Monday, March 30, 2015

NCAA hoops. Damn women

They're so illogical, irrational, and unpredictable. Very strange creatures indeed. Can I say that without fear of getting sued by somebody or, worse yet, a certain dastardly editor marching my sorry and soon to be aching butt off to the woodshed again? Guess I'll find out.

But credit where credit is due. Though men will never have a clue how they do it, the fairer sex seems to have a method to their madness. In the end, one way or the other, the double X chromosomers have a way of putting things in their proper order.

And so it came to pass in this year's NCAA ladies hoops tournament. All four #1 seeds made it to the Final Four. This has never happened in mens college hoops. Even 3 out of 4 making it this year was quite unusual. The other original #1 seed, Villanova, didn't even make it to the Sweet Sixteen. #7 Michigan State would wind up winning that region. (See previous post about a stepchild).

If there's a comparison to be made between the boys' and girls' respective Final Fours, one could argue it's Kentucky and UConn. UK has been #1 all year and is still undefeated, though they've had a few close calls along the way. Few would doubt they remain the favorite to win it all, but they're certainly beatable by any of the other three teams still left standing. It wouldn't be considered a monumental upset if either Wisconsin, Duke or MSU knocked them off in the next two games. Those teams are really good too.

On the other hand, the UConn Lady Huskies are a more prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets once again. No, they're not undefeated. They lost a game @ Stanford way back in November, by two points -- in overtime. However, since then, Geno's Bambinos have been nothing less than formidable.

They would visit then #2 nationally ranked Notre Dame and blister them to the tune of 18 points.
Besides the Lady Irish, South Carolina has made it to the Final Four. Remember how they were ranked #1 in the country to start the season? That lasted until Feb. 9, when they tangled with, yep, UConn. The Gamecocks got trashed by 25. That's an exclamation point.

After the regional final game was over, it was almost comical to see the spin the talking heads put on it. Their tagline was "UConn 'survives' Dayton". They beat them by 21. A twenty one point margin of victory in most basketball games would be considered a blowout. Yet UConn seems to be held to a different standard. When a team averages defeating opponents by a whopping 47 points throughout the course of a season, maybe 21 can be considered a close game. But it's really not.

So now it's on to Tampa for the ladies' Big Dance. The aforementioned Notre Dame will lock horns with South Carolina in one semi-final. Got a coin?

Maryland outlasted Tennessee to make it into the other semi. Their reward? A date with UConn. Good luck with that.

But you know what? It really is a pleasure to watch lady college hoopsters at the highest levels. These girls have got it going on in a serious way. The superb ball handling, constant movement, crisp passing, rotating defenses, and dead-eye shooting from 3 point land to the free throw line is something to behold indeed. When it comes to the fundamentals of the game, they can do everything their male counterparts can do -- and sometimes do it better. And who cares about a 360, between your legs, backboard rattling dunk? It's still just two points -- same as a layup.

It's a shame these phenomenally talented girls have to eventually grow up and become the illogical, irrational, and unpredictable varmints that will forever confound and frustrate dudes the world over. Damn women.

But I think that's where I came in. That said, this would probably be a good time to head for higher ground. The wrath of an editor is one thing. Hordes of female huns (hunnies?) laying siege to my man cave is another.

And then there's the worst case scenario. The proverbial sum of all fears, as it were. A certain mysterious blonde girl reading this post. A terrifying creature that has haunted me for years, that not even Stephen King could have imagined in his worst nightmares. I don't want THAT thing coming after me with malice aforethought and mayhem on her mind. Horrors!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

NCAA. Three #1s and a stepchild

Interesting, or maybe not, how the NCAA mens basketball field arrived at their Final Four.

Duke was  the #1 seed in their region going in.
Ditto for Wisconsin.
Kentucky was/is the overall Numero Uno.
And then there's Michigan State. What's a lowly #7 seed doing associating with such lofty company? Don't these commoners know their place? The utter nerve of this riff-raff that would dare to show up at the grand ball. Harumph!

MSU certainly has their ugly duckling side. Every time they played somebody good earlier in the year -- they got beat. Notre Dame, Duke, Kansas. All losses. They even got trashed in their own house by Texas Southern. TEXAS SOUTHERN!

The Spartans didn't exactly overwhelm Big Ten conference foes either. They went down at the hands of Nebraska, Illinois, and Minnesota, hardly powerhouses. Even cross-state arch rival Michigan took them to overtime -- and Michigan's terrible. The Maize and Blue didn't even qualify for the NIT also-ran tournament. Oh my.

MSU didn't win the Big 10 regular season title, nor the conference championship and, at one point, there were doubts they would make it into the NCAA tournament at all.

On top of all that, they're atrocious at the free throw line.

But then March came around and that month seems to have a magical effect on Tom Izzo and his crew. They morph into something that becomes scary once the tournament starts.

Consider the gauntlet they survived on the way to the Final Four. Georgia, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Louisville. All very good teams. At least a couple downright outstanding. But when push came to shove, Izzo's brutes outwilled them all. They--just--don't--give--up. Stepchildren can be like that sometimes. Stubborn little brats many want to see receive the Adrian Peterson treatment, but the Spartans have a knack of getting in the last lick themselves in tough tournament games.

Izzo is no stranger to this territory. He and his teams over the years have made it to 6 Final Fours before, including once winning it all.

Up next the Spartans get Duke, who handily defeated them earlier in the year. This will be Coach K's 12th Final Four, tieing him with the legendary John Wooden for the most of all time. And he's got 4 national championships under his belt. Quite the pedigree indeed.

So can the Spartan serfs rise up once again and depose the blue-blooded archdukes of Durham?

Maybe. Should be a helluva game. Nevertheless, it's a pretty sure bet we won't hear any comments from Coach K this week about letting them eat cake. That didn't work out so well for Marie Antoinette. Riling up the commoners sometimes has a way of coming back to be a royal pain in the neck. Ahem.

On the flip side is the Wisconsin -- Kentucky match-up, equally interesting. Can the Wildcats finish running the table to become only the second team since Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers to go undefeated way back in 1976? Maybe.

The Cats are long and deep, but they've had a few close calls against good teams. Wisconsin should give them another stern test. The Badgers have only lost one game in the last two and a half months themselves. It will be a contrast in styles. Kentucky is freaky tall and fast, and will put on a dunkathon if allowed. Wisconsin is tough, disciplined, plays hard-nosed defense, and features players with more college experience. Plus, they have arguably the best all-around big man in the country in Frank Kaminsky.

Regardless, at least one #1 seed will be playing in the finals on Monday night, and possibly two.

Or could the hoi polloi from East Lansing crash yet another party and wind up cutting down the nets?

Know what's really interesting? Consider what happened just last year.

Connecticut wound up winning the national championship -- as a #7 seed -- the same as MSU is right now.

Food for thought.......

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jimmy Howard and the doh! factor

Detroit Red Wings' goalie Jimmy Howard hasn't exactly been faring well of late. After coming back from a mysterious groin injury -- and don't you just hate it when your groin gets twisted out of shape -- Howard has been somewhat porous between the pipes.

Put another way, #35 of the winged wheel rinksters has started to resemble a screen door on a submarine when it comes to stopping shots from opponents. Lately, the guy's had a hand in turning on more flashing red lights than your average fire departments responding to a five-alarmer. Let's just say he's been giving up more goals than management is happy with.

But never fear, the problem has been solved, or so sayeth Howard himself. According to reports, JH watched film along with his goalie coach and they came to an astounding conclusion.

Howard wasn't watching the puck with his eyes, and this can make a difference as an NHL goaltender. Well, no kidding Jimbo. Who would have ever guessed such a small detail as a goalie maintaining visual contact with the puck might cut down on those pesky red lights? Doh!

ZZ Top once had a hit song about driving while blind. It's not generally recommended. Neither is flying a plane. The likes of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Roy Orbison were certainly mega-musical talents -- but I dare say it might give one pause to see any of them seated in the cockpit while boarding an airliner. Granted, many have overcome such a physical impairment to excel at what they do. But if I'm about to go 500 MPH at 35.000 feet, which hopefully includes a safe landing at the end, I think I might just wait for the next flight out to the same destination with a different pilot. If Ronnie Milsap shows up with 4 bars on his sleeves, then I'm calling Greyhound. And if THAT driver turns out to be Danica Patrick, the trip wasn't that important in the first place. But that's just me. Everybody has their little prejudices. Different strokes, but I digress.

Back to Jimmy Howard. He can watch film with his goalie coach all he wants, but there's a better method of solving his problem. Developing bat-like sonar is probably beyond his capabilities, but how about....

Bloodsport. Ring a bell?

That was the 1988 movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme in the ultimate martial arts tournament in Hong Kong. Playing the part of real life Frank Dux, Van Damme was faced with a brutal villain, one Chong Li, who had killed his previous opponent, in the finals. The dastardly Li threw a crushed salt pellet into Dux's eyes, which blinded him. Foul play indeed.

But as we know, Dux had trained under the legendary master Senzo Tanaka, who had taught him to channel his "inner vision". Of course the American prevailed. They always do in the movies.

Jimmy Howard is an American from New York. Maybe he should seek out Tanaka if he's still around. Couldn't hurt, and he might still have a hero left in him deep down somewhere.

Goaltending in the NHL while blind. Now THAT would take some serious training and discipline.

And who knows? This could catch on. Major league baseball pitchers that can throw 100 MPH fastballs are already intimidating to batters. Imagine if one of them was totally sightless bringing the same heat. How scary would that be?

But you never know. People have overcome huge obstacles before and gone on to be quite successful.

Nevertheless, I'm going to take a peek in the cabin the next time I board a flight.

That couldn't hurt either.

Elite 8 results

Louisville -- Michigan State.

First, Louisville needs to define how its name is pronounced. Is is Lew -uh-ville? Lew-ee-ville?  It's probably not Lew-us-ville, as in St. Louis or Joe Louis. Nevertheless, Lewster head coach Rick Pitino is perceived by many to be an oily little runt that will say and do anything that is good for -- Rick Pitino. Perhaps he missed his true calling. Politics.
On the other hand is Spartan head coach Tom Izzo. He's one of those crazy Yoopers that made good in East Lansing. Michigan State can't make free throws, but this is the time of year when nobody wants to play one of his teams. The Sparties have a way of being a very tough out once the tournament starts. They will be again. Though a much lower seed than the redbirds, MSU advances.

Kentucky -- Notre Dame

There's a reason why Kentucky has been #1 all year. They have the best two teams in the country. One is called team blue, and the other team white. Problem is, they all play for John Calipari.
This match-up features likely the biggest two love/hate scenarios possible. Regarding Notre Dame, one either loves them or hates them. Kentucky is similar. Either yer fer-em or agin-em, in a huge way. The bluegrassers pretty well stink when it comes to other sports, but have long been a basketball mecca. As yours truly has noted before, Notre Dame still hasn't figured out where their roots are. They call themselves the Fighting Irish, but the REAL Notre Dame is a cathedral in Paris, France.
It doesn't matter. All the Lucky Charms, four-leafed clovers, green beer, and leprechauns will do the South Benders no good. Didn't the Wildcats just beat a very good West Virginia team to the tune of 78-39? Look for a similar fate to befall the Irish/French, whatever they are laddies. This game's going to be a blowout.

Wisconsin --Arizona

A very interesting match-up. #1 and #2 seeds squaring off for a spot in the Final Four. Wisconsin has some serious horses, including arguably the best overall big man in the country, and is very well coached. But the other Wildcats are top to bottom more athletic. These two teams faced off just last year in a similar situation, and Arizona eked out a 1 point victory. Alas, there will be no joy in Cheeserland this year either. The Cats squeak out another one.

Duke -- Gonzaga

Another matchup of #1 and #2. Yours truly freely admits that he thought the Zags were overrated all year, but they continued to prove me wrong. They belong. Mark Few's Spokane gang is the real deal. They've got decent size up front, one of the best point guards in the country, can shoot with the best of them, and they play smart team basketball.
But that pretty much describes Coach K's Dukies as well. Nothing against the Durham Devils, because they've long been a class act, but yours truly also admits he'd like nothing better than to see Gonzaga finally make it to the Final Four. Better yet, win it all and cut down the nets. That would be a Cinderella story of Miracle on Ice or David slaying Godzilla in biblical times proportions.
Maybe not. The Bulldogs are hardly huge underdogs in this game. The early line has them at +2 1/2.
The Dukies have a long storied history of being in this position before, and underestimating the genius of Coach K is usually a very bad idea. Conversely, the Zags are in unchartered waters. It would stand to reason that Few's crew will be slew.
But any water-cooler wannabe wahoo can pick the favorites. It takes vision, true grit, and a perfect melding of rashness and senility to go against commonly held beliefs. Wut due thay no anyweigh?
Nip and tuck all game, but the Zags pull it out in the end.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The end of the world is coming

Not only the world, but the entire universe. So sayeth some highly educated folks that supposedly know about such things. In a mere few billion years, the Big Bang will reverse itself and become the Big Crunch. Everything's going to implode upon itself and form one all-consuming super-colossal galactic mass. Kind of like William Shatner's ego or a Kardashian butt. Ahem.

Well then. If everything's going to end anyway, perhaps one should stop paying their bills and taxes. On the other hand, if this whole thing turns out to be a false alarm, the late fees and penalties would be a KILLER after a few billion years.

Of course, we've heard the doomsday scenario before, many times in the world of sports.

Back in the early 1900s, when the Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees, the curse of the Bambino was born. Indeed, it would take the Bosox almost a century before they won another World Series. But they did and, last time I looked Boston was still on the map and going strong. Besides, what's a century when one is considering billions of years?  No more than a blink of the cosmic eye. Kind of like the Spice Girls' fame in the world of music or your average celebrity marriage.

Many golf fans, and certainly the media, turned into collective Chicken Littles when Tiger Woods took a nosedive for various reasons. OMG, the sky is falling and surely the PGA tour will struggle without him. Balderdash. The tour was just fine before Eldrick arrived and it's going great guns since his game went in the dumpster and he disappeared. For that matter, yours truly would submit it's much more interesting to watch now than it was when Tiger was dominant. Though the TV folks valiantly tried to keep him relevant with replay after replay of his former heroics, even in tournaments he wasn't participating in, they eventually realized that people were getting sick and tired of this nonsense. Much better to spread the coverage around evenly amongst the players that are contenders in the tournament happening NOW. There's more talent out there than ever, so who wants to see replays of what some former great did last year -- or 5 years ago -- or longer? Granted, Woods likely had the greatest decade in the history of golf. Kudos to him, but it's over. So let's move on. Continuing to dwell on Eldrick Tont is kind of like reminiscing over drive-in movies or the "heady" days of turntables, reel-to-reel tape recorders and huge ampzilla speakers. Guess what? They're not coming back either.

Every year, in every major sports city, there will come a time when a team is experiencing a slump, and a columnist will always pose the same question ----  Is it time to panic?

Evidently, they think their readers might start building bomb shelters and stocking up on non-perishable goods if that particular team doesn't start winning a few more games. It's always been so ridiculous. At the end of the season, including the playoffs, only one team is going to be crowned a champion. Somewhere along the line, all the rest will be defeated and go home for another year, until the next season springs "hope eternal" and the hype starts all over again. That's kind of like the folks that stood in line to buy cabbage patch dolls, pet rocks, and chiapets. P.T. Barnum was on the right track, but grossly underestimated. There's not one born every minute, but millions of them already out there ripe for the taking.

But one never knows. It might take a few billion more years or the entire universe could collapse tomorrow. The former would be preferable. The Detroit Lions might even make it to a Super Bowl during that time. After all, what's a mere 50 years of futility and ineptitude when it comes to countless eons of time? With a few breaks, it could happen. Maybe. Someday. The latter would be a bummer. Kind of like divorce court or all 9000 TV channels showing the same program 24/7 -- and that program is some evangelical charlatan asking you to give him money. Definite bummer.

For now, let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. Personally, I can't comprehend how long a few billion years is. That goes back WAY before the dinosaurs, or even Regis Philbin roamed the earth.

So there's only one thing to do. Keep on keeping on. If the whole cosmic crunch thing comes quickly and the planet Jupiter falls on my head tomorrow -- then I had a very bad day.

Until such a thing happens, yours truly will continue to carry on the tradition of his life-long hero. Alfred E. Neuman.

What Me Worry.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Making the Masters tournament even better

Though the Brits might bloody well choke on their tea at such a thought, given their ancient "Open", most would likely agree the Masters tournament held at Augusta National every April is the most prestigious golf tournament in the world. Name the pro player from whatever country, ask him what he'd like most like to achieve in golf -- and chances are a green jacket will be at the top of his list. Sure, being #1 and/or earning a bazillion dollars while travelling the world in luxury playing on the poshest of golf courses is a pretty sweet gig itself. But the green jacket has its own special place amongst the linksters.

Recently, Doug Ferguson of the AP penned an interesting article regarding the Masters. Evidently, the good-ole-boys at Augusta National have become concerned their field is getting too crowded. This is "because there is a maximum number of competitors for which we can give the experience that we want them to have and do it in a way that's manageble". OK, point noted, but -- I'll get back to that.

As Ferguson pointed out, the other 3 majors have 156 players. Yet the Masters folks think even "100 pushes that limit quite significantly". In other words, they don't want to have their elite tournament watered down by the field getting too large. In and of itself, this makes perfect sense. The very definition of the Masters is about the best of the best -- the winners -- getting together one time a year on the same beautiful historic course for a 72 hole showdown. To the best will go a pile of money, a place in history, and the above-mentioned green jacket. Along with a few other goodies like life time exemptions from qualifying for any other tournament -- ever -- despite how bad their games may have become over the years. Did anybody suggest Tiger Woods? Not me. But he, like many others, are in if they choose to play.

And that's where the people in charge of the Masters have become their own worst enemies over the years. The "watering down" effect is purely their own fault.

Besides the actual winners of past tournaments, the Masters has given a free pass to any player in the Top 50 in the world rankings. Sure, these two entities overlap in a large way, but not entirely. There are those that have a lot of "close but no cigars" on their resumes, but have accumulated enough decent finishes to be ranked.

Granted, Augusta National isn't the only ones to have fallen into the "point system" trap. It's entirely possible a NASCAR driver could go the entire season and not win a single race, but be crowned champion if they consistently finished in the top 5. It's crazy if one thinks about it. A champion that never actually won anything?

If the good folks at Augusta are serious about keeping their tournament exclusive, here are a few suggestions.....

As Ferguson also noted, they finally did away with the Top 30 money earners getting an invite. Good grief, theoretically if some sheik in an oil rich land hosted a tournament and offered a total purse of a billion dollars, any player that made the cut would likely be in the Top 30 on the money list, if they didn't make another cut all year anywhere else. This was always a dumb rule.

But Masters chairman Billy Payne and his minions could trim a lot more fat from their prestigious tournament if they wished.

Credit to them for reducing the top finishers at the previous Masters from 16 to 12, and the U.S. Open from the top 6 to the top 4 as qualifiers.

Yet they continue to miss their own original objective. It's supposed to be about MASTERS, not guys that finished in the top 12 or even top 4 of other major tournaments. The bottom line is simple. If a player doesn't have a win on his resume, then he doesn't get invited. Period. That would cull the wannabe herd considerably.

While we're at it, why not institute a 10 year sunset window on such wins? If a player hasn't won anything in a decade, they drop off the list. Tell me some guy can be competitive at Augusta National amongst elite players when he hasn't won anything in 10 years -- and I'll tell you I don't believe it.

The question at Augusta National shouldn't be about the maximum number of players they can squeeze in and still maintain their high standards of decorum. Rather it should be about filling out the field, whatever the number is, with former winners only.

As a closing argument, yours truly would humbly offer the following into evidence ----

Take a look around at the PGA, European, and other pro tours over the last several years. Young studs are popping up everywhere winning this or that, and it's likely to continue in the future. Yes, anybody can get hot for 4 days and win a tournament, and may never win another. But dammit, they won one, so they get a Masters invite.

And here's another idea. If a one-win player doesn't make the cut at the Masters, then he drops off the list until he wins another tournament somewhere.

What would the Masters field then look like in the future? 50-60 guys that have won a tournament in the last 10 years? That's enough.

If they want it to be a true tournament of champions, then wean out the also-rans and make it so.

All the rest amounts to nothing more than spoiled rich people whining about their diluted product which they were and are responsible for in the first place.

Who's kidding who?

Another bad habit that needs to go

Over the years, we've witnessed a few not-so-good habits in various sports. Some are (almost) gone through rule changes and, yes, even common decency.

It used to be that, while at bat, major league baseball players had this thing about scratching their nether regions repeatedly. Why that was is anybody's guess, but it was definitely not cool. Hey, kids were watching their heroes and still will copy everything they do. Nobody wanted to see a 5 year old stepping up to the plate in tee ball only to grab his crotch before taking his swing. Thankfully, for whatever reason, the pros don't act like they've got itching powder in their cups or a bad case of the crabs anymore. This is a good thing.

Another had to do with the tobacco chewers. Sure, grown men should be able to partake if they wish -- within limits. In any major league stadium that features natural grass, no problem. They can spit away. Once the ground crew turns on the sprinklers or hoses to water the lawn, it all gets absorbed. But this should NOT be allowed on artificial turf. Somebody's got to clean those nasty stains up. And would you really want to see that same 5 year old with a cheek or gumful of Skoal? Dad might be proud of his boy, but methinks he'd have some serious 'splainin to do if Mom found out.

In football, they're trying their best to do away with helmet-to-helmet contact. Given the recent revelations regarding concussions and the serious, sometimes tragic, events in later life they can lead to -- the powers that be had to do something. So they've instituted penalties and fines. Actually, there was always a better way. Cut the top off the helmets. If some guy wants to lower his head and deliver a hit to an opponent's face mask or side of his helmet -- have at it. Guess who's going to come out on the short end of THAT collision? It could be argued that the only purpose the top of the helmet ever served was as a battering ram. Bare those scalps to the open air and all the cheap shots will STOP.

Soccer is slowing coming to grips with their obvious "flopping" problem. You know, when guys hit the turf feigning agony or even unconsciousness, even if replays clearly show they were never touched by an opponent. The futbol folks might give such a faker a yellow card as a warning, maybe even the dreaded red card that removes him from the game. But such a charlatan will likely live to flop again in a future game. This is easily fixable. Forget the wimpy yellow/red cards. Put one of those invisible fence dog collar zappers in the same place major leaguers used to scratch so much. When a faker is exposed as such -- have a league official activate it by remote control and give him a 30 second burst. At least then the writhing in agony would be for real and justice would have been served. It would only take one example, and all this nonsense would stop as well. Another problem solved.

The latest bad habit that needs to go involves hoops. We see this all the time from preps to pros, and it's wrong. This is when a guy/gal is at the free throw line. After attempting a charity toss, make it or miss it, they always have to slap a little skin with their other four teammates. It's stupid.

First of all, any half way decent player is SUPPOSED to make the majority of their free throws. It's like a golfer holing a two foot putt, or a hockey goalie stopping a shot that came from 30 feet away. This is business as usual and hardly cause for celebration.

And you won't see the golfer or goalie doing high fives with their caddie or teammates if they miss that putt or whiff on a shot they should have blocked.

Yet in basketball, even missing a free throw has evidently come to mean it's mandatory the four other players on the court congratulate the failed shooter. How dumb is that? Sure, words of encouragement would be appropriate. "Hey, Maurice/Moriah, stay cool and hit the next one. We got your back".

And well they should. Teammates looking out for each other is what it's all about to be successful.

But all this nonsense about gathering at the free throw line to congratulate somebody whether they made or missed a shot really needs to go.

I mean, what's next? People going wild after a 6 foot 8 guy with a running head start dunks the ball? Hmm. Maybe a bad example, because it happens all the time, and announcers and teammates alike will react like they've just witnessed a miracle. But it's no more a spectacular feat than a place kicker converting an extra point. It's a rarity when it ISN'T successful.

This celebration stuff over the mundane is getting out of control.

Monday, March 23, 2015

More idle sports rants

In NCAA men's hoops, #3 seed Oklahoma made it to the Sweet Sixteen, and that's good news for Sooners' fans. The bad news is their team exhibited the post-game locker room mentality one might expect from a group of chimpanzees after too many hits from a crack pipe. These guys were OUT there with their babbling and gyrations. Truth is, they've won two games in the tournament, both against inferior competition. The first was against #14 seed Albany, followed up by #11 Dayton. Hardly murderer's row, so far. Next they get #7 Michigan State, who just knocked off #2 Virginia. Tom Izzo's Sparties always seem to have a way of rising to the occasion come tournament time. Never underestimate Yooper Tom and his greenies when the Big Dance starts. The Sooners might well become Laters when faced with a stern test next week. We'll see. But even if the Tokie Okies survive to move on, here's hoping they spare us another locker room spectacle like the last one.

That Buick car commercial never ceases to amaze me. They're offering over $8400 off in their version of a Sweet Sixteen special. Quick, buy one now, while the offer lasts. Just one question---- if they can give you over 8 grand off and still make a profit -- just how ridiculous was the mark-up in the first place? Hello?

Not sure what to make of the Oregon State ladies basketball team. They're really good, but have an identity problem. Other female teams around the country face the same dilemma when likened to their male counterparts. For example, Tennessee has their Volunteers and Connecticut has their Huskies. Logically, the fairer sex versions call themselves the Lady Volunteers and Lady Huskies.

But Oregon State's name for all it's teams, both male and female, is the same. The Beavers. Sure, that name can be taken different ways. It could conjure up memories of Jerry Mathers, Wally, June, Ward, and Eddie Haskell from the classic sitcom of yore. More likely it's intended to honor the furry critters with the paddle tails that can gnaw trees down and build dams that create ponds. There's lots of them in Oregon.

Yet put yourself in the place of a lady hoopster that plays for Oregon State. They were all stars in high school or they wouldn't be there. They not only made it to a major university on scholarship but played for a team that found itself worthy of a #3 seed in the NCAA tourney. So should such young ladies stand up and scream to the world that they're proud to be Beavers? Call me old fashioned, but somehow that doesn't sound quite right either.

Alas, the Beaves were knocked out by those pesky Gonzaga Bulldogs. And just what, pray tell, should a lady bulldog be referred to as? Cowdog? Do they go in heat every six months, grab onto your pantlegs, and won't let go? I dunno. Beats Horned Frogs or the dreaded Crimson Tide, I guess, and whoever heard of a lady's Trojan? But you'd think there would be a better way of doing this.....

What he should have said Dept.

This is another commercial showing Shaq, Dr. J, and a couple other NBA associated folks gathered around watching a game on TV which was evidently meant to advertise a major telecommunications network. Shaq goes into a Soonerish dancing routine in front of the screen. The dude with the nasally voice has a one word comment. "Impressive".

A much better comment might have been -- "Get yo big spaz butt out the way. Can't you see we're trying to watch the game, fool?"

There's probably a reason such companies don't reach out to the likes of yours truly to endorse them. Go figure, but what fun it would be.......

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ron Hunter. The Pink Panther of Georgia State

By all appearances Ron Hunter is a fine, (and was an ) upstanding man. But the soon to be 54 year old head coach of the Georgia State men's basketball team, and the university itself, have become somewhat yuk-worthy lately.

It all started last Sunday during the Sun Belt Conference championship game. A trip to the Big Dance was on the line when Georgia State squared off against Georgia Southern. Hunter's Panthers would win that game by the narrowest of margins in the final seconds.

While jumping up and down in celebration, Hunter managed to blow out his left achilles tendon. Ouch. Down he went -- as in face down. Eventually, Hunter was helped into the locker room.

The next time we saw him was in an NCAA tournament game against Baylor, two days ago. He had on a foot cast and was sitting courtside on what looked a lot like your typical bar stool on rollers. Yep, he could do 360s and slowly propel himself (with his good leg) a couple feet left or right, but he wasn't exactly mobile.

Improbably, his #14 Panthers upset the #3 Baylor Bears, again on a last-second shot, this time by his own son. Evidently forgetting his physical predicament, in his perhaps hapless exuberance, Hunter attempted to leap to his feet in celebration once more. Out slid the stool and down he went again, hard on his right shoulder. Thud, and ouch #2. Carry him off one more time.

But on to the next round where the #6 seed Xavier Musketeers awaited. The cast was now up to his knee.

It should be noted that, somewhere along the line, Hunter was provided with a scooter of sorts to get around. No, not a Moped, Vespa, or anything like that. More like a Flintstone MOOL (Manually Operated One Legger -- pronounced the same as "mule"). Or put another way, one of those gadgets we've long seen pre-schoolers merrily step, push and coast on for generations. To their credit, this particular device had a custom built knee support for Hunter's gimpy left leg.

Yet one would think that a university such as Georgia State could have done a lot better for the ailing Hunter. They can afford to charter planes to send their basketball team all over the country on various road trips, but can't scrape enough dough together to get their head coach a motorized wheel chair? Something is very wrong with this picture.

But there was Hunter on his stool again, having MOOLed his way in. Had a loose ball come in his direction with players scrambling after it, he was helpless to get out of the way. That could easily have resulted in another smackdown, thud and ouch. Perhaps it's just as well Xavier nipped the tournament run of Georgia State in the bud. If the Panthers had played and won a couple more games, and Hunter kept attempting to celebrate, he might have been in a full body cast by the time he arrived at the Final Four showdown.

On a related note, Panthers would seem to be an appropriate name for this team. But considering the foibles of their head coach, maybe Pink Panthers would be even better -- as in the Peter Sellers' variety in the movies. Throw in a team mascot named Cato that ambushes the coach every time he manages to make it out on the court, and there you go.

Just a thought.......

Friday, March 20, 2015

The classiest and stupidest things of the month

The Class Award goes to the University of Idaho. Pretty much under the radar on the national scene, U of I had awarded a football scholarship to a high school running back from Washington (state). But then Jace Malek experienced pain in his hip. The diagnosis turned out to be a rare form of bone cancer.

Thankfully, by the grace of God and some mighty fine medical personnel and treatments, it appears Malek has beat the dreaded Big C. But his football career is over.

A lot of schools would have quietly thrown Malek on the scrap heap. What good is he to us if he can't play ball, would be their line of thinking.

But not Idaho. They honored his full ride scholarship anyway.

Sure, in the whole scheme of things, this was just one more incoming jock at one more college. There's thousands of them every year, and one more scholarship is a drop in the bucket. Hardly a huge financial burden for any university to bear. We may or may not ever hear of Jace Malek ever again.

But taken alone, this was a class act of the highest order. Bravo, UI, and may the force be with you Jace, wherever life takes you. Live long and prosper indeed.

Of course, for every commendable act, one of Newton's laws states there must be an equal and opposing force of stupidity.

This has to do with a TV commercial that has aired recently during various sportscasts. Pretty sure a car company is behind it, though I don't recall which.

At any rate, it depicts a yuppyish looking young lady backing her soccer mom vehicle out of her driveway. Nothing unusual about that. But then the stupid factor kicks in. Evidently oblivious to the possibility of any traffic on the road, she doesn't even bother to look. Put it in reverse and hit the gas, while still staring straight ahead.

Ah, but the feature of this vehicle that was being advertised was the rear sensor that detects the presence of any such obstacles. Sort of a modern day "Danger, Will Robinson" type of device. Sure enough, a beep sounded and Ms. Airhead finally turned around to see what was behind her. It was an on-coming school bus, of all things.

But what if the device developed a glitch someday and didn't work properly? Even the latest and most sophisticated electronic gear is subject to an occasional failure. It happens. The more complicated it gets, the better the chances something can go wrong. She could back into the path of a school bus, semi, cop car, fire truck, run over a pedestrian, you name it. And this nit wit would never know it until after the crash. Wouldn't it be a lot simpler to, you know, take a peek over her shoulder when backing up like drivers have done since "reverse" was first invented? Seems easy enough. But this one merrily and blindly went backwards until the beep sounded. THEN she looked.

Drunk drivers and texters are bad enough. But people that are this stupid have no business driving a vehicle -- period -- ever. And whatever car company aired that commercial should be ashamed of themselves for advocating such moronic behavior while behind the wheel.

I considered saying people like this should be sterilized so they can't spawn future generations of idiots, but I might get in trouble for that, so I won't. And in this case, it was too late anyway. The ditz had two of her own kids in the back seat. They had the same clueless look in their eyes. The light's on, but nobody's home.

So yours truly hereby dedicates the Stupid Award of the Month to whoever was behind that commercial. We've been dumbed-down in a lot of ways in recent years, but this is downright insulting to whatever little intelligence we still have left.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The amazing Foster Loyer

Yours truly doesn't normally follow much prep action, but every so often a phenomenal talent comes along that is impossible to ignore. And no, I never lived in Clarkston, much less attended school there. However, I do have a tie to the community.

Back about the time Slick Willy was first settling into the Oval Office, yours truly got interested in joining the Masons. So I applied, made it through all the hoops (no pun intended), and became a full-fledged member of Cedar Lodge No. 60 -- in Clarkston. I am proud to say I eventually became Master of the Lodge. It's a one year deal and my year was 1997, many moons ago. Though now retired from "active duty" in the brotherhood, I will always cherish what I was able to receive -- and more importantly, give back during my time there. It's a wonderful, enlightening experience and I highly recommend it to any man, young or old, of good character. They will make you even better. I've been in Rudy's Market countless times, had drinks at the Cafe across the street, attended many various functions at Depot Park, and even my dentist and insurance agent have their offices in Clarkston. So yeah, I've been there a LOT.

But this is about Foster Loyer, a freshman guard on Clarkston's basketball team, whom I've never met, or even seen play in person. As talents go, this young man appears to be off the charts, and the scary thing is how much better he might get.

Let's remember what a high school freshman really is. A ninth-grader. Not that long ago, ninth graders, regardless of their ability, wouldn't be playing varsity basketball for a high school team for a very simple reason. They wouldn't be there. They'd still be in "junior high school". But junior high schools no longer exist. They have morphed into "middle schools" and somewhere along the line ninth-graders got bumped up to the high school level.

Indeed, Loyer is only 15 years old. He can't even drive a car yet, at least not legally. He's two years away from his JUNIOR prom. And at that age, a couple years can make a big difference. Typically, an 11th or 12th grader wouldn't be caught dead hanging out with a 9th grader. The "older" guys are bigger, smarter, and no longer pedal bikes or ride buses, because they have their own first cars. And then there's the little matter of hormones kicking into warp drive. Something about the fairer sex. The LAST thing they want is for some dopey 9th grader to be underfoot and in the way.

That is, unless he's a brilliant point guard on their basketball team.

Loyer is certainly that. He can ball handle, dish out assists, grab a few rebounds, and make a few steals during the course of most any game. Plus, he's a lights out shooter, both from the field and the free throw line. Very impressive stuff for a puny little 9th grader.

But maybe not. Loyer is actually about 6 feet tall and weighs around 160 pounds. Pretty much the same size as a guy named Allan Iverson was in his fully adult years, and he seemed to fare rather well playing hoops over the years against the "big boys".

All of which brings me back to the scary part. If Loyer is already this good at his age and size, what might the next three years playing hoops at Clarkston entail?

Remember, he's only 15. He likely has a growth spurt in his near future. Yours truly looked his mom square in the eye when he was 15. She was, and is 5 foot 4. By the time I graduated from high school I was 5 foot 10 and still growing. I topped out at 6 foot 2 a couple years later in college.

So if Loyer is already 6 feet, how much taller might he become in the future? And add 3 more years under the tutelage of coach supreme Dan Fife, and how much better will he be by the time he gets his diploma from Clarkston?

One thing's for sure. Though they don't dare admit it, big-time college scouts are already seriously eyeballing young Loyer. If he stays healthy, goes through the expected growth spurt, and improves his game even more over the next three years, he might be the best basketball talent to EVER come out of the state of Michigan. That's a mouthful, considering the likes of Ervin Johnson, amongst others. But could Magic do everything Loyer is doing when he was only in ninth grade? I dunno. Didn't follow preps much then either, and certainly not in Lansing.

In the unlikely event yours truly ever has the pleasure of meeting Foster Loyer, I would tell him three things.

First, keep working hard and listen to what coach Fife is telling you. The man knows what he's talking about and has your best interests in mind.

Second, don't get stupid when the hormones kick in, which should be any time now, if they haven't already. The look good, smell good stuff can be enchanting, but it can also get you in a lot of trouble. There will be plenty of it coming your way in the next 3 years. Prime stuff, but be careful. Coach Fife can help you out there as well.

And lastly, once you turn 18, if you don't have anything better to do on a Thursday night in Clarkston, walk through the doors of Cedar 60 and see what's going on. It's right on the corner of Washington and Main Street. The square and compass light outside will be on. Can't miss it.

There's some mighty fine dudes that hang out in that joint, who might just improve you in another way, if you're willing to put in the work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pete Rose and his rightful place

That would be baseball's Hall of Fame, of course, and it's long overdue. Rose has petitioned new Commissioner Rob Manfred in the hope of being "reinstated".

It should be noted yours truly was never a big fan of Rose, nor the Big Red Machine teams in Cincinnati where he made most of his fame. But on-field greatness should never be denied, despite one's personal player or team allegiances. It is what it is, and stats speak for themselves. Nobody ever played the game harder and with more passion than Pete Rose.

Alas, the whole gambling debacle came about and many to this day, a quarter century later, still resist the notion of Rose being "paroled".

Thing is, he was scammed and railroaded in the first place.

Sure, Rose had bet on many things, including baseball games, and denied it for many years. That made him a liar. But none of this happened when he was a player, and certainly no allegations of PED use have ever been associated with Rose. They didn't even exist when Charlie Hustle was doing his thing on the field. Further, lying has become commonplace, even expected, in many facets of society. Accused criminals lie. Cops lie. Prosecutors and defense attorneys lie. And politicians? Oh boy, try every other sentence. One is lucky to go 5 minutes without hearing a lie from someone somewhere. No, it doesn't make it right, but a former baseball player telling a lie should not be held up, and held accountable, as some sort of example of what is wrong with society as a whole. Further yet, as a manager, Rose only ever bet on his teams to win. It's not like he was throwing games.

But the brand new Commish at the time, one Bart Giamatti, saw things differently. Giamatti's bio itself might suggest other powers and/or prejudices were in play. Giamatti was a Yalie, who went on to be a professor and a noted scholar in English/Italian literature, and wound up as president of the university. Yet as a life-long New Englander, and an Ivy to boot, Giamatti was also an admitted hard-core fan of the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps he still harbored resentment over his beloved Sawks getting bounced out the World Series by the Big Red Machine back in the 70s.

Then along came Peter Edward Rose with the gambling problem for him to rule on. In hindsight, this is where Giamatti became not only disingenuous, but treacherous and a liar himself.

Major League Baseball had far from an "air-tight" case against Rose. Speculation was rampant, but they didn't have a smoking gun. Basically, Giamatti needed a confession out of Rose to put the case to rest. So he offered Rose a deal. Fess up, and we will "permit" you to voluntarily withdraw from the game to avoid further punishment.

This was a scam even the most unethical prosecutor would blush at, but Rose wanted to make things right, so he came clean and told all. Put another way, he threw himself on the mercy of a kangaroo court hoping for some degree of leniency. He'd take his punishment, do his time, and eventually come out the other end to get on with life. At the time, Rose had no idea there would BE no other end. He was basically given a baseball life sentence from Giamatti. What was cruelly laughable was the bluff Giamatti implied about "avoiding further punishment". He was a baseball Commissioner, not a real judge, and no serious crime had been committed. It's not like he had the power and/or authority to throw Rose in a REAL prison. Yet while Rose had been brilliant on baseball diamonds over his career, he was just an average Joe in the real world. Faced with mounting pressure on several fronts, he caved and hoped for the best. But Giamatti had scammed him and Rose had bit.

Tragically, Giamattti would die only 8 days after passing his final judgment on Rose. There are those that still maintain the stress of the Rose case somehow contributed to Bart's premature demise. Ipso facto, they can further imply that, without Rose, Giamatti might still be alive. Pete killed him. This is utter nonsense, but there will always be the fringe lunatics that try to justify their causes, however misguided they always were and/or remain.

But it could be looked at in an entirely different way. Besides Bart Giamatti being a heavy smoker, he was very much a highly educated man who, before the Rose case came before him, had impeccable moral standards. He was a righteous man. Yet it could also be argued that his own treacherous behavior dealing with Rose weighed heavily on his conscience. He was a liar in a huge way himself -- and he knew it. What actually caused his heart to give out at the young age of 51 will likely never be known. Maybe it was just his time on God's calendar, but blaming Rose for it any more than his own final actions regarding the same is no more than macabre speculation on the part of ignorant people with their own myopic agendas -- either way.

In the interim, other Commissioners have come and gone, but none has had the guts to step up to the plate and make things right with Pete Rose.

The man has done 25 years in exile for a petty "crime" to begin with, will soon be 74 years old, and BTW, is the all-time hits leader in the history of Major League Baseball.

Here's hoping new Commish Rob Manfred has the common sense and cajones to brush the puritan heathens aside and give Rose what has long been overdue.

His rightful spot in Cooperstown. In spite of many barnacle baseball writers clinging to their old ways, it's going to happen eventually, because true justice demands it. Common decency and fairness demand it. And his stats definitely demand it.

Better Pete is still alive to enjoy it when it happens. He earned it. So what's the hold up? Get it done, and the sooner the better.

Chris Borland, an amazing guy

The shocking -- SHOCKING --  retirement of San Fran 49ers linebacker Chris Borland at the tender young age of 24 has certainly been big news. Well OK. Maybe it's not that shocking. After all, he's just a football player and guys are standing in line to take his place. A year from now, nobody will likely remember this.

The odds of a young man making it to the NFL are long indeed. First, he has to be good enough to play varsity football in high school. Then he has to be amongst the best at that level to attract the attention of colleges. Then he has to prove he's an elite player at THAT level for pro teams to even give him a look.

True, even the pros with all their scouts, film, combines, and highly paid "experts" don't always get it right. Tom Brady was merely a 6th round draft pick, but few would doubt he's worked out rather well for the Patriots. On the other hand, there have been many Top 5 overall selections that went bust. So it has been, and will always be a crap shoot.

Chris Borland was one of those "in-between" guys. Sure, he was an all-around stud in high school in Ohio. First team All-Stater. Considering the football factory that is the Buckeye state, this was impressive stuff. But upon graduation Borland was only ranked the #55 prospect at linebacker nationally. The scholarship offers didn't exactly pour in. He chose Wisconsin over Iowa and Louisville.

While in Badgerland, he was once again a stand-out player, but never made "cream of the crop" status. Borland was in the running for several awards, but pretty much was an also-ran at the highest levels.

Come NFL draft time, he was a modest 3rd round pick of the 49ers, having been taken 77th overall. Still, he had made it, and being a 3rd round draft choice in the NFL is nothing to scoff at. Countless thousands of prep stars around the country would consider this a dream come true. Alas, the vast majority of them will never make it.

Chris Borland not only made it, but became a terrific player in his rookie year. After All-Pro Patrick Willis went out with an injury, Borland got his first taste of being a starter midway through the season. And, oh my, did he perform. Over 100 tackles, a couple interceptions, and an all-around defensive force all over the field. People around the NFL sat up and took notice of young Borland. Rookie or not, he was the real deal. The sky was the limit for this guy in the future.

As we know, Borland just opted for a very early retirement to his NFL career. There are those that wonder -- "What the hell is he doing? All that work and all that money to be made and he walks away? Is he nuts?" A few ex-jocks have come out and said they would still play today if they could. Such was and is their passion for the game, and to each their own. Perhaps they need to listen to John Fogerty's classic song Fortunate Son. Because they were fortunate indeed to come out of NFL careers with their brains and bodies fairly well intact. A lot of people don't. Fogerty and CCR's protest song about how poor boys were forced to fight a rich man's war in Viet Nam because they weren't exempt as "fortunate sons" born into affluence could be applied to the old timers that played long and prospered in the NFL. They survived. But the game is harder, faster, and more brutal than ever. The NFL can give all the lip service they want to "making players safer" through rules changes and better equipment, but there will be many casualties, sometimes severe.

So even though Chris Borland is only 24 years old, and has played but one season in the NFL, evidently he took stock of what the future might -- or might not -- hold for him. Sure, he was a rising star, amongst the best linebackers in the NFL. Perhaps All-Pro teams, Super Bowls, and even induction into the Hall of Fame in Canton could be achieved. That, and countless millions of dollars in future contracts and endorsements.

But it might just be that Borland, who by all estimations is a very bright young man, saw a few Dickensish ghosts of football players long past.

Guard Mike Utley that wound up a quadraplegic on a routine play.
Same for the late Darryl Stingley after a hard hit became a tragedy.
Countless former players that can barely walk by the time they're 50.

Or perhaps a few more recent ghosts paid Borland a visit in his dreams.

Maybe Kenny McKinley, who killed himself in 2010 after 2 major knee surgeries in 8 months came-a-calling.
Or Dave Duerson, who shot himself in the chest in 2011 so his brain could he analyzed after his suicide. He was 50.
More recently Junior Seau did much the same thing at the age of 43.
Jovan Belcher, only 22, killed his girlfriend and then himself in a murder-suicide. His brain was later found to be damaged, likely by too many hits to the head.

Borland himself said he was aware of the tragic story of longtime center Mike Webster. Webster won Super Bowls with the Steelers in the 70s and is in the Hall of Fame. But in his 40s he started exhibiting strange behavior, which was later diagnosed as amnesia, dementia, and depression. In 1999, at the age of 47, he was found to have severe brain damage from what amounted to "25,000 car crashes" while being a football player. Snap the ball, get hit -- over and over again -- game after game and year after year. Webster would wind up getting popped for forging prescriptions for Ritalin the same year. Originally, his cause of death in 2002 was listed as heart failure, but that was later recanted and his family had him cremated and his medical records sealed. He only lived to be 50.

A very sad and scary story indeed for Borland to mull around in his mind. One never knows what the future may hold in store for an NFL player that absorbs a lot of contact doing his job. It could be fabulous riches and fame, or it could be major disability and/or total disaster at a relatively young age. Again, it's a crap shoot, even for the best of players.

Was Borland rich when he walked away after only one year? Depends on how one looks at it. With his rookie contract as a third round pick, he got a signing bonus of around $617,000. His base salary was roughly $420,000. So basically Borland got a million and change for one year's work.

A lot of ordinary working folks will never make that much money in their entire lifetimes so, in that respect, it's a lot of money.

Given his 4-year rookie contract, he stood to make almost $3 million over the duration. Had he stayed healthy and productive, Borland would have been a free-agent after three more years. That's potential mega-money land for a guy that would be 27 entering the window that blends experience with peak physical ability.

But riches come in different forms for different people. Contrary to many athletes that would sell their souls to the highest bidder for a few million more bucks they don't need, as has been evident in pro sports since free agency became a reality, quality of life isn't always defined by obscene amounts of money, posses, and stupid endorsements for even MORE dough. As opposed to 20 that they can't possibly use, one would think a house with 7 or 8 bedrooms would more than suffice. And what's with these guys that need 14 bathrooms? Do they consider it a sign of success that they only have to take a leak or a dump in the same room twice a month? Trust me, the toilets don't know and don't care. Fools with too many dollars and not enough sense.

To his credit, young Chris Borland took all this into account and came to a decision. He not only made it into the NFL, but excelled at that level.

So he took his million bucks and walked away at age 24. What he will do with the rest of his life is anybody's guess, but yours truly would guess somebody with his sense of purpose definitely has a plan. He likely doesn't have to worry about getting a knee blown out, becoming paralyzed, or somebody dissecting his brain when he's 50, to see what went so horribly wrong.

As the late Spock would have said, may he live long and prosper.

Bravo, Chris Borland. What you just did showed tremendous courage and wisdom far beyond your years. Hopefully others will take note and follow in your footsteps before it's too late for them like some of the others mentioned above.

Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

I'm going to have to dig out that green shirt that I wear once a year. Pretty sure it came from a biker bar in Florida many moons ago somewhere around Ft. Pierce on the east side, and I'll know it when I see it. I think.

As we all know, it's become mandatory in America to wear something green on St. Patrick's day. That, or suffer the consequences, which can vary, depending on what sort of folks one associates with on the high holy day of Ye Olde Sod, or was that sot? Whatever. And sporting a green tee shirt beats the begorra out of dying one's hair, grease painting up like the Incredible Hulk, or not brushing one's teeth for a couple months. Those scenarios have their down sides. Either way, it's best to have something green going on, lest one wander into an Irish pub without and be subjected to an industrial strength wedgie. Neither is this the optimum scenario for enjoying oneself.

Nevertheless, St. Patrick's day is always special. Corned beef and cabbage, and those little red taters? Oh yeah. Bring it on. Not sure how this cuisine became associated with St. Patrick, because he actually lived back in the fifth century (400s AD), and I highly doubt they knew about corned beef any more than they knew about corn dogs, corn chips, corn fritters, or corn flakes back in those days. But it is what it is, and it works for me.

Never did understand the green beer thing either. Lots of major breweries put dye in their beer for St. Patrick's day, but it's still the same stuff. Pound down a few drafts, and you'll have the same headache in the morning. But if peeing green makes your day, then by all means go for it.

Idle thought: Would you eat a green hamburger or, if diet conscious, green yogurt?

And of course, the March Madness of the NCAA hoop tournament(s) is upon us once again. Bracketology mania is in it's usual epidemic form. Lots of green will change hands in the next three weeks, depending on how the games play out. Everybody from bookies taking bets, to bars having their own pools, to everyday John and Jane Does at the office or shop are abuzz over the annual college hoops festival.

When one looks at what these tournaments have morphed into, they might also realize the "green machine" is even more prevalent. Venues from coast to coast, north to south, will host preliminary rounds. Cha-ching. The administrations of the universities themselves get a piece of the action. The TV people pay big bucks for the rights to televise these games -- which are in turn paid for by various companies standing in line to advertise their wares. It's highly likely even the head coaches of such teams have bonus clauses in their contracts to further enrich them as they go deeper into the tournament. The only people that don't get paid are the poor slobs actually playing the game.

Yet all in all, yours truly always looks forward to St. Patrick's day. The green beer aside, the corned beef and cabbage and the fellowship enjoyed at public places on March 17 has become a special day indeed.

Just one minor complaint. Myth has it the original St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland some 1600 years ago. That's great, except ----

The problem. Some of them wound up in America and have been multiplying ever since. Name a bar, from where I got my green shirt, to an Irish pub, and check it out at closing time. The damn snakes are everywhere. True, Americans have come to call them something else -- namely 2 o'clock beauty queens -- but their DNA is the same.

Note to St. Patrick, wherever you are. Love your parades and food, but please take some of the slithery critters back to your homeland. We have more than enough of them in America already. Besides the bimbos, we're up to our Irish (or not) eyes in other reptilian creatures of the lowest order. They're called politicians.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss. What conflict?

As it turned out, it's comical. Abbott and Costello, the Three Stooges, the Marx brothers, or Congress couldn't have come up with a more hilarious routine.

The NBA was concerned about a possible "conflict of interest" when Phil Jackson became the president of the New York Knicks. Of course, this had everything to do with his long time squeeze Jeanie Buss having inherited the LA Lakers from her late father Jerry.

PJ and JB have been shacking up since 1999. After 13 years, they finally got engaged in 2012. No word yet on impending nuptials. Evidently, these two don't like to rush into things. Or, put another way, imagine if America's famed Minutemen of the Revolutionary War had had the same sort of commitment to their cause. We'll get around to it eventually -- maybe. This country might look a whole lot differently these days. But to each their own, especially when it comes to the glitterati.

No two ways about it. NYC and LA are the two biggest markets in the USA. That includes sports. Madison Square Garden and Staples Center are hallowed ground. You'll never see such notables as Jack Nicholson and Spike Lee sitting court-side game after game, and year after year in, say, Cleveland, Lebron or no Lebron. There's something special about these places.

So when the Zen master took his talents to the Big Apple while presumably continuing to "take care of business" with the beautiful heiress based in La-La land, eyebrows were raised. Perhaps well they should have been. It takes a one-of-a-kind individual indeed to keep a woman "satisfied" when she's 3 time zones and almost 3000 miles away. Forget the triangle offense, this guy can HANG. And then there's the conflict of interest thing. The suits in professional league offices hate that almost as much as gambling, steroids, and having to deal with high-profile criminal offenses allegedly committed by one of their own.

Could it be that Phil and Jeanie might conspire in other hanky-panky when it came to their teams? Horrors!

Even when Jackson was still a "free agent" former NBA Commish David Stern wanted to know what Buss was thinking as her man entertained thoughts of signing on with a few teams in a big time front office job, before finally landing (thudding) with the Knicks.

New Commish Adam Silver made sure to have dinner to talk with Jeanie after Phil took his present job. Gee, given their ilks, I wonder which one wound up picking up the tab?

But that's where the whole overhyped story about a conflict of interest turned out to be "Moe, Larry, Cheese" hilarious.

At the time of this writing, the Knicks have a 13-51 record, a winning percentage of .203. They're terrible. Shameful. Pitiful. The worst team in the entire NBA.

On the other hand, the Lakers are 17-47, a .266 winning percentage, and a mind-boggling 35 -- count em -- THIRTY FIVE games behind in their division. Showtime has turned into blowtime. The once proud franchise has become a total embarrassment.

So between the two teams, if Phil and Jeanie ever gave any thought to working together behind the scenes for the benefit of both -- one might logically conclude the NBA as a whole has nothing to worry about. Conflict of interest? Turns out, it's more like a race to see which team can out-pitiful the other.

Phil Jackson will be 70 in September, and Jeanie will be 54. Chances are, they won't be popping out any Zenbuss rugrats, nuptials or not.

But if such blessed events occur, here's hoping the mini-glits don't grow up to be in charge of an NBA team. It likely wouldn't work out in a competent way either, and Adam Silver or his succesor would probably want to be treated to another dinner while he asked even more dumb questions than he already did of mom and pop.

It was always stupid, but that's what most Commisioners have morphed into these days. A lot of bluster, but not a clue what's really going on.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A guide on going to a Detroit Pistons game

Granted, the Pistons seem to have thrown a rod or two in recent years, but they were in the hunt for a while. That is, if one considers them slugging it out with the Indiana Pacers for fourth place in the NBA's Eastern Conference Central Division to stay out of the cellar as being semi-competitive. Alas, they spun yet another bearing, have lost 9 in a row, and now trail even the lowly Hoosier bunch by 7 or 8 games. They are the not-so-proud occupants of the basement of the division.

True, they're not the least of the East. The woeful Orlando Magic is a couple games behind them, the Philly 76ers a few more, and let's just say Phil Jackson's zen magic finally wore off when he took over the NY Knicks. As Jed Clampett would have said -- pit-ee-ful.

But still, the Pistons remain a professional basketball team. Sort of. How do I know this? Because they have a bunch of guys making millions of dollars in salary every year. It doesn't matter how incompetent they are, their contracts are guaranteed. Kind of like politicians on a much higher financial scale. Yikes, how scary is that?

Nevertheless, there are some pretty good bargains available if one wants to attend a Pistons game. This is what happens when a team is bad and struggles to put fans in the seats, despite their myriad of promotions and give-aways, which are sometimes comical.

Over the course of the next couple months, the Pistons have seats available at really low prices -- like in the 6-7 dollar range. These involve contests against Memphis, Toronto, Atlanta, and Boston. Three division leaders, and the other pretty much in the same plight as the Pistons.

But the low-low prices are just a come-on, you say, to get you into the arena so they can gouge you for everything else once there? A good point, and likely true, but there's a smarter way of handling this.

By all means, go on-line and order up your $6 tickets. Yet when the day comes, here's a couple suggestions yours truly highly recommends.

First, gorge yourself on whatever it is you eat for dinner just before going to the Palace. The nasty hot dogs, nachos, pizza, etc., won't look nearly as good if you've already got a belly full. And who wants to pay the outrageous prices for this slop anyway? Be honest. Would you eat that stuff at home? Even for free?

Far more important is you should be at least two sheets to the wind. In other words, have a serious buzz already going on before you arrive. It is not recommended to drive in such a state, so shell out an extra measly six bucks for a ticket dedicated to a designated driver. And pound down a few more shots of booze enroute just to make sure you're definitely in the twilight zone before you go through the turnstiles.

This has two benefits. If one is already struggling to keep down the huge dinner they pigged out on an hour before, the LAST thing one would want to do is stand in line for a $10 cup of nasty draft beer or a watered down rot-gut mixed drink. Even the smell of that stuff could send one stumbling towards the proverbial porcelain receptacle. Never a good thing.

And sure, the $6 tickets aren't exactly going to get one close to the action, but rather in the nosebleed section. Thing is, if you're that stoned already -- you won't even notice -- or care. You'll probably pass out and sleep through most of the game anyway. But dammit, you got a good deal.

Better yet, you also won't notice how bad the Pistons are on the court. After the final buzzer, your designated driver can scoop you up, pour you into the car, and drop you back off. Hopefully, at your own residence. One should always budget a healthy tip up front for such a driver, lest they decide to get cute and pull a practical joke by dropping you off at a house that faintly resembles your own. Trying to enter such a home in a drunken stupor might not work out so well. It could fairly be said waking up in one's own bed is normally preferable to doing the same in a jail cell, and wondering how they got there. Such things normally get ugly and expensive before they're over.

But assuming all goes right, one can drag their hungover butt into work the next day and proudly state they attended a Pistons' game the night before.

Just don't take any questions from co-workers because, like the Pistons, you'd be clueless as well trying to come up with answers.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Detroit Lions moral makeover

It's amazing sometimes what a difference a year can make. Millions are born, other millions perish, and the price of gas fluctuated more than US foreign policy, amongst other things. Did I mention my editor hasn't chewed me out once in the last calendar year? That, dear readers, is a miracle. Glory hallelujah, the saints have marched in indeed.

The Detroit Lions would seem to have "seen the light" as well. Consider some of the more egregious "sinners" they have cast out of their flock.

Little more than a year ago, Jim Schwartz was still the head coach. You remember Jimbo. He was the lunatic who chased San Fran head coach Jim Harbaugh around the field with evidently malice aforethought. The same guy that threw a red challenge flag which cost his team another game, later admitted he knew it was against the rules all along, but threw it anyway. What kind of loose cannon behaves in such a way? But finally, righteously, brother Schwartz was cast into eternal hellfire and brimstone -- sometimes known as shuffling off to Buffalo. Do I hear an amen?

His successor, one Jim Caldwell, appears to be a man of good character and high morals. True, JC's NFL track record -- enter the Peter Principle, as it were -- suggests he is much better suited to serve as a trusted lieutenant rather than call the shots as a general, and trying to decipher his sound bytes at press conferences is a bit like listening to a political debate, as in, what did he just say? But overall, a pious man replacing a heathen is usually a good thing.

But look at what else has happened to the Lions since they got bounced out of the playoffs in the first round last year.

Longtime center Dominic Raiola was shown the door. Old Dom never saw a loss he wouldn't talk about to the press. And that was a whole lot of losses and a whole lot of gum flapping. Raiola once even cursed the Lions own fans in their own stadium as he was leaving the field after the Lions had bungled yet another game and the fans weren't happy. How do I know this? Because a lady friend of mine was on the receiving end of his abusive language. She paid big bucks to be there and had every right to express her disapproval. Rule 101 for professional athletes states don't interact with the fans on the road. But trashing one's OWN fans was WAY over the line, bordering on psychotic. Maybe this is what happens when a guy spends his prime years bent over with another guy's hands in his butt a few thousand times. Especially when losses after losses continue to pile up on the scoreboard. Nevertheless, Dom finally be gone. Another loose cannon decommissioned. Praise be.

Of course, cannons didn't come any looser than Ndamukong Suh. Sure, he was a force as a defensive tackle. But given his history of on and off the field transgressions, and the apparent moral compass of your average great white shark, it's likely only a matter of time before his "dark side" strikes again. Like a stepped-on rattlesnake or hungry piranha, remorse isn't in their DNA. They are what they are. While Lions fans may lament the loss of Suh to Miami, in the whole scheme of things the team became more honorable. The next time he stomps, kicks a groin, or tries to wring a QB's neck like a chicken, the Lions' fans and media don't have to try to defend it. That's another team's problem now, along with the ridiculous contract they're saddled with. Another demon exorcised from the fold. Lions fans should be joyous.

[Loved the blurb in Sports Illustrated. Suh signed a $114 million contract with the Dolphins. So he's halfway to covering his future fines. Touche SI.]

On a lesser note was fellow defensive tackle Nick Fairley. He's been in and out of management's doghouse over weight and attitude problems for a couple years. When healthy, he was nothing spectacular, but could hold his own. But NF wound up on the damaged goods list for the latter part of last year, and who knows what he might still have to offer? Even if he returns to full form, it's still the same guy. Another loose cannon. The Lions appear to be rid of him too through free agency. Let Fairley cash in on somebody else's offering plate. Another Hun exiled to a place far away. Cue the choir.

So let's see. One way or the other, the Lions have shed themselves of several less than righteous folks over the last year or so. And that's not even counting Reggie Bush, who was banished as well. Remember the whole mess he created by accepting illegal payments and other goodies while at USC that led to that school being zapped with sanctions and penalties long after he was gone making millions in the NFL? The Lions finally got around to kicking him out of the congregation. By thunder, these evil-doers have been purged and may the Lions march onward in their never-ending (literally) quest for salvation. Another playoff win or two wouldn't hurt either.

But while far more righteous, have the Lions improved their fortunes in the near future? Likely not. Sometimes bad boys have a way of winning. The Oakland Raiders knew about that decades ago, as did the Bad Boy Pistons in their day. But look what's happened. Both those franchises are now amongst the plankton in their leagues. It may take a while, but it's not nice to fool with higher powers over a trophy or a parade here and there. They'll get around to payback eventually.

Yet just when one thought the Lions had finally cleaned house of the no-good-niks, they bring in a guy like Hiloti Ngata. Another loose cannon with a history of cheap shots and a recent substance abuse suspension to boot on his rap sheet.

I suppose it's just another year in Michigan. There will always be a bazillion potholes on the roads, and the sucker Lions fans will re-up their season tickets, though their team has zero chance -- NONE -- of getting anywhere close to the Super Bowl, let alone winning it.

But as long as they're going to be losers anyway, it's a good thing to get rid of a few bad apples.

Can't hurt.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The NBA ref ballet

Like the groceries on the bottom shelves at the supermarket, they're right in front of one's eyes if they take the time to look. But most people don't, because their attention is naturally drawn to other higher priced goods at eye level, which is all carefully planned out by the people in charge, of course.

It's ingenious and very effective. Even if one tries mightily to pay attention to such things, it's extremely difficult to do -- at least for very long.

That also aptly describes how the referees in the NBA choreograph their movements in any given game.

Back in 1988 the NBA went from two refs to three. It was arguably the smartest thing the league ever did. Consider the ramifications.

With only two refs, one was typically stationed on one end of the floor and the other -- the other. It was like they had a linear (limited) view of the game. But with three, they triangulate and get 3-D exposure. A lot of subtle things happen in the fast pace of an NBA game that two refs likely would have missed. Sure, even the triumvirate blows a call here and there, but it's a lot better than it used to be.

So yours truly decided to tune into an NBA game and only watch the officials. It was the LA Clips visiting the Okla Thunder earlier tonight. Did I make it through the whole game without paying any attention to the players? Of course not. I still don't know what's on the bottom shelves either, but at least I made a concerted effort to check it out.

Though quite subtle, the ref ballet was actually quite a thing of beauty to behold. In this particular game they do-si-doed counterclockwise throughout. In other words, they don't stay in the same position for very long. The zebras constantly rotate, though few notice.

This is a good thing. Assuming all refs are equal and unbiased, changing positions every minute or two with different things to look for keeps them on their toes as well.

Next time you watch an NBA game, check it out. After every stoppage in play, be it a foul, travelling, out of bounds play, team time-out, worshipping the TV gods, or whatever, the refs will shift. And during the course of an NBA game, how many times does the clock stop? A hundred?

One might also notice that when a ref under the basket calls a foul, he'll typically trot towards the scorer's table holding up the offender's number with his fingers. It's not like the official scorer is myopic and needs a closer view of the sign language. There's another reason for this. As that ref moves towards center-court, the other two will rotate right along with him. Do-si-do and round and round they go.

Not sure, but I think the Clips won this game. They were ahead by 20 late in the second half, but I tuned out before it was over. Why?

Because amongst the refs in this game was one Joey Crawford. He's easily recognizable. The bald head, the slumped over lumbering gait, and likely the loosest cannon in the history of NBA refs. One never knows what crazy stunt old Joey might pull next. He once gave Mr. Mild Manners himself, Tim Duncan, a technical foul when Duncan merely smiled at him -- while sitting on the bench!!

So what better game to watch the refs than one when Crawford is running around? Surely, something stupid would happen. Joey has this nasty habit of forgetting he's there to officiate a show and, at times, decides to BE the show.

But he didn't. Nary an act of his usual buffoonery while yours truly was tuned in, and that was no fun. And one can only take so much of walking around the grocery store looking at the bottom shelf anyway, even though it's cheaper.

Turned out, the Clips and Thunder have some fantastic players. It's really, REALLY hard to ignore them for long while concentrating on the refs.

So OK. I'm a sucker for the "eye level" stuff like most everybody else -- but at least I tried.....  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Detroit Lions. Going down, anyone?

Long suffering Detroit Lions fans might as well brace themselves for what's coming next. And it likely ain't gonna be pretty. The possibility of them landing several dynamite free agents in the next few weeks notwithstanding, and also highly unlikely, an overall review of their roster (and other reasons) suggests the Honolulu blue and silver might take quite a tumble next season.

The departure of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was just the tip of the iceberg. Detroit's once "vaunted" defensive line is now in a shambles. Between other guys who also hit the free agent market, and the reliability of who's left, this poses a major problem. And speaking of attitudes, remember Nick Fairley? He was often in management's dog house over attitude and weight issues. Now the Lions are wooing him to re-sign. Of course they are. Better a bad boy who can play a little than whatever scrubs they might have to sign in desperation and throw into the fire.

The offensive line remains a work in progress at best. The retirement -- finally!! -- of long time loser and loose cannon Dominic Raiola was a double edged sword. Good riddance to a guy that is likely the losingest player in the history of the NFL, but at least he took up a spot and showed up for work every day. The Lions have long played musical chairs with their O-line due to either poor play or injuries, but getting another center to anchor the line is a tall order.

Idle piling on thought: Only the Lions (and their media) would consider a career loser like Raiola a team leader. If being a leader is all about flapping one's gums, Raiola should be in the Oval Office. But if it's about wins and losses, he should have been the mascot for the Washington Generals since he came out of Nebraska. Oddly, or maybe not, the same college that spawned Ndamukong Suh. God bless their cornhusker hearts, but they grow some weird ones in Lincoln.

Granted, QB Matthew Stafford has made a lot of hay throwing to Calvin Johnson and the recently acquired Golden Tate.

Another idle thought: What was Tate thinking when he left a Super Bowl winning team in Seattle to come to Detroit? Seattle is beautiful. Detroit is the pits. Hello Golden? Anybody home upstairs?

But Stafford's gaudy passing success hid the lack of the Lions running game. They still don't have a featured back on their roster and cutting Reggie Bush loose, health issues or not, certainly didn't help.

The linebackers are maybe average. Some of them could play on other teams, and others likely not. The best one the Lions had, Stephen Tulloch, blew out his own knee while jumping up and down celebrating a good play. This could only happen to a Detroit Lion. It's both sad and comical.

The Lions have several tight ends. For every good play they turn in, there will be a bonehead. All in all, between catching passes and blocking they don't have a really good one in the bunch.

They need at least one starting cornerback and likely two, given Rashean Mathis will be 35 before the next season starts. He may know the game, but tell me a corner hasn't lost a step or three at that age, and I'll tell you I don't believe it.

The Lions seem to be in semi-decent shape at safety, having picked up a couple free agents in recent years. But the depth chart is shallow even there if injuries rear their ugly heads.

Place kicker Matt Prater has, so far, kept the alcohol related demons at bay that caused him to be suspended and eventually kicked out of Denver. If he stays straight, the Lions were lucky to get him, because he's amongst the best kickers in the league. As was once said by someone much wiser than yours truly, kickers don't do much on the field except decide the outcomes of games.

But there's irony afoot when one looks at the whole picture. What were once the Lions greatest strengths may well have become their possible weaknesses.

Sure, Stafford will likely throw another bazillion passes next year, but he's only a play away from being returned to "China doll" status, and will be playing behind a revamped O-line. Megatron Calvin Johnson has already begun showing signs of wear and tear. This is what happens when a guy is double or triple-teamed and the QB throws him the ball anyway. It might work, but the hits he's absorbed have begun to take their toll. It's no secret Johnson often didn't practice much last year and only showed up for the games. There's a reason for that, and it won't get any better in the future as he gets older. He'll turn 30 in September, no spring chicken himself in the world of the NFL (Not For Long).

But even if the Lions somehow overcome a personnel problem that appears to be trending down badly, something more ominous awaits them.

Remember, in 2013 the Lions went 7-9 and missed the playoffs again which resulted in then head coach Jim Schwartz getting fired. Because of that, besides a new head coach and his staff, the Lions got two good things. A relatively high draft choice and an easier schedule the following year. Along with the draft, in the cause of "parity" the NFL schedule makers make things harder on good teams and easier on bad ones the following year.

Indeed, look back at the Lions 2014 schedule. Other than their 6 mandated division games against Green Bay, Chicago, and Minnesota, they only played 2 games of the remaining 10 against really good teams. For that matter, even within their own division, only Green Bay was considered a contender.

The Lions pulled a few Houdinis last year and won games they likely shouldn't have. The two tough teams mentioned above? The Lions were blown out at New England, no great surprise, and beaten at Arizona, though the Cards had lost their starting QB Carson Palmer for the season the week prior.

As we know, in the end the Lions would wind up 11-5, qualify for the playoffs as a wild card, and be beaten by Dallas in the opening round.

But that's the thing. The Lions were 11-5 and a playoff team last year. When the new schedule comes out, look for the Lions to face a much more difficult road than they did in 2014. Instead of two non-division games against good teams, they might well have 6 or 7. A big difference.

The moral of the story? Here's the earliest of the early predictions. Methinks when all is said and done after next season, the Lions will be lucky to be 8-8, and possibly worse. Forget the Super Bowl nonsense. That's always been a fantasy propagated by the team and local media and hungrily gobbled up by the suckers in their best of years. Truth is, they've never been within sniffing distance of the Lombardi Trophy since Super Bowls started 50 -- count em -- FIFTY years ago.

Given how things are shaping up this year so far, it would appear somebody just pushed the "down button" on the Lions elevator one more time.

No biggie. Just another year for the puddy-tats.

And they raised their tickets prices. Imagine that. Did I mention suckers?

Monday, March 9, 2015

The amazing Patriots

Sometimes one is left to wonder just how they keep pulling it off. That being the New England Patriots and their continued success over the years.

Sure, they're the reigning Super Bowl champs, but even in years where they don't take home the Lombardi Trophy, few would doubt the Pats maintain a standard of excellence. They're always in the hunt.

This would seem to defy logic, given some of the moves they've made over the years. Unlike most other NFL teams, the Pats under head coach Bill Belichick do a few things a bit differently.

First, they've never had any qualms about cutting loose All-Pro-ish players if they didn't conform to the Patriot mold. Be it attitude, off-field issues, or upsetting the salary cap apple cart -- the Pats have seen a whole lot of talented players either walk out the door, or get booted out. With the exception of QB Tom Brady, this applies to most every other position. Running backs, receivers, linemen both ways, linebackers, the defensive backfield, you name it.

But the amazing thing about the Patriots is they continue to find replacements, plug them in, and the beat goes on.

Recently, they struck again with another unorthodox move. Whoever heard of a team putting the franchise tag on a place kicker? Though they often make the difference in whether a team wins or loses, historically place kickers have been amongst the lowest paid and least appreciated members of any NFL team. After all, they're just these little dudes that can't do anything else but trot out and kick the football every once in a while, and they need somebody else to hold it for them -- right?

But that's exactly what the Patriots did. They slapped the franchise tag on kicker Steve Gostkowski. And somewhere the ghosts of players past -- "real men" who shed blood, sweat and tears on the field -- for a lot less money -- are likely not happy.

Yet given their track record since the turning of the millennium, who dares doubt the shrouded wisdom of what the Mad Genius and the Foxborough front office are up to this time? Six trips to the Super Bowl with four championships speaks for itself.

Not so curiously, the Patriots declined a a $20 million option on Darrelle Revis, arguably the best cornerback in the game. $20M is a lot of money for a star QB, let alone a defensive back. They've also decided to let the anchor of their defensive line -- Vince Wilfolk -- a huge brute who could clog up the middle with the best of them -- have his own go at free agency. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been celebrated for his talents. But can you imagine if former tight end Aaron Hernandez, currently on trial for murder, was still there as well? How formidable would that duo be?

One would think such players are irreplaceable, but the Patriots have always found a way, sometimes bringing in guys that nobody else ever heard of before. Next thing you know, the no-names have become stand out players. It might well be that the Patriots system is the ONLY one they could thrive under. And if they get out of line, they'll be gone too.

But the beat will go on indeed, at least as long as Brady is around, and perhaps beyond. Love em or hate em, it could be argued Belichick, Brady, and the Pats annually accomplish more with less than any other sports team in history.

It's all about the system. How it works is anybody's guess. It just does.

Ndamukong Suh to Miami

Detroit Lions fans are likely disappointed that Suh appears headed to the Dolphins, but they shouldn't be. Yes, Suh was amongst the best defensive tackles in the league, but that's just it. He's a defensive tackle. While there will be those that sing the praises of Suh over obscure stats, in reality his impact was minimal in any given game over an "average" replacement. People (including the media and TV announcers) will howl when a defensive tackle makes a good play, but most times nothing is said if the very same guy gets pancaked by an offensive lineman. It happens all the time.

Idle thought: Judge Judy is making $47 million a year while only working 52 days? Almost a million a pop? Wow. Tell ya what. You couldn't pay me a million bucks an episode to WATCH that shrewish wench, let alone a few hundred to trudge off to her courtroom and be humiliated on national TV. Who ARE these people?

Suh signing with the Dolphins makes sense, at least financially. Supposedly, he'll be getting around $114 million for six years, with about $50 million guaranteed. That averages out to roughly $19 million a year, if that can be considered sane, and opinions vary.

Thing is, Florida doesn't have a state income tax. So Suh stands to pocket $5-6 million over the duration of his contract that he would have had to pay to the state of Michigan had he remained with the Lions. The Lions had reportedly offered him around $17 million a year, but throw in the state taxes, and his take-home pay would have been less yet. Sure, the numbers are absurd, but that's what professional athlete salaries have come to these days. Do the math on some other recent obscene contracts. Starting pitcher Max Scherzer stands to make $10,000 for EVERY PITCH he throws. How utterly insane is that? And you wonder why you're paying 10 bucks for a nickel's worth of draft beer at a ballpark?

Granted, the Lions could have used the "franchise tag" on Suh. But that would have come with an even more preposterous $27 million price tag -- and only been good for one year. Twelve months from now, the Lions would have been right back in the same predicament regarding Suh. Did I mention he's only a defensive tackle and, as such, has no more team worth than an offensive guard? Both are equally necessary, but one gets attention and big bucks, while the other typically flies under the radar.

Besides, even going back to his college days Suh has always been somewhat of a loose cannon, both on and off the field. One never knows when it's going to go off again, and in which direction.

So Detroit fans can take solace that Suh is now Miami's problem, and it opens up major salary cap room to improve their team elsewhere. They have several needs to address. And c'mon, the Lions weren't going to win the Super Bowl any year soon with or without him. Neither will the Dolphins for that matter, but he came out several million bucks ahead and, after the hurricane season passes, the weather in Miami is a whole lot more comfortable during the latter part of an NFL season than in Detroit.

All in all, Suh going to the Dolphins made sense all-around. Last time yours truly went clubbing in South Florida a while back, they did some crazy dances that had crazy names, but I never did see or hear of one called "the stomp".

Perhaps Suh can enlighten them to a new rage.

Just a thought......