Monday, August 31, 2015

Richard Berman. Incompetent or lazy?

Pretty much everybody in the civilized world -- and I use that term loosely -- has been aware of the still on-going Brady v Goodell case, sometimes called Deflategate.

We know the New England Patriots blistered the Indy Colts in the AFC championship game way back in January to the tune of six touchdowns worth in a driving rainstorm. In sportspeak -- it was a blowout.

We also know shortly thereafter a concern was raised as to the possible underinflation of the footballs used by Tom Brady in the first half of that contest. Nevermind his stats were actually better in the second half, when the "error" had been corrected. There were those that pounced. Brady and the Pats had cheated.

Enter Roger Goodell, lord and high master of the NFL, sometimes called the Commissioner. By thunder, he would not tolerate even the slightest perception of hanky-panky going on in his beloved game. So he commissioned one Ted Wells to do a thorough investigation. Six million dollars and two months later, Wells came back with his report. Two hundred pages which, in the end, had come to the earth-shaking conclusion, or non-conclusion, that Brady "was more likely than not to be at least generally aware of some 'wrong-doing'".

Good enough for Roger. He zapped the Patriots with a million dollar fine, took away a couple draft picks, and suspended Brady for the first 4 games of the 2015 season.

To be sure, a million bucks to any NFL owner is chump change, and losing a couple picks isn't the end of the world, especially for a team like the Patriots. Owner Robert Kraft decided to be a league team player and accept the penalties. Initially. But the cheese man would later come to regret it. He had based his decision on the probability Brady's suspension would be reduced, if not totally thrown out upon the appeal that was sure to come. Bad call, Bob.

Brady and the players' union indeed appealed his suspension, but it went right back to the guy that originally imposed it. Denied. In this respect, the players' union is culpable. How dumb did they have to be to sign a collective bargaining agreement that said Roger Goodell could hear and rule on appeals of matters he had already decided on earlier? That's not true arbitration -- it's a kangaroo court. Look for this to change the next time the CBA is negotiated, but it's in play right now.

Having been thwarted by the Commish again, Brady and his minions headed to federal court to seek justice. Enter one Richard M. Berman. Here come da judge. He was faced with quite the dilemma. Though the original Wells report contained no hard incriminating evidence of any wrong-doing by Brady (and their representatives admitted as much under oath), there was and is still the contractual matter of Goodell having been given the authority to decide such matters under the terms of the current CBA. What a mess.

But a lawsuit is a lawsuit. If the two parties can't agree, take it to court and let a judge or jury sort it out. It's their job to do so.

Initially, Berman wanted Brady/Goodell to resolve the matter between themselves. Rather than jump in, he even appointed a mediator to help them hash things out. Didn't work. That was back in July.

On to Plan B. Berman had both sides appear in his courtroom to hear arguments. That was in early August. Didn't work either.

On to Plan C. Bring them together again in the courtroom for another go-around, and even have a long talk "in chambers" with both sides still seeking a compromise. In mid-August. No dice. Then still another hearing just yesterday. Nobody's budging. Both sides are dug in and there will be no plea agreements. One way or the other, it's all or nothing.

But in hindsight, Judge Berman's competence and/or willingness to do his job would seem to be a relevant issue as well.

After all, he's heard the same testimony not once, not twice, but three times, and he STILL hasn't made a decision. Maybe it will come tomorrow, or the next day, or for sure by Friday, says Berman.

Well gee, that would be nice, seeing as how the NFL regular season is on the proverbial doorstep. The Pats still don't know who their starting QB will be and their opponents don't know who to prepare for.

[So here's a suggestion to Judge Richard Berman. Get off thy lazy arse, do thy job you're making big bucks for, and maketh a call.
Translation? Pick one or the other, but give somebody the heater Rickey.
Hell, whatever you say or do will likely be appealed anyway. So what's been the problem for the last couple months? Are you up to this or not?]

Setting his robes on fire would likely be a bit over the top, but somebody at least needs to give this procrastinating clown a judicial hotfoot to get him moving......

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Little League World Series. Yuck

Don't misinterpret the title. I love watching little leaguers, especially the really good teams that make it to their World Series. I may well get in trouble for the following, because it is decidedly politically incorrect, but sometimes a rant just needs to come out.

As an American, I'm pretty sure I have the right to root for and against whoever I choose. This can range from politics to sporting events and for a myriad of reasons. I've long found blind partisanship absolutely moronic. Only an idiot would vote for a party instead of the individuals running for various offices.

In sports, I never was a Tiger Woods fan, and think Major League Baseball's treatment of Pete Rose is an on-going outrage. As is the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens likely being denied their rightful place in the Hall of Fame over drug accusations that were never proven. Ozzie Smith is in the Hall but Allen Trammell is not? How the hell can that be? Number of titles notwithstanding, Lebron James is a FAR superior player than Michael Jordan ever was. Kobe Bryant was a ball hog. Ndamakong Suh was a goon. I'm sick and tired of Serena -- and Shaq's dopey commercials -- and that satellite TV outfit with their something-gone-wrong clones of sports stars -- and some twit selling insurance policies out of shoeboxes at what appears to be a sanitarium -- and ducks and lizards as spokespeople -- and pretty much anything that has to do with politically oriented talk shows. Left, right, what's the difference? They've all lost any shred of objectivity. The truth doesn't matter anymore. Only the ratings, while they continue to preach to their own choirs of narrow-minded zealots. Such blather changes the mind of absolutely NOBODY on either side. 40% are radicals left. 40% are radicals right. These people are useless. Lemmings. It is left to the 20% of independent unbiased people remaining to sort through the horse-bleep and determine the outcome of elections.

Which brings me to this year's Little League World Series. This is where it gets a little dicey. I don't like Japan. It has nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. That was over 70 years ago, long before I was born, and history tells us Japan ultimately paid a very steep price for that bushwhacking. Yet not long after their unconditional surrender, there were those in Japan that adopted a new philosophy. We can't beat the USA from without, but we will eventually defeat them from within. Consider what has come to pass over the decades.

When I was a kid, anything made in Japan was considered to be inferior. And it likely was. But times have changed. In recent decades the Japanese have run most of the American electronics companies out of business. Cameras, sound systems, TVs, etc? Good luck trying to buy an American brand. If you can even find it, chances are it's in name only. The "guts" of such devices are manufactured in Japan.

They take American ideas, miniaturize them, build them cheaper, and export them back to the USA.

Automobiles? Are you kidding? Japan slaps a huge tariff on American imports, but floods the west coast of the USA with their own models -- tariff free. They build plants in the USA but refuse to allow them to unionize -- hence much lower wages and benefits. Recently, both General Motors and Chrysler, once giants of the automobile industry, had to declare bankruptcy, and Ford was teetering. They were under siege from the land of the rising sun. On top of that, the Japanese have succeeded in convincing many Americans that their cars are superior to domestic products. Nevermind the Japanese air-bag company whose devices actually threw shrapnel when deployed, or the exploding tires a while back. Mostly due to slick marketing, they were defeating the Yanks from within indeed.

And then the final slap in the face. A Japanese team just defeated an American squad from Pennsylvania in the finals of the Little League World Series. Though the American boys put up 10 runs early, the little nippers from the far east came storming back to win 18-11. This, in Williamsport, home of the LLWS, which is in Pennsylvania itself. The home crowd was crushed. How can we be ahead 10-2 and wind up getting beat by these heathens from afar?

But such is the way it is these days. WWII is long over, but the Japs have been winning the battles ever since.

Excuse me, but I don't like it one bit.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Detroit Tigers. How low can they go?

Yours truly freely admits he's amongst the worst of all time when it comes to making predictions on anything, especially sporting events. I just knew Marvin Hagler would kill Sugar Ray. No way could Eli and the upstart Giants defeat Tom and the then undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. And those dopey college kids had absolutely no business knocking off the mighty Soviet Red Army team in an Olympic hockey game a few decades ago. But stuff happens, yet I'm still not as bad as SI's Peter King when it comes to making football picks. That dude is somewhere between shameful and cursed.

Yet every once in a while, the stars line up just right -- or wrong -- to make a prediction with full confidence it will actually come to pass. Such would be the case of the Detroit Tigers. In this forum, roughly a week ago, yours truly speculated the Detroit Tigers would eventually find their way into the basement of the AL Central division (see The Sorry Plight of the Detroit Tigers -- stage right).

And they have thudded to the division bottom indeed. Once 11-2 to start the season, the Tigers have played their last 115 games at 18 under par. This would be good in golf, but not so good in baseball. Eighteen games under .500 tends to have a team heading south in a hurry.

The Tigers were a whopping 19 games behind the division leading KC Royals. What's that? The Toronto Blue Jays just pummeled the puddy-tats 15-1 and KC won another one? Make that 20 games. TWENTY GAMES BEHIND?  Who would have believed it possible back in April or May?

The Cleveland Indians recently passed the Tigers. Cleveland! So did the Chisox. Really? After all those division titles and post-season series' wins in recent years -- oh my -- how the Motowners have crashed and burned this year.

Yet in hindsight, it really should have come as no surprise. Detroit's once vaunted starting pitching staff has been scattered to the winds, either by trades, free agency, injuries, or under-performing. Their bullpen has long been a joke. No lead is safe when those guys take the mound. They have a few good hitters, notably Miguel Cabrera, but are below average defensively and have little team speed on the basepathes. Designated hitter Victor Martinez, he of the .240 batting average, recently hit a ground ball into right-center field. The opposing second baseman was able to range far to his backhand side, field it in the outfield, and throw out V-Mart at first base. That's not only slow, it's pitifully slow. Your average grandma can run faster than that -- pushing a grocery cart with a wobbly wheel.

It's pretty much a given the Tigers won't make the playoffs this year even as a wild card. They appear to be in a tail-spin with no help in sight.

So that begs the question: Just how low can they go? They've claimed the AL Central basement, but look at the standings elsewhere in the league. The injury ravaged last place Bosox in the East are now tied with Detroit. In the West, Seattle has caught them as well. Detroit area sports writers once referred to the Mariners as "lowly", but they're dead even with the Tigers in the W-L columns these days.

In the entire American League, only the Oakland A's have a worse record than the Tigers. They're 4 games back of the Detroiters. But hey, with over 30 games to go, the race for the ultimate bottom is still very much in reach for the Tigers. If the A's can play .500 ball for the next month, they could well pass the Tigers also.

And wouldn't that be something? After all the earlier hype and high expectations, the Tigers could easily be the dregs of the entire American League when the regular season is over. As bad as I am at making picks, even yours truly never would have guessed it possible.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Jordan Spieth. #1 and poof

Even Jordan Spieth himself admitted his opening round at the Barclay's tournament was terrible. Normally a dead-eye putter, he seemed to have more yips than your average dog pound. And his second round wasn't much better. Spieth failed to make the cut at the first of golf's "playoff" tournaments. This wasn't supposed to happen to the recently crowned #1 golfer in the world.

After only two weeks sitting on the throne (which is a very long time by magazine reading couch-tater standards, but quite brief in the world of golf), dear Jordan has been deposed. In a way, it's somewhat surprising. Isn't this the same dude that won the Masters and US Open, and came within a shot of the British, while winning a couple other tournaments along the way? That's pretty impressive stuff. But miss one cut and, BAM, no more #1. It took weeks, months, even years to finally unseat Tiger Woods from #1, though his game had clearly taken a nosedive. Poor Eldrick didn't even qualify for this year's playoffs. Only the top 125 get in and Tiger's mired somewhere down in the high 200s. This is what happens when a guy only plays 11 tournaments all year, misses the cut in five of them, withdraws from another, and had exactly one top-ten finish -- tied for tenth -- in his last outing at Wyndham -- a second tier tourney he had never even played before. He be gone.

And you know what? That's a good thing. During this year's playoffs, the TV viewers won't be force-fed endless Tiger replays of this and that. See Tiger putt. See Tiger chip. See Tiger eat a banana. See Tiger blast one into the gallery, or off a tree, or into the drink, or whatever. See Tiger drop another f-bomb or a G-dammit. And most of all -- see Tiger at a post-round press conference, no matter how far back he is and hopelessly out of contention. Even his die-hard legions of groupies, including the media, are hard-pressed to find ways to celebrate Eldrick Tont Woods these days.

In his absence, the coverage of the golf playoffs has become much more palatable. Instead of focusing in on their "favorite" player ad nauseum, the TV folks have been rightly forced to provide more even coverage of what's going on amongst the players on the course. It's long overdue, and quite refreshing. We get to see a little bit of everything with the field of guys that -- you know -- actually were good enough to get this far.

As the field is pared down in the next few tournaments, who will win the bazillion dollar pot of gold at the end of the Fed-Ex rainbow is anybody's guess. Right now, some shrimpy lefty named Bubba with a pink driver seems to be faring quite well. But that can change, and likely will. This is just the opening round.

Two things that won't change are Jordan Spieth is already out. Tiger Woods never even qualified in the first place.

Both will be back next year, and "next year" officially starts in only a couple months. (Not too much time off for the linksters. Kind of like NASCAR. As soon as the "Chase" is over, they get maybe a month off and then they're down at Daytona practicing for the next 500.)

I like Jordan's chances of bouncing back to greatness a whole lot better than Eldrick's. Spieth is only 22. Woods will be 40 in December. One is just beginning to rise on his bell curve, while the other has long been on the back side of it. 

Spieth could well re-take the #1 spot in the world. Tiger? Not a chance. A big difference. And all the hype in the world isn't going to change that.

Detroit Lions. Reality is coming

At this time of year, most cities with NFL franchises have high hopes. Whether they were terrific or terrible last year, every new season brings heightened expectations. A free agent here or there, and every team had a fantastic draft getting exactly the players they wanted. How do I know this? The teams and their ever-faithful media tell us so. Every year.

There are towns that have come to expect excellence every year as well. That's because their team has a history of being such. New England, Denver, Green Bay, and recently Seattle come to mind. The Dallas Cowboys always thinks they're the greatest thing since instant replays but, on further review, have seemed to be more about hype than substance.

Other teams just put their heads down and go to work, oftentimes resulting in much success. The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are good examples. And it seems every few years the NY Giants soar to improbable heights. Go figure.

But as there are perennial winners, so must there be perennial also-rans. It's unlikely the folks in, say, Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Houston truly believe their team has a shot at greatness this year. Hype is one thing. Reality is another.

And then there's the Detroit Lions. Every year is going to be THE year. They've been saying so for over half a century. Great players have come and gone. The media covering them has spanned several generations. For that matter, fans have been born and died without seeing their beloved Lions be successful. Not since 1957, curiously enough, the year the owning Ford family's super-flop Edsel automobile debuted, have the Lions won anything of note. Fifty seven years have gone by and the Lions have won a grand total of one playoff game. They are one of only four current NFL teams to have never even made it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. The other three are "expansion" teams.

But this is going to be the year. So sayeth the Lions and their media. The truly sad part is their hard-core fans have bought into it again. Higher ticket prices? No problem. The Honolulu blue and silver lemmings lined up for the "privilege" of watching their beloved puddy tats. Looked at objectively, it's hard to say who is most culpable. The team and media for peddling the koolaid or the addicts that keep buying it. Dealers and junkies. Both need the other to carry on, but somehow it doesn't seem right.

Let's look at what has happened so far. At home, the Lions easily defeated a woeful NY Jets team whose starting quarterback had suffered a broken jaw courtesy of a former teammate. On to DC. The Lions beat up the vastly overrated Robert Griffin III, but he's never been any good since he went pro anyway. The Lions would lose that game to the lowly Redskins.

Next up, the Lions travel to Jacksonville, home of the hapless Jaguars. After that, back to Ford Field to face the clown act of new head coach Rex Ryan and whatever rag-tag team he has thrown together in Buffalo. No, the pre-season games aren't supposed to matter, but the Lions couldn't possibly have been given an easier schedule. But when that's over, things will get serious in a hurry.

Starting the regular season, the Lions head out to San Diego. They don't have a history of faring well on the west coast, and the Chargers will give them a stiff test.

Then to Minnesota. The Lions made short work of the Vikings last year, but Adrian Petersen wasn't there. He'll be back and fully healthy this year. A big difference.

After those two road games, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos come to Motown. Even at home, the Lions will likely be underdogs in that contest.

The following week it's back out to the west coast to face the Seattle Seahawks. That could get ugly.

So here's the deal. Lions' coach Jim Caldwell can say he likes the way his team is progressing, but every coach says that at this time of year. The Lions' media will hype them to the max. They always do. And they might well finish the preseason 3-1. Better yet, maybe all their key players avoid any serious injury.

But when the regular season starts, all the feel-good stories, and tip-toeing through the tulips will come to an abrupt halt.

Those first four games facing the Lions will speak volumes as to just how good, or not, they truly are.

A reality check indeed.

We'll see......

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The sorry plight of the Detroit Tigers

That thud you may well hear in the near future will be the sound of the Detroit Tigers landing in the basement of the AL Central Division. Few would have thought it possible back in April. Two weeks into the season, the Tigers were 11-2.

But since then, they've played 16 games under .500 ball. The KC Royals are obviously the class of the division, the Minnesota Twins are OK, and the Chisox and Indians are wimping it out with the Tigers for last place. It's neck and neck for the latter three in the race for the basement.

This wasn't supposed to happen to the Tigers but, in hindsight, it really should have come as no surprise.

Yes, they can still score runs --  in bunches at times. Miguel Cabrera remains the best hitter in the game. J.D. Martinez has performed beyond the wildest expectations. Ian Kinsler remains solid, and young catcher James McCann is definitely a keeper. Slick fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias has been a pleasant surprise with his bat. In fact, the Tigers are at or near the top of several major league categories -- on offense.

Yet the bad news has far outweighed the good. There's a reason -- actually two -- why the Tigers also lead the majors in men left on base. Their party line is -- they haven't been getting the "big hit" when they need it. The other is their woeful lack of team speed. The guys who can hit are pitifully slow on the basepathes.

But the really bad news is what has happened to their pitching staff. Not long ago, the Tigers (and their media) boasted they had the "best starting rotation in baseball". Perhaps they did, but consider what has happened in recent times.

Ace Max Scherzer turned down $140 million from the Tigers to go elsewhere. A hundred and forty million? Really? He must have wanted out of town bad. Through various trades, Rick Porcello, Doug Fister, and David Price have departed. Anabal Sanchez is on the DL. Former ace Justin Verlander has fallen from his once lofty perch to no more than average -- at best. He's started 12 games this year for the Tigers, and they've won exactly one of them. Last year, JV was 15-12. The year before, 13-12. This year 1-6. Yes, he's pitched well at times, but at $1,000,000 a start, his team sporting a 1-11 record when he takes the mound is what it is. Maybe this is what happens when one gets a not-so-good tasting breakfast cereal named after them and has a few rolls in they hay with the likes of Kate Upton. Tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

The moral of the story? The once fearsome starting pitching staff of the Tigers is no more. It's been scattered to the winds, like Lance Armstrong, Brian Williams, and Ray Rice.

It's also no secret the Tigers' bullpen has been a joke all year. No lead was safe when these guys came in to effectively pitch batting practice to the other teams. Remember Joe Nathan? He was supposed to be their lights-out closer. Besides getting lit up like a pinball machine, Nathan suffered what might be a career-ending injury. Here's wishing him well, but there's a reason he was available to the Tigers in the first place. He couldn't get it done any more on a regular basis.

Now they have a bunch of "prospect" starting pitchers to go along with a cannon-fodder bullpen. It's great if the Tiger hitters can put 6-8 runs on the scoreboard, but what does it matter if the other guys routinely put up 10-12 against their sorry pitching? Seen the scores lately? The Tigers hit and score, but the other teams out-offense them.

For that matter, the Tigers' collective defense isn't so hot either. Iglesias aside, it's difficult to think of any Tiger position player that is even average in the field. Nick Castellanos is no bargain at third base. Rajai Davis can be a clown act in left field. Anthony Gose in center can run and go get-em sometimes, but other times appears clueless. J.D. Martinez can catch routine fly balls, but so can any minor leaguer. Cabrera will never win a Gold Glove at first base, and third base definitely wasn't working out. So they have to play him somwhere because -- did I mention he could hit? That's because aging designated hitter Victor Martinez can't play a position at all. And despite all the hype he gets in Detroit, when's the last time you heard of a DH hitting .240 who, BTW, has the blazing speed of your average tortoise with a couple torn ACLs? What other team would have him other than the Tigers?

The Tigers had their window of opportunity for several years, even making it to the World Series. But they could never get over the top. And now it appears they are in a serious tailspin with no help in sight in the near future. Forget about the playoffs. That's not going to happen. By the looks of their roster, things will get worse before they get better.

Yours truly honestly believes that with a month and a half left in the regular season, the thud into the basement mentioned at the top of this article will indeed happen. The Tigers are getting worse by the day.

The tragedy of Justin Wilson

Sometimes disaster can befall people in most unlikely ways. The odds against getting hit by a lightning bolt are astronomical -- but it happens. People can do everything "right" but still wind up dead. Not long ago, a biker pal of mine was stopped at a red light and BAM, he was rear-ended by a pick-up truck. Right or wrong, 4-wheelers will win those battles every time. The lady driving the truck went to jail, but she'll get out eventually. My friend is never coming back. We've even heard of folks sitting in their own houses, only to be swallowed up by a sink-hole into the depths of the earth. There are many other such weird examples but, in short, sometimes very strange ways can pop up to spell one's demise. Passenger aircraft are 99.9999% safe, but they occasionally crash. Sometimes they kill still other people sitting in their own houses on the ground. What a way to go. One minute a person is watching TV, and the next a 747 crashes into their residence and ends their life. Highly unlikely -- but it happens. As they say, the Man upstairs can move in mysterious ways.

On the other hand, there are professions where the participants know full well serious risks can be involved. The military. Firefighters. Stunt men/women. Hookers and drug dealers. Everything might be going along just hunky-dory, but if they run into the wrong situation, it could spell disaster. One never knows.

Such would seem to be the tragic case of Justin Wilson. The 37 year old Brit was cruising along at an Indy car race in Pocono when the unthinkable happened. A car in front of him spun out of control and hit the wall. Well, OK, that happens all the time in Indy racing. When these cars crash, they are designed and expected to scatter debris. It's all about the car absorbing the impact while keeping the driver safe. Cars can be replaced. Drivers not so much.

But it just so happened one of those high-speed pieces of debris found its way into Justin Wilson's cockpit, striking him in the head. Sure, Wilson was wearing the full face helmet and the head of an Indy driver presents a very small target. For the most part, they are laying down in their cars. It was a one in a million shot. But it happened.

Wilson was immediately rendered unconcious and his car eventually crashed itself, but he never knew it. After finally being extricated and air-lifted to a local hospital, Wilson is now in a coma and remains in critical condition.

Of course, every time something like this happens, there are many that clamor for more safety procedures to be put in place. Perhaps Indy cars should have entirely closed cockpits, they say. A "bubble", much like unlimited hydroplane racing adopted a few years back. Back in the day, the crazies piloting the 3000 HP speedboats were in deep trouble when they hit a little turbulence and flipped. The mortality rate even amongst the best was quite high. Let's just say a lot of them didn't live long enough to see their kids grow up. Closed cockpits were definitely a good and long overdue idea.

There's been a lot of good safety innovations over the years in various sports. Facemasks for football players seem to have worked out well. Helmets for hockey players. Can you believe goalies once played without face masks? There's he-man, and then there's the death wish/stupid thing. A difference. Padded walls on most race tracks was a terrific idea to absorb the inevitable impacts that will occur. Baseball players now have to wear their batting helmets while running the basepathes. That seems overly wimpy, but at least they got away from their infernal crotch-scratching. Perhaps they've made improvements in their cups as well. Ahem.

If he recovers, it would be interesting to hear Wilson's own opinion on closed cockpits. And that's where the decision should lie. Not with the ever-sensationalizing media, nor with the suits that oversee sports and make the rules.

Let the people who know best make the call. The drivers. If they want closed cockpits -- fine. If not -- let them race on like they always have. They know bad stuff can happen but they do it anyway for fame, fortune, and mostly because it's in their DNA. They WANT to do it.

Consider Alex Zanardi, another former Indy car racer. A few years back, an on-track incident left his car sideways on the track. He was helpless. A trailing car wound up sawing Zanardi's in half. Stuff like this can happen at 200 MPH. Problem was, Zanardi's legs wound up in one half of the car while the rest of his body was in the other. Miraculously, he survived.

Like the Justin Wilson incident, it was a one in a million tragic scenario that just happened to play itself out in the worst possible way.

Nevertheless, here's wishing Justin Wilson godspeed and may he not only fully recover, but return to doing what he loves.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

The luck of the Detroit Lions

For an NFL season that hasn't even officially got underway yet, a lot of bad things have already happened to various players around the league. They're dropping like flies. Consider:

Carolina Panther wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has been lost for the season. At 6-5, 245, he's the equivalent of the Lions' Calvin Johnson. Except at 24, he's several years younger. At that, he led the league in rookie receiving yardage last year. Can you imagine the Lions being without Megatron for the year?

Granted, the NY Jets weren't exactly expected to be world-beaters this year, particularly under the tutelage of new coach Todd Bowles -- but they lost their starting QB Geno Smith. Where would the Lions be without Matthew Stafford?

On a fluke play, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost starting center Maurice Pouncey to an ankle injury. Next stop, surgery. To be sure, the Lions offensive line remains unsettled at best, and whether center Travis Swanson can hold his own remains to be seen. But the Lions don't need any more bad news in that department, to say the least.

It appears the Green Bay Packers have lost receiver Jordy Nelson for the season with a torn ACL. He is to the Pack what the above-mentioned Calvin Johnson/Kelvin Benjamin were to their teams. The go-to guy in the passing game.

So far, the Lions have been lucky in the serious injury department. Sure, they have a few guys nursing dings here and there, but so does every other team. But most of the Lions players that aren't fully healthy aren't exactly star-caliber. For that matter, some of them even making the final roster is far from being etched in stone.

Few would doubt the Packers were considered a far superior team to the Lions going into this season. The loss of Jordy Nelson is a huge blow to them and makes the Lions chances in the NFC Central a bit better. Bad for Green Bay. Good for Detroit.

On a related note, it's still unknown whether New England QB Tom Brady will be allowed to start the season. It seems federal judge Richard Berman is dragging his feet as long as possible in the matter of the Deflategate proceedings. Maybe the 4 game suspension stands. Maybe it's only 2 games. Maybe it's none at all. Nobody knows. This puts the Pats in a bind. How can a team prepare for the regular season when they don't know if their all-world QB will be available or not? Imagine the Lions in the same situation with Matthew Stafford. He's hardly Brady caliber, but he's the best the Lions have. Would he still be getting first team reps in practice if the team wasn't sure he would be available to start the season pending the whim of a judge? Maybe. Maybe not.

So far, while other teams have seen star players go down with season-ending injuries, the luck of the Lions appears to be holding. Yeah, Calvin Johnson has yet to play, because he's become a bit gimpy over the years. This is what happens when Matthew Stafford kept throwing the ball to him in double or triple coverage. Lots of yardage and spectacular catches. Also a lot of brutal hits. They take their toll. Last year, Johnson could seldom even practice during the week. He'd just suit up for game day and go take another beating.

Most NFL teams have a policy that if a player can't practice, he can't play in the next game. Not the Lions. They needed CJ. Over the years, due to their woeful lack of a running game, their philosophy appeared to be -- when in doubt -- heave it in the general direction of Megatron. He can catch everything. Often he did, but it was what happened a split-second later that has become problematic. Something about all those hits.

If he puts up decent stats for a few more years, it might just be Calvin Johnson would be considered for induction into the NFL Hall of Fame someday. Heavy on the "might". He's nowhere near close yet. In fact, most experts don't even consider him a Top 5 receiver anymore, mostly due to his gimpy issues.

Make no mistake, besides being super-talented, Calvin Johnson is a trooper as a football player and a fantastic individual off the field. A role model. It would be nice to see him enshrined in Canton someday. Here's hoping if that day ever comes, the once-feared Megatron can still walk up to the podium, and remember what his name is when it comes time for his acceptance speech. But he can't keep absorbing all the punishment like he has over the last few years either. The guys in the other uniforms don't care. Their job is to light him up every chance they get. And they have. Poor devil.

Any NFL fan, or reporter, that is smarter than your average brick, knows full well the preseason games mean nothing. The Lions are 1-1 against two bad teams, but it doesn't matter. Neither will the next two "exhibition" games. Let's not forget, the Lions were 4-0 in the 2008 preseason -- then followed it up as the only team in NFL history to go 0-16 in the regular season. The epitome of ineptitude. Punch lines for late-night talk show hosts.

Even last year they were lucky. Sure, Lions' fans will scream they were jobbed on a bad call against Dallas in a playoff game. Perhaps they were. But they tend to forget some of the miracles that fell their way to get them in the playoffs in the first place. When's the last time you heard of a team losing a game on a missed field goal attempt as time ran out, only to get a second chance on a penalty against THEMSELVES? And then win it. It happened for the Lions against the Atlanta Falcons in a game played in England. Without that little bit of unlikely luck, the Lions wouldn't have been in the playoffs at all.

Not only did they have a patsy schedule last year befitting their hapless record from the year before, division rival Minnesota was without the services of Adrian Peterson, arguably the best running back in the game. Just days before they were due to face the Arizona Cardinals, their starting QB Carson Palmer went down with a season-ending injury.

But it was what it was and the Lions made the playoffs. Because of that, this year their schedule is much harder. That's the way it works in the NFL.

Per usual, this year the Lions' are being hyped by the usual suspects that are hopelessly addicted to the Honolulu blue and silver koolaid. If their luck holds out, especially at key positions, they could have a respectable year. Thinking they are Super Bowl caliber is pure folly and luck can only take a team so far.

Given their schedule, this year they have to be flat-out good. Play at the best of their questionable potential to even have a shot at getting back to the playoffs.

We shall see.......

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tiger Woods and the minor leagues

As an American, I'm pretty sure I've always had the right to root for and against whoever I wish in the wide world of sports. Never did like Barry Bonds much, but was a fan of Roger Clemens. Much preferred Larry Bird over Magic Johnson. Hated John McEnroe, but loved Jimmy Connors. Bjorn Borg was a class act. Roger Federer still is. Novac Djokovic and Serena Williams have and still win a lot of tournaments, but I could never find a way to root for either. In football, though they've both had their fair share of dopey commercials for money they obviously don't need, I never did much care for Peyton Manning (and his dopey brother), but think Aaron Rodgers is terrific. Tom Brady and the Patriots are in. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are out. Drew Brees is cool. Andrew Luck is overrated. And I'm sorry, but despite their claim of being America's team, I still hate everything Cowboy.

Which brings me to Tiger Woods. Back in the day, from roughly 1999 to 2008, Woods was winning just about everything imaginable. It was likely the greatest decade of dominance in golf ever. It seemed everybody was on the Tiger bandwagon. But not me. Sure, he was a great player, but he rubbed me the wrong way. No, I had no idea he would eventually be outed as a serial adulterer, but it was already evident he, and his then caddie Steve Williams, seemed to think they were some sort of royalty on the courses. This was played down, of course, by the media, but word got around quietly about their haughty and arrogant behavior regarding the galleries that had paid big bucks to watch the action. Eventually it became common knowledge. This is precisely why yours truly refused to join the legions of Tiger supporters. A good golfer --  yes. A good man -- not so much. A gentleman only when he knew the cameras and microphones were focused entirely on him. Otherwise quite the boor. To this day, Eldrick still drops an occasional f-bomb and a Goddammit on the course, though he seems to have improved his childish club pounding a bit when frustrated. It's a start, but he's approaching 40. A bit late for a makeover into a shining knight. His DNA is what it is and it will always be so.

But Eldrick Tont Woods has experienced a spectacular fall in the last several years. Once the #1 golfer in the world, Tiger plummeted far below #200 in the rankings. This year, he had only played 10 tournaments. He missed the cut in 4 of them, and withdrew from another after pitiful play during the first round. All in all, Woods had only played 28 rounds of competitive golf this season. He had virtually no shot at qualifying for golfing's version of the playoffs. Only the top 125 ranked golfers get in. Then mysteriously, the golf rankers somehow elevated Woods up to #187. He could possibly get into the "postseason". A long shot, but if he could win this week's second-tier Wyndham Tournament, one he had never even played before, there was still hope. His groupies flocked to North Carolina to root him on. The TV folks were ready with their usual assortment of hype, Tiger this and Tiger that. They want him to win. They need him to win. Life as we know it might end if Eldrick doesn't make the playoffs. Or so it seems to the Woodite faithful.

And you know what? He just might pull this off. After 3 rounds, Eldrick is only two shots out of the lead. Can he seal the deal with a good final round, or might the wheels fall off again and bring on more of the tantrums we have seen in the last few years? Hard to say.

But he couldn't ask for an easier field to compete against. None of the big boys are there. No Jordan Spieth, no Rory McIlroy, no Jason Day, and nary a Johnson (Dustin or Zack). Bubba's not there, nor is Rickey, or the Koooooochar dude. No sign of Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, or Adam Scott. These guys are all getting ready for the first round of the playoffs (the Barclays) and didn't need to go to a second-tier tournament.

Yet it was Tiger's only shot. Though he's well-positioned on the leaderboard, consider the best competition he's playing against.

A guy named Tom Hoge. Tiger has won 79 tournaments in his career. Hoge has played 79 total rounds.
Jason Gore. He's been on the tour for 19 years and has a grand total of one win.
Jonas Blixt. Sounds vaguely familiar, but c'mon. Not exactly a household name in the golf world.
Scott Brown? Beats me.
Davis Love III is a well-known name from years past, but he's now 51 years old. He can play on the senior circuit as well if he chooses. It should be noted DL3 has exactly 20 PGA career tournament victories -- the last coming back in 2008 -- and the magic number to give his a lifetime exemption to play in any tournment he wishes. Kind of like Tiger, he could theoretically play until he's 100, but good luck trying to beat the fearless young guns that keep popping up everywhere with some serious game. Ain't gonna happen.

And there's the rub. Even if Tiger manages to pull off a victory at the Wyndham and gets into the playoffs, what chance does he really have? Zero. The above-mentioned big boys will eat him alive on tougher courses in pressure-packed atmospheres.

So okay, Tiger is competitive in a minor league tournament and good for him. But that's as far as it goes. His legions of die-hard fans and the accompanying media can root root root all they want for their hero, but his time in truly competitive golf at it's highest level has come and gone.

And that's just pretty much the way it is.

Idle thought: We've all heard the loud-mouthed morons screaming GO IN THE HOLE when Tiger hits a golf shot. As mentioned at the head of this article, people are free to root for and against whoever they choose. So what would happen if somebody yelled out GO IN THE WATER, or bunker, or woods? Better yet, what would happen if someone in the gallery dared to boo Eldrick? Shouldn't that be allowed as well? Probably not. They'd likely get booted off the course, because Tiger is royalty, you see. Despite having paid the price of admission, it's just not permissible to boo in golf. It's perfectly okay and even expected in any other sport, but it just won't be accepted in a "gentleman's" game. F-bombs, G-dammits, and club pounding by Tiger are one thing. But don't you dare show disapproval.

Something is wrong with this picture.....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

More dumb things

So why is it your average major league relief pitcher -- especially a "closer" -- normally needs 30-40 pitches in the bullpen to get warmed-up, but once in the game is only good for 20 or so before he's totally gassed?

In the recent Detroit Tiger/Texas Ranger game one announcer was gushing how Tiger Ian Kinsler had "bolted out of the box" and legged out a double on a pop fly to left field. Replays clearly showed Kinsler was lazily trotting towards first place, fully expecting to be out, until he realized the left fielder had misplayed the ball. Only then did Kinsler break into a sprint on what turned out to be a fluke hit. This guy's getting paid millions and he's supposed to run hard on EVERY play. Further, even homer announcers should have seen and called it like it was. Kinsler dogged it, but lucked up into a two-bagger.

Clicking onto the NASCAR race is Bristol, yet another announcer was screaming like nukes were incoming. Turns out, it wasn't a big wreck. Oh no. Just one car passing another. On lap 56, out of 500. Hey, there's 43 cars out there. Passes are going to happen all race long. Lots of them. So please spare us the hyper-ventilated gibberish. We don't need to be screamed at over such mundane matters. Where do they get these guys, and what do they teach and feed them in announcer school? If anybody needs to be tested for steroids -- it's these clowns. That's all yours truly needed to hear. Click.

Back to the Tiger game. Back-up catcher Alex Avila was seen in the dugout talking on the phone. That's begs a question. Who was he calling? His daddy Al, the new GM, after Dave Dombrowski got ran out of town? Alex can't hit his weight anymore, and has always been injury prone, so staying on good terms with dear old dad is probably a good idea. Or could he have been calling the bullpen? Wait a minute. Don't the Tigers have a pitching coach that's supposed to handle those duties? Then again, maybe he was just phoning in a pizza order. If your daddy being the GM is a good thing, then might as well go whole hog and order up a few of the owner's cheesy grease bombs. Party on and keep sucking up, dude. While it lasts. But that .170 batting average, not to mention more time on the disabled list than the late Evel Knievel, isn't going to work forever. On any other major league team.......

Remember Nomar Garciaparra? He was a terrific shortstop for the Bosox not too many years ago. Even an All-Star. He could field, hit, and run. After his playing career was over, he went into broadcasting. Nomar made it back into the bigs again calling various major league games on national TV. But then something evidently went horribly wrong. Earlier today, Garciaparra was manning a microphone at -- the Little League World Series? Really? Oh my. But maybe this is what happens when the television folks have a glut of announcer wannabes. Somebody has to look after the 12 year olds. Not everybody can be as rhetorically brilliant as John Kruk, you know. Ahem.

On a non-sports note, it's interesting that two women made it through the rigors of Army Ranger training to earn their places in an elite unit. A lieutenant and a captain. Well done. But perhaps the Army is looking in the wrong places. They don't need female officers going through all this stuff. Want truly tough broads? Start cloning Ronda Rousey. Turn a few battalions of those loose in a war zone somewhere to run amok and wreak havoc.

Just a thought.....

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The outrageous. Really?

The cops just arrested a parrot for using foul language. Is that what it's come to these days? Throwing birds in people jail? Really? Will the parrot need to hire a lawyer or can he be his own mouthpiece? This is outrageous.

The former Subway spokeman is in big trouble. It seems he just pleaded guilty to having sex with minors and being in possession of child pornography. Sure, eating the same food every day, year after year, is enough to make anybody a little nuts, even if they're raking in million of bucks. But messing with little girls? Really? I mean, what's next? Flo, the dopey insurance girl, also making bazillions in TV commercial money, becoming a suicide bomber? That would definitely be progressive, but still.... Really?

The Detroit Tigers had absolutely no business defeating the Chicago Cubs once, let alone twice. While Detroit in floundering around in the AL Central division 15 games out of first place, new manager Joe Madden has the Cubbies in playoff contention in the brutal NL Central. With the game being played at Wrigley Field, there was no designated hitter. The pitchers had to bat. So what happened? One of the "prospects" the Tigers got for selling off David Price came up to bat against ace hurler Jon Lester, a lefty. The Tiger pitcher Norris, a left-handed batter, should have had zero chance of even hitting the ball. Instead he took a Ruthian cut and hit a homer to dead-center field with a man on base. In his very first major league at-bat. Really?

In the ongoing Brady v Goodell affair, Manhattan federal judge Richard Berman has always maintained he wanted the complainants to reach a settlement between themselves. Well, guess what? It ain't gonna happen. If they could have done that over the last 6 months, they wouldn't have needed a judge to finally make a call. Neither side has budged one inch. Roger wants his 4 game suspension to stand and Tom maintains he did nothing wrong and will accept no punishment. Something's gotta give. So after hearing the usual dreaded "oral arguments" by the mouthpieces for both sides not once -- but twice -- Hizzoner Berman has decreed from on high that both Brady and Goodell will have to appear in his courtroom for a third go-around. This will happen on the cusp of the NFL regular season starting. Hey Berman, does this mean you might finally be prepared to do your job and make a ruling? Really?

And it likely doesn't matter anyway. Whichever side loses will likely appeal to a higher court. This could drag on forever, but there's no excuse for the entry-level judge to keep kicking the can down the road. He's heard all the testimony and evidence, or lack thereof. So what's the hold up? Make a call, dammit. The Patriots and their opponents -- (plus let's not forget the bookies) need to know whether or not Brady will be playing the first few games or not. It makes a big difference in game planning and huge money could be at stake. Know what's really dumb? Even CEOs can be fired. Most politicians can either be recalled or impeached, at least theoretically. But once appointed, a federal judgeship is for life, despite how incompetent and bumbling they may turn out to be. Really? How stupid is that?

But every once in a while, something farcical has a way of coming together to actually make sense. In a pro-am format, Tiger Woods had LA Clipper Chris Paul as a playing partner. Given neither can seem to make it out of the second round in recent times when facing real competition, it only seemed appropriate.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Jason Day. Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

By most all accounts, Jason Day is a good dude, a true gentleman not only on the course, but off it. That's why it was refreshing to see him finally net his first major golf title -- this year's PGA.

Being paired in the final round with the newly crowned #1 in the world Jordan Spieth lurking only two shots behind, the 27 year old Aussie had his work cut out for him. Would he come up just short again, as he has in recent majors?

Not this time. A final round 67 with barely a glitch sealed the deal. Though Day himself would later say he didn't expect it to happen, he broke down in tears after his final putt on the 18th dropped. Very touching stuff from a worthy champion indeed.

[On a related note, even the boorish Tiger Woods congratulated him, via social media of course. Eldrick had missed the cut once again and was already back at his new restaurant in Florida. Leave it to Tiger to get in a plug. As if his opinion even remotely matters anymore.]

Yet beyond the obvious feel good story of Jason Day winning the Wanamaker trophy were a couple things that flew under the radar.

Day has been happily married to his wife Ellie for several years. She's gorgeous. Of course a handsome rascal like Jason Day making millions of bucks on the PGA tour likely wouldn't have headed to the altar with your average Rosie O'Donnell. I got your back Donald. Sorry. Ahem.

And Jason couldn't wait to hoist his 3-year old child into his arms after claiming the victory. Yours truly saw it wrong. I thought it was a girl but, hey, when a 3-year old has a mop of hair, who can tell the difference?

Turned out, it was a boy named Dash. Dash Day is an interesting name, and Jason/Ellie had every right to dub their son whatever they wanted to. Besides, it certainly beat a few other options. Consider the first names of....

And heaven forbid TGIFri.

Then again, Jason could have gone back to his roots and named the boy merely G'. The crocodile man would have been proud of that. Is he still around?

But one has to consider the lovely Mrs., excuse, Ms. Day is from Ohio. A buckeye. Guess where they live now? It ain't in Queensland. Those buckeyes can be a strong willed sort when it comes to where the family is going to put down roots.

What's more, the Day family is expecting their second child shortly. It's due to pop out of the oven sometime in October. No word yet on whether this is a girl or another boy. But then Jason and Ellie will have to make another decision. What do they name #2?

If the first one is Dash, why not call the second one Dine? After all, with apologies to Batman and Robin, siblings named Dine and Dash would make an interesting dynamic duo. True, the crocodile man would likely say CRIKEY, and it would be necessary to keep a watchful eye on them when they got a bit older and were finishing up their meals at a restaurant, but that's nothing that couldn't be worked out. Daddy's got millions. He'll pick up the tab. Did I mention he's a nice guy?

Nevertheless, all hail Jason Day, the 2015 PGA champion. Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Still not sure about how he wound up in Buckeyeland, but it is what it is. And somewhere the crocodile man likely doesn't approve. But he can't stare down the best player in the world and shoot 67 in the final round of a major either. I think.....

Monday, August 17, 2015

A politically incorrect rant

I hate political correctess. It will be the undoing of this country. Everybody's too afraid to say the obvious lest someone -- gasp -- be offended. There are no more short or bald people. They are altitudinally or follicly challenged. Miraculously, politicians aside, stupidity seems to have disappeared as well. Everybody has a talent. It's society's fault if it's never discovered. One way or the other, everybody's a hero these days. So sayeth the politically correcters. Well, yours truly says hogwash. For every winner, there's a loser. And while the Rebecca of Sunnybook farm legions are merrily tip-toeing through the tulips, someone has to tell it like it is. Onwards.

The Philadelphia Phillies stink. Period.

On a recent national baseball broadcast, an announcer mentioned former Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski's resignation. Wrong.

DD didn't resign. He was axed, canned, booted, terminated, fired, whatever. And in the most classless way possible. His successor and former assistant, one Al Avila, got a call from the owning Ilitch family informing him he had just been promoted. Dombrowki wouldn't find out until 3 days later that he had been the proverbial "dead man walking". Yes, the Ilitch family was gutless and low class in the way they handled the situation, but so was Avila.

Hey, Al and Dave had been friends and coworkers for many years. If I'm Avila, after I get the call from ownership, I immediately let my friend know what's up. He could have said something like, "Dave. Al here. I'm not supposed to tell you this and it will likely cost me my job if it gets out, but I felt you had a right to know that the boss man has offered me your position and I've accepted it. Basically, you've been fired. Why he didn't tell you that first -- I have no idea. But it just went down. Here's hoping we can still be friends. As you of all people know, it's a business and a man has to do what a man has to do". The Detroit media down-played it of course, but the lack of front office class in the organization was glaring.

Tiger Woods once again failed to make the cut in his latest outing (the PGA tourney won by Jason Day). Woods is no longer even in the top 250 golfers. His fall from former greatness has been breathtaking in the last few years. Basically, he's no more than a duffer amongst top touring professionals these days.

So here's a question. How bad does Eldrick have to get before the PGA sends him down to the minor leagues (Nationwide Tour) to reprove himself? If he can't be competitive there, perhaps Q-school would be in order -- something Woods never had to do in the first place. He's a former multi-champion, you say? So are Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus. If Woods wants to tee it up as a "ceremonial" golfer in big tournaments, fine. But let's not pretend he has a prayer of winning anything. The young guns consider Woods little more than cannon fodder that brings a few gullible die-hard fans to the course. How bad is he? See the Phillies above.

Tales of the absurd/lost souls department. Enter Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera of the above-mentioned Tigers. In their not-so-infinite wisdom under Dombrowski's "leadership", the Tigers signed Verlander and Cabrera to ludicrous long-term contracts. Did you know Verlander makes $1,000,000 every time he takes the mound? It is now the middle of August and the Fastball Flakes man has posted a grand total of one win this season. But the Tigers are stuck paying him $28,000,000 a year until 2020. Though he shows flashes of brilliance here and there, he's basically become a grossly overpaid bum.

Few would doubt Cabrera is amongst the best hitters in the game. After all, he's not only been the AL MVP, but recently won the Triple Crown (batting average, homers, and RBIs). The first player to do it since Carl Yastrzemski of the Bosox way back in 1967. Very impressive stuff. What's equally impressive/insane is Cabrera's contract. Did you know he makes roughly $50,000 every time he comes up to bat? And that's in a healthy year when he's playing every game. This year he missed a couple months. Make that $60,000. The Tigers have Cabrera locked up until 2022 and could wind up paying well over $300,000,000 for his services. Yes, Miggy can certainly hit, but he's an average fielder at best, and is slow on the basepathes. You've heard of 5 tool players? Cabrera has two. Hitting for average and power.

Certainly both Verlander and Cabrera are financially set for life, courtesy of the guaranteed contracts D-ski and the Tigers signed them to.

But what would both likely want the most in baseball? To be a World Series champion, of course. And there's the rub.

Though they've come close (runner-ups), neither has ever been, and likely never will be given the Tigers current trend. They are much closer to total re-build mode than being serious contenders. The recent losses of Max Scherzer, David Price, and Yoenis Cespides are ample evidence the Tigers have given up on their "win-now" philosophy. With the rise of other teams, notably the KC Royals, it could be a while before the Tigers can seriously contend again.

So if I'm JV or MC, I might want to sit down with my agent for a serious talk. They could tell their mouthpieces -- hey, I'm good in the money department, but chances are I'll never get back to a World Series, much less win it, with this club. So check with Al and the pizza guy to see if they're open to me going elsewhere. They could get a a bunch of "prospects", and probably save a bunch of money to boot. A win-win, sort of. And the sooner the better. I'm not getting any younger and my trade value will likely never be higher. Besides, Comerica Park is a nice stadium and all, but Detroit pretty well sucks as a place to live in 7 months a year. Get me outta here to a contender in a nice town. Verlander's from Virginia and Cabrera's a Venezuelan. Down deep, what do they care about Detroit anyway?

You've probably seen the commerical for that insurance company. Some "lady" is telling her male company about how she gets a check every 6 months for not having filed a claim. Eerily, in Exorcist fashion, she even speaks with a man's voice occasionally. Then comes the magical moment. The heroine says, "I'm a woman and....".

Stop right there. If I'm the guy sitting across from her, I take a couple seconds to gaze at her plywood chest, then look back up into her eyes and say, "Are you sure? And please tell me your name isn't Caitlyn". Now THAT'S the kind of TV spots that would be attention grabbers.

Alas, the Detroit Lion koolaid remains as addictive as ever to their ever-present suckers, both in the media and the hard-core fan base. This will be the year, they say. New coach Jim Caldwell has them headed in the right direction. They're bursting at the seams with talent all over the field. Super Bowl, here we come.

I stand corrected. It's not just the politicians. Stupidity continues to run rampant in Motown as well. You'd think they'd learn. No, this is not the year. And the next one and the next one after that won't be either. The Lions are an average team at best. All the rest is just hype to sell to their ever-gullible masses of lemmings. It's amazing how many times they fall for the same schtick. Over and over and over again. Fools. But hey, it's their money. They can blow it however they wish. Can I say "retards" and/or "mental cripples", or are those words not allowed anymore either?

I dunno. But for now, this "spaz" blogger has run on long enough. Can I get in trouble for being politically incorrect against myself?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills

This is an old draft that I never finished and forgot about. While cleaning up files, I recently came upon it. Yes, the delete button would have been easier -- and likely less painful on any potential readers -- but yours truly decided what the hell? Idiocy is nothing new here. Might as well add a few more moronic phrases and throw it out there. Back to the past and on to more stupidity. It follows...

Remember not long ago when Buffalo got bombed by about 8 feet of snow over a mere two days? Buffalo is used to blizzards and a lot of the white stuff, but they'd never seen anything like that before. It shut the whole town down. Everything stopped. A medical emergency? Bad break, because even ambulances couldn't run.

And now in their, ahem, infinite wisdom, the Buffalo Bills appear to have hired recently fired NY Jets coach Rex Ryan to head up their team. Guess what? They've haven't experienced anything quite like that before either. Good luck.

Ryan is supposedly a defensive minded guru, but so is his twin brother Rob. Funny how wherever Rob goes, his defenses get torched by opposing offenses, which led to him getting the boot from Dallas a while back. After snorting he'd have another job in "5 minutes", it took months before he finally caught on as the defensive coordinator in New Orleans. Disregarding the whole "Bountygate" thing a while back, the Saints used to have a pretty ferocious defense. How did Ryan fare? The Saints gave up 120 more points and 1253 more yards than they did the year before. That's a bunch. What could head coach Sean Peyton have possibly been thinking when he hired this clown?

Fast forward to the present. Some Jets back-up linebacker recently sucker-punched starting quarterback Geno Smith in the locker room, breaking his jaw. Not a good thing for Jets fans. Geno had to have surgery, will likely have his mouth wired shut for a few weeks, and is expected to be out of action for somewhere between two or three months. Of course the linebacker was promptly cut by the Jets.

Normally, any player capable of such an outrageous action against one of their own teammates would be considered radioactive around the league. Who would want to take such a loose cannon into their locker room?

Ah. Enter Rex Ryan. The new Bills head coach snapped him right up. Is it because Ryan considered him talented, or just to rub a little egg in the face of the Jets which fired him after last year?

And after all, being in the same division, the Bills and Jets will face each other twice this year. The chances of either making the playoffs are slim, and Super Bowl hopes none, but leave it to a Ryan to stir the pot every chance he gets.

The hype and side-shows they generate (wherever they are) seem to be merely smoke screens to hide their incompetence.

Granted, the Bills haven't been any good since QB Jim Kelly led them to four Super Bowls (all losses) a few decades ago. And now they think Rex Ryan can be their savior? And give him a bazillion dollar contract to boot? Are they nuts?

Trust me. There will come a time when that 8 feet of snow a while back will start looking pretty good as opposed to Rex Ryan being in charge of their football team. This could get ugly in more ways than one.......

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The PGA and Herb Kohler

Some familiar names are atop the PGA tournament leaderboard after 3 rounds of play. Jason Day keeps getting a little better. An opening round of 68, then a 67, then a 66 to lead at 15 under par. The Aussie has yet to win a major tournament, though he's been in serious contention in many recent ones. Perhaps this will be his time.

After a so-so one under par opening round, the fearsome Jordan Spieth has mounted a charge. Friday he was 5 under, and he blistered the course with a 7 under 65 on Saturday. He sits only two shots back of Day, and will be paired with him for the final round. At the tender young age of 22, Spieth already knows a thing or two about winning majors. It's unlikely he will choke. Can Day hold him off? We'll see, but it should certainly be exciting.

On a lesser and somewhat expected note, poor Tiger Woods failed to make the cut -- again. It would appear Eldrick has become the Danica Patrick of golf. Keep entering events, have the gullible masses wildly cheer when either of them is remotely competitive for 5 minutes or so, but haven't a prayer of coming out on top when the event is over. The difference between the two? Once upon a time, Woods used to win tournaments. Danica never won squat. There's the black/white, male/female thing, but who cares? Know what really stimulates the gag reflex? Despite how far back either of them are, the media folks will still post their positions as "notables". So other then foot stomping and club beating temper tantrums, just what pray tell are they notable for these days?

This year's PGA tourney is being held at Whistling Straits, a course owned by one Herb Kohler. You've probably heard or seen that name before. The Kohler company makes a lot of bathtubs, toilets, and faucets. I'm pretty sure "hot" is still on the left, and the really important lever on the toilet is behind you to the right. And yeah, once activated, the you-know-what still swirls around and eventually flows downhill. The Kohler brand is known as fairly high-end stuff, though one is left to wonder just exactly what the differences are between Kohler fixtures and the Acme brand Wile E. Coyote may have purchased in Road Runner cartoons. A bathtub holds water. Pull the plug and it runs out. Pretty simple.

But once upon a time, Kohler bought a farm. E-I-E-I-O. This farm happened to be on the shores of Lake Michigan. Herb had no interest in milking cows, raising chickens, or slopping pigs. A grander idea was in the works. Somehow he made a trade-off with people wanting to build a nuclear power plant, and Whistling Straits was born. With a lot of help from famed golf course architect Pete Dye.

A quick look at his bio is interesting. When Herb was only 33, he was named Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Kohler company. That's not too surprising. His daddy had founded the company, and after control had passed through a couple other elder Kohlers, Herb inherited the whole waterworks. I mean, who else would they put in charge? A Clinton, Bush, or Kardashian? Please.

Billionaires seem to be reclusive for some reason -- some more than others. But the PGA talking heads managed to get Herb on the air for a live quicky TV interview. Of course the questioner went on about how fabulous the course was how proud Kohler must be to have seen his dream come true. After all, this was the third time Whistling Straits had hosted the PGA tournament. Very impressive stuff. And hey, while nuclear power plants might serve a larger purpose for the commoners, it's difficult to argue Whistling Straits hasn't been quite successful as well. Even Wisconsin has its elite class of linksters. They need a playground too.

But while on the air, it was hard to tell whether old Herb was deep in billionaire thoughts or merely a deer in the headlights. Let's just say he was gracious, if not exactly eloquent. While the K man admitted to getting a huge kick out of greeting all the world class players that showed up for the PGA (owners of golf courses get to do that), methinks he should fade back into what he knows best. His porcelain receptacle empire. Stay away from the cameras and microphones, Herb. Give a few more interviews like that and Acme might start looking pretty good to some people.

Bring on the final round of the tournament. This should be really good......

Friday, August 14, 2015

Brady/Goodell. The end game?

This whole ongoing brouhaha really is amazing when one thinks about it. We're still talking about a few footballs that may or may not have been ever-so-slightly underinflated in a game that was a blow out over 6 months ago.

We know about the NFL commissioned Wells report that took 2 months, cost an untold amount of money, and resulted in over 200 pages of legal mumbo-jumbo that proved nothing.

We also know Roger Goodell took it upon himself to slap Tom Brady with a 4-game suspension (not to mention zapping the New England Patriots for a million bucks and two high draft choices.) Evidently, the words "more likely than not to at least be generally aware" of possible wrong-doing were good enough for the Commish. Hang-em high.

It's old news that Brady and the NFL Players Union appealed the original punishment. But that wound up right back in front of Judge Roy Bean, sorry, Commissioner Goodell. And dammit, the media wanted a good old-fashioned hanging. Roger was loath to disappointment them. They can be a pesky bunch at times with their columns and sound-bytes. So to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the sentence stood.

While Patriots owner Robert Kraft was willing to fall on the original sword (which he later very publically regretted), the cheese and mayo tycoon said he was wrong to put his trust in the NFL. Kraft mistakenly thought an equitable solution would be reached upon appeal that everybody could live with. Sometimes billionaires get it wrong too. Goodell wasn't backing down and neither was Brady. No deal. Not that a measly million bucks matters to Kraft, but those draft choices aren't likely coming back either.

When such a situation arises, there's only one thing to do in America. Sue somebody. Take them to court. As we all further know, that's exactly what happened. Though the NFL had still prevailed, in a brilliant legal pre-emptive strike, they sued Brady and the union just minutes after the appeal process was over in a New York federal court. Why would a CEO and the corporation sue an employee after they have handed down and upheld a punishment for "wrong-doing"? This was a shady way of keeping Brady and the union from federal "court-shopping" for a much more "labor" favorable venue. Like Minnesota. It worked. The case is being heard by one Judge Berman in Manhattan.

Berman has raised some interesting points during his questioning of both sides. He asked the NFL lead counsel what direct evidence they had to implicate Brady in any wrong doing. After the usual legalese doubletalk, said mouthpiece was forced to admit they had no "smoking gun" directly tying Brady to the allegedly under-inflated footballs. But dammit, there was ample evidence that showed Brady must have been involved -- somehow -- in a crime that may or may not have happened in the first place.

What the media (and Wells/Goodell) missed all along but Hizzoner did not, was the fact that Brady's stats were better in the second half of the game, after the balls had been re-tweaked to official game specs, than they were in the first half. So how -- pray tell -- did Brady benefit from an unfair advantage? Especially during a 45-7 rout?

The judge also asked defense counsel how it could be that the balls were allegedly underinflated in the first place without Brady's approval and/or knowing about it. Perhaps a reasonable query. But the legal-eagle responded that his client (and the Union) still dispute the balls ever WERE deflated. And, if so, some lowly Patriots equipment attendant must have taken it upon himself to do so, thinking it might help his quarterback, which the stats clearly show did not.

Berman mused about why Brady would destroy his cell phone which may have contained "incriminating evidence", but didn't dwell on it too long. Perhaps he saw the obvious dead end, on a couple fronts.

First of all, whatever numbers may have been on that phone hardly offer evidence of guilt. Brady may have called, and taken calls from a lot of people, including the above-mentioned ball-boy. But without a recording of the conversation, that doesn't prove anything.

Further, Brady had been in the habit of replacing his phone every few months. How many millions of people do that as better technology continues to evolve? This hardly paints Brady's action as unusual, much less proves guilty behavior. Only an overzealous prosecutor could leap to such an unfounded conclusion. Judges typically know better than that and would disregard such non-evidence.

Further yet, Brady was under absolutely no obligation to turn over such personal information. He rightly claimed that by doing so, he would have set a precedent. If another alleged "infraction of the rules" occurred in the future, the league could say, "Hey, Tom Brady gave up his phone. This guy should too". Open the door just an inch to some people and it's like cracking Pandora's box. Things will only get worse and there ain't no putting the lid back on. Better to keep it shut tight in the first place.

So many are anxiously awaiting the next go-round in Judge Berman's courtroom in a few days. He has said all along he wanted the parties to reach a settlement between themselves, but that doesn't appear likely. Both Brady and Goodell have dug in and are going for all or nothing.

Yet here's the thing nobody seems to realize yet. Berman can find for one side or the other, rap his gavel, and declare case closed. But that's not necessarily so.

Whoever loses still has the right to appeal. Berman is just the first stop in the federal court system. This could be taken over his head to an appellate court. Sure, the 2015 NFL pre-season is already underway with the regular games coming up shortly and a "final solution" to this problem -- quickly -- would seem to be optimal.

But it might not end like that. Would Brady or Goodell insist on slugging it out again at the next level? Could happen. Might take weeks, even months, but it's possible. Other than paying the lawyers a few million more bucks, there's nothing to hold either of them back.

And what if they still can't settle even then? On to the Supreme Court? Wouldn't that be something? Brady v Goodell in the matter of Deflategate. By the time it reached the Supremes, Brady would likely have been long retired and in the Hall of Fame. Goodell? Who knows? He's been making over $40 million a year as Commish, judge, jury, and head bottle washer. He'll be just fine wherever he lands next. Maybe the Donald could find a spot for him. Those rich folks that bluster a lot but can't back it up with substance always seem to have a way of winding up in bed together, one way or the other.

Just a thought......

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Detroit Tigers. Good/bad news

The good news for the Tigers is the Minnesota Twins have been on a losing streak. The Motowners are right there for second place in the AL Central Division.

The bad news is, after getting thumped for the last two games by the high-flying KC Royals, the Tigers find themselves a whopping 14 and a half games back.

The good news is, given the current playoff format that allows for two wild-card teams, if the Tigers can get on a bit of a roll, they just might have a shot at the post-season yet.

The bad news is, only five teams can make it and the Tigers find themselves tied for 10th place out of 15 teams. Further, they are within a whisker of thudding into the basement of their own division.

The good news is, outfielder J.D. Martinez is having a stellar season. He's already clubbed 30 home runs, is on pace for 100 RBIs, and has become a decent defensive player.

The bad news is, pretty much the rest of the team. Former ace Justin Verlander has started 10 games and the Tigers' record is 1-9 in those contests. David Price is gone for a few prospects. So is Yoenis Cespides. The rest of their starting pitching is iffy at best and the bullpen continues to be pretty much batting practice pitchers.

The good news is, second sacker Ian Kinsler is holding his own with solid numbers. As is shortstop Jose Iglesias.

The bad news is, designated hitter Victor Martinez, a switch-hitter, is barely batting his weight. Whoever heard of a regular DH only hitting .240 being celebrated? It's one thing for him not to be able to field a position, but quite another for his running ability on the basepathes to be clocked with a sundial. Let's just say this guy isn't exactly fleet of foot. In the time it has taken yours truly to write the above, V-Mart would take about the same time to trudge from first to third. This dude's slower than road repairs.

The good news is, in the catching department, youngster James McCann shows promise. He has a rifle arm and comes through with a key hit here and there. The really good news comes for veteran backstop Alex Avila. His daddy just got promoted to GM, replacing the long-time Dave Dombrowski. Nothing like job security in a family way.

The bad news is, Avila is hitting about a buck seventy and has an on-going history of having high speed projectiles find their way into hitting him in the head repeatedly and knocking him silly. See concussions. No wonder he can't hit. Poor dude's going up to bat punch drunk. He can't even seem to manage to shave himself anymore.

The good news is, the Tiger faithful and their koolaided media offering up the usual hype, seem to think perhaps the team will be better in the future. Hope springs eternal, as they say.

The bad news is, so do suckers. This team is nowhere near high-caliber, and likely won't be in the foreseeable future. Many recent stars have departed and the Tigers have a lot of guys on their roster that would be in the minor leagues for other good ball clubs. The Tigers and their media are loath to say the words, but they're basically in rebuild mode. Being 5 games under .500 three quarters of the way through the season is what it is. And remember, the Tigers had David Price for the first 100 games. Not any more. Things will likely get worse before they get better.

The good news is, the Tigers have a handsome rookie manager in Brad Ausmus. He will likely only get better.

The bad news is, why is it such an otherwise suave, debonair, and knowledgeable baseball man has the need to spit through his teeth every 5 seconds while in the dugout? C'mon Brad. Do you do that at home? Straighten up. Kids are watching too, ya know.

The good news is, owner Mike Ilitch will likely continue to look for ways to make his baseball toy competitive and get back to a World Series, with the ultimate goal of winning it.

The bad news is, Ilitch is now 86 years old. Like Alex Avila, he probably doesn't know what the hell is going on anymore either.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ronda Rousey vs Floyd Mayweather

This is the fight that really needs to happen. It would blow the roof off all previous bouts when it came to revenue. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, would pony up whatever bucks were necessary to watch such a spectacle.

Back in the day a certain network once hyped a "Battle of the Sexes". Such programming typically featured a woman competing against a man in a sporting competition, but the man was always put at a disadvantage. Basically, the matches were handicapped to supposedly "level the playing field".

The best known of these events was likely when Billie Jean King took on Bobby Riggs in a tennis match. After King narrowly defeated Riggs, it was a "huge" victory for women, many crowed. But was it really? At the time, BJK was one of the best female tennis players in the world. BR was in his mid-50s and had never been remotely close to being a top player on the circuit even when much younger. He was old, out of shape, and slow. No doubt the pressure was on King. Had she lost to such an opponent -- and it was a close match -- the women's lib movement would have been dealt an embarrassing blow. Their best player in the world can't beat some old dude? Oh my. But it worked out for the fairer sex at the time, despite the obvious mismatch to begin with. This was the classic example of hype over substance.

Few would think Serena Williams, far and away the best female tennis player in the world, would have a prayer if she faced off against a top male player. Williams herself has admitted she'd be lucky to win a single point if she faced Novak Djokovic in a serious match. Nobody wants to see that, because it would be brutally one-sided. Bigger, stronger, faster, to the max. And the Serb is younger, to boot.

But consider Ronda Rousey squaring off against Floyd Mayweather.

Floyd is 38 years old, sports a 49-0 record, and has generally been regarded as the best pound for pound boxer in the world in recent years. Though not known as a big puncher, Floyd can go the distance in a 12 round bout.

Ronda is 28 years old, sports a 12-0 mixed martial arts record, and only one opponent has made it out of the first round against her. Her last three fights consisted of 34 seconds, 14 seconds, and 16 seconds. Once the bell goes ding, the formidable Ms. R isn't fooling around. She gets right down to business.

Floyd generally fights somewhere between 140 and 147 pounds. A junior or full -welterweight.

Ronda has been fighting at 135 pounds, considered a bantamweight in the UFC.

So here's the proposition. Have them meet in the middle at 140 pounds. Call it whatever weight class you want.

As the man, Floyd would be spotting his lady opponent 10 years in age. A reasonable handicap.

And no, this cannot be just a pure boxing match. Mayweather would carve Rousey up every which way in such a contest.

This has to be in the Octagon where many things besides just punches come into play. The above-mentioned handicap has now been negated.

None of those 8 ounce boxing gloves, but rather just the knuckle-covering pads that mixed martial artists use.

Could Mayweather still prevail? Maybe, if it remained basically a boxing match. But Floyd's probably never been kicked in the head before either. That would be something new. And God help him if Ronda got him on the ground. He's likely never experienced an armbar in his career as well. Once locked into place, it's tap out time for the opponent. Either that or get one's elbow dislocated. If that's not painful enough, the joint can be broken entirely. It's all a matter of how much pressure is put on. But it's the end of the fight.

So why not attempt to arrange such a super-bout? Rousey would likely jump at the chance. Compared to the peanuts she's been making in the UFC, she'd likely take home over $100 million for such an event against Mayweather.

And if Floyd is looking for one last great super mega-fight to top off his career before retiring, it couldn't possibly get any bigger than this.

All he has to do is beat a girl.

But it will never happen because one of them is scared to death of jumping in with the other.

Guess which one?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The arrogance/folly of Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira is a really good major league baseball player for the NY Yankees. Though not possessing much speed, he more than holds his own defensively at first base, is a switch-hitter, and amongst the American League leaders in home runs and RBIs this year.

Mark Teixeira and the Yankees are also feeling some frustration right about now. Not long ago, they had a commanding lead in the AL East. But they just got swept by the surging Toronto Blue Jays, including two shutouts in a row -- the first time that's happened to the Bronx Bombers in over 20 years -- and they are no longer a shoo-in to even make the playoffs. Lots of teams are breathing down their necks and anything could happen in the next couple months of the season.

Thing is, Mark Teixeira just showed himself as clueless in a press conference after the Toronto game earlier tonight. During the contest, MT had occasion to try and catch a pop up that was drifting into the stands. Nothing new there. It happens all the time. Fielders lean, and sometimes jump into the stands trying to catch batted balls.

But on this particular occasion, a fan -- who had every right to try to catch a souvenir -- incurred Teixeira's wrath. Feeling he was "interfered with", MT shoved the fan and had a few choice words for him after he was thwarted in his attempt at catching the pop-foul. Replays clearly showed the fan immediately backed off with palms up and spread. He didn't want any trouble.

Yet during a post-game interview, MT said fans have a right to insult, but not assault. True indeed, but that's not what happened in this instance. If anything, Teixeira assaulted the fan. Trying to laugh it off at a press conference, much less blaming the fan for bad conduct, doesn't change what happened. The fan was right and Teixeira was out-of-bounds, literally.

Let's get real. We all know that when at a major league baseball game, it is forbidden to go on the field -- for any reason. Doing so will result in an immediate ejection from the ballpark and might even lead to criminal charges.

But when one has paid big bucks for a box seat and is sitting there when a ball comes their way -- they have every right to try and catch it. If the fan can't go on the field, then the fielder shouldn't be able to go into the stands. And if he does, then tough if he encounters resistance and/or interference while trying.

The field is the field and the stands are the stands. Players belong on the former and spectators in the latter. True, the wall separating players from fans is a grey area. When fans lean over into the field of play, a player could have a legitimate beef if he was interfered with. But when a player leans into the stands, all bets are off. If anything, it is the fan(s) that could have a beef. They paid to be there and have done nothing wrong.

For a player to "assault" one of them while they are exactly where they are supposed to be, then turn around and blame it on the fan, is the epitome of arrogance and folly.

Mark Teixeira may be a worthy major league baseball player, but it appears he's clueless when it comes to reality and dealing with common citizens that pay his ridiculous salary. ($22,500,000 this year).

Hmmm. Maybe when his baseball career is done, he should go into politics. He's exhibiting all the signs of being a "natural".

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The incredible putt-putt round

Lots of things in sports are noteworthy. No-hitters by baseball pitchers are celebrated. Perfect games are even rarer. Hitting for the "cycle" or 4 home runs in the same game will always get a lot of attention.
Hat tricks in hockey, much less soccer.
Scoring over 50 points in an NBA game.
A 59 in golf.
An NFL running back gaining over 200 yards in a game, or a QB throwing for 5 or 6 touchdowns.
Rarified air indeed.

300 games in bowling are special, though there are some 50,000 of them rolled every year. Yours truly even had one once, though it occurred in "open bowling", as in non-league, so was never sanctioned. And yeah, it included a couple "Brooklyn" strikes. But hey, 12 in a row is 12 in a row. Sure it was lucky, but it happened. I even once scored an eagle on a par 4 golf hole. As a lifelong duffer (never broken 80), by pure dumb luck a shot from the fairway somehow found its way into the cup. As they say, sometimes better lucky than good. Curiously, I never got one on a par 5, though I was close once. After two unlikely good shots in a row, I faced a two foot putt for an eagle. How the hell can one 3-putt from two feet? But I did and wound up settling for a par. I'm still hearing about that one from my playing partners some thirty years later. Aargh.

But recently something spectacular happened in, of all things, putt-putt golf. A guy had a perfect round. Eighteen holes and eighteen aces. A hole-in-one every time. Through the windmills, banking around the corners, up and down, round and round, every "tee shot" found its way into the hole.

Sure, most of us have played putt-putt golf here and there over the years and likely racked up a few holes-in-one along the way. But eighteen in a row? That's incredible.

The guy admitted to having shaky knees on the 18th hole knowing what was at stake. Kind of like standing on the approach getting ready to roll for that 12th strike in bowling. It doesn't have to be in competition, much less a big time sporting event for one to feel the pressure. The putt-putter drilled a 20 footer in the heart of the cup. My twelfth strike was "light" in the pocket and could rightfully be called a "mixer". But all 10 pins fell down and that's all that mattered.

Nobody cares about my 300 game and rightfully so. Much better bowlers accomplish the feat all the time across the country and the world. Likewise, few will pay much heed to some guy shooting a perfect score on a putt-putt course.

Mine was lucky as a roughly 180 average kegler. And yeah, a hole-in one isn't a big deal on a putt-putt course. People get them all the time.

But 18 in a row to run the table for a perfect score?

A noteworthy feat indeed.


Idle thought: Maybe this guy could give Phil Mickelson a couple tips when it comes to the yips on various putting surfaces. Couldn't hurt.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Phil Taylor's misguided SI column

So in his latest commercial Shaq now claims the body powder he uses makes him smell as good as he looks? Dang. Excuse me but, considering his mug, how bad does this stuff smell anyway?

On the back page of the most recent Sports Illustrated issue, Phil Taylor claims Tom Brady would be better off giving up the fight against Roger Goodell and the league, and accepting the 4 game suspension. PT says Brady falling on the sword would cast him in a better light with the public and give him a forum to exert even more scrutiny on Roger Goodell's highly dubious recent record of handing out punishments.

Taylor obviously misses the bigger point. Every once in a while there comes a time when someone has to make a stand. No plea bargains and/or accepting a slap on the wrist just to tidy up legal matters. They will settle for nothing less than being totally absolved and vindicated -- as well they should if they are innocent. On the other hand, if somone knows in their heart they were complicit in a "crime", trying to scam the system could blow up in their face and result in a much worse outcome.

Whether or not Tom Brady had anything to do with ever-so-slightly underinflated footballs in a playoff game several months ago (as Taylor put it -- the same amount of air a child needs to blow out birthday candles) likely only Brady himself knows for sure. All the rest is just speculation. Name the networks (talking heads), scribes for various publications, on-line armchair quarterbacks, and the legions of social media chirping away, and everybody has an opinion. But none of them really know anything conclusive. It's little more than a mass exercise in editorialism.

Maybe Brady's dirty, and maybe not. Just because some NFL commissioned report found him "more likely than not" to be "at least generally aware" of hanky-panky hardly constitutes a smoking gun. And let's get real. Goodell and his minions didn't pay Ted Wells a boatload of money only to come back and say, "I can't find any hard evidence of wrongdoing". They wanted something they could act on and Wells tailored his language to give it to them. But like everybody mentioned in the previous paragraph, Wells didn't know either. Give him a polygraph test and that would likely become quite evident. He was merely giving his masters (see cha-ching) what they wanted.

[Contrary to much public opinion, lie-detectors are deathly accurate these days. Like computers, phones, cars, etc., they have become much more sophisticated as well over the years. Fooling them is virtually impossible. The only reason they still aren't used is because a large swath of the lawyers would find themselves out of business. No longer necessary. You don't have to pay a polygraph $500 an hour to shuffle paperwork and file frivolous motions. It gets right down to the nitty gritty. Who's kidding who?]

Of course the same could be said of Brady. He may or may not prevail in federal court with his legal eagles, but one objective polygraph operator asking pertinent questions would solve this case in a hurry.

For the sake of argument, let's assume Brady really was/is innocent. It has been stated by many that Brady should have surrendered all the information on his cell phone to prove himself as such. These poor devils have been brainwashed. It is not the responsibility of a citizen to prove his innocence, but rather the onus of the authorities to prove his guilt. A HUGE difference. Why would anybody in their right mind voluntarily surrender a cache of personal information to those that are looking for a way to use it against them? Those that advocate such a policy of having to prove one's innocence have succumbed to the Big Brother mentality and become no more than lemmings. An easy stance to take when bad things are happening to somone else, and they think it can never happen to them. It can, but they fail to grasp that concept.

At the end of his article Phil Taylor suggests Tom Brady would be much better off "taking a knee" and swallowing the 4 game suspension. Better for Brady, better for the league, better for everybody in the long run. All nice and neat and case closed. God forbid we should have to trouble a precious federal judge with sorting out this matter, though when parties can't agree, that is EXACTLY his job.

Again, Taylor misses the point. Taking a knee is normally done when a game is "in the bag" and the closing seconds are winding down. The victory has already been secured.

In this case, the final outcome of the game remains very much in doubt. Would you want your quarterback taking a knee when the score is tied and the fourth quarter has just started? Just to serve some misguided politically correct cause? How do you think the fans would react to THAT? They'd be outraged and rightly so.

Tom Brady has decided to take a stand against Big Brother. He might win and he might lose, but if he thinks he's right -- then more power to him.

Too bad Phil Taylor and his ilk seem incapable of grasping the notion that every once in a while a man has to stand up, draw the line, and fight back. Writing columns is easy. Getting down and dirty in the trenches is not.

Those who are man enough to play the games -- will. Others are limited to sniping from afar and hoping they impress their gullible audiences of fellow lemmings.

How Brady v Goodell will turn out in court is anybody's guess. But here's giving #12 all due credit for standing up and fighting for what he perceives to be right. It's an ordeal most "journalists" will never have to experience. They just ramble on with their slants knowing full well they will never have to bear any semblance of responsibility.

Another big difference.