I will need to be quick today… Last night, my wife and I attended a play in Philly. It was written by Ray Didinger, an old friend – much too long a story to relate here as to how I met him but I have known Ray since the early 1970s. Ray has been an outstanding sportswriter, a multiple Emmy-award winning producer for NFL Films, a radio host and a TV analyst in the Philadelphia area since forever. His main focus as a writer was as the beat-writer covering the Eagles and then as a columnist on sports in general. It turns out that his boyhood hero was Tommy McDonald – the Eagles’ wide receiver who caught a TD pass in the 1960 NFL Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers.
The play tells the story of “Young Ray” meeting his hero “Young Tommy” at Eagles’ training camp in Hershey PA and then interviewing “Aging Tommy” for various stories he was writing. Ultimately, Ray nominated Tommy McDonald to the Hall of Fame selection committee and after McDonald got the call to inform him of his election to the Hall, Tommy McDonald asked Ray Didinger to be his presenter at the ceremony. It was only then that “Adult Ray” told “Adult Tommy” that they had met back at Eagles’ training camp back in the 1960s.
The story obviously played exceptionally well in Philadelphia. However, this is a story that has legs and can easily travel to other venues. The play is called Tommy and Me. If you ever see one of your local theater companies putting this play on, let me urge you to find the time to go and see it. It got a standing ovation in Philly last night; I suspect it would get a similar reaction from audiences around the country.
Ray Didinger was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a writer in 1995 and Tommy McDonald was in the Hall of Fame Class of 1998.
The play was a touching presentation last night but that feeling does not carry over to the next item in today’s rant. David Stern – the Sultan of Smug – is about to speak to the global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas NV. Do not be confused; the Global Gaming Expo has nothing to do with Pokemon Go; this “gaming” is often called “gambling”. Now, anyone who follows sports in the US even a little bit knows that David Stern has never been someone who thought that sports and gambling could possibly co-exist. Gambling was a constant threat to the “integrity of the games”; the Tim Donaghy affair proved to David Stern that was the case; as soon as New Jersey tried to change its state laws to allow for sports wagering, David Stern and the NBA were right there to support in court any and all forces that sought to stop that action.
Now, David Stern is retired from the NBA and collects speaking fees here and there as a way to make some small change in his retirement. Here is some of what the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported with regard to this upcoming address by the former NBA Commish:
“Stern will discuss the future of sports betting and its impact on major professional sports, as well as how the NBA’s expansion parallels the casino gaming industry…”
“The commissioner for 30 years, Stern in October joined current Commissioner Adam Silver in calling for legalized sports wagering nationwide.”
“’I’m with Commissioner Silver,’ Stern said at the time. ‘There should be federal legislation that says, ‘Let’s go all the way’ and have betting on sports. It’s OK. It’s going to be properly regulated.’”
There is an old-saying in the Washington bureaucracy – and in politics to a lesser extent – that explains shifting positions. Basically, that saying goes:
Where you stand on an issue depends on where you are sitting at the moment.
I think that saying applies in spades to David Stern…
With regard to the Olympics, Usain Bolt made history winning his third 100-meter dash Gold Medal. Given the apparent ease of his performance here, I would not be shocked if he tried to make it four-in-a-row in Tokyo in 2020.
You may have read the reports of US swimmers being robbed at gunpoint in Rio. If not, you will not have any difficulty in finding such reports. Let me say two things about those reports:
1. Brazilian officials say that the athletes were not in their proper area at the time of the robbery. I guess that is supposed to gloss over the fact that armed robbery is a frequent and natural occurrence in Rio. One stat that I read was that there are 25 times more muggings in Rio than there are in NYC in a year and NYC has three times the population of Rio. Somehow, I do not thing the Rio Tourist Bureau trumpets those numbers.
2. Ryan Lochte’s account of what he did and said to the armed robber(s) could be construed to make him sound like a tough-guy. To me, it makes him sound like a dummy. When a person with a badge and a loaded gun – real or fake “police officer” makes no difference – tells you to get on the ground; you do not argue with him. You just get on the ground because that is where you are going to wind up one way or the other.
Finally, here is an item from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald from a couple of months ago:
“The Indianapolis 500 (coming up May 29) has named an official poet laureate. OK, what rhymes with carburetor?”
But don’t get me wrong, l I love sports………