of the age thing. Manning will turn 39 in a month. This is the exact same age John Elway retired at after winning two consecutive Super Bowls back in the late 90s. Nothing like going out on top in a blaze of glory.

That raises three points. First, if anybody can truly relate to Manning's current situation -- it's Elway -- especially while having played for the same team.

Second, other factors have come into play. The Broncos have a new head coach, which likely means a new system. Manning may or may not be a lot of things but, even if he gets that far, it remains to be seen how well he would fare under the incoming regime.

Lastly, as mentioned above, while Elway walked away at the pinnacle of success, Manning hasn't fared nearly as well in the last couple years.

In the NFL playoffs earlier this year, he saw his successor in Indianapolis (Andrew Luck) and his team waltz into his Denver back yard and blast the Broncos out of the playoffs. The year before, Manning and Co. got to the Super Bowl, but were absolutely crushed by the Seattle Seahawks to the tune of 43-8.

In the whole scheme of things it would appear the Broncos are trending down while others in the AFC are on the rise. A seriously aging Peyton Manning can do little, if anything, to stop it. Does he have one last hurrah left in him? Maybe, but consider yours truly highly skeptical.

So let's face it. At some point soon, be it this year or the next, Manning has to retire. Methinks the longer he hangs on, the worse things will get for both him and the Broncos. And let's also face the reality that it only takes one play in any given game for Manning to get seriously unhealthy in a hurry. The twenty-somethings rushing him for the other teams couldn't care less about how great he used to be. They'd just as soon knock him into Oma-la-la land. At 39, a body doesn't exactly respond to such collisions as well as that of a man 10-15 years younger.

But first things first. Manning has to pass the physical. If so, then Elway has a $19 million decision to make, knowing full well a change will have to be made shortly anyway.

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

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Bonehead Files. Major League Baseball

Never underestimate the power of stupidity when it comes to the folks in charge of America's "grand old game". These are the sort of people that would design a one-way road tunneling through a mountain -- and put a stop light half way through. Boneheads.

Consider some of their "genius" ideas over the years.

Long ago, they decided pitchers had become too dominant, so they lowered the pitching mounds. I'll get back to that.

One league (American) has a designated hitter and the other (National) does not. Aren't they supposed to be playing the same game? So why are the rules different? Wouldn't that be a bit like teams in the Eastern Conference of the NBA having the 3-point shot available, while teams in the West had to settle for 2 points on an equally long shot?

And when inter-league play, much less the World Series, rolls around, the rules flip back and forth depending on which team is playing at home. How dumb is that?

Former Commish Bud Selig once let an All-Star game end in a tie. Not because it was pouring down rain or incoming nukes were detected, but because both teams were running short on pitchers. Countless millions of dollars were spent to put that game together and players traveled from thousands of miles away to be there. But he called it off with no winner because it might put undue hardship on the "poor" dears from the 1-percenter club to play for another 15-20 minutes? Bull****. Out of pitchers? Bring in a position player to pitch. Sure, the hitters would rock him all over the park, but that's the point. Runs would be scored. At least the game would have had a winner. Only a bonehead like Selig would think a tie was a good result, while millions of fans that had watched on TV for hours threw up their hands in disbelief.

Now they're talking about changing the strike zone -- again. Evidently, even with the lowered mounds mentioned above, run production is down. The pitchers are dominating too much -- again.

But the strike zone itself over the years is another example of MLB being boneheads. It was once supposedly from the shoulders to the knees, but never called that way. No batter could hit a shoulder-high pitch other than maybe a pop-up. Then it was lowered to the "letters", or roughly armpit level to the knees, but it wasn't called that way either. Any pitch above the waist was deemed "high". So why set official strike zones if they weren't going to be called as such anyway? Seemed dumb.

Even a pitch at the waistline was most times called high by the umps. The strike zone had morphed into roughly crotch level to the knees. It was shrinking -- again.

And recently it's changed yet again. It's become lower. Pitched balls clearly below knee level are being called strikes. Regardless, MLB wants to see more hitting so they're considering altering the strike zone, yep, again. It might just be that, before they're done, only a pitched ball over the middle of the plate at mid-thigh level will be considered a strike. Great for hitters. Not so good for pitchers.

But by doing so, MLB, in their infinite wisdom, will find themselves in quite the dilemma. It's no secret that games have become much longer and the league wants to speed things up. Yet how can they do that if they want more hitting which, by its very definition, means more baserunners and longer innings? Only boneheads could come up with such logic. Mr. Spock would likely disapprove.

However, there's a much better way to solve this dilemma and it would make the game far more exciting as well.

Forget tinkering with the strike zone. Every ump calls it different anyway.

Bring back the 'roids. Tell me you weren't caught up in the era when the juiced brutes were walloping moon shots all over parks, and I'll tell you I don't believe it. Of course it was exciting.

And if the players want to put things in their bodies that they know will make their heads explode in a few years for the sake of short-lived fame and fortune, then who are we, or MLB to tell them they can't?

I say go for it. For the most part they're just a bunch of grossly overpaid dumb jocks anyway. Another batch will come along, so who cares?

Thus, ergo, and ipso facto, as the founder and CEO (Completely Eccentric Oddball) of the Bonehead Files, I do hereby induct MLB, from new Commish Rob Manfred on down to the air-headed ball girls they deploy along the sidelines, into our hallowed Hall of Incompetence.

They've earned it over the years and show no signs of their collective light bulbs going on anytime soon.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Josh Scobee calls out Tiger Woods

It's been comical to watch the reactions generated by an event that will never happen. The talking heads are coming to the aid of their boy Tiger Woods, and his legions of fans are outraged. How dare somebody challenge their hero to a money match on a golf course?

OMG, one would have thought the Anti-Christ himself had appeared and called out the Pope to show up in the octagon for a fight to the death. Sacrilege. Blasphemy. Almost as bad as a place kicker for the Jacksonville Jaguars daring to challenge Eldrick Tont Woods to a round of golf with some serious out-of pocket change at stake.

But it just happened and, like the Pope, Tiger wouldn't dare accept the challenge -- because he just might get beat. Let's look a little closer.

Such a challenge is not without precedent. Decades ago, motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel issued a similar challenge to PGA pro Lee Trevino. At that time, it was $10,000 a hole, big money back in those days. Knievel claimed that Trevino was used to playing for mega-bucks, but it was always for somebody else's money (tournament sponsors). He further claimed Trevino would choke if he had to put up his own dough. As we know, Trevino never accepted that challenge. Who would have won how much is a matter of speculation. And while most assume Trevino would have easily prevailed, he didn't dare go for it, lest he, horrors!!, actually come out on the short end. He would have never lived down being beaten head-up by the likes of a motorcycle daredevil that golfed in his spare time.

Much the same goes for Tiger with Scobee's current challenge. He wouldn't dare accept, but perhaps for a different reason. He might very WELL get beat by Scobee. And the stakes have gone up. It's now $100,000 a hole.

What's really adding insult to diss is Scobee offered to spot Woods two strokes per side. In other words, he thinks he can beat Eldrick by at least 4 strokes over 18 holes.

What is unclear is how the "two strokes a side" would come into play. Would Tiger get to choose which holes to apply them to if necessary?

Of course, the Tiger faithful scoff at such a notion. He'd wipe the course with Scobee, they say. Add in the 4 strokes to boot, and Scobee would have to shoot a spectacular round (mid 60s or better) to avoid being taken for potentially $1.8 million dollars in a clean sweep. It's possible.

But it's also possible that things would play out quite differently. Scobee's pretty much a "scratch" golfer. If he went out and shot 18 holes at around par 72 in such a contest, how well might he fare?

Given the sorry state of Woods' game of late, it's not too hard to imagine Tiger putting up a 78, 80, or worse. His driving remains erratic, his chipping is in the dumpster, and he's lost his putting stroke.

Pressure? Scobee's a place kicker in the NFL. He knows a little something about performing under pressure. Either make the kicks or start looking for another job. They have "cuts" on the PGA Tour every week, but those guys get to come back the next week and try again somewhere else like it never happened. NFL "cuts" are a lot harsher. More like "you're fired" and good luck finding a job someplace else. So a day on the links playing a money match against a washed-up golfer that USED to be good isn't likely to get his bowels in an uproar.

For that matter, consider the money that would be on the line. Scobee makes around $3.5 million a year, so he's willing to put up around half a year's salary. If he got smoked, that would be a big financial hit. On the other hand, Woods, with all his endorsement money, raked in almost $80 million. Even if he lost every hole, it would only represent roughly 2% of his yearly earnings. Hardly a wallet buster. Who would the pressure be on indeed?

Like Trevino was afraid to play Knievel, and Mayweather was afraid to fight Pacquiao when it mattered, chances are Tiger is scared to death to tee it up with Scobee. Because you just know the TV folks would be all over it. If Woods prevailed, the only thing he would have proven is the former #1 player in the world could beat a place kicker at the golfer's own game. Not much to crow about.

But if he lost, especially being spotted 4 strokes going in -- God help Eldrick Tont. If he thought that scandal and divorce a while back was rough, and his recent shoddy play on tour was embarrassing -- he would wake up in a whole new world of shame -- if he has any -- no given to date. Even his staunchest die-hard backers and apologists might have to reconsider their future hero worship.

Yet never fear, Tigerites, your boy isn't about to tee it up with a place kicker, no pun intended. He would have little to gain and a whole lot to lose if he did so.

And he might just lose at that. Ever see Scobee play golf? Me neither. But I've seen Tiger lately, and it isn't pretty.

But tell me you wouldn't tune in to watch such a match, and I'll tell you I don't believe it. Of course you would. So would I.

A hundred grand a hole of their own money, payable on the spot? Are you kidding? This would be must-see TV. Maybe not Super Bowlish, but certainly better than another Tiger press conference or a Jags game.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The MVP case for Kyle Korver

Kyle Korver, a forward for the Atlanta Hawks, isn't usually mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Lebron James, Kevin Durant and other "super-stars" -- but perhaps he should be. At least this year.

Korver's on a pace to do something that's never been done before in the history of the NBA -- by anybody. That takes in a lot of great players. Not only can he break a record -- he can shatter it.

Over the course of an entire season, no player has ever averaged over 40% field goal shooting, over 40% three-point shooting, and over 80% at the free throw line.

Almost two-thirds through the way of the current season, Korver's stats are as follows:

Field goal attempts. 51.2%
3-point attempts.  53%
Free throws.  93%

So not only is he far above the 40-40-80 mark that's never been reached, he could conceivably put up 50-50-90. That would be an incredible feat. Let's just say this guy has been putting on a ridiculous display of shooting this year.

But still, nary a whisper of Korver being a possible MVP candidate. Sure, he has a few things working against him. After all, he's a white guy in a predominantly black league and only a "6th" man at that. Plus he's a 13 year vet out of Creighton. Also, Korver's a low-profile kind of guy. You won't see him getting all animated on the court, or craving attention by mouthing off to the press. This doesn't make him a "sexy" topic with the people that hype such things as the MVP.

Further, his overall game stats this year aren't exactly eye-popping. Korver averages around 13 points a game, 4-5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Yet for the minutes he plays, those stats are very impressive.

Korver's never won anything? Neither has the above-mentioned Durant, or James Hardin of the Houston Rockets -- or Chris Paul of the LA Clips, and others mentioned as possible MVP candidates.

Not even being a starter should disqualify him from consideration? Not so fast. The precedent was set a long time ago. Consider Willie Hernandez, merely a relief pitcher for the 1984 Detroit Tigers. He won the MVP by turning in one clutch performance after another, even though he was rarely in the games for more than one or two innings. The Tigers would go on to win the World Series that year, but MVP balloting is supposed to take place before the post-season even starts. It's just kept secret until after a champion is crowned.

Whether or not the Atlanta Hawks will win the NBA title this year is certainly debatable, and likely doubtful. But so far they have surprised most. At the time of this writing, the Hawks sported a 43-11 record. They're a full 6 1/2 games ahead of the next best team in the entire Eastern Conference, narrowly trailing the equally surprising Golden State Warriors out in the West for the best record in the whole league.

So it's not like Korver is a ball hog throwing up a bazillion shots for an otherwise bad team. The Hawks are good -- really good.

And if Korver indeed finishes the season at 50-50-90, or anything even close to it, accomplishing something never done before in the history of the league -- how can he NOT be the MVP?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ndamukong Suh to Seattle?

Somewhat like the player himself, the whole scenario of Suh's impending free agency has become one big fustercluck.

The front office of his current team, the Detroit Lions, continues to be optimistic they can resign him. Talks are progressing and things are close, they say. But are they really? Consider the Lions' options.

They could slap Suh with the "franchise tag", but it would come at a cost of almost $27 million bucks, and only be good for one year. After that, he would be a free agent again and the whole mess would start over. Granted, the Lions franchise has well earned their reputation as being more Keystone Koppish than Mensa worthy over the decades, but this would be utter insanity.

Or they could try to sign Suh to a long-term contract, but the brute has already made noises about wanting over $25 million a year. Either way, it would put the Lions in a salary cap bind. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are already in the long-term $20 million plus range, and there's that little matter of filling out the rest of the 53 man roster with enough talent to make them competitive. With the NFL's 2015 cap projected to be around $140M, tieing up almost half that in three players means the other 50 and their agents have to compete for what's left over. And it's not like the Lions don't have serious needs at various positions -- at least if they want to be in the conversation for a Super Bowl any year soon.

Best choice for the Lions? Let Suh walk. That frees up a boatload of money to address needs elsewhere. And let's get real. Most everyone would agree, including the players, the NFL is very much a business and hard decisions that effect the "bottom line" have to be made. So what would a prudent businessperson do with a commodity whose liabilities, both present and potential, outweigh its assets? One way or the other, they'd get rid of it.

Also the fact remains that albeit a very good one, Suh is a defensive tackle. His job is to clog up the middle of the line on running plays and put pressure on the opposing QB if he sits in the pocket too long on passing plays. On average, Suh will make 4-5 tackles per game, and he got 8 sacks last year -- one every other game. So plug your "run-of-the-mill" defensive tackle in his place (who would happily play his butt off for a fraction of the same salary), and just how much of a difference does Suh make anyway? Maybe one or two plays a game? This makes him worth more money than the starting quarterback? Something is horribly wrong with this picture.

However, looking at it from Suh's point of view, his alleged desire to go to Seattle makes sense. After all, the Seahawks were Super Bowl champions just last year, and came within a whisker of repeating. Plus, Suh is from the great northwest. Portland, but being in Seattle would get him a whole lot closer to his former 'hood than where he currently plays in Detroit. Too boot, the oddsmakers in Vegas have made the Seahawks the early favorite to win the Super Bowl again next year, while the Lions will be lucky to win their own division, let alone sniff the Lombardi trophy any year soon. And, given a choice, if you're a big-time pro athlete -- or an average citizen for that matter -- all things being the same otherwise, where would you rather live? Seattle or Detroit? Is it even a close call?

But that's where the boy named Suh might run into problems. The Seahawks already have a fearsome defensive line. They don't need him, and they surely don't need the whopper salary cap hit that would come with the package. Though still relatively young, like most other teams, the Seahawks have their own problems trying to retain or acquire enough good players with the very same salary cap limitations.

Granted, head coach Pete Carroll has been known to play fast and loose with the rules on occasion during his career (see the debacle he left USC shackled with before heading north for "greener" pastures), but he's also become known for thinking "outside the box" while in Seattle. The infamous bone-headed play call that decided the recent Super Bowl aside, PC (appropriate initials given Microsoft's corporate presence in the area) can come up with some off-the-wall strategies occasionally, and a lot of times they work.

But why would even a guy like Carroll want to take on a loose cannon waiting to happen like Suh? Especially given the huge dent in the cap it would entail?

Seattle has adapted and become used to a lot of things. The above-mentioned Microsoft, Starbucks, and surely a lot of rain. Perhaps they've even gotten over losing their NBA team to Oklahoma City a while back.

But yours truly has his doubts whether they would welcome a stomper into their midst -- especially when they don't need him in the first place.

So assuming things don't work out in Detroit or Seattle, what could become of Suh? Hmmm.

Though late long-time owner Ralph Wilson is likely spinning in his grave at such a move, the Buffalo Bills recently hired Rex Ryan as their next head coach. As coaches go, cannons don't get any looser than Ryans. Rex and Ndummy would be a good fit. No, neither would win anything there either, but the highlight reels on Sunday nights might get a whole lot more entertaining. It's a start.

Besides, it's Buffalo. Suh has buffaloed the fans, front office, and media in Detroit for years. As did Ryan while with the Jets. Better yet, the good folks in Buffalo have become used to major snow (jobs). If they could survive 8 feet of the white stuff in two days a while back, a couple more clowns associated with their football team isn't likely to faze them much.

In lieu of $25 million a year, maybe the Bills could cut a major corner on the cap by offering Suh part ownership of Niagara Falls -- in deferred payments of course. A hundred feet here and a hundred feet there, and next thing ya know Ndummy would be a regular honeymoon water baron.

On that note, yours truly would gladly foot the bill for the barrel if Suh opts to make a big splash by finally going whole hog off the deep end. One way or the other, I suspect it's only a matter of time anyway.

Just a thought.....

Monday, February 9, 2015

More dumb commercials and some college hoops.

I see where they finally burned that dopey insurance lady at the stake for being a witch. Good, it's about time. Her name escapes me, but every time I see that twit in an ad, the phrase "kiss my grits" comes to mind for some reason.

A pizza joint has adopted a theme that sounds, and looks a lot like something straight out of "war games". Things are blowing up, falling apart, destruction is rampant. Kind of like what was going on in my stomach the last time I ate one of their offerings. But credit where credit is due. Yours truly loves truth in advertising, even if it's somewhat veiled.

Look out for Coach K's Dukies when the tournament rolls around. After a couple early season losses, they're rounding back into form again and will be a tough out for anybody.

A tax agency is advertising they've been "working on the railroad, all the live long day". That's great. Nothing like keeping the trains running safely. Yet when it comes to somebody filling out my tax returns, methinks it would be preferable to engage a CPA over folks whose main jobs are pounding spikes and laying timbers for the rest of the year. Locomotives blow horns. Tax people should not.

Can #1 Kentucky run the table for an undefeated season? Maybe, but doubtful. The Wildcats have already had some close calls, and while Coach Calipari has assembled a phenomenal phalanx of phenoms, they remain just that. Young studs. How they will hold up under tournament pressure remains to be seen. Eventually, they're going to have to play a seasoned team that is not only talented, but tough and well-coached. Did I mention Duke?

Still can't figure out that dweeb hawking a TV dish setup over cable. He appears to have multiple clones that had a few genes scrambled in the duplication process. Still, every one of the knock-off versions appears to be much more interesting than the original. Talk about boring. This guy could make drying paint yawn. He's blander than sugar-free vanilla ice cream.

Love them or hate them -- there's little middle ground -- Geno Auriemma and his UConn Lady Huskies are back in full force. After an early season loss out west at Stanford (by 2 points -- in OT), Geno's Bambinos have improved immensely. How do we know this? A few different ways.

They went into then #2 Notre Dame three weeks later and beat them by 18. Since then, only one team had stayed within 30 points of the Lady Huskies.

They just blistered former #1 and unbeaten South Carolina to the tune of 87-62. A twenty five point blow-out of the #1 team is very impressive stuff . UConn will certainly be on top when the new rankings come out. And if they stay healthy, who's going to beat them?

The other way we know this is because the announcers during the UConn/SCar game said so. Talking heads would never get carried away and exaggerate anything. Would they?

Expressing gratitude is usually a good thing, unless it gets ridiculous. Which brings me to another dumb commercial.

I appreciate that. We appreciate you appreciating that. I appreciate you appreciating that I appreciate that. We appreciate that you appreciate that we appreciate that you appreciate that we appreciate that you appreciate that.....

Yikes. This is out of control. In the end, yours truly had no idea what product they were advertising. But I'd appreciate it if they'd stop showing such a moronic commerical.

Better yet, take that girl out and burn her at the stake like the "kiss my grits" floozy. Too many annoying witches on TV these days. I miss you Samantha. You were pretty cool.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The erosion of Americans in professional sports

As mentioned in my previous post, some people are just better than others at certain things in the sports world. Is it because of genetics or God's will? Who knows? Or maybe it's because they've spent more time at it than anybody else over the years.

Few would doubt the Kenyans have long owned marathon running. Then again, what else do they have to do in Kenya?

For decades Canadians WERE the NHL. An American was rare, and nobody in the Western Hemisphere gave a second thought about hockey going on anywhere else. Then those pesky Soviets did a western tour and made Canadian bacon out of their best teams. Turned out, the guys in red were really good.

Nowadays, Americans and Russians are commonplace in the NHL, along with Swedes, Czechs, and several other nationalities. In short, while they still produce many excellent players, perhaps even the majority, the Canadians no longer solely rule the roost at the highest levels of hockey.

But America has it's own problems in the world of big time sports.

Sure, the NFL still reigns supreme -- but only in America. No other countries around the world are interested in playing such a game. Conversely, the American men remain second-class citizens in the world of big-time soccer, though the women have fared well.

NASCAR is it's own entity. As American as it gets, and certainly a big deal. Yet all other countries couldn't care less about starting up such a "league".

Indy car racing used to attract drivers and teams from around the world, and still does, but they've never recovered from their major internal feud a few decades ago. The sport is a shell of what it once was.

At that, even when Indy was a big deal in the USA, others around the globe considered such racing a second class sport compared to Formula 1. They had a point. F1 cars (and drivers) were superior to their Indy counterparts in most every way. Still are. When it comes to advanced engineering, horsepower, and the driver skills required to navigate the courses -- it's really not a close call. Yes, Indy cars average higher speeds, but only because of the long straightaways and high banking in the turns.

The Major Leagues of baseball present an interesting scenario. They've long crowned "World Series" champions every year, but for the longest time only Americans and American teams even had professional baseball. Good grief, even in the present, only one team remains located outside the United States in nearby Toronto. Claiming to be world champions in a game no other country participated in seemed to ring a bit hollow, if not self-serving. (Isn't that a bit like the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant? We have no idea what else is out there but we just assume our women are the most beautiful in the cosmos?) Yes, the Japanese have professional baseball leagues these days, and several of their players have become stars in MLB. So how come their best teams aren't invited to the "World" Series? Are the powers that be in MLB scared to death a team from abroad might actually win it?

Another interesting phenomenon has happened to MLB in recent years. The influx of Latino players. Cubans, Venezuelans, Dominicans, and others have become a major presence on most teams -- many of them super-star players.

America still reigns supreme in pro basketball, but others in the world are catching up to a degree. In the Olympics every four years, the USA assembles their Dream Team and typically wins the gold medal. But the days of 40-50 point blow-outs against at least a few other national teams are over. The scores are getting closer. The Americans aren't getting worse -- others are getting better. At that, the NBA is hardly an "all-American" league any more. It abounds with players that came from abroad.

Consider the reigning World Champion San Antonio Spurs. Few would think they would have been anywhere near as good if they didn't have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. Duncan's from the Virgin Islands, Parker from France, and Ginobili is, duh, Italian. Delete them, and role players like Boris Diaw (another Frenchman), Tiago Splitter (a Brazilian), and Marco Belinelli (hello?) and the Spurs would be lucky to win a single game, let alone be perennial championship contenders.

But where Americans have totally lost their way in professional sports is tennis. Sure, Serena Williams remains the #1 player in the world and looks as strong as ever. But she's also 33 years old. That's getting up there in the professional tennis world. Her sister Venus, only a year older, has already begun to experience the inevitable fall that comes with age. She can't compete at the highest levels anymore. When Serena's swoon will come is unknown. Perhaps she'll retire on top. But if she hangs around, it's just a matter of time -- and likely within a year or two.

When that happens, American ladies' tennis is in trouble. Not counting Venus (currently #10, who will surely nosedive in the rankings if she persists), the next best American player is named Madison Keys at #20. When's the last time you saw her play in a final or even semi-final of a tournament, much less win it?

The American men have already experienced this. The highest ranked American male tennis player is currently one John Isner at #18. After Isner, one has to go all the way down to #37 to find another Yank. His name is Steve Johnson. Ever hear of him? Not me.

The rest of the world has lapped American male tennis, and the ladies' version is on deck for a similar fall. Only Serena remains and, as mentioned above, not for long.

Yet Americans need not hang their heads. They're still far ahead of the rest of the world in another sports category, and stretching their lead by the day. That would be scandals, of course. No other country, or all the rest of them combined, can offer what America has in recent years.

I mean, c'mon. A-Rod, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Ray Rice, Adrian Petersen, Lance Armstrong, Donald Sterling, academic fraud and cheating at universities, Roger Goodell's recent foibles, the current murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, and even going back to OJ, amongst many other examples, clearly shows that America is still #1.

So bring it, world. Try to top THAT........

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The metamorphosis of pro golf

Back in the day, the PGA tour consisted mostly of Americans. Sure, Gary Player, a South African, was a notable exception, and there were a few others. A Brit here, an Aussie there, perhaps a German or a Spaniard. But by and large the Yanks dominated the tour.

Like the big-time business world, this has certainly changed over the years. The Tour has now gone full-blown global. Players are coming from every corner of the planet and these guys got game. They can flat-out play. Who knew they had golf courses in Sweden? And how do they squeeze them in on the tiny island of Fiji?

Nonetheless, in any given tournament these days, the leaderboard is typically stocked with players from all over the world, and most any of them can get hot for a few days and win it.

But that pales in comparison to what has happened on the ladies' side of the ledger in the LPGA. Also once dominated by Yankettes, the LPGA seems to have taken a decided hard turn -- to the East. As in Far East. Bill Murrey's character Carl Spackler in the movie Caddyshack would not be pleased. There are precious few thick-legged -- and big-butted -- American women waddling around the courses for him to drool over. At least at the LPGA level.

No, they've been replaced by lithe, diminutive creatures from Asia. Evidently, they have golf courses over there too. Again, who knew? And apparently these girls got some serious game as well. Out of the current Top Ten rankings, here are five names -- Ko (#1), Park (#2), Feng, Ryu, and Kim. Michelle Wie, at #6, gets a pass, because I think she's American -- sort of.

Want further proof? Check out the leaderboard at the ongoing Bahamas LPGA Classic. Here's ten names out of the top 13 -- Yoo, Shin, Shon, Miyazato, Lee, Ko again, Feng, Jeng, Joh, and Kung.

Nary a Smith, Jones, or Winfrey in the bunch (though one can only imagine how worked up Carl would have become had the latter played a round at Bushwood -- we're talking some serious butt and waddling).

Yet this is how it should be. If a professional sports organization claims to feature the best players in the world, than why should it matter what part of it they came from?

Though the USA has long had a way of thinking they're the best at everything, nothing could be further from the truth. Different peoples around the world have always been better at some things than others, including the USA, and America's dominance in some venues is either over, or soon will be.

More on that next time. Stay tuned.....

The blah time of the sports year

For your average couch tater, hear hear (or is that here here?), this is a boring time of the sports year. Consider:

The Australian Open just wound up and the next biggie tennis tournament, the French Open, won't be played until late May. That's just about the same time the Indy boys and girls will be firing up their ridiculous racing machines at the Brickyard. An interesting week. Regarding tennis, sure, they'll be playing tourneys every week somewhere until then, but who cares? Blah.

Major League baseball teams don't even begin to start reporting for spring training for another couple weeks. Always did find that term odd. Why do they call it "spring training" when it happens in the middle of winter? And let's get real. The baseball season doesn't get exciting until September and October. There's a reason they call it the "dog days of summer". That's because we dogs have to suffer through it with nothing else to watch. Blah.

The NASCAR boys and girls have been busy running practice laps checking out their gear at Daytona for some time now. But the big race itself isn't until Feb.22. Idle thought: Why does NASCAR start off the season with their "Superbowl"? Instead of the final race of the year being at Homestead, also in Florida, wouldn't it make more sense to swap the two races, with the mega-event being the grand finale to determine a champion?

The NBA and NHL are in the middle of their own dog days. They won't get interesting until the playoffs start in a couple months. Blah.

On the PGA front, Tiger came up lame again, in more ways than one. The dude can't seem to stay healthy enough to walk around a swanky golf course and swing a club every 5 or 6 minutes. It's not like this is mixed martial arts. It's golf. And even if he "toughs it out", he's become almost embarrassing to watch. Let's just say his game is not exactly good.

Nonetheless, like tennis, they'll be playing golf tournaments somewhere for the next couple months, but who cares? The big deal happens at the start of April, sometimes known as the Masters. Don't kid yourself. The big boy golfers will play various tourneys here and there leading up to it, but they're all gearing up for the showdown at Augusta National. But for the next couple couch tater months -- blah.

March Madness in hoops is not yet upon us, because it doesn't start until, well, March. Pretty sure that's still a few weeks away. Sure, there's tons of games to be watched on various channels as teams slog their way through conference play (and tournaments), but c'mon. Does it really get interesting before the whole bracketology insanity begins? I mean, it's great that Geno won his 900th game, Coach K his 1000th, and everybody wonders whether Kentucky can go through the regular season undefeated. But doesn't all that get thrown out the window when the real tournament starts, especially when it gets down to the Elite 8 or so? Until then -- blah.

The NFL draft? Spare me. This is the most over-hyped crapshoot of them all. Every team will say they got exactly who and what they wanted. In the end, some first round picks will turn out to be busts, and latter picks will turn out to be stars. Remember Ryan Leaf?  He was the #2 overall pick in 1998. Forget not making the grade in the NFL and washing out of football. He's now in Montana State Prison. That's a serious bust, no pun intended. Conversely, Tom Brady was a lowly 6th round pick. He's now a 4-time Super Bowl champion (and MVP) -- again. That's a serious star. So one never knows how the draft will turn out.

And that's not even to mention the meat market, sometimes called the "combine" in Indianapolis, where all such prospects will be examined under a microscope like they're a new strain of Ebola. Hype, hype, hype. Does it really matter how fast a defensive tackle can run the 40? Or how high an offensive guard can jump? What's the point? Either they can play at the next level or they can't, and nobody will find out until they get on the field against NFL competition. All the rest is just -- blah blah.

As I get older, it seems like time has speeded up. Yours truly could swear he's getting utility bills every week instead of every month, and maybe I should check into that. But I do rather like having the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle to do every 2 or 3 days or so. Hmmm.

So maybe this down time in the couch tater world will zip right by like everything else. The blahs will be short term.

What's next? Oh, right. Daytona. Gentlemen, Danica, and y'all start them thar engines. Boogety, boogety, boogety.

But hurry up, already. Too much political commentary, Alex Trebek, and Anderson Cooper go beyond the blahs. It's enough to make a man go plum loco.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Revisiting Max Bullough

Remember him? The hot-shot linebacker from Michigan State a while back? Then all of a sudden -- ZAP -- he was suspended for undisclosed reasons and pretty much fell off the radar. Let's look back.

Bullough was all this and all that in high school, garnering many honors. Then on to MSU. While there, he played as a freshman, and steadily got better year after year, also being named to several All-whatever teams, but never quite made it to consensus All-America status. Nevertheless, he was regarded as one of the best linebackers in college during his senior year. The NFL awaited him and his future seemed bright.

But as mentioned above, just before the biggest game of his life, the 2014 Rose Bowl as a senior, he was canned from the team. No explanation was given. The Spartans would go on to defeat the Stanford Cardinal in that game -- but without the services of Bullough.

Understandably, a lot of people wanted to know what had happened with Bullough, not the least being the press. So they dug and they dug some more, but the lid stayed on tight. With all their resources and "peeps" the scribes still came up empty. Obviously, head coach Mark Dantonio had the answers, but he wasn't talking. Who else in the MSU administration was also aware is a matter of speculation. Did Bullough's teammates know as well? Unknown, but it seems likely. The players know everything about each other, but they weren't talking either. With apologies to Maxwell Smart, the cone of silence remained firmly in place in East Lansing.

Eventually, like most everything else in today's "news cycles", the story faded away and people forgot about it as other things of note arose and turned their attentions elsewhere. For that matter, to date, over a year later, there has still not been an official reason given why things went down like they did.

But just recently, in a story that very much flew under the radar, one Jeff Ross of The DetroitSportsRag claims to have finally discovered the truth. According to Ross, a very drunk Bullough got into a fight with an also drunk former high school teammate a couple weeks before the Rose Bowl. Who was the instigator and/or at fault remains unknown, but as it turned out, Bullough beat the other guy up bad  -- REAL bad.

Ross further claims that Bullough's suspension came at the request of his own family. They were willing to pay for the medical bills of the "other guy" to patch him up, and even have their prodigal son zapped from playing in the Rose Bowl at the zenith of his college career. But they didn't want the story to get out. If true, politicians refer to such things as a "quid pro quo", which loosely translates from the Latin as "something for something". What we do know is that long after that Rose Bowl had been played, the lid stayed on regarding the Bullough "affair".

But as Ross pointed out, a guy with the talent and resume like Bullough would certainly have aspirations of playing in the NFL. And what do all "wannabes" have to go through? The annual pro "combine" in Indianapolis. At the meat market, the pro teams want to know everything about a potential draft choice. Height, weight, time in the 40, how high they can jump, agility drills, percentage of body fat, any scrapes with the law, love lifes and possible kids, etc., and even a psychological exam. Let's just say they attempt to be pretty thorough these days with their evaluations before they commit a few million bucks to a player.

So one can certainly assume various NFL folks popped the question to Bullough. What did you do that got you canned from your college team just before the biggest game of your life?

Max would have no choice but to answer. At that point, the circle of people "in the know" got a lot larger. When enough people know a "secret", it's just a matter of time before it gets leaked. Had Bullough been a potential first round draft pick, it's highly likely the press would have sniffed it out from one "anonymous" NFL source or another, and it would have been all over the news.

That's assuming, of course, that Ross had his story right in the first place. It's not like it's been corroborated from any other source.

But even without the mysterious incident, Bullough was nowhere near being considered a first round pick. Most expected him to go in the third or fourth round. He wasn't projected to step into a starting role as an NFL linebacker. Perhaps as a backup, contribute on special teams, and maybe he can grow into it in a couple years.

Thing is, Bullough wasn't drafted at all -- by any team. What really happened before the Rose Bowl and what he told the NFL folks at the combine remains officially unknown as well -- TheDetroitSportsRag version notwithstanding. But it seems odd that out of over 200 college players drafted, Bullough wasn't one of them. Not even in the 6th or 7th round? By anybody? Very strange.

Bullough would eventually sign on with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent -- but not survive the "cut" when the teams had to pare their rosters down to 53. He was on the open market again, but no one claimed him. For a guy that supposedly had so much potential, this seemed highly odd as well. Is the man cursed, doesn't have what it takes to play in the NFL, or is there really more to what happened in December of 2013 that we still don't know?

Nonetheless, Bullough was re-signed by the Texans to their practice squad. A three year deal at the minimum league salary. In other words, he's hanging on to the NFL by his fingernails.

Maybe Ross had it right. Maybe not. Maybe someday a whole different story will come out. Maybe not. Maybe Bullough, soon to be 25, will eventually be a star linebacker and earn big bucks. Maybe not. Or maybe he'll soon find himself on the huge scrap pile of NFL wannabes. Hopefully not.

But one thing's fairly certain. It's been over a year since Max originally got busted, and a year is a very long time in the news these days. A year ago, people like A-Rod, Lance Armstrong and Donald Sterling were big stories. When's the last time you thought about any of them?

So whatever happens to Max Bullough in the future likely isn't going to draw much attention either. He already had his 15 minutes, whether we'll ever know the true story or not.

Here's wishing him well......

Monday, February 2, 2015

The mysterious Super Bowl call. A conspiracy

By now, most everyone on the planet with access to TV, radio, phones, the Internet, carrier pigeons or smoke signals knows all about the weird ending of the Super Bowl. Certainly the sports media continues to flog the proverbial dead horse of how and why Pete Carroll and his Seattle Seahawks called a passing play with only one yard to go to win the game, rather than handing the ball off to running back Marshawn Lynch. As we all also know, the pass was intercepted and the New England Patriots are now World Champions.

In the last 24 hours or so, the play in question has been sliced, diced, dissected and analyzed in every conceivable way. Super slo-mo, different angles, the velocity of the actual pass, the reaction time of the defender, even how many times the football spun from the time it left Russell Wilson's hand until it was picked off. If researchers in the real world were anywhere near this thorough, we might have cars that get 100 miles per gallon and cancer would have been cured long ago. These sports stat zealots evidently missed their true calling in life. They could have made the world a better place for all mankind. Women too. Ahem.

But c'mon. In the whole scheme of things, it was just one play in one game. Sure, a lot of betting money likely changed hands on that one play, and it definitely made a difference regarding where a certain parade will be held in a few days -- but it hardly ranks up there with nuclear war or, God forbid, the Republicans and Democrats finding some common ground. Now THOSE scenarios would be BIG news.

Too boot, every theory imaginable has been put forth as to why the Seahawks called that fateful play. Some are plausible, while others sound like Doctor Seuss creations. Every one but the obvious has been hashed over. There's a very logical reason things went down the way they did. I give it to you now.

First, one has to harkon back to the events of the days leading up to the Super Bowl. What was the biggest story? Likely Marshawn Lynch and his press conference(s) when he absolutely stoned the media. The Beast did his league mandated "stage time", yet not only refused to answer any questions, but seemingly mocked the reporters with the same non-answer over and over again. Understandably, the media was not happy. They're not used to being treated in such a way. They have articles to write, deadlines to meet, and editors to please. How could they write stories when nothing was given to them to write about? So also understandably, the media roundly criticized Lynch for his behavior -- because that's all they had. Along the same line, few would doubt the NFL offices weren't exactly pleased with Lynch either. But he had technically followed the rules by showing up and "answering", so what could Roger Goodell and Co. do about it? If fining a guy for not giving straight answers in a press conference was allowed, every politician in the country would be broke. (Actually, that's not a bad idea, but such a concept is best left to others).

Now consider the last few critical seconds of the Super Bowl. It was second and goal from the one-yard line for the Seahawks. Let's assume a different outcome. Instead of the pass, they hand off the ball to Marshawn Lynch on second down, third down, and even fourth down, if necessary. Three shots for a bruising running back to gain one yard and win the Super Bowl. What are the odds of that happening -- or not happening? I dare say most would agree if it had played out that way, a parade would be happening in Seattle rather than Foxborough.

Tom Brady wouldn't be the MVP. It might well have been, you guessed it, Marshawn Lynch. He had already rushed for over 100 yards, and scoring the winning touchdown would likely have garnered him the honors.

And there's the rub. Instead of slinking back to Seattle as a loser, Marshawn Lynch would have been front and center at another press conference as the MVP. Lynch has clearly shown his disdain for such gatherings. Is there any reason to think he wouldn't have stoned and mocked the reporters yet again?

Given an event as large as the Super Bowl, and the aftermath wall-to-wall coverage which would be watched by over 100 million people, this simply could not be allowed to happen.

Bottom line? It was obviously a conspiracy. The fix was in. An edict from the NFL offices seems unlikely. Even the mighty Commish and his merry band of court jesters wouldn't risk such a thing, lest they eventually be exposed.

No, this had to come from a higher power. The real Almighty? Methinks He's got better things to do than telepathically suggest a dumb play in a football game.

So who was responsible? Ghosts. Lots of them. The ghosts of all the USC players Pete Carroll left in the lurch when be bailed after his "program" was exposed as being riddled with violations. The ghosts of people like Walter Payton that always did things the right way. The ghosts of former coaches at all levels that didn't believe in "piling on", much less laughing in the faces of inferior opponents. The ghosts of all them that have come and gone in the sports world but, even if great at what they did, never lost sight of how fortunate they were and always remained humble. Granted, the latter is an endangered species these days, but add them all up and we're talking about a lot of ghosts.

And who's to say all these ghosts didn't get together and collectively send an "altered states" thought to the Seattle coaching staff in crunch time? "Thou shalt be stupid on the next play and it shall cost thee the Super Bowl. Bwahahahaha.

Because we don't want to see another Marshawn Lynch press conference either."

The Super Bowl. Luck, dumb, dumb-luck, and destiny.

First of all, only one team rightfully earned their way to the Super Bowl. In the conference championship games, New England crushed Indianapolis. The ninnies can continue whining about Deflategate, but it had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the game. 45-7 had nothing to do with Luck, other than he was the QB on the losing end of a blowout.

On the other hand, Seattle got by Green Bay for two reasons. The Packers played incredibly dumb in the second half, and the Seahawks stumbled into some dumb luck. They had no business winning that game. Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers was absolutely right when he said they "gave it away". A handful of plays, where the Packers evidently went into brain-freeze, wound up making the difference. Nobody ever said so, of course, because the politically correct police simply won't allow it anymore. From players, to coaches, to scribes, to TV talking heads, they have all knuckled under. They can only accentuate the positives (see spin), and dare not speak of the corresponding negatives (see reality). In other words, winners are always toasted, no matter how lucky they may have been, while losers are never roasted, no matter how dumb they may have played. Destiny is what happens in the above-mentioned Pats/Colts game. Political correctness is practiced by those too afraid to speak the truth. This forum scoffs at such a notion. Did I mention ninnies?

But the recently concluded Super Bowl offered a little bit of everything mentioned in the title of this post. Tom Brady's early interception was just a dumb throw. Period. It cost his team at least 3 points, and possibly 7. That would come into play later.

Having just taken a 14-7 lead with only 30 seconds remaining in the first half, the Patriots appeared to go into Packer brain-freeze mode. They allowed the Seahawks to march 80 yards on only 5 plays to tie it up at halftime. Dumb, dumb, dumb, and would Seattle's run of dumb luck continue? Destiny, perhaps?

In the second half, Seattle scored the first 10 points to take a 24-14 lead. Nothing particularly dumb about it, just the way the game went, though Brady threw another uncharacteristic pick along the way to help them out. Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman went into full jive mode for a camera, but that's nothing new.

Yet the game was far from over. Indeed, the Patriots defense would stiffen and Brady and crew went back to work. By that point, it had become obvious the Pats' offensive game plan was to use their smallish, but speedy and elusive wide receivers on short pass routes -- with an occasional Gronk or running play thrown in. They didn't want to challenge Seattle's superior (and physical) secondary on vertical routes, but rather took what was available. Eight yards here, 12 yards there, and keep the chains moving.

It paid off. The Pats would score two more touchdowns and retake the lead, 28-24. There was no luck, dumb or otherwise, involved. Just execution.

But with Seattle, it's never over until it's over. After the two-minute warning, they needed another touchdown and had one last shot to pull it off. Could they luck-up and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat as they had against the Packers?

And then the first of two incredible plays happened. Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw a long pass to wide-receiver Jermaine Kearse. Kearse is the same guy that had two passes bounce off his hands for interceptions against the Packers, but also the same guy that caught the winning touchdown pass in OT to win that game two weeks ago. From curse to Kearse and on to the Super Bowl.

On this particular pass, Kearse was extremely well-covered by a Patriot defender. There was no way the pass could be completed. After the football bounced off both his and the defender's hands, Kearse fell to the turf. But along the way down, the ball hit him in the leg, then the other leg, then a hand, then a hand again, then popped up in the air -- only to fall back into his chest while he was flat on the ground. Pass complete. The Patriots were likely thinking -- you've got to be kidding. We might lose the game because of an incredibly dumb luck play like that?

A couple plays later, Seattle was at New England's one yard line and time was running out. 40 seconds, 35, 30. If they poke it in for a touchdown, they're repeat Super Bowl champions. Still only on "second down" and with their full complement of time-outs, not to mention having one of the best running backs in the league named Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks had 3 shots to score the winning touchdown from only one yard away. All seemed lost for the Patriots.

Then the other incredible play happened. Pete Carroll and his Seahawks called likely the stupidest play in the history of the Super Bowl. They had QB Wilson try a quick pass over the middle. But a Pat defensive back, a rookie no less, sniffed it out. He jumped the mini-route and intercepted it. There was nothing lucky about it. The guy read the play and made a play of his own. Seattle's dumb-luck had finally run out, in no small measure due to their own stupidity. Far be it from Pete Carroll to admit this in his post-game interview. Au contraire. The gum-chewing snake-oil salesman was up to his usual spin, saying that was the plan all along.

Idle thought: Would you buy a used car from a guy like this?

But we all know better, don't we? It was a mind boggling dumb play call, and he knows it. So do his players. So do the Patriots. So did all the texts that came pouring in from other players around the league. And we could see that the post-game talking heads were just itching to call him and/or his offensive coordinator out for calling such a stupid play and ultimately losing the Super Bowl because of it. But they can't. The politically correct thing, remember? One must talk nice. Right.

The only thing left at that point was for Tom Brady to take a couple knees and run out the clock. The game was over and Seattle's luck, dumb or otherwise, had finally run out. To the credit of both teams, the game was relatively penalty free. But far be it from the Seahawks to honorably admit defeat. Oh no. They had to goon it up at the end -- on "take a knee" plays, of all things. A mini-brawl would ensue and flags flew everywhere. Though basically no harm was done, because this offset that, one player was ejected from the game. That would be the Seahawks' Bruce Irvin, #51, the instigator.

Though only one more kneel down remained, here's the thing. Having been ejected, Irvin didn't immediately leave the field of play as required under NFL rules. He stayed on the sidelines with his teammates. The TV cameras were all over him. A technicality? Perhaps, but aren't a lot of penalties?

The hot-headed Mr. Irvin had a bad day being on the losing side of the Super Bowl. But rules are rules. He might have another bad day coming up soon. After the NFL honchos have thoroughly reviewed the game, yours truly wouldn't be a bit surprised to see his wallet lightened to the tune of a  $10,000 fine or so because he didn't follow protocol after having been ejected. Yes, it was lost in the moment, but it still happened. (Never underestimate the boneheaded capabilities of the NFL offices these days. The last year or so should be proof enough of that.) Ten grand is chump change in the NFL, you say? I agree, so it only seems fair a player that acted like a chump should be treated as such.

So we've come full circle. Along the way there was luck, dumb, dumb-luck, and finally destiny was on the Patriots side. They should have won, then lost the Super Bowl. Yet at the very end, a gift was handed to them.

Nevertheless, all hail the New England Patriots. Super Bowl champions. May they have a grand parade in Foxborough, if the snowplows can clear a mile or so of road. Good luck with that in the next few days.