Sunday, May 31, 2015

LA and New York. What happened?

In the American sports world few would doubt the Los Angeles area and New York City are the largest two markets. Both cities, in various sports, have certainly seen their share of glory over the many years. But not lately. Let's look at each.

New York

The Rangers just got bounced in their first-ever Game 7 Stanley Cup playoff loss on their home ice.

Despite continuing to have a ridiculous player payroll, the Yankees have routinely made a quick exit from the Major League playoffs in recent years.

The Knicks are god-awful. Even the Zen Master Phil Jackson couldn't put that train wreck back together. And now they've hired Isiah Thomas as some sort of consultant. Thomas has made his post-playing career fame as the Murphy's Law poster child when it comes to managerial decisions. If there's a way to screw it up or bankrupt it, rest assured Zeke will find it. Good luck with that.

The Islanders are still around -- I think. But they haven't been a contender in decades.

Technically, there are the NY Giants and NY Jets, though they've both long played in New Jersey. The Giants have hit the skids after winning a couple improbable Super Bowls over the New England Patriots in recent years. The Jets have finally moved beyond the yuk, yuk, circus years of Rex Ryan running the show, but they're pretty much still a mess as well.

The Nets moved back to Brooklyn from New Jersey, but they're a maybe playoff team at best, and certainly not serious contenders.

The Mets have long had their own faithful following, but when's the last time they made any noise in October?

And David Letterman just retired. His show came from New York and Dave was always a good sport.

Things are not looking good in the Big Apple.

Los Angeles

True, the Kings were the defending Stanley Cup champions, but they got bounced early this year.

Like the Yankees, the LA Dodgers always have a mega-payroll with stars galore, but when's the last time you saw them in the World Series?

The LA Angels are struggling to stay above .500.

After the whole Donald Sterling/Adam Silver/V Stiviano fiasco, and Steve Ballmer swooping in to pay well over twice the market value for the Clippers, then acting like a 5 year old on mind altering drugs while sitting courtside -- the Clips got bounced in the second round of the playoffs. Yet something good came out of all this. Mercifully, those stupid Chris Paul and his twin brother insurance commercials finally went away. Not so good for Chris because he still hasn't even tasted a conference final. But very good for Cliff. He likely made a fortune on the royalties from all those ads. He has to be the richest insurance agent in the world. Maybe he can now afford to make a down payment on getting a personality.

Los Angeles hasn't had an NFL football team since the Rams moved to St. Louis 20 years ago. The late Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders once took his team to LA, then moved back to Oakland. Oakland!! The armpit of the Bay area. What does that say about the pro football mentality in LA-LA-land?

The once mighty Lakers have become a joke. It's no longer show-time, it's blow-time. Any good player that could get out -- has. Only Kobe Bryant is left and he's getting old and can't seem to stay healthy for long. Expecting Kobe to lead the Lakers back to greatness is akin to thinking Tiger Woods is going to storm back and dominate the PGA tour. It's not going to happen. They both had their times in the limelight, and now it's over. Meanwhile, the NBA and PGA are doing better than ever with the young guns now showcasing their talents in both venues. Who needs a Kobe when we have a Lebron and a Steph? And who needs a Tiger when we have a Jordan and a Rory? The beat goes on.

The big cities and their big money no longer guarantee success in the pro sports world, and that's probably a good thing. We've had enough of New York this and Los Angeles that over the decades. It's nice to see a class act like, say, the San Antonio Spurs rise up from being an "expansion" team to win a few championships.

Nicer yet would be to see a long suffering franchise win a title. A few come to mind.

The Chicago Cubs. It's been over 100 years. They're kind of like Sara Lee. Nobody can really hate the Cubbies.

The Detroit Lions. The Motown bumblers either have the most loyal, or dumbest fan base in the country. How else to explain over 50 years of Keystone Kop Kaos while at the conclusion of every season the fans continue to steadfastly believe next year will be the one? In Detroit, hope -- or is that dope?-- springs eternal. The Lions are one of only four teams to never even MAKE it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. The others are Jacksonville, Houston, and Cleveland. Note the latter three are all "expansion" teams, but the Puddy Tats have been around since forever.

And speaking of Cleveland, it's also been since forever the last time that town won a major championship in ANY sport.

Uh-oh. Lebron James and the Cavaliers are in the NBA Finals. Could this be the year the Lake Erie-ites finally get to celebrate something?

The oddsmakers say Golden State is the favorite, but how can one root against anything Cleveland, given their sad-sack history?

Regardless, and no doubt the Big Applers and Glitzers would disagree, the sports world is just fine without New York and Los Angeles hogging up the headlines and airtime, as they have so often in the past.

It's kind of like Tiger Woods fading away on the PGA tour. The game has become more interesting than ever in his absence. Instead of Tiger this, Tiger that, choke me on a Tiger spoon with the endless replays, it's nice indeed to see TV coverage of a variety of rising young stars showing their talents on various courses.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

How the playoffs have gone horribly wrong

So there it is. The Finalists are now set. The Chicago Black Hawks will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Stanley Cup, and the Cleveland Cavaliers will tangle with the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship.

In the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks can't seem to close the deal. For the fourth time in recent years they just lost a Game 7, this time on their home ice.

In the east, the NY Rangers had NEVER lost a playoff Game 7 before at home. They have now.

This was not the way it was supposed to work out. No, yours truly had no preferences, but I'm guessing the league was hoping for the opposite results. A New York City versus Los Angeles area Final. The two biggest markets in the country. The money would have poured in. Celebrities galore. Major hype. The optimum scenario from a financial and exposure point of view.

Instead they got Chicago and Tampa. Don't get me wrong, Tampa's a fine city and there's a lot to do in Chitown, as long as one doesn't wander into the wrong neighborhood, particularly after dark. Then things can get a little dicey.

In Tampa, one might have the pleasure of meeting Steve Yzerman, former Red Wing great, who currently holds the same position (GM) for the Lightning that Ken Holland has long occupied in Detroit. Stevie Y is going to the Cup Finals, while Holland is trying to figure out what to do with a few aging not-so-superstars, a bunch of kids and an unsettled goalie situation. Life is better for Stevie these days than the man serving the pizza baron.

Then again, in the Windy City, one might have the pleasure of meeting some of our President's home boys, up close and in person. Hmmm. Well, it's something.

Consider the NBA Finals. Cleveland against Golden State. If the league could have picked, they'd probably want the NY Knicks against the LA Lakers. It would be a bonanza. Trouble is, both those teams are currently terrible and don't look to be any good any year soon.

Cleveland's a great town if you like, um, um, the breathtaking shores of Lake Erie. There's nothing quite like standing at the water's edge, ducking the dive-bombing seagulls, and taking a deep breath to savor the always tantalizing aroma of dead fish and zebra mussels. Oh yeah. We're in Cleveland now. But dammit, they've got Lebron.

Yours truly has been in the Bay area a few times in recent years. There's Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, and across the Golden Gate bridge is Muir's woods, a wondrous place to visit. Throw in the historic trolley cars, the serpentine beginning and hills of Lombard street where so many high speed car chases in the movies have taken place, and take the ferry to tour Alcatraz for a visit you'll never forget.

And then across the Bay Bridge is Oakland. This is also a great town if you like, um, um, being able to say you once visited the home of Hell's Angels. Other than that, well..... there's a few neighborhoods there as well that aren't exactly advisable for the faint of heart. But dammit, they've got Steph Curry.

Chicago and Tampa Bay.

Cleveland and Golden State (Oakland).

Who would have thunk it when the season started?

Major League Baseball. Old days and now

As mentioned in my previous post, it seems Major League baseball players are a lot more fragile these days than they were in times of yore. This despite superior conditioning, trainers, specialized coaches, weight rooms, nutritional supplements, and the like.

These days any starting pitcher can only go every 5 days. It used to be every 4. Go back far enough, and it wasn't unheard of for the same pitcher to toss both ends of a doubleheader.

Doubleheaders themselves are rare these days. When they happen, there's typically a 3-4 hour break between games. What are the players doing during that time? Taking a nap? Playing cards? Checking out their twitter followers?

There's no reason for this. Give the umpires a chance to get off their feet and a well-deserved potty break. Let the players change into clean uniforms. The grounds-crew can resweep and rehose the infield to keep that pesky dust down and swap out the bases for spiffy new white ones.

In the meantime, the fans have been there for hours, are chock full of draft beer, nasty hot dogs, and the damn kids want another ice cream -- as soon as mom or dad gets back from taking them to the, by now, not-so-sanitary restrooms to relieve their precious little bladders -- again. They don't care if the pampered millionaires are a little sweaty, because they're stinking it up by then themselves. Play the nation anthem again, and let's go for Game 2. PLAY BALL!! It shouldn't take more than half an hour between games -- max. And it didn't used to. But now all the participants are divas, and the poor dears must have their proper rest lest they, heaven forbid, overexert themselves.  One word. BS. They used to play the same game all day long when they were kids but, now that they're, ahem, "mature", they have the stamina of a teenaged boy in his first go-around after the prom?

And now a commercial break. Some furniture company is advertising a 96 month interest-free payment plan on their bedsets. Time out. 96 months? That's 8 years! Typically, a new car loan lasts somewhere between 3 and 5 years. And how much do they cost? 30 grand? 50 grand for a deluxe ride? So we can pay off back-to-back consecutive brand new car loans in the same time it takes to pay off such a single bedset?

Question. How much are those mattresses and box springs anyway?

Way back in the 1960s a pudgy Detroit Tiger first baseman named Norman Cash hit a few home runs over the rightfield roof at the old Tiger Stadium. They were estimated to have travelled somewhere between 525-550 feet. In the early 70s Reggie Jackson clobbered one at the same stadium that crashed into the bank of lights high above the right-centerfield roof. It would be interesting if the geeks that can simulate such things would go back and estimate how far that ball would have gone if not being stopped by some of Edison's finest glassware. 550? 575?  Mickey Mantle is generally credited with having hit the longest home run ever -- some 585 feet. A colossal blast.

But that begs the question. How come nobody can even come remotely close to such marks these days? The pitchers still bring it in the 90 MPH range, the hitters have custom made bats, and aren't the balls themselves supposed to be "juiced" over what they were in the old days?

Currently, if some player whacks one 450 feet, the breathless announcers will rant and rave and call it a "moon shot". But they lose sight of baseball history. In the old old Yankee Stadium, it was 465 from home plate to the left-centerfield fence. That same 450 foot fly ball would either be caught for a long out or hit the wall on one hop for maybe a double. It wouldn't even be a home run, let alone talking heads going berserk-worthy. The above-mentioned Tiger Stadium measured 440 feet to dead center field, but only a paltry 325 down the right field line and 340 down the left. So depending on which direction a batter hit a ball, a modest 360 could either be a home run or an easy out. For that matter, the old Tiger Stadium had their flagpole INSIDE the park in left-centerfield. That was always fairly stupid. We've heard of outfielders crashing into walls trying to make catches -- but a flagpole?

A final rant. Call me old school or anything else that comes to mind (trust me -- I've been called worse), but I've never liked the designated hitter rule in the American League. Yeah, I get it. Most pitchers can't hit a lick anyway, and it's supposed to add more excitment to the game. But most of the DHs are there because that's ALL they can do. They can't competently field a defensive position and are typically molasses slow on the basepathes. They exist only because they can hit. Truly one-dimensional players.

So basically, they'll come up to bat 4 or 5 times a game, and occasionally have to chug their way around the bases. While their team is on defense, they have a seat in the dugout.

So why -- tell me WHY -- do THESE guys need a game off every week or so to rest up?

Compared to the old days -- how pitiful is that?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A-Rod and Felix Hernandez

Don't look now but Alex Rodriguez just passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time RBI list. With a couple more, he'll overtake Barry Bonds for third place. That's going to happen.

Sure, like Bonds, A-Rod's accomplishments have been tainted by the dreaded performance enhancing drug thing, but there is no doubt that whatever he's doing these days -- he's doing it clean. If anybody's currently being regularly tested -- it's A-Rod.

It really is a shame in a big way that some players (in Bonds' case allegedly) resorted to such tactics. Few would doubt that Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez would have been shoo-in Hall of Famers with the skills they always naturally possessed.

Rodriguez would need a couple hundred more ribbies to approach Ruthian territory* for second place, let alone challenging Hank Aaron as the all-time leader. That probably won't happen. Yet the Yankees are on the hook for one more year regarding A-Rod and his salary and, hey, if he's still producing, why not play him?

*It should be noted that opinions vary regarding the all-time RBI leaders. The stat wasn't even kept prior to 1920, and quite loosely for several years afterwards, so Ruth and Gehrig's exact career marks are a matter of speculation. For that matter, one Cap Anson, who was born in 1852, a full 9 years before the Civil War started, and played 27 seasons for the Chicago Cubs (1871-1897) is credited with anywhere between 1800-some and 2200-some career RBIs. His whole career spanned a time long before RBIs began to be recorded. Nobody will ever know for sure what his exact tally was.

Seattle Mariners' starting pitcher Felix Hernandez is tearing it up. He recently became the first pitcher this year to notch his 8th W against only one L. Could he -- gasp -- potentially become the first 30-game winner since Detroit Tiger Denny McLain (31-6) way back in 1968?

Sure, assuming he stays on the same torrid pace for the rest of the year, certainly no given, and if the season was maybe 190 games instead of 162. McLain pitched every 4 days and modern day starting pitchers take the mound every 5. At the time of this writing, the Mariners had played 46 games, well over a quarter of the season. Extrapolate on Hernandez staying at the same pace. After 92 games, he'd be 16-2. Add in another 46 games for a total of 138 and Felix would be 24-3. Then there would only be 24 games remaining, likely 5 starts at the most. Even if he won them all, he'd still run out of games before he could hit the 30 mark. Denny McLain will forever be the last pitcher to win 30 games.

It's simply a matter of numbers.

More about why Major Leaguers seem to be so much more fragile in modern times than they were in yesteryear next time out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Michael Sam. Time to shut up

American football fans are certainly aware of who Michael Sam is for a couple different reasons.

First, Sam was a consensus All-America at Missouri and voted the SEC defensive player of the year during his senior season. In other words, he was a terrific college player.

And BTW, Sam also happened to be the first major college football player to openly admit he was gay. This revelation came shortly after his time at Mizzou was done but before the NFL draft.

Needless to say, this was quite the proverbial bombshell and the media went berserk in their coverage of every possible angle they could think of. Everybody wanted a piece of Sam for interviews and the like and Michael was more than happy to accommodate them.

Even in today's rapidly changing social climate (on some fronts) it took a lot of guts for Sam to do what he did. After all, he aspired to be an NFL football player, and Michael couldn't know how he could or would be perceived, much less accepted in such an environment by his future peers. It was a huge gamble on his part, but he should be commended for having the courage to stand up, break new ground, and tell the world about who he really is. As they say, the truth will set you free, and kudos to Sam for having done so.

Given his accomplishments while at Mizzou, Sam was projected to be a 3rd or 4th round NFL draft pick in 2014. But during the pre-draft NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Sam didn't make a good showing. So much so that his draft stock plummeted to the point where many wondered if he would be drafted at all. On top of that, despite his athleticism, Sam was a "tweener". Not big enough to play defensive end, and not fast enough to play outside linebacker in the NFL, according to many.

His draft stock fell indeed but, finally, in the 7th round, the St. Louis Rams called his name. Sam had broken more new ground as the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. This was a big deal and Sam jerseys flew off the shelves, second only to Johnny Manziel's amongst potential rookies.

Alas, the "tweener" thing finally came back to haunt him and Sam was cut at the end of training camp last year by the Rams. The media was back. More interviews, sound bytes, and Michael playing along with it all.

The Dallas Cowboys gave him a shot on their practice squad when the season started, but Sam would only last a little more than a month before being waived from Big D as well. Sam was back in the news, and evidently enjoying it.

The 2014-15 NFL season came and went and Michael Sam has yet to play a single down in a regular season game for any team.

Certainly, there are those just waiting to pounce and claim Sam's failure to stick with an NFL team is a result of his sexual orientation. But that's a tough argument to justify. After all, St. Louis didn't have to draft him and the Cowboys could have ignored him. By most all accounts, Sam is a good guy, talented football player, and a hard worker. But given the fierce competition for every position on every team in the NFL, sometimes that's not enough. Other guys are just better.

What has gone unsaid in the Michael Sam saga isn't so much that he's gay, but the media circus he willingly brings along with him every place he goes. Teams already have plenty of issues to deal with getting ready for another season. They don't need or want reporters coming out of their ears over a non-football related matter.

In this respect, Sam has been his own worst enemy. He keeps saying he just wants to work hard, play football, and fit in. But that's pretty hard to square when Sam continues to get in front of cameras every time the opportunity presents itself. And hey, aren't rookies supposed to be seen and not heard?

Just recently, Sam was signed by the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Good for him and godspeed.

But he hasn't made that roster yet either and what did he do? Give another press conference.

[Earth to Michael. If you want to be just another guy and fit in on a football team, you might want to consider putting your head down and going to work, quietly, like every other rookie.
Further, understand that the media people don't really care about you. You're just a story of the day for them, and they'll only run with it as long as you give them a bump in their ratings. They'll throw you away like yesterday's coffee grounds when you cease being semi-interesting.
So stop being a sucker with the photo-ops and sound bytes they keep asking for and tell them no. Continuing to mouth off and draw attention to yourself is counterproductive, if not hypocritical, regarding what you have already said is your goal in life.]

Bottom line? Here's wishing Michael Sam all the best in his latest venture with the Montreal Alouettes.

But he really needs to shut up for his own good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ray MacDonald. What's the big deal?

It appears not-so-old MacDonald might be watching his career farm going up in flames. E-I-E-I-O. His latest brush with the law over a domestic incident resulted in the Chicago Bears kicking him to the curb. This was after the San Fran 49ers had previously done so over prior, ahem, errors in judgment.

Is this a big deal? Depends on how one looks at it. The media certainly seems to think so. I'll get back to that.

We were force-fed the Ray Rice "elevator" video a few bazillion times. He still hasn't found a team but his production was going down as his age went up, so who's to say he'd be playing even sans "incident"?

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots dominated the news over "deflategate". A million dollar fine is chump change and it remains to be seen whether his 4 game suspension holds up. (Idle thought: How the heck can Roger Goodell preside over the appeal of the sentence he already handed down? What kind of kangaroo court is going on here?)

Adrian Petersen switched his kid a while back. Massive coverage. He's back with the Vikes.

Greg Hardy had his own problems. No video available, or we'd have been bombarded with that too, but Jerry Jones snapped him up for his Cowboys.

Aaron Hernandez is -- well-- not going anywhere for a good while. No video available to the public there either, but a pesky Murder One conviction normally has a way of ending professional football careers.

In the NBA playoffs, Al Horford of the Atlantic Hawks got ejected for a flagrant II foul for throwing an elbow to the head of an opponent while he was down. After getting a two-handed shove in the back (no foul was called) Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets retaliated with a slap to the face of an opponent. Many howled for a flagrant II violation as well. Thing is, nobody was seriously injured, the Hawks are gone and the Rockets soon will be. So does it even matter?

Last time I looked, the NFL had 32 teams which equals out to about 1700 players. For a handful of them to get out of line and allegedly run afoul of the law represents nothing more than the same sliver slice of society as a whole. So what's the big deal? It's not like a major crime wave is going on.

In the NBA, there's a lot of stuff going on, particularly during the playoffs. The pressure is high and the competition fierce, but these guys are only human. There will be times when tempers flare and hard fouls are committed. So what's the big deal?

Major League Baseball has long had an unwritten rule that if you plunk one of our guys with a pitched ball, we're going to drill one of yours. Understandable? Sure. Does it make it right? Maybe not. Nevertheless, this stuff has been going on for over a hundred years and was an "acceptable" part of the game. But these days the media will not only insist on showing us a hundred replays of Slugger Joe getting one in the ribs, but bring in "experts" to remotely psycho-analyze what each player was thinking at the time. As if they have a clue. Please.

With the exception of Hernandez (and perhaps not even him, given how many murders are committed in this country everyday) all these incidents are no more than daily occurrences all over the country. No, this is not to justify wrong-doing of any sort, but just because it's an athlete doing it shouldn't make it that big a deal.

If a team has a "bad apple" on their hands, then just cut him and plug in somebody else. No need for all the "statements" and/or press conferences. That just fans the flames of the already pyrotechnic media looking to sensationalize something that is not unusual whatsover in the whole scheme of things.

I don't care if a starting QB gets popped for a DUI anymore than I would if it was my next-door neighbor. It happens. Maybe it effects their job, maybe not. But either way, no whining, and spare me the hype. Deal with it and move on.

If we didn't have a few bad apples here and there we wouldn't need jails, cops, and prosecutors. Last time I looked there were thousands of all of them. It's the nature of the species. Always has been.

So when some athlete gets in trouble, it should come as no surprise, and certainly not warrant wall-to-wall media coverage. It's not that big of a deal.

When I was a little boy, I remember JFK getting shot in Dallas. THAT was a big deal.

If Derek Jeter, Oprah, Ellen, Anderson, Rachel, Rush, and Alex Trebek all team up and decide to go fight with ISIS, now THAT would be an attention grabber.

But if we're talking about a misdemeanor here and a scrape with the law there amongst jocks, what's the big deal indeed?


Monday, May 25, 2015

Steph Curry, Joey Crawford, and America for sale

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.

That was a pretty cool circus song of old, and no doubt true. Unless, of course, after releasing from one swing and flying through the air -- poof -- the next swing he was supposed to catch wasn't there. Then said young man would have a problem. Gravity plays no favorites. But most trapeze folks had safety nets to catch them after their plunge, so it was a soft landing and no big deal.

In Game 4 of the Western Conference NBA finals, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors tried the flying through the air bit, and it didn't work out so well. While trying to block a shot, Curry wound up going airborne, arms and legs flailing, and eventually ka-THUD on the hardwood.


Though he lay prone for several minutes, none of the refs counted him out, nor even gave him a standing 8 count when he finally got back on his wobbly feet. Poor Steph had bopped his head, and a few other things. Off he eventually trudged to the visitor's locker room.

The announcers were aghast with horrror. OMG, he might have a concussion, or a hurt shoulder, or back, or knee, or elbow, or hand, or maybe even have, heaven forbid, suffered one of those agonizing contusions (a bruise). They would breathlessly give us updates as Steph continued walking towards the locker room.

Idle thought: Why is it that the Houston Rockets play in an arena called the Toyota Center? Hasn't all of Texas long prided itself on being fiercely American? They've got oil and super-wealthy entepreneurs coming out of their ears, but they sold off the naming rights to an NBA arena for a few million bucks to a Japanese company? Sam Houston would not approve, to put it mildly.

After further action, an update on Curry. It's been 5 minutes now, and he's still walking down a corridor under the stands to get to the visitor's locker room facilities. Question: What kind of labyrinth do they have underneath this arena and just how far is it to the locker rooms? In 5 minutes one could walk all the way around the arena. Was there a Minotaur involved he had to slay in the labyrinth that we never got to see before reaching medical assistance?

But you know what? Curry needed a good bump on the head. Sure, he's the reigning NBA MVP and a terrific player. But he's gotten cocky. All that posing, snickers, and shimmy-shakes after launching another wide-open 3-point bomb his teammates set up is starting to get old. And yes, we get it, Steph. You can dribble with both hands. So can every other guard in the NBA. But please stop with the two-ball, both hands warm-ups before the games just so the cameras will zoom in on you. Only one ball will be in play once the game starts -- so what's the point other than hot-dogging?

And now a word from the sponsors.

To no great surprise, there were Toyota commercials. Hey, they've already bagged the arena, most of the signage inside and out, including blaring their logo from all four sides of the gigantic overhead scoreboard -- might as well throw in a few TV spots.
Then there was one from Samsung -- a Korean company.
Followed by another from Heineken -- a German brewery.
Here comes a Kia commercial -- a Korean automaker.

Is it just me, or do you wonder the same thing? Where the hell are American companies while all this is going on? Don't they make anything anymore? This was a game between two American teams in the NATIONAL Basketball Association, played in Texas, and all we get is advertisments for foreign products? Something is very wrong with this picture.

Finally, an ad for an American product. Alas, the Buick commercial portrayed typical Americans as being basically, well, not so bright. And we're probably not, given everything from continually fighting stupid wars to buying foreign goods -- both of which undercut our own economy.

You've seen it. Some couple, evidently retarded, back their car up to the gate that leads to their home. Then they both have to get out to open it. After that, we don't see it, but the obvious conclusion is they put the car in reverse again to navigate the driveway all the way to the house. If you have a gate that fancy, chances are your driveway is long. So what kind of nitwits do the whole deal in reverse?

Worse yet, how get-a-life pitiful are the neighbors to be looking out their window with binoculars checking out somebody else's new car? Who cares? If my neighbors rolled up in a new Rolls Royce or Lamborghini I might get around to telling them "nice ride" when I happened to notice it. That might even be a good time to ask for my loaned wheelbarrow back that's been in their shed since last fall. But their vehicles are their vehicles. I couldn't care less what they drive. And this was only a Buick. Something is wrong with this picture as well.

Back to the game. While the politically correct folks fret over Steph Curry's possible ouchies, what he did was actually stupid. The Golden State Warriors were already up 3-0 in the series, and there would be little doubt the Rockets would come out with all they had in Game 4 to save a little face. Indeed, Houston won the game handily.

But there's also little doubt the Warriors will win the series, most likely closing it out in Game 5 at home. There was no need, or logic for Curry to try to imitate Superman or a trapeze artist in Game 4. He appears quite fortunate to have escaped serious injury. Besides, such perilous antics in Game 4 while trying for a sweep were counterproductive to Warriors' ownership. They WANTED a Game 5. Another home date represents a huge cha-ching. Who's kidding who?

And then there's the ever not-so-loveable but always laughable Joey Crawford. Perhaps the loosest cannon of them all in the history of officialdom. Old Joey tripped over his own feet -- again -- while doing his hunched over impression of running up the court.


To his credit, one announcer actually showed a bit of a sense of humor, if briefly. It WAS comical.

Yet one is left to wonder. How has Crawford lasted so long in the NBA? He's a hothead, gets as many calls wrong as right, and has long been known as the above-mentioned loose cannon. One way or the other, Joey always seems to find a way to BE the entertainment, rather than officiate it. His slapstick act would be part of the script at a Harlem Globetrotters game, and well received by all. But it doesn't play so well in the NBA where things are a bit more serious, to say the least.

But here he is, in his 37th year, not only still active but officiating playoff games, and still making a spectacle of himself.

If the league wants the fans to take the playoffs seriously, then why do they keep putting a clown with a whistle on the floor? Countless millions of dollars and a place in history with a championship are at stake.

And the final insult. There was Steph Curry doing a moronic insurance commercial, much like Chris Paul and his twin brother had for the last few months. Alas, the Clips were eliminated and the viewing public was finally, blessedly, spared from the non-infomercials. The ad folks know the public isn't interested in a loser. But they hedged their bets and now it's Steph. Maybe it will work out -- and maybe not.

If the Warriors crash and burn in the Finals against Lebron and the Cavaliers, entirely possible, look for Steph's insurance ads to go away quickly as well.

Here's hoping for two things. Joey Crawford isn't one of the refs, and the reigning MVP doesn't do another ill-fated trapeze act and wind up bonking his precious little coconut on the hardwood again.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Indy 500, Chevy/Honda and Conor Daly

Indy fans know Juan Pablo Montoya won this year's spectacle. It was his second victory at the Brickyard, the first coming way back in 2000. To his credit, the native Colombian hung around the lead throughout the 500 miles, drove a steady race, and made a bold move towards the end to ultimately go in front and take the checkered flag. He earned it fair and square and well done indeed.

2nd. Will Power. An interesting name if one runs the first and last names together. Yet it surely beats Slim Pickens or Steppin Fetchit. Wasn't there an old TV detective show called Sledge Hammer? Helluva name for a cop. That probably wouldn't go over so well these days, but I digress.

3rd. Charlie Kimball.

4th. Scott Dixon.

5th. Graham Rahal.

Engines in order of finish.

1st. Chevy.
2nd. Chevy.
3rd. Chevy.
4th. Chevy.
5th. Honda.

Note to Honda executives. The bow tie folks just kicked your butts at the highest level of racing with the whole world watching. Put that in your sushi teriyaki and smoke it.

The race itself featured pretty much what we have come to expect at Indy over the years. Lots of brilliant high-speed driving, minor gaffes here and there, and the usual variety of crashes. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, much less killed. When overgrown GoKarts are zipping around at over 220 MPH in close proximity, one never knows what might happen. Much credit should go to the engineers that design the modern day Indy cars for how much impact they can absorb while keeping the driver relatively safe. The cars can fly apart in a million pieces but the driver will walk away. It truly is amazing technology.

Per the norm, the Indy 500 took about three hours from start to finish, and most eyes are now rightfully on Montoya for having won it. Nobody remembers or cares about the pre-race pomp, and few will recall the actual start of the race. It's like any other sporting contest. What happens at the beginning might be interesting at the time, but it's quickly forgotten. Who remembers or cares what the score was after the first inning, first quarter, first period, or the leader at a golf tournament after the first round on a Thursday? The only thing that matters is who won at the end.

But something very interesting happened at Indy this year and it involved Conor Daly. He had qualified for the race, no small feat, but never actually got to run a "hot" lap once they dropped the green flag.

Trying to race at the Indy 500 is a very expensive venture. Building a car, hiring and paying a qualified crew, housing/feeding them, and paying all the necessary fees can add up in a hurry. An entry fee. Necessary wind tunnel testing fees. Thirty or so sets of tires at about $2500 a pop. Good grief, leasing (yes, they have to lease them) a Chevy or Honda motor can cost a quarter million. Throw in spare parts, etc., add it all up, and even if done on the cheap for one race, the tab is roughly a million dollars just to give it a shot.

But Conor Daly and his backers did and they made it into the starting grid of 33 cars. That's the good news.

The bad news is, during only the pace laps leading up to the race, Daly's racing machine caught on fire for no apparent reason. He was out before the race even began.

Yours truly knoweth not who ponied up all those mega-bucks to enable Daly and his car to start at Indy, but if I'm the guy that shelled out that dough, I am not a happy camper. I just coughed up a million bucks only to see my car go up in flames before the green flag dropped?

However, upon further review, as they say, all that smoke coming from Daly's car was emanating from the engine compartment. And yep, he was driving a Honda. $250,000 to lease an engine for a week and it appeared to blow up before the race even started.

Note to Conor and backers if they try this again next year. Get a Chevy motor. The top 4 finishers all had them, as did 9 out of the top 11.

Besides, Daly is FROM Indiana, not Tokyo. So if he wants to be an All-American boy at "the greatest spectacle in racing", then he might want to consider running an American nameplate engine, especially when they proved to be so dominant.


Friday, May 22, 2015

The NBA Finals.

It's certainly starting to look like it's going to be Golden State and Cleveland. After all, both have 2-0 series leads, and one would be hard pressed to imagine the Houston Rockets beating the Warriors 4 out of the next 5. True, the first two games in Oakland have been close, and the Rockets now go home for Games 3 and 4. But there's a reason Golden State posted the best record in the league during the regular season. These guys are good. REALLY good. Looks for them to split the two games in Houston and the Warriors close it out in Game 5.

In the East, it's all but a done deal as well. Lebron and his Cavs won the first two games in Atlanta, the second being a blow-out. Does anybody really think the Hawks can win 4 out of the same next 5 after dropping the first two at home? With Games 3 and 4 being in Cleveland, they'll be lucky to avoid a sweep. Either way, pencil in Cleveland to go on to the Finals.

Interestingly, the Cavs are getting this done without the services of Kevin Love. Sure, good teams rally around each other when a star player goes down -- next man up, and all that -- but many, including yours truly, thought the loss of Love would seal their fate when it got down to the nitty-gritty of the playoffs. We were wrong. The Cavs look better than ever.

Idle thought:

Just what purpose does Cleveland head coach David Blatt serve anyway other than giving dumb looks and even stupider answers at press conferences? The man's making somewhere around $5 million a year, and the Cavs are winning not BECAUSE  of him, but in SPITE of him. Blatt might have done well coaching on the Israeli-European circuit, but he's way, WAY over his head in the NBA.

Not only doesn't he have a clue, the players seem to know it as well. Blatt can call a play, and the players will ignore it and run their own. During time-outs, Lebron is the one seen talking strategy to the team -- not Blatt. He might nod his head in agreement, but nobody's paying any attention to him anyway. So what good is he? Then again, it should be remembered Dan Gilbert still owns the Cavaliers, and Blatt was his hire. To become the billionaire he is, this guy must be a genius behind closed doors, because every time he says or does something publicly, he comes across as a buffoon.

Conclusion? Why not make Lebron player-coach and save the $5 million they're wasting on Blatt? He's already calling the shots anyway.

Assuming the above scenarios play out as predicted, the Cavs against the Warriors in the Finals would be a very intriguing match-up.

Golden State would have home court advantage, and when they get it going they can be flat-out awesome. Having the best record all year long, especially coming in the brutal western conference, speaks for itself.

If one harkons back to the beginning of the season, one would remember the Cavs started out slowly. It was predictable. They had a few new parts they were trying to fit together, including Lebron and Kevin, plus some new coach that won a bunch of games in the old world across the pond. But as the season went on -- well -- look at them now, in spite of the nitwit.

Yep, Lebron never could get over the final hump in his first go-round with the Cavs. He had to take his talents to South Beach and hook up with the likes of D-Wade and Chris Bosh to finally win a championship. But that was when James was a magnificently talented young man trying to single handedly will the otherwise not-so-talented Cavs to glory. He came close.

But now he's been there, done that as a seasoned veteran and has a terrific supporting cast around him as well in his Cleveland II sequel.

The Warriors would likely be favored, if for no other reason than home-court advantage going in. They've only been beaten there three times -- all year -- twice in the regular season and once by Memphis in the playoffs. The Cavs and Warriors split their two games this year, each winning handily on their own home floor.

But bet against Lebron III and the current Cavs at your own peril. The King is on another mission.

Final idle thought: It's already been speculated by some that Blatt, due to his incompetence, will be fired at year's end, the $15 million or so Gilbert would still owe him notwithstanding. If Lebron really wants him gone -- chances are he WILL be gone.

That scenario raises an interesting question. Has an NBA head coach ever made it to the Finals, maybe even won it, only to be fired shortly thereafter? Wouldn't that be something? Talk about throwing bloody meat into the hungry shark infested waters that are the sports media...... Stand back. This could get ugly in a hurry.

Then again, all the above could be entirely wrong. Perhaps the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets will storm back to win their conference championships and meet in the Finals.

Stranger things have happened and it's entirely poss......


Forget that.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

An NFL team (or two?) in LA?

It's certainly a possibility. Granted, LA's already chock full of pro teams. The Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, and Kings all play there, but LA-LA Land is a huge market (see cha-ching) that could surely accommodate an NFL presence. It's always seemed strange that LA hasn't had an NFL team since the Rams moved to St. Louis a couple decades ago.

Three current NFL teams are often mentioned as possibilities to LA. The Rams could go back, as could the now Oakland Raiders, and even the San Diego Chargers have made a little noise about moving north.

A lot of this has to do with the ownership of these franchises wanting shiny new palatial stadiums built for their teams, but the pesky local taxpayers and the politicians that depend on them for re-election have balked at footing the bill. This is totally understandable. Hey, if a billionaire owner wants a new stadium, then why shouldn't he pay for it out of his own pocket and leave the poor beleaguered taxpayers alone? After all, the owner's going to reap in the future profits, not the working stiffs that live in the area. What with parking, exorbitant ticket prices, $10 watered down draft beers, $8 nasty hot dogs, etc., they'll be the ones that have to skip a house payment to attend a game with their spouse and kids. And that's the people who's homes didn't get demolished to make room for the new uber-structure in the first place. There's something very wrong with this picture.

But such owners always pull out the "move" card. "If you won't pay for and build my new stadium, I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll take my team somewhere else", they threaten. Given the fanatical nature of the loyalty NFL fans typically have for their "home" team, many times this gambit works. "Oh please, don't move my team. Take my eldest child, bulldoze my house, and I'll gladly find a second job to pay for the extra taxes. But I beg of you sirs, don't take my football away. Anything but that". And so it goes.

It's also been suggested that a couple of the above-mentioned owners of said franchises might even be collaborating on a new facility in the LA area. They could share it. When one team is home, the other would be on the road. It's been done before. Consider the NY Jets and NY Giants, though while both call themselves New York but played in New Jersey was a fair question.

True to form, Roger Goodell is trying to take control of the situation. The Commish has said the league would consider allowing a team, perhaps even two, to relocate to LA if things worked out just so, and all the other owners approved.

But you know what? Goodell is blowing hot air if he thinks the league or the other owners can prevent such a move if they disapprove.

Look at it this way. If an owner or two goes to all the trouble, regardless of how the finances come together, to build a new stadium in a different city, you can bet your farm that SOME NFL team is going to move and play there as soon as it's ready. Typically, billionaires don't get to be such if they're stupid. They wouldn't jump through all the hoops to get a shiny new palace built somewhere else only to let it sit vacant, whether the Commish and their league partners like it or not. If the structure starts going up -- somebody's moving.

And what, really, is to stop them? Precedents have already been set. Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders moved his team to LA, and eventually back again. Art Modell of the Cleveland Browns caused outrage when he moved them to Baltimore. Robert Irsey created much the same furor when he moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis. So the Browns became the Ravens, the Colts stayed the Colts but in a different city, and Cleveland got a new Browns team. This all happened on the whims of billionaires not being satisfied with their situations at the time. Screw the life-long fans, the fat-cats saw a greener pasture and went for it.

The league offices could huff and puff then, like they are now pretending to be in control, but if an owner wants to relocate his team, there's not a damn thing they can do to stop it.

Once a team has moved into a new facility, lock, stock, players, coaches, helmets, pads and cups, it's a done deal. What can the league do? Refuse to acknowledge them and tell other clubs not to play against them? So one owner would get a forfeited win every week, but lose out on countless millions of revenue in the process? Good luck with that. Never happen.

Whether or not an NFL team or two moves to LA in the near future is an open question. It depends on several factors. But Roger the Dodger and all the owners' meetings in the world are helpless to stop a maverick that smells a better deal and decides to go for it. Each owner will do what he damn well feels like doing. To think otherwise is naive.

And you just know how it will play out. Instead of a boycott, the league will reward the owner(s) of the new team(s) in the new stadium a Super Bowl just as soon as they can.

Huff and puff now. Roll over to the inevitable later like it was their plan all along.


Detroit Tigers. An objective look

Tiger fans likely remember when their team started off this season 6-0. True to form, some of their local scribes went off the Pollyanna deep end and mentioned the 1984 Tigers which had started their season an incredible 35-5. Could this year's team match it? Seven more games and the Tigers were 11-2. Still very impressive and they would have to go 24-3 in their next 27 outings but, dammit, anything's possible, the glass half-fullers said.

Since then, the Tigers have gone 14-15. A thud back to reality. Instead of being in first place in their own division, the Tigers find themselves 2 1/2 games behind the KC Royals, and only a half game ahead of the Minnesota Twins for third. For that matter, they're only a couple games away from being fourth in the AL Central. So much for the glass half empty scenario, but it should come as no surprise given their roster.

They lost Cy Younger Max Scherzer to free agency.
Rick Porcello is now with the Red Sox.
A while back they gave up starter Doug Fister in a trade for which they basically got nothing in return.
Long time work horse and former ace Justin Verlander has been on the shelf with arm problems since shortly after this season began. The Fastball Flakes man was merely a journeyman pitcher last year and nobody knows if he'll ever return to his former dominating self. Father Time and all those 130+ pitch games over the years are not exactly working in his favor these days.
Anabel Sanchez was terrific in 2014, but lately looks like he's throwing batting practice to other teams. Crack. There goes another one.
In other words, their once formidable starting rotation is no more.
Sure, the Tigers have plugged in other pitchers who have had some degree of success this year, but mostly they're castoffs from other teams. Even the Tigers have subliminally admitted it. Take Shane Green, for example. You don't assign a starting pitcher the uniform number of 61 if you think he's going to be a star. That's for scrubs in spring training or maybe an offensive guard for the Detroit Lions that play across the street.

Their bullpen is as nail-biting as ever. The Tigers keep hoping flame-thrower Bruce Rondon will come around as a closer. That's good news and bad news. The good news is Rondon can throw fastballs a bazillion miles per hour. The bad news is he can only stay healthy for 5 minutes at a time. It's always something.

Slugger Miguel Cabrera continues to be a force at the plate. That's a good thing. Defensively, Cabrera isn't exactly a standout, and speed-wise on the basepathes -- fuhgettaboutit. Not so good. He's there for his bat. Period.
Aging co-slugger Victor Martinez finds himself hobbled and may or may not ever get back to 2014 form. See Father Time mentioned above. Thing is, Martinez can only play in the American League. That's because of the designated hitter rule that the National League doesn't have. Martinez can play no, repeat NO defensive position. And he's even slower than Cabrera. Truly a one-dimensional player.

Ian Kinsler remains a solid second baseman both with the bat and the glove, and the Tigers adding Yoenis Cespides to clear up that pesky "who's in left field today" problem last year was a terrific move. Yo Ces is the real deal.

Catcher Alex Avila was never much with the bat but known for his defensive abilities behind the plate. Now he's out too with an injury, duration unknown. Plus he seems to have an uncanny, if dubious talent for repeatedly getting hit in the head by objects travelling at a high rate of speed. This is great for a crash test dummy, but maybe not so good for the long term health of a major league baseball player.

Anthony Gose came on board for the Tigers this year. He was drafted way back in 2008 by the Phillies and has spent most of the last seven years bouncing around in the minor leagues. The Tigers got him for a ham sandwich from the Toronto Blue Jays. He's fast, but there's a reason he hasn't stuck with a major league club. Something about hitting consistently.

J.D. Martinez had an out of his mind season last year. Nobody saw that coming. Is that the real J.D. that others somehow overlooked, or will he thud back to earth as well? Time will tell.

All in all, the Detroit Tigers are currently an average team. They have their assets, but their liabilities as well. They could well win their division again, but could just as well wind up in fourth place, even the basement if the Cleveland Indians (who Sports Illustrated predicted to win the World Series this year) ever get their act together.

It all depends on which philosophy one wishes to buy into. Glass half-full? Glass half-empty? Take your pick and see you in October when we'll all find out who's who.

In the meantime, yours truly will continue to steadfastly stick by his own way of analyzing such complex issues. My system is actually quite simple and it's served me well over the years.

Start off with utter lunacy, and stick to it. What could possibly go wrong, go wrong, go wrong with that?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mike Babcock goes to the Maple Leafs

In hindsight, we likely should have seen it coming all along. Long time Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was nearing the end of his contract and there wasn't a whole lot the Wings' front office (see Ken Holland) could do that they hadn't already tried to keep him.

It's tough to feel sorry for a guy making $2 million a year like Babcock had recently in Detroit, and the Wings obviously wanted to re-sign him. Or did they? I'll get back to that. *

Holland had publicly stated he would allow other teams to approach Babcock while he was still under contract and the coach was free to listen to any and all such offers. This was hardly a magnanimous move on the part of the GM. Babcock's contract with the Red Wings officially expires on June 30, a little over a month from now. Given Babs had already turned down two previous contract extension offers from the Wings, at a hefty pay raise to boot, it was apparent he wished to see what the "market" had to offer and consider other options. Fair enough. It happens all the time in professional sports with athletes and coaches. Such is the nature of the biz. For Holland to have denied Babcock and other interested teams from communicating for only a few weeks would have been perceived as not only mean-spirited, but merely delaying the inevitable. It was going to happen anyway. Might as well look like a nice guy to the suckers that believe "nice" has anything to do with running a professional sports franchise. It doesn't.

It was interesting to read how "experts" broke down Babcock's future landing spot and only 5 teams were mentioned.

Returning to the Wings, of course. Plus there were four other potential suitors. Toronto, St. Louis, Buffalo, and San Jose.

Toronto seems to be in forever "rebuilding" mode. When's the last time the Leafs were Cup competitors? The gurus said this scenario seemed highly unlikely. I'll get back to that too. **

They said while St. Louis is a pretty good upcoming team, Babcock would be loath to replace their last coach Ken Hitchcock, a dear friend of his. This was nonsense, of course. Ken Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock, Wild Bill Hitchcock, close enough, what's the difference when it comes to the ruthless world of what have you done for me lately and the good ole boys coaching carousel so prevalent in sports today? Loyalty? Pshaw. Throw a box car load of money on the table and these folks would send their own mothers off to an orphanage somewhere. Who's kidding who?

The San Jose Sharks were said to be facing the same plight as the Red Wings. Their best players were getting old. Their future was more likely down than up.

Buffalo was an interesting choice. They've been bad for a long time, but also stocked up on premier draft choices along the way. If it all comes together, the Sabres could be a serious Cup contender in a couple years. Maybe. In fact, some AP reporter stated that Babs had already entered into contract negotiations with the Sabres. It was quickly denied by Babcock himself, and the report was obvious wrong. Just another media pundit taking an "educated guess" hoping to be the first to break a big story without knowing what the hell he was talking about.

*Did the Red Wings really want to keep Babcock? Though they had offered him a significant raise, they also gave a huge bonus to the head coach of their top farm club in Grand Rapids, one Jeff Blashill. Other NHL teams had inquired as to his availability for head coaching jobs and the Red Wings were adamant in not allowing them to speak with JB. You don't give a minor league coach major league money and wall him off from potential suitors unless you have plans to bring him up to the parent club pretty quick. Now that Babcock is gone, that's exactly what's going to happen.

** The reason nobody ever bothered to consider. Babcock himself is a native Canadian. He's coached the Canadian Olympic team to Olympic gold medals. Like a New Yorker, Texan, or upper-Michigan Yooper, one may travel a lot in the search of fame and fortune, but those home-ties never go away. Given a choice of where to ply one's trade, remember LeBron recently returning to Cleveland, it should come as no great surprise Babcock wound up with the Leafs. He was born and raised in Manitouwadge, Ontario and, last time I looked Toronto was in the same Province. Granted, Manitouwadge is up in the northwest boonies and it's almost 500 miles to Toronto in the far southeast region, but still, a Province is a Province, and home is home. Sort of.

There's one other tiny little reason Babock likely went to Toronto. While the Wings had offered him a 4 year deal at $3.25 million a year, the Leafs came up with an 8 year deal estimated at about $50 million. Do the math. That's twice as long at double the money every year. Plus he'll be returning to his home country. If you were Mike Babcock, what would YOU have done? It's a no brainer, whether the Leafs turn out to be any good or not.

Besides, Babcock, no fool, surely saw the handwriting on the wall when it came to Blashill. The Grand Rapids coach has been wildly successful and is 10 years younger than Babcock. Truth is, while many praise Babcock as one of the best coaches in the NHL, his Red Wings teams have barely snuck into the playoffs in recent years and were quickly eliminated once they got there. Sometimes perception isn't necessarily reality. Further, the Wings can probably lock Blashill in for several years for millions of dollars less than it would have cost to keep a coach they didn't appear overly eager to retain anyway. Ken Holland's no fool either. When he's playing with pizza baron owner Mike Ilitch's assets, it's probably a good idea not to start giving away too much free pepperoni else Mr. H might find himself in Manitouwadge running a high school team and wondering how everything could go so horribly wrong so fast.

Tough business, that NHL.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NBA draft lottery. A winner and a loser

The results are in. The Minnesota Timberwolves will get the first pick and the LA Lakers the second. Most suspect the first two former college players that will be taken are Karl-Anthony Towns, a big man out of Kentucky, and Jahlil Okafor, another center from national champion Duke.

Idle thought: While we've long heard about the ping-pong balls in a "weighted system" being used to determine the outcome of the draft, how come when it actually happened the envelopes were already sealed? Further, how do we know they did it state lottery style somewhere along the line at all? Did you see it? Not me. They just trotted out the "results" that were done in secret. Hmmm.

At any rate, the above-mentioned K Tony T and Lil Okeydokey have quite a quandary on their hands. In all likelihood, neither wants to be the first draft pick. Sure, a few bucks are at stake between being #1 and #2, but both will become instant millionaires. And both will fall into the rookie contract structure of the NBA whereby, barring a trade at the team's discretion. they'll have to spend the next few years playing for whatever franchise drafts them.

Looking at it from their point of view -- where would you rather go? Minnesota or LA?

The land of 10,000 lakes, 10 below zero, and 10 feet of snow during the NBA season? With a little luck, one might meet Yo Adrian Petersen or learn the finer techniques of ice fishing in one's spare time. Endorsements? Well......

Or the kingdom of film stars, rap stars, TV stars, and the entertainment moguls behind it all? With a little luck, one might find themselves in a movie or learn the finer techniques of hanging out with drop dead gorgeous women in one's spare time. Endorsements? If you're the first round pick of the la-la- Lakers, regardless of how horrible they've become, you're going to get products to advertise. Cha-ching. Good grief, Chris Paul plays for the Clippers in the same building and has never won anything in his life. Look at the killing he's making with those dopey insurance commercials.

This is a no-brainer. What remains to be seen is how Towns and Okafor jockey for position to come in -- second. If one of them was really planning ahead, here is what he would do:

Call a press conference and announce he strongly believes that because Minnesota has so much water and California is experiencing another drought, a huge pipeline should be built from Minnesota to California to even out the water situation. Whichever of them does it first guarantees he won't get drafted by the Timberwolves. And the folks in LA would love him even more. Plus, he'd show a little brains -- never a given with young athletes, or some older ones too for that matter.

Irritating/Stupid Things Dept. If you're reading this, you're on-line. Which means you've been bombarded with the same come-ons as yours truly. That would be all those pop-up ads that want you to sign up for various things to protect your computer. Viruses, Spyware, Malware, and the like. Evidently, everybody on the internet is after you. You will be destroyed and resistance is futile. So they offer their services free for a 30 trial period. Just click here to get started, they say. As you also know, somewhere along the line they're going to ask for a credit card number.

In the fine print they will tell you if you're not satisfied with their product, you can cancel at any time -- but they don't tell you how to do it. Your account will be hit monthly and good luck trying to figure out how to stop it.

And besides, how do we know what they do -- if anything? Isn't this a little bit like paying somebody 10 bucks a month to protect your house against invisible alien invaders? They can say they warded off rogue Klingons, Romulans, or tea-partier threats here and there -- but how do we know they were ever there in the first place?

There's a better way. If they want to offer their services free for 30 days, great. One click should take care of it. Done. When that time is up, send us another notice that due to their heroics our lives have been spared for another month and give us an address. Maybe, just maybe, some of us will mail them a check as a tip to show our appreciation for something they may or may not have done. But giving them a credit card number up front? Not a chance.

That's almost as dumb as wanting to be the first player selected in this year's NBA draft.

But we've already been over that.....

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ladies college softball. Please

There's a few things that are very strange about the current collegiate softball tournament going on. In no particular order:

1) What gives with the pitchers constantly having to refer to the notes on their armband? It's doubtful the hurlers feature more than a four-pitch variety. Can't they remember the numbers? One is fastball, two is change-up, etc. This isn't exactly top-secret double naught spy communication stuff, it's a softball game. And if the signals are coming in from the bench, don't you think the other team will figure them out in about 5 minutes?

2) Unlike major league baseball, notice these softball parks don't have the distances displayed on the outfield fences. That's because they only average about 200 feet all the way around. Or about the same size as a little league park that 12 year olds play in. Hitting a home run is great, but given the aluminum bats and hot balls, what constitutes a "monster shot"? 230?

3) Why are these girls allowed to run up at the ball and take a swing? Sure, most of them are road-runners, beep beep, and fly to first base in seemingly nanoseconds. But if they're out of the batter's box when they make contact with the ball -- and many of them clearly are -- it's illegal. Of course, every team seems to have a bruiser in the line-up. They're easily recognizable by their girth and they pretty much always play first base. You can time them running from home to first with a sundial, and needles on seismographs somewhere likely twitch as they thunder along, but dammit, they hit a lot of homers. When they swing from their, lookout, hips and get hold of one, it might go into orbit, or at least maybe 250-260. This is huge. Gargartuan. Nessie, Bigfoot, Godzilla -ish. And the distance the ball travels is fairly impressive as well. Ahem.

4) Good luck figuring out the actual tournament format. With most other sports we understand what's going on. It might be the best out of 5, or 7, and in many cases win the next game or go home. Even nitwits like yours truly can comprehend those scenarios. But not with this tournament. First they played a round-robin, double elimination match in the "regionals". Those that advanced went to the "super regionals". Much of the same nonsense went on there. So what's next? The "uber super-duper ultra mega-regionals"? Here's an idea. One way or the other, pare the damn field down to 16 teams, set brackets, and let them start knocking each other off. Like the NCAA hoops tournies. If you lose -- you're out. There can only be one winner in the end anyway, so get on with it already. What's the problem?

5) I'm all for team spirit. Whatever a squad finds to motivate themselves is fine, within limits. I'll even begrudgingly acknowledge those dopey backward rally caps. But when these softballing girls, which are typically 18-22 years old, start holding hands and singing songs like they're 7 years old sitting around their first campfire at their first campout -- it leaves one to wonder. What the hell is going on here? Are they premier college student athletes or second-graders in big bodies? True, it beats spitting sunflower seeds, crotch scratching, and a little dab of misplaced pine tar could become a sticky wicket indeed but, c'mon girls, act your age.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rockets/Clips. Pomp and still an also ran

And there it was. The confetti rained down on the Toyota Center in Houston where the Rockets play. Head coach Kevin McHale walked off the court with his fists held high in triumph. The fans were delirious with excitement.

Yessirree, the Rockets had become only the ninth team in NBA history to storm back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the LA Clippers. They were now the undisputed champions of....

The second round of the western conference playoffs.

In other words, half way to a championship. Sure, everything is big in the Lone Star state -- they'll tell you so. (We won't mention anything about their egos fitting the same category). But what gives with all the premature pomp and confetti? The Rockets haven't won anything that matters yet. Next they'll square off against the #1 seed Golden State Warriors, and the boys from Oakland will enjoy home court advantage. In their four previous match-ups during the regular season, two at home for each team, the Warriors not only swept the Rockets, but clobbered them by an average of 15 points per game. Good luck with that Kevin.

You know who really hates this nonsense? The poor saps that have to clean up the whole arena in Houston. And BTW, what gives with a major venue in Houston being called the Toyota Center? Isn't this supposed to be the, you know, NATIONAL, as in the U S of A Basketball Association? And somewhere in Tokyo a CEO smiles. Stupid Americans will sell their souls if the price is right.

On the other side of the coin is one Chris Paul. He's a loser -- again. CP3 has the dubious honor of joining Dominique Wilkins as the all-time record holder for being an All-Star but never even making it to a conference final. Maybe he should spend a little less time making dopey insurance commercials with his twin brother and a little more time practicing how to play the game without all the dirty little tricks he constantly tries to get away with. Charles Barkley remains right. When the best player on your team is only 6 feet tall -- you're never going to win a championship. 

Idle thought: No sign of Steve Ballmer. You remember Steve. He shelled out a whopping $2 billion to buy the Clips, likely at least twice their market value. The Clips just crashed and burned again. And somewhere Donald Sterling probably chuckled. Maybe Sterling should send Ballmer a text. Only three words necessary, and they involve the immortal Connie Francis. Who's Sorry Now? Make that four words. Throw a LOL at the end. Perfect.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ramblings and/or boneheads

You've likely seen that macaroni and cheese commercial. Liquid gold, they call it. That's probably true -- for a 12 year old. But if a 50-some starts pounding that stuff down, liquid heart attack might be more appropriate.

So Miguel Cabrera just hit his 400th home run to become the all-time leader amongst Venezuelan players by passing Andres Gallaraga's 399. What has gone unnoticed is Miggy just eclipsed the same record of a former Tiger named Al Kaline. #6 had 399 career dingers as well.

The differences in the two? Cabrera is in his early 30s and could well approach the rarified career home run air of such notables as Mays, A-Rod, Ruth, etc, before he's done. Kaline is now 80, so a comeback to boost his stats seems unlikely. While Cabrera can no doubt hit, that's all he can do. He's slow, and a defensive liability. On the other hand, Kaline didn't have Cabrera's power, but he was a complete ball player. A Gold Glover with a rifle arm that could also steal a base here and there. And one more minor detail. Cabrera now makes more money per game than Kaline ever did in an entire season. By far. There's inflation, but c'mon now. And you wonder why ticket prices have gone through the roof?

Another TV ad that's currently airing. A delivery man slams the tailgate on his vehicle, but a couple pizzas are sticking out and in the way. The pepperoni specials wind up blowing out the rear window. Question: Just how hard is that pizza anyway? And what bonehead came up with that ad?

Speaking of boneheads, Jason Heyward of the StL Cardinals pulled a classic brain-lock earlier today in a game against the Detroit Tigers. After hitting a double, of course Heyward was on 2nd base. The following batter stroked a deep line drive to left-center field. The Tiger outfielders were racing back, back, back. Now any little leaguer knows that in such a situation, a baserunner must choose between two options. Either go "half-way" to third base and see what happens, or tag up in case the ball is caught. Heyward was looking right at it. He went half-way. Incredibly, after the ball fell in safely for another double, he would run back and tag up anyway. So instead of easily scoring, JH only wound up on third. He would be stranded there. Turns out, but for his boneheaded play, the Cardinals would have won the game. Instead, it went into extra innings and the Tigers prevailed.

One little letter can make a big difference Dept.

American Pharoah just won the Preakness Stakes. After winning the Kentucky Derby a couple weeks ago, said stallion becomes the latest to vie for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes in three weeks, appropriately enough on the anniversary of D-Day, June 6. Something about that extra quarter mile at the Belmont seems to have made a big difference over the years. Not since 1978, 37 years ago, when a guy named Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office, has a horse (Affirmed) won the Triple Crown.

Bet you didn't notice the spelling, though. "Pharoah" is incorrect, at least if his namers dubbed him after an ancient Egyptian king. The proper spelling is Pharaoh. That's probably OK, because as Mr. Ed would have said, a horse is a horse, of course, of course -- and chances are they don't care much about how their name is spelled. But it could make a difference elsewhere. Consider:

OK, "Billary" is on purpose from their detractors. Even my feeble mind can comprehend that. Would it have made a difference if King James had been dubbed Leboon or Lebroy instead? Probably not, because nobody ever heard of a Lebron before anyway.

But I'd be willing to bet we wouldn't have had the same President for the last 6 years if one letter was different in his name. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist fiasco, if Obama had been instead Osama -- well -- good luck with running for anything, let alone President.

How about the Detroit Lions GM and all-around, ahem, genius Martin Mayhew? Invert the last letter in his name and what do you have? Pretty much what the Lions have been for over a half century.

Get ready for it. Here comes my last bit of stupidity. (Hey, unlike some mentioned above -- as least yours truly freely admits he's a bonehead).

Another pizza commercial, of all things. This one boasts of putting THREE AND A HALF FEET of bacon on one of their whopper creations. Well, let's see. Your average slice of bacon is about 10 inches long. So that means they only threw in about 4 strips on or around a giant pizza. Make it three and a half YARDS and now we're talking bacon.

And what the heck, as long as we're on the subject of cruising for a thrombosis, why not top it off with a heaping helping of the above-mentioned "liquid gold"?


Friday, May 15, 2015

NBA playoffs. Twists and turns

There was a time not long ago when many said the Houston Rockets had folded up their tent in their playoff match-up against the LA Clippers. They had tapped out and accepted the inevitable defeat that was sure to come. But then something strange happened. The Rockets have come roaring back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the series at 3 all, with the deciding game 7 to be held in Houston. Just last night, they blistered Steve Ballmer's $2 billion Clips in their own building. Perhaps somewhere, Donald Sterling chuckled.

Idle thought: Along the way, Clips guard Chris Paul was seen high-fiving the same Steve Ballmer after he had made a successful play. The TV announcer said CP3, or is that C3PO -- whatever -- was celebrating with his owner. Owner? An interesting analogy, considering Paul is black and Ballmer is white. One can't be too careful about such things these days, lest the media hounds go into a frenzy over some concocted "slavery" issue. Then again, Paul is making mega-millions of dollars a year between playing hoops and TV commercials, and the Staples Center isn't exactly a plantation.

Who will win Game 7? Good luck figuring that out until it happens. Both teams have shown they are capable of great and not-so-good play both at home and on the opponent's court. We'll find out in a couple days.

In the East, Lebron James and the Cavaliers finally dispatched the Chicago Bulls to move on to the conference finals. It's surprising and it's not. Surprising because the Cavs lost the services of Kevin Love a while back, but not-so-much considering the Bulls always seem to find a way to be underachievers despite their wealth of talent.

Bulls' head coach Tom Thibodeau is rumored to be a candidate for the same job in another city next year. Perhaps New Orleans or Orlando, where both recently fired their own head coaches. Though he still has two years remaining on his contract and the solid support of his players, TT's differences with the Bulls front office have been apparent for quite some time.

These days, it's not unheard of for a team to trade their head coach. And let's face it -- as Lebron and the rebuilt Cavs continue to gel more and more in the future, the odds of the Bulls conquering their neighbors to the east in the playoffs to get to the Finals will become longer and longer.

Look at it this way. If you're the one calling the shots in the Chicago front office -- what would you do? You can trade your coach to, say, the Pelicans and likely get a couple quality draft picks in return. Thibodeau's replacement at likely a lesser salary becomes almost a moot point. Chances are, you're going to play second fiddle to the Cavs for the next few years anyway -- so why not?

From Thibodeau's point of view it makes sense as well. If the Pelicans got him as their next head coach, they would honor the final two years of his former Chicago contract and likely tack on two or three more years in their OWN contract. Granted, given the brutal competition in the western conference, chances are slim to none the Pelicans would compete for an NBA title any year soon.

But if I'm a 57 year old TT, an east coast native (Connecticut), leaving Chicago to go to the warm sunny climes of someplace like New Orleans or Orlando with the next 5 years of my life guaranteeed at mega-bucks per annum certainly wouldn't be the worst scenario in the world. Especially considering the NBA season is mostly played during the winter months. Where would you rather spend most of your time in January? Chicago, the Big Easy, or down the road from Disneyworld? If you can't win a championship anyway, then why not go where the weather is infinitely nicer during the season? Win or lose, five more years at, say, $5 million a pop gets him to age 62. Even after taxes, that's a tidy little sum to have as a retirement nest egg. And then Social Security kicks in. Perfect.

Back to the match-ups. Despite their inept head coach, look for the Cavs to make the Finals. It's doubtful either Atlanta or Washington are capable of stopping them. Lebron's on another mission.

Whoever survives the Houston/LA roller coaster will likely have Golden State waiting for them. All three have different styles of play, and that series will be must see.

Idle thought II: Former Detroit Piston and 2004 NBA champion Chauncey Billups made an interesting point on the air recently. Mr. Big Shot stated that in order for a team to become champions, they must first have their hearts broken by getting oh-so-close, only to lose. They learn from it, get tougher, and come back even hungrier the next year. Thing is, consider the teams this year. Houston hasn't won a title in decades. Nor has Golden State. The Clips have never even made it to the Finals. The Cavs are a totally different team since Lebron's first go-round with them many moons ago, so that doesn't count. One way or the other, some "new blood" is going to claim the NBA title in a few weeks.

And wouldn't it be something if it was the Atlanta Hawks? Despite their outstanding record, they've flown under the radar all year and continue to do so in the playoffs. These guys are really good too.

How about the Memphis Grizzlies coming back to knock off Golden State?

Stranger things have happened. I think......


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

After Mayweather/Pacquiao

As we know, Floyd Mayweather defeated Manny Pacquiao by a unanimous decision several days ago. This was the "fight of the century", and the "greatest bout ever", according to the hypesters. At least until the next super-mega-extravaganza rolls around. Who's kidding who?

Yet questions linger involving both fighters.

For his part, Pacquiao claimed to be fighting with one hand due to a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. His claim might well be valid. The medical paper trail revealed Pacquiao had indeed been receiving treatments and injections for some time before the fight that were consistent with such an injury. Depending on the severity, torn rotator cuffs can be serious business. Typically they won't heal by themselves but require surgical repair and lengthy post-op rehab.

All this was no secret to the "powers that be" in the boxing world. They were not only aware that Pacquaio had been receiving cortisone/steroid injections in his shoulder for quite some time, but had signed off on them as being OK. This included the US Anti-Doping Administration, who has arguably the most stringent standards in the world when it comes to such things. Everybody was just fine with Manny getting his injections to treat his injury -- and then -- on the eve of the fight -- they weren't.

Though Pacquaio requested another treatment just before the fight, he was denied by the Nevada State Boxing Commission. They said the paperwork had arrived too late. Manny would have to go without. Given the Commission was aware of this problem all along, this was an absurd premise, of course.

Given the injury, it could be argued the fight should have been postponed weeks before it ever happened until Manny could undergo whatever procedures were necessary and return to being 100%. fit. The Pacquiao camp has to own some responsibility for this.

First, just because such an injury can be masked with medication doesn't mean it's not still there. They had no ethical business allowing their fighter to get in the ring against a world class opponent if he had a torn rotator cuff.

Secondly, if such paperwork is required for another "treatment", then how could they be so remiss in their duties as to not having submitted it "on time"?

But consider Pacquiao's options at that point. He basically only had two.

1) Tough it out, go through with the fight, bad shoulder and all, and hope for the best. (And BTW, collect well over $100 million). He did. He lost. He later brought up the injury issue that the insiders had known of all along.

2) Or call it off at the last second because he couldn't get the treatment just before the fight that he had been allowed all along in the weeks leading up to it. That would have been problematical on several fronts, to say the least.

Consider the people that had booked flights/hotels, and shelled out mega-bucks to sit in the stands at the MGM casino to watch it in person. Now it's off? How do you pay them back for their wasted time and money?

How about the sports bars that had ponied up thousands of bucks to get it on pay-per-view and expected to pack them in for the fight?  Or the countless individuals that had coughed up a C-note to watch it at home on the same PPV? Would they be entitled to a refund?

It would have been a logistical nightmare all around.

And if Pacquiao had backed out, there was no guarantee the fight would EVER happen in the future. Do not pass go, do not collect over $100 million guaranteed today, and hope for the best a few months down the road. Good luck with that.

On top of that, the American media, and likely others would have ridiculed Pacquiao. He would have become the latest "no mas" poster child, ala Roberto Duran in his rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard. Whether Duran really had an abdominal injury never seemed to matter to the vultures. They painted him as a coward and a quitter when the going got tough. Duran's long and extremely impressive career in the ring, along with handily defeating the same Leonard in a previous match were quickly forgotten. He had "tapped out". Though one of the best pound for pound fighters of all time and an array of world championships to show for it -- the Panamanian with the hands of stone is remembered more for "no mas" than all his glorious career preceeding it. Few would doubt that legacy lingers to this day. It's not right, but it's real.

And then there's Floyd "Money" Mayweather. Yep, he won the fight fair and square on the judges' scorecards. But questions about him linger as well.

If this was the "fight of the century", then why was it held in Mayweather's back yard? Sure, Vegas is a high profile venue and all the celebrity schmucks that don't know a left hook from a left turn would surely show up in their limos and shell out ridicu-bucks to be there in person for a few photo ops. That's what makes the glitterati world go round, such as it is.

And yes, Mayweather is a control freak and usually gets his way. But holding such a fight in the champion's home town seemed to be a bit over the top when it came to being an unfair advantage.

True champions aren't afraid to fight in hostile environments. This is not to say the fight should have been held in Pacquaio's homeland of the Phillipines, but if Mayweather wanted to put an exclamation point on a victory, that's EXACTLY where he should have been willing to go.

At worst, such mega-bouts should be held at neutral sites. Harkon back to two of the most memorable fights in boxing history.

In their third match, after having split the first two, Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier travelled to the same Phillipines for the "Thrilla in Manilla".

Ali and George Foreman went to then Zaire, now Congo, for the "rumble in the jungle".

Floyd's apparently afraid to fight outside of his home town. Sure, more money is likely to be made in Vegas than in Asia, Africa, or other potential neutral and/or exotic venues, but if one wishes to be called "champion of the world", then dammit, get out around the globe to fight a tough bout when it arises.

Floyd Mayweather remains unbeaten at 48-0. Like him or not, his record in the ring speaks for itself. It's impressive.

The money man has mansions, a entire fleet of luxury and super-high priced sports cars he never drives, and it's probably a good bet he isn't exactly hard up for dates.

Yep, Floyd seems to have it all when it comes to the materialistic world.

But there's one thing he doesn't have yet amongst many, and may never get.

Aretha Franklin once had a hit song about it. Something about......


Detroit Tigers and KC Royals. Who's better?

Between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals, last year proved to be interesting. When all was said and done in the 2014 "regular season" the Tigers would nip the Royals by one measly game to claim the AL Central Division crown.

It was said the Tigers "owned" the Royals during their head to head match-ups, and that point was valid. Indeed, when facing each other, Detroit posted a 12-6 record over KC. Obviously, a 6 game differential.

But remembering the Tigers only finished one game ahead of the Royals means KC was 5 games better against all the rest of the competition over the year.

In the post-season, the Tigers would be quickly broomed by the Balimore Orioles, while the Royals would go on to the World Series, finally succumbing to the San Fran Giants in a back and forth thrilling seven game series.

Head to head results aside, there can be little doubt which team had the more successful season.

In 2014, the Tigers (and their media) boasted of Detroit having the "best starting rotation in baseball". Perhaps they did, though a few other teams likely disputed such a claim. The Tigers had a few sluggers that could pound the ball all over the park. Those were both good things.

But Detroit's defense was mediocre at best, they lacked team speed to say the least, and their bullpen was a definite liability. Those were all bad things.

Conversely, the Royals had decent starting pitching, lots of speed, their defense was stellar, and a "lights out" bullpen. Good things. Not an abundance of heavy hitters. A bad thing.

Fast forward to 2015. The Tigers lost Cy Young winner Max Scherzer to free agency, Justin Verlander is on the shelf with a mysterious injury, David Price has a tweaky hamstring issue, and a couple new guys they plugged into the rotation started off hot, but opposing hitters seem to be figuring them out more and more as the young season progresses.

In addition, Detroit has added a couple other new position players that few baseball fans were aware of before. But they play well defensively and have some speed. The bullpen? Well..... still pretty much a crapshoot.

On the other hand, the Royals have added some punch to their batting lineup. They can still play "small ball" but now they have a little more "meat" in their lineup. They're still relatively fast, better than average defensively, and the bullpen? Well.... pretty much still reliable.

Some teams will be better than others every year, but no team ever " has it all". Great starting pitching, sluggers galore, team speed, outstanding defense and a shut-down bullpen have their mutually exclusive limits. A guy like Miguel Cabrera is fearsome with a bat in his hands, but he's slow on the basepaths and won't be winning a Golden Glove any year soon. A trade-off. Besides, if all the players were THAT good, despite the technical lack of a salary cap (and that pesky cha-ching luxury tax for going over the "threshold"), the owners couldn't or wouldn't pay them the whopping salaries they would command to stay on the team. Add in free agency and other suitors offering big bucks and something's got to give.

It's interesting when one thinks about it. The typically old school Tigers have tried to "modernize" their roster a bit. Given they haven't won a World Series in over 30 years, it probably couldn't hurt. They even hired a manager last year, one Brad Ausmus, with zero previous experience running a club.

The Royals went out and got a couple sluggers, but likely sacrificed some defensive prowess while doing so.

So far this year, the Tigers and Royals are neck and neck in their division, with the Royals having won 4 out of 7 in head-to-head matchups.

Back to the original title question. Who's the best team overall?

Answer. Forget winning the division. Like last year, it doesn't mean squat as long as both teams qualify for the post-season.

Bottom line answer to who's better. We'll all find out in October when it matters.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Aaron Hernandez. Beating a dead horse

Let's say you have a pot roast or a ham you're getting ready to cook. Would you shoot them again to make sure the cow or pig was dead? Probably not. Somebody else already took care of that before you purchased that hunk of meat at the market. Whatever those animals were before, they most certainly don't pose a threat in one's kitchen anymore.

Such would seem to be the case with the latest goings on in the Aaron Hernandez debacle. We all know the former New England Patriots star was convicted of first degree murder and is serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole. Basically, barring successful appeals, which appear unlikely, it's over. He's not getting out. Ever. Like the above-mentioned cow or pig, he's not coming back either. Done is done.

So why -- somebody please tell me WHY -- is some prosecutor in his/her infinite wisdom considering charging Hernandez with jury tampering and dragging his butt out of the penitentiary back to court for another trial? Are they on a mission to waste taxpayer dollars to beat a horse that was put down a couple weeks ago?

More ridiculous yet, some lady has come forward and claimed Hernandez acted threateningly towards her in a bar. Gee, will that mean still ANOTHER trial?

Hey, the dude's already doing life, so what's the point? Give him a few more years on top of it? How utterly futile is that?

Aaron Hernandez was convicted of taking a life and now has to serve the rest of his behind bars for what he did.

The people that are trying to pile on might want to consider "getting a life".

Perhaps these are the sort of folks that would empty a clip into their pot roasts and hams just to make sure they're dead before popping them into the oven.

But like they say, sometimes there just ain't no fixing stupid.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Roger Goodell = Big Brother running amok. Again

The late George Orwell was absolutely prophetic when he penned his classic novel "Nineteen Eighty Four" back in 1949. Though Orwell himself was a Brit and the work was set in England, everything he "predicted" of a futuristic society has come true -- in the USA. And more.

Orwell's term was "Newspeak". Today we call it political correctness. Same thing. Example: There are no more bald, short, or fat people. They are follicly, vertically, or nutritionally challenged.

Orwell foresaw cameras everywhere closely monitoring the actions of all citizens. Is there any doubt these days?

Orwell imagined independent thinking would be quashed by Big Brother and people daring to do so would be held responsible for "thoughtcrimes". Do the words "thought police" ring a bell in modern times? They're out there and getting stronger and more oppressive every day. From politics to social issues, and more, how DARE you think independently!! Either toe the party line like a good little droid or be labelled some sort of "radical extremist" not only by Big Brother, but the "mainstream" lemmings, and find yourself cast away into societal purgatory.

Did I mention secret courts? Oh my, the Founding Fathers would have been so proud.

In other words, things have become bass-ackwards in the "land of the free and the home of the brave". It's gotten to the point where anybody standing up for their rights will be painted as being "unpatriotic". They must be guilty of SOMETHING, so let's punish them. It's insanity, but it's happening.

Enter Roger Goodell, Tom Brady, and Deflategate.

What happened or not with the footballs in the New England vs Indianapolis NFL playoff game a few months back, and who was responsible and/or complicit, will likely never be known for sure. For their own self-serving reasons, many will be accusers or defenders of the parties involved in the process, even if they be totally ignorant of any hard facts. Some people love Brady and all things Patriots. Others hate them. It's just human nature and fandom, and that's fine.

But what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently stated about the reasons he's going to suspend Tom Brady are decidedly NOT fine. Even Orwellian.

Let's remember that the Wells report was tailor made to fit the recent language Goodell himself had imposed as a standard of determining future guilt -- hence punishment. There were a lot of "likelys", "probablys", and a preponderance here and there that Wells submitted after over 3 months of investigation. Basically, he had no smoking gun, witnesses, or video to offer up as evidence. In fact an, GASP, independent thinker might still have a few doubts as to whether a crime was ever committed at all. But Big Brother, the media, and their hordes of dutiful, if mindless lemmings say one was, so it must have happened -- right?

On to the punishment phase, where Emperor Goodell can rule at his whim. "Off with the head of that super-model dating, Super Bowl winning, smug SOB Brady. Or at least suspend him", the masses are clamoring.

And Roger has said he will. A (sound the trumpets) proclamation from His Highness is expected to be handed down within the next couple weeks. It might be a couple games. Maybe 4. Or 6. Or 8. Or maybe the entire 2015 season. But it certainly appears Brady's going to have to do a little NFL Gitmo time courtesy of the Commish.

There are two things wrong with this, both of which are Goodell's reasons to hand down such a punishment. One is a stretch and the other positively Orwellian.

Goodell has said he will suspend Brady for his complicity in the Deflategate affair, though #12 has yet to be proven culpable. Well OK, that's sort of how it's become twisted around these days. Once an allegation has been made, guilty until proven innocent has become the way many people consider such matters in modern times. It flies in the face of how the jurisprudence system in this country was originally set up to guarantee individual rights -- but there is no doubt it has happened in a large way in recent years. Everybody's a prosecutor and hang em high, as long as it's happening to somebody else, especially a player or team they are jealous of.

But Roger's other reason for deciding to hammer Brady sets a precedent that is scary, if it holds up. He maintained Brady must be guilty because he refused to release all his phone records to the NFL. Think about that for a second.

A burden of proof warranting punishment has been established because one doesn't wish for their employer and the rest of the world to know who they talk with on the phone? Who in their right mind would willingly sign off on such an outrageous intrusion into their private affairs? I don't know how others may feel regarding such things, but yours truly would adamantly say "It's none of your damn business who I talk to on the phone."

Sure, back in 1949, even Orwell couldn't have foreseen cell phones, texts, tweets, the satellites required, and the routine warrantless wire-tapping and data mining that goes on these days by Big Brother regarding the same. But I dare say doing all this in the name of "national security" on everyday citizens would have dovetailed nicely into another chapter of 1984.

Bottom line? Hopefully the NFL Players Union will hotly contest any suspension given to Brady by Goodell. And well they should.

If THEY sign off and let one of their own get zapped over probablys and likelys, by a guy who was hired by the NFL in the first place to write a report to their liking, and accept that giving up the right of privacy to one's own phone conversations is an indicator of guilt -- well -- they might as well fold up their tent and let the Commish completely run amok at his whim. It's over. The already flickering candle of any sense of fairness and true justice in the future of the NFL will have finally been extinguished.