RIP William Nack

William Nack – one of the great writers for Sports Illustrated in the 70s, 80s and 90s – died over the weekend.  He wrote a “biography” of Secretariat which SI excerpted in the magazine; it was a great read.  He also spent several years tracking down chessmaster Bobby Fischer who had taken up a hermit-like existence.

Rest in peace, William Nack.

There is a story on this morning which indicates that mankind has not yet run out of bad ideas.  In the pantheon of Bad Ideas – – probably right next to the idea of playing leapfrog with a unicorn – – is this latest entry from the Alabama High School Athletics Association (AHSAA).  Starting this Fall, high school football games in Alabama will use instant replay to assist officials in “getting it right”.  This will not just be for the championship game or even for all the playoff games leading to the championship game; instant replay will be part of all high school football games.

Maybe the august members of the AHSAA mistakenly thought that fans attending high school football games were feeling slighted at those events because they did not get to sit through all of those less-than-exciting sessions where the officials go to the sideline to “check the monitors”.

  • Memo to AHSAA:  No one wants to see more of that nonsense.  Instant replay hardly guarantees the officials will “get it right”.

Make no mistake; instant replay in high school games will require school athletic departments to spend more than a couple of dollars.  Obviously, Alabama schools are so awash in funding and currently provide their students with the most advanced facilities and technologies for learning that instant replay for football is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

Moving on to football at the NFL level – where instant replay has shown several things:

  1. It is anything but instant.
  2. It sometimes – but not always – corrects a call on the field to everyone’s satisfaction.
  3. It happens far too often.

Anyway, there were several NFL actions in the past several days that need a brief mention.  Here is an observation from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald yesterday that will give you the essence of one of those “actions”:

“We’re 11 days until the draft’s first round, so before we get fully immersed in that, new Fins receiver Danny Amendola tells ESPN that his former Pats boss, Bill Belichick, is both a brilliant coach and a person who could be “an a-hole sometimes.” Um, Danny, doesn’t that sorta go without saying on both counts?”

Here is Greg Cote once again addressing another NFL action that produced a lot of sound and fury last week:

“Dallas rather abruptly cut Dez [Bryant] this week. Yes, and other than his age, injuries, diminishing production, huge salary and itinerant attitude issues, it was a real shock!”

A much more serious NFL-related issue involves Niners’ linebacker, Reuben Foster.  Recall that Foster was arrested recently related to a domestic violence incident; last week he was charged with 3 felonies in that matter:

  1. He is charged with battery
  2. He is charged with “forcefully attempting to prevent the victim from reporting the crime”.
  3. He is charged with possession of an assault rifle with a high capacity magazine.

Potential jail time for all of these charges is 11 years.  Foster is not going to be convicted and sentenced to 11 years in jail, but this matter demonstrates that Foster remains a troubled young man who is going to need mentoring and monitoring as he works to mature into a socialized adult.  Foster shows great promise as a football player, but his career is very near a precipice.  Remember, the NFL can and has meted out suspensions and other penalties even without any convictions.

There was an oddity in MLB last Saturday.  The Braves led the Cubs 10-3 as the Cubs came to bat in the bottom of the 7th inning.  The temperature in Chicago was just below freezing so no one would have blamed any fan who left early to get into a warm bar in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.  The Cubs scored 2 in the bottom of the 7th making it 10-5 but Braves’ fans probably still thought this game was in the bag.

Well, it wasn’t because in the bottom of the 8th inning, the Cubs scored 9 runs to win the game 14-10.  That was not the oddity; teams score 9 runs in an inning more than once a season.  The oddity was how they did it; in the bottom of the 8th inning the Cubs got their 9 runs on:

  • 3 hits
  • 5 walks
  • 2 hit-batters
  • 1 wild pitch – – and – –
  • 1 error.

The Washington Generals could not have blown a game any better…

Finally, here is Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times commenting on the release of Dez Bryant:

“Does anyone else find it bizarre that, right after the NFL finally clarified its definition of what constitutes a catch, the Cowboys drop Dez Bryant?”

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



Surprising And Not So Surprising Today

The early part of every MLB season produces some surprise teams.  This year, the Nats have been underachieving through the first 13 games with a 6-7 record.  The Mets are an astonishing 10-1; everyone knows that will not last.  For me, a really big early surprise team is the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Common wisdom was that the Pirates had gutted their roster trading away Andrew McCutcheon and Gerrit Cole and that the team was diving into a rebuild.  So far, the Pirates are 9-3 and – even though that will not be sustainable – they are playing very well.

The secret to the Pirates winning is not particularly complicated.  They are scoring runs in bunches; they have scored 77 runs so far this year and that is 11 more runs than any other National League team has scored; the Pirates average 6.4 runs per game.  When a team scores 6.4 runs per game they are going to win a whole lot of those games – – unless of course the team scoring all those runs is the 1930 Phillies who had a pitching staff that had a team ERA for the season of 6.71.  Yes, that is the MLB record for the highest team ERA for a full season.

So far in 2018, the Oakland A’s have not been all that surprising; they are 5-8 in their first 13 games.  Here is something else about the A’s that is not all that surprising:

  • In 2017, the A’s averaged 18,219 fans per game; that ranked 29th in MLB.
  • In 2018, the A’s average 15,212 fans per game; that ranks 29th in MLB.

The A’s had a 4-game homestand against the Rangers.  The total attendance for those four games was 34,613 fans or 8,653 fans per game.  I understand why attendance was not great:

  • It is early in the season and the weather is not great.
  • The team is not very good.
  • The stadium experience is better than being in a porta-potty – but not much better.

The problem that the A’s – and MLB as a whole – must acknowledge is that something has to be done here.  It has been a long and fruitless process by which the A’s and MLB have sought to get a new stadium in the Bay Area.  The city of Oakland does not have tons of spare revenue to spend on a new stadium but at the same time the city of Oakland has not been helpful in terms of identifying venues where anyone could build a stadium.  The Coliseum is a mess; the city lost one franchise already – the Raiders – largely due to the fact that the Coliseum is a mess.  I will not be surprised to hear that the A’s are also in the “relocation rotation”.

I can think of two natural landing spots for the Oakland A’s:

  1. Las Vegas:  The NHL is there and doing well.  The NFL is heading there and there is a $1.9B stadium going up as we speak.  The new arena where the Golden Knights play seats about 20,000 fans so it would not be a shock to see an NBA team there one of these days.  MLB would not have to juggle its divisions because Las Vegas can easily fit into the logistics of an AL West team.  The population of Clark County – where Las Vegas exists – was 2.1 million in 2015; that is enough to support sports franchises well.
  2. Portland:  The NBA is there and doing well.  MLS is there and is doing very well.  Putting the A’s there would create an immediate rivalry situation with the Seattle Mariners.  The population of Portland is 635,000 which is about the same size as Seattle and Denver – both of which support MLB franchises.

[Aside:  Montreal is a venue that MLB should consider for future relocations; the city does not fit well as a venue for the A’s because it would require a shuffling of the division teams in the AL but if/when a team in the East needs to move…  Fans gave up on the Expos because of the stadium; with a real venue in place, baseball in Montreal would work.]

For the 2018 season, the A’s will likely rank 28th or 29th in MLB in average attendance.  They seem to be protected from finishing 30th by the Miami Marlins who should have the lowest average attendance by a sizeable margin.  So far this year, the Marlins are drawing only 12,641 to home games.  Doing some math, that projects to a total attendance for the year of only 1.02M fans.

Finally, Scott Ostler had this comment in the SF Chronicle recently.  It speaks to the stadium experience for Oakland A’s games:

“Nice new touch at the Coliseum, where the A’s are creating a vegetable garden near the right-field flag poles. Not really surprising, though, considering how the team has gone to seed the past three years.

“Fertilizing the A’s new garden will be simple. Just divert the sewage overflows from the clubhouse to the garden.”

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



NFL Teams For Sale

There has been plenty of interest in – and sufficient reporting about – the process of selling the Carolina Panthers.  The last time I checked, they had the franchise valued at $2.1B; recent reports said that the bidding could go as high as $2.5 – 2.7B.  That is not a bad rate of return for a franchise that cost $206M in 1993.

I mention the Panthers’ situation because there is another NFL franchise that could change hands if the pieces fall together.  Suzie Adams has a one-third interest in the Tennessee Titans; Suzie Adams is one of three heirs of Bud Adams who left equal interests in the team to the three heirs in his will.  There may or may not be some tension among the three heirs depending on which report you read, but the fact is that Suzie Adams would like to sell her one-third share.  For the moment, Amy Adams Strunk is in control of the team; but the NFL does not like situations in ownership where there can be significant internal struggles.  Obviously, the simplest solution would be for Amy Adams Strunk to buy out Suzie Adams and move on.  That has not happened for whatever reason so there is a significant chunk of an NFL team out there for sale and not much action surrounding that commodity.

For the record, has the value for the Titans at $2.05B which is awfully close to the value they set for the Panthers.  Granted, whoever purchases the Panthers would have total team control and that factor might be the motivation for bidders to up the ante there.  However, a one-third interest in the Titans should be worth about $700M.

Speaking of the NFL – sort of – the league released its “preseason schedule” yesterday.  Here in Curmudgeon Central, we call it the Exhibition Game Schedule most of the time and even the “Make-Believe Game Schedule” occasionally.  If you were hanging onto your computer waiting to catch this release seconds after it happened or worse yet you were tuned in to hear the announcement live and in person, you need to get yourself into a Twelve Step Program.  And I mean NOW

Surely, you have read some reports about the tragic accident involving the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.  Even if you have read other reports, let me highly recommend that you follow this link to a column at by Charles P. Pierce.  I thought the piece was excellent.

Consider this comment from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“All in good time: With two national championships in three years, Jay Wright’s success should serve as a lesson for impatient boosters and school officials everywhere. In his first three seasons at Villanova, Wright’s record was 52-46 with no NCAA tournament appearances. Now he oversees what may be the best program in the country.”

“Best program in the country” is certainly open to debate, but the fact that Villanova is now an elite basketball program is established.  The important part of this comment is the call for patience.  Boosters and Athletic Directors who are impatient and who send coaches packing after only a couple of years on the job are not demonstrating their commitment to winning by terminating a coach.  What they are doing is demonstrating very clearly that they did not do a good job in selecting “the right guy” to do the job they wanted done.  They cloak their action(s) in a commitment to winning and excellence when those action(s) more accurately represent either impatience or an incompetent process for selecting the coach about to be fired.  And when fans think of it that way, why should they be more optimistic that the same folks who did not get an “instant winner” out of their last set of hiring deliberations are going to get it right this time?

The NY Knicks are a good example of the above.  Reports this morning say that the Knicks have fired Jeff Hornacek as the head coach.  If so, that means the Knicks will be looking to hire their 5th coach since 2012 and their 12th coach since 2001.  Looking back at the Knicks since 2001, they have posted a winning record only twice, so it is not as if coaches have gone there and been successful and used the Knicks as a stepping stone to go on to other things.  The Knicks situation demonstrates one of two things to me:

  1. The problem is not coaching.  The problem is roster construction.  Or …
  2. The problem is not coaching.  The problem is the process by which the Knicks owner and Front Office make their selection of head coaches.

Shed no tears for Jeff Hornacek.  In 2016, he signed a 3-year contract with the Knicks reportedly worth $15M.  If those numbers are accurate, he should collect about $5M next year to stay home and be with his family.  My long-suffering wife has lived with me in that same situation since I retired to spend 168 hours a week with her; the difference is that I am not bringing in $5M per year to compensate her for her time and effort.

Finally, I often like to report on culinary concoctions available around the country.  Earlier this week, Brad Rock of the Deseret News uncovered this beauty in Utah:

“The Salt Lake Bees are upping their food game with a new sandwich that is half ham, turkey, roast beef and cheddar cheese with a basil aioli; the other half consisting of salami, capicola, pepperoni, provolone cheese and green chili aioli.

“Both halves are topped with jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and carrots mixed with Italian dressing.

“The $24 sandwich, sized the same as a regulation base, is called the ‘6-4-3 Double Play.’

Also known as ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’s Revenge’.”

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



What Is A Victim?

Headlines today relate to the FBI investigation of college basketball recruiting and that Kansas has been put in the focus.  One writer suggested that the FBI probe might be the event that ends Kansas’ run of 14 consecutive Big 12 basketball championships.  However, please read the statement released by Kansas on this matter:

“Earlier today we learned that the University of Kansas is named as a victim in a federal indictment.  The indictment does not suggest any wrongdoing by the university, its coaches or its staff.  We will cooperate fully” …  and so on

The indictment alleges that someone paid money to people connected to two recruits who would up going to Kansas.  Allegedly, one of those recruits was Sylvio De Sousa who was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school.

So, let me get this straight…

  • The University of Kansas is a victim of a federal crime because they had a 5-star recruit “decide” to enroll there and play basketball for the Kansas’ team.

This seems to me to be just a tad ass-backwards.  Imagine someone coming up to you and drawing a gun on you.  Then, this assailant reaches into his pocket and gives you a hundred-dollar bill, tells you to have a good day and walks on.  I would not characterize you as a victim in that situation – and that is about what happened to Kansas.

Anyone who has read these rants even for a short time knows that I think “Mock Drafts” are as bad – if not worse – than “Bracketology” ruminations.  Around this time of the year, anything that you hear directly from an NFL owner, GM or coach related to the upcoming draft is at best duplicitous and it is only from those sources that anyone could write a meaningful analysis or predict the outcome of the upcoming draft.  Yesterday, there was a “report” based on unnamed sources that the Cleveland Browns will draft Josh Allen as their next franchise QB and pass on Sam Darnold.

I think both of those guys can play QB in the NFL – albeit I only saw Allen play one full game and one partial game.  What I am about to say has nothing to do with which is the better prospect; however,

  • Picking Josh Allen at the top of the draft is potentially very damaging to whatever is left of the Browns’ image as a professional football franchise.

The last QB for the Browns who could properly be described as “above average” was Bernie Kosar and he stopped playing for the Browns in 1993.  Not only have the Browns lacked a very good QB for the last 25 years, their draft picks at the QB position have been underwhelming to be sure.  Here are some of the QB selections made by the Browns:

  • Colt McCoy
  • Brandon Weeden
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Cody Kessler
  • DeShone Kizer

Compare that list with this list of QBs that the Browns could have had in the draft but did not take:

  • Carson Wentz
  • Dak Prescott
  • Mitchell Trubisky
  • Deshaun Watson

Look, fans will be mightily upset if the Browns take a QB early in this draft and he washes out. However, they might be less rabid in their criticism if the guy was from USC; after all, he came from a big-time program and the football gods just did not smile on him at the pro level.  But if he comes from Wyoming and washes out, the kindest and gentlest criticisms will probably begin with the question:

  • What the [BLEEP] were you thinking?

Finally, since I mentioned Kansas basketball at the outset, let me close with this query from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“If Kansas’ basketball coach takes a photo of himself, is that a Selfie squared?”

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



The Fringes Of Sports Today…

Masters’ winner, Patrick Reed, showed up at an NBA game wearing his green jacket – – and somehow, that became newsworthy.  Oh, I get it; the reason it is newsworthy is that he made a huge fashion faux pas wearing that ugly thing out in public.

Greg Cote of the Miami Herald summarized the weekend of The Masters tersely in this comment:

“American Patrick Reed finished 15-under-par to win The Masters and his first career major, edging Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth. Way back were Tiger Woods at plus-1 and Phil Mickelson at plus-2. You know it’s bad when Sunday for Tiger and Phil is more about saving face than contending. Meantime defending champ Sergio Garcia missed the cut thanks to an 8-over par 13 on the 15th hole of the first round. Who’d he think he was, Greg Cote!?”

I have done a small sampling of the new ESPN morning offering, GET UP featuring Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle and Jalen Rose.  I appreciate that a new program needs a bit of time to find its rhythm and its tone; also, I know that this show is in its infancy; so, I need to put these comments into that sort of landscape:

  • If the suits at ESPN broke up Mike and Mike to produce a show that is “different” in some way from other ESPN offerings, they must be sorely disappointed.  GET UP is cut from the same cloth as almost anything else on ESPN except for the tone and tenor.
  • This is not a show full of “hot takes” or “stridently expressed wing-nut opinions”.  This show is almost like a pepperoni pizza without the pepperoni.  It is still good; but it just seems to be missing something.
  • On the plus side, none of the three hosts is objectionable.  That is not meant to damn the show by faint praise because there are indeed shows on ESPN and on FS1 where there are hosts sufficiently objectionable that I grab the remote and change the channel.
  • Bottom line:  Give the show time to settle in and find its grove.  It is pretty bland fare so far.

Since I alluded to some of the programming on ESPN and FS1 with objectionable hosts, let me offer this:

  • According to reports, Pope Francis said that there is no Hell.  Most assuredly, I do not wish to challenge His Holiness on religious matters.  I know when I am in over my head.  Nonetheless, I wonder what the Pope would call viewing First Take and/or Undisputed day after day after day after…?
  • I guess they don’t get those programs in Vatican City…

According to a recent report at, the new stadium in LA that will house the Rams and the Chargers will have a total price tag of almost $5B.  Granted, that figure includes the cost of developing the entire 60-acre tract where the old Hollywood Park racetrack used to be and not just the cost of the stadium itself.  The stadium is probably only going to cost a measly $2B.  The Rams have already begun to offer PSLs at a price of $100K which sounds like an awful lot of money to spend just to earn the right to purchase over-priced season tix to the games.  However, in perspective, the Rams would have to sell 20,000 of those top-shelf PSLs to recoup the cost of the stadium alone.

Here is a link to the report at if you are interested in what the entire development project entails.

The site of this development project calls to mind that this same site was supposed to be the place where the old LA Raiders were going to have their new stadium back in the late 80s/early 90s.  The idea of a stadium to replace the racetrack was originally floated all the way back then but the difference now is that the league and the team owner is providing the major funding.  Back then, the deal required massive funding from the city and/or state and that never materialized.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this comment in the Seattle Times recently regarding an athlete whose financial picture is not very bright:

“Bankrupt former champion Boris Becker, 50, says he’d like to sell off his tennis trophies but can’t remember where he left them.

“Maybe he’s hoping to write them off on this year’s taxes as a net loss.”

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



Briefly Today …

Last Saturday was National Beer Day – in case you did not know.  This commemorates April 7, 1932 which is the day of enactment of the Cullen-Harrison Act of 1933 signed into law by FDR and allowed taverns to open on April 7, 1933 for people to enjoy “near-beer” after 13 years of Prohibition.  Serious beer aficionados have extended the celebration of National Beer Day by creating an informal holiday of their own.  Last Friday night, April 6th would have been “New Beer’s Eve” for true beer devotees.

Enough with a small wrinkle in American culture; back to the sports rant you came here to read…

Last week, I wrote about the Ravens signing RG3 and the furor that caused among some sports commentators regarding the fact that the Ravens chose RG3 instead of Colin Kaepernick as the guy to come in and be the backup to Joe Flacco.  While it is correct to say that RG3 has been “less than successful” as a QB in the last several years, it is a stretch to say that he is without talent.  When he was drafted in 2012, he was the second overall pick in the draft and he was the offensive Rookie of the Year.

Moreover, it is not as if the 2012 draft was devoid of talent.  That was the same draft class that brought Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck into the NFL; for that one season, RG3 was better than either of those QBs who have shown that they are a lot better than chumps.  Oh, and the Skins also drafted Kirk Cousins in that same 2012 draft and now that we will be entering the 2018 season, Cousins will be embarking on a 3-year contract worth $84M – – fully guaranteed.

Mentioning Cousins brings this situation to mind:

  • Please note that the Skins – who spent a ton of draft capital to move up to draft RG3 – now have neither RG3 nor Cousins.  That situation demonstrates the management ineptitude that pervades that organization from the top down.

Mike Bianchi has this comment in the Orlando Sentinel about another recent personnel move by an NFL team:

“The Jacksonville Jaguars dumped their longest-tenured player — tight end Marcedes Lewis — after 12 seasons earlier this week. Sadly, this is just what happens when your Marcedes gets too many miles on it!”

Finally, The Masters ended over the weekend with Patrick Reed becoming a first-time winner.  For the two weeks leading up to the tournament, the casual observer of the golf media would have been hard pressed to realize that anyone other than Tiger Woods was going to show up and tee off.  That brought “buzz” to the tournament despite the fact that Woods finished tied for 26th and a mere 16 strokes off the lead.  Here is how syndicated columnist, Norman Chad, described his reaction to all the “Tigermania” recently:

“Here’s the Tiger Effect for me: Whether or not he’s playing, I will not watch golf on TV.”

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



Talk About A Jinx …

I feel like Joe Btfsplk this morning.  He was the character from the L’il Abner comic strip who was the world’s worst jinx; anyone near him was going to suffer misfortune.  Yesterday, I merely mentioned in passing that Sergio Garcia would join an elite group of golfers if he were to win The Masters this year.  And what happened to Sergio Garcia?

  • He shot a 13 on the 15th hole.
  • He finished the day at 9 over par.
  • The leader after Day One is Jordan Speith at 6 under par.
  • Sergio Garcia ain’t winning The Masters this year.  If he does, it will be the greatest comeback since Lazarus.

The Baltimore Ravens made news this week by signing RG3 to compete for the backup QB slot on the team.  The minute that news hit the crawl at the bottom of the screen, at least a half-dozen of ESPN’s talking hair-dos flipped into “Outrage Mode”.  Here are the elements of their Outrage:

  1. If the Ravens wanted/needed a backup QB, they could have signed Colin Kaepernick.
  2. Colin Kaepernick is a better QB than RG3.
  3. Ergo, the league is colluding to keep Kaepernick unemployed because of his kneeling during the National Anthem.

I am going to avoid completely my “Outrage Mode” and say from the outset that all of those talking heads may be correct.  However, I cannot read minds and I doubt seriously that they can either and so to be very polite about it:

  • They are expressing their opinion(s) about the behaviors of other people and those opinion(s) are nothing more than guesses at best and expressions of their own biases at worst.

First of all, while Kaepernick is indeed a better QB than RG3, let me not make him out to be Aaron Rodgers.  Kaepernick has flaws in his game (accuracy is one of them) and in his last 11 starts his record was 1-10 and his completion percentage was under 60%.  I stipulate that RG3 does not bring a great history to the table here, but we are talking about signing a potential backup QB here and not a franchise QB.

Second, RG3 signed a 1-year deal for a reported $1M – – not guaranteed.  Can any of the folks in “Outrage Mode” say with certainty and supporting evidence that Kaepernick was offered an equivalent contract and turned it down?  If they cannot, then their outrage denies the existence of any economic dimensions to roster decisions for NFL teams.

Third, imagine yourself as head coach John Harbaugh with the Ravens signing Kaepernick instead of RG3.  Now imagine that the team goes through OTAs and through Training Camp and the following situation obtains:

  • Colin Kaepernick has been outplayed by Josh Woodrum (the other QB on the Ravens roster other than Joe Flacco).  He knows it; all the coaches know it; the fans have seen it in the Exhibition Games.
  • How would you like to be the head coach who cuts Colin Kaepernick and immediately becomes the target for the folks spring-loaded to go into “Outrage Mode”?

Fourth, Colin Kaepernick is suing the NFL now over his inability to play for a team; he alleges a conspiracy to keep him out of the league that stems from his anthem protests.  Forget for a moment the validity or the ineffectiveness of his allegations in that lawsuit and ask yourself this:

  • Is it a good stratagem for a job applicant to sue the company he/she is trying to hire onto?
  • Does that act itself add to or subtract from his/her résumé?

Remember; I do not read minds, so I do not know how the Ravens made their decision to sign RG3 and not Colin Kaepernick – or any other unemployed professional QB.  What I do know is that there are some rational, unemotional and tolerant reasons why Colin Kaepernick was not their first choice.

In other NFL player movement news, the Pats traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams for a first-round draft pick and a third-round draft pick this year.  Cooks is a big-play WR; he has had more than 1000 yards receiving in each of the last 3 seasons.  Something just does not ring right here:

  • Last year, after two 1000-yard seasons, Sean Payton traded Cooks to the Pats for about the same compensation as this week’s trade.
  • Now, after yet another 1000-yard season, Bill Belichick traded Cooks again.
  • Really?

Finally, here is a comment from Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune on new Bears’ coach Matt Nagy:

“Nagy said players are ‘going to understand why it’s so important for them to put on the Bears uniform,’ and I’m thinking, because the Bears are paying them to.”

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



Dilly Dilly

The golfers at The Masters have just begun teeing off; so, I ought to begin today with a few comments about The Masters.  From previous events that have surrounded The Masters and the club that hosts the tournament, I think it is safe to say that the folks who run this event can be a tad stodgy, priggish and overly-impressed with themselves and their event.  According to a report I read yesterday, the club hosts posted a list of things that no one is permitted to say during the tournament.  One of those things is, “Dilly, Dilly”.  According to the club hosts anyone who says that phrase:

“… will be removed from the premises immediately.”

It is their club and they are totally within their rights to make such a pronouncement and to enforce it.  It also demonstrates that the folks in charge there are stodgy, priggish and overly-impressed with themselves and their event.  The folks at Bud Light took no time to recognize that this was free publicity for them and chose to respond without making threats or being confrontational.  Rather, Bud Light announced that it was sending 1000 “Dilly Dilly” T-shirts to Georgia.  Part of the inscription on those T-shirts says:

“For if thou cannot say Dilly Dilly,

thou can still wear Dilly Dilly.”

One other item about The Masters comes from one of the lead-up columns that golf writers have to do in the week or so before the tournament starts.  According to the report, last year’s winner, Sergio Garcia, will join an elite group of golfers if he goes back-to-back and wins The Masters again this year.  I did not realize it, but only 3 golfers have ever done that:

  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Nick Faldo
  • Tiger Woods

That is indeed an elite group…

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned here that the Canelo Alvarez/Gennady Golovkin fight was still going to take place despite Alverez testing positive for a “banned substance”.  The reason for ignoring the “banned substance” in the blood test was that this fight was poised to be the biggest boxing promotion of the year.  For top dollar, the boxing mavens could see their way clear to fudge on the meaning of the word, “banned”.

Well, the fight is now off.  It appears that Alvarez failed two drug tests and even though those two failed tests happened in mid-February, the overseers of boxing – you know, the guys who make sure that everything is on the up-and-up – could not find a way to hold a hearing to decide if Alvarez merits a lengthy suspension until mid-April.  The fight was scheduled for 5 May and so, Alvarez has had to withdraw.

I guess I could say here that these events have given boxing yet another black eye – – but that would be taking a cheap shot…

We have some economic news from the recently completed NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  According to Broadcasting & Cable – a trade publication for that industry – the whole March Madness Tournament generated just over $1B in advertising revenue.  There were 391 different ad spots run by a total of 142 different brands during the tournament.  In fact, those ads ran a total of 6,761 times meaning that you were not far off in thinking that the ads were incessant.  Here are some more data:

  • For the 2 games of the Final Four on Saturday night, the cost of 30-second ad spots was between $807K and $966K.  Significantly, that is a 10% increase over the cost for ad spots in the Final Four games last year.
  • For the Final Game on Monday night, the cost of 30-second ad spots was between $1.4M and $1.7M.  That represented a 3% increase from last year but there may need to be an asterisk there.  Last year, the game was on CBS; this year it was on TBS – a cable station.

Without getting hung up in the minutiae here, March Madness is an economic force majeure despite all the negativity surrounding college basketball and its recruiting nonsense.  If you want to delve into some of those minutiae, here is a link to the report from Broadcasting & Cable.

Finally, since I mentioned the cancellation of the Alvarez/Golovkin fight above, here is a comment from Brad Dickson – formerly of the Omaha World-Herald – related to boxing:

“There’s talk of a Floyd Mayweather-Connor McGregor rematch. I haven’t been this excited since ‘Rocky V’.”

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



Some Of This And Some Of That…

I guess the circle is complete.  Yesterday, Shohei Ohtani hit his first home run in the major leagues.  Last weekend, he made his first start on the mound for the Angels.  Is this the beginning of a “two-way player” movement in MLB?  Scott Ostler wrote a column in the SF Chronicle last weekend drawing parallels between Ohtani and Babe Ruth who was also a pitcher in MLB before he became the slugger we all remember.  This column is not a bunch of fanboy nonsense – – remember, Scott Ostler wrote this not some goober somewhere – – and the comparisons are interesting.

Here is a link to Scott Ostler’s column.  I think it is worth reading in its entirety.

The detailed NFL schedule for next year is not yet available.  We do know which teams will play which opponents and where those games will take place; we do not know the dates and times for all the games.  However, I did do some browsing in some of the teams’ schedules and came up with eight games we should circle once the detailed schedule is released.

  1. Pats at Steelers:  This matchup would have been circled in any year in the past decade or so.  Next year’s game should be a good one too.
  2. Pats at Jags:  After last season’s playoff happenings, this is a must-see game.  Remember, the Jags led 20-10 at one point – – and then…
  3. Eagles vs Jags:  This will be a “London Game” and it may be the best matchup the NFL ever sent across the pond.
  4. Vikes at Eagles:  After last year’s playoff debacle for the Vikes, this has to be a humongous game on their schedule and with their new high-priced QB.
  5. Saints at Vikes:  After the “Minnesota Miracle” knocked the Saints out of the playoffs last year, I want to see this game.
  6. Chargers at Rams:  The game will be in the LA Coliseum and it will determine “home town bragging rights”.
  7. Raiders at Niners:  I know that SF and Oakland are different jurisdictions, but this too will determine “home town bragging rights”.
  8. Niners vs Seahawks (twice):  These games will feature Richard Sherman against whomever Russel Wilson thinks is his #1 receiver.

Looks as if there will be plenty of focal point games next season given that I didn’t even glance at the schedules for three-quarters of the league.

The end of the NBA regular season is finally in sight; most teams have only a handful of games left to play.  The playoff race in the East is not mathematically set; but in reality, we know the teams that are in and the teams that are not.  The playoff race in the West is much less certain; only 3 teams in the West have clinched playoff spots as of this morning.

The regular season is sufficiently close to ending that I feel confident in presenting my three most over-hyped players/storylines of the NBA season.

  • Isaiah Thomas:  Yes, he was injured and did not begin the season until January; but when he did start out with the Cavs he made the team worse not better.  The Cavs seemingly figured that out very quickly because they shipped him to the Lakers at the trade deadline in February where he did nothing to make the Lakers any better.  In fact, the Lakers will miss the playoffs this year and finish with a record below .500.
  • Markelle Fultz:  First we had people pretending to know enough about anatomy to be able to “explain” his mysterious shoulder injury.  Then we got to read and hear about how he might be the biggest bust ever for a guy picked first in the NBA Draft – ignoring the likes of Anthony Bennett and/or LaRue Martin.  Now, people are discussing his psyche and his adjustment to professional life.  The bottom line here is lots more hype and heat than there is performance.
  • Carmelo Anthony:  After what seemed like an eternity, he and the Knicks parted company and the drumbeat was that he was the “third star-player” needed on the Thunder’s roster in order to bring them a championship.  In recent games, Anthony has sat out the entire 4th quarter; that is not what happens to “star-players”.  Oh, by the way, the Thunder are not assured of a playoff spot as of this morning; so, it is not as if those games with him in the bench are meaningless.

Finally, regular readers here know that I was very happy to see Jon Gruden get the head coaching job in Oakland because that got him off the air for Monday Night Football.  It seems as if I am not alone in that sentiment; here is a comment from syndicated columnist Norman Chad:

“Jon Gruden’s nine-year run on ‘Monday Night Football’ has ended.  There were no survivors.”

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



Villanova Is The National Champion Again

Congratulations to the Villanova Wildcats.  They won their second national championship in the last three years last night with a 79-62 win over Michigan.  This is Villanova’s third NCAA Tournament championship in school history; the previous two final game wins were nail-biters; this one was a beatdown.  The hero of the game is Donte DiVincenzo who came off the bench with Villanova trailing and struggling in the first half to turn the game around by scoring a game-high 31 points.  Whether by performance or by coincidence, DiVincenzo’s entry into the game also marked the point where Villanova’s defense kicked itself into “lockdown mode”.  After the game, several folks commented that Michigan did not shoot nearly as well last night as they had in previous tournament games.  While that is unarguably correct, that statement does not acknowledge why that was the case.

  • For about the last 30 minutes of the game, Michigan took no uncontested shots.

Villanova is a worthy champion; they did not take a backdoor to get to the Final Four; once there, they had to beat Kansas and Michigan – two very good teams – to become national champions.  And here is the scary thing:

  • None of the first eight players on the Villanova roster are seniors.  Unless one or more of them decides to declare for the NBA Draft, all eight of them could be back next year.

I have not yet seen/heard any speculation about Jay Wright leaving Villanova to go to the NBA in the “Brad Stevens-mode”, but I expect such speculation to kick in sometime soon.  Having said that, I also expect Jay Wright to stay right where he is.  Yes, he could make more money coaching the prima donnas that inhabit NBA rosters; but shed no tears for Wright; you are not going to see him and his family sustaining themselves at a soup kitchen any time soon.  Looking at his situation from afar, I think it is very similar to Mike Krzyzewski’s situation at Duke and to Roy Williams’ situation at UNC.  All three men “fit” into the environment where they are; Krzyzewski and Williams are going to end their coaching careers where they are; Jay Wright is 56 years old and I would not be surprised to see him finish out his coaching career at Villanova.

Switching gears, someone else finished out his career last week.  Don Imus did his final Imus in the Morning program.  There was a time in the 1990s when that program was extraordinarily influential; I woke up five days a week listening to it as I got ready to go to work.  Don Imus was a shock-jock and had plenty of controversy surrounding him and his program for more than 40 years.  His comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team were hideously inappropriate and he atoned for those comments.  I do not know if there is a Shock-Jock Hall of Fame; there are so many Halls of Fame that it would not surprise me if there is one; Don Imus belongs in that Hall of Fame.

The NFL announced that Bengals’ linebacker, Vontaze Burfict, will miss the first 4 games of the 2018 season on suspension for violating the league’s PED policies.  Before you go and start to think about how this may affect the AFC North division race next year, consider that the Bengals have probably gotten used to this sort of thing and may have even had this in a contingency plan somewhere.  Consider:

  • In 2016, Burfict missed the first 3 games of the NFL season for “repeated violations of player safety rules”.
  • In 2017, Burfict missed the first 5 games of the NFL season for an illegal hit he put on an opponent in one of the Exhibition Games.

Now he gets a PED suspension…  Vontaze Burfict is a good linebacker unless and until he goes over the edge and morphs into a dirty player.  You can hold him solely responsible for the PED suspension, but I think you must include the Bengals and the Bengals’ coaching staff when you assign blame for the “dirty play”.  It sure seems from here that Burfict has had plenty of enabling from coaches and team management.

In these early days of the MLB season, we had both NY teams scheduled for home games yesterday.  Both were postponed as snow blanketed the metropolitan area.  The Yankees and Mets will try to play later today.

Just before the season started, MLB announced that it will hold its first MLB Food Fest in NY where the teams will “present” their haute cuisine food items for this year.  Here are some of the dishes that will be on display:

  • Toasted grasshoppers (Seattle Mariners)
  • Chicken and pork rind sandwich (New York Yankees)
  • Breaded cheese curds, bratwurst and gravy (Minnesota Twins)
  • Cheddar beer bratwurst on a pretzel roll (Milwaukee Brewers)

While “Toasted Grasshoppers” may sound a bit outré, I think there will be a stranger concoction presented at the Food Fest.  Here is what the Oakland A’s will introduce:

  • A sandwich of turkey, ham and cheese with strawberry preserves between two Belgian Waffles.

Personally, I think I would prefer to try the grasshoppers…

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“A man in Cocoa, Fla., was arrested for allegedly punching an ATM because it gave him too much money.

“Taking no chances, the ATM is now in the concussion protocol after complaining of withdrawal symptoms.”

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