MLB Hits The Home Stretch…

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Aaron Judge being on pace to eclipse Roger Maris’ home run total in a single season.  Back then Judge was on pace to hit 64 home runs.  As of this morning Judge has hit 51 home runs putting him on a pace to hit 63 for the season.  It will be an interesting chase, but his “margin for error” has shrunk.

Since only two of the six MLB division races are even marginally in doubt, it probably behooves baseball fans to focus on some of the “individual dramas” that will unfold down the stretch to the 2022 season.  Aaron Judge’s chase of the Roger Maris standard is one of three that I think will be interesting.

  • Albert Pujols:  He has said he will retire at the end of the 2022 season; assuming that to be the case, he has 32 games left in his MLB career.   As of this morning, he has hit a total of 694 home runs, which puts him in 5th place on the all-time list.  A-Rod hit 696 home runs; Pujols has an excellent chance to pass him and be 4th on the all-time list.  Moreover, he has a shot at hitting 700 home runs for his career – – a mark reached only by Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth.  Thirty-two games and counting…
  • Paul Goldschmidt:  As of this morning, he is in an excellent position to win the National League Triple Crown.  The Triple Crown is a big deal; the last time anyone achieved that feat in the National League was in 1933 when Chuck Klein (Phillies) did it.  The last player to win the AL Triple Crown was Miguel Cabrera in 2012.  As of this morning, Goldschmidt is hitting  .333 putting him .007 ahead of Freddie Freeman.  Goldschmidt is  tied with Pete Alonso with 105 RBIs and Goldschmidt is second in the NL in home runs trailing Kyle Schwarber by 2 home runs.

There will be no nail biting while wondering who is going to win the NL West or the AL West.  But the efforts of Messrs. Judge, Pujols and Goldschmidt should provide events worth following in September.

The reason there will be no drama in the NL West is that the Dodgers have maintained a torrid pace for the 2022 season.  The Yankees started out 2022 on a roll and at times projected to be a 120-game winner for this year.  However, the Yankees hit a rough patch after the All-Star Game and now only project to win 98 games.  The Dodgers have had no such “slump”; right now, the Dodgers are on place to win 113 games and currently lead the second place Padres by 19.5 games.  Assuming that the Dodgers keep their foot on the gas pedal, they re on track to set a franchise record:

  • The Dodgers’ franchise record for wins in a single season going all the way back to 1884 is 106 wins.
  • Dodgers’ teams have hit that mark twice (in 2021 and in 2019) indicating that the Dodgers have been dominant in recent times.
  • At the current pace in 2022, the Dodgers could pass that mark with about two weeks left to go.

[Aside #1:  When we are all driving electric cars, will we still call that thing on the car floor the “gas pedal?]

[Aside #2:  The Dodgers might challenge the 2001 Mariners’ record of 116 wins in a season but would need to win more than three-quarters of their remaining games to do so.  Possible – – but not likely…]

And since I mentioned the San Diego Padres in passing above, let me insert here something from Gregg Drinnan’s blog, Keeping Score:

THE BEST LAID PLANS: When the San Diego Padres’ marketing team scheduled its 2022 promotions, it put a Fernando Tatis Jr. bobblehead game on the calendar for Sept. 7. But then Tatis Jr. tested positive for a PED and drew an 80-game suspension. That took care of the bobblehead promotion. So now that Sept. 7 come-on will involve a Juan Soto City Connect shirt. And that’s what you call a great job of stick-handling around a sticky situation.”

One more baseball thing for today…  Am I the only one who is fed up to my earbrows with irrelevant “advanced stats” from baseball broadcasts and telecasts?  This has really gotten a bit out of hand.  I do not care even a little bit about the velocity of the ball as it comes off the bat nor do I care about the launch angle of a batted ball.  I have a passing interest in the length of a home run that made it to the seats, but the exit velocity of a single to right field is stats for the sake of stats.  Here is what I want to know from broadcasters/telecasters about batted balls:

  1. Was it fair or foul?
  2. Was it a hit or an out?

That’s it; that’s the list!

Finally, let me close today with two small capsule movie descriptions that I found in The Illustrated Dictionary of Snark:

West Side Story:  The whitest gangs ever who break into song every time they’re supposed to fight.”

And …

High Noon:  Three men come into town to kill a sheriff with no facial expressions or any discernible acting ability.”

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



More Q’s Than A’s…

In US politics today, it is common for someone to say they are on the right side of history while an opponent is on the wrong side of history.  There is an adage that relates to that circumstance:

“Some folks are wise, and some are otherwise.”

I fear that I could be “otherwise” today, but I have decided to take the chance.  Prudence would advise not to take a middle ground position regarding the allegation that former Bills’ punter, Matt Araiza raped an underage girl and then subjected her to a gang rape.  My problem is that I do not have sufficient information to take either side of this story in complete comfort.

So, before I get too far out on a limb here, let me make a couple of unequivocal statements:

  • If Matt Araiza did what he is alleged to have done to a 17-year-old girl, he should be charged, convicted and then sentenced to a LONG term in the dankest prison in the country that does not cross the line into cruel and unusual punishment.
  • If his accuser has fabricated all or significant parts of this allegation, she should be tried and punished in a civil proceeding and publicly shamed for what she has done.
  • And given the reports I have heard and read on this matter, there are too many “loose ends” for me to take a position on where the parties stand.

As I understand it, the allegation is that a 17-year-old girl went to a Halloween party where she alleges she was given an alcoholic drink – possibly with other stuff in it – and was then raped outdoors by Matt Araiza who subsequently took her to a room in a house and threw her on a bed where several other males gang-raped the girl.  As I said above, if that is what happened, Matt Araiza deserves harsh treatment at the hands of the law.  Moreover, if that is what happened, I have no interest in being on Matt Araiza’s side in this dispute; so, my predisposition is to side with the young woman here.  But…

The alleged event happened at a Halloween party which I am comfortable thinking happened at the end of October 2021.  The young woman through her attorney says she reported this attack to the San Diego police and that she received a rape examination at a medical  facility in San Diego proximal to the alleged rape.  A NY Times report said that detectives from the San Diego Police Sex Crimes unit “set up a tape-recorded phone call between the victim and Araiza during which he confirmed having had sex with her and told her she should get tested for sexually transmitted diseases before changing his tone when she asked more pointed questions.”

It is the timing here that confuses me.  The rape examination would have taken place in early November 2021 and the police would have had access to the results of that examination surely before Thanksgiving of last year.  At some time between then and now, there was the recorded set up phone call – – and yet, there are no criminal charges filed against Araiza.  And that makes little to no sense to me because if all this reporting is completely accurate, the San Diego  authorities have Araiza’s admission that he had sex with a minor and that took place about 10 months ago.  And that lengthy delay makes me wonder what is causing the delay.

Moreover, it was on July 31, 2022 – – approximately 9 months after the alleged gang-rape – – that the victim’s attorney advised the Bills that his client was filing a civil action against Araiza.  Not surprisingly, Araiza’s attorney asserts that this is nothing but a “cash-grab” by the woman now that Araiza is an NFL player; that is no surprise at all; that is a reflex comment by an accused athlete/celebrity these days.  However, the timeline of events would allow me to construct a hypothetical argument that such could be the case here.

That gets me back to my original position; I need to know more about what sort of evidence exists here before I commit to either side of this accusation.  I am NOT in a position to blame the victim and label her a gold-digger.   But I am not ready to convict Matt Araiza – even in the court of public opinion – until I know more about why the San Diego law enforcement folks have seemingly slow-played this matter.

  • Is this a matter of inertia or ineptitude on the part of the authorities – – or – –
  • Is there a hole – or holes – in the allegation itself?
  • Or both…?

Before anyone accuses me taking this allegation too lightly, let me assure you that I am not taking it lightly at all.  I do recall, however, that two very similar allegations proved to be concocted false accusations:

  1. Recall the Rolling Stone magazine report of a gang rape on the UVa campus.  The article was published in 2014 and the event supposedly took place in 2012 – – except that it did not.  Here is a link to Wikipedia about that incident.
  2. Recall the “Duke lacrosse case” from 2006 where a dancer alleged she was gang-raped by members of the Duke lacrosse team after she performed at a party they threw.  The problem is that gang-rape did not happen.  Here is a link to Wikipedia about that incident.

While I am loathe to take a position on this matter until more information emerges, I do think it is interesting to see how the NFL – – and the Buffalo Bills more specifically – – have dealt with this matter.  The NFL has no written “jurisdiction” here; the alleged incident happened about 6 months before Araiza was drafted by the Bills in the 2022 Draft.  The NFL’s rules and policies as outlined in the CBA only apply to people associated with the NFL and not to the general public.  So, the NFL has wisely kept quiet about this matter to date knowing that as soon as anyone comes out and takes a position on the matter there will be questions about how this compares to the Deshaun Watson saga that the league is only too happy to have put in the rearview mirror.

  • Is one “gang-rape accusation” worse than/equal to or better than two dozen accusations of sexual assault on massage therapists?

Anyone who would touch that question with a 10-foot pole needs a 20-foot pole.  But the resolution of the Deshaun Watson saga is far too fresh in many people’s minds that it will become a point of contention if the door is opened.

The Bills claim that they did their own due diligence regarding Araiza prior to the Draft and were convinced that he had no outrageous character flaws.  They may have been right in that conclusion – – or they could have been hideously wrong.  So, the Bills chose to deal with the situation by removing Araiza from their roster thereby brushing aside the distractions that would have to come from keeping him on the team.  And that decision and action by the Bills reinforces the perception that in the sports world:

  • Greater talent => Greater value to a team => Greater tolerance for “impropriety”

Deshaun Watson’s play as of the end of the 2020 season indicated that he might be a franchise QB in the NFL for the next 10 years or possibly more.  Matt Araiza is a punter.  Franchise QBs are hard to find; teams go through punters like grass goes through geese.  When Watson’s suspension was announced, the owners of the Browns spoke glowingly of “second chances” and “atonement”; I have difficulty believing that sort of spectacle would happen in the case of a punter.

I have often said that the concept of due process only applies to the US jurisprudence system and has no place in the court of public opinion.  I continue to maintain that stance even though I do want the legal due process to further inform me about what my public opinion position ought to be.

Finally, given the state of uncertainty and the smarmy nature of the allegations involved here, let me close with these words from the great philosopher, Yogi Berra:

“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

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



I Have A Question …

I want to spend a some time today talking about the PGA and LIV Golf.  Just so there is no misunderstanding:

  • I do not play golf.
  • I have never attended a golf match/tournament.
  • I only watch golf on TV when it is the final weekend of a major tournament.
  • I appreciate the skill shown by professional golfers but find the game less than interesting.

I think it is to some extent because of my detached view of the sport that I can look at the spitting match that is ongoing between the PGA and the Saudi folks behind the LIV Golf enterprise in a detached fashion.  I really do not care about the rectitude of either organization; it would not bother me for a millisecond if both organizations dried up and blew away on a windy day.  If someone else favors one of the antagonists here, please maintain your favoritism because I do not even care enough to try to dissuade you from your selection.

Let me review the bidding here to lead up to a question that I have related to all this:

  • LIV Golf showed up with outrageously deep pockets that it used to sign up pro golfers to its tour events and then offered huge purses for those tournaments where everyone who entered got a part of the purse.
  • PGA told its members that if they signed up and played in LIV events, they would forfeit their PGA membership status.
  • Now there is an anti-trust lawsuit filed against the PGA that will surely take years to resolve.
  • In the immediate term. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy held a “players-only meeting” with PGA golfers urging them to stay with the PGA and told them that Woods and McElroy had a vison for expanding golf into an arena sport and that they would be seeking investors to back such a new venture.
  • Soon after that meeting, the PGA announced that purses would be increased for multiple tour events and that there would be tournaments with minimum payoff guarantees for all entrants starting next year.

If I were a PGA player, my first reaction would be that this is great news as I look forward to the next couple of golf seasons.  However, here in Curmudgeon Central, the standard operating procedure is to look at situations such as this one through the other end of the telescope.  And from that perspective, here is the question all current PGA players should be asking:

  • Where did all this “new money” come from?

In chemistry, there is a principle called the conservation of matter meaning that in a chemical reaction matter is neither created nor destroyed.  In economics, there is a corresponding concept about money.  It is neither created nor destroyed – – and it can only be spent once.  Ergo, since the PGA “found” this extra money to add to purses and to assure guaranteed payouts for certain tour events, the question is:

  • What was that money doing before it got allocated there?

There was no new revenue stream that kicked in over the past month or two and the PGA cannot manufacture money.

  • So where did this financial largesse come from?
  • And more importantly from a PGA tour player perspective, what would the PGA have used that “found money” for had it not been for the threat of the LIV Golf Tour poaching players from the PGA?

Remember, I have no skin in this game; I do not care even a little bit if either side were to prevail here or if they find a way to coexist over time.  But, until someone shows me how all this extra purse money for PGA events suddenly materialized, I have to think that the PGA overseers have been holding back on the purses that they offer to their members.  So, maybe the LIV Golf folks unintentionally provided a monetary benefit even to those PGA players who chose not to jump to the LIV Tour…

Now as to the arena sport envisioned by woods and McIlroy, the idea is described as showcasing top-shelf golfers on a virtual course playing in teams of three in “tech-infused venues”.  As I said above, I do not particularly like “live golf” and until I see what this “virtual course golf” is about, I have to think it will not be very interesting to me.  My basis for this reaction is e-sports on TV; I lost interest in the first event I tried to experience in about 20 minutes and have not acquired any interest subsequently.  Maybe dedicated golf fans will take to the new game/format quickly and in great numbers.  If so, this could be a huge success; if not, this could be golf’s version of the late – but not lamented – Alliance of American Football.

Changing sports …  The Washington Nationals have the worst record in MLB this year by a 5-game deficit.  So, I was only mildly surprised to come across this stat:

  • Yesterday, 28 August 2022, the Nats beat the Reds 3-2 and the Nats’ starting pitcher – Patrick Corbin – was the winning pitcher.
  • The last time the Nats’ starter was the winning pitcher in a game was on 6 July 2022.
  • The Nats went 43 games without a starter getting a win.
  • The Nats went through 27% of an MLB schedule without a starting pitcher recording a win.


Finally, since most of today’s rant had to do with golf, let me close with this observation about the game by humorist, Dave Barry:

“Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.”

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



College Football Preview – 2022

College football fans get to dip their toe in the water this weekend as the season begins with an abbreviated list of games.  In addition to a bunch of games that have precisely zero national interest, the Big-10 begins its conference schedule with a game between Nebraska and Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland.  For the record, the Huskers are a 13-point favorite; the Total Line is 50.5.

  • [Aside:  Nebraska was a 7-point favorite in last year’s opening game against Illinois and lost outright.  Just saying …]

Imagine if you will that a “big-time football game” were scheduled to be played in Backwater USA for some reason.  The local press in Backwater – – The Backwater Bugle – – would likely fall over itself to glorify the game and the participants; it could be the big event of the year in town.  Not quite so with sports coverage in Ireland, columnists/reporters there do not contort themselves to be laudatory in such circumstances.  As an example, please take a moment or two to read this piece from The Irish Times about the upcoming game this weekend.  I suggest that it takes a different slant than would The Backwater Bugle.

I would like to think that my commentary here would fall somewhere between “The Bugle” and The Irish Times – – albeit closer to The Irish Times.  As has been the custom here for the past several years, I will try to do a Football Friday rant each week where I am “on the air” for a Friday.  Those offerings will begin in earnest over Labor Day weekend and hit full stride the week after that as the NFL begins its regular season.  Such will be the case until the Super Bowl weekend on February 12, 2023.

But today, the focus in on college football in general and I want to start with my list of major college coaches that are on a hot seat this year.  For the record, I named five coaches in that condition last year; three of them are gone; the other two will be on the list again this year.  Here is my list in alphabetical order:

  1. Marcus Arroyo – UNLV:  This one is simple.  He has been on the job for two seasons and his record is 2-16.  That will not feed the bulldog…
  2. Geoff Collins – Georgia Tech:  He has been on the job at Tech for 3 seasons and the cumulative record for that time is a less-than laudatory 9-25.  Under previous coach, Paul Johnson, Tech went to bowl games in 9 of his 12 seasons; Coach Collins needs a big improvement this year.
  3. Herm Edwards – Arizona St.:  He is the first of the two carry-overs from last season on this list.  There are all sorts of investigations about improper recruiting that supposedly happened during the dark period associated with COVID restrictions.  That’s not good by any means – – but if you are going to “push the envelope”, you should be winning a lot more than the Sun Devils have done in Edwards’ tenure there.
  4. Scott Frost – Nebraska:  He is the other carry-over from last season.  He too has gotten crosswise with recruiting irregularities and practice times, and he too has not been a winner; last year’s record was 3-9 and I suspect that his stature as the QB of an “old-time great Nebraska team” saved his job through until this season.  I do not think that status will save him again this year without a bowl invitation.
  5. Willie Taggert – FAU:  He spent one year as the coach at Oregon and that stint got him sued by several former players about the brutality of his practices there.  That kind of stain tends to stick on coaches who do not have huge success on the field – – and Taggert does not have much success at all let alone “huge success”.  In 2016, he was the coach at USF and the team went 10-2; notwithstanding that one season, Taggert’s coaching record at five schools is a less-than gaudy 66-73.

In the spirit of full disclosure, there is way too much ground in the college football space for me to follow closely.  Whereas there are 32 NFL teams, there are 130 Division 1-A college teams.  I will not try to predict records for college teams the way I try to will try to do for the NFL in a couple of weeks, and I will focus my attention all season long on the major schools and conferences.  In fact, I tried to think about the Sun Belt conference as a minor conference and tried to name the schools in it.

  • I thought there would be 12 schools there; actually, there are 14.
  • I did name 5 of them correctly – – but I had three on my list that belonged elsewhere.

With that as background, I did try to focus a bit on the PAC-12 this year simply because the defection of USC and UCLA put the PAC-12 as an entity under a microscope.  And in case you missed this, the PAC-12 teams have not won a bowl game since 2019; they were 0-5 last year and 0-2 in 2020.  Here is a thumbnail sketch for seven of the current PAC-12 teams:

  • Arizona:  The Wildcats have been awful for the last two seasons with a cumulative record then of 1-16.  If they win only 3 games this year, it will be a significant improvement.
  • Colorado:  The Buffaloes’ offense in 2021 would have to have been 50% more efficient to be listed as “bleak”; they only scored more than 20 points 4 times last  year.  That can’t happen again – – can it?
  • Oregon:  The Ducks lost their coach, Mario Cristobal, who went back to his alma mater in Miami.  He is replaced by Dan Lanning who was the defensive coordinator at Georgia for the last several years leading great defenses there.  But this is his first time as the head coach.  Should be interesting to watch.
  • Stanford:  David Shaw’s teams have been going through a rough patch over the last several years going 11-19 since 2018.  He is too good a coach for that to continue, right?
  • USC:  Lincoln Riley moved from Norman, OK to Los Angeles CA.  I have spent some time in both cities; let me just say there is a different vibe between the two.  I am sure the USC alums are expecting a return to glory under Riley.
  • Utah:  Kyle Whittingham has been the coach at Utah since 2005 when he took over the program from Urban Meyer.  The Utes were in the Mountain West at the time; Whittingham guided them through the transition into the PAC-12 in 2011 and last year the Utes went to the Rose Bowl for the first time in school history – – and the football program dates to 1905.

[Aside:  Speaking of Urban Meyer, he is back on FOX as a studio analyst for CFB games.  I wonder if any of his colleagues there will ask him about how much fun it was to be the coach in Jax for a couple of months.]

  • Washington:  There is a new coaching staff in charge of the Huskies this year; Jimmy Lake was fired in mid-season last year after a shoving incident between lake and one of his players.  The new guy, Kalen DeBoer, comes to Seattle from two years at Fresno St.  That is a step up for him.

One of the unpleasant features of college football is the “Cupcake Scheduling Practices” of many of the big-time programs.  Too many of them schedule games that are nothing more than glorified scrimmages.  So, what I would like to do here is to highlight some of the schools that have assembled a relatively difficult out-of-conference schedule:

  • Florida:  They will play Utah and Florida St. out of conference.
  • Georgia Tech:  They will play Georgia and Ole Miss out of conference.
  • West Virginia:  They will play nearby rivals Pitt and Va Tech out of conference.

Compare those scheduling choices with some of these “Cupcake Schedules”:

  • Michigan:  They will play Colorado St., Hawaii and UConn out of conference
  • Minnesota:  They will play Colorado, New Mexico St. and Western Illinois out of conference.
  • Duke:  They will play Kansas, North Carolina A&T, Northwestern and Temple out of conference.
  • UCLA:  They will play Alabama St., Bowling Green and South Alabama out of conference.

Here are two teams that appear on paper to be poised for good seasons:

  1. Houston:  The Cougars made it to the AAC Championship Game last year losing there to Cincy – – a team that was invited to the CFP.  No shame there.  This year, most of the players from that team will still be in school.  This will be the final year for Houston (and Cincy and UCF) in the AAC before moving to the big 12 in 2023.
  2. Kentucky:  The Wildcats have been to bowl games in each of the last 6 seasons and finished 2021 with a 10-3 record.  Half of the starters on that team will be back this year.  The only problem is that Kentucky is in the SEC with the likes of some monster football programs.

In Las Vegas, one of the futures bets  you can make is on the total number of wins that any college team will have in the 2022 season.  It is interesting to look at how the oddsmakers have assessed the upcoming season by looking at the teams with the highest number of wins projected and the ones with the lowest.  Here are some of them:

  • Alabama – – 10.5 wins
  • Clemson – – 10.5 wins
  • Georgia – — 10.5 wins
  • Ohio St. – – 10.5 wins
  • Oklahoma – – 9.5 wins
  • USC – – 9.5 wins
  • Boise St. – – 9 wins
  • Cincy – – 9 wins
  • Houston – – 9 wins  (I really like the OVER here)
  • Utah – – 9 wins

And these …

  • Arizona – – 3 wins
  • Colorado – – 3 wins
  • Duke – – 3 wins  (I like the OVER here – – check the non-conference schedule above)
  • FIU – – 3 wins
  • New Mexico St. – – 3 wins
  • Akron – – 2.5 wins
  • Kansas – – 2.5 wins
  • La-Monroe – – 2.5 wins
  • New Mexico – – 2.5 wins
  • Temple – – 2.5 wins
  • UConn – – 2.5 wins
  • UMass – – 2.5 wins
  • Vandy – – 2.5 wins

Before closing out this synoptic view of the upcoming season, I must take a moment to say that the events of the past 6 months or so have changed college football to its core.  It has been decades since anyone could realistically believe that college football was an “amateur sport” played by “student-athletes” who participated in the games for the love of the games and the glory of their schools.  College football is a major business; television rights fees for the Big-10 conference alone are larger than the ones for MLS and the NHL.  Players are now able to profit from selling their name/image/and likeness to others who seek their endorsement.

  • College football has become semi-pro football – – and it is not going to go back to what some people wished it was.

Dwight Perry had this cogent observation in his column in the Seattle Times last weekend:

“With NIL deals in place, shouldn’t the NCAA replace the term ‘student-athlete’ with ‘athlete-entrepreneur?’”

Let me pose some questions and offer a few thoughts on where college football is headed and maybe how it should be viewed in the future.  First, the toothpaste is out of the tube, and it is not going back.  “Follow the money” is the best advice one can get regarding the whys and wherefores of future college football decisions.  And that leads me to wonder why college athletics continues to be a tax-free enterprise?  It is a business just like General Forge and Foundry was a business in Kurt Vonnegut novels and just like the Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company was a business in Mad Magazine.  Business enterprises – especially ones with billions in revenue – should be taxed.  The Congress just passed a new law imposing a minimum tax on corporations; maybe college football is not “incorporated” but it is a revenue generating machine that ought to be paying taxes.

  • Memo to US Congress:  Get working on this right away – – if you have the “onions” to do so…

The CFP remains at 4 teams playing 3 games to determine the national champion for a year.  The CFP poohbahs said that would stay the same until 2026 – – but that pronouncement was before the stratospheric TV deal struck by the Big-10.  Expanding the CFP to 8 teams will slightly more than double the games to be put on TV and that means big money for the CFP beneficiaries.  Do not be surprised when that decision to stand pat at 4 teams is “revisited”.

The morphing of college football from the “student-athlete era” to the current semi-pro status means that players really need no longer pretend to be college students who live in dormitories and go to classes where they will receive grades and an education.  Some will of course choose to do that, but others can now come out of the shadows and proclaim themselves as mercenaries – – as they have been for the last 25-40 years.  Moreover, the “transfer portal” only enhances the reality of mercenary behavior allowing players to move from school to school with aplomb.

As pressure mounts for players to “get a piece of the pie” from all this revenue they are generating, it is going to create an adversarial relationship between management (the schools/conferences) and workers (the players).  So, what is the over/under on how many years it will be until we hear about a threatened strike by college players if they don’t get a better deal?  It will eventually happen; it always does.  The question is how soon…

Since the linkage between “playing football” (or men’s basketball for that matter) and pursuing a real or imagined degree from a university has been severed, is there any reason to limit “eligibility” to 4 years?  What if an athlete has a sweet NIL deal and wants to stay on at his school for 5 or 6 or 7 years and live on the NIL money?  Remember, he is a mercenary not a “student athlete” anymore.  Moreover, if the charade of being a college student is no longer in vogue, what does “eligibility” even mean?  I guess it would mean that the player is not a felon at large – – but not much more than that.

Finally, I like to have fun with players’ names; and so, I will close today with two that I have already run across for this  year:

  • Decoldest Crawford is a wide receiver for Nebraska.  If he had been half of a set of twins, his sibling might have been named Dehottest Crawford.
  • Major Burns  is a safety for LSU.  Obviously, his fiancée would have to acquire the nickname “Hot Lips”.  No?

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



RIP Len Dawson

Len Dawson died earlier this week.  He won an AFL championship with the Dallas Texans – – later to become the KC Chiefs.  He was the Chiefs’ QB in Super Bowl I losing to Vince Lombardi’s Packers in that game.  He was also the Chiefs’ QB in Super Bowl IV when the Chiefs upset the heavily favored Vikings and Dawson was the MVP of that game.  After his career was over, he was also deeply involved in broadcasting and commenting on NFL football, and he is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame both as a player and as a broadcaster.

Rest in peace, Len Dawson.

There are several baseball issues worthy of discussion this morning.  Let me start with a report that Fernando Tatis, Jr. may be in the process of maturing.  He said earlier this week that he made a mistake and that resulted in his 80-game PED suspension.  That may not seem like a big deal at first, but I think it is a huge step forward from “I’m sorry I used some meds that contained a banned substance”.  Adults make mistakes; functional adults learn from those mistakes and the learning process begins with an acknowledgement that the functional adult screwed up.  Perhaps we have the beginnings of a breakthrough here…?

Here is the big mistake Tatis, Jr. made – – assuming the rest of his story is true:

  • As a member of the San Diego Padres, he has access to top-shelf medical advice, diagnostics and treatment at no cost to him.
  • Rather than avail himself of those resources, he chose to avail himself of local medical resources in the Dominican Republic.
  • The Dominican Republic is not quite as backward as a Third World country – – but it ain’t SoCal when it comes to comparisons of medical expertise.

Tatis, Jr. now says he accepts blame for this situation AND he says he will use his “time off” to get the shoulder surgery that has been recommended to him for the past 18-24 months which he has resisted.  He is 23 years old, and it appears that he is now starting to think like and behave like a functioning adult.  Stand by here because if he can harness his immaturity and allow his physical gifts to express themselves, he could be a special player in MLB for the next decade.

Moving on …  We know that the Washington Nationals are up for sale, and they have been for the past several months.  Reports say that four or five potential buyers have gotten approval to look over the Nats’ books to structure a bid for the team.  Forbes says the Nats are worth $2B meaning the franchise will probably sell at a premium to that evaluation.  Now comes word that the Los Angeles Angels may also be on the block.

Reports this week say that owner Arte Moreno has retained a financial firm to “explore the possible sale of the Angels’ franchise.”  Moreno purchased the Angels in 2003 for $185M; Forbes now puts a value of $2.2B on the franchise; when he finds a buyer, the transaction will not leave him destitute.

Moreno had been working to get approval for purchasing the stadium the Angels play in along with land adjacent so that he could develop the land and get a new ballpark.  It looked as if a deal was in place but a Federal probe turned up more than a little “corruption” in the deal sending it to the dead letter office.  It appears as if Moreno will be reimbursed for his costs to date and the folks involved in the “corruption” are no long in a position to make this deal happen; so, it looks as if Moreno thinks it is best to cash in now and let someone else start the dealing processes over from scratch.  Here is a link to a report that can give you a more complete review of what this might mean for the Angels and MLB.

  • [Aside:  Recall that members of the Angelos family are suing one another over possible control of the Orioles and that the patriarch of that family, Peter Angelos, is 93 years old.  In fact, there could be three MLB franchises on the market.]

Another franchise that could potentially see a major change – – not necessarily in ownership but in locale – – would be the Oakland A’s.  The A’s have proposed a plan whereby they would build themselves a new stadium in Oakland if they also get control of acreage in the city that the owners would develop but the city has to chip in the “infrastructure costs”.  The county and the state officials seem to be favorable, but things are moving at a snail’s pace.  Meanwhile, things in Las Vegas are moving much more quickly.

Reports say that execs and representatives of the A’s have met with a hotel owner in Las Vegas, Phil Ruffin, twice in the past month.  According to those reports, their meetings have focused on a large piece of “open land” known as the Las Vegas Festival Grounds that is owned/controlled by Ruffin.  This open land is along the Las Vegas Strip near Circus Circus and the Sahara Hotel.  Supposedly, MLB would “demand” at least $275M in public financing from any group that might want to bring the A’s to Las Vegas.  Notwithstanding the fact the things are moving faster in Las Vegas than they have been for the past decade or so in Oakland, this deal is nowhere near ready to go to closure.

About 15 or 20  years ago, Las Vegas was once again trying to attract an MLB franchise to the city – – I don’t recall the details.  Someone asked the mayor of Las Vegas back then if they could have a stadium built in in less than three years and his answer was along these lines:

  • We know how to build hotels with more than a thousand rooms in less than three years.  A stadium is easy to build compared to a hotel.  We could use the stadium as a training ground for our construction people.

I accept the premise that building a stadium is less complicated than building a hotel/casino/resort, but I am still not persuaded that it is a trivial undertaking to go from groundbreaking to a finished facility as a “training ground”.

Finally, let me close today with this entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Jerk:  What you probably should not have called that cop.”

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



NBA – – Harmony And Virtue Abounding

In the summer of 1974, President Nixon resigned in disgrace as President of the United States; on the same day, Gerald Ford took the oath of office and became President.  Immediately after his swearing in, he gave a short speech to the American people which contained this memorable line:

“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”

That was my reaction yesterday when I read that the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant have resolved whatever differences they may have had and have decided to “move forward” together for the upcoming NBA season.  The Nets’ management team has seemingly finessed bad news associated with all three of its star players:

  • Ben Simmons is reportedly working on his basketball game in this offseason.  There has never been any question as to his defensive skills or his passing ability, but his offensive game has been pretty much limited to driving and dunking.  He has not played professional basketball for more than a year after sitting out a season citing mental health issues and a back problem.
  • Kyrie Irving threatened not to exercise his 1-year player-option to stay with the Nets and earn $37M for next year.  He threatened to become a free agent and to sign on with the Lakers for $6M next year under a provision of the CBA called a “mid-level exemption”.  To the surprise of exactly no one, when the deadline for that option came, Irving signed  on with the Nets.  They say that money talks; well in that situation, the difference of $31M for next year spoke loudly and clearly.
  • Kevin Durant issued a trade demand and when that did not materialize, he got a meeting with Nets’ owner Joe Tsai and said he would stay if Tsai fired both head coach, Steve Nash, and GM, Sean Marks.  Tsai told Durant in ever so diplomatic terms that he would make decisions in the best interests of the Nets.  Translation:  I own the team; you’re under contract; please go pound sand.

But all that is in the past.  The management team for the Nets remains in place and the three best players have now – seemingly – committed to “moving forward” in total harmony seeking an NBA championship in the next year.  Can this moment of serenity maintain itself for the next 10 months when a new NBA champion is identified?  I hope so and that sentiment has nothing to do with any sort of fandom for the Brooklyn Nets.

I want this to hold together for a much more personal reason:

  • I have heard and read more than enough narcissistic nonsense from all three of those goombahs to last a lifetime.  If this holds together for 10 months, there will be a respite from any more of that crapola.
  • Come next summer, this situation will return to focus because Kyrie Irving’s option year contract will be up, and he will be a free agent portending drama and nonsense.  So, if I can get a 10-month respite from such hogwash I will count it as a blessing from above.

Moving on – – but staying with the NBA – – the league released its schedule for the upcoming season.  In so doing, the NBA positioned itself first and foremost among US sports leagues in terms of virtue-signaling by announcing that it had purposely scheduled no games at all on November 8th 2022 because that is Election Day for the mid-term elections.  The NBA does not want to put its fans in the situation where they have to decide to vote or to pay attention to an NBA regular season game.  Here is part of the statement from the league:

“The scheduling decision came out of the NBA family’s focus on promoting nonpartisan civic engagement and encouraging fans to make a plan to vote during midterm elections.”

Until the moment this scheduling quirk was announced, I had no idea that the NBA had someone in a position called “executive director for the NBA’s social justice coalition”.  I do now only because that person also chimed in about this scheduling decision:

“It’s unusual. We don’t usually change the schedule for an external event but voting and Election Day are obviously unique and incredibly important to our democracy.”

This is so transparently bullsh*t that I am proud to note that every NBA exec who participated in the schedule announcement did so without breaking down and giggling.  Let me count the ways:

  1. MLB and the NFL need not worry about interfering with any fan’s “plans to vote” because MLB is in its offseason and the NFL never plays on Tuesday nights – – yet.  So, in terms of uniqueness…
  2. Voting takes place during the daytime hours; NBA games take place in the evening/nighttime hours.  If fans would be tempted to favor an NBA game over voting, the temporal differences between the two events should resolve that problem.
  3. Regarding the “uniqueness” of Election Day, I would suggest that Christmas Day is similarly “unique”, and that the NBA goes out of its way to schedule as many as five “quality games” for that day without any fear that they might interfere with any other activities associated with that day.

Here is the question that should have been posed to Adam Silver as the Election Day “blackout” was announced:

“Commissioner Silver, you have been with the NBA for 30 years now and the NBA has played on Election Days in the past.  Has that scheduling regimen ever caused you to miss a voting obligation because you had to be at an NBA game or in some venue watching an NBA game on TV?”

  • Memo to NBA Execs:  Your fakeness is showing…

Obviously, no one asked that question because it would have been a downer on the virtuosity that was washing over everyone in the room.

Finally, let me close with the suggestion that the NBA’s scheduling quirk is properly labeled this way:

Sanctimonious (adj):  Making a show of being morally superior to other people.

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



Strange Headlines; Strange Reports

Last night, I was checking various online sites to see if anything was happening that would provide fodder for comment this morning.  That led me to an item with this headline:

“NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman says he will get involved in helping WNBA star Brittney Griner return to the US”

It has been a while since Rodman unleashed his geopolitical potential energy and the story that followed under that headline posed as many questions as it provided answers.  For example, Rodman said that he is planning to go to Russia this week to seek Griner’s release and that:

“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl.  I’m trying to go this week.”

The question that arises from that statement is pretty obvious.  From whom did you ask permission and why?  Since the US Government is engaged with the Russians in negotiations that could lead to Griner’s release from her prison term there, I cannot imagine that folks like Secretary of State Blinken would be seeking Rodman’s intervention here.  Perhaps what Rodman means here is that he applied for a visa to travel to Russia, and he just got that visa granted by one of the Russian facilities here in the US – – but if so, that is an unusual phraseology.  Then again, we are talking about Dennis Rodman here so “unusual” is not out of the question…

One other strange comment by Rodman was noted in the report.  He said that he has had more interactions with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but that he knows President Putin “too well”.  No way I am going to try to deduce what that could mean…

Obviously, I hope someone can find an expeditious way to effect Brittney Griner’s release from a 9.5-year sentence in a Russian Labor Camp for what can only be described as a minor infraction of Russian law.  If Dennis Rodman can do that by greasing the skids with some autographed game-worn NBA paraphernalia, good on him!

Over the weekend, another headline caught my attention.  It said that Chad Brown had been arrested in a potential domestic violence situation.  My first thought was that “Chad Brown” was the former Steeler’s linebacker but the first paragraph of the story following the headline made it clear that this was Chad Brown the horse trainer whose horse, Early Voting, had won the Preakness Stakes a few months ago.  I mention this only because of the charge leveled in his arrest.  Police in Saratoga Springs, NY charged Brown with “criminal obstruction of breathing”.  Where I grew up, that was generally referred to as “choking”…

If those two reports do not have you shaking your head in bewilderment this morning, let me add a third one to the pile.  Here is the headline and here is a link to the full article:

“Rutgers Athletics spends more than $450,000 on DoorDash in past year, ongoing reporting finds”

I know that I am a troglodyte, and I am no longer shamed to admit it.  I have never used DoorDash or any other food delivery service in my life; therefore, I have exactly no idea how much it costs for them to pick up some food somewhere and bring it to my doorstep.  Nevertheless…

According to the report here, one of the “perks” afforded to the Rutgers’ football team over the past year was free DoorDash deliveries; the players could order, and the school would pay for it.  However, in a one-year timespan, it seems that players availed themselves of the service “approximately” 19,745 times.  That number was staggering to me for a couple of reasons, so I went to Google and found that the 2021 Rutgers football roster had 131 players listed.  Let me do some math here:

  • 19,745 delivery requests divided among 131 player means  the “average player” ordered a delivery 151 times in a one-year period.  That comes to about three times per week per player…
  • 19,745 delivery orders costing $450,000 means the average order was just under $23.  That does not seem like the cost of a delivered dinner for a college football player and is even more disturbing when you consider this line from the report:

“A review of receipts found that football players placed lavish orders from Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster, plus pizza, tacos, chicken wings and Chinese food, oftentimes from restaurants near their hometowns across the U.S. — not near the Rutgers campus.

“In one case, a player placed orders a thousand miles apart on the same day, in Florida and New York — and then continued to make orders in Florida for two more days,” the Bergen Record found.”

Rutgers is a state university; it appears that the Athletic Department is running at a deficit per this report and others; that means the DoorDash bill for the football team was underwritten in large measure by the taxpayers in the State of New Jersey.  Given the amount of – or lack of – oversight on expenditures in this case, it is not all that surprising for me to find that an entity known as the Tax Foundation has calculated that the State and Local Tax burden in New Jersey is the fifth highest of any of the 50 States.

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

“Magnus Carlsen, Norway’s five-time world chess champion, announced he will not defend his title but denied he is retiring.

“What, are the Saudis going to bankroll a LIV Chess Tour too?”

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



Catching Up…

Unaccustomed as I am to be starting off a rant with a positive report, let me give that a try today.  Last week, there were reports that Dick Vitale has been declared “cancer-free” which in medical terms is a step above being “in remission”.  Vitale has been undergoing treatment for lymphoma for about 6 months and this is the latest positive news from that situation.  I have commented here in the past that there have been times when Vitale’s way over-the-top exuberance on a college basketball broadcast has diminished my enjoyment of the game.  Notwithstanding that criticism, I am happy that he is cancer-free.  Cancer sucks …

The FIFA World Cup scheduled for this November in Qatar seems to be doing a land-office business regarding ticket sales.  The event organizers plan to sell a total of 3 million tickets to the myriad events that make up the tournament and a report last week at said that they have already sold 2.45 million of those tickets.  According to that report, more than 520,000 tickets were sold between July 5 and July 16 on FIFA’s online ticket site.  The site is now dark, and people are awaiting an announcement from FIFA about when the next buying period will take place.

In other economic news related to the upcoming World Cup tournament:

  • Telemundo has the US Spanish-language broadcast rights for the World Cup.  They report that they have already sold 90% of their available advertising inventory for the tournament.
  • FOX has the US English-language broadcast rights for the World Cup.  That network has not made a statement about how its ad sales are going but they did say recently that they will take a “small army” of folks to Doha to cover the tournament.  FOX will have about 150 people on site in Doha and that there will be announcers in the stadium for every game in the tournament.

Moving on …  The story of Tom Brady “taking off” from the Bucs’ training camp has gotten a lot of speculative commentary as to the reason for his absence.  But before I add just a smidgen to that commentary let me say that he has not taken off “under mysterious circumstances” because to say that is to misuse the word “mysterious”.  Tom Brady has left the Bucs’ training camp under “secret” circumstances.  Here is the fundamental difference:

  • For the circumstances to be “secret”, someone somewhere must know why he did what he did.  Surely, Tom Brady knows why he did what he did.
  • For the circumstances to be “mysterious”, no one can yet know why he did what he did.  Since Tom Brady knows, these are not “mysterious”.
  • The difference between a “secret” and a “mystery” is that someone knows what the “secret” is, but no one knows what the “mystery” is.

I have heard/read speculation that Brady is tending to “family matters” to include being with someone in the family who is ill – – and/or that he is reassessing his comeback from that 4-week retirement that he announced back in the winter – — and/or that he is off recording an appearance on The Masked Singer – – and/or that his marriage is in trouble.  I certainly hope that no one in his family is ill to the point that Tom Brady feels the need to leave training camp and I certainly hope that his marriage is not in trouble.  If he is off doing The Masked Singer, I hope he does a better job at it than Terry Bradshaw did several years ago.  If he is indeed re-thinking his retirement/comeback decisions, here is economic data:

  • If Tom Brady plays for the Bucs in 2022, I believe he will earn $30M if he achieves all the bonuses in the contract.
  • If Tom Brady retires, he will go to the FOX broadcast booth and under the terms of that deal will make approximately $37.5M in 2022.

I am convinced that Brady will not make an economic decision here simply because I do not think that a difference of $7.5M in income for this year is sufficient for him to break a sweat mentally.  But for those of us who ponder “retirement planning”, it is interesting that he would make more money in his first retirement year than he would make by “staying on the job”.

I will not pretend to know why Brady decided to do what he did, but I will say this:

  • If Brady is committed to play for the Bucs in 2022, I really doubt that his absence from training camp for a week or two will render him unprepared for the season-opener at the Cowboys on Sunday night September 11th.

If one wanted to find things to worry about as a Bucs’ fan this year, Tom Brady’s readiness for the season opener should be low on that list.

Finally, let me close today with an item I found in Gregg Drinnan’s blog, Taking Note:

RORY WITH AN ACE — Rory McIlroy has been outspoken against those golfers who turned their backs on the PGA Tour for the Saudi Arabian cash of the LIV circuit. To which Patrick Reed, who isn’t the most-liked golfer in the world, said: ‘He’ll never win a Masters to complete a career Grand Slam.’ . . . That is said to have brought this response from McIlroy: ‘The only chance Reed has of getting a Grand Slam is at Denny’s.’”

For the record, the Grand Slam at Denny’s is a good breakfast…

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



Resolution For Deshaun Watson – – Perhaps

The latest chapter in the Deshaun Watson dramatic tour de force came to a close yesterday.  It si not over, but we can move on to a new phase.  By now, you surely have heard/read that Watson, the NFLPA and the NFL agreed that he will miss 11 games in 2022 and that he will pay a $5M fine (donated to a charity) and that he will undergo a therapy plan.  That is more punishment than the arbiter who heard the case originally mandated but it is less than what the NFL reportedly sought in this case.

Before I get to my take on yesterday’s events, please let me point you to Sally Jenkins’ column today in the Washington Post.  Jenkins has been a severe critic of both Watson and the NFL from the outset of this multi-act drama; to call today’s column “biting” would be a serious understatement.  Just to whet your appetite, here is the headline for the column followed by a brilliantly crafted turn of phrase:

“Deshaun Watson is the star the NFL deserves: A cynical, empty narcissist”


“Once you place your finger squarely on this, you can’t hear anything said by the league or by Cleveland Browns officials as anything other than a concerto of condescension and connivance.”

Psychologists define a condition, cognitive dissonance, as the discomfort that is created when one holds two or more conflicting values/beliefs/attitudes in mind at the same time.  People struggle to resolve – or at least minimize – the discomfort created by such a conflict  Deshaun Watson must have some degree of cognitive dissonance after yesterday’s settlement with the NFL and his statements to the public.  Where to start?

In a prepared statement, Watson said:

“I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made.”

In dealing with the press after the settlement was announced, he said:

“I’m going to continue to stand on my innocence.  Just because settlements and things like that happen doesn’t mean that a person is guilty for anything.”

So, what is he apologizing for if he is not “guilty for anything”?  When an innocent party apologizes for something (s)he has not done, you have to suspect immediately that the apology is just a tad insincere.

The NFL pooh-bahs must also be suffering some cognitive dissonance this morning too.  The settlement agreement among the parties here calls for Watson to “comply with a professional treatment plan” yet to be specified and that his return to the field after sitting out 11 games is contingent with his compliance.  Really?

  • What is Watson to be treated for?  If he is innocent, how can he comply with something that starts from the premise that he did lots of bad things?
  • How will the league, the union and Watson’s representatives decide on who will treat him for what?  I am unaware of any mental health expertise among the group of Roger Goodell (NFL Commish), DeMaurice Smith (NFLPA head) and/or Rusty Hardin (Watson’s defense lawyer).  Yet, they will have to agree that someone will treat Watson for something that at least two of the parties contend is hunky-dory.
  • Who gets to determine in Week 12 when Watson is eligible to return to the field that he has complied with the treatment?  That troika mentioned above?  What happens if there is “dissent” after Week 11?
  • How does anyone know now – when there is probably no agreement as to what is to be treated – that it might be sufficiently ameliorated by Week 12 that Watson can return to the field and not revert to whatever it was that he “didn’t do” to start this whole saga?

I am glad this chapter of the book is over; I have no interest in revisiting any of the allegations made by any or all of the two dozen women who have received civil settlements from Deshaun Watson.  Nor do I want to hear any more convoluted nonsense from Watson; and most assuredly, I would hope for both Dee Haslem and Jimmy Haslem to shut the [bleep] up about second chances and moving on to solve the real problems facing the country.

Here is the bottom line:

  • Deshaun Watson got off easier than he would have if I were the original arbiter and/or the person assigned to rule on the appeal.

Still left in the air is any sort of resolution regarding the actions of the Houston Texans that may have facilitated Watson’s alleged actions.  Recall the team helped him find massage therapists and one of its employees supposedly gave Watson non-disclosure agreements for new therapists to sign.  Or is this just another situation where all of us need not pay any attention to the man behind the curtain…?

Finally, let me close with this off-field football related item from David Whitley in the Gainesville Sun:

“[Steve] Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille celebrated its first anniversary last week. Managing partner Freddie Wehbe said it’s quickly become the fifth-busiest restaurant in Florida. Among the stats: 128,962 cocktails and 38,644 bottles of wine were sold, which rivaled the record amount served in the Gator Bowl parking lot before the 1976 Florida-Georgia game.”

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



The Official NFL Gadfly Is…

MLB has José Canseco whose mission in life seems now to be to inject random outrageous thoughts into the sports conversation aperiodically.  For a while, Terrell Owens served in that capacity for the NFL, but ever since T.O. boycotted his own induction into the Hall of Fame, he seems to have moved on to other pursuits in his life.  It appears to me that the “football vacuum” created by Owens’ retreat toward sanity is now being filled by Antonio Brown.

The last time we saw Brown in an actual NFL game wearing an actual NFL uniform, he punctuated his presence by removing that uniform in the middle of the game and walking out on the Bucs rather vociferously.  That dramatic exit – – stage right as I recall – – put him in the position to become the NFL random gadfly and it appears that Antonio Brown has seized that opportunity.

Recall that there have been multiple reports saying that Brown was signed by the Bucs at the urging of Tom Brady and that Brady had welcomed Brown to the Patriots where his stay was very brief due to off-field events.  After the end of the last season, Brown said that Brady was a great teammate and one of his “true friends in the midst of adversity”.  Measure all that sentiment against later remarks:

  • Brown alleged on social media that Brady “lied to him” about being targeted if he played in a game where he was hurt.  He says he played but Brady never threw him the ball and that was part of why Brown left the field sans uniform,
  • Brown followed that up with an appearance on a podcast where he said, “Tom Brady’s my friend why? Because I’m a good football player. He needs me to play football. People have different meanings of what friendship is.”
  • Now that Brady has taken about a week off from Bucs’ camp for “personal reasons”, Brown has once again seized the opportunity to hit social media again with this gem – – “Tom brady 9sic) manipulate the game gets 14 days go home get his mind rt lol Now u see the difference Put that Shit on”
  • That mysterious exposition which failed to explain what “manipulate the game” might mean in this context was followed up soon after with this bit of insight – – “No hard Feelings But these Feelings Hard,”

In the span of about 6 months, Tom Brady has gone from a great teammate and a true friend in the midst of adversity to a guy who only likes Antonio Brown because he needs Brown’s football greatness and who is now manipulating the game.  I don’t know about you, but I think that is quite a journey in such a brief time.

The only other NFL player who can come close to Antonio Brown  when it comes to random mercurial thoughts/actions would be Aaron Rodgers.  It was only about a week ago that Rodgers felt compelled to tell everyone about his psychedelic experiences in Peru with his former girlfriend and how those experiences had shown him how to love people unconditionally and how that was so important in football.  Earlier this week, he showed that unconditional love for his teammates by berating the young wide receivers in training camp with him for “a lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route”

But that exhibit of unconditional love was ameliorated by a meeting yesterday between all the Packers’ QBs and all the WRs in camp.  Obviously, I was not in that meeting but one of the young WRs there, Romeo Doubs, said this was his takeaway from that meeting:

“Aaron spoke to us about what he likes or what not just based on concepts or what he sees.  He just wants us to see what he sees.  So then that way we can be able to react faster, play faster and just be able to dominate and continue to be who we are.”

Do not even try to parse that first sentence and try to find significance in it.  People like to talk about “value-added processes”; in that first sentence, each word after “what he likes” is a value-subtracted process.  Move along to the second sentence and ask yourself if any QB at any level of football would want or say anything different.  Of course he wants you to see what he sees; were that not the case, there would be no need for practices or designed plays.

And then the third sentence demonstrates the clarity of Rodgers’ communication under his aura of unconditional love.  Playing faster leads to dominance which allows everyone to “continue to be who we are”.

  • Memo to WR corps:  The last thing you want to do is to continue to be who you are.  You are “insufficient” now – – or else there would be no need for such a meeting.  You need to change for the positive and do it quickly.

On the other hand, the WRs should not worry all that much because Aaron Rodgers loves them unconditionally…

One bit of news out of the Lions’ training camp caught my eye this week.  Third-year RB, DeAndre Swift set a goal for himself in the 2022 season that is lofty indeed.  Swift said that he wants to amass 1000 yards and 1000 yards receiving during the season.  Only three players in NFL history have ever done that:

  • Christian McCaffrey 2019:  1387 yards rushing and 1005 yards receiving
  • Marshall Faulk 1999:  1381 yards rushing and 1048 yards receiving
  • Roger Craig 1985:  1050 yards rushing and 1016 yards receiving

Setting personal goals is a good thing; setting achievable goals is critically important.  DeAndre Swift’s goal is clearly achievable since it has been done before, but it will take top-shelf effort from him to get there.

Bonne chance, DeAndre Swift…

Finally, let me close here with an observation by Larry Bird that might be useful for DeAndre Swift:

“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”

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