Monday, May 29, 2017

The Tiger Woods trainwreck

Few would doubt that, once upon a time, Eldrick Tont Woods put together the greatest decade professional golf has even seen.

This roughly coincided with the latter part of the Clinton administration, on through the George W. tenure, and briefly into the Obama years.

He was winning seemingly everything. Tiger's relentless march toward Jack Nicklaus's all-time record of 18 major titles was almost a foregone conclusion. If was not a matter of if -- but when.

During that time, incredibly, not only was Woods far and away ranked #1, but in many tournaments he was the preferred choice to win over the entire field. That, in itself, showed his utter dominance.

And then the wheels fell off.

First, we were treated to the spectacle of his wife, Elin Nordgren, a beauty by any standards, chasing dear Tiger with one of his own golf clubs. Evidently, she appeared more than eager to inflict bodily harm upon his person -- perhaps take a divot out of his head.

This is what typically happens when a wife finds out her husband has been fooling around with as many as a dozen other women on the side. They tend to be a bit touchy when it comes to such things. Go figure.

In his haste to escape, yon Tiger wound up driving his car into some shrubbery on his own property. Not a pretty sight to say the least.

By most accounts, Tiger's little sexual escapades cost him upwards of $100 million when Elin inevitably and rightfully filed for divorce. She up and moved herself and their kids back to her native Sweden.

Then his golf game fell apart. Forget winning -- Tiger got to the point where he was lucky to even make a cut.

Along the way, he had four back surgeries which, to date, don't seem to have totally fixed what ailed him. Just a thought, but he might want to consider taking his business to another team of surgeons somewhere. How many whacks should they get before they're expected to get it right?

I mean c'mon. This guy's only a golfer. He swings golf clubs, his bag is carried by a caddy, and he strolls along the most luxurious golf courses in the world. It's not like he's a mixed-martial arts fighter in the Octagon. So how hard can it be to get in shape for what he does for a living?

And now, on this Memorial Day, poor Tiger has been busted for a DUI. This happened in Jupiter, Florida, not far from his primary residence there.

Yours truly has a friend and his wife that have a place in roughly the same neighborhood as Tiger (been there a few times), and my friend expressed astonishment that Woods was busted at all. According to "Joe", Jupiter is a place where money talks. If one has enough of it, they can typically BUY their way out of any complications with law-enforcement types --see cops. Evidently, Eldrick had the misfortune of running into an honest one bent on doing the job they are sworn to. Oops.

His booking mug shot shown on TV was -- shall we say -- less than flattering. Woods appeared like he was "three sheets" indeed. But that would be jumping to conclusions.

Yet it's probably a pretty safe bet that a blood sample was taken. So far, results unknown. Remember, this was on a federal holiday, and all the government types get a paid day off. Including the lab folks that analyze such samples.

But it will shortly become a public record and the world will know just what his blood-alcohol content was. The reporters will be all over it until they get what they want and are able to broadcast it. Probably within the next day or two.

Depending on what that number comes back as will likely determine how hard Tiger is punished. Chances of jail time? Virtually zero but, at the very least, it's going to cost him a few thousand bucks (and a former sponsor or three). This is chump-change in his world, of course, but the bigger hit will come to his already not-so-good reputation.

And he's still no closer to making any sort of "comeback", which was doubtful enough even BEFORE this latest "my bad" occurrence.

[As an aside, yours truly always finds it comical when the usual arm-chair anti-alcohol puritans deign to deliver words from on high following such a scenario. They will say Woods made a dumb decision by getting behind the wheel of an automobile after having too much to drink. Well -- no kidding. Hey, if one's already "in the bag" -- see drunk -- it pretty much goes with the territory that making foolish choices is a part of it. Hello?]

Nevertheless, Eldrick Tont Woods may or may not have finally hit rock bottom with his latest charade.

Though this author was never a fan of his, even back in his hey-day -- and yes -- I can root for and against whomever I wish -- one of the few rights that hasn't yet been eroded by Big Brother -- dear Tiger seems to have checked off another box in the category of "you shouldn't have done that".

In sum, a once promising career and wild popularity has pretty much turned into a train wreck over the last several years.

Here's hoping he snaps out of it and makes something out of the rest of his life.

We shall see.......

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Green Bay Packers enigma

In the Super Bowl era, as in the last 50 years, few would doubt the Green Bay Packers have, for the most part, been the class of the NFC Central, and now Northern division. They've won several Super Bowls along the way, while their competition has come up sorely lacking.

True, the Tampa Bay Bucs of the old Central division captured one. As did the fearsome Chicago Bears in the mid 80s. The Minnesota Vikings have made it to four Super Bowls, but came up short in the big game every time.

At the bottom of the barrel resides the Detroit Lions. They are one of only four teams to never have even made it to the ultimate game, let alone winning it. The other three are Jacksonville, Houston, and the "new" Cleveland Browns -- all expansion teams. Don't forget the "old" Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens and indeed won a couple Super Bowls. The Lions continue to flounder.

Yet a half century has passed and the Lions appear to be no closer to getting to a Super Bowl than they ever have. Over the course of all that time, they've won a grand total of ONE playoff game.

Former receiver supreme Calvin "Megatron" Johnson toiled away for a decade in Detroit and never experienced a single playoff victory. Is it any wonder he retired with his body and mind still semi-intact? A couple decades ago, Hall of Famer Barry Sanders did much the same thing. Had he stuck around while still in his prime, Sanders likely would have put the all-time NFL rushing record so far out of sight it would never be approached again. But Sanders had had enough of the losing ways. A sorry testament to the Lions organization indeed.

But despite their divisional superiority over the years, the Packers pose quite the enigma. They are a team "owned" by the fans, instead of a billionaire somewhere. Being a "small market" team, and with nothing else of note sports-wise going on in Cheeserland, the waiting line to get season tickets is long indeed. Let's just say that don't have any worries about not selling out a game any time soon.

At that, it is said these thousands of "owners" can buy in, but they can't sell. It's somewhat reminiscent of the old Eagles tune Hotel California. You can check in but never leave. Perhaps a bit scary in that regard, but the Green Bay faithful don't seem to have any problem with it.

Nevertheless, it poses an interesting question. If the collective fans own the team, then who, pray tell, gets to decide who the president, general manager, and other front office personnel are? Do they have annual town hall meetings with all the "share-holders" showing up to vote on such things? And if so, how do they weigh the votes if one person holds more "shares" than the next, which is inevitable in any business enterprise? Nobody seems to know, or at least aren't willing to talk about it.

Very strange, but it seems to work.

This year the Packers are highly favored to win the division title once again. Who's going to stop them? The Bears were bad enough during the Jay Cutler era. Now even he's gone. Superstar running back Adrian Peterson has scrammed from the Vikings and their maybe/maybe not quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is coming off a serious injury. They would project to be average at best in the upcoming season.

The Lions, the epitome of the little engine that "couldn't", remain in a state of disarray. Sure, they and their snake oil peddling media will continue to hype them, because that's what they've always done. What's truly amazing is the legions of suckers in Detroit that keep buying into the same scam year, after year, after year. By God, they love their puddy-tats. In most other cities fans would have been screaming bloody murder and boycotted such a sad sack franchise eons ago. Only in Detroit could they remain optimistic. Poor misguided souls. They knoweth not, and evidently never will. Clueless.

Let's not forget the last time the Lions were relevant happened way back in the Eisenhower administration. The late 50s. Leave It To Beaver was fairly new, as was I Love Lucy. Color TV was still on the drawing board. The ill-fated Edsel, ironically enough another Ford product, was about to make its debut. The NHL was still the "original six", and the NBA had a whopping nine teams -- exactly one -- the Lakers -- west of the Mississippi. Medical procedures were barbaric by today's standards and politicians were, for the most part, honest and forthcoming. Imagine that. Hard to believe -- I know -- but it really did happen once upon a time.

A lot of things have changed since then, and mostly for the better. Progress on several different fronts can be considered as no less than truly remarkable.

But the Packers are still the class of the NFC Northern Division, despite their head-scratching management decision making process.

The Bears and Vikings may have good games here and there but likely pose little threat to get back to a Super bowl any year soon.

The Lions remain -- well -- the Lions. Watch their faithful scream with delight when they win a few games. Then watch the same have to swallow the inevitable bitter pill of disappointment when they come up short -- again -- in the end.

And sure as it gets dark at night, you just know it's going to happen.

Some things are just destined to remain the same......

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Detroit Tigers. A snapshot

Almost a third of way into the season, the Tigers find themselves in a predictable position. A few games under .500, a handful back in their own division, and out of 15 teams in the American League, tied for the 10th best record. In other words, much closer to the bottom than the top.

There is precious little to suggest optimism.

Long time stalwarts such as Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Ian Kinsler are definitely on the back sides of their bell curves. They will fade soon.

J. D. Martinez is a capable hitter, but constantly battles injuries and is a defensive liability in right field.

The Tiger faithful have waited years for third baseman Nick Castellanos to "bloom", but he never has. He appears destined to be of "journeyman" status. OK and the best they have, but an ordinary hitter and fielder by any stretch.

Michael Fullmer shows promise as a young starting pitcher, but the rest of the staff is hit and miss on any given day. Sometimes they're quite good. Other times they appear to be batting practice pitchers.

The Tigers are woefully lacking in team speed and their overall defense leaves a lot to be desired as well.

While their bullpen has long been the subject of ridicule, Alex Wilson has stepped up of late to perform admirably. Can he keep it up? The jury's still out.

By necessity, the Tigers keep bringing up guys from the minors to see if they can contribute. Some have had brief success at the plate. But as opposing pitchers figure them out, it probably won't last long. And most of them are defensive liabilities as well. Some of the outfield antics they have shown could be a "blooper" reel of its own.

Speaking of ancient, can anybody even remember if and when designated hitter Victor Martinez was able to field a position? Now, at almost 40, he's struggling to hit his weight. And let's not forget how pitifully slow he is on the basepathes. Nobody can turn a ball hit into the gap -- double? -- triple? -- into a long single like V-Mart.

Catcher Alex Avila, son of GM Al Avila -- nepotism anyone? -- got off to a hot start with the bat. But there's a reason the Tigers, and other teams consider him a "borderline" player. He's not a particularly good defensive backstop, and his batting average coming down -- a lot -- is only a matter of time.

In the meantime, teams like the Yankees, Bosox, and Orioles of the east are definitely better.

Out west, Houston is tearing it up. Texas started off slow, got hot, and have recently been in a slump. But the Rangers have too much talent to keep down forever. They'll be in the thick of it before it's over.

The same could be said of the Cleveland Indians in the Tigers' own division. Top to bottom, they're superior to Detroit in every way. There's a reason they went to the World Series last year as well. While the Tribe has struggled early, few would doubt they'll show their prowess over the next 100 games or so. It's still the same club, and they're light years ahead of the Tigers.

Observers should be mindful of some of the trades/deals the Tigers have made in recent times, not to mention the loss of free agents. Max Scherzer got away and is still a dominant force for the Washington Nationals. Remember Rick Porcello? Still in only his mid-20s, the Tigers considered him expendable. So he went to Boston and promptly posted a 22-4 record as a starting pitcher while winning the AL Cy Young award.

For these, and a few other reasons, it's entirely reasonable, and I dare say logical to assume the Tigers will finish the season in roughly the position they currently find themselves. Maybe .500, a couple games over or under, nowhere near competing for the AL Central Division title, and probably out of the wild-card chase as well. There's just too many other teams in the American League that are better.

Worse yet, the Tigers' "window of opportunity" is quickly closing. They went for the gusto in recent years past by shelling out a lot of money in a "win now" mode, but could never quite get over the hump.

When the "core" of this team starts to degenerate, and it will soon, their prognosis for the future could best be described as "poor". What do they have to fall back on? Answer -- nothing.

They will join the Pistons, Red Wings, and ever-woeful Lions to make Detroit the city with the sorriest collection of professional sports teams in the entire country.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The NBA 55 years ago -- and now

While researching something else, yours truly came across what I think was an interesting bit of nostalgia. Consider what the NBA looked like way back in 1961.

In those days there were only nine teams, instead of the thirty we know today. This was during the hey-day of the Red Auerbach coached, Bill Russell led Boston Celtics dominance.

The teams in existence were as follows:

The West --

Los Angeles Lakers
Cincinnati Royals
Detroit Pistons
St. Louis Hawks
Chicago Packers

Note that Cincinnati doesn't even have an NBA team in modern times, nor does St. Louis. The Packers, usually associated with an NFL team in Green Bay, would morph into the Bulls eventually.

The East ---

Boston Celtics
Philadelphia Warriors
Syracuse Nationals
NY Knickerbockers

Also note that Syracuse dropped off the NBA radar, and the Philly Warriors would eventually become the 76ers.

Keep in mind how long ago this was. A guy name John F. Kennedy was President. If still alive, he would be 100 years old this year. A while back indeed.

Yet it's relevant in another way.

Many often wish to compare different generations of sports as to who was better.

Surely, there's no doubt the NBA players of modern times are much more highly skilled than their predecessors of old -- right?

Maybe. Believe it or not, they could shoot, ball handle, rebound, play defense, and run just as fast back in the old days. But they weren't so much into the chest-thumping, look-at-me, slam dunking, obscene salary, sneaker endorsing mode as they are today. Nor did the 3 point shot exist. Or mega-buck TV deals and every game for every team being on the air somewhere. Back then, America had four television channels. 2, 4, 7, and Canada's 9. CBS, NBC, ABC, and CBC. Period. This was before UHF, and decades before cable, let alone the digital streaming blitz that is now available.

But a much more important point looms.

At only nine teams, the league had less than a third of the players it has today.

In that regard, it could be argued that the talent level in the NBA has become watered down with all the "expansion" that has taken place over the years, giving rise to so many more teams.

Consider ----

How good would the players on any team be these days if there were only nine teams instead of thirty?

In other words, the bottom two-thirds of any roster wouldn't be there.

Given the roster sizes would be limited to the same dozen or so players, it would mean only the best 3 or 4 from every team would even be in the league. The other 8 or 9 would have to get a real job doing something else. Not good enough. And further given the salary cap, draft, and free agent movement -- see parity -- EVERY team would be really, REALLY good.

The cream of the crop indeed.

Regrettably, it hasn't turned out that way. In 2017 fans have become subjected to more talking heads, pundits, and other "experts" that never played the game -- merely talking about it on the bazillion channels now available on TV. There's way more of them than there are top-flight basketball players.

Sure, every player in the NBA is better than anybody on your block. Competition remains ferocious to even get there.

But just imagine how good the teams would be if only 9 or 10 of them existed instead of thirty.

Ah yes,. The heady days of Leave it to Beaver, the Flintstones, and the town drunk Otis locking himself up in Andy and Barney's Mayberry jail. Captain Kirk was just enrolling in the Starfleet academy. The Addams Family, Munsters, Green Acres, and my favorite of all time Beverly Hillbillies hadn't even been thought of yet.

Quality was on the way -- at least in TV land.

Maybe not so much in the NBA.......

Thursday, May 25, 2017

NBA/NHL viewing. Easy call

On this fine Thursday night, sports fans had a choice. Would they rather pay more attention to the NBA playoff game between Cleveland and Boston -- or the NHL contest between Ottawa and Pittsburgh?

True, one could flip back and forth. But which was the more must-see game indeed?

It was an easy call.

In the NBA, things pretty much turned out as expected. Even when the season began last fall, the consensus was certainly that the Cavaliers and Warriors would meet in the NBA finals for a rubber match. Round three, as it were.

And so it has come to pass. No great surprise. Golden State has steamrolled their way through the playoffs not losing a single game enroute. A perfect 12-0. Did anybody really think any team in the West was going to stop them?

The same can be said for the Cavaliers. With the exception of one minor hiccup, a close loss in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, they've cruised through the playoffs as well. Did anybody really think there was a team in the east that could deny them? 

Conversely, the NHL playoffs were chock full of drama and surprises. 

The Nashville Predators, the eighth and lowest seed to even make the playoffs in the west, somehow got hot and found their way into the Cup Finals.

They awaited the winner between Ottawa and Pittsburgh, a #6 and #2 seed respectively. 

And a close, hard-fought contest the latter was in a Game 7 at Pittsburgh. Back and forth they went with the score knotted at 2-2.

OK, time to check in on the NBA game. Click. The Cavs are ahead by 35 points in the 4th quarter. Yawn. Of course they are. 

Click. The Ottawa/Pitt game has gone into overtime -- then double overtime. This is some serious drama going on. 

Finally, the Pens score the winning goal. There will be no Canadian teams in this year's Stanley Cup Finals -- again. Alas, how many will miss the rousing rendition of O Canada before the games in the series for Lord Stanley's Cup? Count yours truly among them. The legions of hockey hosers in the great white north can only sit idly by and watch the yanks to the south slug it out again. 

But now things have changed. 

Pittsburgh and Nashville present an interesting match-up in the NHL Finals. A #2 seed taking on a #8. The Pens, with home ice advantage, will certainly be favored. But hockey is very much an unpredictable game. A lucky -- or unlucky -- bounce here, a deflection there, and games can be decided. True, the Pens are the defending champs and have definitely been there, done that. But the Preds have been hot of late. This series could be a sweep, or go to seven games, with the decider going into double or triple overtime. It's a crapshoot.

Yet though the NBA Finals have long been foreseeable, hence the playoffs to date anti-climactic, the Cavs/Warriors III scenario shapes up to be far more interesting.

Two juggernauts squaring off against each other. A combined playoff record of 24-1 getting ready to lock horns to claim superiority once and for all. At least until next year.

It's finally time to tune out the NHL some and tune back in to the NBA.

It only took six months......

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

See the double standard

In the most recent playoff game against the Boston Celtics, see Lebron James catch the ball to the left of the basket. See Lebron dribble twice while pivoting right. Oops. blocked off there and he picked up his dribble. See him pivot left and dribble twice more for an easy dunk. The basket counts and play on.

It was a blatant double dribble, but no call was made. It's hard to believe three NBA referees who triangulate on every play, all the time, could have missed something so obvious. Why was it not called? Because it was Lebron James.

Pick your superstar and watch them routinely commit travelling violations. See the same Lebron (present), Kobe Bryant (recent past), or Michael Jordan,(further back) take WAY too many steps on the way in for a dunk. Be it the NBA, college, high school, or even kindergarten basketball, the rule is the same. Once the dribble has been picked up, a step and a half (jump) are allowed. Anything more is "travelling". See these players routinely take, 3,4, 5 steps but not get whistled for a violation. How does this happen? Because they're Lebron, Kobe, and Michael. So what's the point of the rule if it's not going to be enforced equally for all?

See any NBA player "palm" the ball on just about every dribble. They routinely catch the ball on the up-bounce and turn their wrist over before bouncing it downward again. It's blatant palming. Even more blatant are behind the back dribbles from one hand to the other. It's physically impossible to do so without palming the ball. Has that rule been eliminated or is it just ignored these days?

See Shaquille O'Neal of years past catch the ball about 6 feet away from the basket. See him lower his shoulder into a stationary defender and shove him back a foot. See him do it again. Another foot. And a third time. Now all he has to do is turn around and dunk. The basket will count, but Shaq had committed three blatant offensive fouls in the process. So why weren't they called? Because it was Shaq.

Conversely, see Bill Laimbeer of the former "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons establish position as a defender, stick his arms straight up in the air, without jumping, and otherwise not move a muscle. See the offensive player lean into his shot, making contact with Laimbeer. See Laimbeer get called for the foul. Over and over again. How could that happen? A double standard.

See Tiger Woods, through his agent, recently claim he "hasn't felt this good in years". That's great. See it be big news which the media trumpets to the heavens. It is entirely likely that if and when Eldrick ever finds his way back out on tour, the current field of hot-shots will eat him alive, like he once did the previous generation. There will be coverage galore when Woods make his next grand appearance. Replays of past highlights up the wazoo. But if he crashes and burns again, missing the cut by 6-10 strokes or worse, this will NOT be big news. It will be buried. So, hey, if they want to idolize somebody, so be it. But give him the same attention in a negative way when he stinks it up. Why won't this happen? Because in the politically correct world, only praise is allowed -- not criticism, the current President being the obvious exception. But that's politics -- not sports. A whole different animal.

Former SF 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned and many continue to wonder why.
Could it be his "sit downs" while the national anthem was playing last year has made him a bit "radioactive"? Maybe.

Let's not forget, NFL teams are owned by billionaires who are typically at least in their 50s or 60s, if not older. No head coach or general manager would dare bring CK on board without the owner's permission. Those of that generation tend to be of the conservative, flag waving type nature. As do most NFL fans. They love their patriotic stuff and good for them. Kaepernick could well pose a PR problem to a franchise. That's one possible reason.

Another is most NFL teams are pretty much set at QB, be it existing roster players, other free agents already acquired, or those taken in the draft.

But here's the one nobody wants to talk about. It might just be that NFL folks have taken a long look at Kaepernick and come to the conclusion that he isn't any good anymore. Didn't he go 1-10 last year? Oops, that would violate the PC rule stated above, so they can't come out and say that.

While CK had every right to do what he did regarding the anthem -- and perhaps him pursuing a higher cause is even to be commended -- in the end it accomplished but one thing. No, society hasn't changed one bit. All he did was bring much attention to himself in a not so good way,. and perhaps torpedo whatever football career he might have had remaining. What do you think the chances are that if CK had it to do all over again, he might have chosen a more "conventional" tactic?

On a bit of a lighter note, Tom Brady's wife Giselle has stated #12 suffered a concussion last year which was never reported to his team or the NFL. Brady says he can't remember that happening. Yuk, yuk.

And Odell Beckham is back in the news. The agent of the NY Giant receiver says his client's recent on-field theatrics have proven him to be an "icon".

That's one way of looking at it.

Another would be his childish, temper-tantrum, fit-throwing, look-at-me shenanigans have proven him to be an "idiot". Couple that with his ridiculous blond hairdo that would likely make anybody not named Dennis Rodman blush, and just who, pray tell, does OB come across as an icon to?

Hmm. On second thought, whoever they are, would you really want to hang with people that look up to a petulant, man-child clown like this as some kind of role model?

Only in America......

Monday, May 22, 2017

Indy 500. Still awesome

Back in the day, yours truly made the annual pilgrimage to the Indy 500. An infield rat. I, and my equally crazed buddies would arrive on Thursday -- Friday latest. In a van. We didn't have enough money to afford motel rooms, even if they were available -- which they weren't.

So it was find a place in a parking lot somewhere, and camp out. Squatter's rights, like legions of others. It was always a good idea to pick a lot close to a party store. Lots of trips carrying coolers for ice, more beer, and whatever munchies looked good, which was just about everything.

Thing was, when you got down there 2-3 days before the actual race on Sunday -- in a van -- personal hygiene eventually had to take a big hit. The only cleaning up we could do was in a restroom somewhere. And they had long lines. Once in, you had maybe 5 minutes to do your thing before the waiting masses outside would start to get restless, to say the least. And you had to walk back through the other animals on your way out. They wanted it just as bad as you did, so don't dilly-dally, or things might get ugly after you exited.

Needless to say, a sponge was a must. In the obvious absence of a shower, a quicky sponge bath was the best you were going to get. Think that's easy? Try going into a fast-food joint someday, head into the rest room with a sponge, and try to strip down, rinse yourself off with water only -- cold only -- and get redressed -- all within 5 minutes. Forget shampooing your hair or shaving, No time. Brushing your teeth wasn't much of a problem -- it could be done without water anywhere. Just spit it out when you're done. Same with urinating. Pretty much anyplace would do. But if one had to defecate, that seriously cut into sponge bath time. Let's just say this was not for the faint of heart or clean freaks. By the time Sunday came around and we went under the track into the infield (at 6 AM, several hours before the race), things had already had a way of, shall we say, ripening up some.

But we did what we had to do. Anything to be at Indy. I actually took my wife once, and it would be an understatement to say she wasn't the least bit interested in ever going back. Women can party too, but deprive them of the usual "facilities" for a couple days, and they tend to get a bit cranky. Go figure.

I myself finally burned out on it and now watch the "greatest spectacle in racing" at home on the big flat screen in HD. But I still wouldn't miss it.

So I checked out the qualifying a few days ago. First up was a young lady named Pippa Mann. She turned a 4 lap average of 219 MPH.

I'd be the first to admit I've never gone anywhere near that fast in a car. In my younger hot-rodding days, I probably topped out somewhere around 130 -- 140 max. That's cruising right along. If something goes wrong at those speeds, you have a problem, which might be fatal. But as a young man, I had more guts than brains. Nevertheless, I couldn't then, much less now, imagine going almost 100 MPH faster. 219 MPH in an overgrown go-kart is beyond my comprehension. I would likely soil my britches or faint from fright if I was put in such a vehicle, at such speeds today.

But there's the rub. Pippa's 219 wasn't going to be anywhere near fast enough to qualify for the 500. Get that slow stuff outta here.

Idle thought. Pippa? Didn't she get married to a prince in England on the same day? I mean, how many Pippas can there be in the world? It's kind of like Tiger, Shaq, Kobe, and Lebron. Have you heard of more than one? This girl moves fast indeed.

Regardless, many of the top racers were qualifying at over 230 MPH. If you and your car can't do at least 225, you might as well not even show up at the brickyard. Indy cars make NASCAR look like slow motion in comparison. On top of that, it's polite racing by necessity. There will be none of the bumping, side-swiping, and other tactics the NASCAR drivers employ so often. Get into another car at those speeds, and you're going into the wall too.

What's truly amazing is most of the Indy drivers were running their qualifying laps in 4th gear. Indy cars have 6 speed transmissions. So if a car can go upwards of 230 MPH in 4th, what might their top-end be in 6th? It all boils down to how fast they can go through the turns, ground effects (downward suction to the track) and all.

True, when the race itself goes off and they're fully up to speed, the drivers will surely shift into 5th and 6th, if only to conserve fuel. They need horsepower when qualifying for 4 laps, but strategy changes when it's going to be 500 miles. Lower RPMs over that time can make a big difference in fuel consumption, and those windows are, by design, close.

What's also mind-boggling is a qualifier lost control of his car and slammed into the wall -- head on -- at well over 200 MPH. Yes, he suffered a broken pelvis and hip, but will be OK. A head-on collision at only a mere third of that speed, say, 70 MPH, would almost certainly be fatal in an every day passenger car or truck, even with air bags -- which Indy cars don't have.

It is truly a testimony to the wondrous safety engineering that has gone into Indy cars over the years. The car itself is designed to absorb all the impact, disintegrate accordingly, and keep the driver relatively unscathed. In days of yore, that driver likely wouldn't have survived such a crash.

At any rate, maybe I'm getting old and wimpy, but I think I much prefer watching the 500 on TV these days. Memories of the rowdy, nasty, and don't give a damn days are one thing. I'll always have those.

But it's nice to have a bathroom close by where I can take my time if I want -- with hot water and a shower for later. Not to mention semi-decent food. A pizza with the works is only a phone call away if need be.

Those little things so many take for granted are more important than you think.

If you don't believe that -- try going three days without them.

Or better yet guys, trying to get your "significant other" to do the same.

Good luck with THAT....

Sunday, May 21, 2017

And Cleveland blinked

There were likely many, including yours truly, that were highly surprised at the outcome of tonight's NBA playoff game.

Just a couple days ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers had gone into Boston and beaten the Celtics unmercifully, to take a 2-0 lead in the series. It was a 44 point rout. A colossal beatdown. Definitely embarrassing for the Beantown faithful.

And the series was headed back to Cleveland. Surely, another pummeling awaited the Celtics -- right?

But a very strange thing happened. Cleveland blinked. And lost, on a last second shot by the Celtics.

It wasn't that the Cavaliers played that badly, but the Celtics rose to the formidable task. Who would have thunk it?

It would have been easy, almost expected, for the Celtics to roll over and get swept by the Cavs. Yet you have to give them credit for hanging in there and coming back after such a crushing defeat. I dare say few saw this coming, especially Cleveland fans. Maybe even those in Boston as well.

So now the series is 2-1 with Game 4 in Cleveland up next. Can the Celtics do it again to tie the series? Unlikely. After finally tasting defeat in the playoffs (the Cavs were 10-0 this year and won the last three over Golden State in 2016 to claim the championship -- 13 in a row total), one could easily expect them to come out and play Game 4 in this series with a vengeance.

But stranger things have happened, and the Celtics are really good too. Let's not forget they ended the regular season with the best record in the eastern conference.

And wouldn't it be something if, after getting demolished at home in the first two games, Boston came back to win the next two -- in Cleveland?

That would get a lot of people scratching their heads. Such a scenario would certainly be a confidence booster for the Celtics. Might it put a little doubt into the minds of the Cavs?

Nah. Let's also remember they were down 3-1 to Golden State in the Finals last year, and two of the next three games would be played in Oakland. That's not to mention the Warriors had set an all-time record for most wins in the regular season. No way were they going to lose three in a row, two at home.

But they did, and that's to Cleveland's credit. A single, narrow loss to the Celtics, even at home, isn't likely to faze them much. Lebron and Co. are definitely the real deal.

Barring a major injury (see the same Lebron - which would change everything), the Cavs are still highly favored to get past the Celts. The Warriors waiting at the end of the rainbow might be an entirely different story, but that's for another time.

But not counting the Cleveland faithful, how many fans wouldn't want to see Boston even this series up, just to throw a little drama into it?

[On that note, even Cleveland ownership probably wouldn't mind. If the series goes to 2-2, that guarantees them another home playoff date -- a major cha-ching. By the same token, winning this one game gives Boston ownership at least one more home date. Hmmm. A conspiracy afoot here?]

And ya never know what might happen.

But I'd believe Boston coming back to win the series if and when I saw it.

Methinks the Cavs will roll in the next two games. This one was an anomaly.

Nevertheless, they finally blinked. They're beatable.

Will Golden State ever show a chink in their armor out west? So far -- not -- as they seem to be in the process of sweeping a very good, if injury depleted San Antonio Spurs team. The Warriors have yet to lose a single playoff game this season.

But they were a "lock" last year -- right? And we all know what happened in the end. For sure, they haven't forgot that either and are on a mission to redeem themselves this year. If THEY stay healthy, they look invincible.

We'll see......

Friday, May 19, 2017

Clash of the titans

Yours truly has seen a lot of sports over the years, and I like to think I know as much about sports history as the next average schmuck.

But we might be seeing a first this year. Two teams (the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers) that are so much better than everybody else as to be almost blush-worthy. Parity? WHAT parity?

Both have steamrolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs undefeated and appear to be in the process of doing the same in the conference finals.

In the west, for a second it looked like San Antonio might give GS a run for their money. The Spurs had built almost a 30 point lead in Game 1, even without the services of Tony Parker, who had earlier been lost for the season.

Alas, then Kawhi Leonard went down. It likely sealed their doom. The Warriors roared back to claim a narrow victory. In the Game 2, they blistered the Spurs by a whopping 36 points. It would come as little surprise if the Warriors polished off the Spurs in a sweep as well.

In the east, Cleveland waltzed into Boston and handed the Celtics a 13 point defeat in Game 1. Surely the Celtics would regroup for Game 2, right? Hardly. They just got absolutely pulverized on their home court by a colossal 44 -- count em -- 44 points.

If it was that bad in Boston, how lopsided might it get for the next two games in Cleveland? 60 points? 80? Or maybe the Cavs will sit their starters after the first half. Color this series over. Not even close.

But back to where I started. We've seen, or read of great teams in the past, even dynasties. John Wooden's UCLA Bruins in the 60s. Bill Russell's Celtics a bit before that. Wayne Gretzky's Oilers of the 80s. Jordan's Bulls of the 90s. Certainly Geno Auriemma's UConn Lady Huskies over the last decade or so. All won lots of titles and were a definite cut above the field.

We've known of individuals in various sports that were clearly dominant. Serena Williams of late. Tiger Woods of a generation ago. Several boxers over the years.

But to my feeble memory, I just can't recall when there were ever two teams in the same sport that stood so far above everybody else as this year's Cavs and Warriors. Celtics and Lakers of the 80s? No doubt they were good, but not THAT much better than a few other teams.

True, Golden State and Cleveland have met in the Finals the last two years as well, splitting them. But this year, especially since the playoffs started, they've -- excuse the tired cliche -- taken it to a whole new level.

It's the proverbial men against boys. Beatdown after beatdown. And they seem to be getting worse as time goes on.

It's almost hard to believe one of them is going to lose 4 games -- but somebody has to.

Some of the amtch-ups in the inevitable Finals read like a "dream team". Lebron/Durant. Curry/Irving. Draymond/Love. Other mega-stars like Klay Thompson will be out there running and gunning as well.

Tons of firepower. But both teams are excellent defensively and on the boards as well.

Something's gotta give.

Personally, I wouldn't begin to hazard a guess as to which team will ultimately prevail.

But what a Finals it's shaping up to be. The rubber match between the two best teams in recent years that are both better than ever this year.

Clash of the titans indeed.

Oh yeah, bring it on....

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cavs/Warriors III. Inevitable

The NBA playoffs have taken few, if any, surprising turns this year. The higher seeds have disposed of the lower ones, oftentimes in quick fashion.

Consider the West.

So far the Golden State Warriors have yet to lose a single game. They swept both Portland and Utah without much problem whatsoever. And then they rested while San Antonio was slugging it out with Houston for 6 games. The Spurs would prevail, but also lose the services of guard Tony Parker along the way. A big hit.

Never underestimate the genius of head coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs' way of playing basketball at the highest level, but likely few thought they could go into Golden State and push the Warriors around.

Yet that's just what they did in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. To a point. They had built almost a 30 point lead. Surprise!!  But then all-everything Kawhi Leonard went down with an ankle injury. The Warriors roared back to escape with a narrow two-point victory. Still, a win is a win.

Game 2 was the polar opposite. The Spurs were overwhelmed throughout, and would wind up losing by a whopping 36 points. A rout. A beatdown. Embarrassing even.

It's difficult to imagine the Spurs regrouping enough to be able to defeat Golden State four out of the next five games to move on to the Finals. Especially with Parker still out, Leonard playing at far less than 100% -- if he can play at all -- and Lemarcus Aldredge swooning when he had the chance to step up and be "the man". It's just not going to happen. It would surprise few if Golden State went on to sweep the depleted Spurs as well.

The East presented a similar scenario.

The Cleveland Cavaliers swept both the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors, and have yet to taste defeat in the postseason.

Matched against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Finals, with the Celtics holding home court advantage, Lebron and Co. went into Beantown and promptly put a spanking on them in their opener. Again, no great surprise.

It did raise a few eyebrows when the Celtics were able to overtake the Cavaliers for the best regular season record and home court advantage through at least the Eastern Conference portion of the playoffs. But perhaps it shouldn't have.

While the Beaners were going the proverbial "balls to the wall", the Cavaliers lost a few games they might have won had they been properly motivated. Yet they decided to put it on "cruise control" of a sort, and not push their players too hard -- gas them -- before the postseason started.

Let's not forget that while Boston was slugging out a long series with the Washington Wizards, the Cavaliers were able to get over a week's rest. That's a lot.

So it should likely come as no surprise either that the Cavs were raring to go when the Eastern Conference Finals started. Might they sweep the Celtics as well? Entirely possible. If they thump them again in Game 2 on Boston's home court, it would be easy to imagine Boston being cannon fodder when they go to Cleveland for the next two games.

On a related note, no, this won't be Boston's year to win a championship. They're not quite ready yet -- but make no mistake -- they're coming and will be a force to be reckoned with soon. GM Danny Ainge has done a masterful job of rebuilding the franchise while stockpiling draft picks he has used wisely. And guess what? They just won the draft lottery and will have the #1 this year too. Then again, this year's draft doesn't have a clear-cut #1 superstud that stands out. Might Ainge swap that pick for a lower one while acquiring even MORE picks this year and next? Don't put it past him.

The Celtics are young and will continue to get better. The Cavaliers, with the exception of Kyrie Irving, are aging. Many of their players, Lebron James included, will be on the back side of their career bell curves soon, if they aren't already. They've been great since James went "back home", but it's not going to last much longer. Father Time will see to that.

In the end, there's no escaping that Cleveland and Golden State will meet in the Finals. And they might both well be undefeated in the playoffs when it starts. 12-0 versus 12-0. The cream of the East vs the cream of the West. Likely the way it should be.

But then something has to give. It seems highly unlikely that another sweep will happen -- either way.

Regardless, one of these two teams, neither of which has been losing anything lately -- is going to get beat 4 times over the course of 7 games. That's just the simple math of it.

True, Boston and San Antonio aren't exactly toast yet, and they will likely both give Cleveland and Golden State some serious competition before their series' are over. Make them at least work hard.

But barring catastrophic injuries to either the Cavs or Warriors over the next week or so, the Finals seem to be pretty much etched in stone.

Cavs/Warriors III.

And that should be quite the shoot-out......

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Syrian soccer team debacle

It appears as if certain political factions are trying to keep the Syrian national soccer team from attempting to qualify for the next world-wide competition. This is wrong. So far, FIFA, the ruling body, to their credit, has resisted. This is right.

We all know Syria has been embroiled in a civil war over the last few years. The casualty toll has been enormous.

But this is a soccer team. Why should they get caught up in political wrangling? It's not like the players are moonlighting as either government troops or "rebels". They train and practice like every other soccer team.

True, individual players might well feel loyalties to one faction or another. After all, they're human and entitled to such, much like any other citizen in any other country. But as long as they're not active participants in the mayhem -- why should they be denied the opportunity to compete?

Some Syrian players have said they don't wish to compete, as long as the strife continues. That is also their right, regardless of which side, if any, they would rather see prevail.

Yet for those that do, it is colossally unfair for the politicos of OTHER nations to attempt to bar them from the chance.

Again, they're just soccer players, trying to do their best on the "pitch" against whatever competition from whatever other country they may face.

So let them do it. They've worked their entire young lives to become the best futbollers in their country. They should be rewarded -- not punished because other factions are at each other's throats.

Other than the usual power-hungry politicians screwing up and sacrificing the lives of so many innocents -- what's the problem?

Play on.

Let's hope FIFA sticks to their guns -- certainly no pun intended.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Zaza amd Kawhi. Dirty or not?

Much has been made of the play that resulted in San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard going down with an ankle injury. The debate rages on. Was it a dirty play by Golden State's Zaza Pachulia -- or not?

Seems like that depends on who's doing the judging.

On the particular play, Leonard went up for a jump shot, and Pachulia went up with him to try and either block it or impede Leonard's vision. No contact was made and no foul called.

But whatever goes up must come down and, while Leonard was in the air, Pachulia moved into his "space" a bit. Like any other basketball player a million times over, Leonard wasn't looking where his feet would land when he came back to the floor. As it turned out, his left foot barely -- BARELY -- landed on one of Pachulia's feet and his already weak ankle from a previous injury gave way.

Kawhi won't be available in Game 2, and will likely be at far less than 100% if he can return at all in the series.

To the surprise of few, San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich cried foul. It was a dirty play, said Pop. Of course he knows that his team would have had their hands full with Golden State anyway, but without a reasonably healthy Kawhi Leonard, the odds against his team pulling off a series victory over the high-flying Dubs get astronomical. Theoretically possible? Yes. So is Halley's comet making a u-turn and coming back again next year -- but I wouldn't exactly count on it.

For the record, yours truly has seen the replay of that play at least a dozen times -- slo-mo and all. While I admire both San Antonio and Golden State for their basketball prowess, I'm a neutral observer and root for neither over the other. Yet after seeing it so many times, I just couldn't see anything intentionally dirty on Zaza's part. In my opinion, it was a fluke play -- unfortunate in the outcome to be sure -- but hardly an intent to injure.

However, there are certainly those that disagree. On an afternoon sports talk show, former player/panelists were asked for their take.

It should be noted that these panelists were African-Americans, as is Kawhi Leonard, while Zaza Pachulia is caucasian.

They deemed it "dirty". The verdict was in. Guilty -- according to them. True, Leonard is a star player while Pachulia is only a reserve, but should that really matter? Once on the court, aren't they all supposedly equal, at least in the eyes of the officials? Remember, a foul wasn't even called on the play.

And that raises some food for thought. Let's hypothetically switch the personnel around and see if they would have come to the same conclusion.

In this scenario, Zaza is not the "offender", but rather Lebron James. And the injured party isn't Kawhi, but rather Zaza himself. Do you think they would see it the same way and label Lebron as "dirty"?

Somehow I seriously doubt that. The guess here is they would have spun it off as the "fluke" play it really was.

And had the injured player been Steph Curry of the Warriors, rather than his own Kawhi Leonard, methinks Gregg Popovich would see it in an entirely different light as well.

Tis in the eyes of the beholder indeed, and sometimes those pesky prejudices seem to get in the way.

Nothing new about that. Checked out the political scene in America lately? And even the hordes of citizens digging in on both sides to defend or attack their heroes/nemeses, regardless of what they do?

It's just the way it is.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Spurs are in deep trouble

It could certainly be argued that, as professional sports franchises go, the San Antonio Spurs have been the classiest of them all over the years.

True, winning has a bit to do with it (and they've won plenty, including several NBA championships), but it's far from everything. Lots of teams have been dominant but lacked class.

Some were too arrogant -- see "America's team". Others had issues -- see Spy and Deflate gates, not to mention one of their star players getting convicted of murder not long ago -- then taking his own life in jail. Some tried to invent their own class -- see "Showtime". Still others tried to buy it by throwing obscene amounts of money around to procure the best players. And it's darn near impossible to exude class if your team hasn't been any good since forever -- see a football team in Detroit.

Few would doubt longtime Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is as good as any coach has ever been. It should also be noted that the players over the years have kept their proverbial noses clean. You haven't heard of Spurs players involved in DUIs, domestic incidents, drugs, or other not-so-good antics. It simply won't be tolerated in San Antonio. For this, they deserve a huge amount of credit as an organization. Whatever they're doing, and however they're doing it -- sure appears to have worked just fine.

This is class at the highest levels.

But class doesn't guarantee winning either.

And the Spurs are in trouble.

It could probably fairly be said that most "experts", pundits, and even nitwit armchair hoops fans like yours truly didn't really think they'd get by the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. While the Spurs are their usual model of excellence, the Dubs appear to be operating at a still higher level.

It would have taken an extraordinary effort by the Spurs to win the Western Conference Finals against such a juggernaut.

Yet the Spurs came roaring out the gate in Game 1 -- @ Golden State -- and built a huge lead. It was just what they needed to perhaps get them "over the hump". Steal Game 1, and who knows? Could they do it again in Game 2, also in Oakland? The momentum would have shifted in a huge way in San Antonio's favor. With the next two games in the friendly confines of Alamoland, things would have been looking up indeed for Coach Pop and his crew.

Alas. A lightning bolt struck. Already minus the services of guard Tony Parker, all-everything Kawhi Leonard went down with an ankle injury. On an innocent enough looking play, he jumped up, then came down, and his left ankle bent in a way ankles aren't supposed to.

At the time, well into the third quarter, the Spurs were enjoying almost a 30 point lead. That's a bunch.

Once Leonard went out, the Warriors flat-out took over. They blistered the Spurs the rest of the way and escaped with a two point win. Had Kawhi Leonard still been available to play, this likely wouldn't have happened. Steph Curry wouldn't run wild and score in bunches with Leonard guarding him.

OK, those things happen in sports. It's unfortunate, but sometimes that's just the way the proverbial cookie crumbles.

True, the series is young, and San Antonio shouldn't be counted out yet.

But they had a golden opportunity to seize control, and managed to blow a colossal lead to lose the opener. A very bad sign for the Spurs and their faithful.

The extent and severity of Leonard's injury is unknown, but even if he's capable of returning, chances are good he'll be playing at far less than 100%. Without him, the Spurs have NO shot.

Unless a key Golden State player or two goes down as well in the very near future. One never knows about such things. It could happen.

But as long as GS remains healthy, and given they now know they can storm back from a deficit against SA, this series might be short indeed.

I, for one, hope not. I'd love to see it go to a Game 7, with a fully healthy Kawhi Leonard giving Steph Curry all he can handle. How great of a game would THAT be to watch?

Yet as is, things ain't looking good for the Spurs.

Win or lose, they'll come out of this series with the class they've always shown. You won't see them trash-talking, sending childish "look at me" tweets, or hawking some lame product (while making fools of themselves) on TV commercials for a few bucks they don't need. That's for players that can't seem to get past the first round of the playoffs -- see a certain LA team.

So if for no other reason except class, here's hoping the Spurs can find a way to get right back in this thing. It sure isn't going to come from the groin kicker -- see a certain GS player.

The only thing more thunderous than his nether region boots is his big mouth which, to date, remains a paragon of ignorance.

This is not even low class.

It's ZERO class.

Maybe he should have spent more TIME in class while at school. They just might have taught him how to behave as a gentleman, rather than the on-court thug he's evidently become.

Just a thought.....

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Danica Patrick train wreck

Yep, she's struck again. This time another driver had to be air-lifted to a hospital. Prognosis unknown.

Danica Patrick has been quite the piece of work over the years in automobile racing. Though official numbers are unknown, it's very probable she's caused more carnage on the racetracks than any other driver in history.

Hey, I'm all for equal rights. always have been. There was never a good reason -- none -- why certain people should have been denied opportunity just because of their gender, race, skin color, religion, or whatever. That would likely explain why I've always been against such things as "affirmative action". It has never been more than a discriminatory policy which gives bonus points on the basis of skin color, while unfairly punishing those who have earned opportunities for advancement on their own merit. It's wrong, and always has been as well.

Once upon a time, Danica Patrick was an Indy car racer. She was provided top-notch gear. But she never won anything, save for an obscure race in Japan which many of the top teams didn't even bother to show up for.

True to form, the ever politically correct announcers would pounce on every opportunity to hype the good Ms. Patrick. OMG, she's leading the Indianapolis 500. What they never bothered to explain was that her pit crew would have her stay out on the track for another lap of two while the competitive cars were pitting. Once the field got sorted out and reset, Danica would predictably fall well back.

As a very young man, yours truly was an Indy fanatic. I was at the track in 1977, in the craziness of the infield, when Janet Guthrie became the first woman to pilot a car in the fabled race. That was back in the days of Foyt, the elder Unsers, Mario Andretti, Tom Sneva, Wally Dallenbach, Danny Ongais, and that bunch. Janet didn't fare well that day, though she didn't have top-notch equipment either. And it's probably fair to say the "boys" back then weren't exactly fond of her presence on the track. But I thought it was pretty cool. History had been made.

So no, Danica hardly broke new ground when she appeared on the circuit.

It became obvious Patrick was never going to be competitive in Indy cars, so what did she do?

Grab a NASCAR ride, of course. Let the endorsements and hype roll in. And oh my, did they ever. Sure, NASCAR benefited from her presence and marketed it up the wazoo. But, like her Indy car days, she would never be any good.

Though he was slammed for it, Kyle Petty once publicly said Danica knew how to go fast, but she'd never be a true racer. In hindsight, it's difficult to dispute the younger Petty's prediction. Danica hasn't won squat on the NASCAR circuit either in all the years she's been there. Yes, she indeed qualified for the pole position for the prestigious Daytona 500 once. And was competitive throughout the race -- until it mattered. Towards the end the "big boys" went blowing by her. Kyle Petty was right. She wasn't ever going to win anything. Typically, Danica will finish somewhere between 15th and 30th. Not really competitive, but not quite a bottom feeder either. Yet remember, like in her Indy days, she always had first-class equipment in her NASCAR rides as well. The "bottom feeders" we see every week -- do not. A difference. A big one.

The apologists want us to believe that dear Danica should think long and hard about continuing her NASCAR career. After all, so many high speed crashes are bound to take their toll on her eventually, right? Even though she's pretty much remained unscathed throughout all of them over the years.

Sure, she's stomped her feet, flapped her gums, and otherwise thrown hissy fits here and there when things don't work out for her, but a lot of it, perhaps most, has been her fault all along.

Yep, she's been in, and caused, a lot of wrecks. But let's not forget the "other guys". Those cars cost a few hundred thousand to build and replace too when they get trashed. It is highly likely many veteran NASCAR drivers consider Danica Patrick to be a menace on the track. An accident waiting to happen. But they can't say that, for fear of the politically correct backlash they would surely face.

It's just not cool these days to criticize a woman in a predominantly male sport, even if she has it coming for her own ineptitude and the mayhem that results from it.

Would that be considered true equal rights? Somehow, call me skeptical. It is what it is, and Danica ain't no good.

All the photo shoots and other endorsements aren't going to change that.

I mean, good grief, how many $400,000 race cars has this lady got to wreck before somebody gets tired of replacing them? Remember her sponsor Go Daddy? Daddy be gone. He most likely couldn't afford it any more.

That's not even counting all the equally valued cars she's trashed over the years that were driven by others. Her total tab to date in wreckage is unknown, but it's certainly well up in the millions of dollars.

God bless her and may she live long and prosper, but dang, somebody has to sit up and acknowledge Danica Patrick has been a train wreck throughout her racing career. The carnage she's caused is incalculable.

Despite all the politically correct fodder, apologists, and so-called "equal rights" blather, folks can't change the obvious.

It just it what it is, and has long since been.

Slice it and dice it however one wishes, but Danica just wasn't cut out to be a successful race car driver at the highest levels.

And what has ever been the point of a NASCAR owner putting Patrick in a car, when they already know she won't finish in the top ten, and will likely wreck either herself or somebody else during the race?

At a recent race in Kansas City, Danica Patrick had the utter gall to get up in Joey Logano's face because something broke on his car at high speeds which led to a wreck, Dear Danica got caught up in it. Logano is a highly successful racer by any standards.

But Danica threw yet another hissy fit because, OMG, this was one wreck she didn't cause. Let's all cry huge crocodile tears for poor, poor Danica.


This woman is a menace in more ways than one......

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Washington fold act

Was anybody really surprised when the Washington Caps of the NHL bowed out to Pittsburgh? Even though the deciding Game 7 was on the Caps' home ice?

It's just what they do. In recent times the Caps have won the President's trophy often for having the best regular season record. But they haven't made it out of the second round of the playoffs for a quarter century. When the going gets tough, the Caps get choking.

In the NBA, the Washington Wizards forced a Game 7 with the Boston Celtics. It will be played in Beantown. Who do you think is going to win THAT one to advance to the eastern conference finals? Here's a semi-educated guess -- it won't be a Washington team. Their fold number is overdue to pop up.

Consider the NFL. The Redskins, once a proud franchise, haven't been any good since Joe Gibbs quit as head coach. You remember Joe. He was the all-American boy, red, white, and blue all the way. A humble and deeply religious man. The good Mr. G decided to pursue a future as a NASCAR owner.

That's great, but also raises an interesting question -- if he was such a patriotic God fearing flag waver, why, tell me WHY, did he choose Toyotas for race cars, and hire a heathen like Kyle Busch as his lead driver? Ford or Chevy likely would have been more than happy to supply him with cars and motors, but no, he had to go the Japanese route. Something was always wrong with this picture. Still is.

Who does that leave? The Nationals of Major League Baseball. Currently, they sit atop their division and are cruising right along. The Nats have talent galore.

But wait until October. They'll fold, like they always do. Because that's just the way things are in DC.

Good grief. Even the politicians have (again) joined the losing act. One would think they have plenty of pressing issues to deal with. To build or not to build the "wall", revamping health care, simplifying the tax code, reducing that pesky deficit, getting a handle on the immigration/refugee crisis, improving care for injured veterans at VA facilities, and let's not forget the crumbling infra-structure in America. Or the legions of homeless that desperately need a roof over their heads and something to eat.

But no, all that has been kicked to the curb. Not important enough. Now they're busy arguing among themselves about why an FBI chief got fired. Let the hearings begin and the partisan sniping continue. All while nothing else gets done. It's a convenient cop-out of their responsibilities, but it sure doesn't help John and Jane Citizen much in the real world. It's just one more example of how Washington seems to breed losers when the pressure ratchets up. Must be something in the air.

On a lighter note, consider the Washington Generals' record against the Harlem Globetrotters. Though exact stats remain sketchy, it's no secret the Trotters won well over 10,000 games against the Gens, while only losing one. That's a very impressive percentage, even though the games were -- shhh, it's a secret -- "allegedly" rigged. Still, the Washington squad managed a single victory. That was way back in the Nixon era, not long before that Watergate thing reared its ugly head. In hindsight, it seems ironically fitting enough.

So no matter how you want to slice it or dice it, when it comes to Washington DC, be it hockey, football, basketball, baseball, or even politics, they have long since earned the reputation of being chokers and losers in the end.

Perhaps the most trusted TV news man (Walter Cronkite) of all time said it best when he signed off every day....

And that's just the way it is.

Either that, or the Warner Brothers cartoons folks nailed it with their famous Looney Tunes bit at the end of a show.

Th-th-th-th-that's all folks.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Give it up to the Spurs

Like them or not --  and how can anybody hate such a class organization? -- you gotta give it up to the San Antonio Spurs. The game they just played against the Houston Rockets -- no slouches -- was something to behold. It was the series clincher and the Spurs move on, while the Rockets go home.

Which isn't far, given the drubbing NBA fans just witnessed that happened in Houston. The Spurs put a 39 point beat down on the Rockets in their own house. Oh my. Nobody saw that coming.

Both teams had previously won on the other's court and Game 5 had gone to overtime in San Antonio. It appeared to be a neck and neck series indeed. Hard fought throughout.

If anything, the Spurs were at a distinct disadvantage. Besides playing on the road -- where Houston is formidable at home -- they had recently lost the services of guard Tony Parker. A torn quadriceps tendon ended his season and, given his age, might well spell the end of his illustrious NBA career.

If that weren't bad enough, the always quiet and humble, but quite lethal Kawhi Leonard had twisted his ankle in the previous game and wasn't available either. Many have said Leonard is the best two-way player in the game today. People tend to think of him as a "little guy", but he's really not. Leonard stands 6 foot 7, just an inch short of that Lebron guy, and an inch taller than that Michael guy of old. From scoring, dishing out assists, rebounding, ball handling, and playing tenacious defense on the other team's best player, KL can pretty much do it all. But he doesn't seek the limelight like so many other NBA prima donnas. Leonard just quietly gets it done in a large way.

After the nip and tuck Game 5, most would have thought Game 6 at Houston, with the Spurs down two of their best players, would be a blow-out the other way.

But twas not to be. Quite the opposite happened, no doubt to the surprise and chagrin of Houston and their fans.

So yep, ya gotta give it up to Coach Pop and his Spurs. A lot of guys saw way more minutes than they normally would, but came through in a spectacular fashion. Very few turnovers. Always finding the "open" guy with a crisp passing game. Knocking down the "open looks" when the multiple passes got the ball to a shooter. Crashing the boards and allowing Houston few second shots. A swarming, quickly switching defense that made things difficult for the Rockets all night. Holding James Harden and Co. to a mere 75 points on their home floor was quite a feat indeed. Especially without Kawhi Leonard available to guard him.

In the end, it was "Spurs basketball" at its finest. Coach Pop has to be proud of the job his guys turned in shorthanded.

But it doesn't get any easier. Next up for the Spurs are the Golden State Warriors. The Oakland crew has yet to lose a single playoff game this post-season, and will have home court advantage in the western conference finals.

San Antonio will be a heavy underdog. And while Parker is most definitely out, nobody knows for sure if Leonard will be ready when the next round starts in a few days. And even if so, how effective he might be, if still a bit gimpy.

Sure, even since the beginning of the season, all the "experts" have predicted Golden State and the Cleveland Cavaliers were destined to meet for the third time in a row in the Finals. It might well come to that. The Cavs await the winner of the Boston/Washington series and will be heavily favored to dispatch either of them as well, even though the Celtics would have home court advantage.

But how can anybody root against the Spurs? They lost Tim Duncan to retirement. The Warriors added super-star Kevin Durant through free-agency. Parker's gone and Leonard's a maybe.

In the absence of head coach Steve Kerr, still out with back problems, Golden State has plugged in Mike Brown, pretty much a loser every other place he's been (see multiple firings). What could they possibly have been thinking bringing this clown on board as a #2?

On the other hand, Gregg Popovich has not only proven himself to be a championship winning coach, but also the epitome of class over the last couple decades. Has there ever been anybody, anywhere, at any time, that has had a single bad word to say about this man? Not that yours truly can remember.

Class will do that for you over time.

So here's wishing him and his Spurs the best.

But they're certainly going to have their hands full with the Warriors over the next couple weeks.

Those guys are really, REALLY good.

They're SUPPOSED to win.

But who, other than the Golden State faithful, wouldn't be tickled if the Spurs somehow found a way to pull off a huge upset and get back to the Finals?

Betcha Cleveland (their likely opponent) would also agree. Given a choice between a depleted Spurs team and a healthy Warrior one looking for revenge after what happened in last year's Finals, you just KNOW which one they'd rather face.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

Like they've long said, that's why they play the games.

Bring it on and let's see what happens.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, yours truly is going to call a time out and officially tune out the NBA. That's when the Indy 500 hits in a couple weeks.

Basketball, schmasketball. Some things are just more compelling to watch. If you can't do 225 MPH all the way around the track, don't even bother to show up? These guys and gals make NASCAR look like a slow motion bumper-car contest. This is SERIOUS racing. And only once a year.

No way would I ever miss that, though I no longer have the fortitude to spend a few days down there partying and running amok in the infield like I used to during the race itself. It's big screen only of late.

Geez, those were the days indeed.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dumb marathon rules

Recently, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran a marathon that shattered the world record. His time of 2 hours and 25 seconds was more than two and a half minutes better than the old record.

But it won't count.


Because of dumb rules. The official sanctioning body said this race was run in too much of a "controlled environment". Well then. Let's look at some of the reasons they cited.

The temperature was a rather cool 52 degrees. Should that matter? Typically, the Boston Marathon, perhaps the most famous of them all -- is run in April. The temperatures in Beantown at that time of year are pretty cool as well.

The track was a consistent asphalt surface. What's wrong with that? They're not supposed to have to run over broken glass, through gravel, or a mine field -- though the latter would certainly add an element of suspense. BOOM!! "Oops, #52 seems to be experiencing some serious physical difficulty and has fallen off the pace." On second thought, nix that idea. We don't need that.

The authorities said Kipchoge had rotating pace-setters throughout the race to keep him clipping along at world-record pace. What difference does it make? It's still the same guy running the same distance. And besides, all marathoners wear watches to keep track of their times at certain points in the race.

Ah, but the pace-setters were in triangular formations behind the pace car (did they need a pace car when they have so many pace setters?), which broke the wind resistance for Kipchoge.

This is patently ridiculous. In NASCAR or Indy racing, closely tail-gating another car (drafting) has a lot to do with less wind resistance, hence the trailing car uses less horsepower -- and fuel -- to keep up. But that only comes in to play at high speeds. Do the math on how fast even a world class marathoner runs. Roughly 26 miles in roughly 2 hours. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that equates to about 13 MPH. A snail's pace by comparison. Does anybody really believe the atmosphere hasn't replaced itself in the time between when a lead runner breaks through it until the the following runner gets there? It takes a small fraction of a second at best. So scrap that stupid theory. It doesn't apply.

They said the track was level without sharp turns. If it's all downhill for 26 miles, that's one thing. But how much fairer could a level track be? And no sharp turns? Ever seen a sanctioned marathon yet without gradual sweeping changes of direction? It's not like these guys (and gals) are running pylon drills at the NFL combine. Let's toss that flimsy excuse too.

Oh, that's right. Kipchoge was wearing the latest in fancy athletic shoe technology. Well gee. Don't they think all high level football, hockey, baseball, basketball, tennis, and soccer players do the same thing? Hello? Would you disqualify one of them if they set a record? Of course not. Sure the gear keeps getting better. So what?

Thing is, it's only a matter of time before the two hour barrier in the marathon is broken. Ages ago, the four-minute mile was thought unattainable. That mark fell way back in the 1950s, and any decent miler routinely runs under it these days, sometimes by quite a bit.

There is also some serious hypocrisy afoot here. In certain races, a runner is deemed ineligible for any sort of record if they had too much wind at his/her back.

But what do you think would happen if an NFL place kicker booted a 70 yard field goal, shattering the existing record of 64, even though he had a 40 MPH tail wind helping his kick? Would they still count it?

You betcha they would.

So get rid of all these stupid rules. If somebody sets a record -- dammit -- it's a record.

Just because the conditions weren't conforming to archaic "standards" shouldn't matter one bit.

Somebody else will come along, at just the right time, and in optimum conditions themselves, to better it again.

Whoever thought funny cars and rails would run a quarter mile in under 4 seconds at speeds well over 300 MPH? Nowadays, it's routine.

In other words, in the time it takes the texting nitwit in front of you to realize the light has turned green and it's time to go, the hot rod folks have already run a full quarter mile. Pretty incredible when one stops to think about it. Their gear keeps getting better too. Hear anybody ever objecting to THAT?

So spare me the nit-picking details, rules, and regs about how Eliud Kipchoge's marathon time wasn't "official". The dude ran the same distance in, by far, the fastest time ever. And nary a whisper about any sort of performance enhancing drugs being in play. You just KNOW he got tested both before and after the race.

He set a record and it should count as such. Period.

So what's the problem?

Maybe they should start drug testing the people that keep coming up with all these silly rules.

2:00:25 is getting close to knocking on the door of the once unheard of two hour mark.

A mere 25 seconds -- or probably roughly the time it takes a marathoner to run the length of your average soccer field. Over the course of 26+ miles, it doesn't seem like much at all.

Oh yeah, it's going to happen someday......

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cleveland and Golden State. Catbird seats

While the Cleveland Cavaliers have so far breezed through the playoffs, so have the Golden State Warriors.

The former swept the Indiana Pacers and then the Toronto Raptors. Eight games up, eight wins.

The latter did the same to the Portland Trail Blazers and then the Utah Jazz. 8-0 so far.

Meanwhile, the other two series continue.

The Boston Celtics are in quite a battle with the Washington Wizards. It could well go the full seven games.

Same with the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. Two heavyweights slugging it out in Texas.

Who will win either of these series' remains to be seen. But one thing's for sure. They're going to be a whole lot more gassed than the Cavs or Warriors for the next series.

Those guys get to sit around, let the little bumps, bruises, and strains heal up, go through easy practices, and study both their possible future opponents while they're beating each other's brains out on the court.

True, they are many that have long thought a Cleveland/Golden State III -- a rubber match if you will -- has long been a foregone conclusion. And it may very well come to that.

Also true is Golden State still has home court advantage throughout the playoffs, up to and including the Finals. Yet they had that last year, but fell to Cleveland -- even after leading the series 3 games to 1.

On the other side, Boston, somewhat surprisingly, overtook Cleveland for the best regular season record in the East. If they can dispatch that pesky Wiz, advantage Beaners in the eastern finals. Or maybe not. Last time Cleveland went to Boston, they spanked them rather handily. And does anybody really want to bet against Lebron and Co. when the playoffs start?

Still, it doesn't seem fair that the two overwhelming favorites get some serious R and R while their future competition is wearing each other out.

The Spurs/Rockets hardly have the luxury of studying the Warriors on TV while they remain locked in a battle themselves. Same for the Celtics/Wizards regarding the Cavaliers.

But that's just how it goes sometimes. As has been mentioned in this space in the past, Gregg Popovich has always been right about one thing. It's time for "big boy" basketball.

When the bell rings, ya gotta answer it and come out fighting. Any excuses about being tired, beat up, or ceding home court advantage matter not one whit.

Champions sometimes have to overcome all such obstacles.

But if I'm Cleveland or Golden State, I rather like the position I'm in right now. The catbird seat, as it were. Let the other guys keep slugging it out.

We'll be there waiting for them when the time comes.

For either of these teams to get knocked off in their respective conference finals would be huge upsets indeed.

But ya never know......

Regardless, it raises an interesting possibility. Could both Cleveland and Golden State "sweep" their way into the NBA Finals with 12-0 playoff records? Maybe, though whatever competition emerges from the other series' is going to be a definite step up from what they've seen so far. Still, it could happen.

But then something would have to give in a big way.

Because no matter how you slice it or dice it, either Cleveland or Golden State is going to lose four games in the Finals -- if they get there.

Somebody's going to be happy, hoist the championship trophy, and have a parade in their home town. Fair enough.

But somebody else is going to wonder what the hell happened and how did the wheels fall off so fast?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pondering the NBA playoffs

Sometimes one can't help but wonder whether the playoff format has grown too big. After all, 8 teams from each conference qualify.

Sure, I get it. Everybody wants to be in the playoffs. Bazillions of dollars stand to be made by owners, players, staffs, and the networks lick their lips over the big time advertising money that will pour in. It's the American way.

Still, some match-ups are foregone conclusions before the first game even starts. Witness Cleveland brooming Indiana, and then Toronto. See Golden State do the same to both Portland and Utah. There was no chance -- ZERO -- that any of these underdog teams would be able to pull an upset in a seven game series.

True, hard core fans in such cities really want to believe that anything is possible, but it's really not. They can root, root, root all they want, and likely forego a house payment to attend one of the games at ridiculous jacked-up prices, but their team has about the same chance as a Republican politician would in San Fran or LA. Spend all the money they want but, forget winning, it ain't gonna happen. The other guys are just that much better.

For the most part, the first couple rounds of the playoffs are just to get the riff-raff out of the way. Maybe a team here or there will "steal" a single game from a vastly superior opponent (yours truly thought the Raptors and Jazz might -- MIGHT -- do so). But no, they were unceremoniously swept aside.

But it will start to get interesting shortly. Whichever team emerges from the San Antonio/Houston series will be, by far, the toughest competition Golden State has seen yet. Could either conceivably knock off the Warriors? Unlikely. The Spurs have already lost point guard Tony Parker, and the Rockets big man Nene. To knock off the Oakland boys, especially already ceding home court advantage, either of these teams would need to be at full strength and play their absolute best A games during the series. A mighty tall order even BEFORE the injuries. The Warriors appear to have rounded back into their juggernaut selves and appear virtually unbeatable, barring any key injuries of their own. Ya never know about that stuff.

In the East, few think the Boston Celtics, even holding home court advantage (and assuming they finally dispatch those pesky Washington Wizards), pose much of a threat to Lebron and the Cavaliers in the eastern finals.

Idle thought in the "This dude has a lot of nerve department".

Golden State's Draymond Green recently came out and said he considers Boston's Kelly Olnyk to be a "dirty" player. Really? Isn't this the same Draymond Green that kept delivering thunderous kicks to the groins of opposing players last year? The very same clown that finally got rightfully suspended for a game for taking yet another swipe at Lebron's "junk" in the Finals last year?  Let's not forget that happened in Game 4 of the Finals last year. Afterwards, Golden State would lead 3-1. But without Draymond in Game 5, AT Golden State, the tide turned. The Cavs won a game few thought they could or would. Then came games 6 and 7. The momentum had clearly shifted and we know how it turned out. Nobody wants to talk about it, especially Draymond, but it could be argued the GS loss in the Finals last year was squarely his fault -- from his own thuggish play. And he has the utter audacity to call Kelly Olnyk dirty? The hypocrisy is mind-numbing.

Interesting how some of the "experts" say Golden State has a whopping 93% chance of knocking off Cleveland in the Finals. That seems like a pretty high number. Last time I looked, the Cavs, with Lebron, Kyrie, Kevin, and Co. were rolling right along themselves. And they weren't supposed to win last year either -- remember?

We shall see indeed, but first things first. The Celtics aren't exactly patsies, nor are the Spurs or Rockets. They all got some serious game. It's no slam dunk the Cavs and Warriors will dispatch them in the conference finals. And even if they do, they will be hard fought series. Again, who knows when the injury monster might rear his ugly head? Could happen to anybody at any time.

One can also wonder whether interim GS head coach Mike Brown, subbing for Steve Kerr who remains out with back problems, will be able to keep the Warriors purring along. In other words, not doing something stupid to screw it up. Brown has a history of being a failure elsewhere in years past when the pressure got ratcheted up. Let's just say he's no stranger to being fired as an underachieving head coach.

So yep, it will be getting down to the nitty-gritty pretty quick now.

As San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich has been known to say --- it's time for "Big Boy" basketball.

Bring it on.......

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The DC jinx

Unless yours truly missed something, which would be a first (LOL), the Washington Wizards play at the Verizon Center in DC. So while watching an earlier game between them and the Boston Celtics, what was up with the big "CIC" painted on the floor at center court? What could it possibly stand for?

Hmm. Choke In Clutch? That would seem to be appropriate given their recent history. Uh oh, what's that? They knocked off the Celts to even the series at 2-2? Never fear, they'll fold, because they always do.

Could it have stood for Commander In Chief? That Donald guy? Well, his primary residence these days IS in the neighborhood. So why not put his mug on the floor in all it's orange splendor instead of silly initials?

Perhaps that "I" was a lower case "ell" instead. ClC. Hmm. Continually lose Composure? Could have been. And, oh yeah, these guys are going down. They're not going to beat the Beaners two out of three, especially ceding home court advantage.

And now a word from our sponsors.

A recent commercial spot claims it takes 15 years to become a Heineken brew-master. Could be, though that seems like an awful long apprenticeship when the same formula has been pretty much set in stone for quite some time. How difficult can it be to mix in the same ingredients in the same proportions time after time?

While that might take 15 years to get the hang of, it appears being a TV spokesman for this company only takes maybe 15 minutes of training. Have you seen the dork doing the commercials? That skinny little runt could make Urkel look like Rambo by comparison. This dude would be better served advertising sissy drinks (Pink Squirrels would be perfect) -- but not beer. ANYTHING but beer. C'mon. Whatzamattuh with these people?

Back to DC. It's not just the Wizards. The Capitals of the NHL have a long history of choking as well come playoff time. Once again this year, they won the President's Cup for putting up the most points in the regular season. And it's entirely possible, even highly probable, the Caps will be getting kicked to the curb (again) by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead the series 3-2, when it returns to Pitt for game 6.

Same for the Washington Nationals in Major League Baseball. They have talent galore. Sluggers, premier pitchers, defense, speed, the works. And they currently have, by far, the best record in the major leagues. But you just know what's going to happen in October. The usual swoon.

Which is also pretty much the same thing Congress typically does when faced with a tough problem. They'll hedge, dodge, flip-flop, and otherwise evade the issue at hand as long as possible. Anything but making a hard decision and sticking to it. In the end, little is ever accomplished.

Huh. It must be something in the air in DC.

Hope it ain't catchy......

Friday, May 5, 2017

On-going silliness. Well then

The TV talking heads, and particularly game announcers, seem to be a breed unto themselves. These people can and do get all worked up over the silliest of things. One way or the other, they'll always come up with a "first".

Did you know that particular point guard is the FIRST one to be exactly 6 feet, 2 and 3/4 inches tall, score ten points in a game, have a 75 year old great-aunt named Gertrude that lives in Peoria that once won a quilting bee at the tender age of 43, and to this very day still not only has a veggie garden, but somehow, incredibly, never misses  watching her grand-nephew playing in televised games?

Holy miracle, will decry their partner. This is a notable first indeed.


Well then. That would seem to beg two questions.

The most obvious would be -- WHO CARES?

The second would be, who are the geeks that actually research this sort of nonsense, and how do they find it?

Wake me up when something worthwhile might be on the horizon. Like -- a major leaguer having a 55 game hitting streak -- one shy of Joe D's all-time record. No, not 40, or even 50. Fifty five. Or another having 70 home runs with a couple weeks still left to play in the regular season. I don't want to hear about some guy getting hot in May or June belting out a dozen dingers. Lots of people have done that. This is not big news.

Predictably, the Toronto Raptors are quickly succumbing to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yet the TV folks just have to show the viewers a pep talk head coach Dwane Casey was giving his team. The Captain of the Titanic could have rallied his troops as well, but there was no escaping the inevitable. They're going down.

Observation. A noticeable trait of the good Mr. Casey was his long pointed ears. Almost Mr. Spock-like of the Star Trek series.

Well then. Does trying to convince his team otherwise sound "logical"? May Casey and the Raptors live long and prosper indeed, but they're not getting anywhere near an NBA title any year soon. Who's kidding who here?

LaVar Bell, the father of three up and coming athletes, noticeably Lorenzo of UCLA hoop fame, wanted a BILLION dollar shoe contract for his young-uns. Also predictably, he didn't get it. There were likely many guffaws in the board rooms of such manufacturers. Who does this guy think he is anyway?

The question has been posed as to whether daddy's act is hurting Lorenzo's draft stock. Of course it is.

Well then. Put yourself in the shoes, no pun intended, of any NBA team. Your scouts have checked out Zo and you've watched enough film to know what he is or is not capable of at the next level. One question remains.

Do you really want to draft this kid, knowing the jive turkey, self-entitiled clown act dad will likely come with the package? You'd better be convinced the young Bell is the next coming of Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, or James Harden if you're going to risk bringing the circus to town. True, crazy parents of NBA players have been there before, but this guy seems to be breaking new ground in the looney-tune department on a daily basis. Yes, the local media can typically be counted on to be "homers", but don't think they won't turn on you if your franchise gets turned into a Moe, Larry, cheese, slapstick act. Even they have their limits. Careful with this one.

Speaking of homers, it was comical to read a Detroit area writer wondering whether Tigers' designated hitter Victor Martinez might be getting close to the end of the road.

Well then. Let's see. Can anybody even remember if and when V-Mart was able to field a position? He's pushing 40 years old, can't field, can't throw, is slower than molasses on the base paths, and his only apparent function over the past few years as been as a DH. He's currently batting around .230. This is the Tigers' idea of a designated hitter? Really?

What yon scribe quite likely should have addressed is whether former stars Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Ian Kinsler will be fading away soon, if they haven't begun so already. JV's lost a couple MPH on his fastball and no longer even bothers to try and throw his once devastating split-finger pitch. Miggy keeps getting more and more injury prone, and his Triple Crown season a while back seems like a long time ago. His stats have dropped off dramatically. Same with Kinsler.

The Detroit Tigers' long term prognosis looks poor indeed.

Sports channel surfing during the afternoon has become almost unbearable. See Rachel on one show yammering away. She'll typically go into a 5 minute op-ed piece before finally throwing out a question to her panel-mates. Then she'll quickly interrupt their answer with even more yappiness. Michelle is much the same way. Always bubbly and blathering on. If one can suck it up and watch the whole telecast, when it's over, it's kind of like Seinfeld used to be. A show about nothing but dopey people talking to each other.

Yet the coup-de-grace has to be First Take. Mercifully, they finally broomed the nails on the chalkboard Skip Bayless. That man could drive the Pope into strapping on a suicide vest of explosives.

And Stephen A. Smith, the yappy little fella that gets more and more wound up as the show goes on -- does he have a hidden IV drip of "speed" while on the air? -- typically loses all manner of composure somewhere along the line. Quite a load -- that guy. Drip, drip, drip.

So who did they put in Skip's place? The one and only Max Kellerman. The same guy that got broomed from Around the Horn due to sagging ratings, and replaced with Toni Reali.

Just when you thought Stephen A. had a lack of objectivity -- see bias -- the Maxster has certainly gone him one better.

Kellerman is not only the paragon of "political correctness", he's taken it to a whole new level. This dude is apologizing for athletes before they've even done anything wrong.

On the subject of Lebron James, Kellerman states if the Cleveland Cavaliers win another NBA title this year, James should be hailed as a hero. Well, OK.

But then he goes on to say if the Cavs come up short, Lebron shouldn't take any of the blame. After all, they're not SUPPOSED to win with the Golden State Warriors having added Kevin Durant to their already potent line-up.

Well then. In other words, according to Max, it's heads Lebron wins, and tails he can't lose.

Put the two of them together, combine with Rachel and Michelle, throw in Ryen Russillo and his inane TV/radio program, whatever it is, and you've got yourself the makings of some seriously boring afternoon sportscasts.

Of course, Dan LeBatard and  Bomani Jones follow it up with a "Highly Questionable" program indeed. It's only redeeming value seems to be the input of "Poppy", Dan's father. Want to make it even semi-interesting? Stop censoring (bleeping) the old man when he goes off. If whatever he's saying is good enough to get the other guys laughing, let us hear it too. And what words can he possibly say we haven't all heard before at least a thousand times? Please.

As evening approaches, we're greeted by Toni and his roving band of talking heads. Sometimes worthwhile, but mostly not.

Then on to Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon. Pardon the interruption? OK, for a few minutes, if you guys have anything new to add, rather than the same old rehashed tripe we've already heard in hours past on the same network(s).

The last insult comes with the tag-team of Michael Smith and Jemele Hill on the "Six". The powers that be have hyped this show to the max with incredibly stupid commercial spots and, yep, it's pretty well proven out to be much of the same. With any luck, the Six will get the Deep Six, and the sooner the better.

Well then. You think the ongoing political battles will drive you crazy?

Tune into the 4-letter network for a whole afternoon of this nonsense, and one might start thinking those lovable Dems/Reps, libs/cons, lefties/righties, and their whole gangs of childish, insulting, partisan, accomplish nothing nitwits are quite entertaining by comparison.

Tis a sad state of affairs indeed. WAY too many talking heads and, of those, precious few that have anything worthwhile to say.