The 2020 Sammy Awards – Part II

Annnnnddd we’re back!! The 2020 Sammy Awards continues with some amusing comments from our host Bill Murray, and if you missed Part 1 now would be the time to catch up.

 

 

It’s time for our next award, and to do the honors it is a pleasure to welcome a jack-of-all trades. He’s best known as a rapper, but he’s also tried his hand at pro wrestling, acting, cooking tasty vittles with his pal Martha Stewart, sports commentating, and pitching all sorts of products in commercials. Please welcome to the hizhouse Snoop Dogg!! And the nominees are:

 

The Twitter Award for Best Water Cooler Topic

 

Harry & Meaghan

America’s fascination with the British Royal Family endures, except she’s not British and apparently neither are royal anymore. I have no idea how any of that works. Anyway, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late & nearly deified Princess Diana married marginally famous American actress Meaghan Markle in 2018. In 2019 they had a son. In 2020 they ditched the whole royal thing and moved to Canada then California. I don’t know. I don’t care. Whatever.

 

Hamilton

I’ve never been to New York, but if I ever make it there I’ll be sure to catch a Broadway show or two. Fortunately with technology & a plethora of entertainment options many of the best plays & musicals can be viewed from the comfort of our own living room nowadays. Hamilton has been a sensation ever since it opened in 2015, and in July 2020 a filmed performance was made available on Disney+. I watched it and found the show quite entertaining, with a plethora of catchy tunes.

 

Jeopardy GOAT

Back in January 2020 Jeopardy aired a week long battle between its three greatest champions: Ken Jennings (appeared initially in 2004, winning 74 games & $2.5 million…both are still records), Brad Rutter (after his first appearance in 2000 he came back for multiple Tournament of Champions events and ultimately won over $4 million), and James Holzhauer (won over $2.4 million in 33 games in 2019 then won that year’s Tournament of Champions). The GOAT tournament was won easily by Jennings, with Holzhauer winning just one game and Rutter being practically invisible.

 

Toilet Paper Shortage

No one knew what to expect at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were told that if we simply self-quarantined for a couple of weeks everything would be fine. That, of course, was a big fat lie, and one of the byproducts was a toilet paper shortage that is still kind of a thing 9 months later. We encounter this issue almost every winter when the local meteorologist announces a big snowstorm is coming. People rush to the grocery store and panic buy as if they’re going to be trapped in their house for weeks, and toilet paper is always at the top of the shopping list.

 

J-Lo & Shakira

2020 can be divided into two eras…pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic, with the former feeling like it belongs in a previous decade. The Super Bowl took place pre-pandemic, and the halftime show featured Jennifer Lopez & Shakira in a provocative performance that had Boomers longing for the good ol’ days of folk music & The Rat Pack. Churchy types immediately condemned the two women to the fiery pits of Hell and doused themselves in holy water just for watching it on TV. Their music isn’t really my cup o’ tea, but I wasn’t especially offended by it.

 

Murder Hornets

2020 was such a terrible year that people began wondering what might befall us next. Like the plagues described in the Biblical book of Exodus we were prepared for anything from frogs to locusts to the killing of our firstborn children. It is my understanding that murder hornets are actually real, but fortunately they didn’t swarm the United States like some sort of cheesy 70’s horror movie…yet.

 

The Last Dance

Full disclosure…I haven’t seen the 10 part documentary about the end of Michael Jordan’s dynasty with the Chicago Bulls. I have no excuse. I’ve had plenty of time to watch it but just haven’t. Someday I will though…I hear it is quite good.

 

State of the Union

On February 4, 2020 President Trump gave what we now know was his final State of the Union address. I don’t usually watch, but that night I did and, objectively speaking, thought it was a good speech. Trump isn’t the best public speaker in the world, but I thought he was quite effective. He probably introduced too many special guests during the nearly hour & a half speech and it felt a bit gimmicky, but it’s a small nit to pick. I was especially touched when he presented Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom because Rush had just announced his lung cancer diagnosis the day before. I know a lot of people had an issue with it, but since previous recipients include Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, blues legend BB King, cellist Yo Yo Ma, college basketball coach Dean Smith, actor Robert Redford, and Satan’s favorite talk show host Oprah Winfrey I see no problem with giving it to Rush Limbaugh. After the speech was over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously tore up her paper copy on national television, and whether you cheered her on or thought it was a childish act showing no class likely depends on your political leanings.

 

Tiger King

Yeah, I haven’t seen it either. I guess it was on Netflix, and it spawned Halloween costumes & landed one of the people featured a gig on Dancing with the Stars. I briefly thought about checking it out, but I’m not usually one to follow the crowd.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Toilet Paper. Oh the memes!! One of the few silver linings in the early days of the pandemic were the parody songs & memes. Okay, I get it…toilet paper is important. But is it that important?? Why were people hoarding it?? If you run out can’t you use paper towels or notebook paper or leaves off the tree in your backyard?? Is toilet paper more valuable than food?? And why the panic buying?? Did people honestly believe that the grocery stores were ever going to shut down?? Restaurants can close. We can live without retail shops, movie theaters, & bars for a bit. But people have to eat, so there was never any reason to go crazy over toilet paper, yet people did and it was kind of hilarious.

 

To present our next award we are pleased to welcome the nation’s unlikeliest Governor. Straight from the hills of West Virginia you better follow the f#*&(@g guidelines for Gov. Jim Justice!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

App of the Year

 

Twitter

At the moment The Manofesto hasn’t been banned, but stay tuned.

 

Facebook

It seems like more & more social media platforms are popping up, but as much as people keep threatening to ditch Facebook the truth is most haven’t and won’t until something better comes along, which hasn’t happened…yet.

 

Words with Friends

It’s like an old friend you may not talk to for awhile but you know will always be there. I might go days without playing a game…or I may have five games going at once.

 

Zoom

Seriously…had anyone even heard of Zoom before 2020?? It has apparently been a thing since 2011, but really hit its stride this past year, making working from home much easier. Just make sure you’re dressed appropriately and not doing anything naughty on camera.

 

Amazon Music

I’ve always loved music, but this past year it has really been a vital part of everyday life. No matter what kind of sadness or chaos surrounds us, no matter how lost we may feel at a particular moment in time, music can always soothe a troubled soul.

 

Instagram

I finally joined the Instagram party in August 2020. I use it strictly for funny or thought provoking memes, though I am aware there are other ways one can utilize it. There are those who use the platform quite effectively, and I envy the proficiency they display.

 

Spades Royale

I’m still playing Spades. I was especially thankful for it in 2020 when the game provided brief intervals of relaxation and centered me during a rather stressful & lonely stretch of time.

 

TikTok

Like Zoom this is something that burst on the scene in the absence of normalcy. I’ve never used it and likely never will, but any technology that can provide amusement in an increasingly unamusing world deserves kudos.

 

Pinterest

Social media has become a landmine where relationships can be destroyed & lives negatively impacted by one provocative post, but the most controversial thing you’ll find on Pinterest might be a list of banned books or a recipe that doesn’t seem particularly appetizing. It isn’t really a place I can waste hours of time, but it’s good for an occasional brief distraction.

 

FB Messenger

I actually use Messenger more than Facebook now. I’d much rather interact with people on Messenger than on the phone or even thru text.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Zoom. I haven’t had the pleasure of using it because my job isn’t important like that, but I am aware that it has become a valuable tool and may permanently alter how business is conducted, even post-pandemic.

 

 

We couldn’t think of a better person to present the next award than Buzz Lightyear himself. He has been tickling our funny bones for decades on TV shows like Home Improvement & Last Man Standing, and has starred in memorable movies like the Toy Story series, Galaxy Quest, and the Santa Clause trilogy. Please grunt in appreciation for Tim Allen!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Buzzword of the Year

 

Social Distancing

Hopefully it’s something we can stop doing in the near future, but staying home and keeping six feet apart when forced to be out in public was a defining characteristic of 2020.

 

“With an abundance of caution…”

When you hear that phrase you know some event is about to be cancelled and something you’ve been looking forward to isn’t going to happen.

 

The New Normal

I don’t like the “new normal”. I want my old normal back!!

 

Hydrochloroquine Phosphate

Did I spell it correctly?? I hope so. Apparently it’s a medication that’s been around for awhile treating other conditions and showed some promise in minimizing COVID-19, but as soon as President Trump sang its praises the media and all their leftist buddies started hating on it. After all, we wouldn’t want to screw poor Bill Gates out of the billions he’s probably going to make from a government approved vaccine.

 

Contact Tracing

I’m not sure exactly what it is or how it works, but the whole idea seems a bit creepy.

 

Essential Employees

Is it better to be considered essential and have to put your health at risk going to work, or be classified as non-essential meaning you can hole up in the safety of your home but you lose the ability to provide for yourself & your family?? Whatever one’s thoughts might be on the subject there is no denying that 2020 made it clear what is really important and who is truly responsible for making our lives better.

 

Defund the Police

It’s a stupid idea no matter how you present it. Are there bad cops out there?? Sure. But you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. If someone wants to talk about police reform I’m all ears. Nothing is perfect and it’s a great idea to implement positive changes. However, I’m sick & tired of the hatred that has been shown toward law enforcement.

 

Flatten the Curve

When all of the craziness began last spring the goal was allegedly to calm things to the point that hospitals weren’t overwhelmed. That has been proven to be a lie, as hospitals in most places have been more than capable of handling COVID-related spikes.

 

Asymptomatic

So even if you’re not sick you may still be sick. Alrighty then.

 

PPE

Personal protective equipment. Masks, face shields, etc. Hey, if it helps that’s awesome, but Good Lord…I feel so bad for folks that have to wear that stuff for 8-12 hours every time they go to work.

 

“These unprecedented times…”

Yeah, yeah…we know. We got it. You can quit saying it everytime you want to sound self-important and reflective. None of us expected to be living thru a global pandemic.

 

Quarantine

Human beings need interaction. We are social creatures. We crave contact, whether it be a handshake, hug, high five, or the communal experience of sitting in a crowded restaurant or attending a show at a packed theater. Sure it’s nice to sit at home reading a book or mindlessly scrolling thru our phone, but someday it’s going to be glorious to be out & about again enjoying life as it is meant to be.

 

Herd Immunity

I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, so I will refrain from offering an uninformed medical opinion. But it is interesting to ponder the idea of how things may have turned out if we’d skipped all of this panic and just let things play out like we usually do with the latest dangerous illness. Would the death toll have been much worse?? Have all of the steps we’ve taken (destroying the economy & people’s lives in the process) actually helped?? We’ll never know, will we??

 

Panic Buying

We’ve already talked about toilet paper. I remember going to the grocery store back in May of last year before I encountered my own health issues, and the bare shelves really struck me. Yes, there have been some shortages and some interruptions in the supply chain, but anyone who thought grocery stores were going to shut down and we wouldn’t have access to food or other necessities has probably watched Red Dawn too many times.

 

Distance Learning

More than ever this past year I have been confronted with the loneliness that comes with being single & childless, but I must admit that I’m glad not to have kids in school in the midst of all of this, and even happier not to be a schoolkid myself. Kudos to the parents, teachers, & students who have somehow kept things going. I know it can’t be easy.

 

Contactless Delivery

My father has been kind enough to pick up groceries that I order online while I’ve been laid up, and he commented that I spend more buying stuff than he does. It dawned on me that it is because I’m not eating out like I usually do. Having said that, I do occasionally order Chinese or a pizza, and most places offer the option of paying online and having the delivery person just leave the food at your door. It is a sign of the times…both resourceful & sad.

 

Super Spreader

As time has dragged on people have become weary of everything that has happened. They just want their lives back. So folks have begun to rebel, whether it be college students gathering for a keg party, churches ignoring protocols to worship together, or families having a birthday party or celebrating Thanksgiving. Unfortunately it only takes one contagious person to spread The Sickness to everyone they may have encountered at such an event.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Social Distancing. It seems like an oxymoron, and I suppose it kind of is. Last St. Patrick’s Day I went to a local restaurant for some tasty Irish vittles, and they had a popular local band there doing an acoustic set. It had been announced that the next day all bars, restaurants, & various other businesses would be closing for awhile. At the time no one knew what we might be facing, but there was a vibe there that night. I was by myself but struck up a conversation with a couple sitting next to me. I enjoy live music and became a bit verklempt because I had a feeling I might not be able to have that experience again for a bit. I enjoyed the energy in the room even if I didn’t personally know anyone. In a strange way I have felt almost lucky these past several months because I haven’t been missing anything. I’ve been laid up & unable to go anywhere, but there hasn’t been anywhere to go anyway. Someday in the not-too-distant future I will be healed and able to get back out & about, and I hope soon thereafter normalcy will return. I don’t want to stay six feet away from people. I want handshakes & hugs. I want to go to a crowded bar or the local theater just up the street and enjoy live music. I want to feel good vibes again. And when that day comes I just might weep.

 

 

 

 

Let’s take another break. Please stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of The Sammy Awards…coming soon!!

 

 

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.

Scattered Pictures, Misty Water-Colored Memories, & The Corners of My Mind

clutter2My Dad is a quietly awesome dude who rarely asks me for anything. He’s definitely more of a giver than a taker…something of which this world needs much more. At any rate, on the rare occasions when Dad does ask for a favor I feel compelled to oblige. And so it was this past weekend when he asked me for something that I was pretty sure I had…I just didn’t know where.

It is at this point that I must clarify my living situation. Citizens of the Manoverse know that I refer to my place as The Bachelor Palace, but in truth it is a modest one bedroom apartment. It is nothing fancy but it’s all I really need for now and has worked out well for over a decade. Anyway, one would think that I’d be able to find just about anything I needed to get my hands on in such a humble abode. That assumption would be wrong.

Unfortunately for my Dad I did not find the item he was seeking, but I did find a variety of other things:

 

A Shaquille O’Neal rookie card and two Michael Jordan baseball cards. Kids under the age of 18 might not know that retired NBA legend Jordan once played baseball for a year. He wasn’t that good and never made it to the big leagues so his cards are minor league Birmingham Barons cards. I was really excited and thought I might be able to retire after selling these cards…especially the Shaq rookie. But after checking EBay and seeing that they were going for less than $5 I need to revise that plan.

A handful of coupons from Bob Evans. Coupons can come in handy on occasion and I am not above using them. Unfortunately these particular coupons expired in 2010. My father suggested I still try to use them, but that’s not how I roll.

A floppy disk. I know what’s on the disk and it’s not something I feel compelled to share. I just think it’s funny that I still own a floppy disk.

Tickets to the Argosy Riverboat Casino in Indiana. This is where myself and my buddy Ryan took my bestie Greg for his bachelor party…11 years ago. It was lots of fun. We rented a limo and everything.

Two random chargers. I have no idea what they are supposed to charge.

My Dad’s will. Dad isn’t especially morose…just prepared. I also have the combination to his safe. And no…neither of these items were what he was seeking.

A completed word find book that kept me lots of company when I was locked up in a “skilled” nursing facility in 2006.

Two sets of darts in a very nice carrying case. I bought these in college…20 years ago. I have a dartboard in my apartment but can’t remember the last time I actually played.

A really nice pool stick that I’ve had since college.

Photos of a tent revival we had at church…during the Clinton Administration.

A rewriteable CD with a copy of Microsoft Office…2003.

Several instruction manuals for products that I no longer own.

A plethora of batteries…C, D, AAA…all the ones a person never really needs for anything.

My living will & medical power of attorney. Atleast I found something that might come in handy one day. Although I really hope it doesn’t.

A 2005 Daily Planner. Since I lead whatever the direct opposite is of an exciting life I used my planner as more of a diary, and a quick review of my entries strongly suggests that I deeply hated my job and more than a few of my co-workers back then.

Tickets to The Living Word Outdoor Drama. If you’ve never been to The Living Word I highly recommend it. It’s in Cambridge, OH and they present it every weekend throughout the summer. My tickets indicate that I attended in 2001.

 

So now my bedroom is cluttered with a bunch of stuff that I need to either throw away or put back in drawers to be clutter3rediscovered in another decade or two. Just imagine how much odd junk I’d have if I lived in a house.

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 4.13

Today we bid a fond farewell to the football season and touch on a couple of other subjects.

 

 

Congratulations…I suppose…to the Baltimore Ravens, who just won one of the more memorable Super Bowls in recent memory. It wasn’t the result I would have preferred for a variety of reasons, but atleast it was an entertaining & competitive game. The 49ers have to be kicking themselves for not really showing up until after the blackout. I’m not sure what happened but I’d be willing to bet it won’t happen again if they are fortunate enough to get back to the Super Bowl. But of course ravens_preview_flattherein lies the rub. History tells us that the chances of either of these teams being as successful as they were this season next year are slim. The Ravens have a built in excuse. Not only are they losing their emotional leader Ray Lewis to retirement, but as with every other Super Bowl Champion they will become victims of their own success by losing several players who’ll seize the moment and cash in with big money contracts from other teams. Conversely the 49ers are young & shouldn’t see much turnover, plus they should be super motivated to prove that first half was just a fluke. But I’d still hesitate to bet on them making it back next season.

 

The extracurriculars surrounding the Super Bowl were predictablybr underwhelming. There wasn’t a single commercial that really burnt itself into my memory. Beyonce’s halftime show was okay I guess. I am in the minority by having the opinion that using the kiddie choir from Sandy Hook Elementary to help Jennifer Hudson sing America the Beautiful was shameless pandering.

 

warren-sapp-1668ddd46de92f78I’m still in a little bit of shock that Warren Sapp was voted intobus the Pro Football Hall of Fame ahead of Jerome Bettis & Michael Strahan. Maybe I am missing something, but to me Sapp was just another loudmouthed thug from “The U”, i.e. the Miami Hurricanes, but unlike other Miami thugs like Ray Lewis & Michael Irvin didn’t seem to have all that much of a noteworthy career. I guess the Hall of Fame voters disagree with that assessment.

 

I don’t usually pay much attention to the NBA until the playoffs begin, but the much talked about issues surrounding the LA Lakers have been difficult to ignore and highlight why I have come to dislike that team immensely. Back in the 80’s heyday of Showtime I really liked Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and their lakersteammates, but the 21st century version of the Lakers just aren’t likeable at all. It all started with Shaquille O’Neal several years ago. Shaq was and still is an illiterate assclown. I have no idea how mushmouths like he & football talking head Shannon Sharpe get TV gigs. Surely these shows can find more articulate talent. Anyway, then of course we have Kobe Bryant, who was one of the first guys to jump directly from high school to the NBA back when that was allowed. Kobe is very talented, but he’s also selfish & arrogant. Then this year the Lakers brought in Dwight Howard, who is 27 going on 12. I am simply sick & tired of hearing about all the conflict & struggle going on with the Lakers. Grow up & shut up.

 

Oh…speaking of the NBA…..

Please please please stop with the debate about who is the greatest basketball player jordanever – Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James. This is the kind of silly crap that ESPN pontificates about when there is nothing else going on in the world of sports, but to me there’s absolutely no question. Jordan is undoubtedly the greatest player to ever grace a basketball court. Kobe & LeBron are great players and have had some success, but any argument that tries to equate them with Jordan is simply manufactured, embellished poppycock.

 

I only pay slightly more attention to college basketball than I do the NBA at this bbpoint in the year. March Madness is awesome but in the 3 or 4 months prior I primarily focus on my Marshall Thundering Herd & WV Mountaineers. However, I must say that this season has been rather interesting. Every time a team reaches #1 they get upset. There doesn’t seem to be one dominant team or even a few dominant teams. That should make for a wide open NCAA Tournament with lots of twists & turns. Sounds good to me.

 

It is rare that I find myself in the position of saying anything positive about anyone associated with the evil empire known as the New England Patriots, but in the case of Rob Gronkowski I have to make an exception. I have been amused by all the old, curmudgeonly, fuddy duddy talking heads getting their knickers in a snit because Rob Gronkowski, Jerrell Freemanof Gronkowski’s partying caught on tape. This is a young 20-something who is rich, famous, (I assume) good looking, & popular. The world is his oyster. Why are a bunch of stuffed shirts so agitated by the guy dancing (badly) with his shirt off and acting like a goofball?? Yes the Patriots pay him a lot of money. Yes his wrist is currently in a cast. Yes he was most likely intoxicated both times he has been filmed partying like it’s 1999. But the last time I checked this was a free country and employees still have the right to engage in whatever legal activities they choose when they are “off duty”, which for professional athletes is the offseason. These out of touch sports “journalists” make it sound like Gronk was caught snorting lines of coke off the naked, dead carcass of Whitney Houston. Chill the hell out people!!

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 6.12

Today we put a bow on the NFL Draft, finally pay some attention to the NBA (now that the playoffs have begun), and address whatever else The Voices scream about.

 

As per usual I watched the vast majority of all 7 rounds of the annual NFL Selection Meeting, more commonly known as the draft. A few observations:

  • I really like what my Steelers accomplished. Guard David Decastro isn’t a sexy pick, but he is exactly what the team needed. It was quite the pleasant surprise when Decastro was still available, as most “experts” had him being off the board within the top 20 picks. There are some questions about OT Mike Adams due to poor choices involving marijuana usage and lying about said usage, but if he grows up and plays to his full potential it will certainly help an offensive line that has been a weakness for a few years now. Many many months ago several of the earliest mock drafts had the Steelers taking nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu in the first round. Instead they end up getting him in the fourth round which could end up being a huge steal, as Casey Hampton will likely be finished after 2012. RB Chris Rainey provides a versatile, speedy weapon and might become a solid kickoff/punt returner.

 

  • Kudos to the suits in Minnesota for getting the idiots in Cleveland to move up one spot in the first round to take RB Trent Richardson, whom they could have had anyway by standing pat. It’s not like the Vikings were going to take a running back since they already have Adrian Peterson. Yes I know AP is recovering from torn ACL/MCLs, but he’ll be back. Maybe the Browns became convinced that other teams were interested in moving up to get Richardson?? At any rate the Vikings got the guy they wanted all along, left tackle Matt Khalil, plus three extra draft choices out of the deal and are welcome to accompany me to haggle with used car salesmen any day.

 

  • There are only two possible explanations for the Redskins taking QB Kirk Cousins in the 4th round after taking Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. First, they aren’t completely sold on RGIII. That seems unlikely. Who would take a guy that high if you don’t believe he can be a difference maker?? The second, more likely train of thought is that he can spend a few years as a solid backup and then be flipped in a trade for multiple picks, like what the Green Bay Packers just did with Matt Flynn, the New England Patriots did when trading QB Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs a couple of years ago, or the Atlanta Falcons did when they sent QB Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans in 2007. I’m not completely against that strategy, but coming off a 5-11 season I would think there would be better uses for a middle round draft pick.

 

  • Did the Seattle Seahawks “reach” when selecting former WV Mountaineer pass rusher Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick in the first round?? Maybe. But if Irvin turns into the next Mario Williams, DeMarcus Ware, or Terrell Suggs then it might eventually look like a pretty shrewd choice.

 

  • I don’t know whether new Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill will be more like the next Dan Marino or the next Dan Orlovsky, but I am absolutely sure that his wife is s-m-o-k-i-n’ hot and television cameras WILL find her during Miami games.

 

  • The biggest bust of the first round may turn out to be DT Dontari Poe, taken 11th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. The consensus seems to be that all he has going for him is his massive size, and there are a lot of questions as to why he wasn’t more dominant in college against Conference USA competition. I’m glad the Steelers stayed away from that potential disaster.

 

  • Getting WR Michael Floyd to play opposite the amazing Larry Fitzgerald is a nice pick for the Arizona Cardinals. If only they had a quarterback that was worth a damn.

 

  • Speaking of wide receivers, the negatives on NY Jets 2nd round choice Stephen Hill are his hands and his route running. Call me crazy, but aren’t those kind of important skills for a receiver?? Sure the guy is 6ft5 with sub 4.4 speed, but those things won’t matter if he can’t catch the ball.

 

  • Obviously the San Francisco 49ers didn’t need to add too much to the mix seeing as how they fell just short of the Super Bowl when they lost to the NY Giants in overtime of the NFC Championship game. However, picking wide receiver AJ Jenkins with their first rounder choice is a real head scratcher. AJ Who?? In a draft deep at the receiver position, how in the heck does a team manage to spend its top choice on the one guy no one has ever heard of?? And why did they need a receiver anyway after signing Randy Moss & Mario Manningham in the offseason??

 

  • I think QB Russell Wilson goes to Seattle and immediately becomes the backup behind free agent signee Matt Flynn, and may eventually turn out to be better than Flynn. Sure he’s about as tall as a hobbit, but guys like Doug Flutie & Drew Brees have proven you don’t have to be 6ft.4 to be a winning quarterback, just like Jamarcus Russell proved that you can be 6ft.6 and not belong within a 5 mile radius of a football field.

 

  • Chicago Bears’ 2nd round choice WR Alshon Jeffery has the potential to become one of the best receivers from this draft…if he can wean himself off the Sally Struthers diet he’s apparently been utilizing.

 

  • I really like the Broncos choice of QB Brock Osweiler to be the heir apparent to Peyton Manning. The guy is 6ft.7 and reminds me just a little bit of Ben Roethlisberger. If Manning can stay healthy and sticks around 3 or 4 years there is no better teacher to bring along Osweiler slowly and groom him to take over down the road.

 

  • New Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden won’t get the benefit of being seasoned slowly & learning from a legend. Since he’s already 28 years old (having spent a few years playing minor league baseball before becoming the signal caller at Oklahoma St.) and the Browns have apparently already lost faith in Colt McCoy after just 2 seasons.

 

 

A melancholy farewell to the Chicago Bulls’ chances of winning an NBA title after star player Derrick Rose was lost to an ACL tear in the very first post-season game. It looks like, much to my chagrin, the Miami Heat have a fairly easy path to the Eastern Conference crown, and can only be stopped in the finals, possibly by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, or the San Antonio Spurs. But even that prospect doesn’t look all that promising.

 

As I have stated many times, I don’t pay hardly any attention to the NBA until the playoffs begin, so I was kind of amazed when I saw that Michael Jordan’s Carolina Bobcats went 7-59…the worst season in NBA history. Really?? A team owned by Michael Jordan…the best basketball player that ever lived…is that bad?? Of course a quick glance at their roster reveals that the only players worth anything are small forward Gerald Henderson and guard Kemba Walker. Everyone else just needs to be released.

 

After the much ballyhooed signing of free agent slugger Albert Pujols, who would have ever guessed that the LA/Anaheim/California Angels would be sitting in last place, 9 games behind the Texas Rangers?? Now granted, we’re only a couple of dozen games into the season, but Pujols is only hitting .216 with NO home runs. The folks in St. Louis…home of the defending World Champions and first place Cardinals (even without Pujols)…have got to be smiling from ear to ear.

 

Since the Steelers didn’t really address their woeful defensive backfield in the draft, I must have faith in the black & gold brass and hope that middle-of-the road guys picked up with mid to late round choices over the past few years are finally ready to blossom. Specifically I am talking about cornerbacks Cortez Allen, Keenan Lewis, and Curtis Brown. They simply must step up and not let opposing quarterbacks shred them for big plays.

Top 5′s (Thanks For The Inspiration Facebook)

Ok…so…the rage on Facebook these days seems to be listing one’s Top 5 this and that. However, because I am a nonconformist, and in an effort to bring new readers to The Manofesto so they may have the privilege of discovering my brilliance, I am just going to do all my Top 5’s here at the same time. This also affords me an opportunity to pontificate on my choices, and if there’s one talent in the universe I have (atleast one that I can discuss publicly) it is most certainly pontification.

Movies – I’m not going into that right now. I’m doing a whole series on my Top 100 Favorite Movies, so you’ll just have to read that.

Books – The Bible, The Sherlock Holmes Canon, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Animal Farm. I could go on all day. I’m a bookworm. Love to read. I like classic literature, biographies, nonfiction…..it’s all good. I did not include the works of Shakespeare because I think Shakespeare is better experienced in a live performance. I also did not include The Lord of the Rings trilogy or The Godfather because, while the books are outstanding, they are the rare case where the movie actually outshines the book. I’ve tossed around the idea of doing a Top 100 Books series, but I take reading much more seriously than I do movies so it would take much more critical thought and consideration, more effort than I’m willing to put forth at the moment. Besides, there is The Bookshelf feature here at The Manofesto.

Sports Teams – Pittsburgh Steelers, West Virginia Mountaineers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Penguins. I’ve been a diehard Steelers and Pirates fan since before I even started kindergarten. I grew up in northcentral WV, which is Mountaineer country. Marshall University is my alma mater. I include the Penguins only to get to five. I’m not really much of a hockey fan.

Singers/Musicians/Groups – Frank Sinatra, Van Halen, The Eagles, REO Speedwagon, Boston. I could very easily list atleast a dozen more. I’ve seen all of these five in concert with the exception of Sinatra. I was born probably a decade too late to really appreciate his brilliance while he was still doing live shows. My musical tastes are very eclectic and vary widely depending upon my mood.

Candy – If chocolate is involved it’s all good. No need to narrow it down to a Top 5. However, let me take this opportunity to express my deep affection for some candy bars that aren’t produced anymore or are very difficult to find, making my love for them all the more heartbreaking in a “you always want what you can’t have” kind of way. The first is Bar None, a chocolate bar produced by Hershey’s in the mid 80’s. It was a chocolate wafer, some chocolate ganache-like filling, and peanuts all covered in chocolate. At some point they re-did it so it was two smaller bars in the package instead of one bigger bar. The original was outstanding, the revision still very tasty. Bar None was discontinued in the mid 90’s and I’d pay just about any amount of money for a case of those babies. Mallo Cups are shaped and packaged like Reese’s Cups, only instead of peanut butter the chocolate encases soft creamy marshmallow filling. Mallo Cups are still around, but they are far from ubiquitous. I actually took the step of ordering a case online directly from the company a few years ago, but it’s rather pricey. And finally I want to give some attention to Chunky bars. Chunky is a trapezoid shaped hunk of chocolate with peanuts and raisins. Very unique. And it comes in a shiny silver foil wrapper. Chunkys are still around, but they are even harder to find than Mallo Cups. I used to stumble across Chunky at my local video store, but renting movies is an archaic 20th century task, so I haven’t had one in ages.

Fast Food Joints – Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Rally’s, Hardee’s. You’ll notice the absence of McDonald’s. That’s because when examining their menu every single item is done better at other places, with the exception of french fries. McDonald’s fries can’t be beat. Anyway, I love love love Wendy’s and eat there way too much. We didn’t have a BK in my area until I was in high school so I felt deprived and put it up on a pedestal of expectation. Then in college my fraternity house was right beside a BK and I have a lot of great memories. Ditto for Taco Bell…..it has a nostalgic place in my heart dating back to the fantastic college years. We had a Rally’s here when I was a kid but it disappeared when I was in high school and I miss it. In & Out and Sonic are two places I‘ve heard great things about but haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing.

Beers – Killian’s Irish Red, Dos Equis, Rolling Rock, Heineken, Corona. I’m kind of a beer snob, eschewing blue collar brews like Budweiser and Miller Lite for the most part. But at the same time I don’t really drink a lot of beer and haven’t been exposed to much of what is out there.

Cereals – Rice Krispies, Honey Bunches of Oats, Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes, Wheaties. I’m not exactly Mr. Excitement when it comes to cereal. I like it basic and old fashioned. Not too sweet, not too cute.

All Time Athletes – Michael Jordan, Terry Bradshaw, “Dr. J” Julius Erving, Dale Earnhardt, Willie Stargell. I’m not a huge NBA guy. The closest team in proximity to my home is in Cleveland, and until recently they were an afterthought. So for me the NBA has always been more about individuals that I enjoyed watching, and in my book there were none better than Jordan and Dr. J. I cheered for the Sixers when Erving was with them and I was a Bulls fan during Jordan’s reign. That’s the closest times I’ve ever come to having a favorite NBA team. Earnhardt was one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever seen and his tragic death was very upsetting. Bradshaw and Stargell were the faces of the Steelers and Pirates during the glory years of the late 70’s, my formative as a sports fan. I limited this to athletes who I’ve actually had the privilege of seeing perform in my lifetime, which is why you don’t see people like Jim Brown or Babe Ruth.

TV Shows – Cheers, Seinfeld, Dallas, The Andy Griffith Show, Taxi. Another case where I could list many many more. I watched a lot of television as a kid. Probably too much. But atleast I can say with confidence that the shows that were on back then were really really good, unlike today where so much is pedestrian and uninspired.