Game 7 – World Series – Tonight …

The MLB season began about 7 months ago – not counting Spring Training. Counting the playoffs, there have been close to 2500 games in the season leading to a sense that no single game until the final week or so of the season is of particular importance. Until tonight that is… The great thing about many sports is that their championship event is a one-and-done situation – – the Super Bowl, the NCAA basketball tournament, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the FIFA World Cup Tournament. Baseball only achieves that “finality” in a year when the World Series goes to a 7th game as it will tonight. Every baseball fan will be looking in to see how the game unfolds and the only excuses for missing it would involve phrases like “emergency room” or “granddaughter’s birth” or “neighborhood power outage” etc.

In case you want to know how the oddsmakers in Las Vegas see the game – or more accurately how the bettors in the sportsbooks there see the game – the Cubs are favored at minus-115 with the Indians at +105. The Total Line for runs by both teams in the game is 6.5. I like the OVER among these choices.

Since I mentioned the betting lines on tonight’s game, let me use that as a way to talk about sports gambling more generically. About a week ago, there was a story on that said a Congressional committee is examining the extant Federal gambling laws with the intention of introducing legislation to change at least some of those restrictive laws. Three specific Federal statutes are under examination and could be the targets for modification; they are the Federal Wire Act (1961), the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.

It would seem that the rise of Daily Fantasy Sports and questions about its legality and its status as a game of chance – – i.e. gambling – – or as a game of skill – – i.e. not gambling – – is a major driver for this Congressional committee along with the desire of some States to implement single game sports wagering as a way to generate revenue for the State coffers. PASPA specifically restricts States from doing so if they did not have statues on the books making such activities legal prior to a certain date. Under that restriction, Nevada is the only state in the Union where individual game betting is legal.

Another interesting item in that report is that the State of Pennsylvania passed a resolution earlier this year telling congress to “lift the ban on sports betting and to allow states that authorize, license and regulate casino gaming including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to legalize sports betting through its licensed facilities.”

My positions on the issues here are clear and simple:

    1. I think the legality or illegality of sports wagering should be the province of the individual States. If there needs to be Federal legislation to regulate some aspect of those enterprises, those regulations should exist only in the context of the individual State decisions as to whether or not sports wagering is permitted within State borders.

    2. Regarding Daily Fantasy Sports and their status as gambling/non-gambling. I happen to believe they are gambling enterprises. However, if legislators believe differently, I would urge them to include tournament poker in any legislation that defines Daily Fantasy as a “game of skill” and put tournament poker on the same level.

Here is a link to the report.

Amid the controversy about the “Bathroom Law” in North Carolina, you may recall that the Atlantic Coast Conference opted to move its championship football game from Charlotte, NC. Notwithstanding the fact that I sometimes succumb to the use of “potty humor” in these rants, I will refrain from discussing anything related to the “Bathroom Law” here; that is a topic for an entirely different website. What I recently learned – even though it seems to have been announced several weeks ago – is that the game will be played in Orlando, FL at Camping World Stadium. If you are wondering what that venue is and who plays there, it used to be called the Florida Citrus Bowl and the Tangerine Bowl prior to that.

This stadium has undergone renovation recently and the ACC Championship Game will be the first football game of such a magnitude played here subsequent to those renovations. The stadium is the site of two minor bowl games each year and it was the site of the Florida State/Ole Miss game earlier this year. More than likely, the ACC Championship Game will eclipse those sorts of events in terms of importance.

Evidently, the ACC execs recognized that individual fans who had purchased tickets for the game expecting it to be in Charlotte would be disadvantaged in any new allocation of tickets in the new venue. So, they gave those folks a head start for buying tickets in Orlando if that is what they wanted to do. I read one report that said the “head start” was a 3-day lead and another report that said it was a 48-hour head start. In either case, it is good to recognize that the ACC execs saw the disruption for some of its fans and took steps to ameliorate the inconvenience/disappointment some of them could have felt.

Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte seats 75,419 folks for a football game. Camping World Stadium in Orlando seats 65,000 folks for a football game. I would assume that the ACC Championship Game would be a good draw so the “loss” of about 10,500 seats made me wonder why the ACC chose to go to Orlando. The Georgia Dome in Atlanta seats 71,228 for a football game. The Georgia Dome is in ACC country and it is a neutral field; Georgia Tech plays its home games at Bobby Dodd Stadium – also in Atlanta. It would be interesting to know the decision process that sent the game to Orlando.

Finally, here are comments from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald regarding the Nebraska/Purdue game from two weeks ago:

“On Saturday, the Husker football team defeated Purdue 27-14. If the goal was to win and simultaneously make Wisconsin and Ohio State overconfident, I think Nebraska was two for two. Purdue was led by interim head coach Gerad Parker, at 35 the second-youngest FBS coach. When he shook hands with Mike Riley, it looked like Take Your Son To Work Day.”

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

Tuesday Musings …

There is a report on this morning saying that a Philadelphia Eagles’ fan tweeted to Terrell Owens and to Chad Johnson about their interest in coming to the Eagles to augment what is a sub-standard corps of wide receivers on the team. Owens said he is “available”. Pigs will not only fly before the Eagles sign Owens again; pigs will have their own space program before the Eagles sign Owens again. This is not a mystery novel; the “criminal” is not required to “return to the scene of the crime”.

The NFL trade deadline is today. There have been plenty of trade rumors going around for the past couple of days – including ones involving the Eagles chasing WRs from teams going nowhere this year – but one rumor that was not out there became reality yesterday. The Pats traded LB, Jamie Collins, to the Browns for a 3rd round pick in the 2017 Draft. The first reaction many folks had to this announcement was shock and amazement. As the day wore on, I heard various “NFL insiders” saying that Collins had been offered a contract extension in the $11M per year range and had turned it down and that he would be a free agent come March 2017. Additionally, one said that Collins was looking at getting “Von Miller Money” which was 6 years and $114M. If that report is correct, the Patriots made a great deal because Jamie Collins is a very good linebacker but he is not nearly in Von Miller’s class as a defensive player.

    Paying Jamie Collins anything near $19M per year on a long-term deal makes about as much sense as the Eagles bringing Terrell Owens back into their locker room.

In the last week or so, two veteran NFL players announced that they will retire in mid season. Andre Johnson is calling it quits during his 14th season in the NFL. Johnson had five seasons with more than 100 receptions; three times he led the league in receiving yards per game; twice he led the league in receiving yards; twice he was named as a first team All-Pro. Andre Johnson will be in the Hall of Fame one of these days but Father Time simply caught up with him in 2016.

Last week, Arian Foster announced that he was retiring at age 30; he has had groin and hamstring injuries this year and has had injury issues in recent seasons including a ruptured Achilles tendon that sidelined him for most of one season. I always liked the “Adrian Foster Story”. He was an undrafted free agent who led the NFL in rushing in his second year in the NFL with more than 1600 yards in that season. What I liked about Foster was his intelligence and his willingness to tell the truth.

He admitted to taking “illegal benefits” while he was in college at Tennessee. Per his recounting, he and other players had no money nor any food and when they asked the coach for something to eat, he bought them tacos. That is an NCAA “illegal benefit”.

I also liked the fact that Foster was his own person. His parents are Muslim and he grew up in that environment but Foster is a professed atheist. There are more than 1500 NFL players on rosters this year; Arian Foster’s religious beliefs – or more properly his non-beliefs – are clearly unusual among his peers. Moreover, he is willing to speak about his non-beliefs when asked. Foster was a philosophy major in college – – again not a typical major for your typical NFL player – – and he has written and continues to write poetry. Arian Foster was a very good player who was interesting to watch; Arian Foster is an interesting person who just might have a career in broadcasting somewhere down the line.

The furor over Giants’ kicker Josh Brown and his domestic violence issues seems to have abated once the Giants released Brown and he is no longer in the league. Now that things have calmed a bit, I want to comment on one small part of that story that seems to have been glossed over.

Brown was in therapy/rehab trying to resolve whatever issues led him to become a spousal abuser. That act does not justify in any way what he did; spousal abuse – or violence against women in non-domestic settings – is fundamentally abhorrent. Seeking professional help to remove oneself from whatever drives one to do such things is a positive response to that abhorrent behavior; it indicates that, de minimis, the perpetrator has some interest in behaving in more constructive ways.

As part of that therapy/rehab, Josh Brown kept a diary recounting his actions and his feelings as he was in treatment. That diary became public during this investigation/exposé. In an age where privacy concerns have led to laws that require my dentist to protect my dental history of cavities and fillings from prying eyes, that diary kept by Josh Brown as part of his mental health therapy was made public.

In no way, do I condone what Josh Brown did with regard to his personal life and his relationship with his former wife. Likewise, I do not condone whatever happened to made Josh Brown’s “therapeutic diary” a matter of public record.

According to a report on, one of the issues that may be under negotiation for the next NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement is the 18-game regular season schedule. The current CBA has 4 more years to go; I surely hope we do not have to debate that issue for the next 4 years. Here is what I do hope happens over the next 4 years:

    1. Someone ascertains the key elements of the TV ratings decline afflicting the NFL at the moment. The reason this is important is that one reason MIGHT be that people are saturated with NFL football on TV and simply do not want more of it. IF that is the case, then an 18-game regular season makes as much sense as reinventing the flat tire.

    2. The NFL Exhibition Season is reduced from 4 games to 2 games – with or without any agreement to go from a 16-game regular season to an 18-game regular season. The most wildly anticipated NFL exhibition game does not come close to the interest fans have in a Browns/Jags regular season “showdown”.

Finally, with the World Series drawing to a conclusion and with the NFL season in full swing, consider these comments from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:

“The Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians are playing each other in the World Series. I always thought this would take place on the recently colonized Jupiter.

“What a year for Cleveland sports. The Cavaliers won an NBA title, the Indians are in the World Series and the Browns almost made a first down.”

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