Football Friday 8/30/19

Like it or not; football season as we have known it for the past 100 years begins this week and it will run uninterruptedly through the first Sunday of February 2020.  Then, if all continues down the existing path, football season will be extended into the late Spring when XFL 2.0 commences.  The start of football season causes two things to happen here in Curmudgeon Central:

  1. It causes me to compile my annual predictions for every team in the league along with those NFL coaches I think are on a hot seat for the upcoming season.  [Update:  The first draft of that opus had to be revised when Andrew Luck retired; that revision is half-done; I am on schedule to publish those predictions on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.]
  2. It causes me to institute weekly rants loosely labeled as Football Fridays – notwithstanding the annual objection I get from one former colleague who lobbies for Tennis Tuesdays.

Today is the inaugural Football Friday for 2019.  For those who have hopped on this bus in the past year and for those who have erased from memory last season’s offerings, let me set a few boundary markers for what will happen here:

  • First and foremost, no one should take “Friday” literally.  I know the social and travel schedule that my long-suffering wife has set up for the two of us between now and Halloween.  There could well be some weeks where there is no Football Friday; there will surely be weeks where Football Friday could fall on a Wednesday.  I am going to try to do a long football focused rant every week.
  • I will follow the fortunes of Linfield College and its football season.  The reason is simple; Linfield has had a winning season in football every year since 1956.  If there is a longer streak of that kind in a team sport in the US, I am not aware of it.
  • I will comment on happenings from the games in the previous week in college and NFL football.
  • I will present the betting lines for interesting games in college football for the upcoming week with brief comments
  • I will comment on happenings from the games in the previous week in NFL football.
  • I will present the betting lines for all the NFL games for the upcoming week with brief comments.
  • I will try to come up with a betting “Six-Pack” of college and NFL games each week.  There are sure to be weeks where I will not find 6 games worth putting in that Six-Pack so consider that “feature” to be a sporadic one.  [Foreshadowing:  There is no Six-Pack this week.]
  • After Halloween, by which time we should be able to discern the truly awful college teams from the merely bad ones, I will begin  a count-down to name the 8 teams that I will nominate to be in my mythical SHOE Tournament which would determine the worst team in the country with play on the field.

So, that’s the outline for Football Fridays; and now, it is time to set sail on the first one.

The Linfield College Wildcats will not begin their season until 14 September.  On that Saturday, the team will have traveled from their campus in McMinnville, OR to Glassboro, NJ to take on Rowan University.  According to the computational website, WolframAlpha, that journey encompasses 2,450 miles.  As you might expect for a game involving two Division III schools, this is an out-of-conference game…

There were only 2 Division 1-A college football games last week.  In the first one, Florida rallied to beat Miami 24-20.  It was a sloppy game; the team that made the last mistake lost the game.  Nevertheless, there were some positive things for Miami to take from the game despite the “L” on their record:

  • The pundits think Florida is a “Top Ten team”.  Miami was in the lead early in the 4th quarter.
  • Miami started a freshman at QB who acquitted himself nicely against a strong SEC-quality defense.  Jarren Williams was 19 – 29 for 214 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs.
  • The Miami OL does need some work.  They allowed 10 sacks in the game and 16 tackles for a loss.

The Florida OL did not cover itself in glory here either.  Florida ran the ball 27 times for a total of 52 yards.  Hey, it’s still early in the season…

In the other contest, Arizona schlepped itself all the way to Hawaii.  While points were hard to come by in the Florida/Miami game, the scoreboard in Hawaii lit up like a pinball machine.  The final score was Hawaii 45 and Arizona 38 – – and on the final play of the game, the Arizona ballcarrier was dragged down at the 1 yardline missing out on the chance to tie the game and send it to OT.  Had that happened, the game might still be going on waiting for a defensive stop by either team.

The total offense by both teams here was 1128 yards.  I suspect that both coaches told their defenses that tackling was optional for this game.

In general college football news, there was a report earlier this month that the PAC-12 was considering starting some of their games at 9:00 AM on the west coast so that those games would be televised at noon on the east coast.  The idea was to get PAC-12 teams in front of more eyeballs that way.  Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot to sum up where that idea stands:

Out West: Smart: The Pac-12 has decided not to start any football games at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. Dumb: The conference will continue to explore the idea for 2020.”

That sums it up perfectly…

I want to offer up a proposition wager here.  What will be the date on which there is the first seriously reported rumor about Urban Meyer returning to college football coaching?

  • I say it will be October 20.  Are you going Sooner or Later?

Utah State’s football coach, Gary Andersen, has seen his career circle back on itself.  Back in 2012, he led Utah State to an 11-2 record and the team was ranked #16 in the country in the AP poll.  That got him the job at Wisconsin where his teams went 19-7 in his two years there.  He resigned from Wisconsin to take the job at Oregon State complaining that the academic admissions restrictions at Wisconsin made it very difficult to compete with other Big 10 schools.

Andersen spent 2.5 seasons at Oregon State and the results were awful.  Overall his teams went 7-23; even less impressive was the record of 3-18 against PAC-12 opponents.  He was fired in the middle of the 2017 season and he spent last year as the associate head coach at Utah.  Now, he has gone back to Utah State where it all began…

Games of Interest:

This week the rest of the college football teams swing into action.  We all should know that pre-season polls in college football – – and college basketball – – are generally worthless except to give a landscape view of teams we should expect to be pretty good as opposed to the rest of the teams in the country.  Since I cannot pretend to have studied the 130 Division 1-A teams in depth to have some personal insight into which teams will be good and which will be “disappointing”, I will have to focus to some extent on the worthless pre-season polling results.

I said above that some of the Football Fridays this year should not be taken literally.  This is one of them.  I am writing this on Thursday morning because I will be traveling later today to visit relatives.  I will have the opportunity to post this rant on Friday morning but would not have nearly the amount of time it would take to write it from scratch.  Since that is the case, I will not be able to mention anything about the Clemson/Georgia Tech game from Thursday night or about the Utah/BYU game – The Holy War – also from Thursday night.  More than likely, I will be commenting on them when I do next week’s Football Friday which will also be done earlier in the week than on Friday.

(Fri Nite) UMass at Rutgers – 16 (55):  This game is interesting because Rutgers is favored by more than 2 TDs; that happens about as often as a Sasquatch sighting in Times Square.  The spread opened at 10 points and has been rising steadily to this level.  This spread also points to a possible suggestion for the good folks who run the University of Massachusetts:

  • Perhaps you might consider abandoning Division 1-A college football and dropping down a notch?

Florida Atlantic at Ohio St. – 27.5 (63.5):  Ohio St. is ranked #5 in the pre-season polling; FAU is not mentioned.  This should be an organized ass-kicking…

South Alabama at Nebraska – 36 (66):  The best comment I saw leading up to this game came from humor-writer, Brad Dickson:

“To prepare to face South Alabama in the season opener the Husker football team is watching lots of film – mostly of the movie ‘Deliverance.’”

Akron at Illinois – 18 (51):  Yes, I know that this is a MAC team going on the road to play a big 10 team – – but Illinois is giving 18 points?

South Carolina – 10.5 at North Carolina (63.5):  The spread opened at 7.5 points and has been rising steadily all week.  Welcome back to the sidelines, Mack Brown…

Duke at Alabama – 33.5 (57.5):  Alabama is ranked #2 in the pre-season polls.  This should be another organized ass-kicking.

Northwestern at Stanford – 6 (47.5):  Almost assuredly the Division 1-A this week with the highest total SAT scores in the starting lineups.

Boise St. at Florida State – 4.5 (51.5):  If the Seminoles lose this one badly at home, Willie Taggert would be well advised to hire a food taster.

Middle Tennessee St. at Michigan – 34 (54):  The Wolverines are ranked behind Ohio St right now; if they want to catch Ohio St. in the polls prior to playing them late in the season, they will have to run up some big victory margins.  It begins here…

Georgia Southern at LSU – 27.5 (52):  Some folks think LSU is a dark horse team to make the CFP in January.  I don’t think so, but they should win this handily in Baton Rouge.

Georgia – 22 at Vandy (58):  Georgia is ranked #3 in the preseason polls, but this game is on the road against a team played good defense last year.  That line may be fat…

Oregon at Auburn – 3.5 (56):  Oregon will contend in the PAC-12 North and they have a Heisman candidate at QB in Justin Herbert.  Auburn will play a better brand of defense than Oregon is used to seeing in the PAC-12.  Maybe this is the most interesting game of the week?

Sam Houston St. at New Mexico – 9 (62.5):  Not to worry, Bob Davie will have his team safely in their hotel rooms the night before this home game.

(Sun Nite) Houston at Oklahoma – 23 (79.5):  The Sooners are ranked #4 in the pre-season polls.  One burning question is whether Jalen Hurts can make it three consecutive Heisman trophies for OU QBs under Lincoln Riley.  If so, it starts here…

(Mon Nite) Notre Dame – 20 at Louisville (54.5):  The Irish ran the table last year winning 12 in a row until losing in the CFP to eventual national champion, Clemson.  Can they do something like that again this year?

There are no NFL games this weekend other than the last of the meaningless Exhibition Games where the single best outcome for all 32 teams is to leave the field with no injuries to players the clubs intended to keep on their 53-man roster.   Given the lack of any real NFL action and the few games at the college level with any real betting interest, there will be no Six-Pack this week.

Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“The World Orienteering Championships end today in Norway. Are eliminated teams said to be dis-oriented?”

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



From DeMarcus Cousins to Carli Lloyd

“Boogie” Cousins had a reputation as a hothead.  He earned every bit of that reputation with his volatile behaviors on the basketball court in the early years of his NBA career.  A few years ago, stories began to emerge that Cousins was mellowing with his advancing age – – he is 29 years old as of this morning – – and that he intended to erase that sort of image from people’s minds.  About a year ago, he asked the press to stop referring to him as “Boogie” and to refer to him by his given name, DeMarcus Cousins.  That was generally interpreted as another step in the maturation process and the mellowing of Messr. Cousins.

Over the weekend, a story hit the wires alleging that Cousins threatened to kill the mother of his son.  The allegation was not that he made this threat back in the days when he was seen as an immature hothead; the allegation is that he did it last week.  The short form of the allegation is this:

  • Cousins had a son with a former girlfriend named Christy West.  Evidently, she has custody of that child.
  • Cousins now has a new girlfriend named Morgan Lang and a wedding between Cousins and Lang was imminent.
  • Cousins wanted his son to attend the wedding and evidently Ms. West was not cooperating.
  • In a phone conversation between Cousins and West – that was somehow recorded and found its way into the hands of TMZ – Cousins appears to tell West that he would “put a bullet through” her “[bleeping] head”.

I have no way of knowing if indeed the recording cited here is real or concocted nor do I have any way of knowing if the voice on that recording is indeed Cousins’ voice.  Given the general subject of this conversation as alleged, it would be a stretch to think that someone other than Cousins would make such a threat – – but there is a lot of verification and authentication that needs to happen here before this can be held up as “stone cold truth”.

One aspect of the revelation from TMZ that caused me to raise an eyebrow – – as a homage to Mr. Spock while trying to unravel this situation – – is that the recording is only 22 seconds long and yet it contains this “very juicy tidbit”.  The transcript of this recording begins in medias res with the male voice saying:

“I’m gonna ask you this one more time before I take it to another level.”

I infer from that beginning that there was likely some prior conversation leading up to this exchange.  It also occurs to me that there could have been editing or manipulation of this recording; and so, forensic analysis of the recording itself needs to happen quickly.

The criminal aspects of these allegations will likely not be resolved in short order, but one thing is pretty clear to me.  DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins’ attempt to appear as a mature and level-headed adult took on serious water with this revelation.  In the court of public opinion – where the standard of proof is far less than “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”, Cousins’ image has been damaged.

In many parts of the country, college football is the dominant element of social interaction.  This is clearly the case in Nebraska where the attendance at a typical Husker home game in Lincoln is between 85,000 and 90,000 folks.  To put that in perspective, the US Census lists 445 cities in the State of Nebraska.  Only 2 of those 445 cities (Lincoln and Omaha) have populations greater than 85,000.  The third largest city in Nebraska is Bellevue, NE with a population of 53.6K

Brad Dickson resides in Omaha; he is a former humor writer for The Tonight Show and for the Omaha World-Herald.  He just posted a satirical piece where he does a head-to-head comparison between Nebraska football coach, Scott Frost, and some of the giants of history such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Mother Teresa and Jesus Christ.  The object(s) of his satire are the local sportswriters and broadcasters whose adulation for Scott Frost – and his wunderkind QB, Adrian Martinez – seemingly has no limit.

Here is a link to that satirical piece.  It is worth your time to read it simply because it is so far over the top that it will put some of the fanboy commentary and behavior into perspective as the 2019 college football season begins in earnest this weekend.

You must have heard about – and probably you have seen the video of – Carli Lloyd kicking a 55-yard field goal during/after a joint practice between the Ravens and the Eagles.  An unidentified NFL team supposedly offered Lloyd the opportunity to place kick in the Week 3 Exhibition Games, but she declined that offer.  Now the story is that she will work with a kicking coach – she needs to cut down the number of steps she took in that 55-yard attempt you saw in the video – and check to see if she can sign on with an NFL team sometime in the future.  According to one report I read, she can also punt a football more than 50 yards.

It will be interesting to see which coaches might want to have Carli Lloyd as part of their training camp – – let alone as part of their team.  I am not worried in the least about “the rough-and-tumble locker room” or the “shower/dressing privacy issues”; those things can be handled with a minor bit of of effort.  However, coaches hate those “dreaded distractions” and if Carli Lloyd is wearing a team’s uniform, she will create distractions every day.

She will be the focus of media attention by the people covering the home team AND by the people covering all the opposing teams AND by all the folks who cover the NFL at a cosmic level.  Note that I have not mentioned every feature magazine and woman-focused magazine and …  Like the other “problems” that might be caused by having a woman on an NFL team, these distractions can be managed.  However, coaches just hate to have them happen in the first place and so I wonder which coaches might entertain bringing such a distraction into the OTAs – – let alone Training Camp.  This could be interesting to see…

Finally, having related some of the fervor that grips college football fans in parts of the country today, consider this revelation by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Not that we’ve been getting overinundated with college-football hype or anything, but just woke up in a cold sweat from a dream that Trump University was playing Electoral College.”

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



Academic Misconduct Versus Academic Fraud

Anyone who has been a reader of these rants for a while now will recall my completely negative reaction to the academic fraud that was perpetrated at UNC where athletes were steered to sham courses where they would get high grades to remain academically eligible.  Those courses never met and required next to nothing in terms of “educational activity”; many such courses were created and perpetuated for about 20 years in one academic department and the head of that department left UNC once the existence of those sham courses came to light.

The NCAA huffed and puffed and presented UNC with no sanction other than the public opprobrium it brought on itself.  Moreover, to make matters worse, the NCAA and its members chose not to institute new rules that might prevent such an occurrence in the future at UNC and/or any other member school.  That action ought to tell you all you need to know about the concern that schools and the NCAA have for the “student” part of their favorite piece of word gymnastics, “student-athlete”.

And now we have a situation wherein the NCAA action seemingly is disproportionate when it comes to sanctioning another school for what it calls “academic misconduct”.  Even its own label points to the fact that what happened at Mississippi State in this matter is less serious than what took place at UNC.  Let me review the bidding here:

  • A student at Mississippi State was hired by the Athletic Department as a tutor for athletes at the school.
  • That tutor did some of the assigned work for 11 athletes at Mississippi State in an “online general chemistry course”, took some of the exams for the students and in a couple of cases did virtually all the work in the course for the student-athletes.
  • Based on investigations by the school and by the NVAA, it was determined that this “misconduct” allowed Mississippi St. to use ineligible athletes in various games.  Hence there needs to be “sanction”.

Let me be clear.  What happened at Mississippi state is wrong; it should be called out and punished here and at any other college/university where it takes place.  At the same time, keep in mind the UNC situation as a comparison piece.

  • This action was perpetrated by a student hired by the Athletic Department; the UNC situation involved faculty members and academic departments in conjunction with the Athletic Department and its personnel.
  • This action involved a total of 11 student-athletes (10 football players and 1 basketball player); the UNC situation involved hundreds of students and student-athletes over about a 20-year period.

Recalling that the sanctions in the UNC case amounted to not much more than having the NCAA wag its finger angrily at the UNC Athletic Department, here are some – but not all – of the punishments for Mississippi state:

  • A fine equal to 1% of the annual budget for football and men’s basketball at Mississippi St.  [Aside:  I presume that some of the offices on mahogany row at NCAA HQs need new furnishings…]
  • The football program loses 4 scholarships; the basketball program loses 1 scholarship.
  • Reductions in the number of allowable recruiting visits to the Mississippi St. campus for football and basketball over the next couple of years.
  • Three years’ probation.

Oh, and by the way the Athletic Department also has to part company with the tutor they hired who set all this in motion and that person now has a 10-year “show-cause order” meaning that if any other NCAA Athletic Department wants to hire him in that period, the school has to “show cause” regarding why he is the selected candidate for a job there and the NCAA can then approve that request or inform the hiring school of penalties it will face if the hiring is consummated.

I have no problem at all with what the NCAA did in this matter.  It is the lack of proportionality when compared to the entirety of the UNC academic fraud that I find offensive.

There is another situation developing involving big-time NCAA football that could become a hot mess.  A former team physician at Penn State has filed suit against the school and against football coach James Franklin and against the Athletic Director, Sandy Barbour for firing him as the team physician.  Normally, that would be an issue for a civil court to resolve or for the parties to accommodate one another with some sort of settlement and it would go no further than that.  However, in this case, Dr. Scott Lynch asserts in his lawsuit that coach Franklin ordered players who were still not recovered from injuries back onto the field.  Dr. Lynch reported that information and he asserts that his firing is retaliation for that reporting.

In addition to medical matters I would have no way to understand, this matter will also pivot on various NCAA and Big 10 Conference rules and regulations that pertain to injuries to athletes and their treatment for those injuries.  The thing that puts this matter higher on the food chain than it would have been 10 years ago is the heightened focus we have on player safety when it comes to football.  This could get very messy…

Finally, since I spent some time on the subject of college academics today, consider this entry in The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

“Catatonic:  A state of extreme stupor.  Most commonly seen in college freshmen taking classes with titles like ‘Introduction to Semiotics’, the condition is also prevalent among local news anchorpersons in the smaller markets.”

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



Random Thoughts Today …

Congratulations to the Louisiana team that won the Little League World Series.  The final game was a shutout of a team from Curacao that had been an offensive force majeure during the tournament.  As the Little League World Series was getting underway, there was a typically snarky headline in The Onion regarding the event:

  • “Report: Little League Pitchers Could Avoid Overtaxing Their Arms By, You Know, Getting Somebody Out.” 

Last week, Baker Mayfield was quoted in a Vanity Fair piece saying that he was shocked that the NY Giants had picked Daniel Jones at #6 in the Draft last April.  He said that teams “overthink” this stuff and that teams just have to realize that what matters is that players win on the field.  Daniel Jones’ record at Duke was sub-.500.  Let me submit that his reasoning is flawed just a tad here when you realize that:

  1. John Elway lost more games than he won at Stanford.  Elway turned out to be a pretty good NFL QB.
  2. Patrick Mahomes lost more games than he won at Texas Tech.  I guess the Chiefs are deep into regret that they wasted a first-round pick on him.

Memo to Baker Mayfield:  Play QB and lead your team.  You can be an ESPN Draft Analyst and replace Mel Kiper, Jr. after you retire.

Back in May, Suffolk Downs ceased to host any more live horse racing; the track will shut down completely in October; the land will be developed as apartments in East Boston.  However, there is a nascent plan to build a new racetrack complex in Wareham in southeastern Massachusetts.  A developer there has floated the idea of a modern racetrack with plenty of accoutrements:

  • A “multi-faceted gaming and entertainment facility with multiple restaurants”.  The shorter version of that entity is “A Casino”.
  • A new baseball park for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League
  • A new hotel
  • A sports field complex

The total cost for this development would be about $300M.  The inability of Suffolk Downs to survive demonstrates that the proposed new track is not the economic engine that would make this a profitable undertaking.  Clearly, this proposal hinges entirely on obtaining an approval for that casino facility at this locale.  If the casino there is given a green light, then live horse racing in the Boston area may come back to life.

As the college football season starts to roll, there is an interesting situation at the University of New Mexico.  Last year, as a way to save some money, the Athletic Department decided that it would stop having the team stay at a local hotel the night before home games.  That makes sense; New Mexico is not one of the nation’s “football factories” where the team and the Athletic Department are rolling in dough.  This year, they have decided to go back to the idea of housing the team in a hotel before home games – and the reasoning seems a tad “loose”.

Back in May a New Mexico baseball player was fatally shot outside a local club; soon after that, Coach Bob Davie used “player safety” as the argument to go back to housing the team in a hotel the night before home games.  According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, Davie’s pitch included:

“Not that we can have all 110 kids at the hotel; we only take the travel team (up to 70 players).  But that is a dangerous, dangerous thing to be not keeping a college football team in a hotel the night before a game … We were being reckless; we were putting people in harm’s way.”

Never let it be said that I come down against the idea of “player safety”, but the logic here is a bit thin.

  • First, if safety is the paramount concern, why have only 70 players in that hotel.  Doesn’t it matter that the ones staying on campus are also “in harm’s way”?
  • Second, why are players in greater danger the night before a home football game staying in their dorms or apartments than they are on any other random night during football season?
  • Third, the baseball player who was killed was shot outside a night club.  Is Coach Davie worried that his team does not have the discipline to get some sleep the night before a game and stay away from night clubs?

It is of little import to me where the New Mexico football team lays itself down to sleep the night before a football game.  I don’t even care if they pitch tents out in the desert and commune with nature sprites the night before a football game.  However, I do mind being fed a “player safety malarkey cake” as the reason that the school must bear this expense.  Just call this what it is; this is a much more convenient situation for the coaching staff at New Mexico.  That is the reason that many – if not most – Division 1-A teams do exactly the same thing.

Finally, here is an observation from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times pertaining to college football:

“We needed a full-blown Princeton Review study to determine that Wisconsin is the top college for drinking beer?

“Five minutes in the Camp Randall stands at a Badgers football game could’ve told you that.”

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



Two Farewells

Brad Rock is someone I frequently quote and cite here as a sports columnist at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.  He has been a sports columnist there since 1994 and the paper announced his retirement over the weekend.

Bonne chance, good sir.  Thank you for all your contributions to these rants – – and I still have a few in the inventory on my clipboard.  Be well; and stay well.

A Tweet from Adam Schefter on Saturday got this reaction from me:

  • Holy “Shock and Awe”, Batman!

Andrew Luck is retiring from the NFL at age 29 due to a series of injuries that have led him to stop loving to play football.  I will not pretend to have ever been a football player, but it does seem to me that unless one really likes to play that game, it is not something that one would choose to do as a livelihood.  The game is difficult; it is painful; and, it potentially leaves some long-lasting scars on its practitioners at the NFL level.

Luck missed an entire season with a shoulder injury and has not been able to practice much this year with what have been reported as a “calf injury” and/or a “bone injury” in the ankle area.  This cannot be spun to be “good news” for Colts’ fans; the team has a solid and balanced roster that many thought could have been led deep into the playoffs.  Jacoby Brisset will stand in for Luck in 2019; I do not mean to denigrate Jacoby Brisset in any way; he has shown the ability to be a solid NFL QB.  Having said that, he is still – and may always be – several steps down from Andrew Luck’s stature as an elite NFL QB when healthy.

Perhaps the final shoe in this matter has not dropped yet.  Perhaps this retirement announcement will have serious repercussions throughout the broad landscape of football in the US – – such as:

  • Can or will the Colts consider trading for a more experienced QB than Brisset?  The roster may be ready to “win now” – – but is it too late to bring in another QB to run this team in 2019?
  • By the same token, this roster is probably too good – and too balanced – to effect a “tanking operation” in order to have a shot at one of the top QBs in next year’s draft.  Or is it?
  • What sorts of agony must be felt by all those fantasy football players whose leagues have already had their drafts and someone in the league used a high pick to take Andrew Luck?

I’ll pretend here to be a card-carrying millennial here despite having been born in the middle of WW II as opposed to being born in the walk-up to Desert Storm.  In order to do that, I’ll have to shriek that this “Andrew Luck announcement” is all about me.

  • I had written a first draft of my picks for the records for all 32 NFL teams – pending injuries in the final 2 Exhibition Games – and had the Colts winning the AFC South on the assumption that Andrew Luck would have been “good-to-go” once the games counted.
  • Now – – poor me – – I’ll have to go back and do a major rework of the whole AFC prognostications.  Let me bask in my victimhood here for just a moment …

By the way, Andrew Luck’s decision here puts him in some rather prestigious company.  If you consider elite NFL players who retired while still “in their prime”, he now keeps company with the likes of :

  1. Jim Brown
  2. Calvin Johnson
  3. Barry Sanders

And now – – Andrew Luck

Switching gears … A couple of months ago, when the University of Michigan hired Juwann Howard as the head basketball coach, it strolled down a well-worn path.  Lots of coaches in college basketball wind up in charge of the team that they played for when the coach was in college.  Here are some that come to mind without even doing a Google search:

  • Jim Boeheim – Syracuse – He’s been there next to forever.
  • Jamie Dixon – TCU
  • Patrick Ewing – Georgetown
  • Penny Hardaway – Memphis
  • Bob Huggins – West Virginia
  • Chris Mullen – St. John’s – at least until the end of last season
  • Kevin Ollie – UConn – until the commencement of a “nasty divorce”

As I had my thoughts on this theme of returning to the fold – so to speak – I also wondered what might happen in the near future when two highly successful coaches at two major schools come to an agreement with Father Time and hang up their whistles.  I am referring here to Mike Krzyzewsli (age 73 in the middle of next season) and Roy Williams (age 69 as of today).  I am not suggesting either man needs to retire or that either of them is in some sort of diminished coaching capacity.  My thinking here merely reflects a realistic look at the calendar.

Lots of former players at Duke and UNC have found themselves in the college coaching profession after graduation.  So, I started to think who might be offered the very difficult – but very tempting – task of following these highly successful coaches.

Here are some choices for the mavens at Duke – I am sure there are others:

  • Tommy Amaker – currently head coach at Harvard
  • Jeff Capel – currently head coach at Pitt
  • Johnny Dawkins – currently head coach at UCF
  • Bob Hurley – currently head coach at Arizona St.

Here are some choices for the mavens at UNC – I am sure there are others:

  • Hubert Davis – currently an assistant coach at UNC
  • Phil Ford – previously an assistant coach for 2 NBA teams
  • Jeff Lebo – currently head coach at E. Carolina
  • Jerry Stackhouse – currently head coach at Vandy

The idea of going back to one’s alma mater to coach is alluring; it is not universally successful.  Indeed, Jim Boeheim has had a great run at Syracuse, but Chris Mullen’s time at St. John’s as a coach did not nearly compare to its success when he played there.  Roy Williams never played varsity basketball at UNC – he was there during the days when freshmen were ineligible and he did play freshman basketball – so his coaching successes at UNC have far outweighed his athletic accomplishments there.  So far, Patrick Ewing’s coaching success has not come close to his playing-days’ success at Georgetown.

Adding to that mixed-bag of success stories and not-such-a-success stories, the people who replace either Roy Williams or Mike Krzyzewski will have the added burden of being next in line after a legendarily successful coach who had been at the school for next-to-forever.  Coaches who have “followed a legend” have not had anything like universal success – in college basketball or in other sports.  Consider:

  • Heartley Anderson succeeded Knute Rockne at Notre Dame
  • Gene Bartow succeeded John Wooden at UCLA
  • Phil Bengston succeeded Vince Lombardi in Green Bay
  • Terry Brennan succeeded Frank Leahy at Notre Dame
  • Mike Davis succeeded Bob Knight at Indiana
  • Bill Guthridge succeeded Dean Smith at UNC
  • Ray Perkins succeeded Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama
  • Hank Raymonds succeeded Al McGuire at Marquette

None of these “successors” were failures as coaches – – except when measured by the yardstick of the person they replaced.  The title of Thomas Wolfe’s posthumous novel provides a cautionary moment here:

  • You Can’t Go Home Again

Finally, to prove that I still have some of Brad Rock’s commentary from the Deseret news in inventory, consider this comment:

“The Atlanta Hawks reportedly are keeping a spot open for 42-year-old Vince Carter if he wants it.

“They’re saying all he needs to do is prove his vertical is still higher than his age.”

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



Here And There…

I saw a headline this morning that must get the “Captain Obvious Award” for the week:

“James Harden blames media for him not repeating as MVP”

Since the NBA MVP is determined by a voting process where the only voters are sportswriters or sports broadcasters, it is difficult to imagine a set of circumstances when “the media” would not be responsible for the selection of a player or the selection of some different player.  Equally obvious would be the following headline:

“James Harden realizes media responsible for him being last year’s MVP”

Speaking of “the media”, I fear that yesterday was just a tad scaryCBS Sports streamed a 6-hour program yesterday devoted entirely to Fantasy Football.  The key parts of that previous sentence are:

  1. 6-hour
  2. Fantasy

Even a 12-year old boy with his first access to a Victoria’s Secret catalog would find something else to do in less than 6 hours.  Can Armageddon be far off?

I got an e-mail from #2 son yesterday with the following baseball stat:

“Tony Gwynn faced Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux a combined total of 323 times. He struck out 3 times.”

Let me do some math for you here:

  • Tom Glavine struck out 0.59 batters per inning for his career.
  • Greg Maddux struck out 0.67 batters per inning for his career.
  • Pedro Martinez struck out 1.13 batters per inning for his career.
  • John Smoltz struck out 0.89 batters per inning for his career.

All four of those pitchers had long careers; those strikeout stats are not subject to “small sample size error”.  That makes the Tony Gwynn stat here even more eye-popping.

The Washington Post recently had a long-form piece on how the increasing temperatures around the world are affecting sports competitions.  The focus of the article was a race through the Mojave Desert called Running with the Devil.  However, the article devotes plenty of space to things like the Olympics to be held in Japan in mid-summer and to the World Cup in Qatar which was postponed to late in 2022 to avoid the heat in that part of the world in June/July.  Here is a link if you choose to read the piece in its entirety.

That report dovetails with a press announcement from NC State saying that the school will implement an “enhanced heat plan” for the 2019 football season.  Fans attending games in the late-summer/early-fall might need ways to stay cool in the open-air environment of Carter-Finley Stadium and the school is going to provide for heat relief in various ways to include:

  • Misting stations
  • Dunking stations – – ice water for towels to cool oneself
  • Water bottle refilling stations
  • Shade tents
  • Air-conditioned buses – – medical folks can direct overheated fans to these cooling places if necessary.

Earlier this week, I mentioned that college football kicks off its season this weekend with a short slate of 2 Division 1-A games.  That means that I will be kicking off “Football Friday” next week.  I did a survey of the 2019 college football season on July 30 of this year and would like to add a few more observations as we commence the season:

  • Watch out for Utah this year.  The Utes won the PAC-12 South last year despite losing their starting QB and top RB to injury for much of the year.  Those guys are back along with plenty of starters from last year’s team.
  • Texas will replace 8 starters on their defense from last year.  That is probably a good thing and not a bad thing.  Last year, Texas allowed offenses to gain 5.7 yards per play.  You have to think there is room for improvement there…
  • Lots of prognosticators see Florida and LSU as sleepers who might rise up and challenge Alabama and Georgia for SEC supremacy.  Check out the schedules of those two schools here and here.  If either wins the SEC Championship Game, it will not be due to a pillow-soft schedule – including a game on October 12 where the two teams square off in Baton Rouge.

Finally, I mentioned above the NC State plan to provide heat relief for fans part of which involved water bottle refilling stations.  Here is a pertinent definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Bottled Water:  Tap water made more palatable by a label with a mountain on it.”

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



An Ignominious Milestone…

The Baltimore Orioles’ pitching staff reached a milestone in the 127th game of the season.  That assemblage gave up its 258th HR for the season and that ties the record in all of MLB history for “number of HRs allowed by a team in a single season”.   Please note that there are 35 games left on the Orioles’ schedule; it is a good bet that this pitching staff will set a new standard.  In case you are wondering, the projection is that the Orioles will allow 329 HRs this year.

Rather than mock the Orioles’ staff for its inability to keep the ball in the ballpark, let me use this stat to make a serious point regarding MLB expansion.  From a fan perspective, there is a real allure to the idea that MLB might expand to 32 teams putting 16 teams in each league thereby allowing for more balanced scheduling and limited inter-league play.  From an owners’ perspective, there is the allure of humongous franchise fees to be divvied up and possibly greater TV rights fees down the road as two new markets acquire “local heroes”.

Every yin has its yang, however, and the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching staff is a great example of the “yang” here.  The Orioles are fielding the equivalent of a Triple-A pitching staff and that staff is being lit up on a nightly basis.  In addition to setting a record for HRs allowed this season, the Orioles have given up 805 runs so far this year (6.34. runs per game).  That is 68 more runs allowed than the next most forgiving pitching staff (Rockies).

Now consider that the typical MLB roster carries 12 pitchers.  If there were 2 new teams, that would create the need to find 24 more pitchers to play in the major leagues.  There are simply not enough quality pitchers available; adding two teams would be akin to adding two more “Orioles’ pitching staffs” to the major leagues.  I suggest that is not the path to the future that MLB should select.

The XFL 2.0 continues its trek to become an actual sports entity.  This week, the league announced the locations and the names of its 8 franchises:

  1. Dallas Renegades
  2. DC Defenders
  3. Houston Roughnecks
  4. LA Wildcats
  5. NY Guardians
  6. Seattle Dragons
  7. St. Louis BattleHawks
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers

The franchise placement strategy here is interesting by comparison with the late – but not lamented – AAF placement strategy.  The AAF put teams mainly in places where there was football interest but no incumbent NFL team (Birmingham, Orlando, Memphis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego).  Note that XFL 2.0 will have 7 of its 8 teams in markets where there is an existing NFL franchise and 1 team – in St. Louis – where there was formerly an NFL team.  I am not suggesting that the viability of XFL 2.0 will hinge on where the teams are located; clearly, its survival will depend on the quality of their football product and the amount of “football interest” that remains in the viewing public after the Super Bowl.

The draft for XFL 2.0 will take place in October 2019; as of this morning, the league has exactly 1 player under contract.  That would be former Steelers’ QB, Landry Jones.  The league will play a 10-game regular season starting in February 2020 with a 2-week post-season in the Spring of 2020.  The league is conducting test games with small colleges to try out some rules it hopes to implement:

  • Forward laterals allowed:  This means there can be more than one forward pass on a play, and it would seem to mean that offensive linemen behind the line of scrimmage would be eligible receivers.  I will need a tutorial by the league in the early games to understand all the implications of this rule.  [I don’t know enough to know if I like this rule or not.]
  • No PATs:  After a TD, the scoring team will opt to run a play from the 2-yardline or the 5-yardline or the 10-yardline.  If successful, those tries would be worth 1, 2 or 3 points depending on the scrimmage line chosen.  [I do like this rule.]
  • Speeding up the game:  There will be an official added to the crew whose job it is to place the ball ASAP to speed up play.  Players who commit procedural fouls – offside – will need to sit out a play and have a sub entered into the game.  [These rules evoke a giant “Meh! From me.]
  • Timing rules:  There will be a 25-second play clock and until the time of the two-minute warning, the clock will run continuously stopping only when there is a change of possession – – which will allow for commercial breaks on the telecast.  Instant replay reviews will be 30 seconds long.  [I like the instant replay time limit; I think I will like the continuously running clock; I wonder if 25-seconds is too short for the play clock.  These are interesting.]
  • Special Teams Rule Variants:  There will be no fair catches; the league here will emulate the CFL on punt returns.  There will be kickoff returns in XFL 2.0 because the proposed placement of the ball for kickoffs is the kicking team’s 15-yardline.  [I’ll reserve judgement here, if I may…]

Let the games begin …

Finally, since XFL 2.0 is trying to look at football from a different perspective, consider this Tweet from Brad Dickson regarding the use of a different perspective:

“In Texas the oldest man in the U.S. has died at 112. He attributed his long life to a daily cigar & shot of whiskey. You know, I’ve been doing this healthy living thing all wrong.”

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



What’s In A Name?

I got an e-mail from a reader last night chiding me for disrespecting current MLB players and the nicknames they put on their jerseys for Players Weekend this year.  Indeed, there were some clever ones mixed in with an awful lot of ones that elicit a giant yawn.  I like player nicknames where there is a cleverness associated with the creative process that led to the moniker.  Yesterday, I mentioned 4 such nicknames; let me add a few to the pile:

  • King James:  LeBron James was anointed as “The Chosen One” while still in high school.  That plus the association of King James with The Bible makes this name interesting.
  • The ‘Fridge:  One look at William Perry and you knew that he had paid many a visit to his refrigerator.
  • The Microwave:  Vinnie Johnson was described as “instant offense” as a sixth man in the NBA.  Ergo, the nickname…
  • The Minister of Defense:  Reggie White was an ordained minister – – and he played a bit of defense too.

I must admit that there were a few Players Weekend names that were clever and creative too:

  • High Foltage:  Mark Foltynewicz used a clever play on words
  • JDOT ADOT:  Perfect for J. A. Happ…
  • J V:  Justin Verlander used his initials – – but he is certainly not a member of the Junior Varsity.
  • Not Justin:  Perfect nickname for Shane Bieber.

Back in the mid-70s when the idea of putting player names on the backs of their jerseys was still relatively new, Ted Turner tried to use that trend to his advantage.  Turner owned the Braves at the time and he also owned Channel 17 in Atlanta which was one of the early “superstations” meaning it used a satellite link to make itself available to that new-fangled thing called cable TV.  Turner signed pitcher Andy Massersmith – one of the early free agents in MLB – for the Braves and gave Messersmith the number 17.  Then on the back of the jersey, he put the “player name” as “CHANNEL”.  Messersmith was going to be a pitching advertisement for Turner’s superstation.  The Commish put the Kibosh on that idea rather quickly…

I have another addendum to yesterday’s rant.  I began yesterday mentioning the passing of Jack Whitaker over the weekend; there was another passing in the sports world last weekend of a more arcane nature.  Jim Hardy passed at age 96.  Hardy was a quarterback in the NFL for several teams in the 40s and 50s; he holds an NFL record for QBs that no player after him has tried to break:

  • Early in the 1950 season playing for the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals via the St. Louis Cardinals), Jim Hardy threw 8 INTs in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.  As you might expect, the Cardinals lost that game 45-7.

Not to leave you with the wrong impression, Jim Hardy came back the next week and threw 6 TD passes – with zero INTs – to lead the Cards to a big win over the Baltimore Colts.  The man had a short memory…

Rest in peace, Jim Hardy.

T.J. Simers was an acerbic columnist for the LA Times; to say that he was in a cranky mood when he wrote many of his columns is about as polite a description as one might come up with.  I never met the man; so, I have no idea if that is his natural demeanor or if it is merely a persona he assumed when sitting at his keyboard.  I enjoyed reading his columns and was saddened to learn in 2013 that he had been “downsized” from the LA Times[Aside:  The Times has also parted company with another favorite columnist of mine; so, I have little empathy for their decision in either case.]  Simers filed an age and disability discrimination lawsuit against the Times soon after that downsizing event.

The situation is far more complicated than I described above; so, let me provide a link here to a report in the Washington Post about this matter.  This has come to the top of the pile now because Simers won a $15.4M award for damages from a jury in a Federal court.  Simers’ legal team is in a celebratory mood; the LA Times says it is “weighing its legal options”.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this comment in the Seattle Times recently about one of the off-center entries in competition:

“The Roskilde Music Festival in Denmark kicked off with its 21st annual Naked Run, in which competitors wear nothing but sneakers, socks and maybe some strategically placed body paint.

“So, who needs the Running of the Bulls when you can have the Running of the Bares?”

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



RIP Jack Whitaker

Jack Whitaker died over the weekend at the age of 95.  He was one of the old guard in sports television.  I believe his first national exposure was on the CBS pre-game show for the NFL back in the 60s.  He was part of the program that featured a young Brent Musberger, Jimmie the Greek Snyder and Phyllis George.  He was also the TV voice for the Belmont Stakes the day Secretariat ran his historic race there.

Rest in peace, Jack Whitaker.

On “Players Weekend”, MLB allows players to put whatever name they want on the back of their jerseys – – within reason of course.  It might have been fun to have had such a weekend when some great players in the past had great nicknames such as:

  • Mr. October
  • Splendid Splinter
  • Stan the Man
  • Sultan of Swat

Oh well …

In NFL news, the league has reinstated Josh Gordon – seemingly for the umpteenth time – – and that is probably very good news for the New England Patriots.  A potential shortcoming for the team in 2019 is the roster of pass catchers; with Rob Gronkowski in retirement and Julian Edelman much closer to his mid-30s than his mid20s, the ranks of pass catchers is thin.  The Pats did draft a WR early in the draft and it would be a big plus for them if N’Keal Harry was an early bloomer, but Gordon – when he manages to stay clear of the league’s drug policy – has already shown his worth at the NFL level.  Last year, Gordon caught 40 passes in 11 games for the Pats and gained 720 yards; that is an impressive 18 yards per catch.

As if the Patriots needed a lucky break …

All too often, fans get themselves into a euphoric state when their favorite team starts the season on a hot streak.  Going even beyond the state where sugar plums dance in their heads, fans begin to envision a triumphant march for their heroes to something like the Super Bowl Championship or the World Series Championship.  More rational thinkers recognize the danger of extrapolating from a small sample size and manage to curb their enthusiasm.  This year’s baseball season provides one such example:

  • At one point in April, the Seattle Mariners were 13-2.  No one would expect any team to continue to win 87% of their games, but at 13-2, some folks might have entered a rapturous state.
  • This morning the Mariners’ record stands at 53-73; they are 27 games behind the Astros in the AL West.

The Mariners are a team in rebuilding mode; a record akin to 53-73 is not outrageously bad.  Any thoughts of “playoffs” or “World Series” back in April would have been a conscious denial of the roster that had been assembled for the 2019 season.

Last week, the Washington Post had a long article that tried to explain why there are no left-handed QBs in the NFL and there have not been any since 2017 when Kellen Moore retired.  Here is a link to that article; I am not going to come close to making all the points therein, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Athletes who are left-handed seem to be aimed at baseball where left-handed pitchers can have long and lucrative careers.  This seems to diminish the number of left-handed QBs in the development pipeline.
  • Coaches and GMs are creatures of habit.  GMs build teams with a strong left side of the OL to protect the blind side of a right-handed QB.  That would have to change with a lefty.  Coaches have playbooks that are designed for right-handed QBs in terms of how they pivot to hand off the ball and how they move to roll the pocket.  All of that had to be changed in a mirror image with a lefty.

Notwithstanding the challenges for coaches and GMs, it would appear that Tua Tagovailoa will be a prime candidate for a high draft choice in next year’s NFL Draft.  He will be entering his junior year at Alabama this year and in 23 games to date, he has completed 68% of his passes and thrown 54 TDs against only 8 INTs.  Those numbers would seem to trump any “mirror-image problems” for an NFL team needing a QB…

College football begins this weekend with a very abbreviated slate of games.  Florida will visit Miami on Saturday night.  Both teams feature strong defenses and the Total Line reflects that at 47 points.  The other Division 1-A game finds Arizona on a long road trip to play Hawaii.  The oddsmakers are not looking for a defensive struggle there; that Total Line is a hefty 74 points. [There are also 2 Division 1-AA games on Saturday.]

College football gets underway in a big way on the weekend of August 31.  There are a half-dozen Division 1-A games on Thursday night, nine more on Friday night, a couple dozen games on Saturday and one game each on Sunday night and Monday night.  T’is the season…

Finally, since I mentioned the Mariners’ fall-off in terms of win/loss record above, here is a comment from Dwight Perry that seems relevant:

“Mariners infielder Tim Beckham drew an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

“Considering he’s been hitting .211 since April 7, here’s hoping he kept the sales slip.”

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



Another Injury For DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins had two things going against him as a “fan favorite” basketball player.  One was his short temper which made plenty of folks think of him as a spoiled brat.  The other was his size; Wilt Chamberlain once said about being as big as he was:

  • Nobody roots for Goliath.

As Cousins aged, he also matured.  He never achieved Job-like patience, but he was no longer a guy with a short fuse.  He and Anthony Davis seemed to have a good thing going for them in New Orleans when Cousins tore his Achilles tendon.  That was in the middle of the 2017/2018 NBA regular season.  From the moment of that tendon loss until now, DeMarcus Cousins’ life seems to have been like that of the Al Capp comic strip character, Joe Btfsplk.  Everywhere poor ol’ Joe went, there was a rain cloud over his head and disasters happened all around him.  Joe was so unlucky; he did not even have any vowels in his name.

In the summer of 2018, Cousins signed a 1-year deal with the Warriors and after rehab and a short stint in the G-League to put him in “basketball shape”, he played in his first game for Golden State in January 2019.  Three months later, the playoffs were underway, and Cousins tore his quadriceps muscle rendering him hors de combat until the final series against the Raptors.

As a free agent this summer, he signed on with the Lakers on another 1-year deal.  That contract would pair him once again with Anthony Davis and it would augment that duo with the presence of LeBron James.  Yesterday, in a workout in Las Vegas, DeMarcus Cousins tore his ACL and may have put his career in jeopardy at age 29.  In the span of about 19 months, he went from “big man with a good outside shot” to “what will his next injury be?”

Looking at this from the perspective of the Lakers, Cousins was probably slotted to be a guy who could overlap with Anthony Davis to prevent too much “tire wear” on either of those big men.  He and Davis could provide a bit of “load management” for each other without having either one sit out a game.  If that was the Lakers’ thinking, the question now is where do they turn to get a replacement for Cousins.  Off the top of my head, I can think of several big men who are still unsigned – – but there is a reason that is the case in every situation:

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Dwight Howard
  • Nene
  • Zaza Pachulia

I am sure there are other possible candidates for the Lakers to consider, but looking at the list above, I would have to say the pickings are slim.

Bob Molinaro has this comment in his column this morning in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Idle thought: If pretentious officials at The Ohio State University succeed in trademarking ‘The,’ the University of Virginia (and other state schools) should think about trademarking OF.”

And that is all you need to know about THE idea of trademarking THE word “The”.

There are reports of two new additions to ESPN’s coverage of the NFL:

  • Ed Werder has been rehired by ESPN after he was purged/downsized/whatever about a year ago.  It seems that he will be ESPN’s man on the scene in Dallas/Houston – the role he filled previously for the network.  In the past, he had provided useful and interesting information – – albeit not mind-blowing insights – – when the light went on.  From my perspective, this is a good re-addition.
  • Jack Del Rio has been hired by ESPN to be part of the studio analysis roster at ESPN.  Del Rio played in the NFL for 11 seasons; he was a head coach in the NFL for 12 seasons.  He is articulate and “outspoken” which means to me that he will be worth listening to.  I see him as Rex Ryan minus Ryan’s persistent self-pumpulation.  This could be an interesting hire…

Let me slide here into another NFL item that has filled space in the “news hole” recently.  According to reports, Dak Prescott turned down a Cowboys’ contract that was worth $30M per year and according to other reports, Dak Prescott is seeking a contract worth $40M per year.  From the outset, let me say clearly that none of those reports had enough evidence of whatever claim was being touted to call the reports ‘investigative journalism”.  Like all the commentators before, I too have not seen any of the Cowboys’ offers nor any of the demands made by Prescott and his agent(s).

There is another point to be made here as it pertains to NFL contract stories.  In addition to things like the total value of the deal and the average salary per year, NFL contracts have to be judged to some degree on how much of the money is guaranteed and how much of the guarantee is up-front cash-on-the-barrelhead.  None of the reports I read pertaining to the Cowboys/Prescott negotiations provided any information along that line.

With those caveats in mind, let me suggest an impartial view of those talks:

  1. $30M per year is the going rate for franchise QBs these days.  If the Cowboys think Prescott is their long-term QB incumbent, that will need be a starting point for their contract offers.
  2. $40M per year would make Dak Prescott the highest paid NFL player ever.  I think he is indeed the franchise QB that the Cowboys are looking for, but I am not sure he has demonstrated that he is so spectacular to be worth that sort of money.
  3. There is a whole lot of room between $30M per year and $40M per year and plenty of time for the two sides to reach an agreement.  Once the season starts there will be “real stuff” to report on and these negotiations will not need to be hyped to fill space in newspapers, on blogs and on the air for sports radio.

Finally, speaking of salaries for pro athletes, here is a comment from Brad Rock in the Deseret News:

“Billionaire Warren Buffett told Sports Illustrated that Alex Rodriguez ‘doesn’t need me — he’s got a money mind.’

“Yes, well, the $378 million he made in baseball would certainly do that.”

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