National Honesty Day

Where were you on Sunday 30 April and what were you doing?  Be honest; it is important.  Sunday 30 April 2017 was National Honesty Day; if you don’t trust me, a simple Google search will confirm that statement.  So, the important question we all need to reflect upon is this:

  • What did we all do to encourage, preserve and promote “HONESTY” last Sunday?

The Congress of the United States did their part to honor this day; they were not in session on Sunday meaning that honesty was not abused on Capitol Hill on that day.  As we all learned in Algebra II, the absence of a negative is a positive…

Groucho Marx had the perfect observation for National Honesty Day – – even if it did not exist while he was still alive:

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

All 535 members of the US Congress know exactly how to do just that…

With that Public Service Announcement out of the way, let me publish a Correction/Erratum.  Yesterday, in speaking of the potential purchasers of the Miami Marlins, I said that Jared Kushner – – the “First Son-in-Law” of the US – – had been rumored to be a buyer of the team in times past.  Oftentimes here, I have cited the “reader from Houston” who sets me straight on matters related to sports stats and history.  Well, the “reader from Houston” expanded his purview yesterday and pointed out to me that I was incorrect in my statement.  Here is the correct statement:

“It’s his younger brother, Josh, that was interested in the Marlins, not Jared.”

Mea culpa …

According to reports yesterday, Adam Jones – – the CF for the Baltimore Orioles – – was the recipient of racial epithets from at least one fan and perhaps more in Fenway Park and was the target of a bag of peanuts from a fan during the game.  Some folks have chosen to be “VS-ers” – – Virtue Signalers – – by loudly decrying the history of difficulties in Boston during the Civil Rights struggles and citing the Red Sox as “late adapters” of Black players in the modern era.

If this statement puts me on the wrong side of history with regard to these Virtue Signalers then so be it:

  • That was then; this is now.  What happened in Fenway Park was despicable and the perpetrators need to be named and shamed.  Then, they need to be banned from Fenway Park in perpetuity.
  • Having said all the above, nothing that happened in Fenway Park earlier this week is an indictment of the citizenry of Boston or of the majority of Red Sox fans.  The person(s) who did this is/are a cretin/multiple cretins; that is not true of the citizenry of Boston or of Red Sox fandom.
  • In matters such as this, there is no real need to exhibit one’s righteousness by demonizing the improper behavior of others.  When someone has staked out a position on the side of “right” and “good”, there is no real need to wag a finger at others who are not similarly positioned.  If one is indeed where righteousness and good reside, that fact will become abundantly apparent soon enough.

When a fan buys a ticket to see a sporting event, he/she has every right to cheer for his/her team and to try to disrupt the actions of the opposing team.  That right – like just about every other right – is not limitless but it does extend a good long way.  As soon as a projectile is thrown in the direction of a player on the “other team”, the “right to express oneself” has gone around the bend.  The same goes for fans of one team choosing to beat down/attack fans of the opposing team.  Don’t try to tell me that does not happen; there are too many incidents of serious injuries related to that scenario and even a death or two.  That kind of stuff is not “fandom”; that kind of stuff is sub-human.

At the NFL Draft earlier this week, Philly fans booed Roger Goodell and anything associated with the Dallas Cowboys because that is what Philly fans do.  That is perfectly OK because booing is harmless.  Flinging racial epithets at people wearing Cowboys’ gear or ganging up to beat down someone wearing Cowboys’ gear goes WAAAY over the line.  Fortunately, that did not happen but the analogy to what did happen in Boston with regard to Adam Jones is a good one.

I have a very good friend – who is also a long-term reader here – who is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan.  He has nothing good to say about any of the other teams in the AFC North and takes great pleasure in the futility of the Cleveland Browns.  He probably has at least a half-dozen – – and probably closer to two dozen – – Terrible Towels in his home.  Members of the Rooney family itself would not question his devotion to the Steelers’ franchise.

Nevertheless, I will go out on limb here and say with no fear of contradiction that my good friend would never engage in “fan behavior” similar to what was reported in Boston earlier this week nor would he try to shield others who did engage in such “fan behavior”.

Buying a ticket to a pro sports game in the US confers a wide latitude of “acceptable” behaviors on such fans – – far wider than what would be acceptable while walking down the street or while sitting in the living room of your fiancé’s family.  However, that latitude is not infinite and we are getting to the point where too many fans seem not to recognize the boundaries of “acceptable fandom”.

I am just trying to be honest here as an homage to National Honesty Day just three days past…

Finally, I need to get out of here on a lighter note and so I will leave you with this item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times.  Professor Perry found this item elsewhere – – but that really does not matter here:

“At ‘Middle East promises sustained peace after U.S. threatens to send Skip Bayless.’”

[That ought to scare the s[p]it out of them.]

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



Derek Jeter As An Owner In MLB?

Today, I am going to bounce around from one sport and one item to another so let me begin in the world of MLB with the reports that Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush are the headliners in a team of financiers who are set up to buy the Miami Marlins.  Recall that six weeks ago, the designated buyers were a consortium led by Jared Kushner – – the “First Son-in-Law” of the USA.  The current owner is Jeffrey Loria who is hardly beloved in South Florida and the latest evaluation by Forbes is that the franchise is worth $950M.  The reported “going price” for the deal on the table is for $1.3B.  Here are two things to consider:

  1. If you believe Forbes valuations, the Jeter/Bush consortium would be paying more than 40% over the “intrinsic value” of the franchise to become MLB owners.
  2. I read one report that said the Marlins was a money losing franchise.  I have a problem believing that is the case unless current owner Jeffrey Loria agreed to take all of his national TV money in wooden nickels.

All of this sounded simple and organized until reports surfaced that the Jeter/Bush consortium denied that it had agreed to pay $1.3B for the team.  I am not going to pretend here that I have some sort of “inside line” to the negotiations here but if you want to read about the various stages of this story, you can go here for reports about the sale as originally configured or here for reports about how this is not a done deal.

The Marlins have never been a big draw in Miami.  Last year, the Marlins averaged just under 22,000 fans per game; that put the Marlins 25th in MLB in terms of home attendance.  To put it positively, they drew more fans on average than 5 other MLB teams – including the Indians who eventually represented the AL in the World Series.  However, the Dodgers’ average attendance was more than double what the Marlins drew and the Cardinals’ average attendance was almost twice as high.  I have no idea if this new consortium of potential buyers – – or a new ownership group – – can make the Marlins’ games into events that must be seen in person by South Florida residents.  If anyone figures out how to do just that, there is plenty of unused capacity in the home stadium to accommodate the crowds.

This story is nowhere near over.  My guess is that Jeffrey Loria will indeed sell the team but that decision is not necessarily going to be made nor is the sale going to be finalized any time during the ongoing MLB season.

Since I am on the subject of MLB this morning, let me share with you an e-mail from a friend who is a Dodgers’ fan from back in the days when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn.  I have not even considered verifying the statistic he sent me because even though he is a long-term fan, he is also a man of integrity:

“[Clayton] Kershaw has been the starting pitcher for the Dodgers 87 times when the team has gotten him 4 or more runs in the game.  In those [87] starts, his [Kershaw’s] record is 87-0.”

That is what you could call “scary good” …

Switching gears here to talk about the NBA and their ongoing playoffs, the Utah Jazz eliminated the LA Clippers in a 7th game “win-or-go-home” situation.  The Jazz did this despite having their single best defender and rebounder – – Rudy Gobert – – on the bench with foul troubles for more than 30 minutes in a 48-minute game.  The Jazz are prohibitive underdogs to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs [versus the SF Warriors] let alone to win it all, but they did what they needed to do – and more – to win their first-round series.

Reporters and commentators have taken the opportunity of the Clippers’ futility here to speculate about the future of team president/GM/Head Coach, Doc Rivers, and to consider the possibility that the team may blow itself up and start over with a new constellation of stars in LA.  As a general rule, I do not like a situation where the head coach is the teams’ GM; those jobs require a different focus; the GM and the head coach have to work together constructively, but I am not a fan of putting one person into both roles.  Obviously, I have no idea how owner, Steve Ballmer will deal with the current situation inside the team but here is a stat I got from listening to Max Kellerman on First Take on ESPN yesterday:

  • The Clippers have had the lead in five playoff series in each of the last five seasons and have come from ahead to lose all five of them.
  • That is the first time in the history of the NBA such a thing has happened.


Finally, I commented recently about the terminations at ESPN and how the revenue constrictions combined with escalating TV rights’ fees for various sporting events has put the network in a bind.  Recognizing the reality of those opposing forces/trends, please consider this item from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot.  Not only is Professor Molinaro’s point completely valid; the underlying events here make you wonder if the budget-mavens at ESPN are awake at the switch:

“Bottom line: On the day ESPN announced cost-cutting layoffs of 100 employees, including familiar on-camera faces, the network had reporter Marty Smith in Rome to cover a visit to Pope Francis by Jim Harbaugh, his wife and Michigan football players. Is that a real story or simply more free publicity for a marquee coach and program that don’t need it?”

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



The NFL Draft Is History … We Are Doomed to Repeat It

The NFL Draft is over.  It has been the focus of attention for so many folks over the past month or so that its recession into history is important because it now allows lots of Americans to focus on other issues that have been pushed to the background by the Draft – – e.g. world hunger, the threat of nuclear war and who actually put the “ram” in the “ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong”.

About 40 years ago, Howard Cosell said that the NFL Draft was an over-hyped manufactured event receiving too much attention.  This year, the Draft basically shut down a large piece of Center City Philadelphia for 3 days; 70,000 folks showed up on a Thursday night to watch someone walk to a microphone and announce which college football player would be trying to make which pro football team come summertime.  Seriously.  Those folks could have been just as productive in terms of service to humankind if they had been searching out who put the “ram” in the “ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong”.  One report said that over the 3 days of the Draft, approximately 250,000 people – some repeat visitors to be sure – were part of this extravaganza.

I refuse to play the game of “grading the draft” for each team because you really will not know how well things went here for any team until the end of the 2019 season giving us 3 seasons to evaluate which of these players is any good.  I read one analysis that said the Cleveland Browns got themselves 4 very good players in this draft.  Here is what that means.  The Browns still have Joe Thomas on the roster; that gives them 5 very good players leaving them more than a dozen short of the number needed to be a playoff team.

Nonetheless, I do want to put a punctuation mark on this event if only to put it behind us for the next 6-9 months.  Sports fans accept the idea of an amateur draft; it is – nominally – a way to add competitive balance to pro leagues by allowing the worst teams from last year to pick ahead of the teams that did well last year.  That does not happen elsewhere and I suspect that lots of people would not accept it happening elsewhere.  Imagine this:

  • Of all the technology companies in the US, National Veeblefetzer did the worst last year; it’s stock was down 11% while the average for all tech companies was +13%.
  • Therefore, National Veeblefetzer gets to select which electronics engineer graduating from whatever school in the US will come to work for them two weeks after Commencement Exercises.

That is what the NFL Draft – and the drafts in all other sports – come down to and the courts have said it is OK for sports leagues to do that because the Draft is collectively bargained by the league and the players’ union.  Please, do not mention the fact that the collegiate players who are selected in the draft have never been members of that union that bargained to arrive at that collective bargaining agreement prior to their selection…

The NFL Draft encourages – and perhaps even rewards – behaviors that would not be acceptable in everyday life.  Coaches and GMs routinely lie about their draft plans so as not to “reveal their hand”.  They lie to prospective draftees; they lie to reporters; they purposely and purposefully create “Fake News” – – as if we need that sort of virus to spread.  Then, after about a month of that sort of anti-social behavior, 70,000 folks show up on the first night of the draft to validate everything those lying weasels have done for the past month or so.

Let me pose a question to anyone who sat and watched the Draft on TV at home for extended periods of time:

  • Did even one question or answer contained in the interviews with any of the draftees give you any insight or inspiration?

If so, I feel sorry for you.  I watched the draft in small doses – and truth be told, I spent much of my viewing time reading the crawl at the bottom of the screen as a way to catch up on “who went where” since the last time I had tuned in.  Nonetheless, I can give you a relatively accurate flavor of the interview with the recent draftee:

  • Q:  It has been a long journey for you from Beaglebreath, Nebraska to this point and now you are the first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills.  What is going through your mind right now?
  • A:  I am blessed to be here; God has a plan for me; He wants me to be in Buffalo.  I am ready to work hard and do whatever the coaches want me to do for the team.  My coaches and my grandmother have been my inspirations and I am going to play hard so that they will be proud of me.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is a content-free exchange of words.  After you listen to one of those exchanges, you feel dumber for having had the experience.

Let me pose another question here:

  • Did you hear any of the “draft experts” on any of the networks covering this extravaganza say this about even one draftee?  “I don’t understand that pick at all; this guy can’t play dead in a John Wayne western movie.

Here is the deal.  Approximately 250 players were taken in this draft; About 50 will not make it out of training camp; perhaps another 75 will be on a practice squad and never see a moment of NFL action.  That means, the players cannot play – – but the “draft experts” cannot discern that fact.  So, what makes them such experts?

Oh, by the way, a corollary to that last question is this:

  • If a judge sentenced a convicted child sex offender to listen to Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay “debate” the merits of potential draft picks for even 3 weeks, the sentence would be overturned on appeal on the basis that it would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald about another sports event that garners more TV coverage than is necessary:

“CBS devoted 18 hours of coverage to the Masters. Hours 9 through 12 were a segment called ‘history of the sand trap rake.’ ”

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