Baseball Hall Of Fame Inductees For 2016

The Baseball Hall of Fame will welcome two new members next summer. Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were both well above the 75% threshold in terms of votes received to merit their induction. Griffey was an absolute no-brainer; the voting is done by the members of the BBWAA – the Baseball Writers’ Association of America – meaning that everyone who has a vote is someone who is involved in covering and following baseball over a period of time. It is inconceivable that anyone who follows/followed baseball as the means to make his/her living could have seen Griffey play and not recognize that he was one of the all-time greats. About the only thing he never did was to come out before the game with the grounds’ crew and help them lay down the chalk for the foul lines.

Mike Piazza was another story. He has been eligible for 4 years and there had been a “PED cloud” over him. However, that cloud was as much innuendo/rumor/whispers as it was “evidence”. If you saw Piazza’s numbers standing alone, you would have to say he was Hall of Fame worthy but the BBWAA voters had issues with him. Perhaps it was exactly those “issues” that pressed forward changes in the BBWAA itself. Last year, a little more than 100 Hall of Fame voters lost their voting franchise because they had not covered baseball for the last 10 years.

Some folks have suggested that it was this “purging” of “old-timers” whose views on PED usage were ossified at best that propelled Piazza into the Hall of Fame. In prior years, there were almost 600 ballots distributed; this year, there were only 450. I do not read minds, so I will not try to tell you how or why folks voted the way they did. However, there is some math to suggest some validity here.

    Barry Bonds “benefited” from the “purge”. In his three prior years of eligibility, Bonds got 206, 198 and 202 votes. This year, he got 195. He seems to have a stable core of writers who believe that he belongs in the Hall of Fame and if the objective is to get to 75% of the votes, it will be easier to get there with only 450 voters than 600 or so voters. It will mean there are fewer minds to change. However, please note that Bonds’ vote this year is still well below 50% and not within hailing distance of the 75% needed for induction.

    Roger Clemens similarly “benefited” from the “purge” in the same sense that Bonds did. Like Bonds, Clemens seems to have a constant base of support for his candidacy. In his 3 years of eligibility, he has gotten 214, 202 and 206 votes; this year he got 199. Once again, his percentage is up because he got about the same number of votes while the total number of votes declined, but he too is still south of 50% of the vote.

I think the “PED cloud” will not dissipate until the BBWAA members have a chance to vote on the poster-child for PEDs – Alex Rodriguez. Like Griffey, Bonds and Clemens, no one could look at A-Rod’s numbers without a name attached to them and conclude that the player who achieved those numbers is unworthy of the Hall of Fame. Moreover, after A-Rod sat out an entire year on suspension for repeated PED use, he came back and played (purportedly) clean at age 40 and had a commendable season. The writers will have to decide when A-Rod is on the ballot what their collective stance will be for PED users because there is no question that he used them during his career. With both Bonds and Clemens, there is still that lingering argument that neither ever failed a drug test. [Aside: It must be pointed out here that Lance Armstrong never failed a drug test either and we know how that all turned out…]

I think that Mike Piazza indeed benefited from the “BBWAA purge” but I am not outraged by that in any way simply because whatever “evidence” there was that he was a “PED-cheat” seems far more flimsy to me than is the “evidence” in the Bonds or Clemens situations.

In any event, Piazza’s induction is a “rags-to-riches story” that might inspire a biopic somewhere down the line. He was hardly a “5-Star recruit” or a “top prospect” in his youth. In fact, in the 1988 MLB draft, Mike Piazza was selected by the LA Dodgers in the 62nd round; he was the 1390th overall pick that year; every team passed over him again and again and again… The lore is that the only reason the Dodgers “wasted” a pick on him is that Tommy LaSorda and Mike Piazza’s father were close friends. If that was the “only reason” then LaSorda and the Dodgers got awfully lucky; if there was a scout who put Piazza on the Dodgers’ draft board notwithstanding the LaSorda/Piazza Sr. friendship, that scout surely deserved a nice bonus.

One other note from the Hall of Fame balloting this year is that this was the last year of eligibility for Alan Trammel and Mark McGwire. Neither made it into the Hall. Now, they will fall under the scrutiny of the Veterans’ Committee and that body has been most stingy with its admissions to the Hall of Fame over the past several years.

Changing topics – and sports – Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Picked-up piece: With its victory over Michigan State in the CFP semis, Alabama won more games at Jones’ AT&T Stadium this season (2) than the Cowboys (1).”

I include that here because I know that one long-term reader of these rants is rabidly anti-Cowboys; and although he realizes that Jerry Jones is not the anti-Christ, he is certain that Jones and the anti-Christ are best buddies. If he had not already put those pieces together, I know he will read those words and give them a fist-pump. It is just another of the services I provide…

Finally, here is one more observation from Bob Molinaro.

“Another lifeline: After he was almost inexplicably retained as Colts coach, Chuck Pagano said, ‘This is absolutely the best day of my life.’ If he says so. But what about the time doctors told him that his cancer was in remission? Presumably that wasn’t such a bad day, either.”

Seriously now, better than the day you got married? Better than the days on which your kids were born? Better than the day you heard the word “remission”? Sigh… Coachspeak run amok.

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

Add One More…

Add one more NFL team looking for a new head coach to the list from yesterday. Late yesterday, the Tampa Bay Bucs parted company with Lovie Smith in a surprising move. In 2014, the Bucs won only 2 games; they were downright awful and had the overall #1 pick in the draft which they used to take Jameis Winston. In 2015, the Bucs finished at 6-10 which is a clear improvement. However, at one point in the season they were 6-6 and were in the mix for a playoff spot; then they lost their last 4 games in a row.

After Jon Gruden won a Super Bowl in Tampa in 2002, he stayed on as coach there until 2008. Since then, the Bucs have gone through Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith as head coaches. The roster has talent; the fanbase is very much a front-runner group; the owners do not exhibit a lot of patience. It will be interesting to see what kind of enthusiasm emerges for that job.

I do not want to jump the gun here because the NFL Free Agency scrum is not going to happen for more than a month, but there are a few players whose contracts expire when their seasons’ end who played their way into a big contract during this year’s free agent frenzy. Just a couple off the top of my head in alphabetical order:

    Kirk Cousins: His rookie contract – the one doled out to a 4th round pick – is over and he is now a certified starting QB in the NFL. My guess is that Cousins has made about $2M in his first 4 years; my guess is that his salary next year will be north of $13M and will escalate each year that the contract is in force.

    Josh Norman: His rookie contract – the one doled out to a 5th round pick from a small college – is over and he is one of the top corner backs in the NFL. Like Kirk Cousins, he has probably made about $1.5-2M so far in his career but his contract next year will be significantly higher. Might he get a contract worth $13M per year on average?

    Russell Okung: His 6-year contract that was worth $48.5M is up and he is one of the best left tackles in the league. His only problem has been some nagging injuries. Okung is only 27 years old so he should expect a fat long-term deal.

    Muhammed Wilkerson: His 4-year contract with the Jets probably paid him a total of $3M and then the Jets picked up an option for 2015 at about $7M. Despite his injury in Week 16, Wilkerson is an exceptional defensive lineman. He may not get “JJ Watt money” (6 years for $100M) but he will cash some nice paychecks during the next deal.

I mentioned above that Russell Okung and Muhammed Wilkerson have had injuries to deal with. That reminds me that I have grown very tired of hearing analysts spout the same old stuff about how this team or that team will have to adopt a “next-man-up culture”. Frankly, that is pretty shallow thinking and it says nothing meaningful about what an injury situation really means to the team. What it says most loudly is that the analyst has no idea what to say about the future and so he falls back on what has become an “old saw” in only a few years. Consider:

    If every team with an injury to compensate for needs to adopt this “next-man-up” attitude, then it stands to reason that such an attitude is part of the essence of being an NFL team. If the supplier of tape and bandages to a team went bankrupt, no one would say the team needed to adopt a “next-tape-supplier-up” attitude. They would say that the team had to adapt to a new situation.

    If you think even a little bit about the idea of a “next-man-up” culture, you will realize that it is more than nonsensical; it is mandatory. If a team loses its starting middle linebacker to an injury, it has only 2 choices:

      It can play someone else at middle linebacker.

      It can play without a middle linebacker.

    That choice is not going to be very difficult for the majority of coaching staffs in the NFL…

While I am on the subject of nonsensical phrases that are overused to the point that they become meaningless, I am tired of hearing that this coach or that coach has “lost the locker room”.

    Memo to Oblivious Coach: Follow your nose and head toward the rancid smell of sweat and dirty jockstraps. You will find the locker room at the end of the line of stink.

Often, I tell you about culinary atrocities that are available at baseball parks around the country but I ran across a report about one that will clog your arteries at a football stadium. At Lambeau Field, you can buy something called The Horse Collar.

    No; it is not horsemeat.

    No; it is not a saddle.

    The Horse Collar is 22-inch long kielbasa bent into a long U-shape. It is served in a roll that is the same U-shape and the sausage – which has been cooked in beer – comes with melted cheese and deep-fried sauerkraut. That is correct; the sauerkraut, which is the only marginally healthy ingredient here, is deep-fried to add to the stress test you will set upon your Lipitor prescription.

    The description above is the “baseline Horse Collar”. You can add fried onions and/or fried peppers at your whim.

A horse collar tackle in an NFL game draws a 15-yard penalty because it is a dangerous way to bring down a ball-carrier. I wonder what penalty a cardiologist might wish to impose on a patient that he saw chowing down on The Horse Collar at Lambeau Field?

Finally, an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Baltimore Ravens behemoth John Urschel co-wrote a paper, published in the Journal of Computational Mathematics, titled ‘A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians.’

“And to think, some of his O-line brethren can’t even remember the snap count.”

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

RIP Bob Connolly

I am back from a week without my computer and with only periodic Internet access. I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year celebration. I learned some sad news last night when I checked my e-mails; Bob Connolly – one of the folks listed under “Columnists I Read” on the right margin of the website – passed away just before Christmas. I never met Bob in person but we were in frequent contact over the Internet. When I visited Ireland several years ago, we took a train from Dublin to Belfast and passed through Connolly Station; I took a picture and sent it to him asking if it was named for a relative of his. That led us into a lengthy exchange with regard to Irish/British history and Irish/British politics. Bob was an avid follower of boxing although as a polio survivor he could never participate in anything like boxing as an activity; he explained many things related to boxing to me over the years.

I will leave the link to his Dreams Blog on the website for a while in case any of you might want to check out his final writings.

Rest in peace, Bob Connolly…

There are 6 NFL coaching vacancies at the moment. Only one of them is really surprising to me and that is the Eagles. Jeffrey Lurie had shown great patience during the Andy Reid years as the team built itself up from the worst team in the league in 1999 to a Super Bowl participant in 2005 and a frequent playoff participant up through 2010. Given his enthusiastic verbal support for Chip Kelly, I did not think he would fire Kelly; but he did and the Eagles are looking for a new coach and a new personnel guy since Kelly wore both hats in Philly. Howie Roseman is in charge of personnel for the moment and he has been in Philly for several years now; that is good news and bad news at the same time.

    Good News: He knows the roster’s strengths and weaknesses and he has been doing this job for a while. He is not a novice.

    Bad News: He has butted heads with both Andy Reid and Chip Kelly. I do not know if that has led to a reputation around the league that might scare off top-shelf coaching candidates – but it might…

If you subscribe to the theory that a franchise QB is the single most important factor in a team’s and a coach’s success, then the six openings fall into two categories. Two teams have what appear to be “good QB situations”:

    Giants: The defense may be horrid and the running game shows up only once in a while, but the QB is a 2-time Super Bowl winner. Moreover, Eli Manning has talent to throw to at WR and at TE.

    Titans: Marcus Mariota is not an established star in the NFL yet but his rookie season indicates that he has the potential to become one. The Titans need help in plenty of other places on the roster, but barring injury, they would seem to be set at QB for a while.

The other four teams have what appear to be “not so good QB situations”:

    Eagles: Is Sam Bradford – who is a free agent and will need to be resigned – the long term answer? Yes, he was the overall #1 pick in the draft a few years ago, but still… Certainly, Mark Sanchez is not the long term answer. This is an “iffy situation” at best.

    Dolphins: Is Ryan Tannehill the long term answer? He plays well in stretches and then seems to regress for other stretches. Personally, I think the Dolphins need a huge upgrade in the offensive line in front of him more than they need to go on a QB search.

    Niners: The have an injured/rehabbing Colin Kaepernick – who seemingly regressed to “raw rookie status” last season – and Blaine Gabbert on the roster. Counting on either of those guys is pretty much a crap-shoot…

    Browns: Josh McCown will be 36 next season and finished the year with a shoulder injury. Nonetheless, he is the best QB on the roster. Enough said…

Of those four teams with “not so good QB situations”, I would have to say that the Eagles’ job should be the most attractive because the ownership situations with the other 3 clubs have shown themselves to be mercurial in some cases and downright incompetent in others. The next several weeks will be interesting…

Since I mentioned the Eagles above, let me switch here to another Philly team, the Sixers. Last month, the team hired Jerry Colangelo – rumor has it that the Commissioner pressured the Sixers’ owner to do so in order to bring some level of credibility to the team – and then they hired Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach. Obviously, these two moves could not hurt a team that was 1-26 at one point in this season; in fact, the Sixers are 3-7 over their last 10 games but let us put that in perspective here.

    Because of their horrid start to the season the Sixers are still – after 37 games – on pace to win only 8 or 9 games this season. Eight wins would set a new record for the worst season record ever; nine wins would tie that record.

    D’Antoni is an offensive minded coach; the head coach, Brett Brown, is a defensive minded coach. If they blend their “basketball gestalt”, they might make the Sixers into a real team. Remember, a team with a 1-26 record projects to have a final NBA record of 3-79.

    The Sixers have played only 14 home games so far this year and have been on the road for 23 games. That means they have a preponderance of home games left on their schedule. They have not been fearsome at home with a 2-12 record but that is surely better than their road record of 2-21…

I am sure you remember Stephon Marbury and some of his antics in his NBA career. Marbury has been playing in China for the last several years and according to this report, a museum dedicated to him opened in Beijing late last month. He already has a statue in that city and is pictured on a Chinese postage stamp. Let me just say that he has obviously found his milieu in the Far East…

Finally, Bob Molinaro had this retrospective on 2015 in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Looking back: Because we’re accustomed to media losing perspective about everything, it wasn’t surprising that in 2015 the relentless fallout over the alleged PSI of a few Patriots footballs created far more outrage than the conviction of New England tight end Aaron Hernandez for the very real crime of first-degree murder.”

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

NFL Housecleanings … ?

We are at the point in the NFL season where speculation heats up with regard to coaches who are likely to be replaced in the upcoming off-season. To be sure, those sorts of discussions have begun but there seem to be other sorts of musings this year in addition to coaches on the hot seat. This year, there are reports/fantasies regarding NFL owners who are going to “clean house” in the front office or at least make significant changes in that part of their organization. Here is a sampling of what I have been reading/hearing and some of my thoughts on those musings.

In the AFC:

    Browns: Jimmy Haslem bought the team in 2012. In 3 seasons he has had 2 head coaches and the current head coach is not on the firmest ground you can imagine. He has also gotten rid of 1 Team President and 2 GMs since buying the team. Reports say he might be ready for another shake-up. Why not? The current regime is not exactly setting the world on fire. On the other hand, this sort of turmoil and instability cannot be attractive to the top-shelf candidates in the coaching/exec world. As miserable as this season has been, it might behoove Haslem to leave things alone – if he can.

    Titans: The coach is already gone and the interim replacement has not distinguished himself. Reports that ownership may be looking to sell the team is not particularly attractive but there are persistent reports that Peyton Manning and Bill Polian might be looking to join forces to run a football operation together and that Polian has his eye on Tennessee – where Peyton Manning happened to go to college. Polian is in the Hall of Fame as an exec; Manning surely knows something about the game. The current roster needs an overhaul and the Titans will have a top pick this year after grabbing their supposed franchise QB last year. This could be an interesting job situation.

    Colts: Given Jim Irsay’s comments about the team and the coach before and during the season, I doubt Chuck Pagano will be back unless the Colts win the Super Bowl – which they will not. The problem with the Colts job is the mirror-image of the problem with the Browns’ job. The Browns have instability; the Colts have stability – but that stability is named Jim Irsay. These jobs seem to me to be a “pick your poison situation”. Reports are that Irsay wants to trade draft picks to get Sean Payton as the coach; if that happens, you may be sure that Payton will demand to come with his own hand-picked GM or to be the coach/GM himself. Remember, Irsay is the guy who fired Bill Polian…

    Bills: The team is a mess and they are playing worse as the season wears on. Rex Ryan is still the new kid on the block so I guess he is safe but the roster is simply not strong enough or balanced enough to be a playoff team. If there are any changes in store here, I would look for the GM to take the fall.

    Dolphins: They have fired the coach and some coordinators and the team is still mediocre on its best days. Owner Stephen Ross is impulsive and is one given to “splashy hires”. If the Saints are serious about letting Sean Payton walk in exchange for draft picks, it would not be surprising to see the Dolphins in the midst of the bidding. On the other hand, Payton might look at the roster and wonder what he is supposed to do with it if he does not have draft picks… The head of football operations is Mike Tannenbaum who used to be the Jets’ GM and he is new enough that he might survive a purge, but the GM himself…??? The key question here might be, how do Mike Tannenbaum and Sean Payton get along?

    Chargers: With the team nominally poised to move to LA, they will need to kickstart interest in a team with a 4-10 record as of this morning. After two seasons with 9-7 records, the Chargers fell way short of expectations this year. However, they gave the GM, Tom Telesco, a 3-year contract extension back in the Spring of 2015 so it will cost them money to move him out. The coach, Mike McCoy, on the other hand…

In the NFC:

    Lions: You can always count on the Lions to do something off-center. This year they have fired their GM and other front office folks and their offensive coordinator and – – you get the idea. The guy they retained is head coach, Jim Caldwell. Given how poorly the Lions have played – after winning 11 games and making the playoffs last year – Caldwell’s presence means one of two things:

      He will be fired within 48 hours of the Lions’ final game – or –
      He will be the Lions’ coach for life.

    My money is on the former putting the Lions in the position of replacing just about everyone from the ticket sales manager on up. Former GM Ernie Accorsi has been hired by the Lions to consult with them as they look for a new GM but at age 75, Accorsi is probably not interested in doing the job himself.

    Niners: They are in medias res with regard to changing the management structure. It began with last year’s power struggle wherein Jim Harbaugh “opted to leave” and take the job at Michigan. The new folks in charge could not land a top-shelf coaching candidate and handed the job to Jim Tomsula who had never been a coordinator. Tomsula is a nice guy by every report but is also someone considered to be significantly over his head in his job. Now, if the Niners fire Tomsula after only one year, what sort of message might that send to front office and coaching candidates? The problem in SF is squarely one of ownership.

    Rams: This has been a disappointing season for the Rams and various rumors have owner Stan Kroenke starting over from scratch. I do not think that is likely to happen because I think Kroenke has much bigger issues to take up his time and attention than the coach and GM for his football team. According to reports, Rams’ GM, Les Snead’s contract is over at the end of this year, so if Kroenke wants to make a change, that makes it relatively easy. I believe that Fisher has one more year to go on his contract and that it would take something slightly north of $7M to buy him out.

    Falcons: There are plenty of reports that Arthur Blank is poised to make sweeping changes in the football organization. Remember, Coach Dan Quinn only arrived on the scene last February and he signed a 5-year deal which also gives him control over the 53-man roster for the team. “Sweeping changes” would likely have to include getting rid of the relatively new coach and paying off 4 years out of a 5-year deal is not going to sit well with any owner no matter how much his net worth might be.

    Giants: Ownership cannot be happy with the way this season has unfolded given that the Giants are in the hugely mediocre NFC East and are sitting in 3rd place in that pile of mediocrity as of this morning. The roster has a couple of star players and a bunch of journeymen; the coach has two Super Bowl wins on his ledger in the past 8 seasons. Tom Coughlin will be 70 years old when the NFL season starts next year; he may choose to retire but if he chooses not to retire, it might be a tough call for the owners to fire him. Ergo, if they feel they have to make changes, it might be only in the front office where change is easily accomplished.

    Eagles: Chip Kelly now does it all in Philly and while it is still possible for the Eagles to make the playoffs, the season has to be considered “unsatisfactory”. A large – and very vocal – segment of the Eagles’ fanbase would welcome Kelly’s departure from either or both jobs that he now holds down. In fact, some would be more than willing to provide transportation for him and his family to the airport. I do not see Jeffrey Lurie firing Coach Kelly; I doubt he will fire GM Kelly, but if he feels he has to make a change, it will be in the GM position.

As mentioned a couple of times above, the New Orleans Saints are a wildcard in all of this because they might be willing to “trade” coach Sean Payton at the end of this year. I think several of the teams mentioned here could be interested in acquiring Payton but there is another team that could be “in the mix”. The Dallas Cowboys might lust after Payton; Jerry Jones has praised him publicly in the past and the Cowboys hardly performed well on the field this year. However, one thing is for certain; Jerry Jones is not going to fire the Cowboys’ GM because the Cowboys’ GM is the same Jerry Jones who owns the team. So, if the Cowboys are seriously part of the expected “Sean Payton Sweepstakes”, it will be a simple coaching transaction and Payton will have to accept the GM in place – who is actually the GM for life.

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

College Football Bowl Games

A whole bunch of the college football bowl games have already happened. I have not been glued to my TV set for fear of missing some important event for most of the games. I did watch most of the Utah/BYU game because of the rivalry angle involved and what looked like a blowout early – 35-0 in the first half – turned out to be a 35-28 game with some excitement at the end. I do not want to harp on the fact that there are too many bowl games; you already know my position on that. Rather I want to talk about some of the economics of bowl games as they apply to the schools involved.

When schools accept bowl invitations, one of the strings attached to the invitation is that each bowl game will require the schools to sell an allotment of tickets to the game. If they do not meet the allotment, the school then owes the bowl committee the value of the unsold tickets. That is one of the reasons that I check in on many of the bowl games for enough time to get a couple of broad crowd shots on my TV. I want to see how full the stands are and – if possible – how big the cheering sections for both schools may be.

As you may expect, schools in the “prestigious bowl games” – and the ones played on “advantageous dates” – tend to sell out their ticket allotments entirely. For example, Michigan State announced that it has already sold out its allotment of 13,000 tickets for the Cotton Bowl game against Alabama on 31 December. In fact, Michigan State said that it had more than 16,000 requests for tickets and could easily have sold more. The Athletic Department at Michigan State has some sort of relationship with Stub Hub in the ticket reselling business and is directing alumni and other fans to Stub Hub to acquire tickets for the Cotton Bowl game.

Michigan State was in the Cotton Bowl last year playing Baylor but did not sell out its allotment for that game. This year, the Cotton Bowl is a stepping stone to the CFP Championship Game; last year it was merely a bowl game against Baylor. That should give you an indication that fan interest in bowl games – even ones with a long history – is marginal.

At the other end of the spectrum, consider the plight of Washington State as they prepare for the Sun Bowl game against Miami in El Paso, TX on 26 December. Washington State’s allotment is 6,000 tickets and based on a report late last week, they had only sold 1,900 of them. Let me try to figure out why:

    El Paso is a couple thousand miles from Pullman WA. Attending the game is going to cost a lot more than the cost of the tickets plus parking.

    The game is the day after Christmas. Fans will either spend Christmas away from home or will have to make a long journey with flight connections on game day.

    Miami is not a “big rivalry game”.

    El Paso is not exactly a tourist mecca or a “destination city”.

Washington State is probably going to eat the cost of at least half of their ticket allotment in addition to whatever costs it incurs in shipping the team and the coaching staff and the band and the cheerleaders to the venue; it is part of the cost of doing business in college football.

I am not picking on Washington State; their situation is mirrored at loads of other schools who are playing in games at inconvenient times against opponents with little meaning to their fans in inconvenient places at inconvenient times. So, why do teams accept bids to play in these minor bowl games in the first place? The reason is that coaches love them for the following reason:

    Teams not in bowl games had their last practices in late November or the first week of December. Teams in bowl games get to practice up until the time of the game. That gives “bowl teams” an extra 2 – 4 weeks of practice before the players show up for spring practices when the weather is nicer.

    Coaches love the extra practice time that non-bowl teams are not allowed to have.

That is correct; the college football system is set up to take the better teams this year – the ones nominally at or over .500 – and give them a greater advantage over the teams that were not-so-good this year. It is sort of the NFL Draft system with the logic inverted; it would be as if the team that won the Super Bowl would get the overall #1 pick…

The whole business of getting fans to travel long distances over the Holidays to go and see a meaningless football game is going on in the face of data saying that overall attendance at college football games is in decline. According to a report at, average attendance at a college football game this year was 43,288 fans. That is down from last year; it continues a slow 5-year decline and it is down 7% from the peak average attendance of 45,456 in 2008.

The “major conferences” were well above this average but the “minor conferences were not. To fill all of the minor bowl games, they need lots of schools from the “minor conferences” where fans do not show up when the games are conveniently on campus. In 2015, 29 schools had average attendance at home games below 20,000 fans.

    10 schools in the MAC were under 20,000; 5 averaged less than 15,000; 2 MAC schools averaged less than 8,000 fans per game.

    7 schools in the Sun Belt were under 20,000; 3 averaged less than 15,000 fans per game.

      [Aside: Idaho is in the Sun Belt Conference. Do they teach geography at Idaho?]

    6 schools in Conference USA were under 20,000; 2 averaged less than 15,000 fans per game.

    3 schools in the Mountain West were under 20,000 fans per game.

I understand that watching many of these teams play football is a lot more comfortable when done on TV. I also understand that football is not a big tradition at many of these schools. Nonetheless, it does point out that it is not going to be easy to get fans from those schools to undertake the expense and the inconvenience of Holiday travel just to see another football game that might well be ignored if it were played across the street.

Finally, there are these facts from one of the 2015 college bowl games that is already in the books:

    San José St (average attendance 15,312) beat Georgia St (average attendance 10,347) 27-16 in the Cure Bowl game held at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL.

    With that win, San José St. ended its season with a record of 6-7.

    With that loss, Georgia St. ended its season with a record of 6-7.

    The Citrus Bowl seats 70,000 fans; the announced attendance for the game was 18,000 souls. Even with that obviously inflated report of the attendance, the Citrus Bowl was 75% empty.

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

The Dark Side Of Money And Sports…

In the Super Bowl of corruption, the two favorites are always the IOC and FIFA. Because of recent headlines, FIFA is the current favorite in that despicable contest. This morning there are reports that “the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee” – let the fact of the existence of such a body wash over you for just a moment here – had issued 8-year bans from any and all soccer related activities to Sepp Blatter and Michael Platini. Blatter was the guy who ran FIFA for the last umpty-squat years; Platini was the guy in charge of UEFA – the Union of European Football Associations. Adding just a pinch of irony here, Platini and Blatter were rivals in the soccer world; in the last FIFA election, Platini was one of the people who campaigned against Blatter citing the bad reputation FIFA had with Blatter in the driver’s seat. Now, both of them will be “off the pitch” so to speak. Platini was also one of the candidates angling to replace Blatter in the new FIFA election that will happen next year to replace Blatter after Blatter resigned several months ago.

This matter stems from an investigation that has roots in the Swiss Attorney General’s office and in the US Department of Justice. One of the matters at hand is an alleged “disloyal payment” involving millions of dollars made by FIFA to Platini for services nominally rendered by Platini about 15 years ago. The Swiss Attorney General alleges that Blatter knew of said “disloyal payment”. The FIFA Ethics Committee dusted off the FIFA Code of Ethics and discovered that there are sections within said Code dealing with Bribery and Corruption. To the surprise of many folks, those sections of the Code actually had negative things to say about bribery and corruption. Blatter and Platini were obviously surprised to learn of the negative aspects of the Code of Ethics with regard to bribery and corruption.

    Blatter is 87 years old. He has the right to appeal his banishment but let me assume for a moment that he chooses not to do that or that the ban is upheld. An 8-year ban for him is a lifetime ban for all practical purposes.

    Platini is 60 years old. He too can appeal this ruling. In any event, he will be able to return to the sport in whatever capacity he might carve out for himself at age 68. We may not have heard the last from or about him.

I mentioned above that the US Department of Justice was involved in an investigation of FIFA regarding an alleged bribe paid to FIFA of $100M by a now-defunct sports marketing organization called ISL. According to reports, a former FIFA official/employee/whistleblower/whatever told the FBI about the payment itself and that Blatter specifically knew of the payment/bribe.

We will rehash some if not much of this matter down the line when/if either Blatter or Platini appeals this banishment and/or when FIFA holds is new elections for a new major domo early in 2016. Until then, recall that the alleged bribes and payments involved in these investigations involve millions of dollars to Platini and $100M to FIFA and then consider that the Ethics Committee also fined these men the following amounts:

    Blatter was fined $50,000
    Platini was fined $80,000.

Those seem like an awfully small “cost of doing business” to me…

Dwight Perry had this comment in a recent column in the Seattle Times:

“Swiss government agents swept into a Zurich luxury hotel and hauled off 16 more FIFA officials on corruption charges.

“In lieu of arrest warrants, the feds stormed in holding up red cards.”

Let me switch gears here and talk about another sports-related situation involving money, a court proceeding and a former athlete. Clinton Portis was a running back for the Broncos and the Skins over a 9-year period. According to reports, he made over $40M in his career and he is now in bankruptcy court. Those proceedings reveal some details of his personal financial situation that would normally be hidden from sight and those details are strange indeed.

He owes creditors a tad over $4.8M; his income now consists of $3500 a month from the NFL in disability payments plus $1000 a month as a sideline reporter for Skins’ games on local broadcasts. That comes to $54K per year; even if every dime of that income went to pay the creditors, it would take almost 90 years to cover the debt – at 0% interest. That is not the strange aspect of this situation; bankruptcy always involves a huge imbalance of debts to assets. What is unusual in this case is the nature of the debts; this is a partial list:

    Portis owes a bit over $400K in domestic support payments to 4 different women.

    He owes about $400K in back taxes.

    He owes $1.2M in “mortgage deficiencies”.

    He owes $170K to the Borgata in Atlantic City

    He owes $287K to MGM Grand

    He owes $500K to a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and CNN.

    He owes $500K to his mother.

The first five entries above are surprising in the sense that they are awfully large amounts of money in those “debt categories”; the last two entries above are simply unusual. As part of this filing there is another strange assertion for the court. Portis claims to have lost – and is trying to recover – $8M from a company that took his money and invested it in a casino venture that went belly-up. I know nothing about the details of that “investment” or anything about the company or the nature of the relationship between Portis and that company. Here is what I do know:

    It is really difficult to go broke running a casino.

Finally, sticking with matters involving sports and money, here is a comment from bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Loose change: Just in case Nick Saban’s $6.9 million yearly salary from Alabama isn’t enough to, you know, tide him over, he receives a $125,000 bonus for capturing the SEC title.”

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

Not Coachspeak – Coach-Misspeak…

Yesterday, I said that I did not know enough about what happened in the reported Aroldis Chapman domestic violence event and I would defer judgment/comment on it until I knew more. Washington Nationals’ manager, Dusty Baker, did not defer comment and many folks considered his defense of Chapman insensitive at best and atavistic at worst. The brouhaha over those comments seems to have allowed another of Baker’s recent utterings to slide gently off into the world ether with much less commentary than I think it deserves.

These words have been attributed to Dusty Baker. I did not hear him say them but I have also heard no denials from him or the Nats regarding them.

“I think the No. 1 thing that’s missing in the game is speed. You know, with the need for minorities, you can help yourself — you’ve got a better chance of getting some speed with Latin and African-Americans. I’m not being racist. That’s just how it is.”

If I take those words as presented here on the page, I agree that “speed” is not a dominant element of baseball in 2015 and adding speed to a team a plus. I also agree that – on average – a scout is more likely to identify a speedy player when he is scouting Latin or African-American players then when he scouting Asian or Caucasian players. Indeed, that is not racist; that is just how it is…

Having said that, if you read Baker’s remarks and recall the words of Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder, you may find a small parallel. What Snyder said was that Blacks “were bred” to be better athletes than Whites. Granted, Snyder’s use of “bred” reduces Blacks to the category of animals at worst or chattel property at best, but if you are talking about “speed” as an athletic attribute, what Snyder said was pretty much the same thing Baker said.

Now compare the reaction of the people in the media who reported both sets of remarks. Snyder was excoriated and even with an apology he was fired by CBS – or maybe it was NBC, I really do not recall. In the words of George Orwell’s 1984, Snyder was made into an unperson.

In no way am I defending what Snyder said. However, in no way can I accept what Dusty Baker just said as a mere slip of the tongue. Snyder was hired by one of the networks as a commentator, a person who was supposed to communicate with the public using words. His misuse of words was a firing offense. Baker is hired by a baseball team to help the team win games; he is not paid to be an orator or a communicator. Therefore, his words should not be even close to a firing offense. However, his words should bring him a healthy serving of public opprobrium and that has not yet been delivered.

While on the subject of managers/coaches whose public utterances may be just a tad off center, let me focus on recent comments by José Mourinho, the coach/manager of Chelsea in the English Premier League. Chelsea is not doing well at all this year; as of this morning, they stand 16th (out of 20 teams) in the EPL Table and they are exactly one point above the “relegation line”. Granted, the season is only near the halfway point, but this is indeed an unusual position for the Chelsea squad. Just last year, Chelsea finished 3rd in the EPL and only allowed 27 goals in 38 league games. This year, they have already allowed 26 goals in 16 games.

As you may imagine, the Chelsea fans and the football commentators are not pleased with Chelsea’s performance this year and as happens here too, much of the criticism is focused on Mourinho as the manager/coach. In the US, one might expect a coach under serious scrutiny and having this kind of a season to resort to coachspeak about working harder and correcting the “little things” that have been going wrong and etc. Not José Mourinho:

“One of my best qualities is to read the game for my players and I feel like my work was betrayed. I think [Leicester City] deserved to win because they were better than us during a long period of time. We conceded two goals that were unacceptable.”

And …

“All last season I did phenomenal work and brought [the Chelsea players] to a level that is not their level and more than they really are.”

The argot of the times would say that Mourinho just threw the entire Chelsea roster under the bus. Actually, if I look at what other coaches have said where those words were defined as “throwing someone under the bus”, I would characterize Mourinho’s remarks as “throwing the team under the bus, circling the bus around and running over their bodies a few more times and then pissing all over the huddled mass on the pavement”. This almost makes Stalin’s scorched earth policy seem humane.

I will not pretend to know how effective José Mourinho is/has been as a football manager/coach for his career. In US football terms, I am confident that he is somewhere on the spectrum between Vince Lombardi and Richie Kotite. In terms of being a coach who creates a warm and fuzzy environment in the locker room, I think I am on safe ground suggesting that he either has a lot to learn or that he just does not care about said warm and fuzzy environment.

For the next item, I need to set the stage for a moment. A maiden filly named Ruby Queen was supposed to run in a race at Mahoning Valley Race Course in Ohio; her form must have been awful because she went off in a race for fillies and mares at 110-1. Accidentally, the horse that entered the starting gate and ran in the race and blew away the field was a male horse named Leathers Slappin. Here are two paragraphs from the AP report on how this happened:

“An investigation found that a stable worker went into the wrong stall on Nov. 4 and brought out a male horse named Leathers Slappin instead of Ruby Queen, who was in a neighboring stall, said William Crawford, executive director of the Ohio State Racing Commission.

“A track employee, known as an identifier, then failed to properly check the horse before what was supposed to be an all-female race, he said. The identifier’s job is to verify each horse by looking at the numbers on its lip tattoo.”

I understand that “process” is important and that the identifier here may not have been nearly as alert as one might have expected. However, may I suggest ever so gently that there might have been yet another way to determine that the animal he was “identifying” was not a female of the species…?

Finally, here is another horse racing item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“American Pharoah will command a $200,000 stud fee and, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, could easily do 200 bookings in five months.

“Pass the Neighagra.”

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

All Baseball Today…

There has been a lot of activity in the Hot Stove League already this year and I would like to comment on a small part of the player exchanges. I wonder what the Atlanta Braves are thinking/doing.

Last year, the Braves lost 95 games which is bad enough; moreover, their run differential for the season was minus-187 which was 4 runs worse than the Phillies’ run differential. That means they got blown out more than once in a while. There is no question the Braves need a rebuild. And that sets the stage…

First the Braves traded Andrelton Simmons who was the best defensive shortstop in the National League and who was not an embarrassment at the plate. In exchange, they got a replacement shortstop in Erick Aybar who hits a bit better but who is several notches below Simmons in the field. The Braves also acquired 2 minor league pitchers in that deal.

Then, the Braces sent Cameron Maybin off to the Tigers and acquired 2 more minor league pitchers. So, it would seem as if the idea is to shore up the pitching staff, right? After all, with that negative run differential, one has to look at the team pitching and say to oneself:

    We ought to be able to upgrade that…

However, the next trade was to ship out their single best starting pitcher – Shelby Miller – to acquire Ender Inciarte (a good young outfielder), Dansby Swanson (a shortstop who was the overall #1 pick in last year’s draft), and 2 more minor league pitchers. In this series of moves, the Braves subtracted three solid major league players to acquire one good young outfielder, a journeyman shortstop, a top draft pick and 6 minor league pitchers.

    If Dansby Swanson does not become a solid major league player and at least 2 if not 3 of those minor league pitchers make it to the majors, one has to wonder how long it might be for the Braves to recover.

What the Braves seem to be doing is to trade off their valuable assets to accumulate numbers of young prospects in the hope that they will all mature together and become the nucleus of a strong contending team. That is not a bad idea when it works. There are two potential problems here:

    1. It may not work. The players they acquired may not pan out.

    2. There should be some anxious times in store for Braves’ fans. If you think I am exaggerating, talk to some Philadelphia 76ers fans; they are in medias res as we speak.

Another Hot Stove League trade of interest is the one that is limbo at the moment between the Dodgers and the Reds involving Aroldis Chapman and allegations that he was involved in a domestic violence incident several months ago where shots were fired although no one was injured. I have no idea what actually happened there so I shall reserve all judgments regarding that matter except to wonder:

    Do you think that Jerry Jones might sign Chapman for the Cowboys? He can throw a baseball 100 mph; I wonder if he can throw a football…

In other baseball news, Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he will not lift Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball. Given that Manfred is only 57 years old, it would seem as if he is going to be in that position for a while; that means Pete Rose’s lifetime ban could likely extend to the end of Rose’s lifetime. According to this report by Matt Snyder on, Rose told Manfred when the two met that he (Rose) continues “to bet on horse racing and professional sports including baseball.” Rose lives in Nevada where those activities are perfectly legal and millions (literally) of people go to Nevada every year to do just those sorts of things. Notwithstanding the legalities here, Pete Rose has to be dumber than a bag of hair. The thing that got him in the situation he is in now is “betting on baseball”. He is seeking clemency and redemption; so how can he still be betting on baseball and hope to obtain said clemency and redemption?

It would be even better if he stopped gambling on the horses and other sporting events and focused his gambling energies on things like poker or blackjack or roulette. It would be difficult for an objective observer to say that those activities might affect the “integrity of the game” when the person involved is not going to be a player or manager any time soon. So, Rose came to the Commish with a weak case for clemency/redemption to start with and then sealed his fate by doing something even more stupid. According to Snyder’s story, there is a footnote in Manfred’s report regarding his decision:

“Even more troubling, in our interview, Rose initially denied betting on baseball currently and only later in the interview did he ‘clarify’ his response to admit such betting.”

So, Rose is still betting on baseball and – after getting an interview with the Commish that he has been seeking for years to plead his case – what he did was to lie about his continued betting on baseball. Given those circumstances, I now pronounce Pete Rose as

    The Bull-Goose Looney.

In the Ken Kesey novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Randall Patrick McMurphy wanted to know which of the inmates in the asylum was “the bull-goose looney”. Well, now we know who it is…

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times regarding another baseball issue:

Joe Posnanski of, on MLB traditionalists’ aversion to bat-flipping: ‘If Neil Armstrong had played by baseball’s stupid unwritten rules of decorum, he would have whispered, ‘Yeah, I’m on the moon.’”

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

What Is A Catch/What Is Not A Catch…

Roger Goodell announced last week that the NFL would create a committee to think about possible revisions to the NFL rule governing what is a catch and what is not a catch. That committee would then make its recommendations to the Competition Committee – who has studied this matter in the past and is the group that came up with the head-spinning rule that exists today – and then, the Competition Committee might suggest rule changes to the NFL and the NFLPA that might go into effect… Calculating the value of pi to 1000 decimal places using only a pencil and a notepad might not take as long to reach a result.

However, I prefer to be a problem-solver as opposed to a problem; therefore, I present to this new Yet-To-Be-Named Committee a simple place to start as they seek to define what is a catch and what is not a catch:

    When a receiver controls the ball and gets two feet down – or his knee, elbow, butt or some other part of his anatomy – that is a catch.

    When he can only control the ball and only get one foot down, that is not a catch.

    When he controls the ball – two feet down – and then hits the ground and loses the ball, that is a fumble.

Yes, there are still elements of judgment in those suggestions meaning that there will be the need for replays/challenges and there will still be some elements of controversy in the calls. Nonetheless, I do think my suggested rule change will be less controversial – it is certainly briefer and simpler than the current rule(s) – and should be worth consideration.

Oh, and while I am at it, I have another suggestion for the Competition Committee’s consideration:

    Just as “what is a catch/what is not a catch” is a mystery, another mystery is “what is pass interference/who committed said pass interference”. Having watched hundreds upon hundreds of replays of pass receptions and pass interference calls/non-calls, it almost seems as if these calls can be made with a flip of the coin in 75% of the cases.


      1. Change the penalty for defensive pass interference to the same one that exists for offensive pass interference. Make it 10-yards and an automatic first down. Why should defensive pass interference result in a 50-yard penalty when offensive pass interference cannot be more than 10 yards? That seems a bit out of balance…

      2. Allow receivers and defenders to contact one another/hand fight/whatever until the moment the pass is thrown. Then, if there is any contact other than making a play on the ball as it arrives for reception/interception/incompletion, that is pass interference on the player who makes the first contact.

Now that my work is done with the NFL for today, let me turn my attention to college football for a moment. David Shaw is the head coach at Stanford and has shown himself to be highly competent in that position and a thoughtful man when it comes to what is good for the sport of college football. I took notice of the following remark in large measure because it was attributed to David Shaw; if it had come from a half dozen other college coaches who shall remain nameless here, I would likely have not paid it much mind:

“I do believe at some point it’s going to be an eight-team playoff. I think it’s going to be unavoidable. I’m not upset by any stretch of the imagination. I just know this year is a part of the process where you have these teams in Stanford and Iowa and Ohio State that you could make a case could be in a playoff, and it would be a phenomenal playoff. So I have no problems with where we are now. I just do believe eventually, it will become an eight-team playoff because it’s the only thing that makes sense.”

I agree completely with David Shaw that the CFP will eventually expand to 8 teams. I do not agree that the reason for that expansion will be to accommodate four more teams for which one “could make a case could be in a playoff”; rather, the expansion will be driven by the economics of the matter. Money talks…

I too like where we are now; the CFP as it is configured is a light-year better than the BCS was and the BCS was a light-year better than what existed when polls were taken after the big-time bowl games were played and a “national champion” was elected in an off-the-field process. I am happy with a four-team field and can continue to live with that for a long time. However, you will not hear me screech about the insanity of expanding the field to eight teams when that comes to pass maybe 5 years from now.

However, when the discussion of expansion/non-expansion heats up, let me put down a marker right now:

    It is ridiculous to say that expansion to 8 teams will eliminate the controversy about who is admitted to the playoffs and who is not. That sort of controversy/tempest-in-a-teapot will continue to happen until or unless the CFP includes each and every team playing Division 1-A football.

    If you doubt that statement, consider that there are now 68 teams in the March Madness field and there are discussions ever year about what team was unjustly denied a chance to be in the Big Dance.

Note that David Shaw named 3 teams he believes can and should be in a college football playoff this year. If you take his nominees and add them to the existing field that would give you 7 teams and the need to add an eighth. So, just for fun, let me posit that the second tier of 4 teams would be Iowa, Ohio State, Stanford and – – Notre Dame. Surely you do not believe that the folks in Tallahassee (Florida State), Chapel Hill (UNC) and/or Houston (Houston) would unanimously agree that was the only logical field of 8 teams. The tournament will expand because there is a ton of money to be made by expanding. However, the screeching and whining about who is in and who is not in the tournament will not go away.

Finally, Brad Dickson had these comments recently in the Omaha World-Herald about a college bowl game at the other end of the spectrum from the CFP games – the Foster Farms Bowl to be played in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara CA:

“Nebraska has been selected to play in the Foster Farms Bowl. That’ll teach the team to go 5-7.

“The Foster Farms Bowl features a 5-7 Nebraska team vs. UCLA, a team Nebraska has played multiple times in recent years. The best way to sell this game to Husker fans may be to publicize the typical high temperature here [in Nebraska] on Dec. 26.”

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

The NBA Goes Dormant Until March…

To begin today, I want to juxtapose two recent occurrences in the NBA. The first event is summarized by an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“The Philadelphia 76ers finally snapped the longest losing streak in American pro-sports history — 28 losses in a row.

“That popping sound you hear is the Washington Generals hitting the champagne at Don Shula’s house.”

The other NBA event is at the other end of the success spectrum; the Golden State Warriors finally lost a game this year and as of this morning, their record stands at 24-1.

Those two streaks were very important to the NBA for a simple reason. Each of those streaks gave people a reason to give a fig about a few NBA regular season games in November and December. For the majority of such games in just about every NBA season, no one really pays attention at all. Without meaning any offense to the 5 games the NBA will stage on Christmas Day, few if any people really care about them either save for TV execs who have programming for the day other than the 6437th rerun of It’s A Wonderful Life. With these two polar opposite streaks in the past, serious fan attention to NBA games will be minimal until late February/early March when playoff positioning becomes interesting.

The NBA is somewhat fortunate in another way this season. Kobe Bryant’s announcement that he will retire at the end of the season has fueled

    The Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour Across America

That series of tributes – which in reality are not much more than a series of feelgood events – allows teams to promote the final visit of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant to their city/arena. It too brings attention to games that would normally be somewhere between “Meaningless” and “Blah” on the Spectrum of Interest. The Farewell Tour also masks something else:

    The Lakers are an awful basketball team.

    The Sixers are intentionally awful; the Lakers are awful even though they are trying not to be.

    You make the call which is the worse situation…

The Lakers have two young players taken high in the draft. DeAngelo Russell went #2 last year and he has had his fanny on the bench for all of or the majority of the fourth quarters of most Lakers’ games this year. Julius Randle was taken at #7 in the 2014 draft and he sat out last season with an injury. He had been a starter for much of this year but was recently demoted to coming off the bench. If the Lakers swung and missed on both of those guys – hard to believe after seeing them play in college – the franchise may be a while until it returns to an upper echelon NBA team. I will say one thing about Russell, he has a whole lot to learn about playing defense against NBA quality opponents and there are times that he does not look all that interested in said learning…

Another young player for the Lakers is Jordan Clarkson; I have only seen the Lakers play about 5 quarters of games this year but I think Clarkson might become a good player. Note I said “good player”; he is not the second coming of Jerry West or Elgin Baylor but he might be a “good player”. Here is an interesting strategic situation the Lakers find themselves in:

    The Lakers owe the Sixers their first round pick in the June 2016 draft – unless that pick is in the Top 3 of the draft. In that circumstance, they would then owe the Sixers their first round pick in 2017 draft no matter where it is.


      Do the Lakers tank to protect that pick this year as best they can in a lottery situation or do they “play it straight”?

      Keep an eye on the meaningful minutes played by Clarkson, Russell and Randle for your answer here.

To bring to mind another tidbit of news from last weekend, here is a comment from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:

“They announced Alabama running back Derrick Henry as the Heisman Trophy winner Saturday. I thought I saw Nick Saban almost smile but it may have just been indigestion.”

Derrick Henry is a really good player; he averaged 6.2 yards per carry over his three year career at Alabama; this season, he fell only 14 yards short of gaining 2000 yards. Now let me pose a rhetorical question:

    Would Derrick Henry start at RB if he were at LSU?

    I do not have a definitive answer for that one. As I said, Henry is really good and he had a fantastic season; as I have said before, Leonard Fournette is the best RB that I saw this year.

You make the call…

Finally, let me close out today with one more item from Greg Cote last weekend:

“The week-long Orange Bowl International Junior tennis tournament ends Sunday in Plantation. It’ll seem so quiet without all those boorish parents yelling.”

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