Author: sammano

I'm just a guy...just a man trying to survive in this wacky world, stay true to myself (whatever that means), maybe have some fun, have a positive influence on people and events, and navigate this curvy, bumpy road called life.

2014 NFL Preview & Prognostications

laces-football-grassAllow me to be bluntly honest. Not that I am usually dishonest, but I am rarely blunt. At any rate, I’m not as excited as usual to do goodevil-copythis preview. The NFL is becoming harder & harder to watch thanks to that moron Fidel Goodell. I look at professional football suits, including the league office and team front offices, kind of like I do the government. I believe they should interfere with the game as little as possible. Unfortunately nowadays, with Goodell’s “personal conduct policy” and the pathological need to make a violent collision sport “safe”, all the talking heads ever yap about (whenever they aren’t slobbering all over rookie defensive end Michael Sam, indulging Browns “backup” QB Johnny Manziel, or being offended by the Washington Redskins name) are penalties and suspensions. Defense used to win championships, but the NFL has neutered defenses to the point that they might as well not even take the field. I sincerely believe we are only a few years away from flag football. Goodell is a succubus that has almost singlehandedly ruined what was once the greatest sport and the best pro league in the world. Thanks a lot jackass. So anyway, I suppose I will move forward with this preview and I’ll watch the games. I might even enjoy myself on occasion. But it’s not the same. It never will be unless Goodell is run out office and is replaced by someone with the cahonas to reverse nearly every bad decision that has been made in the past 8 years.

 

 

 

NFC

East
Philadelphia Eagles
(10-6) 14-2
Dallas Cowboys
(8-8) 7-9
NY Giants
(7-9) 6-10
Washington Redskins
(3-13) 6-10
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly didn’t have quite the growing pains in his rookie season that I expected, and I believe Philly will be even better this year. The rest of eaglesthis division is mediocre at best. The Cowboys defense isn’t any better than it was in 2013. The Tom Coughlin era in New York will likely end in the next couple of seasons with a whimper instead of a bang. And the Redskins backup quarterback may be better than their vastly overrated starter.

 

 

North
Green Bay Packers
(8-7-1) 13-3
Detroit Lions
(7-9) 8-8
Chicago Bears
(8-8) 7-9
Minnesota Vikings
(5-10-1) 7-9
Another mediocre division. The Packers, despite losing defensive tackle BJ Raji (to injury not free agency), should run away with the crown behind QB Aaron Green_Bay_Packers_HelmetRogers and RB Eddie Lacy. The Lions may show some improvement but aren’t ready to break thru just yet. Bears QB Jay Cutler is even more overrated that RGIII in Washington. And Minnesota won’t contend until they decide to let Teddy Bridgewater take the reigns as the franchise signal caller he was drafted to be and stop pussyfooting around with Matt Cassel.

 

 

South
New Orleans Saints
(11-5) 10-6
Carolina Panthers
(12-4) 10-6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(4-12) 9-7
Atlanta Falcons
(4-12) 7-9
Now we’re starting to have some fun. Until Drew Brees shows that he just can’t do it anymore he has to be considered one of the few elite quarterbacks in the 10_new_orleans_saintsleague. I’d feel a little bit better if the Saints had a franchise RB (no…Mark Ingram, Khiri Robinson, & Pierre Thomas don’t count), but as long as TE Jimmie Graham is around to catch touchdowns from Brees and the defense is atleast solid the Saints must be considered the favorites. Carolina probably takes a bit of a step back this year since their all new receiving corps consists of Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, & rookie Kelvin Benjamin and they lost cornerstone left tackle Jordan Gross. I look for Benjamin to grow into a big time receiver, but let’s not rush things. The brief Greg Schiano era is over in Tampa and Lovie Smith…inexplicably canned by the Chicago Bears a couple of years ago…takes over a team with a solid defense, a potentially very good receiving corps, and a decent running game. I understand why the Bucs are receiving a lot of buzz. But neither Josh McCown nor Mike Glennon inspire much confidence in the quarterback position, so until they remedy that issue Tampa can’t be considered serious contenders. I look for the Falcons to bounce back a little bit from an abysmal 2013, but this is such a tough division that I still think they draw the short straw.

 

 

West
Seattle Seahawks
(13-3) 10-6
San Francisco 49ers
(12-4) 10-6
Arizona Cardinals
(10-6) 9-7
St. Louis Rams
(7-9) 3-13
Super Bowl Champions oftentimes slip a little the following season. They have a huge target on their back, spend a little too much of the offseason in celebration seattle-seahawks1mode, and tend to lose a few players to free agency who are understandably cashing in on the team’s success. Seattle is no different. However, luckily for the Seahawks their main rivals…the 49ers…are having a rough offseason with the 9 game suspension of troubled defensive tackle Aldon Smith as well as not having the services of linebacker Navorro Bowman, who tore up his knee in the NFC championship game. I like the Cardinals a lot but I’m not ready to say they are better than Seattle & ‘Frisco just yet. I might regret not venturing out on that particular limb. The Rams’ season was probably going to be forgettable anyway, but with the loss QB Sam Bradford…again…to another knee injury they are likely looking at a top 5 pick in the 2015 draft (which they’ll probably use on a quarterback to replace the disappointing Bradford).

 

 

Playoff Teams: Philadelphia, Green Bay, New Orleans, Seattle, Carolina, San Francisco
NFC Championship: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers

 

 

 

AFC

East
New England Patriots
(12-4) 13-3
Buffalo Bills
(6-10) 8-8
NY Jets
(8-8) 8-8
Miami Dolphins
(8-8) 7-9
Good Lord when will the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era end?? Ateast the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl in awhile. But they shouldn’t have any problem winning New_England_Patriots_Helmetthis division. I think the Bills are headed in the right direction and we’ll find out this season if QB EJ Manuel is the real deal. The addition of rookie WR Sammy Watkins will help. Jets coach Rex Ryan did enough last year to keep his job, but I don’t believe we’ll see any improvement this year. I am sure the Geno Smith/Michael Vick battle at QB will be the dominant story all season in The Big Apple. The Dolphins are likely to remain insignificant. Don’t be surprised if head coach Joe Philbin finds himself on the hot seat by the end of the year.

 

 

North
Cincinnati Bengals
(11-5) 10-6
Baltimore Ravens
(8-8) 9-7
Pittsburgh Steelers
(8-8) 7-9
Cleveland Browns
(4-12) 6-10
As much as it breaks my heart I have to admit that I don’t have much confidence in my Pittsburgh Steelers. A quarter of their draft picks didn’t even make the team. Cincinnati_Bengals_HelmetClearly something is amiss in the Steelers front office. I don’t think the Bengals will get very far in the playoffs but they should win the division. The Ravens are no longer a serious Super Bowl contender but they’ll be competitive. The quarterback situation in Cleveland is murky at best and I’m not at all impressed with new head coach Mike Pettine who seems ill prepared for the job.

 

 

South
Indianapolis Colts
(11-5) 12-4
Jacksonville Jaguars
(4-12) 8-8
Tennessee Titans
(7-9) 8-8
Houston Texans
(2-14) 6-10
Is Andrew Luck just an above average quarterback or is he an elite transcendent talent on par with Manning (you know which one), Brady, & Brees?? I think we’ll beIndianapolis_Colts_Helmet better equipped to ponder that question after this season. I like the direction the Jags are headed, but they need to stop this Chad Henne silliness and make rookie Blake Bortles the starting QB. Sure he’ll make some mistakes, but he’ll also grow & learn and do some good things that Henne just doesn’t have the talent to achieve. Tennessee and Houston are treading water, although if the Texans make newly acquired QB Ryan Mallet the starter sooner rather than later they might have some potential.

 

 

West
Denver Broncos
(13-3) 11-5
San Diego Chargers
(9-7) 10-6
Kansas City Chiefs
(11-5) 7-9
Oakland Raiders
(4-12) 8-8
This is probably it for Peyton Manning. The window is closing fast. The Broncos upgraded their defense a lot this offseason and the offense should be as good or broncos-4759better than 2014, so anything less than a Lombardi Trophy would be a huge disappointment. The Chargers are sneaky good and could be a scary team to face in the playoffs. I think the Chiefs fall back a bit from their surprisingly successful season of last year. The Raiders will run like the wind with Maurice Jones-Drew but it won’t be enough. Look for rookie QB Derek Carr to emerge as the starter, but head coach Dennis Allen might be the first to lose his job this year.

 

 

Playoff Teams: New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Denver, Baltimore, San Diego
AFC Championship: Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts

 

 

 

 

Denver Broncos 31 sbGB Packers 28

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2014 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 1

Football is back!! It kind of snuck up on me. I have been watching NFL pre-season games, but had no idea that real football_goalcollege games that actually count started tonight. Then when I found out that information a few days ago I wasn’t feeling well. So I am kind of under the gun here and will make this quick & dirty. That’s okay because I am still not quite up to par.

This is the third season for these picks and the second where I am going head-to-head with my nephew Zach. In 2013 I went 45-46, while Zach was 41-49 in his inaugural campaign. I am sure both of us will do better this season. We pick 5 games each week and use point spreads just to make it challenging. I do NOT condone gambling. I don’t think it is the epitome of evil or anything like that, I just believe that there are many many many other things…better things…on which folks should spend their hard earned money. These picks are just a fun way for two diehard fans to entertain ourselves and hopefully others as well. So…onto the picks. Y’all get a bonus pick this week since I am so excited for the return of football and there happens to be an unusual amount of intriguing games for the first week of the college season.

 

 

 

 
Texas A&M at South Carolina (-10.5)
gamecocks-logoThe Aggies begin life without Johnny Football. He’s the Cleveland Browns’ problem now. A&M suffered other losses as well that leaves them texas_am_01in rebuilding mode. The Gamecocks will be starting a new quarterback, but I expect big things from them under the leadership of head coach Steve Spurrier as he enters his 10th year at the helm in Columbia. Zach thinks replacing Jadeveon Clowney will be atleast as difficult for South Carolina as replacing Manziel will be for A&M. He is predicting a very close South Carolina win…close enough for A&M to cover the points.

My Pick: South Carolina
Z’s Pick: Texas A&M

 

 

 

Ohio St. (-16.5) vs. Navy
I have no doubt that the Buckeyes will win this game. Until recently they were thought to be legit national title contenders, but the loss of QB Braxton Miller to a navyshoulder injury has cooled that talk. Meanwhile I think the Midshipmen are a solid team that can hang tough and cover the spread. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Navy
Z’s Pick: Navy

 

 

 

Clemson at Georgia (-7.5)
georgiaThese look like two solid 7-9 win teams that will hang around the lower tier of the Top 25 most of the season but won’t be in the national titleclemson conversation. Georgia has the home field and their defense is probably a little bit better. Zach likes Clemson’s speed & passing game. He’s predicting big things for the Tigers.

My Pick: Georgia
Z’s Pick: Clemson

 

 

 

Florida St. (-17.5) at Oklahoma St.
The Seminoles are the pre-season #1 in most polls and return Heisman winning QB Jameis Winston. I have no doubt that Oklahoma St. will be athletic, fast, andFlorida_State_Seminoles prolific on offense…but they aren’t beating Florida St. However the point spread gives me pause. Can the defending national champions cover the points?? If they don’t will people begin to doubt them?? Zach apparently has so little interest in this game that he doesn’t even care to make a pick *lol*.

My Pick: Florida St.
Z’s Pick: none

 

 

 

Ole Miss (-10.5) vs Boise St.
boise-state1The Rebels are getting some pre-season attention. I am sure there are legitimate reasons for that, though I am far too lazy to find out what theyole miss are. I just think the SEC is too stacked for a team that has finished 21-29 over the course of the past four seasons to all the sudden be title contenders. Meanwhile everyone seems to have forgotten about Boise St. after they won “only” 8 games last season and head coach Chris Petersen left for the Washington Huskies. My vibes…unreliable as they may be…are telling me that Boise St. is better than people think and Ole Miss won’t live up to expectations. Zach isn’t at all excited about this game but thinks Ole Miss will use defense to win easily.

My Pick: Boise St.
Z’s Pick: Ole Miss

 

 

 

LSU (-4.5) at Wisconsin
I fully expect this to be one of the best games of the opening weekend. The Tigers are nominal favorites despite Wisconsin having the home field. That surprises WisconsinBadgersme. I just think that LSU having to break in a new QB is enough of a disadvantage that the Badgers’ brand of smashmouth football will prevail. It may not be pretty but it can be effective. Look for RB Melvin Gordon to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 yards and atleast a couple of touchdowns. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin

 

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Points of Ponderation…..Episode 3.14

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

I wasn’t alive in the 50’s & 60’s, plus I am white. Therefore I can’t say that I truly understand racism or its effects on one’s life & psyche. However, I feel BoJfairly confident in making the assumption that folks from that era and before (including slaves from a few hundred years ago) would be appalled at the way the term racist is so flippantly thrown around these days. The media, politicians, and anyone else with a public forum to espouse their opinions play the race card as effortlessly as a NASCAR driver downshifting thru turns at Daytona. If a white person disagrees with or dislikes another individual and that second person just happens to be a minority then batten down the hatches because accusations of racism will be hurled. It’s sickening. It makes people hesitant to even argue their point, which of course is the idea…to crush debate. Liberals know that allegations of racism are intellectually vacant at best, but they also know that no one likes being called a racist. It’s a shrewd yet effective tactic, one that is now being utilized by the “LGBT community”, which should also offend anyone who has experienced true racism or oppression since being gay and being black are two completely different things.

 

 

FUI have taken a vow of silence…of sorts…on Facebook. Why?? Well, as citizens of The Manoverse know I can be rather opinionated. My sense of humor could rightly be described as sardonic…maybe even snarky. Those who know me understand that and know that I am, for the most part, a polite & introverted person who just happens to have a low tolerance for BS but unfortunately smells too much of it in our modern society. I have had to be mindful of my emotions on social media and have truly made an attempt to tone it down in the past year or two. Unfortunately, even though friends may get me, friends of friends often do not so when I express my (usually right) opinion in certain threads I have gotten into some intense tete-a-tetes with people I don’t even know. To be honest my dark side can come out in those instances and I can be easily irritated by ignorance or willful stupidity. There is one particular woman who has been a thorn in my side. She is ultra-liberal and, quite frankly, rather mean. She apparently went to college with me (I don’t ever recall meeting her) because we have a couple of friends in common. They are also raging liberals but they’ve never been mean to me so I have little reason to be disgusted by their presence on this planet. This nemesis of mine though…let’s call her Herb (she does actually make Rachel Maddow look like a Playboy centerfold…I’ve seen pictures)…is a disgusting piece of crap that has been repeatedly vicious to me. She has called me fat, lazy, and a bunch of other horrible things despite never having met me personally (that I recall). Ironically the last straw wasn’t anything political. Our mutual friend…who can be just as snarky as me despite being a bleeding heart left winger…had posted a humorous comment about Taylor Swift’s latest song. I simply replied that I didn’t think Taylor Swift is all that talented…or something to that effect. Herb jumped on my comment like Lindsey Lohan pouncing on a liter of vodka. I politely replied that I wasn’t going to get into another pointless argument with her, to which she replied that all my arguments are pointless. It was at that moment that I decided that I’ve had enough of idiotic bitches like Herb bringing me down. That’s what liberals do…they bring other people down to make themselves feel better about their own pathetic lives. I Herbdon’t know this woman. I don’t know if she is married. I don’t know if she has kids. I have no idea what she does for a living. I don’t care. All I know is that she is an evil shrew who I wish nothing but pain & misery. And I know that it isn’t worth the aggravation to engage such wretched wastes of space because they aren’t capable of intelligent debate, which is why I will no longer be posting much of anything on Facebook. Oh I will still upload photos & click on the “like” button occasionally, and I will post links to stuff I write for The Manofesto. But there will be no status updates, no articles posted with my witty comments, and certainly no opinions expressed on my page or anyone else’s. There is no benefit for me. Only agony & frustration await, and I am no longer willing to put myself through that just to argue a point with people who aren’t capable of understanding it anyway.

 

 

Speaking of racism…..
I didn’t watch the Emmy Awards. It was wrestling night and I have my priorities. Plus, out of the 12 nominated shows for Best Drama & Best Comedy I’ve only ever watched one. However, the next day I did search online for video of Billy Crystal’s lovely tribute to the late Robin Williams. Now, apparently, that tribute is being called racist. After Mr. Crystal’s warm words about his long-time friend they played a montage of Williams moments from various TV appearances. The clip in question was from an episode of Inside the Actors Studio when Williams was taking questions from the audience. I RW3remember watching it. At one point he takes a scarf from a woman and improvs several characters using the scarf as a prop. One of those characters was an Iranian woman who says “help me”. This is what is being called…by a few idiots on Twitter…racist toward Muslims. First of all, Muslim isn’t a race it is a religion. Secondly the bit was commentary on the way the Iranian government oppresses women. It is ridiculous that anyone’s takeaway would be that Robin Williams was racist. Most comedians make fun of everybody…black & white, male & female, rich & poor, straight & gay, Democrat & Republican, Christian, Muslim, Jew, & any other religion under the sun. Oh sure like most anyone associated with Hollywood many may lean a certain way, but if they only made fun of certain groups and let others completely off the hook they’d run out of material pretty quick. Robin Williams’ career lasted nearly 40 years. I am quite sure at one point or another he made jokes about a plethora of “controversial” topics. As a long-time fan of both Williams and Billy Crystal it really ticks me off that such a classy moment is being tainted by a bunch of spineless pantywaists whose main purpose in life is to get offended over nothing and cause trouble. Get a life losers.

2014 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

football-introducing-the-science_1The time has finally come!! After decades of mythical national champions and BCS (emphasis on the BS) silliness college football finally gets a playoff. Is the system perfect?? I don’t know…probably not. But I will reserve judgment until I see exactly how it works out. One thing we know for sure…there is no longer a race to be #1 or even the runner-up. Four teams will earn an opportunity to be in the playoff mix, so as long as a team is amongst those final four they’ll get their shot. Any “controversy” will be a debate as to which team deserves that 4th spot, and I am sure there will be a few teams staking a claim. But at the end of the day my vibe is that the argument will be rather muted & somewhat trivial and that fans will be mostly satisfied with the outcome.

 

 

 

1 Florida State
Last Season: 14-0
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Oklahoma St., 9/20 vs. Clemson, 10/18 vs. Notre Dame
Defending national champions. Returning Heisman winning quarterback. Former wrestling champion Ric Flair used to say “To be the man you have to beat the man”FloridaStateSeminoles1 and until a team comes along and knocks the Seminoles off their perch I think they have to be given this top spot. Two out-of-conference games against Oklahoma St. & Notre Dame as well as the always entertaining ACC clash against Clemson are all in Tallahassee. I’d be stunned if this team isn’t in that final four.

 

 

2 Oregon
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 9/6 vs. Michigan St., 10/11 at UCLA, 11/1 vs. Stanford
Quarterback Marcus Mariotta likely could have been a first round pick in the NFL Draft but chose to return to Eugene for a shot at the national title and a run at the Oregon-DucksHeisman Trophy. I think he has a strong chance to snag both. Head coach Mark Helfrich didn’t miss a beat after taking the helm last season when Chip Kelly moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles. The PAC 12 is one of the toughest conferences in the land, but I think we’ll see the Ducks overcome both UCLA and Stanford to once again be in the national championship conversation.

 

 

3 Alabama
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 at LSU, 11/29 vs. Auburn
Let’s be clear…the inaugural 4 team playoff will, come hell or high water, include the Crimson Tide. The major players in the SEC are probably going to spend the AlabamaCrimsonTide2season beating up on each other, but that’ll just endear them all to the lapdog media even more. ‘Bama must replace quarterback AJ McCarron who is now patiently awaiting the inevitable implosion of fellow signal caller Andy Dalton as a Cincinnati Bengal. I don’t think it matters who ends up with the job for the Tide. Their calling card is a tenacious defense and a virtually unstoppable running game.

 

 

4 South Carolina
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 8/28 vs. Texas A&M, 9/13 vs. Georgia, 10/25 at Auburn, 11/29 at Clemson
Do not be surprised if the powers-that-be contort themselves into a pretzel trying to get two SEC teams into the playoff. How does that happen?? Simple. First of all,Gamecocks the Gamecocks don’t play Alabama during the regular season. It is entirely conceivable that both teams go into the SEC title game undefeated. Maybe ‘Bama is #1 and South Carolina is a Top 10 team. South Carolina wins a close game and rightfully ascends into the top 4. The collective hard-on the masses have for Alabama means they tumble…but not much. It’s possible. You heard it here first.

 

 

5 UCLA
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 10/11 vs. Oregon, 11/22 vs. USC, 11/28 vs. Stanford
I really like the PAC 12, but in the scenario described above it could be their runner-up that gets left out in the cold. Let’s imagine this. Oregon beats the Bruins in the ucla_bruins2season opener and goes undefeated. UCLA overcomes the loss and doesn’t lose the rest of the regular season. The two meet again in the conference title game and the Ducks prevail in an epic contest. There is no way that UCLA beats out the SEC runner-up to get into the playoff.

 

 

6 Oklahoma
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 vs. Baylor, 12/6 vs. Oklahoma St.
The Big 12 only has ten teams and no championship game. That really hurts their chances of having a playoff team. It doesn’t help that the conference is relatively weak. oklahomaEntertaining?? Sure. But the Sooners defeating the likes of TCU, Iowa St., West Virginia, & Kansas by three or more touchdowns won’t impress anybody. It is more than possible that Oklahoma could run the table and still not even be in the playoff discussion. If they drop a game to Baylor or in-state rival Oklahoma St. then they’re toast.

 

 

7 Wisconsin
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 8/30 vs. LSU, 11/15 vs. Nebraska
Other pundits may be picking a different Big Ten (which now has 14 teams) team to prevail, but I think the Badgers will pound their way to the conference WisconsinBadgerschampionship behind 6ft.1 207lb. junior running back Melvin Gordon. Whether or not they win their season opening out-of-conference matchup with the LSU Tigers is irrelevant, although that game being in Madison certainly helps. A mid-November clash with Nebraska is also at home and will likely decide who represents the division in the conference title game.

 

 

8 Baylor
Last Season: 11-2
Key Games: 11/8 at Oklahoma
Senior quarterback Bryce Petty returns to lead what was a prolific and dominating offense in 2013. The Bears have the same issue as any other Big 12 contender inbaylor that they are unlikely to receive as much respect on a national scale as teams from the SEC or PAC 12. An out-of-conference schedule that includes SMU, Northwestern St., & Buffalo isn’t going to help. Basically the whole season comes down to an early November clash with the Sooners in Norman. The winner of that game probably plays in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. The loser will end up in something depressing like the Advocare Texas Bowl.

 

 

9 Boise State
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 8/28 vs. Ole Miss, 10/24 vs. BYU
They’re baaaccckkk. The Broncos have long been college football’s Little Engine That Could. They have consistently been a double digit win team over the past 15 boise-state-logoyears. After a lot of rumors and flirting with other gigs in the past decade former head coach Chris Petersen moved on to Washington and has been replaced in Boise by Bryan Harsin, a former Broncos offensive coordinator who also spent some time coaching under Mack Brown at Texas. After going 8-5 in 2013 no one is really talking about Boise St., which will make it all the sweeter when they win 10 or 11 games. Their season opener is an out-of-conference contest against an Ole Miss team that seems to be getting much love this pre-season despite the fact that they play a murderous SEC schedule. I’m betting people will remember Boise St. is still around afterward.

 

 

10 Michigan State
Last Season: 13-1
Key Games: 9/6 at Oregon, 10/4 vs. Nebraska, 11/8 vs. Ohio St.
The Spartans all too often get lost in the Big Ten (which has 14 teams) shuffle. But if you look at their success over the past few seasons they have been remarkablyMichigan_State_Spartans consistent, winning 11+ games three out of the past four years. This is another team that wins with good old-fashioned smashmouth football and a tough defense. Even if they lose 2 out of 3 key games and finish 10-2 they could have a legitimate opportunity to be in the conference title mix.

 

 

11 Ohio State
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 11/8 at Michigan St.
Losing QB Braxton Miller for the season virtually eliminates the Buckeyes from the championship picture. They have an unimpressive & weak schedule with neither Ohio_State_BuckeyesNebraska nor Wisconsin anywhere in sight. All it will take is a loss to Michigan St. to end the dream. And let’s be honest…if they were to somehow make it to the playoff they’d get beaten like a government mule.

 

 

12 Nebraska
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 10/4 at Michigan St., 11/15 at Wisconsin
I fully expect a logjam at the top of the Big Ten (which has 14 teams). There will probably be 3 or 4 teams finishing somewhere around the 9-3/10-2 mark. The nebraskaCornhuskers’ out-of-conference schedule, which includes Miami, FL & Fresno St., isn’t bad. If they can split their two key games they will almost certainly be a solid Top 25 team.

 

 

13 Marshall
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: all of them and none of them
Marshall is my alma mater. I know that expectations are high in my old stomping grounds in Huntington, WV. Here is what I expect. I expect an undefeated season. I herdexpect QB Rakeem Cato to be invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony though he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Arizona of actually winning. I expect that undefeated season to mean diddly squat as far as the national playoff. And I expect that if…if…the Herd screws the pooch in any game…including a C-USA championship game…they will tumble very quickly from the rankings.

 

 

14 Iowa
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 11/22 vs. Wisconsin, 11/28 vs. Nebraska
The Hawkeyes are another team that can always be dangerous even in a down year. Head coach Kirk Ferentz is one of those names that always gets mentioned iowafor “better” jobs, whether in the NFL or elsewhere in college. At age 59 and going into his 16th year at the helm in Iowa City it looks less & less likely that he will ever actually make the jump and will instead be one of those lifers like Bobby Bowden or Frank Beamer that sticks around for three decades. Having said that, a close examination of Iowa’s “success” under Ferentz shows that they’ve only had four double digit win seasons during his tenure. If they can split the two key games above…both of which are at home…they could add another in 2014.

 

 

15 Bowling Green
Last Season: 10-4
Key Games: I have no idea
Someone’s got to win the MAC, right?? Actually I like watching MAC football. Their games are usually quite entertaining. The problem is that they are all kind of just bowling greenrandom teams from Ohio (and a couple of other midwestern states). It reminds me of eating at McDonald’s…you know there are better options available and you aren’t quite sure exactly what you’re consuming, but in the moment it is sort of tasty and mostly satisfying. At any rate, the Falcons won the conference title game in 2013, upsetting a Northern Illinois team that was ranked in the Top 20. They seem to be getting some “others receiving votes” love in other polls, and since the entire Top 25 can’t be SEC, PAC 12, & Big Ten (which has 14 teams) I’ll give this team a fighting chance to win 10 or 11 games (they’ll get mauled at Wisconsin), win the conference, and earn this spot.

 

 

16 LSU
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Wisconsin, 10/4 at Auburn, 11/8 vs. Alabama, 11/27 at Texas A&M
The Bayou Bengals seem to be one of those teams that just reload and have tremendous success year after year. However, I am a bit nervous about their chances lsu_logo-9547in 2014. First of all they have to replace a quarterback, running back, & wide receiver (as well as about a half dozen other players) that were all taken in the NFL Draft. Secondly their out-of-conference schedule includes the season opener…a neutral site clash against Wisconsin. And of course the biggest issue…they play in the SEC. I realize that the wet dream of the powers-that-be is probably an all-SEC four team playoff for the national title, but that ain’t gonna happen. Someone will be on the outside looking in. If LSU can overcome all of that and still have a Top 20 team it will be a remarkable feat.

 

 

17 Stanford
Last Season: 11-3
Key Games: 9/6 vs. USC, 10/4 at Notre Dame, 11/1 at Oregon, 11/28 at UCLA
Stanford has the same issue as LSU. They play in a tough conference where the law of averages dictates that not everybody can be a Top 10 national photo.stanfordtreechampionship contender. The schedule is brutal. If this team can somehow get to 9 wins they will deserve a solid ranking.

 

 

18 Navy
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Ohio St., 11/1 vs. Notre Dame
Call me crazy, but I think the Midshipmen have a puncher’s chance in their season opening neutral site game against Ohio St. Okay okay…I’m not going to rush to navyVegas or Atlantic City and actually put money on that, but the rest of the season looks pretty decent. There is a November contest against Notre Dame that is also winnable. But even if Navy loses those two games they could still end up in this spot by going 10-2 and being very competitive (within two TDs) against the Buckeyes and Irish.

 

 

19 Oklahoma State
Last Season: 10-3
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Florida St., 11/22 at Baylor, 12/6 at Oklahoma
The Cowboys open their season at the Palace in Dallas against #1 Florida St. Ouch. If they pull the upset it’ll turn college football on its collective ear on the very firstoklahoma_state_cowboys_iphone_wallpaper weekend of the season. However, even though that is unlikely, the truth is that the whole season comes down to the final two games against Baylor and Oklahoma. Split those two games and this ranking looks golden. But even if Oklahoma St. loses all three of their key games they can still get here by being very competitive in those games and beating their other nine opponents into oblivion.

 

 

20 Central Florida
Last Season: 12-1
Key Games: 8/30 at Penn St., 9/13 at Missouri
Quick…tell me what conference UCF plays in. Now tell me three other teams in that conference. Give up?? The American Athletic Conference is the very definition 2007-UCF-Knight-headof mediocrity, comprised of refugees from C-USA and the old Big East that just didn’t have enough to offer for a more well-respected conference to invite them to play with the big boys. It is somewhat surprising that UCF finds itself in such a hot mess given that they are the 2nd largest university in the country. Let that sink in for a minute. UCF is bigger than Florida, Florida St., & Miami, FL…all of whom have had tremendous success on the gridiron. Will such success eventually occur for the Knights?? Maybe. Until that happens though they will be satisfied to win their conference and be a solid Top 20 team. I am a bit concerned that they must replace QB Blake Bortles who is now plying his trade in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But at the end of the day I think this is a team that will overcome adversity, win 9 or 10 games, and secure another conference title.

 

 

21 Arizona
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 10/2 at Oregon, 10/11 vs. USC, 11/1 at UCLA,
There are a handful of other PAC 12 teams that get all the love, but don’t forget about the Wildcats. Head coach Rich Fraudriguez seems to be much more college_arizona_90comfortable in Tucson than he ever was in Ann Arbor, MI. I think lower expectations and staying off the beaten path suits him well. If Arizona can pull off just one big upset and win 9 or 10 games they are a solid choice to sneak into the rankings.

 

 

22 Notre Dame
Last Season: 9-4
Key Games: 10/4 vs. Stanford, 10/18 at Florida St., 11/29 at USC
The Fighting Irish can’t cheat as much on the football field as they apparently do in the classroom because…well…television cameras. The question is can theyNotreDameFightingIrish recover from the loss of atleast 4 players (and who knows what other shoes may drop) and meet always lofty expectations?? I assume they’ll hang around and be good enough to be a solid 8/9 win bowl team. Brian Kelly is a good coach and QB Everett Golson returns from his 2013…hiatus…which means the offense should be decent. Pulling an upset in any one of the three key games would almost assure sneaking into the final rankings.

 

 

23 Virginia Tech
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 9/6 at Ohio St., 10/4 at North Carolina, 10/23 vs. Miami, FL
Florida St. will win the ACC. But who will win the other division and be chum for the Seminoles in the conference title game?? Most “experts” are picking North Virginia_Tech_Hokies2Carolina or Miami to fill that role. I’m playing a hunch and going against the grain. Head coach Frank Beamer has a ton of experience and his team plays in a relatively mediocre conference. I don’t think they’ll beat Ohio St., but that isn’t where the focus should be anyway. It’s a three horse race for the Coastal Division and it’ll all come down to October contests against the Tar Heels and Hurricanes.

 

 

24 Auburn
Last Season: 12-2
Key Games: 10/4 vs. LSU, 10/25 vs. South Carolina, 11/8 vs. Texas A&M, 11/5 at Georgia, 11/29 at Alabama
An old saying tells us that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and the Tigers were very very very lucky last season. Oh they were good too…but being lucky auburntook them from going 9-3 and playing in the Cotton Bowl to going 12-1 and coming up short in the national championship. They won’t be as fortunate this season. I’m not concerned about players lost to the NFL. Teams like Auburn just reload, and QB Nick Marshall returns for his senior year as a viable Heisman candidate. But the schedule is ridiculously difficult and I don’t think this team will win more than a couple of the key games noted above.

 

 

25 Georgia
Last Season: 8-5
Key Games: 8/30 vs. Clemson, 9/13 at South Carolina
A 8/9 win season and a Top 25 ranking might not seem good enough for an upper echelon SEC team, but I say it’d be a pretty decent finish all things considered.georgia The Bulldogs must replace QB Aaron Murray, but they still have junior RB Todd Gurley, a 6ft.1 232lb. brute with 4.2/40 speed. He’ll be a legitimate Heisman candidate, but the defense will have to step up and new signal caller Hutson Mason…a senior who has sat behind Murray for four years…will have to become comfortable really quickly. I won’t be a bit surprised if 4 or 5 SEC teams end the season ranked, but logic dictates that they all can’t finish in the Top 10.

Contributing A Verse: A Somber Farewell to My Captain

O Captain! My Captain! Your fearful trip is done
The prize you sought is won
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still
He does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will
I, with mournful tread
Walk the deck where my captain lies fallen cold and dead

 

 

In the past 24 hours I have seen a lot of warm & genuine tributes on television and online. Many of them have words in common.

 

Legend. Genius. Laughter. Brilliant.

 

Sadness. Addiction. Depression. Heartbreak.

 

There really aren’t any additional words that I can throw into the mix.

 

I am not ashamed to admit that I cried Monday night. That occurs more often and with less provocation as I get older. I don’t know if it is a natural progression or if there is something off kilter inside me, but I am okay with it either way. Regardless, the death of a celebrity rarely elicits such a reaction. Sure I may become somewhat wistful at the thought of a piece of my formative years slipping into the great beyond, but that is usually as far as it goes. This time though…this time I almost feel as if I am saying goodbye to an old & cherished friend.

 

I first became aware of Robin Williams as a young boy. I have briefly mentioned here & morkthere in this space my somewhat isolated childhood. Because of my disability I wasn’t able to go outside and do many of the things that most kids did…ride bikes, play ball, hang out with friends from school. So I watched a lot of TV & movies and read books. Mork & Mindy was one of the shows I watched and Robin Williams always made me laugh. We also had illegal HBO in the early 80’s (shhh…don’t tell) and I distinctly remember watching some of Williams’ standup. My Dad probably shouldn’t have let a grade schooler watch programs with such…salty…language, but what I remember more than any F-Bomb or sexual innuendo was Robin Williams singing Bruce Springsteen’s Fire…as Elmer Fudd. I’d still rather hear the Williams as Fudd version over Springsteen’s original and really funny impressions are one of my favorite forms of comedic expression.

 

Of course Robin Williams went on to “bigger & better” things and gave us a plethora of really great performances in feature films. Good Morning, Vietnam. Dead Poets Society. Aladdin. Awakenings. Mrs. Doubtfire. Jumanji. The Birdcage. Good Will Hunting. Even some of his “bad” movies were good to Robin Williams’ fans simply because he was in them. Hook. Popeye. The Best of Times. The Fisher King. He proved to be equally as gifted in drama as in comedy and gave us many hours of pleasure in all sorts of escapist entertainment.

 

His battle with drug & alcohol dependence has been well-publicized. Williams himself never shied away from the topic. I will not pretend to understand addiction and rwdepression. I have called myself depressed at different points in my life but whatever issues I was facing never took me to the point of seeking medical or psychiatric treatment and certainly never took me to the brink of suicide. There are those that deem suicide as a cowardly act, taking the easy way out while leaving loved ones behind to sort through the collateral damage. I think that is a harsh assessment. Perhaps on some level it is selfish, but when pain & anguish reach such altitude I am not sure it is fair for anyone to make such a simplistic analysis. It could just as easily be concluded that the person believes that they are a burden and will make the lives of those in their orbit easier by going away. Intellectually we understand that is not true, but that’s easy to conclude when one isn’t clinically depressed.

 

It is also unfair for people to compare Robin Williams’ death with anyone else’s…especially those valiant soldiers that die almost daily on foreign battlefields. I am usually the first in line to vilify intellectually vacuous and morality challenged celebrities. I am also an overtly devoted patriot with a tremendous admiration for our troops that put their lives on hold and on the line to fight for the just cause of freedom & liberty. Is it right that a person who chose to end his own life and had abused drugs & alcohol for most of his life is being celebrated and so publicly mourned while the sacrifice of true heroes remains largely anonymous?? Probably not. All I can say is that folks like Williams have the benefit of a bigger and much more communal stage. His contribution to society is visual, tangible, and recorded for posterity. That doesn’t make his death more tragic or his life more appreciated. It just means we treat it differently…right or wrong.

 

Only God knows what was in Robin Williams’ heart. I don’t know where his spirit is headed in the afterlife. He didn’t come across as a particularly religious man, but some would say the same thing about me so there is that. I’d like to imagine that one day when I walk thru those Pearly Gates Williams will be up there on a stage doing that thing he does (sans the language) making people like Moses, Joseph, Noah, & Paul double over in laughter. Those guys deserve to have some fun.

 

As for me, you, and all of Robin Williams’ fans still here there is no shortage of material for us to enjoy for decades to come. I am told that there are 3 or 4 films “in the can” that will be released over the next year or so. One of them is a Christmas film and y’all know how I love those. I wish I had Netflix so I could enjoy a Robin Williams movie marathon right now, but I suppose I will have to wait for AMC, TCM, or some other cable channel to jump on that particular bandwagon. I suspect I won’t have to wait long.

 

In the meantime, this situation opens the door for discussions about addiction and rw2depression. It very clearly illustrates that things like money, fame, success, & popularity do not automatically translate into happiness. I do not have any answers. As a matter of fact I just have more questions. I do know that each day is a gift from God, an opportunity to “sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world”. I know that somewhere in California there is a wife, kids, and an assortment of friends & loved ones probably wondering what else they could have done to prevent this from happening. And I know that I will miss my friend…that no matter how many times I am able to watch one of his movies and enjoy the memories the fact that he no longer walks this Earth with the potential to create more magic leaves an indelible scar on the landscape.

My Life (More or Less) in 60 Questions

I love stuff like this. A Facebook friend posted it and encouraged others to answer the questions as well. Not only is it an opportunity for others to get to reflectionknow a person just a bit, but it is a fun little opportunity for self-reflection, which I believe is always a good thing. Since I have this awesome forum I decided that I wouldn’t just reply to my pal Samantha but would unleash my thoughts on the entire Manoverse. I believe this is the longest ditty I have ever written here, so be prepared. I have included a few links back to things I have written in the past when the subject matter seemed fitting. I pondered splitting  into two entries but decided against it. You’ve been warned.

 

 
1 Are you an animal lover or would you avoid keeping animals at home?
I have a 6 year old pug named Rocco who is the light of my life. I would love to have more dogs but my current living situation prohibits that.rocco

2 Do you like summer or winter?
Definitely summer. I despise winter except for Christmas & football season.

3 Would you diet or would you work out?
Ideally I’d do both, but I am too lazy to work out and not disciplined enough to diet. I did lose 30lbs. a couple of years ago with the help of a nutritionist but I became bored with the program. I felt much better at a lower weight and know, on an intellectual level, that I’d be better off eating healthier & exercising. Unfortunately knowing what one should do and actually doing it are far different things.

4 What do you wear to bed?
Shorts or sweatpants. Come & get me ladies…lol.

5 What’s your favorite clothing brand?
I am not brand loyal at all. If I like how it looks, can afford it, & it is comfortable then I will wear it.

6 When was the last time you cried?
I honestly don’t recall. I am a bit more emotional as I get older so sometimes a memory or something I see on TV will make me a bit misty. For example, I hate those damn ASPCA commercials with that Sarah McClachlan song!! They get me every time!!

7 Which color reflects your personality and why?
According to one quiz I just took it is green because “You’re very in tune with the rest of the world. You put others before yourself, but you strive to be a better person.Rainbow Sometimes you aren’t satisfied with the gifts you have so you envy the gifts of others, but people admire you when you don’t realize it.” A second quiz says it is pink because of a bunch of stuff: “is the color of peace…in a blissful state or looking for one…try to see the best in others…quietly study the best way to approach problems…see the world through rose colored glasses…shy, intelligent, hard working people who wish they were more a part of the mainstream but may be frightened of moving too quickly…watch what they do or say because they are afraid others might see them in harsh light…want everyone to be happy.” So I have no idea. Personally I like blue & purple.

8 In the animal kingdom, which animal would you be?
An eagle because it symbolizes freedom, honor, nobility, & a little bit of mystery.cropped-blue-light-eagle1.jpg

9 Do you like tattoos and body piercing?
No, not a big fan. A woman with tattoos or piercings (other than the ears) immediately becomes less attractive to me. I am not saying such things would automatically preclude a relationship (or a friendship if we’re talking about guys), but it’s just not my thing.

10 How much PDA is acceptable?
Moderation is the key. There is a fine line between appropriate affection andpda slobbering all over each other. Keep it classy.

11 How often do you take a shower?
Almost daily, especially if I am going out & about. However, there are those occasional vegg days when it’s not a priority.

12 What are your favorite magazines?
I was never a magazine person. And now with The Internet magazines are nearly obsolete.

13 What are your favorite books?
I’m a bookworm. I have lots of books that I love. I like classics like Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, & The Old Man and the Sea. I love biographies. I love sports books, especially about old time baseball. I like fantasy stories like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to books.

14 What’s your favorite movie?
I spent about 2 years here at The Manofesto writing about my 100 Favorite Movies. There is lots of good stuff in there if you are so inclined to check it out.

15 What’s your favorite music you’re listening to these days?
My taste in music is very eclectic. I love classic rock. Sometimes I get in the mood to listen to classical (Chopin is awesome if you’re looking to relax & unwind) and musicwould like to become more knowledgeable about it. I don’t detest all country music but it’s not really my thing. Jazz & blues are both really cool. I’m a big fan of crooners like Frank Sinatra (and The Rat Pack) & Tony Bennett. I hate rap and don’t really consider it music. I think the past 10-15 years has seen a sharp decline in the quality of music. Maybe that is just a reflection of my age, but there were just so many great songs in the 70’s & 80’s, and even the 90’s had its moments. 21st century music has no class or gravitas.

16 What’s your favorite alcoholic drink?
I’m really not much of a drinker anymore. I left that all behind…for the most part…after college. Back in the day I was a big fan of screwdrivers. If someone forced me to drink an adult beverage today I suppose I would lean toward the mojito, but I’m perfectly content with iced tea, skim milk, or water.

17 What’s your favorite vacation idea?
I’ve been dying to go to Vegas for several years…I just can’t get anyone to go with me. I’m not even a big gambler. I just want to see the sights, eat some tasty food, vegas& maybe see a show or two. I’ve never been to the beach and would love to check it out. If money were no object then I would jump at an opportunity to visit Italy. I’d also like to go on a cruise someday.

18 What’s your favorite food?
Do I have to pick just one?? I love chocolate. Sweets are my Kryptonite. I am Italian so of course pasta is a favorite. I also enjoy good old-fashioned comfort food…meatloaf, mac n’ cheese, fried chicken, soup, burgers & fries. I’m not really all that picky. I just love food.

19 Who’s your favorite actor?
Again I can’t pick just one. I think Jimmy Stewart is the best actor of all time. I also like Tom Hanks & Al Pacino a lot. Paul Giamatti has become a more recent favorite.

20 If you found a briefcase of money on the street, would you keep it?
No. I’d turn it in to the cops. Would I be tempted to keep it?? Of course. But, though I do succumb to the occasional pitfall and I’m not always the person I’d like to be,money ultimately I do usually end up doing the right thing. I blame my parents.

21 Are you religious?
I have become a relationship over religion kind of guy. One of my Undeniable Truths of Life is that “Faith and religion are two different things. Religion is a public show too often put on by hypocrites, while faith is a deeply personal thing that can change your life. Share your faith, not your religion.” Jesus is the way, the truth, & the life. Unless one is born again they will not see the kingdom of God. I realize that there are those that believe otherwise and I respect their freedom to go in a different direction.

22 Are you a gizmo person?
I’m not exactly sure what this means, but judging from my pal Samantha’s answer to this query I assume it is referring my-gadgetsto gadgets. I suppose I am middle-of-the-road on this one. I love my laptop and my iPhone. I’d probably buy an iPad if I could afford it. On the other hand I see the negative aspects of such things. Life was much simpler and people were more…interactive…before all these electronic toys began to consume society. Like many other things they are a double edged sword…both a blessing & a curse.

23 What kind of sport do you like?
I’m a big sports fan. I love football primarily, but also baseball & basketball. Nascar is pretty cool. I haven’t been able to get into hockey & soccer though I have tried.

24 Clubbing or candlelight dinner?
Definitely the candlelight dinner. I’m not into the bar scene anymore. It was fun in college but that was mostly because I was always hanging out with my friends.

25 Earth Hour or Fourth of July fireworks?
Earth Hour is some kind of environmentalist wacko crap. Independence Day, on the other hand, is a real holiday celebrating America’s birth as a free nation. Plus fireworksfireworks rule!!

26 Backpacking or a luxury hotel?
My idea of roughing it is when my AC quits working or I have a spotty wi-fi connection. I think backpacking is something hippies do in Europe. I only wish I had the means to spend a few days in a luxury hotel occasionally.

27 Christmas or Halloween?
I have nothing against Halloween. Unlike some religious folks I don’t think that some little kid dressed like a cowboy is doing Satan’s bidding. That being said, I gotta go with Christmas. Citizens of The Manoverse are quite familiar with my unwavering love for everything about Christmas. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

28 Are you a morning person?
Yes & no. Mostly no. I can be a morning person when necessary. If I have to get up early and go to work or keep some other kind yawnof appointment I am more than capable of doing so. However, I am a bit of a slow starter and function much better later in the day. I am a night owl.

29 What’s your philosophy in life?
Tough question. I’m not sure I have a single philosophy that can be expressed in one pithy statement. Throughout our lifetimes I believe we learn things, are shaped by our experiences, and can be influenced by many people with whom we interact.

30 When was the last time you were happy you lied?
Never. I’m not going to say I’ve never lied, but I know it’s wrong so of course I am bothered when it occurs. None of us are perfect, but the older I get the more I have a desire to be the best person I can be.

31 What comes to your mind when you think of your exes?
Ummm…I wish I had a few?? lol

32 Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I am kind of in the middle. Probably more of an introvert. I can lead and I can speak in front of people when necessary, but I’m certainly not charismatic or inspiring. Plus more often than not people tend to annoy me. I spend a lot of time alone and I think I’m mostly okay with that.

33 What’s your idea of romance?
Hmmm. I suppose most women wouldn’t consider me very romantic. I haven’t really had much opportunity to flex those particular muscles. In my mind though I romancethink of romance as being completely comfortable with someone. A deep philosophical conversation can be romantic. Laughing at a silly movie together can be romantic. A text or a phone call “just because” can be romantic. Holding hands & snuggling can be romantic. Intelligence is romantic. Roses & champagne & chocolate are just fine, but people need to realize that a) those are just things and things are temporary, and b) they are empty gestures unless there is that level of comfort & respect that I mentioned. Women are sold a line of BS from time they are little girls about the ideal of a tall, dark, & handsome prince sweeping them off their feet and making their lives a fairy tale. I believe this is part of the reason that the divorce rate is so high. No man can live up to those lofty expectations…especially if he is a misogynistic drunkard with issues like jealousy, insecurity, & a need for control, which sadly describes far too many men. Cynical?? Yes, but nevertheless true. Aim high ladies. There’s nothing wrong with that. But stop thinking life is a Reese Witherspoon movie or anything like Sex & the City because you will be disappointed.

34 Would you like to live in the countryside or in a metropolitan area?
My preference would be a somewhat secluded country-esque spot with access (i.e. less than an hour away) to a city with some culture and entertainment options.

35 When did you lose your virginity?
Right after college. And actually I wish I still had my virginity.

36 What’s your favorite body part of the opposite sex?
Do you want the romantic answer or the horndog answer?? The former would be a woman’s eyes and her smile. The latter would be the boobies!!

37 What’s the wildest thing you’ve done sexually?
I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever done anything that would be considered wild or weird…especially in today’s “anything goes” culture.

38 Do you think money can buy happiness?
Yes & no. I think financial security alleviates a lot of stress & pressure. Having money is a nice thing that comes in handy on occasion. But there are a lot of folks money-equal-happinesswho, as my grandmother would say, don’t have a pot to pee in that are perfectly content, while conversely there are many people with ample fundage (I’m looking at you Hollywood) that, to paraphrase U2, seem as if the still haven’t found what they are looking for. Love, friendship, peace, honor…all are much more important than money.

 

39 The world would be a better place if…?
Reality TV would go way…immediately.

 
40 Do you have any social causes that are close to your heart?
I’m not really a cause kind of guy. I bear no ill will toward dolphins, spotted owls, those little kids in Africa that Sally Struthers apparently steals food from, the adorable puppies that need adopted from the animal shelter, or anyone who suffers from the various diseases that can seemingly be cured by wearing little ribbons of various colors…but you probably won’t see me out crusading on their behalf. I do serve as the President of my local literacy organization’s board of directors, so education is something I admire, and I am involved with various ministries thru my church.

41 What do you do over the weekends?
It varies. I usually go to church on Sunday then come home and watch baseball & Nascar. Sometimes on Saturday I just vegg out (especially during football season), but a lot of times I’ll go to the grocery store or go see a movie. Sometimes I go out to dinner with my family. If there is something going on at my church I am usually involved. This coming weekend I’m going to check out an indy wrestling show and will probably spend an evening at one of the better fairs & festivals that pop up this time of year.

42 Would you mind if I had a best friend of the opposite sex?
This question, I am assuming, is theoretically speaking of a potential romantic partner. No I wouldn’t mind. I have known a lot of women who seemed to have more guy friends than female friends. As long as you aren’t cheating on me it’s all good.

43 Which was the worst phase in your life?
I have had a few valleys. I moved back to my hometown 6 months after graduating college, and I still consider it the worst mistake of my life. I lived at home with my parents for 5 years, and as much as I love my family it sucks to be living under your Mom & Dad’s roof when you’re in your mid-20’s. My mother died in 2000 and honestly I don’t think my life has ever been the same. In 2006 I began a 2+ year journey that I refer to as The Unfortunate Incarceration during which I had an ulcer on my tailbone that resulted in me spending six months in a “skilled” nursing facility, over a year homebound, and a couple of stints in the hospital.

44 What was the happiest moment in your life?
I didn’t realize it at the time but my childhood was pretty great. However I think the gold medal has to go to my college years. I probably spent a bit too much time having fun rather than studying, but since a college education doesn’t seem to mean diddly squat anymore (especially in WV) I am perfectly fine with how I spent those awesome years.

45 Do you judge a book by its cover?
Of course we aren’t supposed to but as human beings it is undeniable that we do so more often than we’d care to admit. The key is getting past that initial judgment and finding out what’s underneath the outer surface. Sometimes we find out that someone we overlooked or found fault with is actually pretty great, while there are occasions when we discover that someone we thought was OMG hot is actually nuttier than a damn fruitcake.

46 What’s your political stance?
I am very very very conservative.

47 Do you watch porn and what’s your view on it?
Let’s be honest…as a red-blooded American male of course I have watched it. I don’t find it particularly compelling though. The acting is atrocious and the storylines are stupid. I once took my friend Greg to a strip club for his 21st birthday. At some point in the evening I said to him “You look bored”. He replied “Well you can’t touch them and you can’t take them home with you, so what’s the point??”. Two decades later I still think it may be one of the more profound statements I’ve ever heard.

48 Do you believe in karma?
Ehhh…kinda sorta not really. I believe that sometimes people get what they deserve both good & bad, but I think it is more a function of the way a person leads their life funneling them down a certain path. If you are mean to people you may get away with it for awhile but statistically speaking you will probably cross the wrong person eventually. And if you are a decent person who treats people fairly and tries to do the right thing more often than not then at the very least you can look at yourself in the mirror every day knowing you did your best.

49 Do you plan your life or live for the moment?
I am by no means an obsessive planner, but neither am I all that spontaneous. There are reasons for this.

50 Do you think life is fair?
Hell no.

51 If you were marooned on an island, what are the five things you would take with you?
This is one of my favorite questions of all time. I have seen it in various surveys. I think a person could go one of two directions with the answer based on whether or islandnot there is a chance you can somehow work your way back to civilization. If yes then of course the items selected should be more practical & useful in the effort to get off the island. But I prefer the other scenario in which it is assumed that you’ll be on the island for the long haul and whether or not you ever escape is completely out of your control. I will also not cop out and assume that this island magically has Internet access or cable TV. Therefore, I will allow myself one work of fiction which would be the complete works of Sherlock Holmes. I would also want a Bible. Of course I’d want my dog Rocco by my side. I’d assume we could find stuff on the island that he could eat. A solar powered radio because music, in the words of Plato, “gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” Oh…and a big ol’ knife. A guy’s gotta eat.

52 Would you sulk or would you confront?
I am a very non-confrontational person.

53 Are you addicted to anything?
Chocolatechocolate

54 Any current news that’s caught your attention?
I haven’t been paying as much attention to the news lately. It’s just too depressing most of the time. And there is way too much leftist bias.

55 What are your favorite apps that you use often?
I play a lot of air hockey on my phone. And of course there is Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, & ESPN. I also like Words with Friends and Paper Toss which is exactly what it sounds like.

56 Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
I am a Samist.

57 What do you have for breakfast?
I love breakfast food although I don’t always have it for breakfast. I can’t eat really early in the morning when I first get up. When I do eat breakfast the food varies. I Breakfastlike cereal. I like sausage & eggs. I am a big fan of anything with syrup…pancakes, French toast, waffles. I’ve been trying to eat more oatmeal because it is healthy and it actually tastes pretty good. When I go out for breakfast I like sausage gravy & biscuits.

58 How often do you make your bed?
I’ll just say that my unique circumstances make this question moot.

59 If you knew you were right, would you take a stand even if you know you would make a scene in public or would you let it go?
I have finally figured out that arguing with people is a pointless exercise that just leaves me frustrated. That’s fine since I am non-confrontational anyway. They’ll either figure out the truth or go thru life wallowing in ignorance. I know what I know, think what I think, & believe what I believe. It’s not my job to enlighten the masses.

60 What’s an absolute no-no in a relationship?
I’m not sure I have many deal breakers. I’d like to think that if I’ve made the decision to be with someone that I’ve also made the conscious choice to overlook minor flaws and compromise about conflicts. Honesty is important. I don’t think I could get past cheating. I probably wouldn’t get involved with a drug user. I think any potential mate would have to atleast respect my faith and sociopolitical views even if they didn’t completely agree.

The Prodigal Player Brings His Talents Back to the Mistake By the Lake

The Bible tells a story about The Prodigal Son, a young man who decides to take his inheritance and leave home only to come crawling back when he has blown his fortune. Prodigal is word derived from the Latin term prodigus, meaning “to drive away or squander”. Instead of telling his offspring “I told you so” the boy’s father instead welcomes his child back into the family with open arms. It is a story of forgiveness. It is a story of redemption. It is a story of humility. It is a story of grace.

 

Few people outside of the city of Cleveland, OH have been as hard on NBA superstar LeBron James as myself. I am not nearly as passionate in my lb1fandom of professional basketball as I am when it comes to other sports and have never really had a favorite team. I preferred the Lakers over the Celtics in the 80’s (more about that some other time), loved Dr. J., and like most young men of my generation thought Michael Jordan was the greatest player to ever dribble & dunk (I still do). I am a sucker for the underdog, so when James was drafted #1 overall straight out of high school by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 I thought it was a nice story. It helped that the hapless Cavs hadn’t been much more than mediocre for most of their three decades of existence before James’ arrival. Unlike so many “franchise saviors” whose hype far exceeds tangible results LeBron James was everything he was said to be and more, carrying the Cleveland Cavaliers almost singlehandedly on his back to 5 playoff runs in 7 years, including a trip to the Finals in 2007.

 

But then he tossed it all away in 2010. He “took his talents to South Beach”, forming a “Big Three” alongside Dwayne Wade & Chris Bosh for the Miami Heat. And I hated it. I hated the way players were now conspiring to form super teams instead of allowing coaches & general managers to build teams organically the old fashioned way. I hated the TV spectacle that was The Decision. I hated the pep rally in Miami where this new Big Three promised “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five…” NBA titles. I hated seeing a guy spit in the face of his home town in just about the most obnoxious way possible. I hated the fact that Cleveland was pretty much screwed because let’s face it…big time free agents, no matter what sport is involved, are almost always going to choose sexier destinations like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, & Dallas.

 

lb2Over the next four seasons I delighted not in cheering for any particular NBA team but in rooting against the evil Miami Heat. I was ecstatic in 2011 & 2014 when they lost the championship series (to the Dallas Mavericks & San Antonio Spurs respectively), and was bitterly disappointed in 2012 & 2013 when the Heat won back-to-back titles. Most people would probably be kind and say that The Big Three fulfilled their mission, but I gleefully opine that they missed the mark and severely underachieved. Yes four NBA Finals in four years and two championships in that time is impressive, but I would submit to you that it is the bare minimum of what was expected, potential that was elevated to a virtual fever pitch of entitled assumption by the PR machine and the powers-that-be in Miami.

 

In the course of those four years a few things have occurred. First, after nearly four decades of the NBA focusing its marketing on individual stars…Bird, Magic, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, ‘Melo…there seems to have been an awakening that basketball is a team game and none of those players achieved success on an island. The San Antonio Spurs certainly have their stars, but they were able to win the title this year and damn near won it in 2013 because they had an overall better, deeper team than the Heat. An NBA roster has 13 players. Your top 2 or 3 guys might be better than mine, but if my bench is far superior than I’ve got a fighting chance. Secondly, there are some factors that cannot be defeated by any team no matter how talented they may be. No one has ever beaten Father Time (except maybe Tim Duncan). In sports players & teams can decline quickly…almost overnight…due to injury & age. Miami’s Big Three didn’t seem nearly as intimidating in 2014 as they did four years earlier. And LeBron James himself seems to have changed, which is really the crux of my whole point here today.

 

We see celebrities every day. We see them on TV & in movies, download their music, read about them on The Internet, and watch their games in the case of professional athletes. We like to think that we know them. We form opinions about whether someone is a nice guy, a vapid airhead, or a total jerk. In many cases we are likely on the right track, but sometimes we may misjudge.

 

I, along with many people, was disgusted with the way LeBron James handled his departure from Cleveland four years ago. What we didn’t realize lb3until now was that James himself at some point looked back in disgust as well. Like The Prodigal Son he has been humbled. No he isn’t crawling back to Cleveland broken & destitute. Far from it. But he seems to have realized that in the long run winning championships in Miami wasn’t all that much easier than attempting to do so in Cleveland. He seemingly understands that following the money to New York or Los Angeles or even adding another couple of rings in Miami wasn’t going to be nearly as satisfying as being able to put together a championship team in his home town. LeBron James has matured. He has gained perspective. He has grown in wisdom. Do I sound surprised?? Yes I suppose I do.

 

Rather than repeat The Decision James instead opted to announce his return to Cleveland via a rather classy & well-written essay on the Sports Illustrated website. He speaks wistfully about his childhood in Akron, OH, but what really caught my attention was what he says about Miami, and I feel stupid for never having considered the point before. You see, LeBron James was drafted into the NBA from high school, a practice that is now forbidden by league rules. LeBron went from high school in Akron to pro basketball in Cleveland…less than an hour away. He never went to college. Sure that was his choice and a smart move financially. However, for me college was the best four years of my life. I didn’t venture too far away from home (about 3 hours), but I got far enough away that I was able to do some stupid things, meet some awesome people, learn how to be independent, and figure out life from a slightly different angle. The four years LeBron James spent in Miami were his college years, the difference being that he didn’t have to take math classes he’ll never use, he probably never had to stand outside at 3am on a cold January night after some drunken jackass thought it’d be funny to pull the fire alarm in the dorm, and I am quite sure he has no student loan debt. He had his fun. He has two championship rings and probably had his share of good times in South Florida. But now he has graduated to the next phase just like the rest of us. For me that means drinking skim milk instead of Jagermeister and it means that if I am up past midnight I’m either reading a book or writing a piece for The Manofesto rather than hanging out at a bar playing darts and listening to Brown-Eyed Girl. For LeBron James it means that winning another ring for himself isn’t as meaningful as winning for his family, friends, and the place where he “walked, ran, cried, & bled” throughout his life.

 

lb4The story of The Prodigal Son has a few layers. There is the son who discovers that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and humbly comes home. There is the father who not only welcomes the son back but celebrates his return. And there is the older brother, a killjoy who is understandably a bit resentful. There will be those who will transfer their hatred of the Miami Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers simply because they decided 4 years ago that LeBron James is a prick and they aren’t changing their mind. So be it. I can appreciate the sentiment. But I choose…for whatever little it is worth in the grand scheme of life…to be merciful & gracious. Plus I am just glad that imbecile Johnny Manziel has been knocked off the sports page headlines for atleast a few days.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 2.14

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really not all that excited about Stephen Colbert taking over for David Letterman. Sure I think Letterman is long overdue for retirement. He stopped colbertbeing brilliant about a decade ago. But Colbert just doesn’t frost my cupcake. I thought maybe Conan O’Brien or even Jay Leno might get the call. It’s odd how late night TV has gone from pretty solid to kind of mediocre so quickly. Jimmy Fallon is doing a variety show completely centered on himself instead of The Tonight Show. Late Night with Seth Myers is bland and has the worst sidekick in the history of late night television in Fred Armisen. Jimmy Kimmel is cool but needs to start doing real time shows on Friday night. Craig Ferguson departing CBS’ Late Late Show doesn’t move my dial one way or another, but the decision on who will take over that slot is huge. If it’s another whiff like Colbert that waters down the whole concept of late night TV even more, but if they somehow pull an awesome rabbit out of the hat it could save the genre.

 

 
So I’ve been following something called “Pickup Lines” on Twitter and here are a few of the funniest/weirdest:
If you were a transformer, you’d be Optimus Fine.
You must be the square root of two, because I feel irrational around you.
Hi, I’m writing a paper on the finer things in life and I was wondering if I could interview you.
Is your name Ariel?? Because I think we mermaid for each other.
Are you my homework? Cause I’m not doing you but I definitely should be.
Interested in making some magic together? My wand is at the ready.
If you were a triangle you’d be acute one.
Know what’s on the menu? Me-n-u.
Do you like Pizza Hut? Cause I’ll stuff your crust.
You look familiar. Did we have class together? I could’ve sworn we had chemistry.
Would you like to get into a philosophical quandary over coffee?
There are Skittles in my mouth. Wanna taste the rainbow?
Are you from Tennessee? Cause you’re the only ten I see.
If you were a Dementor, I’d become a criminal just to get your kiss.
You must be from Pearl Harbor, because baby, you’re the bomb.
Cheesy?? Of course. Would anyone actually use these?? God I hope not. But they are good for a chuckle or two so if you do the Twitter thing check it out.

 

 

Has anyone ever noticed that TV characters rarely sit on the couch?? They’ll sit on the arm of the couch, or lean on the back…but not often do they actually sit on the couch like a normal person. Weird.

 

 
Speaking of Twitter, I recently saw a tweet from a lovely young lady that said something to the effect of “I don’t want a nice guy. I want a man.” I was left tough guywondering what the heck that even means. Do the two have to be mutually exclusive?? I completely understand that most women aren’t attracted to wimps. They want a man in their life that will take care of them and protect them. I get it. But just because a guy is “nice” doesn’t mean he isn’t a real man. Another acquaintance of mine on Facebook was publically pondering the question “Why am I so turned on by guitar players, marines, bad boys, heroes, and dominant men??”. I politely replied that it was because she had been unduly influenced by TV, movies, & pop culture. Is it any wonder why the divorce rate is so high in America?? I actually feel sorry for women. They grow up desiring some kind of rock star/50 Shades of Grey/Fonzie hybrid that just doesn’t exist. They end up in loveless marriages with narcissistic posers who ignore them at best and oftentimes treat them much worse. A cynical opinion?? Sure. But nonetheless likely a pretty accurate assessment.

 

 
I think hyphenated surnames are arrogant & pretentious. Pick one name and go with it.

 

 

I was watching an episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher awhile back because despite being a Godless liberal who is wrong about most everything cartermaherMaher can be kind of funny and his show oddly informative. Maher was interviewing former President Carter and asked him if…if…Republicans are able to capture both houses of Congress and then win The White House in 2016 (a tall order to be sure) does he believe that they’ll try to repeal Obamacare. President Carter said yes, but he then added a very interesting statement. He said Republicans would try to repeal Obamacare but it’d be difficult because by then so many people would depend on it. And I thought to myself “There it is!!”. That lone statement explains not only the Democrat playbook, but also the very reason why we should be careful about government programs in the first place. They sound good. They always sound like a really fine idea. An idea that helps people. Who doesn’t want to help people?? But what happens is that folks become dependent on these programs, which does two things. It negatively impacts our economy and it robs people of any kind of motivation to work hard, be self-reliant, and solve their own problems. Why help yourself when Big Government will take care of you?? It also ensures Democrats long & repeated terms in political office because who are most people going to vote for…the person who’s going to give them free stuff or the person who wants to take their free stuff away?? None of this is news to anyone who has been paying attention, but I thought it was fascinating to hear a former President outright admit it.

 

 

 

I recently tried chai tea for the first time. They were giving out free samples at a local grocery store. I wasn’t impressed and think I will stick with regular tea.

 

 

 

There has been a lot of debate…for some odd reason…on social media lately about whether or not it is safe to give dogs ice cubes. My Rocco has been roccochomping on ice since he was a baby (he is 6 years old now) and has never had any adverse effects, so I think the idea that it causes harm is a myth.

Superfluous 7 Most Awesome Fictional Dads

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. If you are blessed enough to still have your own father around please take some time out of your day to call or visit and tell him you love him. I daddon’t have any children myself (that I know of), but I’d like to think that I would have been a pretty good father just by following the examples of my own Dad and his father, my Papaw Jim. At any rate, I thought today might be a good time to take a look at some fun examples of fatherhood as presented to us thru the prism of literature, movies, & television. So it is with deep admiration & respect to all good fathers out there that I present…..

 

 

 
from the home office in Worth County, Iowa, which contains the cities of Manly & Fertile…Worth County, where Manly men meet Fertile women…..

 

 

 
The (Supersized) Superfluous 7 Most Awesome Fictional Dads:

 

 

 

7 Sam Baldwin (Sleepless in Seattle) & Danny Tanner (Full House)
sbTwo widower Dads. 1989’s Sleepless in Seattle ranks 45th of my 100 Favorite Movies, and even though it is a rom-com there are no shortage of scenes showing Tom dtHanks’ Sam interacting with his young son. The sting of the death of the wife/mother is addressed and it is touching how father & son are getting thru the loss together. Okay sure…Sam loses points for his kid hopping onto a plane for a cross country trek to The Big Apple by himself, but all is forgiven when he chases after the boy and lovingly embraces him after he finds him at the Empire State Building. Bob Saget’s Danny Tanner may be the most unrealistically sweet father in TV history and he too loses points for needing his brother-in-law Uncle Jessie and best friend Joey to move in and help raise three young girls, but who the heck wouldn’t want such a nice guy for a Dad??

 

 

6 Daniel Hillard (Mrs. Doubtfire) & Mike Brady (The Brady Bunch)
doubtfireA divorcee & and the patriarch of one of entertainment’s first blended families. All that needs to be said about Robin Williams’ eponymous character in 1993’s Mrs. bradyDoubtfire (43rd on my list) is that the dude is willing to dress up like an old woman in order to spend time with his children. That’s devotion. I like the fact that Mrs. Doubtfire addresses divorce realistically. The parents don’t magically get back together, but they do find a way to focus on the children and do what is best for them. One thing that always struck me about The Brady Bunch was how the boys called Carol Brady Mom (she was their stepmother) and the girls called Mr. Brady Dad (he was their stepfather). Blending families is rarely that easy in the real world, but in the 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s the powers-that-be understood that folks watch television to escape from reality…a fact that seems to have been all but forgotten these days. I was dumbfounded when as an adult I learned that Robert Reed was a) gay and b) hated his role as Mr. Brady.

 

5 Bob Cratchit (A Christmas Carol)
Cratchit is mostly known as grumpy old miser Ebenezer Scrooge’s underpaid & overworked clerk in Dickens’ tale, but he is also shown to be a dedicated husband and father to six children. One cratchitof those children is Tiny Tim who is what we might call a “special needs child” in modern parlance. It is never explicitly stated what Tiny Tim suffers from, although it is likely to have been rickets, kidney disease, or tuberculosis. The problem is that Bob only makes about $2 per week and can barely afford to feed his family let alone pay for the medical care his son needs. Despite these struggles Bob Cratchit keeps a smile on his face and forges ahead, doing what must be done to provide a decent & happy life for his children. He reminds me just a bit of my own father, who had a demanding job that paid the bills but certainly never allowed us to be wealthy, and also had to spend a disproportionate amount of time, energy, & resources on me because of my disability.

 

 

 

4 Clark Griswold (The Vacation Series) & Howard Cunningham…aka “Mr. C.” (Happy Days)
cgYes Clark Griswold is a dufus. And yes he had a weird flirtation with a nameless babe in a convertible. But when you watch the Vacation movies one thing that is very clear mrcis that Clark loves his children and is devoted to his family. That’s nice to see, especially these days. Howard Cunningham forgot that his eldest son Chuck even existed, but otherwise he is the quintessential sitcom Dad. He was always around to give sage advice to Richie & Joanie, put up with Richie’s goofy friends Ralph Malph & Potsie, and even became a father figure to Fonzie. And let’s not overlook the fact that Mr. C was a business owner as well. Role models rock.

 

 

3 Cliff Huxtable (The Cosby Show) & Vito Corleone (The Godfather)
Cliff HuxtableSpeaking of role models, I have commented previously about the interesting way that the Huxtable family was presented on The Cosby Show. No housing projects or blue corleonecollar jobs for this upwardly mobile & well educated black family. Mom was an attorney and Dad was a doctor. As a father Heathcliff was patient & funny, and even when he became exasperated by the trials & tribulations of raising five children he exhibited an enviable level of composure & mercy. Now I know that mob boss Don Corleone seems like an odd choice (especially paired alongside Dr. Huxtable), but though his…imperfections…are far different from those of the aforementioned Clark Griswold I think there is a lot of similarity in the love & devotion they show their family. When eldest son Santino is gunned down and Vito sees the body in the funeral parlor he completely breaks down, distraught over “what they did to my boy”. He is clearly unhappy about Michael becoming involved in “the business” because he had higher hopes for his youngest son. Don Vito opines that “a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man”, and I think he’s pretty spot on.

 

 

2 Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)
What can I say about Atticus Finch that hasn’t already been echoed by a plethora of fans of both the Pulitzer Prize winning novel and the Academy Award nominated film?? Atticus is kind,  atticus-and-kidspatient, wise, intelligent, honorable, & decent. He has been hailed as a hero by some…maybe the only time in history that lawyer & hero have intersected. His two children, Scout & Jem, love and respect the man to the moon & back. The entire town of Maycomb, AL admires him. Author Harper Lee based Atticus on her own father, and I have to say that if he was half the man that Atticus is shown to be then Ms. Lee was a lucky girl indeed. Gregory Peck brought Atticus to life in the 1962 movie, and his portrayal is a nearly perfect reflection of the man we see in the book. However I would strongly urge anyone who has seen the film but not read the book to go out right now and buy the book!! As good as the movie is the book is 10x better. And if you have not partaken of either then you need to do so ASAP. The subject matter is far from pleasant, but it is presented in such an accessible way by Harper Lee that anyone who enjoys reading even just a little bit will breeze right through it in a few days. Heck I think I might just have to read the book again myself.

 

 

1 Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)
No one knows exactly what Heaven is like, but I’d like to think that somewhere up there a TV room exists where The Andy Griffith Show plays on an endless…dare I say eternal…loop. Sheriff atTaylor is a widower with one child, 6 year old Opie. Opie’s mother is never named and barely mentioned. We only know that she died when Opie was a baby. The relationship between Andy & Opie is probably one of the purest, most accurate, & honest father/son interactions we have ever seen in television, books, or movies. I say that because Andy isn’t always saccharine sweet with Opie and he doesn’t treat his son like he’s a perfect angel. Opie gets into mischief occasionally, and when that happens his father exhibits slight anger & disappointment. However Andy isn’t mean. He is always fair with Opie and desires for his son to learn from mistakes. There are times when Andy jumps to the wrong conclusion and discovers that though Opie may have technically done the wrong thing he did it for the right reasons. Sure Aunt Bea moves in to do the cooking & cleaning and to manage the household, but Andy never dodges his responsibility to raise is son. He spends time with Opie, whether it is fishing at Myers Lake, chillin’ on the front porch, or just hanging out at the courthouse on a slow day in Mayberry (which is pretty much every day in Mayberry…a huge part of its charm). He disciplines Opie, but he also talks to him, providing valuable lessons about honor, integrity, love, respect, friendship, accountability, & courage. As a matter of fact Sheriff Taylor seemingly teaches those lessons to the entire town of Mayberry. He doesn’t scream, shout, show off, or crave the spotlight…he just leads by example and does what’s right.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 1.14

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, & lawns are being mowed throughout the land. It is springtime in America!! And one thing that means is a variety of sports stories about which I…as usual…have some thoughts. Sit a spell and join me…you know you want to.

 

 

 

 

A few post-NFL Draft contemplations:
• The NFL Network provides much better coverage than ESPN. I watched ESPN’s coverage of the first round because…well…it’s just been such a tradition for so long. Chris Berman & Mel Kiper Jr. are like the Jerry Lewis of football…you only see them once a year so you sure do look forward to that occasion (sadly of course Lewis’ MDA Telethon…once a Labor Day Weekend staple of Americana…has now quietly faded away). However, they have now introduced Jon Gruden, Todd McShay, & Ray Lewis into the mix (and apparently eased out Tom Jackson), and I found Gruden & “Shooter” Lewis to be rather grating. They love the sound of their own voices and seem far too pleased with their alleged expertise. By the 3rd round the guys on ESPN weren’t even paying attention to the announcement of the draft choices anymore, so I flipped over to NFL Network and found their coverage to be much more focused, cerebral, & low-key. Maybe next year I’ll cut the ESPN cord completely on draft weekend.
• The Cleveland Browns did the right thing by not taking QB Johnny Manziel at the #4 spot and instead grabbing him with the 22nd choice in the first round. I still think manzielit’s 50/50 as to whether he’ll be a superstar or a complete bust. He’s too small and I’m not a fan of his selfish & arrogant demeanor. I am not at all sure that he can withstand the pounding of NFL defenses. But if he does fail miserably atleast it’ll be in Cleveland, and I will laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh…lol.
• During the 2nd round of the draft Commissioner Fidel Goodell introduces legends/Hall-of-Famers from each franchise to announce their team’s draft pick: Marvin Harrison for the Colts, Chad Pennington for the Jets, Aeneas Williams for the Cardinals, Mike Singletary for the Bears, Herman Moore for the Lions, etc. were some of this year’s guests. Anyway, I have an idea. Next year they should let the biggest disappointment/embarrassment for each team make the pick: Jamarcus Russell for the Raiders, Rae Carruth (live from prison) for the Carolina Panthers, Ryan Leaf for the Chargers, Tony Mandarich for the Packers, former coach Bobby Petrino for the Falcons, Akili Smith & KiJana Carter together for the Bengals, Art Schlichter for the Colts (also from prison), Lawrence Phillips for the Rams (he’s in prison too!!). OJ Simpson (from prison…of course) could announce picks for both the Buffalo Bills & San Francisco 49ers. This would be a ratings bonanza. Make it happen NFL.
• After 41 years on this planet and nearly as long as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan I finally had an epiphany about The Steeler Way during the draft. Whereas most teams Steelers-Logoassign a particular value to individual players the Steelers focus on the value of each position, and obviously they believe that the most valuable position is linebacker. For the second year in a row the Steelers spent their 1st round draft pick on a linebacker. In 2013 it was Jarvis Jones from Georgia and this year it was Ryan Shazier from Ohio St. I don’t have a huge problem with the Shazier pick…I just didn’t think it was necessary with Jones, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, & a few other young guys in the mix already. The vast majority of Steeler fans were expecting them to choose a much needed cornerback in one of the first couple of rounds, but instead they waited until the 5th round to pick CB Shaquille Richardson from Arizona. What that tells me is that the suits in The ‘Burgh don’t think there is that big of a difference between a 1st round corner and a 5th round corner. A few years ago I would have just went along with that logic and assumed the powers-that-be knew what they were doing…but these days I’m not so sure.
• Some possible steals: QB Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech to the Arizona Cardinals in the 4th round, RB Lache Seastrunk from Baylor to the Washington Redskins in the 6th round, RB Ka’Deem Carey from Arizona to the Chicago Bears in the 4th round, QB AJ McCarron from Alabama to the Cincinnati Bengals in the 5th round, QB Zach Mettenberger from LSU to the Tennessee Titans in the 6th round, CB Keith McGill from Utah to the Oakland Raiders in the 4th round, & G David Yankey from Stanford to the Minnesota Vikings in the 5th round.

 

 
If there is one thing that we have learned from the Donald Sterling scandal it is that NBA owners do not really own their team. They are actually owners of 3.33% of the league, and if the other 96.67% of ownership decides to turn on a fellow owner it’s all over. I don’t necessarily have an issue with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banning Donald Sterling for life, and I won’t disagree when the rest of the owners vote to make him sell the team. It is what is best for business. In reality the man is 82 years old & obviously not well, so it was probably a matter of time before the Los Angeles Clippers ended up with new ownership anyway. And let us not shed a tear for Sterling or his family, all of whom will become even wealthier when the team purchased for $12 million sterlingin 1981 is sold for a half billion. Having said that, recent events do concern me just a little. Look…very few people would even try to defend the inane racist ramblings of a guy like Sterling. He’s an old kook who seems to have lost a few too many of his marbles. But imagine if the bank could come and repo your car or evict you from your house…not for being delinquent in your payments but because they disagree with your sociopolitical opinions. That’s not the America that I know & love…it’s fascism. I understand that a professional sports league is a unique entity. As an owner Donald Sterling, to a degree, represents the team, the league, & the city of Los Angeles. I understand that his belief system is not deemed appropriate by most anyone with a lick of sense. However it is also my understanding that Donald Sterling did not commit a crime. Actually the fact is that Sterling’s racist tendencies have been well known for many years and there have been instances in the past where he probably did commit crimes by way of housing discrimination and the NBA turned a blind eye. But now, when the actual crime committed was by the “girlfriend” who secretly taped Sterling’s conversations, the NBA decides to take drastic action to cover their rear ends in the midst of a public relations nightmare. As I said, hardly anyone would even attempt to support Donald Sterling’s idiocy, but what if losing everything you own because a person you trusted clandestinely recorded your deepest personal thoughts becomes commonplace?? What if just about everybody in the country was cheering your demise?? It is easy to revel in Donald Sterling’s implosion because he is just about the least sympathetic character imaginable…but what if it happened to you?? It’s a slippery slope…one that we must be aware of and concerned about in 21st century America.

 

 
I have watched only a couple Pittsburgh Pirates games in the past month. As I feared last season’s “breakthrough” and the end of two decades of losing pittsburghpirateswas just a mirage. This team isn’t there yet and I’m beginning to doubt whether they ever will be. They lack a killer instinct. They lack the will to win. The pitching isn’t nearly as dominant as it should be after concentrating on that aspect of the game with the draft & the farm system over the past several years. And there is very little offense. They are averaging 3.91 runs/game. The division leading Milwaukee Brewers are averaging 4.02 runs/game. The Detroit Tigers & San Francisco Giants…currently the two best teams in baseball…are scoring 4.85 and 4.18 runs/game respectively. These may seem like miniscule statistical differences, but baseball is a game of statistics. If Player A gets 150 hits in 500 at bats during a season that’s .93 hits/game and a .300 batting average, which probably means he’s an All-Star and over the course of an entire career possibly a Hall-of-Famer. Meanwhile, if Player B gets just 130 hits in 500 at bats it is .80 hits/game, a .260 batting average, and over the course of a career would be looked at as quite prosaic. Twenty hits less in the span of 162 games and look at the difference in perception. It’s the difference between winning two World Series in the past decade…like the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, & St. Louis Cardinals have all done…and the Pirates.

 

 
I suppose I need to comment on this whole Michael Sam thing…..
Essentially what everything boils down to is that ESPN and others in the media deserve nearly all of the blame for any negativity that has landed at the feet sam1of Michael Sam. For those who may have been off the grid in the past week Sam was a defensive end for the Missouri Tigers. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year for 2013, but due to his small stature and other pedestrian measurables was deemed a fringe NFL prospect. In February he “came out” publically in an interview (not surprisingly on ESPN) because announcing to the whole world that you are gay has become a rite of passage for all level of celebrities in 21st century America, which is my main problem with the whole thing. I am physically disabled and have spent my entire life trying to just fit in. I don’t like calling attention to myself. I just want to be treated normally…like everyone else. That quest has been a defining aspect of everything I have ever done. The “LBGT community” will say that what they want is equality & fairness, but it seems like what they truly desire is to be celebrated and treated like trailblazing heroes. ESPN’s coverage of Michael Sam has been somewhat disconcerting. A lot of folks were kvetching about Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was drafted, but my question is why were there cameras there in the first place?? I watch the NFL Draft every year. By the 4th round talking heads like Mel Kiper Jr. & Todd McShay have completely lost interest in keeping up with sam2the picks as they are announced and are still yapping on & on about top guys like Johnny Manziel & Jadeveon Clowney. I can’t ever remember them having cameras on a 7th round draft choice as he receives the phone call from the team selecting him. So why does Michael Sam get that kind of coverage?? Because he is gay?? That’s not equality…that’s putting someone up on a pedestal they haven’t earned. And then people wonder why there is anger & frustration. It must be nice for Michael Sam to know that he is a virtual lock to make the St. Louis Rams, and make no mistake…he will be on the team when the season starts. The NFL, ESPN, and the entire leftist media have too much invested at this point for Sam to fail. Good for him. I wish him well. He is a good football player. Most of them are at that level. I just hope for his sake that someday his playing skills will be the center of attention and not his sexual preference…something that should have never become an issue in the first place.