WINNING & MUSING…VOLUME 5.21   

Greetings sports fans, & Happy Halloween Week. There’s a lot going right now, so sit back, relax, grab a warm beverage, & let’s discuss some issues that have absolutely no direct impact on our lives. 

The initial College Football Playoff rankings are just days away, and I am genuinely intrigued. If the committee follows what other polls are doing then the playoff teams right now would be Georgia, Cincinnati, Alabama, & Oklahoma. However, let us consider a few things. First, the committee plays by its own rules and seem to make things up as they go along. Secondly, kudos to the undefeated Bearcats, but are they a legit playoff contender?? Beating Notre Dame…especially in South Bend…has to count for something, yet the rest of their schedule leaves much to be desired. We can’t overlook the fact that the CFP is a television event, and Cincinnati would get obliterated by atleast two of those other teams. To be honest I’ll be surprised if they’re in the CFP’s top four. Alabama & Georgia will probably meet in the SEC title game and determine one playoff berth, but that’s down the line. At the moment the Bulldogs should be the unquestioned #1 team, while ‘Bama shouldn’t be in the top four but undoubtedly will be. And what about Oklahoma?? Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and the Sooners might be the luckiest team in America. I wouldn’t put them in my top four, but the committee will. So if it was up to me who would be the four playoff teams right now?? Georgia, Michigan St., Ohio St., & Michigan, with the loser of the upcoming matchup between the Wolverines & the Spartans falling out afterward and obviously the Ohio St./Michigan matchup at the end of November looming as a possible elimination game. Keep your eye on Notre Dame. If they win out things could get interesting. Also Oregon, although that overtime loss to Stanford is an issue. They’ll need some other dominoes to fall even if they win the PAC 12.

I’m pretty old-fashioned. Thru the years I’ve expressed a deep & abiding affection for smashmouth football, my preference that the designated hitter rule remain only in the American League, & disdain for conference realignment, amongst other things. I’m one step away from being the grumpy old man that yells at kids to get off my damn lawn. Having said that, allow me to make a radical proposal. Going forward, all newly built stadiums should have a retractable roof, and all current stadiums should be retrofitted with one if at all possible. I know absolutely nothing about construction or the cost of building such structures. Perhaps my idea is crazier than I realize, but if it is feasible then why not?? There’d be no more rainouts in baseball, and football teams would be able to run their plays without battling inclement weather. Fans would always be comfortable. Everybody wins. 

I don’t give a damn about the NHL unless the Pittsburgh Penguins are competing for the Stanley Cup, but a shout out to the league’s newest franchise. Seattle Kraken is a cool name. Sadly they play their home games in something called Climate Pledge Arena, which is asinine. Actually, Amazon owns the naming rights and that’s the kind of woke stupidity they came up with. Not that I’d ever root for anyone other than the Pens (and I barely pay attention to them), but I’m already out on the Kraken. The hippie dipping leftists in the Pacific Northwest will surely enjoy them though, which is nice. 

Rumor has it that the Miami Dolphins might trade for current Houston Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson, which means they’re giving up on Tua Tagovailoa, their 2020 first round pick. In my opinion that’s crazy. Look, I freakin’ love Watson. Yes, I am aware of his private…proclivities, the legal action pending against him, & the likelihood of a future suspension by the NFL. In my opinion there have been players who have done much worse, paid the price, and recovered to have a good career. Watson is one of the best QBs in football and he’s only 26 years old. That being said, Tua is only 23 and it is way too soon to call him a bust. If…if…the Texans are smart enough to get him in the deal in addition to a gaggle of draft picks they could turn into a playoff team rather quickly. If Miami makes a separate trade and gets little to nothing in exchange for Tua it’ll be a huge mistake and whichever team swindles them will look brilliant in a couple of years. 

My Pittsburgh Pirates won the seventh game of the 1979 World Series on Wednesday, October 17, 1979. Four decades later the 2021 World Series begins tomorrow and will not conclude until November 3 if it goes to a Game 7. Perhaps MLB should look at revising their schedule. Anyway…Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves. I have zero interest. None. The Astros being in the World Series (again) is embarrassing for Major League Baseball given the fact that they are known cheaters that received absolutely no punishment for their ill gotten gain. Not only should Houston have been stripped of their 2017 championship, they also should’ve received a five year post-season ban for defrauding the game of baseball. If they were playing almost any other team in this series my rooting interest would be an easy decision, but my disdain for the Braves goes way back to the early 90’s. Like a man without a country I am a baseball fan with nowhere to turn. I suppose I’ll just look forward to spring training and try to convince myself that the Pirates may finally get their shit together. 

Winning & Musing…Volume 3.20

We meet again…five months later. The good news is there have been sporting events that we can talk about. Having said that, 2020 has been an undeniably challenging time to be a fan. Will the new year see a return to normalcy?? Probably not, ateast at first. But we’ll watch anyway, and occasionally ponder related topics right here.

 

 

 

 

As happy as I am that the NFL & NCAA have given us a football season the fact is it just isn’t the same. It’s so strange to watch a game being played in an empty or nearly empty stadium. We didn’t do our normal preseason poll or NFL preview because I just didn’t know what to expect. My nephew & I haven’t done our weekly picks like in years past and we won’t be picking bowl games (several of which have been canceled anyway). There have been way too many games canceled and players who have missed time after testing positive for The Sickness or being in close proximity to others who have tested positive. Kudos to all involved for making the effort and taking the risk, but even though I have watched I am admittedly not as invested as usual.

 

 

I was dealing with my own (non-Covid) health issues this past summer, so I really didn’t pay all that much attention to the abbreviated baseball season or the bubble-wrapped NBA playoffs. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series and the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title, so in a world turned upside down I suppose two big city franchises with enough money to buy their championship provided some semblance of status quo normalcy. Also, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, but honestly I had to look that up because I paid even less attention to hockey this season than usual.

 

 

I appreciate the fact that the Indianapolis 500 and The Masters were both rescheduled instead of being outright cancelled, but as a fan it just didn’t work for me. I watched a little bit of The Masters, but was mostly focused on football that weekend, as I’m sure most fans were. I didn’t even know the Indy 500 was on until about an hour after it was over. I just completely forgot about it. Congrats to whoever won each event, but I don’t recall who that was and at the moment it’s not important enough to me to look it up.

 

 

Folks, we need to get something straight. Just because a fan is upset at their team losing and expresses some negativity does not mean they aren’t a “real” fan. I saw this kind of debate rear its ugly head after my Pittsburgh Steelers had their hot start come to a screeching halt and lost a couple of games. Fans were upset…mad at the NFL for bumbling the rescheduling of games and seeming to apply the rules differently to different teams, angry about wide receivers dropping way too many balls, frustrated by mounting injuries to the team, peeved at sports media types who were questioning the Steelers legitimacy even before they lost, disappointed by questionable coaching strategies, and of course debating dubious calls by referees. In my opinion this is normal fan behavior. However, there are those who say anyone who expresses any kind of doubts or frustration aren’t true fans. That’s poppycock. My perspective has always been the irritated passion a fan exhibits when things aren’t going well proves just how deep & fervent their fandom really is, contrary to the kind of blindly loyal fan who acts like Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House, shouting “All is well!! Remain calm!!”, even as chaos reigns down all around him.

 

 

It would be negligent for me not to address the latest in the PC Police’s War on Sports, and guess what…the fans are losing. In the midst of the uproar caused by the #BlackLivesMatter hoopla last summer the NFL’s Washington Redskins finally bowed to media created pressure and dropped the “offensive” nickname. They’ve played this entire season as the Washington Football Team, which is all kinds of stupid. And now the Cleveland Indians have announced plans to drop their century old moniker. I’ve just never understood how anyone could possibly be offended by a sports team honoring a group of people by naming their team after them. Have y’all ever  had a friend or family member name their baby or even a pet after you?? It’s meant as a compliment. Do you know how thrilled I’d be if West Virginia got an NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL franchise and called them the West Virginia Sams?? I’d be verklempt!! But that’s what liberals do in the name of “progress”. They suck all the joy out of the room, like sort of giant, evil vacuum. It is what it is, and it makes me sad.

 

 

I’m not sure what the answer is, but in no way do I feel like an Ohio State Buckeyes team that has only played six games should be in the College Football Playoff. In retrospect this would have been the perfect year to do a test run of an expanded playoff with 8 or even 16 teams. I won’t ride the powers-that-be too much for their lack of foresight because they, just like so many of us in all walks of life, have been making things up on the fly in the midst of all the craziness, but it would’ve been nice to see some fairness & common sense implemented instead of what it looks like is happening, which seems to be “let’s do whatever we can to get four traditional power programs in the playoff by any means necessary because it’ll be good for TV ratings”.

Winning & Musing…Volume 2.20

Greetings sports fans…what a strange year it has been, right?? No March Madness. The Masters, all three Triple Crown horse races, & the Indianapolis 500 postponed. And now, with COVID-19 spiking again, there are serious questions about whether we’re even going to have a football season. I hate all of it, but atleast the whole mess gives us a few things to discuss.

 

 

 

 

Kudos to NASCAR & the PGA for giving us a little bit of entertainment. To be honest I don’t even miss the live crowd when watching a car race, and golf is almost as entertaining without a gallery, except in those moments when someone makes a spectacular shot & there would normally be a roar from the crowd. NASCAR especially has stepped up, altering their schedule to have races on the occasional random weeknight. Perhaps that doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, and maybe a lot of people actually hate it, but in my particular circumstance at the moment I have really appreciated the distraction.

 

 

So I guess Major League Baseball will be playing a 60 game season beginning in a couple of weeks. That’s cool, and I’ll watch (especially if I can manage to find any Pirates games on where I am), but we’ll need to put an asterisk on the 2020 season. I don’t believe whichever teams make the playoffs and whoever ultimately wins The World Series can ever consider those to be legit accomplishments, but I’ll give them credit for doing something to provide us with some much needed entertainment.

 

 

The NBA & NHL had already played a majority of their season when everything shut down, but both leagues will be concluding their seasons with a few additional regular season games and then the playoffs. I’m not even going to dive into the details because I’m not necessarily sure I even understand all of it, but I will opine that the champions in both sports will aleast be more authentic than whatever goes on in baseball.

 

 

Speaking of NASCAR, I understand why they caved to the PC Police about the Confederate flag, and truly I’m kind of tired of all the arguing. I recognize where we are as a nation, and it’s just not a battle those of us opposed to such pandering & virtue signaling are going to win right now. However, I was disgusted with the whole Bubba Wallace/”noose” controversy. Even after the “noose” was discovered to have been a garage door pulley that had been there for years Wallace & the sports media refused to admit the mistake and doubled down on the whole victim angle, which is pathetic. I hope Wallace enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, because now he’s back to being a mediocre driver who hasn’t actually won anything.

 

 

Strangely enough I don’t even get ESPN where I am right now, but I’m not sure I mind all that much. The last time I was able to tune in they’d essentially abandoned talking about sports and had gone all in on being “woke”, which isn’t why I watch their programs. And now I find out that The Flagship in Bristol is essentially tossing my man Mike Golic aside in favor of a more diverse morning show starring Keyshawn Johnson. Trust me folks…no one was jonesing for Keyshawn Johnson to get more airtime. It’s just another example of how out of touch ESPN has become. Y’all will recall my deep & abiding affection for Mike & Mike and how upset I was when that show ended, but atleast Golic & Wingo was a reasonably entertaining facsimile. Now there will be absolutely no reason to watch ESPN in the morning. Look, I don’t give a damn about a person’s race or ethnicity. If you’re intelligent, entertaining, & good at your job you have an opportunity to earn my fandom. Mike Golic had done that. Mike Greenberg had done that (although he’s far less tolerable without Golic). I’m not a supporter of change for the sake of change. If ESPN had an ounce of sense they’d reboot Mike & Mike, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be their plan.

Winning & Musing…Volume 3.18

October is often thought of as the best time of the annual sports calendar because the NFL, NBA, World Series, hockey, & college football are all available to us. However, late spring & early summer…with the NBA & NHL playoffs, a little golf, the Indy 500 & Coca-Cola 600 both on Memorial Day weekend, & baseball all happening…ain’t too shabby. Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

 

At the beginning of the NBA playoffs my only wish was that two of three teams not advance to The Finals. Things got off to a good start when the aging San Antonio Spurs were eliminated in the first round. Heading into the Memorial Day Weekend it seemed plausible that my hopes would be fulfilled and we’d get a fresh & interesting championship matchup. Sadly that dream died in two Game 7s, and now…for the fourth year in a row…we’re stuck with Golden State vs. Cleveland. I realize that many basketball fans are excited about this, but I am not your average NBA fan. For a variety of reasons I will not be watching one single second of the series. Maybe next season Philly, Boston, New Orleans, Houston, & Minnesota will figure some things out and break up the monotony.

 

 

I am surprisingly ambivalent about the NFL’s new anthem policy. I once called kneeling during the national anthem a “meaningless exhibition of symbolic rage” and stand by that opinion, but I also opined that it is within players’ Constitutional rights to do so. It isn’t something I would do, the original intent of the protest is foolish, & its stated purpose had been hijacked into a political game of chicken…but as disrespectful as I believe kneeling is I’m not sure the NFL has handled the situation all that well. They did nothing at the height of the controversy last season, and it felt like the whole circus had sort of diminished much like a hurricane eventually loses steam…until the NFL stirred things up again for no reason. Young parents are often taught the Ferber Method in which a crying infant is to be left alone and eventually they’ll quiet down. In the same way, I think if fans & the media would stop paying attention to anthem protests the players would get bored with it and move on…and even if they didn’t stop atleast they & their “cause” wouldn’t be receiving any validation. Unfortunately the NFL decided to poke the whiny, spoiled, & sanctimonious bear.

 

 

Y’all know that I’m a really lukewarm hockey fan, and whatever interest I did have in the NHL playoffs pretty much disappeared when the two time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated. That being said, I am rooting for Vegas to bring home The Cup in its inaugural season. Former Penguins’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury now plays for the Golden Knights, and I also think it’d be fun to see an expansion team win because it would tick off hockey “purists”. There’s also my longstanding love of Las Vegas, a city I hope to visit someday. I’m not actually going to watch any of the games, but for what it’s worth…Go Vegas!!

 

 

How insane is it that we went 37 years between the last two Triple Crown winners, but now we could see another one just three years later?? Of course it must be noted that between Affirmed’s achievement in 1978 and the 2015 trifecta of American Pharoah there were 13 horses that won the Kentucky Derby & Preakness Stakes only to fall short in the Belmont Stakes, so it’d be premature to assume that Justify will wear the proverbial crown. Not only is Belmont the longest of the three races (the Derby is 1.25 miles, the Preakness is 1& 3/16 miles, & the Belmont is 1.5 miles), but there are always fresh horses entered that didn’t run in the previous two races. As a matter of fact, it is fairly common for only a few horses to run all three Triple Crown races, with several in the Belmont field having skipped either the Derby, the Preakness, or both. For this reason the “smart money” might lean toward one of those horses instead of Justify.

 

 

Perhaps I am missing something, but I don’t understand all the hype and/or consternation about The Supreme Court’s recent decision against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That 1992 law “barred state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions”, making Nevada the only state where it was legal to wager on games, but now all bets are off (pun intended) and it’s a free-for-all gambling frenzy. But wait!! Haven’t we had The Internet for the past quarter century?? I’m not a big gambler, but I have bet on the Triple Crown horse races online for several years, and could have bet on just about anything else if I’d chosen to do so…so what’s the big deal?? Are casinos suddenly going to pop up everywhere now?? I suppose that’s possible. Will all of those little “gambling cafes” that litter the landscape of my small hometown now offer sports betting in addition to slot machines?? That would actually make such establishments somewhat more interesting. I’m not completely obtuse here folks…I get it. But let’s not pretend that this new legality suddenly allows people to engage in some sort of forbidden activity that they’ve been dying to try but have been prohibited from doing. The truth is that gambling has been a huge business for decades, and not just in Vegas or Atlantic City. The Supreme Court has just brought it out of the shadows…probably so the government can get a piece of the action.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 2.17

We made it sports fans!! We survived the post-Super Bowl darkness and spring has arrived with a plethora of awesomeness being spoon fed to us as we slumber on our couches or other favorite furniture. It’s always great to be a fan, but these last couple of weeks have been…as always…a high point on the calendar. Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the North Carolina Tar Heels, winners of their 7th national championship, three of those coming under the leadership of current head coach Roy Williams. I can’t honestly say I watched a lot of the title game. It was Monday night…the night after Wrestlemania…and wrestling is a priority at The Bachelor Palace. I checked out emotionally after my WV Mountaineers were defeated by Gonzaga, which is also the reason why, despite almost always being a guy who cheers on the underdog, I was pulling for UNC.

 

 

 

I didn’t get to watch as much of The Masters as I’d prefer because my work schedule pretty much wrecks every weekend, but congratulations to Sergio Garcia for finally fulfilling his potential. I would have much rather seen my man Phil Mickelson or even Jordan Spieth in contention on Sunday, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

 

 

 

So I guess the NHL playoffs have begun. I suppose they do those things. Someone call me if/when the Pittsburgh Penguins make it back to the Stanley Cup finals. Until then I’ll be reading a book or watching Big Bang Theory reruns.

 

 

 

A melancholy farewell to Steelers owner Dan Rooney. Everybody fondly recalls his father Art, aka The Chief, but the truth is that Dan had been a guiding force for the team as far back as the late 1960’s. I’m not sure what the future holds for my Steelers. The Rooney family only owns about 30% of the team, and a large part of the family has walked away from football, choosing to make money in horse racing & gambling instead. I hope we don’t see the day that the primary ownership is not in Rooney hands, but that may very well happen in the future.

 

 

 

Is there a bigger tool in the universe than this clown Lamar Ball?? He’s made himself the story, which is sad for his kids. Even other helicopter parents are ashamed. His oldest son will be leaving UCLA early (we’ll see how that works out), and if I’m Bruins’ head coach Steve Alford I might consider pulling the scholarship offers for the two younger brothers. No amount of talent is worth the embarrassment & aggravation that the father brings to the table.

 

 

 

The NBA playoffs are about to begin, so I suppose now I’ll start paying attention. For now though, allow me to opine that a favorite debate amongst the talking heads…the subject of NBA teams “resting” players…is asinine. Both sides have their salient points, but I don’t ever remember this even being a topic of discussion until the last few years, so I assume it is a fairly new strategy. Should a grown man…a professional athlete…be in good enough condition to play each & every game unless he is injured?? Theoretically…yes. However, I despise the argument that these players & teams somehow owe the paying fans the pleasure of seeing them play. First of all, it’s a team sport. You should being cheering for the Cleveland Cavaliers…not LeBron James. Or the Golden State Warriors…not Steph Curry. Now I’m not naïve…I know that, in reality, it doesn’t work that way. The NBA has spent decades marketing individual stars…Magic, Bird, Dr. J, Jordan, Barkley, Kobe, Shaq…over teams. I’ve never liked it, and now I think it’s funny that the strategery is biting them in the ass. Secondly, while I am well aware of the business aspects of the situation, the bottom line is that the goal is to win a championship. If a coach believes that sitting some of his superstars for a few meaningless regular season games so that they’ll be healthier for the playoffs is a good idea then that is his right to do so, and Joe Sixpack in Milwaukee or Sacramento or Philadelphia or Orlando has nothing to do with it…nor should he. One thing the NBA could do is restructure the season. While I think ideas being tossed around about cutting the number of games in half are stupid, I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to scale back to 75 regular season games (from 82) and schedule back-to-back or even three game series (like baseball already does) during the season to minimize travel. I’d also revamp the post-season. Six teams from each conference make the playoffs (down from the current eight). Perhaps a first round bye for a couple of teams, or maybe even a second round bye for whichever of three teams wins their first series the quickest. Make first round series three games, and the other rounds five games. Only the NBA Finals would be seven games. I know that’s all crazy talk. The owners aren’t going to sacrifice revenue. I’m just thinking out loud.

 

 

 

I’m getting jazzed for the upcoming NFL Draft. It’s a source of much amusement to watch the weeks leading up to the draft, when all the suits & the talking heads go into paralysis by analysis mode and overthink everything. None of the available quarterbacks are worth a first round pick, but you can be sure that a few of them will get chosen in the first round. A guy like Deshaun Watson, who won a national championship, is being downplayed, while freakin’ Mitch Trubisky, who led his team to a loss in the Sun Bowl, is apparently the next John Elway. Dalvin Cook…the best running back in the draft…is “free falling down draft boards”. Leonard Fournette is either the next Adrian Peterson or the next Ki-Jana Carter, depending on who you believe. It’s all quite silly, but I can’t wait until the actual event. I hate that they’ve stretched it out to three days now, but it is what it is.

 

 

 

As of this moment my Pittsburgh Pirates are 3-6 and at the bottom of their division. I’ll give the season another couple of dozen games before I start to panic. I must admit that I haven’t watched even one pitch of a Pirates game thus far. The past few weeks have been rather busy in The Manoverse and more urgent matters have taken up my time, but I foresee a lull in the chaos after Easter, so I’ll be sure to check out my Buccos…or do I want to subject myself to the frustration?? Ehhh…who am I kidding?? The Pirates have been a source of exasperation for atleast half of my life. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 3.16

Greetings sports fans. What’s up?? I hope everyone is enjoying the early delights of summer and that those pesky cicadas aren’t annoying you too much. Just think…once we get thru the next few weeks we won’t have to hear that awful noise until 2033. By that time I’ll be 60 years old!! Okay…I just freaked myself out a little. Let’s talk about sports.

 

 

 

 

 

hockeyGuess what y’all…I’ve actually been watching hockey!! No one is more surprised than me. As of this writing my Pittsburgh Penguins are up 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals. Two of the games have gone into overtime. I was really hoping the Pens would go up 3-0 which would essentially mean it’s over, but now I am leaning toward my original assessment, which is that this thing could go the full seven games. It’s a shame that the championship series of a major professional sport is being shown mostly on a marginal channel like the NBC Sports Network, which is in 12 million less homes than ESPN, 10 million less than Fox Sports 1, & a whopping 30 million less than NBC itself which is where the games would be broadcast if it were football, baseball, or basketball. There are multiple things that could possibly be blamed for hockey’s lack of popularity in America, but that’s a broader topic than I want to address at the moment. For now let’s just say that I am hooked and will be watching this series. Go Pens!!

 

 

So I guess we have a Summer Olympics coming up?? They are scheduled to get underway in Rio (that’s in Brazil for those that slept thru geography class) in early Rio2016August. Numerous medical professionals have opined that the event should be postponed or relocated because of the Zika virus, which is apparently a rather big issue in South America, but we all know that there is way too much money involved for that. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. As for the games themselves, I am really only interested in basketball. The United States hasn’t announced their 12 man roster yet, but it is anticipated to include guys like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, & Lebron James. Nothing less than another gold medal will be acceptable.

 

 

CCI’m not quite sure what to say about the death of Cassius Clay. He is practically being deified by the sports talking heads and the general drive-by media. Boxing has never really been in my wheelhouse and the fabled career of “The Greatest” was stumbling to a pitiable close by the time I even became conscious of his existence. Inside the ring he was an impressive 56-5 over a couple of decades, won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, and captured professional boxing’s heavyweight title three times. Outside the ring he was doing pro wrestling style promos years before pro wrestling gained pop culture relevance in the 1980s. Cassius Clay might have been successful had he simply been a great boxer, but being a charismatic entertainer is what elevated his status to legendary. The most controversial aspect of his life began in the early 60’s when he became an adherent of Malcolm X and converted to Islam, which led to him “conscientiously objecting” to the Vietnam War and refusing to serve in the armed forces. I sincerely believe in freedom of religion, but my faith tells me that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, & the Life and that no man shall come to the Father except through Him. It also annoys me greatly that when a Muslim uses their faith as an excuse to protest something they are applauded for it, but Christians are not afforded the same respect. I don’t hate Cassius Clay. I feel bad for him. I do not believe that Islam is a “religion of peace”. History…especially in recent years…reveals that idea to be absurd. Yet I don’t believe that all Muslims are bad people. Cassius Clay chose to follow Malcolm X and elected to “dodge” the draft. He paid a price for it, losing three prime years of his career. Later on he gained the sympathy of the masses while fighting a courageous & debilitating battle against Parkinson’s Disease, an awful condition no one should have to endure, and became a kind of goodwill ambassador, even traveling to Iraq & Afghanistan to negotiate the release of American hostages. What’s done is done and Cassius Clay is gone now. I don’t revile him for his choice of religion or anti-American rhetoric in regards to Vietnam, but neither will I participate in hoisting him up on a big ol’ heroic pedestal. My prayers are with his family & friends.

 

 

The NBA Finals are underway as well. As many people expected it’s all come down to the defending champion Golden State Warriors vs. Lebron James and his NBA-FInals-2Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors are up 1-0 at the moment and looked pretty dominant in that first game, but I am hoping this series goes 6 or 7 games too. It would be a huge letdown to everyone outside of Oakland, CA if it is a brief & one-sided sweep.

 

 

espnWhat in the world is going on at The Mothership in Bristol?? Not only are they losing noted blowhard Skip Bayless to Fox Sports 1, but now Mike Tirico is jumping ship & heading to NBC, while ESPN original Chris Berman is reportedly being phased out after his contract expires at the end of the year. I really couldn’t care less what happens with Bayless. He joins fellow windbag Colin Cowherd at FS1, taking that network from its current status of “irrelevant” to “avoid like The Plague”. Hey FS1…if the goal is to increase ratings you’re doing it wrong. Conversely, Tirico seems like a decent dude and he’s great at what he does. I am assuming that his presence will make it easier for NBC to gently push 71 year old Al Michaels into retirement without Sunday Night Football missing a beat. Sean McDonough, a decent enough play-by-play man, is now going to be doing play-by-play on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, but that show is doomed as long as Jon Gruden…the guy who once said that “any team that passes on Johnny Manziel will regret it”…is doing color commentary. He makes John Madden & Charles Barkley look like Woodward & Bernstein. It may seem like Berman is ancient because he’s been there since ESPN’s launch, but he’s only 61 years old. His shtick has worn a little thin with some, but it feels a bit premature to put him out to pasture. Of course Berman’s eventual departure is only part of ESPN’s makeover of its NFL coverage, as they’ve already ousted Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Ray Lewis, & Keyshawn Johnson in favor of new faces Randy Moss, Matt Hasselbeck, & Charles Woodson. Those feel like positive, much needed changes.