Change Is Looming …

I have commented frequently on the potential move of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas.  As long as 4 or 5 years ago, I said that the team needed a new place to play when I read reports that a sewage backup delivered wastewater to the dugouts in the Oakland Coliseum for the second time in a season.  There have been fits and starts in the plans to move or to build a new stadium in Oakland, but the scene now appears to favor the team moving to Las Vegas.  It’s not a done deal – – but it sure looks as if that is how it will all end.

John Feinstein had a column in the Washington Post recently under this headline:

As greedy owners abandon Oakland, fans are innocent bystanders

From that headline, it is not difficult to fathom which side of this issue Messr. Feinstein favors and I agree that the A’s owners have not behaved like model citizens throughout all of this.  Nonetheless, there are multiple sides to this story.

  • The existing facility is unsatisfactory; it must be replaced.
  • The officials in Oakland could not come to any agreement with the team about obtaining/building a new facility over a period of at least 5 years and maybe 10.
  • The team’s lease runs out after 2024.

Call the owners greedy and I will agree with you.  Try to exonerate the city officials in Oakland by putting all the blame on the owners and I will completely disagree with you.  Moreover, the fans are not innocent bystanders.

  • 2022:  A’s average home attendance = 8,283 fans per game
  • 2023:  A’s average home attendance = 8,750 fans per game
  • Earlier this season the Oakland Soul – – a minor league women’s soccer team – – out-drew the A’s on the same night.

Notwithstanding the headline on John Feinstein’s column, the fans are not “innocent bystanders”.  They are ignoring the A’s and have been for at least the last two seasons.  Maybe they are staying away because the facility is so dreadful – – but if that is the case then add the City Fathers of Oakland to the blame list.  The bottom line here is that there are no heroes in the saga; there is plenty of blame to throw around.  If you want to follow John Feinstein’s reasoning to see how he comes to his conclusion, here is the link to his column.

Switching gears …  There is a report this morning that the University of Colorado held “substantive talks” with representatives of the Big-12 conference and that Colorado is considering a jump from the PAC-12 to the Big-12.  Right now, the only reason that Colorado athletics is particularly interesting is the fact that Deion Sanders took over the football coaching job there last winter.  In and of itself, Colorado is not a big-ticket item for the Big-12 – – but Colorado might just be the way for the Big-12 to expand to a point where it virtually puts the PAC-12 out of business as a Power 5 Conference.

When the PAC-12 lost USC and UCLA to the Big-10, it dealt a serious blow to that conference because those defections cost the PAC-12 a huge portion of its television base in the LA area and that is where the big money comes from.  Please forget for a moment all the fantastic memories of athletic glory for the conference and the great traditions and rivalries of the remaining schools in the conference; those are all nice, but they don’t feed the bulldog.

There have been rumors for months that the Big-12 covets the so-called “Four Corners’ Schools” currently in the PAC-12 – – Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Arizona St.  If they were to convince those four schools to jump to the Big 12 it would accomplish the following:

  • It would give the Big 12 representation in all four time zones for the Lower 48.
  • It would remove what is now the second largest TV market (Phoenix) from what remains of the PAC-12.
  • It would leave the PAC-12 with only 6 teams and only 1 TV market in the Top 10 in the country.

As I said above, Colorado is not the “grand prize” in this saga, Arizona State with its TV market ranked 11th in the country is the big fish in the pond.  But Colorado has linkage to the Big-12 because it used to be part of the Big-12 even in those days when the Big 12 was merely the Big-8.

Imagine for just a moment that the PAC-12 lost the “Four Corners’ Schools”.  Left with only 6 schools, the conference would have to try to add schools and that will present a problem for the Conference.  It is difficult to come up with a list of 6 schools that the Conference might add such that the PAC-12 maintains a semblance of “Power-5 status”.  The remaining schools would be:

  1. Cal
  2. Stanford
  3. Oregon
  4. Oregon St.
  5. Washington
  6. Washington St.

What might fit with that footprint?

  • San Diego St. – – probably – – captures some of the already lost LA market.
  • Boise St. – – OK – – team is best known for its blue artificial playing surface.
  • Hawaii – – Wow – – lots of traveling to be done there.
  • New Mexico St. – – Wow – – they were asked to leave the Mountain West
  • Idaho – – Not likely – – they have dropped down to Division 1-AA
  • Utah St. – – OK – – not quite a replacement for Utah, but better than nothing
  • Fresno St. – – OK – – geographically better than other possibilities
  • UNLV – – maybe/maybe not?

This is off the top of my head; I have probably ignored a school or two that might be of positive benefit to a PAC-12 in need of expansion.  Nevertheless, any new additions here would not replace the two teams that are already gone from the PAC-12 plus the loss of the “Four Corners’ Schools”.

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

Confucius:  Chinese philosopher from 551 BC.  Known for his inspiring and humanistic quotations such as ‘Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without,’ or ‘No matter where you go, there you are,’ and ‘I can’t believe you morons think this crap is profound’.”

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



Get Ready for Nuggets Versus Heat

The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat put on a memorable series in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.  The Heat won the first three games and then the Celtics won the next three.  In a Game 7 that might have been the first time an NBA team had come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series, the Heat prevailed 103-84 in Boston.  Jimmy Butler was named the MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals and I doubt that many folks would argue with that selection.

Last week, I mentioned the Sixers and their rebuilding activity that came to be called “The Process”.  My conclusion then was that amassing high draft picks to staff the core of an excellent team “down the road” sounds like a reasonable strategic approach but it demands that those high draft selections turn out to be very good NBA players who are happy to be with the team that drafted then.  In the Sixers’ case, that was not the outcome by a long shot.  Here is the link to my rant from last week enumerating the problematic draft picks.

However, the results of this year’s Eastern Conference Finals point to another personnel decision made by the Sixers that was just plain wrong.  In 2019, the Sixers decided to trade Jimmy Butler to the Heat in a multi-player and multi-team deal.  In doing that, the Sixers chose to keep Tobias Harris instead of Jimmy Butler.  Harris is a fine player; Butler is an even better player.  What the Sixers got in return in that trade was nothing close to a replacement for Butler and it is now clear that the decision to trade Butler was another ill-conceived personnel move by the Sixers’ management who were overseeing “The Process”.

In any event, congratulations to the Miami Heat as they prepare for the Finals against the Denver Nuggets…

Last week, I also wrote about the passing of Jim Brown and his football accomplishments.  David Whitley had this note about Jim Brown in his column in the Gainesville Sun:

“RIP Jim Brown. Of all his athletic accomplishments, the most astounding was that he was making only $60,000 a year when he retired over a contract dispute with Cleveland in 1966. Browns QB Deshaun Watson now pays that much every week to massage therapists.”

The English Premier League season is over and there are a few surprises and a very positive story based on the results.  The top seven finishers in the EPL this year will get to participate in European competition next season.  Two names are missing from this year’s list of the “Top 7” that are normally there.  Neither Chelsea nor Tottenham made the cut this year.

  • Tottenham finished 8th in the league and missed out on 7th place by a single point.
  • Chelsea finished 12th in the EPL this year, a full 17 points behind the 7th place finisher, Aston Villa.

At the bottom of the standings, three EPL teams get relegated to the Championship League next year.  One of those teams being “sent down” was Leicester City who won the EPL outright in 2016.  It is quite a fall from first place to relegation – – but the relegation and promotion system used in the English leagues creates a heartwarming story this year.

Three teams from the Championship League get “promoted” to the EPL to replace the three relegated teams.  The three promoted teams this year are:

  • Burnley
  • Sheffield United
  • Luton Town.

And Luton Town is the story …  In 2009, Luton Town was relegated to the Fifth Tier of English Football.  In baseball terms, this is equivalent to a Class A rookie league; basically, fifth tier football isn’t really a league; it’s a bunch of teams that play one another in a tournament fashion to determine which teams can join the fourth tier to replace the relegated teams there.  Luton Town was in a shambles and was accused of “financial irregularities”; they spent 5 years in that Fifth Tier of English football.

In 2014 they “got the call-up” to the lowest level of league football – League Two.  They were promoted to League One in the next year and then to the Championship League in 2020.  And now, they are in the EPL having won a tournament among four teams in the Championship with the winner getting the third promotion slot.  And even that game was dramatic.

  • Luton Town beat Coventry City in that tournament playoff game on penalty kicks 6-5.

Luton Town has been competing in various leagues – – and non-leagues – – since 1885.  Next season will be their first time competing at the EPL level.  Luton is located just north of London.  There may have been no joy in Mudville, but there must be plenty of joy in Luton this week.

Finally, I will close today with a couplet by Ogden Nash:

“I myself am more and more inclined to agree with Omar and Satchell Paige as I grow older.

“Don’t try to rewrite what the moving finger has writ and don’t look over your shoulder.”

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



Who Knows?

I don’t know if today’s list of topics qualifies as a mélange, a mishmash or a hodgepodge.  What I do know is that it will be bouncing around randomly.

Carmelo Anthony announced his retirement from professional basketball ending a 20-year career in the NBA.  He appeared in 1260 games averaging 22.5 points per game.  He played in 6 different cities and may have had one good defensive stop in each of those cities, but the jury is out on that pronouncement.

LeBron James and the Lakers were swept from the NBA playoffs by the Denver Nuggets.  LeBron could be nudging close to soap opera status in the off-season if stories related to him in the immediate aftermath of the Lakers’ elimination “get legs” so to speak:

  • One report has it that LeBron played through a foot/leg injury in the late season and may need surgery that will keep him out of the early part of next season.
  • Some reports have it that the Lakers might want to trade LeBron and that he might be willing to accept a trade to a team that might get him another championship ring.
  • Several reports speculated that he would retire.  Upon hearing that rumor, Dwight Howard “urged” LeBron to come and join him in the Taiwanese Basketball League.

[Aside:  Given LeBron’s ties to Nike and shoes made in the Peoples’ Republic of China, he will play basketball on Mars before he plays in Taiwan.]

Given just a few more speculative pieces about LeBron and he might qualify to play quarterback for the Green Bay Packers…

A TV station in Las Vegas reported that a deal has been struck that will move the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas.  The new stadium there to house the team will cost $1.5B and the deal is described as:

“… a public-private partnership that “includes public financing constituting less than 25 percent of the cost,”

Here is the reason to curb your enthusiasm.  This announcement comes from the Governor’s Office in Nevada, but the financing must come through the Nevada State Legislature and a bill to provide such funding has yet to be introduced let alone debated or approved.  This is certainly a step in the direction of moving the A’s out of Oakland and into Las Vegas; but still, keep Yogi Berra in mind:

  • It ain’t over ‘till it’s over!

Here is a link to the report from that Las Vegas TV station:

A while back, I mentioned that George Washington University decided to change its nickname.  No longer will they be “The Colonials”; they have chosen to become “The Revolutionaries” instead.  This “tempest in a spittoon” has been ongoing for almost 5 years on campus with students objecting to the name “Colonials” because:

“Colonials were active purveyors of colonialism and were complicit in militarized and racialized violence, oppression and hierarchy.  Colonialism has historically and contemporaneously built upon usurping land, labor and autonomy from racialized communities through dehumanizing violence and suppression.”

Here is my reaction to that statement:

  1. “Colonials were active purveyors of colonialism…”  That is tautological nonsense.  That is equivalent to saying, “The longer it takes, the longer it takes.”
  2. How will changing the name of a university affect in even the smallest way the folks who suffered “dehumanizing violence” as their “land, labor and autonomy” were usurped?
  3. The new nickname – – The Revolutionaries – – usurped land and autonomy to create a nation where college students could engage in this sort of fanciful thinking.  Oh, and by the way, those Revolutionaries inflicted more than a little violence in the process.
  4. These activists who brought about this change are not opposed to violence or usurpation.  They just chose sides in two disputes and decided that violence and usurpation were OK if it was perpetrated by their side but not OK if it was perpetrated by the other side.

Somewhere in the afterlife, I picture George Washington looking upon this multi-year debate at his eponymous university and asking himself:

  • This is what we fought for?”

Finally, as the activists have succeeded in being revolutionaries and achieving their objective of a name-change, let me offer this closing remark from the playwright, Tom Stoppard:

“I learned three things in Zurich during the war.  I wrote them down.  Firstly, you’re either a revolutionary or you’re not, and if you’re not you might as well be an artist as anything else.  Secondly, if you can’t be an artist, you might as well be a revolutionary … I forget the third thing.”

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




Yesterday, the rant here dealt with the outcome of a lunch discussion with a friend.  After posting it, I went about my normal routine of grazing through an assortment of sports news sites to do some notetaking.  I casually glanced at my email inbox and saw a note from my friend who accused me of an ulterior motive for my participation in our lunches.  He sees it as me using him as mental stimulation when I am running short of topics for these rants.

And in a spasm of generosity, he sent along the link to an old Sports Illustrated article that he said, “just might make you think enough to write about it.”  He warned me that it was a long article but that he thought it contained useful though dated information.  Obviously, I hit the link…

The column was written in March 2009 by Pablo S. Torre.  His authorship alone would have made me interested in finding out what he had to say about a sports topic; Messr. Torre is a top-shelf writer and thinker.  Here is the headline for the piece:



Here is a recitation of how pro athletes had run into rough times financially just in the month in which this article was written:

“In this month alone Saints alltime leading rusher Deuce McAllister filed for bankruptcy protection for the Jackson, Miss., car dealership he owns; Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad put his mansion in Charlotte up for sale on eBay a month after news broke that his entertainment company was being sued by Wachovia Bank for overdue credit-card payments; and penniless former NFL running back Travis Henry was jailed for nonpayment of child support.”

And here is even more shocking data:

“By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

“Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.”

Remember, this report came at a time when the US economy was just beginning to recover from the “Crisis of 2008”.  That might explain some of the “current events at that time” but the data related to NFL and NBA players cited here means there is a lot more going on than a recession.

It appears that athletes who come upon lots and lots of money at an early age have a few things going against them:

  1. They do not realize that at least a third and maybe as much as half of their salary will go to taxes levied by various jurisdictions.
  2. They do not understand the language of finances and investing so they are talked into bad investments that are made to sound good.
  3. They find it difficult to say, “No,” to old friends, newfound friends and extended family members who need/want something from them.

Ed Butowsky was cited in the report as someone who was trying to educate young newly rich athletes about how to spend some of their money and how to invest the rest.  He sets up “financial boot camps” for athletes which they can attend free of charge and where he tries to educate them financially.  Here is his assessment of the situation back in 2009:

“The bar for radically improving the financial habits of pro athletes, Butowsky acknowledges, is low enough for a toddler to trip over.”

The vignettes in this report are shocking and dumbfounding.  Some of the incidents reported sound as if they came out of a scriptwriter’s imagination as he set the plot for a gangster movie.  As my friend said, you should read this LONG report; you will shake your head in disbelief at least a half-dozen times.

At this point I would normally provide a link to the article but somehow when I try to do that the link does not work when I put it on the website.  However, necessity is the mother of invention; and I have a way for you to find the report simply and quickly:

  • Go to and search on:
      • “Pablo S. Torre, SI article, athletes gone broke”

When I do that, the link to this article is the first thing that pops up thanks to Google.  [Aside:  Should we consider everything before Google as The Dark Ages?}

The upshot today is that my friend was right, and he was wrong in his email to me.  I do not go to lunch with him only because I am running out of things to write about – – even if I used him as inspiration again this morning.  However, he was dead right that this was an important and useful thing for me to read.

Finally, let me close today with three observation(s) from my favorite curmudgeon, H. L. Mencken:

“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”

And …

“On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

And …

“An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it also will make better soup.”

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



The Rise Of The Machines?

I recently had lunch with an old friend.  We do that sort of thing aperiodically; but when we get together the event is “scripted”.  We meet at the same restaurant; we tell the server to take her/his time because we are going to be there for a while.  We order an adult beverage, ask perfunctory questions about the families and then spend the next two hours talking sports.  That sequence is about as reliable as death, taxes and Stephan A. Smith getting outraged over something/anything at around 10:00 AM ET every weekday.

We were lamenting the negative effect that analytics has had on baseball – – actually we were lamenting the slavish addiction to analytics that is hurting baseball.  It seems that more and more managers fail to recognize that the game taking place in front of them on a given day is not an average game nor one that necessarily fits a trend.  What used to be called “over-managing” when Alvin Dark and Gene Mauch were in opposite dugouts has now become too much sway given to the “numbers nerds”.

And then the conversation took a dark turn.  We wondered how long it will be until Artificial Intelligence wiggles its way into sports.  I certainly do not want that day to happen any time soon, but I must admit that having AI fiddle with sporting events is a lot less threatening than having AI fiddle with the nuclear launch codes.  We sort of agreed that AI would probably not find as comfortable a perch in sports like basketball or ice hockey or soccer but that there might be niches for it to occupy in baseball and in football.  Since our lunch was proximal to the last NFL Draft, my friend asked if AI might not become a contributor for some teams as they construct their draft boards.

I think he has hit upon a role for AI in an important NFL event because the Draft is indeed an important way to build a roster – – and – – blown draft picks and derail a “team on the rise” rather quickly.  When you consider that half of the first-round picks in a typical NFL Draft will not pan out nearly to the extent expected, it would seem as if any sort of a “boost” from outside would be welcomed and adopted.

Let me get a disclaimer in here quickly:

  • Neither my friend nor I would qualify even as naïfs when it comes to AI.

If indeed Artificial Intelligence can learn on its own beyond the coded rules that set up the foundational machinery, then maybe the large computing power of an AI system can digest game film from college players and more accurately project those skills and abilities to a benchmark NFL level.  I am not talking here about a computer’s ability to measure things more accurately than a human can; I don’t think it matters all that much if Player A has a reaction time that is a hundredth of a second faster than Player B.  But perhaps an AI system might be able to assimilate a far greater number of observable variables and make connections that have gone unrecognized to date.

Even more “radical” might be an AI system that looked at the observables that make for successful NFL players.  Call it an idealized player sort of like a reference electrode in electrochemistry.  If a team were to think it had a handle on what sorts of things it took physically, mentally and in terms of character to become a successful NFL player, it could then have a template by which it might evaluate potential draftees.

Before you tell us this is all pie in the sky, remember what the current modus operandi produces:

  • Half of the FIRST-ROUND picks will be mediocre at best in the NFL.

The standard that an AI system has to meet or beat is not all that stringent.

Moving on …  There will be two new rules in effect for NFL games this year.  Hopefully, one of them will never need to come into play and the other of them will not come into play universally.  Call the first one the “2022 NFC Championship Game Rule”.  Recall that the Niners lost both of their QBs to injury in that game and basically played out the string without a QB who had college experience at the position.  That situation is not difficult to fix, and the owners have installed a new rule to take care of it.  Actually, what the owners did was to go back to an older rule:

  • Up until 2012, teams would dress 45 players for a game and an “emergency QB” who could only enter the game in prescribed ways.
  • Then the NFL just expanded the roster number to 46 and let teams decide if they wanted an “emergency QB” or if they preferred an “extra DB”.
  • Now, the teams will be allowed to dress 46 players PLUS an “emergency QB”.

Presumably, that is a solved problem…

The other rule change should drastically reduce the number of kickoff return attempts.  At present, a kickoff that goes out of the end zone is put in play at the 25 yardline.  Under a new rule this year, any returner can call for a fair catch at any point on the field behind the 25 yardline and the ball will still be put in play at the 25 yardline.  Seemingly, the objective here is minimize the number of kickoff returns which are considered to be less safe than ordinary plays from scrimmage.

I hope this does not remove the kickoff return from the game entirely.  This is the rule in college football and the number of return attempts at that level is significantly smaller than in the NFL.  I am not sure if I like this change or not …

Finally, having opined today on AI, let me close with this from F. Scott Fitzgerald on how to measure real intelligence:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

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



Trust The Process?

With the Philly 76ers having been eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Boston Celtics, there are many opinion pieces out there with the following flavor:

  • What will/should the Sixers do now?

Would that it were as simple as that…  Would that I had a magic elixir for someone or some ones in the organization to sip such that their wildest fantasies would be manifest in the real world.  That sort of thing happens in Disney animated movies on a routine basis; it happens in the real world far less frequently.

For about a decade, Sixers’ fans were told to “trust the process”.  THE PROCESS was a long-term plan whereby the team would stink out the joint for several years thereby accreting high draft picks such that the team would emerge as a juggernaut based on the talents of those high draft picks.  Make no mistake; that thinking makes a ton of sense – – so long as the picks made in the first round of the NBA Draft that accrue to the “stinking Sixers’ teams” bear fruit as top-shelf NBA players.

Let me interject Hamlet here for just a second:

“Aye.  There’s the rub.”

The Sixers began “The Process” back in the 2013 NBA Draft but the players they picked when they had high draft picks turned out to be closer to duds than to studs.  Consider:

  1. 2013 Draft : Michael Carter Williams  11th overall\.  Acquire Nerlens Noel via trade.  Perhaps both players achieve the label of “journeyman” but nothing more.
  2. 2014:  Joel Embiid  3rd overall.  Great pick
  3. 2015: Jahlil Okafor 3rd  overall.  Couldn’t play defense against a corpse.
  4. 2016:  Ben Simmons  1st overall.  Seemed good at first.  But now … ?
  5. 2017:  Markelle Fultz  1st overall.  Seemed like a reach at the time.  Now it looks like a wasted pick.
  6. 2018:  Mikal Bridges 11th overall but sent to Suns and 1st round pick that stayed with the Sixers was Larry Shamet.  A horrible miscalculation
  7. 2019:  Ty Jerome  24th overall and acquired via trade Matisse Thybulle.   Ho hum …
  8. 2020:  Tyrese Maxey 21st; overall and an excellent pick.
  9. 2021:  Jaden Springer 28th overall.  If you ask, “Who’s he?”, you run the risk that someone might feel compelled to tell you.
  10. 2022:  David Roddy 23rd overall.  Hey, he does not throw up on his shoes…

The harsh light of reality says that “The Process” would work just fine if – and only if – the Sixers’ braintrust was able to use their first-round picks to assemble reel and actual NBA on-court talent.  And the 10-year record under two leaders of the drafting/trading process have not shown the ability to do just that. Here is the painful reality for Sixers’ fans:

  • In the last 10 Drafts and trades associated with the Drafts, the Sixers have obtained 2 very good players.  Call that a 20% success rate or a .200 batting average.  It’s the NBA equivalent of The Mendoza Line…
  • They had the chance to get another star player (Mikal Bridges) but traded him away to they could draft a “journeyman-at-best”
  • They had two overall #1 selections and whiffed on both.  Neither Ben Simmons nor Markelle Fultz lived up to a tenth of what a first overall should turn out to be.

We have seen various teams in pro sports in the US “tank” a season or two as a means to acquire top of the draft capital.  Such tanking can be intentional or unintentional – – but it happens; and if anyone tries to deny that it is happening, that person is either a paid stooge or a fool.

The lesson here is straightforward:

  • You can try to stink out the joint and hold your top picks out for a season due to injury – – but if you whiff on your first-round picks – – even when you won the lottery and had the overall #1 pick – – then your team is going to achieve mediocrity as its upper bound.

Deal with it, Sixers’ fans.  Even if you have “Trusted the Process” since the Sixers stunk out the league back in 2012/2013, you are a decade deep in “The Process” and have little or no reason to aspire to the Eastern Conference Championship next season – – let alone an NBA Championship.

Finally, the Sixers’ braintrust has been striving to get the team to the top levels of the NBA for a decade.  So, you may expect me to finish with a quote related to the pursuit of excellence here.  Rather, I choose to close today with a pithy observation by Johann Wolfgang Goethe:

”Man errs as long as he strives.”

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



Rest In Peace, Jim Brown

Jim Brown died over the weekend.  He was the best football player I ever saw; I know that is a statement open to debate, but that is my opinion.  Jim Brown played 9 seasons with the Cleveland Browns between 1957 and 1965; here are some of his achievements:

  • He was the Rookie of the Year, the MVP and selected to the Pro Bowl in 1957
  • He was named MVP in three other seasons – – 1958, 1963 and 1965.
  • He was selected to the Pro Bowl every season between 1957 and 1965.
  • He led the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons in the league.
  • He averaged 104.3 yards per game for his career.

He retired with plenty of gas left in the tank to take up a brief career as a movie actor and then as a social activist and mentor for gang youth in SoCal.  He was a giant on the field and off the field.

Rest in peace, Jim Brown …

There is a “pox” afoot in the land and it seems to be infecting young male athletes.  It occurs at the intersection of what ought to be private behavior(s) and cell phone videos made public:

  • The alleged gang rape of a minor girl involving Matt Araiza
  • Auburn University suspended RB, Jarquez Hunter over a “sex tape”.
  • Ja Morant waving his gun around as if it were a lollipop!

These are recent examples of “the pox”; it has been around for a while involving other athletes such as Hulk Hogan and even a few female athletes.  But the question in my mind is why these folks thought it was a good idea in the first place to engage in these private matters with other people around given that in 2023 just about every person on the planet is carrying a cell phone.

None of these folks have done anything illegal – – assuming of course that Ja Morant has registered his gun and assuming that allegations about the gang rape victim assuring participants that she was of age – – but what they did “in front of the camera” so to speak should have been done in private.  I have said before and will reiterate here:

  • Sex is not a spectator sport.

Analogously, carrying a registered handgun is not a reason for public exultation.  There is a vaccine for this “pox” already in existence; it is called Common Sense; sadly, it seems to be in short supply.

Moving on …  There were no cell phone videos involved in the Trevor Bauer situation, but there were allegations made about his “rough sex encounter” with a woman.  The case became widely known and even though Bauer was never charged with a crime let alone convicted, his full year suspension from MLB cost him about $30M in lost wages.  Once the suspension was served, he was released by the LA Dodgers and no other team signed him.  So, he had to go to Japan in an attempt to re-establish his bona fides as a pitcher.  In case you were wondering how things are going for Bauer in the Land of the Rising Sun:

  • In his first three starts, Bauer pitched to an ERA of 8.40
  • His team, the Yokohama BayStars, sent him down to their minor league affiliate presumably to get back in the groove.
  • The first batter he faced in his first minor league start hit a home run.

All is not lost, however.  That was the only run Bauer allowed in his “adjustment start” and the expectation is that he will return to his Japanese major league team soonest.

Switching gears …  There was a report at saying that the NBA is considering changes to its All-Star Game.  I was encouraged by that idea since the NBA All-Star Game is a joke and this year’s contest was labeled the “worst basketball game ever played” by the Denver Nuggets’ coach, Michael Malone.  After all, the NFL eventually admitted that the Pro Bowl was a meaningless farce and gave into reality and made it a flag football game; could it be that the NBA – – widely lauded as progressive in its thinking and its marketing – – might come up with something significantly more palatable than a game where the losing team can score 170 points?

Not really.  Here is the “change” that is under consideration:

  • Return to the format where players from the Eastern Conference play against players from the Western Conference.  No more playground selection of teams.

That, sports fans, is your nothing-burger of the month…

Finally, since too much of today’s rant dealt with sex let me close with this observation by William Butler Yeats which seems to agree with my observation that sex is not a spectator sport:

“I am still of the opinion that only two topics can be of the least interest to a serious and studious mood – sex and the dead.”

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



Here We Go Again …

Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.  It ain’t over till its over. The show isn’t over until the fat lady sings.  We have lots of ways to get the same message across, so pick the one you like best because today there is a report at saying that there just might be a glitch in the mechanism that would allow the Oakland A’s to become the Las Vegas A’s.  The headline on the report seems innocuous enough:

“Oakland to Las Vegas: A’s move could be held up over request for nearly $400M in public funding, per report”

According to this report, the A’s originally asked Las Vegas for $500M in “aid” to build a stadium in Las Vegas and that number has been reduced to $400M somehow or someway.  The current “plan” is for the stadium to be on The Strip at or near the Tropicana and evidently that site needs the $400M contribution from the folks who run either Las Vegas or Clark County or both.

Here is the “issue” in a nutshell according to The Nevada Independent:

“Nevada lawmakers have not yet introduced legislation to bring the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas because they are only willing to contribute up to $195 million in transferable tax credits for stadium construction funding, not the full $395 million the team is seeking, sources close to negotiations told The Nevada Independent Thursday.

“The amount the state will offer depends on how much money Clark County will offer in the form of county-issued bonds paid by taxes generated on the ballpark site. Sources added that lawmakers are discussing between $150 million and $195 million in transferable tax credits, but nothing is set in stone until the county details are finalized.

If you think you have heard this song before, that is because you have heard this song before.  However, this time I want to point out that there might be a couple of good reasons for the A’s owners and MLB to reduce the ask from wherever it is that the A’s will play on a long-term basis.  Consider these stats:

  • The A’s just completed a 7-game home stand.
  • The biggest attendance they drew for that home stand was 8,230 folks.
  • Two of the seven games drew fewer than 3,000 fans.
  • Total attendance for these 7 games was 35,031 or 5,004 fans per game.
  • For the entire 2023 season the A’s average attendance is only 8,695 fans per game.

Those numbers tell me that the A’s must be losing money even if they have a stripped-down payroll in the neighborhood of $50M.  The A’s need a new home; it could be in Oakland in a new stadium; it could be in Las Vegas in a new stadium; it could be anywhere in the Mountain or Pacific Time Zones where there is a proper facility.  The only certainty is that it cannot be in whatever it is that they are calling the Oakland Coliseum these days.  So, maybe it is time for the owners to dig into their pockets and get something done to move the team because even if they get a deal done with Las Vegas today, the financial bleeding will not stop until at least 2027 because:

  • The A’s lease for the Coliseum runs through the 2024 season; they are stuck there.
  • The probability that the A’s would try to extend that lease and that the folks in Oakland would agree is next to nil.
  • The putative Las Vegas stadium would not be ready until the start of the 2027 season.
  • So, the A’s might have to play their home games in Las Vegas at the ballpark currently serving as the home to the A’s AAA minor league team.
  • That stadium has 8200 seats and a capacity of 10,000.
  • So, even a Las Vegas move would entail at least 3 more years of abysmal attendance translating to limited revenue.

Here is a little back or the envelope math:

  • If the A’s played in the minor league park and sold out EVERY home game at an average ticket price of $50, they would generate about $40M in ticket revenue.
  • That does not match the stripped-down player payroll for this year and does not account for a single “overhead expense” such as “travel costs”.

At some point there will be a need for the A’s owners to stop the bleeding.  Maybe that is why the folks in Las Vegas and in Nevada have been tightening the screws on this deal when they behaved very differently in their pursuit of the NFL’s Raiders…

Finally, these words from Hippocrates seem applicable here:

“And if there be an opportunity of serving one who is a stranger in financial straits, give full assistance to all such.”

The A’s owners probably hope the good folks in Nevada will heed these words.

The folks in Nevada probably think the A’s are in “financial straits” and that gives the Nevadans leverage.  And we should recognize the power of leverage from the words of Archimedes:

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

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



Horses And Coaches Today

They will run the Preakness Stakes on Saturday as the second leg of the Triple Crown.  Only eight horses will go to the post in this race including Mage who won the Kentucky Derby a week and a half ago.  Mage has morning line odds posted at 5-2; normally, the Derby winner is bet down in the Preakness to odds of less than 2-1; early betting has Mage at 8-5 as of this morning.  However, there is a twist this year.

National Treasure is going to run in the Preakness and National Treasure would have been one of the horses getting a lot of betting action in the Derby had he been allowed to run.  He was disqualified because he is trained by Bob Baffert and Baffert is still serving a long suspension imposed by Churchill Downs for a series of “irregularities” involving Baffert horses.  But Baffert is not barred from Pimlico; and so, National Treasure will run in this race.  National Treasure has current odds of 4-1.

Moving on …  A while back, I mentioned the incident where Bob Huggins – – head basketball coach at West Virginia – – uttered a homophobic slur over a live radio broadcast and suffered some financial consequences from that impropriety.  Gregg Drinnan writes the blog, Taking Note, and this is what he had to say about that:

“Bob Huggins, the men’s basketball coach at the U of West Virginia, had an annual salary of US$4.2 million that made him the state’s highest-paid employee. But then he had a radio rant that included homophobic slurs; so. the school knocked $1 million off his salary. Now he’s No. 2 on the state payroll. Who’s No. 1? That would be Neal Brown, the school’s football coach. What? You thought it would be a doctor?

Speaking of college basketball coaches – – obliquely to be sure – – it appears that Mike Kyzyzewski has a new job, but it is not a coaching position.  Kyzyzewski will serve as a “special adviser to the NBA” according to an announcement by the league.  Here is some ow what the NBA says will be Kyzyzewski’s roles and responsibilities:

“… provide counsel to the league office, NBA team executives and other leaders across the league on a host of issues related to the game.”

Meaning exactly no disrespect to Mike Kyzyzewski, but that sounds to me like a Grade A sinecure.  For his part, Kyzyzewski said that this new job would “deepen my connection with the NBA” and would also “enable me to stay engaged with basketball at the highest level.”  Given those clarifications, I still have no idea what he will be doing nor what the league expects him to do.

            Bonne chance, Coach K…

Someone sent along to me this oddball stat.  It was not all that difficult to check and it seemed odd enough hat I went to the trouble to verify it.  Sadly, I did not make a note of where it came from so I cannot properly identify my source here:

  • Reggie White had more sacks than games played in his time with the Philadelphia Eagles.

A quick online visit to Pro Football Reference and a search there for Reggie White reveals in one place the following information:

  • Reggie White played for the Eagles from 1985 to 1992 (8 seasons).
  • White appeared in 121 games for the Eagles.
  • White recorded 124 sacks for the Eagles in those 121 games.
  • White was named to the Pro Bowl in seven of those eight seasons.
  • White was named an All-Pro in 6 of those 8 seasons.

That was not a bad 8-year run that he had with the Eagles…

Finally, since today has been mainly about coaches and a great player, let me close with two observations from a great coach – – Vince Lombardi:

“Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

And …

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it is an all the time thing.  You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time.  Winning is a habit.  Unfortunately, so is losing.”

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



A Tale Of Three QBs

In my 12th grade English class, one of the class assignments was to read Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities.  In short, it was not nearly a pleasurable assignment; reading that book gave me an appreciation for the word “slog”; it was long, and it was difficult to understand, and I wanted it to be over much sooner than it was actually over.  Today, I want to produce a tale of three NFL QBs who are without a team as of this morning.  I know it will not be nearly as long or difficult to read as Dickens’ novel and I hope you do not find it to be a “slog”.

The first QB is Tom Brady.  Yes, he is still holding true to his retirement decision, but he still manages to stay in the news. reported that Brady is “in deep discussions to become a limited partner of the Las Vegas Raiders”.  The fact that Brady and Raiders’ owner, Mark Davis, are already partners in the ownership of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces lends credence to this report.  Even if these “deep discussions” lead Brady and Davis to common ground, it will still require a 75% positive vote of the NFL owners for the deal to close.

Assuming that no scandalous information related to Brady surfaces between now and the time he and Davis come to some sort of agreement, I cannot think of a reason why the owners would not support whatever deal came to their attention.  However, I am not so sure that the TV execs at FOX will be nearly as enthralled.

Starting in the 2024 NFL season, Brady will begin a 10-year deal with FOX to do color commentary on NFL regular season games.  That 10-year deal is reported to be worth $375M.  I am on record saying that I do not believe that Tom Brady is going to like the job of color analyst and that because he is not going to like the job, he will not do the job well.  That is not a knock on Brady; that is a statement that applies to most people who do not like their job.  But there is more to it than just liking the job.

If Brady is a limited partner in the Raiders, what might that do to his “credibility” calling a Raiders’ game?  Or how about games involving teams in the AFC West who compete directly with the Raiders for playoff positions?  It is difficult for a color analyst when he has to call a game involving one of his former teams; it is a higher hurdle to cross if a color analyst is calling a game involving a team he partially owns.  I can see the FOX execs squirming a bit here.

But that is not all the squirming that may be happening.  Longtime Raiders’ fans still harbor “less than positive feelings” toward Walt Coleman who officiated the infamous “Tuck Rule Game” and the beneficiary of the “Tuck Rule” was none other than Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.  Can/Will those fans now embrace the Tuck Rule Beneficiary and make him part of Raider Nation?

The second QB today is Matt Ryan.  Last year, Ryan was with the Colts; this year he has signed on with the team at CBS to become a studio analyst and a game analyst for that network.  CBS has multiple platforms that relate to the NFL and the plan is to work Ryan in on most if not all of them.  According to the announcement of Ryan’s signing on with CBS, he will appear on:

  • CBS HQ
  • NFL Monday QB
  • The NFL Today
  • That Other Pre-game Show – – and – –
  • “Select NFL games on CBS”.

Listening to Ryan speak in post-game press conference settings, he is clearly articulate, and he comes across as a relaxed but serious speaker.  If he does not fall victim to either stage fright or to a hyperfocus on minutiae, I suspect he will be pretty good as he gains experience.  Good luck to him …

The third QB today is Carson Wentz.  The last couple of NFL seasons have not been kind to Carson Wentz; he went from the starting QB for the Eagles to the Colts and then to the Commanders.  After last year, the Commanders released him; and he still has no spot on any NFL roster.  Being released by the Commanders is a slap in the face because here is the Commanders’ depth chart at QB as of this morning:

  1. Sam Howell – – has played exactly 1 game in the NFL
  2. Jacoby Brissett – – excellent as a career backup QB over 7 seasons; his record as a starter, however, is 18-30-0
  3. Jake Fromm – – started 2 NFL games in 2021 and lost both of them
  4. Tim DeMorat – – undrafted free agent from Fordham

I just read a report that said Carson Wentz was “biding his time” and “considering all of his options” and that he was “open to” an offer to be a backup QB somewhere.  I have no idea what options he may or may not be considering or if he is actually biding his time, but if he is truly open to the idea that his role in the NFL for 2024 is as a backup QB, then he has achieved a measurable degree of self-awareness.  And that is important because the behavior and the profile of a starting QB in the NFL is markedly different from the behavior and profile of a backup QB.

If Carson Wentz is ever to become “the guy” for an NFL team down the road (remember, he was the overall #2 pick in the Draft and is only 30 years old), he will have to play his way back and the way for that to happen is for him to become a really good locker room presence who can support and assist the starter on the team.

Finally, obviously I will close today with words from Charles Dickens.  I think he has some life advice for Carson Wentz here:

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.”

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