I have avoided doing a W&M for awhile, especially since football season (and our weekly picks) already takes up regular space here. However, there are a few things to address and so we shall. Being a sports fan has become increasingly difficult in recent months, and I’d be lying if I said I was as passionate as I was just this past spring. Too many “real life” issues have invaded sports, and I don’t think I’m the only person who hates that. Nevertheless, a lifetime of fandom doesn’t disappear overnight, so I move forward in hopes that watching a ballgame will eventually get back to being the frivolous distraction it is meant to be.
The baseball playoffs begin tomorrow. The New York Yankees will host the Minnesota Twins for a chance to join the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, & Cleveland Indians in the American League field. The Colorado Rockies will travel to the Arizona Diamondbacks to decide who will be in the National League field with the Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, & Los Angeles Dodgers. In the American League I know I hate the Yankees, but other than that I don’t have any particular love or disdain for the other teams. As far as the National League goes, the Cubs won it last year and the Dodgers are a big budget, big market team that has the resources to buy a title just like the Yankees, so I’ll be rooting against both of them, to the level that I’ll be cheering for or against anyone at all, which isn’t saying much. I am a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, so basically I stopped paying attention to baseball a couple of months ago. I suppose I’ll watch the playoffs here & there, but to say I’m excited about the post-season would be a huge overstatement.
There are 32 NFL Teams, with 53 Players on each roster. That’s nearly 1700 players. Of those, 871 are convicted felons. 871!!!! That’s over half of the league!! That should provide a little insight into what these “protests” are really all about (other than a giant ant-Trump temper tantrum). Don’t misunderstand…I am not defending President Trump’s comments about the “sons-o-bitches” needing to be fired. In an effort to bond with Joe Sixpack and make himself seem like a down to Earth guy Trump oftentimes speaks about things which are beneath his pay grade and in a manner that, rather than making him sound tough & hip, offers ammunition to his critics on a silver platter. Nevertheless, these “protests” have exposed a seedy side of professional sports, one that has always been there but that fans happily ignore. The bottom line is this…just because one has a right to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
I haven’t really paid that much attention to the Louisville basketball scandal. As I understand it the feds are investigating the program for paying players via the Adidas shoe company. Head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich have been put on “administrative leave”, which sure sounds like they’re out of a job to me. Pitino had previously been in hot water a few years ago for cheating on his wife with the wife of the team’s equipment manager, and not that long ago there was a ruckus about the program hooking players & recruits up with strippers. I’m sure there is more to come with all of this, so stay tuned. The sad thing is Pitino will probably be coaching again in a year or two…either a lower level college team or maybe even in the NBA (again).
The less I say about ESPN’s Jemele Hill the better off I’ll be. I’ve never really enjoyed her shtick, and certainly now I immediately turn the channel whenever she appears on my TV screen. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay.
Where are all those talking heads who were predicting an undefeated season for the New England Patriots hiding now?? lol The Pats are currently 2-2 and behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. I know I know…they’ll almost assuredly rebound, win the division, and be a significant threat to any playoff opponent. I totally understand that. But for now allow me to bask in the glory of their mediocrity and wittily mock anyone who seriously thought they had a chance to finish undefeated.
Speaking of the Pirates…..
Well, what else is there to say?? 2013, 2014, & 2015 were a mirage. The Pirates remain the epic embarrassment that they were from 1993-2012, and it appears that things will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Both GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle signed contract extensions recently and, while I don’t think that the failure of the team should rest completely on their shoulders, the refusal of ownership to see that the status quo isn’t good enough is an indicator of more mediocrity to come. In my assessment of the 2013 season I wrote “the years of completely rebuilding over & over again look like they are done…a solid foundation is in place and now it is just a matter of doing some tweaking”. Oh how wrong I was. Things looked okay for a couple of seasons, but then it all fell apart. Perhaps extending Huntington & Hurdle means that ownership believes they can guide the team back to that success of a few years ago, but that seems unlikely. Almost all of the players that fans once anticipated being called up from the minors are now a part of the big league club, and it hasn’t made a difference. There is no good reason for optimism. There really is nothing left to say.