Greetings From Elk View Inn – Burgess Junction, WY

Greetings from the Elk View Inn near Burgess Junction, Wyoming. Do not go looking for this on your map because to say this is a remote location would be an understatement. It is the end of May and we woke up this morning to a dusting of snow.

In fine literature, what I am about to do would be called a foreshadowing. However, since these rants are hardly fine literature, let me just say that in one of the next two rants I will try to do something I have not done before here. In the sportswriting business, it is called a “gamer”. I will leave it at that for now.

I read a report where Mitch Kupchak – Lakers’ GM – told reporters that Kobe Bryant will call it a career after next season. Kobe Bryant is and has been a great player but I fervently hope that the NBA does not turn next season into a traveling “good bye party” for Kobe. Frankly, those sorts of things have been done to death and have a firm grasp on cliché status.

Bob Molinaro made a cogent point in a recent column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Numbers game: Thanks, or no thanks, to technological advances, MLB can gauge the height of a home run ball at its apex. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, for instance, hit a homer the other night that crested at 143 feet, the fifth-highest by anyone this season. Another relatively new measurement is the speed at which a ball leaves the bat. Do these revelations actually enhance our enjoyment of the game… or just serve as a reminder that some people sitting behind computers have too much time on their hands?”

Indeed, whatever happened to going to the ballpark and just marveling at how well a batter hit a home run…?

I know that it is very early in the 2015 baseball season, but is it just possible that Alex Rodriguez is the Comeback Player of the Year?

Another report recently said that according to Aaron Hernandez’ lawyer, the former tight end and convicted murderer is running out of money. Time out while we all say in unison:

    Awww… Too bad!

In the report, it also said that one of the complicating factors in his financial situation was that his mother was suing him for several million dollars. That is not something that happens in many families that I know.

Finally, a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

First openly gay NFL player Michael Sam has signed with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. Are we going to follow this poor guy his whole life? Media report, 2041: ‘Michael Sam dines at Denny’s’.”

More when time and connectivity permit.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Greetings From Lead, South Dakota

Greetings from Lead, South Dakota home of the Homestake gold mine – the largest gold producing mine in the US. Too bad the former owners closed it down when gold was selling about $325 per ounce because there is still gold in there and it can be removed for far less than the current value of gold. However, the transfer of the property to the State of South Dakota came with several stipulations and one was that it would never again be used to mine gold.

The Phillies have been anything but a success on the field for the last year and a half but the team recently had a grand success off the field. The team held the Phantastic Auction as a fundraising event for Phillies Charities and the various items in the auction raised a bit over $105K for several local charities. Here are a few of the items in that auction and what they went for:

    A dinner party for eight in the Phillies’ executive dining room with Mike Schmidt in attendance: That drew $5,250. My long-suffering wife and I have auctioned off dinner parties for 8 folks as charity fundraisers for the last 5 or 6 years. We do not get bids anywhere near that level. Dinner with Mike Schmidt is a whole lot more of a draw than dinner served by The Sports Curmudgeon.

    A private hitting clinic with Ryan Howard: That drew $5,150. Perhaps the winner figures he might offer up a few tips for Howard to use in his plate appearances for the balance of the season.

    A round of golf for three with Steve Carlton: That drew $3,500. Given the history of non-communication between Carlton and sportswriters during his career, it would be ironic if the winning bidder brought along two sportswriters as his/her guest.

    A round of golf for three with Mike Schmidt: That drew $3,270. Obviously, Phillies’ fans would rather dine with Mike Schmidt than play golf with him.

    A kids sleepover (number not reported) in the Phillies’ clubhouse followed by breakfast with the Phillie Phanatic: That drew $4,065. It might be worth “four grand” to see how that creature can eat anything through that proboscis of his.

When the Niners released Ray McDonald last winter, they said that he had exhibited a “pattern of poor decision making”. Those “poor decisions” included two arrests – one for domestic abuse and the other for sexual abuse – in less than a year. He has not been convicted of anything related to those two incidents and the Bears signed him in the offseason. Well, the Bears released him yesterday after he was arrested again on charges of domestic abuse and child abuse. Notwithstanding the outcome of any trial(s) on all of these matters, I think it is fair to say that his “pattern of poor decision making” remains intact.

Finally, speaking of players being released, Greg Cote had this item recently in the Miami Herald:

“The Marlins released catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He was a free agent bust, although he did lead the team last season in longest last name.”

More postcards from the road as time permits.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Greetings From Custer State Park, South Dakota

Greetings from State Game Lodge in Custer State Park in South Dakota. The road trip continues having already stopped at the National Minuteman Missile Historic Site, the Carhenge site in Alliance, NE, the Museum of the Fur Trade, the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs NE, the National Woodcarving Museum, and Mount Rushmore. Never let it be said that we just go someplace and laze around day and night…

We arrived at the State Game Lodge last night and finally ended our streak of plentiful; but mediocre food for dinner. This place has a chef on duty – not merely a cook. We will be here three nights so I can look forward to dinners for a couple more days. After that, I fear we will be back on hardtack rations until Yellowstone.

The NCAA finally got around to notifying UNC formally about allegations of “academic irregularities” and the school now has 90 days to respond to said allegations. Well, that took long enough. The head of the department that ran the courses that allegedly were “ghost courses” resigned about a year ago so the idea that some kind of “irregularities” where going on has been in the air for quite a while now. Some mean-spirited folks might call those “irregularities” something more like “fraud” while kinder and gentler critics might label them merely “shenanigans”. Whatever…

It will be very interesting to see how the university responds to the allegations. UNC has said that it will be as transparent as it can – consistent maintaining individuals’ privacies as required by law – with the allegations and with its response(s). Some have characterized this matter as the worst case of academic impropriety ever; I will wait to see more info before going that far.

The Women’s Sports Foundation has started a petition to block Isiah Thomas from becoming a part owner of the NY Liberty. To steal a phrase from soccer play-by-play guy, Ian Darke, this one is on the knife edge.

    When Thomas was the GM for the Knicks, a woman charged sexual harassment and improper discharge.

    She won a civil judgment of $11.5M for being improperly let go.

    However, the judgment specifically said that Thomas was not liable in the matter.

I agree completely that James Dolan – owner of the Knicks and Liberty and major domo for MSG was tone-deaf in getting Thomas involved in this matter in the first place. However, his tone-deafness may or may not be a reason to deny Thomas this “business venture”. I do not know for whom to root in this contretemps.

More postcards from the road as time permits.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Greetings From Badlands National Park

Greetings from Cedar Pass Lodge in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. We got here by flying to Rapid City, SD and renting a car there. A quick drive to Wall SD and a visit to the famous/infamous Wall Drug Store – where you can buy everything from toothpaste to horse saddles to Native American artwork – preceded our arrival here in the National Park. The Badlands got their name because they were indeed “bad lands” if you were a settler or trapper trying to cross these lands before the days of paved roads. There is interesting geology here and plenty of beautiful scenery in an amazingly isolated part of the country.

Yesterday we took a drive and passed through the town of Interior, SD with a population of 94; a bit more than 30 miles from there we hit the town of Scenic SD with a population of 58. Between those towns there were scattered ranches, cows, prairie dogs and not much else.

We are only a bit more than 48 hours into this journey but it is becoming clear to us already that this will not be a culinary trip that rates more than 1.5 stars on a 4-star scale. Peg was introduced to biscuits with white gravy for breakfast yesterday and the look on her face made it abundantly clear that she was not going to finish that biscuit. Whatever…

Speaking of food, the Akron RubberDucks of the Eastern League are offering something called “The Screamer” which is billed as a 5-pound ice cream sundae. It comes of course in a RubberDucks batting helmet and consists of a 1-pound brownie and 21 scoops of ice cream. One need not be lactose-intolerant to realize that no one needs to consume such a concoction.

You could make it worse if you wanted to. You could eat “The Screamer” as dessert after consuming a “Heart Attack Burger” offered up by the Kane County Cougars – the Single A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Here are the contents of the “Heart Attack Burger”…

    One half-pound beef patty with grilled onions, one fried egg, slices of melted cheddar cheese, chipotle bacon mayo, 2 pieces of bacon and it has a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches on either side serving as the burger bun.

Good luck digesting that bad boy.

More postcards from the road as time permits.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports.

Administrative Note

My writing schedule will be sporadic for the next couple of weeks. My long-suffering wife and I are about to go on another “road trip” around the US.

As I did last year, I will post rants from the road as time and material permit. Please check in once in a while for those “road rants” until I get home and get back to the usual schedule.

Stay well, all…

Playing Perry Mason This Morning…

The Preakness will happen later today. Favorite American Pharoah drew the #1 post position; and at Pimlico, that is not an advantageous draw. In a short field, it will not necessarily be as bad as it would be in a full field, but the post draw does add a marginal level of interest to the race. Lest you think I am being too critical of the Preakness Stakes, consider this item from Bob Molinaro’s column yesterday in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Horsing around: The Preakness is a day away. There’s still time to pretend you care.”

For the record, that comment comes from a native of Baltimore…

Now that Tom Brady has decided to appeal his 4-game suspension and Roger Goodell announced that he will personally hear that appeal, let me outline here what I would emphasize in the appeal if I were representing Tom Brady. The obvious disclaimer here is that I am not a lawyer and there is no way that Tom Brady or his representatives would seek my opinion here, but this is the broad outline of the points I would try to make.

    I would avoid any hint of an argument that would make it seem that I considered Ted Wells to be biased in his investigation on the basis that the NFL paid him. Ted Wells is by every report an experienced and highly regarded attorney; and unless there is video evidence of him doing something untoward and prejudicial in the matter, I would not go down that road even an inch.

    I would point out, however, that Ted Wells did not have subpoena power to command documents/records nor were any of the folks he spoke to subject to perjury or cross-examination. That does not nullify what he found but it does weaken the degree to which his findings can be taken as undeniable facts. Wells himself supports this argument because all he could bring himself to say over his signature and therefore with his reputation on the line were things like “more probably than not” and “generally aware of” in his findings.

    I would stress the amateurish – almost Keystone Kops – way that the league measured the pressure in the footballs at halftime. They used two gauges which did not agree with one another on even a single ball that was measured. Moreover, the difference in readings was as much as 0.4 psi – which happens to be 40% of the acceptable pressure range for footballs in a game (12.5 – 13.5 psi).

    I would apologize for Brady’s agent’s commentary that the NFL and the Colts engaged in a “sting operation” unless – once again – I could present video evidence to show same.

    I would argue that by all NFL precedents, this suspension is excessive. A comparison of the suspensions of other players relative to what they did – and the degree of certitude that they actually did what they did – is pretty easy to construct.

    I would point out that Ted Wells’ characterization that Brady did not aid in the investigation by making his phone records available to him is more a statement of pique than substance. First, that lack of subpoena power forces Wells to deal with that possibility from the start. Second, in a previous NFL disciplinary matter, another star QB, did not share his phone records with the investigation and did not suffer a 4-game suspension. (See Brett Favre and his “sexting incident” where his penalty for failure to cooperate was a fine of $50K.)

    Finally, I would hint that the punishment for Brady – and for the Pats by extension – is colored by the previous Spygate incident and that such a linkage is improper:

      a. Because Brady had no part in stealing the signals according to the findings at the time

      b. Even if he did have a part in stealing those signals, this is an unrelated matter and therefore added punishment would be the equivalent of “piling on” for the Spygate matter which the NFL did not put in Brady’s lap at the time.

I want to be clear here. I am not a New England Patriots’ fan; I have never lived anywhere in New England; I admire Tom Brady for his on-field accomplishments to the same degree that I admire Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, John Elway, Terry Bradshaw and John Unitas among others for their on-field accomplishments. If you want to interpret all of this through the prism that I am some kind of a fanboy, I cannot stop you from doing that. All I can tell you is that in the harsh light of reality, I am not a fanboy.

In the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson maters, I supported what the NFL – and Roger Goodell – did. Granted in the Ray Rice matter, it took some time for the league to try to impose a penalty stiffer than a 2-game suspension. Many others called for Roger Goodell’s head on a plate; back then, here is what I wrote about the evolving Ray Rice Episode.

My support then for the league and for Roger Goodell was based on the degree of certainty I had in the wrong-doing of Ray Rice; I had seen “conclusive video evidence”… There is nothing even remotely close to such a level of certainty in this entire matter. That is not Ted Wells’ fault, but it is the fault of the NFL for taking “more probably than not” and “generally aware” as a sufficient basis to “drop the hammer”.

Finally, just in case you were worried that hyperbole might be on the wane, CBS announced that Super Bowl 50 – to be telecast on CBS next February of course – will be “the most historic broadcast event of all time”. Really? Have the suits at CBS forgotten already about Katie Couric’s colonoscopy and that time Judge Judy had to interrupt and scold one or both of the “litigants” in her “court” and/or the final episode of My Mother the Car?

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Two Cities…

Let me start this morning with a tip of the cap to Charles Dickens:

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times; … it was the spring of hope; it was the winter of despair.”

No, I am not going to talk about soccer in Europe. Rather, those words applied to the sense of optimism and the sense of despair felt by baseball fans in two American cities during the last offseason. In Cleveland, there was reason for optimism. The Indians won 85 games last year only 5 games behind the division-winning Detroit Tigers and only 4 games behind the wild-card KC Royals, who just happened to make it to the World Series. Jonah Keri covers baseball at and he picked the Indians to win the AL Central. Sports Illustrated went one up on Professor Keri and put the Indians in the World Series for 2015. About now, the fans in Cleveland are looking at their 2015 “spring of hope” turning into a “winter of despair”.

As of this morning, the Indians record stands at 12-21; only the imploding Milwaukee Brewers have a worse record in all of MLB. The Indians are 9 games behind the Royals in the AL Central and are in danger of losing touch with the race. Making matters a lot worse – and recognizing that the season is young and the situation has time to change –, the Indians are 6 full games behind the Minnesota Twins. The breakdown of the Indians’ record provides little solace; they are 7-16 in games against AL Central opponents and only 6-12 at home. Their Cy Young winner from last season just won his first game of the year this week and their dismal record stands in spite of the fact that six players are hitting .288 or higher and three players have an OPS higher than .850.

The Indians’ 6-12 record at home has to be ominous but perhaps a small part of that dismal record has to do with playing at home in Cleveland. Last year, the Indians were contenders for the AL Central title and for the wild-card slot for virtually the entire season. Nonetheless, the average crowd in Cleveland was only 17,746. The only team close to that meager an average attendance was Tampa Bay which does not draws fans even when the team is in first place and the Rays were not in first place for much of 2014. The Cleveland attendance in 2014 was pathetic. So, with the “spring of hope” and predictions of good times coming, how have the Indians drawn so far this year?

    In 18 games so far this year (22% of all the home dates on the schedule), the Indians are drawing 15,540 folks per game. That is more than 2000 fewer fans per game than the full season average from last year.

    To be fair, Cleveland attendance usually increases as the summer arrives. Nevertheless, this is not much of a “home-field advantage”.

In another major league city, Philadelphia, there was little reason for optimism over the winter. The Phillies only won 73 games last year finishing last in the NL East a measly 23 games behind the Washington Nationals. The team traded away one of its aging stars, Jimmy Rollins, over the winter but did not get back a phenom; Cliff Lee’s arm troubles were worrisome in the winter and became problematic when they showed up again in Spring Training. The team has bloated contracts it cannot move and the team offense that was suspect over the winter has shown itself to be worse than anemic in 2015. Consider:

    The Phillies have exactly 1 position player (Freddy Galvis) batting over .300 and his OPS is .815.

    Chase Utley has gotten off to such a bad start (.118/.209/.403) that three pitchers on the team have better batting stats so far.

    The Phillies sent 3B, Cody Asche down to AAA to learn to play left field which leaves open the question of the future of former wunderkind, Dominic Brown.

The roster is a mess; the team record so far this year is 13-23; the team will have to pick up the pace to win 60 games for the year. Last year, the Phillies’ average home attendance was 29,924 which is pretty good for a team that never had a prayer of making the playoffs. In 19 home dates this year, the Phillies are still drawing an average of 26,106 to the park every night. Philly fans have not abandoned this team – – yet. However, last winter’s despair has carried over into this spring and will surely remain over the summer months. By August, it should not be difficult to walk up to the ticket window and get a ticket for the game that night.

Since I was talking about ticket-buying and attendance figures above, let me switch sports for a moment. In July, the Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Fame will welcome the arrival of Brett Favre and the team will retire his number. Given the less-than-fully-amicable parting of the way between the team and their former QB, this is a good thing. The Packers decided to open this event up to more fans than were going to be able to fit into the Hall of Fame structure; and so, Lambeau Field tickets were offered up so that fans could come and view the ceremony on the video screen at Lambeau. The agenda for the evening calls for Favre to make a cameo appearance at Lambeau “on his way” to the dinner and ceremonies for the evening.

The good news here is that the team did not use this opportunity to gouge the fans and dip even deeper into their pockets. Tickets cost $4 – that is not a typo; that was Favre’s number that is about to be retired – and the money will go to Favre’s charity foundation, Favre 4 Hope. According to reports, the Packers sold 67,000 tickets in less than 24 hours.

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times:

“Sign hoisted by a Milwaukee Bucks fan, after Chicago jumped to a 3-0 lead in their NBA playoff series: ‘But you still have Cutler.’

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

The Smell Of Affirmation In The Morning

It is nice to receive affirmation; it is doubly nice when said affirmation comes from a columnist that you think is in the upper echelon of writers on a particular topic. That is how I feel this morning. Let me do a reset here…

For at least 25 years, I have said that the Preakness Stakes having to take place at Pimlico made the Preakness into – at best – a third rate event. I have said that Pimlico was antiquated and outdated; it is. I have said that Pimlico is in a part of town that is anything but “top-shelf”; it is. I have said that on my visits there I had to look to find a horizontal surface at the track that was not sticky to the touch; I did. I likened the ambience at Pimlico to an “upholstered toilet”; that was unkind to every upholstered toilet on the planet.

Forget the pageantry and the relatively new infield tradition of drunkenness and public sex; Pimlico needs to be imploded – or at the very least to get a visit from the wrecking ball that used to fascinate Maynard G. Krebs. [Google is your friend.] And now, after about 25 years of being a voice crying in the wilderness, I am joined in the chorus by none other than Andy Beyer who I consider to be the best racing writer practicing the craft today. In this column in the Washington Post, Professor Beyer says that the Preakness should be moved to a modernized Laurel Race Track and Pimlico should be razed. He is absolutely on the mark here…

Several weeks ago, Charlie Walters said in a column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the Minnesota Wild needed to win their first round Stanley Cup playoff series in order to show a profit for the season. Talk about cutting it close in the world of budgeting… In any event, here are some of the data he presented:

    A sell-out crowd at the Xcel Center (17,954) turns a profit for the game of $1.3M for the team.

Assume his numbers are exactly correct. That means the team turns a profit of $72.40 per person – over and above the cost of putting on that specific playoff game such as paying the concession workers and the people who prepare and maintain the ice and the cost of utilities and etc. I think that number is interesting because the average cost of a ticket to an NHL game might be close to $70 all by itself.

Let me move to a couple of baseball notes here. The Yankees continue to refuse to pay A-Rod for his 660 HR achievement because they contend that they have an option to market that achievement and they choose not to. Fine. A court or an arbitrator will decide if they have to pay up or not. Nevertheless, it sure does seem as if the Yankees are being “cheap” here.

The team contends that A-Rod’s PED use makes their marketing of his HR achievement tenuous at best. Perhaps that is true. On the other hand, marketing that achievement will cost them $6M. Now, the Yankees are also scheduled to hold a ceremony later this year in Yankee Stadium where they will retire the number of Andy Pettite. The team is promoting that event – at no cost to the team close to paying Pettite $6M – and when you look at Pettite and A-Rod in juxtaposition you see two players who both admitted to using PEDs on more than one occasion.

A cynic might look here and see that the difference is that marketing the “Pettite event” does not cost the team any cash on the barrelhead while marketing the A-Rod achievement will cost the Steinbrenner Brothers $6M. That makes the Yankees look “cheap” and Papa George Steinbrenner will not be happy with that situation wherever in the cosmos he may be.

Many folks thought going into the season that the Boston Red Sox starting pitching was questionable at best. Well, so far this year, the Sox pitching staff as a whole – starters and relievers – has been well beneath “questionable”. And what did the Sox do to deal with that situation:

    Trade for Cole Hamels? No.
    Bring up their top pitching prospects? No.
    Lure Roger Clemens out of retirement? Thankfully, no.

What they did was to fire their pitching coach, Juan Nieves, who was the same pitching coach upon whom everyone lavished heaps of praise when he guided the Sox pitching staff that won the World Series. That was in 2013 which means Nieves got really dumb really fast…

According to some reports, Barry Bonds is considering filing a “collusion lawsuit” against MLB alleging that he was blackballed after the 2007 season and after he had – for all practical purposes – the BALCO Mess in the rear view mirror. Obviously, I have no idea if the owners colluded to keep him out of the game but if – I said IF – they did, I would hope that the owners learned a lesson from history. Back in the 80s, the owners lost a couple of costly “collusion lawsuits” because there was a paper trail of memos/messages/whatevers among them on the subject of “keeping free agent salaries low” for that particular season. As I recall, part of that paper trail also tied the office of the Commissioner into the cabal and that paper trail cost the owners something in the neighborhood of $300M.

So, IF the owners orchestrated a plan/scheme to keep Barry Bonds out of baseball – thereby depriving him of a way to make a living – one would have to think that they were smart enough also to get rid of any incriminating documents/text messages/voicemails/e-mails/whatevers. Could they be so dumb as to have neglected to cover that trail…?

Finally, here is a social commentary from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:

“WNBA stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson were arrested in a domestic-violence incident. It’s about time women in sports other than Hope Solo chipped in. Male athletes have been bearing the brunt of the idiot burden for far too long.”

Professor Cote must not have noticed that Griner and Johnson more than made up for their squabble because the two of them were married in the last week or so. Love conquers all…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Random Musings…

Too bad Braylon Edwards is no longer playing NFL football; his arrest yesterday would have been a fantastic test case for the NFL under the new standards of evidence leading to punishment as established in Deflategate. Edwards was arrested under suspicion of DUI and police reports say he blew a .20 which is more than double the legal limit. Now, that is just the police report and not the findings of a court but still:

    “More probably than not” someone driving with a breathalyzer reading of 0.20 is over the limit.

    Braylon Edwards was surely “generally aware” that he had had a few pops prior to starting his vehicle.

It would have been an interesting test case…

I mentioned yesterday that Bill Simmons and ESPN were parting company. With his departure, there is certainly the possibility that will undergo a significant change and that leads to a situation that should be interesting to watch. ESPN has been “developing/incubating” another edgy website called The Undefeated. Some have referred to it as “The Black Grantland” because it will be headed up by Jason Whitlock. In absolutely no way do I believe that Simmons’ dismissal has anything to do with the impending launch of The Undefeated (scheduled for some time this summer), but with Simmons absent there will likely be fewer comparisons to the well-established and that almost has to help The Undefeated.

To say that Jason Whitlock can sometimes be controversial/provocative is sort of like saying that Sinatra could sing a bit. The site has five essays posted on it now and all are interesting reading; two are thought-provoking. I had thought I would wait until after the formal launch to link you to the site, but now that the launch is imminent and given the possible turmoil surrounding, you might want to check it out in its nascent form. Here is the link.

Almost 2 weeks ago, the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremony in Columbus. The Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame has been around for a while; this was its 10th induction ceremony. The keynote speaker was Bob Knight (a charter inductee 10 years ago) and he presented the first Ohio Heritage Award (a lifetime achievement award of sorts) to Jerry Lucas. For a Hall of Fame at the state – or the school – level, those two are huge icons. Both men are properly enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. And it their presence at this event that points to the tenuous status of localized Halls of Fame.

The most recognizable name on the inductee roster this year for people who live outside of Ohio would be Zydruynas Ilgauskas. The majority of the others on the list would be unknown to all but the most ardent fan of an Ohio team. Consider:

    Tom Dinger
    Dave Jamerson
    John Miner
    Bert Price
    Marlene Stollings
    Brooke Wyckoff

Those are the players – in addition to Ilgauskas – inducted this year. I did not include on the list the coaches and the referee who were also added to the rolls. My point here is that restricted Halls of Fame – not just in Ohio but everywhere – create multi-levels of members where the disparity among the levels is huge. Go, for example, to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sure, there are gradations of members; only a fool would try to equate Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Henry Aaron with Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Nellie Fox. However, the disparity from the top to the bottom there is not nearly as great as you might find if you look at the full membership of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.

Nonetheless, a good time was probably had by all. Ergo, no harm came from the event or the fact of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame’s existence…

File this under “When it rains, it pours…” Aaron Hernandez already stands convicted of murder in the case of Odin Lloyd in 2014. He is charged with murder and a bunch of other things in a 2012 incident where two people were shot and killed outside a nightclub in downtown Boston. That trial is imminent.

Earlier this week, the local prosecutors also charged Hernandez with intimidating a witness involved in that 2012 case that is about to come to trial. Allegedly, Hernandez shot this potential witness in the face sometime in 2013 and left him to die after the person said something about that previous incident that was not to Hernandez’ liking. That shot to the face cost the recipient an eye.

OK, I think we have crossed a threshold here. I think that the preponderance of good citizens in the US of A would conclude about now that Aaron Hernandez is not a nice person. Here is a link to a report that goes into more detail on this whole situation.

Finally, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times is exactly on target with this observation;

“The Wire apartment building in Omaha, Neb., has been equipped with a 136-foot vertical tube that uses rising warm air to turn a turbine and generate electricity.

“But why stop there? Hire Dickie V. to talk into that tube, and you could light up the whole city.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Moving On – – Hopefully

OK, the verdict is in. Tom Brady is out for 4 games without pay (costs him something in the neighborhood of $4-5M), the Pats are fined $1M (peanuts) and the Pats lose two draft picks (first round in 2016 and 4th round in 2017). Of course, this is pending appeals and grievances and the like, but for now…

Try to shed any vestige you may have of your dislike for the Patriots or your Patriots’ fanboy attire. Is this punishment commensurate with the alleged crime? I say alleged because after about 4 months and 243 pages of turgid prose, the best the investigators could come up with was “more probably than not” and “generally aware”. If that is the new standard for “proof” in the NFL and if those penalties are the new standard for punishment, teams and players had best beware.

Try to shed any vestige you may have of your dislike for the Patriots or your Patriots’ fanboy attire. Is this punishment a surprise? I say it is not surprising at all because the NFL had pretty much painted itself into a corner with regard to punishments. The only thing that is surprising is the magnitude of the sanctions.

Oh, and before folks get carried away with saying that Tom Brady is the highest profile player ever to get a severe punishment from the league, please recall that Paul Hornung was suspended for an entire season back in 1963.

Enough about Deflategate for now; there will be more as appeals and grievances happen…

The next blot on the NFL’s escutcheon arrived yesterday when it was revealed that 14 teams were paid by the National Guard to stage things like salutes to soldiers and other flag waving events. The National Guard says that it did this as a recruiting tool for an all-volunteer army; I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with the fact that this was a sponsored event and that fact was not disclosed. When Pepsi or Budweiser sponsors an event, it is pretty clear that they are ponying up some cash or promotional considerations to get to do that. When there is a salute to veterans or a tribute to the troops, one could – in the past – delude oneself to believe that the teams or the league were self-motivated to honor the troops. It turns out that the honor bestowed on the troops was bought and paid for – very quietly – with funds allocated to the DoD.

Why the secrecy? I think it is simple. It looks sleazy – and now that it is open to public scrutiny, it will look even sleazier if that is even a word. It appears that 14 NFL teams shared a total of $5.4M in DoD funds. If you care to see which teams got how much money, here is a link that will give you that information.

So, what might be next for the NFL…?

    Santa Claus appears in stadiums because a retailer like Target or Nordstrom paid the NFL for the appearance?

    The league does not donate to breast cancer charities after wearing pink for a month, the charities are paying the league to have the players wear pink?

    The punt pass and kick competition is rigged and parents buy their kids way into the finals?

So, you think I am just being cynic? Maybe so, but I do not quite achieve the ultimate level of cynicism as defined by H. L. Mencken:

“A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”

I am sure you have heard by now that Bill Simmons and ESPN are parting company starting in the Fall. Unlike many other reporters, I will not profess to know what he might or might not be doing next. Unlike others, I have no insight into the events within ESPN that led to this situation. Here is what I know.

Bill Simmons and ESPN have been together for more than 10 years. Simmons created and led starting with a concept and turning it into a highly regarded website for long-form commentary on sports and pop-culture. He also was one of the prime motive forces behind ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentaries. He has appeared on various studio shows for ESPN and has been a fill-in host on PTI on occasion.

Back when the Ray Rice Affair was front-page news, Simmons called Roger Goodell a liar on his podcast. The NFL and ESPN have more than a passing acquaintance in the financial arena and Simmons earned a 2-week suspension for that remark. I agree at that point he crossed the line. Recently, he was a guest on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show and made another comment about Goodell that was less than flattering. He said Goodell lacked “testicular fortitude”. Soon after that, ESPN announced that they will not be renewing Simmons’ contract in September.

Bill Simmons is a talented guy; I do not think there is a lot of argument about that. He may be replaceable in terms of finding someone to edit/lead However, one thing I read made me stop and shake my head:

    According to reports, ESPN will retain ownership of his ESPN outlets one of which is his podcast, “The B. S. Report”.

    The initials there stand for Bill Simmons and not the gutter phrase for ovine offal. I do not know how ESPN thinks it will carry on “The B. S. Report” in the absence of “B. S.” unless of course they have Keith Olbermann do it in the persona of Bob Slurm…

Finally, this item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times demonstrates that if you look hard enough, you can find something good to say about anything:

“Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on the Orioles and White Sox playing inside an empty stadium: ‘On the bright side, nobody did the wave.’”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………