Monday, November 28, 2016

Feeling for Hue Jackon. Not

Just when you think you've heard every possible variation of limp-wristed and whiny apologetic rhetoric, a story like this comes along. We should all feel so, so sorry for poor Hue Jackson, head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

To which yours truly says -- shut up. Not a chance.

True, the Browns have long been a woeful NFL franchise, but Jackson knew that going in when he actively campaigned for the job and finally got it. Nothing much was expected of them this year and, as it's turned out, they've provided even less.

Cleveland was a very bad 3-13 last year. So far in 2016, they're 0-12, and could well match the Detroit Lions' futility of a winless season. I mean, who are they going to beat? They're just -- that -- bad.

Put another way, Jackson and his staff have not only failed to improve the Browns, but have somehow managed to make them even worse.  You, I, or one of our pets could coach a team to an 0-12 record. That's some kind of seriously ugly.

Though this author tried to discover the terms of Jackson's contract, he was unable. It's like it's a big secret. Classified. Yet we can likely assume that as an NFL head coach, Jackson's making in the millions of dollars for contributing to what amounts to a gross display of incompetence. Further, it's almost a certainty his contract is for multiple years. Guaranteed, of course. No new head coach and/or his agent is going to sign on for a single season. It just doesn't happen.

At a recent press conference, Jackson was even more pitiful than his team has shown so far this year.
He stated that he hadn't even begun to open up his bag of tricks. To which one could logically reply, "Um, Hue, if you've got any football goodies you haven't shown yet -- now would be a good time. And BTW, where the hell have they been for a last three months?"

Another pearl of Jackson wisdom --- "Being 0-12 is the hardest thing ever". This, as his eyes appeared to well up with tears.

We should feel bad, just awful, that poor Hue is being made to go through such an ordeal.

NOT. Did I mention the millions of dollars he's making as his team has become a total embarrassment? The laughingstock of the league? Bet you wish you had a job like that. Screw up everything you touch but continue to rake in megabucks. You wouldn't cry, but rather jump for joy. This is hard???

And what is the alternative? If the Browns fire him, they're no doubt on the hook to pay him even MORE millions to sit around doing nothing at home.

Speaking of fired, Jackson's track record speaks for itself as well. He spent several single seasons with various other NFL teams as an offensive coordinator. The key word, of course, is "single". There's usually a good reason a coordinator is let go after one year. They aren't any good.

He also spent, you guessed it, one season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Though the black and silver crew went 8-8 on his watch, much more was expected of them. Therefore, Jackson was fired from there as well.

Why any team would want his services as a head coach would seem to be an interesting question. But hey, it's the Browns -- right? Just when you think that things can't possibly get any worse, they'll go out and put some guy like Hue Jackson is charge. Good grief.

And we're supposed to feel sorry for this dude? The multi-millionaire and counting that's presided over one of the most inept teams in the history of the league? And the worst that can happen to him is losing the remaining four games -- likely -- then being fired to collect piles of free money?

I think not.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Big 10 playoff jumble

This turned out to be quite the mess. In no particular order, consider the following:

In a game most of the country watched closely, Ohio State, at home, barely squeaked by Michigan. The contest could have easily gone either way, given it took 2 overtimes to decide, but for the sake of argument let's say the best team prevailed. After all, the bookies had OSU as a 5 point favorite going in.

But the Buckeyes didn't even win their own division in the Big 10. That's because they were beaten on the road by Penn State earlier in the season.

Conversely, Michigan had hammered PSU weeks ago. So who's the best team?

Just last week, OSU eked out a victory at Michigan State. The Spartans are awful this year. They aren't even bowl eligible. Yet it was a game the Buckeyes could have -- likely should have lost.

Meanwhile, Michigan had semi-convincingly defeated MSU -- at MSU -- just a couple weeks ago. But the Wolverines dropped a game at Iowa a few weeks back. True, it was a nail biter, and again could have gone either way. But UM came up short. This loss has come back to haunt UM in the playoff picture. Any team purporting to be national championship contenders isn't supposed to drop a game, regardless of venue, to an unranked opponent. Period.

Michigan got by Wisconsin at home.

The Buckeyes beat them on the road.

Both were hard fought close contests, and these are the only blemishes on the Badgers' record. Other than that, they've pretty well rolled after an opening narrow win over LSU, a quality team.

But as things worked out, neither Michigan nor Ohio State will even compete for the Big 10 conference championship. That honor will go to Penn State and Wisconsin -- both ranked below UM and OSU. Weird, huh?

As it stands, Alabama and Ohio State are in regarding the Final Four. Likely too is Clemson. The fourth spot is up for grabs, and Washington out west can make a legitimate claim to it. But wait a second, they got hammered at home themselves a couple weeks back by unranked Southern Cal. That's not supposed to happen. So do the Huskies deserve a spot? Maybe, maybe not. But if not them -- who?

Michigan is likely out, though could arguably be considered among the best four teams in the country.

Of course, even Bama and/or Clemson could lose their own conference championship games next weekend. Not likely, but possible. How would that jumble the standings for the selection committee? What a nightmare.

Would UM get back in by default? Or might they be chosen anyway, even given the close, but fresh loss at OSU? Also possible.

Meanwhile, Ohio State's in the catbird seat. They don't even have to play next week, hence no chance of a loss, but are a virtual lock to be in the Final Four. While other teams, technically better qualified than the Buckeyes slug it out, OSU gets a free pass into the playoffs. Does that make sense?

The current four team playoff system is certainly better than the old ways, just two schools being selected to play for the championship -- and far more desirable than even further back, a mish-mash of various bowls, not always featuring top contenders squaring off. A champion was crowned by a vote, rather than being decided on the field. It's looks so dumb in hindsight, but the powers that be have always been resistant to change. Unless it means more money -- lots of it -- they'd just as soon sit on "tradition", which could quite possibly result in a very questionable outcome regarding a national champion.

The solution? Though it righteously should have been this way all along, this particular year begs for it.

Expand the playoff format to eight teams. Sure, numbers 9 through probably 12 would likely squawk they were underrated, hence jobbed, but the line has to drawn somewhere. And it's highly unlikely anybody not ranked in the top eight at the end of the year is worthy of a championship shot anyway. And heck, it's just one more Saturday of games. After the conference championship games, the teams in the hunt have over a month off to sit around. They'd love to play an extra match and the participating schools would get another huge payday. On that note, spare me the argument that this would cut into the studying time for the precious "student-athletes". Good grief, a lot of the poor dears at huge collegiate football factories likely couldn't pass a seventh grade algebra exam. Who's kidding who?

This would also solve the dilemma of this year, and likely in the future. Take the following eight teams, and put them in a three game playoff.

Ohio State
Penn State
And throw in Colorado. Though flying under the radar all year, the Buffs appear worthy as well.

Better yet, don't seed them where #1 plays #8, 2 versus 7, etc.

Draw the potential matches out of a hat and let the chips fall where they may. But nobody gets to play a game in their home state. Match them up to various bowl sites accordingly. How cool, not to mention fair, not to mention inclusive, would that be?

And isn't inclusivity the latest rage in America?

Well then, make it so when it comes to the playoffs.

And all the above mentioned items about team A beat team B, B beat C, and C beat A -- so who's best wouldn't have to be arbitrarily chosen for the chance at big time glory.

It would be decided on the field, with every worthy contender getting a chance.


Heck, every other sport does it that way, both in college and the pros. Have since forever. Even the lower divisions in college football have a better playoff system. Just not the big boys. How the hell can that be?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Joe Buck and the Lions

Football announcer Joe Buck has a book out. It's called "Lucky Bastard". Yours truly has yet to read it -- probably never will -- but presumably the title refers more to his good fortune than dubious parentage.

Assuming that to be true, Joe is the son of long time play-by-play man Jack Buck, recently deceased. Old Jack had made quite a name for himself and is still considered somewhat legendary in the talking head community.

By "lucky bastard", we might also assume young Joe is referring to the job he has. In other words, he acknowledges he might not have got it if not for his daddy, else he be slinging fries or mopping floors somewhere. You know -- horrors!! -- a real job.

Like Jeremy Schapp, son of sports media pioneer Dick, by pure dumb luck -- nepotism notwithstanding --the young Buck is rolling in the dough. Hmm, there's a pun in there somewhere. Nevermind.

Which brings me to the Detroit Lions. They've been experiencing their own share of dumb luck lately as well. Now at 7-4, they lead the NFC North by a full game, actually two, given they hold the tie-breaker over the Minnesota Vikings.

It's long been the habit of Lions' fans, and their local media, to take good breaks in stride when they happen to their team -- almost like they're supposed to happen. A given. But they'll scream foul and bloody murder when yet another happenstance goes against them. It could certainly be argued that in the whole scheme of things, breaks usually have a way of evening out eventually.

The Lions have been fortunate indeed this year to date. When it comes to breaks, they've fallen into the tall cotton side of things much more so than the proverbial briar patch.

Several instances could be cited over several games, but for the purpose of this article let's just consider the two games they've played against the Vikings -- both Detroit wins. While the Lions and their fans take it in stride, the Vikings and their own followers must feel cursed. Both were games the Vikings could have won, and likely should have. Had that happened, Detroit would now be 5-6 and the Vikes 8-3. A huge swing in the standings, not to mention playoff implications.

In their first meeting in Minnesota, all Vikings' place kicker Blair Walsh had to do was boot an extra point. Had he done so successfully, there would have been no overtime, which the Lions came back to win in. The Vikings would have won the game in regulation. But he missed it. True, they've moved the "spot" back on PAT's but they're still no longer than a chip shot field goal. NFL kickers are expected to make them on a regular basis. If they can't, they won't be in the league for very long.

The Lions did nothing to win this game, and should have lost. But by a stroke of sheer luck, they came away with a W.

In the recently concluded Thanksgiving day game, at Detroit, the score was tied, and Minnesota had the ball with a minute and a half left, a couple of time-outs, and decent field position. With Detroit playing a loose, not quite "prevent" defense, it didn't seem too much to expect the Vikings to gain a couple chunks of yardage to get into at least long field goal range. The Lions had to try and hold on and hope for OT again.

Then somebody extraordinary happened -- again. Detroit cornerback Darius Slay intercepted a Sam Bradford pass, and it was the Lions in field goal position to win the game. Which they did as time expired.

As it was written up by some Detroit area scribes, Slay had made a brilliant play, the Lions had "made" their own break yet again, and all was well in Honolulu blue and silver land. Chalk up another W.

Nothing could be further from reality regarding that particular play. Slay may be a decent corner, but he takes chances and oftentimes gets burned.

Much more so, that particular pass was a boneheaded decision by Bradford. A throw that never should have been made. Bradford knows it, as do his coaches. The Lions didn't earn this W, they lucked into it. Again.

Barring a total collapse, Detroit should be able to cruise into the playoffs, even have a home game as division champs. Though certainly stranger things have happened to the Lions -- one never knows what they might stumble into next -- given their relatively easy remaining schedule it's unlikely even the Lions could find a way to screw it up. But their history tells us not to hold our breath. It IS still the Ford owned Lions -- right?

One can't help but feel a bit for the Vikings. First they lose their starting QB Teddy Bridgewater, then all-world running back Adrian Petersen. Also their starting left tackle, who protects the QB's "blind" side on pass plays.

And in head-to-head match-ups with the Lions, the Vikes had one win in the bag and another within reach, only to have Murphy's Law kick them in the head both times. Two Ws became two Ls. Their own spot in the playoffs is very much in jeopardy. 8-3 would look a whole lot better than 5-6.

But the Detroit Lions merrily skip along, oblivious to just how lucky they were in those two games.

Here's hoping that if and when the great wheel of fortune lands on a bad break for the Lions -- it'll happen eventually -- we won't have to listen to the cacaphony of "we was robbed" that we've heard so often in the past.

They'll understand that not everything is destined to always go their way and accept it in the spirit of fairness in the real world.

But don't count on it.....

On that note, perhaps some aspiring author will come along and write a book on how the Lions' season has played out so far, particularly the Minnesota games.

Add an "s" to the end, and it could be titled the same as Buck's book. Who's your daddy indeed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

'Nuff said.

The Tom Gores betrayal and poppycock

So the Pistons are moving back to Detroit. Somewhere, their late former owner Bill Davidson is likely rolling over in his grave. More on that later.

Current owner Tom Gores cited three reasons for the move. To wit:  "Why? One, it's great for the Pistons. It is the right call for our fans, our players, how we can impact the community. Two, the arena. Three, the Ilitch partnership". 

All of this is a betrayal and poppycock of the highest order. Let us examine it a bit further. 

First, it is not the right call for the fans, nor players. The public has dutifully attended games in their current residence, The Palace, in Auburn Hills for almost 30 years. They have packed the house at exorbitant prices when the product was good, and shied away when the team stunk -- as they rightly should. 

Second, how does Gores figure this is good for the players? Those guys don't live in Detroit, but rather the affluent suburbs, notably to the north. They'll have further to travel to their own home games and practices.

He's impacting the community alright, by taking money away from Auburn Hills and giving it to Detroit. Which of the two do you think would be more prudent -- see honest and transparent --in their financial dealings given such a windfall? Which has had a recent history of corruption, former leaders going to prison, and crashed into bankruptcy?

Two, the arena. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Palace. It remains a world class facility. Once upon a time, the above mentioned Bill Davidson built it out of money from his own rather deep pockets. It's location was such that hundreds of residents and small business owners weren't coerced off their land to make room for such a privately owned project, much less suffer the ultimate insult of also being forced to cough up their tax-paying dollars to finance it. Mr. Davidson did it the right way, truly a rarity in the world of billionaire team owners. 

Further, let's speak a little of the arena even the Detroit Red Wings are abandoning -- Joe Louis. As we know, Joe Louis was a boxer and held the heavyweight championship for over a decade. Impressive stuff, back in the day. Yet he wasn't from Detroit, but rather an Alabama native. Louis was illiterate, and wound up punch drunk and totally broke before he finally died. This is the sort of person a professional Detroit sports franchise named an arena after?  Especially a HOCKEY team? Wouldn't that be a little bit like naming a football stadium after a tennis player? It made no sense whatsoever. Only in Detroit could they come up with such twisted logic.

So now, the brand new boondoggle will be named Little Caesar's Arena. Well, of course it will. This is the pizza outfit that made Mike Ilitch, owner of the Red Wings, rich in the first place. You can bet your last piece of pepperoni that his accountants will figure out a way to find a loophole big enough to drive Chris Christie through, because naming the arena after his company is advertisement -- hence deductible. Subtle, but very clever. 

Three, the Ilitch partnership. Another thing the average citizen can count on, to the same degree as death and taxes, is that when two billionaires get together and collaborate on a business venture, the commoners are going to get screwed somehow. Sure enough, the poor slobs in Detroit, still pretty much a broke city, are already on the hook for over $34 million in future tax dollars. That number is likely to rise due to cost overruns -- which always happen in these sort of projects. That's not even to mention how many folks will be forced out of the homes they've lived in for generations to make room for the shiny new -- and quite unnecessary -- sports venue. 

Current Detroit mayor Mike Duggan rants that the city is the only one that will feature all four major professional sports teams in the downtown area. Well then. First, a lot of cities don't even HAVE teams in all four sports. And second, any owner that cares about his fan base will take his product to them -- mostly in the burbs -- rather than expect them to fight their way downtown hoping they don't get mugged coming or going in mostly a crime-ridden armpit city such as Detroit. 

As if it matters, even former Piston Greg Kelser chipped in his two cents. Never much of an NBA player, Kelser, from the Detroit area, is "all in" with the move. Well duh. He's also a current commentator for the team. If he wants to keep that job, it doesn't take a genius to figure out Kelser will spout the "party line", whether it makes sense or not.

In the end, the Pistons will be headed back to Detroit. As a resident of the northern suburbs, yours truly went to lots of games at the Palace and spent thousands of dollars there. When they move back to Detroit, I'm done with them. Enjoy your new digs but you'll never get another penny out of me. 

And what is to become of the Palace? Will it just waste away like the Pontiac Silverdome did after the Detroit Lions left? All that effort and money that Bill Davidson put into creating such a fantastic facility just gets kicked to the curb? 

One added little bit of hypocrisy is Tom Gores is a Flint native himself. Yet the company HE got rich with, Platinum Equity, is based in Los Angeles. And this is the same man talking about making a positive impact on a community?  For Detroit -- the tail that continues to wag the dog of the entire state of Michigan? THAT guy? Maybe he should go into politics. 

Yet perhaps we should have expected it. This is what can happen when a couple uber-rich guys get together on a project. Combine Gores's hair and Ilitch's pizzas and what do you get?

I don't know either, but you can bet it's going to be mighty greasy in more ways than one. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Talking to a dead man

Today, November 20, is -- would have been -- my father's birthday. I was holding his hand when he finally succumbed to cancer in January of 1992. I like to think I'm not alone in saying I was glad he finally died. Anyone who has seen a loved one wither away from that horrible disease would likely understand. Toward the end, my dad was skin and bones, wracked with pain no meds could control, and had totally lost his mental faculties. At last, a merciful end to all the suffering.

At the same time, 1992 seems like last week and a very long time ago. Has it actually been almost 25 years since my pop passed away? Doesn't feel like it. On the other hand, back in 1992 some Arkansas yahoo named Clinton was making a run for the Presidency against an incumbent -- one George H. W. Bush. No way, right? We know how that turned out.

It was also about the same time the Detroit Lions won their one and only playoff game since Super Bowls started a half century ago. Yours truly just happened to be at that game, played in the long since defunct Silverdome. The Lions completely trashed the Dallas Cowboys 38-6. To this day, I blame that experience on my hearing loss. It was so incredibly loud in there. Couldn't have been the pipes from all those thousands of miles on the Harley and probably 100 rock concerts over the years. Could it?

My dad was a Lions fan back in the day and got me hooked at a very young age. Every Sunday (after church of course) they were on TV, we'd retire to the very small den he had crafted upstairs in our equally small house, and tune in while eating pickled bologna and crackers. It was dad/eldest son quality time, dammit. No mom or pesky little brother allowed. I'll get back to that.

But as we all know, life goes on for those fortunate enough to still be here, and on this Sunday yours truly settled into his usual routine. Sitting down with my NY Times Sunday crossword, a tall glass of V8 juice, and firing up the 55 inch flat screen to pig out on sports.

Click. What's that? The Lions taking on the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars? Talk about a snooze fest. These two teams have been deader than my pop since he took his last breath. No thanks. Click.

It was then 2:53 in the afternoon. The programming said the green flag at the final NASCAR race to determine a champion will fly in exactly 7 minutes at 3 o'clock sharp. They lied. I hate liars. My dad never lied to me -- far as I know. He hated them too.

Fifteen minutes later the drivers still hadn't even gotten in their cars. Just a lot of pomp and talking heads blathering away. Finally, some handsome young stud trotted out to sing the national anthem. He seemed more inclined to show off his singing skills than honoring the premise on which the song was based. In other words, he jazzed it up. No doubt, somewhere pretty girls swooned. It earned him a click halfway through from me. Sing it like it was written or get the hell off the stage. Is that so difficult? 

My dad couldn't much sing either. I found that out in the above mentioned church. While dressed up in my monkey suit, with a quarter in hand to eventually drop into the offering plate, listening to my father trying so sing along to the hymns was brutal. 

Click. Oh man. Judge Judy? Is that shrew still around? My mom, who I lost just a couple months ago, sweet and peace loving as she was -- would have gouged this hag's eyes out. Click.

I learned a lot from my dad in my formative years. He had spent a great deal of his own youth learning to be quite the hunter and fisherman. Those were skills he attempted to pass along to me, whether I liked it or not. It's not every 12 year old that can field dress a deer or scope out an ice fishing spot. 

That would seem odd for a man who was an executive at the former General Motors subsidiary of Fisher Body. But I learned never to underestimate the various skills my father had. He once told me (bragged) that he could type faster than his secretary. Pretty sure I didn't believe it at the time, but OK, I knew better than to question him. As fate would have it, somewhere along the line I actually met that secretary at some sort of company function/party/get together. At great risk -- I had to ask. 

"Excuse me, Mrs. Cooper. My name is John and I'm Larry Leach's son. My dad tells me he can type faster than you. Is that true?"

She blushed and I thought I was in big trouble. Finally, she smiled and said, "It's true. But let's keep that our little secret, OK?" Wow, dad hadn't lied to me even about that.

A man of many talents indeed. He could also swing a mean belt when I got out of line. Downstairs in our house was this certain rocking chair. When I had it coming for misdeeds, yours truly was made to bend over that chair and take a few whacks on the posterior. In hindsight, no pun intended, I suppose it shamed me more than it actually inflicted any physical damage. I had let dad down again. Nevertheless, the four words I dreaded most in my youth were -- head to the basement.

Click. Back to NASCAR. Jimmy Johnson, Joey Lagano, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards were the Final Four competing for the championship at Homestead. Who to root for? Actually it was quite simple to eliminate two of them. JJ drives a Chevy. Joey a Ford. Busch and Edwards pilot Japanese products.

My dad never would have tolerated that. As a World War II vet, he once told me, "I fought the Germans in the war. Your Uncle Jim (his older brother) fought the Japs. No way would either of us ever drive a car associated with either one of them. And neither will you. Got that?"

Um yeah, I got it. And I never have. I wound up working at GM myself. They taught me a great trade (electrician) which provided me a pretty decent middle class living for my career. Sure, I had a couple a-hole bosses along the way -- don't we all? -- but no complaints. The least I could do was purchase their products as opposed to foreign competition.

Turned out, Jimmy Johnson would go on to capture his 7th NASCAR championship, tying him with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhart Sr. for the most of all time. Hurray Chevy. On that note, Ford and Chrysler make some mighty fine products themselves. But boo, hiss Toyota and the drivers that sold out to them. If the Daytona 500 is the "Great American Race" and NASCAR events, as in NATIONAL Association of Stock Car Racing are held on American soil, how can these guys look themselves in the mirror running around in foreign cars? Hypocrites of the highest order.

Click. College football "experts" telling us, in their infinite wisdom, who the Final Four are going to be in a couple weeks. Alabama's pretty much a lock to get in. We all know that. Not far behind is Clemson. Unless they stumble badly, not likely, they're in as well. But these geniuses had both Ohio State and Michigan in their top four.

Well duh. They play each other next Saturday and one of them has to lose. With such a high profile game that everybody, especially including the Selection Committee, will be paying close attention to, whoever comes up short will be out of the running. There's no way both schools can get in. It's mutually exclusive. These experts are far from it. More like short-sighted and stupid. Click.

Well then. Enough of that nonsense. I headed into my local watering hole to have a couple brews and be enlightened by the true geniuses that always hang out there. One learns something every time they set foot in that place -- whether they want to or not.

I dunno dad. Sometimes it's a strange world out there these days. Nobody has a home telephone any more. There are these things called "cels", flat little gadgets you can stick in your pocket or clip on your belt. Besides being a phone, it has a video screen. As I understand it, these things send out a sort of radio signal to a sort of radio tower nearby, which in turn relays it up to a satellite overhead. That satellite relays it to another satellite somewhere near the person you're trying to call, which relays it down to a tower near your desired party, and on to their cel. And all this happens faster than you can spell r-o-t-a-r-y. Amazing stuff actually. An added benefit is no more party lines, so people like that Mrs. Miller down the street can't pick up her phone and listen in to you any more.

You can actually play video games, watch TV, and listen to music on these doodads. Unbelievably, they're also hooked up to this thing called the internet. It's sort of like a giant computer system where you can find out any and every fact ever known to mankind in a matter of seconds.

Here's a kicker for ya. They have a flat keyboard where people can type out messages to each other. Kind of like the old teletype but without the wires. It's called texting. Nothing like that set of encyclopedias you bought me when I was a kid. Know what's really weird? Most people would rather take the time to type out a message than push one button to get hold of the person and actually talk to them. Very strange stuff, but people are addicted to these devices. They walk around these days like a nation of zombies with their eyes glued to the mini-screens like nothing else exists. Unbelievable, I know. It's a wonder we've survived.

Oh yeah. TVs are flat these days, as big as our old kitchen table, have super clear pictures, and thousands of channels to choose from. I kid you not, pop.

At any rate, I still like pickled bologna and crackers, but I gave up on the sad sack Lions not long after you passed. They still haven't done anything of note since, but the legion of suckers remain always convinced this will be the year, and it never turns out to be. You know -- the usual.

I have my own rocking chair now, but think of you and those, ahem, heady times in the basement once in a while. Ah yes, those were the days.

And you wouldn't believe who just got elected President.

It's probably best I hold that one back. After all these years in peace, it's no time for you to start rolling over now.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mich/Ohio State

Well OK, Michigan beat Indiana 20-10. That's a good thing for the Blue. Head coach Jim Harbaugh called it a very satisfying victory on senior day at the Big House. But when you're favored at home by almost 4 touchdowns (26 points) over a conference also ran like Indiana and only chalk up a 10 point win -- that's going to impress absolutely nobody -- not the least being the almighty Selection Committee that is still trying to figure out which teams will make the Final Four. For that matter, UM trailed at the half for the first time all year. Not a good sign.

Perhaps a great deal of it could be attributed to UM being without their starting quarterback Wilton Speight. He was injured in the game last week at Iowa -- reportedly suffering a broken collar bone. Yet something seemed odd when UM took the field against IU. There was Speight. No arm in a sling, which we normally would expect of such an injury -- and in full uniform. The extent of harm to his damaged wing is unknown. Could he be ready to go next Saturday against Ohio State?

He better be, because his back-up, one John O'Korn, looked underwhelming at best. If he had trouble moving the ball against the lowly Hoosiers, he and his team will be in deep doo-doo when they travel to Columbus to take on the fearsome Buckeyes. That's no picnic with everybody 100%, and the Wolverines may well get trashed regardless. Certainly, they'll be underdogs.

Yet Ohio State has been a strange animal itself this year. One never knows which team is going to show up. The steamroller? Or the bunch of guys that look very vulnerable to a half way decent team?

Cases in point. OSU blasted a very good (#10) Nebraska team 62-3. But they barely squeaked by unranked Northwestern 24-20. They trashed Maryland by the same 62-3 and defeated #8 Wisconsin -- in Wisconsin. Impressive. But in turn they were taken down by Penn State 24-21 (their only loss to date) and just today were taken to the limit by a bad Michigan State team. It appeared the Spartans had scored the tying touchdown towards the end of the game. But their head coach, Mark Dantoni, decided to go for the two point conversion and the win, instead of the game likely going into overtime. The attempt failed and the Spartans went down 17-16.

No doubt, Dantoni is catching some flak for that decision, but he shouldn't. After all, he had nothing to lose. MSU's season went into the dumpster long ago. They can't even reach the very low bar threshold of six victories to become bowl eligible. So there will be no bowl game for the Spartans. Very embarrassing considering how good they were for several years -- even making the Final Four once -- right up until this season. Then the wheels fell off.

There's 112 Division 1-A football teams in the country and a total of 38 bowl games (39 if you count the championship game). That means 76 schools out of 112, about two thirds, will play in one bowl or another. The bowl field has become pitifully diluted to the point where a team has be just about terrible NOT to make it in this shameless money grab. Even Bowling Green will take on South Alabama in the Camellia Bowl -- ever hear of it? But Michigan State got shut out. Oh my.

Nonetheless, this is Michigan's big chance. Knock off the Buckeyes in Columbus and the Selection Committee will sit up and take notice. If they can then get by likely Wisconsin in the Big 10 conference championship game -- the Wolverines will be a lock to make the Final Four. No pressure.
Otherwise they'll go to some second fiddle bowl or another. A sunny getaway for the team, marching band, and die hard supporters that can travel and afford to attend. But it won't be the same as making the playoffs and everybody knows it.

Maybe the "vulnerable" Buckeyes will show up this Saturday, Speight will be good enough to go, and Michigan can somehow find a way to beat the dreaded Buckeyes in the "Horseshoe". Something they haven't been able to do since way back in the year 2000. A guy named Clinton still occupied the White House. How long ago was that? In the 15 games played since, UM has triumphed exactly twice, both times at home.

But I wouldn't count on it. Not in this rivalry. Urban Meyer's scarlet and gray crew will be raring to go against the team from "up north". And if the same Michigan team, with or without Wilton Speight, shows up as did against Indiana -- this could get downright ugly.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The WAR zone

It was with no small amount of amusement yours truly read yet another article where a sports scribe went off about the dreaded WAR (Wins Above Replacement) regarding a few players. Evidently, this has taken the place in their world of "giving 110%" -- which is and was always impossible -- and taking the step to the "next level" -- which these days ranks right up there with "groovy", "far out man", and "twenty three skiddoo". In other words, most of us have long moved on from such lunacy and don't want to hear it anymore -- if it ever made sense in the first place.

Yet one question has never been asked, let alone answered. Just who, pray tell, is this mythical "replacement" the above mentioned scribes keep referring to? 

Perhaps we are to assume it's an "average" player. That in itself raises even more issues. 

A starting pitcher with a record of 10-10 can't get any more average than .500. Or maybe it's a position player that bats .250, hits 7-8 home runs, drives in 60-70, and steals maybe half a dozen bases over the season. Sounds about average. Every major league defender could certainly be expected to have a fielding percentage of at least .900. If they can't make routine plays nine out of ten times, then they're a liability. Maybe. 

A guy like the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera is one of many outliers in such a sense. He's considered one of the best players in the game -- potential Hall of Fame material -- but his overall talent is very limited. He hits, a lot and with power. But his fielding is sub-par at any position, he doesn't have much of a throwing arm, and he's slow on the basepathes. So for his one great asset, Cabrera comes with several liabilities as well. No doubt, the stat monsters give him a large number when it comes to WAR. He's much better than the average replacement. Or is he? Depends who you might plug in his place that might bring a bit less hitting, but far more overall skills. 

It's also interesting to note WAR is limited to baseball only. We don't hear the term applied in other sports. The inimitable John Daly would likely have a positive WAR. After all, despite his other nuances, JD remains a far better golfer than anybody you likely know. Not long ago, Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys was thought irreplaceable -- until some young dude named Dak Prescott came along. So would Romo have had a positive WAR before, but a negative one now, without having played a game in between due to injury? Seems odd. 

The same scribes will tell us a hockey goalie was "standing on his head" making spectacular saves. Interesting thought, but yours truly has never seen one actually do it. But if one can do a headstand while kicking away slapshots, by all means give that man a positive WAR. Yet if the same one lets in a couple "soft" goals later in the same game while merely on his feet, the hero quickly turns into a bum. Definitely negative WAR. 

Should a catcher with a lifetime batting average of .230 have a positive WAR? The now retired David Ross of the world champion Chicago Cubs fit the bill. One would think not at first glance, but it depends. Maybe he throws out the vast majority of potential base stealers. That counts for something. Or perhaps he's the preferred backstop of an ace pitcher, though that also is head scratching material. What difference does it make who the catcher is to a pitcher? As long as he can, well, catch -- and a catcher who can't catch ranks right up there with a NASCAR or Indy racer that can't drive -- one would think his bat would be the difference maker between a positive or negative WAR. Yet Ross hit .230, but was considered a hero. Go figure. For that matter, catchers "calling the pitches" is bunk as well. Every catcher knows what variety of pitches any pitcher has to offer, and they both know the signs. The catcher doesn't decide. The pitcher does. Seem them shake off signs on any given pitch they don't like. So a personalized catcher would seem to be no more than soothing the pitcher's fragile ego. Hey, it's pro sports and these guys are making millions of dollars. Once between the lines, they're supposed to become mercenaries -- not operatic divas. 

But like Iraq and Afghanistan, the WAR must go on -- right? Scribes depend on such mumbo-jumbo to write their columns. It makes no sense in the real world to the average fan. They understand some players are just better than others, without being bombarded by reams of statistical analysis. 

Maybe fans should be ranked on their own WAR. How many wins do you think Detroit Lions' fans have contributed over the years to the team? Perhaps not a lot, but there's no replacing them either. Where else will you find a hoard of gullible suckers that keep going to games and rooting them on when their team hasn't had anything positive to show for over a half century? 

Better yet, maybe it's high time the fans themselves started ranking the scribes by WAR. The one mentioned in the opening sentence of this narrative replaced one that was far more interesting to read.and got more money to boot. That seemed backward. Then again, WAR spelled backwards is RAW.-- the kind of deal the readership has had to put up with sense. 

In a fair world, the people that pay the freight (readers and watchers) should be able to judge the people that are busy judging all the athletes. Some writers and talking heads are better than others too. 

And wouldn't that be fun?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Not Michigan or Ohio State, but---

Penn State as Big Ten champs? It just might work out that way. While the Wolverines and Buckeyes have grabbed all the headlines -- and rankings -- it's entirely possible, perhaps probable, that neither will win even their own division. Consider:

Early in the season, Michigan, at home, walloped Penn St. OK, no big surprise there. The shocker came when PSU, again at home, turned around and dumped Ohio St. a couple weeks later. The last in the trifecta of games between the three will happen two Saturdays hence when Michigan travels to Ohio St.

Assuming both teams stay "clean" this Saturday, the game in Columbus will take on even more importance than the usual grudge match. And depending oh how that turns out, Penn St. could easily become champions of the Big Ten East. Few doubt that OSU will be favored over UM, especially playing at home.

If UM were to pull the upset, they would be champs of the Big 10 East, with only one conference loss as opposed to  OSU having two and holding the tie-breaker over PSU. However, if the likely favored Buckeyes roll and Penn St. wins out, the Nittany Lions would claim the honor, having only one conference loss themselves.

Actually, the odds have it playing out exactly that way. This Saturday, PSU faces bottom feeding Rutgers on the road. Likely a romp. Then they come home for Michigan St. while UM and OSU are battling it out. The Spartans have experienced a great fall this season over the past several, so the Nittany Lions will likely breeze past them as well.

And that is a problem for the folks in Ann Arbor and Columbus regarding national playoff aspirations. While the almighty selection committee would probably dearly love to put a Big 10 team in the Final Four, chances are they're not going to put two. Alabama's in. Clemson is still very much in consideration. So is Louisville -- maybe even Washington out west if they win out as well.

So if Michigan or Ohio St. can't even win their own division, which means no conference championship game, how in the heck could either expect to make it into the national playoffs?

The answer is -- they can't and won't.

And after all the hoopla this season about how good both are -- wouldn't it be something if neither got a shot at the Big Dance?

Could happen.

Thing is, Penn St. might not get an invite either. That's because they lost to Pittsburgh earlier this year. Sure, it was a close game, and Pitt is no slouch, having gone into Clemson to knock off the Tigers just a couple weeks ago. But still, that makes PSU a two loss team. Would the committee invite them anyway so they can have a Big 10 representative, given they win the conference championship game? Maybe not.

Conversely, in the western division, both Wisconsin and Nebraska already have two losses. So if one of them were to be Big 10 champs, would they get to go? Maybe not either.

Turns out, Michigan narrowly losing at Iowa might just have a lot bigger ramifications than first met the eye.

And somewhere, Joe Paterno is likely enjoying how this is playing out.

Maybe even Jerry Sandusky. If the Nittany Lions wind up winning not only the division, but the conference, and -- gasp -- get invited to the playoffs --- would they let him watch it in prison?

Beats me. The only way this makes sense in the end is if UM somehow finds a way to upset OSU a couple Saturdays from now. Go Blue.

Coming off a huge win like that, the Wolverines would likely punch their ticket to the dance.

If not -- who would have seen Penn St. beating both of them out coming?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

College football shake-up

Not since 1985 have the #s 2, 3, and 4 all gone down in the same week in college football. But it just happened. How the rankings will shake out in a couple of days is anybody's guess.

Certainly, #1 Alabama will remain so after thrashing Miss St. 52-3. Yet it was carnage elsewhere.

#2 Michigan lost a squeaker at Iowa 14-13. Does this kill the Blue's chances of making it into the four team playoff for the national championship? Not necessarily. More on that later.

#3 Clemson also lost a nail biter to Pittsburgh. But the Tigers went down at home. Losing to an unranked team at home is, or should be the kiss of death.

Likewise, #4 Washington got beat in their own backyard by USC. Rather convincingly (26-13) at that. Say goodbye to the Huskies' aspirations for a title.

Meanwhile, formerly #5 Ohio State was blistering Maryland 62-3. The one loss Buckeyes will be moving on up. Their only L came @ Penn State, narrowly, and the Nittany Lions are a top ten team. The Buckeyes are back in it.

Same with formerly #6 Louisville. They had lost a close one to Clemson earlier, but they just demolished Wake Forest 44-12. The redbirds will be trending up as well.

Here's the scenario for Michigan. The narrow loss at Iowa will likely drop them 2 or 3 spots, but they still control their own destiny to a great degree.

Assuming they rout lowly Indiana next week, that sets up the annual showdown with Ohio St. The game will be played in Columbus, which is bad news for Michigan. However, should they manage to win over what will probably be the #2 or 3 ranked Buckeyes at the time, UM is right back in the hunt. OSU would then be a two loss team, the last being at home, and THEY would be out. This game will determine which team from the Big Ten East plays in the conference championship game, likely against Wisconsin, a worthy opponent. However, it should be noted that the Badgers have already lost to both UM (narrowly on the road) and OSU, again narrowly, but at home. Other than that, they've pretty well taken care of business. A rematch against either at a neutral site would at least give them a shot.

Thing is, already having lost twice, the Badgers have little hope of reaching the Final Four. Yet they could spoil it for either Mich or Ohio St.

If Michigan wins out over Indiana, OSU and the conference title game -- they're in as a one loss team. A tall order, especially the game against the Buckeyes on the road, but the loss @ Iowa didn't ring a death knell. Had the Hawkeyes blown them out, it would be one thing. But they didn't, winning the game by one point on a last second field goal.

However, to become national champions, even if UM gets their shot and improbably make it to the Final Four, somewhere along the line a match-up with Alabama likely looms. Currently, the Crimson Tide is the only non-tainted team in the field, and nobody doubts they deserve their #1 ranking.

Given how the Iowa Hawkeyes stymied the Wolverines for much of the game (5 yards rushing in the entire third quarter?), one can only imagine (and shudder) at what the lightning fast and bruising Alabama defense might do to them.

As things currently stand, Bama is clearly the class of the field. Barring a slew of injuries, it's difficult to foresee ANYBODY knocking them off. Chattanooga sure isn't going to do it next week, nor will Auburn likely fare well the week after that, both games being played @ Alabama. And who could beat them in their own conference championship game? Florida or Georgia? Please. Count the Tide in.

Despite all the success he has had at various stops in his career, remember how UM coach Jim Harbaugh couldn't get over the hump in the Super Bowl -- his San Fran 49ers losing to his brother John's Baltimore Ravens a few years back?

Harbaugh is now the highest paid coach in all of college football -- a shade north of $9 million a year. More than Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, who both have superior track records.

If he wants to earn it, his big chance will be in two weeks against Ohio St. THAT game will likely make or break UM's chances of getting invited to the big dance.

While the narrow loss @ Iowa no doubt stung, it didn't kill their chances -- yet. And with two weeks to go in the regular season, plus the conference championship games to be played, college football is still very much a crapshoot, mighty Alabama notwithstanding. And even THEY aren't totally unbeatable, though they certainly will be the heavy favorites to once again be crowned national champs.

It would be a stunner indeed if somebody -- anybody -- found a way to knock them off.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The NFL and the wall

Maybe Mark Cuban was right. The brash billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks predicted the mighty NFL was heading towards a fall. It's just a matter of time, he said. Oversaturating the market with any product will eventually come back to bite the company.

True, it's hard to tell right now. No one doubts the NFL remains the gorilla in the room of American professional sports. But there are signs.

The league's venture into extending itself into Europe crashed and burned. While the occasional game in London is received with mixed reviews, it's probably fair to say the Brits view American football as more of a novelty -- not to be taken seriously. They're much more into futbol, as in soccer. Different strokes.

Stateside, the NFL may have hit the wall in a couple different ways. Though it added Monday Night Football, a huge success, over four decades ago -- Thursday night games on their own network haven't enjoyed the same ratings.

And for whatever reason, the programming this year on nationally televised games has left a lot to be desired. Too many games between bad teams. Fans in one part of the country would likely tune into a game between two contenders from other regions, but only the hard core junkies find interest in watching a couple also-rans. Especially with typically at least a few hundred other channels to choose from.

Some, if not most of the blame can be laid at the feet of the league itself. There are teams that are good year after year. The Patriots' standard of excellence comes to mind. The Packers go up and down a bit, but they're never terrible. Same with the Cowboys. They've known the depths in the past -- but never for long. It just isn't tolerated in Big D.

Others like, say, Jacksonville and Detroit, have earned the reputation of pretty much being perennial losers. Nobody in Peoria or Boise wants to see those teams play.

It's also true that some teams overachieve expectations every year, while others do the opposite. The Oakland Raiders are going great guns, while the Carolina Panthers seem to have tanked.

So scheduling games before the season even starts for Monday and Thursday night broadcasts is a bit of a crapshoot. It certainly makes sense that the networks want as many viewers as they can get -- hence decent teams -- hence bigger bang for advertising bucks -- the lifeblood of TV.

But everybody, and I mean everybody knew the Cleveland Browns were going to be terrible this year -- with or without Johnny Manzeil -- turns out without. As good as the world champion Cavaliers and just barely fell short Indians have been in Cleveland -- the Browns are just -- that -- bad.

So why, tell me why, would the powers that be schedule the Brownies for a Thursday night game? Sure enough, they got trashed again to go to 0-10. A gawd-awful display of football.

It's things like this that have caused the TV ratings for the NFL to swoon this year. They're down across the board -- way down.

Not that long ago, NASCAR racing was a super-hot item. These days we see a lot of empty seats at many tracks while the race is going on. Could the same thing happen to the NFL? After all, NASCAR only has one feature race a week, while the NFL typically has 14-16 games, counting the bye weeks. True, there's more local interest in each NFL team, but still, the product is diluted across the spectrum. Putting bad teams on national TV would be like NASCAR running a race in which none of the drivers and their cars have ever finished higher than 10th before. Who would want to watch that?

The league, and especially Commissioner Roger Goodell and his merry band of enforcers, have shot themselves in the foot repeatedly with some of their heavy handed -- and misguided -- tactics in recent years regarding player discipline, rules, and regulations.

And now they're going to force feed us the Cleveland Browns? Really? That's like going to a fancy steak house only to discover the only thing they're serving that night is leftover corn beef hash. Would you sit there and eat it anyway, or get up and walk out? To boot, the Thursday night game typically features sub-par announcers and analysts. Throw in an ugly surly waitress at that steak/hash house and the decision likely gets easier.

Idle thought. One of the sideline reporters for that game was named Heather Cox. If we parse her name out -- Heat her Cox -- it takes on a whole new dimension indeed. And a bit scary at that.

Nevertheless, the NFL has grown into "too big to fail" status, even with all their miscues. Right?

Here's hoping the good Mr. Cuban is wrong on this one. No way does the NFL ever fold.

Then again, consider what happened in the Presidential election just a couple days ago. Who saw THAT coming?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Hillary,Donald, Rex, and Pete

It is interesting that on the same night Rex Ryan's Buffalo Bills take on Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks (Monday Night Football), we will wake up to Hillary Clinton battling it out with Donald Trump for the Presidency.

Some parallels come to mind. This author will throw out a few factoids regarding the above coaches and politcos, and you determine who's who.

One of the coaches is widely perceived as willing to lie, cheat, steal, etc., to get whatever he wants. He left the program at USC in a shambles and bailed to the NFL. One of the candidates is the same way.

One of the candidates left Benghazi, and all of Libya for that matter, in total chaos.

The other, a hotel magnate, has seen some of them crash and burn through bankruptcy.

Both retain the "what does it matter now?" philosophy.

One of the candidates is thought by some to be a clown. So is one of the coaches.

One candidate has a spouse that evidently can't get enough of dabbling with the opposite sex. Some estimate thousands of them. The other can be somewhat creepy in the same regard.

One of the coaches has little teeth, constantly chews gum, and talks fast like a sleazy used car salesman.

Few, if any, really trust one of the candidates. The other makes millions of people quiver in fear as to what he MIGHT do if elected.

One of the candidates relies heavily on his children to promote his image.

Likewise, one of the coaches recently hired his brother to a top position. Nepotism anyone?

One of the candidates has held a variety of political positions and traveled the globe pretty much failing miserably at all of them.

One of the coaches thought he could make people forget about the New England Patriots' standard of excellence and coach the NY Jets into Super Bowl champions.

All four have absolutely zero -- repeat ZERO -- shame when confronted with their obvious gaffes and other missteps.

One of the candidates has previously lived in both a state house and the White House for several years. She'll do anything to stay in a position of power.

One of the coaches, or perhaps both, will do anything to keep his current job, or a similar one on another team. Anything to stay relevant in the NFL.

All are millionaires many times over. This is because common people, who should have more sense, constantly throw money at their campaigns and various "projects".

One of the coaches, and his team, somewhat predictably just went down to defeat on MNF. It will be a long flight back to Buffalo.

One of the candidates, dare I say predictably, will likely endure a bruising loss on election day tomorrow. They will have to limp back to an ivory tower somewhere to lick their wounds.

Finally, and sadly, one way or the other, we have not seen and heard the end of any of them. They'll be back for another go-round, and we'll be dumb enough to pay for it.

Alas, the ship of fools sails on.......

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Detroit Lions go deep?

Just a few short weeks ago, most objective football fans would have scoffed at the very notion. The Lions going deep in the playoffs and -- gasp -- having a legitimate shot at getting to their very first -- cough, gag -- Super Bowl?

Get outta here. No way. The Lions? The same team that's won a grand total of one playoff game since the Eisenhower administration? The perpetual clown act? The Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL?  The sorriest franchise in all of professional sports for the last half century?

Those guys?  It can't be. Or can it?

After all, one doesn't have to look far to see long starving teams having won championhips lately. The Cavs in Cleveland a few months ago. And the Cubbies of Chitown finally broke through after a whopping 108 years of disappointment. It can be done. But the Lions?

Then again, this might just be the magical year. Consider----

After a sluggish 1-3 start, the Lions have won 4 out of 5 to get to 5-4. In itself, 5-4 doesn't seem very impressive. Barely above average. Yet further consider the competition in the NFC they would have to beat out to go far in the postseason.

The Green Bay Packers aren't as cheesed up this year as they usually are. Aaron Rodgers and company are struggling.
The Minnesota Vikings started off hot but, good defense or not, it was likely only a matter of time before having a brand new quarterback and the absence of superstud Adrian Petersen would catch up to them. It has recently.
The Philadelphia Eagles were quick out of the gate, but just as quick to slide back down in the last few weeks.
The Washington Redskins and New York Giants are no better than mediocre.
The Atlanta Falcons have a good record (6-3), but they're known for fading down the stretch and early exits from the playoffs.
Out west, the Seattle Seahawks remain a force, but that legion doesn't seem to have the boom they've had in years past. Definitely beatable.
The Carolina Panthers, they of the last Super Bowl, appear to be in disarray.
The Arizona Cardinals have taken a major swan dive since last year.
Most of the other teams in the NFC are just spinning their wheels with little shot of getting to the playoffs, let alone making any noise once there if they somehow manage to pull it off.
That leaves the Dallas Cowboys. They appear to be the real deal cruising along at 7-1. It remains to be seen whether they'd re-insert QB Tony Romo back into the starting lineup when he's healthy enough to play. Much has been made of how well rookie Dak Prescott has performed to date. Would they dare upset the apple cart? Unknown.

In the meantime, Lions QB Matthew Stafford has been as good as anybody in the NFC the last few weeks. Captain Comeback keeps pulling rabbits out of his hat and chalking up victories. To boot, the Detroit defense is holding their own and they've cut down on the usual variety of stupid penalties.

So add it all up and, at least at this point in time, the Lions are most definitely in the mix, plus they've got a fairly easy schedule the rest of the way out. After the bye week, creampuff Jacksonville comes to town. Then Minnesota on Thanksgiving. Hey, they just knocked off the Vikings on the road. No reason to think they won't do it again at home.
Then at New Orleans. Drew Brees and company are a shell of what they were just a few years ago, though they can be tough at home.
Another home game with the Bears shouldn't be a problem.
A trip to Jersey for the NY Giants will be a test, but Eli and the crew aren't all THAT.
Going into Dallas, especially given the way The Boys have played so far, is a long shot at a win.
The Lions finish up the regular season by hosting the Packers. One never knows in such games but, as mentioned above, Green Bay doesn't appear to be an elite team so far this year. This is a game the Lions should win.

Though many so-called experts predicted the Lions would go 5-11, 6-10 tops, barring a huge collapse, they would seem on pace to better those predictions by a wide margin. One never knows about the injury factor. though. If Stafford were to go down -- everything changes -- and not for the better.

But if the Lions are ever going to get it done, they'll never have a better chance than this year. Not counting the Cowboys, Detroit looks to be as good as anybody else in the NFC.

However, it IS the Lions, remember? If there's a way to screw it up, they'll likely find it. Tis their nature. Always has been.

But wouldn't it be something if they actually -- wheeze, sputter, choke -- made it to the -- dare I say it?

Promised land?

Holy Moses. It's almost too much to even think of.

Stay tuned.....

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Romo/Prescott logic problem

Just for fun, let's consider an alternative universe where things are backwards and see what conclusion we might come to -- if any.

The characters.

Owner, president, general manager and head bottle washer Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. He just happens to be a white guy.

As is 36 year old quarterback Tony Romo, obviously approaching the end of his career.

Dak Prescott -- a 23 year old rookie QB, who just happens to be a black guy.

The ever-present media sniping away.


Once again, Romo has been injured. Prescott has stepped in and performed quite admirably in his absence. Over the years there was never any doubt that Romo was the Cowboys' starting QB. But he never led them to the promised land, and in fact has been perceived as somewhat of a choker in the playoffs.

Dating all the way back to the Tex Schramm/Tom Landry days, the Cowboys have firmly held to a policy whereby a starter doesn't lose his job due to injury. Someone has to beat him out for it fair and square.

The media hounds put heavy emphasis in being "politically correct". They will always champion the cause of a "minority" over their "oppressors", even sometimes to the point of flying in the fact of merit.

Dallas is obviously located in Texas, normally considered a conservative part of the country. A red state, as opposed to, say, New York or California, where the people might view the same issue quite differently.

The situation.

Many in the media are claiming Romo should not get his job back when he has recovered from his injury. Prescott is doing too well to upset the proverbial apple cart.
Conversely, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have said they intend to reinstate Romo as soon as he is ready to play.

There can be no doubt that at some point in the near future, an intersection is inevitable. Romo is on the down side of his career, and Prescott's is just starting.

Prescott is from Mississippi State, a pretty good program in the brutal Southeastern Conference. Yet he wasn't drafted until the 4th round last spring. As QB's go, picking one in the fourth round usually means a "project". Maybe they work out eventually, and maybe not.
Romo was from tiny Eastern Illinois and wasn't drafted at all. However, the draft position of either isn't relevant. After all, Tom Brady wasn't taken until the 6th round, almost as an afterthought, and he seems to have worked out fairly well.

The twist.

Everything else remains the same, but suppose the colors of both these QBs were flipped. Prescott is now white and Romo black in our alternate universe. Or...
Jerry Jones is a man of color.

The question.

Does this raging conversation/debate about whether Prescott should keep the job or Romo get it back ever even happen?

Food for thought........

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cubs win World Series!!!

What else needs to be said? Finally, the 108 year wait is over. The longest streak/curse has come to an end.

Congrats to the northsiders of Chitown indeed.

And we couldn't have asked for a better World Series. 104 MPH fastballs. Filthy breaking pitches. Home runs. Stolen bases. Sparkling defensive plays. Pitchers batting and getting an occasional hit. Bunts. Both low scoring games and shootouts. The full seven games, and extra innings in the finale to boot.

The Cubs storming back from a 3-1 deficit to win both Games 6 and 7 on the road.

Oh yeah. One for the ages.