Sunday, October 15, 2017

The wacky NFL

If your team is fortunate enough to return a punt for a long touchdown, things are usually looking up. If during the same game, one of your behemoth defensive linemen somehow manages to intercept a pass and lumber a few yards into the end zone for yet another touchdown, it just HAS to be your day. Further, if your team puts up 38 points, a win should be a lock.

That is, unless you're a Detroit Lions fan. The Motown puddy-tats did all the above and still got beat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. Bad. Two touchdowns worth. This is what happens when the other team racks up a whopping 52 points. Any NFL team getting shredded for the big five-oh should hang their heads indeed.

So now instead of going into their bye week coming off a win with a respectable 4-2 record, the Lions are at a piddling 3-3 having suffered consecutive losses.

Yet in the ever-magical world of the Lions, they received some good news on the same day. Much to the chagrin of the Packer faithful in Green Bay, star quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collar bone, (worse, on his throwing arm side), in a game against the Minnesota Vikings. He'll likely be lost for at least the rest of the regular season.

In other words, the Lions are right back in contention for the NFC North Division title through nothing they themselves did. With Rodgers out, the Packers will likely falter. Detroit has already defeated Minnesota once (though the Vikes were playing with their third-string quarterback at the time), and the purple gang hardly looks formidable even when fully healthy. Rounding out the division are the Chicago Bears. They remain, well, Da Bears. 'Nuff said. As it always has been and seems to continue to be in Detroit, there is hope. (Excuse me. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. OK, I feel better now.)

Elsewhere around the league strange things were happening indeed.

Miami came roaring back from a 17 point deficit to take down Atlanta? The same Dolphins where that Cutler guy is still bumbling around at quarterback? Against the defending NFC champions? Get outta here.

The Steelers went into Kansas City and knocked off the previously unbeaten Chiefs? That wasn't supposed to happen.Then again, Pittsburgh DID eliminate KC in the playoffs last year. Maybe they just have their proverbial number.

And just when you think it can't get any wackier, leave it to the NY Giants, yes the heretofore winless Giants, to waltz into Denver and defeat the resurgent Broncos. Handily. 23-10. Are these the same Giants that were third from last in the entire league in rushing? Going up against the same Broncos that featured the league's leading defense? And the Jersey-ites pounded the ball down the Mile-highers' throats the whole game?

What's that? The above-mentioned Bears --THOSE guys? -- beat the Baltimore Ravens? Shades of nevermore.Very strange indeed.

Some have said the NFL stands for the No Fun League. Or No Fair League (see the ongoing Colin Kaerpernick saga).

Perhaps another interpretation should be offered.

No Favorites (are) Locks.

It's just Not Freaking Logical.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The chokers

While it's likely not politically correct to call them such, there's seems to be a lot of chokers in the sports world.

Last February the Atlanta Falcons had a twenty five point lead in the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots. They choked it away and lost.

The US men's soccer team are perennial chokers. How can it be that a country like the United States, with over 300 million people to choose from, finds their best soccer players coming up short against the likes of Trinidad and Tobago -- which only has about a million and a half people?

It seems odd that the American ladies' team is always world class, but the guys stink. Maybe it's just as well the gents failed to qualify for the World Cup. Good grief, if T and T can knock them off, how bad would the likes of powerhouses such as Brazil, Germany, or England blister them on the pitch? Coach Bruce Arena has left the arena. Outta here.

Once again the Washington Nationals choked. Of course they did. It happens every year. This, despite being loaded with talent. The Nats have arguably the best one-two starting pitcher combination in all of baseball with Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer (though Houston gets honorable mention for Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander). They also have Bryce Harper, arguably the best all-around player in the game not named Mike Trout.

Ten times in a row they've faced a close out game, and ten times in a row they've lost it. It appears manager Dusty (Toothpick) Baker just can't get them over the hump. Considering it's Washington DC, perhaps term limits (impeachment?) are in order for Baker. Either that or off with his head, though that would be a bit drastic.

And you just know the NHL's Washington Capitals will choke when the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around, because they also do it every year. They'll pile up the points during the regular season, often winning the President's Cup, but gag like chihuahuas on chicken bones when the pressure amps up.

Maybe it's something in the air of the nation's capital causing this phenomenon. One needs only look at Congress. Every time something needs fixing through legislation -- they choke too.

Fans of the Detroit Lions know about choking. Their beloved puddy-tats are notorious for it. Show them a playoff game and they'll show you a loss. If anything, the fans themselves have probably choked back more frustration over the decades than they deserved in ten lifetimes. The poor lost souls have been in a form of purgatory since the Eisenhower administration.

Chokers everywhere. Alas.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cleveland, John, and Brad

For no apparent good reason, yours truly has always had a soft spot for Cleveland. True, it's kind of an armpit city, but they hadn't had much to root about in the world of sports until recently. And yes, I weary of all the Lebron hype. You'd think he's a king or emperor or something. One of those is enough, and he currently occupies the White House. Ahem.

At that, they still only have a grand total of one world championship in modern times. That Lebron guy and his merry gang upset the highly favored Golden State Warriors a couple years back for the NBA crown.

Yet the Cleveland Indians have been a force to be reckoned with of late. They came within a single out of winning the World Series last year. Earlier this season the Tribe rattled off a 20+ game winning streak. Very impressive stuff.

But there's a major catch to all this. The Indians did NOT win the Fall Classic last year, rather bowing out after having held  2-0  and 3-1 leads over the Chicago Cubs. Ouch.

Fast forward to the present. In the ALDS they held another 2-0 lead over the NY Yankees in the best 3 out of 5. They had it, they had it, and then they didn't have it. Wham. The Bronx Bombers came roaring back to win three straight. Down goes Cleveland again. Ouch II.

So what is the lesson to be learned?

Evidently, when the going gets tough, Cleveland gets choking. Then again, the Cleveland Browns are just about enough to make anybody gag.

Interesting the Boston Red Sox just canned manager John Farrell with a year left on his contract. That means JF gets a whole year paid vacation. A pretty sweet gig actually. But why would they do such a thing? Under Farrell's guidance the Bosox won their division title this year. This, despite the loss of slugger David Ortiz to retirement, star pitcher David Price missing extended time due to injury, and last year's Cy Young winner Rick Porcello tumbling from a 22-4 record in 2016 to a not-so-good 11-17 in 2017.

Just a few short years ago the same Bosox won the World Series with Farrell at the helm. Could it be that merely making the post-season isn't good enough in Beantown anymore? And hey, they were taken down in the playoffs by a great team in the Houston Astros. Pitching, hitting, defense, speed, you name it and the Stros have it. Plus they're young so could be a force for years to come.

Boston GM Dave Dombrowki, the same guy that got run out of Detroit a while back, said in his opinion the team needed to have new leadership. Well OK, if ownership signed off on it, that's pretty much that. But he also said the next manager needed to be young, hence able to relate to the players, and good with the media.

It just so happens former Detroit Tiger manager Brad Ausmus is currently unemployed. True, the Tigers were god-awful this year, downright pitiful after they traded away what little talent they had for the dreaded "prospects" of the future. But this was not the fault of Ausmus. He could only play the cards he was dealt -- and they weren't pretty.

Nevertheless, he's only 48 years old, had a long Major League career as a player himself playing for four different teams, both in the American and National leagues, and is definitely media friendly. He's cool under pressure, and patiently answers any and all questions honestly.

It would seem he would fit the bill nicely in Boston. To boot, he's originally from New Haven, Connecticut, just a stone's throw up the road from Fenway. OK, a long throw, but still a native New Englander. And he went to Dartmouth, one of the Ivies, so he's got some serious brains going on as well.

You just know Ausmus would jump at the chance to be the skipper of the Bosox.

The question is -- will they offer it to him?

If so, you heard it here first. Nary a talking head has even mentioned the possibility so far.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Detroit Lions update

Roughly a third of the way through the 2017 season, the Detroit Lions pose their usual quandary. Now with a 3-2 record, can these guys make their way into the playoffs and, if so, once there, make any serious noise?

Or will they choke and fold like they have so often before?

It's truly difficult to predict, even assuming quarterback Matthew Stafford stays healthy -- never a given.

Let's take a look at their schedule, past and forthcoming, and try to make a semi-reasonable guess.

Sure, the glass half-fullers will say they could easily be 4-1, maybe even 5-0. The last second touchdown that wasn't against Atlanta cost them a win, and if only they hadn't fallen so far behind Carolina early.

But there's a flip side. It turns out Arizona isn't very good. The NY Giants are god-awful. And the Minnesota Vikings were down to their third string quarterback. These were all Ws for the Lions, but against the only two quality teams they've faced, the above mentioned Falcons and Panthers, they've had Ls draped on them. Interesting as well is both those losses came at home for the Lions. Never a particularly good omen.

Yet the remainder of the season looks promising. Two games with the Bears, and one each with Cleveland and Cincinnati should be relatively easy wins. Besides the mandatory two games with the Packers, who look good but not great this year, the Lions don't have to face any REALLY good teams.

True, the Steelers, Ravens, and Saints remain, but all of them are suspect this year. Pittsburgh just got blasted by Jacksonville. Jacksonville! Drew Brees ain't what he used to be down in New Orleans, and Baltimore seems to have regressed in recent years.

Throw in a road game at Tampa Bay, which hardly seems like a huge obstacle, and another go-round with Minnesota, this time in Detroit. Add it all up and what do you have?

Who knows? Besides, it's the Lions, remember? The very same that hasn't won a playoff game in over a quarter century. Then again, the Chicago Cubs hadn't won the World Series in over 100 years and we know how that turned out in 2016.

Thing is, the Lions will likely never have a better shot at going far than they do this year. That's because the rest of the NFC is pretty much underwhelming.

In the East, Dallas is certainly beatable. The Skins look maybe mediocre. The Eagles have jumped out to a 4-1 record, but does anybody really think Philly is a contender?

Out West, Seattle is struggling. The Rams are playing well but have a ways to go.

True, Carolina and especially Atlanta loom in the South, but hey, if you want to be the best, you have to beat SOMEBODY good, right?

In the Lions own division, the Bears remain, well, Da Bears. The Vikes lost Adrian Peterson in the off-season and have virtually no shot with their QB situation, much like the Lions would be goners if Stafford were to suffer a serious injury. Though he seems to have outgrown his former "China doll" persona, one never knows in the NFL. Any particular play could trash the Lions season if their Georgia Peach were to come up lame.

That leaves the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and Co. are pretty good, but don't appear to be as dominant as they have in the past either. Nevertheless, the Pack are a big hurdle for the Lions. They broke their Lambeau jinx a while back, so the Lions know they can play with them, but those two games will be key to their chances. They have to at least split.

It should also be noted Sports Illustrated had the Lions finishing dead last in their own division with a woeful 5-11 record. We also know SI seldom gets anything right. Their in-house football prognosticator Peter King sometimes appears as if he couldn't pick his own nose with a power auger, let alone accurately handicap games.

Yet for all the above reasons, yours truly thinks the Lions have a better than average shot at making the post-season. Maybe even doing some damage once they get there. The Super Bowl remains a stretch, let alone winning it. Whoever emerges from the vastly superior AFC will be formidable indeed.

But every half-full glass has to be half-empty as well. And again, it's the Lions. The wheels could fall off at any moment. Their reputation over the last 60 years or so isn't exactly glowing. Far more often they've been a laughingstock than any sort of contender, with a parade of clown head coaches (and front office personnel) along the way. Current head coach Jim Caldwell remains an enigma as well. It has been argued in this space that he's been a good coordinator when working elsewhere for a successful head coach in the past, but was over his head when he'd held the reins himself. Though the Lions recently granted him an extension, time will tell if he's truly got what it takes to mold a championship caliber team. Count me as still skeptical.

Some have claimed the failure of the Lions over the years is tied to their ownership. True enough, the late William Clay Ford presided over decades of futility. The fact that the team is now controlled by his 90 year old widow Martha and their daughters isn't exactly a comforting thought. They probably don't know a football from a foosball. Their hiring of an "estate planner" (who has admitted to knowing very little about the game) to be the president of the team hardly improves the overall situation either.

Yet this is shaping up to be a very interesting year for the Lions. With the rest of the conference having no steam-rolling teams, they're just about good enough to make a run at something serious.

Or fall flat on their faces -- again.

Got a lucky penny?

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Cam Newton charade

Two things about yours truly. I'm not a Cam Newton fan. Far from it. Though I was neutral towards him while he was in college and beginning his time in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, his post-Super Bowl childish behavior alienated me. Yeah, I get it. The dude was only in his early twenties, an immature age according to some. But for that very reason, I don't buy it. It's old enough to know better.

The other thing is I remain fiercely "politically incorrect". (Much to the occasional chagrin of my boss, the editor, at times). While there are certain ethical rules that go along with writing a public blog like this, nobody's going to tell me what I can or cannot say otherwise in life. If people don't like it -- go find somebody else to hang with. Personally, I don't give a rat's behind. My significant other is just fine with it and that's good enough for me.

But just because I'm not a Newton fan doesn't mean I won't stand up for him, or anybody else, when I feel they've been wronged.

Currently, the sports world, especially the media, are all up in arms over Newton's comment to a female reporter during a press conference. Apparently, he found it funny that a female would ask him about the routes run by pass receivers. She took offense, as did a lot of other people.

And the onslaught was on. Poor Cam has been dragged over the coals every which way for being so "insensitive". Once the politically correcters get a person in their cross-hairs, they never want to quit firing. Though Newton has apologized, even THAT has been dissected and criticized.

Maybe he didn't mean it. Maybe he isn't feeling enough remorse. Maybe this, maybe that. He's pretty well screwed for now no matter what he says -- or doesn't say. Sure, it will pass in time like most everything else.

To all of which I say time out. Hold it right there. What the hell is going on here?

For the life of me, I can't understand just what it is that Newton did wrong. Since when should a person be thrown under the bus for stating, publicly or privately, what he finds to be funny?

Senses of humor certainly vary. What some find hilarious others might deem sick. There was a time when dead baby jokes were all the rage. What I thought of them is/was irrelevant, but the tellers had every right to throw them out there. And don't kid yourself. A lot of people laughed at them.

Ethnic jokes have been around forever and likely always will be. A Irishman, a jew, and a gay lawyer walk into a bar......  You know how they go. Everybody's heard thousands of them over the years. Some find any particular one humorous, some don't.

So for Cam Newton to take a public thrashing over something he found funny is just wrong. It's not like he personally insulted yon female reporter or called her any various derogatory terms.

Therefore, I saw no reason whatsoever for him to have to apologize at all, let alone grovel. If I'm him, I merely say I meant no offense (which seemed obvious at the time) and any that took it need to get a life. "I'm sorry" is not part of my response. If that's not good enough -- tough. Get over it or live with it. Whatever, because I've got far more important things to be concerned with than your precious feelings.

[And BTW, what about HIS feelings? Do you think he enjoys being lambasted from coast to coast?]

In the end, I still won't root for Cam or the Panthers. In fact, Newton's lack of cajones handling this petty matter turned me off just a bit more.

But if he or anybody else finds themselves in a similar predicament sometime in the future, they can know at least one person has their back.

This whole politically correct mania has got so many people afraid to speak what they feel and think.

I say to hell with that.

Say it anyway and if there are those that don't like it -- that's their problem.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Whining on wine

First of all, yours truly hates wine. Any wine. I don't care if it's the $2 or $2000 a bottle variety. Keep that stuff away from me.

This can be traced to an escapade in my youth when I was even dumber than I am now -- if that's possible. When I was barely "legal", I think, maybe, a few of my buddies and I wound up in my mom's car on a New Year's Eve driving around town drinking all kinds of stuff we shouldn't have been. Yes, we had a designated driver who was not partaking, the only one with half a brain.

My particular poison on that fateful night was either cherry vodka or sloe gin, I forget which. I drank a whole fifth of it -- and proceeded to get violently ill, as in puking my guts out, right in the car. My friends, with their own choices of doom, did the same.

To this day I don't remember too much of that night, except I woke up freezing and alone, still in the car, in my parents' driveway, then somehow stumbled into the house. Needless to say, the car itself was trashed inside. Imagine four or five guys throwing up repeatedly in an automobile and it doesn't exactly paint a pretty picture. I found that out the next morning when I was rousted off the couch by my dad demanding an explanation. I scrubbed that car all day, but it was never the same. Also needless to say, there were consequences, harsh ones, meted out by my parents for my night of drunken idiocy.

From that time on, I've never touched the stuff. It makes me a bit queasy just to look at it.

What does this have to do with sports? Excellent question.

It involves all the celebrating with wine (champagne) that some teams do after they've won something. This is getting out of control. Let's take the NY Yankees as an example.

Upon clinching a wild card berth for the playoffs, they broke out the bubbly. Pop, pop, pop. Spray, spray, spray. Pour, pour, pour. They might have even drank some of it. Winos the world over witnessing such an incredible waste of perfectly good booze on TV likely groaned.

I grimaced.

But what could or would happen next? After defeating the Minnesota Twins in a one game wild-card showdown, out came more bubbly. Pop, pop, pop. Etc, etc, etc.

If the Yankees were to defeat the Cleveland Indians in one of the American League Divisional Series, it would be round three. Pop, pop, pop.

The same scenario would hold if they went on to defeat either Houston or Boston in the American League Championship Series. Pop, pop, pop. That's four.

A World Series title would be the granddaddy booze fest of them all. Yet a fifth (no pun intended) orgy of alcohol abuse.

How many cases of wine are we up to here? A few hundred? A thousand? All totally, ahem, wasted? Don't they realize there's sober people in China?

If I have my history right, in days of yore when the American and National leagues each had ten teams, whichever came out on top after the regular season went to the World Series. No wild cards, nor divisional playoffs, just one seven game series to decide it all. And that meant there were only two celebrations. One for winning their respective league pennant and a possible second for winning the fall classic.

Nowadays they've gone crazier than I was back in the day on that New Years Eve with the bubbly. As listed above, a wild-card team winning it all, it happens, will have FIVE parties along the way. And they're not breaking out the rot gut cheap stuff. That no doubt drives the winos nuts to watch such an incredible display of debauchery on the air.

I feel your pain, guys. Or at least I did once. I don't think I could survive five of them.

Nope, not going back there. Brrr. It still gives me the, urp, willies just to think back about it.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Detroit Tigers set milestone

It took the Detroit Tigers the entire 162 game season, but they finally pulled it off.

With the San Francisco Giants winning their final regular season game and the Tigers once again succumbing to the Minnesota Twins, the Motown puddy-tats are now the (not so) proud owners of the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. Thud.

True, they finally bit the long overdue bullet and went into full scale rebuild mode a few weeks back. Also true is they escaped the notoriety that would have come with a 100 loss season. Barely. But their final record of 63-99 is there for all to see.

This, after a 6-2 start. In other words, the Tigers went a woeful 57-97 after the first week. A whopping 40 games under .500.

Gone is manager Brad Ausmus. Don't be surprised if he re-surfaces as the skipper of another team before long. Though he had no managerial experience before getting hired by the Tigers, he's now had a few years to learn the proverbial ropes. And the Tigers' collapse shouldn't be laid at the feet of Ausmus. He can only play the cards he's dealt. It wasn't his fault the Tiger brass showered aging players beyond their primes with outrageous long-term contracts. To boot, Ausmus is an upstanding guy. Friendly, open, and most importantly honest with the media. No whining and no excuses. It just is what it is.

The Tigers were a flawed team even before they pulled the trigger on the salary/player dump. Not enough quality starting pitching. Little to no team speed.  A suspect defense at many positions. And a batting practice quality bullpen. Only the rosiest of optimists gave them much of a shot at making the playoffs before the season even began.

[For the record, yours truly saw them as maybe an 80 win team, third or fourth place in their own division, but playoffs? Highly unlikely.]

Now gone are long time ace Justin Verlander, who's tearing it up since he landed in Houston. The Astros are a very talented young team who look to be serious World Series contenders for several years.

Also gone is J. D. Martinez. He's smacking the ball all over the park for Arizona, also a playoff team.

Alex Avila, son of general manager Al Avila in Detroit, got shipped out. Though he was never a sparkling defensive catcher, he was having his best season ever with the bat.

Justin Upton was having a very good season, but he's now with the LA Angels. Though they fell short of the playoffs, where would you rather be as winter approaches? Detroit or southern California?

The lone bright spot for the Tigers appeared to be Nicholas Castellanos. Long considered little more than a "journeyman" player, who was at best a mediocre fielding third baseman, NC had a break out year with the bat. He hit about .275, not shabby at all, but also clubbed 25 homers and drove in over 100 runs.

But the bullpen got even worse, if that's possible. It was almost painful to see the relievers coming into the game because you just knew they were going to get lit up. No lead was safe once those guys started going to the mound. The aforementioned Ausmus probably put in at least a few miles walking from the dugout to the pitcher's mound and back to remove the present pitcher and bring on the next dose of cannon fodder for the opposing hitters.

It should be noted that a few of the "kids", either "prospects" acquired from other teams or brought up from the minors, made fairly good showings.

But this comes as little surprise. After all, this was the first time opposing pitchers had faced them, so didn't know their strengths and weaknesses at the plate. You can bet all this will be pored over and diagnosed during the off-season through film study and the like. Whether or not the young Tigers can or will be successful in their sophomore seasons remains to be seen indeed.

For now, the immediate future of the Tigers looks fairly bleak. It's entirely possible, perhaps probable, they'll continue to stink it up for the next few years. Any new manager they bring in, regardless of his baseball acumen or experience, is still going to be stuck with the same rag-tag bunch that felled Ausmus.

But dang. 63-99? Who woulda thunk it? Such a Hindenburgish performance brings to mind old Warner Bros. toon Pepe LePew. El stinko.

Yep, they set a milestone alright.

Dead last.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Detroit Tigers. How low can they go?

Once upon a time earlier this season, the Detroit Tigers had a 6-2 record. The usual hope sprung eternal in Motown..

And then the wheels fell off.

Since then, they have gone a woeful 56-93, a whopping thirty seven games under .500, and not only fallen into the cellar of their own division, but are dead last in the entire American League. Oh my.

Mercifully, manager Brad Ausmus has been notified his contract will not be renewed following the 2017 regular season. This had pretty much been etched in stone months ago, but now it's official.

Thing is, the sorry plight of the Tigers is hardly the fault of Ausmus. He's a decent, upstanding guy, has the respect of his players, and for the most part has done all he could do with the talent, or lack thereof, he had available. The front office of the Tigers, in particular one Al Avila, the general manager, had sown the seeds of the crash years ago. This was accomplished by signing players to long-term contracts for obscene amounts of money, when they were clearly on the back sides of their careers. But the manager is always the fall guy. It should be Avila getting run out of town -- not Ausmus.

If the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies, the dregs of the National League, can somehow find a way to win a couple more games before the season ends, the Tigers could well find themselves in the unenviable position of being the worst team in all the major leagues. Did I say "oh my"?

Despite the fact the Tigers are currently on an 8 game losing streak, and have lost a miserable 15 of the last 17, they still have one thing to shoot for.

Not losing the dreaded 100 games in a season. They need one more win in their final five games to escape even further notoriety.

One would think, given anybody can supposedly beat anybody else on any given day in major league baseball, their chances would be good.

But these are the current Tigers, far and away the most pitiful excuse for a major league team the public has seen for quite some time.

They have two more games to go @ Kansas City, then finish it up with three @ Minnesota.

The Royals are still technically in the running for a playoff spot if everything works out perfectly. They have to win out and hope the Twins stumble. Could happen. They'll play hard until and unless they're mathematically eliminated.

But if and when that happens, the Twins will likely rest a lot of their better players, including lining up their best starting pitcher for the one-game wild card showdown. This could benefit the Tigers in their last series.

They might actually avoid the dreaded 100 losses.

Then again, as bad as the Tigers are these days, they could just as easily extend their current eight game slide into thirteen and go out with one final colossal thud.

Just one win is all they need, with five chances to get it.

In my ignorant humble opinion, I'd say the odds are about 50-50.

Oh my indeed.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Donald Trump and the anthem

You kind of have to wonder just what the man was thinking. That being the President of the United States.

I'm non-partisan, so have no dog in this fight, but am a ferocious supporter of the rights and freedoms our Founding Fathers laid out for us once upon a time.

True, I always stood for the national anthem. And respected the flag. Even said the pledge of allegiance when I was a little kid, because we were "supposed" to.

But now as an adult, I don't want to hear anybody, including the Prez, telling me I HAVE to do it. Because if so dictated to -- I will resist and do the opposite. There's a difference between President and supreme dictator. A big one.

Not that long ago, one Colin Kaepernick made big news when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL game he was about to participate in. Did he have a right to do so? Absolutely. The fact that he remains unemployed ever since could perhaps be considered a consequence of that action. It was his choice, and he made it.

From my point of view, it's not so much about freedom of expression, which is a guaranteed right under the Constitution, but when it is exercised. As a former shop rat at GM, we not only had to obey the laws of the land, but there were also "shop rules" to abide by. Run afoul of any of those, and one could expect to be disciplined. Anything from a verbal or written warning, to time off without pay, up to and including being fired if the offense was serious enough.

In other words, all of my constitutional rights didn't necessarily apply while I was "on the job". It was their shop, their rules, and if I didn't like it, I was certainly free to "take my talents elsewhere". Not once was I ever told what to do or not do while on my own time. Seemed fair enough.

But Kaepernick opened up a huge can of worms when he first took a knee. Agree or disagree, the NFL has long been quite the patriotic bunch. This is why you see the giant flags on the field before so many games, color guards, and the fighter jet fly-overs. His original lone action flew in the face of all that, hence the controversy began.

I don't doubt for a minute inequities and injustices abound in America. And people, CK included, have every right to protest them and demand change. But on their own time. NOT when they're "on the clock" earning millions of bucks from their employers. It's a significant difference. And it doesn't get any more "on the clock" than game days in the NFL.

Whether CK is qualified through his physical/mental abilities as a quarterback to make a roster elsewhere can be debated forever. Yes, he was once a pretty good QB. But so were a lot of other guys that went bust for various reasons.

Thing is, other owners around the league put great stock in their team's "image". There is no doubt taking CK on would be a public relations problem with a great deal of their fan bases. Sure, they want to win, but at what cost? Likely alienating half or more of their fans (and media) could come back to bite them. At best, it would be a calculated risk. If CK came to town and lifted their team into being contenders -- great. But if he crashed and burned, the owner would be getting flak from both barrels. As the season goes on, and quarterbacks go down due to the inevitable injuries, it will be interesting to see if any team takes the plunge by signing CK.

Enter Donald Trump, the President of the United States. When CK first started this, it led to a handful of other players showing their support and mimicking his actions. Hardly a stampede. It likely would have quietly run its course over a few weeks, if not for the media continuing to stir the pot and throw fuel on what was then a very small fire. Anything for a story -- right?

But now the Donald himself has jumped in with more of his incessant, ranting tweets. By thunder, quoth the Prez, those sumbitches that dare to disrespect the flag/anthem should be drawn and quartered -- or at least fired. Well then. He's certainly entitled to his opinion as well.

Yet instead of rallying the troops around the flag/anthem, it appears to have backfired in a big way.

Shortly after his comments went public, that same handful of kneeling players turned into 150 or so. And the movement appears to be growing by the day.

Further, besides players, coaches, teams, and even Commissioner Roger Goodell are pushing back. Not just in the NFL, but around the entire American sports world.

This would appear to be an argument the illustrious Prez can't possibly win. The more he rants, the worse it becomes. And hey, this was none of his business to begin with. Lord knows, he's got enough problems trying to institute his own political agenda without crossing swords with so many people in the world of sports.

Whether one agrees with his take is beside the point. I personally like to think I can see both sides of the issue. Sure, I'm all for being a patriot in my actions, but that is my choice. Tell me I HAVE to and I'll push back as well.

There comes a time when one is well advised to just leave the proverbial sleeping dogs lie. Yes, they might pee here or chew something up there, but most times they'll get over it with little harm done. It will pass.

Rile them up at your own peril.

Things will likely only get worse.

And so they have.

Regardless of the "power" of their positions, some people need to get one thing through their heads.

You can set general overall policy, but you cannot dictate how others choose to think and act. They are people too, and have every right to act according to their convictions, as long as they're within the law.

Trying to do so will blow up in your face every time.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Detroit takes it on the chin

It was a bad day on Brush St. For those even more ignorant than yours truly, which is to say, neanderthalish -- though I feel your pain -- Brush St. is the road that runs between Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, and Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

To no great surprise, the Tigers got hammered again by the Minnesota Twins. This was, mercifully, the final home game for Version A of the Detroit puddy-tats. Three more games in KC, another three in Minnesota, and manager Brad Ausmus can finally rest in peace. The torture will be over. Whew!!

Anyone who has read this blog in the past knows I used to be a Detroit Lions' fan, but kicked them to the curb the day after former running back Barry Sanders did -- almost two decades ago. He walked away from $8 million dollars -- big money at the time -- and likely the all-time NFL rushing record. But he couldn't take the losing culture any more -- and there was no help in sight. Indeed, the Lions haven't won a single playoff game since #20, a first ballot no-brainer Hall of Famer, hung up his cleats. Good enough for him -- good enough for me. See ya. I like to think we both got out with our brains semi-intact.

Yet on a glorious Sunday afternoon for a sports junkie, yours truly was doing some serious channel-surfing. The Tigers were on. Click. So were the Lions at the same time. Click. So was the Tour Championship of the PGA, with the FedEx cup at stake. Click. So was a NASCAR race in New Hampshire. Plenty of microwaveable left-overs in the fridge, a few brews, and yours truly was in hog heaven.

Mostly, I followed the golf tournament. This was like a game seven of their World Series. Justin Thomas edged out Jordan Spieth for the coveted FedEx cup and the $10 million that goes along with it. Not sure who won the race, because some heathen had the utter audacity to interrupt my nirvana by walking into the house. Well OK, it was my significant other on her way into work dropping me off even more vittles. She can be excused for such a thing, and I really didn't mean it about the heathen thing....... dear. Luv ya.

Click. What's that? The Lions beat the Falcons on the last play of the game? Get outta here. No way could they hang with those guys.

Click. Then off to yon local watering hole where the above-mentioned significant other was tending bar on the night shift. After a quicky stop at the neighborhood florist for a dozen roses. A few brownie points never hurt -- right?

Then I found out the Lions didn't win the game after all. How the hell could that be?

Turns out, before I made my final click, which was to shut off the TV, the crucial play was under review. In the end, it was determined the Lions player that had caught the winning touchdown pass had been down just inches short of the goal line. The replays clearly showed this was the correct call.

Then it got even stranger. Because only 8 seconds were left on the game clock, and because of said review, and also because the Lions had no time-outs left, by rule 10 seconds had to run off the clock.

Eight minus ten means the game is officially over. Oh my. What a way to lose.

I didn't see it, but can imagine the folks in attendance at Ford Field were somewhere between disbelief, frustrated, and apoplectic. In other words -- not happy.

It should also be noted that this watering hole is a gathering place for die-hard Lions fans to watch a big screen televising of their games. Free food at halftime, though usually not very good. The typical slop. Half priced beers after the Lions score. Thing is, that big screen is an outdated projection TV set-up, with a very fuzzy picture. But the faithful flock, forever arguably fuzzy themselves, make the pilgramage to the place whenever their beloved Version B of the Detroit felines are in action.

I stay away during those times, preferring to show up after the rowdies have finally stumbled out.

But I heard they were close to riotous when their Lions somehow managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in the closing seconds. In other words, these locals weren't exactly happy campers either.

Ah, they'll be OK. And c'mon. What can they really expect? It's the Lions -- remember? Never ever, in all of sports, has a team been more famous, or infamous, than the Lions for leading their fans on -- only to let them down before the season ends. It's just what they do. Always have. Personally, I found it amusing. You'd think they'd learn the Lions are Murphy's Law waiting to happen, but they never do.

All in all, it was a glorious Sunday indeed. Beautiful weather outside for my yorkie boys to romp in, and plenty of stuff on the flat screen to keep dad occupied. And I've got eats for days, which the aforementioned boys always get a few bites of. Throw in the usual back scratches and belly rubs and they love dad.

As for Detroit sports -- not so good.

A bad day on Brush St. indeed.

Worse, the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons will be starting their 2017 seasons shortly too, and both are projected to be, shall we say, somewhere between so-so and terrible.

Know how to tell a sure sign of desperation?

When a team like the Detroit Lions are your best hope at being contenders, your city's in deep trouble on the professional sports front.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

You know you stink when.....

You're the Detroit Tigers.

If it wasn't already obvious, now even the ever-politically correct pundits are piling on. No, they won't come right out and say it like yours truly just did, but it's clear enough.

Consider the playoff chase in the American League. Houston and Cleveland are locks. Barring a monumental collapse, so is Boston. The NY Yankees appear to have all but nailed down one of the wild card spots. Yet the Tigers were mentioned regarding the second, and final wild card spot.

No, they don't have a prayer, having been eliminated long ago. Did I mention they stink?

Yet the Motown puddy-tats have a role to play. It's called patsies, whipping boys, baseball's version of the Washington Generals -- like that.

The final playoff berth is currently occupied by the Minnesota Twins. But only a few games behind lurk the LA Angels, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Texas, KC, and Seattle. They're all still theoretically in the hunt should the Twins falter.

But the usual gang of idiots, excuse me, experts, have proclaimed the Twins will indeed capture the coveted post-season spot.

Why? Because of their remaining dozen games or so, seven of them are against, yup, you guess it, the lowly Tigers. It's like these games are walk-overs -- automatic Ws.

[BTW, in the opener, the Twins pummeled the Tigers 12-1.]

Detroit has gotten so bad as to be embarrassing. If thirty games under .500 (it might be 40 before the season is over) and apparently dead set on finishing last in the American League (if not the entire majors) isn't bad enough, consider what they've put on the field in recent times.

Of their starting pitchers, NONE has more wins than losses. When the bullpen inevitably is called into action after the starter has been rocked, things get even worse. It's little exaggeration to say they're throwing batting practice to the opposing teams.

They dumped their top pitcher for "prospects", and the other half-way decent one (though he was under .500 as well) is lost for the season with arm problems. Possibly of the Tommy John variety. If so, he'll likely be lost for next year as well.

Also shipped out were their three best hitters this year. More of the dreaded prospects came in return.

They have a couple aging players that were once very good, even excellent. Alas, they've zoomed onto the back sides of their bell curves of late. These guys are grossly overpaid and underperforming to the point where no other team will touch them, even without having to give any players or prospects in return. So the Tigers are stuck with them.

Manager Brad Ausmus, who once used to spit through his teeth every five seconds or so for no apparent reason, appears to be appalled to the point where his mouth has gone dry. Poor Brad knows he's gone after this season mercifully ends. But it doesn't matter who the Tigers bring in to replace him. Short of deity -- see miracles -- a mere mortal will be inheriting the same rag-tag bunch.

Add it all up and what do you have?

Not sure, but it ain't pretty, which brings me back to the title (and first sentence) of this post. See above.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Detroit Lions and my ex-wife

I wouldn't have found out until a bit later, while laying in bed watching the late night version of Sportscenter on ESPN, but evidently the Detroit Lions won the Monday night game over the NY Giants.

How do I know this? Because while catching up on AOL news (and playing a few games of Free Cell) a message came in. So I clicked on it.

The way the powers that be set up this blog (stuff way over my kindergarten computer head), any comment on a post, new or old, is immediately relayed to yours truly as an email. It's a pretty cool feature.

This particular message happened to come from a reader named Mach. I have no idea who Mach is, not even whether it's a man or a woman. But he/she is an occasional commenter (nemesis? LOL) and evidently a Detroit Lions fan.

Nothing wrong with that. I used to be as well. But after faithfully rooting for them for decades, not to mention going to countless games and spending a boat load of money, I'd finally had enough of their losing ways. So when Barry Sanders took a hike almost 20 years ago -- so did I.

Yes, I was there in the Silverdome when the Lions trashed the Dallas Cowboys 38-6 for their only playoff win in the Super Bowl era. I've never heard anything so loud in my life.

Thing is, I don't regret it one bit. I honestly don't know how much money I haven't spent on them in the last couple decades, but it's a lot. Also, I totally gave up rooting for them.

Yet there was Mach's message, I think trying to rub in the fact that the Lions had prevailed. He/she was doing some big time cyber-cheering.

And that's fine. To each their own.

But the truth of the matter is I really don't care about the Lions any more. Haven't for a long time.

There have been many people over the years, including my boss, sometimes known as an editor, that keep telling me I'm going to regret it when the Lions finally win a Super Bowl, because I jumped off the bandwagon.

They are wrong, if indeed that were to happen, which I still highly doubt.

To me, it would be like my ex-wife getting remarried. Sure, if it had happened just a few months, or maybe even a year or two after we split, it might have generated some form of sorrow on my part. Maybe. I honestly don't know, because it didn't happen -- at least to my knowledge.

But after a few years, let alone the ten or eleven, whatever, its now been, all such potential feelings get completely nulled out. Like the Lions, I don't like her or dislike her. They're both just out there somewhere.

What they do is absolutely no concern of mine. Over is over. Finito.

So for all Lions fans, including that pesky Mach, by all means do whatever yanks your proverbial crank. Keep rooting for them, if you wish. That's fine too. I was in that boat once myself and had a lot of good times doing so. But over the years I just couldn't take the annual frustration any more. So I walked, as mentioned above.

Were the Lions to actually win the Super Bowl, I have little doubt the city of Detroit would celebrate like it never has before. The Lions claiming the Vince Lombardi trophy would generate excitement and partying that would dwarf those seen when the Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings won championships.

And maybe they will some day, perhaps even this year, though I'll believe it when I hear about it, because I don't watch them any more nowadays any more than I keep tabs on my ex.

I would wish those that "hung in there" nothing but joy.

Personally, it would be just another day to me. No biggy.

Because once and for all -- again -- I......just..... don't...... care. I did my time as a faithful soldier and then decided to move on to other things. And hey, besides the money, what's two decades of NOT being frustrated worth?

Again, no regrets whatsoever, and that won't change if the Lions do the seemingly impossible.

Do you hear me Mach/boss/world?

Oh, and thanks for the idea Mach. I was kind of stumped what to write about tonight. That worked out just fine. LOL

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Golovkin/Alvarez. Say what?

No, I didn't pony up the 100 bucks to watch the Mayweather/McGregor "fight" for a couple reasons.

Yes, I could have afforded it but, hey, a C-note is a C-note. That can buy a week's worth of groceries and/or a couple tanks of gas. Besides, who to root for? Both are pompous arrogant asses. The good news was -- one of them had to lose. It's goes without saying what the bad news was. We know how that turned out. And I'd like to think most would agree it was more a spectacle than a true competition between pugilists.

But the Golovkin/Alvarez fight was different. These are two world class boxers that went into the fight with a combined 86-1 record. And at a "discounted" $80 it was mighty tempting. Yet in the end yours truly didn't click on the "buy" button for this one either (though I had my finger on it for a while wavering back and forth).

Thing is, I'm so very glad I didn't, because I would have been outraged.

After all the build up and hype -- it ends in a draw?

So basically the $30 million or so generated by the paying fans one way or the other was for naught? As in nothing was accomplished? Like it never happened? Preposterous.

You just know there will have to be a re-match and the whole charade will play itself out again.

This should NOT have been allowed to happen.

Boxing and its rules are stupid enough already without having championship matches end in a tie. It's an insult -- slap in the face -- to those that traveled to watch it live or ponied up the bucks to watch it on pay-per-view.

Surely there must be a way to avoid such a thing happening again.

Speaking of obtuse, why is it that the famed "10 point must system" whereby the judges have to give the winner of each round 10 points isn't scored more realistically? OK, if a round if fairly close, score it 10-9. But if a guy gets knocked down or otherwise beaten up throughout those three minutes, they only score it 10-8. That's wrong. Depending on how lop-sided the round is, score it 10-6, 10-3, or even 10-0. What's wrong with that?

Second, we've all heard how some judges can go back at the end of the fight and change their scoring for earlier rounds. That smacks of potential corruption, so eliminate it.

Third, boxing is the only sport where nobody knows what the score is until it's all over. So post the scores on a scoreboard like every other sport does throughout the fight. The fighters, their corners, the fans both at the arena and at home will know, round by round, who's ahead and behind. Once the score is locked in by each of the ring-side judges after every round, we wouldn't have to listen to all the speculation/blather, which is usually wrong, about who's winning. It's right up there on the board for everybody to see.

[Idle thought. Some claim if a fighter knew he was hopelessly behind, he might "mail it in". Perhaps. But if a baseball team is down 10 runs in the ninth inning, they don't just walk off and forfeit. They play it out. And you never know when a spectacular rally and/or knockout might happen.]

Finally, if the totals of the judges amount to a draw after 12 rounds of boxing, do what all the teams in other sports do. Call it extra innings or overtime. In the case of boxing, a 13th round, which the judges would be prohibited from ruling as a 10-10 round. They have to pick one or the other.

End of fight and we would have a winner. Hey, championship fights used to go a full 15 rounds in the old days, so I don't want to hear about how a potential 13th round would exactly be the end of the world.

One way or the other, this "draw" stuff has got to go. Drawing is for artists, chess players, and old-time gunslingers -- not boxers.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

More idle thoughts

You can't help but laugh at some of the TV commercials these days. See one that claims the participants are "real people" -- not actors.

Well OK. But by just doing the ad -- see reading a script someone else wrote --they BECAME actors. Second, it implies actors aren't REAL people. So what are they? Cyborgs? Aliens? Cocker spaniels?

Just when you think it can't get any worse department.

It's no secret the Detroit Tigers have waved the white flag of contending and gone into full-blown rebuild mode. They've dumped their best pitcher and three best hitters.

But holy cow. They just got absolutely pounded by the last place White Sox who put up 17 runs while pounding out a whopping 25 hits, and left another dozen or so on base?  If there was ever a case for the "mercy rule" being applied to Major League baseball games -- this would be it.

It's an oft-used cliche, but the Tiger pitchers, one after the other, appeared to be throwing batting practice indeed.

The Tigers have not only gone from bad to terrible, they're downright embarrassing these days.

And don't look now, but those same Chisox are only a single game behind the Motown puddy-tats for last place in the entire American League, with still a few games left to go in the current series.

Tiger manager Brad Ausmus surely knows he's gone after this season mercifully ends. He probably can't wait for it to get over.

Watching the Tigers these days is like watching a rock thrown out of a high flying plane. Down, down, down it goes, picking up speed on the way. The only thing that remains is the thud (see the conclusion of the regular season) at the end. Pitiful.

Along the same line, here's a question. How is it that Marvin Lewis continues to keep his job as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals?

Year after year they've stunk it up.

They just turned in another yawn-fest, bonehead game, at home, against the Houston Texans, who aren't very good themselves. Another loss. Like their feline cousin Tigers, the Bengals don't look like they can beat anybody either. Every facet of their game is sub-par, and that's being kind.

Lewis, and by extension his staff, are clearly clueless what to do about it.

So why, tell me why, does the Cincinnati ownership/front office (notice I won't use the phrase "brain trust", because it would be laughable) keep sticking with him?

He's proven over time, years and years, that he's WAY over his head as an NFL head coach.

It's shameful.

Of course, if the good people of Cincinnati are dumb enough to keep ponying up big bucks out of their hard-earned money to watch such a clown show at the stadium -- they should be ashamed of themselves too.

Maybe that clueless thing is contagious.

Lord knows Detroit Lions' fans have had a bad case of it for over half a century.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dodgers and Indians

True, the stat geeks always seem to coming up with trivia from hell that nobody much cares about. I mean, who gives a rat's behind about some guy/girl being only the first player in history from Peoria with a grandma name Gertrude that came in third at a golf tournament, or had a top-ten finish at a NASCAR race? Things like this are where expressions such as TMI and gag me with a spoon originated.

But every once in a while, something truly noteworthy happens. Who saw Broadway Joe knocking off the mighty Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III? Or the OJ murder verdict? Or the results of the last presidential election? Definitely stuff to sit up and take notice of.

Along those lines, enter the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians.

For a while, it appeared as if the Dodgers were going to steam-roll their way to the best regular season record of all time. Then the wheels fell off.

They are the only team in Major League Baseball history to have compiled a 15-1 winning streak with a 1-15 losing streak in the same season. Super hot early -- super cold of late. Maybe they roll into the World Series and actually win it. Or maybe they get bounced early in the playoffs. If you're a betting person, good luck trying to figure out the odds on the LA-LA Landers chances of success.

On the other side were the Cleveland Indians. Remember, they came within a whisker of winning the Series last year. Only a late rally by the Cubbies finally did them in. Given the Chicago north-siders hadn't won a WS in over 100 years, how could anybody begrudge them finally getting that monkey off their backs? This was a good thing.

Yet despite returning so much talent this year, the Indians struggled to be only a .500 team in the early months of 2017.

Yours truly often wondered.... What's wrong with these guys? They're clearly better than everybody else in their division, so how come they're not winning more games? A hangover from the heartbreak of the 2016 WS isn't supposed to last THIS long.

And then finally it kicked in. When you've got the best starting rotation in all of baseball, team speed, hitters galore, a lights out bullpen, a manager that's been there done that, and terrific defense all over the field, it just HAD to happen eventually.

But nobody saw a now 20-game winning streak ever happening either.

Thing is, the Dodgers had amassed such a great lead that even going into a funk for the last month wouldn't derail their playoff eligibility. They'll be there.

If they get hot again in October, like earlier in the year -- look out. Could happen.

Conversely, Cleveland may have peaked just a tad early. Can they keep this going for the next six weeks? Likely not.

And if after being so hot they revert to being cold when it matters most, well, who knows? Sure, they're a lock for the post-season as well, but good luck trying to sort THAT scenario out too.

It's baseball. The last place team can beat the first place team on any given day. It happens all the time.

Throw in the Houston Astros, who were already a terrific team from top to bottom having added former Detroit Tiger pitcher Justin Verlander to their rotation, and who would dare count them out?

The wild card races in both leagues remain very interesting with lots of teams still having a legitimate shot to get there. If any of them can reel off a .700 winning percentage for the last 20 games or so -- they're probably in. If any slip to .400 -- they're probably out. And lots of them will play each other before the playoff field is finally set.

And who knows? Some team that snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season just might wind up winning it all.

Yet for my money, the current winning streak aside, methinks the Cleveland Indians are the most talented team, top to bottom, of them all.

But that doesn't mean they're going to win it. They could get bounced early as well.

All it takes is one short slump, and yer outta here when the post-season starts.

Regardless, this has been quite a year in Major League Baseball.

And that Stanton guy from the Miami Marlins might just hit over 60 homers with nary a whisper of the once dreaded steroids.

Pity the mighty NFL, always the gorilla in the sports room, has cranked up another season. And the roundy-round boys and girls of NASCAR are about to enter their "chase" (playoff) races.

These will certainly detract from baseball viewership.

Still, all in all, pretty good stuff from the stick and ball folks.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Lions and Nats. Another year

Detroit football fans are celebrating. HURRAY!!!  They managed to defeat the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener. So-called wunderkind QB Matthew Stafford will no doubt be hailed as a hero once again. After all, the "come-back kid" pulled another one out.

Thing is, Arizona's not a very good team. For that matter, neither are the Lions. They remain horribly flawed in several areas. But a win is a win, dad gum it, and let another season of the usual misguided Honolulu blue and silver mania begin.

Yet the brutal truth is inescapable. The Lions aren't going anywhere this year, any more than they have in the last several decades. To think they are even remotely capable of contending for a championship this time around is pure folly.

But the suckers buy in every year. The "one born every minute" adage of P. T. Barnum seems to be in their collective DNA.

Matthew Stafford himself represents the classic good news/bad news scenario. He just re-upped with the Motown puddy-tats for another five years.

The good news is, the modern day Georgia Peach is financially set for life. Likely so are his kids and grand kids, if he ever has any. He's rolling in dough.

The bad news is, he just kissed any chance of winning a Super Bowl good-bye. By the time this contract expires, his "prime" years will be in the rear view mirror. And it ain't gonna happen in Detroit given their history, current situation, and projected future. They're light years away from being taken seriously as contenders.

The Lions may show flashes once in a great while, but overall they are, and have always been perhaps a C- team.

2017 will be no different. Lead em on. Then let em down. A sure as it gets cold in Detroit in the winter, you just KNOW it's going to happen -- again.

On another even more pitiful front are the Washington Nationals.

They just clinched the National League East. Pop, pop, pop, went the champagne bottles in the locker room afterwards.

Never mind that the rest of the teams in that division are pretty much awful. Between Miami, NY Mets, Atlanta, and Philly, none of them are within 5 games of even sporting a .500 record.

And like the Lions, you just KNOW the Nats will lead em on, only to let em down -- again. They'll choke in the postseason, because it's just what they do. Always have. Talent galore, but their collars always get super-tight in October.

See wunderkind pitcher Stephen Strasburg pitch another gem. This dude has some fabulous "stuff". He can bring 100 MPH heat and has a devastating breaking ball as well.

Alas, he's like the aforementioned Matthew Stafford used to be. A proverbial china doll waiting to break.

Can anybody remember the last time he made it through an entire season without injuring one part or another on his body? Especially his throwing arm?

And hey, there's still 20 games left. Plenty of time for him to go on the injured list, and don't be surprised if it happens -- again. Unfortunately, that appears to be in HIS DNA as well. Lead em on, then go on sick leave while still collecting millions, and the team collapses like a house of cards when Hurricane October hits.

It remains truly amazing how fans of both these teams continue to believe -- year, after year, after yet another decade, after having been led down the proverbial primrose path for so long, with a hammer waiting to hit them in the head at the end of it -- every year.

Hey, y'all go for it, if that's what yanks your crank.

Be happy, if even for a short while -- again.

But you just know what's going to eventually happen.

Or at least should by now.

Some things just aren't meant to be......

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The usual dreary Big 10 football

It was somewhat surprising Michigan would open the season against a worthy opponent such as Florida, at a neutral site of course. After a semi-impressive win, they got back to their old ways. Scheduling patsies before the conference season begins -- at home, of course. Cincinnati? Really?

Ohio State, the former #2 team in the country, just got blasted at home by a pretty good, if boring Oklahoma team. Hey, when one team controls both sides of the line of scrimmage throughout, it's a pretty safe bet they'll come out on top. Let's not forget these are the same Buckeyes that marched into the football playoffs last year, only to be absolutely obliterated by Clemson. Their #2 ranking was a sham to begin with this year. Kiss that goodbye, by a long shot. They'll be lucky to remain in the top 10 after such a woeful performance against the Sooners.

Elsewhere, the usual mighty Alabama should be ashamed of themselves. They might well be the #1 team in the country -- again. So why is it they load up their pre-conference schedule with patsies as well? Fresno State? Really? Maybe the Campfire Girls had a previous commitment they couldn't get out of to make the trip to Tuscaloosa and suit up against the Tide. Of course Nick Saban and company have never been much at being even remotely capable of shame.

It appears Penn State is back, Good for them. After the horrors that program went through with the boy-toy sexual scandal a while back, it's nice to see them thriving again.

In my opinion, the perennial sad-sacks of the Big 10 -- actually 14 -- but who's counting? -- should be relegated to a lower division, much like what happens in European soccer. If a team hasn't been able to compete for a few years, ship them down a level and bring the best ones of the lower tiers up. Do you hear me Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, and Northwestern?  Rutgers and Maryland are still going through their probationary period, but it's not looking good for them either. This was the Big 10's genius idea of expanding their audience all the way to the east coast.

Here's a thought. Other than the financial windfall (see TV and conference sharing money) that comes with it, nobody out there cares about the Big 10. True, Maryland recently went into yee-hah land and knocked off Texas. LOL. But they'll get blistered in the conference before the season is over, and Rutgers remains the weak sisters they always were. Who's kidding who?

And why, somebody tell me WHY, the Big 10 insists on keeping the same name, when they've expanded to 12, and now 14 teams? Can't they count? This might not be the best conference to spend countless thousands of dollars sending one's mathematically gifted child to in order to further their education.

If anybody seriously thinks ANY team in the Big 10 -- 14 -- whatever -- is capable of competing for a national title any year soon in football -- they've either drank way, WAY too much of the Big 10 Kool-aid, or stared too long at the sun during the recent eclipse -- without proper eye protection.

They're either hopelessly inebriated or have the vision of, say, Stevie Wonder.

In the meantime, and for the foreseeable future, the Big 10 may offer an exciting moment here and there.

But for the most part, it remains dreary football compared with so many others around the country.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


You've gotta be kidding me. The first round of the two day finals of the Jeopardy teachers' tournament was pre-empted by an NFL pre-game show?

Instead of being able to view three of the smartest teachers in the country matching wits and trivia knowledge, viewers got a dose of football talking heads blathering on?

Hey, these are the fertile grounds from which nerd jihadists spring forth. No, I won't be strapping myself with explosives any day soon to blow somebody or something up. After all, where would a Jeopardy fan even obtain such materials? I'm pretty sure one can't just sashay into their local hardware store and walk out with a bunch of dynamite or plastic explosive. A keg of nails is a possibility. Maybe I could throw handfuls of them at NBC headquarters, the diabolical perpetrators of such an atrocity. Alas, I don't know where that is. Probably in the LA area, and last time I was there the damn traffic was a nightmare even Freddie Krueger couldn't have outdone.

Still, who wants to hear the likes of Dan Patrick and his lame attempts at humor? Didn't he get zapped from his radio/TV program for poor ratings? And now they give him a prime-time gig? Surely you jest.

And alongside him was Tony Dunge. You remember him. He's still the chrome-dome pointy-headed guy with a speech impediment. Listen to TD blather on about his playing days in Pittsburgh, or coaching days at Indy from so long ago.

Two words. WHO CARES???

Some other black dude, likely a former player that wasn't smart enough to sock away enough money to comfortably retire on, filled out the Larry, Moe, and Curly broadcast.

And these guys could go on for an entire HOUR with their analyses, predictions, player profiles, and other such nonsense?

Again, you've got to be kidding me. Who's in charge of this clown show being foisted upon loyal Jeopardy viewers at the worst possible moment?

The best and brightest of teachers, having made their way through all the testing, preliminary matches, and finally clawing their way to the finals, are displaced by THIS travesty of sports dopes?

[Idle thought. If these guys can talk for an hour while saying nothing even remotely relevant -- I would suggest they missed their true calling in life. Politics, of course.]

Any Jeopardy viewer will tell you the show is quite informational. One can learn lots of things by watching it.

Conversely, NFL pre-game shows mostly appeal to the already stupid people looking to get dumbed down even more.

An outrage indeed.

I hereby issue a fatwah to all nerd jihadists. It is time to rise up and dispatch the infidels that would engage in such disrespectful and insulting behavior to our loyal, honorable and righteous legions.

Meet me at ACO.

We'll figure out something.....

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Really, REALLY dumb things

Well OK. Dallas Cowboy running back Ezekiel Elliot recently had his 6-game suspension upheld after appealing same. This was for his "alleged" not-so-good antics off the field.

But wait a minute. EE will be able to play in the Cowboys' first game. Why? Because the arbiter said the timing of it was -- well -- untimely.

[Could it be that "untimely" translates to that first game being in Dallas, against the NY Giants, predicted to be their main rival in the division this year? Philly and the Skins aren't supposed to be any good. If Da Boys lose the opener, they're already in a big hole. It would be interesting to know what part of the country yon "arbiter" hails from handing down such a puzzling ruling.]

Never mind that this has been in the works for months and a final judgment has been handed down, short of EE and Da Boys pursuing it through the courts. Good luck with that, because then all the sordid details would come out.

So he's suspended, it's upheld upon appeal, but he gets to play one game before it takes effect?

How colossally dumb is that?

To much fanfare, the 4-letter network continues to trumpet the stupendous announcement that Alabama and Miami will meet in a football game -- in 2021.

You've gotta be kidding me. Sure, the Tide has been the real deal in recent years, but the Canes have stunk it up. So who cares whether they play a game 4 years from now?

Good grief, for that matter, if a couple of egomaniacal nitwits don't stop threatening each other with nukes, fire, fury, and annihilation -- we might not even BE here in 2021.

So why should anybody give a rat's behind about some stupid college football game so far in the future?

Dumb, really dumb.

Another window company is up to the same old tricks. Buy one now and get one free.  This is basically a half-off sale, but the same question remains. You just know they're still making a hefty profit, so how ridiculous was the mark-up on their products BEFORE the sale?

Oh yeah, dumb indeed.

You know what has to be a really hard job? Being a Detroit Tiger talking head and continuing to find ways to praise them. The ultimate in homerism.

Why won't their network allow the guys they pay a bunch of bucks to to be honest? To wit:

These guys were terrible before the season began. Not a prayer of making the playoffs. Now that they've finally gone into full-blown rebuild mode by ditching what little talent they had -- they're flat-out pitiful. Even their ball-boys are making errors on the sidelines.

Hey, if the TV execs won't let their talking heads be objective and honest about the obvious, they only stand to lose even more credibility than they already have. Who's kidding who?

OK, I admit it. Yours truly has long been a Jeopardy! addict. I always try to catch the show at 7:30.

But there's one thing you can always count on there as well. There will be French involved. Why? Because long-time host Alex Trebeck speaks it fluently and the producers and writers suck up to him by providing answers and questions that allow him to show it off.

It's such a dumb language. Way too many letters that don't even make sense. "Eau" is pronounced "O". Most "Tees" and "Esses" are silent, so why use them? "Manet" is pronounced "Man-ay". "Monet" is "Moan-ay". Alexander Dumas, which looks a whole lot like "dumb ass", is "Doo-Mah". What gives with these people?

French, french, french. Rarely any German, Italian, Gaelic, and you'll wait for a long time before you see any Russian, Mandarin, Farsi, or Urdu.

And if it's not french, there will something Canadian. Oh yes, the esteemed Mr. Trebek is a native canook.

As a little boy, I thought the only salad dressing in the world was french. That's what my mom always used on top of the lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. Maybe it was always on sale, like the windows mentioned above.

It wasn't until high school, at a friend's house, I discovered the wonders of 1000 island, ranch, Italian, and a few others. Wow, this stuff is good.

For that matter, I thought all vegetables in the world came out of Del Monte cans. Already cooked to tasteless mush and even mushier after mom had boiled them for a while. Dang, frozen veggies were almost orgasmic upon the palate when I finally stumbled upon them years later. Where has THIS stuff been all my young life??

So yes, there's plenty of dumbness to go around.

And if you don't believe that, pay close attention to the goings-on in Washington DC, where America's "best and brightest" continue to ply their trades.

Or how the Detroit Lions think they have a shot at getting to the Super Bowl this year.

And I don't know what the proper word for that is.

"Dumb" doesn't seem to do it justice.

What's dumber than dumb?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

An open letter from a Tiger fan

Though it was kept low-profile, the Detroit Tigers recently sent a letter to all their season tickets holders begging for their patience while the team goes through the long overdue rebuilding process.

Translation? Keep buying them and we'll get better again. Promise. Someday. Maybe.

Yet if I was one of the recipients of such a letter, I would have crafted my own in response. To wit:

Dear Detroit Tiger ownership

As you know, I've ponied up countless thousands of dollars over the years to attend your games and otherwise support the team. I've drank the ridiculously overprice watered-down beer, and eaten the slop you pass off as food. Nobody would consume that at home. But I've hung in there.

However, you have yet to deliver a championship and, most years, are quite disappointing.

Through certainly no fault of my own, nor any other Tiger fan, the team has gone from bad to flat-out terrible. You sirs, through your own ineptitude and short-sighted ways, are squarely to blame for their current predicament.

Yet I am an open and fair-minded, objective person, so I propose a compromise.

Because you will quite obviously be putting an even more inferior product on the market for the foreseeable future, it would seem only fair that the prices you charge should be reduced accordingly.

With all due respect, only a fool would pay Cadillac prices for a Kia.

Therefore, please recalculate the next invoice you will be sending me to be more in line with fair-market value.

I would suggest at least 50% off what I paid last year. After all, you've been dumping high salaried players like the President does his advisers, so shouldn't your savings be passed along to your customers as well? What could possibly be fairer than that?

Any other business failing to do the same would likely find themselves OUT of business in short order.

When the current season finally, mercifully, comes to an end, I eagerly await your response to what I consider a most reasonable -- and logical -- proposal.

Perhaps we can work something out, but the current state of financial affairs is unsustainable.

And one more thing, if I may. Adjust the concession prices as well, and get some decent grub inside the stadium instead of the dog food, at best, that we have long been forced to tolerate. With the billions of TV money you and other franchises divvy up each year, not to mention paraphernalia sales, it's not like you're going to go bankrupt any year soon. Just be fair. Is that too much to ask?


Joe Sappy.

PS. For now, but don't take it for granted in the future.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Detroit. A loser in every way

Let's not get into the gory details as to why a recent Mayor of Detroit is serving a 30 year prison sentence for corruption. (And many of his cronies are doing time as well).

And we won't dwell on the fact that Detroit recently went bankrupt -- SURPRISE!!!

Or make too big of a deal over their ongoing blight problem, gangs, drugs, car-jackings, murders, garbage piling up, and just about everything else that could possibly go wrong with a once thriving metropolis.

No, for the purposes of this post, let's look at the professional sports scene in Detroit.

It also is a sorry sight to behold indeed.

Once upon a time, the powers-that-be in Detroit decided to name a brand new venue Joe Louis Arena.

Never mind that Joe Louis, a boxer, was an Alabama native. To boot, he was totally illiterate and, while a great heavyweight champ way back in his day, wound up a penniless and broken down stumble bum. Like so many others, old Joe hung around too long and wound up getting what little brains he ever had beat out in the ring.

So why, somebody tell me WHY, would any town name a hockey -- that's right -- HOCKEY arena after him? Only in Detroit could they come up with such "wisdom". They considered him some sort of hero? REALLY? Oh my.

But the Joe's replacement, one Little Caesar's Arena, has been hailed with great fanfare. True to form, the already beleaguered taxpayers got socked again into paying for most of it. (And a few more booted out of their homes/businesses due the ever dreaded "eminent domain" thing.)

Who will be the primary tenants? That's where it gets even worse.

The Detroit Pistons are projected to be an average team at best in the near future, maybe or maybe not making the playoffs as a lower seed, but even if so will no doubt get blasted in the first round of the playoffs by a vastly superior team. Owner Tom Gores left a world-class facility (the Palace of Auburn Hills), totally paid for by his predecessor, and had even sunk 10-15 million bucks of his own money into upgrades. Then he turns around and moves him team from a fan friendly, virtually crime-free neighborhood back into the dregs of Detroit? Where he has to pay rent?

How colossally bone-headed was that?

The Red Wings themselves, though they'd never admit it, are going through a "rebuilding" phase. Things will get worse, likely much worse, before they get better.

So all hail Little Caesar's Arena. May it's glitter, luxury boxes, and ridiculous seat prices live long and prosper.

Pity they have two such terrible teams to feature. Am I the only one that sees something seriously wrong with this picture?

The Detroit Tigers have, mercifully, finally waved the white flag. They were a team of grossly overpaid and under-performing players before the 2017 season even started. Though the outcome to date has been even worse than yours truly suspected, no way were they going to be contenders. Too many liabilities and not nearly enough assets.

Trading off J. D. Martinez, Justin Upton, and Justin Verlander, arguably their three best players, for "prospects", amounts to little more than a salary dump and signals their own long overdue rebuilding process has finally come about as well. As with the Wings, this could get ugly for a few years.

And that leaves, yep, the Detroit Lions. Given their sad-sack history over the last 60 years or so, you know your sports town is in deep trouble when a team such as the Lions represents your best chance at success in the near future.

But that gets worse as well. In it's most recent issue, the, ahem, genius prognosticators of Sports Illustrated have laid out their predictions for the upcoming NFL season.

Cutting to the final outcome, they predict the New England Patriots will narrowly defeat the Green Bay Packers in the 2018 Super Bowl. Could be. Barring serious injuries to key players, few would doubt both remain elite teams.

Alas, they have the Lions finishing dead last in their own division, the NFC North. That's right, even behind Da Bears. They foresee the puddy-tats winding up with a 5-11 regular season record. Far out of any playoff scenario -- just another year of futility. Hey, what's one more?

But in the end, add it all up and what do you have?

Arguably, the losingest major city in the entire country.

On just about every front any objective person would consider.

Such is the sorry state of Detroit.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Detroit Tigers trade Verlander

Whoa. Who saw that coming? But in a way, it makes sense. The Detroit Tigers have officially waved the white flag of surrender on this season. Not that it was any big surprise, given they're the second worst (barely) team in the American League and have been woefully out of any playoff scenario for quite some time.

Conversely, the Houston Astros, Verlander's new home, are in a "go for it now" mode. This is something the Tigers did not long ago, pillaging their farm system for free agent mercenaries, that have since come and gone. They never did quite make it over the top. Thirty three years and counting since the Motowners last won a World Series, and it certainly appears they're in full-blown rebuild mode now.

True, Houston is literally under water now in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but it is also one of the fastest growing cities in the country, with money coming out of their ears. Detroit has been shrinking in population, recently went through bankruptcy proceedings, and is hardly a place most out-of-towners would rank high on their "must see" tourism lists.

Yet it is somewhat surprising the Astros would be willing to pick up Verlander's albatross contract when he is an aging pitcher clearly on the back side of his bell curve.

Note to Tiger fans. Miguel Cabrera might well be the next to go. Yes, his fabulous Triple Crown season of not long ago has disappeared in the rear view mirror, but some other team might take a flyer on him and his equally ridiculous contract, hoping he can bounce back and have another decent year or two left in him. But there's no question his production, and day to day health have dramatically declined in the last couple years.

One of the few good hitters the Tigers had, J.D. Martinez, was already dealt for "prospects". As was catcher Alex Avila, who was experiencing the best season of his career. An anomaly perhaps. Yet it should be noted that two of the "hot-shot prospects" the Tigers got in return are potential third basemen.

This does not bode well for one Nick Castellanos, their current starter at that position. Never much with the glove, NC is typically a .240 or so hitter, without much speed. A journeyman at best. His days in Detroit would seem numbered as well.

Last year's American League Rookie of the Year, Tiger pitcher Michael Fulmer, hasn't won a game in two months.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler, also with a whopper contract, has seen age quickly erode his stats as well.

Would anybody else be interested in any of these guys?

Hard to say.

But Justin Verlander, the former Fastball Flakes man, whose entire career to date has been spent in Detroit -- is there no longer.

No doubt Tiger fans will miss him.

But hey, JV now has a legitimate shot at winning a championship with the up and coming Astros. They're young, loaded with talent from top to bottom, and look to remain highly competitive for years to come. The exact opposite of what has happened with the Tigers.

It was no secret they were slip-sliding away and their future looked bleak.

It just got a whole lot bleaker without Kate's old man.

Oh yeah, these guys could be bad, REALLY bad for a few years, before and if they turn it around. And given so many other teams have been infinitely wiser in recent years with their rosters, salaries, and farm systems, very painful times may linger in Tiger-land for quite a while.

See ya, JV. You were a stud there for a while. A couple no-hitters, MVP, Cy Young Award, and all that. But of late, you've barely been a .500 pitcher in Detroit. Great one game, bombed the next.

You're in a better place now.

Or will be, as soon as all that dad-burned flood water finally goes away.

Dumbest play of the week

OK, all pro football fans "get it". The NFL's preseason is, and has long been pretty much a joke. To borrow the words of a Sports Illustrated scribe not long ago, trying to judge a team's potential by their preseason play is like judging the food by reading the menu of the restaurant next door to the one you're going to actually eat at. In a word -- useless.

The Detroit Lions went a sparkling 4-0 in the 2008 preseason. They would then proceed to go 0-16 in the regular season, setting a standard of futility and ineptness that can be equaled, not likely, but never topped, or out bottomed. The greatest here we go, then massive thud of all time. 

And we all know that the third preseason game is the only one in which teams actually try, for maybe a half or so. 

The fourth one is for the scrubs, marginal players, trying to make their ways onto the roster. 

But every once in a while, even a meaningless game like this results in a totally duh, have you no brains whatsoever moment. 

Such was the case when the same Detroit Lions faced off against the Buffalo Bills on the shore of Lake Erie.

Late in the fourth quarter, with time running down and the Bills enjoying a somewhat (who cares?) comfortable lead, they had the ball inside their own 10 yard line.

Garbage time.

Still, even at that point, the coaching staff, if they're paying the slightest bit of attention, is evaluating players.

Buffalo came out in a "tight" offensive formation, which resulted in Detroit packing all 11 defenders "inside the box". 

And what did the Bills do? Ran a draw play. To absolutely nobody's surprise, the overwhelmed running back was sacked at the one yard line. This play had about as much chance of succeeding as your average snowflake does of surviving long in the Amazon rain forest. 

But that's the thing. This, of ALL times, is when a team should show some imagination, and go for the gusto. They have nothing to lose by doing so. So try a trick play, or at least throw the ball -- dammit. Maybe they'll learn something they can pull out later when the games actually matter.

If I'm the owner of the Buffalo Bills, looking down from my luxury box to witness this, I'm outraged. I would say the following ----

What the hell was that? I'm paying you guys millions of dollars and that's the best you can come up with?

The first thing I do is dock the offensive coordinator 10% of his salary. If he squawks, I fire him.

The second thing is I dock the head coach 10% of HIS salary for both having hired this unimaginative troll in the first place, and not overruling such a ridiculous play call when it came through his headphones. And I don't want to hear any guff out of him either, or he'll be looking for another job too -- tomorrow. 

I'm a billionaire and can afford to eat their salaries, but I won't tolerate a single second, or play, of totally wasted time. It's not only insulting to me, but our fans as well. 

Lord knows it's been quite a while since this team has been competitive -- a trait the Lions certainly share -- what with those pesky Patriots kicking everybody's butts in our division and elsewhere around the league, but I fail to see the point in just ramming one's head against a brick wall when other options were available. At least TRY one. 

It has to be dumbest thing I've seen since certain tweets from on high and watching Congress in action lately.

Like those folks, the Bills might not be any good this year -- again -- either. 

But I will not sit idly by watching my team, scrubs or not, just mailing it in. 

Get after it, as best you can, or I'll get after you.

Yes, I could come down into that nasty smelling, sweaty locker room and have a not so pleasant chat with you folks in person. I dare say you wouldn't find me to be a nice guy under such circumstances.

Yet there is an easier, better way for somebody in my position.

The next time I see stupidity like that from my team, how about if I zap the Wifi capabilities in the locker room?

Or the hot water in the showers mysteriously goes on the fritz?

All easily enough done.

Don't mess with me any more fellows.

Whatever your capabilities are -- LET'S GO.

I will settle for no less. 


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Brad Ausmus and sour grapes

There is little doubt that Detroit Tiger manager Brad Ausmus will be history when this season mercifully concludes for the Tigers. Is their plunge towards the nether regions of Major League Baseball all his fault?

Probably not. He's stuck with a bunch of grossly overpaid and under performing aging players. Though the Tigers have one of highest player payrolls in MLB, they're also one of the worst teams. This is not a recipe for a manager's continued employment. Somebody has to be the fall guy, and will be BA.

But his recent comment regarding Coors Field in Denver, home of the Colorado Rockies, showed his lack of class.

He referred to it as "pinball baseball". Indeed.

Yet Coors Field, besides being a beautiful facility, offers some of the most exciting baseball. Because it's at "altitude", the ball likely flies a bit farther than it would in other parks. A hitter's paradise and pitcher's nightmare? Maybe.

But who really wants to see pitchers' duels in 1-0 yawners anyway? Fans go to the various stadiums wanting to see some action, dammit. Home runs, balls up the gap for doubles and triples, stolen bases, hit and run plays, stuff HAPPENING.  Who cares if the precious pitchers' ERA ticks up a notch while playing there? Both sides have to play under the same conditions, and it's fun baseball, not the dreary, stodgy type evidently espoused by the likes of Brad Ausmus, unless it's his team that romps, instead of the other way around, of course. A bit of hypocrisy may be afoot there.

Nonetheless, if I'm the Colorado Rockies and saw BA's comment about "pinball baseball", I would have issued a response. That being.....

"As regards the Detroit Tigers manager recent slur on our facility, we can sum up what we think of him in one word. PinHEAD.

If any further explanation is warranted, the poor misguided man need only look at the standings. Our team is currently 14 games better than his. We are the thick of the playoff chase while his sad sacks are floundering into oblivion.

He's got a bad team and he knows it. If he doesn't, refer back to the original word mentioned above.


Who BTW, has this really nasty habit of spitting through his teeth every 3 or 4 seconds. Does he do that at home with his wife and kids? While driving in his car? At his place of worship -- if any? While sitting down at a restaurant?"

Yep, Brad Ausmus may or may not be highly thought of in Detroit among his own players, fans, and media.

But he's WAY out of line when he starts insulting other facilities such as Coors Field, when his own team plays in the dreary confines of Comerica Park.

And hey, one is named after a wildly popular beer. The other after a banking facility that is always on a mission to gouge customers out of even more money. One can feel pretty good after a couple of Coors, totally voluntary, but maybe not so good when those pesky interest rates of Comerica come crashing into your latest statement -- which is mandatory.

Yet in the end, it's "Pinball" vs "Pinhead".

One has long been a fun game at an arcade, still is, and comes in many varieties.

The other is merely biding time until he gets broomed. Still the same old spitting Brad. Boring as ever. Ain't no changing the stripes on that old cat. He is, ptui, what he'll always be. A loser.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Matthew Stafford. Good, bad, and ugly

So the quarterback of the Detroit Lions has signed a five year contract extension worth $135 million dollars? Hurray for him. Not exactly Mayweather, Buffet, Gates, Winfrey, or Trump money, but he won't be eating ramen noodles any time soon either.

This is a good thing, maybe.

But Stafford, despite continuing to be hailed in Detroit as some sort of super-hero, has been far from it.

The man is 29 years old, entering his ninth NFL season, and has, to date, posted a 51-58 career win/loss record. A somewhat less than mediocre winning percentage of .468.

On top of that, he has yet to lead his team to a single playoff victory. Not one in his previous eight years. There is little reason to believe it will happen this year either, given the same over-hyped but talent/coaching/brains shy version of the current Lions.

Is any sane person to believe a QB with such career stats deserves to be the highest paid player in the NFL?

That's not only bad, but pitiful. Only in Detroit could they be desperate enough to shower such a player with boatloads of money and come up with such a deal.

Thing is, by agreeing to stay with the Motown puddy-tats through the year 2022, Stafford has all but sealed his fate.

By the time that contract expires, the modern day Georgia Peach will be 34 years old. Pretty much on the back side of his career bell curve. True, that Brady guy in New England keeps on rolling like the energizer bunny, but no reasonable person would confuse Matthew and Tom. One has always been elite, the other mediocre. One gets it done when it matters most. The other falls flat.

And by the time 2022 rolls around, if Stafford is even capable of playing, no other team will be interested. It's entirely possible the next five years will go by and he STILL won't win a playoff game. Get to the Super Bowl, let alone winning it? The ultimate pipe dream/fantasy. Ain't gonna happen. Not with that bunch.

So yes, he'll be fabulously wealthy and the next few generations of Staffords will have nothing to worry about financially.

But if he ever aspired to a "ring" -- and isn't that the ultimate goal of most players? -- he just kissed it goodbye by signing away the rest of his career with the ever-hapless Lions.

It would have been interesting to see which other teams might have made a pitch for him had he played out this year and became a free agent. No doubt, he could have started for some, but certainly not all.

Forget New England. Even if Brady hangs it up after next year, they have that Jimmie guy waiting in the wings they've groomed all along.

Pittsburgh? A maybe, but only if Big Ben called it quits. The Steelers wouldn't pay mega-bucks for a guy like Stafford to ride the pine.

No way would he displace Russell Wilson in Seattle.

Nor Derek Carr in Oakland.

Eli in Giants land? Uh-uh.

Matt Ryan in Atlanta or Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay? Puh-leeze.

The Cowboys have a young stud named Dak Prescott, so would have little use for Stafford.

The Skins in DC are committed to Kirk Cousins. Ditto.

Drew Brees in New Orleans will only be displaced when he decides to retire, which evidently isn't quite yet.

There are likely a few teams that might consider taking on Stafford, but at a reduced price. Forget his gaudy passing stats, the fact remains he's far under .500 after eight seasons as a starter. Period. And his over-hyped regular season comeback heroics pale in the face of his play-off chokes.

Also true is there are several teams that would be glad to have him. Let's say Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami, Houston, KC, Philly, San Fran, the Jets, Bears, and Denver -- maybe. Charlotte has already committed to Cam Newton, he of the once promising future, but also the same guy that can't get over the funk of being blasted in the Super Bowl a couple years back.

Yet in the end, Matthew Stafford, a Georgia native, has decided to ride out what is left of his useful career with the Detroit Lions.

That would seem to make him Ernie Banks-ish, with one huge difference. The former star of the Chicago Cubs never had free agency available to him. The north-siders, woeful as they were, owned his butt. He made it into the Hall of Fame, and rightfully so, but never got anywhere near sniffing any sort of championship. He was stuck. Not so with Stafford. He had choices.

And as the past 60 years of the Lions have proven, with no help in sight ----

That's just ugly.

Pity. As they say, the dude could have been a contender.

But as the old song (House of the Rising Sun) goes, being in the wrong place at the wrong time and making the wrong decisions has been the ruin of many a poor boy.