Writing Schedule Disruption

We have house guests who will arrive on Sunday (15 September) and stay through Thursday (19 September).  Then on Friday (20 September) we leave for a weekend trip with other friends not to return until the following Monday (23 September).

I doubt I will have time to do much writing next week – – and I am positive that I will not have the time to compile the data let alone to actually write a Football Friday next week.

Then, we have a different set of house guests arriving on the following Thursday (26 September).

The bottom line is that the writing schedule for the next two weeks will be sporadic.  There will definitely not be a Football Friday next week (20 September) but I will try to do one early in the week after next week.  Oh, and in the middle of all this social stuff, I have dental appointment and a doctor’s appointment.

I plan to come up for air around October 1….

Stay well everyone.


Work Together…

About a week ago, the Washington Post ran a long story on the status of the NFL/NFLPA negotiations over a new CBA under this headline and sub-head:

  • NFLPA’S Smith warns of coming labor battle – and is ready to dig in

I do not doubt that there will be acrimony in these negotiations and I do not doubt that NFLPA leader, DeMaurice Smith, will need to do more than put up a “good fight” given that he has been accused of getting a not-so-good deal for the players in the last round of negotiations.  In addition, there has been plenty of reporting over the past year or so that there is some personal animus in the relationship between Smith and NFL Commish, Roger Goodell.

However, before we get sidetracked on secondary issues such as length of practices at training camp or the number of days devoted to OTA’s in the off-season or some proposed rule change involving pass interference calls, allow me focus on the big issue first.  That big issue should lead the reporters and commentators covering these negotiations to take the advice given to Bob Woodward back in Watergate days:

  • Follow the Money

The NFL is a $15-16B enterprise, and the owners and players share that money.  THE biggest issue by far is what percentage of that money goes to the owners and what percentage goes to the players.  If the sides find a way to come to an agreement there, NO OTHER ISSUE will hold up a finalized CBA.

The second most important issue is how the NFL and the NFLPA can work TOGETHER to increase the total revenue taken in by the league.  That is important because either side can do damage to this enterprise if they go into a prolonged work stoppage and/or they engage in behaviors that turn off the fans.  The way for BOTH sides to benefit is to grow the league revenue and that means they need to work together.

The two issues outlined above can be intertwined.  As I read the current CBA – and I admit that I do not understand it fully – it seems to me that the players get 47% of one category of revenue and 48.5% of a smaller category of revenue.  Let me posit here that the players are getting 47.5% of the football revenue – however that is defined.  Obviously, each side wants a larger percentage during the life of the next CBA; moreover, the owners would like to skim some revenue off the top for things like a “stadium building and rehabilitation fund”.  The fundamental issue is that the sides may haggle over the percentage of the split, but it is in the interest of neither side to do anything that takes the game off television or takes the game off the betting boards in the various states that now allow sports betting.  To make that happen is self-immolation.

The media coverage ought not to focus on the “spoiling for a fight” aspect of these negotiations; the real story here is what are the activities going on in the background while each side holds their press conferences to air their side of the story.  Not much of substance happens in that arena; the real reporting ought to be what is happening in the talks that are taking place in private.

There is a situation ongoing in college football where – similarly – there is a relatively simple solution to a problem but any movement toward that simple solution has gotten no media traction.  The issue is the ability of players to transfer from one school to another and the waiver system that allows some of them to play without sitting out a season while others must miss a year.  Michigan coach, Jim Harbaugh, enunciated a solution that would work to resolve this issue.  Here it is:

“My opinion is that every student-athlete should have a one-time ability to transfer and will not have to sit out a year.  I’d keep the graduate-transfer rule in place that we have right now.”

That may or may not be perfect – – but it is far better than the waiver-application process via the transfer portal with subsequent approvals or denials of waiver applications by some faceless NCAA adjudication entity.  And now, here is why that simple and direct solution to this problem will never happen:

  1. The language there is clear and unambiguous.  It was stated in 34 words and not 34 pages of paragraphs and nested sub-paragraphs with multiple uses of the words, “whereas”, “however”, “moreover”, “in light of”, “accompanying” … you get the idea.
  2. More importantly, this process would require no oversight and no approval by any of the poohbahs in the NCAA hierarchy.  It would put the student-athletes in charge of their own lives/careers.  Anyone who thinks that is a prime objective at NCAA headquarters likely also thinks one needs to be a Medal of Honor recipient to order a Hero Sandwich.

As we approach August, MLB still has 5 teams on track to lose 100 games in 2019.

  1. Tigers project to lose 113 games
  2. Orioles project to lose 107 games
  3. Royals project to lose 102 games
  4. Blue Jays project to lose 101 games
  5. Marlins project to lose 100 games

Finally, here is an item I found in Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times:

“Brewers pitcher Jhoulys Chacin walked in three straight runs with the bases loaded.

“Lovers of the George Foreman Grill are just dying to know: So when is Jhoulys Chacin Wok Night?”

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



On Hiatus …

I shall be off the air for about 3 weeks.  Later today, my long-suffering wife and I leave for two weeks of traveling around Switzerland by a series of train rides.  After that, we will fly to Ireland for a week to visit The FOG – – The First and Only Grandson – – and his parents too.

If all goes according to plan, we will be home late in the afternoon of June 17th.  Depending on the impact of jet-lag and the attending chores of returning home, I hope to be back on June 18th – – but it might not be until June 19th.

Please check back then.

Stay well, all…


The Jets Lead The News…

In recent years, the Bengals, Browns, Cardinals, Jags, Lions, Raiders and Skins have dominated NFL news items involving ineptitude and outlandishness.  A team that has been on the periphery of that septet has now seemed to demand entry into that “fraternity”; welcome to the NY Jets.  Yesterday, they fired their GM and handed that job – on an interim basis to be sure – to their new head coach who arrives with a career record of 23-25 and whose experience as a GM is ZERO.  As if that is not bad enough, consider:

  • The GM they just fired is the guy who just hired this hugely successful coach
  • The GM they just fired is the guy who signed up all the team’s free agents for the 2019 season.
  • The GM they just fired is the guy who organized and ran the NFL Draft that just passed.

If the GM was found to be embezzling team funds, I can understand this decision at this time.  If there are allegations that he has been sexually abusing household pets, I can understand this decision at this time.  Absent anything of those natures, this decision is ever so indicative of a franchise in disarray.  Welcome to Disarray Island, NY Jets.

Earlier this week, there was a headline at CBSSports.com that read:

  • Ten Storylines to Watch at the PGA Championship 

As you might imagine, the examples here were nonsensically focused on Tiger Woods to the extent that the entire compilation read like an old David Letterman routine on “Ten Things…”  This is NOT the CBSSports.com list; it is my impression of what the author there wanted to write – – but the editor demanded a slightly broader coverage:

  • Will Tiger Woods Eat the Same Breakfasts at the PGA as He Did at the Masters?
  • Did Tiger Woods Sleep Well Last Week?
  • How Regular Has Tiger Woods Been – A Septic Tank Check-up.
  • Does Anyone Dare Challenge Tiger Woods for This Championship?
  • Notice That Tiger Woods Always Wears Matching Socks in Majors
  • Will Adverse Weather Affect Tiger Woods at All?
  • Is Tiger Woods’ Caddy the Smartest Caddy on The Course?
  • Can Tiger Woods Go “Back-to-Back” in Majors? [On the golf course; not with waitresses. Get your mind out of the gutter…]
  • Can Tiger Woods Fart His Way to Fame This Week – – and the most important story line form this weekend’s PGA Championship
  • Which is Closer to the Bethpage Clubhouse – a Perkins Pancake House or an IHOP?

Since I was speaking about a headline to an article at CBSSports.com just above, let me note here that all the way back in 2016, those same good folks reported that Caitlyn Jenner would pose nude for a Sports illustrated cover.  I wish it were not so because the image evoked is significantly worse than disgusting – – but here is the link:

For anyone seeking a sign that the apocalypse is upon humankind, take that event and put it high up on your list of things to watch for…

Speaking of silly storylines and/or headlines, here is one from The Onion.

  • Kyrie Irving Promises He Won’t Quit on Whatever Team He Signs with This Offseason

When you read the stories going around now that the NCAA is contemplating changing the 3-point line in men’s basketball from the current distance to the “international distance”, the best advice I can offer is the title of a former cable TV comedy show:

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm

If my calculations are correct, the displacement of the 3-point line will be a grand total of 20 inches.  A difference of 20 inches would be important if you were comparing:

  • A home run that just cleared the left field wall in a baseball game
  • A horse race involving a purse of $2M
  • A 4th and 20 play in the Super Bowl that gained 19 yards and 16 inches
  • Porn Star A versus Porn Star B.

With regard to men’s college basketball, this would be a cosmetic change and nothing more than that.

Finally, here is another golf comment from an author and golf champion of the past, Horace G. Hutchinson, since the PGA Championship will commence later today:

“If profanity had any influence on the flight of the ball, the game of golf would be played far better than it is.”

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



Schedule Uncertainty

I have been summoned for jury duty tomorrow.  I am only obligated to show up for one day – – unless of course I am seated on a jury and then I am committed for the duration of the trial.  The last time I was called to the courthouse, the trial I heard lasted for 4 days.

Of course, it is possible that I will be dismissed early enough tomorrow to get home and write a rant.  Somehow, that seems like more than I can rely on – – so I will probably not write tomorrow and I hope to be able to be free on Friday to do a rant then.

Please check back then.

Stay well, all…


Great Minds – – – And All That Stuff

Today I ran across a blog item by Brad Dickson formerly with the Omaha World-Herald.  In the piece, he decides which activites are “Real Sports” and which ones are “Not Real Sports“.  You can read it here; it is worth your time and effort.


Back in 2001, I took a shot at something similar writing about what activities were sports and what participants were athletes.    You can read – or reread if you have been around here that long – my take on this subject here.

What Is A Sport – Who Is An Athlete?

If this were a high school English class, you would have to “Compare and Contrast”.  Fortunately for all of us, this is not a high school English class…

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



On Hiatus

I will be off the air until next Tuesday – – March 5.

My long-suffering wife and I are heading to Arizona to spend a weekend with friends from grad school days.  I will be taking in a handful of Spring Training  baseball games; my wife will be taking in crafts fairs and museums.  A good time will be had by all…

See you next week…

Stay well, everyone.


Bad Ads 2018

I am well aware that advertising – and advertisers – pay the freight so that I can sustain my TV sports habit.  I appreciate the mountains of money that they bestow on TV networks thereby making sports programming valuable commodities to those networks for the simple reason that it gives me access to lots of sports stuff.  Just as, however, I recognize and appreciate the democratic form of governance that is extant in the US, I can still criticize the US Government when it does something dumb, I have no qualms about pointing out those advertisements that are bad.  Some are in poor taste; some insult the intelligence of the viewer; some are just stupid.

Let me interject here a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

“Advertisement:  A medium through which people who truly care about your welfare (and not at all about money) provide you with helpful, extremely subtle reminders that your bad breath, body odor, cell phone provider and make of car all have to go.”

As I watch games on TV, I make notes along the way regarding dumb or annoying ads.  Then I gather them up and use them as fodder for the final rant of the calendar year.  I never bother to “hold over” a few bad ads from one year to the other; I never have to worry about a lack of material for the next calendar year.  That has never been a problem.

In 2018, we had mid-term elections and that meant my sports viewing activities would be assaulted with campaign ads run by the candidates and also by influence groups on behalf of candidates.  There is not a single campaign ad ever produced that is completely candid/truthful.  The only redeeming quality for political campaign ads is that they are absent from my television in odd numbered years.  I shall only consider commercial enterprises here and the ads they present to try to induce me to buy whatever they are selling.

Let me begin this year’s Bad Ads compilation by referring you to a generic set of ads.  I am referring to ads for medicines/drugs that you should “talk to your doctor about”.  They purport to rid patients of various maladies – some significant and others much less significant – but there is no free lunch.  Each of these ads has the voiceover guy – – and it always a “guy” – – reading a list of side effects and potential problems that have been noted in patients who take the medicine in question.  About the only side effect I have not yet heard described in that portion of this class of ads is having a third arm grow out of the middle of your forehead.  [Aside: That might come in handy while doing push-ups …]  And somewhere in that whole spiel is a tip of the hat to two things:

  1. How stupid the viewers of this ad must be – – and – –
  2. How litigious we have become as a society.

Every one of these medicines reminds you not to take the medicine if you are allergic to it or to any of its components – none of which you have ever heard of.  Seriously now, if one is allergic to poison ivy, does that person need to be reminded not to use the leaves as toilet paper if nature calls while hiking in the woods?  C’mon now…

While I am on the subject of categories of ads, have you noticed that all the car company ads are pretty much the same?  They all show the vehicles driving on scenic highways with no other vehicles in sight from horizon to horizon – – or they show them in the city pulling up to hotels or restaurants where there are no other vehicles parked within a half-acre of the front door.  Really?  Does that ever happen to you?   Oh, and every car maker asserts that they have the “best features in their class”.  If you hauled five different carmakers into court and forced them to try to prove that assertion, you could probably get a jury to find all five of them guilty of false advertising.

In terms of car ads that were either stupid or annoying or both:

  • The Chevy “Real People Not Actors” ads were still on the air this year.  How can that be?  Who is not annoyed as hell with those silly things?  What focus group told the company to do more of them?
  • Some of the Chevy Christmas ads are telling me I am part of the Chevy family and can get family discounts.  They open with kids telling you which of their parents works for Chevy.  Juxtapose those ads with the news in late November that GM is closing plants and laying off about 15,000 “family members”.  Ho Ho Ho…  Glad I was not one of the ones dis-invited to Christmas Dinner in the Chevy Family.
  • Buick brought back the smug guy who touts Buick vehicles for a Christmas ad that makes little sense.  He is sitting in an easy chair near a fireplace and he proclaims that all he wants for Christmas is already under the tree.  The camera then pans to the other side of the living room where there is a Buick SUV with a Christmas tree tied to the roof.  “Under the tree” … get it?  Here is a question for you.  How easy would it be for you to drive an SUV into your living room?  Stupid in spades…

The same general concept of impossible outcomes applies to insurance company ads.  Every one of them claims that the average person who switches to their company saves hundreds upon hundreds of dollars per year.  While that is mathematically possible, it does make you wonder how all those astronomically priced insurance companies stay in business.  Or maybe the way they stay in business is that their clientele comprises that stupid segment of the population who must be reminded not to take medicines they are allergic to.

For the record, the last time I compared auto insurance prices for the same level of coverage from three of the large national insurance companies, the difference in cost from the “most expensive” to the ”least expensive” was $4 per six months.  So, I wonder if all those alleged savings of hundreds of dollars per year come from reducing the level of coverage as one changes insurers.  If so, that would be highly deceptive advertising, no?

There are several insurance ads that go beyond questionable in terms of the math and take themselves squarely into the stupid realm:

  • A husband and wife stand in their backyard noting that the wife’s “she-shed” is on fire and is going to be burnt to the ground.  The husband is standing there with a look on his face that makes you think he set fire to her “she-shed”.  She ignores him as she calls her agent and finds out that she is covered and that she will be able to build herself a new and better “she-shed”.  The look on the husband’s face lets you know he is the arsonist – – and that his caper did not turn out the way he intended.  What a stupid message to convey in an insurance ad…
  • Liberty Mutual has an ad where the moronic character in the ad who is touting Liberty Mutual’s coverage gets so disgusted with the competitor’s coverage that he turns and throws his wallet into the bay behind him.  If that is your typical Liberty Mutual customer and/or the customer demographic Liberty Mutual is seeking, I think I’ll look elsewhere…

Back to generic advertising for a moment…  Have you noticed how many inter-racial couples there are in ads these days?  I guess it is a way to show a ‘post-racial” image of a company and it does provide a way for the ad to “identify with” more than a single demographic.  However, it is not as “progressive” as it might make itself out to be.

Consider that DirectTV had an ad where a black female and a white male are in the process of breaking up.  He is on the street; she is in their second story digs and is tossing all his stuff out onto the pavement.  Wanna bet you never see a guy – of any race – throwing a woman’s stuff out the window at her on the sidewalk?  No one in the neighborhood thought to call the police because it was a guy standing there trying to catch his stuff on the way down?

I cannot wait until the surviving family of some teenaged twit sues Red Bull for false advertising – – “Red Bull Gives You Wings” – – when the teenaged twit jumps off a bridge aiming to soar and fly his way into some treetops far off in the distance.  He won’t make it; he will become the forest equivalent of a “pavement pizza”; but his family will take it to court.  Red Bull does not give you wiiings; it does give you gas … but not wiiings.

Olive Garden had an ad touting ‘Buy one, Take one” in their restaurants.  According to the ad, you go to Olive Garden and order a main course; then you can take another helping of that main course or some other main course home with you for consumption at some later time.  Sounds good?  Well, I don’t want to drop a torrential rain on your parade here, but there is a drizzle you will need to deal with:

  • If you “Buy One” – and eat it at the restaurant … and then
  • You “Take One” – and presumably eat it elsewhere at some future time,
  • That means you have consigned yourself to eating TWO meals from Olive Garden.
  • In what universe is that something to celebrate?

You have to look quickly to catch this, but Castrol is the official motor oil of the NFL.  What might it mean to be the official motor oil of the NFL?  Do all the lawnmowers in the stadiums with grass run with Castrol oil?  Maybe all the team buses use that product?  Motor oil is a big deal regarding NASCAR and/or Formula 1 racing; it has nothing to do with a screen pass left.  That makes about as much sense as Riddell signing on to be The Official Shoulder Pad Manufacturer for the US Olympics Women’s Gymnastics Team.  Sheesh…

There were two iPhone ads this year that were stunningly annoying.  There was an ad where a teenage girl unlocks her phone with a facial recognition app and then manages to unlock anything and everything that she walks past.  Fortunately for all of us– I suppose – she does not meander past death row or the large cat house at the zoo.  The ad is abjectly stupid – and then it compounds that by being annoying.

In another iPhone tour de force, the message in the ad is that you can do group video chatting with the phone and the wireless carrier.  To demonstrate this the ad features about a half-dozen Elvis-impersonators singing There’s Always Me.  Question:

  • Have you ever noticed that most Elvis-impersonators look a lot like one another and they sound a lot like one another, but none of them look or sound anything at all like Elvis?
  • Just asking…

Let me pose a rhetorical question here:  Who is the guy you would most like to see dipped in molasses and strapped down to an anthill:

  • The tall skinny Verizon guy who interrupts other people’s events to give them access to Verizon’s superior network – – or – –
  • “Paul” who used to be the Verizon guy until Verizon “went in a different direction” with their ads and now “Paul” is shilling for Sprint?

The obviously correct answer here is – – Both of them!

 Colonel Sanders doing his dancing routine with Mrs. Butterworth is more than cheesy; it is downright creepy.  Who knew that these companies were seeking the squeamish demographic?

Speaking of seeking a strange demographic, Hanes underwear had a series of ads where people took “smellfies” (sniffed their armpits to see if their body odor was detectable) and the message in the ad was that Hanes underwear would eliminate the need to take “smellfies”.

  • Memo to Hanes – and to “Smellfie-takers”:  Regular bathing habits and the use of most commercial deodorants will make “Smellfie-taking” unnecessary and totally creepy.

Lavazza is a coffee company for those of you who have missed out on their ad campaign and have not ever run across the brand in real life.  The cornerstone of their ad campaign is that the Lavazza family has spent 4 generations of perfecting the art of blending coffee.  The only conclusion one can draw from that is that the Lavazza family is pretty dumb to take 4 generations to do that.  After all, once they “perfected” the blending, they cannot improve on it; so, it had to take 4 full generations of effort – by their own admission – to get to the point where they think they can rest on their laurels.  Is that really the message they meant to convey in this ad campaign?

Two beer ads were startingly dumb this year:

  1. Dos Equis ads used to be mildly amusing when they featured The Most Interesting Man in the World.  Then they replaced Most Interesting #1 with Most Interesting #2 without realizing that is not likely to be possible.  That was bad enough but the creative folks who make up those ads were not done.  Someone there thought it would be a good idea to put Rob Riggle in Dos Equis ads.  How that might mesh with “Most Interesting Man in the World” seems never to have been considered.  There is no way that any of the ad geniuses there thought folks would buy that Rob Riggle is anywhere near the Most Interesting Man in the World.  I can’t be the only person in the world who does not think Rob Riggle is even marginally interesting let alone funny.
  2. Michelob Ultra Gold is made from – – hold your breath here – – organic grains.  Ooohh…  That must mean this is the beer that hipsters chug when they want to get wasted.  Here is a cautionary note for you.  Michelob Ultra – Gold or Not Gold and/or Organic or non-Organic – tastes like the south end of a northbound horse.  Light beers as a genre are miserable; Michelob Ultra is among the worst in class.

Need I even mention how annoying the State Farm ads with Aaron Rodgers and his monumentally inept “agent”, Gabe, can be?  There has yet to be one in the series that rises to the level of “not stupid”.  I am not the only one who reacted negatively to this ad campaign; consider this comment from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

Comedown: Aaron Rodgers is 28th among NFL quarterbacks in completion percentage and 19th in yards per attempt. But even more disappointing are his latest series of State Farm commercials. Just not as witty as before. You don’t suppose that this is Mike McCarthy’s fault, too?”

Several companies run advertisements for genetic testing so that you can get in touch with your roots and understand/express your heritage.  I ignore them for the same reason that I have not chosen to avail myself of the service that these companies provide.  Here is why:

  • Even after I know that my DNA is 52% this and 34% that and12% some other thing and 2% yak, how would that information change what I do with my time and energy on a daily basis?

I will close here by simply posing a few questions and that will surely recall the stupid ads that spawned the questions:

  • How many times did you have to see the ad featuring “The Salmon Sisters” who run their business off their boat before you were rooting for a great white shark to chomp that boat in half with the two of them on it?  Microsoft should be able to do much better than that…
  • Did Old Navy go out to ad agencies asking them to submit their ideas for the most annoying and obnoxious Christmas ads?  I am beginning to suspect that they do that every July because the stupid Old Navy Christmas Season ads cannot be that bad every year by accident.
  • If the couple who self-identify as “Slingers” ever approached you to join them in their “Slinging”, would you run for the hills immediately or would you grab a crucifix and back them off into a dark locked closet first?
  • If you simply must escape from an awkward or unpleasant social situation, is Buffalo Wild Wings really going to be your preferred escape/destination?  You just found a way to escape from Aunt Millie’s family reunion party which is a plus; however, you are now in a joint that is way too noisy, that serves bad food and smells like grease – – which is THE critical component of everything served there other than the beer.  Seems like The Great Leap Sideways to me…

As the days in 2018 “dwindle down to a precious few”, we all look forward to 2019 and just about everyone hopes that 2019 will be better than 2018 was.  Even if one does not anticipate such improvement, one hopes it will come to pass.  I too hope that advertising campaigns in 2019 are improved over what I had to experience in 2018.  However, even if they all improve a lot, there will still be plenty of material for a Bad Ads rant at the end of 2019.

Does that make me a cynic or a realist?  It depends on whether or not you agree with me.

I began this compendium by giving you the definition of “Advertising” from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm.  Let me close here with another definition from the same source that demonstrates the power of “Advertising”:

Bottled Water:  Tap water made more palatable by a label with a mountain on it.”

Happy New Year, everyone.

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


On Hiatus

My long-suffering wife and I will be traveling in Northern Italy for the next week or so.  I’ll be off the air until at least 26 Sept.  Please check back then.

Looking ahead, I may not have enough time to catch up on “football happenings” to do a Football Friday two weeks from now.  We shall see…

Stay well, everyone.