Two Overblown Kerfuffles

Briefly today …  I want to comment on a couple of issues that bubbled up to the surface recently and caused commentators/writers to rush to their keyboards to fill up space on the Internet and in a variety of print media.  The first one is the revelation that all is not peaches and cream with regard to members of the Tuohy family and Michael Oher.

  • I tried to understand the differences between an “adoption” and a “conservatorship”.  All I understand is that they are not the same thing and so I cannot begin to understand why the Tuohys chose that mechanism for their relationship.
  • Oher claims he got next to nothing as a financial reward for the movie The Blind Side.  The production company for that movie says they paid Oher and the Tuohys the same amount.  Seems to me that ought to be easy to track down.
  • Michael Oher made more than $50M in salaries while in the NFL.  If the Tuohys milked that revenue stream for their own gain, that would be slimy behavior.
  • Some of the details asserted in Michael Lewis’ book, The Blind Side may not be “fully factual”.  Is that a shock?

The more I try to read about this situation and how it might be resolved, the more engulfed in ennui I become.  It seems to me that the civil litigation system in the US is where this matter should be taken for resolution; as of this morning, the civil litigation system in the US has begun the processes to determine right versus wrong here.  While that process plays itself out, it appears to me that no third parties or fourth parties here stand to be harmed in any significant way.  Therefore:

  • Let the processes play out.  Treat any and all news about this matter short of a final resolution as news that is not important and is only of interest to voyeurs peeking into the process to see if a celebrity with a name they recognize is “Winning” or “Losing”.

Moving on …  The other story of the moment that has received more attention than it deserves is the trade of Trey Lance from the Niners to the Cowboys for a fourth round pick next year.  There is a “trainwreck aspect” to this story since the Niners traded away 3 first round picks plus a third-round pick just to move up in the NFL Draft and take Lance with the #3 overall pick.  That storyline might keep this item afloat for 24 hours – – but not much more.  This story line has legs because it allows people to perform mind reading exercises on Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones:

  • Why trade for Lance when the Cowboys have Cooper Rush as their backup QB?  Rush has started 6 games for the Cowboys in his career and the team record in those games is 5-1.
  • Does this trade indicate that Jones has lost faith in Dak Prescott?  There is no way to know the answer here, but it seems to me that acquiring Lance and putting him in the #3 position of the depth chart is hardly a clear indicator of anything like that.

Here is my thinking about why the Cowboys made this deal. Two years ago, the Niners had Lance evaluated as a “top of the Draft talent”.  Two years of injuries have obscured that and the Niners are now ready to go forth with Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold at the QB position.  The Niners let it be known they would take offers for Lance and the balance of his rookie contract.  Paying a fourth-round pick for someone with Lance’s “potential” seems like the kind of “speculation” that Jerry Jones is comfortable with.  The trade makes sense to me without reverting to clairvoyance.

Finally, The Blind Side confrontation may need a jury to resolve the issue(s).  So, here is a view of a jury by H. L. Mencken:

Jury:  A group of twelve men who having lied to the judge about their hearing, health and business engagements, have failed to fool him.”

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




Major League Baseball Hits The Home Stretch

The Washington Nationals’ World Series hero, Stephen Strasburg has announced his retirement; injuries and not Father Time have brought him to this fork in the road.  His last start was in June 2022.  Strasburg underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2010 and worked his way back from that setback but in 2021 he suffered from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and underwent surgery to try to alleviate that condition.  It did not work, and Strasburg announced his retirement last week.

Also last week we learned that Shohei Otani tore his UCL and will not be able to pitch for the rest of the season.  Evidently, he can still swing a bat, so he will remain with the team, but Otani will be a free agent once this season is over and his need for surgery – – with the corresponding uncertainty of return to form that goes with every surgery – – will make his days on the “open market” very interesting.  One commentator said with authority that Otani’s injury cost him at least $100M and maybe $150M in the total value of his next contract.  We shall see …

In other MLB news, raise your hand if you saw this happening:

  • The calendar is about to flip to September setting up the stretch run for the MLB season.
  • The two NY teams spent the most money on player payroll by far for 2023.
  • As of this morning both the Yankees and the Mets are in last place in their divisions.

In the case of the Yankees, their possession of the basement slot in the AL East is rock solid; the Yankees are about 7 games behind the Red Sox in the standings.  The Mets are only two games behind the Nats in the NL East and could still escape that dungeon abode.

On a much more positive note, the race to watch over the balance of the season is in the AL West.  You can throw a hat over the records of the Mariners, the Rangers and the Astros.  Just so you know that there is some spice left to the pennant and playoff chases this year:

  • The Mariners’ last ten games on the regular season schedule are against the Astros and the Rangers.  The Mariners are on the road to the Rangers for 3 games; they are home to the Astros for 3 games and they are home to the Rangers for 4 games.
  • The Astros are at the Rangers for 3 games starting on Labor Day and then have 3 games at the Mariners home field.
  • The Rangers have 7 games against the Mariners and 3 against the Astros coming up.  In addition, the Rangers have a series with the Blue Jays who are lurking out there hoping to secure a wild card slot in the playoffs.

Switching gears – – and sports …  You must have read about the uproar in Spain caused by the President of the Spanish Soccer Federation kissing one of the star Spanish women’s soccer players on the mouth “unannounced” and “uninvited”.  FIFA says they will provisionally suspend him for 90 days.  The Spanish women want him removed from his job.  He remains unrepentant saying that he did nothing “inappropriate”.  At the risk of appearing to side with any party to this kerfuffle, let me say:

  • Should he have done this?  NO!
  • Is this the worst “assault” on the player he might have perpetrated?  No.
  • Should he have apologized immediately?  Of course, he should have.
  • Is it too late for an apology?  You bet.
  • Should he lose his job?  That is a decision for the members of the Spanish Soccer Federation to make.

There is one other question here that does not have such a short answer.  The Spanish Women’s National Team has threatened not to play again if this guy is not removed from his position of authority.  Is that a good idea?

It seems to me that these women would be cutting off their noses to spite their faces if they do this.  They are the reigning Women’s World Cup Champions; the Olympics will kick off in less than a year.  It seems to me that the opportunity to add an Olympic Gold Medal to the team’s accomplishments argues for them to regroup and play on.

Hey!  That’s just me …

Finally, I shall close today with these words from Laurence J. Peter:

“In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties. … Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

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



College Football Pre-Season Comments – 2023

About 4:00 PM yesterday afternoon, I realized that my overview plan for writing in the next two weeks was not going to work easily.  My plan was to do the College Football Pre-Season comments next week and then the NFL Pre Season Comments soon after that.   Suddenly, I confronted a reality; next week I have a “travel day” and a “medical procedure” and a “cooking event” that will require my attention for at least a half-day.  Fortunately, I had already done some thinking about what I wanted to write about, but my realization caused me to go into hyper-drive last night and early this morning.

As has been the custom here for the past several years, I will try to do a Football Friday rant each week when I am “on the air” on a Friday.  Those offerings will begin over Labor Day weekend and then become a fixture the week after that as the NFL begins its regular season.  Football Friday will be a regular entry here until the Super Bowl weekend in February 2024

Today, the focus is solely on college football, and I want to begin with my list of seven coaches on a hot seat.  This year, my list is comprised of big-time coaches; I am not just looking for teams in the Sun Belt Conference that have not done well for the last two years:

  1. Mario Cristobal – – Miami:  He was the prodigal son who was going to return and make Miami a major powerhouse once again.  Except that didn’t come close to happening as the Hurricanes finished below .500 in 2022.  That must not happen again …
  2. Ryan Day – Ohio State:  Day’s Buckeyes have lost two games in a row to Michigan – – each one by double digits – – and that is not acceptable in Columbus, OH.  If he loses again to Michigan AND fails to make the CFP, things might be very uncomfortable when Day and the AD meet at the end of the season.  Actually, I think the Buckeyes will be just fine this year; they have Marvin Harrison Jr, back on the field and he was the best WR I have seen for several years.
  3. Jimbo Fisher – Texas A&M:  Fisher’s record at A&M is a less-than-gaudy 39-21 in his five years as the Aggies head coach; he is working on a 10-year contract extension worth a total of $94.95M.  Make no mistake, the deep pockets that funded that contract extension did not anticipate paying for a coach whose team loses one out of every three games.
  4. Billy Napier – Florida:  The Gators finished below .500 last year with a QB who went 4th overall in the NFL Draft in April.  The Gators had better not have another season below .500 …
  5. Steve Sarkisian – Texas: The Longhorns had a positive season in 2022 posting an 8 -5 record.  That has created a lot of “optimism” among the Longhorn faithful who think that Texas could be a serous contender for the Big-12 championship and a slot in the CFP.
  6. Mel Tucker – Michigan State:  In 2021 the Spartans were an outstanding 11-2 and that gaudy record got Tucker a 10-year extension worth $95M.  Then last year, the Spartans – – who were ranked in the Top 20 in Pre-Season Polls – – wet the bed and finished 5-7.  Tucker is 18-14 in his time in East Lansing; he needs to do better this season.
  7. Brent Venables – Oklahoma:  The Sooners were 6-7; last year under Venables and that sort of performance is completely unacceptable in Norman, OK.

There are 130+ teams that play Division 1-A college football.  I will not even pretend to be able to offer any sort of cogent information on more than a few of them; therefore, I will not do anything here like I do with the NFL where I try to predict the record for every team in the league.

I will focus some attention on the PAC-12 which seems to have imploded such that this will be the final season that we might recognize what was a Power-5 conference.  And without a doubt, the biggest story in the PAC-12 will be Deion Sanders as the head coach at Colorado.  Face it; every time Coach Prime burps, it will be Tweeted out.  I cannot wait for ESPN to follow him around with a gas chromatograph to analyze the chemical makeup of those burps.

Sanders took over a team that just plain stunk.  In 2022 the Buffaloes were 127th in the nation in scoring (15.4 points per game) and the Buffaloes were dead last in the country in scoring defense allowing 44.5 points per game.  When you look at those numbers, Coach Prime was somewhat justified in running off more than half of his team. They were not remotely competitive.  There are only 10 scholarship players back from last season for Colorado and 68 new scholarship players who arrived via the portal or recruiting.

Can Sanders turn that Colorado program around in one season?  His bluster says that he can and will; but bluster only gets a coach so far against quality opponents.  If Colorado can win 4 games this year with 2 of those wins coming in conference, Coach Prime should get consideration as the Coach of the Year.

I think Auburn should improve this year.  Hugh Freeze takes over that team and even if Freeze has some slimy accoutrements to his CV, the man can coach college football.  He had a previous stint in the SEC and coached Ole Miss to a cumulative record of 39-25 with a 3-1 record in bowl games.

I do not know what to think about Alabama this year.  The team did not win the SEC West last year and then lost two star players to the NFL Draft who went in the Top-3 picks.  The Tide also lost both of its coordinators from last year.  If we were talking about Catatonic State here, I would say those losses would be too much for the team to deal with in 2023.  But this is not Catatonic State; this is Alabama.  The good news for Alabama is that they get to play both Texas and LSU at home.

Two questions to consider as the college football season unwinds:

  1. Is this the year that Florida State returns to center stage in the college football world?  The Seminoles look strong on both sides of the ball with quality players returning.
  2. Are the Washington Huskies a good longshot bet to win the last recognizable PAC-12 crown?    Washington won 11 games in 2022 and have most of that offense back for 2023.

Here is a possible betting angle for 2023.  Bet the OVER in games involving USC.  The Trojans’ offense is potent with Lincoln Riley calling the shots and with Caleb Williams at QB – – but the defense stunk in spades last year and may not be much better this year.  The Trojans ranked 93rd in the country last year in scoring defense giving up 29.3 point per game; for perspective, that put USC one notch ahead of Temple last year.  Temple …

When investigating criminal wrongdoing, police and prosecutors designate certain folks as “A Person of Interest.”    For me, there is “A Person of Interest” in college football in 2023 having nothing at all to do with criminal behavior or any sort of investigation.  I think JT Daniels is someone to watch.  Let me give a brief summary of his college QB career here:

  • 2018 – 2019:  Daniels played in 12 games for USC.  A knee injury limited him to 1 game in 2019 and he availed himself of the transfer portal at the end of the 2019 season.
  • 2020 – 2021:  Daniels played in 9 games for Georgia.  Various injuries limited his availability and at the end of the 2021 season he used the transfer portal once again.
  • 2022:  Daniels played in 10 games for West Virginia.  He lost his starting job there due to insufficient play and at the end of the 2022 season he entered the transfer portal yet again.
  • 2023:  Daniels transferred to Rice where he will theoretically play out his college eligibility.

Why is JT Daniels interesting?  Well playing at 4 schools in 6 years is sort of interesting all by itself.  But the twist here is that when Daniels came out of high school in LA, he was considered a 5-Star recruit.  Rice University does not tend to attract 5-Star recruits.  I understand high school recruiting grades are notoriously inaccurate, but if Daniels really is a significant talent, he should put Rice in a position to win some games this year.

And why is that interesting?  The last time the Owls had a winning season was in 2014; they finished 8-5 that year and went to the Hawaii Bowl.  In the 8 seasons since then, Rice has posted a cumulative record of 25 – 64.  The OVER/UNDER for win total for Rice this year is 4.5.  I will make some win total predictions later in this essay…

There are 3 storylines about the upcoming season that have already been “done to death” but that will not deter writers and commentators from continuing to flog those dead animals:

  1. I already mentioned the storyline at Colorado with its new coach and 68 new players.  It does not matter if the Buffaloes go 9-4 or 3-10 this year, we will read and hear about that situation over and over.
  2. Can Georgia get a “three-peat”?  The Bulldogs’ schedule is very kind to the team’s undertaking here.  The rivalry game against Florida on October 28 and a road game at Tennessee on November 18 are the only “stumbling blocks” to Georgia getting into the CFP which is the prerequisite for winning another national championship.
  3. Is Texas – finally – back?  Longhorn fans have tried to proclaim that to be the case for about the last 5 years and then the team fell short of anticipations.  It has been since 2009 when Texas went 13-1 and played for the BCS Championship; in the intervening years, the Longhorns have posted double-digit wins exactly one time.  If fans are to take this sort of pronouncement seriously the Longhorns will have a chance to demonstrate their prowess early in the season.  On September 9, Texas goes on the road to play Alabama.  The last time Alabama lost a non-conference game at home was in November 2007 when La-Monroe beat the Tide 21-14 in Tuscaloosa.

There is a rule change for this year that I believe could be significant.  In college football it was the rule that the clock stopped every time a team made a first down.  Now the clock will run as it does in the NFL except for the final two minutes of each half.  This will make long drives in those two-minute windows more challenging.  We shall see …

I said above that I would offer up some betting thoughts on total wins by various teams:

  • I like RICE OVER 4.5 wins.
  • I like AUBURN OVER 6.5 wins.
  • I like MICHIGAN STATE UNDER 5.5 wins.

Finally, let me close with this observation about college football by my favorite curmudgeon, H. L. Mencken:

“College football would be more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students – there would be a great increase in broken arms, legs and necks.”

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



A Potpourri Today

Earlier this week, a friend sent me an e-mail with this suggestion:

“You like to pick out strange and outstanding stats.  So, go look up Gayle Sayres’ rookie year stats.” made my search simple indeed.  Sayres came into the NFL in 1965; the NFL season back then was only 14 games long so realize that these numbers are slightly capped as compared to the 17-game season in effect now:

  • Sayres scored 22 TDs in 14 games.  He ran for 14 TDs; he scored 6 times receiving; he returned a punt for a TD, and he returned a kickoff for a TD.
  • Oh, by the way, he also passed for another TD.
  • He averaged 5.2 yards per carry for the season.
  • Not surprisingly, he was the Rookie of the Year in 1965.
  • He was selected as a first team All-Pro and a member of the Pro bowl team.

Sayres was a halfback; today the NFL has more than a handful of running backs who are insulted by teams putting the franchise tag on them; accepting that offer would guarantee today’s running backs with a one-year salary of about $10M.  Here is the contract that Gayle Sayres signed with the Chicago Bears after he was drafted by the Bears in 1965:

  • The   duration was 4 years.
  • Signing Bonus was $50K.
  • Salary in each of the 4 years in the deal was $25K.

Oh, how times have changed…

Next  up …  The Buffalo Bills got a lot of NY State money to defray part of the costs for a new stadium for the Bills.  They broke ground for the undertaking about 3-4 months ago and according to a report by the Associated Press the project is already in an overrun status.  The AP pegs the overrun at about $300M which is stunning because the cost estimate upon which the funding deal was struck was $1.4B.  That represents the “discovery” of a 22% overrun in the first 3 months of construction.

But wait there’s more …  The Athletic has a report that the overrun might be as much as $500M or 36% of the total cost anticipated.  The Bills recently fired their COO; when I read about that, I just figured this was an office-politics outcome, but the details of the stadium funding deal reported by the AP could lead one to believe that firing was for cause.

  • As negotiated, public funds contributed = $850M
  • The Bills were to toss in the rest of the funds = $550M
  • Here’s the kicker:  The Bills are on the hook for any overruns!

The new COO for the Bills offered a chilling statement about all this.  He said that it is too early in the construction to know what the final cost might be.  The Bills were supposed to pay $550M for construction costs according to the deal that looks as if its costs were estimated on the back of a postage stamp.  If the overrun is indeed $500M. that means the Bills will pay $1.05B instead of $550M.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I would not be surprised if this minor funding error was part of the basis for getting a new COO for the Bills …

Moving on …  Last weekend Dallas Cowboys’ DE, Sam Williams, was arrested and charged with:

  • Possession of a controlled substance – – and – –
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm.

Last December, Williams was also arrested when he was involved in a two-car smash-up that landed him and the other driver in the hospital.  Police determined that Williams was driving at 98 miles per hour.  In the incident last weekend, Williams was clocked at 66 miles per hour.  That data led Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones to make a stunning pronouncement:

  • According to Jones, Sam Williams shows maturation because he was driving 34 miles per hour slower than he did last December.  [Aside:  Yes, Jones’ arithmetic is off by 2 miles per hour but that is hardly the point here.]

Switching gears …  In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Niners traded 3 first round draft picks to move up to the #3 post in the Draft where they selected Trey Lance.  Injuries have kept Lance out of all but 8 games in his first two seasons.  Now, it appears as if the Niners might be moving on from Lance.  Coach Kyle Shanahan named Brock urdy as the starting QB for the Niners this year; and yesterday, he named Sam Darnold as the Niners’ #2 QB.  Darnold has shown nothing but mediocrity during his time in the league, but Shanahan thinks he is ahead of Lance right now.

NFL teams often make humongous drafting errors when they swing and miss on the talent level of the guy they pick near the top of the draft.  In the case of the Niners and Lance, that humongous error is compounded by the fact that the Niners spent three first-round picks to make that error.

Finally, let me close today with these words from P.J. O’Rourke:

“Marijuana is … self-punishing.  It makes you acutely sensitive and in this world, what worse punishment could there be.”

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



The New ESPN Radio Lineup

Last week, ESPN Radio – – one part of the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports – – announced its new Fall schedule.  I present the weekday lineup here as it was announced:

  • 6-10 AM  ET:  Evan Cohen, Michelle Smallmon and Chris Canty
  • 10:00 – Noon:  Mike Greenberg
  • Noon – 3:00:  Chris Carlin and Joe Fortenbaugh
  • 3:00 – 7:00:   Freddie Coleman and Harry Douglas
  • 7:00 – 10:00:  Amber Wilson and Ian Fitzsimmons
  • 10:00 – 1:00 AM:  DJ Q Myers

Let me offer a just a couple of words here on this lineup:

  • I do not know Evan Cohen or Michelle Smallmon; they may be great, or they may stink.  Time will tell.  I have heard Chris Canty; he sounds like Demosthenes would have sounded during the days when Demosthenes had pebbles in his mouth while he practiced to become an orator.
  • Mike Greenberg is a star.
  • Chris Carlin used to be part of Mike and the Mad Dog on WFAN in NYC; I liked him then.  Joe Fortenbaugh has done sports gambling segments on radio; I sure hope the plan is not to have this program be a 3-hour betting show.  Yikes!
  • Freddie Coleman was OK on ESPN’s overnight lineup but not much more than that.  Harry Douglas has been good as a college football guy on college Game Day.
  • I do not know Amber Wilson; Ian Fitzsimmons was a sometime partner with Freddie Coleman on the overnights.  Like Coleman, Fitzsimmons is OK.
  • DJ Q Myers is indeed a DJ who also has done some sports radio.  I will have to check out his act some evening …

I present this lineup and those minimalist “reviews” only for the purpose of expressing my amazement regarding the decline of ESPN Radio.  I understand that ESPN is under orders from the suits at Disney to cut costs and that imperative created this complete reshuffling of the programming lineup.  Nevertheless, it gives me pangs of nostalgia to look at this lineup and reflect on the fact that ESPN Radio no longer has these folks on the air:

  • Mike Golic Sr.
  • Tony Kornheiser
  • Dan Patrick
  • Colin Cowherd
  • Ryan Russillo
  • Max Kellerman

If ESPN Radio is going to be considered the “Worldwide Leader in Sports Radio” over the next year or so, at least two or three of the folks inserted into the new lineup will need to be breakout talents.  If the folks in charge of ESPN Radio have not already given up the ghost on that outlet, they need to have found some diamonds in the rough.

Switching gears …  I am conflicted about the mess that Rays’ infielder, Wander Franco finds himself in.  The latest twist is that he has been put on “administrative leave” by MLB meaning that he will be paid his due salary, but he will not be permitted to be part of or in touch with the Rays in any way.  Franco is being investigated by MLB and by legal authorities in his native Dominican Republic for an “inappropriate relationship with a minor”.  Franco will remain on administrative leave “until further notice” which signals to me that the end of this investigation is not yet in sight.

I said I am conflicted here.  The basis of my conflict is the exact circumstances and the exact behaviors that have been characterized as “inappropriate with a minor.”  Franco is 22 years old and made the All-Star Team this year; he is a really good player signed for 11 years by the Rays and I would prefer to have his talent as part of the MLB entertainment presentation.  He is fun to watch; so, part of me wants this to be part of a gigantic misunderstanding …

On the other hand, there are degrees of “inappropriateness” that cannot be ignored or minimized.  AND there are degrees of “minority” that cannot be excused.  This matter will need to be run to ground and then Franco, the Rays, MLB and the MLBPA will need to deal with whatever the investigation reveals.

Times have changed significantly.  In 1989, Luis Polonia was an outfielder with the NY Yankees.  He was charged with having sex with a minor on a road trip during the season and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, fined $1500 and ordered to make a contribution to a hospital unit that treated victims of sexual assault.  He served his time, complied with the other court orders and was released.  He resumed his MLB career with only a smidgen of controversy in 1990 and was in and out of MLB for all the 1990s until he retired after the 2000 season.

From what I have read about this matter, the incident(s) occurred in the Dominican Republic.  I have no idea what sort of criminal penalties might apply based on Dominican Republic law, but I do know that if Wander Franco is able to return to MLB after there has been significant evidence that he did something improper, the public reaction in 2023 will be far harsher than what Luis Polonia dealt with.

Finally, having mentioned Demosthenes in passing above, let me close with one of his observations:

“Nothing is easier than self-deceit.  For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”

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



More On College Football Reorganization

In yesterday’s rant/lamentation about the trajectory of college football, I suggested that the entertainment value of a few college football “Super-Conferences” might be attractive enough to make such a thing happen.  Then I focused on the handful of games on the early-opening weekend of college football games to illustrate why college football needs to change things up to be a premier entertainment product for the entirety of its season.  Now, let me expand my view a bit here and look beyond the first weekend’s minimalist entertainment choices as highlighted yesterday.

The weekend starting on Thursday August 31st through Monday September 4th has a much larger slate of games.  And here is a “front-and-center problem” for college football:

  • The best college teams schedule far too many glorified scrimmages against opponents who ought not be on the same field with the best teams.

College football makes billions of dollars in revenue annually because it is an entertainment vehicle.  So, look beyond the first dozen games on “Weekend Zero” of the season and see what entertainment sources college football might provide on its grand opening weekend.  I don’t know about you, but the idea of tuning in to watch a game with a 27 or 28-point spread is only interesting if the team I root for is the favorite in that game.  So, I went to see who the teams that are projected to be “Top Teams” in 2023 might be playing in early September.  Here are some data:

  • Oklahoma is a 33-point favorite over Arkansas State
  • Michigan is a 36.5-point favorite over Eastern Michigan
  • Ohio State is a 28-point favorite over Indiana
  • Wisconsin is a 27-point favorite over Buffalo
  • TCU is a 20-point favorite over Colorado
  • USC is a 38-point favorite over Nevada
  • Alabama is a 39-point favorite over Middle Tennessee State
  • Auburn is a 40-point favorite over UMass
  • Texas A&M is a 38-point favorite over New Mexico
  • Texas is a 36-point favorite over Rice

You should get the idea by now; these games should not have ever been scheduled.  Please don’t send me a commentary about how Appalachian St went to Ann Arbor and beat Michigan at home about 15 years ago.  Yes, that happened; yes, I know that it happened; no, it was not a gigantic entertainment event for college football when it happened simply because NOBODY thought it was sufficiently probable that it was telecast broadly.  Huge upsets are great – – so long as they happen more than once a decade or so- – AND – – so long as anyone has the foresight to make that specific humongous upset available to consumers of college football at the time of the event.  Absent that exposure, it simply becomes part of the communal memory of college football and not part of its greatness as an entertainment vehicle.

Looking over the card for the grand opening weekend of college football for this year – – from August 31 through September 4th, I find exactly ONE game that might potentially be important when people think about the best teams in the country sometime in November.  That game is:

  • LSU – 2 at Florida State (57).

Both teams project to be very good; both programs have a history of success on the national stage.  This game could be determinative down the road regarding which of these two teams might get a slot in the CFP tournament.  This single game matters – – but there are about 50 or so “other games” that have little to no meaning about anything related to college football.

In pro ‘rassling, there are things called “squash matches”.  Those are staged to demonstrate the seemingly awesome and overwhelming powers of the squasher over the squashee.  Pro ‘rassling needs such exhibitions to build drama to matches between the squasher here and “the champion” somewhere down the road.  College football does not need games where top teams obliterate mediocre or worse teams to set up their presumably dominant presence in the CFP.

  • MEMO TO: College Football  Squash matches are not entertaining.  If you want mega-dollars from broadcasters, minimize the number of squash matches that need to air.

The potential formation of Super Conferences should allow the members of those Super conferences to play each other exclusively thereby providing a lot more competitive – – read entertaining – – contests.  I am not trying to pick on schools here but consider these scheduling decisions made by these schools.  These games for 2023 are not conference games that must be played; these are games specifically chosen by powerhouse schools:

  • Clemson:  Charleston-Southern, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame (kudos), S. Carolina.
  • Georgia:  Tennessee-Martin, Ball State, UAB, Georgia Tech
  • LSU:  Florida State (kudos here), Grambling, Army, Georgia State
  • Michigan:  E. Carolina, UNLV, Bowling Green
  • Ohio State:  Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, Notre Dame (kudos here)
  • Oklahoma:  Arkansas State, Tulsa, UCF
  • USC:  San Jose State, Nevada, Notre Dame (kudos)
  • Washington:  Boise State, Tulsa, Michigan State (semi-kudos)

There you have 8 big football programs I picked out of the air representing 27 individual scheduling choices made by these big programs.  Other than games against Notre Dame, there is only 1 game of potential importance/significant entertainment value.  That would be the LSU/Florida State on Sept 2 cited above.  The rest of these games figure to be “squash matches”; oh joy!

Remember, these criticisms of the current state of college football come from someone who really enjoys college football; I am not a hater.  I can, however, see ways to make college football more entertaining which usually translates into bigger revenues.  Lots of folks will decry the death of longstanding collegiate rivalries and indeed some of those rivalries could wither away.  However, when I look at many of the longstanding rivalry games, most of them involve teams that are usually of comparable competencies.  That being the case, it is perfectly possible that many such rivalries could be accommodated as teams sort out into more homogeneous amalgams of capabilities.  Here are fifteen traditional rivalries that should survive a major shuffle within college football:

  1. Auburn/Alabama
  2. BYU/Utah
  3. Cal/Stanford
  4. Duke/UNC
  5. Florida/Florida State
  6. Kentucky/Louisville
  7. Iowa/Iowa State
  8. Kansas/Kansas State
  9. Michigan/Ohio State
  10. Oklahoma/Oklahoma State
  11. Penn State/Pitt
  12. TCU/SMU
  13. Texas/Oklahoma
  14. USC/UCLA
  15. Virginia/Virginia Tech

[Aside:  The previously lost rivalry game between Texas and Texas A&M might be restored in such a reorganization.]

When I have tried to discuss these sorts of ideas for the evolution of college football with friends, the most common pushback is that it would create chaos within the sport and that chaos usually presents unforeseen damage.  I accept that criticism; I agree that there would probably be a season or two that might be “less than pretty”.  However, if the mavens who will have to do the work to make something like this happen go into the undertaking knowing that chaos is likely and that chaos is something to be minimized, more good will come out at the end than bad.

Finally, here is what The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm has to say about chaos:

Chaos:  A state of extreme disorder.  Captured perfectly in nature by the contents of a woman’s handbag.”

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



College Football Can Be So Much Better

Sometime later this week – – or maybe early next week – – I will post my musings about the upcoming college football season.  Therefore, I spent some time this weekend organizing my thoughts in something like an outline form and then looking up all the chazerai* that would be needed to fill out such a rant.

*Note:  Chazerai is a Yiddish word meaning nasty/unpleasant details surrounding “stuff”.

The more I looked around and thought about college football as it is in 2023 and as it will likely be in 2025, the more I became convinced that my idea from years ago which tried to amalgamate 128 Division 1-A football schools into some sort of coherent structure was a really bad idea.  I will now formally renounce that suggestion and perform an act of self-flagellation for ever thinking of it.  The situation boils down to this in 2023 and it will not get any “better” so long as the sport continues along its current trajectory:

  • College conferences do not now make much sense and will make less sense as time moves on.
  • College football is the biggest money maker for most schools; men’s basketball is a secondary income stream for some schools.
  • Predator conferences only pick off the best teams in other conferences.
  • NIL money was supposed to reward college athletes who “toiled for nothing” and it was not supposed to be a recruiting mechanism.  Now it is virtually exclusively a recruiting tool.

College football has taken a vector heading that turns college football into low-level professional football.  Please do not allow anyone to say such a thing within earshot of NCAA HQs in Indianapolis, IN; the good folks there would probably succumb to seizures in such a circumstance.

When Oregon and Washington join the Big-10, there will be 18 teams in the conference.  [Aside:  The Count from Sesame Street would be VERY confused by such an alignment …] But imagine if the Big 10 just added two more teams to make 20 teams – – meaning they could have 4 divisions of 5 teams each and then have a 4-team conference playoff to determine its conference champion.  Think about the TV money for those games and drool …

Apply the same thinking to the SEC – – and maybe to the Big-12 which will also have lots more than 12 teams competing in it by 2025.  That potential deluge of TV money in December might be limited by another factor:

  • The Big-10, the SEC and the Big-12 all have perennial weak-sisters in their midst.
  • TV execs love to show Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, USC, Washington et. al. playing one another.  They do not like having to telecast Rutgers/Maryland or Illinois/Indiana.  Remember, money talks and bulls[p]it walks …

Why would not the next phase of college football realignment involve the top 3 conferences splitting off their 6 best programs and then poaching the best two other schools they can find to make up THE SUPER CONFERENCE OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL?  Hey, this worked wonderfully in England with its football/soccer structure about 30 years ago when it created THE PREMIER LEAGUE out of whole cloth.  I am not saying this is guaranteed to be the outcome for college football conferences, but it will not shock me to see this start to happen sometime before I shuffle off this mortal coil.  [Hat Tip: William Shakespeare]

Because I believe this is an inevitable future target for college football, I say:

  • Why not make this easier to effect when the time comes to do so?

So, now I make four suggestions about college football and college athletics:

  1. It is time to separate college football from all other collegiate sports – – the ones that do not pay their own way in 99% of the situations.  Let college football teams form and reform conferences to maximize revenue.
  2. Put all other intercollegiate sports into geographically sensible conferences such that the women’s softball team from West Virginia need not trek to Tempe, AZ to play Arizona State and so that the Oregon wrestling team need not wend its way to Rutgers for some competition.
  3. THEN, separate the football programs from the schools completely and have the football programs pay the universities for the rights to use the school affiliation which is a significant basis of its TV popularity.  Those revenues to the schools would be used to fund the non-revenue sports.
  4. Make recruiting rules and retention rules for college football that are different from the rules for recruiting and retention for fencing teams.  Create an oversight entity for college football only and leave the NCAA to try to oversee the rest of its athletics without the overwhelming presence of football programs and their boosters who can bully the NCAA into declaring that the moon is made of green cheese.  [Aside:  I have it on good authority from senior NASA officials that the moon is NOT made of green cheese.]

Next Saturday, college football will limp its way onto the sporting stage in the US demonstrating that there are not enough top-shelf games for the sport to offer to its viewing public.  Navy and Notre Dame will play in Dublin, Ireland.  That will be a huge economic boost for Dublin and Ireland, but it should not be of any major consequence regarding college football in 2023.  And that semi-interesting game next weekend is far and away the best and the most important game out of the 10 games that will happen on August 26th.  One game – – UMass/ New Mexico St. – – pairs two teams that are usually contending for my mythical SHOE Tournament ignominy in any given season.  In case you think I am kidding or exaggerating, here are three games scheduled to kick off at the same moment this weekend:

  • UMass at New Mexico St – 8 (44.5):  This is about a 2300-mile trip one way for the Minutemen.  To what end …?
  • Ohio at San Diego St. – 3 (49):  This is merely a 2000-mile trek one way for the Bobcats.
  • Fordham at Albany (no lines posted as of this morning).  This trip is only a bus ride for the Rams’ players/coaches, and it is also a game where no one outside the extended families of the coaches and players gives a rat’s ass.

These games all kick off at 7:00 PM EDT this Saturday.  Which one would you tune in to see?  The answer is NONE unless you are an alum, or you have a relative participating in the game.  But that is the best that college football can offer up for its “Opening Weekend” in 2023.

I love college football and it has nothing to do with football glory in my undergraduate days in college; I went to an Ivy League school; football games were dating opportunities and not sporting competitions involving a huge ego investment.  I see college football veering off onto a vector heading that will not benefit the sport nor the intuition(s) that put the logos on the helmets.  Change has been happening – – but it has not been happening either efficiently or effectively.  College football needs a leader to create a 20 or 24 team Super Conference which can offer up at least two if not four top-shelf games every weekend.  Maybe there is a relegation/promotion system involved here too which would make lots of other games that might be of only secondary interest much more compelling as an entertainment product.

Notwithstanding anything I said here, I am truly looking forward to the college football season in 2023.  Nevertheless, the product of college football as an entertainment vehicle on TV can be significantly improved as the years go by.

Finally, I feel today like the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament.  His fundamental prophesy was that judgment from God was coming to the Israelites because they were idolators and disobedient to the commands of God.  Jeremiah was right; the Israelites were sent into captivity/exile in Babylon after they did not heed Jeremiah’s words.  I doubt that college football will suffer exile or captivity, but it would benefit itself if it took the ideas presented here seriously and worked to implement them.

Bu don’t get me wrong I love sports………



Women’s Sports And Competitions Today

The final game of the Women’s World Cup tournament will happen this weekend; it will air on FOX at 6:00 AM EDT.  Spain and England will play for the cup and Spain is a 4-to-5 favorite to win the game.  Like American football, there are many ways to place a wager on soccer games and this game has plenty of betting opportunities posted.

Of course, you can wager on who will be the winner; that is obvious.  In addition:

  • You can wager on when the winning goal will be scored – – in regulation time, in extra time or on penalty kicks.
  • You can wager on the total number of goals scored in the game somewhat differently that in American football.  For the World Cup Finals, you will get different odds if you bet over a certain total or under a certain total or exactly a certain total.  Moreover, there are 5 choices of “total goals” to choose from so there are 15 possible betting elements there.
  • You can wager on whether both teams will score or only one side.  As of this morning the “No” side of that line is favored at 4-to-5.
  • You can wager on whether a specific player will score a goal.  But that’s not all …  You can also wager on whether that goal will be the first one of the game or the last one of the game or just anytime during the game.
  • You can wager on whether a specific player will be “booked” in the game.  Booking refers to a player receiving a yellow card from the referee and having the player’s number recorded in the little book that the referee carries in his pocket.

I watched both teams win their semi-final games; to my untutored eye, Spain fields the faster and more athletic side and England is the more focused/intense squad.  I will sleep in the living room on Saturday night so that my alarm at 5:30 AM will not wake my long-suffering wife; I will definitely be watching the final game.

Next up …  Given the failure of the USWNT to come close to expectations for this tournament, there is no surprise in the announcement this week that the coach has stepped down.  Vlatko Andonovski said this in part at the time of his resignation:

“While we are all disappointed by the outcome at this year’s World Cup, I am immensely proud of the progress this team has made, the support they’ve shown for each other, and the inspiration they’ve provided for players around the world. I will be forever thankful to the U.S. Soccer Federation for giving me the chance to coach this remarkable team.”

Well, at least he did not say he was resigning to spend more time with his family.  Andonovski’s record as coach of the team over almost 4 years on the job was 51-5-9 but his record in “major tournaments” over that period was a less gaudy 3-2-5.

The current assistant coach for the USWNT, Twila Kilgore, will be the interim coach as the team figures out how to regroup and prepare for the Olympics that begin in Paris in July 2024.  The US team is already qualified for the Olympics next year, but they still have work to do in the time leading up to the Games in Paris.  Kilgore is expected to be the coach of the USWNT for its next appointment games – – two friendlies against South Africa in late September of this year.  The US Soccer organization will conduct a search for a new permanent coach; frankly, given all the buzzwords uttered by the head of the search committee, I think this will be a painful process.  Here is just part of the management-speak:

“It is imperative that we continue to evolve and innovate, and we are excited about the path that lies ahead.  We understand the challenges and have engaged with stakeholders from various corners of our sport — players, coaches, and other individuals within the soccer landscape. The insights and perspectives gathered during these discussions have been instrumental in shaping our forward-looking plan.”

Moving on …  I think everyone here recognizes that I am not in favor of allowing post-pubescent transgender male athletes to compete against cisgender female athletes in sports involving strength and/or speed.  I believe that sports exist in a positive sense only if there is a level playing field.  Having said that, I was amused to read yesterday this headline on an AP report:

  • “World chess federation bars transgender women from competing in women’s events”

First of all, I was not aware that chess had a men’s division and a women’s division.  Now that I do know that differentiation exists, my question is “WHY?”  As you might expect, this decision from the chess mavens has drawn criticism from transgender rights activists.  My position on the eligibility of transgender athletes is not anywhere near what transgender rights activists seek to be the prevailing norm; there are no transgender activists who would call me an ally for their cause.  However, in this specific case, the activists and the transgender women chess players are totally correct.

  • This is an unnecessary and self-inflicted irritant created out of nothing by the chess mavens.
  • Chess competitions have no more need for gender-identification divisions than do poker tournaments.  And the World Series of Poker is a unisex event.

Finally, since everything today has something to do with women’s sports/competitions, let me close with a few observations about women:

“Brigands demand your money or your life; women require both.”  [Nicholas Murray Butler]

And …

“When women kiss, it always reminds me of prize-fighters shaking hands,” [H. L. Mencken]

And …

“Women who insist on having the same options as men would do well to consider the option of being the strong, silent type.”  [Fran Liebowitz]

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



Trainwrecks, Anyone?

A friend sent me an email yesterday afternoon that contained a picture of Nolan Ryan wearing a Texas Rangers’ cap.  The caption on that picture read:

“Nolan Ryan’s arm was so damaged by the first 5000 innings of his career he was only able to strike out 16 Blue Jays when he no-hit them at age 44.  It’s a cautionary tale for all young pitchers.”

Nolan Ryan was hardly your typical MLB pitcher.  Let me toss a few items on the table here to demonstrate that assertion:

  • Ryan’s MLB career spanned 27 seasons.
  • He threw a total of 5386 innings.
  • He holds the career records for walks (2795) and strikeouts (5714)

To put that strikeout record in perspective, imagine a young pitcher starting his career in MLB.  If that youngster had a 20-year career, he would need to strike out 285.7 batters in each of his 20 seasons to equal that record.

Moving on …  The folks at Netflix thought it was important to produce a documentary on the life and career of Johnny Manziel.  I am certainly not one to pretend to have marketing expertise; but as soon as I read about the existence of this programming, I thought it should have the title of Trainwreck.  But what do I know?

The folks at Netflix think a better title is Untold: Johnny Football.  Given Manziel’s college accomplishments – – winning the Heisman Trophy and leading Texas A&M to a win over Alabama in Alabama – – the rest of his story is maddening and frustrating enough without the “untold parts”.  Manziel is in that category of highly hyped young athletes who found ways to self-destruct and to prevent their talents from reaching full expression.  In the case of Johnny Manziel, the biggest demon evidently was alcohol.

A successful NFL player at any position needs to have football as the primary focus of his life for the duration of his career; his dedication to football must include physical readiness and mental readiness.  In Manziel’s case, it appears that a lack of sobriety intervened to assure that he was not physically or mentally able to flourish in the NFL.  Manziel is now 30 years old, and it is not clear that he has committed to a life of sobriety.  Even if that were the case, I doubt that any NFL team would even allow him in a training camp given the outlandish focus on him that would take place.  His talents on the football field will never show themselves again.

I think the most interesting aspect of this documentary is the reaction to it by Ryan Leaf who also saw a potential NFL career crash and burn.  Leaf’s reaction to the documentary is that it told “the wrong part” of Johnny Manziel’s story; there was no attention paid to his current state and perhaps what a future for him might be.  Said Leaf:

“Once again, people have taken advantage of Johnny Manziel. There were no solutions. There was no addressing the bipolar diagnosis and how he’s dealing with it and how he’s living with it around his substance abuse.”

Johnny Manziel is indeed a cautionary tale at best and probably a tale that need not have been told.  If you want to read reactions to that Netflix production, here is one link and here is another.

Switching gears …  I thought the Netflix documentary should have been named Trainwreck; in another part of the sports world, there is a trainwreck about to happen and it looks as if the team involved will be the Philadelphia 76ers.  The team that went through “The Process” and exposed its fans to about a decade of horrible basketball appears to be on the brink of starting a new chapter in “The Process”.  Let me review the bidding:

  • In its zeal to rid itself of the head case known as Ben Simmons, the Sixers took on James Harden.
  • After Harden disappeared in the final playoff game against the Celtics earlier this year, he sought a max contract, and the Sixers did not come forth with one.  In that matter, the Sixers were correct; Harden is 34 years old and clearly on the downslope of his career.
  • Harden exercised his player option in his previous contract to play for the Sixers at $35M for one year.  As soon as he exercised that option, he requested a trade; according to reports, his desired destination was the LA Clippers.
  • Trade talks between the Clippers and the Sixers did not yield a deal.  Harden went to China to build his brand there and show off Adidas shoes and gear.  In China, he went nuclear on Sixers’ GM Daryl Morey calling him a “liar” and stating more than once that he (Harden) would never be part of a team run by Morey.
  • After that tirade, Sixers’ player PJ Tucker seemed to side with Harden in the matter and Sixers’ star player, Joel Embiid, disconnected himself from the Sixers social media presence.

Harden’s declaration that Morey is a “liar” is interesting in terms of where he chose to reveal that news.  Daryl Morey is persona non grata in China; recall that he spoke out in favor of the Hong Kong protesters seeking more democratic controls in that part of China.  For that Morey lost his job in Houston prior to signing on with the Sixers.  Harden’s revelation while in China pits him as the good guy against the evil guy in the mind of his audience there.

Harden says he will show up for training camp which is much worse for the Sixers than if he were to sit at home and rail on social media about the lies he has been told.  This confrontation has catastrophic potential too.  If Joel Embiid gets caught up in this mess and he too demands a trade, the Sixers will be lucky to win 20 games next year.  If this is going to be a 5-Act drama, my guess is that we are just at the end of Act 1.

Finally, I’ll close today with this observation by the theoretical physicist, Erwin Schrodinger:

“If you cannot – in the long run – tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless.”

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



Odds And Ends …

The recent kerfuffle in the Washington Commanders’ training camp regarding some offensive players not taking kindly to Eric Bienemy’s tough love coaching style seems to have faded into the background.  Just as a reset, several players went over Bienemy’s head to coach Ron Rivera and complained about his coaching style/method.  At first, it seemed as if Rivera sided with the players a bit but then he clarified his position that everyone needs to focus on team objectives and not personalities.  Amid the confusion, several of Bienemy’s former players rose to his defense saying his coaching tactics had made them better at what they do.  Local media here who cover the team in training camp have characterized Bienemy and his coaching style as “intense” and “direct”.

This is probably a tempest in a teapot, but I think there might be a nugget of information here to explain a seemingly unrelated matter:

  • Eric Bienemy has been the media darling among NFL coordinators who are candidates for head coaching jobs – – but he never seems to get one of the open jobs.
  • The narrative that results from that situation is that race is the reason for Bienemy’s rejections.

Not being privy to any of the interviews or hiring deliberations involved there, let me say that racism may indeed be front and center here.  But maybe there are other factors too.  The average NFL owner who is going to make the final call in most circumstances regarding who will be the team’s head coach is a billionaire who has spent a lot of his life giving direction and not taking direction.  So, if Eric Bienemy approaches his coaching interviews with a style that might be described as “intense” or “direct”, might that be off-putting to the billionaire owner who is used to being on the delivery end of such discussions and not the receiving end.

I said I don’t know why Bienemy has never gotten the nod as a head coach, but this little training camp kerfuffle makes me wonder if the cries of “racism” might be overly simplistic.

One other element comes to my mind when I think about this supposed unrest among offensive players on the Commanders:

  • If players think Bienemy is “too tough” on them in camp, what does that say about the previous Offensive Coordinator(s) for the Commanders given that the team averaged less than 19 points per game last year?

Switching gears …  Losing CFL football games continues to haunt the Edmonton Elks.  As of this morning the Elks record in 2023 is 0-9 and the average margin of defeat has been 12.9 points.  Stretching back to last season, the Elks have lost 13 games in a row and their losing streak in home games is a staggering 22 consecutive losses at home.  The last home victory for the Elks was on October 12, 2019.  That losing streak at home is worse than any comparable streak in the NFL.

However, the Edmonton Elks have a long way to go if they are to challenge the NFL record for consecutive games lost.  Remember, the Elks’ current losing streak stands at 13 games which does not begin to match either of these examples of futility:

  1. The expansion Tampa Bay Bucs lost their first 26 games in a row in 1976-77.  That is the longest NFL losing streak since the NFL/AFL merger.
  2. The Chicago Cardinals lost 29 consecutive regular season games between 1942 and 1945.

This might be a difficult stretch for Elks’ fans, but they have a long way to go to challenge the two levels of ignominy that the NFL can put forth.  And changes are already happening in Edmonton.  News this week is that the team’s Board of Directors fired the team president and CEO who had been on the job since January 2022.  The spin is that this action was taken because the team wanted to move in a different direction and the outgoing CEO says he wants time to focus on his family.  Elks’ fans would like the team to focus on winning a few games …

Next up …  The Baltimore Orioles are a great on-field story in 2023.  On Opening Day, they had the 29th highest payroll in MLB; remember, there are only 30 teams in MLB.  Notwithstanding that frugality, as of this morning, the O’s have the best record in the American League (74-46) and are second only to the Atlanta Braves in all of MLB.  The team is young, it is very good, the players are enthusiastic; it is fun to watch the Orioles.

Off the field, the Orioles are a strange entity.  We saw the business of play-by-play announcer, Kevin Brown, disappearing for two weeks only to return as if he never missed a beat.  And then I read a report that was even stranger:

“The Baltimore Orioles’ lease that would allow them to stay at Camden Yards is set to expire at the end of the year. Despite optimism, negotiations to renew the lease aren’t moving as swiftly as some hoped, causing some concern for state officials and frustration for fans.”

Camden Yards was built by the State of Maryland and has been the home of the Orioles since 1992. Camden Yards represented the change in baseball venues away from the multi-sports stadiums like Shea and the Vet and Three Rivers; I doubt that too many folks lament those losses.  Yes, Camden Yards can use some upgrades and the Governor has said that is in the cards, but somehow all this business has come down to some brinksmanship with the expiration date looming.

If there is another baseball facility anywhere near Baltimore where a MLB team might consider playing its home schedule in 2024, I do not know where that facility is hiding.

Finally, let me close with this observation by the Israeli statesman, Abba Eban, and hope it applies to the Orioles/Camden Yards situation:

“Men and women do behave wisely, once all other alternatives have been exhausted.”

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