Sunday, January 31, 2016


I call the period between the World Series and the start of spring training in baseball, The Silly Season. Vod says there is also one that takes place every four years during the Presidential elections.
It appears that in sports, at least, it's ongoing and at all levels. I suppose you could also describe politics as a never-ending Silly Season.

Vod has a better handle on the political scene, so I'll leave that to him.

In sports, we may be leaving "Silly" in the rear view mirror and proceeding to idiotic at a breakneck clip.
** College basketball  
If you don't like the refs calls, just trip him as he runs down the court. Don't forget to say you're sorry, you didn't mean to trip him. Jarmal Reid of Oregon has mastered this one. He'll be suspended for what, three games? Four? Certainly not more than that.
If you dunk the basketball, make sure you puff up and pose so everybody in the arena - and especially the other team - knows how good you are. Actually, all you've proven is that you're tall. Don't believe me? Watch ESPN's Top Ten plays. At least four of them will be dunks and NONE of them exhibiting any athletic ability except the ability to jump and land without falling down.
**College football
If you're a star, you can do whatever you want. College rules don't apply to you, team rules maybe just a little - very little. State laws, well that's why you have an agent and a lawyer, even though you're not supposed to (see the first two sentences). And above all, women are there for your pleasure.
Jameis Winston was accused by a former student at Florida State of raping her. Winston denied the charges, the school reluctantly "investigated," and did nothing. The woman sued, and finally the school has basically given her $950,000 to just go away. BUT, now FSU president John Thrasher has said that "...we would have won the case in court," so basically that this was just a cost-effective solution. You don't have to be a college graduate to see through this nonsense. If I were Winston and I was innocent, I would not pay one red cent to walk away from this. I would insist on being cleared.
**Professional football
You must spend more time designing and practicing your end zone dance than your playbook. After all, that's how you show the world what a great player you are. I've scored a touchdown. Hooray for me!
If you're a coach, you're job is to win - at all costs. So if you have to bend the rules a little - or a lot - go ahead. Translate the rules in a 'different' way. Tamper with equipment. Spy on the other teams practices. And above all, deny, deny, deny. You can even pay a fine but still deny. Watch Patriots owner Bob Kraft display this tactic.
If you're the NFL president, you can stress how concerned the league is with player safety, deny that serious concussions take place and then institute laws to address the increase in concussions.
**Professional baseball
If you're a player, always assume you are worth 3 times what you really are. Tell reporters you're insulted that a team only offered you $8 million a year when you're clearly worth $15 million. After all, you have a family to feed.  Don't forget to insist you want to sign with a team that can win, that it's not about the money. Say it loudly because NOBODY believes that.
Team owners offer a fading star millions of dollars for umpteen years for that drawing power which fades along with the star's ability. Don't worry about the cost, make it up at the concession stands. People don't mind paying $8 for a hot dog and $12 for a beer. And parking is certainly worth $25. 
Rumor has it that one of the top pro players accepted a bribe to lose a match. So far, a lot of denials, but I don't know what to believe anymore. 
The football Pro-Bowl is on today. I'd watch it if I knew who was playing. The roster limit is 44 players. So far, 45 players have passed on playing because of injuries(?). Maybe they can get some of those Punt, Pass and Kick kids to play.
No interest? Okay, watch the NHL All-Star game. One of the worst players (but the best brawler) has been chosen for the game. Not only chosen, but he's been named the Captain!  Yeah, that sounds right.
Then there's the hockey player, Dennis Wideman,  who skated halfway across the ice after a ref he was unhappy with. He hit him from behind with both arms, driving the ref face first onto the ice. Afterwards  he claimed it was "accidental and unavoidable."  Sure, it was:

"The Lakers announced plans for a life-size bronze statue of Shaquille O’Neal outside Staples Center. It’ll be just like Shaq, only lighter and more mobile."  -- RJ Currie
"Police were called over an “incident” potentially involving Johnny Manziel and his ex-girlfriend early Saturday morning.  So congrats to all those who had January 30 in the last pool."  -- Janice Hough
"There is a new European-made movie that shows paint drying. Good, now I have something to do during Sunday's Pro Bowl."  -- Brad Dickson
"Greenpeace claims that China’s worsening air quality is due to a windless winter there.Problem solved! We’ll just lend them Dick Vitale for a few days."  -- Dwight Perry
"Security for the Super Bowl features fighter jets, helicopters and K-9 units: “Or as Bay Area football fans call such extreme measures, a regular-season Raiders game.”  -- Jim Barach
"An NFL player is about to become a father for the 12th time with nine different women. So today, he was traded to the NBA."  -- Conan OBrien
"We might have a winner for the year in the #Youhadonejob, and it goes to the guy in charge of painting the end zones for Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium – they painted TWO with the Broncos logo.  And forgot about the Panthers."  -- Janice Hough
" There are allegations of match-fixing in professional tennis. You look at pro tennis. Football. Major League Baseball. Boxing. Soccer. Soon, our cleanest event will be the Tour de France."  -- Brad Dickson
"Reporters with a social conscience like to paint a stark contrast between Super Bowl glamour and celebrity parties, and the “have-nots” across town living in poverty. However, that will not be possible this year because Santa Clara is affluent and has shipped both of its homeless people to San Jose for the week."  -- Greg Cote
"Kobe Bryant was asked if he’ll pursue a spot on the next U.S. Olympic basketball team. To everyone’s surprise, he said he’d pass."  -- RJ Currie
"Tyronn Lue is the new coach of the Cavs. Take that, Husker basketball detractors. One of our own is telling Kevin Love what to do. One of our own is telling LeBron what — OK, well, he’s telling Love."  -- Brad Dickson


Friday, January 29, 2016

The 'Every Four Years' Silly Season

The following is a public service announcement

Many folks are confused about the candidates running for president. 

Others are exhibiting ever-increasingly delirious behaviors. No wonder! 

Do phrases like … ‘build on the Obama legacy’, ‘… we never win. We lose at everything”, and … ‘carpet bomb and turn the desert to glass’ remind you of anyone?

When the current claimed frontrunners are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump or Ted Cruz - then, times are gettin’ hard boys…

To help remember who the really dangerous ones are - read, sing,  hum or chant ‘Political Science’ and give a hearty, “Yup!” You will feel better and smarter. Really. (That is Iowa vernacular for, 'Really.')

Political Science
- Randy Newman (1972 on his album ‘Sail Away’)

No one likes us, I don't know why.
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try.
And all around, even our old friends put us down,
Let's drop the big one, and see what happens.

We give them money, but are they grateful?
No their spiteful and their hateful,
They don't respect us, so let's surprise them,
We'll drop the big one, and pulverize them.

Asia's to crowded, and Europe's too old,
Africa is far to hot, and Canada's too cold,
And South America stole our name,
Let's drop the big one, they'll be no one left to blame us.

We'll save Australia,
Don't want to hurt no kangaroo.             
We'll build an all American amusement park there, they got surfin’  too.

Boom! goes London, Boom! Pa-reee,
More room for you, and more room for me,
And every city, the whole world 'round,
Will just be another American town.
Oh how peaceful it will be, 
We'll set everybody free,
They'll be a Japanese Kimono for you, they'll be Itallian shoes for me.
They all hate us anyhow, so let's drop the big one now,

Let's drop the big one now. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Since nobody wants to trade and the only "name player" in serious negotiations is Yoenis Cespedes, the baseball pundits are forced to come up with their own story lines and what better theme than telling us how baseball should change. Some ideas are good, some are minor and some will never happen. Here are some of the more prominent ones.

** A 28-man rotating roster. 28 roster players but only 25 can be declared active for a game. Good points: more players available for the manager to use. Yesterday's starting pitcher, who wouldn't be available anyway, can be taken off the active list and replaced with a player who could help. Problems:   How do you account for accrued Major League time? It means 3 more players that need to be paid at the ML level. This one will probably kill that idea.
** Move the trade deadline to Aug 15th instead of July 31st. Good points: Teams will have a better idea if they have a chance or not and teams that do will go after players more aggressively. This one should work.
** Limit the mound visits in a game to two only. If a manager wants to change pitchers, he can stand at the top of the dugout and signal (no visit is charged). What conversations take place during these visits anyway? "How are you feeling?" "I can't feel my arm, coach. Take me out." "Can you get this guy out?" "Only if I hit him in the head." "Hey! Throw strikes." "Wow. I never thought of that, skipper."
Catchers and infielders can visit for only 15 seconds without a 'visit' being charged. If the game goes extra innings, an extra 2 visits will be allowed.
Boy, do I love this one.
** Eliminate the "save" statistic. It's the most worthless stat in baseball, including the WAR and all the cybermetic defensive numbers. I understand the need for a pitcher that can close out a game, but the stat itself is artificial. Managers won't bring in their 'closer' unless it's a save situation. The three-run limit is even dumber. A closer could face as many as EIGHT batters and still get credited for a save. Yeah, that's the way to close out a game.
Jayson Stark suggests "Relief Points." A reliever gets one point for closing out a 3-run lead, two points for a 2-run lead and three points for a 1-run lead. The best part is that a reliever in the 7th or 8th inning would also be eligible for points, providing he completes an inning. He would lose a point for each run he might allow. This gives the set-up men some well-deserved recognition and can really make three relievers interchangeable. 
I suggest we call these points "Gossages" after a reliever who actually SAVED games by pitching as many as three innings to close out a win. 
I love this one, too, but it'll never happen. Having a "closer" lets the manager off the hook when it comes to making a pitching change. 

It seems that the NL may adopt the Designated Hitter  for the 2017 season. I like this for three reasons. 
1) It helps to keep some aging stars, who can still hit but can't play in the field, in the game.Where would David Ortiz have been for the last four years without this?   2) Never mind that 99% of pitchers look ridiculous at the plate, what happens when they get on base and get hurt? I'm not swayed by the people who claim the managers manipulation of his roster is one of the most intriguing part of the game. Who are they kidding? That manager is guessing just like you.   3) It eliminates the unfairness when teams from each league play each other. One team will always have an advantage. This is especially unfair when you get to the playoffs.

It's time for pro football to get really serious this week end. Four teams fighting for a spot in the Superbowl. I don't do a lot of research for football, so here is a strictly emotional prediction for Sunday's games. 
Arizona over Carolina. I like the Cardinals colors better.
Denver over New England. I know, this has little chance but I'm rooting for one last hurrah for Archie Manning's oldest. 
If these teams win, I' be crowing from the roof tops. If they lose, I'll get lots of sympathy.

"The Cleveland Cavaliers, 30-11, have fired coach David Blatt. Wait a minute, the Cavs had a coach besides Lebron?"  -- Janice Hough
"A Berlin zoo has been feeding old Christmas trees to its elephants, presumably while they cheered on Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. After all, they are Packer-derms."  -- RJ Currie  [RJ calls this his "Groaner of the week]
"A St. Louis sports-talk radio host announced he was shipping a 30-pound package of manure to Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who’s moving the NFL team to Los Angeles.In a startling reversal of fortune, Kroenke spent the week looking out for No. 2."  -- Dwight Perry
"Some scientists said a universe where time moves backward is theoretically possible. So finally, some good news for Laker fans."  -- Conan O'Brien

"ESPN’S OTL reports that the NFL sent three top health and safety officers to challenge the NIH on their proposed study on football and brain disease, even though the league has denied involvement. “I am shocked” said nobody."  -- Janice Hough
" It's reported that referees at the New England-Kansas City NFL playoff game forgot some game balls back at their hotel. You know it's been a bad year for NFL officiating when officials are forgetting game balls and botching an overtime coin flip."  -- Brad Dickson
" Patriots coach Belichick is extremely Social Media challenged. He recently accused a reporter at a post game press conference of being on “Snapface”; and thinks that “Tweeter” is the name of that bird on The Bugs Bunny Show."  -- TC Chong

"Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson has endorsed Donald Trump. Maybe Iron Mike is hoping to one day have the president’s ear."  -- RJ Currie
"The largest prime number yet — 22,338,618 digits — was discovered when:

a) a computer at the University of Central Michigan spit it out. b) agent Scott Boras announced one of his clients’ next salary demand."  -- Dwight Perry
"St. Louis Rams defensive end William Hayes said he doesn’t believe dinosaurs are real. Then someone introduced him to Brett Favre."  -- Brad Dickson




Friday, January 22, 2016

Fall From Grace

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” sang Simon & Garfunkel in February of 1968, a year of innocence and chaos. “Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

In 2016 a yearning for an imaginary and idealized past found throughout American culture and American politics devolves into Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats, Sarah Palin incomprehensible endorsement rant and the vilifying of immigrants by every GOP presidential candidate.

“It does not seem likely that Palin (or any of the rest of the remaining ClownCar Occupants) has any clear idea who Joe DiMaggio was, or why he played an important symbolic role in a folk-rock hit released just before the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. DiMaggio was born in California and played baseball in New York City, two places that from Palin’s point of view seem only marginally American.

“She might be perplexed to learn that the parents of this supposed American hero were immigrants who spoke little English and were classified as “enemy aliens” — potential terrorists, as we might say today — during World War II. They were prohibited from traveling more than five miles from home, and Giuseppe DiMaggio’s fishing boat was confiscated by the government.” - Andrew O’Hehir

That, at least, fits nicely with the xenophobic paranoia of Trump and the Mistress of the Wasilla Druken Barbecue Brawl.

- VK

Saturday, January 16, 2016


...pitchers and catchers. Or as it is known in the Yankee camp, till the first starting pitcher goes down with an injury. The baseball writers keep talking about the potential health problems of the Yankee pitchers and the fact that they are relying on some very old veterans to carry the offense, yet they continue to peg the Yanks as a probable playoff team. Sure, they could perform close to their career numbers and propel the team into the post season, but I think there may be too many danger spots to get my hopes up too high.

A-Rod: He performed better than anyone could expect but he ran out of gas for the last month.
Teixeira: Was outstanding until he broke his leg. He's really become very fragile the last few years.
Beltran: He looked over the hill in the beginning of the season, but after he recovered from his physical ailments, he was very productive.
Sabathia: The Yanks seem to come up with some technical problem to explain his inability to perform, saying that after he corrected some problem, such as losing weight (didn't work) or adding a knee brace (which may work), he performed much better. Now he has to overcome an alcohol addiction.

There are other question marks:
Can Jacoby Ellsbury ever return to his all-star capability? Can they get 140 games out of him?
Is Brett Gardner capable of getting through a season without some nagging injury making him ineffective?
When does Masahiro Tanaka's elbow finally blow up?
How much time will Aroldis Chapman lose to suspension?
Will Chase Headley finally remember how to throw the ball to first?

Brian Cashman seems done with anymore roster changes, unless he has some block buster trade he's working on. I don't think there is. We'll talk more once we see what Spring Training begins.

The Kansas City Chiefs vs the Green Bay Packers - Super Bowl I
I watched the ESPN special about the first Superbowl game this morning after using the DVR feature. The first announcement said they had recreated the event eliminating timeouts, explanation of penalties, commercials and even the huddles. Wow, this could be good. Then I found out that this 60 minute game was actually a three-hour event. I knew what that meant: three guys sitting in a studio analyzing the hell out of each play. Boy, was I wrong. It was SEVEN guys plus a few former players commenting on the game. They didn't even talk about each play. They showed the tape on 2/3rds of  the screen, But we could hear the actual broadcast only occasionally while these guys talked over it, usually not even about the play that was being shown. And what earth-shattering information were they giving us? "How about those single bar face masks?" "There's the punter with his chin strap undone." We were told at least four times the Max McGee only caught four passes all year but ended up the star of this game.
ESPN did their part - they added a block containing the score and the down & distance. Thank you. Then there was this juicy tidbit: When the Packers scored to make the score 21-10, ESPN told us it was, "The FIRST time a team had a double-digit lead in Super Bowl history." Since this was the first Superbowl, how could it not have been the first?
The only former player who was at all entertaining was Packer Jerry Kramer. They should have let him moderate the whole game.

The Name Game: 
Trail, B.C., Smoke Eaters, Junior League Hockey

"So the 49ers have hired Chip Kelly as their next coach. Well, with Oregon, Kelly does have experience dealing successfully with an amateur operation."  -- Janice Hough
"A 14-year-old has become the first person to ever solve a Rubik’s Cube in under 5 seconds. It took me 6 seconds to get my Rubik’s Cube out of the box."  -- Brad Dickson
"Michigan Wolverines’ Jake Butt was named College Football’s “Tight End of the Year”. No punchline needed."  -- TC Chong
" Rams owner Stan Kroenke disparaged his current locale in his bid to move the team to L.A.. If Kroenke were running for mayor of St. Louis against Satan, the polls would likely have the race as ‘too close to call.’"  -- Jack Finarelli
"A judge has ruled the Buffalo Bills cheerleaders are entitled to earn at least a minimum wage. Only seems fair since they have to wear minimum clothing"  -- RJ Currie
"Traffic already lining up to be late to L.A. Rams’ opening game."  --
"Q: What’s the difference between the disappearances of El Chapo and Johnny Manziel?  A: There’s no public clamor to find Manziel."  -- Dwight Perry
"Ronda Rousey is following up her SI Swimsuit photos from last year by posing only in body paint for this year’s edition. The paint will strategically cover her bruises from the Holly Holm fight."  -- TC Chong
" Johnny Manziel reportedly partied in Vegas wearing a blonde wig and fake moustache. Just like that he went from Johnny Football to Johnny Goofball. -- RJ Currie
"The underwear New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wore during his cameo in the movie Ted 2 is going up for auction next week. With bids starting at $2,500. The bidding process is expected to be brief."  -- Ian Hamilton
"Ken Griffey, Jr. was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. On his way to the podium, he pulled a hamstring and was placed on the disabled list."  -- Jerry Perisho
"There are plans for a “Baywatch” movie. It’ll just be nice to see people running in slow motion who aren’t the Philadelphia 76ers getting back on defense."  -- Brad Dickson
"Your mathematical odds of winning the Powerball were 1 in 292.2 million, only slightly worse if you didn’t buy a ticket. You are more likely to be struck by lightning — twice — while performing a handstand on a three-legged unicorn as it wins the Kentucky Derby."  -- Greg Cote


Wednesday, January 06, 2016


It's that time of year again when I reveal just how much of an old fuddy-duddy I am. It's the Baseball Hall Of Fame voting time. I honestly believe that the voters - or at least some media people - are turning the HOF into the "Hall of the Very-Good" or just "Good" or the "We-Just-Like-This-Guy."

The argument I really don't like is where they compare a candidate to someone who is in the HOF, that doesn't belong there either. The Hall should be a place for the really, really outstanding players. You want Alan Trammel in? Don't tell me his numbers are as good as Luis Aparicio. He doesn't belong there either. Compare his numbers to Rogers Hornsby. Does he match up well there? Nope. Jeff Kent? A lot closer with the numbers, but still not quite.

Fred McGriff is getting a lot of play. His numbers - Almost 2500 hits - Almost 500 home runs - Almost 1600 RBIs. Is he a HOFer? Well...almost. Lou Gehrig's numbers - 2720, 493 and 1995 in those same categories for a career shortened by a hideous disease.

So here is my opinion of each reasonable candidate:
Mike Piazza - Good numbers but not good enough   NO
Jeff Bagwell -   Same                                                NO
Tim Raines -    Same                                                NO
Curt Schilling - Afraid not, but at least his sock made it   MAYBE
Roger Clemens - No, unless we accept his "trainer," too  NO
Barry Bonds - No, even with his trainer.                    NO
Edgar Martinez - Great hitter, but baseball has two sides, offense and defense  NO
Lee Smith -  Absolutely. Why has this taken so long?    YES
Mike Mussina - Perhaps. if he had a bloody sock, too.   MAYBE
Jeff Kent - See above                                                NO
Fred McGriff -  See above                                         NO
Larry Walker -    "                                                     NO
Gary Sheffield -   "                                                     NO
Mark McGwire - We're not here to talk about the past.   NO
Sammy Sosa  -  "I don't understand the question."        NO
Ken Griffey - Do you need to ask?                                 YES
Trevor Hoffman - Only one reliever with better numbers  YES  
There are thirteen more candidates who won't have a big following, if any.

There you have it. 32 candidates, 3 positives, 2 maybes and the rest, sorry. Very good players, just not outstanding superstars. Certainly not as deserving as say, Bill Mazeroski.  No, wait....
I warned you that I was an old Fuddy-Duddy.

"I wouldn’t say attendance at the Foster Farms Bowl was not good, but even Foster didn’t show up."  -- Brad Dickson
"The Warriors’ victory over the Hornets was their 35th straight win at home. That’s nine shy of the mark set by the Bulls; 209 short of the mark set by my wife."  -- RJ Currie
"Newborn baby panda Bei Bei immediately fell asleep upon being introduced to the media at Washington’s National Zoo in mid-December. In Bei Bei’s defense, though, there was a 76ers game on TV at the time."  -- Dwight Perry
"My New Year’s resolution for 2016 was to join a gym. My New Year’s resolution next year is to go to that gym."  -- James Corden, CBS

"Eight Ohio State Buckeyes so far are foregoing eligibility to declare early for the NFL draft. Knowing Urban Meyer and his players, have to wonder how many of them might have worn out the patience of the Columbus police?"  -- Janice Hough
"The Philadelphia Eagles fired coach Chip Kelly with one game left in the season. In a year filled with controversy, it’s not clear what made the Chip hit the fan."  -- RJ Currie
 "A Stanford lineman proposed to his girlfriend after his team’s 45-16 Rose Bowl win: “The way things went that day, she was dating an Iowa lineman when the game started."  -- Brad Dickson
" Circle the date for Jan. 23, when it’ll be IUPUI vs. IPFW. Just one question: Is that a basketball schedule or an eye chart?"  -- Dwight Perry

"Triple-Crown-winning rider Victor Espinoza called it “a sham” that SI’s Sportsperson of the Year is Serena Williams instead of American Pharaoh. Not a surprise a jockey has his horse’s back."  --   RJ Currie
"The Mariners acquired lefty pitcher Mike Kickham. I’d suspect their plan is to use Kickham when they’re down."  -- Larry Stone, Seattle Times.
"Mariners icon Ken Griffey Jr. is finally bound for Cooperstown. Just one question: Has a Hall of Fame plaque ever depicted a player with his cap on backwards?"  -- Dwight Perry
"A few hundred people left the Nebraska men’s basketball vs. Northwestern game early. To make it worse, eight of those people played for the Huskers."  -- Brad Dickson
"A report reveals that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spent over $82,000 on food at NFL games. Christie defended himself, saying, “Hey, both of those games went into overtime."  -- Conan O'Brien