Friday, September 30, 2016

More idle rants

In all of sportsdom, is there any team, along with their fans and certain beat writers, that whines more than the Detroit Lions? They act like a massive conspiracy is against them. It's as if bad calls are unique to them only. The refs have it in for them. Whine, whine, whine. Here's a thought --- with the exception of maybe the Cleveland Browns, what other team has been inept for so long? If the koolaided Honolulu blue and silver faithful are getting the Rodney Dangerfield no respect treatment, they've brought it on themselves. Try winning something. A couple playoff games would be a start. In the meantime, here's a box car load of cheese and crackers for them.

Remember when Buick was considered a "grandpa" car? Evidently, they're going after a new demographic. The wimp generation. Have you seen the latest batch of commercials? They're just about enough to make Pee Wee Herman and Richard Simmons look like Rambos in comparison.

A playoff quandary. What would happen if -- three teams wound up tied for the second wild card in the American League? For the sake of argument, let's suppose Toronto gets one wild card spot. Then Baltimore, Detroit, and Seattle all wind up with the same regular season record. How would they play it off? A lottery, drawing numbers out of a hat, to determine which two teams play a one game knockout while the third gets a bye? Or are there tie-breakers to determine such a format? Beats me, but it could happen.

College game of the week. Though there are several interesting ones, notably Wisconsin visiting Michigan, both well within the Top Ten, it's gotta be Louisville going to Clemson. The Cardinals have a wunderkind quarterback in Lamarr Jackson that's already made everybody forget about Teddy Bridgewater, while Dabo's bos are coming off a national championship appearance last year and sport a Heisman candidate of their own in QB Deshaun Watson.

What's that? Once high and mighty Michigan State is less than a touchdown favorite over lowly Indiana? This is what happens when a team gets thrashed in their own house by the above mentioned Wisconsin. They had a good run for a while, but the Spartans can forget about being contenders on the national stage this year, or probably even vying for the Big Ten crown. With Michigan, Wisconsin, and currently ranked #2 Ohio State in the mix, it ain't looking good in East Lansing.

In other news, we are left to question the veracity of a couple of notable "charities". Our beloved Presidential candidates both have one. Trump's outfit and the Clinton foundation. If yours truly has this right, we the people are supposed to give them money, which they in turn decide who to pass it along to while taking a hefty cut for themselves as "administrative costs". And they no doubt get a sizable tax deduction to boot. The filthy rich get even filthier.

Here's what I want to know. Out of over 300,000,000 people. the best the US of A can come up with for the highest office in the land is THESE two? A crook and a clown? Wow, this country's in more trouble than I thought....

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Detroit Tigers perfect storm

By a lot of weird fate coming together at the same time, the Tigers find their chances at making the playoffs looking up. In no particular order, consider----

The standings, of course. The Cleveland Indians sewed up the AL Central division title on Monday night by downing the Tigers -- again -- on Detroit's home field. The Tribe was partying. However, it was no big secret Detroit wasn't going to catch Cleveland anyway.

But the wild card race is where the Tigers caught several major breaks. With Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle, and Houston all still in the hunt, and only six games remaining, every game was crucial.

As the schedule worked out, Toronto had to play a series with Baltimore. The Jays had all but locked up one of the wild cards (three games ahead of Detroit), so it would be advantageous if Toronto knocked off Baltimore (two games ahead of Detroit). They did in the first game.

Meanwhile, in Game two of the Cleveland/Detroit series, the Indians played their B team. They cobbled together a line-up of whoever had semi-sobered up from the night before. And the Tigers had their horse, Justin Verlander pitching. Detroit clobbered the Indians. Coupled with the Baltimore loss, Detroit edged a game closer.

Out west, the two teams (Seattle and Houston) also had to play a series against each other. Somebody has to lose those games. If Detroit can win, they're gaining ground on somebody. The Mariners were only one game back of Detroit, and the Astros two. While they don't quite completely control their own destiny, the match-ups mentioned above are certainly playing out in their favor. I mean, what are the chances that the other four teams Detroit is vying with for a wild card spot would all be playing each other with a week to go in the regular season? Of course, if the Tigers lose in the meantime, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Further, after finishing up with Cleveland on Thursday, the Tigers finish the regular campaign with a three game set against the Atlanta Braves -- the worst team in the entire National League. The Braves have absolutely nothing to play for and probably can't wait to finally get this miserable season over.

Put it all together, and the Tigers couldn't have asked for a better scenario. The perfect storm.

And who knows, if they make the playoffs, anything can happen and sometimes does. The best teams throughout the regular season don't always prevail in the post season -- though it's difficult to imagine anybody knocking off the Chicago Cubs. They're the only team in all of the Major Leagues that will win over 100 games this year. The rest have already been mathematically eliminated.

It's right there for the Tigers. Everything has fallen their way with the other contending teams beating each other up as the season winds down.

Now all they have to do is win.

We'll all know Sunday night......

Monday, September 26, 2016

Spoofing names

As has been stated in this forum before, it appears there's no endorsement Peyton Manning won't sign on for. Among his bulging portfolio of clients is Nationwide insurance. You've likely seen the latest commercial bit of idiocy.

The Nationwide ad people came up with a little jingle we've often heard Manning sing, hum, whistle, whatever. "Nationwide is on our side". Gee, how clever.

The latest ad shows old chicken neck in a diner where the help is singing the same little seven syllable ditty but with different words. One, from the cook, went -- "Eats the same thing every time".

Boring. Here's a few alternatives I'd love to have seen the help sing.....

Probly wants it comped again.

Cheapskate never leaves a tip.

Why's he gotta show up here?

Man, I wish he'd take a hike.

Or perhaps even -- Check the dork at table six.

On another note, one has to wonder about certain names. Take Tyrod Taylor, QB for the Buffalo Bills. His parents named him Tie-- rod? Like the auto part? Really? What could they possibly have been thinking? I mean, what's next? Will we have a .....

Rackenpinion Roberts?

Glovebox Goldstein?

Windshield Williams?

Airbag Adams? Oh wait, a couple of those were debating on Channel 4 a little while ago.

How about a Camshaft Newton? What say? There's one of those already playing for Carolina? I've seen him in press conferences. That dude has the stupidest looking wardrobe of all time. Somebody needs to tell him that the fashion combination of punk, Bozo, and Al Jolson on acid look is never going to exactly impress a lot of people.

Alas, poor Greg Hardy. A terrific football talent but the man can't seem to stay out of his own way. He's in trouble again. You'd think he would have learned after being convicted of assaulting and threatening to kill his former girlfriend. Most judges tend to frown on such behavior. Besides allegedly being a bad teammate with a terrible work ethic, and a delusional ego problem to boot -- dude thinks he's some sort of sea monster -- go figure -- this time he got popped with possession of a controlled substance. Cocaine. Most law enforcement types and judges don't care much for that either.

Maybe Hardy is one of those guys that is destined for the abyss. Or at least landing in prison. He's gotta know, or at least should, that given his past, the powers that be will be keeping a close eye on him. It's almost like he's in a self-destruct mode.

Idle thought -- could this Hardy be a descendant of the original Oliver Hardy? You know, the black sheep of the family?

Either way, as Ollie used to say to Stanley.....

This is another fine mess you've gotten us into......

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Michigan stuff

Either Notre Dame was over-rated or Wisconsin was under-rated. How else to explain the Michigan State Spartans traveling to South Bend and easily handling the Irish, then going back home to East Lansing and getting absolutely pummeled by the Badgers?

The bad news is the Spartans can kiss any national championship aspirations goodbye. A team can't get thrashed in their own back yard to the tune of 30-6 and expect anybody to consider them serious contenders. The good news is MSU plays four "patsies" in a row before their showdown with arch rival Michigan.

Speaking of patsies, UM has played their usual cream puff games to start the schedule. Blowouts. Are they really that good and worthy of a #4 ranking? We'll see. The very same Wisconsin is coming to Ann Arbor next weekend. Should be a great game.

On the other hand, Wisconsin is going through a brutal stretch. After opening with a win against LSU, followed by a couple of their own patsies, they played/will play the following:

@Michigan State
Bye week
Ohio State
@ Iowa

That's quite the gauntlet.

The Detroit Lions are up to the same old antics. They beat an average at best Indy Colts team on the road, then went home to lose to the lowly Tenn Titans. Few expected them to win in Green Bay today. They didn't.

The glass half-fullers will say the Lions came roaring back to make it a close game. 34-27 would appear to be the case.
The glass half-emptiers would counter by saying the game was all but over in the first quarter with the Lions behind by three touchdowns. Green Bay was on cruise control for the rest of the game.

Next up for the Motown puddytats are Da Bears. If they can't beat Chicago at home to fall to 1-3, they can kiss another season goodbye as well. It's not like the league handed them a tough schedule. Besides their mandatory divisional games, their toughest competition would appear to be Philly and Houston and Dallas on the road. Still, the Lions being the Lions will be lucky to go 8-8. Just another year. In fact, the "gurus" at Sports Illustrated picked them to finish dead last in the NFC North with a 5-11 record. Meanwhile, the ever lovable, if foolish koolaiders in Detroit probably think their heroes can still salvage 11-5 -- maybe even 12-4. It truly is laughable.

With 8 games to go, the Detroit Tigers are still very much in the mix for a wild card spot to reach the postseason. KC and the Yanks have fallen back some. Houston and Seattle are right on their tails. And the Baltimore Orioles are a couple games up. Toronto has all but sewed up one wild card spot.

The Tigers need to go on another mini-run or get help elsewhere. As stated in this column before, it looks like it could very well go down to the last day.

Last but certainly not least, yours truly mourns the passing of Arnold Palmer at the age o 87. I never met the man, nor even saw him play in person. But I know one thing. Besides being the best golfer in the world back in the day, he was a class act all along.

RIP Arnie.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Patriots and rants

Like them or not, you have to hand it to the New England Patriots. No Tom Brady? No problem. His replacement, one Jimmie Garappolo, lasted all of two games before HE got hurt. No Jimmie G? No problem.

Many, particularly the "expert" talking heads, thought the Houston Texans would defeat the Patriots on Thursday night. Enter Jacoby Brissett, back-up to a back-up. He threw for a couple hundred yards, no picks, and a couple touchdowns. This was the same guy that wasn't good enough to start when he was at Florida in college. So he transferred to NC State, not exactly known as a football powerhouse. The Patriots won easily over a pretty good Houston team with him at quarterback.

It really is amazing how they keep pulling it off. The Pats have a couple wide receivers maybe five foot ten, a make-shift offensive line nobody's ever heard of, and seem to lose a couple prize free agents every year. But the wins roll on.

True, they didn't make it to the Super Bowl last year, but over the course of the last decade and a half or so, has there been a team in ANY sport that has been so consistently good as the Pats? Hats off to Bill Bellichick and his staff -- whatever it is they're still doing.

The Detroit Tigers keep hanging around and hanging around hoping to sneak into the playoffs. Cleveland has all but clinched the Central Division and Texas the West. Boston has finally opened up some ground in the Eastern, but Baltimore and Toronto are still a couple games ahead of the Tigers for the two wild cards. Houston has been hot lately and has drawn even with Detroit. Seattle's a game back and the Yankees one more.

So basically, there's five teams duking it out for two spots. It could well come down to the last game of the regular season. In that respect, the Tigers have a bit of an advantage. Their last three games are against the god-awful Atlanta Braves. Wouldn't it be something if, needing to win the last game of the season, the Tigers were beaten by the lowly Braves? Could happen.

Maybe there's hope department.

Finally, somebody has come out and put US soccer goalie Hope Solo in her place. At least a little. You know, the loudmouth loose cannon jerk that somehow keeps her place on the team. She had called the Swedish team cowards after the Americans were defeated by them fair and square a while back. Teammate Abby Wambaugh said Hope the dope should be professional about it and acknowledge her team was beaten at its own game.

That would be a start.  Dropping Ms. Solo on her head a few times for an attitude adjustment would be better. About six months with the Taliban would teach her some good old fashioned humility, but perhaps that's a bit excessive.

The Colin Kaepernick "no-stand" movement keeps morphing and growing. Many other athletes have joined in in various ways. In will be interesting when the NBA, a predominantly black league, starts in a few weeks. That's because the league itself has a rule that all players must stand for the national anthem. If the players sat en masse, would they fine them all? Or would the league give in and let it slide? This could be a firestorm waiting to happen, but something's gotta give.....

Monday, September 19, 2016

The bumbling Lions

I didn't watch the game. I mean, c'mon. What sane person would waste 3-4 hours of their time to check out the Detroit Lions playing the Tennessee Titans? With all the channels these days, surely there must have been something else on to get one's sports junkie fix.

A race. Baseball. Golf. One legged beach volleyball. Munchkin rugby. Skeet shooting for the blind. SOMETHING!!  Anything but Lions and Titans. Horrors!

But I did read and hear about it afterwards.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Lions had beaten the Indy Colts on the road the week before. Up, up, up went the Honolulu blue and silver koolaiders. Then the Lions, being the Lions, went home and stunk it up against the Titans. Thud. This is nothing new. It's been going on for sixty years, but the Motowners (and their fans) just can't seem to figure it out.

Detroit was called for 19 -- count em -- NINETEEN penalties? Really? It would appear that team can't grasp the most basic of concepts. On offense, there is absolutely no excuse for false starts. The players heard the snap count in the huddle and they can't remember it for the 10-15 seconds it takes before a normal play starts? On defense, offside is the same way. Thou shalt not move across the line of scrimmage until the ball is snapped. Pretty simple.

Head coach Jim Caldwell says these are things that can be cured. To which I say -- not so fast. If his players are so dense to as not understand the infractions mentioned in the above paragraph, well, as they say -- there just ain't no fixing stupid.

Let's face it. The Lions are a garbage team, in a garbage town, and have had clueless ownership since the JFK administration. (The very end of it, at least. William Clay Ford sealed the deal to become owner of the Lions on the very same day -- Nov. 22, 1963 -- that John F. Kennedy was, shall we say, losing his head in Dallas. How's THAT for a bad omen?)

Some of their hires, including the front office and a myriad of coaches, have been colossally bone-headed. It took them a mind-boggling 8 years to figure out Matt Millen was incompetent. Just recently the owning Ford family brought on their "estate planner" to be President of the team. A man who freely admits he knows nothing about football. Say what??

Not long ago they tolerated one Jim Schwartz for a few years as head coach. A notorious hothead, Schwartz may or may not have what it takes to be a decent coordinator. But head coach was obviously way over his head. The Peter Principle doesn't lie, current US Presidential nominees notwithstanding. Ahem.

And now it's Jim Caldwell. A similar scenario. JC was an OK right hand man working under other successful head coaches, but a flop when it came to running the show. Hark back to when he was hired just a couple years ago. Lots of teams had head coach openings. And all of them were filled by guys not named Jim Caldwell before the Lions finally got around to replacing Schwartz. There are reasons other teams passed on him. Namely, they wanted somebody who could win in the long run. Ever politically correct, JC says all the right things to keep the suckers in line, but the Lions will never be Super Bowl contenders with him at the helm. Forget that.

It should be noted that, given the "good old boy" coaching carousel in the NFL where the same guys have a long history of getting hired, fired, and rehired by somebody else, no former head coach of the Lions has ever, EVER been offered the job by another team. Detroit is where head coaches come to die. Of course they make millions while there, so they don't really need another job afterwards. But nothing much seems to change for the Lions. Different guy, different players, pretty much the same result. Over and over and over again.

So now here it is 2016 and the Lions are predictably right where they should be. Beat a mediocre team then lose to a bad one.

It's just another year. No doubt, during the season the Lions will chalk up a few highlights. But in the end, does anybody really think they have the proverbial snowball's chance of getting anywhere near the Super Bowl? This year or any one soon? Puh--leeze. And isn't that what it's all about?

Naturally, the Lions will also put up their fair share of lowlights as well. In the game against the Titans, quarterback Matthew Stafford made the "c'mon man" reels not just once, but twice. Watching him try to lumber down the field is bad enough, but when he got rolled up backwards by running into a much bigger defender was comical. Almost as funny as Mark Sanchez' infamous "butt fumble". On another occasion when he was attempting to run for some yardage, the Georgia Peach had the wisdom to slide before contact. Sort of. As it turned out, Stafford's "slide" looked somewhat akin to a barefoot water skier letting go of the rope. There's just no graceful way to go down. Luckily for the Lions, MS didn't hurt himself on the play. But it still looked Keystone Koppish. COME ON, MAN!!

There's a reason yours truly gave up on the Lions so many years ago. Actually several. They weren't any good. They were never any good. And they ain't never gonna BE any good.

So as I said at the start, I didn't watch the game. All I need to know is the Lions lost, again, committed WAY too many stupid penalties throughout, and their QB made the blooper reels a couple times.

Yup. It's the same old Lions. God bless em, their fans and ever faithful media, but no thanks to wasting time watching them.

Bring on the munchkin rugby. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Tracking the Tigers

The Detroit Tigers are one of those maddening teams that just can't seem to decide whether they want to make the playoffs or not. They'll win a few -- here we go -- then lose a few -- stuck in a rut.

Let's look at how they've played in September. First, a three game series on the road with Kansas City. The Tigers too two out of three from the defending champs, who are having what seems to be an off year. A reasonable result.

Then off to Chicago to play the Sox. Against a team they should beat more often than not, Detroit dropped two out of three. Consider that a game lost in the standings.

In all, a 3-3 road trip. Not bad, but not good either.

Back home to host the Baltimore Orioles for three games. The Tigers would lose two of them. The O-Birds are a team running neck and neck with the Tigers for a possible wild card spot. Winning two out of three from them was a necessity. Another game lost.

The Minnesota Twins came to town for four games. Not counting the Atlanta Braves in the NL, Minnesota is arguably the worst team in the majors. It was imperative the Tigers win at least three out of four, if not sweep them. They split 2-2. At least one more game lost -- more like two.

That's 13 games with a record of 6-7, all against teams the Tigers should beat, or have to beat. That isn't going to cut it.

Just last night, the division leading Cleveland Indians traveled to Detroit. Remarkably, these two teams had played each other 12 times and Cleveland had won 11 of them. That's OWNING somebody.

But this was a chance for Detroit to make at least a dent in the six games they already trailed Cleveland by. For the first two contests, the Tigers have/had their best two starting pitchers going -- Michael Fullmer and Justin Verlander, both win an extra day of rest.

Alas, in game one, the Tribe scalped the Puddytats once again to the tune of 11-4. A beatdown. Make that seven games behind and Cleveland's record against them 12-1. With only 15 games left, the Tigers can forget about winning the division. They'd have to run the table -- all 15 -- while Cleveland need only play roughly .500 ball the final two weeks for the Indians to sew it up. That race is virtually over. Cleveland wins.

In the AL East, it's a three way dogfight between Boston, Toronto and Baltimore to win the division. All are separated by only a couple games. And all have better records than the Tigers.

If we can safely assume Cleveland will win the Central and Texas the West, that leaves three playoff spots. The winner of the East and two wild cards. Quietly, out in the West, the Seattle Mariners have drawn even with the Tigers, and the Yankees lurk only a game behind. Even KC isn't totally out of it, a couple more games back. Same with the Houston Astros, though they appear to be fading.

So basically there are six teams fighting for the two playoff spots. Obviously, that means four of them aren't going to get there. If any of them could put together a mini-winning streak, say, 5-6 games, it would likely make the difference. Likewise, a team could quickly play it's way out of it by losing 5-6 in a row. Everybody has been beating everybody else up without a whole lot of movement in the standings. If the status quo remains unchanged until the end of the season, the Tigers are out. And Tgier manager Brad Ausmus is likely looking for another job.

As was said in this space a while back when there were 30 games remaining -- the Tigers need to make a move because the clock is working against them. As the games tick off and they plod along at 500, they're painting themselves into a corner. Fifteen games have gone by and nothing has changed for the Tigers.

It's squarely their own fault. The dropped game against the Chisox, another to the Birds, at least one, more like two to the Twins, and now the pounding they just got against the Indians. That's 5 games worth in the win loss column. Add 5 W's and subtract 5 Ls and the Tigers are not only sitting pretty in the wild card chase, but have a shot at catching Cleveland after all. But they couldn't do it.

True, it's certainly not over and anything can happen, but right now the Tigers are almost a long shot to get into the postseason. One can only imagine how owner Mike Ilitch feels about this. He shelled out over $200 million in player salaries this year. The team was supposed to at least make the playoffs -- dammit. Anything less would have to be considered a colossal failure.

And it just might go down that way. The Tigers can't count on ALL the other teams in the hunt to swoon. They have to do it themselves. And getting pounded by Cleveland -- again -- isn't a very good way to start. If the Tribe hammers them a couple more times, possible, even probable given how they've owned them so far this year, it's turn out the lights time in Detroit.

Fifteen to go. To have a realistic shot, the Tigers better plan on winning at least ten of them. Bumbling along at .500 ain't gonna get it.

Personally, I give them one chance in three.

We'll see.....

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tackle football. Phased out?

It's not likely, yet there are those that would advocate it. The recent elevated awareness on injuries has some people second guessing.

Some small town in South Carolina has taken the first step. They've eliminated tackle football until kids reach the age of 12. Sounds reasonable enough. When I went to grade school, back when one of the Roosevelts was President -- not sure which one -- it was a long time ago -- or maybe it was a Harrison -- we didn't even HAVE tackle football until junior high school. At least the organized version. Even pick-up games on the playground at recess were rare.

We must keep little Johnny or Joanie's precious body intact until they at least reach puberty -- right? But not everybody even agrees on that. There are many kids, and parents that would let them, that wish to play tackle at such a tender young age. And who is anybody else to tell them no?

Yet yours truly thinks tackle football at all levels will NEVER be phased out. Sure, I get it. It's a violent sport and sometimes tragic injuries can occur. Or symptoms can manifest later (from too many hits on the head) which result in any number of terrible outcomes down the road. Throw in broken bones, shredded ligaments and the like, and it can be downright dangerous.

But here's the thing. While kids at the high school level might not comprehend, or care, about the risks involved, does anybody really think "Friday night lights" is going to be abolished -- ever? There are towns, thousands of them across the nation, that LIVE for this stuff. Not just the players, but classmates, parents, alumni, and everyday citizens in the school district would scream bloody murder if high school tackle football went away. And no, flag football would not be a reasonable alternative.

Certainly by the college level the young men know they can get hurt, but to some of them being good at football is the ONLY way they're ever getting to college. They play with the dream of....

Ultimately making it to the NFL. Only the very best ones, creme da le creme, will. Far less than 1%. Not even one per entire school district on average. And it's certainly not just the university players, coaches, and fans at stake if tackle football disappears. For many schools, football is a HUGE source of revenue. Not just the fans attending the games, but TV money and paraphernalia sales are in the millions.

Can anybody for one second even imagine college football going poof? It would be a disaster. Not going to happen.

Of course, most of the serious injuries we've heard about lately come from the NFL. It makes sense. Though the players are highly conditioned, at least most of them, and have the best equipment possible, these guys are faster and hit each other much harder than at the lower levels. Things are going to break and unseen damage is inevitable.

But let's get real. The pros make a lot of money and they go into this field fully knowing they're going to get banged, bruised, and possibly worse. Nobody makes them do this. In fact, the competition to get to the NFL is ferocious. For every one that makes it, there's at least another hundred that wished they had.

To boot, there are many other activities people "stand in line" for hoping they get a chance to participate in that can be hazardous to their health. Try race car driving. Or being a firefighter. How about boxing? The whole intent of the game is to beat the opponent senseless. Brave souls attempt to climb mountains all over the world. Sometimes bad things happen. Should we outlaw that too? Cops would seem to be a necessity but they can, and sometimes do, get killed doing their jobs. It goes with the territory as they say.

The thought of the NFL folding up due to safety concerns is laughable. There are 32 franchises out there generating billions of dollars every year that provide employment for countless thousands of people. Not just the players. Staffs from waterboys to scouts to secretaries to accountants to lawyers to who knows what else?

Take away the NFL and a lot of people suffer. It's the bread and butter of TV people. They pay billions just for the RIGHT to televise games. Local bars will be packed on game days by rabid fans watching it on the flat screens. No football means a serious loss of business.

Owners compete with each other to see who can build the next shiniest, glitziest mega-palace for their teams to play in. Occasional tractor pulls and geriatric rock concerts aside, it's always seemed illogical for these behemoth stadiums to sit unused far more than they're in "session". That another thing that has always been weird. Why do teams have to have a separate "practice facility"? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to just practice in the stadium where they play?

Add up all the above and tackle football isn't going anywhere. It means too much to too many people. Though the NFL has tried to "water down" the game, hence making it "safer" with various rule changes, it will always be violent. People will get hurt. It the nature of the beast.

Sure, concussions and worse are a concern. But to think for one second contact can be taken away, such as flag football, and the fans will keep coming and rooting in droves for their teams is pure fantasy. Ain't gonna happen. That would be the equivalent the NASCAR boys and girls out of their regular rides and replacing them with some sort of "nerf" cars. How well do you think that would go over with the left turn gear heads?

As has been mentioned in this space before, for all the better equipment and rule changes, there's always been a better way of cutting down on head injuries. For the most part these occur when players lower their heads and use them as battering rams -- right?

So keep everything else the same but cut the top off the helmets to expose the top of their heads. That would make them straighten up, on both sides of the ball, at least the ones that wanted to live through the game. Hit as hard as you want boys but lead with your head at your own peril.

As Hannibal used to say -- what a great show -- I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, September 12, 2016

NFL hits

Week 1 is in the books. There have been some impressive and some no-so-hot events.

The New England Patriots were definitely impressive. Playing without Tom Brady. Jimmy Garappolo is basically a rookie quarterback. But he got it done and more.

Playing without the best tight end and one of the most formidable offensive weapons in the league -- Rob Gronkowski.

On the road.

As 6 point underdogs.

Against an Arizona Cardinal team many pick to go to the Super Bowl.

Like him or not, it's one more feather in the genius cap of Bill Bellichick.

Conversely, Robert Griffin III might as well be officially chalked up as a bust. Though the former Baylor hot shot had a decent rookie year with the Redskins, he's been pretty much worthless ever since. When he wasn't making bone-head plays, he kept getting hurt. The Skins had finally seen enough to part ways with him. Why keep paying a guy big bucks who, even when healthy, isn't any good?

There's a reason he wound up on the ever-bottom feeding Cleveland Browns. Likely nobody else would have him. If Brownie fans thought they'd been through the wringer with Johnny Manzeil, things just got worse. And sure enough, during the very first game, down and out went Griffin again. This time with a injury to his non-throwing arm. Why the media keeps trying to make RG III into something he will never be -- a good quarterback -- would seem to be a good question. This guy ain't no good. He ain't never gonna BE no good.

Other players around the league have picked up on Colin Kaepernick's little protest bit regarding the national anthem. Some are sitting or kneeling. Some hold hands like a girl scout troop. One even raised his fist in the old black power symbol from the 60's.

For those who would object, Roger Goodell and the NFL appear powerless to stop it. They can't issue a mandate depriving their employees of freedom of expression -- right? Or maybe they could. After all, they've fined players for various petty violations in the past. Like not having their uniform tucked in. Or how they wear their socks. If they can enforce a dress code, like many other employers, who's to say they couldn't insist on players standing for the anthem?

One NHL coach flat out told his players if they pulled such a stunt, they'd be benched immediately. Of course hockey is a whole different breed of animals.

In truth, any particular NFL team could do the same thing. Maybe. Surely they'd face a backlash from the Players Union, and might even eventually crash and burn in court down the road.

But it would be interesting to see one try it.

Personally, I think this is much ado about nothing. If a guy doesn't want to stand, why should anybody care? Different strokes and let it go at that.

Eventually, like most other so-called hot issue topics, the media will tire of this nonsense, stop fanning the flames, and move on to something else. That's the only thing that drove it in the first place. Unlike Spy, Deflate, and some other "gates" that could be construed as trying to gain an unfair advantage, this was no more than mere symbolism to start with.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Detroit Lions won their opener against the Indy Colts. Yours truly happened to wander into a local watering hole just as the game was getting over. Those exiting were delirious with excitement. This is finally the year, they claimed.

Sigh. They never learn. Their team will give the suckers just enough every year to keep them coming back. It's pyrite. Fool's gold. Always has been.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shaq's 30%

Shaquille O'Neal has come out and said he was only 30% of the player he could have been. Well then. The big goof has it right in a lot more ways than one.

Few would question his free-throw shooting was about 30% of what it should have been. A team of masons couldn't throw up that many bricks. Pit--ee--ful.

From the field, Shaq was a regular dead-eye. Literally. Even a blind person could probably shoot outside shots as well as he did. Get the behemoth more than 10 feet away from the basket and there was no point in guarding him. Let him shoot. He can't make it.

Footspeed? Are we to believe he was only running at 30% of his capability? Or was he just flat-out slow naturally? Seismologists knew when Shaq was lumbering down the floor. The needles on the Richter scale twitched.

How about passing? While he likely didn't pass too many restaurants to keep up his enormous weight, Shaq wasn't so hot distributing the ball to his teammates. Like Kobe Bryant, once he got the ball it usually wasn't going anywhere else. 30% would be a high figure.

There are big men that can ball-handle (dribble). Shaq was decidedly not one of them. If he put it on the floor in traffic, there was only about a 30% chance he wouldn't get stripped of it. A clumsy ox trying to weave his way through a pack of svelte cheetahs comes to mind. Did I mention foot-speed?

And then there are all the moronic commercials he's appeared in over the years. Someone with about 30% of a brain knew to quickly change the channel or hit the "mute" button when his mug showed up on the air hawking a product. One is left to wonder just who the target audience of the sponsors was. The five and under crowd? Those in mental institutions? Any sane adult would find his pitches either offensive or laughable.

Speaking of sane adults.....  Maybe we only saw 30% of Shaq's smarts over the years. We can hope. Because if that was all he had in the "sharp" department, he may as well have been advertising bowling balls. Or nerf toys. Let's just say the Mensa people likely weren't impressed. Or even a half-crazed idiot like yours truly.

Add it all up and what do you have?

Give or take some sort of chuckle-head moment here or there -- 30% sounds about right.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Ryan Lochte justice joke

This just in. Ryan Lochte has finally been punished for his post-Olympic antics. You remember, he and three teammates made up a story about getting robbed at gunpoint that proved to be just that -- a story. A lie.

So now Lochte has been suspended for 10 months by the swimming powers that be in the USA. That would seem to raise a question.

Suspended from WHAT? With the Olympics in the books and the next world championships a year and a half out, just what, pray tell, do the fish people have to do?

Train? They can hardly keep Lochte out of pools to train is he wishes to. And let's face it. Water is water, unless you live in Flint, Michigan. Ahem.

Back in Brazil, the scene of the crime(s), the authorities weren't too happy with Lochte and Co. After vandalizing a public place, compounding it with making up a bogus robbery story (filing a false police report) did not go over well. Warrants were issued for their arrests.

But Lochte had already escaped on an early flight back to the states. The other three were rounded up and eventually allowed to leave. Apparently, after several thousand dollars had changed hands in what appears to be a bribe.

If convicted of the charges, Lochte could have faced up to 18 months in prison. But the only way that happens is if he returns, or is extradited to Brazil. The chances of that happening? About the same as Hillary being hauled off in irons for her email snafu. In other words -- it won't. This story, and case, will die.

In the meantime, some of Lochte's former sponsors have jumped ship. They don't want to be associated with somebody of his, shall we say, dubious character. Yet others have replaced them. Maybe they think any publicity is good publicity and having a controversial figure hawking their products will work to their advantage. They could well be right.

In the end, it all turned out to be a joke of justice. Lochte and friends committed crimes in a foreign country yet they will suffer not one whit of real punishment. To "suspend" him at this point is somewhere between laughable and pathetic.

If an ordinary person had done the same, chances are good they'd be run through the criminal justice system in Brazil and likely jailed while the outcome was pending. In a fair world, a crime is a crime, and one should do the time. But it's not fair. An Olympian is going to get special treatment. It's almost like diplomatic immunity, when a foreign national can commit a horrible crime, but the worst that can happen to him/her is being sent back to their own country. It's not right.

In a few weeks or months, this will all fade away and be forgotten like it never happened. But it did happen. For the US authorities to say they are "punishing" Lochte is a slap in the face to an objective person. Better they do nothing than offer up some non-sentence and claim justice has been done.

So what does Lochte do now? When he's not in a pool somewhere, he'll be practicing for his next bit on Dancing With The Stars. Or making commercials for his new sponsors. The money will continue to roll in.

Any lingering charges in Brazil will likely be quietly disposed of through back channels of both governments. This is not exactly a big deal in their world. This is something both publics will likely never hear about. The media hounds will move on to whatever their next stories are.

In sum, Lochte and his pals. though guilty -- they admitted as much later -- will skate.

And it's not right.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Rogue cops

It appears we have a potential snafu on our hands. Because Colin Kaepernick has refused to stand for the national anthem, the cops that normally patrol the home stadium in which he plays have threatened to boycott unless CK changes his ways.

This is unacceptable, even outrageous. Kaepernick has every right to do, or not do, what he's doing. No law on any book forbids it. Conversely, the cops take an oath. They are sworn to protect and serve. That means everybody. They don't get to pick and choose on the basis of their own feelings.

Perhaps it's not the anthem thing at all. Reportedly, CK wore a pair of socks with a picture of a pig in a police cap. Maybe that's what really set them off. If so, those boys and girls need to do some serious growing up. People in America protest for, and against all manner of different things and in various ways. A pair of socks should hardly be a deal breaker when it comes to their duties.

If allowed to get away with this, it's hard to say where it will stop. If the cops can force Kaepernick and/or the 49ers/league into changing their position by threatening to withhold service -- what could come next?

Perhaps they'd refuse to respond to a home burglary if the owner had once displayed a "Vote No" sign for a police millage on their lawn. Or ignore a bank robbery in progress if the institution hadn't contributed handsomely to one of their fundraisers. Letting them force their beliefs on a citizen exercising his rights, in this case Kaepernick, could be opening Pandora's box to all manner of abuses.

Good grief, cops in America already have a bad enough image with many people. And the ones in the Bay area are ranked high on the list, perceived or real. They don't need to bring even more aggravation down on themselves. Pulling a hair-brained stunt like what they currently threaten would be counterproductive to the folks in blue. How come they can't see that?

Besides, patrolling football games is cream-puff duty. And trust me, cops know a lot about cream puffs. And glazed doughnuts. And fritters. And cinnamon rolls. Everything except actually paying for it. You get it, but I digress.

Here's what should happen. Any cop, from the commissioner and chief on down, that refuses to do their sworn duty in this case should be fired on the spot. This little blue revolt cannot be allowed to happen.

Because if it does succeed, they would have set a scary precedent, and you just know it will only be the beginning. Good luck with what will surely come next.

Agree or disagree with him, Colin Kaepernick is doing nothing he isn't absolutely entitled to do. On the other hand, what these cops are suggesting is nothing more than strong arm thug tactics. The people suffer more than enough of that already.

There's a difference. A big one.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem

It's certainly been big news in the sports world and beyond that San Fran 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick has recently refused to stand for the national anthem. While standing for the Star Spangled Banner is surely regarded as a patriotic gesture ---

He doesn't have to. There's a lot of things people aren't required to do. One can stop bathing and brushing their teeth. Or wear the same clothes every day, including underwear and socks (unlaundered) for weeks or even months at a time. There's no law on the books compelling these actions. One won't get hauled off to the pokey and/or prosecuted for any of the above.

But there might be other consequences. Others don't necessarily have to approve. In fact, it is THEIR right to criticize and even strongly dislike a person who chooses to engage in such activity, or inactivity.

Kaepernick has seen his fair share of disapproval rain down on his head. It's America. Kaepernick can sit for his own reasons, while others make him out to be some sort of anti-American villain. All are well within their rights.

CK has experienced great success in the football world. Even making it to the NFL is quite the feat, let alone being a starting QB for a team playing in the Super Bowl. Scads of money and fame come with the territory. Few begrudge him his accomplishments in this regard.

Yet besides the anthem issue, things have not gone well for Kaepernick. The once high and mighty 49ers have become one of the worst teams in the league. CK himself has recently found out he lost his starting QB job. This to one Blaine Gabbert -- he of the career 8-27 record. Some guy that's won only a quarter of his starts has displaced him? Oh my.

Not that it should make any difference, but if somebody's going to take an unpopular stand on an issue, it's usually helpful if they've been riding some degree of success. CK has seemed to have run into the proverbial double whammy. He and his team have fallen off drastically from what they once were and Kaepernick himself has become distinctly unlikable to millions on a personal basis.

Whether or not CK's reasons for his recent actions are viable is open to debate. Like most politics, there's no iron-clad right and wrong. It's a matter of opinion. People on both sides can rant, rave, and stomp their feet for or against an issue, but the other side deserves equal respect as well. And let's be clear. Kaepernick is hardly the lone ranger here. Though his stance is unpopular with the majority, there can be no doubt he has his backers as well.

Thing is, Kaepernick has painted himself into a corner. He can continue to stand (or sit) for what he believes to be a righteous cause and watch his popularity wither away even more. Or he can flip-flop and fall in line with the views of the majority. In that case, there are those that would call him a phony, a grandstander looking for attention, even a coward. There's no easy way out of this mess for not so poor CK.

He's making millions as, presumably, an oppressed black man. Then again, a truly oppressed individual wouldn't have the stage to champion a cause that CK enjoys as a high profile athlete. Again, it can be seen both ways.

It probably wouldn't be a good idea for Kaepernick to escalate the matter by, say, burning US flags. If he thinks the patriotic sharks are agitated now, they'd be in a regular feeding frenzy if he started torching the red, white and blue.

But while yours truly doesn't advocate such an action, it's not illegal either. Just unpopular. In fact, the US Flag Code itself (yes, there is such a thing) clearly states the preferred method of disposing of an unwanted or worn out flag is to burn it. By definition, even a protester no longer "wants" the flag he/she is about to set fire to. You can hate him/her for it, but they not only have a right, existing governmental policy itself encourages it. Leave it to the bureaucrats to create a set of "rules", then rail against those that would follow them. Only in America.

Maybe this whole thing will die down in time. CK can continue to sit (in more ways than one) and the attention of those that will deride him will shift elsewhere. It's hard to believe this will be an on-going hot button issue. Don't we have more pressing things to concern ourselves with?

You know, like your significant other decide to stop bathing, brushing their teeth, and wearing the same clothes for a year or so.

Now THAT would be a problem......