Thursday, December 31, 2015

Michigan State meltdown. And like that

And there it was. After the last few years of MSU's football team attempting to claw their way to the top and finally get the national respect they thought they deserved --- the lights went up on the big stage. A showdown with mighty Alabama in the Cotton Bowl -- a national semi-final.

The Spartans were promptly humiliated with the whole country watching. The 38-0 score was no coincidence or fluke. The Tide rolled over them like a tsunami washing away kiddy sand castles on a beach. It was a beatdown, slaughter, men against boys, whales consuming plankton, like that. MSU might as well have stood for Merciless Systematic Unraveling.

Going in, the Spartans knew they had to keep Alabama's Heisman trophy winning running back Derrick Henry in check. And they did. Problem was, they were thoroughly trashed in all other aspects of the game.

The offensive and defensive play of the "lines" wasn't even a close call. Bama was clearly superior with the big boys up front. Unheralded QB Jake Coker of Alabama went 25-30 for almost 300 yards and two TD passes against MSU's supposed stout defense.

Meanwhile, Spartan QB Connor Cook, the anointed one of the green and white faithful, who's supposed to be "all that", likely slid down the NFL draft boards next spring a few spots with the dismal performance he turned in. Given his chance to finally strut his stuff against a top-flight opponent in a pressure packed game, CC crashed and burned. He threw a few interceptions and likely should have had a few more picked off. Cook appeared clueless to the defensive coverages Alabama showed throughout the contest. Either that, or his receivers weren't capable of getting open. For a supposed hot-shot quarterback, having a zero for his team on the scoreboard staring at them when the game is over can only boil down to one thing. They were taken to the proverbial woodshed by the opposing defense. Defanged, neutered, spayed, like that.

Their special teams play just added more salt in the already gaping wounds. Bama ran wild while State was routinely stuffed.

One team blew several defensive coverages which allowed the other's receivers to catch easy passes for big gainers. The other was in lockdown coverage all game long. Guess who was who?

Maybe that's why the final score was 38-0. It was indicative of the lop-sided contest on all fronts. Did I mention men against boys?

So now MSU has to limp back to East Lansing. They finally got their shot to get over the proverbial "hump" of being second class citizens -- and were promptly dismantled, obliterated, nuked -- like that. As the fairy tale goes, the little engine that could -- threw a rod and blew up when it mattered most.

So now it's back to the drawing board for MSU. Conner Cook has played his last game, and they have 20 other fifth year seniors, including a couple key offensive linemen, that are going bye-bye as well to wherever life takes them. That's a sizable turnover.

This was MSU's best shot since forever to finally prove their skeptics wrong, and take center stage by storm. No more of that Rodney Dangerfield no respect stuff -- we're here, dammit, whether you like it or not.

Instead, against Alabama they were a colony of ants among a family of aardvarks, mosquitoes in a swarm of bats, a male daring to appear on "The View" -- like that. Let's just say all the above is likely to be eaten alive.

So after Clemson turned the Oklahoma Sooners into "laters" in the other semi-final, the #2 Crimson Tide will face off against the #1 Tigers for all the marbles, or at least the college football championship.

And somewhere my buddy George, a good ole boy who's never forgot where he came from, is smiling. He's been saying for years the South will rise again. Alabama and a Clemson team from South Carolina duking it out for college football supremacy?  It doesn't get much more old school southern than that.

As for the Michigan State faithful? It was a nice run over the years, but like the outlaw Josey Wales once famously stated -- a man (team) has to know his (its) limitations.

If a 38-0 massacre wasn't convincing enough, maybe they should buy season tickets to the Detroit Lions. Those people have been delusional for decades in their never-ending Quixotic tilting at windmills quest of getting to a Super Bowl, much less actually winning it.

But you never know. Anything's theoretically possible. Haley's comet makes a u-turn and comes back next year. The entire Middle East sees the errors of their ways and the whole region turns into a Woodstockish love-a-thon foreverafter. Pete Rose is unanimously elected into the baseball Hall of Fame. Yours truly wins a Pulitzer for this blog post. And like that.

But chances are these things aren't going to happen. Just like Michigan State being the best football team in the country. It was a mirage.

38-0 says it all......

Connor Cook and showtime

The fifth year senior Michigan State quarterback has pretty much done all that was asked of him, and perhaps even more.

In the last few years, he's led the Spartans to Big Ten Championships, bowl victories, and put up some fairly impressive personal stats along the way. Yet many of the green and white faithful continue to carp that Connor Cook hasn't gotten the respect he's due. Point well taken.

But let's face reality. Though Michigan State has "owned" cross-state rival Michigan on the gridiron in recent years, and their basketball team is currently ranked #1 in the country, it still appears as if the majority of Michiganders -- and the national media -- would much prefer if the Wolverines returned to their "rightful" place of prominence in the mitten state. Why this is remains a good question, but there's no denying the obvious. When Michigan hiccups, people take notice. When Michigan State accomplishes something semi-great, people say, "yeah, but".

Connor Cook has been projected as being a possible high first round draft choice in the NFL next year, and that might well happen. Had he accomplished everything he has in Ann Arbor rather than East Lansing, he'd be all but a lock. This is no knock on MSU. It's a great university in many ways. Has been for many decades.

Yet despite their prowess in major sports, they just can't seem to escape their perceived second-class citizenship. My doggie doctor, who I thoroughly (excuse the pun) "vetted"  before trusting him with the welfare of my beloved yorkies, went to vet school at MSU. So did every other vet in Michigan. MSU is the only college in Michigan that offers such a post-grad program. Alas, U of M has a world famous hospital, burn center, medical school for future people doctors, and a whole lot of dentists learn their trade in Ann Arbor. While all are necessary -- perhaps a difference in perception at some level. We won't mention the army of shyster lawyers out there, because, well -- they sometimes grow up to be slimy politicians, and I think we can all agree we already have more than our fair share of those.

But in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, where MSU will take on Alabama in the national semi-finals, will have a major impact on how Connor Cook is perceived, not only by the public/media, but the pro scouts. They will be there in force and watching very closely. It is highly unlikely Michigan State will be able to generate much of a running game against the formidable front seven of the Crimson Tide. Therefore, it will fall to Cook to put on an exceptional passing display if the Spartans are to have any chance of winning. They're 10 point underdogs going in.

If Cook crashes and burns in this game, he'll still get drafted next spring by somebody, but he'll slide back a few spots as well.

But if he comes out and lights it up against mighty Bama on the national stage, his stock will definitely rise. And who's to say MSU can't not only beat back the Tide, but go on to the national title as well, knocking off the winner of the Clemson/Oklahoma game? It's possible. The no respect thing? Hey, Rodney Dangerfield found a way to turn that into fame and fortune. It can happen.

No doubt, the Maize and Blue faithful in Ann Arbor would cringe at the thought of their one time "little brother" becoming a national champion on the gridiron. But hey, even the self-anointed elite have to trust a former Spartan to provide proper care for their four-legged kids somewhere along the way.

[Idle thought. It's probably not a good idea to be decked out in Maize and Blue when visiting one's vet. The prices just might mysteriously go up a tad.]

Nonetheless, this is Connor Cook's shot at true glory and everybody will be watching.

Teeing it up against Alabama is definitely big boy football time. How he will fare remains to be seen.

We'll all know how it turned out by this time tomorrow, or should I say later today?

Showtime indeed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Peyton Manning, HGH, Memorex, and Clairol

For those as dumb as I am, HGH stands for human growth hormone. It's kind of like a steroid, and definitely a no-no in the world of sports these days. The Omaha man, AKA Peyton Manning, was recently kinda sorta implicated as having used HGH somewhere along the line.

Of course Manning denied it. But that's the thing. He was hit regardless of his guilt or innocence. Manning could have stayed mum, much like Bill Cosby has regarding the various allegations of sexual misconduct that he's been accused of in recent years. He chose instead to take the Raphael Palmeiro stance, look into the camera, and vehemently deny any wrongdoing. We know how that eventually turned out for Raffie, and Lance, and a few other sports notables. There are others, like Roger and Barry, that were never found guilty of squat, but many THINK they were dirty. This is the result of media hype and a gullible public that has been brainwashed over the years into believing anybody accused of any crime -- must be guilty. It's not always so.

To a much lesser degree, Peyton Manning having his name tied to possible HGH use is akin to a man/woman being accused of child molesting. It doesn't matter if they can eventually prove their complete innocence (which in itself is a travesty of morality -- much less justice -- one is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty -- not the other way around). But that is what it's come to in recent times. An athlete "tied" to PEDs or a citizen named as a "person of interest" in a child molestation case is forever tainted.

Peyton might well have been squeaky clean throughout his career. And John or Jane Doe might have been 100 miles away, with witnesses to prove it, when the youthful victim was sexually abused. God help the latter if they were just sitting alone at home watching TV at the time of the crime and therefore have no "alibi". In the twisted, arm-chair crazy prosecutor system that ours has become -- they have a problem.

Even if they're eventually rightfully and totally vindicated/exonerated of any wrongdoing, the stain will remain. Their friends, coworkers and neighbors will never look at them quite the same. Why would John/Jane be accused of such a horrible thing? -- they'd wonder. They must have done something. And that's just wrong, but it's also reality.

Peyton Manning, being who is/was a role model to some, might survive this loose cannon allegation. But if a second one arises from a different source, true or not, Manning might find himself in perception trouble with the public.

On a lighter note it's reminiscent of a couple commercials of old. Remember Memorex and their audio tapes? Ella Fitzgerald shattered a glass with her voice, and the replay of the tape could do the same thing. Their tag line was -- "Is it live, or is it Memorex?". Well, guess what? One could record the soft cooing of an infant in his/her crib, but amplify it loud enough with ampzilla speakers, and one could blow out every window in the neighborhood. Who was kidding who? Shortly thereafter, Memorex got bought up by another outfit. Now they're into something called "blue tooth". If Ella's screeching wasn't bad enough -- who the hell wants blue teeth?

And Clairol, the hair dye folks. Evidently they've talked millions of women into changing the color of their hair over and over again for decades. Most men are befuddled by this phenomenon, though some appreciate it at some level. If their significant other was a brunette yesterday and has suddenly become a blond, perhaps it allows certain fantasies to run wild, if even for a very short time.

Nonetheless, Clairol used to employ the line -- "Is she, or isn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure". Right, except for those pesky tell tale roots that will show up in a few weeks. It's kind of like having a vehicle painted a different color every month or so. It's a lot of time, effort, and expense to go through for a cosmetic change -- but it's still the same damn car. Changing it from brown to red isn't going to make it run any smoother or get better mileage.

But like Clairol, Peyton is now in the category of -- "Did he or didn't he? -- only his pharmacist knows for sure".

I hope it's not true, and will steadfastly believe so until and unless the snipers that be come up with a whole lot more than they had on Barry and Roger. Those guys were convicted in the court of public opinion only, remember?

That wasn't right either.

Chip Kelly. The first domino

So the Eagles kicked Chip Kelly to the curb. Many are flabbergasted -- never saw it coming -- and they're already talking about what poor Mr. Kelly might do next.

Two words. Shut up.

The man's got 2 more years left on his contract worth a total of $13 Million. (He's already pocketed over $18 Million for the last three years.) Philly owner Jeff Lurie is on the hook for this if Kelly does nothing more than play golf or sit home watching TV. Bet you wish you had a non-job like that. So can we dispense with all the hand wringing and whining about the supposedly beleaguered Chipster? I dare say $32 Million would tide most of us not named Mike Tyson over rather nicely.

What was unusual was Kelly being given the axe with one game left to go in the regular season. But billionaire owners like Lurie have their whims. And hey, the NFL franchises are THEIR toys. They can do whatever they want.

Yet Kelly was likely only the first domino that will fall. In the next few weeks we can likely expect another purge of head coaches around the league. Several are on the proverbial hot seat -- or should be. A few that come to mind......

John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, they were excellent for several years, including winning a Super Bowl. But the Ravens have been a "nevermore" this year. They're terrible, with no apparent help in sight. And the age old question remains -- what have you done for me lately?

Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals. This might come as a surprise, given the Bengals are playoff bound yet again. But Lewis has clearly shown over the years that he doesn't have the right stuff to prepare his team for the playoffs. The postseason seems to be his glass ceiling. Always lots of talent, but always a quick exit. If the Bengals get bounced early again -- their quarterback situation notwithstanding -- it might just be time for ownership to pull the plug on Marvin and try something new.

Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints. Payton survived the Bountygate fiasco in the wake of the Saints winning a Super Bowl but the Saints have once again become the Aints. Granted, Drew Brees is on his last legs, but their defense is like a screen door on a submarine. They can't stop anybody. And wasn't being a defensive guru Payton's calling card? Methinks he gone after this year.

Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills. Sure, it's only his first year there and the usually hapless Bills have been semi-respectable. Nonetheless, a clown can put on new make-up, but he'll always be a clown. Ryan should be fired on general principles. This man had no business -- NONE -- ever becoming a head coach in the first place. Did I mention clown?

Tom Coughlin of the NY Giants. Yep, he's been there a long time and has two improbable Super Bowl victories under his belt. But c'mon. Has anybody ever looked more clueless on the sideline than Coughlin? The Giants thudded back to the nether regions this year and there's no reason to believe they'll be any better in the future under Coughlin. They're way -- WAY -- overdue for a major housecleaning.

Lovie Smith of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This one's simple. Notwithstanding his inglorious history elsewhere over the years, a man named Lovie has no business in the NFL. I've still never figured out how he morphed from being married to a millionaire on Gilligan's Island, then changed his gender and color to become an NFL coach. The surgeries they can do these days are absolutely amazing, but it still doesn't hide the fact this dude is a loser.

Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts. Yes, he wound up being dealt a lousy hand in Indy. Not a whole lot of quality personnel and the super-hyped but under-performing QB Andrew Luck went out with a lacerated kidney. Ouch. But even more so than Coughlin, this guy appears clueless. Have you seen him at a press conference fielding questions? It's almost painful to watch.

Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions. The strangest case of them all. His track record is proof positive that's he's been a decent coordinator under other head coaches, but typically fell on his face in his second year after taking over the reins of command. Last year (2014), Caldwell's first with the Lions, they had a patsy schedule and further caught every break imaginable to make the playoffs. They were bounced in the wild card game. 2015, Caldwell's sophomore year in Detroit, saw them have to play a few good teams. Predictably, they crashed and burned out of the gate to the tune of 1-7. Of late, they've won a few meaningless games, just enough to tease the ever-gullible Detroit faithful, but their season was basically over before Halloween. There will be no playoffs for Motown.

Whether or not the owning Ford family (Martha and her girls -- which is laughable in and of itself) decides to give Jimbo and his crew the heave-ho they deserve remains to be seen. For all the decades the late William Clay Ford was in charge, infinite patience ruled the day -- and years. Remember, these are the same people that came up with the Edsel and the Pinto. The same geniuses that kept Matt Millen around for 8 -- count-em -- EIGHT years to oversee their football team. How did all that work out? Millen ranked right up there with the exploding tires some Ford products featured on their automobiles a few years back.

But chances are Caldwell will be back next year. It's the Ford way. Wait, wait, wait, for eons, then finally make a dumb move. If so, even Caldwell is likely bright enough to be licking his chops. Turns out, after the Lions failed to make the playoffs again, next year's schedule will return to the patsy variety. They might "rebound" and go 10-6 or 11-5 in 2016. The Honolulu blue and silver delusional faithful will be back to chugging their koolaid. Of course, they will have no chance -- NONE -- of getting within sniffing of the Super Bowl, but with a little luck Matthew Stafford might finally win a playoff game -- maybe.

If so, look for Martha and her equally clueless girls to give Jim Caldwell a contract extension. A few more years and a few more million bucks.

It's just the Ford way. They've never known any better. And the beat will go on in Detroit.

But a team with competent ownership would see it for what it is.

Caldwall was a bad hire in the first place, is never going to be the answer to all the ails the Lions, and should be kicked to the curb like Chip Kelly.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

As the NFL turns

Idle thought: It seems only fitting the name Harpo was Oprah spelled backwards. One never talked and the other never shuts up.

This was a very strange week in the NFL. Few would have foreseen the previously undefeated Carolina Panthers getting beat in Atlanta. Just a few weeks ago Cam and company had clobbered the Falcons 38-0. And the surviving members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins team get to hoist yet another glass of champagne. Their one and only perfect season remains unequaled.

Green Bay got waxed @ Arizona. Maybe a surprise, maybe not. The Cards are really good in all phases of the game. After a quick start to the season, the Packers are starting to look mighty vulnerable. Wide receiver supreme Jordy Nelson going down early for the entire year was a terrible blow. The odds of the Cheesers making it to the Super Bowl? Long.

New England has been decimated in several ways. Injuries to their offensive line, a bunch of receivers going down, their #1 and 2 running backs getting hurt, and they had already lost run stuffing nose tackle Vince Wilfork to free agency. Yep, they're back in the playoffs again, but just got beat by the NY Jets. The JETS!!. Despite the genius of Brady and Belichick, the Patriots look very vulnerable as well. Super Bowl chances? Never count them out, but....

The KC Chiefs have been coming on like gangbusters. After a slow start, they've won nine in a row. They're in. But few really think they're Super Bowl caliber.

Seattle is a hard team to figure. Just when they had begun to seemingly round back into whup-ass mode, they got beat at home by the lowly St. Louis Rams. But don't sleep on the Seahawks. If these guys play up to their capabilities, they can beat anybody -- anywhere. Consider them a very dangerous dark horse.

Denver's been without Peyton for a while, but the Broncos are the best defensive team in the league. Thing is, even if the Omaha man is healthy enough for the post-season, these guys look shaky. On top of that, Manning's productivity on the field had already take a serious nosedive. The man's pushing 40, and Father Time seems to have beat him with the reality stick of late. It's time for him to get out before something truly bad happens. And it just might, if he continues to hang on in name only. Those young studs in the other jerseys don't give a rat's behind about Peyton and his legacy. They'd just as soon bust his chops as look at him.

Somebody had to win the NFC East and it turned out to be the Redskins. It's a pitiful division and Washington has no -- repeat NO shot of advancing far in the playoffs. The only good things that came out of this year was the "brain trust" of the Skins finally realized Robert Griffith III was a bust, and maybe the NY Giants will finally get around to bouncing the clueless Tom Coughlin as their head coach.

The always respectable Pittsburgh Steelers were on a roll, but then got beat by the lowly Baltimore Ravens. That wasn't supposed to happen. Mike Tomlin's boys rebounding to make a Super Bowl run? First, they have to make the playoffs as a wild card -- no given. But if they sneak in, they just might be the AFC's version of Seattle. You never know with those guys.

Some say the Cincinnati Bengals are the most "complete" team. Perhaps, but they always fold in the playoffs. And losing starting QB Andy Dalton to injury doesn't exactly help their cause. The Super Bowl? Nah.

How about Minnesota? They've got YO Adrian running wild again, but no way is Teddy ready for prime time just yet. Not a chance.

So add it all up and what do you have? Beats the hell out of me. Only one thing is for sure. The game announcers will hyperventilate while screaming into their microphones next week, and the talking heads on TV will be wall to wall with more possibilities and stats from hell than those pollsters following the current Presidential race.

On to Week 17. Mercifully, we'll all finally find out which teams make it into the playoffs. But then the hype will get ramped up even more. Countless droning on for hours of pre-game chatter, halftime chatter, post-game chatter, and "analysts/experts" telling us what we're about to see -- or have already seen. Evidently we, the public, are too stupid to comprehend how any particular football game turns out. This must be explained to us in excruciating detail. Hey, here's a thought. When it's over, we pretty much get it that one team will move on, while the other goes home. We don't care about stats from hell. At the end of the contest, whichever team has the most points on the scoreboard is usually the winner. Pretty simple. All the rest is just drivel coming from yappy heads that think they're smarter than we are. Like the above-mentioned politicos, these are the sort of people that aren't qualified, willing, or able to go get a REAL job as productive members of society. They just talk, while basically accomplishing nothing.

Nevertheless, here's an early Super Bowl prediction. Arizona meets New England.

And the Cardinals win.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Three Archies and a Dippy

"Archie" isn't exactly a common name. Yet yours truly can think of three notable ones in years past.

There was Archie Andrews of comic book fame. He hung around with Veronica, Betty, Reggie, Jughead, and occasionally got clocked by Moose when he flirted with Midge. This Archie met his demise by taking a bullet meant for his gay friend. I never would have saw that coming back in the 70's.

Everybody remembers Archie Bunker, the lovable bigot. He tried to "stifle" his dingbat wife Edith, had an air-head daughter Gloria, and a meathead son-in-law named Michael. Oh the way Glen Miller played -- songs that made the hit parade -- guys like him they had it made -- those were his days indeed.

In the sports world, one Archie Manning stands out for two reasons. He had a long career as an NFL quarterback on horrible teams and spawned a couple sons that would go on to win Super Bowls. You know, Peyton and Eli. A recent statistic came to light. Old Arch was sacked 396 times during his career. Peyton has 302 to his dubious credit. At last count, Eli had been forced to eat it 303 times. Add it all up and what do you have? The family of a thousand quarterback sacks. That's a bunch.

Of course a mere thousand pales in comparison to the seemingly millions of kindergarten level commercials the younger Mannings have shamelessly cha-chinged their way into over the years. And when it comes to dumb looks, perhaps the late astronomer Carl Sagan put it best. Billions and billions.

Though Mr. Andrews dates back a little further, all three of these Archies had something in common. They were a big deal in the above-mentioned 70s. All In The Family was the #1 ranked TV show, and while the elder Manning was not only getting sacked and absorbing losses playing for the dreadful New Orleans Aints, he spawned both Peyton and Eli.

Alas, Andrews' creators decided to finally kill him off in a blaze of politically "correct" glory, and Bunker moved on to be a sheriff in a small southern town in the heat of the night, where he would eventually marry a black woman. Times had changed indeed. He has since passed on to the mysterious land of "who the hell was I?" in the sky.

All of which brings me to a certain Dippy. There's only ever been one of those. About the same time the three Archies were strutting their stuff back in the early 70's -- good, bad, or otherwise -- Dippy had yours truly mesmerized. A fascinating creature. Never saw her image in any comic books, and trying to stifle her when she was in dingbat mode was futile. As for getting "sacked"? Let's just say it's probably a fair statement to say her stats surpassed those of the entire Manning clan.

No doubt, the early 70's featured some really interesting stuff going on in several different ways.

Forever and remember indeed.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

If I made the rules.....

I'm an NFL head football coach and call in my offensive and defensive coordinators (Sam and Dave) for a meeting.

Hey Sam. These silly penalties are going to stop or you'll be looking for another job. There is no excuse -- NONE -- for false starts by our offensive linemen. If these clowns are too stupid to remember the snap count for the 10-15 seconds it takes to break the huddle until the actual play, they're too dumb to play on my team. Further, when one of those boneheads commits such an infraction, he will be immediately yanked out of the game and forced to wear a dunce cap on the sidelines. Got it?

(Sam). Yeah, but....

No butts. Buttheads seem to be the whole problem. Tell your guys when you leave this room that for every yard in dumb penalties they cost us -- they're going to be running that many 100 yard gassers in the next practice. Five yards is five 100 yard sprints -- and guess what? You'll be running right along with them. This nonsense is going to stop -- dammit. Now go do what you gotta do.

I've discovered something amazing about a few of your boys, Dave.

(Dave). What's that?

I had no idea all our defensive backs were concert pianists or brain surgeons in the off season.

(Dave). Huh?

How else to explain how they protect their precious hands? When trying to make a tackle, these guys lead with their helmets and shoulder pads, and hope they can bump the ball carrier down. They never actually extend their arms and wrap a guy up. Any high school coach would find that unacceptable, and I'm not about to tolerate it at the professional level.

(Dave). But they've become accustomed to that. Every other DB around the league does the same thing.

Well, maybe they can find a job with another team, and you too Dave, if you can't get them to use proper tackling techniques. This is the NFL, not brain surgery or a concerto in A minor on a Steinway. Next time I see a guy wimp out with his arms and hands, he gets yanked on the spot too. I've ordered a lot of dunce caps. BTW, two questions. What's your hat size and when's the last time you ran a bunch of gassers back to back? On your way out, send in Leroy, the special teams coach. I want to have a word with him.

(Leroy). What's up boss?

You need to get something straight with our punt returners. These clowns need to develop a sense of awareness -- quickly.

(Leroy). Not sure I follow.

Let me put it to you this way. When the other team has advanced beyond their own 40 yard line but are still out of field goal range on 4th down, our punt returner will normally set up around our own 10 yard line, right?

(Leroy). Sounds about right.

So why can't they seem to grasp the obvious? Here's what I want you to tell them. If they're starting off standing on the 10 yard line and the punt drives them back even one inch -- let it go without trying to catch it. Chances are it will bounce into the end zone and we'll get it on the 20. If not, that was my call and I'll live with it. If they have to come forward to field a shorter kick, then make the best of it. If they fumble it, I have a few hats on order. You can ask Sam and Dave about those. But here's the most important thing. The next time I see one of your punt return "specialists" calling for a fair catch inside our own 10 yard line, guess who's going to be fielding the next punt?

(Leroy). Beats me.

That would be you, Leroy. Enjoy the thundering herd bearing down on you while the ball seems to hang in the air forever. And BTW, if you call for a fair catch, regardless of what yard line you're standing on -- consider yourself immediately fired. You will catch it and take whatever comes next. Good luck. Now go talk to your boys.

I'm the Supreme authority of the NBA. No, not that floppy-eared, bald, peanut head Adam Silver that weaseled his way into being the Commissioner. I am Odin, Thor, Zeus, Apollo, and Anderson Cooper all rolled into one. By god, I'm in CHARGE of this round ball nonsense.

And by thunder, I'm changing some rules. You know all those intentional fouls a team about to lose keeps hacking away at to put a poor free-throw shooting opponent on the foul line in the hopes of pulling out a miracle? It's an insult not only to fans, but the very integrity of the game itself. From now on, things are going to be different.

If a player intentionally fouls an opponent, the fouled team not only gets 2 free throws, but gets to pick anyone on their roster to shoot them. Further, make or miss, the fouled team retains possession of the ball. That would put an end to this nonsense.

NBA teams get what -- 10 time-outs per half? That's always been ludicrous. I'm cutting it down to three apiece like the NFL. It's still too many, but I have to start somewhere. Remember NHL teams get only one timeout for the entire game. And soccer teams don't get any. Their game clock never stops (though the mystery of "extra time" known only by the referee on the field seems to remain top secret classified information -- go figure).

No sense addressing all the traveling and palming the ball violations that occur constantly in every NBA game. It's become so ingrained that most have come to accept it. But it's still not right. And why is it that superstars seem to have a different set of rules to play by than role players? That's definitely not right. Do they teach the officials this in ref school?

One last hat. I am lord and master of boxing. Yes, I understand the sport has pretty well gone the way of Enron, Bear-Stearns, Lehman Bros., Hudsons, Montgomery Wards, Borders, and even objective journalism in recent years, but these things happen in the USA. Dog eat dog, indeed. Yet boxing always had, and still does, a flaw that turns off many people.

This is the only sport where nobody knows what the score is until the match is over. A knockout presents an obvious winner, but if it goes the distance, three supposedly neutral judges will decide after their "scorecards" are tallied. What has long been known is that many of these experts are not only hand picked by fighters and their camps with enough influence to do so, but they are also free to go back and change their score on any given round before submitting their final tally. This practice has been, is, and remains an open invitation for corruption. How many times have we seen a fight where one guy got beat up throughout, but eventually had his hand raised as the victor?

As lord and master, I am immediately instigating a new rule. The scores from each judge, round by round, will be immediately displayed on a scoreboard so everybody in attendance and at home watching on TV knows -- well -- what the score is. What could possibly be wrong with that? And the same will apply to the latest rage -- cage fighting. Be it 3 rounds or 5, put the damn scores up there after each round. The fans and the fighters themselves have a right to know who's officially ahead and behind throughout such a contest. This is not a difficult concept. In the name of fairness and transparency, I hereby decree it shall be done.

Of course, this edict would be met with a lot of resistance by the powers that be in such activities.
Don King, Bob Arum, and Dana White would likely not approve their fiefdoms being challenged.

Maybe they should talk to Sam, Dave, and Leroy. And who wouldn't love to see King, Arum, and White running gassers alongside them as well? They've pumped us full of enough gas over the years for their own benefit. Seems fair enough.

Yessirree. If I made the rules, a few things would change right away.

The LA Clipper problem(s)

The LA Clippers just knocked off the LA Lakers to raise their record to 17-13. Respectable, to be sure, but in the whole scheme of things, just a little better than average. Yet the Clips have a problem. Actually two of them.

The first pertains to their competition in the NBA west. No one would seriously doubt the Golden State Warriors remain far and away the class of the field. A 28-1 record pretty well speaks for itself. These guys are so good they can run on autopilot. In other words, they don't need a head coach. Indeed, Steve Kerr has long been out rehabbing a back problem while novice Luke Walton has been subbing for him, yet their beat rolls on.

Coach Pop and his Spurs down in San Antonio remain a standard of excellence. They might not win it all every year -- nobody does -- but when it comes to smarts and the execution of overall team play -- nobody does it better than the Spurs. Their lofty 25-6 record is no accident.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are quite good as well. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook headlining the show, the Seattle Supersonic transplants can light it up in any given game. Or they can get beat. 20-10 is an admirable record, but they made a huge mistake when they let point guard/playmaker/shooter supreme James Harden get away in free agency to Houston a couple years back.

The point is the Clips remain a second-tier team in the NBA west. Good, but not great. Few would consider them championship contenders this year. Everybody knows who Chris Paul is. If they didn't before, they certainly do after having been force fed a bazillion TV spots featuring him and his "twin" brother Cliff hawking an insurance company.

Thing is, despite all the hype, Paul and the Clips have never even made it to a conference finals series, let alone sniffed a championship. The second round of the playoffs seems to be their ceiling. In all likelihood, barring a rash of serious injuries on other teams, the very same fate would seem to be in store for the Clips this season. They might squeak by the Thunder in the playoffs, but no way are they good enough to get past the Spurs -- must less Steph Curry and the Warriors. Ain't gonna happen.

[Idle thought. Anybody heard a peep from former Clips owner Donald Sterling lately? Maybe be bought a tropical paradise somewhere with the ridiculous $2 Billion Steve Ballmer ponied up for the basketball team, and is having his every whim catered to by an army of beautiful young women. A private island and a few billion bucks normally tends to attract a horde of gold diggers. Here's wishing him well but, please, let us all pray he spares us the videos of his latest sexual escapades. Eww.]

[Idle thought II. I wonder if Ballmer displayed the same spaz tendencies when he was a hot shot exec at that software company? Have you seen him dance at Clipper games? This is not funny. It's pitiful and painful to watch. How can a guy supposedly so smart act so stupidly?]

So OK. Regardless of dubious ownership, I think we can pretty much agree the Clippers won't be going to the NBA Finals this year either. They have four really good players on their entire team. After that, the talent level drops off dramatically. Lack of depth/bench is a fatal flaw when trying to run the formidable gauntlet of the playoffs. Doc Rivers may or may not be a great coach, but even he can only "take the whip" to the thoroughbreds down the stretch for so long before they run out of gas and break down short of the finish line.

Nevertheless, the Clips are vastly superior to the woeful Lakers. As we know, they not only play in the same town, but share the same arena -- Staples Center.

[Idle thought III. I bet it gets old for the arena crew to keep changing the playing surface to either feature the Clippers' or the Lakers' logos and colors. Wouldn't it be a lot easier, much less hassle, and cheaper, to settle on a hybrid that acknowledges both?]

But that's where the Clippers evidently have their other problem. In their own home arena. While squaring off against the Lakers (who were technically the "home" team), the fans in attendance made it quite clear who they were rooting for. It wasn't the Clips.

Despite the fact the Clips have at least been semi-competitive in recent years (it started with Sterling) while the Lakers have become a laughingstock, Doc, Chris, Blake, Deandre, and even the spaz still find themselves getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment in their own building.

Oh yeah. The Clippers definitely have problems.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas and one bah humbug

First things first. Merry Christmas to all. And a bunch of thank yous are in order. I once again thank my editor, one Jeff Kuehn, for giving me this venue to rant in a few years back. No doubt there have been times when he regretted it due to my many foibles, but he's hung with me throughout. Merry Christmas boss, wherever you are.

I thank my friends for being -- well -- who they are. Most people need someone to lean on once in a while and yours truly is no exception. Thanks for all the laughs, hugs, bad jokes, other banter, favors traded, occasional shared tears, and even the rarer disagreements. Add it all up and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

For whatever reasons, my family pretty much scattered to the winds long ago, but I thank them for what we once had.

I thank the readers of my rants. Some I know, most I don't. And a special thanks to any that have taken the time to comment -- good or bad -- on my various rants in this venue. I really do try to keep things light, and spoof myself as much as any other person or entity in the sports world. But I know there are times when my words can be quite sharp -- even caustic. I get that. Yet there are times people and things deserve to be ripped -- in my opinion.

The name of this blog -- The Wrath of John -- actually came about as a play on words regarding the old Star Trek movie The Wrath of Khan. It was likely a poor choice on my part, but it's way too late in the game to change it now. Nevertheless, it hardly meant or means I'm pissed all the time. Nothing could be further from the truth. The above-mentioned friends know this. In truth, I can't actually remember the last time I got truly mad at somebody. Life's too short, bad stuff happens sometimes, and getting all torqued out of shape only raises your blood pressure while resolving nothing else. True, it took a few decades for my feeble brain to figure this out, but I thank the Lord for letting me hang around long enough to finally see the light. Amen, indeed.

With apologies to the late Jimmy Stewart in his classic movie portrayal -- all in all - mine has been a wonderful life indeed. So many people and things to give thanks for.

[Speaking of bad versus good -- just when you think all is lost with Shaq doing those moronic body powder commercials and Sammy Jack resurrecting his "what's in your wallet" credit card carnival barking, along comes Santa Claus and LA Clipper Deandre Jordan to playfully snipe at each other over their prowess on the hard court. Very yuk-worthy stuff. Ho ho ho. ]

Alas, there is a bah humbug. Though the much awaited mini rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will happen on Christmas day, one Lebron James is not happy. He doesn't like to play on Christmas.

Well then, let's see. Mr. James is making somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million this one year to play basketball. This is likely more money than you, your family, and close friends will cumulatively make in their entire lifetimes. Put another way, over the course of the 82 game NBA season, LJ is making roughly $300,000 dollars -- PER GAME. Win, lose, light it up, or stink it up, James is going to haul down more money for each two hour job shift than you likely make slaving away for 40-50 hours a week over the course of 5-6 YEARS.

Plus he's got a lifetime guaranteed shoe contract that pays him at least an extra $10,000,000 every year. This is not even to mention his other array of endorsement cha-chings. Nor does it count the big playoffs bucks when those games start happening next spring. He gets to fly first class and stay in 5-star hotels -- FREE. Every little whim he might have is instantly catered to. Also gratis. All in all, James is probably knocking down $50M a year while living in the lap of luxury. This is because he is better than most at finding ways to put a ball in a basket, or keeping his opponents from doing so.

[Hmm. Maybe there was something to that Wrath of John thing after all. I'm starting to get a little stoked here over the absurdity of it all.]

Regardless, the poor, abused dear is whining about having to play a basketball game on Christmas day.

To which I say BAH HUMBUG. That means you Lebron Raymone James. How about you suck it up, shut it up, and go out to Oakland for another ass-whipping on national TV? Bet if you and the Cavs were playing at home against the woeful 76ers on Christmas, where your team could romp, your tune would be quite different.

Who does this guy think he's kidding? There's over seven BILLION people on the planet earth that wished they had HIS little problem.

But in the end, no matter what, here's wishing a Merry Christmas to one and all out there. And if you're reading this, yet another thank you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Odell Beckham debacle

I probably should have included some of the following in my previous post regarding the Bonehead Files, but it had run on a bit long.

Nevertheless, any football fan knows NY Giant wide receiver Odell Beckham went berserk on the football field and wound up getting suspended for a game by the NFL honchos (see Roger Goodell). This happened in a game against the undefeated Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football. Millions of people saw the obvious. Somehow Beckham forgot about being a professional athlete and became a gang banger, a thug out to wreak violence on another "boy in the 'hood" that had dissed him. Definitely not cool.

[Time out for the ultimate hypocrisy. On the 4-letter sports network, one Trey Wingo stated this story had "taken on a life of it's own". Yours truly stared dumbstruck in disbelief. Did he actually just say that? Thing is, if it wasn't for Wingo and his talking head minions breathlessly reporting on this story every 5 minutes and hyping it like it was nuclear war, there would be no such hysteria in the first place. If Odell got suspended for a week, perhaps Trey should be reduced in rank to Deuce, and suspended for a week or two himself. The crime? Gross media overkill.]

So OB did what every other athlete would do after getting his pee-pee whacked for "conduct unbecoming". He appealed. This is where the professional sports leagues have a major flaw. Granted, a Commissioner like Roger Goodell hearing the appeal of a sentence he has already handed down has always been ludicrous and a travesty of justice, but word has it a fix is in the works. In the future, any appeal will be heard and ruled upon by a neutral third party. It's a start. But this is about the other flaw.

Currently, players have nothing to lose by appealing a fine and/or suspension. The worst that can happen is it will be upheld, but oftentimes the punishment is reduced. We see it all the time. In some cases it's justified. In yet others, they likely shouldn't have been banged in the first place. There was no proof of wrong doing. See Tom Brady and the trumped up Deflategate fiasco.

Yet in still others, the evidence of guilt is so overwhelming that one is left to wonder -- how dare this guy try to scam the system?

In real courts, many criminal defendants have a choice. They can cop a plea for a reduced charge and punishment -- or -- they can roll the dice and opt for a full blown trial. Thing is, if they lose there, the punishment normally gets harsher. We see that all the time as well.

It should be the same way with professional athletes. In Beckham's case, the evidence was indeed overwhelming. Yes, his antagonist, one Josh Gordon, a defensive back, had done his best to get into Beckham's head, but this sort of stuff happens all the time in sports. Stare downs at pre-fight boxing or mixed martial arts bouts. Trash talking on the ice, the court, or some 95 MPH "chin music" to a good hitter in baseball. Kids in high school, much less college or the pros, have long talked trash. It's just a part of their psych ritual. Pump themselves up while trying to get the opponent off his game.

Sure, if a pro football player wants to grapple with an opponent, by all means have at it. Heck, grappling and throwing people to the ground are the very essence of the game. As are hard hits. And if one player wants to slug the other in his facemask -- feel free to do so -- though facemasks are typically much more resilient than bones in a human hand. For sending such a "message" of stupidity a player will typically be assessed a 15 yard personal foul penalty, but no harm has really been done.

But Beckham went WAY too far. Evidently frustrated by not only the trash talk but having Gordon play him physically in man coverage and shut him down, Odell crossed a major line.

On a play that was already over, Beckham got a 10 yard running head start and blindsided Gordon on a helmet to helmet hit. It was the ultimate thug maneuver and definitely meant to cause injury. For this there was no excuse. Luckily, Gordon wasn't seriously injured, but he easily could have been. Besides the possibility of a broken jaw or, God forbid even neck, from such a cheap goonish shot were in play. It could have happened. And while the NFL has finally come around to put in place a long overdue proper "concussion protocol" -- this was exactly the sort of thing that led to so many brain injuries in the first place. A defender lowering his head as a battering ram and delivering a sideways lick on an opponent's helmet. A lot of things can happen, and most of them are bad.

The incriminating evidence was indeed obvious. Beckham did the crime and he should be held accountable for it. Yet Odell Beckham had the utter audacity to appeal his one game suspension. BTW, this was his third personal foul of the game. A player clearly out of control. Again, we've all seen the video(s) countless times because guys like Trey/Deuce seem to think it's mandatory every 5 minutes to force feed it to sports fans. Over, and over, and over again.

Almost surprisingly, the NFL upheld his 1 game suspension. In recent times Goodell and company have gotten so many things wrong, it's hard to predict what they might bungle next.

Which brings me back to the "other" flaw in the system mentioned above. Odell Beckham deserved a much worse fate than what he got. Missing one game check when he's already making millions hardly serves as a deterrent to others that might contemplate such mayhem in the future.

Like courts, the NFL should have another option. When a guy is so obviously guilty -- the videos don't lie -- and he has the audacity to waste the time and services of others trying to scam his way out of it -- he should be banged even harder.

One game is not enough. If yours truly was the judge, I would rule as follows:

Mr. Beckham, your one game suspension may have been fitting for your goonish behavior on the field. I found your deliberate attempt to injure appalling, but such is the nature of a lot of things in the NFL. Everybody wants to hurt everybody else.

However, given the egregious nature of your violent conduct, and the very fact you stand before me trying to justify it, is truly offensive to this court. While I applaud your abilities to catch footballs with one hand, you sir, contrary to the hero worship you may have received of late, and not above the laws of human dignity.

Therefore, I not only uphold your one game suspension, but am tacking on 5 more games. You will not play in the 2015 season finale for the Giants, and will sit out the first four games of the 2016 season as well -- without pay.

This court stands adjourned. What's that? You object, Mr. Beckham?

Fine. I object to your your ridiculous hair. Make that 8 games. Any more questions?

I thought not. Merry Christmas and to all a good night.

The Bonehead Files. Jim Caldwell and his wonder boy Matthew

Just when you think something or somebody can't possibly get even dumber -- well -- we know what usually happens. The last couple days have been chock full of boneheads. 

Detroit Lions' head coach Jim Caldwell said quarterback Matthew Stafford is progressing nicely with the offense but, "but doesn't have (grasp) it all yet because it hasn't all been installed". 

Well gee, Jimbo. We're heading into Week 16 of the NFL season and your team is hopelessly out of playoff contention. Just when, pray tell, do you think would be a good time to put in the rest of the plays? Next year? Chances are you and your sorry staff won't even be around next year. Then again, it IS the Lions. Maybe they'll give you a 20 year guaranteed contract extension at, say, $10 million a year. 

[I dare say that would tide you over quite nicely as you bonehead your way through your golden years. Never underestimate the incredible naivete of the Ford family when it comes to owning an NFL franchise. If memory serves me correctly, the late Willy Clay was a charter member of the Bonehead Files.]  

This warrants two more inductions into the Bonehead Files. Caldwell is obvious. And Matthew Stafford gets a spot just in case he's as dumb as what Caldwell subtly hints at. The Georgia Peach in in his 7th season as a starting QB for the Lions. If he can't grasp an NFL offense by now and execute all the plays -- then he never will. Maybe that's why he keeps racking up gaudy personal passing statistics but has yet to win a single playoff game. During crunch time when the pressure is on, he and Caldwell revert back to their inner selves. Boneheads. It's in their DNA. 

Welcome to the hallowed halls, boys. We'll put your Bonehead plaques right along side other infamous folks once associated with the Lions.  There's the Fords, Russ Thomas, Matt Millen, other inept front office personnel, a whole slew of clown coaches over the years -- the latest being that lovable berserkazoid loose cannon Jim Schwartz  -- and definitely several players. Lots of premier draft choices that crashed and burned. We have a stomper and even the losingest player in the history of the NFL. Some loud mouth center named Dom that mercifully finally retired after last year. Remember, he was your team leader for years. Such a clown could only be a team spokesman in Detroit. Oh yes, Room L (guess what that stands for -- it's not Lions) is chock full of Honolulu blue and silver lore. You'll fit right in.

Here's a wild idea. As long as the Lions have already stunk up another season, how's about putting in the rest of the plays they've supposedly have been holding back? At this point -- what do they have to lose? 

This can only boil down to one of two things. Either these magical plays are a figment of Caldwell's imagination, or he indeed doesn't think his QB is bright enough to comprehend, much less execute them. Neither bodes well.

But there is no disputing one age old truth. It's still the same old Lions. In the whole scheme of things, they're SUPPOSED  to serve as a bad example and be the punch line of jokes. It's not only their rightful place in the world of professional sports, it's their very destiny.

One more sad sack season on top of their historic pile should hardly come as a surprise.

Nor should two more inductees into the Bonehead Files.

Jim Caldwell and Matthew Stafford. At least one of them is clueless. Best to take no chances and honor both. 

The AP Top Athletes Awards

Sport Illustrated has already chimed in with their "Sportsperson" of the year. They bestowed that honor on one Serena Williams.

So now it's on to the next round. The Associated Press has to hand out some hardware for their "Top Athletes".  Any more, it seems like everybody gets an award for something. The entertainment industry has long gone berserk with this stuff in a million different categories. The most memorable moment yours truly can recall was when George C. Scott refused a best actor Oscar for his role as Patton in the movie. Scott said he failed to see the point in being honored for merely doing his job. He refused to even attend such a convention of the "glitterati" congratulating themselves. Bravo indeed.

A quick look around shows how pervasive this glad-handing has become. The media routinely gives itself all manner of awards in different categories. It appears they have morphed from reporting on the news to BEING the news. Check out any of their self-written mini-bios, and one will see them crowing over their "accomplishments". Among many others, cops, firefighters, and teachers of the month/year have become commonplace in every small district around the country. Hundreds of thousands of them in all. It's not at all unusual to see a fast food place display the name of their "employee" of the month on the sign outside. Maybe they give them a certificate or a gold star on their foreheads. One thing they don't give them is a hefty raise for their outstanding efforts. Get back to cutting that meat and cooking those fries, dammit.

But the potential AP Top Athletes Awards give rise to some thoughts to ponder.

On the male side, we have finalists Stephen Curry and Jordan Spieth.

Curry splashed it up last year with the Golden State Warriors on their way to an NBA title, and is a worthy candidate. Spieth dominated the PGA tour winning two majors and coming up just short in the other two. He was far and away the #1 golfer in the world. The difference? Besides the sports they competed in, Curry was quick to cash in on TV ad bucks. Steph has a guaranteed NBA contract. He gets that dough no matter what. On the other hand, we didn't see the much younger Jordan doing cheesy commercials. Spieth has to earn his money every week when he plays in a tournament. Don't make the cut, and go away empty.

On the female side, we have finalists Carli Lloyd, Ronda Rousey and, of course, the ever lovable Serena Williams.

Lloyd scored a few goals in a soccer game. Thing is, nobody pays the slightest attention to women's soccer unless the Olympics or World Cup are involved. Every two years these girls get huge media coverage but, in between, it's almost like they cease to exist. Yet scoring multiple goals in a soccer game is almost as rare as......

Serena Williams losing a tennis tournament -- or even rarer yet -- not complaining of some mysterious injury or illness when she does. Like Spieth in golf, Williams dominated the female tennis circuit. Yet it seems odd that Novac Djkovic, who was equally dominant on the men's side, didn't make the final cut.

Ronda Rousey certainly drew a lot of attention. She was quickly dispatching opponents in record time in the world of mixed martial arts with her signature "arm bar". But it was only a matter of time before she came up against a truly accomplished fighter in all phases of the game. As we know, Holly Holm knocked Ronda out cold with a vicious kick to the head. Even before that happened, Holm was using Rousey's face as a speed bag. There's a reason nobody saw Ronda for a few weeks after that fight. Let's just say her mug wasn't a pretty sight. Rousey can only be considered as an Athlete of the Year candidate because she drew so much attention to a sport where women had before gone virtually unnoticed. But c'mon. Getting thoroughly beat up and knocked out cold wouldn't seem to be the right stuff to garnish such an award. Like Stephen Curry, Ronda has been seen on many commercials. No sign of Holly Holm. She's probably back in the gym training. Who are the more dedicated athletes to their trade indeed?

And then there's the wild card from the Associated Press. An athlete that's not even a human being. Enter American Pharoah, the thoroughbred colt that won the elusive "Triple Crown" for the first time in almost 40 years. Technically, he's a candidate for the AP's Male Top Athlete.

It should be noted that if his owners dubbed him after an ancient Egyptian ruler, they got the spelling wrong. It's pharaoh, not pharoah. But who cares when a horse is winning millions of dollars and blowing away the fields in all the races for a year? Also interesting is that horses racing in the Derby, Preakness, Belmont, and Breeder's Cup have to be 3 years old. By the time they're four, they're pretty much considered retired and put out to stud.

I'd be willing to bet most red blooded American males would covet a job like that. Run hard four or five times for a single year, then spend the rest of their lives in the lap of luxury while the women with the best potential genes on the planet are brought to them in the hopes they can become pregnant. No worries about child support later. They will pay YOU money. It doesn't get any better than that.

Then again, one can't help but wonder -- what if American Pharoah had been a filly? Would the horse be up for Female Athlete of the Year?

Worse yet, what if the magnificent equine had been named Caitlyn? Would we or the AP even know what category to put "it" in for possible honors?

I dunno. Too damn many awards to keep track of these days. These days in America, one way or the other, everybody's going to be a hero. Unless, of course, like George C. Scott, one just does their job to the best of their abilities and shuns any accolades bestowed by others as merely unwarranted pomp.

Now HE was a hero.

The true ones have become few and far between in recent times.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The brainwashing of Jon Gruden

An argument could likely be made that Jon Gruden deserves a spot in the legendary Bonehead Files and, of late, yours truly has anxiously been awaiting the next worthy candidate for induction. It's been a while. But in Gruden's case, that might be a knee-jerk reaction. He can't help what he says. Even the smartest strongest willed person in the world can be reduced to a blithering idiot if subjected to brainwashing long enough.

It wasn't always this way with Gruden. Once upon a time long ago, dear Jon was a young wunderkind in the world of the NFL. He certainly learned his early lessons at the knee of a master. That would be one Mike Holmgren, who was then the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Back in the 1990s, it turned out Holmgren had assembled quite the staff. Several of his assistants would later go on to become NFL head coaches elsewhere. Gruden was the young stud in the room, an offensive "guru". Indeed, the Packers enjoyed quite the successful run guided by this bunch.

Gruden himself would go on to become the Oakland Raiders head coach for a few years, with modest success, before moving on to Tampa Bay. While there, he became the youngest head coach in history to lead his team to a Super Bowl championship. Very impressive stuff.

But we all know head coaches are hired only to be fired someday, and the same fate befell Gruden.

Fast forward to the present. Amongst other dopey TV gigs, Jon Gruden is now a "color commentator" on Monday Night Football. He's an expert, they say. The dude definitely knows football. Plus, as the execs discovered, the man has something to say that's interesting. See Nielsen ratings.

Unfortunately, this required Mr. Gruden to go to talking head school where they could properly finish his education in the broadcast world before turning him loose on the public with a microphone in front of him. Nobody seems to know exactly what the official curriculum is in this institute of higher knowledge, but it's a fair statement to say most go in with one identity and emerge out the other end with quite another. They've been brainwashed.

No doubt, somewhere along the line a course is taught in pseudo-greatness. This requires the student to be able to take the most mundane, run-of-the-mill play, and somehow find a way to create a "first" reference. For example, consider an off-tackle play where the running back gains 3 yards. Normally pretty dull stuff -- right? But not to a spinmeister. They might rant, "Did you know this guy is the first fourth-round left-handed draft choice from a school west of the Mississippi that ever gained exactly three yards on the second play of the fourth quarter in an NFL game? Oh my God, we're witnessing history here!!!".

One word. Please.

But it appears Jon Gruden learned his lessons well in the academy of politically correct gibberish-speak. Every player (and coach) are lauded at every turn. Nobody's ever a bonehead for an idiot play call, strategy, or botched play. Professional receivers dropping passes that hit them in both hands? Not a problem. "This guy is a multi-dimensional player", they'll say. "He brings so much to the game in other ways".

Hey, shut up. There's a better way. Try this. "He dropped the damn ball -- again. The dude's getting paid millions to catch passes and there's no excuse -- NONE -- for what just happened. In fact, this guy drops almost as many balls as he catches. He'd have been cut long ago if the coaching staff wasn't just as incompetent as he is".

What's the problem with saying it like it is?

And speaking of losers, Monday Night Football featured the Detroit Lions taking on the New Orleans Saints. How the NFL and TV geniuses came up with this underwhelming prime time match-up, even a year ago, would seem to be a good question. There was little doubt neither team would be serious contenders this year. And sure enough, they've both pretty well stunk it up this year, having long been eliminated from any playoff possibility.

Yet Jon Gruden plowed ahead trying to make the best of it. At one point, after a Lions defensive tackle named Ngata made a decent play, JG ranted this guy "has really been coming on strong lately".

Thing is, Ngata has been unable to play at all in recent weeks due to injury. So what, pray tell, did Jon Gruden think he was coming on strong lately from? Rehab? Perhaps he should recheck reality before he starts tossing more empty accolades out there that make him look foolish.

On another play, Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson got drilled after catching a pass. A flag was thrown for unnecessary roughness against a Saint's DB named Browner. Likely because Calvin "Megatron" Johnson has been woefully lacking in the production department in recent weeks, Gruden was quick to jump to his defense. These sort of hits have no place in the game.

But after the replays were shown, replete with slo-mo, it turned out Browner's hit was completely legal. No helmet to helmet contact. Just Browner's shoulder slamming Johnson in the upper chest. Bottom line? Johnson went across the middle into zone coverage, caught the ball, and immediately got clocked. This is just another play in the NFL. Nothing special, and it was a bogus call.

But such non-penalties handed out by the refs are also non-reviewable. Granted, the officials are seeing it in real time and the action happens fast, but they shouldn't throw a flag unless they're 100% sure a foul has actually been committed. Shouldn't innocent until proven guilty rule the day in the brutal world of the NFL? Granted, it's been trashed and turned upside down in the real world of justice -- once accused a defendant is automatically assumed guilty -- we see it all the time. Prosecutors, the media and sports Commissioners love how the public has been brainwashed into an automatic lynch mob, but that doesn't make it right. There's a little thing called evidence that has a pesky way of eventually coming out that might exonerate the "culprit". Yet the damage has already been done to an innocent person and there's no fixing it. But I digress.

Regarding Jon Gruden, one of his favorite lines seems to be, "I just love how ____ plays". Such energy, such emotion, such dedication, such toughness, a born leader, the ultimate teammate, a student of the game, and nobody outworks this guy when it comes to preparation, etc., etc., etc.

We get it Jon. Once upon a time you were a real football guy, and fairly well respected as such. Then you cycled through the talking head academy and evidently graduated Magna Cum Loudy. Hence your present gig in the booth alongside some guy who's initials are appropriately MT. Empty is quite the appropriate term to describe his fast and furious sound bytes as well.

So let's see. Monday Night Football used to be on ABC. Then whoops, cable TV came along and that pesky 4-letter sports network popped up. So ABC bought them out. Then the Mickey Mouse company saw another lucrative business opportunity and gobbled up the whole works. Did I miss anything here?

Ah, for the old days. Frank Gifford providing seamless, interesting and objective play-by-play. Dandy Don Merideth with his insightful wisecracks. DD would always sing about turning out the lights and declare the party over on some team in the fourth quarter. Never could figure out how Howard Cosell landed in the booth. But hey, anybody that can change their name from Cohen to Cosell, suck up and become a confidante of Mohammed Ali on the side, put on a cheap toupee, and convince the world he "tells it like it is" should be given kudos for at least being a great con man. Alas, one little innocent "monkey" remark slew the mighty Howard. It was the dawn of the "sensitive" age and the former Mr. Cohen had crossed a line he never even knew existed. But that's the way it goes sometimes.  A ruthless business indeed.

As for Jon Gruden and the Lions/Saints game? The Lions were ahead early, but I have no idea how it turned out. Two losers playing each other with yet another brainwashed guy trying to sound relevant while blathering on. Everybody is great in his world. There are no chumps worthy of criticism, though most viewers would likely disagree. Midway through the second quarter was all I could take.

Click, click, click. There's gotta be something better on than this. Turned out not. Dang, thousands of channels and nothing decent to watch? In my infinite wisdom, there was only one course of action. Grab a bite to eat, take a shower, then come up with another dopey blog post like this one.

Like the man said, is this a great country or what?

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Miss Universe debacle

Is a beauty pageant considered a sport? I would submit that it is. After all, like a female golf or tennis tournament, it's a whole bunch of "ladies" (and I use that term loosely) competing against each and only one will be crowned a champion at the end.

Though all the above will behave in a perfectly dignified manner when the cameras are rolling -- it wouldn't come as much of a surprise if there was a considerable amount of cat-fighting that goes on behind the scenes. Arched backs, hiss, claw, and maybe perhaps mark their territory, with perfume of course. Ahem.

But the very name "Miss Universe Pageant" has always been the epitome of haughtiness. We earthlings have no clue what else is out their in the cosmos. There's untold billions of stars with planets orbiting them, just like our own solar system. It's highly likely there's other intelligent life out there somewhere. Lots of it. So who are we to proclaim our hot bimbo of the year the most beautiful creature in the universe? "Miss Earth" would be a stretch (remember I said intelligent life), but "Miss Universe" is ridiculous. Always has been.

It's kind of like saying our "best and brightest" people represent us at the highest levels of government. Have you paid attention lately to what they do? And how can they call themselves "public servants" when they make all the rules common folks have to life by while the very same "public" foots the bill for their ridiculous salaries, unlimited expense accounts, and other perks galore? There's the service industry and then there's the SERVICE industry. But enough about hypocrisy. We have come to know and experience it all too well.

Nevertheless, this particular Miss Universe Pageant had a strange twist. Somehow the host, one Steve Harvey, crowned the wrong winner. You remember Steve. He's been the latest host of the Family Feud in recent years. You know, the show where they get two panels of five related people that basically have the collective intelligence of your average goldfish and ask them a few even stupider questions.

The good Mr. Harvey does his best Groucho/Don Rickles/Robin Williams -- name a wise cracker -- imitation while making the contestants look like idiots. Hey, they already WERE idiots. We know this, just like the people that volunteer to go on TV judge shows to be humiliated on national TV for a few hundred bucks, free cattle car air fare, and a couple nights in a cheap motel. And don't get me started on the Jerry Springer show. Heathens.

So it shouldn't have come as a great surprise that Steve Harvey botched the culmination of a beauty pageant which was always based on a botched premise in the first place.

This is what can happen when a clown is put in charge of a dog and pony show. Like his regular Family Feud gig, something incredibly stupid was bound to happen eventually. But this time it was the host himself that played the fool. How embarrassing.

The similarities and differences between that annual fancy dog show in New York and the Miss Universe Pageant? Well, let's see. All the contestants are groomed for hours before they appear on stage, so that's a push. Both are eager to please and wag their tails. Let's call that a draw as well.

All contestants are on their best behavior when the competition starts. Some are on leashes, some not, though perhaps they should be.

Both seem to obey simple commands rather well during their shows. Walk, sit, shake, etc. They have all been well trained. And both have their teeth seriously checked out. They must be perfect and gleaming white.

Hair is a big thing. Every last one has to be in its proper place.

The contestants of one show are completely naked. Wouldn't it be far most interesting if the contestants of the other showed off their wares -- or lack thereof -- in the same way? That would eliminate a whole bunch of them from contention very quickly. Get rid of all the props to make them look like they have something they don't -- and let's see what's really going on. What could be fairer than that?

Not sure, but I'm guessing the 4-legged contestants don't wear nearly as much make-up, or reek of designer perfume like their 2-legged counterparts.

One of them will be happy just to go home and be with his/her loving master. They don't know, or care about all the accolades involved. Give them a yard to run around in, a back scratch and/or belly rub, kind words, and a doggie treat here and there -- and they're happy little suckers.

The other will expect to be treated like royalty for the next year. She'll want fancy cars. Furs, boats, major cha-ching jewelry, and exotic places to travel. All on somebody else's dime, of course, because she has no intention of actually -- gasp!! -- working and likely lacks any job skills to earn it for herself, even if so inclined. And good luck with the outrageous wardrobe she'll consider her due.

What did she do to deserve all this? She was born with the right genes. As a kid she was considered cute. A few years after puberty, start adding in a nip here, a tuck there, some serious dental work, other cosmetic wonders, and next thing ya know, she's a beauty queen.

And if things play out just right, she might even become Miss Universe someday -- at least for a minute.

That is, until an inept emcee clown like Steve Harvey realizes he botched the final presentation and snatches the tiara back away from her. So close to fame and fortune only to see it taken away. Oh, the shame of it all. How crushing. Boo hoo hoo. She might have to go get a real job after all. Perish the thought.

Kind of like the Super Bowl, NBA/NHL finals, or World Series, nobody cares about who the runner up was. Only the eventual champion matters, and then only for a year until the following seasons get underway. Like beauty pageants, a tough business indeed. What have you done for me lately?

But at least those people have never been clueless enough to crown the wrong winner. Leave it to Steve Harvey. SH would be better served going back to the Family Feud where he can be the smartest person in a room chock full of fools.

As the legendary outlaw Josey Wales once said -- a man needs to know his limitations.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kobe Bryant. All-Star farce

To any fair minded NBA fan, or even a person with the slightest bit of objectivity, the proposition is absolutely ludicrous. Along with Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant will be a starting guard in the NBA All -Star game? You've got to be kidding. How stupid are the voters that are casting these ballots?

Let's get real. Kobe Bean Bryant pretty well stunk it up last year on a bad Lakers team. This year, he's been even worse. Much worse. He's terrible. Based on production only -- and what else matters? -- Bryant likely couldn't even make the roster, let alone start for any other team in the league. For every shot he makes, there's a few bricks and even air balls. He can't defend anybody anymore and is a turnover waiting to happen. It's become pitiful to even watch. For his on court bumbling he has and will make $48 million over the last season and the current one. Bryant is to the salary cap what a voracious fox is to a farmer's chicken coop. One might salvage a few eggs, but the destruction that is wrought is definitely not good for business in the long run.

Yet the mania persists. Kobe is on his "farewell tour", so all should humbly bow and acknowledge his greatness in years past. To which I say -- BS. The dude's already got over $300 million in the bank and a room full of trophies. For him to command, and get a $48 million two-year contract from the Lakers proved two things. Kobe had no shame and the Lakers had no financial sense.

What is astounding, even laughable, is how the TV folks will desperately search for a Kobe "highlight" -- anything remotely considered a good play -- and replay it over and over again. See Kobe dunk. See 100 replays. What we don't see is all the bumbling he did on the court before and after such a play. Did I mention he's become terrible?

Showing such a dunk is akin to showing Eldrick "Tiger" Woods draining a 25 foot putt when he's already 15 shots behind and woefully out of contention. Other than misguided and outdated hero worship -- what's the point?

They both had their days in the limelight and now it's over. Like Bryant, it's become obvious Woods can no longer contend at a high level. Or might we see Tiger on a farewell tour next year? Would the PGA folks give him an exemption to making the cut in all tournaments so his adoring lemmings can follow him around on the weekends -- even if he was in dead last place and fading even further on every hole? And OMG, imagine the replays from hell the TV folks would come up with. It would be a constant bombardment of Tiger this and Tiger that. A yearlong shock and awe scenario that would daunt even the likes of Darth Cheney, in whatever bunker he currently resides in.

Other athletes have had farewell tours, knowing their present season would be their last. The NY Yankee captain Derek Jeter comes to mind, as does NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. The difference between them and Kobe? Jeter was still productive in his final year. Gordon wasn't only competitive, but made it to the Final Four of NASCAR's "chase".

In the meantime, Kobe just keeps stinking it up in one arena after another. He has become the very embodiment of what has gone horribly wrong in American professional sports. Obscenely overpaid jocks in stick and ball sports. And don't kid yourself. The trickle down effect hits the fans in their wallets and purses. There's a reason why ticket prices are so high and a quarter's worth of nasty draft beer costs $10. Somebody has to pay for this insanity.

True, it's been said that with all the billions of TV dollars pouring into the leagues the owners don't have to sell a single ticket to a single game and would still turn a handsome profit. They will deny that, of course, but good luck getting a look at their books. And even if you could, only a seasoned CPA could begin to decipher the financial shell game that has long been in play by the billionaires and their franchise toys.

Nevertheless, Kobe Bean Bryant being chosen as a starting guard for the NBA All-Star game is nothing short of a travesty.

But wait, some will claim. This final honor and his farewell tour only reflect the respect and admiration he has so rightly earned over his storied career.

To which I say again, BS. Some of us never respected him in the first place, much less admired him. He was an admitted adulterer and a ball hog for his whole career. He happened to land in the right place at the right time on the right team (see supporting cast) to win a few championships. And who's kidding who? The media always looked for a reason -- any reason -- to trumpet the "showtime" Lakers.

But now they've become the "blowtime" Lakers, bottom feeders in the NBA. Incredibly, they're paying Kobe Bryant $24 million this year to further prove he would be incapable of even making a roster on any other team. The past was the past and right now he continues to stink it up. As Charles Barkley would say -- Turrible. Just turrible.

Kobe Bryant making the All-Star game at all, much less a starter, is a slap in the face to not only much more worthy players, but any objective fan that wants to tune in to see the best when the annual spectacle is played, regardless if it's always more like a Harlem Globetrotter entertainment game than a serious contest among guys actually -- you know -- playing hard.

$24 million and a trip to the All-Star game as a starter. Only Kobe could pull this off, with a lot of help from the usual lemmings.

Slice it and dice it any which way you wish but, in the end, it's still a farce.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Chris Paul a champion? Ain't gonna happen

There's good news, though. At long last, finally, mercifully, those dopey State Farm insurance commercials with his "twin brother" Cliff have been put out of our misery. The nerdier Paul made a killing on those ads. Big bucks in royalties. Cliffy's days of running around chasing fender benders are over. True, he never made it into the lofty atmosphere of the 1%er league like the Progressive Flo, but a few million ought to tide him over for a while. And if he somehow manages to blow that in a few years, he'll have to find somebody else to mooch off besides Chris.

That's because Chris Paul will be done himself in the NBA. He's now 30, which isn't a geezer, but considered a bit on the back side of his bell curve when it comes to playing at the highest level of basketball. Let's just say the coming years won't see him get any better. 

Thing is, despite all the hype and dopey self-serving commercials, Chris Paul is never going to be a champion. Whatever window may have been briefly open has slammed shut on him and his LA Clippers. 

The Western Conference of the NBA has been brutal in recent times. We've seen the spectacular crash and burn of the LA Lakers, the former Seattle Supersonics move to Okla City and become contenders, the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavs in the mix, and the ever-steady San Antonio Spurs maintain their standard of excellence under coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs are currently 23-5, which in most times would be considered a superb win/loss record. But even they have been dwarfed by the meteoric rise of the Golden State Warriors. At last look the defending champs were a mind-boggling 25-1. 

Meanwhile, after getting knocked off in San Antonio -- again -- the Clippers are a respectable 16-11. Not bad, but in the whole scheme of things somewhat mediocre in the West. Does anybody really think these guys can contend for a title this year? Not likely. 

But perhaps the writing was on the wall years ago. As the all-knowing Sir Charles Barkley once said -- when your best player (Chris Paul) is only 6 feet tall, you will never win a championship. Ain't gonna happen.

Consider the rest of the Clippers. Blake Griffin can run, defend (sometimes), seemingly jump out of the building, and certainly dunk, but he's seriously flawed as an offensive player. Deandre Jordan is a big guy that does a lot of the dirty work close to the basket, but little else. 

The Clips recently picked up Paul Pierce. He's pushing 100, or least 40 (same thing in the NBA), and even in his Boston Celtics prime PP was a shoot first, worry about defense later kind of player. No way can he run up and down the court with the young boys any more, much less cover them.

Somehow the best basketball team at the Staples Center, which isn't saying much, also have a guy named Luc Mbah A Moute. He's from Cameroon, which is either a small country in Africa or what you get when you combine the Carolina Panthers quarterback with a meringue cookie.

Just the name itself is reason to give one pause. Say it quickly three times in a row phonetically.

Luke MMM Bah Ah Moo Tee.
Luke MMM Bah Ah Moo Tee.
Luke MMM Bah Ah Moo Tee.

Did it just start raining? Did your dog or cat suddenly turn into a vampire bat flying around inside the house? Is your garage door repeatedly opening and closing for no apparent reason? You gotta be careful with this sort of stuff.

Not long ago, Clips head coach Glen "Doc" Rivers said he would quit if then owner Donald Sterling was allowed to stay on. At the time, yours truly was hoping Sterling would last for one more year as all the legal wranglings and politically correct nonsense dragged out. Just to see if Doc would really give up a $7 million dollar a year gig to stand on principle.

But never fear, out went Sterling and along came new owner Steve Ballmer, and he upped Doc's salary to a whopping $10 million a year. You can often see Ballmer at Clippers games. He'll be the white bald guy doing a spaz dance a few rows behind their bench.

It doesn't matter. Rivers, the Clippers, and all crazy Steve's money will never be enough to win an NBA title. Nor will Doc's little nepotism ploy putting his kid Austin on the roster.

The Clips have some good players, but they're not built to be champions now or anytime in the near future. Besides their shortcomings, too many other teams in the West are just superior, from head coach on down to players and the systems that are in place.

Chris Paul? The only way he gets within sniffing distance of a championship during the waning years of his career is if he and his agent find a way to move him to a team that has a legitimate shot in the near future.

And that begs the question. What other team would take on Chris Paul, all 6 feet of him, the enormous salary he would command, and knowing full well he was already in his twilight years? Terrific -- and bigger matters -- point guards come out of college every year.

It's hard to imagine a scenario where Chris Paul could fit in as the final missing piece to propel a team on the brink of championship caliber over the edge. Chances are they already have a great point guard -- and likely much younger -- or they wouldn't be in that position.

So while he made have had a long semi-successful run with the Clippers, and made a few more millions on the side with his "brother" Cliff doing commercials, it would appear Chris Paul is destined to never win anything that truly matters.

Some things just ain't in the cards.

His golf swing notwithstanding, the what the f--- Chuck round mound of rebound gets something right every once in a while. 

Sportsperson Of The Year

According to Sports Illustrated, it was Serena Williams. This was a horrible choice. What could they have been thinking? Then again, the writers and brass at SI are to a large degree a mishmash of various "minorities", so perhaps it should come as no great surprise they bypassed the obvious SOTY. He just happens to be a white male -- perish the politically incorrect thought -- and far more deserving of such an honor.

His name is Jordan Spieth. A professional golfer. Like tennis, golf is an individual sport. When it's time to play a tournament, one has no teammates to rely on. It's the individual player against the rest of the field, round after round. In the end, usually on a Sunday, somebody will be crowned the winner.

Both Williams and Spieth dominated their respective sports in 2015. Neither could quite pull off winning the elusive "grand slam", but there's no doubt they were the best of the best. The #1 ranking in the world, by a wide margin, pretty much says it all.

But not counting gender, race, or the sports they played, there were distinct differences between Ms. Williams and Mr. Spieth. And #1 on that list is character/class or the lack thereof.

On the golf course, young Jordan Spieth was the epitome of a gentleman. A consummate pro. You never saw him throw a Tigerish club beating tantrum after an errant shot.

A not so young Williams destroyed a lot of rackets in her hissy fits following a poor play. As if the racket was responsible.

Both made scads of money plying their trades. Millions upon millions.

Spieth has, or intends to give most of his away to various charitable causes. Williams? Well, let's just say her bank account is doing just fine, thank you.

When oh so close to a big victory, only to see it snatched away by an opponent that got "hot", Jordan was always humble in defeat. The better player on that day won.

Serena always had an excuse. She had an upset stomach, or leg cramps, or a migraine. It was always something. Anything except admitting she got beat fair and square.

When Spieth would win a big championship he might pump his fist, smile, and hug his caddy. After match point, Williams would jump up and down screeching like a chimpanzee on some serious 'roids.

Jordan goes out of his way to help others in need. Serena goes out of her way for another photo shoot. One does it quietly from the heart while giving, while the other wants to make a big splash for publicity and rake in even more bucks. Guess who's who?

They were both far and away the best in their professions during 2015, but when it comes to class, which the very word "sportsperson" should also embody -- this was not even a close call. Isn't it the very same lack of "suitable" personal behavior that continues to keep Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame where he so rightly belongs? Evidently, it's OK for some to exhibit boorish qualities, but not OK for others.

A few other candidates could have been the SOTY. Maybe if Jeff Gordon had capped off his storied NASCAR career by winning another championship in his final go-round. But he came up short, so he didn't get the nod.

Phil Taylor of SI suggested gymnast Simone Bilas. She hasn't even been to an Olympics yet. Whatsamatteryou PT? No wonder they booted him off the weekly back page beat.

Between winning another Super Bowl and the whole deflategate fiasco, Tom Brady was certainly in the news. There's a lot of class involved there. Whether it's high or low is open to debate.

Stephen Curry splashed it up with the Golden State Warriors on the way to an NBA championship, and they've picked up right where they left off in June. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy.

The difference? While both are super-rich, one has fallen prey to the sirens of -- cha-ching -- anything for another buck advertisements, while the other stays above the fray of the ever-present greed machine. Again, guess who's who?

But for Serena Williams to be named the Sportsperson Of The Year over Jordan Spieth is just a travesty.

Note to the brass at SI. Class is supposed to count.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Conor McGregor/Jose Aldo and the scam

Much hoopla was generated in the run-up to the Conor McGregor -- Jose Aldo UFC octagon showdown. Two tough characters indeed.

Once upon a time not long ago, yours truly thought Jose Aldo was the baddest pound for pound dude on the planet. Inside the cage, Aldo could do everything in a world class manner. Strike, kick, grapple, and had other moves that were jaw-dropping. The man was flat-out dangerous. It came as little surprise he held the lightweight title for several years. Who could defeat such an animal?

But then along came the blarney boy -- one Conor McGregor. Turned out, CM had been wading through the ranks and up the ladder while obliterating opponents as well.

It seemed only right that these two square off and see who would prevail in the octagon. Unlike boxing, where it took a full six years for Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to finally get in the ring -- by which time the excitement of a fight that should have happened long before had severely waned -- the UFC folks (see Dana White) don't much put up with such shenanigans. When they have two elite fighters in the same weight class, they'll quickly find, or even mandate a way for that fight to happen. And so it was with Aldo and McGregor. A much anticipated showdown indeed.

And lord knows they hyped it. True, like boxing anymore, an average viewer just can't tune in to a major network and watch such a super match. The wonderful world of savagery has either graduated to cable TV, or the major networks aren't interested in airing matches of people getting their brains beat out. Or perhaps it's the money thing. Ah yes, it always boils down to that anymore -- right?

But the ultimate insult to fans of this sport was yet to come. A cable channel began airing all the preliminary matches leading up to the McGregor/Aldo main event. Hours of free coverage. Very cool and some great fights.

Yet all along the evil plan was in the works. Lead on the suckers and then just as they had been worked into a frenzy of bloodlust -- zap them in their wallets. Bwahahahaha.

Seventy bucks to watch the McGregor/Aldo match. Click here and be cha-chinged later on your monthly bill. Evidently lots of people did. The fight generated millions of bucks in pay-per-view revenue. That's all well and good for the fighters, their entourages, and the UFC folks, but it was a slap in the face to TV viewers. Who wants to cough up three Jacksons and a Hamilton to watch a fight?

Well OK. If it was, say, Obama squaring off against Putin, or maybe Hillary in a death match against the Donald, then now we're talking about getting our $70 worth. Hell, either match would probably be worth at least a C-note, and I'd have gladly clicked on the "pay" option, while firing up the DVR to record it for all posterity. But Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor didn't seem to rise to that level of interest. So of course I didn't pay it.

The UFC fans that ponied up know what eventually happened. McGregor knocked out Aldo with a single punch a mere 13 seconds into the first round. The math is simple enough. They wound up paying about 5 bucks a second and then -- wham -- it was over. Extrapolated, that would equate to roughly $18,000 an hour. Bet you wouldn't click on that option even if they guaranteed a full 60 minutes of non-stop brutality. You know, like a mass tag team match between the Republican and Democratic members of Congress. Interesting for sure, but hardly worth 18 grand to watch.

After all the hype, in the end it turned out to be nothing more than another money making scam that preyed on the suckers.

You'd think they'd learn. Then again, how is it that "public servants" get to make all the rules normal people have to follow, while only serving themselves?

Beats me, but it makes about as much sense as paying 70 bucks to watch a fight between two guys with cauliflower ears that nobody will remember in a few years.

But Hillary and Donald in a death match? Both enter and only one can leave the octagon alive? Now we're talking some serious history in the making.

Bring it on.....