Please Vote …

In normal times – – and 2020 cannot be considered “normal times” on so many levels – – I implore folks quadrennially on Election Day to get out and vote.  It is a right conferred on people by their citizenship; it is a responsibility to one’s citizenship to exercise that right.

This year, Election Day may well be inconvenient for voting given the potential for higher turnout, stringent checks on the identity and the status of someone showing up to vote and the always possible threat of inclement weather in early November.  My long-suffering wife and I decided that we would take advantage of our retirement status and go out to vote today – – a Wednesday – – in the middle of the day.  When we arrived at our polling place and the two of us joined the line, we doubled the number of people in line waiting to vote.  It was as simple and as convenient a process as could be expected.

So, this year, let me urge everyone to get out and vote before Election Day or on Election Day or by mail  or by sending up a white puff of smoke from your chimney.  I do not endorse candidates; my political opinions are not important to you.  I do not want to know for whom you decide to vote; that is none of my business.

Please, just vote !



RIP Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford died last weekend.  He was a mainstay of the Yankees’ pitching staff in the 1950s and 1960s which were dynastic years for the team.  Ford holds the highest winning percentage for pitchers with more than 200 wins in MLB history at .690.  Ford was known as “The Chairman of the Board” because of his calm and straightforward demeanor.  According to lore, he had been struggling with arm injuries for about 2 years (there was no Tommy John surgery or rotator cuff surgery in those days) and after 1 inning in a road game he walked to the dugout and then into the locker room and headed home.  He left a note on the locker of manager Ralph Houk that said, “I’ve had it; I’ll call you when I get home.”

Rest in peace, Whitey Ford.

Sticking with baseball for a moment, Bob Molinaro had this item in a column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

Repairs needed: With everything else going on in America ― and the impact it’s having on sports ― MLB playoff games shouldn’t be high on anybody’s list of complaints. But, man, do these games drag ― averaging about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Pitching changes are relentless. Strikeouts come in comic abundance. Let’s face it, baseball is broken.

The key observation in that commentary is that the games drag – – and they do.  I am not referring to any sort of “drag” that comes from tight and low-scoring games; I enjoy games where a lead change is always imminent.  But the number of walks and strikeouts means that there are long stretches of time when the ball is never in play.  Some batter/pitcher matchups can be made into a TV mini-series as the pitcher fidgets around in the same zip code with the mound and the batter adjusts his gloves as often and as fastidiously as a super-model getting ready to stride down the runway.  That is not enjoyable viewing.

Another of the major tennis tournaments concluded over the weekend when Rafael Nadal won the French Open for the 13th time.  That means Nadal has now won 20 of tennis’ major tournaments and he did that by beating Novak Djokovic in the finals.  Djokovic is the #1 ranked player in the world, and he had not “lost” a match so far this year.  His only “loss” came in the US Open when he accidently hit a linesperson with a ball to her throat; and for that, he was disqualified.  Last weekend, Nadal beat him in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers for their convincing victory over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.  The NBA’s “Orlando Bubble” experiment worked even better than could have been wished for; players, coaches, staff and officials experienced no COVID-19 outbreaks.  For anyone who chooses to nit-pick here, just remember that it worked.  Now the Lakers and the rest of the NBA – along with the NBPA – must wrestle with some thorny issues for the future such as:

  • How will they handle the hit to revenue in 2020 because revenue in 2020 is what determines the salary cap in 2021?  When the NBA got a humongous new TV deal, the owners suggested phasing in the new cap numbers over several years and the players would have none of that.  Now, revenues went down sharply…
  • The schedule for next season is not going to be an easy thing to assemble.  When will the season start?  How many regular season games?  How to avoid having the playoffs draw so poorly against playoff baseball and the NFL?
  • Those decisions all involve money that flows to the owners and the players and the two sides now have about 6 weeks to figure it all out.

Dwight Perry commented on an interesting event that came out of the NBA’s “Orlando Bubble” experiment in the Seattle Times:

“Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook thanked the housekeeping staff at Orlando’s Grand Floridian hotel with a huge assist — an $8,000 tip — as he departed the NBA bubble.

“’They took great care of us,’ Westbrook told Bleacher Report. ‘Took the time and energy to do their job at a high level. That was the right thing. I like to do the right thing.’”

The “Bubble” was about 3 months long; indeed, the staff at the hotel performed their services over an extended time and obviously performed them to the great satisfaction of Russell Westbrook.  Even considering the fact that Russell Westbrook makes a ton of money playing NBA basketball, that was a generous and thoughtful gesture on his part.  If you want to read the backstory for this happening, you can find it here.

Anyone who has been reading these rants for a while knows that I like to have fun with the names of athletes that I run across.  Here are some college football players with names that made me smile:

  • Robert Corner III is a defensive back for UTEP – – Of course that is his position
  • Phat Watts is a WR for Tulane – – Not a good name for a WR
  • Bumper Pool is a LB for Arkansas – – He bumps into lots of people at that position
  • Chase Oliver is a LB for Fla. St. – – I love names that are complete sentences
  • KJ Vault is a S for Tulane – – I wonder if he is majoring in banking

And there are always those players whose names give copy editors nightmares – – such as:

  • Eugentavious Blue – – WR  Miss Valley State
  • Kwatrivous Johnson – – OL  Mississippi State
  • Izuchukwu King Ani – – DE  Mississippi State
  • Simeon Nwokenkwo – – LB  Grambling

Finally, Tom Brady lost track of downs at the end of last week’s loss to the Bears.  Greg Cote had this comment – and confession – related to that incident in the Miami Herald last weekend:

“What were the odds of Tom Brady forgetting it was fourth down? Only time Greg Cote gets mixed up on small numbers is when he shoots a six on a golf hole and ‘mistakenly’ writes five on his scorecard.”

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



Strange Stuff Today …

There is a report in the Orlando Sentinel that the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) voted to start the high school football season and the girls’ volleyball season on time this Fall.  The leaders of the FHSAA ignored the recommendation(s) of its own Sports Medicine Advisory Committee as it took that action.  The chairwoman of that advisory committee is a physician with the Mayo Clinic in Jax; here is her statement:

“It is our stance that return to competition for the high-risk sports of football and volleyball is not medically safe.”

It may be difficult, but please put aside any political leanings you might have regarding COVID-19 and state mandates regarding personal behaviors.  In addition, please remember that I am rooting for a return of football this Fall; I want that to happen.  Having said that, this action by the FHSAA makes no sense.

  • Right now, in the State of Florida, the community spread of COVID-19 is as bad as it is anywhere in the US.
  • Certain counties in southern Florida report that they can count the number of vacant ICU beds on two hands with fingers left over.

The question here is simple:

  • Why does the FHSAA bother to have a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee?

In another corner of the football universe, there have been recent comments from LSU coach, Ed Orgeron, that fall somewhere between “wishful thinking” and “magical thinking”.  Here is a smattering of what he supposedly said:

“We need football.  Football is the lifeblood of our country.”  [Coach, I love football; it ain’t the lifeblood of our country.]

“Whether we start Sept. 5 or a little after that; in-conference, out of conference, that doesn’t bother me. I do know this; I believe we’re going to play.”   [Coach, I really hope you are right.  I hope just as fervently that your concerns for the health of the players on your team and your opponents’ teams is as strong as your obvious love for football.]

For the last 5 years, the Buffalo Bills have played their home games in New Era Field; the naming rights belonged to the New Era Cap company in Buffalo.  The company now wants out of that deal – not for reasons similar in any way to the reasons that FedEx threatened to take its name off the Washington stadium – and so there is a “naming rights opportunity” out there for the taking.  The Tushy Bidet company – – its goal is to Tushify every bathroom in the US – – has said it would be interested in putting its name on the stadium and that it would try to bring a college football bowl game there and call it the Toilet Bowl.

Greg Cote of the Miami Herald summarized this tidbit and hit all the low notes:

“The Buffalo Bills’ stadium needs a new name sponsor, and a bidet company called Tushy is bidding. Decorum prevents us from noting that Tushy Stadium sounds like a pretty crappy name.”

I have one last item today and it is something I have mentioned before.  The reporters who cover golf should be ashamed of themselves; they are not reporting on the sport and their writing is not nearly close enough to “deathless prose” to mitigate their poor and subjective reporting.  Far too many golf reporters spend far too much time in an obsequious posture at the feet of Tiger Woods.  That unprofessional nonsense was in full display over the weekend and yesterday.

In last week’s tournament Tiger Woods finished 15 strokes behind the tournament winner.  He finished in a 4-way tie with 3 other golfers whose names happen to be:

  • Scott Harrington
  • Marc Leishman
  • Ryan Moore

I list their names here because the reporting on the tournament ignored them even though their performance was as relevant to the tournament outcome as was Woods’.  That is the polite way of saying that all four of them finished – – in racetrack parlance – – up the track.

However, Tiger Woods got a ton of coverage that was irrelevant to the outcome.  Here is a headline from on Monday morning:

  • Improvement comes Sunday as Woods closes 2020 Memorial Tournament on high note

For someone like me who did not watch the tournament live on TV the day before, the implication here is that Woods rallied in the final round but that he started the day so far off the lead that he could not win the tournament.  So, I clicked on the headline and found this to be Paragraph #1:

“Tiger Woods ended his 2020 Memorial Tournament with a 76, which sounds terrible until you compare it to what the rest of the field is doing. Woods’ 76 was exactly the field average at the time he finished on a Muirfield Village course that was playing 4 over in major championship-like conditions.”

And you think that political campaign managers spin the news?

  1. The course did not play 4-over at the end of the day because the players who were playing well over the weekend finished after Woods was in the clubhouse.
  2. Woods also shot a 76 on Friday – – when the course was playing “normally”.  Forty golfers who made the cut shot under par on Friday – if I counted correctly.
  3. Thirty-nine golfers finished ahead of Woods – and the other three golfers who finished at +6 for the tournament.  That ended the tournament on a “high note”?

That kind of “reporting” is shameful; it is not journalism; it is close to idolatry; it is time for it to stop.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this golf-related item in the Seattle Times recently.  I suspect the golf writers of the day did not report fully on these events either:

“David Feherty says his finest moment in golf came at St. Andrews, where ‘I captained the Irish side that won the 3-man world championship back in 1990 in a blind hangover. I threw up twice on the course.’

“Which certainly gives the golf term ‘up and down’ a whole new meaning.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports



Pat Forde Realigns College Football

A couple of days ago, a reader asked in a comment to the daily rant if I had any comment on Pat Forde’s radical suggestion to restructure college football.  I did not at the time for the simple reason that I had not seen it, but now I have and so I will comment.

Forde’s article appears on  In the broadest overview, he proposes limiting “Division 1 College Football” to 120 teams that are regionally organized into 12 conferences of 10 teams each.  Every one of the current football conferences is shattered in his proposed realignment and he proposes that 11 of the current teams in what we call “FBS Football” are relegated/demoted to “FCS Football”.  Aligning the new conferences regionally/geographically intends to reduce travel times and costs as well as developing new potential rivalry situations.

Forde proposes a 10-game season where every team plays the other 9 teams in its new conference plus one other game out of conference.  Note, there is no room here for Powerhouse State to schedule a glorified scrimmage against The National Rehabilitation School for Multiple Amputees.  I am beginning to like this idea…

None of the conferences will have a championship game; each conference champion will be determined within the regular season schedule using tiebreakers presumably.  Those 10 conference champions along with 2 other wild card teams would be seeded  into a 12-team playoff grid to determine an on-field College Football Champion.

There is one paragraph in the article that I particularly like:

“There still will be bowl games for the teams that don’t make the CFP. Just fewer of them, which nobody should mind.”

Indeed, I would not mind at all…

The Forde Plan – – it must have a name if anyone is going to take it even moderately seriously – – would provide consistency to college football scheduling and that is definitely a plus.  The hurdles to adopting such a plan are numerous and they are high hurdles indeed.  Here are what I think are the two biggest ones among those he mentions:

  1. This radical an idea would need to be undertaken with the imprimatur of a centralized “command structure” for college football.  That does not exist.  Please do not delude yourself into thinking that Mark Emmert and the jamokes at NCAA HQs can or do fill that role.
  2. This works only if all the 10 new conferences share the revenues from media rights and the expanded college football playoff system.  That means the current “Power 5” conferences will have to share money with schools from the “Other Guys”.  That idea will go over like an anvil in a cesspool.

Please read the article in its entirety as linked here.  There are plenty of benefits and problems associated with the idea and Forde lays them out without too much obvious bias.  Even though I doubt the idea will ever be taken seriously by any of the current conferences, there are some very appealing aspects to it.

            One very interesting aspect to Forde’s Plan is that I proposed something along the same lines back in January 2017.  My college football universe was 128 teams broken up into the “Big Boys Category” and the “Little Boys Category”.  Each “Category” would have 4 conferences of 16 teams and each conference would have 2 divisions.  The regular season would be 11 games – – 7 against the division foes and 4 against half of the teams in the other division in the conference.  (That “half” would rotate every year.)

My wrinkle was to have the “Little Boys Category” have a playoff system too and for the top 4 teams in the “Little Boys Category” to be promoted while the bottom 4 teams in the “Big Boys Category” would be relegated.  There are differences between the Forde Plan and my vision for reinventing college football, but we agree on more things than we disagree on.  In any event, here is the key point of commonality between the Forde Plan and “My Plan”:

  • Neither one is gonna happen.

Just for fun, here is the link to my rant from January 2017 if you would like to see how similar the foundations for the two proposals are.  I guess it shows that great minds run in similar channels.  Then again, so does sewer water…

While on the subject of college football, Boomer Esiason said something recently that I hope is completely wrong.  Esiason hosts a morning radio show in NYC; it is on WFAN in the time slot that used to be occupied by Imus in the Morning a long time ago.  According to a report in the NY Post, Esiason suggested that teams reporting large numbers of players who tested positive for COVID-19 had the players get it on purpose.  Here is what he supposedly said:

“I gotta be really careful here, because I don’t want to say that this is an accusation.  I don’t want to … I just was thinking the other day about what is going on with the SEC teams down south. And Clemson included, who’s obviously an ACC team. A lot of their players are coming down with COVID-19, oddly enough. So are they trying to herd immunity their teams?”

I have no insight into any college football programs nor do I have any idea if Esiason has access or sources that led him to say that.  However, I will say that if any college football coach is intentionally infecting members of his team to develop localized herd immunity, that is hugely irresponsible behavior.  About the only thing related to COVID-19 that might be worse would be to find a way to infect most of the players on your upcoming opponent without the other guys knowing about it.

Another problem with Esiason’s comment – without some sort of sourcing – is that it fuels just the sort of speculation on which sports talk radio feasts.  In 2020, people love to hear about and ponder “conspiracy theories” and Esiason took his comment above one more step down that sort of path:

“So these guys can get sick now as opposed to getting sick during the college football season if, in fact, there is one.  And I’m telling you right now I wouldn’t put it past any of those guys down there. I think it’s going on. I honestly … the numbers coming out of like Alabama, LSU and Clemson, all these teams? It’s too much of a coincidence. I don’t think it’s that crazy either.”

That is classic conspiracy theory thinking.  Coincidence becomes evidence and the lack of hard evidence becomes an element of proof for the conspiracy…  I hope he is dead wrong, and I hope that coaches like Nick Saban, Les Miles and Dabo Swinney call him out for that.

Finally, let me stay with today’s theme of college football with a little COVID-19 tossed into the mix with this Tweet from Brad Dickson, formerly with the Omaha World-Herald:

“Good guy Scott Frost has a new PSA where he tells ppl to keep up with routine medical visits during the pandemic. He doesn’t get paid for this. But, after listening to his deadly dull monotone during this brief speech I now know why Nebraska usually plays bad in the third quarter.”

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



Heads Up

Earlier this month, I was off the air for a week because my long-suffering wife and I were at our weekend house in Central PA.  The modem on our satellite Internet “contraption” died and we were without Internet access.  This weekend, we are going back there with two nominally effective solutions to that problem.  We only need one of them to work…

Paying tribute to Murphy’s Law, however, I may find myself in an “Internet-starved situation”.  Once again, I might be in an “unplanned time off the air”.

Just a heads up.

Stay safe and stay well, everyone…


RIP Bobby Mitchell

Bobby Mitchell died over the weekend.  Mitchell was the first Black player on the Skins back when George Preston Marshall owned the team.  He came to Washington in a trade for Ernie Davis in 1962.  In his career with the Skins, Mitchell was converted to WR where he was a perennial All-Pro and eventually he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He was 84 years old.

Rest in peace, Bobby Mitchell.

Normally, when I rant about the intersection of sports and economics, I am commenting on ticket prices or the value of TV rights deals or revenue splits in a CBA under negotiation.  In this time of COVID-19, there may be a much larger context in which to consider that intersection.  Let me be clear; I am not going to suggest anything like the downfall of humankind; the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually come under control and it is not going to kill off 50% of the world’s population before that happens.  Having said that, there is a very real possibility that sports in the world may be significantly changed in the post-COVID world.

Already, we have seen that life can and will persist in the absence of signature sporting events.  Consider:

  • No March Madness
  • No Spring Training and Opening Day in baseball.
  • No NBA or NHL games
  • No English Premier League games
  • No UEFA or CONCACAF competition
  • No College World Series
  • No Summer Olympics

Yet, the world goes on; and as time passes without the presence of these pleasant activities, people may very well come to a point where sports reside on a lower tier of their life-importance construct.  If – – I said IF – – that comes to pass in a significant number of people, that may mean a much smaller demand for high priced tix and a much diminished willingness to approve spending large blocks of taxpayer money to build sporting venues.  If interest diminishes, TV ratings would likely drop too and that will make ever-increasing TV rights deals a bad revenue projection for leagues and owners.

  • Might the reflex to maintain social distancing and to avoid crowded venues become embedded behavior for a slice of society meaning that going to a college football game with 85,000 of one’s closest friends becomes abnormal?
  • Might folks get used to teleworking – and likewise might their supervisors and colleagues grow to enjoy that arrangement – to the point where folks begin to move away from big cities and spread out a bit?

The macroeconomics and the trends described above are not a certainty; in fact, they may be low-probability events.  But there is a spectrum here between “no effect between sports and COVID at all” on one hand and “near-dystopia” on the other hand.  So, how might the world of sports emerge from the The COVID-19 Era?

  • Sports leagues must not jump the gun and try to open – even on a reduced basis – before the epidemiologists say it is OK to do so.  In fact, they must not be perceived as pressuring the scientists to bless such an opening against the will of the scientists.
  • One of the clichés created by this crisis is the phrase “in an abundance of caution…”  Well, sports will need to be very cautious in terms of their restarting lest they generate headlines that are far worse than “bad optics”.
  • Sports owners should look to generate more interest in their fanbases with things like discounted tickets and reduced parking fees (no more $75 to park your car).
  • Players may need to shave some of their contracts for a while.  It will not look particularly good for players hoping to “create a brand” to refuse to share some pain with the people he/she is hoping to attract to that brand.

Many times in these rants, I have asserted that the NFL and the NFLPA should evidence more realization that they are more like partners in producing a hugely popular TV series than they are deadly foes.  When sports come out of The COVID-19 Era, those two entities will have a chance to demonstrate that they recognize that partnership and its mutual importance.  Sports are entertainment; sports are escape; sports are an emotional release.  Because all those things are important to humans once the basics of Maslow’s hierarchy are secured, sports will continue to exist.  The question comes down to the stature that sports will have in society once they re-emerge.

Almost 2 decades ago, the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in NYC interrupted the sports world.  There were dystopian forecasts back then regarding the future of sports – and about the world of entertainment itself.  People adapted; when we go to a ballgame now, we have to pass through screening points and metal detectors; women’s purses need to be transparent in some jurisdictions; those things were not commonplace in the 90s, but we adapted our behavior and our acceptance of such activity as “normal” in 2020.  I doubt that we will come to a point where entering a sports venue means taking one of those 5-minute COVID-19 tests before being allowed in, but if a new screening tool is added to the ones in place that is not physically intrusive on one’s body, my guess is that we will adapt to it too.

Finally, here is a COVID-19 observation from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“England’s Premier League might play matches with no people in the stands for a while once the pandemic ends.

“To assuage hard-core soccer fans, they plan to list the attendance as ‘nil.’”

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



On Hiatus

These rants will go on hiatus as of today until mid-March.

My long-suffering wife and I are leaving on Sunday for a long road trip down the East Coast of the US to Florida and then to return.  Along the way we will be visiting a whole lot of friends, former colleagues and family members who have taken up residence either in Florida or along our way to and from Florida.  As you may well expect, I will manage to fit a couple of spring Training baseball games into the schedule during our time in the Sunshine State.

I will take my computer with me but will not have nearly enough time to do the research and the writing to maintain the normal schedule.  If and when I find time to do some writing, the things will be more like postcards than normal offerings.

We will return on 13 March and my plan is to get back to normal writing rhythm starting on Monday 16 March.

Stay well, everyone…



Administrative Note

There will be no rant tomorrow.  Thanksgiving is a day for family, feasting and football – – not ranting about sports.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  Stay well.  See you on Friday.