Saturday, December 16, 2017

Part III. The Lions

It's almost easy to foresee what may become of the 2017 version of the long suffering Motown puddy-tats. There are three possible scenarios. I'll get back to that.

First up, as has been noted in this space in the past, the Lions have been the beneficiaries of every conceivable break (aka dumb luck) to date this season. From scheduling to star players on other teams being injured when the Lions have faced them.

The schedule.

The Arizona Cardinals, a win, aren't any good this year.
The NY Giants, another W, are absolutely horrible.
They defeated Minnesota when the Vikings were freshly down to their third string quarterback.
(Of course that same guy, one Case Keenum, after a few games under his belt, promptly marched into Detroit and spanked the Lions on Thanksgiving day.)
They caught the Green Bay Packers with all-world QB Aaron Rodgers having recently suffered a broken collar bone. A win, but tainted.
Beating Cleveland? The Campfire Girls could beat the Browns.
Two games against the always woeful Chicago Bears.
Another versus the sorry Tampa Bay Bucs.
Next week it will be Cincinnati. If Marvin Lewis is still the head coach there, the Bengals will still be awful. He is, and they are.

Could it possibly have been any easier for the Lions along the way? It borders on the incredible.

It should be noted they have yet to defeat a team with a winning record, the above-mentioned first go-round with Minnesota aside.

Scenario #1 has the Lions defeating the Bengals to set up a showdown with the Packers in the final regular season game, quite possibly for a wild card berth.

But hang on. In Aaron Rodgers' first game back, the Pack has to go to Carolina, a team known for it's ferocious pass rush. Then the Cheesers have to face Minnesota, which is sailing along at the top of the NFC north division, and also possesses a top notch defense. Rough sledding indeed. Should the Packers lose either of those games, even if Rodgers stays healthy throughout, coming back so soon from his injury, Green Bay would likely shut him down for the year. What's the point in risking your star QB, though medically "cleared to play", when he probably isn't 100% fully mended? If that happens, the Lions would get the Packers minus Rodgers once again. Another unbelievable stroke of luck.

But if, a big IF, Rodgers and the Pack get through that two game gauntlet against good teams, while the Lions are, as noted, feasting on more bad ones, Scenario #2 comes into play.

With the Lions and Packers both having 9-6 records and a wild-card berth possibly on the line, people in Detroit would be worked up to the proverbial fever pitch when the Packers came-a-calling in Week 17.

And you just know what would happen. With their entire season on the line, the Lions and their fans would be left gasping in frustration/disbelief/shock/horror -- take your pick -- after the Packers and Rodgers came to Ford Field and knocked them off.

It would be a fitting end for just another year of the same old Lions story. Up, up, up, they go -- hype/hope city all the way -- only to crash and burn one more year. Down, down, down they plummet when it matters most.

However, if they get that far, Scenario #3 is possible.

The Lions actually stumble and bumble their way into the playoffs. As a commenter on this blog once noted, even when they win, they look bad.

And that potential playoff game would be on the road with a -- gasp -- winning team. Which the Lions have proven all year they can't hang with.

That's when their primrose path, dumb luck, and all the other breaks not of their own doing suddenly come to a simultaneous screeching halt.

Can you spell b-l-o-w-o-u-t?

Know why?

Because as sure as the sun (and new lovers) are hot, ice (and exes) are cold, and it gets dark at night, the Lions's season is going to end ugly again, whichever of the three scenarios plays out.  The ever-gullible Motown faithful can root, root, root for their Honolulu blue and silver boys to get to a (cough, gag, choke, barf, puhleeze) Super Bowl every year, with their always super-homerish media peddling their usual snake oil every step of the way, but the chances of that happening are about as good as Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow deciding to get married and have a bunch of kids. Some things just aren't meant to be. It's the natural, or perhaps unnatural order of things.

And hey, while the players turn over every year and the coaches occasionally change, it's still the Lions and the Ford family that owns them -- right? An "estate planner" was recently named president of this NFL franchise by the doddering old widow that still owns them? One who admitted he knew nothing about pro football? Really? What does he do? Make out the last wills and testaments for the players?

Well, there you go. It's the Lion way. Always has been.

What's one more year on the already half century plus scrap heap of futility?

Friday, December 15, 2017

Part II. The Pistons

The Pistons.

Sure, they got off to a fast start this season, but does anybody really seriously believe the Detroit hoopsters are anywhere near contenders?

It seemed almost inevitable they would come crashing back to earth -- and they have -- having lost 7 of their last 8.

Only because the Eastern Conference of the NBA is such a weak sister when compared to the West, will the Pistons likely hover around the playoff cut-off line. They might get in as a seventh of eighth seed, only to get blown out in the first round of the post-season by a club like Boston or Cleveland.

One must remember this is the same franchise that gave Andre Drummond a "max" contract. That's right. He's getting paid roughly the same amount of do-re-mi that players like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and James Hardin are making. The latter are super-stars. Meanwhile, Andre Drummond is basically useless more than 4 feet away from the basket -- on either end of the floor -- offensively or defensively. No decent jump shot, continues to shoot free throws like a blind man, a pitiful defender away from the rim, and his ball handling skills could be likened to those of a bull elephant trying to play the piano.

Only in Detroit could a guy like Stan VanGundy be the president of basketball operations and head coach at the same time, with two -- count-em TWO -- general managers in between. So who's in charge of who? Nobody seems to know.

And what give with dear Stan taking all the blame for the Pistons' poor play? Hey, there comes a time to call a spade a spade. Stan's not playing the game. The players are. So if they're stinking it up on the court, then just say so.

The Pistons even have a guy named Reggie Jackson on their roster. What? No Willie Mays, Bob Gibson, or Mickey Mantle? Maybe they'll find a way to get a couple of those next on the payroll. Don't put it past them. Sheesh.

Relatively new owner Tom Gores overpaid for the Pistons to late owner Bill Davidson's widow Karen. She was no doubt happy. And as part of the deal, Gores acquired a world class facility -- the Palace of Auburn Hills, which had been completely paid for by his predecessor out of his own pockets. This arena was/is located in a prime location. A crime free suburb with easy in and out access, and the interstate I-75, that fed into other major highways just a couple blocks away. Further, Mr. Gores invested somewhere around $10-15 million bucks of his own money to provide this already superb venue with a few upgrades.

So what did he do?

Turned right around and moved his team back to Detroit. Yep, the same crime-ridden, blighted metropolis it's been for decades. Where he has to, incredibly, pay RENT. Does this make sense?

Fair enough that the brand new sparkling Little Caesar's Arena, originally built for the Detroit Red Wings, is in the "Fox" district, which is pretty much like the "Green Zone" in Iraq America carved out after invading same over WMDs that turned out not to exist. Oops. (Hey, what's a few billion bucks and a few thousand lives -- right?) It's safe alright, once one gets there, but wander just a block or two outside the perimeter, and folks will find themselves right back in very dangerous territory, where the "natives" remain, shall we say, restless, perhaps even life, limb, and car threatening.

Meanwhile, nobody seems to know what will become of the Palace. Sure, it might still a host a rock or country band here or there, but chances are the magnificent facility will go to seed in the future. And that's a colossal waste whose blame will fall squarely at the feet of the above-mentioned Tom Gores. Given his evident wrong-footed approach and botching of the whole scenario in recent times, one is left to ask the question -- how in the hell did this guy get so rich to begin with?

But then one has to remember only one thing.

It's Detroit.

That city is just about enough to make anybody go off their proverbial rocker.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The sorry state of Detroit sports. Part 1. The Tigers

So Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers is the latest to leave town. A good glove, decent bat, average speed, but overall a steady player.

Remember the Tigers could't keep Max Scherzer. He's since won a couple Cy Young awards for the Washington Nats. Same with young Rick Porcello. He departed the Tigers and promptly won the same award for the Bosox the following year.

J.D. Martinez, a terrific slugger, if a bit of a liability in the outfield, got traded off for "prospects".

No other team is interested in dinosaur Victor Martinez. Fat contract, but can't play a position, and you can time his base path speed with a sundial.

Miguel Cabrera, former slugger supreme, is getting older and constantly battling health issues. But the Tigers are on the hook for his bazillion dollar contract -- and who else would want an aging slugger in obvious decline at such a ridiculous price?

Just last year, young starting pitcher Michael Fullmer, won the Rookie of the Year. Really? Sure, he started out strong, but towards the end of the season was getting shelled like Pearl Harbor on 12/07/41, finishing up a not-so-good 10-12. That doesn't say much for the other rookies around the American League. He's being dangled as trade bait too. Will anybody want him -- and at what price?

Justin Verlander trotted off to Houston mid-year, where he promptly won a World Series. Beyond him, the Tiger starting rotation was shaky, to say the least.

Their bullpen remains flat-out pitiful, unless you're an opposing hitter. Then you love it when those guys come in and start pitching batting practice.

There's "rebuilding", and then there's "totally blowing it up". The Tigers would seem to fit into the latter category.

If you thought they were bad towards the end of the 2017 season, this once proud, but with precious few results over the years, franchise is most likely going to get downright embarrassing in the near future. 100+ loss seasons could easily become a reality.

While other teams around the league were already much better, and continue to find ways to improve their personnel, the Tigers have become a no-talent zero.

Worse, they recently hired Ron Gardenhire, an "old school" by the seat of his pants manager by any measure, while the rest of the teams, at least the smart ones, turned to modern statistical analysis (sabermetrics) years ago. Typically, Detroit remains far behind the times.

This is not only going to get ugly, but referring to the Pearl Harbor bit above, may indeed turn out to be an era "that will live in infamy".

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tom Brady's Miami jinx

Few would doubt Tom Brady is indeed the GOAT (greatest of all time) at the quarterback position. Five Super Bowl rings, a couple others he got to but came up short, four MVPs, and he long ago blew past all Joe Montana's career passing statistics -- by a mile.

If he plays a couple more years, entirely probable, Brady will likely be #1 in ALL the pro quarterback stats.

But he's always seemed to have this little problem playing at Miami. As in, a career losing record there.

Going into Monday night's game, he was only 6-7 in the current home of the Dolphins. And let's face it, the Dolphins haven't been particularly good in recent times.

Yet sure enough, the Dolphins slew the Patriots again, 27-20. Even in the absence of Rob Gronkowski, beast tight-end supreme out serving a one game suspension for a cheap shot on a Buffalo defender a week ago, the Pats were heavy favorites to win. I mean, c'mon, they were 10-2 going in, cruising along, and what did Miami have to offer? Jay Cutler? Please.

But down they went again. This is what happens when your team is out-rushed by a wide margin, out-passed by an even wider one, and the opponents more than double your total yards gained over the course of the game. Throw in a couple turnovers, while the other guys had none -- and there you go. You EARNED that big L.

It also might very well have larger implications for the Patriots. Instead of improving to 11-2, as most thought they would, this loss puts them a game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, who seem to be on auto-pilot for the playoffs as well.

True, both teams have three regular season games yet to play, and anything can happen and sometimes does, but if the current situation holds until the playoffs start, the Steelers would have home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. That means if both teams advance that far, the Pats would have to travel to Pittsburgh, a formidable place to play indeed.

Had the Patriots won the game against Miami, the Steelers might have had to go to Foxborough down the road, also a very tough venue to win at. No doubt, Big Ben, Mike Tomlin, and that crew would much prefer to get the Pats at home rather than on the road with a whole bunch of marbles on the line.

So it just might be that this seemingly inexplicable loss to an obviously inferior team could wind up costing the New England Patriots big time before all is said and done this season.

Jinx indeed.

We'll see.......

Sunday, December 10, 2017

NFL chuckleheads

You gotta love Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens. Or laugh at him. No stranger to personal fouls and other goonish behavior himself over the years, Suggs was asked what it would take for the Ravens to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Sunday night game.

Stop right there. The Ravens aren't going to beat the Steelers -- especially in Pittsburgh. Forget that. If there's a way to blow the game -- they'll find it against their long time nemesis.

But dear Terrell spoke right up and said, "We have to stop #23."

Just one little problem with that.

There IS no #23 on the Pittsburgh roster. Perhaps he was referring to running back Le'Veon Bell, who wears #26. Hey, if Suggs and his teammates are busy trying to chase a phantom player, no wonder they've historically struggled against the Steelers. It would appear head coach John Harbaugh and his staff have a bit of work to do -- like -- explaining to chuckleheads such as Suggs who's who on opposing teams.

While briefly in a local watering hole, shortly after the Detroit Lions game, a Latino gentleman I never met before, having evidently watched the game there, made a comment to yours truly regarding the Motown puddy-tats. To wit: "Even when they win, they look bad". To which I replied, "Truer words were never spoken, amigo". His drop-dead gorgeous female companion seemed to think that was funny for some reason. Always happy to put a smile on a woman's face, especially a beauty like that one. Wow, lucky man.

Forget the sad-sack Lions taking on the equally woeful Tampa Bay Bucs. I was much more interested in the Philly/LA Ram game. You know, two GOOD teams going at it. And it turned out to be quite the exciting game, not decided until the closing seconds. As you know, the Eagles prevailed and locked up the NFC East division title with three games left to play.

Alas, starting Eagle QB Carson Wentz went out with a knee injury, severity and possible length of absence unknown. If he's officially zapped, so are the Eagles' chances of going far in the post-season. Ask the Green Bay Packers, a  pre-season pick to be a Super Bowl contender, how things have gone since Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collar bone. They just barely -- BARELY -- got by the Cleveland Browns -- in overtime.

Nonetheless, the always breathless announcers, who never saw a player or coach that wasn't the greatest at something, had Wentz right up there as a possible NFL MVP candidate.

Fast forward to the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game. Now it's wide receiver Antonio Brown who just might be the MVP.

Pick any two teams, even bottom-feeding ones, and the play-by-play guys will figure out a way to make a case for an MVP on at least one of them -- maybe both. Talk about chuckleheads. Have they no shame, or have the "politically correct" gods they all seem to worship these days turned whatever brains they once had into borscht?

Since when is it so wrong to just tell it like it is?

The Cleveland Browns stink, from ownership on down to the lowliest assistant -- players included. Period.

Detroit Lions' fans seem forever doomed to lifetimes of idiocy thinking their team in going to be contenders every year.

The difference between the Browns and the Lions? In Cleveland, the people know and accept the fact their team sucks.

And yes, Colin Kaepernick, whether one considers his "kneeling" cause to be righteous or offensive, committed career suicide by doing so. He may or may not be a capable NFL quarterback -- opinions vary -- but the chances of any team offering him a contract -- especially after he sued the league for "collusion", are virtually nil, nada, ain't gonna happen. Only a chucklehead thinks this guy is going to get another shot. Forget that. With apologies to Mr. Spock of original Star Trek fame, may dear Colin live long and prosper, but the man made his bed, and he's going to have to sleep in it. It's only, ahem, logical. Sorry for the lame play on words.

Interesting how Sports Illustrated came out with their "Sportsperson of the year" issue and featured two co-winners.

J.J. Watt and Jose Altuve, with respective articles singing their praises. Both of which play(ed) for Houston teams, the Texans and Astros respectively. What are the chances of that happening?

It appears even the chuckleheads at SI can't pick a winner and stick to it.

But the chucklehead of the year award should rightfully go to Danica Patrick.

Years ago, the hero-makers anointed her the greatest thing to happen in Indy car racing. Problem was, despite having first class gear, she couldn't win squat.

Never fear, it was on to NASCAR, and even more acclaim. Plopped into another top-flite car, with pit crew to match, Ms. Patrick was nothing more than a wreck waiting to happen every week. Her main sponsor -- Go Daddy -- finally went. It had to get tiresome, not to mention expensive, building her a brand new $400,000 race car almost every week. And that's not even to mention how many other drivers she "took out" along the way. The total carnage was well up into the multi-millions. She never won anything on the NASCAR circuit either.

It seemed her main claim to fame was an occasional foot-stomping hissy fit on pit row.

Now finally, mercifully, dear Danica has decided to retire from that venture. Or she couldn't find anybody else with deep pockets and shallow common sense to keep throwing their money away on an obviously futile enterprise doomed to destruction from the onset.

To all of which, no doubt the other drivers on the NASCAR circuit breathe a sigh of relief. The wrecking machine with an attitude is finally gone. Whew!

No doubt, some will find a way to make Danica a hero, despite being a loser her whole career.

Hard to say which is/are the bigger chucklehead(s). Her, or those folks that will continue to worship her.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The great American implosion

Well OK. They were supposed to announce this year's winner of the Heisman Trophy at 8:00 PM, But we knew that was a lie. A show which should have lasted no more than 5 minutes is dragged out to an hour.

All they had to do was say, "Here are your three finalists. Bryce Love, a running back from Stanford, Lemar Jackson, a quarterback from Louisville, and Baker Mayfield, another quarterback from Oklahoma".

"And the winner is, envelope please..." -- whichever. Make that two minutes. Who wants to slog through almost an hour of talking heads spouting their usual nonsense about stats and supposedly greatest this or that, with a ridiculous amount of commercials mixed in along the way, when what has long since been decided was available for announcement when the show first started?

Thing is, the Heisman is awarded to the best AMERICAN college football player every year.

So why is it brought to us by ----

Nissan? A Japanese auto company?

NASCAR stands for NATIONAL Association of Stock Car Automobile Racing -- not INTERNATIONAL.

So why have Toyota cars and motors been allowed to infest it?

Same with Indy racing and Honda trying to run Chevy out of business. Why do they put up with this obvious anti-American onslaught?

Here's a good one. While catching a brief glimpse of the annual Army/Navy football bore-a-thon, a stat popped up that the Navy quarterback had only thrown two passes ALL YEAR.

So what, pray tell, is the point of their wide receivers even bothering to split out and take their positions? They're never going to touch the ball anyway. That would be a little bit like making future Navy ensigns participate in ten mile runs -- only to assign them to confined quarters on submarine duty. Hello?

Go back to auto racing. Roger Penske, forever a Chevy man, recently bailed to Ford in his NASCAR entries. What's up with that?

Joe Gibbs, a deeply religious man, red,white, and blue American through and through, long ago sold out and became a Toyota guy. Almost a century ago, the phrase "say it ain't so, Joe" came to light. That had to do with Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Blacksox scandal. (He was later totally exonerated, but nobody wants to remember that part). Gibbs should hang his head in shame. Say it ain't so Joe indeed.

American sports fans need only pay attention to what companies are sponsoring so many of their events and even TV shows.

Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, and their ilk are seemingly everywhere. Very few sightings of Chevy, Ford, Pontiac, Chrysler or Dodge. Oldsmobile went out of business long ago and the Buick Open golf tournament vanished into the ether as well. True, at last look, Cadillac was still a proud sponsor of the Masters at Augusta National. Could it be that even those stodgy old curmudgeons might some day sell out to Asian influence? Hey, it was a men's club since its inception way back in the pre-WWII days. But they caved to the incessant nagging of the fairer sex a couple decades ago, and admitted a few.

Same with the Citadel, another name for a fortress. Their walls have been breached like those of the Alamo way back in 1836. Everybody wants to "remember the Alamo", but nobody wants to talk about the Citadel getting p-whipped. At least Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Will Travis went down fighting.

All the while, lady reporters have been given access to men's locker rooms, but not vice-versa. Little girls have even infiltrated the Boy Scouts, amazing, but also not vice-versa. Fraternities are under siege to admit female members, but sororities face no such pressure from their male counterparts.

How is it that the NAACP can stand for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, when the public at large has long been chastised that "colored" is a word they aren't supposed to say anymore? How does that work?

Finally, how is it that the United States, the only country to ever detonate nuclear weapons on civilian populations -- twice -- now has the audacity to declare others a "threat" if they were ever to obtain the same technology?

When one looks at the bigger picture over the years, they are left to wonder -- what, pray tell, other than massive hypocrisy and selling out to the highest bidder (patriotism be damned), has been going on here?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Roger Goodell's victory lap

So after all the wrangling, the NFL Commish got re-upped for another five years. Is anybody really surprised? Even the amount, reportedly $200 million -- roughly 40 mil a year -- isn't totally out of line.

I mean c'mon. If he's going to be the head honcho of the league, shouldn't he at least be paid more than any low-life player?

Want to gripe about something? Try Matthew Stafford, of the perennially, and still sorry Detroit Lions being the highest paid player in the entire league. It's outrageous and, only in Detroit could they find a way to foist that off on their long suffering paying fans. To boot, Tom Brady of the Patriots, arguably the best QB of all time, with a hand full of Super Bowl rings and MVPs, makes SEVEN MILLION dollars LESS a year than Stafford -- who is yet to win a single playoff game and has a career losing record? How the hell is that even possible?

While it is true that Goodell and his minions have likely botched a few things over the years, particularly their waffling and flip-flopping on disciplinary issues, there is no denying the league has prospered under his leadership. A decade ago, when he first became top dog, the NFL was roughly a $4 billion dollar a year industry. Now it's up somewhere around $16 billion. Show me a financial adviser that can quadruple your investments over ten years, and I'll show you a guy/gal that will be in high demand.

Any talk of the NFL recently"slumping", due to whatever reasons, is purely hogwash. Boycotts? Get outta here. The stadiums are still packed, even for the sad-sack teams. TV ad rates have never been higher, with companies climbing all over themselves trying to get air time, price be damned.

Not long ago, one Jerry Jones, owner, president, general manager, and head bottle washer of the Dallas Cowboys, was dissatisfied with Roger Goodell. This likely had something to do with the Commish bouncing Jones's star running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games. Something about "conduct unbecoming" and "detrimental" to the league. Though EE was never even charged with a crime, much less convicted, he and his union lawyers finally gave up the court battle and swallowed their medicine, deserved or not. JJ said shortly thereafter that he would be coming for Roger with "everything he had".

Evidently, Jones didn't have much, let alone sway with the other billionaire owners. The rest of them voting to keep Goodell on for another five years pretty much says it all.

So if I'm Roger Goodell, I think about a Trump tweet or text moment, specifically aimed at Jones down in Big D. To wit ---

Still loving these Manhattan penthouse offices you will help pay for over the next five years. Sorry, LOL, to hear your Boys aren't doing so well during the current campaign. But hey, you've still got that giant video screen/scoreboard over the field in your palace -- right? It's something, even if your team isn't this year. But that's just kind of the way it goes sometimes, ya know? Ya win some, ya lose some. Know what the really bad news is? I'm much younger than you are and get to hold the hammer over your shyster head the next time you or one of your boys crosses a line I don't approve of. I will do my darndest to be fair and equitable in such matters, but you really should consider toning down your uppity language regarding me. I'm the boss -- not you. The others owners said so. Other than that, y'all have a nice day and this is nuttin' more then a liddle bidnuh to be taken care of. Surely you understand that.

And if not, in the immortal words of Rhett Butler, frankly, dear JJ, I don't give a damn.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The absurdity of the Ball family

Once upon a time a man named LaVar Ball was a jock. Pretty good, as the averages go, making it to college and getting a (short) look by the pros. Nah, not good enough. And he sired three sons along the way.

Recently, dear LaVar has said his sons, ahem, potential, was worth -- wait for it -- a BILLION dollars. Of course, nobody, especially the movers and shakers in athletics took him seriously. Far from it. Even the major shoe and apparel companies weren't willing to enlist his boys as clients and give them freebies, let alone mega-bucks.

LaVar was unhappy, so he founded his own company. The Big Baller brand. You have to give the man credit for having large cajones indeed by daring to introduce such a laughable concept. Pity he seems to remain woefully short in the firing cranial neurons department.

True, like the late Mohammed Ali, such black and racially slanted bluster will always get its followers. Keep talking smack, no matter how ridiculous, and the fools will look up to you as some sort of hero. Some still even maintain Ali was the "greatest" of all time. That is utterly absurd. He was defeated by Joe Frazier, beaten up by Ken Norton, who was robbed of an obvious win in their rematch, and even lost to Leon Spinks. LEON SPINKS!! In his later years, Ali was absolutely destroyed by Larry Holmes, before he finally whimpered out with a loss to Trevor Berbick. Six defeats, many of them convincingly so, is hardly the stuff of "greatest".

But back to the Ball family.

Daddy's oldest son Lonzo was predictably taken high in the draft by the LA Lakers. Sure, he's still a rookie, but so far he has some rather impressive stats as well. As in the worst shooting percentage in the entire league. Ditto for free throws. His foul shot attempts more closely resemble that of klutzes like Shaq, Wilt, or the Detroit Pistons' Andre Drummond than that of your usual run up and down the court guard. Is dear Lonzo a bust yet? Maybe not, but he certainly appears headed in that direction.

And now dad has pulled his second son, one LiAngelo, out of UCLA, a premier basketball program, before he's even played an official game for them. Remember, dear LiAngelo got busted in China for being a common thief. Dad thinks the prudent thing to do is take LiAngelo out of any chance at a higher education, so he can train for his "future" NBA career.

That would seem to beg a question. What team in their right mind would draft this kid if he got bounced out of college before ever playing a game, and with the circus daddy would surely bring to town if an NBA team took a chance of him? Good luck with that.

There appears to be one more Ball child still in the high school pipeline. What's his name again? LiAbility? LaCivious? LeThug waiting to happen? Beats me.

But if he came from the same daddy and even remotely wants to follow in his diddy-bopping, trash-talking footsteps as to the litany of the absurd and vastly self-overrated, then his chances of success in a sane world probably aren't very good either.

Here's an idea. Keep him out of China, or any other foreign country. Couldn't hurt.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Final Four football predictions

#1 Clemson vs #4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

While the Tide back-doored their way into the playoffs, and their aura of greatness persists, real or imagined, they ain't what they used to be. Indeed, Auburn showed them to be vulnerable and a few of their games against less than quality competition were much closer than they should have been.

True, Bama is loaded with bigger, stronger, faster five star recruits from top to bottom, but what they don't have is brains.

Nick the -ick (fill in your own blank) Sabin gets to face off with his nemesis Dabo from Clemson once again. We know how the championship game turned out last year.

On the other hand, though it was a head scratcher, Clemson's earlier loss to a not-so-good Syracuse team was probably the best thing that could have happened to them. It woke them up and got them refocused. Since then, the Tigers have looked, well, formidable. Leshaun who? He's gone and Clemson is everybody bit as good as they were last year.


Though it's hard fought for three quarters or so, the defending national champs pull away towards the end of the game and slay the muscular, if dim-witted beast from Tuscaloosa once again and move on.

#2 Oklahoma vs #3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

Who would have ever imagined two teams like the Sooners and Bulldogs would wind up in Pasadena? Definitely a first.

Both appear to be on a roll, hence making it into the Final Four to begin with.

The Okies are Big 12 champs and the Dawgs kings of the SEC.

OU had an impressive win earlier in the year, waltzing into Ohio State and putting a thumping on the Buckeyes. But they were equally perplexing when an unranked Iowa State team came-a-calling in Norman and put a beat down on them. They feature quarterback Baker Mayfield, a front runner for the Heisman this year. When they're on their game, they're really good. But will they be on their game against....

Georgia. The Dawgs were rolling right along, even #1 in the country at one point. But like Alabama (also #1 at the time), they got kicked to the curb by that pesky Auburn. Thing is, Georgia came roaring back to avenge that loss in the SEC championship game, trashing the "other" Tigers. Tit for tat indeed, but when it mattered most, they were up to the task.

Prediction. The high-speed finesse of Oklahoma butting heads with the brute force of Georgia.

I think the Sooners eventually wilt under what the Dawgs will bring all game long. Like the Clemson scenario mentioned above, Georgia getting beat earlier by Auburn made them tougher and better in the long run.

And that would mean it will be Clemson and Georgia facing off for all the proverbial marbles.

Of course, like Sports Illustrated and my late father, yours truly seems to have this uncanny knack of always getting his predictions wrong.

But it should be a couple of pretty good games to watch nevertheless.

Hey, what better way to sober up, at least temporarily, than kick back and watch four really good teams slug it out on New Year's Day?

The play that wasn't called

Well, OK, it was ONLY the, as usual, terrible Cleveland Browns. They have long been the NFL's version of Murphy's Law. Between botched draft choices, a woefully incompetent front office hiring pitiful coaches, and even the play on the field -- if something can go wrong -- it WILL go wrong with the Browns.

But they got jobbed in the game earlier today against the Los Angeles Chargers. Here was the scenario....

With about a minute left to play in the game, the Chargers were ahead 19-10. It seemed like a lock -- a two score difference.

To nobody's great surprise, the Cleveland quarterback made yet another Murphy decision and threw a pass directly into the hands of a Charger defensive back for an easy interception. Game over, right?

Not so fast. It shouldn't have been.

Upon further review, the Charger defensive back indeed went to the ground -- but he was never touched by an opponent. In college ball, going down is the end of a play. Not so in pro ball. The play remains "live" until the ball carrier is touched.

See the intercepting defensive back, in celebration mode, get up and run all the way back into his own end zone, surrounded by teammates whooping it up. And THERE he took a knee.

Translation? If the refs had followed the rules, that constituted a safety. Two points for Cleveland.

The score would then have been 19-12, and the Chargers would have had to kick it back to the Browns for one more shot.

And though it seems unlikely -- it's the Browns, remember? -- they still would have theoretically had the chance to quickly march down the field to score a touchdown. An extra point would have tied it and sent the game into overtime. A successful two-point conversion would have -- OMG -- even conceivably given them their first victory of the season.

But nobody noticed, or cared, because it's Cleveland. If their coaching staff on the sidelines had the semblance of even a vague clue, they would have thrown the red flag and demanded a review of the play. But because they remain clueless, they didn't.

In the whole scheme of things, does it really matter much?

Probably not.

But dammit, the rules are the rules.

The least the on-field officials, and those mysterious "guys in the booth" can do is follow them correctly.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Three locks and a maybe

After quite the day of exciting college football action, the Final Four has been set in stone. Well, at least three of them.

As noted in my previous post a mere couple hours ago, Oklahoma is a lock as Big 12 champs, finishing up on a high note by demolishing TCU.

One loss Georgia avenged that very setback to Auburn earlier by pummeling the Tigers in the SEC championship game. Count the Dawgs in.

Already #1, Clemson absolutely pounded Miami for the ACC crown. That means U, U, yes U, can slink back to South Beach, South Park, Little Havana, or whatever it is you call home with your heads hung in shame. U just got punked. So yes, Clemson has most definitely punched their ticket.

Three in and one to yet be decided. And that's where things get interesting.

Ohio State barely -- BARELY -- hung on to down previously undefeated Wisconsin in the Big 10 -- actually 14, go figure -- conference championship game. That means the Badgers are out. Many have been looking for a reason to deny them a shot all year and now they have one.

So who will be the fourth and final team invited to the big dance?

Remember, Alabama was sitting at #5 going into today's action, and they were idle.

Auburn, which handily defeated the Tide just a week ago, went down in flames to Georgia, as mentioned above.

The "committee" is faced with the tough call of deciding whether to put two SEC teams into the Final Four (Bama and Georgia), which would mean the Big 10 gets shut out entirely, or elevating Ohio State back into the picture.

Let's not forget that OSU was thoroughly beaten in their own house early in the season by the very same Oklahoma. No shame there. But later getting woodshedded by an unranked Iowa team to the tune of over four touchdowns worth is a glaring flaw on their record.

So, therefore, ergo, and thus, yours truly suspects it will boil down to what I've predicted all along.

Yep, that pesky Nick Saban and his Tide are going to get another shot. Even though they couldn't even qualify for their own conference championship game, and sat back twiddling their thumbs while the other big boys were killing each other on Saturday.

Maybe they deserve it. Maybe not. And the Big Ten folks and fans will scream "NO FAIR" at being left out.

But somehow it just doesn't feel or smell right.

That's not even to mention Central Florida, which went undefeated all year, but was never even in the conversation for a title shot. A lesser conference, you say? Maybe so, but how do we know the Knights couldn't compete, and possibly defeat some of those same Final Four "big boys" on the national stage if they're denied the chance to do so?

That doesn't feel right either.

Want a reason to expand the national playoff to at least eight teams?

I give you Central Florida as Exhibit A.

Working on the Final Four

Despite their mysterious loss at home to Iowa State a while back, Oklahoma has just punched their ticket into college football's Final Four. As Big 12 champs, culminating with a resounding defeat of TCU -- they're in. Lock city.

That's one.

Auburn, formerly #2 in the country after dispatching that pesky Bama, is decidedly out. This what happens when Georgia, whom the Tigers smacked down earlier in the season, avenges itself with a woodshed whupping over the same Auburn team in the SEC championship game.

Count the Dawgs in.

That's two.

With #5 Alabama sitting at home twiddling their thumbs, the rest gets pretty interesting.

If Wisconsin defeats Ohio State, game currently underway, there will be no holding them out of the Final Four, despite how so many over the season keep looking for a reason to do so. Big Ten champs with an undefeated record? They'd be a lock as well.

But -- if the Buckeyes prevail, do they get elevated into the Final Four, even as a two-loss team? In effect leap-frogging Alabama which only had one? Hmmm.

Go back to Georgia. Before the game against Auburn, the Dawgs were ranked #6. They're the SEC champs and Bama didn't even make it to the conference championship game. Is it indeed a lock that a #6 jumps over an idle #5? Hmmm again.

In the ACC conference championship game, also currently underway, #1 Clemson is tangling with the Miami Hurricanes. If the Tigers win, they're a no-brainer to head back to attempt to defend their national title. (Despite their equally head scratching loss at lowly Syracuse a couple months back.)

But what if they lose? Chances are they'd drop out.

One way or the other, by hook or by crook, yours truly suspects that pesky Nick Sabin and his crew are going to back door their way into the Final Four again, even though other teams are slugging it out while they do nothing.

We shall see.

Stay tuned for an update later.....

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Tiger Woods show

Welcome to the greatest spectacle on earth (or at least in American sports), boys and girls.

Yessirree, step right up and get your peanuts, corn dogs, and cotton candy. You thought circuses were a thing of the past? Not so. One is still very much alive and well.

That would be the Eldrick Tont Woods (sometimes known as Tiger) show.

Sound the trumpets, bring on the dancing girls, and all ye peons fall to your knees in awe. Yep, the almighty Tiger has made his triumphant return to golf. Again, for the umpteenth time.

Many have said this supposedly monumental occasion has been "long awaited".

There are others, including yours truly, that considered it "long dreaded".

Nevertheless, there was the, ahem, honorable Eldrick participating in a mini-golf tournament called the Hero Challenge. Indeed, hard as it is to believe, some actually still consider Woods some sort of hero. Crazy, I know.

And sure enough, when the first round was over, the fawning media went right back to their old tricks. An interview with Tiger. Then another one, while totally ignoring the players that had fared better on the course. My stomach was starting to get a bit queasy.

They screamed to the heavens that, OMG, Tiger was on the leader board at three under par. Nevermind that in a meager eighteen man field it's pretty hard NOT to be on the leader board, and he was in a modest eighth place.

Yet here's the thing. This particular field included eight of the top nine rated golfers in the world. You know, studs like Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Rickey Fowler, and Matt Kuchar.

So here's a question. How, pray tell, did Eldrick, who was ranked roughly #1200 in the world, belong in this tournament in the first place? 1200? Did anybody know the rankings even went down that far? They probably otherwise wouldn't, except the rankers had to find a way to keep Eldrick in the conversation.

Even if ET Woods finishes dead last -- and he might very well crash and burn like the Hindenburg over the next few days -- he'll still zoom up all the way to -- wait for it -- inside the top 1000. Well glory hallelujah and call the adoring masses to prayer to give thanks. Meanwhile, I'm reaching for the Pepto to try and quell the growing unease in my abdomen. Urp.

But that wasn't enough for the pseudo hero-worshipers (see TV folks) trying to resurrect their fallen idol.

Oh no, they had to show the public another huge dose of Eldrick "highlights", over and over and over. See Tiger drive. See Tiger putt. See Tiger strolling up the fairways. See everything Tiger, ad nauseum, and then in slo-mo a few more times.

And that did it. I had no choice but to run to the throne, get on my knees, and do a little worshiping of the porcelain receptacle myself. Barf.

Here's the last questions. What does it take for supposedly otherwise semi-intelligent people to finally understand this guy isn't any good any more?  And why do they keep trying to make him a hero, when he's obviously proven he's anything but in so many ways?

Woods has about as much chance of coming back to the tour and winning anything, much less being dominant, as I have of becoming Mr. Universe next year.

True, anything's theoretically possible, save perhaps a certain president acting his age, but let's just say the odds aren't exactly good for any of these things to happen.

The moral of the story?

Stick a long overdue fork in dear Eldrick. Good grief. If his ex Elin had succeeded in rightfully taking a divot out of his head with one of his own clubs when the poor lass discovered the breadth of her husband's infidelity, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. And his legendary back problems would be the least of his worries.

Like it or not, the dude's done, and has been -- heavy on the "HAS BEEN" -- for quite some time.

Much like Humpty Dumpty, there just ain't no putting that critter back together again.

One can only wonder how long it will take before the media allows him to mercifully -- for objective sports fans -- slide into the oblivion he has so long deserved.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

More dumb things

Interesting TV ad. Call this Senator (pick one) to thank them for everything he/she has done for you during their time in office. Right.

But they don't list a phone number. How dumb is that?

UVerse is an amazing system offered by A.T.&T. Yours truly subscribes to it. Besides throwing in a free DVR, pretty handy, they've figured out a way to have thousands of TV channels, your phone(s), and computer(s) all come through the same little cable into your domicile. Did I mention amazing?

But here's the thing. They also say in the unlikely event such service is disrupted for any reason, punch up a certain number on your phone or go online to a specific site for assistance in restoring it.

Well gee, that's great, except for a couple minor details. If the service is out, your phone won't work, and your computer will be incapable of going online. Who's the genius that came up with this idiocy? Anybody home A.T. &T?

And buyer beware. Yep, you can get the first couple years at a cut-rate price. See bait. But when that offer runs out, it's hammer time in your wallet.

On to sports.

Michael Crabtree of the Oakland Raiders and Aqib Talib of the Denver Broncos evidently don't much care for each other. But as you've likely seen on replays, they went nuts during a recent game with their childish little feud. For this lunacy, they were originally suspended for two games, but that was subsequently reduced to one. These clowns should have been suspended for the rest of the season, obviously without pay, and made to take anger management classes. And a quick trip to the woodshed, with their head coaches brandishing "switches" to light their ignorant butts up wouldn't have been a bad idea either.

And how dumb do you have to be (hello Michael Crabtree) to try and throw punches at an opponent when he still has his helmet on?  If I was Talib, let the fool hit me in the face mask with his fist, rather than trying to duck and run. In fact, lean into it. Who do you think would get the worse of that encounter? Can you say broken fingers and/or hand? Stupidity at its finest, both ways.

So Eli Manning of the NY Giants has been benched, and many are in an uproar about it. Hey, this guy's been stinking it up for the last couple years, and has always been grossly over rated. It remains absolutely confounding how the Giants were able to knock off the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl a few years ago. It was sort of like the "Miracle on Ice" team the USA had way back in the 1980 Olympics. They defeated the might Soviet Red Army team in the semi-finals.

Tell ya what. Let either of those games be played ten more times, and neither Eli and the Giants nor those American college kids would win a single one of them. They'd all be blow-outs. A couple of flukes if there ever was.

It's reminiscent of the late Mohammed Ali defeating George Foreman in the "rumble in the jungle" a few decades ago with the "rope-a-dope" tactic. You'll notice Ali never gave big George the opportunity of a rematch. The "grill" man wouldn't have fallen for the same ruse again, and Ali knew it, so he took the cowardly way out and didn't give the big man another chance. Even though Ali himself, after having first being defeated by Smokin' Joe Frazier quickly got a re-match. And after getting pummeled by Ken Norton Sr. in their first go-round got another chance as well. He lost that fight too, everywhere but on the (likely rigged judges) scorecards. Smart moves by Ali. Dumb for the boxing world to tolerate such obvious shenanigans. Either man up or get out.

Same thing with Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. First time around, Duran thumped Leonard thoroughly. In the rematch, Duran has been known ever since as the "no mas" guy that quit. So who knows? Maybe he had some serious stomach problems or internal bleeding going on. But Leonard walked off into the sunset, never offering a rubber match and was somehow anointed a hero. Duran has been equally shamed over all the years since. They fought twice and each one once. It's dumb to consider one so much better than the other, especially given Leonard's silver-spoon treatment throughout his career while Duran was clawing his way to stardom from the ghettos of Panama. And while the latter was likely the greatest lightweight of all time, he had to take a big leap into the next weight class up to face Leonard in the first place.

Interesting how the NFL is trying to buy it's way -- see major donations to "worthy" causes -- out of the players kneeling during the national anthem snafu. Sure, the league can easily afford to throw a few million at one entity or another. Chump change. What will be even more interesting is if the league stipulates that by doing so, every single player must stand. If even one takes a knee, the deal's off. No free money. What do you think the chances are of THAT happening -- either way? You just know there will be at least one idiot that has to take a "stance" and foul up the whole works.

Hey, this whole thing has been overblown since the start. If players don't want to stand -- who cares? It's not like it's taking money from or otherwise hurting anybody else -- except their precious "feelings". You'll notice said players haven't demanded others take a knee. So who is anybody else to tell them how to act when their First Amendment rights of "freedom of expression" clearly grant them the right to protest in such a manner? This has been top to bottom dumb since that former San Fran QB took a knee in the first place. Did I mention -- why would any sane person care? If you don't like it, by all means feel free to boycott the NFL. That is your right as well, but shut up. Don't those howling the loudest have anything better to concern themselves with? If not, three words. Get a life.

And just when you think it can't possibly get any dumber ---

Enter the tried and true folks at the Accuweather Service.

They have fearlessly predicted the northern parts of the USA will get colder as Christmas and the New Year approach.

Well dang, bet you'd have never thought of that.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

College football championship

And so far, the Final Four will be -- nobody knows. Unlike most years, there are no "locks" to date. Yet there are a couple in waiting, a few more maybes, and the perennial "long shots" hoping to get in, but probably won't.

Also one familiar name that rightfully got bounced out the Top Four by getting thoroughly defeated last week, but sits in the catbird seat with a better than average chance of getting back in -- even though they won't be playing this weekend. Hint -- it has something to do with Nick Saban and Tuscaloosa.

But let's look at some of the match-ups.

Clemson/Miami for the ACC title. With a a win, Clemson's a lock for the Final Four, despite their earlier mysterious loss at unranked Syracuse. If Miami wins, Clemson's probably out and Alabama back in.

Oklahoma/TCU. The Sooners are a lock if they win the Big 12 showdown, but TCU won't get back in if they prevail. The latter scenario would also eliminate the Sooners and let the Crimson Tide back in.

USC/Stanford for the Pac 12 title. Two words. Who cares?

Memphis/UCF for the AAC crown. Somebody had to step up and challenge Central Florida, might as well be Memphis. While this will likely be a blow-out, the still undefeated Knights of UCF won't get anywhere near the Final Four, though all the other teams (except Wisconsin -- see below) have gone down at one time or another. In some cases twice. How can a 2-loss team be considered a more worthy candidate than one that is undefeated, regardless of what conferences they play in?

Alcorn State/Grambling State. Not sure what the "SWAC" acronym stands for -- perhaps "Sealed With A Curse?", but see the comment above regarding the Pac 12. Ditto.

C-USA features North Texas and FAU, whatever that is. I didn't know any part of Texas could be considered "north", nor even relevant in this year's playoffs. Just go away.

Akron/Toledo for MAC bragging rights? Sounds like an Ohio Bowl to me and the only "Mac" that occasionally whets my appetite is served up at those joints with the golden arches out front. Get this crap outta here.

The Big Ten --actually 14 these days -- features a very good game with undefeated Wisconsin taking on Ohio State. If the Badgers win, they're a lock for the Final Four. Forget strength of schedule. They play in a "power" conference and will be the only undefeated team still left -- sorry again UCF. But let's not forget that in a similar situation just last year, the Buckeyes put an unmerciful woodshed beat down on the Cheesers to the tune of 59-0. Could there be an almost NINE touchdown swing in this year's match-up? Probably not.

And if Ohio State wins, the Badgers drop out of contention, as so many seem to want them to. It also elevates that pesky Alabama back in. Do you see a recurring theme here?

The SEC championship will be decided by powerhouses Auburn and Georgia. As mentioned above, Auburn was the team to slay Alabama just last week, knocking them down to #5, on the cusp, but not in the magical Final Four.

If the Tigers prevail, they're a lock as well. But if the Dawgs come out on top, Auburn likely falls off the radar and -- you guessed it -- that pesky Crimson Tide finds itself with an invite to the party. Again, the same theme, that while Bama sits home and twiddles their thumbs, they have a better than average chance of moving back up. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical, much less fair. But Alabama is a big money team when it comes to TV, their sponsors, and the national hype they always generate. Much more so than a Wisconsin, Clemson, or Auburn.

And let's face it. The only reason there are so many bowls these days, though many of them feature teams somewhere between ho-hum and "THAT team made it to a bowl -- REALLY?" -- is all about the money. Strike up the marching bands and collect a few million bucks, ad nauseum.

This Saturday will be a college football extravaganza for sports junkies. (Guilty, Your Honor). A whole LOT of clicking with the remotes going on from coast to coast.

And when it's all said and done, the Final Four will be set in stone, or at least the best guess the almighty "committee" of geniuses can come up with. Regardless of how it all turns out, there are sure to be howls of protest from those that think they were unfairly excluded. And some of them will definitely have legitimate beefs.

I feel your pain, Central Florida. You're the contender that KOed all comers along the way but was never given a title shot.

And somehow, that's just not right.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The NFL and the Lions

There can be no doubt the NFL is very much alive, well, and remains the gorilla in the sports room. No other league, at least in America, even comes close regarding popularity. Careful observers on TV have seen a lot of empty seats at NASCAR races in recent times, but not so in NFL stadiums. Even perennial losing teams still pack them in at exorbitant prices.

While it is true that NFL stock has taken a minor dip of late due to the whole uproar about players refusing to stand for the national anthem, to think it does not remain a blue chip is pure folly.

The TV people are more than happy to keep throwing billions at the league for the right to televise their games, their subsequent ad rates remain astronomical, and player salaries continue to rise into the stratosphere of the absurd.

There was a time when all but a couple NFL games were played on Sundays. Then along came Monday Night Football back in the early 70s.. Howard, Dandy Don, and the Giffer were huge hits with the viewing public, as were the games. The only change MNF has seen in the interim has been ratings going up -- not down.

The "couple" mentioned above were the two games on Thanksgiving day. Detroit and Dallas had a monopoly on that.

Sensing another cha-ching opportunity, the league recently began offering Thursday night games every week. Football junkies loved it. Still do.

It's like the public can't get enough of the product.

Yet these very Thursday games and, to a lesser extent, the Monday night contests put teams at a disadvantage. Ask any NFL player, or coach, and they will tell you it's mighty hard to recover from the typical beatings they take on a Sunday to be ready to play another game 4 days later. EVERY day is important when it comes to recuperating from the bumps and bruises incurred during the last contest.

But there's a flip side. Any two teams meeting for a Thursday night clash are at the same disadvantage, unless one has to travel cross-country to get there, but that's another story.

While such teams have to suck it up and get through a short week, they also enjoy a distinct advantage the following week. As in, they get ten days off, while most other teams only get seven. Those extra three days are light years in recovery and preparation time for their next opponents.

This is where the Detroit Lions, as if they haven't already merrily waltzed along the primrose path this season, enjoying every possible break from injuries to star players on their opponents, to a patsy overall schedule, have bumbled into yet ANOTHER advantage.

As has been their long tradition, the Lions played on Thanksgiving day, where they were unceremoniously drubbed at home by the Minnesota Vikings. So they got ten days off before their next game.

Enter the Baltimore Ravens, very much in the playoff hunt. They are currently playing on MNF against the Houston Texans. Both enter the game having had an extra day's rest since their last go-round.

But the Ravens, the Lions' next opponent, will go into that game on one fewer day's rest than normal, while the Lions have had three EXTRA days. Six versus ten. A HUGE disadvantage/advantage, depending on which team one wants to look at.

That would seem to beg the question --- How can it be the "geniuses" that make out the NFL schedules could come up with such an inequity involving these two teams? This is not even remotely close to anything considered "fair". Of all the countless options they had when making the schedule they came up with THIS?

No, we won't hear the Ravens complain about it, because to do so would be considered "whining". Nor will we hear a peep from the Lions acknowledging yet another major advantage/break that has just fallen into their laps.

But it has, and the Lions and their fans once again take it for granted, oblivious to the charmed life they have stumbled through so far this season. The Vikings freshly down to their third-string quarterback when they first met? The Packers newly without Aaron Rodgers? Games against the likes of Arizona (not good), NY Giants (flat-out terrible), a couple with the Bears trying to break in a rookie QB, along with Cleveland (puhleeze), the still Marvin Lewis led Cincinnati team (how does he keep his job?), Tampa Bay (taking on water like the Titanic), and finishing up with the Pack, who is already out of playoff contention (if they have any brains they'll sit Aaron Rodgers until next year and allow him to completely recover)?

That's ten games against teams that either weren't any good to begin with, or were without key players when the Lions faced them.

Hey, the Motown puddy-tats have played a grand total of five games against decent teams. Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota after that third-string QB mentioned above (Case Keenum) had a few games under his belt to get comfortable. They have lost them all, four of them at home.

And guess what? They better hope the Ravens prevail against the Texans tonight. Because if they lose, the above-mentioned six versus ten disadvantage aside, methinks the Poe-birds will be fired up enough to lay a serious dose of "nevermore" on the woeful one-trick pony (Matthew Stafford) Lions when they dare to go into Baltimore next week.

For all of their oblivious Pollyanne-ish ways so far this season, as they've merrily strolled along, there can also be little doubt the hammer of Thor will eventually drop on their sorry, self-overrated heads.


Because it's the Lions.

And that's just what they've always done -- or not.

It's just another year piled on top of the colossal scrap heap of the past half century's worth of futility and foolishness.

No biggy.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The college football playoff shuffle

With Alabama taking it on the chin at Auburn, by a more than convincing margin, things have changed when it comes to who gets in and who gets left out of the four team playoff for a national championship.

Teams who should be out.

The aforementioned Bama. For two reasons. If you're the #1 team in the country, you're not supposed to lose to anybody anywhere, even a cross-state rival, especially by almost two touchdowns worth. Second, while the other big boys were slugging it out in power conference games, just last week Bama scheduled lowly Mercer -- MERCER -- to pad their stats. Have they no shame? And while an early season loss may be later forgiven (see Clemson @ Syracuse), one on the cusp of the playoffs is fatal. When the pressure was on, the Tide ebbed when it should have flowed. They gotta go.

Same with Miami. They were right there, undefeated, until they got pounded by an unranked Pittsburgh team. The 'Canes quickly became no more than stains on the playoff picture. Scoot.

Ohio State. Despite a really good Oklahoma team coming into the Buckeyes house and thrashing them early in the season, we might have got by that over time. But when OSU went into unranked Iowa a couple months later and got blistered 55-24, a colossal beat down, their playoff fate should have been sealed. As in, they don't deserve one.

Teams who should be in.

Clemson. The defending champs, not that that means anything -- it doesn't -- have rebounded nicely since the above mentioned stumble @ Syracuse. They just clobbered a pretty good #24 South Carolina team on the road to finish up the regular season. They might well be the best team in the country.

Oklahoma, probably. Yes, they were defeated at home by an otherwise not-so-good Iowa State team back in October, but also have quality wins on their resume. If they can prevail over a really good TCU team in their conference championship game -- no given -- they will have punched their ticket.

Auburn has to be right there. Yes, they have two Ls on their record. The first at then #3 Clemson in a close game, and a head-scratcher at LSU. But since, they've defeated then #1 Georgia and just now #1 Alabama. Minus the couple of patsies any major college program typically plays every year, it just might be the Tigers have had the toughest schedule of them all through the season. Now they'll get another crack at the Georgia Dawgs in the SEC conference championship game. Win it, and they're definitely in. Lose it, and they're out. Seems fair enough.

No team is more deserving than Wisconsin. Not counting Central Florida (see previous post), the Badgers are the only undefeated team to date. It's hardly a secret the powers that be probably don't want to see the Cheesers in the playoff picture. Small market, lesser TV ad bucks, etc., adds up to trying to figure out a way to deny them the chance. But undefeated in a "power" conference is undefeated. Period.

They'll get their shot at glory when they face Ohio State in the Big Ten conference championship game. The Buckeyes, for reasons listed above, should already be eliminated from playoff contention. And if the Badgers fall to such a team when it matters most, shame on them, and the pollsters will gleefully write them off. But even if it's close, and they lose, Wisconsin will still only have one L on their record, no more than any other contender. Still, they can more than validate their presence in the Final Four by dispatching the Buckeyes, who just might be without the services of their starting quarterback. I, for one, would love to see Wisconsin in the mix. I mean, c'mon. What else do they have to cheer for in that state? The Packers without Aaron Rodgers are floundering. They deserve a major break. The Milwaukee Bucks are no better than average in the NBA. The Brewers remain terrible in Major League baseball. No NHL presence. Last time I looked even Harley-Davidson stock wasn't doing so well. The boom years of wannabes standing in line and paying exorbitant prices for bikes are over. On Wisconsin indeed. Sis-boom-bah. Here would seem to be the pertinent question. How can it be that a 12-0 team (Wisconsin) still finds itself at #5 (on the outside looking in), while the four teams above it have all suffered a defeat?

Maybes with an outside shot.

If the Horned Frogs of TCU put a beat down on Oklahoma, might they be considered?

Is that pesky Notre Dame (see huge ad bucks) still lurking?

Georgia? Probably the most boring state not name Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, or Nebraska to drive through. They might sneak back in, even deserve it, if they can knock off Auburn.

Add it all up and what do you have? A massive ball of confusion where nothing has been sorted out until all the above play one more game. It's been pretty much that way all year with those obsessed with the polls -- not that they mattered for the last few months.

But the upcoming games are the ones that will count the most. Win and you're in. Lose and you should be out. Time to separate the proverbial men from the boys.

And isn't that the way it always should have been?

Friday, November 24, 2017

College football playoff bias

As of now, there are exactly three major college football teams in the country that are undefeated.

They are -- the undisputed #1 Alabama -- everybody knows that.


And Central Florida. Yep, the Knights, despite having to cancel and reschedule a couple games due to those pesky hurricanes a while back have nary a loss on their record.

But it appears the powers that be, see pollsters, have conspired against Wisconsin and UCF to keep them out of the championship playoffs.

Let's look at UCF first. True, they don't play in a "power" conference, so many hold their strength of schedule, or lack thereof, against them. To which I say -- horsepuckey.

Though they still can't seem to break into the Top Ten, undefeated is undefeated. Period. And who knows how good they might actually be unless they're given a chance to show it on bigger stages?

One need only look back to last year in the NCAA hoops tourney. Tiny little Gonzaga, student population roughly 7500, and a private school tucked away in the northwest -- no taxpayer money flowing in -- not only got into the hoops tourney, but went all the way to the Finals. There, they barely, BARELY succumbed to the behemoth North Carolina, student pop upwards of 30,000, and on the taxpayers' dime.

The Zags are in the little known West Coast Conference. Along with Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Pacific, Santa Clara, and that bunch.

The Heels are in the mighty Atlantic Coast Conference. Does Duke ring a bell?

So don't tell me a football team like Central Florida can't play with the "big boys" unless and until they've been given a chance to.

Know why brutes like Alabama, Georgia, Miami, and other "power" schools across the country won't schedule schools like Central Florida? Because they're scared to death to play them. Even if the behemoths win the game, folks will say they should have. But if the underdog keeps it close, much less OMG pulls the upset -- it happens -- the big boys lose major face, let alone watching themselves tumble in the almighty polls. In effect, they have everything to lose and little to gain.

Given the hoops tourney starts off with a field of 66 teams, there was no keeping Gonzaga out.

But the football landscape in quite different. Currently, some mysterious committee, composed of representatives from the "power" (SURPRISE!!) conferences have to whittle the field down to the Final Four before the playoffs even begin. UCF has no shot, because the deck has long been stacked against them.

Consider the Wisconsin Badgers. They're most definitely from a "power" conference, the Big Ten (actually 14 -- evidently not schools a math major would likely be interested in). Yet despite being undefeated, they so far remain outside the Final Four. How can this be?

Hey, Miami was right there until they got smacked down by unranked Pittsburgh. The 'Canes should fall off the radar. Last year's champ Clemson got smoked at Syracuse earlier in the year, also an unranked team. The common perception is an early loss can be overcome, while one late in the season can be fatal to a school's chances.

This is balderdash as well. What difference does it make when a team loses a game it wasn't supposed to -- to a much "lesser" opponent? A loss is a loss. Period.

Georgia was once #1 in some polls. Then they got hammered by Auburn, over three touchdowns worth. See ya Dawgs.

Oklahoma had an early impressive win at Ohio State. But wait, they eventually got smoked at home by Iowa State. Cardinal Rule #1 for any championship wannabe. Thou shalt NOT come up on the short end in thy own house -- to ANYBODY -- let alone a team not even in the Top 25. The Sooners should have become Laters for that colossal miscue.

Of course the only way to make it fair would be to expand the playoff system to at least eight, and maybe even sixteen. What else do these guys have to do during the month of December? Study for finals? Please. Your average big-time football jock likely has the mental acumen (IQ) of a potted plant. Big, fast, strong, but dumber than a red twig dogwood. So let them play a couple extra games leading up to the bowls and playoffs. What could it hurt? Their GPA's? LOL

If Wisconsin runs the table and wins the Big 10-14 whatever conference championship game, remaining undefeated, even the anti-cheeser people will be hard pressed to keep them out of the Final Four.

And if mighty Bama just happens to fall at Auburn in the Iron Bowl, the Tide are only a slight favorite over the Tigers, the whole apple cart will get turned upside down. Good luck sorting that out.

But I still think Central Florida is worthy of a shot.

Pity they won't get one.

And that's just wrong.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater

Idle thought --- why is it that Americans typically stampede and trample each other getting into stores to buy even more stuff on Black Friday, when just the day before, over a typical gluttonous Thanksgiving day feast, they gave thanks for what they already had?

The quarterback situation for the Minnesota Vikings has certainly taken some weird twists and turns in recent times.

A few years back, they thought Teddy Bridgewater was the answer to their long term problem. So they drafted him in the first round with the 32nd and last pick. Bridgewater had enjoyed much success while playing college ball at Lousville, including big bowl game wins over the likes of Florida and Miami, both of which he was named MVP of. A projected NFL star waiting to happen indeed. Plus, typical of rookie contracts, the Vikes had him under wraps for four years at less than $2 million a year. A bargain by any account. Currently, Bridgewater is still only the relatively young age of 25.

Conversely, the career path of one Case Keenum traveled a much different route. While he played at Houston in college, certainly a Division 1 program, but not with the footprint of a Louisville, Keenum set all-time NCAA records for most passing yards, touchdowns, and completions. Very impressive stuff. Yet he went completely undrafted by the NFL when his time came. Seven full rounds and his phone never rang.

Finally he got a shot with the Houston Texans, but it didn't work out well. Then off to the then St. Louis Rams, where he failed to impress either. Many thought Keenum was headed for the scrap heap of NFL wannabes. So good in college, but a bust in the NFL. It happens a lot at a variety of positions, but especially QB.

Then again, the high position in the draft, or lack thereof, doesn't necessarily equate to success or failure. That Brady guy in New England was a mere 6th round pick, almost an afterthought, and he seems to have worked out rather well over the years.

In late August of 2016, on the cusp of the regular season beginning, Teddy Bridgewater suffered a severe non-contact knee injury. So the Vikings sacrificed a couple high future round picks and went out and got one Sam Bradford to step in as their QB. The problem was like it's always been. While immensely talented, one can seemingly measure how long Bradford will stay healthy with an hour glass before something breaks -- with plenty of sand left over. Sure enough, out he went again with yet another injury.

Along the line, Case Keenum had quietly became the Vikings third string quarterback. Backup to a backup. Pretty much a clipboard holder that never saw any reps in practice. And yes, he's 29, a few years Bridgewater's senior, but still in his "prime" years.

But with both Bridgewater and Bradford on the injured reserve list, Keenum found himself called into active duty as the starter. Surely this was destined to be a disaster, right? All the pundits said so. The Vikings were desperate and about to flounder.

But it didn't work out that way. Instead, Keenum has blossomed into quite the force under head coach Mike Zimmer's (and his staff's) tutelage. After the Thanksgiving day win in Detroit, the Vikings have reeled off seven Ws in a row and now sit comfortably atop the NFC Northern Division, by a whopping three games. True, the broken collar bone suffered by Green Bay stud QB Aaron Rodgers pretty much snuffed out the Cheeser chances this year, but sometimes that's just the way it goes in the NFL.

Thing is, the Vikings made a major mistake earlier (in May) this year. They had a (cheap) fifth year option on Bridgewater, but turned it down, even before Keenum emerged as a star, and when Bradford was still healthy, thinking Bridgewater might forever remain damaged goods. And he just might at that -- time will tell.

That in effect makes Bridgewater a free agent after this season is over. Had the Vikings spent a couple more million bucks to keep him around, even as a back-up to Keenum next year, they would have been far further ahead down the road.

Look at it this way. Even if Bridgewater was 100% fully healthy and good to go -- you can't bench a guy that's led your team to seven straight wins, regardless of how he became the starter in the first place. To do so would send a couple messages, both very bad. Keenum would think no matter what he did, it was never going to be good enough. Demoralizing stuff. And if Bridgewater were to return as the starter and promptly lose a couple games -- what do you think the rest of the players on the roster would think about it? And Bridgewater's confidence would take a serious hit as well. A lose-lose scenario. Boneheaded moves like that are a recipe for a head coach to "lose" his team in a hurry. Mike Zimmer is a very smart guy and knows better. If it's running just fine, don't try to fix it.

But there's the rub. If they still had Bridgewater under contract for a fifth year, even as a back-up, and also assuming he returns to full health by the time the 2018 campaign gets under way -- he should -- dear Teddy would have represented some serious trade bait.

Hey, he was pretty good as an NFL starter before the freak knee injury. No doubt there would be several other teams around the league interested in his services.

No, Teddy probably wouldn't have fetched a first round pick, but maybe a second and a lower one or two to compliment it in future drafts.

Instead, by writing him off while the dude's still only 25, and saving a couple million chump change bucks, the Vikings get nothing back in return.

The Minnesota Vikings reeling off seven wins in a row with once "bum" Case Keenum as quarterback is an unlikely scenario indeed. But like the aforementioned Tom Brady, you never know how these things might work out. Best not to give up on them too soon, like the Vikes did Bridgewater.

It might just come back to bite them in their keesters down the road. A couple extra draft picks in the future, regardless of the round, surely couldn't have hurt.

But for now, all hail Case Keenum. The dude is most definitely getting the job done -- and then some.

Yet guess who also becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season?

Yep, Case Keenum. He was signed for a measly couple million this year just like Teddy was being paid.

Methinks the way the one-time Houston record-setting hot shot, then undrafted by the NFL quarterback has lit it up in recent times for the Vikes, will be in line for a super-duper hefty raise come the off season. The team doesn't appear to have much choice. And somewhere his agent smiles.

At long last -- cha-ching.

Detroit Lions. Stick a fork.....

Well maybe not yet. Officially, anyway. But after their Thanksgiving day loss to the Minnesota Vikings, giving them a ho-hum 6-5 record, it sure appears to be shaping up into "just another year" for the Motown squad.

Lead em on, lead em on, lead em on (the ever-gullible fans), then WHAM, let em down. Again. Of course the team is aided and abetted in this historically cruel hoax by the snake-oil peddling local media.

Now a full three games behind the Vikes with only 5 to go, it's highly unlikely the Lions will capture their division this year. So what else is new? However, it could change yet again. Minnesota's next two games are brutal, against Atlanta and Carolina -- both on the road. And not counting next week's game in Baltimore, the Lions have a cupcake schedule the rest of the way out. One more dagger in the fans' collective hearts may yet come into play.

But let's look at the Lions' schedule, both past and upcoming. It strongly suggests they are not as good as they and their fans think they are. Smoke, mirrors, and every conceivable break has gone their way so far.

The Lions have played exactly four teams (five if you count the up to date Vikings -- more on that below and in a follow-up post). And lost them all, four of them in the friendly confines of Ford Field. Ouch.

They were the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now consider the teams the Lions have defeated.

First up the Arizona Cardinals. After a few years of being semi-competitive, the Cards have taken a serious nose-dive this year. Not a good team.

Then the stink-it-up, gawd awful 2017 version of the NY Giants.

One against the Vikings, who were then freshly down to their third string quarterback and without the services of their star running back.

Another against the Green Bay Packers, with All-World QB Aaron Rodgers having recently broken his collar bone.

Two more, one past and one to go, against Da Bears of Chicago. They haven't been any good since the heady days of Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, and the fearsome 46 defense -- back in the 80s. Now they've got a rookie quarterback to boot.

One against the perennial dregs of the NFL, sometimes known as the Cleveland Browns.

Another upcoming date with the Cincinnati Bengals. Hint -- if Marvin Lewis is still the head coach there -- this team still isn't any good. He is, and they aren't.

Another against the Tampa Bay Bucs, which totally came apart at the seams weeks ago.

One more against the Pack. Even if Rodgers is back, iffy at best, no way will be up to full speed, plus at that point, the Cheesers likely won't have much to play for. Since #12 went down, they've gone into a horrible tailspin.

In the aforementioned recently concluded Turkey day game against the Vikes, it turns out that third-stringer, one Case Keenum, has come into his own, and then some. They've rattled off seven wins in a row.

So add it all up and what do you have? The Lions can't beat anybody good, even at home, but have benefited from a ridiculously soft schedule with every possible circumstance and break falling their way.

This is a worthy play-off team, even in the unlikely scenario they get there?

I don't think so. They're ripe for another post-season beat down, again, what else is new?

Meanwhile quarterback Matthew Stafford, recently made the (cough/choke/gag/snort/LOL) highest paid player in the entire NFL, is playing out the string in his ninth season.

And no matter how the Lions finish, even if they win them all -- right -- dear Matthew will still have a sub -.500 record for his career.

Nine years (a long career for a lot of guys), not a single playoff win, let alone getting anywhere near sniffing a Super Bowl, and this guy is top dog on the money list?

Does anybody see something seriously wrong with this picture?

All the above would seem to be the magical world the Detroit Lions continue to live in.

And when they officially finally crash and burn this season -- you know it's coming, tick, tick, tick -- adding just one more to their already over half a century scrap pile, here's the scary part......

The same fans will be back next year, with the same media goading them on, convinced as always that THIS will be the one.

Perhaps it's not scary after all.

Just sad.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The folly of Rosenberg and Stafford

Most times, Michael Rosenberg, a scribe for Sports Illustrated, pens semi-interesting pieces. He can be humorous, occasionally insightful, offer up some of the usual SI version of irony here and there, and even objective. Imagine that.

His latest piece on Matthew Stafford, quarterback of the Detroit Lions, was not one of those times.

In their "best" issue, SI, hence Rosenberg, got positively warm, cuddly, even soppy gooshy over the Motown QB.

Incredibly, as though it's some sort of given, Rosenberg claimed Stafford has earned the NFL's biggest contract ever. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Newton's third law of motion dictates that for every force there must be an equal and opposing force. Nobody seriously disputes that. For every up, there has to be a down. Not counting politics, for every good there must be an evil. The world of sumo wrestling and weight watchers aside -- for every fat there must be a skinny. And like that.

Hence, if a quarterback is going to be praised when his team succeeds (wins), he has to take the hit when they lose. Unfortunately, in today's politically correct and Pollyannish world, there are those such as Rosenberg that continue to praise the proverbial half full glass while ignoring that it's also half empty as well.

Rosenberg continues down the primrose path by suggesting Stafford has put up gaudy passing stats over his career in spite of the Lions never having a decent running game to complement it. This is folly. The truth of the matter is -- Stafford puts up those numbers because the organization has been so deficient in that regard. In other words, he has no choice but to throw the ball so much. Pass enough, especially with a former receiver like Calvin "Megatron" Johnson at his disposal for so many years, and the yardage will add up. Matthew and the Lions' default play always seemed to be, when in doubt, heave it in the general direction of Calvin. And a lot of times it worked. Pity poor Johnson took such a predictable beating along the way. It's little wonder he walked out during the "prime" of his career, ala Barry Sanders a couple decades before, with enough money to be comfortable forever after and his mind and body still intact. They both realized the Lions weren't going anywhere any year soon, so why stick around and take more punishment?

Yes, we get it. Stafford has a strong throwing arm, his wife Kelly loves and stands by him, and according to Rosenberg, he was the most likely kid to be able to break windows heaving balls from across the street while running on wet leaves. Please Michael, you're killing us with the gooshy stuff.

But let's get real and look at hard stats.

Over his career, now in its ninth year, Matthew Stafford has compiled a 57-62 regular season record. In his previous eight seasons, he's led the Lions to exactly three playoff games, all on the road -- and lost them all. So he has an overall record of 57-65, and hasn't even found a way to get the Lions a single home date in the playoffs, let alone win a playoff game. After eight years, he's eight games under .500 and yet to win a playoff game.

So tell me one more time how dear Matthew has EARNED the right to be the NFL's highest paid player. Good grief, there's likely a dozen teams around the league he couldn't even START for.

People like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, and even Eli Manning have been there, done that when it comes to Super Bowls. They've earned it over the years.

Stafford's still floundering about in Detroit, putting up big passing stats, while the team is mediocre at best. Is that all his fault? No. But should he take the hit for being an overall losing QB after almost nine seasons? Of course.

One of the dumbest things yours truly ever saw or heard of was Stafford, a free agent waiting to happen, re-upping with the Lions. In effect, he got enough guaranteed money so the next few generations of Staffords -- if he and dear Kelly ever decide to have kids -- a matter of contention according to Rosenberg -- will be financially secure, and then some. She wanted to breed, while he still feels a loyalty to deliver to the Ford clan -- go figure. What's that? Dear K popped out twins? SURPRISE pops. You be a daddy these days whether you like it or not.

Had Stafford opted for the open market, no doubt several, but not all teams would have been interested in his services. He would have gotten a bazillion bucks one way or the other. The way Dak Prescott is tanking in his sophomore year in Dallas, the Georgia Peach might have even attracted serious attention -- and bucks -- from Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. BTW, his home town.

But no, he decided to sign his football life away to the people that have owned a franchise since the Kennedy presidential administration, screwed it up every which way since with a parade of clown coaches and equally incompetent front office personnel, draft choices galore that have gone bust, and now have a 90+ year old widow and her merry (elderly) daughters in charge. Good luck winning with THAT.

Ain't gonna happen.

No doubt Michael Rosenberg will trot off to his next article, on his next jock, where he can mix a few more metaphors, offer up a tad of feeble humor, and no matter what -- praise somebody to the heavens. Such is the agenda of most scribes and talking heads these days.

But they always forget about Newton and his laws.

For every hero there has to be a bum.

Congrats to Matthew Stafford getting uber-bucks from the Lions and continuing to pass for so many yards. A hero.

But when it comes to results, his whole body of work over the years suggests he's little more than an over-hyped bum.

The stats don't lie......

Sunday, November 19, 2017

NFL quickies

The Patriots went across the country and smoked the Raiders?  Yawn. Something about that pesky standard of excellence still being alive and well.

Whoa. The Packers got shut out at home by a mediocre team like the Ravens? Things are not good in Cheeserland these days.

Somewhere in his NYC penthouse, Roger Goodell likely chuckles. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had threatened to come after the Commish with "everything he had". Pity JJ just saw his team get demolished -- four touchdowns worth -- in his very own palace -- by the surprising Eagles. It would seem the Jones boys have more urgent concerns than pursuing some sort of vendetta against the head of the league offices. As in -- Da Boys are soft all over the field, with no help in sight. Wanna come after me JJ, quoth the Roger as he giggles? Try getting your own house in order first.

Don't look now, but Jacksonville -- JACKSONVILLE -- is pretty good these days, and definitely in the playoff hunt.

Many don't want to acknowledge it, but Case Keenum, yes, THAT Case Keenum, is rolling along nicely these days for the Vikings. Once an afterthought, he's got the Vikes on a roll. As usual, Sam Bradford is hurt, and former starter Teddy Bridgewater is still on the mend, though active and supposedly good to go. Would head coach Mike Zimmer dare yank Keenum to plug Teddy back in? If so, he better hope Bridgewater turns into a Montana, Brady, or Bradshaw. Because if not, he'd look mighty foolish putting Keenum back on the bench. Hey, when it's working -- don't mess with it.

Ah yes, those pesky Detroit Lions won another game. Thing is, they have lived the most charmed life possible so far this season to currently sport a 6-4 record.

The Vikings aside for now -- I'll get back to that -- they've played four teams with winning records. Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. And lost them all -- three of them at home.

On the flip side they got a win against Minnesota when they were down to their third string quarterback, another against Green Bay without the services of Aaron Rodgers, and had their hands full with the ever-woeful and winless Cleveland Browns. Earlier today, they barely -- BARELY edged the Chicago Bears. And the only reason they won that game was because Bears rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky fumbled a snap and a Lion defender scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown. A fluke play. Throw in a pretty bad Arizona team, and a downright pitiful NY Giant squad. None of these can exactly be termed "quality" wins.

But by thunder, the Honolulu blue and silver crowd is back on the bandwagon. Poor misguided souls. Don't they realize another spectacular crash is in their future? They can whoop it up if their puddy-tats prevail against the above-mentioned mediocre Ravens, a Tampa Bay team that has come apart at the seams, another go-round with the lowly Bears, a tussle with Marvin Lewis's always terrible Cincinnati Bengals (how does this guy keep his job after a decade of obvious incompetence?), and finishing up with Green Bay, likely to have shut down Rodgers for the season if they're smart, because the Pack is already out of it. Let him fully heal and have at it again next year.

So not only looking behind, but ahead, the Lions have caught every break possible this season.

They might well stumble into the playoffs again, regardless of how things turn out at Ford Field on Thanksgiving day against the Vikes.

But that is where it will stop, abruptly, again. Once into the post season, this patsy rose garden stuff all goes away.

Whoever they meet, if they get there, will be the real deal. And as mentioned above, when the Lions have faced a good team this year -- they lose.

Hey, it's just another year.

Does any sane person really expect any more out of the Lions after over a half century of futility, with a parade of clown coaches, and even more hilarious front office personnel along the way?

And if the late William Clay Ford (RIP) wasn't clueless enough, enter his 90+ year old widow Martha with her long ago AARP daughters to now run the show. Collectively, these women likely don't know the difference between a draw play and a Broadway play. A blitz or a Blatz. A "Cover 2" defense probably means an extra loophole while an accountant somewhere fills out their taxes. Throw in the fact they hired an "estate planner", who's admitted he knew nothing about football as president of the team, and there you go. The Ford legacy lives on.

And people still ask me why I bailed on this sorry franchise 20 years ago?


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sports Illustrated laugh

I admit it. I've been a long time subscriber to Sports Illustrated. Still am, and take them up on their "super-duper" bonus offer of a free windbreaker with the NFL team logo of my choice every year when it comes time to renew. Think I've got about half of them now. Don't know why, exactly. Then again, I never figured out why I kept buying Harley Davidson knives until I got the full set. But they look good in the case on the wall -- I guess. Never mind I'll never use any of them, because by trusty little Stanley pocket knife has been with me forever. Handy little sucker at times for a variety of things.

At any rate, it's probably a fair statement to say SI has some really good writers. Also some that aren't so good. Also some are just hacks. But throw in the pix and a few other features and it's a pretty decent throne read every week.

Yet of late they've made me chuckle.

Now that the Houston Astros finally won the World Series -- and congrats to them on a job well done and being worthy champions -- SI is crowing about how they predicted this four --  count em -- FOUR years ago.


They ignore the fact that they've gotten most every other prediction from their so-called "experts" dead wrong in between.

Let's also not forget their legendary "cover jinx". When they put a jock on the cover and trumpet he/she to the heavens -- chances are that very same athlete is going to crash and burn.

For example, they could never seem to get enough of one Eldrick Tont Woods, sometimes known as Tiger. They featured him a whopping 24 times on the cover. How has that worked out? Dude wound up having multiple back surgeries, upon learning of his serial infidelity his ex was apparently trying to take a divot out of his head, kids are now living in Sweden, was busted for driving under the influence, and he hasn't done squat on the PGA tour for several years. Dear Eldrick isn't even ranked in the top 700 in the world anymore. Who knew rankings went that far down? There's probably a couple people at your local public golf course that could roast him in a game of skins. As Dubya might have once said -- "Heckuva job, SI".

And now they're repeatedly thumping their chests about how they got one right four years ago.

Well, I guess it's something, but excuse me if I find it comical.

I'd say it ranks right up there with Making America Great Again, another hoot, but that would be straying from the world of sports, which my boss -- sometimes known as an editor -- might frown on.

And far be it from this humble sports journalist -- OK blogger -- to risk his wrath if he happens to read this post. Like the almighty, ya never know when he's checking you out.

No thanks. Been there, done that, and had enough butt chewings for one lifetime of this, thank you very much.

At least I like to think I've learned something along the way.

As for SI, they probably never will. Full speed ahead with their fearless predictions.

Pity they so seldom get one right.