Anyone who has read these rants over the years knows that I am a fan and admirer of Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle. In my fantasy world, I like to think that I can produce prose half the caliber of what he must have to delete from his columns just to meet the space restrictions of his newspaper. Two days ago, he married the social concept of “fake news” to the sports world in an extraordinarily interesting way. It begins with the heading:
“All the fake news that fits, we print …”
From there, the column is wide-ranging but under the “reporting” that the recently inaugurated President had issued an executive order banning the use of helmets in NFL games, here is a sample of the commentary:
“The President said he cleared the no-helmet order with his newly appointed head of OSHA, Evel Knievel.
“When a reporter at the news conference told Trump that Knievel was dead, the president retorted, ‘That’s what they said about Donald Trump last September.’”
I highly recommend that you read this column in its entirety simply because it is far too good for me to try to summarize here.
While I am meandering dangerously close to politics here – only for a moment to be sure – I ran across a report at espn.com that said President Trump had received some advice from Johnny Manziel. You read that correctly; Johnny Football thought that he had some good advice for the President of the United States that had nothing to do with domestic policy or foreign policy or whatever. Here is the deal:
- Johnny Manziel has deleted his Twitter account.
- Just before he did that, here is what he Tweeted out:
“Yo, POTUS even I know to stay away from the notifications section on twitter. S— will drive you crazy, lead the country and let them hate … Control what you can control and let the rest fall by the wayside.”
Please put your politics aside here for just a moment and contemplate the zeitgeist of 2017 wherein a presumably recovering addict offers advice to the newly inaugurated President of the United States that makes actual good sense. Timothy Leary was not in a position to make a similar recommendation to President Kennedy; David Koresh was not in a position to make a similar recommendation to President Clinton; Anwar Al-Awlaki was not in a position to make a similar recommendation to President Obama. Notwithstanding all the negative precedents, Johnny Manziel may indeed have a piece of advice for the President of the United States that might be worthy of attention.
I cannot decide if this falls into the category of:
- The Blind leading The Blind – – or – –
- Out of the mouths of babes …
As the NFL builds up/winds down to a single game two weeks hence, the college basket all season has begun its buildup to March Madness. Teams are focused into “Conference Competition”; the joy-ride/feelgood tournaments of late December are forgotten; the patsy games/glorified scrimmage games are in the rear-view mirror. I can watch college basketball in December to see really good teams and really good players dominate my TV screen. From here on out, I can watch with the idea that I may be able to discern just how good this team is as compared to that team and how good that player really is when he is being defended by a team of comparable talent. There is still a LONG way to go between late January and March Madness but I would like to offer a few general college basketball observations here for you to chew upon:
- It sure is fun to watch UCLA basketball this year. This team may not be as dominant as some of the UCLA teams led by Lew Alcindor and/or Bill Walton35 -40 years ago, but they are very good and they are a whole lot of “entertaining” to watch.
- The Big 12 may be an “afterthought” in terms of major college football, but the Big 12 is a powerhouse conference in basketball this year. Kansas and Baylor are both 18-1 this year; West Virginia and K-State are merely 15-4 this year. These are four very serious teams and that means there will be some major confrontations in conference play in the Big 12.
- The Big East has no schools that are football powers but that does not mean you can ignore Big East basketball. The defending NCAA Champion, Villanova, is 19-1 this year; in the same conference, you have Creighton at 18-2, Butler at 17-3, and Xavier at 14-5.
Please notice that I have not mentioned anyone in the ACC and/or the SEC and/or the Big 10 above. That does not mean that I doubt that those conferences have good teams; what it means is that you can see good team play in a lot of different conferences this year and what you have to do as a viewer is to avoid overloading on “games of mediocrity”. Too many local cable systems – Northern Virginia is a prime offender here – offer tons of game that showcase teams that would be better served if no one other than the student body of that school and the blood relatives of the team members every looked in.
Finally, since I referred you to a Scott Ostler column in the SF Chronicle above, here is another of his comments. He was “enumerating” the things he might prefer to watch other than Thursday Night Football:
“My entire backlog of ‘Jeopardy! — the Art Fleming years.’ ”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………