Sunday, April 30, 2017

Doc Rivers. Time to go

Once again the LA Clippers got bounced out of the playoffs early. This time the Utah Jazz zapped them, including winning two games on the Clips' home court, especially the deciding Game 7.

The Clippers are the best team in their own building, due to the fact the Lakers have become absolutely pitiful of late, but not much else.

Remember a few years ago when Steve Ballmer paid a whopping 2 BILLION for this team -- that was likely only worth half that -- at most? Somewhere former owner Donald Sterling likely still chuckles. Geez, twist his arm and make him sell. It's turned out to be laughable indeed, if you're a member of the Sterling family that stands to inherit such a huge pile of dough. Oh yeah Commish Adam Silver, aka Mr. Peanut, really taught HIM a lesson. LOL

So what did Ballmer do right off the bat? Sign Glenn "Doc" Rivers to a contract that was even more ridiculous than what he had paid for the team. Over 50 million bucks for five years.

And how has the good Doctor delivered? The short answer is -- he hasn't. Despite all the "talent" they supposedly have, the Clips haven't even made it out of the second round of the playoffs under his guidance, let alone get to and/or win a championship series.

Further, the Clippers are the only team in NBA history to have blown playoff series' leads 5 years in a row. They get ahead, then fold.

Some of the players, notably Chris Paul and Deandre Jordan, have made a lot of moronic TV commercials hawking whatever product. But they can't seem to win anything of note on the court.

Thing is, Rivers still has two years remaining on his contract. Whether he coaches or not, Ballmer has to cough up big money to him.

True, Doc had some success in Boston, even winning a championship. But he's been a totally overrated failure since he went west to the Clips.

Also likely true is Charles Barkley has been right all along. He once famously stated that if your best player (in this case Chris Paul) is only 6 foot tall, you are NEVER going to win a championship. Forget it, ain't happening.

There's no disputing the western conference of the NBA has become brutal in recent years. The Golden State Warriors are indeed all that. San Antonio under the tutelage of Coach Pop continues to remain a force. And the Houston Rockets ain't too shabby either. Since the Okla City Thunder let James Hardin get away to Houston, and recently Kevin Durant to the Warriors, super-Russ Westbrook can put up all the triple-doubles he wants, but they're not going far either. One trick ponies just won't get it done in the playoffs.

So yes, the competition in the west is ferocious. But that doesn't give Doc Rivers a pass either.

He's had his chance, and has now, with the latest debacle of falling to the Jazz in the opening round, shown he has outlived his usefulness in Clip-land. And it's not like Ballmer can't afford to eat the remainder of his contract.

Doctors have a shelf life too. Doctor Joyce Brothers came and went. So did Doctor Ruth. Doc Severinson blew his trumpet for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, but was finally broomed. Doctor Phil remains his patronizing self offering advice to others. Doc Holliday had his days with the Earp brothers in the old west, and the showdown at OK corral. His day job was being a dentist.

Now this is the "new" west. The Clips aren't getting better, but WORSE, despite the outrageous salaries they have conferred on players that can't deliver in clutch time.  And expecting the Clippers under Doc Rivers to ever get over the hump is like imagining Doc Holliday pulling teeth in the old days. With no anesthetic or numbing shots available, that had to be painful to undergo, and even to watch. Such are the Clips, live and in person, year after year.

Who could replace Rivers? Who cares? Pick a hot-shot college coach like the Celtics did in Brad Stevens once they were shed of Rivers. They seem to be doing just fine and are definitely on the rise.

But there can be no mistake.

It is definitely time for the not-so-good Doc dude to get the boot as Clippers coach.

Enough is enough.

As they say, this just isn't working out.....

The not so amazing Detroit Lions

Well OK, the annual NFL is finally, mercifully, drawing to a close. Like every other year for the last half century or so, the Detroit Lions claim to have "made a killing". They got just the players they wanted, at just the positions they were most needed at. Sound familiar?

Their first two picks were a linebacker and a cornerback, both from the Univ. of Florida. Names aren't important at this point. Can these guys jump in and play right away? Maybe. Will they be stars someday? Maybe as well. Could either or both turn out to be busts? Entirely possible. Lots of Lions high draft picks over the years quickly faded into oblivion. The list is as long or longer than their playoff winning dearth.

Linebacker and corner were definitely two positions in need for the Lions. Of their existing linebacker corps, it's questionable whether any of them could start on any other NFL team, and also questionable if a few of them could make a roster elsewhere. They had one passable corner and the rest were/are a pretty much Keystone Koppish bunch. Let's just say these weren't exactly positions of strength for the Lions. Then again, what position is other than having a half way decent quarterback?

Still no feature running back. Tight ends that can't seem to catch. Like Abbott and Costello's classic "Who's on first" routine, nobody knows who's what and where on the offensive line. The D line is no better. They have -- maybe -- one decent pass rusher, who struggles to stay healthy, and a bunch of other guys nobody ever heard of.

With the early retirement of Calvin Johnson, Detroit has little in the way of "dangerous" wide receivers.

In short, the Lions have needs at just about every position. This is some kind of mess they've gotten themselves into over the years, and there's not enough draft picks, even successful ones, to fix it in a year or two. Let's not forget that not long ago, they had the dubious wisdom to use their first round pick on an offensive tackle -- which they knew going in couldn't even start. How incredibly boneheaded was that? Everybody else was grabbing difference makers and the Lions took a behemoth only to sit him on the bench?  Is it any wonder they have floundered for so long?

Quarterback Matthew Stafford will soon have a decision to make. This coming season is the last year on his existing contract. While the Honolulu blue and silver faithful hope, pray, and perhaps even assume that Stafford will re-up long term with the club -- and he well might -- there's an entirely different way of looking at it as well.

True, Stafford is hyped to the max in Detroit as the greatest thing since maybe Barry Sanders or Stroh's ice cream, but in the whole NFL scheme of things, he typically grades out a little above average. Out of 32 teams, most "experts" peg him somewhere between 12 and 15. There are others around the league much better, but also others much worse.

Thing is, Stafford will have spent an entire decade with the Lions and has absolutely nothing to show for it. Not even a single playoff victory to date, much less getting within a light year or three of the Super Bowl. And that's simply not going to happen in Detroit any year soon. They have WAY too many deficiencies on their roster to compete with the existing elite teams, plus those that are young and coming on.

So the thought here is Stafford would be wise to consider the open market when it becomes available after one more season with the puddy-tats.

There are several teams around the league that would covet his services, even with the deficiencies he brings as well. Strong arm? Definitely. Accurate? Mostly. Good decision maker that can quickly process his options and do the right thing under pressure? More so than not. Fleet of foot? No way. Susceptible to injury? Used to be, but he seems to have outgrown his one-time China doll reputation. Like a Timex watch, he's been taking his lickings and kept on ticking of late.

He's also at the peak of his career. Given his age, not yet 30, but getting close, Stafford would seem to have the optimum blend of experience and physical ability.

So put yourself in his shoes. He grew up in the Dallas area. Played college ball at Georgia. It's not like he's a home-town boy by any stretch of the imagination. Stafford's already banked enough money from the Lions to last him ten lifetimes. His kids and grandkids are set as well. Sure, the Lions could and would be able to pay him more in the future. But does it really make any difference at this point whether he makes 15 million or 20 million a year?

And there's the crux of the matter. If Matthew Stafford ever wants a legitimate shot at being a champion, it's not going to happen in Detroit. If they ever put this team together enough to be competitive, don't hold your breath, it will likely be long after Stafford's best days are far in the rear view mirror.

While winning a playoff game or two in Detroit seems to be their idea of success, there are others around the league that would scoff at such low standards. And a few of them could likely fit Matthew Stafford in quite nicely at the quarterback position.

So unless dear Matthew has succumbed to the lowly expectations of the Lions, he'd be nuts not to consider all the other options that will likely pour in after one more year of service at what has long been an exercise in futility.

Want a ring, or at least a chance at one? Gotta go somewhere else, maybe even take less dough.

On top of that, his Hall of Fame chances right now aren't looking good. He needs to break out of the doldrums the Lions have a way of saddling their players with. Their last inductee was Barry Sanders, who also got tired of their losing ways, took an early retirement, and has been gone for approaching 20 years. Since then, they haven't won a SINGLE playoff game.

Barry didn't have the option that will soon present itself to Stafford. The Lions owned the rights to Sanders' elusive butt. Play for them or don't play at all. He left $8 million dollars on the table, even bigger money back in those days, plus likely the all-time NFL career rushing record. Had Barry played out the string with even the sad sack Lions, he likely would have set the mark so high it would NEVER be approached again. But he had enough pride, and sense, to walk away from a team that had no upside, while he was still healthy.

Here's hoping Matthew Stafford considers his options as well. No, he likely won't retire, but greener pastures await him if he opens up his mind to consider them.

He's given Detroit enough. A full decade of being the best QB they've had in some time. Maybe ever. But nothing to show for it, except a pile of dough. Everybody gets that these days.

So in conjunction with my last post, throw in the Detroit Lions with the bottom feeding Pistons and Red Wings, mix well with a Tiger team that is surely headed south in the future, and what do you have?

Answer. No matter how you slice and dice it, Detroit is quickly becoming quite the sad sack city when it comes to professional sports across the board.

The fans can root, root, root, and keep buying expensive tickets, $8 draft beers worth maybe a quarter wholesale, $6 leathery hot dogs, and whatever that glop is that passes for nacho cheese, along with the team paraphernalia. And their local media can keep peddling the snake oil they do every year to the suckers -- but in the end there's no escaping the reality of it.

It just is what it is.

And it ain't pretty......

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The sorry state of Detroit sports

To much fanfare, the Detroit Red Wings will be moving into a new venue next year. Recently, it was announced that the Detroit Pistons will join them at Little Caesar's Arena.

It's hard to figure what Pistons' owner Tom Gores is thinking. When he bought the team from the family of the late Bill Davidson, who had built the world class Palace at Auburn Hills out of money from his own pocket, Gores had a building totally paid for. Then he went on to invest somewhere between 10 and 15 million bucks into sprucing it up. All well and good.

So why -- tell me why -- would he turn right around and move his team back to the dregs of downtown Detroit, where he has to pay rent? 

At that, both the Wings and Pistons are bottom feeding teams in their respective leagues with a dismal outlook for the near future. So in the end, a few hundred million bucks got spent building a totally unnecessary sparkling new home for these teams, hundreds of people got kicked out of their houses and businesses via the dreaded "eminent domain" to make room for it, and will get socked through taxes to pay for a lot of it. For two totally lousy teams. Only in Detroit could a colossal debacle such as this occur. 

Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers have a dismal looking future as well. Justin Verlander's getting up there in years and will soon start falling off. Same with Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler. They have a designated hitter named V-Mart. Nobody can remember if and when he was ever able to field a position. His speed on the basepathes can be timed with a sundial. Can he even throw a baseball? Nobody knows. V-Mart is the definition of a one tool player. He can hit, at least he used to be able to. Nowadays he's struggling to hit his weight (though to be fair, considering his "pudge factor" he hasn't missed any meals lately either). So what good is a guy approaching 40 years old that's batting .220 or so and can't do anything else? This is their idea of a designated hitter? Really?

J.D. Martinez remains an injury always waiting to happen. Twenty five games into the season, he hasn't been healthy enough to play yet. And on the rare occasions he can remain healthy, is a defensive liability in right field. 

Shortstop Jose Iglesias is slick with the glove, but a weak hitter, and another trip to the disable list always on deck. He's gone again.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos appears to be a journeyman. Not particularly good at anything, but the best the Tigers can come up with. 

Centerfield remains an unsettled position. 

Beyond Verlander, Michael Fullmer had an impressive rookie year as a starting pitcher, but now that he's been around the league, opposing hitters are starting to get a pretty good feel for what he has to offer. A mid 90's fastball, a cutter, an average change-up -- nothing special. 

The other starters are hopes and prayers every time they take the mound.

The bullpen remains a disaster waiting to happen.

Between Alex Avila and James McCann, it's just a couple of slightly below average guys platooning at catcher.

Former Tiger Prez Dave Dombrowski looted the farm system trading for star talent in a "going for it now" gamble. They almost made it, but couldn't quite get over the hump. Still no World Series championship since 1984, midway through the Reagan White House years. How long ago was THAT? 

But that talent didn't stay in Detroit long. They bailed elsewhere. See Max Scherzer, David Price, and BTW, who was the genius that let young Rick Porcello get away to the Bosox? Didn't he go 22-4 last year and capture the Cy Young award? 

Now the Tigers are aging, an average team at best, with little help, if any, on the way. Where are they going to get it from? They don't have anybody left to trade anymore, at least anybody a sane team would be interested in, given some of the ridiculous mega-contracts the Tigers were foolish enough to saddle themselves with. The cupboard is all but bare in their minor league system. No hot shot prospects in sight. 

Though the 2017 season is young, the Tigers have already started to fade this year. And look around the American League. In the Central Division, the Tigers are nowhere near as talented as the Cleveland Indians, from top to bottom. In the East, Baltimore and Boston are definitely competitive. The Yanks always pose a threat. In the West, Texas, Houston, and Seattle are right there. And all feature younger "good" players than the Tigers. 

The Tigers' future appears bleak indeed.

Playing across the street from them are the Detroit Lions. Far be it from them they could find a way to share a stadium like they did in the old days and save the taxpayers a few hundred million bucks. Oh no. Everybody has to have their own custom-made super bauble these days, while usually at least one of them sits idle and vacant. The Lions have always been, and most certainly remain, their very own "can of worms". A franchise that seems to be unique unto itself -- along with their fans and media that continue to peddle the snake oil they always have. 

More on them next time out.

Stay tuned......

More sports hits

See former Michigan player Jabrill Peppers, still in limbo over his "diluted urine sample", get drafted by the Cleveland Browns. See Peppers immediately go off on a rant and break into a chimpanzee on serious roids dance routine.

Note to Jabrill. Be happy, but not THAT happy. Yep, you got drafted, but you're going to Cleveland. They have a really good NBA team there, defending champs as a matter of fact. The Major League Indians came within an out or two of winning the World Series last year, and will likely easily win their division again this year. Alas, Cleveland lost its NHL team a while back, the Barons, and it's still pretty much an armpit city overall. And BTW, the Browns stink, have stunk since they came back into the league, and look like they're going to stink for the foreseeable future. But you're stuck with them, rookie contract and all, for the next few years. Hey, you and your Wolverines might have been halfway decent at Michigan, but you never won squat there either when it mattered. So how about dialing the spaz dance routine back a tad, OK? When reality sets in, it ain't exactly the bed of roses you might have thought it is.

In the NBA, the Boston Celtics were a bit of a surprise -- or maybe not. After losing the first two games at home to the Chicago Bulls, they came roaring back to blister them in four straight, including a blowout at Chicago in Game Six. The beaners await the winner of the Washington/Atlanta series. Chances are good they will prevail there as well, regardless of which opponent they face.

Meanwhile, the above-mentioned Cleveland Cavs are taking on the Toronto Raptors in the second round. Yes, Lebron and Co. have looked vulnerable in recent times, but we all pretty much know who's going to win that series.

In all likelihood, that will set up a Boston/Cleveland series for the NBA Eastern Conference title. Are the Celts ready to take the next step and knock off the Cavs? Maybe not, even though they had the better regular season record, and will enjoy home court advantage.

But no mistake, they're coming. GM Danny Ainge has done a masterful job of shedding big contracts for aging players, while stockpiling draft picks over the last few years. They have a brilliant young head coach in Brad Stevens. And the Celtics are young, with Ainge having still a few more extra draft picks in the bank in the next couple years. They're going to keep getting better.

Meanwhile, Lebron James, while arguably still the best player on the planet, will soon face the inevitable erosion of his playing skills. He's at the point where Father Time starts to kick in. He's not going to get any better, but worse as the years go on. Sure, he can and did make any team infinitely better by his mere presence, from the Cavs in the "old days", to the mini-dynasty in Miami, and back to Cleveland to finally win a title for his native Ohio. But subtract him from the equation and the Cavs get "average" in a hurry. Kyrie Irving's outstanding and Kevin Love as well, when he can stay healthy, but the rest of the supporting cast isn't going to intimidate anybody, much less a team on the rise like the Celtics.

Speaking of which, Larry Bird is about to step down as Prez of the Indy Pacers. True, he's an Indiana native, but how cool would it be if went back to the Celtics, where he enjoyed so much success for so many years as a player, as THEIR Prez when they seem to be on the cusp of returning to greatness?

Wow. Remember that Lavar Bell guy? He's the father of Lonzo (still a college player at UCLA) and a couple other sons that wanted a BILLION dollar shoe contract for his boys. That's a whole bunch of dough, heretofore unheard of as endorsements go.

Turns out, the people he was aiming his rant at don't appear to be interested. This would include such companies as Under Armour, Nike, and Adidas. You know, those lovable folks that exploit dollar a day foreign labor only to turn around and sell their fancy tennis shoes in the states for hundreds of dollars a pop.

It might just be that the execs at these shoe companies were a bit turned off by not-so-Cool Papa Bell flapping his gums and otherwise acting like a pompous entitled fool in public. Evidently, the dude didn't have the sense enough to act like a semi-grown up person himself. So if you're a shoe exec, do you really want to throw a huge pile of money at the kids he raised, likely in his own image, before any of them has even proven themselves to be a decent player at the "next level" yet?

Maybe the boys need to take Dad aside and have a little confab. Hey Pop, we're out here busting our butts and are pretty good at what we do so far. How about you back off and let our play do the talking instead of you pissing off people that matter, when you haven't done squat in your entire life yourself, except trying to squeeze in your fifteen minutes of fame you were never entitled to in the first place?

On that note, a yuk-worthy moment. On ESPN's Highly Questionable show, host Dan LeBatard has his dad along as a commentator. Gonzalo Le Batard, a Cuban emigre, can be one funny amigo.

Everybody's heard of Air Jordans and the like, right? The same shoes made overseas for pennies that sell for hundreds of bucks in the state for an enormous profit margin. Eat you heart out, Lavar, you pretty much already screwed up any gig like that for your boys.

But the elder Le Batard wasn't shy about showing off his footwear to boot on the air. He proudly stated he bought his shoes at Payless for a just a few bucks, then took one of them off and displayed it front, center, and pee-yew on the air.

And Air Papis were born.

Not sure, but that just might rank right up there with Ricky Ricardo's Baba Loo, which didn't make a whole helluva lot of sense either as a theme song.

But ya gotta love it....

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jim Harbaugh, UM, and the Italian trip

Well gee, it's just great to see head coach Jim Harbaugh and his Michigan Wolverine football squad touring Italy. Nothing wrong with rounding out the world education of apish linemen and more than a few others that likely couldn't pass an eighth grade equivalency exam given ten tries. Or maybe there is something wrong indeed.

To wit -- who's paying for this? If it's Harbaugh out of his own pocket, everything is fine and dandy. To be sure, the dude can certainly afford it. After all, he's knocking down $9 million a year, the highest salary in all of football, NFL coaches included.

And what might it cost to take an entire team overseas for a week or two of fun and entertainment, along with coaches, trainers, other staff, and the like?

It probably involves 80+ players. Add in the others and the total is most likely well over a 100.

Now start thinking about air fare, so many first class motel rooms, buses or other transportation to haul them around, and let's not forget feeding a few tons of hungry athletes would be on the pricey side as well.

Add it all up and what do you have as a total tab? Likely at least a half million, maybe much more. These guys aren't exactly doing this trip economy style, ya know?

But what do you think the chances are that Harbaugh is paying for all this? Probably about the same odds are Hillary has of winning an Electoral recount of the last Presidential election. In other words, not good. Ain't happening.

Thing is, as mentioned above, a million or so is nothing Harbaugh couldn't afford. Besides, his tax people would likely find a way to write it off. That is, if, as a 1%-er, he pays any taxes to begin with. The IRS codes can be funny, or maybe not, that way.

Nevertheless, SOMEBODY has to pay for all this. Is it the university? More than likely so.

And that's just flat-out wrong.

Eventually, such boondoggles as this get passed down to, yep, the consumers, fans, and even non-athlete students.

That might involve a hike in the already high tuition rates, or ticket prices for games going up -- again. Let's also not forget the vast majority of the football players are already there on "full ride" scholarships. They and their parents don't have to pay anything out of pocket. They get all the perks and none of the bills.

Looked at from that perspective, one could certainly argue running up a several hundred thousand dollar tab so the "haves" can have and enjoy even more is not only excessive, but downright arrogant.

Dang. The Maize and Blue folks and jocks being perceived as pompous and thinking they're above the hoi-polloi of the ignorant masses.

Who ever could have imagined such a thing?


PS. Maybe somebody should take the time to remind the UM legions that there ARE no wolverines in the entire state of Michigan, and haven't been in a long long time -- save for those in zoos.

Just a thought.....

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Jabrill Peppers and the drug tests

Uh oh, on the eve of the NFL draft, Michigan player Jabrill Peppers has tested "positive". Per their usual hysterical ways, the talking heads are up in arms over such a drastic development. Holy A-Rod, run up the red flags, form a Senate sub-committee to study the matter, and put all the NFL draft rooms on DefCon 1 status. This is some very serious stuff. Or is it?

A logical question might seem to be -- just WHAT, pray tell, did he test positive for?

Could it be alcohol? Weed? Cocaine? Crack? Meth?  PCP?  LSD? Roids? Human growth hormone?

Turns out, it was none of the above. Oh no. Peppers got on the drug police radar, and will have to enter the dreaded "program", because he submitted a diluted urine sample. A guy that drank too much water, which most every medical professional would recommend to keep an athlete hydrated during intense workouts, or flushing his system recovering from an illness, is now perceived to be some kind of shady character. Horrors!! He could use such a nefarious tactic to "mask" other drug abuse. So sayeth the substance abuse police. Good grief.

In other words, he tested positive for being overly negative. When a guy gets slammed as guilty for being too innocent, the current drug testing protocol is definitely out of control.

Here's an idea. Create a panel of at least semi-sane people to drug test the sadistic lunatics that keep coming up with these insane "heads you lose, tails you lose even worse" rules and regulations. And put THEM in a program. One can't fault the talking heads. After all, they just sensationalize any little thing they can get hold of, until the next "big scoop" comes around in a day or two. Tis merely the nature of the ignorant beasts.

Consuming too much water will get a guy busted these days? REALLY???

On the other hand, perhaps we should be thankful dear Jabrill didn't test positive for something else. Like a pregnancy exam.

Now THAT would have been big news. Especially if Caitlyn was the father. Pretty good thoroughbred athletic blood lines for the kid, but good luck with the little tyke trying to sort THAT out as he/she/it made its way through school growing up. Oh yeah, it could be worse -- a LOT worse.

In other news, the Golden State Warriors seem to be back on another roll. They easily dispatched the Portland Trail Blazers in a four game sweep. But they also showed a disgusting lack of class during the closing game -- in Portland.

Already ahead by 25 points or so with the game hopelessly out of reach, some on the Warriors bench reverted back to primal mode. They were jumping up and down and screeching like chimpanzees on 'roids celebrating a teammate's dunk. This is blatant "rubbing it in your face" stuff, and there is never a need -- or place for it.

They could have acted like the so-called professionals they are, and merely went about their business eliminating an inferior team. But no, they had to get stupid about it.

Well OK. They likely just made 20,000 or so lifetime enemies of those that were in attendance in the Portland arena, and it was all totally unnecessary.

It is curious to note this debacle happened in the first game GS head coach Steve Kerr was out with on-going back problems. Would Kerr have tolerated such a display of blatant childishness? Probably not. But he was replaced by one Mike Brown, an assistant.

Let's not forget this was the same Mike Brown that got ran out of Cleveland a few years ago when he couldn't deliver a championship. Then went to the LA Lakers as head coach, and was quickly fired from there as well. Back to Cleveland for another go-round. Yep, broomed again for incompetence.

And now he's the #2 man on the bench at Golden State? What could their front office POSSIBLY have been thinking by hiring this proven loser?

Maybe somebody should drug test THEM. Or HIM, for allowing the players to act in such a way.

Talk about out of control.....

Couldn't hurt.....

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Respecting the national anthems

Though yours truly is not necessarily a hard-core flag-waving, rah-rah type, I most certainly have always respected the national anthems of not only my country, but others. True, it's only a song and accompanying lyrics, but it means a lot to citizens of various nationalities. And well it should. Much like their flag, this is a symbol of their identity.

The recent Colin Kaepernick brouhaha aside (whereby he has refused to stand for his own country's anthem -- and yes -- he has every right to do so), nobody seems to have carried on the tradition better than the NHL.

For the purposes of this argument, we'll only discuss two anthems, those of Canada and the USA. After all, these are the only two countries that have teams participating in the NHL. There are times when only one is played before a game. If it's two Canadian teams meeting each other, there's no purpose in playing the American anthem. And vice-versa. Yet there are also times when both are played, when an American team faces off against a Canadian one, regardless of which country it happens in. Seems fair enough.

But how much do most people actually know about the history of these anthems and how they came about to be what they are today? Let's start with the Star Spangled Banner.

Most everybody attributes this to Francis Scott Key. They would be half right. Key penned the lyrics in 1814, while watching the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. This was during the War of 1812, which lasted until 1815. But Key never wrote a note of the music we know today that goes along with it. He was a poet, not a composer.

The accompanying music came along much later, date officially unknown, and is generally attributed to one John Stafford Smith, an Englishman, of all things. The Star Spangled Banner, with Key's words and Smith's music would become the official anthem of the United States in 1931, oddly enough as it was in the depths of the Great Depression. The very fact that Smith was a Brit might likely explain why he has never been given his due credit.

On that note, it could also be argued that most Americans are much more aware of the melody than the actual words. Everybody can hum it, but many struggle with the lyrics. So who was the most note-worthy half of this creation indeed? Key continues to get all the credit, but it hardly seems fair to Smith.

O Canada has even more mysterious roots. A French-Canadian named Calix Lavallee is given credit for writing the music circa 1880. Another F/C named Adolphe-Basile Routhier penned the original lyrics -- in French. The words changed a bit here and there over the years back then. Yet what most folks know as the English lyrics, which have NOT changed, were written by, yep, another Brit named Robert Stanley Weir in 1908.

However, it was not Canada's official national anthem until quite some time later. Being (still) a British Commonwealth, much debate ensued over the decades between O Canada and God Save the Queen as to which should be their national song. This was not officially decided until as recently as 1980. We know which won out.

At that, the NHL stands heads and shoulders above their professional sports counterparts when it comes to renditions of the anthems being sung before games. The hockey folks won't tolerate some of the nonsense that has been witnessed before baseball, football, or basketball contests over the years.

Obviously, this is much more prevalent in America. It seems many of their leagues and teams have trotted out "entertainers" to perform the anthems -- and butchered them something awful. It was always, and remains highly disrespectful.

Who can forget folks like Jose Feliciano and others jazzing it up? Or Roseanne Barr grabbing her crotch? Others have been trotted out that couldn't even remember the lyrics, or were tone deaf. Rock and movie stars, kids of politicians, you name it, and it seems the anthems are up for bids to whoever can make the biggest splash of the day. This is, and has always been, horribly wrong.

The lyrics and musical notes haven't changed one bit in the last few decades. It's just egotistical wannabes trying to show off, while at the same time slapping an entire nation in the face by abusing their national song.

As mentioned above, it continues to happen at baseball, football, and basketball games. But not in the NHL. These people, God bless em, have the sense to be much more respectful.

Earlier tonight, yours truly was sports channel surfing and came upon a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Out came a man named Daniel Rodriguez to sing both anthems. I had never heard of him. But holy cow, did he put on a performance. Without even the benefit of background music, like the organ every arena has, this man did a masterful job. It was like listening to a world class operatic tenor belting out the songs. Not one missed word. Every note hit perfectly, especially the high ones. No jazzing it up, just flat-out nailing them.

As also mentioned above, I'm not one to be easily moved by listening to national anthems. After all, I've heard them thousands of times -- just like most sports fans. But this guy was so good he gave me goose bumps. I wanted to stand up from my familiar couch-tater spot and salute SOMETHING.

Thing is, Mr. Rodriguez just did it the way it should always have been done. He gave a modest smile when he first walked out on the ice, proceeded to do both national anthems proud with his renditions, then another modest smile before he walked off. No muss, no fuss, and no showing off for his own ego. He had a job to do and he did it in a world-class way. Period.

I don't know who ever won that game between Montreal and NY, because I got busy doing other things. But I won't soon forget Daniel Rodriguez singing the anthems. Bravo indeed sir. You were a class act and the sports world could use a lot more folks like you IN it, instead of the rum-dums it and their fans keeps being subjected to.

Currently, Colin Kaepernick remains an unsigned free agent, in no-man's land, as it were. Many have speculated as to why. CK wants to be a starter. That likely eliminates at least half the teams who are already set. Others might be looking to draft a QB this year. Given his recent dismal performances at San Fran, still others might think he's no good any more. And likely more than a few don't want the media circus that would surely come with signing dear Colin. Right or wrong, he's made himself a bit "radioactive" by his anthem antics.

But it's likely that after the smoke has cleared from this year's draft and free agent merry-go-round, some team will give him a shot.

At that point, I would offer them a suggestion.

Before the first game when the national anthem is about to be sung, trot out Daniel Rodriguez to do the honors. Pay him whatever he wants, although a man like him obviously puts style and substance before the almighty buck. This is generally referred to as "class".

And if HE can't get Kaepernick up off that knee with his goose-bump inducing singing, then it ain't never gonna happen. Though CK may have a point regarding certain injustices in the USA, he also forgets it is the very same country that provided him with a venue to become rich and famous as a football star. This would not have been possible in any other nation on earth. Well, OK, maybe Canada, with their CFL, but to a much lesser degree than what America and the mighty NFL has always offered.

Then go ahead and cut him, because anybody with that narrow a mindset is likely only going to be more trouble later......

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cutting to the Tiger chase

To some, it's big news that Tiger Woods has had yet another back operation. It shouldn't be. The proverbial fork had already been stuck in his pro golfing career. He was as done as your typical Thanksgiving day turkey.

This time he's out for at least another six months, as in the rest of the 2017 PGA season, but it doesn't matter. At his age, Woods has about as much chance of making a miraculous comeback on tour as Bill O'Reilly does of winning a Senate seat in blue states like New York or California. Forget that. Ain't gonna happen.

Here's what nobody seems to have noticed. This is the FOURTH such procedure to fix a disc problem in Eldrick's back. Well then. He just might want to consider getting himself a new surgical team. Good grief, if they've already had three whacks at it and couldn't get it right -- something's obviously wrong with this picture. And hey, we're talking about a golfer, not a mixed martial arts cage fighter. All Tiger has to do is swing golf clubs and stroll on magnificent golf courses while a caddy carries his bag, not get body slammed by an opponent in the Octagon. There's getting in shape, and then there's getting in SHAPE. Quite a difference.

Once upon a time, before he crashed and burned, few would doubt that Woods had the greatest decade in pro golf of all time. He was winning seemingly everything and appeared a lock to pass Jack Nicklaus's all-time major mark of 18. But crash and burn he did. Woods hasn't been even remotely competitive in recent years. Win a major? Pshaw. He was lucky to make a cut.

Though he was certainly a terrific golfer from, say, the late 90s to about the time Obama first won the Presidency in 2008, an argument can certainly be made that he came along at just the right time when the competition wasn't so ferocious. Consider....

The "old guard" of the previous generation was either gone or rapidly approaching seniordom. This would include such players as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd, Tom Kite, and a few others.

The "next generation" of young guns was yet to appear on the world stage. They currently include such players as Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rory McElroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, and a few others as well.

Through no fault of his own, Woods came into his heyday in the "tweener" years between great generations of linksters.

Had he been born earlier, could he have been as dominant when the old guard was in their prime? Maybe.

Had he been born later, could he keep up with all the young guns currently on tour? Maybe.

Or maybe not in both cases. Granted, it's a moot argument that has no definite answer, and people can debate it forever after, but it's worth noting the timing of his ascension to greatness, and the players that were no longer there, or hadn't yet grown up to become what they are.

The competition out there these days, especially in major tournaments, is absolutely brutal. So many phenomenal players going at it.

So while it's fair to acknowledge Tiger Woods for what he once was, it's also fair to say fate smiled on him a bit regarding timing.

Idle thought --- Dustin Johnson is currently the #1 ranked golfer in the world. He's certainly earned it. He's also married to Paulina (nee) Gretzky, daughter of Wayne, arguably the greatest hockey player of all time.

So here's the deal. That's some pretty serious thoroughbred blood lines going on for whatever kids they might have.

Nobody knows which sports their young-uns may pursue several years hence, if any.

But if they do, the guess here is they'll be REALLY good at it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hitting on the NBA

Well OK, go ahead and give Russell Westbrook of the Okla City Thunder his MVP award for being the only player since Oscar Robertson to average a "triple double" for the season.

But Oscar's teams never won anything. Nor will the current Thunder. No way are they getting past the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. Russell can do this and Russell can do that, but one-trick ponies in the playoffs won't get it done, especially when that colt can't be bothered to play any sort of serious defense. Lebron James was "all that" too in his earlier days with the Cavs, but they never got over the hump either.

So give Westbrook a bazillion dollars, a huge trophy, endorsements galore, and tell him to be happy. But he'll never get anywhere near a championship.

Few would have thought it not long ago, but Doc Rivers, head coach of the LA Clips, might just have his head on the chopping block soon. If LA's "other" team can't get past the Utah Jazz in the opening round of the playoffs, and they currently trail, it might just have serious consequences for Old Man Rivers.

Let's remember, this is the same team that former owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell. Enter one Steve Ballmer, he of the fortune made in cyber land. Stevie paid the ridiculous sum of TWO BILLION dollars for a franchise that likely wasn't worth HALF that. Somewhere the other Donald still likely chuckles.

Yet the Clips had acquired some talent -- sort of. Chris Paul was supposed to be a superstar. Blake Griffin another. Let's not forget DeAndre Jordan. Though he gets to the line often, we won't dwell on the fact the latter shoots free throws with a little less finesse than your average blind man could navigate his way around the Indy 500. Not pretty.

Charles Barkley once put it exactly right. When your best player (Chris Paul) is only 6 foot tall or less, you have ZERO chance of winning a championship.

Some might claim Isiah Thomas of the late 80s Detroit Pistons contradicts that theory. He and his fellow "Bad Boys" won back-to-back championships. But though Zeke got most of the press, he wasn't their best player. That was Joe Dumars, his fellow guard, who stood several inches taller, but kept a low profile. And Joe wasn't much into smooching opponents at center court either, like Isiah seemed to have a penchant for with Ervin "Magic" Johnson. What was up with that anyway? Can you imagine Larry Bird and Michael Jordan sharing a little spit? Me neither.

At any rate, look for the Clips to get bounced out of the playoffs pretty quick -- because they always do. They might be the best team in their own building, which isn't saying much given the pitiful state of the LA Lakers, but these guys have about as much chance as making it through the formidable Western Conference gauntlet to the Finals, let alone winning it, as the Detroit Lions do of hoisting the Lombardi trophy as Super Bowl winners any year soon. Forget that. It ain't happening. Period.

Will Doc survive when they do? Hard to say. He's always had a good line of bull and if Ballmer was crazy enough to pony up two billion for this second rate team in the first place -- who knows what he might do next? And he's not exactly helping his own intellectual image by spazzing it up in the stands cheering for his boys. Revenge of the nerds is one thing. But going all Urkel on 'roids in public is quite another. C'mon dude, get a grip.

Idle thought --- Am I the only person that finds the afternoon line-up of ESPN shows as difficult to watch as, say, crunching on a broken glass salad loaded with hot sauce and trying to digest it?

Rachel Nichols and Michelle Beadle yapping away. Hey guys, despite the paycheck, how'd ya like to go home to THAT every night? Brrr. Throw in the Stevie/Max match-up of ranting half wits and my "first take" is that these guys could turn the Pope into a suicide bomber if he watched enough of their daily hyperventilating dialogue over the mundane.

One show features a former scribe from a Detroit newspaper. This dude could fairly be said to have the perfect face for -- radio. Not a pretty sight on big screen HD. Whoa. But he always thinks he's the smartest person in the room. Thing is, he might be, given the co-panelists that are there with him every day. A sorry state of affairs indeed.

C'mon, 4-letter folks. FOX just broomed O'Reilly. Once in a great while he could utter something semi-intelligible. But you keep putting THESE clowns on the air every day? Is that the best you can do? REALLY?

Bottom line. The only thing worse than the obvious stupidity that many ridiculously over-paid professional athletes keep regularly showing us -- has got to be the talking heads and scribes that keep fawning over them with their coverage making them out to be some kind of heroes.

Ah yes, it's the American way. Kind of like evicting a family from their home to build a new stadium for a billionaire team owner, then zapping them with a millage or tax to help pay for it.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Paul George gambit

NBA fans know Paul George is a forward for the Indiana Pacers. They're currently in a playoff series battling the defending champ Cleveland Cavaliers. And they've lost a couple of close games at Cleveland. The only surprise should be the games were close to begin with. The chances of the Pacers knocking off the Cavs in a 7 game series? Zero.

But George has been the focus of much news. Maybe he should have taken the last shot in Game One instead of passing the ball to a teammate that missed it.

Now George is calling out his teammates, specifically one Lance Stephenson, for not having enough "mental focus" in Game Two, another close loss.

Bottom line? This series will be over in five games -- max. And George likely knows that.

Yet why would he ruffle the feathers of not only his teammates, but likely the Indy front office as well with such comments to the press? Prez Larry Bird likely isn't too pleased with such publicity.

Turns out, George is a southern California native, so maybe he's angling for a trade to a west coast team, specifically the Lakers. True, the Lakers stink far worse than the Pacers, and he'd have to accept less money playing in LA-LA land than in Hoosierville. But dang, he'd be in the midst of all the glitz, movie stars, rappers, etc., that come along with playing there. And does it really make that much difference whether a hoopster is knocking down $20 million or $15 million a year? It's still a ridiculous amount of money for playing a stupid game. And who not named Mike Tyson can possibly spend that much money every year anyway?

Also true is he'd never get anywhere closer to an NBA championship ring with the Lakers than he will with the Pacers. The western conference is absolutely brutal these days given the likes of Golden State, San Antonio, and Houston. But hey, he'd be back home, where the weather is a whole lot better during the winter months of the NBA season with parties and night life galore to enjoy. Not too much of that is going to happen in Indianapolis.

Is Larry Bird paying attention? Does he care? Will he make a move? All unknown.

But George isn't exactly known for being stupid either.

So it might just be that there's a method (or ulterior motive) to his seeming madness after all.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out when the Pacers' season is over -- which will likely be within the next week.

Stay tuned......

Monday, April 17, 2017

Detroit Tigers. Reality check

At last look, the Detroit Tigers sat atop the AL central division with an 8-4 record. Are they that good? Nope, not a chance.

Some of their local scribes have said the Tigers are getting timely contributions from somewhat unlikely sources. That would be an understatement, to say the least. Let's look a little deeper----

Regarding hitting -- Alex Avila leads the pack with a whopping .700 average. But he's only been to bat 10 times. This is what happens when their "regular" catcher, one James McCann is hitting a paltry .143. Let's not forget that Avila is the son of one-time assistant (now full-time) GM Al Avila. Given his dismal performances in years past, it's questionable whether he'd make the roster of any other major league team. Nepotism, anyone?

Always weak-hitting "utility" player Andrew Romine has a grand total of one home run and 4 RBIs. They came on the same swing, a most improbable grand slam home run that won a game for the Tigers.

Among full-time players, shortstop Jose Iglesias has the highest batting average of .256. But like Oklahoma and tornadoes, or California and earthquakes, you just know Jose isn't going to last the season health-wise. Something will go wrong with his legs, because it always does. And though he's a slick fielder, he's never been much of a hitter either.

On that note, J.D. Martinez has yet to play a single game. He remains out with still ANOTHER injury. The man can hit on the rare occasions he's healthy, but also remains a defensive liability in right field.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the back side of his career bell curve and currently hitting. 222.

Likewise former fearsome slugger Miguel Cabrera. Though a triple-crown winner just a couple years back, his best years are behind him as well.

Victor Martinez is over 40, and can anybody even remember when he was capable of fielding a position? One can time his speed on the basepathes with a sundial. Let's just say he's not exactly fleet of foot. Could he play for anybody else? Hmmm. BTW, he's batting a plankton-esque .195. This is a "designated hitter"? Really? If he's no good at anything else and now can't hit either -- what good is he?

Though locals keep hoping and praying third baseman Nick Castellanos will bloom into a star, he appears destined for long time journeyman status. OK at his position, nothing great, but passable, not much speed, and he's batting .220.

The Tigers still haven't solved their centerfield problem. Tyler Collins appears to be the best they've been able to come up with (though he'd likely be in AA or AAA ball for most teams), and even HE got an improbable key hit to win a game.

Maybe their one-time established "stars" will break out and come through again. Or maybe they won't. Father Time continues to work against them. But counting on offensive contributions from they likes of Romine, Avila, Collins, and Iglesias happening on a regular basis is fool's gold.


One-time ace Justin Verlander is no spring chicken either. Last time out, he got lit up like the proverbial pinball machine. His ERA is approaching .600. Not good. Plus, he's lost a couple MPH on his once fearsome fastball. What many haven't noticed is he's either lost the ability or confidence to throw his once devastating split-finger pitch. Though he can still get it done on many occasions, opposing hitters hardly fear him any more. An average heater mixed in with a cut-fastball (hard curve) are only going to get him so far as opposing hitters continue to figure him out and wait on certain pitches they KNOW will be coming. Things won't get any better for JV as time marches on.

Michael Fullmer had a marvelous season as a rookie. Yet he's now been around the league once and the element of surprise is gone. He's been studied and diagnosed like every other pitcher. Will the sophomore jinx rear up and bite him? Or is he the real deal that has staying power? Nobody knows. It could go either way.

Young Jordan Zimmerman shows some promise, but the jury's still out on him as well. He could rightfully be classified as a "keep your fingers crossed" prospect.

Much the same could be said about Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, and Daniel Norris. Maybes, and maybe nots.

Anibal Sanchez had one truly fantastic year. That's the good news. The bad news is the Tigers signed him to an extension for a ridiculous salary and he's been a bust ever since. Sanchez can't get ANYBODY out these days.

The Tigers keep wanting to believe Francisco Rodriguez is a quality reliever, though most objective pundits strongly disagree. His nickname is K-Rod. Maybe that's because he makes about a thousand bucks for every pitch the throws. The actual results have been a mixed bag.

They tried and tried with fireballer Bruce Rondon, but he appears to be a bust as well. If a pitcher can't throw strikes, it doesn't matter what the MPH is.

They even had a guy names Cuevas on the pitching staff. He pitched a whole third of one inning, getting bombed. His ERA is a mind-boggling 108. That's right, over a hundred. Cuevo, Cuevas, same thing. Too much of that stuff will make you crazy in short order.

Bottom line.

The glass half-fullers will continue preaching optimism, because they're politically correct and that's all they know -- or at least dare to say. The Tigers are a playoff contender and could actually accomplish great things this season if most things go right.

But the reality is, the Tigers are nowhere near as good as their early record suggests. Besides the window rapidly closing on any chances of glory soon, they don't have much help on deck down in the minor leagues either. They traded most of those prospects away in recent years past in the "go for it" mode, but never got there.

"Timely contributions" from unlikely sources leading to wins this year is one way to put it.

Another would be --

Smoke and mirrors.

Don't look for it to last.......

Saturday, April 15, 2017

You know something's wrong when......

Your not-so-average neuro or open-heart surgeon makes less money than a basketball player. True, these docs are well paid, but not like the hoopsters. Consider -----

To become a neurosurgeon, one has to go through four years of pre-med at a university. If their grades are good enough, maybe they'll get accepted into med school. Four more years of intense study.

Then typically a five year residency where they work ridiculous hours learning their craft even more. Follow that up with at least a few more years of becoming the "specialists" they finally wind up to be. By that time, they're at least in their early to mid-thirties before they're "full-fledged".

On the other hand, many pro basketball players only do one year in college. In the cases of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, they never set foot on a campus of higher learning. Straight to the NBA from high school.

Enter multi-million dollar guaranteed contracts and lucrative endorsements galore. Cha-ching after cha-ching.

Surgeons typically don't get many endorsements -- like shoe contracts. And you don't see them making moronic TV commercials either hawking some other product or products.

Thing is, a lot of these cagers likely couldn't pass an eighth grade equivalency exam given 10 tries. But dammit, they can shoot, or rebound, or dribble, and lord knows, all hail the almighty dunk. The talking heads can never seem to get enough of it, though most all players can do it. It's like a 6 inch putt in golf. Lots of different ways to go about it, but it's pretty much automatic, and only if one blows it is it noteworthy. The difference? You won't see pro golfers pounding their chests and screaming, much less hanging on the rim of the cup, not to mention dancing and trash talking when they drain a six incher. This is not a big deal.

Another noteworthy difference is potential liability. If a brain surgeon messes up bad, somebody might die or wind up a vegetable. They would certainly be sued for millions of dollars, perhaps even suspended from practicing for a while. Kiss their income good-bye while waiting and hoping on a favorable result from the powers that be. Nothing guaranteed about that.

If a basketball player messes up bad, he might get sat down on the bench for a while, but he'll keep collecting his whopper paychecks, and nobody's going to haul him off to court.

A whole lot of fans know famous basketball players by name. The hoopsters love to tweet and get their mugs on TV. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Unless it involved one of those pesky domestic incidents or had something to do with illegal drugs and/or driving drunk. Then, maybe not-so-good pub.

What do you think would happen to a neurosurgeon if he beat his wife/girlfriend (or husband/boyfriend -- it happens) and got thrown in the slammer? Or got caught with drugs, illegal weapons, or clubbing it up somewhere, crack pipe in hand? This would spell big trouble, and possibly be career-ending.

Not so much for an NBA player. They might get a reprimand from the league, maybe even be suspended for a game or two, but hardly the end of the world as they know it.

We've often seen basketball players "flop", trying to draw a foul. This tactic likely wouldn't work so well for a neurosurgeon in the OR when things didn't go exactly to plan. Having the head doc, pun sorta intended, writhing on the floor twitching and screaming wouldn't be much help to the poor devil lying on the table with his/her skull opened up. His/her nurses in attendance, and later superiors would most definitely not approve of such behavior. And god help the doc if the patient's lawyers ever found out about it.

Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors has been known to deliver thunderous kicks to the groin of a opponent. Can you imagine a neuro-surgeon booting one of his associates in the cajones if they were a bit slow in the OR? Not me. That likely wouldn't play so well.

[On that note,we could discuss starting pitchers that only have to work once every 5 or 6 days and have no other skills other than throwing a baseball. Or designated hitters that can't field a position, run, or throw. Or apish defensive linemen in the NFL who only know two words -- get quarterback. Or a few others. Most of them get paid more than brain surgeons too, but that's a column for another day.]

Fans may be disappointed if the jocks don't come through and their team falls short.

But not nearly as much as they would be if they had a brain malfunction and the neurosurgeon had a "bad game" while they were the ones getting their heads carved open.

So somebody tell me one more time.

Why do basketball players, and lots of other athletes for that matter, often dumber than the proverbial bricks, get paid so much more than highly trained medical specialists?

Friday, April 14, 2017

As the NBA turns

Phil Jackson, aka "triangle" Zen Master, is likely right when he says Carmelo Anthony would be better off playing for another team rather than the Knicks PJ has overseen in recent years.

Sure, Anthony played his college hoops at an upstate university (Syracuse) in New York state, and no doubt has loved all the attention that comes with playing pro hoops in the Big Apple.

But he's approaching 33 years of age. Not exactly a geezer, but definitely on the down side of his career as cagers go. There is little doubt Carmelo is a wonderfully gifted offensive player. The dude can definitely score. But there's also little doubt he regards playing any sort of defense like a typical politician would being completely honest. It just isn't in the cards. Ain't never gonna happen.

Thing is, Anthony has a no-trade clause built into his current mega-contract. The Knicks can't move him without his permission. There is also ZERO doubt yon Knicks won't be anywhere near championship contenders any year soon. So what are their options regarding Carmelo? Sit him in favor of playing younger players and trying to get better for the future? They could do that, but Phil Jackson, being a white guy, would likely be accused of some sort of racism by benching a man of color. And it would seem to be pretty stupid to keep paying Anthony his millions while not even utilizing him for what he IS capable of.

A dilemma indeed, but hey, it's the Knicks with that Dolan guy still running the show. Lots of dollars but little sense.

Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder appears to be the favorite for MVP this year. See Russell as the only player since Oscar Robertson to average a "triple double" for the entire season. See Russell talk a lot of trash and dress like a pimp off the court. See the Thunder crash and burn when the playoffs start. One trick ponies just won't get it done in the post season. This is what happens when they somehow let mega-talents like James Hardin and Kevin Durant get away to free agency to the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors respectively. One of those teams will likely be the one that zaps the Thunder in the next few weeks.

See the Detroit Pistons play their final game at the Palace, still not only a totally functional arena, but also a world-class facility. Their relatively new owner, one Tom Gores, bought the Palace (which was already long since paid for) along with the team. See Gores pour $10-15 million into upgrades at the Palace. See Gores turn around and move his team to the dregs of downtown Detroit, where he'll have to pay rent at the new Little Caesar's arena. It leaves one to wonder -- how in the world did this guy get so rich in the business world in the first place? Hello?

See the Palace sit quite empty from now on. This is the venue where the Pistons experienced their brief bouts of success, including three NBA championships. Now, as bottom feeders, they're going to join their counterpart bottom-feeding NHL team, the Detroit Red Wings, in a brand new arena. It would appear the marketing people have their work cut out for them selling this two-fisted plankton tag team act.

There are those that say Detroit is being "revitalized". Perhaps, to a point. It couldn't get much worse than it was a few years ago with corruption and crime running rampant. Though they've purged many of the crooks, the "FOX" district where all four Detroit professional teams play could be compared to the "Green Zone" in Iraq. A lot of money has been poured into it to pretty it up and it's relatively safe. But venture far in any direction is to take one's life in their hands. The blight and lawlessness are still in full force lurking just outside the perimeter. Who's kidding who?

Many, including yours truly, thought the Golden State Warriors might tank a bit when superstar Kevin Durant went out with a leg injury a while back. Au contraire. They once again wrapped up home court advantage throughout the playoffs. But they had that last year and somehow managed to blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals to the Cavaliers. Now Durant is ready to come back. How will this play out? That's one helluva good question. No idea.

At that, the Lebron and the Cavs themselves have looked very vulnerable in recent times. Good grief, they're not even the best team in the East, at least according to the regular season final standings. The Celtics passed them by for home court advantage. The Cavs seem to be having a chemistry problem of their own, as in playing team defense like Carmelo. In other words, they've been on cruise control and not willing to do the hard work necessary.

Will they pull it back together for the playoffs? Probably. Lebron's not getting any younger either and is likely approaching the back side of his career bell curve, but who would dare count them out?

As for Boston, they're not ready to seriously contend for a championship yet -- even if they can get by the Cavs in the playoffs, which is doubtful, home court or not. Whoever emerges from the brutal west would be heavily favored to make short work of the Beaners in the Finals, should they somehow manage to get that far.

But no mistake. Boston is coming and they'll have to be reckoned with soon, perhaps in as short a a year or two. They bit the bullet and blew up the team a few years back, shedding themselves of aging players and ridiculous contracts. Of course they predictably stunk for a while.

Yet general manger Danny Ainge had acquired mucho extra draft picks while doing so and has used them wisely to rebuild. The Celts are young, already very good, and Ainge still has a few more extra picks in the near future, which will likely reap even greater benefits down the road.

It is definitely to their credit that they finished with the best record in the East this year. Champion-worthy? Probably not. But these guys will likely be the real deal before long, and may stay among the elite for quite some time.

Unlike the Pistons, they appear to have a few brains at work in the front office.......

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The problem (and solution) of resting NBA players

Much has been made in recent times regarding certain NBA teams resting certain players as the playoffs approach.

To be fair, it is certainly understandable that a coach and his team's main objective is to win a championship. Having the players gassed when the rough and tumble playoffs roll around is not the best scenario. Sure, most of them are in great physical shape, but the limits of endurance are definitely finite. Consider---

The regular season consists of 82 games, plus a whole lot of travel. Throw in the pre-season, playoff runs, and, if it's an Olympic year, tack on a few more games for the Dream Team superstars everybody wants to see play. Instead of 82, the total is now well over 100. That's a lot of hoops.

On the other hand, it's flat out unfair to certain fans when teams decide to rest otherwise healthy players. There are those in many cities who only get one shot to see a certain team come to their town every year. Maybe it's Lebron and Co. Or Steph and the Warriors. Or Russell with OKC. Or transplanted Boston, Chicago, or Houston fans. Maybe they want to see Kawhi of the Spurs, or Carmelo of the Knicks.

Thing is, many of these fans aren't exactly wealthy. Some of them can only afford to go to one game. Given ticket prices, parking, concessions, programs and paraphernalia, it's not a stretch to think the "average" family of four shells out house payment money to go see a game. So they save up their dough for the one they prefer most, and then -- the star players they came to see aren't even going to play. It's patently unfair to them.

So no, teams should absolutely be forbidden from resting healthy players while in other cities.

If they have to do it, do it at home games. They have 41 if them during the regular season. Yet that comes with much the same problem itself. Sure, season ticket holders probably wouldn't mind too much seeing star players out of action once in a while for the overall good of the team. But what of the same "family of four" that skipped a house payment to attend just one -- and they're robbed of the opportunity to see their heroes play? That too is screwing many fans over.

It would seem to be quite the dilemma. How do you not disappoint the fans but keep your team fresh enough to endure the rigors of the playoffs? After all, the patsies are all gone in the post-season. Those games are all going to be tough.

Perhaps there's a way, if one thinks outside the box. Coaches typically know at least a day or two in advance when they're going to sit star players. That means the front office does too, and the media isn't usually far behind sniffing it out. Fans are helpless when it happens.

So here's the deal. The coach and team have to give public notice, say a minimum of twenty four hours in advance of a game, when this is going to happen. Very doable.

To compensate the fans on what they'll be missing out on -- have the team pick up the arena wide tab on certain concessions. Home stars sitting out? Free hot dogs, beer, and what passes, ugh, as nachos. The concessionaires keep track of their sales and submit a bill to the team. How much could that cost? A million or two at most? Chump change for billionaire owners. Hey, if they can pay a player $20 million a year that shoots free throws like Stevie Wonder, they can certainly afford to pony up a couple more mill to keep those in attendance somewhat placated. And their bean counters would no doubt figure a way to write it off on their taxes anyway.

So by all means rest the players when they deem it prudent -- but at home games only.

And ya gotta give the fans something back as well for the inconvenience and disappointment you put them through.

Problem solved.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fantastic lies

Earlier this evening, yours truly watched a one-hour special broadcast on the 4-letter sports network. It was called "Fantastic Lies".

It's now been a decade since one of the most egregious and sinister miscarriages of justice was foisted upon innocent young men. This would be the Duke lacrosse team/rape allegations back in 2007.

After a party, and what college jocks don't party?, a young lady (and I use that term loosely) came forward with accusations that she had been sexually assaulted by some of the lacrosse players.

Enter one Mike Nifong, the prosecutor. He was running for election, but trailing in the polls, and this was a golden opportunity to sway many of the masses. After all, the guys accused were rich, privileged white boys, while the poor "victim" was a down-trodden African-American woman.

And oh boy, the media everywhere couldn't wait to jump on the bandwagon. Throw in the usual race-baiters flying in to stir the pot, legions of knee-jerk arm-chair prosecutors across the land, mix well, and we had a regular situation on our hands here.

Crucify them, became the rallying cry. How DARE they?

Thing is, it turned out to all be based on a series of fantastic lies indeed. Nifong himself would later be found to having not only withheld relevant evidence of innocence, but also having played fast and loose with what little he had. In other words, distorting it in favor of guilt. In particular, DNA testing.

It's no secret that prosecutors typically use a "state" DNA lab that will return findings in their favor. But this time these results were double checked by an impartial source and found to be seriously flawed. There was none -- ZERO -- evidence any of these boys had had their way with the "victim", much less against her wishes.

However, yon victim, being an admitted "erotic dancer" (see call girl, lady of the evening/prostitute), WAS found to have over TEN male samples of DNA either in or on her left by "unknowns" when she was examined. Well gee, how could that have happened? Busy girl.

Along the way, one notorious talking head, a militant feminist former prosecutor that by her own DNA seems to think every man must be guilty of SOMETHING, had the utter gall to conclude these boys were guilty because, gosh darn it, they found some of their DNA on a bath towel in the bathroom. Evidently, it never occurred to her that taking a shower and drying oneself off with a bath towel, hence leaving DNA evidence, is a far cry from sexual assault. But she looked straight in the camera and declared it to be so. Hang em high. The truly scary part was -- a lot of people bought into such nonsense.

Thankfully, the lacrosse players had the means to retain highly qualified defense counsel. Many citizens in the same situation would not have this luxury. They would be swept under the deluge of outcry from the ignorant and racist, convicted, and sent off to a dungeon somewhere for a very long time.

Also along the way, the detective sergeant in charge of taking the victim's statement and matching up the identities of her "assailants" to people in the real world did a very curious, and corrupt thing as well. Her descriptions didn't match any of the boys that stood accused. Yet when the sergeant's report was filed -- presto -- he had rewritten it to match them entirely.

Eventually, objective and non-biased minds got involved, probed deeper, and the whole thing was exposed as the fraud it had been since the beginning. The lacrosse players had done NOTHING wrong.

Yet their lives had been ruined for over a year going through the torture chamber that had been fabricated against them. A once destroyed reputation is a tough thing to fully restore even when one has been fully vindicated. There will always be the idiots that cling to the "must be guilty of SOMETHING" mantra.

So OK, the always innocent players reached an out-of-court settlement with Duke for having suspended them in the first place. A few bucks to ease the pain couldn't hurt, but the university should have known better than to jump to such a wild conclusion in the first place. Don't they have a reputable law school there? Well then. One would think they would give their own the same presumption of innocence until proven guilty that has been the bedrock (though recently much abused) of the American jurisprudence system since the founding fathers laid it out there centuries ago. Hello?

Mike Nifong would win his election but quickly be hauled before the bar/courts on charges of gross misconduct while the prosecutor on this case. He would not only have to resign in shame, but also be subsequently disbarred from ever practicing law again.

One apologist stated there can be no harsher punishment for a lawyer than being disbarred. This is total BS of course. For having done what he did to those innocent kids, Nifong should have been prosecuted himself to the fullest extent of the law, convicted of multiple felonies that he obviously committed, and imprisoned for decades -- just like he wanted to do to the boys he wrongfully prosecuted. Taking away his bar card was nothing more than a slap on the wrist given the evil he tried to perpetuate on innocent folks in the name of politics and furthering his career.

The detective sergeant, once eventually outed for the crooked cop he was, would commit suicide the following year. Good riddance.

The original accuser, one Crystal Mangum, would eventually find herself front and center in another high profile case. Apparently, she murdered her boyfriend. For that little escapade, Ms. Mangum is rightfully currently serving an 18-20 year prison sentence.

But she was never held to account for the atrocities she put those boys through. And that was wrong. She should have been jacked up on all manner of charges. Filing false police reports. Perjury. Libel, slander, etc., and ground under the so-called wheels of justice herself.

Even more apologists came forward and said the poor dear had mental issues, and was perhaps "unstable". So it couldn't be her fault, right? Bull. She was looking for a huge paycheck through a web of fantastic lies she originated in the first place. Throw those white boys away and give me a pile of money. Does that sound like the ravings of a crazy person? Who'd kidding who here?

Some of the reporters that should have known better before jumping on the guilty bandwagon eventually apologized with another column. Saying "I'm sorry" with a wink and a smile for what their parts were in this atrocity wasn't nearly good enough. They should have been immediately terminated from their places of employment and black-balled across the industry -- just like what they tried to do to those always innocent lacrosse players. If one chooses to play high-stakes games with the life reputations of others on mere speculation, they should be willing to pay the same price themselves if proven wrong.

The race baiters will never apologize to anybody for any of their obvious tactics. They quickly faded back into the woodwork once this sham of a case blew up, but no doubt will be on hand stirring the pot at the very next opportunity. And sure enough, in the ensuing decade, they've remained true to form all the while. If you want to slam dunk people for being menaces to society, this probably isn't a bad place to start.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The intrigue of the Masters

After three rounds of play at the fabled Augusta National golf course, the leader board is as follows:

Sergio Garcia at 6 under par.
Justin Rose, also at 6 under.
Rickie Fowler checking in a shot back at minus 5.
Charley Hoffman, Ryan Moore, and Jordan Spieth one more back at minus 4.
Adam Scott at minus 3.

That's seven players and one need look no further as to who will don the green jacket this year.

A Spaniard, a Brit, and an America in the top 3, all world-class golfers, would seem to have a slight edge. They're not likely to choke under the pressure of final round play.

Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore are maybes, but their collars will likely get a bit tight on the back nine on Sunday.

The Aussie Adam Scott can hardly be overlooked. He is absolutely capable of going low on Sunday to win this thing.

Jordan Spieth, at only 23 years old, is certainly well known and already among the best in the world.

Thing is, as mentioned in this space a couple days ago, dear Jordan somehow managed to absolutely butcher the par five 15th hole in his opening round into a whopping quadruple bogey 9.

Most every top professional considers par fives birdie holes. Par is something they settle for but usually aren't happy with.

Had Spieth only made a par on that one hole, instead of being two shots back at -4, he'd be two shots clear of the field at -8. This is not to count him out by any means, but like the 12th hold did him in last year in the final round, another quadruple bogey (and he still finished second), if he comes up one or two strokes short this year, he'll know exactly how, when, and why.

Given the above mentioned players and their scores, chances are slim to none anybody else in the field can pass them all by. True, somebody might go crazy and shoot a 63, but given the typical pin positions on a Sunday at Augusta, plus the pressure -- nah -- ain't gonna happen.

At least one of these guys, and maybe two or three, are going to shoot 3 or 4 under on Sunday. Especially given the weather conditions are supposed to be ideal.

Anybody more than 4 shots back to start the day is merely playing for a paycheck, not a championship.

It's a total crap shoot trying to figure out which of these players will rise to the occasion in the final round.

And wouldn't it be something if Jordan Spieth was able to overcome that quadruple on Thursday to win it after all? Could happen.

The best thing about this Masters so far? No Tiger Woods and the bazillion former highlight reels the public is force fed that typically come along with him anytime he shows up to play a tournament.

Very refreshing indeed.

There were those that said golf NEEDED Eldrick.

They were wrong. Given the world class players that keep popping up from all over the globe, the game has never been better and more exciting.

There's certainly something to be said regarding the current lack of profanity, club pounding/throwing, and on-course arrogance once exhibited by yon Eldrick and his former caddie Steve. "Out of our ways, peasants. Don't you know how to act when in the presence of royalty?"

Once again, it has become a gentlemen's game, with a touch of humility thrown in as well.

And it probably doesn't hurt that we haven't heard a peep about serial wife-cheaters on tour either in the last few years.

Imagine that.....

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Masters. Quads, 5's and yips

Nobody would question that Jordan Spieth is one of the best golfers in the world. Still only 23 years old, the young Texan has won his share of tournaments, including a green jacket at the Masters a couple years back.

He was right there for another one in 2016, but totally botched the par three 12th hole, racking up a quadruple bogie seven. It cost him the tournament.

In his opening round this year, he similarly butchered the par five 15th, posting another quadruple bogey nine. That one hole might well cost him the tournament. If he only loses by a stroke or two, just like last year, there it was. Over the course of 72 holes, one five minute bout of apparent brain freeze will have done him in.

The two par fives on the back nine at Augusta National wouldn't appear to look that tough. After all, they're a modest 510 and 530 yards in length -- quite short by PGA major tournament standards. One would think the top players in the world would rain birdies on both of them, if not several eagle 3's along the way.

So far, that hasn't been the case. Those two holes have given the players fits.

Phil Mickelson remains quite the enigma. Now in his forties, Lefty can still play with the best of them when he's on. Mickelson has repeatedly shown he's capable of one miraculous shot after another. He's got the whole bag of tricks.

Alas, a familiar Lefty nemesis has reared its ugly head again at this year's Masters. The 4-foot yips.

See Phil drop in a winding birdie putt from 30 feet. Amazing.

See Phil push a 4-footer wide left.

See Phil nail another long bomb.

See Phil pull a 3-footer wide right.

So far, Leftie has missed a handful of such short putts. Not gimmes, but to have a chance at winning the green jacket, a player has to make more of these than he misses.

He's on the leader board, still in contention by all means, and could pull it off yet. But like Spieth, if Mickelson winds up a stroke or two short when play is done on Sunday, he'll know exactly what did him in as well.

Drilling an occasional long one is both skill and a bit of luck. Gladly take them when they come, yet the odds are highly against it happening very often.

But ya gotta make the short ones.

Those dang yips have haunted Phil for what seems like forever.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The amazing Golden State Warriors

While it's true the Warrior choked away last year's Finals of the NBA, perhaps it's understandable in hindsight. Already up 3-1 with a chance to put the series to bed at home in Game 5, they found themselves without the services of one Draymond Green. Dear Draymond had finally been rightfully suspended for all those thunderous groin kicks he had delivered to opponents, notably poor Steven Adams -- who may or may not have returned to his usual tenor from the soprano he had been turned into.

The Cleveland Cavaliers would win that game and the momentum turned. Game 6 in Cleveland was no surprise as the Cavs won again. But anything can happen in a Game 7, and the Warriors never did seem to recover from the devastating Game 5 loss. Down they went, best regular season record of all time notwithstanding.

In the off season, Golden State somehow managed to acquire the services of one Kevin Durant, a superstar by any measure. Of course they had to sacrifice a lot of very good "role" players to fit KD into the salary cap structure. If not formidable before, surely they were downright scary now.

Sure enough, even give a couple of head scratching losses -- getting trashed by 20 by the woeful Lakers? -- the Warriors were back on another roll.

And then Durant went down with a knee injury. Many, including yours truly, thought that could spell big trouble for the boys from Oakland. After all, those pesky San Antonio Spurs, a perennial model of excellence themselves, remained quietly nipping at their heels. With KD out of action, it would have surprised few if Coach Pop's boys down in Alamoland overtook the Warriors for the best overall record.

Yet the Spurs have suffered a few strange losses as well, while the Warriors regrouped and went back on another tear -- sans KD.

The upshot in GS has wrapped up home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Is this a guarantee of another championship? No way. They were supposed to cruise to it last year but, as mentioned above, it didn't work out that way.

Still without Durant, the Warriors have rattled off a 13 game winning streak. Their last three regular season games are at home against teams one would think they'd defeat easily. Yet that doesn't matter. Having secured home court, they can rest players to get them ready for the playoffs -- and likely will.

And guess what? Durant's knee owie appears to have healed enough to make him healthy to play, right in time for the playoff run.

It's actually quite a dilemma. How can a guy, despite being their leading scorer and rebounder until he got hurt, improve a team that's won their last 13 in a row and appears to be unbeatable of late?

Then again, what team WOULDN'T want Durant in their line-up? The dude's still a superstar.

Sure, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson remain sharpshooters and Draymond does his usual dirty work while others contribute in their own ways. No one can doubt it's added up to great success.

But how the re-addition of KD to the line-up will affect the "chemistry" remains to be seen. He's going to want the ball a lot, which means others won't get to touch it as much.

This could turn out REALLY good -- or maybe not so good.

And wouldn't it be something if, after all the hype of Durant joining this team, they turned out to be better playing WITHOUT him than WITH him?

Who could have ever imagined that indeed?

Not likely, but not impossible either.

Given they once again have the best record and home court advantage throughout, if the Warriors fall anything short of another championship -- there will be those that start to ask a lot of tough questions about the presence of Kevin Durant.

And good luck answering them if that happens.....

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Masters par 3 contest -- and whining

It was quite a day at the Masters par 3 contest. A whopping nine -- count em -- NINE -- holes-in-one were made. By far the record. Sure, these holes are short by regular standards, typically between 70 and 140 yards but, still, a hole-in-one is a hole-in-one, dammit. In all the years I played golf, I never got one, though I was close a couple times.

Eighty year old Gary Player, the ultimate class act over the decades, managed to knock in an ace. How great was that to see?

On the same hole, both Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler got holes-in-one on back-to-back swings off the tee. Amazing.

See all the players yukking it up. See the wives and girlfriends having a great time. See the kids and grandkids sporting their spiffy white Augusta uniforms with their hero's name on the back. From five year old to eighty year old, see everybody absolutely joyous. What could be better than that?

The par 3 contest at the Masters is most definitely a feel good occasion for everybody on the course, gallery included, to the viewers at home. Who could not smile at all the pure happiness that was on display?

But things will change dramatically when the real tournament gets underway tomorrow. This is no laughing matter. Serious business and brutal competition will come into play. Everybody wants to win a green jacket.

Thing is, the whining has already started about how tough the conditions may be for the first couple days. Besides the always lightning fast greens, it's supposed to be windy as well.

To which yours truly says -- so what? Who cares what Mother Nature brings? All the contestants have to play the same holes under the same conditions, so what does it matter? Quit with the whining already about how tough it might be.

On a similar note, other than their fragile egos, what difference does it make if the winning player's score is 15 OVER par rather than 15 UNDER?

Ben Hogan once famously remarked he had brought a golf course "to its knees". Well gee, I never knew a golf course HAD knees. But if so, what's so wrong about it fighting back once in a while and bringing players to THEIR knees?

It is what it is. Play it and shut up.

Besides, a little wind can't be that tough. If they wanted to make a golf course REALLY tough, here's a few suggestions ----

Are you tired of seeing the pretty boys routinely torch par 5 holes for eagle 3's? Move the tees back -- a lot. How about one that's 800 yards? Get the Big Berthas out for that one fellows. Let's see you get THERE in 2.

Dogleg, schmogleg. How about a hole or two that requires rappelling down the side of a mountain somewhere between tee and green?

Or a par 3 that's 300 yards -- all carry over a lake. Better yet, the only way to get to the green is by canoe with that same lake well stocked with hungry alligators and hippos shot up with steroids. That would separate the men from the boys, not to mention making the inevitable "cut" a lot easier. Some of the field simply wouldn't be around for the weekend -- or forever more for that matter. Critter food. They'd have to REALLY want that green jacket to "play on".

Now THOSE would be tough conditions.

A little wind is cause for alarm?

They need to shut up, be grateful, and realize how easy they have it.

Things could be worse -- a LOT worse

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Really dumb things in boxing

Boxing and, by extension, the "mixed martial arts" we have seen so much of lately, would appear to be the only sports where nobody has a clue what the score is until it's all over. How dumb is that?

Further, it's been no secret that some "ring-side" judges over the years have gone back and changed their scores for earlier rounds in the fight later on. Only in boxing could this happen. What they saw "live" just minutes before has somehow changed in their minds when the fight is over. Amazing, not to mention a fertile ground for corruption.

It would be like keeping Olympic gymnasts' scores a secret until they're done with all their disciplines, then totaling them up covertly to -- presto -- here's your gold, silver, and bronze medal winners. How do you think that would fly?

Obviously, this sort of shadiness has never been allowed in all other sports. Baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis, golf -- you name it -- the viewer always knows EXACTLY what the score is throughout the contest.

So what would seem to be the problem with putting round by round boxing scores up on the scoreboard in the arena and hence able to be seen and known by those watching at home?

Fighters, their corner people, the fans in attendance, announcers, TV viewers, all would know who's ahead or behind, or if it's close. And it would certainly eliminate any pesky judge from changing his/her scorecard later (as if they'd been bought off by one side or the other to influence the outcome -- imagine that). If a guy is trailing by a bunch heading into the final round and needs a knockout to win, so be it. On that note, how many times have we seen matches where we just KNOW one guy has prevailed throughout, only to find out later the other guy -- surprise -- is given the win?

The entire premise has always been ludicrous.

Speaking of other dumb things in boxing -- how about the "ten point must system"? Boxing fans know that requires every ringside judge to award ten points per round to one fighter or the other. It's dumb. If they're both cruising through a round trying to save a little gas for later, why should one of them be awarded ten points? Instead of "must", make it "max". If it was a ho-hum round with little action, what's so terribly wrong with scoring it, say, 3-2, instead of 10-9?

Which brings up another dumb idea in boxing. Even guys that get pummeled and/or knocked down a couple times in a round typically always get awarded at least 8 points. Why should they? If a round was that lop-sided, score it 10-2, or 10-0, whatever. Hey, in other sports an athlete or team doesn't get points just for showing up for the next few minutes of play. They have to earn them. So again, what's the problem?

If a pugilist is getting his brains beat out after three rounds, the score shouldn't be 30-27, but rather 30-0. Good grief, we see shutouts pitched not only in baseball, but football as well. Throw in hockey. No points is no points. Even in tennis we've seen sets won 6-0. They don't give the one taking the pounding a couple games just to be politically correct. It is what it is. A beatdown. Sure, the "beatee" can sometimes come roaring back, even win. But you don't give them charity points along the way if they haven't earned them. It defies logic. Did I mention dumb?

On to more dumbness. The weight classes. Let's use three for examples, namely lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight.

In days of old, lightweights couldn't weigh more than 135 lbs. Welters no more than 147, and middles maxed out at 160.

Of course somebody saw the opportunity (see scam) to make a lot more money. The "junior" and "super" classes were created. These were "tweeners" of those three weight classes. A little too heavy for one, but not quite heavy enough to qualify for the next one, at least competitively. Every pound counts in boxing. Perhaps fair enough, but then the dumb monster raised its ugly head again.

A "super" lightweight weighs the exact same as a "junior" welterweight. A super welter the same as a junior middle. Yet they acted like these were ALL different weight classes. Throw in four or five boxing "associations" with all the pseudo weight classes and there's no end to the potential matches to be arranged. It's the same guys at the same weights, but called different names, while the shysters continue to peddle this nonsense on the public, at exorbitant pay-per-view costs, BTW.

And who is the dumbest of them all?

Those who keep clicking on and ponying up the $59.99, or $79.99 to watch what has become a hopelessly watered down sport for quite some time.

Don't believe that? Quick. Rattle off the lightweight, welterweight and middleweight champions of the world. Betcha can't. There's lot of them, plus their "junior" and "super" brethren.

And in the end, it's just plain dumb.

Couple that with the corruption, collusion, and all-around shadiness long associated with promoters of the sport and their invisible scoring system, and you have a cess pool that even politicians would turn their noses up at. How bad must THAT be?

The dumbest thing is recent years is apparently going to come to pass soon. A bout between former champ Floyd Mayweather and MMA super-star Conor McGregor.

The dumbness of this potential spectacle almost defies imagination.

But more on that later......

Monday, April 3, 2017

Carolina/Gonzaga. Early take

As this is written, it is now halftime of the national championship game and Gonzaga leads North Carolina 35-32.

Given his size, height (7' 1"), and combination of power and finesse, the Zags' Przemek Karnowski is a superior player to Carolina's Kennedy Meeks.

And Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss is arguably the best all-around point guard in the nation.

But the Heels have too many board-crashing bigs and a deeper line-up of thoroughbreds.

As much as it would be great to see tiny little Gonzaga of the northwest knock off the behemoth that is always UNC, methinks the Heels will wear them out in the latter stages of the second half to avenge the last-second loss of last year at the hands of Villanova.

We'll see.....