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………



A Double Standard At Northwestern

And a Happy Bastille Day to one and all …

In yesterday’s rant, I mentioned that the two once-meaningful newspapers in Chicago had been scooped and hung out to dry by the Daily Northwestern in coverage of the hazing scandal at Northwestern.  Today, I want to return to the hazing scandal itself and not the journalistic achievements of those who covered – or did not cover – it.

As a backdrop here, you have to realize that Pat Fitzgerald was a revered figure as the head coach at Northwestern.  He had been a star player there; he took the coaching job 17 years ago and would have been happy to spend the rest of his days in that job; he was a Northwestern Wildcat to his core – – and fans loved that.  Northwestern University itself was in a happy place with him too because – truth be told – Northwestern is a backwater football program in the Big-10.  But with Fitzgerald in the job, the school never had to think about doing some hard work – – and spending some BIG dollars – – to hire a new coach because Fitzgerald was going to stay there “forever”.

So, when the university president got an investigative report that corroborated the existence of hazing in the football program, he tried to do something without really doing anything.  He issued Fitzgerald a two-week suspension without pay and that suspension would have ended before training camp commenced.  That does not even rise to the level of a slap on the wrist.  So, when the reporting in the Daily Northwestern hit the streets, the president became somewhat complicit in the whole mess.

There is still controversy as to everything that happened in the locker room related to hazing incidents.  The full extent of the hazing is not so important here; the fact that any hazing involving involuntary simulated sexual acts took place is sufficient to conclude that they should not have happened at all.  And so, the university fired Pat Fitzgerald not for condoning the hazing nor for participating in the hazing but for not being fully aware of the hazing activities when he should have been.

Up to that point, I can see how the situation has moved from Point A to Point B.  It is a little odd that the punishment level rose from a love-tap to a death sentence, but I can rationalize that the original under-reaction forced a final over-reaction.  But now comes the buried lead in the story:

  • The Northwestern defensive coordinator, David Braun, will be the interim head coach at Northwestern for the 2023 season.  Braun was hired into that job in January 2023, so he was not involved with the team at the time of the hazing activities.
  • At the same time, Northwestern will retain all its assistant coaches for the 2023 season.

Excuse me.

  • If Fitzgerald is being fired for not being as aware of hazing activities as is sufficient in 20/20 hindsight, then how can any of the assistant coaches be allowed to continue in their jobs?
  • If they were “sufficiently aware”, then their failure to put a stop to it is damning.
  • If they were “not sufficiently aware”, then they fell short of the standard set by the firing of Pat Fitzgerald.

Lest anyone misinterpret here, I have no problem with the university decision here. I do think that the university is applying a double standard here and needs to be called out for that fact.

Moving on …  Two days ago, had an investigative report done by Don Van Natta, Jr. and Seth Wickersham.  Investigative reports always rely on unidentified sources and usually take the reader through leaps of logic of varying length.  Having said that, both Van Natta and Wickersham have plenty of credibility in the field of investigative journalism; so, one must approach this piece with an open mind.  Here is the headline from

“’He was free and clear’: How the leak of Jon Gruden’s email led to the fall of Commanders owner Dan Snyder”

This is a lengthy report; it probably took me 25 minutes to read it because the timelines involved are complicated.  Here is a link to the report; I suggest you refill your coffee cup – – or any adult beverage you may have in hand as you read this – – and dive in.

For those of you who choose to ignore the opportunity to peek behind the curtain that obscures NFL executive actions and NFL owners’ behaviors, let me summarize what comes out of the report:

  • Roger Goodell is a weasel.
  • Mark Davis is a wimp or a simp – – or maybe both.
  • Jon Gruden is not nearly a loveable naïf.
  • Dan Snyder is a loathsome creature.

Even if only half of this investigative report is correct – – and I am confident that much more than that is correct – – the contents here are sufficient to make me root heavily for Gruden and his lawyers in the lawsuit against the NFL.  Currently, that case is before the Nevada Supreme Court.  Gruden filed his suit in state court in Nevada; the NFL tried to get it thrown out and remanded to arbitration where the NFL never really loses AND where all discovery and testimony is shielded from public view.  The NFL lost at the first level of Nevada courts and then again at the appeals level; the NFL is the plaintiff before the Nevada State Supreme Court, and I really want the NFL to lose there so we can experience the following:

  • Release of those 600,000 emails that were culled to result in the “Gruden leak”.
  • Testimony and cross-examination under oath of all the players here – – Goodell, Snyder, Gruden, Davis and potentially other owners

Finally, harkening back to the apparent double standard in existence at Northwestern University today, let me close with this famous observation by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.  With consistency, a great soul has simply nothing to do. … Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.”

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



On Hiatus …

My long-suffering wife and I leave later today for a trip to Italy where the main focus will be to take part in “cooking lessons” which will inevitably lead to “eating events”.  I have looked at the events on the itinerary and hope to return having gained only 10 pounds.

We fly home on June 27 and will arrive late in the day.  I expect June 28 will involve dealing with jet lag and with catching up with happenings in the world of sports.  My best guess is that I will be back on the air on June 29.

See you then.  Stay safe and stay well …

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………



On Hiatus

I will be traveling outside the US and without my computer starting this evening, April 19th.  My wife and I will return late on May 1st.  Allowing time for some research and to accommodate jet-lag, I suspect the next rant will be on May 3rd.

Stay safe and stay well everyone…

Love Those Sweet Sixteen Games

Every year around this time, I have to decide if “Sweet Sixteen Weekend” is better than the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament or not.  There are not as many games – – to be sure – – but these games are usually good ones because – – usually – – all the teams that are still alive are playing well.  If last night’s 4 games are an indicator of what is left to come over the weekend, then this year will be a “Sweet Sixteen” year.  Last night I saw:

  1. A Cinderella team stay alive and advance – – Florida Atlantic
  2. An overtime game – – K-State beating Michigan State
  3. A buzzer-beater game – – Gonzaga over UCLA
  4. A dominating display in a blowout win – – UConn.

I was much more impressed by K-State and UConn last night than the other two teams that advanced to the Elite Eight.  UConn is very good and very deep; they will be a tough out for anyone.  Gonzaga is next up for the Huskies and while Gonzaga will score lots of points, I doubt that they can do much of anything on defense to put the clamps on UConn.  Last night’s comeback in the second half against UCLA showed just how much firepower Gonzaga has – – but their defense is just a tad suspect.

This will be an interesting matchup of styles because beating UConn will probably require a team to have a hot night on 3-point shots – – and Gonzaga can get hot from that part of the floor.  The oddsmakers are expecting lots of scoring here; the Total Line for this game opened at 154.5.  Other games at this point in the bracket have Total Lines ranging from 135 to 143 just for perspective.

Markquis Nowell controls the flow and pace of the game when he is on the floor and that makes K-State a solid contender.  FAU has gotten to this point in the tournament with speed and quickness but they have not yet faced a player like Nowell.  I think this game will be fun to watch tomorrow night.

Moving on …  The Aaron Rodgers soap opera continues apace.  Rodgers has said he wants to play again in 2023 – – and collect that $58M or so that will come to him if he does – – and it appears that the Jets are his preferred destination.  At this point, one might think that it is time to bring down the curtain on all the sturm und drang and get on with business.  Except … now the focus shifts away from the player(s) and the coaches and the “football guys” an onto the GMs and the agents.  Now come negotiations over value received by the Packers who currently hold Rodgers’ contractual rights.

Because this had not been settled in the first 48 hours after Rodgers and the Jets announced their “betrothal”, a lot of attention had gone to the question:

  • Which side has the most leverage in this matter?

I think the answer is the Packers but let me review the bidding here:

  • The Packers have made it pretty clear that they want to move on from Aaron Rodgers and have Jordan Love take over that responsibility.
  • The Packers’ salary cap for 2023 will take a huge hit if Rodgers stays or if he leaves; to the Packers, this is pretty much a wash.
  • I believe the Packers only have to pay Rodgers if he is on the roster and not released/traded; I do not think they have to have him as part of the team.
  • So, the Packers can get on with their off-season work in terms of building their draft board and having workouts and OTAs and the like without having to do anything about “Aaron Rodgers’ landing place”.
  • The Jets on the other hand need a QB – – desperately.  After all the courting of Aaron Rodgers and after missing out on all the other free agent QBs who were out there, the Jets need to land Rodgers for the roster because starting Zach Wilson at QB is not going to pass muster with the fans or with the NYC tabloids.
  • The Jets need their new QB now.  Rodgers and the rest of the Jets’ offensive unit need to work together to get in sync.  That won’t happen until the trade terms are finalized.
  • The Jets have draft picks in 2023 some of which are assets they can dangle in front of the Packers in exchange for Rodgers’ services.  After the NFL Draft in about 4 weeks, those assets are gone.
  • Time matters to the Jets and time is not nearly so relevant to the Packers.

So, if anyone were to ask me to “broker a deal” here, this is what I think I would try to work toward with the two parties:

  • Packers get a second-round pick in 2023 (#42 overall) … and …
  • Packers get a conditional third-round pick in 2024 that can elevate to a second-round pick and even to a first-round pick in 2024 if certain milestones are achieved by Rodgers and the Jets in 2023.

[Aside:  Not to worry, anyone.  There is zero probability that I will be asked to broker such a deal in this matter.]

Finally, let me close today with this observation by Mark Twain:

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”

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



Spleen Venting …

I guess I am just a crochety old man after all.  I am a man and I am old; those two aspects of my being are not in doubt; and boy-oh-boy am I feeling crochety this morning.  I really wish I could revert to my previous status as a basketball official so that I might blow my whistle and hold my open palm over my head and declare violations on selected media members for perpetuating soap operas that have long-since become tedious.  I understand that it is one of the ”slow-times” in the sports calendar and there is space to fill in print and online, but some of the repetitive stuff has gotten older than the green mass of whatever that you might find in the way-back of the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.  It too was once interesting enough to put on the shelf; it has, however, expired.  Consider:

  • Will Aaron Rodgers play football next season and if so, where?  The answer here is to wait and see because if there are continuing stories about the factors he may or may not be balancing in making the decision, that will probably delay the process because it allows Rodgers to “stay in the conversation” without doing anything.  Rodgers went into his sensory deprivation chamber for a 4-day meditation and chose to come out after 2 days.  Oooohhh …  What might that mean?  It means he decided after about 48 hours in the dark that he had had enough and he opened the door to the place and came out.  There is little if any news there and there is NO reason at all to use that non-event to rehash all the stories about his positions and his decision-making and all that nonsense.
  • Will Jeff Bezos make a bid to buy the Washington Commanders?  When Danny Boy Snyder hired Bank of America to seek potential bidders for the Commanders back in November 2022, Jeff Bezos was identified as one of the possible bidders.  Since then, there have been far too many stories about Bezos and his options without there being any real action on his part or on the part of Bank of America to allow for the reporting of real news.  Just this morning, the Washington Post – – owned by Jeff Bezos – – has a story based on two unnamed sources that Bezos has hired Allen & Co. to “evaluate a possible bid for the Washington Commanders.”  Please hold any further stories until there are facts to report and not whispers from two folks who are “familiar with the situation.”
  • Will Danny Boy Snyder actually sell the Commanders?  For about 20 of the last 25 years, the most dangerous spot on Planet Earth was that space between Danny Boy Snyder and a TV camera with a microphone connected to it.  Maybe this is all a ploy by him to stay in the news.  Maybe this is a sign that the other owners and the league office have nudged him to sell the team or face other consequences.  Maybe this is all being controlled by aliens from the Xygork Nebula for their entertainment.  Give this story a break until something factual and tangible happens.
  • Will the NBA ever find a way to regulate “load management”?  Of course, it won’t.  This is a league where players dictate where they will play and when they will play and how hard they will play from day-to-day and week-to-week.  So long as that is the modus vivendi of the league, it will not – – because it cannot – – regulate “load management.”  The path toward regulation there will be blazed by fans who may – someday – become sufficiently annoyed and upset by the practice that they make some noises on their own about load management that could have economic impact on revenues and salaries in the league.  Until then …
  • Will the new rule changes in MLB result in increased fan interest?  Please …  Just wait until the end of May to begin to try to ascertain what if any effect those rules may have had on the games and secondarily on fan interest.  Speculating on these sorts of subjects before Spring Training games implementing the new rules have even begun is less than useful.  If ever an adage ever applied to a situation, this one cries out for acknowledgement of:

“Patience is a virtue.”

  • Will Eric Bieniemy ever get a head-coaching job in the NFL?  LeSean McCoy says Bieniemy was not such a great coach.  Jamal Charles says Bieniemy was very helpful to him.  Andy Reid says Bieniemy deserves a head-coaching job.  And overlaying it all is the fact that Eric Bieniemy is a Black man.  You know what?  This question may resolve itself just like the others as Bieniemy now has an OC position out of the shadow of Andy Reid where he might offer up some evidence as to his worthiness of such a job.
  • Will “Coach Prime” change Colorado football?  Of course he will – – because he already has.  No one has cared about Colorado recruiting or Colorado media events for about 25 years and this year the attention has been white hot.  Last year, Colorado was the worst team in Division 1-A college football; that is not a high bar for “Coach Prime” to surmount in order to show improvement on the field, but the fact remains that he has already changed Colorado football significantly and it will likely continue in that spotlight mode so long as “Coach Prime” remains at Colorado.  Oooohhh …  If Colorado starts winning, where will be the next “landing spot” for “Coach Prime?”

Finally, let me close today with an appropriate definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Patient:  The quality of being calm and tolerant during a maddingly frustrating time.  Hardly a surprise then, that this term is also used to describe people in society who are unfortunate enough to require medical attention.”

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



Christian McCaffrey To The Niners

A couple of weeks ago when the Carolina Panthers fired coach Matt Rhule, I wondered aloud if that meant the team was going to do a complete teardown and start over sort of thing.  It surely looked as if the team needed help in lots of areas, but there were two question marks that did not make it clear to me what the team direction would be:

  1. The GM that assembled the current iteration of the Carolina Panthers – the roster that has multiple areas of need – is still on the job.  So, is he ego-invested in the current roster to the point that the team would try to resolve its problems with a patchwork approach?
  2. The owner appears to be a well-intentioned and impatient man.  When he hired Rhule, he gave him a 7-year contract and said then that he and the team were embarking on a 5-year plan to become annual contenders.  Nonetheless, that 5-year plan was abandoned in less than two-and-a-half years; so, might an impatient owner be unwilling to watch his team “bottom out” for a year or two on the way to becoming an annual contender?

The decisions to jettison Robbie Anderson and then to trade away Christian McCaffrey indicate that the owner is OK with the idea of a tear-down/rebuild project for the team.  Anderson and the coaches got themselves crosswise during a game and Anderson was sent to the locker room by the head coach.  It is nearly impossible to walk back from that sort of confrontation; and at the same time, whatever happened to cause that situation to obtain diminished Anderson’s trade value significantly.  The Panthers’ brass took what they could get – – a 6th-round pick in 2024 and a 7th-round pick in 2025.  Those are slim pickings.

Then came the “big one”.  Christian McCaffrey is a valuable asset.  If you want to nitpick McCaffrey’s value, you would have to point to the fact that he has had injury issues for the last couple of seasons; but when healthy, he has All-Pro level seasons on the record.  Last week, the Panthers sent McCaffrey to the Niners in exchange for 4 draft picks – – a second, third and fourth round pick is 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2024.

That transaction says to me that the “strategy folks” in Carolina are looking to the future and that their vision of the future is not just to take a nip and a tuck on the fabric of the team.  Here is why I think that way:

  • Assuming that the “strategy folks” have some level of faith in their scouts and talent evaluators, the four draft picks they just got for McCaffrey should produce 3 players for the roster.  It would be hugely optimistic to plan for even one of them to be an All-Pro caliber player, but three competent players is not an unrealistic expectation.
  • Also, barring a miraculous finish to the 2022 season, the Panthers will also be in the market for a new head coach in January 2023.  Having all of that extra “draft capital” should make the job in Carolina a bit more attractive to top-shelf candidates once the owner goes on the “interview circuit”.

Before anyone thinks that I see smooth sailing ahead for the Panthers, the team still needs a QB.  Ever since Cam Newton’s body broke down on him, the Panthers have been looking for a competent replacement.  That competent replacement does not appear to be on the current roster so the strategic direction for the team comes to the fore once again.

  • Is there sufficient patience to develop a young QB who can grow into something more than a journeyman status along with a bunch of young teammates?
  • We shall see…

What that trade tells me about the Niners is that their strategic plan is “Super Bowl in Feb 2023 or Bust”.  When I read the teams of the trade, I wondered why the Panthers did not get a first round pick as part of the mix; well, the reason the Niners did not offer up a first round pick is because they have already traded it away for 2023 in the deal that allowed them to move up in the draft to take Trey Lance.

Another aspect of this trade from the Niners’ perspective is that this move prevents the Rams from acquiring McCaffrey.  There were plenty of rumors floating around that the Rams were interested in making a deal with the Panthers and it is plenty clear that the Rams could use an upgrade at RB.  So, perhaps an element of the Niners’ thinking involved making the trade to prevent a division rival from acquiring an asset that it needs.

Trading away – – and therefore also trading for – – an excellent RB who still has mileage on the tires is not commonplace.  I tried to come up with comparable exchanges in recent years and the best I could come up with took me back more than a few years:

  • Jerome Bettis went from the Rams to the Steelers
  • Eric Dickerson went from the Rams to the Colts.
  • Marshall Faulk went from the Colts to the Rams

I am sure there are other examples that I have not dredged up from my memory, but I will note that looking only at that list, every one of those trades worked out well for the “acquiring team”.

Finally, Christian McCaffrey is on his way back to California where he went to college at Stanford.  So, let me close with this comment on “California” from humorist Ian Shoales:

“Most people in California come from somewhere else.  They moved to California so they could name their kids Rainbow or Mailbox, and purchase tubular Swedish furniture without getting laughed at.  It’s a tenet also in California that the fiber of your clothing is equivalent to your moral fiber.  Your ‘lifestyle’ (as they say) is your ethic.  This means that in California you don’t really have to do anything, except look healthy, think good thoughts and pat yourself on the back about what a good person you are.  And waiters in California want to be called by their first name.  I don’t know why.”

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



Knowing, Thinking, Feeling …

Several weeks ago, I tried a new “art form” here and enjoyed doing it; so, I am going to give it a try once again to see if it is something I want to continue to do when the Moon is in Capricorn or whatever.

Here are two things I know:

  1. I know that the ”secrecy” – or “mysteriousness” if you will – that the Boston Celtics have maintained regarding the Ime Udoka suspension is not helpful.  Obviously, whatever Udoka did was serious enough in the eyes of the folks who run that organization to suspend him indefinitely; I do not question their motivation or anything else associated with their decision.  However, by being as “secretive” as they were – and have been – the organization encourages rumor and speculation about just what it was that got Udoka in such trouble.  Left to the imagination, the speculations can become very lurid.
  2. I know that I hate political advertising on TV by any and all candidates in any and all time slots involving programs I might be watching.  For the record, I hate them even more when they assault my focus in the middle of a timeout in a football game.  Candidates who “approve those messages” should be boiled in oil.

Here are three things I think:

  1. I think Brett Favre’s image as a fun-loving country boy who also happened to be a great NFL QB is shot.  His involvement in the scandal to divert welfare funds from very needy people to something as crass as a volleyball venue at Southern Mississippi is pretty dark stuff.  Others involved in the mess have been charged criminally; as that number grows, it will become more difficult for Favre to “remain above it all”.  Even in the southeastern part of the US where football is revered, I think Favre has squandered his stardom.
  2. I think the NFL’s “Concussion Protocol” continues to need improvement.  It will never be “perfect”, but I do not think it is so good now that the league and the union can turn their attention elsewhere.  If the primary objective is “player safety” and if a brain scan device is not available at every game venue for use by the “unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant”, then no player going under examination should ever be approved to go back into a game.  And if that were ever to be the case, look for a threat to the “integrity of the game” as “spotters in the booth” who are never within 50 yards of a player on the field can take a player out of a game “for examination” …
  3. I think the lawsuits and the counter-lawsuits between the LIV Golf folks and the PGA Tour need to be settled via compromise.  Continuation on the current path is not likely to be beneficial to either organization or to any of the professional golfers who choose to play under either – – or both? – – entities.  The only beneficiaries are the law firms generating billable hours attached to these legal actions.  If it were the Congress that somehow set these suits in motion, I would have to call what the Congress did the “Litigators’ Full Employment Act”.

Here are two things I feel:

  1. I feel that too many people have taken Tom Brady’s diminished performance so far in 2022 and concluded that Father Time has caught up with him.  Maybe that is the case, but I feel that Brady’s problems this year are not physical or emotional.  I feel that Tom Brady has succumbed to his celebrity status and has begun to believe some of the nonsense that is written about him and said about him on radio/TV.  He missed two weeks of Training Camp – – so what, he’s The GOAT; he doesn’t need all that practice time.  He does not always practice with the team on Wednesdays – – so what, he knows the game plan better than the coaches do.  He skipped last week’s Saturday practice/walk-through to attend Robert Kraft’s wedding in NYC on Friday night – – so what, he is going to call audibles at the line of scrimmage half the time anyway.  Sorry …  Even Tom Brady needs to spend time practicing with this team this year because football is choreographed, and he needs to be in step with the other ten guys out there on offense.  The practice field is more important than the Red Carpet.
  2. I feel that far too many people have overlooked a truly valuable and positive contribution made to US society by Danny Boy Snyder.  We live in a time of serious division in the US.  Red States hate Blue States.  Progressives consider conservatives as demonic – – and vice versa.  There are issues dividing the genders and the generations.  We have hawks and doves along with globalists and isolationists.  I doubt if even the most fundamental US dispute has ever been resolved – – Great Taste versus Less Filling…  And into the middle of all that turmoil, you have the unifying factor of Danny Boy Snyder.  He seems to be The Great Unifier in the sense that just about everyone I know considers him to be a horse’s ass.  Remember this the next time you hear or read anything about this man…

Here is what comes next:

  1. A judge in Nevada ruled against the NFL in a motion to dismiss Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against the league and the Commissioner regarding the release of his emails and his firing as the head coach of the Raiders.  Obviously, the league will appeal the ruling since it wants this matter heard under its very private “arbitration system” – – the results of which seem to resemble the outcomes from the Court of the Star Chamber.  This matter is far from over; this was a victory for Gruden in a minor skirmish.  However, if you think it might be fun to get a peek behind the curtain of mystery surrounding NFL owners, you should root for this action to remain in open court.
  2. The MLB Playoffs have reached the semi-final round; if the Phillies make it to the World Series as the “third-wildcard team”, look for lots of proposals to modify the playoff system to favor teams with better regular season records.
  3. The NHL and the NBA seasons are both underway.  Until the Super Bowl is finished, both sports will have to take a seat in the back row for US sports fans.
  4. College basketball has not begun just yet – – save for the annual exercise of ranking the Top 25 teams in the country having never seen any of those teams play any basketball at all.

Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close with two observations by comedians who are no longer with us:

“Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.”  [Groucho Marx]

And …

“Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”  [George Carlin]

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