Football Friday 1/31/20

I should have Frank Sinatra crooning in the background this morning:

“And the days dwindle down, to a precious few…”

Today is the Final Football Friday; it began in August; it went on hiatus for a couple of weeks; and today it goes into hibernation until next August.  Two weeks ago, the picks in the Six-Pack were El Perfecto.  Those picks went 4-0-0 bringing the season totals to:

  • Overall:  49-32-4
  • College:  20-9-1
  • NFL:  29-23-3


College Football Commentary:


Last week, LSU named Bo Pelini as their defensive coordinator.  Pelini is known for his “rough edges” – in terms of intensity and in terms of language – from his days as the head coach at Nebraska.  Pelini arrived at Nebraska in 2008 replacing Bill Callahan who had the temerity to post 2 losing seasons in 4 years in Lincoln.  From 2008 until he was fired in late 2014, here is a rough overview of Pelini’s teams:

  • Cumulative record:  66-27-0
  • Bowl game appearances in all 7 seasons – – including the one where he was fired
  • Ranked in the Top 25 in 4 of the 7 seasons.

Husker Nation was not satisfied with that; after all, Pelini’s teams lost 4 or 5 times a year and that was unacceptable.  So how have things gone in Cornhusker Land since they rid themselves of “Boorish Bo” Pelini:

  • Cumulative record:  28-34-0
  • Bowl game appearances in 2 of the 5 seasons
  • No Top 25 rankings at all.

Things will not be calm and serene on the LSU sidelines next season.  Nonetheless, LSU has acquired a competent football coach.  He may not be the kind of person who behaves in a way that you think is a role model for children – – but he can coach football.


NFL Commentary:


Each year – as a silent protest to the needless “dark weekend” between the Championship Games and the Super Bowl – I do not mention the Super Bowl game in any of the rants for those two weeks.  Now that we are within 60 hours of kickoff time, I’ll pay attention to the game that should have been played last Sunday.

If you recall, the NFL season began on a Thursday night in early September; the Packers and the Bears got things started with a game that ended 10-3.  It was an interesting game because it was the first one of the season and because it was close all the way to the end, but it lacked any sort of “adrenaline factor”.  If a Super Bowl game were to end up 10-3 such that every possession during the game had the potential to change the lead or double the lead, it would be exciting.  Also exciting would be a 48-45 game where the teams moved up and down the field like a basketball game.  Personally, I am hoping things skew toward the 48-45 scenario on Sunday.

I want to take a moment to consider the two teams that lost two weeks ago thereby missing this week’s game.

  • The Green Bay Packers have two areas in need of improvement.  The offense needs an upgrade at WR; it appears as if Davante Adams is the only one on the roster who can get open quickly.  Do not look at the stats from the Packers/Niners game and be deceived by the Packers’ passing yards; most of those yards came as a desperate attempt to play catch up.  In the first half, the Packers’ pass offense produced a net of only 65 yards.
  • The Packers’ first half offense was miserable all around – – not just in the passing game.  Here are how the Packers’ first half possessions turned out: punt, punt, punt, turnover, turnover, punt.  Just to be clear, that stinks.
  • The Packers also need to shore up their run defense.  The Niners had even fewer passing yards in the first half than did the Packers (only 48 yards) but the difference was that Raheem Mostert had been running the ball down the Packers’ throats for half the game.  In the first half he had 160 yards rushing and scored 3 TDs.
  • The Tennessee Titans may have major roster moves foisted upon them due to salary cap constraints.  Derrick Henry will be a free agent and he is going to cost a lot more than he cost last year.  Henry is an important part of the way the Titans play offense, but RB is a position that comes with uncertainty.  Two years ago, the Rams spent big for Todd Gurley and now have an expensive RB with “knee issues”; last year, the Jets opened the wallet and signed LeVeon Bell and got decent – but hardly season-changing – production from him.
  • Also, the Titans have two QBs on expiring contracts.  Ryan Tannehill played his way into a payday last season; Marcus Mariota will not cost nearly as much but did not produce nearly as much either.  There are significant financial decisions that the Titans’ front office will need to make.
  • The team’s most pressing need would seem to be speed in the secondary.  I know that the Chiefs offense is predicated on speed, but some of the open receivers two weeks ago were almost castaways out there…

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times had this observation about the Titans’ loss to the Chiefs two weeks ago:

“The most-relieved coach to lose a playoff game in NFL history?

“That would be Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel, after 6-month-old video resurfaced of him vowing to cut off his own manhood if the Titans won Super Bowl LIV.”

One of the most trite and meaningless phrases used regarding football teams is tossed about whenever a new coach takes over.  He is there to “change the culture” – as if this is a microbiology lab where they need the little beasties to grow more quickly.  In most cases, it doesn’t mean a damned thing and produces even less in terms of results.  However, the Niners may just be the exception that proves the rule.

Things got very “testy” in SF at the end of the Jim Harbaugh regime.  Coach Harbaugh and GM, Trent Baalke probably could not have agreed that the sun came up in the east on any given morning; the owner, Jed York, dithered and let that simmering pot boil over and then chose to side with Baalke in the dispute.  Harbaugh was ushered out of town and the organization went through a futile search for a replacement coach.

Coming up dry, the team hired Jim Tomsula who was on the staff already and who – despite being a decent position coach – was totally unprepared to be a head coach.  He lasted one year on the job and went 5-11.  [Remember, this team was only two seasons removed from one that had been to 3 consecutive Conference Championship Games and a Super Bowl game.]  Even the discombobulated front office of the time recognized that a coaching change was needed, and they started a search again.  By this time, the organization had not descended to the same level of dismissal as the Cleveland Browns but lots of folks looked askance at all the intrigue and all the drama that permeated the team.  That next coaching search landed Chip Kelly who was fresh off being fired by the Eagles.  That was an even worse time for the Niners; Kelly’s team went 2-14 and Kelly was out of a job after one year.

Then came the “culture change” – but it really didn’t come about with a new coach or a new GM.  The “culture change” came from Jed York who is the exec that owns/runs the team.  York made a decision to hire the tandem of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to rebuild the franchise and then Jed York took an important step:

  • He stepped away and let the two guys he hired to run the team run the team.

That may not sound like a decision that arose from a Nobel-Laureate thought process, but it is a decision that some less-than-fully-functional teams seem incapable of making.  Might this be a lighthouse in the fog recognized by the likes of:

  • Jimmy Haslam in Cleveland
  • Woody Johnson in NY
  • Danny Boy Snyder in Washington [Kyle Shanahan was on the Skins’ staff don’t you know…]
  • Dean Spanos in LA?

Somehow, I doubt that is going to happen…

But that decision by Jed York produced a Super Bowl team with a 2019 record of 13-3 that had only won 10 games in the previous 2 seasons combined.  Moreover, the Niners had the second worst record in the league just last year yielding the second pick in the Draft only 9 months ago.  Things changed in SF – – but the change started at the top and not with the new coach.

Speaking of Niners’ coach Kyle Shanahan, he is making his Super Bowl debut this weekend and he will be half of the first father-and-son tandem to be the coach of a Super Bowl team.  His father, Mike Shanahan was the Broncos’ coach in the mid-90s when the Broncos won back-to-back Lombardi Trophies.  [Interestingly, Mike Shanahan has a third Super Bowl Ring because he was the offensive coordinator for the Niners when they won the Super Bowl in 1994.  The ‘90s were good times for Mike Shanahan…]

Andy Reid has been to the Super Bowl once before as coach of the Eagles.  His team lost to the Patriots in that game and lots of people think that Reid needs a win here to assure his inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I happen to disagree; I think Andy Reid should be in the Hall of Fame even if he loses this weekend and decides to retire and never coaches another game.  But that’s just me…  Reid has the Chiefs in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970 when the Chiefs beat the Vikings just before the merger of the NFL and the AFL.  To put that in some sort of historical perspective, the last time the Chiefs were in the Super Bowl, Apollo 11 had landed on the moon only six-months before…

Brad Dickson – formerly with the Omaha World-Herald – had this observation regarding the Chiefs return to the Super Bowl this year:

“I just hope now Kansas City Chiefs fans don’t get cocky and expect to make it to the Super Bowl every 50 years.”

[Aside: Another fun fact here is that 50 years ago, Jack Buck did the TV play-by-play for the Super Bowl game; this year, his son, Joe Buck, will be doing the play-by-play for the game on FOX.]

As is too often the case, the main focus for much of the hoo-hah leading up to the game has been on the two quarterbacks – as if they will ever be on the field at the same time playing against one another.  There are plenty of similarities:

  • They are both young; Garoppolo is the “old guy” at age 28.
  • They are both playing in their first Super Bowl.
  • They are both good on the microphone as well as on the field.

Moreover, they have another similarity that was pointed out to me by Bob Molinaro with this entry in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

In passing: For what it’s worth, neither Patrick Mahomes nor [Jimmy] Garoppolo were even four-star recruits out of high school. Mahomes was a three, Garoppolo a two.”

So much for high-school rating systems…


The Game: 


SF vs. KC – 1.5 (54.5):  The spread opened as a “pick ‘em game” but moved to this level very quickly and then stabilized here.  The Total Line opened at 51 points, jumped to 54 points rather quickly and then has risen another half-point in the last two weeks.  I think there are four key questions that will decide this game:

  1. Can the Niners 4-man pass rush get to Patrick Mahomes?  As Steve Young has pointed out several times in the past two weeks, the Niners ability to get pass pressure with only 4 pass rushers is a critical ingredient in their pass defense that drops 7 people into coverage.  That factor is even more important here because Mahomes can run and the Niners may need to “spend a defender” to spy on Mahomes in some situations.
  2. Can the Chiefs recover against the Niners defense from an early deficit?  In both playoff games this year, the Chiefs have fallen behind early and then came roaring back.  The rally against the Texans was surprising only by its magnitude; the Titans’ defense is better than the Texans’ defense, but it was still exploitable by the Chiefs with their speed.  The Niners’ defense is better than either of the Chiefs’ prior opponents.
  3. Can the Niners’ defense deal with the overwhelming team speed of the Chiefs?  To some measure, the answer here is closely related to Question #1 above.  If Mahomes has time and the chiefs’ WRs have time to motor downfield, the Niners’ excellent defense may be in a significant bind.  However, do not dismiss the speed factor of the Chiefs in their running game and in their return game; they have some flyers there too.
  4. Can the Chiefs’ defense force the Niners out of their run-first offense?  If they cannot, I think the Chiefs will lose the game.  They need not shut down the Niners’ run game to something absurd like “less than 50 yards for the game”, but they cannot allow the Niners to drive the field and consume 8 or 9 minutes per drive unless the Chiefs are perfect on offense all game long.

I am not going to go through the umpteen prop bets that are available out there to look for ones to put in this week’s Six-Pack.  In fact, there will be only two selections there – coming soon.  However, if you are a trend bettor, there are two props out there that might entice you:

  • Will there be a score in the final 3:30 of the game?  Yes = minus-190.  No = +160.  There has been a score in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the last 5 Super Bowl games.  In blowout games you might see nothing happening at the end as both teams just play out the string.  If you see this game as a tight one, there could be plenty of incentive for both teams to score late in the game.
  • Will there be a 2-point conversion attempt?  Yes = +140 No = minus-130.  Believe it or not, there have been 2-point conversion attempts in 8 of the last 10 Super Bowl games.  I was surprised to run across that stat…

I’ll put the Niners plus the points in the final Six-Pack of the season and I’ll put the game to go OVER 54.5 points in the Six-Pack as well.

I think the game is a toss-up; the teams are evenly matched and by taking the Niners with a point-and-a-half I get the protection against them losing by a single point.  I think the Niners will score on the Chiefs defense and that the Chiefs will make a bunch of big plays to keep up.  That will send the total score OVER 54.5 points.  [Aside:  I do not expect this game to be the highest scoring Super Bowl ever; that honor belongs to the 1994 game between the Niners and Chargers where the Niners won 49-26.  That was the game where Mike Shanahan was the Niners’ offensive coordinator, by the way…]

For those who are interested in trends:

  • The Chiefs are 7-0-1 in their last 8 games against the spread.
  • The Niners are 6-2-1 in their last 9 games against the spread.

Good luck drawing a conclusion there…

Finally, Football Friday will go into hibernation as of today only to re-emerge next August. However, let me close with an observation based on a hiring decision made by an NFL team this week:

  • The Cincinnati Bengals announced the hiring of Dan Pitcher as their QB coach.  Now, if only they can find someone named Sam Catcher to serve as their wide receivers’ coach…

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



People Movement …

The Houston Astros want to put the sign-stealing scandal behind them – as impossible a task as that will be.  They took a positive step earlier this week by hiring Dusty Baker to be their manager in 2020.  I have always thought that Baker was a good but overrated manager; however, I never thought that he was underhanded in any way – as I do about some other highly successful managers.  But that is a rant for another day…

Baker is baseball to his core.  He played the game for 19 years at the major league level appearing in over 2000 games; he managed 4 different teams for a total of 22 years being involved in more than 3500 games.  His most severe critics point to his less-than-enthusiastic embrace for sabermetrics ignoring his winning record as a manager.

The only way for the Astros to escape completely from the memory of the sign-stealing nonsense is for the “Men in Black” to show up with their “memory erasers” and work their magic.  Dusty Baker can’t do that – – but I cannot imagine that he will embarrass the franchise during his time in the dugout.

Next up are the Red Sox…  What might the Commish do there?  Who will manage the Red Sox in 2020 with or without any “findings” by the Commish?  Pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks; presumably we will at least know who the manager for 2020 might be very soon…

In another part of Houston, the Texans made a front office alteration this week.  Bill O’Brien had been the head coach and part of a multi-headed monster that acted as the team’s GM for the last season.  This week, the Texans decided that a hydra-like GM was not to their liking and they named O’Brien as the GM in addition to continuing as the head coach.  This has been done before in the NFL and it has been done successfully; however, I cannot recall a coach acquiring that sort of power with a franchise without either owning the team or having plenty of success on his résumé prior to accreting that power.  It will be interesting to see how it works for the Texans.

Other than the PR drumbeat for the Super Bowl game this weekend, the dominant storyline of the NFL has to be the impending free agency of Tom Brady.  The prevailing narrative is to compare Brady’s situation to that of either Joe Montana or Peyton Manning in the late stages of their careers.  [Yes, some have pointed to Namath and Unitas too, but more focus has been on the more recent situations.]  I think there are too many dissimilarities in the Manning and Montana cases to be very instructive here:

  • Joe Montana was traded to the Chiefs who signed him to a $10M deal that was lucrative for its time.  He was not a free agent; he did not get to try to optimize his playing situation.
  • Peyton Manning was released by the Colts and the Colts had drafted Andrew Luck to be their franchise QB.  Manning did not have the ability – luxury? – of negotiating with his old team for a job there; Manning had to go and find himself a comfortable playing situation – – or he could retire.

Neither of these is the “Brady situation”.  Here is what is certain about the “Brady Free Agency”:

  • Unless he signs an extension with the Pats, Tom Brady will be a free agent in early March 2020 – about 5 weeks from now.
  • Between now and then, every time there is a need to fill space in a newspaper, magazine, online entity or on sports radio, someone can do a piece on what Tom Brady ought to do or has done or is rumored to be about to do with regard to the next stage of his career.  For the next 5 weeks, Tom Brady is a wildcard for filling space and time in the sports section.

The intense focus on the “Brady Free Agency” seems to have let a few other player conundrums go by the wayside.  Four players come to my mind who may be turned out onto the free agent marketplace and who should generate interest around the league on a speculative basis.  In alphabetical order:

  1. LeVeon Bell:  There were more than a few reports last season indicating that Jets’ coach, Adam Gase, was not pleased to find Bell on the roster at his salary level when Gase arrived.  For whatever reason(s), Bell had the worst year of his career last season by any statistical measure.  If the Jets are serious that they are going to roll with Adam Gase for the near future – meaning more than just for 2020 – I would not be surprised to see Bell playing elsewhere in 2020.
  2. Trey Burton:  Yes, he was injured last season only appearing in 8 games.  Yes, when he was on the field, he was on the receiving end of throws from a QB that was having significant difficulties last season.  Nonetheless, he has not been the dynamic tight end that the Bears thought they were getting when they signed him in 2018.  Burton is only 28 years old; if the reports of the Bears’ disenchantment with him are correct, he should be a free agent of interest…
  3. Joe Flacco:  It would seem that the Broncos have moved on from Joe Flacco as their starting QB and I believe his cap number for 2020 will be around $23M.  That is a lot of cap room to devote to a backup QB so I think Joe Flacco will be wearing a different uniform in 2020.  He is 35 years old and perhaps the balance of his career will be as a veteran mentor for a young QB.  Plenty of NFL teams seem to be headed down the path of “young stud QB” …
  4. Cam Newton:  Injuries have eroded some of his running effectiveness and whatever shoulder problem(s) he had certainly hurt his already spotty performances as a pinpoint passer.  There is a new regime in Carolina from the owner on down and a 31-year old Cam Newton may be swept out by the changes.  The big question here is his physical health.

Finally, having just mentioned a player who is recovering from injuries, here is a comment from Scott Ostler in the SF Chronicle about an injury suffered by Warriors’ center, Kevon Looney:

“Does anyone know what it means that Kevon Looney has a ‘neuropathic condition’?  Sounds ominous.  Can’t they dumb it down for us, like, ‘nerve thingie'”?

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



Politicians And Sports

Their batting average is not “oh-fer”, but when politicians do their thing relative to the sports world, their batting average is close to that of Bob Buhl who is the worst hitter I have ever seen.  Buhl was a successful starting pitcher for the Braves, Cubs and Phillies in the 50s and 60s, but his skills in the batter’s box were “less than sufficient”.  His career batting average was .089.  Over his 15-year career, he amassed 76 hits while striking out 359 times.

The most recent foray by a group of politicians into the world of sports is going to be about as effective as a Bob Buhl plate appearance.  Consider please the Los Angeles City Council who found sufficient wisdom and fortitude to:

  • Pass a resolution seeking to have MLB give the 2017 World Series Trophy to the rightful winners, the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Michael McCann is the legal analyst/columnist at  I am certainly not in any position to judge his legal acumen, but I will say that his columns are always worthwhile for me because they explain legal intricacies in language that I can understand.  One of his most recent columns had this headline and sub-head:

20 Questions About MLB’s Sign-Stealing Scandal

Everything you need to know about the ongoing sign-stealing controversy with a legal lens on it.

In the middle of this analysis, McCann says that players cannot sue for bonuses they may have lost due to the ongoing cheating.  The fundamental reason here is that players agreed that arbitration is their only remedy here and McCann concludes that their claims would be sufficiently speculative that arbitration judges would not be favorably disposed.  Then he asks rhetorically:

  • Could ticket-holders and viewers who are upset their team lost successfully sue MLB?

He takes a paragraph to explain why he thinks any such actions would fail and then provides the following conclusion:

“Also, being upset that one’s favorite team may have been cheated out of a World Series is understandable but it’s not a harm the law ought to remedy. Neither MLB nor its clubs have a legal duty to make us happy.”

Obviously, no one on the LA City Council read this column before they debated and then voted upon their landmark resolution…

If you want to read the entire column, here is a link.  I learned things and I enjoyed reading it…

MLB will lose no sleep over that resolution by the LA City Council, but MLB has made a decision regarding the 2020 season that will provide change for the games.  Pedro Gomez of ESPN broke the story that MLB umpires will be “mic’ed up” this year like the way that NFL referees are enabling umpires to explain rules and/or the results of team challenges to the fans in attendance and the TV audience.  If MLB is going to use replay, this addendum is overdue.

Another benefit could accrue about once a month when one of the arcane rules of baseball is violated and an umpire calls it.  The average fan must wait until the next day to get an explanation in his morning paper or on the morning edition of SportsCenter; with an NFL-style communication system, the play can be explained “on the spot”.  I like this idea, but I offer two caveats:

  1. This will not assure that all calls are made correctly.  That is not the intent and it is beyond reasonable expectation.
  2. Get ready for at least a couple installments of The Joe West Show.

Switching to the NFL, Super Bowl tickets on the secondary market are very expensive this year.  If you expect to make it to the game in Miami, expect to shell out at least $4500 per seat at the game and some tickets have an asking price this morning that is just north of $15K per fanny-holder.  Perhaps you really want to go to the game but just don’t have access to that sort of cash for you and your main squeeze at this moment.  Not to worry, StubHub and its new partner, Affirm, will let you buy the tickets and finance them with a loan directly from Affirm that will let you pay over a period of 3 months or 6 months or 12 months at an interest rate of 10-30%.

I don’t want to go into full “Suze Orman Mode” here; but somehow, I doubt that incurring a debt in the $10K range or higher at an interest rate near or above 20% is even marginally sound financial planning.

Finally, I like it when people make it clear what they mean to say.  The manager of the Tottenham Hotspurs in the English Premier League received a yellow card from the referee for vociferously protesting some calls in a game against Southampton.  José Mourhino was asked about that yellow card in a post-game interview:

“I clearly deserved the yellow card, as I was rude. But I was rude to an idiot.”

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



Did Antonio Brown Just Catch A Break?

In yesterday’s rant, I mentioned in passing that I would not be shocked to see someone link Antonio Brown’s “unusual behavior” over the past year or so to CTE.  Remember that brutal headshot he received from Vontaze Burfict in a playoff game in 2016; if the progression of CTE is indeed cumulative, that hit has to go on the ledger as an “asset” for CTE advancement.  I am in no position to assess the validity of such a linkage but having said that I think someone might try to find some causality there, I got to thinking about Brown’s “unusual behavior” over the past year.

Antonio Brown follows a line of WRs in the NFL who are simultaneously:

  1. Outstanding on the field – – and – –
  2. Divas off the field.

Please note that WRs who fit into this category are a subset of “Outstanding WRs”.  When I say the name Raymond Berry or Fred Biletnikoff or Marvin Harrison or Tommy McDonald or Jerry Rice or Charley Taylor, you should associate any of those names with “Outstanding WR” because all of them are in the Hall of Fame justifiably.  In addition, none of them come close to being in the classification of “Diva”.

Having said that, the evolutionary niche “Outstanding WR AND Diva” is well populated by the likes of:

  • Odell Beckham, Jr.
  • Chad Johnson – – Chad Ochocinco  – -and then Chad Johnson once again
  • Randy Moss
  • Terrell Owens – – in addition to – –
  • Antonio Brown.

But there is a difference…  All five of the examples above have been “look at me” type players and have been “locker room distractions” often based on their “look at me” proclivities but none of them have exhibited behavior(s) that venture into “Sociopath State”.  Antonio Brown now stands accused of sexual assault, felony battery, burglary and probably some other transgressions that slip my mind now.  Those behaviors are very different from:

  • Taking a swing at a kicking net on the sidelines during a game
  • Being a locker room disruption
  • Taking plays off when your number isn’t called
  • Being asked to leave the team and holding a press conference while doing sit-ups in your driveway.

Antonio Brown was arrested and then released on bail by a judge in Florida who made it a condition of his bail that he sit for a psychological assessment.  That could be a big deal for Antonio Brown assuming that he cooperates, and that the psychologist does a serious work up and does not just go through the motions such that the judge will not question his effort on the task.  From my purely layman’s perspective, Antonio Brown needs help in his life from the experts in the mental health community.  Perhaps, this is a portal for him to enter a space where he can get some assistance.

Switching gears…  ESPN has done a re-start on its investigative news program Outside the Lines.  The original incarnation was chaired by Bob Ley for more than 25 years; it started as a weekly feature and then became a daily program in 2003.  It has been in hiatus for about a year and has returned as a weekly program – chaired by Jeremy Schapp this time.  I am a little surprised by this decision by the suits at ESPN.

Under the current regime at “The Worldwide Leader”, the idea has been for the network’s on-camera talent to tread very lightly when it comes to “political” or “cultural” matters and focus like a laser on “sports”.  Whether you agree with that vector heading is not pertinent here; what matters is that it is the corporate ethos at the moment and that means that Outside the Lines will have a tightrope to walk with some of its stories.

Given that the reincarnated version of Outside the Lines is a weekly, that should allow Schapp and the staff there the luxury of “aging” some of the stories to allow for the edge to wear off potential aspects that could push the story into areas that management would prefer to avoid.  This will not be a trivial undertaking, but Jeremy Schapp is as close as ESPN has on its staff to Bob Ley; this could be an interesting “re-start”.

Every once in a while, I find something interesting in the agate type section of the Washington Post sports section which I scan daily.  Here is a recent item that caught my attention:

Washington Redskins:  Named Brett Nenaber director of player performance and Jeff Zegonia assistant defensive line coach.”

I can imagine what the responsibilities of an “assistant defensive line coach” might be for an NFL team; I may not have the full scope of the duties of that position in mind, but I think I have the drift.  Such is not nearly the case with the position of “director of player performance”.  Is he the guy who works with the team on those choreographed TD celebrations that sometimes rise all the way up to the level of “SILLY”?

Finally, leave it to The Onion to summarize a lot of thinking into a simple headline for a piece of its satire:

“NCAA determines becoming a Bengal punishment enough for Joe Burrow taking cash from Odell Beckham.”

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



Rest In Peace, Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter died yesterday in a helicopter crash in California.  There were nine people aboard; there were no survivors.

Stare con gli angeli, Kobe Bryant.  Rest in peace…

Will Hobson had a report in the Washington Post that qualifies as a “takedown piece”.  The subject of his report was Dr. Bennet Omalu – the author of the book, Concussion, and the self-proclaimed discoverer and namer of CTE.  Dr. Omalu has built a reputation and following based on his study of CTE particularly in former athletes.  All studies have been ex post facto based on examination of the brain in a deceased athlete; to date, there is no predictive measure nor is there a clear distinction between the effects of CTE and age-based dementia in many victims.

Hobson points out that Dr. Omalu seems to have played loose with facts and claims in building his reputation as the “go-to-guy” in matters related to CTE.  More importantly, some of his works and pronouncements have the ring of pseudoscience surrounding them:

  • Other researchers, using the same brain samples, do not always concur with Dr. Omalu’s diagnoses of CTE.  One other pathologist said, “…if people were actually following [Omalu’s] criteria, the prevalence of this disease would be enormous, and there’s absolutely no evidence to support that.”
  • When presented with opposing views from other researchers in the field, Dr. Omalu’s response is that they are comments from doctors seeking “cheap and bogus popularity” and who are in cahoots with sports organizations who seek to suppress his message.  Omalu also accuses the media for promulgating all that stuff as “Fake News”.

Dr. Omalu became famous enough to have a movie made about him; Will Smith played Dr. Omalu in the movie, Concussion, based on the book of the same name.  Part of that fame grew out of the vehemence of the NFL’s opposition to his work.  Just as Dr. Omalu may have exaggerated some of his findings and claims, the NFL was far too ready to assert that playing football had no deleterious effects on the human brain.  As a person whose education was focused on the physical sciences, I have been skeptical about the breadth of many of Dr. Omalu’s pronouncements. At one point he said something to the effect that kids who play contact sports in school such as football or hockey or wrestling are more likely to drop out of school, become addicted to drugs, commit violent crimes and commit suicide than the rest of the school population.

That is a paraphrase and not a quotation; there are no quotation marks there.  But that kind of assertion makes me stop and ask myself the kinds of questions that I would ask when presented with new information related to my field of study:

  • Does that make intuitive sense?
  • If true, would head trauma in those sports be the only – or even the most prevalent – factor in such outcomes?
  • What are the controls for the research done to collect the data that lead to such a conclusion?
  • How large might the sample size have to be?

Notwithstanding Dr. Omalu’s current assessment that the media promulgates “Fake News” about him, he was once a media darling.  I believe he attained that status because he fit with an anti-football narrative that was very popular and prevalent at the time.  [The movie about Dr. Omalu came out about the same time that there was a dip in NFL TV ratings and the prevailing narrative was that football was in decline because mothers would not allow their children to play a sport destined to destroy their lives.  The timing was most convenient.]  Dr. Omalu’s rise to fame came with his examination of and reporting on the cerebral pathology of Pittsburgh Steelers’ center, Mike Webster who died in his 50s having dealt with major health problems related to brain damage.  Since his findings there and his findings about CTE in other cases – many of which have not been replicated by other researchers – CTE has been cited as a factor for:

  • Aaron Hernandez committing several murders
  • Junior Seau committing suicide

[I will not be surprised to see someone speculate that Antonio Brown’s aberrant behavior over the past year or so is caused by CTE.]

Dr. Omalu has said that every NFL player has CTE to some degree.  [Recall, other researchers say his criteria are so broad that almost anyone can be diagnosed with CTE.]  That has been the assertion that always rang discordant with me.  Indeed, there are former NFL players who suffer as their age advances such as Lyle Alzedo or Mike Webster.  At the same time there are too many former NFL players who were in the game for a long time taking plenty of blows to the head who age just like most of the adults that I see as my family, friends and neighbors every day.  Those people occupy the studio host position on networks televising NFL games and the broadcasting booth as color analysts.  Terry Bradshaw, Boomer Esiason, Howie Long, Phil Simms and Steve Young are all about 60 years old – or more in the case of Bradshaw – and none of them present with any indication of senility or dementia.  Moreover, Young retired from the game because of concussion issues and Esiason once had a concussion in a game that kept him out for 6 weeks.

The final portion of the report in the Washington Post linked to here takes my skepticism about Dr. Omalu’s research and findings to the level of disbelief.  There was a lawsuit in Pennsylvania where Dr. Omalu’s expert testimony was dismissed by the judge in the case as “unreliable”.  Dr. Omalu’s explanation for that circumstance was that the judge was from Pittsburgh and probably an NFL fan.

Finally, let me close with a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm that seems appropriate for today:

Senile:  A word whose definition you will no longer be able to recall by the time it applies to you.”

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



Too Much Ado About Nothing…

Let me begin this morning with a personal note regarding these rants.  If you have ever established a website, you must register your domain name – – in this case  Every few years, you must renew your registration to maintain that exclusive address on the web.  My current registration runs out in April 2020; so, I obviously needed to renew and extend it.  I did that this week and the registration now runs through April 2029.  At that point, I will be 85 years old; but if my fingers are still functional on a keyboard, the plan is to keep on keeping on…

  • My long range plan is to live forever; so far, so good.

There are two stories percolating today and I believe that both are of minuscule importance/value.  The first one involves the continuation of the feud between Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb wherein each one blames the other for the Eagles’ Super Bowl loss to the Patriots about 15 years ago and the subsequent dismantling of the Eagles’ roster.  I think I speak for a significant portion of the sports fans in the US when I say, “Give it a rest, guys!” for the fundamental reason that, “Nobody cares!

Both Owens and McNabb have reached a point in their life when headlines and interviews and attention are hard to come by.  It would certainly appear that both men want a little more attention focused on them and this “feud” has become a way to accomplish that end.  What neither seems to realize – or, if they realize they do not care – is that this nonsense paints both of them as:

  • Déclassé
  • Niggling
  • Pathetic
  • Petty

Take your pick…  Here is a link to one of the reports of this ongoing feud that I include for completeness; you need not read it because it just does not matter.

The other story getting too much attention involves the issue of whether the Houston Astros’ players need to apologize for their sign-stealing activities.  If this were a debate among noted ethicists and moral philosophers, it could be marginally interesting.  However, the latest entrant into the debate is Scott Boras who says that the players need not apologize because “management” never explained to them that taking advantage of the technology-based sign stealing was wrong.

I have never thought that there was a significant overlap between “baseball players” and “MENSA members” but if I accept the Boras Principle here, then I have to consign “baseball players” to a realm of cognition previously occupied only by Bean Soup.  I really do not care one way or the other if the players apologize or if the owner apologizes or if no one apologizes.  Until and unless there are new revelations about similar sign-stealing systems elsewhere in MLB, I am more than happy to consign this matter to the dustbin of history.

I ran across a Tweet from Mike Leach – the new head coach at Mississippi State – that sparked my interest:

“Love being out in the great state of Mississippi recruiting some absolute studs! Any restaurant advice for me throughout the state?”

There was a time early in my career when I was in the Research, Development and Engineering business and I had reason to travel very extensively in the US.  That Tweet made me realize that Mike Leach’s wanderings as a head coach for the last couple of decades has taken him to places that would make him relish the idea of traveling around Mississippi.  I have been to Lubbock, TX and to Pullman, WA and to Starkville, MS.  Let me just say that none of those venues can claim to be as close to the Garden of Eden as exists on Earth.  If you spent a lot of time lobbying me, you might get me to concede that Pullman is a “bustling burb” – but it won’t be easy.  That will not be possible regarding either Lubbock or Starkville.

Given where he has had to live for the last 20 years or so, I think I now understand why he is obsessed with pirates and aliens.  There are not a lot of things to prevent his mind from wandering through the cosmos.

As for restaurant advice, let me suggest to Coach Leach that he have some fun with his dining events.  I have always wanted to go into a Denny’s for dinner and to ask the waiter to see the wine list…

When Titans’ guard, Dennis Kelly, caught a TD pass in the Chiefs/Titans game last weekend, one of the stat gurus on the broadcast came up with the revelation that Kelly was the heaviest player – at 321 lbs. – ever to catch a TD pass in a playoff game.  As that gem made its way to the booth and then out over the air, one of the next camera shots showed Andy Reid on the Chiefs’ sideline.  With the Chiefs’ victory, Andy Reid will be the heaviest coach in a Super Bowl game next week surpassing the Andy Reid who coached in that Super Bowl that continues to fuel the Terrell Owens/Donovan McNabb feud.

I have often wondered if one tossed a tennis ball at Andy Reid, would it go into orbit around his waist.  Enquiring minds … and all that stuff.

Finally, consider this entry in The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

“Dictator:  A tyrannical ruler.  Some people who have been labelled as dictators throughout history include Mussolini, Stalin, and parents who even remotely suggest that their child might want to do less text messaging.”

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



A Shocker In Evansville

A little over 2 months ago, the Evansville Aces traveled to Rupp Arena to play an early season “sacrificial lamb game”.  To everyone’s surprise the Aces defeated the Wildcats 67-64.  The Evansville coach on that day was Walter McCarty a former star player for Kentucky.  My takeaway from that result was that Evansville was going to be pretty good this year.  That turns out not to be the case; as of this morning, Evansville’s record for the season is 9-11.

I mention that because a headline caught my eye saying that Walter McCarty had been fired earlier this week “amid misconduct allegations.”  I thought those allegations would involve recruiting violations and that was how he managed to get the team in a position to hang with Kentucky – – but then I looked at the Evansville schedule:

  • Not only are they only 9-11 on the season, they are on a 7-game losing streak against mediocre opponents.

So, I clicked the link to find out what was going on there and learned:

  • It turns out that McCarty had been warned about “inappropriate off-court behavior with members of our campus community” back in December and put him an administrative leave.
  • An investigation turned up “additional reports of alleged misconduct” by McCarty and that based on the facts uncovered to date, the school felt it necessary to terminate McCarty immediately.

Since the university went out if its way to make a strong yet vague statement here, I do not know what McCarty is accused of having done.  But I’ll bet it was a doozy…

The other outrageous college basketball story of the day relates to the brawl that broke out at the end of the Kansas/Kansas St game.  I am sure you have seen the happening, so I need not describe it.  Clearly shown is Kansas center, Sylvio DeSousa with a small stool raised over his head looking as if he was going to go “Myles Garrett” on someone.  Someone knocked the stool from his hands before he could strike.  For this De Sousa got a 12-game suspension meaning he will be allowed to play in the basketball tournament.

  • Personally, I think he should be suspended permanently.  He was as much the instigator as anyone for the brawl and then there is that scary moment when he has the stool raised over his head…
  • Moreover, De Sousa has already been given a “second chance”.  He was directly implicated in the improper recruiting mess uncovered by the FBI probe into college basketball recruiting.
  • What does he need to do to be told that he is no longer welcome in college basketball?

In about 3 months, we will experience the spectacle that is the NFL Draft for 2020.  The Draft is important to the teams and the NFL has turned it into a TV extravaganza; last year, more people watched the NFL Draft than watched an NBA playoff game on a competing channel.  This year, the league and the host city are going to take advice from celebrity chef, Emeril Lagasse, and “kick it up a notch”.

The 2020 Draft will be held in Las Vegas – a city that certainly adheres to the adage that ”Nothing exceeds like excess.”  Here is a rough outline of what will take place:

  • The venue will be the lake in front of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.
  • The Commish and other league functionaries will be on a float in the middle of the lake.  When a player is selected, he will be taken to the float on a boat.
  • The Bellagio is pretty much in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip.  Organizers expect 400,000 guests for that weekend; and for them to have even a fighting chance of seeing any of the proceedings, that means the Strip will be closed to traffic for the 3 days of the draft.  [Aside:  If you have never been to The Strip, let me assure you that it is a heavily trafficked roadway.]
  • In addition, to ease preparations for the draft and the dismantling of all the stuff, The Strip will be reduced to one lane each way for an undetermined period of time before the draft and for about 3 days after the draft.

The NFL has come along way in just a few years.  About 5 years ago, the league would not allow Tony Romo to be a part of a Fantasy Football Convention in Las Vegas because of “close ties to gambling”.  This year, the league will be part of a show that will close The Strip for 3 days.

You may think that all this revelry is part of a way to assist the Raiders in their move to the city in the Fall.  I don’t think that is necessary considering:

  • Reports in the Las Vegas Journal-Review say that the Raiders have sold out their PSLs for the new stadium and that the pricing for those PSLs allowed the Raiders to exceed their budget for that line item.
  • PSL prices ranged from $5K to $75K and the Raiders took in $475M in PSL sales when they were expecting to sell a total of $250M.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this insightful comment in the Seattle Times recently:

“Customs officials seized 154 pounds of bologna at the Mexican border.

“Or roughly two hours’ worth of Bill Walton game commentary.”

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



It’s About People Today …

Kudos today to Derek Jeter and Larry Walker.  They will be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2020.  Jeter missed a unanimous vote by one; I am not sure what that voter thought might be missing from Jeter’s curriculum vitae and I prefer not to ask.  Larry Walker’s statistics do not damage the fabric of the Hall of Fame leading me to wonder why it took more than a decade of voting to recognize his achievements.  No matter: they are both in…

Over in the NBA, the “news” is that the Nets’ Kyrie Irving is hurt yet one more time.  He already missed 7 weeks of this season with a shoulder injury; and soon after he returned from that set back, he torched many of his teammates saying that the team needed significant upgrades at various positions in order to be a contender.  Obviously, his current injury has not disabled his tongue and larynx because this is part of what he had to say on Monday of this week:

“When I was out for those seven weeks and not saying anything and still people are still saying things about me. It’s inevitable. They crucified Martin Luther King for speaking about peace and social integration.“

Indeed, on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kyrie Irving put himself in the same paragraph with Dr. King.  I don’t know abut you, but I think that deserves a facepalm.  Nonetheless, Irving went on to say that fans who criticize him need to realize that basketball is just a game and that it should not be taken with the same seriousness as real life struggles.  At that point in the interview, my reaction was:

  • If it is just a game and you feel that you are subjected to criticism and vilification beyond what the game is worth, why do you continue to play?  You can’t possibly need the money; so, why not take your family and go do something else where – if you receive criticism – it is in the pursuit of something worthy of critique.

Moving on…  The Atlanta Hawks are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings at 10-34.  The Golden State Warriors are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 10-35.  I wonder if the players on the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers popped open any champagne bottles when every team in the league achieved its 10th win of the season.  After all, that perpetuates the legacy of the 1973 Sixers as the team with the worst record in NBA history at 9-73.

Recently there were reports that Chad Johnson was going to audition with the XFL as a placekicker.  He had posted a video of himself kicking a 60-yard field goal on a field by himself.  The time for the tryout/workout came and Johnson was a no-show; if there has been an explanation for that, I have not found it.

If you peruse the various Internet sports sites these days or if you listen to your local sports radio programming, you are almost certain to encounter a topic that is space-filling (on the Internet) and time-filling on sports radio.  That topic could be titled:

  • Quo vadis Tom Brady?

This topic is juicy because it involves one of the most visible sports figures of the times and it has all sorts of tea leaves waiting to be read.  The problem is that none of the Internet pieces nor any of the sports radio segments begins with this disclaimer:

  • What follows here is pure speculation with no insights based in fact.  Moreover, may of the ideas here are recycled from other accounts.  And by the way, the folks who will make the ultimate decision on where Tom Brady plays football next year – if he plays at all – are not going to seek my opinion on the deal.

The “stock answers” to the question of where Tom Brady will play next year seem to condense to 3 scenarios:

  1. He stays with the Patriots
  2. He goes to the Chargers – and with Philip Rivers moving his family to Florida last week that put some energy into that realm of speculation.
  3. He goes to the Titans to play for his former teammate Mike Vrabel.

I would like to suggest a different landing spot for tom Brady next year.  Like all the other bits on this topic, it has no basis in fact.  It is however something that a rational decision maker might give a second thought.  I believe that Tom Brady should seriously consider playing for the Indianapolis Colts.  Here’s why:

  • I assume that he would want to play for a team that could contend for a Super Bowl title – meaning that half the league is off the table from the beginning.
  • I assume that he would only go to a team where he was the starter.  That eliminates a whole bunch of teams that are contenders but already have good young QBs on their roster.
  • The Colts have the sorts of assets that could maximize Tom Brady’s skills.  They have a very good running back (Marlon Mack); they have a good offensive line (allowed only 2 sacks per game last season); they have good pass catchers, but they only ranked 30th in the league in passing yards per game last season.
  • The Colts’ defense gave up fewer yards per game than 4 teams that made the playoffs this season (Texans, Seahawks, Packers, Chiefs).
  • The incumbent QB in Indy is Jacoby Brisset.  He and Tom Brady were teammates in New England for a year and presumably they have a constructive relationship.

There is a downside of course.  For the entirety of his career, Tom Brady has played for an organization with a calm and guiding hand at the top in owner Robert Kraft.  Let me just say that every adjective one might use to describe the Colts’ ownership might not be completely laudatory.

  • Quo vadis Tom Brady?
  • I really don’t know – – but I think he might want to consider the Colts…

Finally, my “advice” to Tom Brady is free so its value is immediately evident.  In addition, let me leave you with this entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Advice:  The only thing in the world more unwelcome than a baby in a movie theater.”

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



Bits Of Baseball Today …

About a month ago around the time of the Baseball Winter Meeting, there were reports that the Colorado Rockies might listen to trade offers for Nolan Arenado.  At the time I thought those reports were very strange because:

  1. Arenado was only 1 year into a contract worth $260M over 8 years
  2. That contract has a full no-trade clause in it
  3. Arenado is (in my opinion) the best third baseman in baseball.

This morning there is a report at that sheds light on this situation; that report says that Nolan Arenado wants out, that he feels disrespected, that he believes the team has not and will not live up to promises made to him during the negotiations leading up to his mega-deal and that the relationship between Arenado and Rockies’ GM, Jeff Bridich, is severely strained.  You can read the details of that report here:

            During this hot stove season, there was significant interest in Anthony Rendon (signed with the Angels) and Josh Donaldson (signed with the Twins) as quality third basemen.  Granted, the only expense involved in signing those guys was a ton of money; acquiring Arenado would involve trading away player assets in addition to taking on the balance of his existing contract (worth $234M).  Nonetheless, I would think that any team who “lost out” on either Rendon or Donaldson would be making a call to the Rockies about now just to see if any sort of deal could be made.

Sticking with baseball, the KC Royals have played their home games in Kauffman Stadium since 1973.  Their lease extends through 2030, but the team has begun exploring the possibility of a new venue when the lease is over.  [Aside:  I had the opportunity to see several games in Kauffman Stadium in the ‘80s and I have always thought it was a great place to see a ballgame.]  It does not appear as if this is a move by the Royals to threaten a move from KC to somewhere else where a new playpen would materialize; Royals’ owner John Sherman has begun talks with the folks in KC about the possibility of a downtown stadium to replace the “suburban” Kauffman Stadium.

One asset “The K” – as Kauffman Stadium is known locally – has is that it is right off the interstate, so access is relatively convenient.  Also, it is adjacent to Arrowhead Stadium so there are more than ample parking assets available.  The trend over the last 30 years or so has been to bring baseball into downtown areas; that trend started with Orioles Park in Baltimore.  The Royals have a new owner; John Sherman bought the team for a cool $1B in November 2019.  Surely, one of Sherman’s objectives must be to increase Royals’ attendance.  Here are some data:

  • 2019 – Royals were 27th in MLB in total attendance 18,267 per game
  • 2018 – Royals were 23rd in MLB in total attendance 20,557 per game
  • 2017 – Royals were 17th in MLB in total attendance 31,577 per game

It does not take a mathematical or a marketing genius to understand that trend is going in the ‘wrong direction”.  New stadiums usually provide an attendance boost and putting the venue in a downtown area means the games are closer to more people than they are “right off the interstate”.  There is plenty of time for these negotiations to happen and Sherman is a “local guy” with ties to the city.  “The K” is a really good stadium – it had an upgrade or two along the way – but perhaps its time will run out around 2031.

Let me get back to the MLB sign-stealing business for a moment.  There are rumblings that as many as 8 teams have been engaged in technology based sign stealing; obviously, there is no evidence to support that assertion as of now, but let me pretend that is true and see where it might lead in terms of logical thinking:

  • We should be able to rule out the Orioles as one of the teams doing the sign stealing.  Over the last 3 seasons the Orioles’ record has been 176-310 ; win percentage of .360.  Over those same 3 seasons, the team OBP has never exceeded .312.  If those are the results for a team that knew what pitch was coming, it is frightening to think what might have happened to a team that was always in the dark.
  • Suppose that there is a significant drop in the number of home runs in MLB this year – reversing a strong upward movement over the past several years.  Might one of the interpretations be that more than a few teams curtailed their sign stealing thereby reducing the advantage to their hitters?  Or will everyone just conclude that baseball “reduced the juice” they have theoretically been injecting into the balls over the past several seasons?
  • If I were a team exec, I would be tempted to put a totally meaningless flashing light on the scoreboard in my home stadium.  It would mean nothing and every player on my team would be told that it meant nothing – – except it would be there to mess with the minds of the players and managers who come to visit.  The “great sin” here is the stealing of the signs that gives one team an advantage; is there a “sin” involved in making the opponent think you are stealing his signs even when you are not?

Finally, given that the Mets parted company with Carlos Beltran before he ever managed a game for them, that means the Beltran and I are now tied with each other for wins as a major league manager.  We both have zero.

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



A Lazy Monday Morning…

Well, the charges of simple battery against Odell Beckham Jr. have been dropped – as they should have been.  I cannot believe that anyone watching the video of that “event” could possibly conclude that:

  • Beckham intended to injure the security officer – – or – –
  • Beckham interfered with the officer’s attempt to do his job.

There is, however, an interesting thought experiment that might be conducted here.

  • Suppose the security officer who received that pat on the fanny had been a female and not a male?
  • I suspect there would have been an even greater furor over what is nothing more than a tempest in a spittoon…

Here is my perception of Odell Beckham, Jr. – which has only been reinforced by this fanny-slapping incident and his handing out cash to the LSU players after the win over Clemson:

  • OBJ is fortunate that being an attention whore is not a criminal offense because if it were, he would be in jail for about 99 years by now…

I recognize that the NFL is a copycat league; there are myriad examples to demonstrate that.  Well, now that John Lynch has gone from the TV analysis role to successful GM who built a Super Bowl team, I wonder if some other club owner will try to replicate that model.  If so, I have two names to offer an owner hunting for that sort of big game:

  1. Ronde Barber:  He had a sterling career as a DB in the NFL from 1997 to 2012 and then took up broadcasting.  He is the color analyst paired with Kenny Albert on FOX for NFL games.  [Aside:  I also saw him do a game with Chris Meyers this season.]  He graduated from Virginia with a real degree in a real major; that certifies that he is an intelligent man.
  2. Louis Riddick:  His playing career was not nearly as accomplished as Barber’s, but it did last 10 years with various teams in the NFL and the Arena League.  He has been a scout and involved in the pro personnel department for the Eagles.  He is a regular contributor to ESPN studio shows where he has demonstrated that he is insightful and focused.  He graduated from Pitt with a real degree in a real major; that certifies that he is an intelligent man.  [Aside:  I do not ever recall hearing him do game analysis for ESPN so the comparison to John Lynch has a small deviation here.]

Let me return to the MLB sign-stealing business again here.  I have heard/read derisive comments in many places about the issue of “sign-stealing” writ large.  The commentary takes the form that MLB is being disingenuous here because it seems to allow sign-stealing as part of the game unless a team uses technology to do the stealing.  That assertion is simple and straightforward; it presents a collision of values and therefore it seems to gain traction.  It also misses a significant point:

  • The technology in a home field is far more available to the home team than it is to the visiting team.  In fact, it may be denied to the visiting team.
  • “Sign-stealing” by a runner on second base or by a third-base coach is something that is equally available to both teams; there is no lack of access for the visitors.

A big problem with technology-based sign-stealing is that it tilts the playing field in favor of one team while the other form(s) of sign-stealing do not.  The reason that rules are in place to prevent various forms of cheating is to assure a level playing field.  MLB may indeed be feckless in the matter, but it is not being disingenuous.

One more point from the sign-stealing saga today…  More than a few folks have suggested that the Astros be forced to vacate their World Series win in 2017.  Now, if you want to talk about “feckless”, there is a model suggestion.  However, a few people seem to have taken that bad idea and augmented it all the way up to a stature somewhere between battiness and asininity.  Those doubled-down folks want MLB to name the LA Dodgers as the World Series Champions for 2017.

Let me pose a question for those folks:

  • Since we know the Astros used technology based sign-stealing AND we know that the Red Sox probably did too AND we now have one player asserting that the Cardinals did this as far back as the 1980s, how can anyone be sure that the Dodgers have not been doing this at Dodger Stadium over the past umpty-doodle seasons?

I am not saying that the Dodgers have ever done that; I am saying that it is a tad presumptuous to assume that they have totally clean hands here when the same could have been said about the other teams until recently.

Finally, here is Dwight Perry’s comment on Odell Beckham Jr. getting a simple-battery citation for slapping a security guard on the butt after the LSU win over Clemson:

“Though he hopes to get the simple-battery charge reduced to illegal use of hands.”

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