Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Counting down the Tigers

When last we looked at the Detroit Tigers in the standings, they had played about 120 games. They were 4 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central Division (5 in the the loss column). Also, they were a couple games out of the 2nd and last wild card spot. Making up this ground with 40+ games to go was definitely a possibility.

Fast forward to the present. Not much has changed except 10 more games have gone by. Their odds have lengthened somewhat. As the games keep clicking off and the status quo is maintained, the odds get longer and longer.

With only 30 left in the regular season, making up 5 on the Indians is a tall order. Sure, the Tribe could slump. Any team can. But on paper, they're a superior club to Detroit.

The wild cards are just that -- almost a crap shoot. Detroit finds themselves looking up at the Bosox and neck and neck with the Orioles. Even a mini-slump or hot streak by any of these teams could well determine their fate as to in or out regarding the postseason.

Yet the Tigers have to still fend off other contenders that are nipping at their heels. Defending champs Kansas City went on a hot streak of late to close within striking range. Only a game back of the Motowners.

In the west, both Seattle and Houston are hardly out of wild card contention. Less than a handful of games separates them from Detroit. With a 9 game cushion, Texas seems safely in command of that division. They too are a cut above the competition.

But one never knows. A lot can happen in 30 games -- or nothing can change. If 10 more games go by with no movement......  And then 10 more......  Being just a couple games back with only 10 to go is not an enviable situation to be in. A team with a 2-3 game cushion at that time need only play .500 ball the last week and a half of the season. That forces their chasers to win 7, possibly 8 out of ten for a legitimate shot. Definitely a tall order with huge pressure.

This is likely not the scenario Tiger owner Mike Ilitch envisioned when he plopped down $200 million for player salaries. That's a lot of bucks for a team to not make the playoffs. No postseason means no extra cha-chings. True, with TV money, paraphernalia sales, and other revenue sources, it's almost impossible for the owner of a pro team to actually lose money.

But Ilitch doesn't need the dough. A billionaire whining about not getting even MORE return on his investment will hardly garner sympathy. He just wants to win a World Series before he leaves this world. Now 87 years old, his odds get a bit longer every day as well.

And the Tiger fans who follow and root for their team on TV (free) obviously aren't in it for the money. They want to see a winner as well. The Tigers haven't been champs since way back in 1984. Ronald Reagan was running for his second term as Prez. Cell phones, even cable TV didn't exist. How long ago has THAT been?

It's entirely possible this whole deal will go down to the last week of the regular season. Perhaps even the final game. If so, high drama indeed.

All the clubs get to expand their rosters in a couple days for the last month of the season. Having more bodies available certainly can't hurt. But everybody's in the same boat, so theoretically it's not an advantage for anybody.

It could also be argued that the extra 15 guys will be of little help. After all, if they weren't good enough to be on the Major League roster -- then how much can be expected of them? Especially during crunch time.

Thirty to go. We'll see.......

There's also that little matter of an election coming up in a little over two months. I don't know about you, but if you're anything like me, unlike the baseball season, you can't wait until all that nonsense is over.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mouthy Tigers

Some say rules are made to be broken. Perhaps. Lord knows we've all broken a few here and there, be it traffic violations, minor theft, cheating at something, and a variety of others. Just because you don't get caught and/or punished doesn't mean you didn't break the rule.

However, wayward behavior can come with risk. Some rules just aren't supposed to be broken lest the consequences be severe.

Thou shalt not kick a skunk. Very bad idea. Don't mouth off to a cop, let alone a judge. That can be problematic. Falsely screaming "FIRE" in a theater or "BOMB" on an airplane will get one in a heap of trouble. Don't do that. Never walk into a biker bar late at night and proudly announce "I'm the baddest mofo on the planet and I came to kick ass". What will come next is usually very painful.

Sports have their rules. Tons of them. Players try to see just how much they can get away with all the time. But some are definite no-nos.

One of them is arguing balls and strikes with a home plate umpire. Major League Baseball banned that with good reason some time ago. The game is slow enough as it is and the ump doesn't need the hassle. You won't see Little Leaguers or even high school and college players doing this. They wouldn't dare. Plus, they've been taught better. Only the pros try to get away with it once in a while. Yet they do so at their own risk as well.

Case in point was the recently concluded Detroit Tigers game against the LA Angels. Victor Martinez of the Tigers objected to a pitch which he thought was low being called a strike. The ump warned him. But V-Mar, a known hothead, kept yapping. The ump tossed him out of the game, as he should have. Martinez knew better but did it anyway.

Generally speaking, different umps have different strike zones. Most times players are OK with it as long as the ump is consistent and calls it the same for both teams. If a particular ump is calling a "low" strike then players have to live with it.

A short while later in the same game, Tiger J.D. Martinez had the same thing happen to him. He beefed. He got the boot as well. Boys, boys, this ump isn't fooling around. Nor should he. The rule is the rule and everybody knows it.

Incredibly, manager Brad Ausmus came out of the dugout to argue another called strike. Guess what happened? Hit the showers BA. You're gone too.

Don't these guys ever learn? The original Martinez ouster should have sent the message loud and clear. This ump won't tolerate such nonsense and is well within his rights, and the rules, to send such offenders packing.

The Tigers are currently in a dogfight trying to make the postseason. Their chances appear iffy at best. They need all hands on deck to contribute. And presumably a manager. They would lose this game to the lowly Angels. Can the loss be attributed to the star players being ejected? Maybe. Will this one L make a difference as to whether they make the playoffs? It could happen.

And all because a few loud mouths didn't know when to shut up.

There's really no excuse for it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Life Of Lions

Having been born, grown up (sorta), and lived my entire life in various suburbs of Detroit -- of course I got caught up in the madness. That would be Detroit Lions fever. Most every sports fan in that vicinity suffered the same fate.

Some never get over it. I was one of the lucky ones that finally came to his senses (sorta -- again). Sure, I rooted for them for decades. And nothing ever happened. Nary a trip to the Super Bowl, let alone winning it. Scads of money spent. Countless games attended. It was one heartbreak after another -- season after season.

Then one day a player showed me the light. When Barry Sanders walked, still in the prime of his career, way back in 1998, I figuratively walked with him. Good enough for Barry, good enough for me. Enough of this nonsense. These clowns aren't ever going anywhere -- was the thought. And the last 18 years have proven us both right. Not even a single playoff win. A grand total of one since a guy named Eisenhower was President. (I just happened to be there at the stadium and it was glorious). Of course they got drubbed the next week and have pretty much went back to their Keystone Koppish ways ever since. Good riddance.

The team, and their ever-faithful koolaid serving media, came up with the same schtick over and over again. This will be the year. It never was, but many fans kept buying into it. Still do, God bless their gullible souls.

Well, guess what? This won't be the year either. How do I know this? Two reasons. Destiny for one. Some things just aren't made to happen. And Sports Illustrated says so. SI wouldn't lie -- right? They've come out with their 2016 predictions and it doesn't bode well for the Lions.

SI has them bringing up the rear in the NFC North with a 5-11 record. Even the most delirious of Honolulu blue and silver fanatics would likely admit their beloved puddytats aren't Super Bowl worthy this year. But the basement? Even behind Da Bears? Really?

In fact, the gurus of SI think the Lions will be the fourth worst team in the entire NFL. Only the totally floundering Tennessee Titans, the train wreck that the SF 49ers have become in the post-Harbaugh era, and of course Cleveland. Hey the Erie-ites just won an NBA championship and the Indians are showing themselves to be excellent this year, but it ain't gonna happen with the Browns. They are, after all, still the Browns. Even worse than the Lions.

For those with some extra time on their hands and a couple bucks, yours truly would recommend buying the latest issue of SI to get their full run down -- and predictions for the season. Also throughout the playoffs, up to and including a Super Bowl pick with the score. Excellent throne reading material. You've gotta be sitting there just like everybody else, so might as well check it out.

Also make sure to check out the back page (Point After). Steve Rushin, a terrific writer with a whacked out sense of humor is up to his usual punditry. This time with alternate meanings for acronyms. The Buffalo BILLS becoming Boy I Love Losing Super Bowls is just one example among many. He refers to such twisted linguistics as "bacronryms". It's great stuff.

Of note, Rushin points out, the acronym of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) could take on a whole new meaning indeed in the internet age. Wisely, he leaves that to the imagination. He has editors too. They would likely not approve if he was a bit more, shall we say, definitive.

Yet even Rushin couldn't resist a parting shot at the LIONS. Losing Is Our Natural State. Given their history, it's hard to argue the point.

And so it will likely be again this year. It's just another season piled on top of all the rest.

But dang, 5-11 and in the basement?

BTW, two can play at this acronym game. Consider the title of this article. LOL. We all know what that means.

And it saves a whole lot of frustration -- and is cheaper -- to do just that when it comes to watching the Lions rather than rooting for them to win. Of course they're going to lose in the end. It's the Lions, remember?

As the man once said, the last 18 years have been Barry Barry good to me. Thanks #20.

I needed that.

Now if you could just somehow have a word with the throngs of misguided Lions fans that still remain to show them the light.......

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Weird Little Leaguers

As we know, the Little League World Series has been underway. Teams from around the world have been slugging it out with each other as have American teams in the other bracket. Only one will emerge from each for the big showdown on Sunday.

Right now, it's reached the semi-final stage. Panama will go up against South Korea in one game. A team from Endwell, New York will square off with the best of the Volunteers -- Tennessee. At this point, all these kids are really good.

Panama has already beaten the South Koreans once, but the double elimination format has them in line for a rematch. At that, Panama's victory seemed a fluke. South Korea's pitching is just outright dominant. One big Panamanian kid took a mighty swing -- and just happened to connect for a monster home run that made the difference. Other than that, nobody's been able to hit the SK hurlers.

Thing is, unlike like other double elimination tourneys, the two loss rule is waived for the finals match. Teams (Panama and NY) can be undefeated going in, but that one game is for all the marbles. Same with the final final game on Sunday. True, the teams that continued to play with one loss had to play an extra game, but what good is a two loss and your out format if they're going to change the rules towards the end to only one? Let them play a doubleheader, or the best two out of three if necessary.

Idle thought. All the Little Leaguers have a "favorite athlete". One said his was Walter Payton. That seems a little weird. Yours truly was also a big fan of Sweetness back in the day, but he's no longer amongst the living. Hasn't been since 1999 -- seventeen years. So out of all the athletes to choose from, why would a kid pick a dead one? Wouldn't we think it strange for some kid to hold up, say, Babe Ruth or Jim Thorpe as his favorite? Same thing. Get that kid some therapy. Ahem.

The NY team is certainly a hitting bunch. They score runs galore and are likely to dispatch the boys from Goodlettville, Tenn..

And the South Koreans are probably favored over Panama. As mentioned above, their pitching is just that good.

Idle thought II. Some kid is pitching the ball 80 MPH? From the shorter distance between the mound and the plate, that equates to a 106 MPH major league fastball. NOBODY throws that hard. It almost doesn't seem fair to expect 12 and 13 years olds to be able to react that fast.

Soooo, if my fearless, usually foolish prediction is accurate, we'll see NY vs South Korea on Sunday for the world championship game.

That would be quite the contest. A team loaded with sluggers taking on superior pitching. Something's gotta give.

Methinks it will not end well for Endwell. The Seoul train appears to be too much and are on a mission. Good pitching trumps good hitting -- right?

We'll see. In the meantime, the LLWS playoffs have been a joy to watch. Did I mention these kids are good?

Idle thought III. Why is it the Little League umpires can review a replay and make the call in a minute or two, but it takes their Major League counterparts seemingly forever to do the exact same thing?

Weird indeed.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Food for golf

Some of the names on the ladies' side of golf are interesting. Of late, many really good players seem to hail from the far east. Or is that the near west? Whatever.

But to the untrained mind -- see dummy like me -- they can also remind one of Oriental food. Or worse.

Inbee Park, a South Korean, just won another tournament. This is not to say Ms. Park is a bit hefty, but it's probably a good thing she has to walk the course instead of riding in a cart. They'd have to put a heavy duty suspension on that rascal. How to fix this? Hmm. Maybe about six months across the border in North Korea would do the trick. They'd slim her down in a hurry. Whatever she's been eating -- it's been a lot of it. Oink.

There's somebody, or something, called Shanshan Feng. Is that a golfer or maybe #6 at your local Chinese restaurant? If the latter, does it come with an egg roll? Beats me.

The one that REALLY jumped out was Pornathong Phatlum.  Do you eat that with chopsticks? A fork? Very carefully? At your own risk? Or maybe it's a person. Porn-a-thong? Really? Sounds more like an X-rated film star, or at least a pole dancer. And Phatlum? Does she put away some serious chow too? And oh, can we call her PP for short?

Nosirree, nary a Smith, Jones or Kadiddlehopper in the bunch. I think there's a Creamer, though. Maybe she should practice with Pornathong.

It's just about enough to get one reaching for the remote to change the channel.

And why is it with women's golf, I'm always hungry again an hour later?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ryan Lochte and the robbery

We've all heard the story. US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates claimed to have been robbed -- at gunpoint -- while on their way back to the Olympic village.

But were they?

After further review, as they say, the Brazilian authorities are counter-claiming the very items that were supposedly taken from them showed up on their persons while passing through an X-ray scanner when entering the above mentioned village.

Somebody's lying.

One is left to wonder why in the world Lochte and company would make up such a story. What did they possibly have to gain by it? Publicity? They certainly got that, but it's of the empty sort. They really stood to gain nothing. Further, if Lochte, etc., get caught in Walter Mitty land, they can kiss their reputations good-bye. Along with any future -- cha-ching-- endorsements.

On the other hand, it's equally difficult to imagine the Brazilian authorities would offer refuting X-ray evidence if it didn't exist.

One way or the other -- something's gotta give.

In the meantime, Lochte made it out of the country before his passport was confiscated. His teammates weren't as fortunate. Reports say two of them were hauled off an airplane and the other never even made it as far as the airport. Without their passports, they're not going anywhere.

To boot, it appears the story Lochte and Co. initially told the police is starting to unravel. Things aren't adding up on their behalf.

Either it happened or it didn't. If the former, no doubt the three remaining swimmers will have their passports returned and they'll quickly fly back to the semi-safe confines of the USA. It's also a safe bet the American authorities will question them at great length, but at least they'll be home.

However, if the latter, what comes next could well be a diplomatic chess match. America is going to want their athletes back. Brazil might well wish to prosecute all four of them while hanging on to the three they have and requesting Lochte be extradited to face justice in Rio.

That could get sticky if both sides dig in. After what has -- so far -- been a relatively successful Olympics, this could put a serious international stain on them.

For the sake of the swimmers -- at least they weren't injured or worse -- let's hope the robbery really happened. This mess could be tied up in a hurry with a happy ending. Brazil would pursue the robbers and the Americans could go about their business.

But if it was all a scam -- then what? Would Brazil actually throw these guys in jail awaiting trial for filing a false police report? It seems unlikely, because America, rightly or wrongly, would be outraged.

Or might "higher authorities" intervene and reach a quid pro quo? America gets its jocks back, no harm no foul, but has to give the Rio folks something in return. Of course, all this would be done quietly at higher levels of government and the official story could be spun in any number of ways. The public(s) might never know what kind of deal was reached.

For the sake of argument, would Lochte and his buds really go to such extremes to get attention with such a scam? Sure, they've been living in the long shadow cast by Micheal Phelps, but this would be ridiculous. It could only turn out badly -- as it has so far.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Games indeed.....

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Detroit Tigers ups and downs

The Detroit Tigers are an unpredictable bunch. When they're playing well, they're as good as anybody. Then the next day they might just stink. Whether or not they'll make the playoffs would seem to be a good question.

Not that long ago they were only two games back of division leading Cleveland and positioned solidly for a wild card berth if they couldn't catch the Tribe.

Fast forward a couple weeks and the Tigers are back to 6 games behind the Indians. Not only that, they've watched several other teams blow by them for a possible wild card. In the East, Baltimore, Boston and Toronto are all a few games ahead of them. In the West, Seattle has overtaken them with Houston lurking close behind. Even within their own division, the KC Royals -- after a so far Murphy's Law season -- have gotten hot and closed to within 4 games of the Tigers. Don't count out the defending champs just yet.

With roughly a quarter of the season still to be played, anything can happen and a lot of it probably will. Teams will get hot -- or cold. Key injuries could rear their ugly heads -- on the Tigers or elsewhere. Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera tweaked his bicep on an innocent enough looking play. Severity of injury and games to be missed unknown. If this injury lingers or adversely affects Cabrera for any length of time, the Tigers chances take a big hit, no pun intended. They need their big man down the stretch.

Many pundits think the wild cards will both come out of the East. The Blue Jays, Bosox, and O's are only a game apart between them after about 120 games. If so, the Tigers would need to win their division to qualify for the post-season dance. But being 6 games back of Cleveland, who have been hot themselves lately, is a lot to overcome over the course of 40+ games. Sure it can happen, but the odds are against it. Cleveland's too good to go into a tailspin. But ya never know.

Detroit manager Brad Ausmus, in the last year of his contract, likely needs the Tigers to not only make it into the playoffs, but make some noise once there to keep his job. Who the Tigers would plug in next is anybody's guess, but a $200 million player payroll all but demands the team contend for a championship. Anything short and the blame will fall on the manager. It's not his fault, of course -- the players have to play the game -- but that's pretty much the way it's always worked.

Just when the Tigers looked like the real deal a couple weeks ago, boom, they lose a bunch of games and fall back down the ladder. Owner Mike Ilitch, now 87 years old, has been waiting and hoping since 1992 -- a quarter century -- for his Tigers to win a World Series. It hasn't happened. They got there once -- only to lose. In fact, the Tigers haven't been world champs since way back in 1984 -- 32 years and counting.

Thing is, time is running out on the Tigers in more ways than one. Though they have some young talent, notably J.D. Martinez, several of their key players are at or quickly approaching the age where their skills will likely begin to diminish. In other words, the window of championship opportunity is closing. Through various moves in the last few years, the Tigers have depleted their farm system to get "win it now" major leaguers. Still, no ring.

Perhaps it will happen this year, but it's becoming somewhat of a long shot. It might just be that the Pizza Man was destined to never taste a World Series championship, regardless of how much money he spent on players. And speaking of the window of opportunity -- 87 years old is what it is. Sure, the team would pass to his heirs (family) someday, but you just KNOW the elder Ilitch would like nothing better than a World Series championship to go along with the several Stanley Cups his Red Wings won during his tenure as their owner as well.

One thing for sure. The Tigers winning a few then losing a few the rest of the way out isn't going to get it. Too many other good teams are in the hunt. The Tigers need to get hot -- and quickly. 40 games to go is plenty of time. However, if a few more weeks pass and things don't change much, trying to overcome the same deficit with, say, 20 games to go become just that much more difficult.

We shall see......

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cool/dumb things

So one Monica Puig of Puerto Rico won the country/territory's first gold medal in the Olympics in women's tennis. Only ranked #34 in the world, this is pretty cool stuff.

And Grenada's kicking it in the 400 meters. Also cool. You remember tiny Grenada. That's the country the late Gipper (Ronald Reagan) decided to invade because a few college students were acting up. Send in the paratroopers in full combat year. Evidently, old Ronnie must have thought the troops could use a little practice. Definitely not cool.

Some male American runner missed the cut for the finals in the 400 meters by a fraction of a second. Thing is, he was wearing two heavy gold chains around his neck throughout the race. Whatzamatta with this clown? Hey, lose the bling and maybe he gets a shot at a medal. Moron.

CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) provides far better Olympic coverage than NBC (National Broadcasting Company --USA). The CBC announcers don't go berserk with superlatives and screaming like their American counterparts. Everybody's not the greatest. And they're a lot more even handed with what they show. NBC won't show anything unless an American is involved and they'll go on and on and on about their past accomplishments. Good grief. Everybody that makes it to the Olympics is really good at what they do or else they wouldn't be there. And the whole theory of the Olympics is it's an international event and is supposed to be more than just praising Americans. And the Canadian TV folks seem to be able to get by with far less commercials. Imagine that.

Interesting statement overheard -- There's not a person in the whole world who didn't love John Saunders, the ESPN commentator for over 30 years. Now that's quite a mouthful. Yours truly respectfully disagrees. I never met the man -- only saw him on TV once in a while interviewing jocks, talking about games, or yapping with other talking heads. He was alright, but I hardly loved him, either as a person or what he did for a living. May he rest in peace, but let's not get carried away with this love thing.

Even more interesting statement -- During the Dallas Cowboys/LA Rams exhibition game some announcer said the Cowboys' defense was loaded. Really? Well dang, somebody get those guys some coffee and try to sober them up a bit. The only thing loaded about Dallas is owner Jerry Jones -- with money. The team's not going anywhere near the Super Bowl this season. Not good enough.

Michael Phelps won another gold medal -- his 23rd in supposedly his last event at his last Olympics. Maybe. Who's to say he won't be back for another go-round in 4 years? Thirty four would be old for a swimmer, but so was 30 this time out and he seemed to do fairly well.

Good news and bad news about that. Unlike the idiot runner mentioned above, at least Phelps doesn't wear his gold during the event.

The bad news is -- will this guy ever get a real job? Just what are his qualifications anyway? Either been in a swimming pool or hanging out doing nothing for the last 12 years? Not much of a resume.

But the answer is obvious. Go into politics. Most of those clowns don't have a clue either.....

Friday, August 12, 2016

More idle thoughts

The media is up to their old tricks. They're trying to hype Robert Griffin III, now the QB of the Cleveland Browns. Here's a clue. He stinks. He stunk it up for the Redskins -- where he couldn't even stay healthy, let alone perform at a high level -- and the wags think he's going to turn into a hot-shot QB with the woeful Browns?

Please. If Browns' fans thought Johnny Manzeil was a load -- wait until they get a load of this guy.

Wow. More surprises at the Olympics. First the tennis Williams sisters got bounced out early. Serb and #1 player in the world Novac Djokovic suffered the same fate. And now the women's USA soccer team has been eliminated from medal contention -- let alone the gold most thought they would win? Say it ain't so. Those pesky Swedes did them in. Though the Yanks outshot the blondies by better than a 4 to 1 margin, they managed one goal apiece. The Swedes would win on penalty kicks. Like hockey, shots on goal are overrated. Only the ones that go in matter.

Leave it to Hope (the Dope) Solo to say something outrageous. The USA goalie said her team had been beaten by a bunch of cowards. Really? This girl needs some serious therapy, or at least a muzzle. Is there a more genteel people on the entire planet than the Swedes? This is a clear case of sour grapes manifesting itself in crude, childish behavior. Of course Ms. Solo has been known for some boorish behavior in the past. How in the world Team USA keeps her on would seem to be a very good question. Don't they have anybody else in the country that can do a halfway decent job of goal tending while showing a little class to boot? She gives the whole team an international black eye with her attitude.

Michael Phelps, he of Fort Knox Olympic gold, got beat in his kinda sorta signature event -- the 100 meter butterfly? And was tied by two others for a distant second? Who woulda thunk it?

Alex Rodriguez is officially done as a player. It was pretty cool to see him get a hit in his final game to raise his batting average to .200. That sounds a heckuva lot better than .199. PED's or not, believe what you wish, he had a phenomenal career. Only A-Rod, Willy Mays and Hank Aaron got more than 600 home runs and 3000 hits. Evidently, he's going to slide into some "consultant" job with the Yankees. They might as well put him to work doing something. They're still on the hook for $21 million bucks next year. This is what you call a great job.

An even greater job is -- to no one's great surprise, Lebron James signed a 3-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. $100 million big ones. While free agency was a good idea when it first started many years ago -- after all, one shouldn't be chained to one's job for life, and free to work elsewhere like everybody else -- these salaries have become totally insane.

To put Lebron's dough in perspective, he'll be making roughly one dollar a second. Do the math. That's $3600 bucks an hour. Not outrageous, you say? It is when you consider this is every second of every day of the year, whether he's playing, sleeping, eating, filming commercials for even more dough, etc., etc. -- anything. During the season, and the off season as well. Tick, tick, tick. This has definitely gotten out of control. And it will no doubt get worse when the new bonanza of a TV contract kicks in next year and the salary "cap" goes up accordingly. God help us.

Some Little Leaguer fouled a pitch straight back and shattered the lens of a TV camera that was rolling? It was bound to happen sooner or later. Pretty cool, though. That's a story the cameraman can yuk it up with with his workmates. He can also share it with his kids and grandkids, complete with video proof.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Olympic madness

These are some kind of strange Olympics. OK, we knew about the mosquito virus thing. And the polluted water. The cops (security) had threatened to go on strike. The Russians were fighting to attend (at least some of them) over that pesky doping scandal a while back. And where Brazil came up with a billion bucks or two to put on the games -- when in the grip of a nasty recession -- is anybody's guess. Did I mention their President is in the process of being impeached? Strange indeed.

To nobody's surprise the men's American basketball team is slaughtering all comers. It almost doesn't seem fair. But there have been some early surprises as well.

The Williams sisters of tennis fame got bounced in their opening round doubles match. Yikes. The elder Venus also got shown the door in her first round single's match. Could Serena be next?

Highly surprising was the men's #1 player in the world, one Novac Djokovic, also lost his first go-round. Holy cow.

They have a BB gun shooting competition? Who knew?

Per usual, the Chinese, ahem, ladies gymnasts look like they're maybe 8 years old.

Swimmer Michael Phelps has added to his collection of medals. Yawn.

Tandem diving off the 10 meter platform is pretty boring. And did you get a load of their builds? These guys look like they just escaped from a refugee camp after a year or so. Or maybe they've been drinking the water. Skinny isn't the word. Try emaciated. Skins and bones. There's a better way to liven it up. Who wouldn't love to see a couple Sumo wrestler types diving from 3 stories up? You know, those big fat 600 pound brutes. What a splash that would make, excuse the pun.

And what's up with the scoring system in gymnastics? It used to be the max score was 10 for any routine. Nine point eight or so was really good. We got that. Now they're coming up with scores like 15.348. What the hell is that?

Track and field fans are waiting to see if Usain Bolt will break his own world records in the dashes. Turns out he can dance too. He kept right up with what looked like the Brazilian version of the Rockettes. The guy is amazing.

World records are falling right and left in the swimming pool. But that's the way it goes. Every generation seems to get better than their predecessors. Four years from now at the next Olympics those very same records we see currently being set might well get beat again.

Golf has made a return to the games after a long hiatus. Why not? Can't be any worse than BB gun shooting, right? They've got medals for everything these days.

And of course, the announcers -- at least the American ones -- are up to their usual overkill. They rant, rave, and shriek like they've never seen an athletic contest before. Everybody's the greatest according to them. Until the next one is on. Then he/she is the greatest. These folks need to get a grip. Maybe THEY should drink some of the water, or at least be medicated. Better to have Cheech and Chongish type commentators passing a doobie back and forth in the booth. Instead of all the screaming, a simple "Oh, far out, man" would suffice. Also be very yuk-worthy.

But da games be da games. Joy here, heartbreak there, and hopefully very little doping going on -- except in the booth as mentioned above.

When it's all over, we can turn our attention to even more important matters. Like who's going to be on the next Wheaties box or cover of Sports Illustrated? It ain't gonna be Venus Williams.....

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Detroit Tigers. Back in it

Not that long ago the Tigers lost two games to the Chicago White Sox on the same day. They fell 7 1/2 games behind the division leading Cleveland Indians (8 in the loss column). As they bumbled along at about .500 the Tigers were also several games out of a possible wild card berth.

Many, including yours truly, thought -- well, that's about it for the Motowners this season. No way are they going to make the playoffs. Not good enough.

They haven't lost a game since having reeled off 8 in a row.

Meanwhile, they've got a lot of help from other teams. The Indians thrashed about and lost a few games to allow the Tigers to close to within a couple games of the division lead. In the wild card race, things have tightened up considerably. The Boston Red Sox have been slumping and the Toronto Blue Jays have fallen back in the East. Same with the Houston Astros in the West. Besides being right back in the chase for their own Central Division lead, they're neck and neck with the above teams for a wild card spot.

This author, along with many others, was wrong in prematurely writing off the Tigers. These days they look as good as anybody and better than most. They've not only got a shot at the post-season, but a really good one. Of course, that's assuming they don't go into a tailspin themselves. Or key injuries pop up to bite them. You never know.

Manager Brad Ausmus, on the lame duck year of his contract, was once thought to be a goner after this season for sure. Maybe not any more. If the Tigers reach the post-season and make some noise once they get there, it would be difficult for their front office/ownership to cut Ausmus loose. Besides, who would take his place? And would it even matter? After all, the players have to play the games. If they play well, they win. If not, they lose. Pretty simple. In the last week and a half the Tigers have shown they have enough talent. But again, baseball can be a funny game. Even good teams can fall into a slump for various reasons. Bats go cold. Pitchers get rocked. Hard hit balls are caught. Opposing teams play well against them and/or catch a few breaks. Lady Luck can be fickle.

With roughly two months left in the regular season, it's become a crap shoot. The Tigers could continue playing well and rise to the top, or just as easily slip-slide away back into no-man's land.

Nope, ya never know with baseball how things are going to play out. But for the time being, the Tigers have not only regained some respect, but their self-confidence has to be flying high as well -- always a good thing.

Further, the Tigers pretty much sat on their hands as the trade deadline came and went. For whatever reasons they opted not to make a big splash in trying to obtain help for a "stretch" run. It appears their strategy of staying with what they had is working out well.

It will be interesting to see how things play out indeed.

Nope, ya just never know. As they say, that's why they play the games......

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The end of A-Rod?

It seems it's drawing near. The NY Yankees pretty much waved the white flag on any championship aspirations this year when, contrary to their usual approach, were big time sellers at the trade deadline. Getting rid of such stars as Carlos Beltran, Ivan Nova, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller for a bunch of "prospects" was a clear signal they're hopefully building for the future.

There's really no point in keeping Alex Rodriguez around either. Except maybe for the money they owe him. A-Rod will collect $21 million this year and the Yanks are on the hook for another $21M next year -- whether he plays or not. The 2017 season will finally bring to a close the whopping 10 year contract worth over $250 million A-Rod signed way back in 2007. Such are the perils of long term guaranteed deals.

Now 41 years old, Rodriguez appears to have finally hit the wall. He's only played in 62 games this year and is batting a paltry .205 with 9 home runs and 29 RBIs. Plus he can't reasonably field a position anymore. Father Time remains undefeated.

Given all the above, it would be futile for the Yanks to try to trade him. No other team is going to take on such a player, let alone give up any prospects. The Bronx Bombers are stuck with him.

Currently, A-Rod has 696 career home runs, just 4 shy of the 700 club only Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds belong to. He may or may not reach that milestone before this season ends. Given his horrible 2016 campaign to date -- over 100 games worth -- it's pretty tough to justify using him as a DH when he's obviously lost his hitting stroke. Then again, if the team has to fork out big bucks to him anyway and they've already given up on this season -- why not throw him in there? Quite the dilemma.

Steroids, and perhaps lies or not, yours truly was always a fan of A-Rod. Back in the day, he was the whole package, no pun intended. There was much speculation that he could conceivably become the all-time home run hitter. Now that's not going to happen. It's even unlikely he'll catch Ruth at 714, let alone Aaron's 755 or Bonds' 772.

Whether or not he'll someday be inducted into the Hall of Fame is anybody's guess. He certainly has the stats, but the alleged baggage of his steroid era might not sit well with many of the voters. A-Rod could find himself in the same purgatory as Pete Rose. One of the best of all-time but with a cloud hanging over his head for past deeds -- real or perceived.

But let's not forget that Rodriguez has amassed his 696 home runs having been grounded for an entire year. Not long ago, when he and the league were slugging it out over what sort of penalty he should have to serve for his alleged PED use, he was forced to miss an entire season. That was when he was starting clipping along rather well.

How many home runs might he have hit in that missing year nobody knows. But it's likely a safe bet the number would have been over the 19 he needed to pass the Babe. And he certainly would at least be in the 700 club.

But it was not to be, though the latter remains a definite possibility if the Yanks let him play out the rest of the season and get his fair share of at bats. Four more dingers doesn't sound like an awful lot.

What would truly be surprising is if the Yankees still had him on the roster next season. While $21 million is a whole lot of money to the average Joe, it's not that big of a deal in the world of professional sports, especially in New York with the owning Steinbrenners. The Yankees will likely pay him for doing nothing. Bet you wish you had a job like that.

Alas, poor A-Rod. It may not be quite over yet, but the fat lady is definitely warming up and the lights are getting dim.

It was quite a ride for all those years and this fan thanks you. The severance package ain't too shabby either.