Sunday, March 27, 2016


The most serious rant I have today is a lack of understanding of my wife's ability to successfully pick an NCAA bracket. I won't say she has no understanding of the spot, she does watch and enjoy of lot of the games. But her picks...well, there's no explaining them. "Why did you pick Hawaii?" I'll ask. "Because," She'll say. "What made you go for Yale?" "They should be smart. They're from Yale." 
Funny, huh? She's ahead of me by 10. Her success rate is 70%. Lucky for me, she never wants to bet. 

 Speaking of the tournament, our home-town team, Syracuse, is doing very well, which is a surprise to everybody. Especially, it seems, to Manish Mehta, who writes for the NY Daily News. On "The Sports Reporters" today, he want off on Syracuse, insisting that "...they shouldn't even be in the tournament." He feels that they haven't beaten any body good (at least in HIS judgement) and have an RPI of 71. If all we go by is statistics Manish, then why are you on TV? What awards have you won? What would a reporter's rating for you be? So when it comes to your opinion, I'll consider the source. Mehta's reputation isn't the best with other reporters either. 

The NFL has finally admitted that the concussions players have suffered may have something to do with their sport. What good will come out of this is highly unlikely at best. Pro football is a $13 billion dollar industry.  Nobody is giving up on that without a fight, even to protect their major asset - the players. 

...and about not protecting their players, check this out. Three cities are outlawing smokeless tobacco in stadiums with more to follow. This would eliminate fans and players from using chewing tobacco on the field, in the stands, in the dugouts and in the clubhouses. But wait - the Major League Players Association has previously shutdown prior attempts by the league to ban chewing tobacco in the past. Maybe THEY should be checked for concussions. 

Lebron James is at it again. After going back to Cleveland and organizing a collection of players he thinks will help him win championships, now he seems to be setting the stage for another attempt at putting together a "dream team."  He's has named - supposedly tongue-in-cheek - 3 or 4 other major stars that he'd like to form a dream team with. If he leaves Cleveland again, the mob that will go after him...let's just say I'd like to have the torch and pitchfork concession in Cleveland.  

Gregg Popovich line of the day:
Reporter (wearing a loud jacket): "The team missed a lot of shots that quarter.  Even their free throws. How come?" 
GP: "I think they were looking at your suit."

" According to Sports Illustrated, the Tampa Bay Rays’ flight out of Cuba was delayed six hours. I’m guessing they had to remove all the Cuban national players from the wheel wells."  --  Brad Dickson
"Yale exits tournament to focus on upcoming organic chemistry midterm.”  --
"Rockets center Dwight Howard got caught putting Stickum spray on a game ball. Startled witnesses say they’d never seen an errant free throw stick to a backboard before."  -- Dwight Perry
"Basketball for dummies NCAA division: For newbies following March Madness – Steven F. Austin is not named after “Stone Cold Steve Austin”. Weber State did not invent the gas BBQ and nor is Texas A&M named for “Americans and Mexicans”. Notre Dame is not named after a hunchback and Gonzaga is not the brother of Godzilla. And finally Austin Peay’s (pronounced Pea) team name is not the “Urinals” – but their cheerleaders scream “Let’s GO PEAY”!!!!!"  -- TC Chong 
"On Friday the IUPUI softball team plays at UNO. Discount optometrists are sending their patients to the game to read the scoreboard/eye chart."  -- Brad Dickson
"A recent study claims that exercise can ease psychotic symptoms. Researchers obviously are not familiar with Dennis Rodman, John McEnroe or Mike Tyson."  -- Jim Barach
"An Anheuser-Busch rig collided with a Frito-Lay truck near Melbourne, Fla., early Wednesday, littering Interstate 95 with cans of beer and bags of chips. Pablo Sandoval, inconsolable, is expected to be out of the Red Sox lineup for days."  -- Dwight Perry

"Aaron Rodgers says he saw a UFO in New Jersey in 2005. Is he sure it wasn’t one of Eli Manning’s rookie year passes?"  -- Janice Hough
"Kansas City manager Ned Yost broke a stack of concrete bricks with his bare hands. I know it’s a long way to the World Series, but the Royals look good out of the blocks."  -- RJ Currie


Monday, March 14, 2016


It's finally time for the NCAA basketball tournament. There are 68 teams in the tourny and perhaps another 30 who believe that they should be in it. There will also be a number of coaches who are upset with their seedings and/or the regional they were assigned. I'm not going to try and evaluate the teams since ESPN has already interviewed every "expert" in the country to do just that and they all have their picks. Joe Lunardi, ESPN's resident bracket genius, was unforgiving in his analysis of the official NCAA bracket. "But the committee’s performance is slipping, year over year, and it’s also my job to point that out when necessary. Put aside my three misses for a moment, and what you have is a selection and bracketing process that appears to have gone off the rails." Of course. If it isn't the way Joe picks it. it can't be right.  But, it all boils down to the same thing: there are 68 teams with a chance.
No, I'll do what I do best - make fun of the nicknames.

Naturally with a field this big, there will be duplications.  Do you like the Wildcats? You have your choice of four of them. There are three Bears here - Bears, Golden Bears and the Bearcats.  There's a couple of Trojans and a couple of Panthers. There's even a couple of Pirates. The good news is, if your team loses, you can easily switch over to a team with the same nickname. You can probably make the Final Four just rooting for the Bulldogs - there are five of them.

As Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang" sit-com will tell you, teams try to pick nicknames that will intimidate their opponents. This is generally true, but some teams didn't get the memo. How many opponents will be intimidated by these mascots and nicknames?
Friars -- Unless it's Friar Tuck, these people are known pacifists. Sorry, I'm not afraid.
Mocs -- Run this name thru Google and you get - Shoes. The price might scare you, but that's all.
Jackrabbits, Roadrunners -- Just the opposite. You'll scare them but they'll be gone before you can enjoy it.
Terrapin -- This is a turtle. Even if you're afraid to get bitten, you certainly ought to be able to get away from a turtle. No threat here.

It seems that some teams are advocating careers and not animals. You might want to pick your college by these nicknames:
Want to go into politics? Then the Austin Peay Governors is the place for you.
Like the outdoors? Try the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. Maybe the Texas A & M Aggies. or the Wichita State Shockers, a shocker being a "harvester of wheat." (Had to look that one up)
Is aviation your dream? The Dayton Flyers are waiting for you.
If you like working with your hands, I'd suggest the Purdue Boilermakers but it's not a very big field.

The NCAA, in it's infinite wisdom (there's a sentence I never thought I'd write), seeds the teams according to apparent strength, always the weakest team against the strongest. What fun is that? Here's some matchups that would be a great interest, based solely on nicknames.
Holy Cross Crusaders vs. the Farleigh Dickinson Knights. This is an even matchup.

Middle Tenn. State Blue Raiders vs Texas Tech Red Raiders  This is a rivalry made in heaven.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Iona Gaels (Look it up. I'm not doing all the work)
Baylor Bears vs California Golden Bears Let's settle this once and for all.
Iowa State Golden Cyclones vs the Miami Hurricanes  Played in Chicago, the Windy City (sorry)
Southern Cal Trojans vs the Michigan St. Spartans  Greek mythology lives again.
Finally, a special round robin Mini-tournament between UNC Ashville, Fresno State, Yale, Gonzaga and Butler, with only the winner keeping the nickname Bulldogs.

Last but not least, those nicknames which aren't...well, funny.
The Orange
The Blue Devils
The Sooners (rather then the Laters -- okay, maybe a little funny)
The Hoosiers
The Utes
The Tar Heels

Pick your teams, stock the beer and chicken wings, veg out on the couch and have a fun three weeks.
I'm going with North Carolina.

"I don't know how they did it. I'm just watching the game, same as you."  -- Gregg Popovich, Spurs coach in another of his now legendary interviews.
"So I wasn’t paying close attention to the NCAA Tournament  brackets. What seed did the Philadelphia 76ers get."  -- Janice Hough

"Maria Sharapova failed a doping test at the Australian Open. You don’t need to be a nun to ask: How do you solve a problem like Maria’s?"  -- RJ Currie
"The Savannah Bananas have just become the 16th team in the Coastal Plain League, which apparently ran out of good nicknames about three teams ago."  -- Brad Dickson
"Some of these teams appeared exhausted. Michigan State 64, Maryland 61, Saturday afternoon on CBS, stood out and stood to reason. Michigan State had played the night before, Maryland late the previous afternoon. The game often appeared to be played by zombies, arms dangled at their sides, poor timing and focus."  -- Phil Mushnick


Sunday, March 13, 2016


There are a few big stories in sports right now and I'm on the wrong side for the most part.

Sharapova's failed drug test
Okay, I'm certainly against PED's, no matter what the excuse, but this one doesn't upset me as much as some. Sharapova admitted she took a banned substance, didn't blame it on anyone else and didn't say it was an accident. It was a drug she had taken for years, legally, but when it was put on the list this year, she didn't bother to read the notice she was sent. Totally her own fault and she was up front completely about it. There seems to be no sympathy, no understanding and definitely no forgiveness. Should she be suspended? Absolutely. Are her sponsors correct in dropping their sponsorship?  Well, here it gets a little sticky for me. This wasn't a case of someone trying to steal an edge, or trying to hide an illegal act. She made an honest mistake and yet she's being treated like a pariah. People like Bonds and McGwire are given cushy jobs even though they obviously tried to circumvent the rules. Nike continued to back Lance Armstrong, a proven PED user but Sharapova's sponsor jumped off that ship like it was the Titanic.
So punish her of course, but let's have a little more understanding, please.

Gossage fires a high hard one 
The same way he pitched, Goose comes right at you with his opinions. A couple of days ago, he spouted off about all the showboating in baseball, in response to Bryce Harper saying that all the posturing is a good thing. Goose called guys names, pointed fingers and did not give any slack in his opinions. Harper said the game has changed and the fans like it when guys toss bats, stand at the plate and admire home runs and take forever to round the bases. It's okay in his world for pitchers to celebrate openly on the mound after a strikeout. Gossage's point is that they should celebrate but not preen and show up the opponent. Goose also complained that pitchers couldn't brush hitters back without starting a brawl and umpires are trying to read minds about intentions. More about that later.
The Goose even got called into a meeting with Girardi and Cashman over his remarks. Obviously, we don't know exactly what was said in the meeting, but afterwards Goose didn't sound like he had backed off of his statements one bit. I'm on Gossage's side on this one. So jump up and down and clap your hands after hitting a homer but don't stand at home plate admiring your hit. You can still watch it as you run to first. Pitchers can pump their fists after a strike out but low key always. Do that and no one will get upset.

Speaking of high hard ones...
There was an article on ESPN lately about Baseball's unwritten rules. Now we've been over this before and my position is known, especially on some situations.
**What's with "Defensive Indifference." If you allow a guy to steal, you ought to be penalized for it. Just because you have a big lead, doesn't mean you shouldn't play the game right. Not holding a runner on and playing back to prevent a hit isn't right. You're asking the other team  to "help" you get an out. If you don't care if a guy steals, then fine, your pitcher and catcher have a stolen base charged to their record. A team has a big lead and yet they steal a base anyway. You don't like it? Don't get mad, prevent it! Stealing is part of the game.
A pitcher is pitching a no-hitter late in the game. The third baseman plays back to prevent a hit because the batter is "not supposed to bunt for a hit because that is cheap." What's next? Are you going to say a hitter can't swing at a 2-0 or 3-0 pitch because that's unfair to the guy going for a no-hitter? Play the game right, earn your milestone without forcing the other team to help you.
Okay, I'm done.

Is spring training too long?
There are some players that need more time than others. Hitters need to face live pitching. Pitchers need to stretch out their arms, and managers have 60 or 70 players to look at. So, no, I don't think it's too long. Unlike pro football, you can buy season tickets for a team without being forced to buy spring training game tickets at the same price. If they're too long it's only because the media covers every single aspect of it from beginning to end, and we get tired of watching Single A ball players look helpless against the major leaguers.

Thank the lord Billy Martin didn't have to deal with this
Buck Showalter tells the story about telling one of his rookie pitchers how to pitch to a certain batter.
BS: "Listen, I want you to move so-and-so off the plate next time he's up."
Rookie: "Oh I don't think I can do that, skipper."
BS: "Yes, you can. Pitch him inside. Move him off the plate. He's diving across the plate and hitting line drives to right."
 Rookie: "No, I can't do that."
BS: " Look, I'm not asking you to hit him. Just move him off the plate."
Rookie: "I can't ." 
BS: "Why not?"
Rookie: "We have the same agent."

"BYU has a junior college transfer tackle named Handsome Tanielu. To give you an idea of the narcissism of college athletes today, at the first practice somebody yelled “Hey, Handsome” and 38 guys turned around."  -- Brad Dickson
" Instead of a calendar girl, I once dated a colander girl. Our relationship was strained."  -- RJ Currie
[Sorry about that, but my wife likes RJ - Chad]
"Russian ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but it was a fait accompli.  Skating officials knew something was amiss the moment she flipped her dance partner into the stands."  -- Dwight Perry

"Now rumors might have both Mark Sanchez and Colin Kaepernick in Denver. Good thing for fans Colorado has legalized marijuana."  -- Janice Hough
"PGA Tour caddies lost their lawsuit seeking compensation for having to wear bibs with advertising: “Dear fellas: Your job consists of carrying a golf bag, telling your guy, ‘178 yards’ and collecting up to 10 percent of his earnings for doing very little. Quiet, please!"  -- Greg Cote
" An elderly fan at a Philadelphia Flyers game removed her bra and threw it on the ice. I’m trying to confirm that the players threw it back."  -- Brad Dickson
"A streaker who ran onto the field during a rugby match in Auckland, New Zealand, claims he was repeatedly punched by a security guard after he was apprehended. So both could face charges — as in public indecency for the streaker and, for the guard, naked aggression."  -- Dwight Perry
"Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy Award for The Revenant. The Cleveland Browns have a shot at an ESPY for The Irrelevant."  -- RJ Currie
" The Colts resigned Adam Vinatieri for 2016. Not sure how this fits with Indianapolis’s cap room, but at least the team knows his medical bills will be covered under Medicare."  -- Janice Hough
"I'm refusing to call Johnny Manziel the Edsel of draft picks. Let’s be fair. The Edsel lasted three years."  -- Bud Shaw, Cleveland Plain Dealer
" Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle has been arrested for the sixth time in 17 months. That ties the record held by Otis on “The Andy Griffith Show."  -- Brad Dickson
"The news isn’t all bad for William Collins, the Kentucky fullback arrested after allegedly pilfering a parking meter and trying to flee from the cops. He’s the world-record holder in the one-meter dash."  -- Dwight Perry
"The Nebraska high school state basketball tournament is underway. Some claim Nebraska has too many classes. There may be something to that. A Class D-2 school had to suit up the shop teacher."  -- Brad Dickson


Sunday, March 06, 2016


It's still too early to comment about the teams since these spring training games are only mildly interesting for about 4 innings. After that, you're looking at a lot of players who probably won't make it to the majors for at least two years, if then. A-Rod's hitting pretty good, so is Beltran, but you can't pay too much attention to that since they're not really facing major league pitching.
In the meantime, we'll look at some of the other things happening in sports.

Cleveland Cavs
There seems to be a lot of talk about a lack of team chemistry here. The biggest question mark centers around Kevin Love. Does he get along with King James or not? Does he want to be in Cleveland at all? LeBron seems to be trying to keep it all together, but his celebrity status may be getting in the way, no matter how hard he tries to keep that from happening. One or two great players will not carry a team to a championship. You need that chemistry and it doesn't look good for the Cavs.
In the meantime, Steph Curry and the boys keep rolling.

Who wants to interview Gregg Popovich?
This may be the toughest job in broadcasting. Poppy won't deal with all the "fluff" questions ("Your team is down 12 points. What do you attribute to that?"  Popovich: "They scored more points.") A couple of days ago, I saw this. "Coach, you have a reputation for being a good coach. It's a pleasure to watch you work. Your team really responds..." "Yeah, yeah. Is there a question here? I've got a job to do."
Then, he left. Those interviewers better do their homework.
It reminds me of an interview with Bobby Knight I once saw. The reporter asked a question and Knight started to answer, then stopped. "What a ridiculous question," he said. "You're better than that. I know you. You're pretty smart. Try again." The reporter asked an entirely different question. "Now that's better," said Knight. "I knew you could do it. That's an intelligent, well-thought out question. Very good."
Then, he left. 

Good old ESPN
Once again, they pre-empted one of my favorite shows - The Sports Reporters - to air a special on some "breaking news." Peyton Manning has - are you sitting down? - retired. Why does that need an hour-long special? He doesn't even officially retire until Monday. Why do we have to relive his life complete with interviews with people we never head of? Didn't they learn anything from "The Decision?" Of course, they will eventually return to having pretty girls in sexy clothes laughing and flirting with their male counterparts. The real shame is that these ladies seem to know what they're talking about. This is serious business people. Treat these ladies with respect.    

Even worse when you pair ESPN with MLB
Unless you live in any major metropolitan area and regularly go to baseball games, you probably don't realize how badly these fans are treated by MLB. Read this article by Phil Mushnick of the NY Post:
And they wonder why attendance is dropping.

This could be the year of upsets. 
There isn't a college team that appears totally dominant this year. None of the major teams has less than 4 losses. There are going to be second seeded teams in the NCAA Tourny with 6 or even 7 losses. I was going to comment on how Syracuse might not get in because they will end up with 11 losses, but they won't be alone. We may even have teams with losing records in the tournament. Joe Lunardi, the Bracket King, has a nice head of hair right now, but lets see how he looks at the end of the week.

I pledge allegiance... 
I read that the Yanks Aroldis Chapman is applying to become a U.S. citizen. A citizen? This guy throws 105 miles an hour. We're not even be sure he's human yet.

The name game.
The Savannah Bananas. It turns out it's a baseball team. I thought it was the staff of a hotel I once stayed in Savannah.

"In New Mexico, there is now a donkey baseball league. “Yeah, kid, we’re, uh, sending you down.” “To Class A?” “No. Uh, you ever ridden a mule?”  In a sign of the times, three donkeys tested positive for PEDs."  -- Brad Dickson
"Peyton Manning, in a speech last night at the Florida Forum “Many of you have probably heard that I have a significant announcement to make, so I thought I’d go ahead and make it with all of you here tonight. Papa John’s is offering 50 percent off tonight through Friday.”
Someday Manning may have the only funeral where they hand out pizza coupons."  -- Janice Hough
" Jason Day phoned Tiger Woods for advice on backing up a physical game with mental toughness. Not discussed: backing up an SUV."  -- RJ Currie
"Warriors guard Klay Thompson and two teammates, taking advantage of their road stop in Orlando, visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Apparently they wanted to see the new Steph Curry exhibit."  -- Dwight Perry
" 54 years ago, Wilt Chamberlain seemingly scored at will. He also tallied 100 points in an NBA game.”  --

"Kobe Bryant had his dislocated middle finger popped back into place. Thank goodness. Without use of his middle finger, Kobe was totally unable to communicate with teammates during practice."  -- Brad Dickson
"On Steph Curry’s NBA wizardry: “He’s Picasso and everyone else is painting-by-numbers.”  -- Norman Chad
"Gianni Infantino was elected FIFA president: “Infantino immediately thanked all of the voters who’d accepted his bribes. Oh, I’m just kidding! Probably.”  -- Greg Cote
"About two dozen prisoners ran 105 laps inside the penitentiary walls at this year’s annual San Quentin Marathon.Though progressive inmates are reportedly pushing to replace it with a pole-vault competition."  -- Dwight Perry
"Last weekend at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Bud Crawford knocked down and then TKO’d “Hammerin’ ” Hank Lundy, who is now answering to “Topplin’ Hank Lundy.”  -- Brad Dickson
"Pablo Sandoval told reporters he reported to spring training with a fat ratio of 17 per cent. But enough about the man’s head."  -- RJ Currie
"The downside of MLB limiting mound visits to 30 seconds this season: “How will players be able to decide on good wedding gifts?”  -- Janice Hough  [Recalling the movie "Bull Durham"]