Saturday, April 30, 2016

Shame on them

A Miami Marlins pitcher pitched 7 and 2/3 innings of no hit ball (as in 4 outs to go) in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. He was cruising along quite nicely. Then out came manager Don Mattingly. The starter had to go because his pitch count was up to 116.

So since when do you yank a guy when he's 4 outs away from throwing a no-hitter? Maybe he would have got it. and maybe not. Are we to believe another 20-30 pitches would have caused this guy's arm to fall off? Bring on the reliever, who not only blew the no-hitter but surrendered 3 runs.

Shame on Mattingly. No wonder he got broomed as the manager in LA-LA land. Besides, he was a first baseman when he played for the Yankees. What the hell did he ever know about pitching? You don't take a guy out that's closing in on a no-hitter, regardless of the pitch count -- unless he WANTS to come out for whatever reason.

The Charlotte Hornets had their shot. After winning a road game against the Miami Heat to take a 3-2 series lead, all the Carolina boys had to do was hold serve at home in Game 6 to move on in the playoffs. But they blew it. With the series now tied 3-3 and the deciding Game 7 in Miami in a couple days, their chances of advancing look slim indeed. Shame on them for not seizing the opportunity when it was there.

Shame on the media for their treatment of former Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil that was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins. So he smoked some weed a couple years ago in college. And admitted to asking for -- and receiving a few bucks to help his mother pay her electric bill.

Here's the thing. The dude was bluntly honest at his initial press conference. He owned all of it. Yes, it happened, he said. But now the vultures want to pile on because he -- horrrors! -- told the truth? He should be commended, not vilified. Such a scenario drives the witch hunters crazy. They always want to fan the flames looking for another "sensational" story to pursue -- real or fabricated/embellished. Tunsil pretty much put out the fire by openly admitting what everybody else already knew anyway.

And get real. How many college kids never smoked dope? Or star "student-athletes" got a few bucks under the table to help them along? It's as common as a politician evading a question. Or a Kardashian posting another butt video. Or the Detroit Lions falling short of making the Super Bowl. This stuff happens all the time, year after year. Who's kidding who?

Detroit Tiger pitcher Justin Verlander has a lot of nerve. After a player on another team got busted for PED use and suspended for 80 games, JV thinks the punishment wasn't harsh enough.

Hey, isn't Verlander a member of the Players Union? Isn't the whole premise behind unions to show solidarity with one's brothers and sisters against the evil empire of management? And isn't this the same guy that's been making $20+ million a year in recent times while turning in mediocre seasons? The same guy that's been rolling in the hay with Kate Upton?

All of that could probably be overlooked, but one thing cannot. Verlander is the guy responsible for foisting his gawd-awful breakfast cereal -- Fastball Flakes -- on the public for a few more bucks he obviously didn't need. Ever tried that stuff? If not, here's a tip. Don't. I did once, yuck, and put the rest of the box out back in a bowl. Even the squirrels and chipmunks wouldn't eat it. But I did keep the empty box as a sort of reminder. It sits on a shelf with other memorabilia. Every time I glance at it and see JV's mug and the name Fastball Flakes, it just sort of makes sense. If there was ever a fastball flake.....

But Verlander thinks his union brothers should be hammered even harder for trying to scam the system, while at the same time he tried to peddle starving vulture food on Tiger fans to pad his own already bulging bank accounts even further? Really?

Shame on him.

On another note, we have the Presidential wannabes slugging it out. Most of them shamelessly slime the others while ignoring the skeletons in their own closets. The one that seems to be telling the truth, ala Laremy Tunsil above, is the one that is coming under the most fire.

Shame on us.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Ranting on the NFL draft

People do things that drive us "sorta-sane" folks crazy. Sometimes it's little kids, a significant other, a neighbor, or a nit-wit cop pulling you over only to tell you what a good driver you are. We just want to scream -- 'WHATZAMATTUH YOU?" And these are no accidents. They all do it on purpose for no other good reason than to irritate us. Which brings me to....

The NFL draft. It didn't take long for it to become grrr-worthy.

The St. Louis/LA Rams had the first overall pick. Everybody in the solar system and beyond already knew they were going to take QB Jared Goff. They'd had months to watch film, check him out at the meat market Indy combine, interview and psycho-analyze him, and probably knew more about him than his own mother did. Goff was their guy.

And then the draft officially started. Commish Roger Goodell was hailed by the usual chorus of boos and the Rams were "on the clock". So here's a question.....

Given their pick was already a no-brainer, why did they let minute after agonizing minute go by until they made the pick official? Tick, tick, tick, until the last second. A total waste of time, and irritating.

Next up were the Philadelphia Eagles. Like the Rams, their pick had been etched in stone for some time. It was going to be Carson Wentz. Everybody knew it. But they let the clock drag on as well. Tick, tick, tick. Arrgh. What is it with these people? Would they wait until the last room of their homes were engulfed in flames before calling the fire department to report a problem?

The first two picks were givens. After that, nobody knew for sure what would happen next. Joey
Bosa and Ezekiel Elliot of Ohio State would go #3 and #4 to Jacksonville and Dallas respectively. Buckeyes would continue to fly off the board. Evidently Oscar, excuse, Urban Meyer is turning out some high grade meat in Columbus these days.

Finally, with the 16th pick, the ever laughable and long-losing Detroit Lions got their shot. Name the position, and the Motown puddy-tats had a need. So they selected --- another Buckeye -- an offensive tackle named Taylor Decker to be exact. Given the history of the Lions, it probably wasn't a bad choice.

Of course the Lions and their ever-faithful media will trumpet this pick to the heavens. Decker is the guy they wanted all along, they'll claim. Believe that if you will.

It's funny how loyalties can turn so quickly in Michigan. Typically, they abhor anything Buckeye. In Ann Arbor and East Lansing, the homes of Michigan and Michigan State, Ohio State is generally regarded as a combination of ISIS and a bad case of the clap. Let's just say there's no love lost.

But when the Lions draft a Buckeye, all of a sudden he turns into a hero. All is forgiven, let the praise begin and break out the rose petals. To be sure, all in all Michigan is a much more beautiful state than Ohio -- except for the roads. To the south, starting right at the border, thoroughfares offer a smooth ride and are well maintained. To the north, it becomes more of a motorist minefield trying to dodge the craters. Given they're neighboring states and experience the same sort of weather year round, it would appear one has their act together and the other not.

Nevertheless, Taylor Decker will be a Detroit Lion. Is he happy where he went? Probably not, but a few million bucks usually has a way of soothing such sentiments.

And the Lions could have done worse. Given their foibles over the years, would we have been totally surprised if they had gotten the name wrong on draft day? The division they play in has been called the black and blue. So what if, in another moment of confusion, they filled out their draft card wrong? Combine black and blue with Taylor Decker and what do you get?

Roger Goodell stepping up to the podium and announcing that with the 16th pick of the 2016 NFL draft, the Detroit Lions have selected ---  Black and Decker? To wear the blue?

Now that would have truly been a "Taylor" made offensive tackle. Lions style.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

You know you're in trouble when....

1) You're the NFL league offices (see Roger Goodell).
You've long had a phobia about anything concerning gambling.
A maverick son of a maverick owner (Mark/.Al Davis) is talking about moving his Raider team to Las Vegas.
And a big time casino operator is on board willing to bankroll the building of a gaudy new stadium in Sin City.
You can huff and puff all you want, but there's little you can do to stop it if a couple billionaires get together and decide to make it happen.
[On that note, how stupid are the people running the Oakland Coliseum where the Raiders currently play? They want the Raiders to stay, but quadrupled their rent from $925,000 a year to $3,500,000? Further, if you were the owner, where would you rather hang out? The armpit of Oakland or the glitz of Vegas?]

2) Your name is Brad Ausmus, the current manager of the Detroit Tigers. With supposedly the "best starting pitching staff" in all of baseball, plus a regular "murderer's row" batting line-up last year -- your team finished in the basement of their own division. In the off-season, your bosses went out and spent countless millions on free agents to shore up the roster. Now you find your team wallowing around .500, are already 5 games behind, and April isn't over yet. Plus, you're a lame duck manager on the last year of his contract.

3) You think you know for sure what's going to happen next in the wacky case of Johnny Manziel. He's done some dumb things along the way like most guys his age do. Yet now you have to wonder what kind of idiot he has representing him. Accused of misdemeanor assault, Johnny Football was recently -- drum roll please -- INDICTED on such a "heinous" crime against humanity. But his lawyer says video will show his former girlfriend was the aggressor. Could be. Roll tape and let's find out. Seems simple enough. In the meantime, JM was booked and quickly released on a $1500 bond. Chump change. Now his brilliant mouth-piece has claimed Johnny won't "surrender" until the day of the next hearing. Well, duh. When's the last time you heard of an accused person free on bond deciding he'd rather sit in jail instead while waiting for the "wheels of justice" to creep along at their usual snail's pace? Johnny might currently not have a team to play for, but his lawyer isn't doing him any favors mentioning the word "surrender" -- over a measly misdemeanor the same counselor claims he never committed in the first place. It only fuels media hype -- which is the LAST thing he needs right now. Where did he find this guy? In the Yellow Pages under WTF?

4) You're a long-suffering Detroit Lions season ticket holder. The team just raised its prices again and you bought into it -- again -- thinking this just might be the year. At the same time, you're furiously cramming for an upcoming MENSA exam to determine if you're smart enough to belong in the elite brain club. You can't have it both ways. They are mutually exclusive.

5) You just happen to be the guy that went on social media -- to much fanfare -- and swore he'd get NHL Commish Gary Bettmann's face tattooed on his -- um -- nether regions if the LA Kings and Chicago Black Hawks both got bounced in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Guess what happened? They be gone and he be headed for some rather embarrassing lifetime ink if he's a man of his word. And what kind of fool would expose himself to such a possibility -- however remote -- in the first place? What was the upside? A few more likes or hits if the overwhelmingly probable happened? As Bugs Bunny would have said -- what a maroon.

6) Your name is Sam Bradford. Your team, the Philadelphia Eagles, recently signed a back-up QB to the tune of $8 million per year. Then they just traded up to get the #2 overall pick in the draft. It's a no-brainer they'll pick whichever QB between Jared Goff and Carson Wentz the Rams DON'T pick at #1. You've been injury prone like Evel Knievel over your career. You have a losing record and sorry QB stats along the way. Now you want to go elsewhere -- but no other team has stepped up to show any interest. So here's an idea, Sam. Just shut up and collect the millions the Eagles still seem dumb enough to pay you. The best job in the NFL is making mega-bucks while standing on the sidelines and not having to get pounded on the field. That pride thing sometimes has a way of landing you in operating rooms and then months of rehab. Hello???

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NBA playoffs and turning worms

Once upon a time not long ago, the LA Clippers had a shot at greatness this year. Could they finally win a championship? Nah, of course not. Forget that. They weren't even going to get to the Conference Finals -- a place they've never been before -- let alone winning two more playoff rounds to capture the title. That was NEVER going to happen.

Yet with the injury to Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, most thought the Clips had a shot, however slim, of pulling off an upset in the second round against the defending champs. And then calamity struck. In the same Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers, "star" point guard Chris Paul broke his hand and "stud" Blake Griffin managed to yank his quad out of shape -- again. Both are lost for the remainder of the playoffs.

Without them, the team Donald Sterling finally built into a kinda sorta contender appears to be in big trouble. Many think they won't even get past the Blazers for a SHOT at the Warriors. With the series tied 2-2 and the RipCity bunch knowing their opponents just lost their two best players -- it wouldn't come as much of a surprise if the Blazers, already youthfully confident, sent the Clips packing for yet another season. It was going to happen anyway, but few thought it would be this soon.

But that's how fast things can happen when it comes to injuries dooming a team. Ya never know.

In the other Western Conference semis, Okla City will cede home court advantage to San Antonio. The Thunder have two super-starrish players in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and are a dancing, flashy, trash-talking bunch. Meanwhile, the Spurs have been grinding it out all year quietly playing -- well -- Spurs basketball. It would be quite the upset indeed if the Okies found a way to dispatch Coach Pop's Alamolanders. But again, ya never know. Though the Spurs are probably the deepest team in the NBA, a couple bang-bang injuries to key players could change that equation as well.

It's long been the consensus that San Antonio and Golden State would slug it out in the Western Conference finals. After all, they were clearly the best two teams all year long. The edge probably went to GS. But with Steph Curry being out for 2-3 weeks, who knows how effective he'll be if and when he returns? Another worm may have turned.

In the East, it's been almost a given the Cleveland Cavaliers would waltz through the playoffs to reach the NBA Finals. They swept the hapless Detroit Pistons in the opening round, will likely have little trouble with whoever survives the Boston/Atlanta series in the semis, nor face a serious threat by either Miami/Charlotte/Toronto/Indy that emerges from the other bracket to make the Conference Finals.

Pencil them in. Unless catastrophe strikes. Remember, last year the Cavs actually led the Warriors 2-1 in the NBA Finals. And that was without the services of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Sure, the Dubs put the petal to the metal for the next three games to claim the championship.

Can Lebron James finally bring a title to his beloved Cleveland? Maybe. With him, and a healthy supporting cast, the Cavs definitely have a legitimate shot against whoever comes out of the West.

But what if it doesn't work out that way? The NBA Finals are still a month away. Lots of things could happen in the interim. His all-world talents notwithstanding, one Lebron Ramone James has been blessed over his many years in the league by remaining relatively injury free. If HE goes down, for whatever reason, the Cavs get very vulnerable in a hurry. Lebron can carry a team all by himself at times, but the team cannot carry itself without him. Look what happened to the Cavs after he originally left. And the Heat a couple years ago.

Sure, he's in great shape. So were Steph Curry, Chris Paul, and Blake Griffin. Those were all freak injuries as well.

But sometimes worms turn in a decidedly bad way for a player and, hence, his team's chances.

Ya just never know what might happen next......

Monday, April 25, 2016

Which is funnier/more pathetic?

Watching LA Clipper DeAndre Jordan dressed in drag while doing dopey insurance commercials, or seeing him on the court with his even MORE ridiculous natural hairdo? Of course, a third option shouldn't be overlooked. That would be when DJ steps to the free-throw line and shoots like he was instantly transformed into a Cheech and Chong character of old -- Blind Melon Chitlin.

Listening to Marv Albert call an NBA game, or the uniforms the Portland Trail Blazers wear? Old toupee Marv will work himself up into a frenzy before the contest is thirty seconds old. The score can be 2-2 and he's already screaming like a banshee on 'roids like this is the greatest thing that ever happened.
On the other hand are the Blazers. What gives with their uniforms saying RipCity? What happened to "Portland"? Then again RipCity might be appropriate. As in, the only pro sports team they have is the Blazers, and they'll be laid to rest quickly in the playoffs -- again. R.I.P. indeed.

The various cluster**** of boxing federations or the UFC controlled by Emperor Dana White?
In boxing, there's always at least three world champions in any given weight class. The weight classes themselves have become almost undecipherable. As just one example, it used to be a welterweight was 147 pounds. But now there's junior-welterweights which make them the same as super-lightweights, and super welterweights are junior-middleweights. And there's titles for all of them. But somehow the very same guy at the very same weight can theoretically fight for 6 or 8 different world titles. It's insanity. Crazier than Charles Barkley's golf swing.

What's that? DeAndre hit the rim with a charity toss? He's getting warmer.....

In the UFC, Conor McGregor was scheduled to fight a rematch with Nick Diaz. And then he wasn't. Rumors surfaced the Irishman had retired. CM quickly and emphatically came out and said he was NOT retired and fully intended to fight on the card of UFC 200. But then he couldn't. The above-mentioned Dana White, lord and master of all things octagon, decreed the fight was off. The reason? McGregor hadn't promoted it enough. Um, aren't fighters supposed to fight and leave the promoting to the shysters?

Oh wow. Jordan make a free throw. Dang, it's a miracle. Why was he at the free-throw line in the first place? Because he got kinda, sorta, maybe fouled while -- missing a dunk. Sort of evens out.

Nevertheless, boxing and mixed martial arts remain the only sports where nobody in attendance or watching on TV knows what the score is until the game is all over. How nutty is that? Worse yet, the "judges" have occasionally gone backwards in time to change their scores of a previous round during the bout. They saw it live and scored it, but in hindsight changed their minds? Wouldn't that be like adding or subtracting a couple runs or points in a baseball or football game after they've already been tallied? Such a concept is ludicrous -- always has been -- and ripe for all manners of corruption.

Whose stance is dumber? The NFL's or Tom Brady's over the "Deflategate" affair? It's dragged on for months. First Brady was suspended for 4 games. Then a federal court set that aside. He's back. Oops. Maybe not. An appellate court reversed that decision and #12 is looking at having September off again. But wait, it could be appealed yet again. Maybe all the way to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, both the league and Brady are likely spending millions on attorneys' fees. The high-priced mouthpieces are just that. By the time they get done with their "billable hours" -- on both sides -- they could probably pool their money and BUY a team.

And do you really think the Supremes would take up such a case? Good grief, they're running a judge short what with the Prez and Congress at political odds. Even if they did hear it, it would likely be months down the road. And what happens if there's a 4-4 tie when it's all over? More millions for the lawyers and nothing has changed.

Here's an idea they should have considered in the first place. Split the difference with a "no contest". Brady admits no guilt and the suspension is reduced to TWO games. Standing on principle can get mighty expensive both ways, and over what? The same amount of air a 5 year-old child needs to blow out her birthday cake candles? And in a game that was a blow-out itself? Forget the legacy crap. Brady will always be viewed by some as a cheater. The league will always be viewed as being heavy-handed by others.

Add it all up and what do you have? The proverbial lady-finger firecracker being turned into a weapon of mass destruction by the hypesters, while the lawyers continue to rake in the mega-dough arguing over it. In a way it's funny, but in another pathetic and stupid.

Which is more comical? The fact Tiger Woods registered to play in this year's US Open being OMG big news, or the foibles of former Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman?

Unless all the other golfers start hitting golf balls like DeAndre Jordan shoots free throws, Tiger doesn't have a prayer of winning.

Josh Norman, in his infinite wisdom, decided not to sign the franchise tag the Panthers had put on him. Had he done so, he would have made around $16 million a year for the next few. Not too shabby for a 29 year old corner. Then the Panthers woke up and realized the obvious. Why would they want to pay a guy that's past his prime guaranteed mega-bucks, and whose stats weren't all that great anyway, when they can draft a much younger corner and get him at a fraction of the price? So they yanked the offer off the table.

Alas, Josh, realizing the errors of his egotistical ways, made a last-ditch effort to sign the original offer. The team was no longer interested. Oops. Snooze ya lose.

So now JN is gone from a Super Bowl caliber team only to land with the woeful Washington Redskins.

At about half the money he could have had in the first place.

Funny? Pathetic? Or maybe just a bad -- repeat BAD -- idea?


Sunday, April 24, 2016

The wacky world of DUH

Well gee. Let's see. LA Lakers coach Byron Scott won't be returning next year. BS (appropriately enough) posted a two-year win-loss mark of 38-126. The Lakers finished over FIFTY games behind in their own division. That's quite a feat given an 82 game schedule. I wouldn't trust this guy to mow my lawn or super-size me at a drive-through let alone keep him in charge of running a professional sports franchise. DUH.

Why is it the 4-letter network insists on force-feeding Americans the results/highlights of soccer games played abroad? Nobody in the USA cares about what happens in the English Premier League. Or the Spanish one. Or Portuguese. Or Mexican. Do you really think the BBC and/or their Latino broadcasting comrades elsewhere are showing the same results of daily Major League Baseball games? Of course not. They and their viewers couldn't care less. So quit it. DUH.

Uh-oh. Another chapter in the wacky world of Johnny Manziel is about to unfold. Sources confirm Johnny Football will be -- drum roll please -- "formally indicted". No doubt the talk show circuit and social media will go berserk. Thing is, it's only a misdemeanor charge alleging inappropriate behavior towards his girlfriend. Maybe he did it, and maybe he didn't. Or maybe it was self-defense and justified. If it happened at all. Nobody knows until it plays out. If it plays out. Maybe a "settlement" will be reached and it all goes away. In the meantime, count on the media to bandy about heavy words like "assaultive" behavior and " violence" like he's some sort of homicidal lunatic running around with a chain saw. Hey, it's only a misdemeanor. Even if convicted, the worst that could happen to JM is a little jail time, a small fine, and probation. But leave it to the media to make the proverbial mountain out of a molehill. It is what it is, no more, and maybe it never was at all. The hype that is sure to come can be summed up in one three letter word. DUH.

Speaking of being aggressive, recent Sports Illustrated model Hailey Clauson has evidently decided to take up boxing, of all things. She says it improves her hand speed. That would seem to beg the obvious question. Just where, pray tell, might the lovely Ms. Clauson need faster hands? The boudoir? Interestingly enough, her initials, HC, are the same as a current Presidential candidate. Maybe said candidate could have used faster hands herself back in the day. Make of that what you will.

Nonetheless, dear Hailey claims boxing allows her to channel a powerful and aggressive side that leaves her feeling she can conquer anything. Hmm. Maybe she should give the other HC a call. They seem to have something in common.

If we can safely assume Clauson's boxing prowess isn't exactly yet on a par with world-class fighters, it's probably a good idea if she avoids getting into the Octagon with one of them any time in the near future. DUH.

But what sports fan wouldn't pony up big pay-per-view bucks to see the "Match of the Century"?

HC Sr. taking on HC Jr. in a cage match. Call it "Swimsuit vs Pantsuit". Or the "Thrilla with the Hilla". "Bunny/Money?"  "Howdy/Dowdy?"  "Rump/Frump?"  "Causing some chatter" against "What does it matter?" The promotional possibilities are endless.

By all means, bring it on. But not until the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs are over. No sane American sports fan is going to plop down $79,99 on such a spectacle until the really important stuff is over. That would make about as much sense as giving the above-mentioned Byron Scott a long-term contract renewal or programming the DVR to record those foreign soccer scores. DUH.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Detroit sports. Not good

The Detroit Red Wings were dispatched in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs -- again. Though they've been mediocre for the last several years, the Wings appear to be trending downward for the future. In other words, it's probably going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

The Detroit Pistons -- who haven't played in Detroit since Jimmy Carter was the President (1978) -- will soon be eliminated as well from this year's playoffs. The only question would seem to be Cleveland's to answer.

Now up 3-zip over the out-of -Motowners, how do they approach game 4? Would it be better to go for the sweep, hence giving their players several days of rest before the next series? Or should they dial it back and maybe let the Pistons win a game? If the latter, Cleveland gets another home playoff game -- a major cha-ching for owner Dan Gilbert. Strangely enough, DG has recently been investing big bucks to rebuild the downtown area of -- Detroit?? Huh? No wonder he can't win anything. The dude doesn't even know what city his loyalties lie with.

After a quick start, the Detroit Tigers have thudded back into their own reality. Maybe a .500 team or a little better. While hope always "springs eternal" -- and anything can happen -- they don't appear destined to be a serious contender, much less an elite team. True, they made a few off-season moves attempting to shore up various deficiencies -- and they had a lot of them last year -- but the chances of them making any noise in the post-season likely aren't good. They still have too many flaws, and potential ones, that will likely be exposed as the dog days of the long season drag on. Hey, last year they were cellar dwellers in their own division. Maybe they move up a notch or two, but thinking the puddy-tats are championship material this year is -- well -- far-fetched.

The Detroit Lions? What can you say that history hasn't already spoken volumes of? Every pre-season they'll trumpet their draft choices to the heavens. Maybe land a free-agent or two that is a "game-changer". Every few leap-years they might shuffle the front office personnel. Along the way they've gone through more clown coaches than the Shriner's circus. One generation after another of players has come and gone. And in the last six decades -- count-em-- SIXTY YEARS they've won a grand total of ONE playoff game. Fifty Super Bowls have been played and the Lions are one of only four teams to have never even gotten there -- let alone won it. The other three are expansion teams. The "new" Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Like Barry Sanders before him, Calvin "Megatron" Johnson had had enough and retired rather than continuing to play for a lost cause. Both left countless millions of dollars on the table with likely a few very good years still in their gas tanks. Barry could have set the all-time rushing record so high it would never be approached again. Calvin was their go-to guy. When in doubt, QB Matthew Stafford heaved the ball in the general direction of Johnson, and he'd find a way to catch it. Barry's in the Hall of Fame and Calvin likely will be someday. It truly is a shame such magnificent talents trudged for so many years without ever getting within sniffing distance of the "promised land".

The Lions aren't going anywhere this year either. Besides the absence of Calvin Johnson, they have deficiencies galore. The O-line is still in flux. Nary a feature running back. Lots of tight ends, but this one can't catch, that one can't block, and the other can't stay healthy. The D-line holds its own, but is hardly ferocious. A linebacker corps that is average at best. Their secondary remains somewhat Keystone Koppish. Even head coach Jim Caldwell is a dubious presence. He has a long history of being a great "coordinator" working under other successful head coaches elsewhere, but his track record suggests he doesn't have the "right stuff" to be the guy calling the shots. Call it the Peter Principle if you will. Give him another year -- maybe two -- and he'll be on his way out of town as well. The scrap heap of Lions head coaches is sizable indeed. What is interesting is that none of them in the past -- not a one -- has ever gone on to become a head coach elsewhere in the NFL. In the modern world of the "good-ole-boys" head coaching carousel going round and round, that's a glaring statistic. Translation? Detroit is where head coaches go to do two things. Make a bunch of money from the Ford family, and watch their head coaching possibilities in the future go poof.

All in all, things aren't looking good in the Detroit world of professional sports these days. Or likely in the near future either.

Retire. Please

All season long, 82 excruciating games worth, Kobe Bryant was given the Pope treatment. He was some sort of super-hero to be idolized every place he went. Thank God, he has finally retired.

There are many others.

Brett Favre retired, unretired, and re-retired to the point of being nauseating. He didn't seem to know whether he was going or coming back. It appears he's done too, save for dopey TV commercials.

Over the hill hoopsters like Vince Carter and Paul Pierce keep hanging on with whatever team will still have them. They need to go. Please.

Robert Griffin III somehow remains newsworthy. Maybe this NFL team will take him, or maybe that one. Thing is -- since he came out of college -- he's pretty well stunk it up for the Washington Redskins. Not only were his stats bad, but he can't even stay healthy. Who needs a guy like that quarterbacking their team? Please go away.

Another super-hero was one Eldrick Tont Woods. He tore up the golf circuit for about a decade winning all kinds of stuff. But now his game is in a shambles, and he can't stay healthy either. Tiger needs to hang it up before he embarrasses himself any more than he already has. A comeback? Forget that. Ain't gonna happen. Not a chance. For once, he needs to do something gracefully and bow out.

Peyton Manning finally, thank you Lord, rode off into the sunset. Sure he and the Broncos won the Super Bowl, but that was in spite of Manning. He stunk it up all year, including in the SB, but the Denver defense overwhelmed the Carolina Panthers. Old chicken neck that never saw an endorsement he didn't like -- be gone. Let us give thanks.

Mercifully, the likes of Regis Philbin, William Shatner, and most of the Gumbel boys have faded away. And we haven't seen a Baldwin shamelessly hyping himself or whatever else in a while.

Alas, they have been replaced by Kardashians, politicians, and moronic talking heads on sports channels. The former will go away eventually-- like the Gabors once did -- but we're likely stuck with the shysters running for office and the breathless stat spouting drivel (everybody's the greatest) of the 4-letter network yappyheads. These people will get orgasmic over the mundane. It's like they never saw anybody dunk a basketball before. Or make a leaping/diving catch. Or sink a 20 foot putt. Any home run in baseball over 400 feet is considered a "monster shot". It's like they wake up in a new world every day.

Some time ago, people like Sparky Anderson and Jim Leyland were finally put out to pasture. When they had great talent on their teams -- they won. When they didn't -- they lost. Pretty simple. Smoking a pipe and/or growling words of pseudo-wisdom to the press was nothing but smoke and mirrors all along. Only the people that WANTED to believe in such nonsense bought into it. Kind of like the above-mentioned politicos and/or hard-core sports fan cough-taters that think Trey Wingo deserves his own book in the Bible. That dude plays to the camera like your average hooker plays to a Cadillac Escalade with tinted windows rolling down her street.

Idle thought: If so many dudes in the NBA want to express their individualism -- than why are they all covered with the same prison-looking tats in the same colored ink? Good luck trying to decipher what any of that graffiti on their body is supposed to mean. Maybe THEY know. Or maybe they don't, and just think it's somehow cool. Regardless, it comes across as a sign of trying to look tough. Hey, NBA players are decidedly not tough. They might be a little more alpha male-ish than the ladies on the LPGA circuit -- or even Major League Baseball players -- and for sure the soccer wimps -- but for guys that want to project a he-man image -- they sure seem to whine and cry a lot over the slightest contact. Instead of the tats turning them into Supermen -- are they turning them into Barney Fifes instead? I dunno, but it looks that way at times.

On a more somber note, God has a way of retiring people. Eventually, it applies to everybody. The late William Clay Ford, long-time hapless owner of the Detroit Lions, was recalled into the heavenly land of Edsels a couple years ago. Perhaps many Lions' fans breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, it was sad old Willie had to pass on, but at least they could get a fresh start to hopefully a better future.

Not so fast. His 90-year old widow Martha and their daughters inherited the team. Good luck with that. If and when Martha is "retired", the girls will take over. And then probably THEIR kids, and grandkids in the future.

The only way the Lions ever become competitive is for the Ford family to sell them to someone that knows how to properly run an NFL franchise. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, needs to retire more from the football business than the Ford family. It would benefit the team, the city, and the long-suffering fans.

But the chances of that happening? Likely about the same as Peyton, Kobe, Brett, Tiger, and the ever lovable former Captain Kirk never showing up in a future stupid commercial. Or a Kardashian "mooning" it up with a "selfie" they can't wait to post on social media or the internet for -- ahem -- maximum exposure.

Don't hold your breath........

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Red Wings bow out

The fact the Detroit Red Wings lost an opening round playoff series to Tampa Bay (4-1) came as little surprise. The Lightning were clearly the superior team, even without the services of their two best players.

Yet several things in the deciding Game 5 were surprising indeed. For most of the game, the Red Wings carried the play. They gave Tampa Bay all they could handle on their home ice. Credit the Motowners for roaring back with a fine effort after being considered all but dead.

Actually, the Red Wings should have won the game. But two crucial factors reared their ugly heads.

Detroit had four -- count-em -- FOUR clean cut breakaways to skate in on the TB goaltender. They couldn't put a single one in the net. Great goaltending? Perhaps. But highly skilled shooters at point-blank range aren't supposed to miss that many times in a row.

As the game wound down -- still scoreless -- it appeared headed for overtime. Anything could happen. First goal wins. If Detroit got it, they would have been down 3-2 in the series, headed back home for Game 6 -- and who knows?

But in the closing seconds, they pulled another bonehead. Again, four -- count-em -- FOUR Detroit defenders had their own net surrounded. Yet somehow a single Tampa Bay player swooped in and scored a goal from just a couple feet away.

Tampa Bay 1, Detroit 0. Though the Red Wings got a last ditch power-play, which amounted to a two man advantage with their own goalie pulled, they never seriously threatened to score the tying tally.

Tick, tick, tick, and the clock finally read 0:00. Tampa Bay won and moves on. Detroit flies home and the players scatter to the winds for another long off-season. Though the Wings can proudly say they've made it to the playoffs for 25 straight years, they haven't made it out of the second round for the last seven.

In the bigger picture, does/did anybody really care about who made the playoffs, in whatever sport, only to be quickly bounced? It's a double-edged sword. A team owner gets some major cha-chings for home playoff dates, with the ticket prices being even more outrageous than usual. Their rabid fans will climb all over each other and pony up whatever big bucks are necessary for the privilege of scoring some tickets.

But the fact his team DID make the playoffs means they slide down in the draft the following year, plus, theoretically, are slapped with a "tougher" schedule by the league. Barely sneaking into the playoffs only to get quickly eliminated has its pros and cons.

Nevertheless, the Red Wings are history for another year. They put up a valiant effort against a superior team, but the outcome from the start seemed almost inevitable.

Lucky breaks here, goalposts clanked there, and weird bounces of the puck -- both ways. Throw in missed opportunities and a "bonehead" at a crucial time, and 4-1 is just about right.

Best team won.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Detroit Pistons and silliness

The once proud franchise has become silly in several ways. Let's look at a few of them.

Once upon a time, late and long-time owner Bill Davidson built a jewel of a venue called the Palace for his team to play in. It was in the 'burbs and didn't displace homeowners through the dreaded "eminent domain". Though a bit "out of town", the Palace was easily accessible. A freeway ran close by and it was/is located on a main thoroughfare.

But here's the kicker. He did it entirely with his own money. No shady dealings to con the taxpayers into financing such a venture. He wanted it, he built it, and he paid for it. Plus, he was also the first owner to buy a private jet-liner for his team to fly in to and from road games. Again, with his own money. It was appropriately dubbed Roundball One. The man had class.

And then he died. His much younger widow Karen inherited the team, the Palace, and a world-class outdoor concert venue which was forever known as Pine Knob. True, that name has changed since an electric company ponied up big bucks for the naming rights, but they still haven't figured out how to keep the lights on during a storm.

It became quickly apparent Karen had little interest in running such an empire. So she cashed out. Enter equity fund extraordinaire Tom Gores -- another billionaire. He now owns the whole works.

What is Karen doing these days? Nobody seems to know. But with the mega-bucks she got from TG, she probably could have bought herself a tropical island somewhere populated with a battalion or so of hunky dudes to keep her -- ahem -- entertained. Somewhere, life is good for the former Mrs. D.

In the interim, Tom Gores has made a few moves. First he pumped umpteen million bucks into the Palace to "upgrade" it. Then rumors surfaced he might be entertaining the notion of moving the team back to Detroit in yet another new arena. That seemed silly. Why spend a bunch of money to spiff up an already excellent venue only to consider a re-lo? And if he DID move the team -- who -- pray tell would want to purchase the Palace? It made no sense.

To his credit, he broomed the former "front office" personnel and brought in his own people. Former Piston great Joe Dumars had once built a championship team, but over the years his boneheaded moves led the team into the nether regions of the league. The players weren't good and they had salary cap problems. Joe had to go.

In an astounding turn of events, Gores hired Stan Van Gundy as not only his President, but also head coach -- with two general managers in between. So if the coach reports to TWO general managers (ever hear of that before?), but they report to the same coach as President -- who the hell's in charge anyway? More silliness.

And now the Detroit Pistons find themselves tangling with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round of this year's NBA playoffs. A #8 seed going up against a #1 with home court advantage. Good luck with that. It will be a short playoff run.

The DEE-troit faithful and their ever homerish media would have us believe the Pistons can hang with the Cavs. That can be summed up in three words.

No -- they -- can't.

Lebron and Co. appear frustrated, almost bored, that they have to go through the motions of dispatching such a clearly inferior team. Yes, the Pistons have led in both the first two games they would wind up losing, but the Cavs turn on the jets just enough in the latter portions of the game to rack up wins. They have bigger fish to fry.

At that, the Pistons have some serious silliness on their own roster. Consider Reggie Jackson, presumably the namesake of the baseball player once dubbed "Mr. October". The original RJ clouted a bunch of mammoth home runs, but he was also the all-time leader in strike-outs. Plus, he was a terrible defensive outfielder, didn't have much of an arm, and was slow on the basepathes. Old Reg was known as a bit of a loose-cannon back in the day, but he made it into the Hall of Fame -- go figure.

The current Reg of the Pistons is also somewhat of a loose-cannon. At times he can be a terrific player, at least by Detroit standards, but he doesn't appear to be wrapped too tight. His childish emotional outbursts (tantrums) on occasion aren't exactly the stuff one would expect of a seasoned professional. Maybe that's what got him ran out of Oklahoma City.

The Pistons' best player is widely viewed as one Andre Drummond. He's a big guy that can score in bunches and snag rebounds galore. He's also getting paid very well -- somewhere in the $20 million range.

So here's a question. How can such a "talent" step up to the free-throw line and suddenly turn into Stevie Wonder with his charity tosses? We're not talking Shaqish bricks -- we're talking air-balls. From the dang free-throw line. Eight year old kids, great-grandmothers, and even trained kangaroos could shoot freebies from 15 feet with more accuracy than Drummond. It's shameful -- and definitely silly.

Parting thought. If I'm Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavs, I pass down the word to my coaching staff to back off on the minutes the starters play, even if it means letting the Pistons win at least one game of the next two on their home court. We can take these guys whenever we want to.

But a Game 5 back in Cleveland is a major cha-ching for me.

And don't be surprised if exactly that happens.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Detroit Red Wings and the down button

It's going to happen, likely as soon as next year. That would be the Red Wings missing the playoffs. The winged-wheelers and their fans take great pride in having made it to the post-season 25 years in a row.

In essence, given that fully half the teams in the NHL qualify for the playoffs, it translates to the Motowners being better-than-average for a quarter century. Impressive in one way, perhaps not so much in another.

This year in particular, the Wings squeaked into the playoffs at the last second -- again.

It should be noted that since their recent glory days during the Bush Jr. Presidency, the Red Wings haven't survived even the first round of the playoffs after some guy named Obama moved into the Oval Office. Let's just say it's been a while.

And this year looks to be no different.

Now down 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, another early exit from the playoffs is almost assured.
While the Detroit faithful thought there may be a glimmer of hope after their heroes narrowly won Game 3 at home after falling behind 2-zip in Tampa, it was nothing more than a mirage. Fool's gold.

TB is clearly the far superior team, even with their two best players still out with injuries.

In Game 4 in Detroit, the Lightning out-skated, out-checked, out-shot, and all-around out-played the Wings from start to finish. The final score of a 3-2 Tampa victory hardly gives it justice. It shouldn't have been that close.

It's theoretically possible the Wings could storm back and win the next three games to move on -- but so could Jeb or Marco do the same to become the next President. One could get very long odds on any of those bets coming in.

Thing is, the future appears bleak for the Red Wings. Consider their two best players. Pavel Datsyuk will be leaving after this season to return to his native Russia. Though widely hailed as a superstar in Detroit over the years, his career stats belie such a notion. PD has played over 900 games and scored a little north of 300 goals. One tally every three games. On average, he found the back of the net about 28 times a year. Not bad, but hardly eye-popping.

Henrik Zetterberg is quickly approaching a Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant stage of his career. In other words, he's getting up in years and his production has predictably fallen off. It's likely a safe bet that won't get any better in the future.

Their goalie situation remains in flux. In Detroit, hasn't it always been so? One guy can be a hero for a few games, then get yanked after being shelled for the next few contests. Hero to bum in goal can happen quickly in Detroit. Even during their Stanley Cup glory years of yore, the Red Wings have historically been quite fickle with what guy they want between the pipes. Such a philosophy isn't exactly a confidence booster to the goalies involved.

Hey, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers gets shelled once in a while himself, but you don't see them demoting him to the bullpen. Same with Mathew Stafford, the QB of the Detroit Lions. He stinks it up here and there with bone-headed throws and decisions, but he'll be right back out there for the next series and certainly the next game. If a guy is a team's #1 dude at a particular position, you don't kick him to the curb after a bad outing. It happens. Why should it be any different with goalies?

The Red Wings have a lot of young players -- sometimes called "prospects". They show occasional flashes of brilliance, but at other times are exposed as the mediocre wannabes they truly are. The pressure of Stanley Cup playoff hockey has a way of sorting out the men from the boys. Just flying around the ice at full speed won't get it done. There has to be a mental team aspect to the game as well to succeed. In that respect, the Wings are sorely lacking.

While they have only been outscored 11-8 through the first four games of the TB series, it likely should have been far more lopsided. The Lightning have clanged the goal posts repeatedly and carried the play throughout. To their credit, the Wings have capitalized on bang-bang plays here and there to keep it at least respectable.

But make no mistake. TB is vastly outplaying Detroit even without it's two best players.

And when this season is done for the Wings, which will probably be shortly, consider the "down" button on their elevator officially pushed.

It won't get any better next year, only worse.

Hey, they won a few Cups and had a good run regarding the playoffs in the last couple decades.

But all signs point to them going into a down cycle for a while. They've been hanging on by their chinny-chin-playoff beards for the last few years.

And let's get real. "Hockeytown" ain't what it used to be. As in everybody wants to play there. It's no secret many coveted free-agent stars have taken less money to play somewhere else in recent times. It's like they DON'T want to come to Detroit. Anyplace but that.

As Bob Dylan once famously sang -- times-- they are a-changin.

Owner Mike Ilitch can build his new arena, though it was totally unnecessary in the first place. There's not a damn thing wrong with Joe Louis Arena, other than he doesn't like the location.

So enter the dreaded "eminent domain" where a few hundred or thousand people get kicked out of their homes -- and many small businesses brushed aside. These will all be demolished to make way for the pizza billionaire's newest bauble.

The cruelest irony of all is these same people -- along with other fellow tax-payers -- will wind up paying for most of it.

But like one can put make-up on an oinker -- in the end it's still a pig. A sparkling new arena isn't going to help the Red Wings' become any more competitive in the near future any more than Kobe Bean or Eldrick Tont getting a new endorsement will rejuvenate their athletic careers

Sometimes -- it's just time.

The elevator has to go down eventually too, you know.

Monday, April 18, 2016

From Jordan Spieth

The following is all a figment of this author's imagination, but how cool would it be to hear......

Hi. My name is Jordan Spieth. If you're a golf fan, you know who I am.

Not long ago, much was made regarding my "meltdown" on the final nine holes of this year's Masters Tournament. I had it, and then I didn't have it. A bad shot here and there, plus butchering the 12th hole for a quadruple bogie pretty much sums it up.

Here's a little inside info. Yes, I did mention to my caddie, Micheal Greller, that we appeared to be collapsing. But few people know Mike looked at me and said, "Hey, what do you mean WE? I give you the best advice I can, but you're the guy that has to hit the shots. It's hardly my fault you went into duffer mode for a half hour or so". He was right, of course.

People think I was somehow crushed by not only blowing this tournament, but also having to put the green jacket on Danny Willett when it was all over. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I did the best I could, but came up short. It happens.

Look at it this way.

I'm only 22 years old and already a millionaire several times over. I get to travel the world playing on the finest courses while my sponsors pick up the tab for air fare, fancy hotel accommodations, wardrobe, meals, night-life -- the works. And make no mistake, there's no shortage of sponsors, or even potential ones, that want a piece of MY action.

Yes, the Masters could have turned out better, but I'm hardly losing any sleep over it. All the gibberish of past ghosts and goblins haunting Augusta National is nothing more than just that -- gibberish. I could care less about what happened to the likes of Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, and others on that course in the past. And some former CEO of the course blew his brains out on the grounds long before I was born? Too bad, but that was HIS problem.

At the end of the tournament I earned almost $900,000. After I gave Michael his 10% caddie fee and paid taxes, it's still around a half million bucks for four days work. Bet you wish you had a job like that.

It never ceases to amaze me how important the "rankings" are to so many people. Everywhere you look, it's a numbers game. There's the FedEx Cup standings, earnings to date, and stats from hell when it comes to the game itself. Percentage of fairways hit. Sand saves. Greens in regulation. Number of one or two putts per round, and a bazillion others.

Personally, I don't care about all that junk. The whole point is to take fewer strokes than the other guys over 72 holes worth of play. If you can do that -- you win. If not -- you don't. Pretty simple.

Winning tournaments is great and I've been able to do that here and there -- including a couple majors. But it's not the end of the world -- at least not mine -- when another player or players out-duels me in any given tournament -- even the Masters. They have their traditions, and that's fine. But it's still just a golf tournament. You win some -- you come up short in most others. Such is nature of the game. The other guys are pretty good too, ya know.

What drives me crazy is the obsession over who's #1? The media and fans need such a concept far more than I do. True, I was #1 for a while, but it didn't really matter. Also true is other players seem to have put great stock in that "position" over the years. I can only surmise they viewed it as being some sort of royalty. Good for them, if that's what yanks their crank. But in my opinion, being #1 and a few bucks will get you the same burger and fries at a drive-through fast food joint.

I'm just a Texas boy that turned out to be a pretty good golfer at a pretty young age. I might win a whole slew of tournaments in the future, including several more majors -- or maybe not. I'll just keep plugging away for a few more years and see what happens.

First place and a trophy is great, but there's a whole lot of guys out here who make quite a handsome living just making cuts more often than not. Did I mention I pocketed over $500,000 at Augusta National? Call that a choke if you will, but I'm good with that. And who knows? A few more outings like that, plus cashing in on lucrative endorsements here and there -- and I might retire when I'm 30. Who says a golfer has to keep playing until he can't compete any more and then join the Senior Circuit? It might just be I've got other things in mind to do.

Someday, if the right woman comes along, maybe I'll want to get married and have kids. For now -- trust me -- I'm not exactly hurting for dates if I choose to accept them. Turns out, there's some mighty pretty girls out there that follow the tour -- or me. You'll notice not much is mentioned about my love life. I've been mostly wrapped up in golf, but remember I'm 22. As such, I'd be lying if I said the potential pleasures of the fairer sex don't occasionally cross my mind.

But for now, it's on to the next tournament I decide to play. Maybe I win, maybe I don't. Another six-figure paycheck would be nice.

The Masters is old news and life goes on. Let Augusta National live with their ghosts and goblins from the past. And let others be obsessed with their almighty numbers.

So far, life has been good indeed.

Beats handing out those burgers and fries mentioned above.....

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More dumb things

A certain fast-food franchise has been advertising "they've got the meats".
True enough, but they have the prices too -- and they're high.
What used to be a good deal on a tasty meat-packed sandwich is no more. It's become skinnier than your average anorexic fashion model.
To get the jumbo version of old, one has to order the super-duper size, which costs three times as much.
One can only imagine what the late Clara Peller would have to say if she could walk into a franchise today.
Ms. Peller's claim to fame was the classic line -- "where's the beef"?
Nowadays, it might be more like -- "It costs WHAT?"

Those lovable talking heads, analysts, and "experts" are up to their usual dumb sound bytes.
They always have and continue to tell us that any team, in any sport needs to ----

Find a way to score more goals, points, runs, etc. And, of course ---
Find another way to limit their opponents' goals, points, and runs. etc.
Evidently, such pearls of wisdom are what makes them experts.
Your average sports fan would NEVER have figured THAT out.

Not long ago, a college hoops head coach uttered another beauty, To wit:
"We can't win by trying to outscore the other team"
Really, coach? Defense is great but -- um -- isn't your team having more points than the other guys at the end of the game usually pretty much necessary to chalk up a victory?
Worse yet, a sports writer staunchly defended the coach's remark in a column the following day.
One can only wonder -- how did these guys do at math in school?

Others have been known to use the phrase -- "addition by subtraction". Evidently, they believe in the concept of less being more. Perhaps they all had the same twilight zone teacher somewhere along the line.

We've all seen overly-geeked sports reporters and talking heads talk about the "panic" syndrome. This usually happens when a local team might not make the playoffs -- or is on the verge of being eliminated. It seems they think the local populace should go into full-blown panic mode at the very thought their home-town sports team might come up short.

If that had truly been the case over the years -- and decades -- all Detroit Lions' fans would have jumped out of tall buildings or been confined (while heavily medicated) to padded rooms long ago.

And therein lies the difference. Like the proverbial lemmings, Lions' fans don't panic. They just keep paying big bucks to trudge up the cliff every year -- only to plunge to their inevitable doom. As Elmer Fudd could never bag Bugs Bunny, nor Wile E. Coyote the Road Runner, neither will the Motown lemmings ever sniff a Super Bowl. But they never panic. They and their team are too cartoonish to panic. One must have had a modicum of common sense in the first place before they can go off the deep end. Which brings me back to the lemmings. A vicious circle of dumb indeed.

But the colossally clueless award has to go to Major League Baseball. Fittingly enough on income tax day, April 15, they made every player on every team wear the uniform #42. This was a tribute to Jackie Robinson. The guy that broke the "color barrier" way back in 1947.

Robinson played ten seasons for the then Brooklyn Dodgers and his career stats were decent, but hardly spectacular. A white player putting up the same numbers for the same amount of time certainly never would have made it into the Hall of Fame, much less had his number retired league wide.

And hey, Jackie Robinson died way back in 1972. This was long before any current major league players were even born. Do you think they give a rat's behind about the "legacy" of some dude that last put on a uniform in 1956? Good grief, it's entirely possible the majority of them don't even know who or what Jackie Robinson was. With the major influx of Latino players and other foreign nationals in recent years -- many who don't even speak English -- it's not hard to imagine what they may have been thinking.

What kind of foolishness is this? We all have to wear the same number? Only in America would they mandate such a thing. And who the hell was #42 anyway? Wasn't that a guy named Clinton that got in mucho trouble over the stain on the blue dress thing? These Americanos are plum loco -- but they pay well, bless their Yanqui hearts.

But it's still dumb.....

Friday, April 15, 2016

Everybody's the greatest

Mohammed Ali once called himself the "greatest". Of course he was preceded by Jackie Gleason, also know as the "greatest". Or maybe it was Joe Louis. Wayne Gretzky was known as the "great one".

The "greatest of all-time" continues to be bandied about in scads of arenas. Was it Jimi Hendrix on guitar? Eric Clapton? Who was the greatest actor/actress in history? Was Michael Jordan the greatest hoopster? Tiger Woods the greatest golfer? Consider tennis. Are Serena and Novac the greatest of all time? Better than the body of work Martina and Roger accomplished before them? Now it's the Golden State Warriors being compared to a Chicago Bulls team of a couple decades ago. Between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who was the greatest quarterback? Or was it someone else from the past? Good grief, the argument still rages as to who was the greatest President of all-time. Or the best hitter in baseball. Or pitcher. Or pick any other position. Recently, Floyd Mayweather claimed to be the greatest. One thing for sure, Kobe Bryant had the greatest "farewell tour" of all time.

Idle thought: Back in 1939, Lou Gehrig was dying and he knew it. He got a five-minute speech in front of his home fans to say a final farewell. Kobe Bean, with the help of the media, was honored like the Pope hitting town for every one of 82 games. One was humble and had class to the end. The other was a self-perpetuating hype machine that will no doubt find a way to keep his name and mug prominent any way he can in the future. You sort them out.

A recent article in Sports Illustrated predicting the top college basketball teams of next year -- both boys and girls -- got back into the world of superlatives. Everybody seems to be the greatest.

One team has an incoming freshmen class that could conceivably feature the top two picks in the 2017 draft.
Those pesky "experts" consider another to have the nation's overall best class of recruits.
Yet another is not only expected to win their 13th conference championship in a row, but is considered a "finalist" for a "dynamic" prep forward. Gee, what could go wrong? And that's only the men.

The take on the women is even more "in-great-iating".

This team welcomes the Naismith National High School Player of the Year.
That team will be led by an All-America forward, has another post player that is the daughter of an NBA journeyman -- as if it matters -- and has the nation's top recruit on the way. The greatest.
But maybe not. Another has the country's top-ranked point guard prospect enroute.
Still another has the nation's top scorer -- and arguably greatest player of course -- plus a handful of former McDonald's All-Americans that are transferring in. Aren't they supposed to be the greatest? Even better than a sack full of McNuggets for three bucks with ranch and BBQ packets galore?

Yessirree, everybody's the greatest, but here's what I think I know ---

They'll all start to play this fall with their early patsy games and then on to their conference schedules. Throughout the season the pollsters -- to much public fanfare -- will "rank" them from 1 to 25, and beyond. These rankings will fluctuate throughout. A loss or two will see a team fall. A couple key wins will see them rise.

Then the almighty "Committee" will get together and decide who gets to play in the "great" tournament. While it's great over 60 teams are initially invited to the big dance, hence a paycheck or two and national exposure, in reality any team not in the Top 10 to begin with has little or no chance of winning the championship.

Come Final Four time, there's always a whole lot of greatness going on. The talking heads will tell you so.

But in the end, all the greatness here and greatness there will fall by the wayside, save one team that cuts down the nets and gets a parade in their hometown.

All the rest of the "greatness" stuff along the way is just hype.

Sure, hype equals money from the suckers, and the smart people have long (cha-ching) understood and capitalized on it.

Yet this whole "greatest" thing needs to be dialed back. I mean, what's next? A highly pompous gala, red carpet, limos, and first ever designer wardrobes that precedes statuettes being handed out to people that are the greatest at pretending they're something else? Or being honored as the greatest director in the parade of charades of the previous year?

Oh wait. We already have that.


And millions of people can't wait to tune in to see it every year.

Alas, this is definitely out of control.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Detroit Lions and indigestion

In theory, "parity" is a good idea. Most leagues, including the NFL, try to strike a long-term balance with the teams under their umbrella. They make it difficult for a "dynasty" to last for long.

The worst team gets the first draft pick the following year, while the Super Bowl winners go to the end of the line. Of course, this can change depending on trades for players/picks, but for the most part it's meant to keep things competitive around the league for the long haul. That, salary caps and "revenue sharing" among the franchises are built-in deterrents for any team to totally dominate the league for very long. The NFL doesn't want to see one of its teams be like the Lady Huskies of UConn basketball -- virtually unbeatable year after year while racking up one championship after another.

Sure, some teams have historically had smarter front office personnel and coaches than others. This explains why franchises such as Denver and New England are always Super Bowl threats, while others like Detroit and Cleveland have always remained in the doldrums of also-rans.

Arguably, and perhaps foolishly, the Detroit Lions fans and their media remain right up there when it comes to rooting for their home team year after year. Every year is going to be THE year -- until it's not.

And the 2016 season will likely be no different. Because they were a "bad" team last year, the Lions got handed one of the "softest" schedules for the up-coming campaign. Yet other signs are more telling.

The Motown faithful are already whining that their team will only have two national exposure games. One is the Thanksgiving day game at home, which has been a Lions tradition for decades. Somewhere along the line the Dallas Cowboys rudely crashed the party and now always play a Turkey day game at home as well. Then the TV folks figured out how much money could be made by having a third game in prime time on the same day. And so it has came to pass.

It's interesting to note the Lions will square off against the Minnesota Vikings in the 1 PM contest this year. Could it be that the NFL is trying to be digestion friendly to the football masses? After all, the family gatherings of football hordes normally don't start pigging out on their lavish spreads until maybe 3 or 4. The game will be all but over before people start digging in. And c'mon, haven't the Lions caused enough indigestion or worse over the years on Thanksgiving among TV viewers? It's not just their home crowd, but millions of other across the country trying to stifle an upchuck while being force-fed another heaping portion of the sad-sack Puddy-Tats.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be just that. A day of thanks. Do you really think NFL fans that live anywhere but in southern Michigan are grateful for the Lions being foisted on them every year when they're trying to digest a couple thousand calories worth of tasty vittles? Urp.

It's also interesting to note the Lions won't be going back to London. One can theorize. Perhaps the Brits send a message to Roger Goodell and his merry band of billionaire owners. To wit:

"While we were loathe to accommodate your brutish game of American football in the first place, we did so as a gesture of good will. However, if you continue to insist we make our beloved Wembley stadium available to you for future contests between your barbarians, we will consider it under one condition. You will bloody-well send some of your best teams across the pond. Not the likes of the Lions again. Those blokes have long been off their cups and the sorry spectacle they put on last year sent half of London scampering to the loos to kneel before what you Yanks call a toilet. An abominable waste of our fine brews and cuisine to be disposed of in such a vile premature manner".

Given the current Detroit Lions' state of affairs, roster, coaches and otherwise, most think they will slug it out with the Chicago Bears for the basement of the NFC North. The Green Bay Packers remain clearly superior and will be closely rivaled by the resurgent Minnesota Vikings.

That would seem to answer another question. Why would the TV folks and the league limit the Detroit Lions to only two games of national exposure? One of which is mandatory on Thanksgiving?

Probably because, like the Brits, nobody wants to watch them other than the long kool-aided saps in Motown that keep coming back every year dreaming the impossible dream.

Know what's truly mind-boggling? The Lions raised their ticket prices (again), and the idiots can't wait to shell out even MORE bucks to watch a clown franchise. Again.

Incredible. Only in Detroit.

Hoops round-up

The Detroit Pistons likely made a tactical error. In the last game of the regular season, they managed to squeak by the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime. Like other top teams with nothing much to play for in the regular season finale, the Cavs sat out a few of their top players.

But guess who the #1 seed Cavs get in the first round of the eastern conference playoffs? The #8 seed Pistons. Detroit going into Cleveland and handing Lebron and Co. a loss in a game that meant nothing probably wasn't a smart move. If anything, if will give the Cavs even more motivation to demolish the Pistons in the playoffs. Granted, the suburban Motowners were probably going to get broomed anyway, but why stir up a hornets' nest with nothing to gain? Should have let those sleeping dogs lie.

Mercifully, the Kobe love-fest is finally over. Has more pomp and adoration ever been bestowed on ANY athlete in ANY sport before? Well OK. Maybe Tiger.

The LA Lakers hosting the Utah Jazz was a nothing game. The Jazz had been eliminated from the playoffs and the Lakers were firmly entrenched in the basement of the western conference. Their worst team of all-time.

Yet it seemed like the media (see TV/talking heads) and those in attendance at Staples Center (see glitterati) were having one mass orgasm after another watching their hero.

Kobe Bean Bryant didn't let them down. He scored 60 points. OF COURSE he did. This is what can happen when a dude jacks up 50 shots in a single game, including 21 three-point attempts. Throw in a dozen free throws and 60 sounds about right.

People talk about his legacy. His final game cemented exactly that. The most ME player of all time went out with a bang. What nobody dares mention is how Bryant stunk it up for the last two years while saddling the franchise with a $24 million salary per season. And for what? Hype, pomp, and leading the Lakers into the bowels of the league?

Meanwhile, a few hundred miles north, Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors were making history. Getting their 73rd regular season win in a rout of the Memphis Grizzlies surpassed the 95-96 Chicago Bulls all-time record of 72.

But they set other records as well. GS became the first team ever to not lose two games in a row all year, nor lose twice to the same opponent over the 82 game season.

Curry himself has had a phenomenal year. He led the league in scoring, while shooting over 50% from the field, 45% from 3-point range, and over 90% from the free throw line. He's all but a lock to win his second MVP.

On top of that, Curry absolutely obliterated his own record for most made 3's. He went over 400 for the year in the Grizz game. THREE HUNDRED had never been done before. Dude can definitely shoot.

Besides the 73 wins, as a team the Warriors led the league in scoring, assists, and made 3's. They run, they pass, they defend, and they're deep. Like them or not, few would disagree they're the most "fun" team to watch. Even some guy named Jordan has conceded that.

So somebody tell me one more time -- with them going on at the same time -- which would any objective hoops fan rather have watched?

1) A career-long egotistical selfish player -- that's lately been terrible while playing for a terrible team -- limp to the finish line amid LA-LA land hoopla in a nothing game -- or

2) Possibly the best team of all time set multiple records, both individual and team, in the last game of the regular season?

This was not even a close call. See ya, Kobe. It's been real and go away smug if you if will but, please, just go away. Though they'd never admit it, the Laker front office is probably glad to finally be shed of him and his ridiculous albatross salary.

Bring on the playoffs......

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Will somebody set a record please?

Not long ago, many potential records were in play. The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs both remained undefeated at home with the regular season quickly winding down.

No NBA team in history has ever run the table on their home court for an entire regular season. Alas, neither would either of the above. GS got knocked off by a pretty good Boston Celtics team, then turned around and lost to the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves. Ouch.

San Antonio hadn't lost a game at home to Golden State in 20 years. Elder statesman Tim Duncan was still in college at Wake Forest and Gregg Popovich a rookie head coach when it last happened. The Warriors went into Alamoland and stopped both streaks with a convincing victory. Alas, when it was oh-so-close, another possible record bit the dust. 

In the meantime, other dubious records have been set. This year's LA Laker team is their worst of all time. Almost mind-boggling is the fact an entire Masters' tournament went by with no Tiger Woods' highlights being force-fed to the viewing audience. No doubt, Kobe Bryant has set the all-time record for most hype on his year-long "farewell tour" -- even though he's stunk it up all year as a player. This guy has thrown up more bricks than a platoon of stone masons on steroids. But nobody wants to talk about THOSE records. It's the dreaded PC thing. One can only compliment, never be totally be objective, much less criticize.

But one record is still in play. The Warriors have equaled the 72 win mark of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team and still have one more game to go. On paper, it should be a no-brainer.

They'll host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. For the most part, GS is totally healthy and the players want the record -- bad. And they will have had two full rest days. 

The Grizz will be playing the second of back-to-backs on the road and be without their two best players -- namely Marc Gasol and Mike Connelly -- who are out with injuries. Plus, they're coming off a thumping they took at the hands of the LA Clippers. They're limping into the playoffs as a #6 seed with nothing to gain in this contest.

But just when you think the impossible can't happen -- it does. See Jordan Spieth's meltdown on the final back nine of the Masters. See all the other "elite" players fall back. Relatively unknown Danny Willett would up with the coveted green jacket? Who could have seen that coming? Did anybody think Ronda Rousy would get knocked out by Holly Holm? Or Connor McGregor choked out by a journeyman fighter named Nick Diaz? Remember Buster Douglas and how he demolished Mike Tyson? What were the odds of that happening? 1000:1? A rag-tag bunch of American college kids defeating the mighty Soviet Red Army team in Olympic hockey? No way. But it happened. Those, and lots of other huge upsets have happened over the years.

There is absolutely no rhyme, reason, stats, or logic that can remotely suggest the Memphis Grizzlies have a prayer of defeating the Golden State Warriors in the last game of the regular season to prevent them from reaching the all-time record win number of 73. 

But that's exactly what makes the game so compelling -- a must see. Because ya never know. Weren't the Baltimore Colts supposed to beat the upstart NY Jets 270-0 in Super Bowl III long ago? And didn't some panty-hose wearing QB named Joe Willie Namath not only guarantee a victory -- but deliver? 

Can the depleted Grizz waltz into GS's Oracle Arena and pull off an upset to keep them from making history? Probably not. 

But stranger things have happened.......

Kobe vs Golden State

As most pro basketball fans on planet Earth know, the Golden State Warriors have a shot at history on Wednesday night. They've already equaled the 72 win season put up by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls and have one game to go. Against Memphis. After a full two days rest. At home. Chances are good they'll win it.

As most people in the solar system and beyond know, Wednesday will also feature the final game of one Kobe Bean Bryant. Chances are good KBB and the Lakers will lose it.

This year's Warriors are the best team in the NBA, with the San Antonio Spurs not too far behind.

This year's Lakers are their worst team in history, and only the absolutely pitiful Philadelphia 76ers have kept them out of the league basement.

Yet the debate rages. Which would one rather watch on TV?

The Warriors likely doing something never accomplished before, or Kobe's final game?

This is not even remotely a close call for any objective hoops fan. OF COURSE ITS THE WARRIORS.

They may or may not repeat as champions when the playoffs are done, but no one would seriously doubt they'll see an elite team running up and down the floor is their quest for history.

On the other hand, the Lakers, and Kobe himself are limping to the finish line. After 81 games, the Lakers find themselves a mind-boggling FIFTY SIX games behind. Did I mention they're terrible? It's almost inconceivable a once proud franchise could be so bad. Showtime has become blowtime. Who in their right mind would want to watch these clowns play?

As if they needed another hindrance, Bryant himself has been an albatross around the Lakers' neck for the last two years. It became obvious several years ago that Kobe Bean was on the decline -- quickly. Not only was his productivity falling off, he couldn't even stay healthy.

Yet incredibly, the Lakers signed him to a 2- year contract worth $48 million. What have they got for all that money in return? An obviously washed up player last year -- even worse this year -- and Kobe's ultra-hyped "farewell tour". Plus, the above-mentioned thud into the bottom of the deep well of the Western Conference. Fifty six games behind? Likely fifty seven in a couple more days? Really? Is there even oxygen at such a depth?

Idle thought: This is not to say Kobe Bean is trying to milk his last go-round for all it's worth -- but what gives with all the body bandages and ice packs they slap on him when he comes out of a game? Is he an aging basketball player or the Michelin Man? One can note that the miles of ace bandages and tons of ice are gone shortly after any game when Kobe holds his usual smug post-game press conference with the fawning reporters. In that way, he's like Tiger Woods. Long washed up, but the media still hangs on his every word. As if it even matters. It doesn't, or at least shouldn't.

Like Eldrick, Kobe had his day, and now it's (almost - mercifully) over. Actually, neither have been remotely relevant in their sports in recent years, other than the hype they continue to generate. In a way, it's like politics in an election year. The media hordes will create their own heroes -- and villains -- while over-analyzing (with their merry band of "experts") every little thing. And many of the gullible masses continue to eat it up. It's like they don't have a mind of their own and need to be told who their heroes should be. The truly sad thing is -- they'll believe it and vote/root accordingly. A sorry testament indeed.

But come Wednesday, it's a no-brainer. Why would any rational person want to watch Kobe Bryant limp into retirement with the equally sad-sack Lakers when they could check out the Warriors possibly making history?

Then again, one could always tune in to Jeopardy to learn a few tidbits and dial up a decent movie afterwards.

Final idle thought: Speaking of game shows, can that be right? Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune fame is making $8 million a year? And she doesn't even turn over letters anymore? By her own admission, a computer has long controlled the "board" to light up correctly called letters. VW has even stated she's happy they keep her around for basically doing nothing. Talk about a great gig. She's got to travel the world many times over free, wear the finest designer clothes, be pampered like British royalty, and now a 60ish stick woman that was never that good looking in the first place is making 8 large a year for doing nothing except riding in limos back and forth to a non-job? Wow. Only in America. Is this a great country or what?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Jordan Spieth meltdown

He pretty much had it in the bag. A five shot lead going into the back nine of the final round of this year's Masters. What could go wrong? Turns out -- plenty -- and it did.

Spieth bogeying the 10th and 11th holes, both very difficult, was nonetheless somewhat surprising. After all, he had birdied the last four in a row on the front nine to post a super impressive score of four under par 32 going out. Augusta National was one tough hombre this year. Any round at par or below was considered outstanding. But then the wheels fell off.

On the par 3 12th hole, a modest 170 yards, the defending champion did the unthinkable. His tee shot -- merely a wedge -- fell short and bounced back into the water in front of the green. OK, those things can happen. But then shooting 3 from under 100 yards, the Texan hit a fat duffer shot back into the water again. His fifth shot went over the green and into a sand trap. He was able to get "up and down" from there, but the scoreboard read 7 -- a quadruple bogey.

Instead of being 5 strokes ahead merely a half hour before, add it all up and Spieth then found himself 3 behind. Meanwhile, unheralded 28-year old Brit Danny Willett was quietly putting together a spectacular final round. At even par after the first three rounds, Willett would shoot the best round of the day -- a 5 under 67. This is the same guy that once turned down a PGA card so he could remain on the European tour. Few golf fans in the "new world" had ever heard of him. In fact, he might not have even BEEN at this tournament, save for the fact his wife gave birth several days earlier than expected.

Turned out, Willett knew exactly when to head west across "the pond" and tee it up in azalea land.

While Jordan Spieth was choking away another win, Danny boy was rock steady. Other notables like Jason Day, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler and Henrik Stenson had already fallen too far behind. Lee Westwood made a brief charge, but his collar always tightens up in crunch time, particularly with the putter. Phil Mickelson was in contention for a minute, but faded fast as well.

So congrats to Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion, and a worthy one at that. Shooting a final round 67 in arguably the most prestigious golf tournament in the world -- on a course that was playing super-tough -- is praiseworthy indeed.

As a Masters' champ, he doesn't have to worry about qualifying for ANYTHING in the future. His parking pass has most definitely been validated forevermore.

Then came the awkward moment. It was bad enough Jordan Spieth had blown a tournament he all but had in the bag, there was the little matter of presenting the fabled "green jacket" to the new champion.

By tradition, last year's winner (Spieth) has to do the honors. One can only imagine what was going through Jordan's mind as he helped Danny into his spiffy new green coat. Ouch.

Though he handled it with class, Spieth had that Texas look about him we came to know from another notable in the past. Tight-jawed, with a bewildered look about him. Kind of like when W heard the bad news about no weapons of mass destruction having been found in Iraq after invading it.

Like George and his hubris, like Jordan on the back nine.

Heckuva job.....

Golden State update

Every basketball fan not in a coma has long known the Golden State Warriors are chasing history this year. So are the San Antonio Spurs. I'll get back to the latter.

GS is trying to best the all-time best regular season record of 72-10 set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. The Warriors are currently 71-9, with two games remaining. Win them both and they have the record. Lose them both and they fall short.

Guess what? They're going to tie it. It's the logical conclusion on several levels.

The Warriors will take on the San Antonio Spurs in the second of back to back road games after narrowly defeating Memphis on the road. Meanwhile, the Spurs had the day off at home to prepare for the defending champs. Whether such scheduling is "fair" is a moot point. Over the course of the long 82 game season, all teams will have their easy and hard stretches. In this case, it's just the way it worked out. And who could have foreseen at the beginning of the season -- when both teams were well aware of their schedules -- that it would come down to this at the end?

It's no secret that SA head coach Gregg Popovich has been resting his starters down the stretch. Good grief, in their last contest at Utah, six of his top players didn't even dress for the game. The Spurs lost -- barely.

But while GS chasing the record continues to be the lead story, another equally significant possible feat is flying under the radar. San Antonio has yet to lose at home. No team in NBA history has ever gone a full season without suffering defeat in their own arena.

On Sunday night, something's gotta give. For the Warriors to top the Bulls record of old, they need to knock off the Spurs on the road. That's assuming GS cruises at home against the Grizzlies when they officially conclude their regular season at home after getting Monday and Tuesday off. Let's bank the latter.

But in order to set their OWN record -- and possibly send a message for what's to come in the playoffs -- the Spurs will no doubt have all hands on deck in the late season showdown with the Warriors.

So far, the two teams have played three times. The two in Oakland were easily won by the Warriors, while the one in San Antonio saw the Spurs crank up the defense and put the clamps on the splashers from the Bay area in a win of their own.

This is easily the most anticipated game of the year in the NBA. Can GS find a way to win in San Antonio while continuing to march towards the record? Or will SA remain perfect at home in their own pursuit of a never-done before mark?

[It should also be noted that GS hasn't won a game at SA in a very long time. As in when now 40 year old Tim Duncan was still playing college ball at Wake Forest, and Coach Pop merely a rookie in the NBA.]

Sure, however it turns out, after the regular season is over, everything gets reset to zero once the playoffs start. It's like that in all team sports. Qualify to get to the post-season. Once there, keep winning and move on. Or lose along the way and go home. In the end, there will only be one champion.

Yet the best part of it all? The match-up everybody wants to see -- with hoop records at stake -- just happens to fall on the same day as the final round of the Masters golf tournament.

Oh my, your average sports couch tater's utopia. Make sure to put a fresh set of batteries in the remote. Phone in the double-cheese meat-eaters large pizza with all the other goodies to be delivered at about 2 PM. Check the brew supply. If a possible shortage exists, get thy butt down to the local party store to reload before the pizza shows up. By all means, turn off the phone. Significant others? Green light them to go shopping somewhere. Worry about the credit card bill next month. With any luck they'll bring back something useful -- like a remote controlled robotic house cleaner. Did I mention batteries? And aren't DVRs the best invention since ESPN?

It should be a glorious Sunday indeed.

Hold the anchovies......

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Masters minus Tiger

Know what's really cool about this year's Masters Tournament? No Tiger Woods. Instead of the viewers being force-fed camera shots of Eldrick every 30 seconds -- two minutes max -- the wrap-around coverage is much more equal among the field of world class golfers -- as it should be.

To ESPN's credit, they have so far resisted dragging out old clips of past Tiger highlights while the current tournament is going on. Or perhaps the lovable folks in charge at Augusta National discouraged such nonsense. They have a way with getting their way.

I mean, c'mon, who ever wanted to watch Eldrick Tont Woods eating a banana while some other golfer was drilling an eagle putt elsewhere on the course? See Tiger curse. See Tiger pound a club. See Tiger take a drink of water. See Tiger scratch himself. What we DIDN'T see was all the other action going on at the same times. And, of course, see Tiger in the post-round interview. It didn't matter if he was already woefully out of contention. The TV folks never ceased to faun over him.

Finally, mercifully, this year there is no Tiger and his mania at Augusta. And as was once said by some regarding the term of a recent President finally expiring -- it's about damn time. This insanity has gone on long enough -- thank you very much. Let's move on.

During the first two rounds, this year's Masters has offered up some interesting story lines. It's not surprising Jordan Spieth tops the leader board. After all, he's the defending champion. But the usual sloping glass-like greens combined with windy conditions have kept the scores down, or up, depending on how one wishes to look at it. Shooting even par 72 is no small feat. After a blistering opening round 66, Spieth came back in round two with a 74.

He sits one stroke ahead of that pesky Irishman Rory McIlroy, who's game appears to be rounding into form. They will be paired together in the final group on Saturday.

Jason Day, currently the #1 player in the world, has been really good going out, but stunk it up coming back in. On the front nine, Day is seven under par. On the back nine, he's eight over. Very strange.

Some amateur named Bryce DeChambeau is in the thick of things. Will he hold up over the weekend as the pressure mounts? Ya never know.

Idle thought: How embarrassing would it be to the stodgy old farts that run the Masters -- which has long prided itself on only professional champions being allowed to play -- if an amateur were to win the tournament? Yikes. And what gives with "Butler Cabin"? Instead of smarmy TV talking heads, shouldn't Lurch from the Addams family be doing the interviews. Think about it. After the golfer has been seated, Lurch could zoom in and growl -- "You rang?" Priceless.

Despite his usual sometimes brilliance elsewhere on the course, Phil Mickelson still has a case of the yips with his putter. How is it that he can drain 15-20 footers on undulating greens, but keep pushing those pesky 3 footers wide left? Good grief, on Friday he had a putt from about 10 feet. Not only did he miss the hole, but the ball rolled completely off the green and down a slope. It's not often we see a top-notch professional golfer go from putt to chip. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?

Nevertheless, it has been a breath of fresh air indeed watching this year's Masters without it being turned into the Tiger Woods show.

Many once said Woods "saved" golf. Horsefeathers. Golf has been around for centuries. The players, equipment, and training regimens have improved throughout. The courses are longer and tougher than ever before. The young studs from the world over keep on coming. Today's players are infinitely more talented than their predecessors. And the next generation will likely be even better yet.

In short, golf didn't need Tiger. He needed IT. Good grief, what else was he qualified to do in life besides chasing bimbos?

On to the weekend. Go get-em Bryce.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The MVP case for Draymond Green

In my humble opinion, there are only two magazines worth reading. #1 on the "throne" list is MAD. For over four decades yours truly has marveled at the brilliant and biting satire they have, and continue to offer. They play no favorites and nobody is off-limits. Their artists are equally world-class. The next issue showing up in the mailbox remains quite the joy.

The other is Sports Illustrated. True, unlike MAD (eight issues a year), SI comes every week. Trying to cover the entire gamut of sports is a daunting job and something "newsworthy" seems to be happening year round. Hence the need to roll the presses on a weekly basis. That, plus the additional cha-chings they get from subscribers paying for more editions, and all the ads contained therein.

Perhaps a comparison of quality versus quantity.

Nevertheless, SI comes up with some good stuff once in a while. Which brings me to a little blurb in their latest issue concerning Draymond Green, a player for the Golden State Warriors.

This guy should be the MVP of the NBA this year -- hands down. Sure, his teammate Stephen Curry has already obliterated the record for the most 3-point shots made in a single year. And the media and fans have long been infatuated with hoopsters that rack up a lot of points -- even if they're deficient in other areas of the game. Lots of guys could shoot and dunk, still can, but that didn't make them terrific "overall" players. Things like passing to the open man, grabbing rebounds, and playing tenacious defense should certainly be factored in as well when considering who is the most valuable player indeed.

According to the SI blurb -- this year Draymond Green has done something no other player in NBA history has accomplished before. He's the one and only player to have scored over 1000 points, snatched 500 rebounds, has 500 assists, and 100 steals in a single regular season. Actually, at last count those numbers were 1056, 733, 567, and 114 respectively -- with a few games left to go.

Whether or not the Warriors go on to repeat as champions is irrelevant. MVP votes are supposedly cast after the regular season is over but before the playoffs begin.

So here's the question. How can a guy that has accomplished such a multi-feat -- which has never been done before -- NOT be the MVP?

Most valuable player is just that. It should encompass ALL aspects of the game, not just hot-shot shooters. And nobody has done it all better -- EVER -- than Draymond Green this year.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this post. There's another difference between MAD and SI, besides their publication frequency.

Sportswriters come and sportswriters go. Some are better than others.

But the likes of Don Martin, Al Jaffee, Antonio Prohias, Sergio Aragones, and Dave Berg from MAD will always be legends.....

What me worry?