Winning & Musing…Volume 4.18

So after taking the entire month of June off from publishing anything here (an unplanned hiatus but refreshing nonetheless) I’m back…locked, loaded, & ready to rock n’ roll. The truth is that I have still been writing, but it has mostly been prep work for a project soon to be unleashed upon the masses…stay tuned. In addition to doing the necessary homework for that task, working for Da Man, & living my normal mundane yet blessed life I have…as always…been keeping up with all the sports news, and now I have a few thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My man Phil Mickelson recently found himself in a bit of hot water after losing his cool during the third round of golf’s U.S. Open. A clearly frustrated Mickelson incurred a two stroke penalty on the 13th hole after hitting a ball that was still moving. If Mickelson hadn’t ran to catch up with the ball and hit it back toward the hole it was going to roll off the green and possibly add several more shots to his already dismal score. He made things worse afterward, declaring that he took the peculiar course of action on purpose figuring that the penalty would be better than what was going to occur otherwise. The talking heads & sports media made a big deal out of the situation, as if Phil had committed a grievous sin. A few of his fellow players even suggested that he should have been disqualified from the tournament. First of all, I don’t buy for a second that what he did was a calculated risk. I don’t think there was any thought put into it at all. He was having a bad tournament and went nuts for a minute, then tried to cover by saying it was a conscious decision. In my mind that weak attempt at revisionist history is worse than the act itself. It made Phil Mickelson look like an idiot. Secondly, to those that said that he should have been disqualified, all I can do is shake my head in bemused derision. I realize that golf is a “gentlemen’s game” with a strict & quirky code of ethics, but the man was so far down the leaderboard that nothing he did was going to make any kind of significant difference. The two stroke penalty was an appropriate penance…anything else would have been egregious. There seemed to be some hand wringing about the possibility that this single error in judgment could somehow tarnish Mickelson’s legacy, which I think would be a real shame. The man has won five Majors, including three Masters. He has been one of the best golfers in the world for over two decades and by most accounts is a decent guy. He had a dreadful tournament and a brief moment of madness. Haven’t we all suffered the occasional bad day??

 

 

 

Former ESPN and current FS1 talking head Skip Bayless tends to talk out of both sides of his mouth and says a lot of wacky things with which I disagree. However, Skip has always referred to former All-Pro wide receiver Terrell “TO” Owens as Team Obliterator, and I wholeheartedly occur. Sure TO never ended up in jail, used drugs, or smacked his woman around, but he was a cancer that sowed seeds of discord everywhere he went in the NFL. And now his diva attitude & behavior is following him all the way to Canton, OH. Well…kind of. After the Pro Football Hall of Fame made Owens wait a few years before finally voting him into their exclusive club a few months ago the perpetually disgruntled malcontent found a way to ruin what should have been his shining moment by announcing that he will not attend the ceremony in Canton this August but will instead hold his own ceremony at UT-Chattanooga, his alma mater. No one knows exactly why Owens has made this asinine decision, one that he’ll inevitably regret someday. I realize that it is thought to be cool & hip to march to the beat of a different drum, be rebellious, fight the system, blaze a unique trail, & be a non-conformist, and I agree that there is a time in one’s life when that is a neat option if it can be pulled off. However, Terrell Owens is a 44 year old man that, despite all the upheaval & controversy he was in the midst of during 16 seasons in the NFL, has achieved the highest honor reserved for a football player, one that only the best of the best get to enjoy. It is beyond pathetic that instead of finally acting like an adult and humbly accepting the accolade the right way Terrell Owens is taking one last opportunity to be a self-absorbed, petulant, childish, disrespectful, defiant assclown.

 

 

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t give kudos to trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith for leading Justify to The Triple Crown. Justify is the 13th Triple Crown winner in history. Baffert has won fifteen Triple Crown races (5 Kentucky Derbies, 7 Preakness Stakes, & 3 Belmont Stakes) and previously led American Pharoah to the Triple Crown just three years ago. Smith has won two Kentucky Derbies, two Preaknesses, & three Belmonts. A Triple Crown is a rare & exceptional achievement in sports, but sadly I feel like what used to be “the sport of kings” nowadays gets lost in the shuffle while we indulge arrogant punks whose athletic prowess earns them hundreds of millions of dollars playing football, basketball, & baseball. I’m sure there are a lot of reasons why horse racing isn’t as popular now as it was a century ago, but it’s nice to see it back in the spotlight occasionally.

 

 

 

A few NBA thoughts:

  • I didn’t watch hardly any of the NBA or NHL Finals. Neither series turned out the way I’d hoped, so I really have nothing to add to the discourse.
  • A few years ago when Lebron James was preparing to jump ship from the aging Miami Heat I became convinced that he’d be joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead he pleasantly surprised me and many others by returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He led Cleveland to multiple appearances in the Finals and won a championship, but eventually it became obvious that the Cavs weren’t on the same level as the Golden St. Warriors and had no opportunity to change that. And so now…better late than never…LBJ is finally a Laker. But, while it is undoubtedly a positive development for Los Angeles, I feel like it is a lateral move for James. Perhaps his relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was so bad that he just wanted out. I don’t know. Maybe he is looking beyond basketball and feels like L.A. is a better environment for his future plans. That makes a lot of sense. However, from a pure basketball perspective it doesn’t seem to put him in any better position than he has been in, and it’s probably worse. I just don’t see his new teammates as being an improvement over his old ones, and now he’ll have to contend with the Houston Rockets and the Warriors just to make it out of the Western Conference.
  • Lebron may have been expecting Paul George to join him in Los Angeles, but that’s not going to happen. George stunned just about everyone by re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder. I suppose a four year contract worth $137 million is difficult to turn down, but I really don’t understand why he would pass up an opportunity to go to the Lakers and almost certainly win a title with James.
  • The lone remaining wildcard in the NBA is disgruntled Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. I’m not a fan of San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, a self-righteous blowhard who really should focus on his job instead of pontificating on issues way above his pay grade. However, I don’t think Leonard has handled his situation all that well either. No one in this little drama comes off looking particularly good. Maybe Leonard will end up helping Lebron James win a championship with the Lakers. He could possibly play a significant part of an 18th title reign for the Boston Celtics. The Thunder might figure out a way to bring him aboard and make Oklahoma City a legit powerhouse. Perhaps Leonard could be the final piece of The Process for the Philadelphia 76ers. Who knows??
  • Speaking of the Celtics, a few years ago I offered some thoughts on the hiring of head coach Brad Stevens, opining that there was a “possibility that Stevens will fail spectacularly and end up back in college”, but predicting that “it is just as possible that Stevens will be a solid NBA head coach that leads the Celtics back to the top of the ladder someday”. I also opined that Boston “ended up with the better end of the bargain in the trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, & Jason Terry (all 35 years of age or older) to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for three 1st round draft picks in the next five years”. Those three first round picks have turned into up n’ comers Jaylen Brown & Jayson Tatum, and helped Boston trade for Kyrie Irving. Now that Cleveland will be an afterthought again the Eastern Conference looks like it could come down to the Sixers & Celtics for the next few seasons, so the possibility of Stephens leading his team to a championship looks good…if they can figure out a way to beat Golden State.

 

 

 

Not only is pro wrestling promoter Vince McMahon bringing back the XFL (which flamed out after one tumultuous season in 2001) in a couple of years, but next spring will see the launch of the Alliance of American Football. I am a huge football fan, and really believe that now more than ever, with so many media outlets available to air the product, spring football is a viable idea. However, something struck me one night as I was channel surfing. I ran across a Canadian Football League game on ESPN and began to ponder. I’ve always rather enjoyed the CFL. There are some differences in the rules between Canadian football and the NFL, but nothing too crazy. Several successful NFL players have started out in the CFL in the past, including Warren Moon, Joe Theismann, Doug Flutie, Rocket Ismail, & Jeff Garcia. The CFL has been around for about sixty years, but their league consists of only nine teams that play 18 regular season games. There were nine other teams that are now defunct, with the majority of those being United States based franchises that only played for a season or two in a mid-1990’s attempt at expansion. So my question is this…why are two other spring football leagues on the horizon?? Wouldn’t it be smarter for McMahon and whoever the powers-that-be are behind the AAF to invest in the CFL and help turn it into the powerhouse league that it could be?? That mid-90’s expansion failed partly because the American teams were located in places like Baltimore, Vegas, Birmingham, & San Antonio. Wouldn’t it be smarter for the CFL to target northern U.S. cities like Portland OR, Boise ID, Rochester NY, Providence RI, & Tacoma WA?? Even Anchorage, AK could be considered. A CFL with 16 teams that plays 14 regular season games and has the power, influence, & financial backing of Vince McMahon makes infinitely more sense than three separate spring football leagues.

Winning & Musing…Volume 2.18

Finally…Spring has sprung here in The Mountain State!! It’s been 80+ degrees the past couple of days, with plentiful sunshine. However, as happy as that makes me I must temper my enthusiasm since preliminary indications are that next week will begin with a “wintry mix”. I am exercising similar caution with the sports calendar because, while some things are pointed in the right direction it is far too early for a victory lap. Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

As per usual I haven’t paid all that much attention to the NBA season. Actually I’ve probably been even less invested than usual (if that’s possible) for reasons I have covered previously. However, that all changes with the start of the playoffs, which look like this in the Eastern Conference:

Toronto Raptors                    vs.     Washington Wizards

Boston Celtics              vs.     Milwaukee Bucks

Philadelphia 76ers      vs.     Miami Heat

Cleveland Cavaliers    vs.     Indiana Pacers

Ideally we would see either the Celtics or 76ers emerge to represent their conference in the NBA Finals. All eyes will be on a Raptors-Cavs second round series if/when it happens, and I must admit that, as patriotic as I tend to be (USA!! USA!!) I am more than sick of Lebron James. He is NOT better than Michael Jordan, and some of the things he has said off the court have revealed the kind of person he really is, which isn’t positive. When one lives by the sword one dies by the sword, and since the NBA has spent decades marketing individual personalities over teams they shouldn’t be surprised that many fans react negatively when some personalities are pompous, self-righteous, & tediously egotistical. Which brings me to the Western Conference:

Houston Rockets                  vs.     Minnesota Timberwolves

Golden State Warriors         vs.     San Antonio Spurs

Portland Trail Blazers           vs.     New Orleans Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder       vs.     Utah Jazz

I am beyond thrilled that the Warriors & Spurs play each other in Round 1, because that means that one of the world’s biggest blowhard coaches will be eliminated quickly (hopefully either Portland or New Orleans will take out the remaining trash in the second round). I’d be fine with the Rockets making it to the NBA Finals, although I think the Pelicans could be a sleeper. A Philly-N’awleans Finals would be fresh & intriguing, wouldn’t it??

 

 

Congratulations to the Villanova Wildcats for winning their second National Championship in the past three seasons. The 2018 edition of March Madness will mostly be remembered for the impressive run to The Final Four of the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, with their Gryffindor scarves and elderly nun Sister Jean, and for the history making 16th seed UMBC Retrievers’ huge upset of #1 Virginia, something that had never happened before. However, though there had been numerous teams atop the polls throughout the season and no dominant force emerged as a clear favorite to cut down the nets, hindsight is 20/20 and Villanova was always lurking near the top and seemed to be the most consistent program thru the season.

 

 

Sunday at The Masters was delightful fun as usual. Though Tiger Woods & my man Phil Mickelson made the cut and played on the weekend they were never legit factors, but luckily for fans & the folks at CBS guys like Rory McIlroy & Rickie Fowler were entertaining, and Jordan Spieth’s -8 final round of 64 was fantastic even if it came up a bit short. Initially I had no issue with winner Patrick Reed, but post-victory stories have emerged that paint him in a rather negative light. Apparently he hasn’t spoken to his own family for several years because they disapproved of his marriage. I’m not married, but I cannot imagine ever choosing a woman over my parents or sibling. From what I’ve read the family seems conciliatory and willing to resume a relationship with Reed, but he (and his wife) aren’t interested. That’s pretty sad in my humble opinion.

 

 

The NHL Playoffs are underway, but y’all know my tepid feelings about hockey. If my Pittsburgh Penguins make it thru the first couple of rounds perhaps I’ll become interested. Somebody keep me posted.

 

 

 

I know I know…pro wrestling isn’t a “real” sport. I get it, but indulge me. My neighbor & I watched last weekend’s WrestleMania 34 event, and it was an enjoyable evening. The “mainstream” media was all over former MMA champion Ronda Rousey’s participation now that she has officially segued into a career in the WWE, and I’ll give credit where it is due…Rousey looked good in the ring. She still needs a lot of work doing promos, and the powers-that-be should keep her as far away from interviews with outlets like ESPN as they possibly can since they’ve proven to be bizarrely detrimental, but inside those ropes she acquitted herself nicely on absolutely the biggest stage she has ever been on in her entire career. People like to make fun of “wrasslin’”, but there were 78k in the Superdome, and millions watching on PPV or the WWE Network. As popular as MMA might be it can’t match those numbers. I was happy that Rousey’s mixed tag didn’t get a main event spot (Lawrence Taylor once main evented a WrestleMania, which was a slap in the face to full time wrestlers) and was instead on the mid-card where it deserved to be. Overall it was a well-constructed show and a great way to spend a Sunday evening.

 

 

I’m not emotionally invested in baseball quite yet, but I’ll get there. I think it’s hilarious that games have already been cancelled because of snow. Several years ago I proposed a plan for a shorter baseball season…maybe it’s time to take such suggestions seriously.

 

 

I’d been watching…off & on…ESPN’s Golic & Wingo on weekday mornings the past few months, but lately have given a fair opportunity to the brand new Get Up, starring Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle, & Jalen Rose, to wow me. Neither show is horrible. Golic & Wingo is predictably chill, while Get Up isn’t as obnoxious as it had the potential to be. Having said that, both are like buying overpriced but watered down drinks at a bar. Greeny & Golic specifically aren’t nearly as entertaining as they were while together on Mike & Mike. Neither mix is necessarily bad now, but the new shows are lacking…something. I stated awhile back that the late night shows no longer interest me and I am more likely to turn my television off at 11:30pm now than watch any of the garbage spewed forth by Kimmel, Colbert, et al. And now I no longer turn on my TV first thing in the morning to check out what Greeny or Golic have to say about sports. It wasn’t broke, but ESPN decided to “fix it” anyway. Way to go morons.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 2.13

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

 

 

As a proud Trekkie and a huge fan of the Star Wars saga I am a bit…ambivalent…about JJ Abrams directing a new Star Wars film. It is my understanding that George Lucas had a 9 part series in his mind originally, so the idea of a new sequel trilogy is not inherently bothersome. However, we don’t have enough data. Is a sequel what is being planned?? If so, and the original stars…Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, & Harrison Ford…are involved in a passing of the torch then it could work. But if the plan is to do a remake or a reboot then I’m not sure I’d be all that interested. Abrams did a nice job trekrebooting Trek, but the way in which it was done was so brilliantly delicate that it simply cannot & should not be repeated. Then of course there is the matter of the Star Wars prequel trilogy that was done a decade ago. While the movies weren’t as bad (especially Episode III) as some cynics accuse them of being they also did not live up to all the hype. I suppose that may provide the benefit of lowered expectations for these sequels, which might not be such a horrible thing. And finally, I think some things should exist in their own space…separate but equal. Ketchup & mayo are both great…but different. Batman, Superman, & Spiderman all kick ass, but inswars different ways. I am not sure how I feel about the same director helming both Star Trek and Star Wars. It just seems odd. As much as I liked The Hobbit movie I still feel like it would have been better if Peter Jackson hadn’t been involved. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are vastly different in tone, despite both being written by author JRR Tolkien, and I felt like the movies should reflect that. They do not. Star Trek and Star Wars are both legendary achievements in sci-fi, but they are different. Let’s hope Abrams is able to do both stories justice while keeping them at a proper distance from one another.

 

 

globe-young-driver-flat-cap--blackI am a hat guy. If I’m trying to be stylish I will occasionally wear a fedora, a GungaBWbkporky pie hat, or a flat cap (sometimes referred to as a bunnet). However, more often than not I prefer a good ol’ baseball cap. Even with a ball hat though I am a bit neurotic. I don’t like trucker hats, not only because of the negative redneck connotation but also because I think the mesh looks tacky. I also do not like snapback hats or adjustable hats with a Velcro closure. They look cheap & low class. I prefer a fitted hat whenever possible but because I have a huge head (my Dad says that’s a trait from Mom’s side of the family) oftentimes I have trouble finding the right size. So my second choice is an adjustable cap with a decent looking belted closure, which is far more tasteful than the snapback or Velcro.

 

 

Normally a story involving a sports star like golfer Phil Mickelson would be reserved for an installment of Winning & Musing, but the latest news involving Mickelson doesn’t have anything to do with sports. Recently he publicly lamented in an interview that between his state & federal taxes he’s shelling out about 63% of his income to Uncle Sam and hinted that he may have to move out of California (undoubtedly the worst run & most fiscally irresponsible state in the nation). And then it phil-mickelsonhappened…the drive-by media turned on Phil Mickelson like a viper. Uncle_Sam_Obama-1Because he is perceived as being “rich” it was deemed insensitive of him to complain about only getting to keep 37 cents out of each dollar he earns. My lackadaisical attempt at research tells me that he earned about $48 million in 2012, meaning that he gets to keep a little more than $17 million while paying about $30 million in taxes. Liberal logic would say that $17 million is more than enough for a man to live on, even if he is supporting a wife & three children. But let’s take it down to a level most of us can better wrap our heads around. The median household income in 2012 was about $50k. Imagine if you will that you worked hard and brought in $50,000 only to see $31,500 of it go back out in taxes…and that is before you’ve paid the mortgage & utilities, made any car payments, or eaten. You’d have to do those things on the $18,500 that’s left. Wouldn’t you be pissed?? But Mickelson, because he is “rich” (and has just about the coolest job imaginable) apparently has no right to complain and was shamed into making a public apology. That’s what we’ve come to in America…having to apologize for expressing an honest opinion and for wanting to keep more than 1/3 of our earned income. I find that very sad. Your mileage may vary.

 

Speaking of movies…

There are times when interesting films arrive in the theater right around Christmas and between holiday stuff, work commitments, family time, and bad weather I just don’t make it to see them before the end of the year, which makes them ineligible for a Sammy Award nomination (yes…there are rules). Two 2012 examples were the Billy Crystal/Bette Midler comedy Parental Guidance and Silver Linings Playbook, which is nominated for multiple Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actress, & Best Actor. Actually Playbook was released in November but just showed up in my town this month. That same weekend in November the final installment of that Twilight crapfest was released and we did get that here, but had to wait two months for a critically acclaimed award pgwinning film. The joys of small town life. But I digress. I’d give both movies thumbs up. Parental Guidance is a mildly amusing tale about grandparents, parents, culture clash, & the generation gap. Crystal & Midler gel nicely, and Marisa Tomei is always easy on the eyes. It’s a forgettable story, but there are worse ways to spend two hours. Silver Linings Playbook is about two people who are more than neurotic but less than insane. Actually they are just lonely & depressed and luckily find each other to lean on. Jennifer Silver-Linings-Playbook-1984905Lawrence is this generation’s Meryl Streep. She can do comedy, action, & drama, and can be tough, sexy, funny, & vulnerable…sometimes all in the same scene. That’s talent. And if you only know Bradley Cooper from the Hangover films then you’ll be surprised at how good of an actor he really is. Oh…did I mention that DeNiro is in this movie too?? I think he is actually nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, although I am assuming that is based largely on his reputation as a living legend because this, while a fine performance, doesn’t measure up to his more memorable roles.

 

The following are the 157 guns that Senator Diane Feinstein…a lib from California…has made a proposal to ban:

RIFLES:                    All AK types, including the following: AK, AK47, AK47S, AK–74, AKM, AKS, ARM, MAK90, MISR, NHM90, NHM91, Rock River Arms LAR–47, SA85, SA93, Vector Arms AK–47, VEPR, WASR–10, and WUM, IZHMASH Saiga AK, MAADI AK47 and ARM, Norinco 56S, 56S2, 84S, and 86S, Poly Technologies AK47 and AKS. All AR types, including the following: AR–10, AR–15, Armalite M15 22LR Carbine, Armalite M15–T, Barrett REC7, Beretta AR–70, Bushmaster ACR, Bushmaster Carbon 15, Bushmaster MOE series, Bushmaster XM15, Colt Match Target Rifles, DoubleStar AR rifles, DPMS Tactical Rifles, Heckler & Koch MR556, Olympic Arms, Remington R–15 rifles, Rock River Arms LAR–15, Sig Sauer SIG516 rifles, Smith & Wesson M&P15 Rifles, Stag Arms AR rifles, Sturm, Ruger & Co. SR556 rifles; Barrett M107A1; Barrett M82A1; Beretta CX4 feinsteinStorm; Calico Liberty Series; CETME Sporter; Daewoo K–1, K–2, Max 1, Max 2, AR 100, and AR 110C; Fabrique Nationale/FN Herstal FAL, LAR, 22 FNC, 308 Match, L1A1 Sporter, PS90, SCAR, and FS2000; Feather Industries AT–9; Galil Model AR and Model ARM; Hi-Point Carbine; HK–91, HK–93, HK–94, HK–PSG–1 and HK USC; Kel-Tec Sub–2000, SU–16, and RFB; SIG AMT, SIG PE–57, Sig Sauer SG 550, and Sig Sauer SG 551; Springfield Armory SAR–48; Steyr AUG; Sturm, Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rife M–14/20CF. All Thompson rifles, including the following: Thompson M1SB, Thompson T1100D, Thompson T150D, Thompson T1B, Thompson T1B100D, Thompson T1B50D, Thompson T1BSB, Thompson T1–C, Thompson T1D, Thompson T1SB, Thompson T5, Thompson T5100D, Thompson TM1, Thompson TM1C; UMAREX UZI Rifle; UZI Mini Carbine, UZI Model A Carbine, and UZI Model B Carbine; Valmet M62S, M71S, and M78; Vector Arms UZI Type; Weaver Arms Nighthawk; Wilkinson Arms Linda Carbine.

PISTOLS:  All AK–47 types, including the following: Centurion 39 AK pistol, Draco AK–47 pistol, GunsHCR AK–47 pistol, IO Inc. Hellpup AK–47 pistol, Krinkov pistol, Mini Draco AK–47 pistol, Yugo Krebs Krink pistol. All AR–15 types, including the following: American Spirit AR–15 pistol, Bushmaster Carbon 15 pistol, DoubleStar Corporation AR pistol, DPMS AR–15 pistol, Olympic Arms AR–15 pistol, Rock River Arms LAR 15 pistol; Calico Liberty pistols; DSA SA58 PKP FAL pistol; Encom MP–9 and MP–45; Heckler & Koch model SP-89 pistol; Intratec AB–10, TEC–22 Scorpion, TEC–9, and TEC–DC9; Kel-Tec PLR 16 pistol.The following MAC types: MAC–10, MAC–11; Masterpiece Arms MPA A930 Mini Pistol, MPA460 Pistol, MPA Tactical Pistol, and MPA Mini Tactical Pistol; Military Armament Corp. Ingram M–11, Velocity Arms VMAC; Sig Sauer P556 pistol; Sites Spectre. All Thompson types, including the following: Thompson TA510D, Thompson TA5. All UZI types, including: Micro-UZI.

SHOTGUNS:            Franchi LAW–12 and SPAS 12. All IZHMASH Saiga 12 types, including the following: IZHMASH Saiga 12, IZHMASH Saiga 12S, IZHMASH Saiga 12S EXP–01, IZHMASH Saiga 12K, IZHMASH Saiga 12K–030, IZHMASH Saiga 12K–040 Taktika; Streetsweeper; Striker 12.

BELT-FED FIREARMS:             All belt-fed semiautomatic firearms including TNW M2HB.

Now I am far from a firearms expert. As a matter of fact I do not currently own a gun although that may change in the near future. However, I am smart enough to recognize the terms pistol & shotgun and figure out (as if I didn’t already know) that the Democrats in Congress and the “gentleman” in the White House are willing & prepared to use the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary to spit all over The Constitution and take a major step toward a complete gun ban in America. I feel sorry for anyone who has been under the delusion that it can’t happen here. It can and it is. Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.

 

I did not watch one single second of President Obama’s second immaculation, but apparently the big controversy is that alleged singer Beyonce lip synched the national anthem. Look, I’m not stupid…I know lip synching isn’t unusual these days. It is likely that a vast majority of what one sees at the average rock concert nowadays is phony. It’s not about the singing anymore it’s about the beyonce-sexy-1show…the lights, the pyro, the choreography. But I am kind of old-fashioned when it comes to the anthem. Being chosen to perform at a Presidential inauguration is an honor no matter what kind of jackass the person being inaugurated might be. It’s a ceremony full of tradition & class. Is it too much to ask that our national anthem be treated with some level of reverence & admiration?? For God’s sake Beyonce…you’re singing The Star Spangled Banner at the U.S. Capitol in front of the leader of the free world and a virtual who’s who of national statesmen, not performing Put A Ring On It at the MTV Awards. Have some respect.

 

 

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 5.12

Spring has sprung and we’ve got all kinds of sports goodies in the treat bag!!

 

 

 

I’m glad I was hesitant to jump back on the Tiger Woods bandwagon. His performance at The Masters proved that his head still isn’t right and might be an indication that the old Tiger may never fully re-emerge. Galatians 6:7-10 says “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

 

Congratulations…I guess…to NCAA basketball National Champions the Kentucky Wildcats. Since their coronation had been all but a foregone conclusion most of the season the result was a bit anticlimactic. I suppose no one can blame the folks in Lexington for playing by the rules and taking advantage of the whole one-and-done scenario, but I long for the days when kids had to stick around a few years before jumping to the NBA and there was a lot more parity in the college game.

 

Is anyone really shocked that now former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino once again has proven himself to be a dirtbag?? Those who are the least bit surprised are naïve. Kudos to the folks in Fayetteville for getting rid of Petrino because he is a dirtbag instead of keeping him because he wins football games.

 

Speaking of dirtbags…

I know the sports media loves new Miami Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen because he is colorful, quotable, entertaining, and controversial. I also know that the Marlins aren’t going to fire Guillen a week into the season. But how idiotic does the manager of a team in MIAMI have to be to say that he loves Fidel Castro?? It is mind boggling to ponder just how stupid that really is. And no matter how contrite Guillen tries to be there is simply no way that one can apologize their way out of a statement like that. He wasn’t misquoted and the declaration was not taken out of context. It’s a shame such a moronic turn of events overshadowed opening weekend and the christening of a brand new Marlins ballpark.

 

Most people would probably agree that the pro basketball lags far behind both the football & baseball in popularity (although still ahead of hockey), and though there are likely a lot of reasons for that I find one particularly disturbing. There are certainly superstar players in each sport, but it seems like only in the NBA can one or two players be of such importance that they dictate how a franchise operates. These elite players are put on such a pedestal that they actually hold the coach’s fate in their hands. We’ve seen two examples of this recently, with the NY Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony forcing coach Mike D’Antoni to resign and the still ongoing drama in Orlando where Dwight Howard seems intent on getting Magic coach Stan Van Gundy canned. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I thought the players were supposed to be subservient to the coach…not the other way around. I know it all comes down to money and the star player is making a whole heck of a lot more than the coach, who is viewed as easily expendable. And I also know that individual players being the main focus of the marketing machine rather than the team as a whole goes back atleast 30 years to the Larry Bird/Magic Johnson era. But I still find it regrettable that these spoiled millionaire crybabies wield such power, especially in cases like Anthony & Howard, who are way overrated in comparison to real legends like Michael Jordan, Dr. J, Bill Russell, and many more.

 

A genuine & hearty congratulations to new Masters champion Bubba Watson. I must admit that I was pulling for my man Phil Mickelson, but Watson seems like a sincerely decent Godly fellow and a good family man who has his priorities straight.

 

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 3.12

Whew!! We made it!! Winter (such as it has been) is on its last legs & spring lies just around the corner. Nascar is back. Pitchers & catchers have reported. NFL Draft chatter is lively. March Madness & The Masters are drawing near. Rejoice sports fans…rejoice indeed.

 

 

I’m not politically correct, and I have no patience with the concept of political correctness. Our modern society is not only far too easily offended, sometimes it seems as if we vigilantly look for reasons to take offense. Nowhere has this been more apparent recently than in the sports world. First, reporting on the raging obsession that has been NY Knicks wunderkind Jeremy Linn has become a virtual minefield for sports journalists. One ESPN employee was fired & one suspended for using the terminology “chink in the armor” to describe Linn’s issue with turnovers. The question that must be asked is “was the phrase used on purpose??” Well, my initial reaction was that it very well may not have been. After all, it is a fairly common idiom referring to a perceived weakness that can be exposed by an opponent. I don’t think it is an unfair assumption to think that most adults have likely used the expression many times in their lives with nary a thought to its possibly racial connotation. If Linn, instead of being a Californian of Asian descent, was instead British or a white guy from Texas we would not be having this discussion. However, let’s, for the sake of argument, look at the flip side. What if these two geniuses at the The Mothership in Bristol did know exactly what they were saying and got a jolly good chuckle from ripping a page out of The 14 Year Old Dumbasses’ Guide to Being Rebellious?? So what?? Did someone deserve to lose their job over the situation?? When did poor taste become a freakin’ hate crime?? I am not saying it was wise or even the proper thing to do, but the reaction was way over the top yet sadly typical in 21st century America. What’s next?? Will a football analyst not be able to point out that a wide receiver of Asian descent just ran a slant pattern without a bunch of pantywaists getting their knickers in a snit?? Ah yes…panties. That brings me to Danica Patrick, the woman who is going to save Nascar, even though Nascar doesn’t need saving and she never did a damn thing in the Indy Car series except win one irrelevant race in 7 years. At any rate, a TV talking head was recently forced to apologize to poor little Danica after almost calling her a bitch. That’s right…the guy’s bosses made him apologize for something he alluded to but didn’t actually say. What a crock of BS that is. And to go even further, his comments were in response to Ms. Patrick whining about people referring to her as sexy. Dearest Danica: Shut up. Embrace your hotness. If you were some horse faced lesbian that looked like Abe Vigoda in drag people would give even less of a damn about you than they already do (for example, look at the WNBA or LPGA). People sure don’t cheer for you because you win races because…well…you don’t. It’s kind of like how people just like Dale Earnhardt Jr. because of his famous Dad, not because of anything he’s actually accomplished himself. If/when Danica Patrick ever starts winning races & racking up trophies like Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, or Jeff Gordon then she can complain all she wants. Until then she needs to keep her yapper shut, try not to crash out of every race, and keep on doing scantily clad & sexually suggestive television commercials.

 

 

Rarely does golf grab my attention before the patrons gather at Augusta during the first week of April, but a few weeks ago Phil Mickelson shot a final round 64 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am to come from 6 strokes back and win. Then the following week Mickelson lost a three way playoff after he & another player made awesome birdies on the 18th hole, only to fall when the third guy made an incredible 43 foot putt to win the tournament. Anyone who says golf is boring to watch on TV is nuts.

 

 

Yeah…NBA…still not interested…yet. Call me in June.

 

 

In the last edition of W&M I referred to age & injuries catching up to my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. The problems in Steel Town have only gotten worse and I’m blaming Barack Obama. Allow me to explain. The team is currently further over the salary cap than any other NFL franchise. I’m not sure such financial mismanagement has EVER occurred with the Steelers. At the moment there seems to be a chance that they might lose their top WR, Mike Wallace, to free agency. Certainly that’s not unheard of with the Steelers, but it’s odd since Wallace is only 25 years old & entering his 4th year in the NFL. The Steelers have long had a knack for letting players go right when others might perceive him to still have gas left in the tank but they know that he has plateaued, is on the downward slope of his career, and is no longer worth the hefty price tag, but they don’t usually fail to lock up their good young stars for the long haul. I don’t think Wallace will actually go elsewhere, but the fact that it’s even a hot topic is troublesome. Then there is Hines Ward, a definite first ballot Hall of Famer. He wants to play one more year. The team’s braintrust was of the opinion that he’s washed up, so they released him. The team is probably right, but couldn’t something have been worked out?? If Hines wanted to play several more years and had the typical diva attitude we’ve seen in other receivers like Terrell Owens & Randy Moss, then I’d admit that he was delusional and be fine with cutting him loose. But this is a guy who, for the most part, has done things right on & off the field, has been a solid citizen in the community, and always has a beaming smile on his face. He is as close to a role model as most professional athletes get these days. I didn’t think it was too much to ask to keep him around one final year (with a restructured contract for near the league minimum) and let him go out on his terms. I still have cringe inducing memories of legendary Steelers running back Franco Harris in a Seattle Seahawks uniform, and it will be so very sad to see a similar fate befall Hines Ward. And finally we must address the “retirement” of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and the questionable choice of Todd Haley as his replacement. That whole thing is just weird. Steelers president Art Rooney II (grandson of team founder “The Chief” Art Rooney and son of current owner Dan Rooney) decided that he wanted to see a return to traditional smashmouth football. On some level I can understand the thought process. However, I also understand the old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. The Steelers have one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL in Ben Roethlisberger. As previously mentioned there is a good enough nucleus of talented receivers in place that a living legend like Hines Ward was expendable and a talented wideout like Wallace could be allowed to follow the big bucks to another locale. On top of that both the offensive line and the running back situation are huge question marks heading into 2012. So why does AR II want to change course all the sudden?? And why were we fed such an obvious lie about the “retirement” of Arians, only to see him accept the same job with the Indianapolis Colts just days later?? Certainly blatant duplicity is not The Steeler Way. And why hire a guy like former Kansas City head coach Haley and create discord with Roethisberger?? All I know is that if Dan Rooney were still in charge I don’t think any of this foolishness would be happening. Unfortunately he has spent the past few years as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, a job he was chosen for by President Obama. Therefore, if my Steelers fall completely apart this season and chaos ensues I will blame it completely on Obama.

 

 

What a wild & crazy ride The Daytona 500 was!! We saw fire, we saw rain, we saw a 500 mile race that we thought would never end. But Nascar…it’s always nice to see you baby one more time again.

 

 

As a Pirates fan I’m honestly not all that excited about the trade for 35 year old right handed pitcher AJ Burnett. I realize the value of having a solid veteran in the rotation, especially one who led the American League in strikeouts just 3 years ago. However, I’m just not sure it’s a judicious allocation of limited resources for my Buccos. If Burnett can win 15+ games with a sub 4.0 ERA then the $13 million price tag might prove worthy. But if Burnett only wins 10 or so games and has a 5-ish ERA (about what he did the past two seasons with the Yankees) then hindsight might indicate that another course of action would have been wiser. Right now it sure feels like the Yankees successfully dumped their problem on a lesser, more desperate franchise.

 

Persons of the Month – April 2010

We have an unprecedented task to tackle this month. As faithful readers may recall, the March POM was actually posted on April 1 and therefore I took the opportunity to play a little April Fool’s prank. To make up for that I will be naming two POMs for April.

It has been a good month. We were able to say a much-anticipated farewell to what was a long brutal winter and have, for the most part, enjoyed sunshine and warm temperatures. I sense a more positive attitude and an optimistic outlook among the masses. It is amazing what a little brightness and heat can accomplish.

Our first honoree is Greg Taylor. “Who is Greg Taylor?” most will probably ask. To answer that question I direct you to the story that brought him to my attention: http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/03/24/north.carolina.freed.inmate/index.html?hpt=C1 I hope that link works for everyone and I sincerely recommend reading Mr. Taylor’s story. I don’t quite know why it touched my heart so much. Maybe it is because, due to health problems that encompassed a hellish stay at a “skilled” nursing facility and two months long visits to hospitals, I lost 2 years of my life not that long ago. I half-jokingly refer to my two years away from normalcy as “My Unfortunate Incarceration”, but in comparison Mr. Taylor’s situation is so much more compelling and sad. I cannot imagine losing 16 years of my life in prison for a crime I did not commit. He lost a wife, he lost friends, and he missed out on seeing his child grow up. Now he is a free man…or is he?? Society can be cruel. He will not have an easy time getting a job because…regardless of the fact that he has been completely cleared of wrongdoing…potential employers will view him as an ex-con. The fact that he was given $45 for a hotel room is laughable since even the cheapest hotel rooms these days are around $60. In my opinion he is owed a rather large settlement for being wrongfully imprisoned. But I don’t know how a dollar figure can even be attached to losing 16 years of one’s life and then having to go through the remainder of life with the undeserved stigma of having been in jail. I am reminded of the character of Brooks from the film The Shawshank Redemption, an old man who is released after many decades but ends up committing suicide because he cannot adjust to life on the outside. I do not anticipate such a tragic fate for Greg Taylor, but when I have my daily conversations with God I try to remember to give a special shout out for this man I have never met, praying that he gets what he deserves from the system that wronged him and that he is able to move forward with a happy, successful, well-adjusted life. In ask you dear friends to do the same.

The second Person of the Month for April 2010 won his third Green Jacket at golf’s greatest tournament The Masters. I am speaking of course about Phil Mickelson. Not that long ago Mickelson was the guy who couldn’t win the big one, the best player in golf without a victory in one of The Majors (Masters, U.S. Open, PGA, British Open). From 1999-2003 he finished 2nd or 3rd in six Majors and still holds the record for 2nd places finishes (5) in the U.S. Open. But since 2004 he has one 3 Masters and a PGA. This year’s Masters triumph was particularly compelling for two reasons. First, both Mickelson’s wife Amy and his mother have spent much of the past year battling cancer. Phil’s embrace of Amy after the final hole on Sunday was quite poignant yet uplifting. Secondly, the overwhelming story of the tournament was the return of Tiger Woods, who had spent the past several months battling scandal after it was discovered that he had cheated on his wife with well over a dozen women. The contrast between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could not be clearer. I have always been a fan of both men, but I am strictly a Mickelson guy now. He is living proof that occasionally the good guys do win.

The Sammy Claus Wish List

Being Sammy Claus is kind of like being Frank Sinatra Jr. or the Vice-President…it’s a nice name that wields no real authority. However, in hopes that the real Santa may take a break from supervising the elves and doing important flight prep by surfing The Internet and being a faithful reader of The Manofesto, I have prepared my own list. Go ahead Big Guy…check it twice, verify who has been naughty or nice. But I am pretty sure my own reconnaissance has been thorough and you’ll find everything here in order. And since it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35) I am not asking for anything myself…well, atleast not much. My focus here is on the needs and desires of others.

 

The Marshall Thundering Herd…..a new football coach that will lead my alma mater’s gladiators of the gridiron back to the success we had in the 1990’s. I grant you there was some good fortune back then with future NFL players Chad Pennington, Troy Brown, Randy Moss, and Byron Leftwich…and there may have even been some minor cheating. But there’s nothing that says that level of achievement cannot be attained again and more future pro caliber players can’t make a stop in Huntington.


John & Kate and Heidi & Spencer…..sterility and a complete lack of media coverage


The Economy…..tax cuts & job growth. I know it’s a long shot with a socialist President and a liberal Congress, but we’ll deal with those issues in the coming years.


Kanye West…..the most spectacular career crash and burn of all time!!


The WV Mountaineers…..a new special teams coach. I have softened my stance on canning head coach Bill Stewart, but Stew doubles as the special teams coach and it hasn’t worked. A 9-3 finish was surprisingly decent given the lack of energy, skill, and discipline shown at times this season, but a few special teams plays probably cost the Eers atleast 1, possibly 2 additional victories.


The Republican Party…..a triumphant return to conservative values and the emergence of a formidable group of candidates for the 2012 Presidential campaign. Unfortunately I am not talking about Sarah Palin, who is damaged goods and I believe unelectable.


Adam Lambert…..irrelevance. Really dude, get the hell off my TV.


Myself, The Owl, Greg, Sealey, and Slack…..a memorable and dare I say legen…wait for it…wait for it…dary trip to Vegas this summer. This is the year gentlemen. Seriously…I mean it this time!!


Ford Motor Company…..continued success as a non-government run business


Michael Jackson’s children…..a happy, healthy, normal life while enjoying the boatload of cash your freak of a father left you


Carrie Underwood…..the love of a good man…a man that is single, has his own blog, and lives in northcentral WV. Call me. Please.


Algore…..complete , irrefutable, 100% proof that global warming is poppycock


Susan Boyle…..a musical repertoire that goes beyond I Dreamed A Dream


Coach Rich Fraudriguez…..continued ineptitude and complete failure not only at Michigan but wherever you go and in whatever you do professionally and personally. You are the lowest form of excrement the human race has ever produced and not worthy of sharing the same oxygen as even the most vile and wicked piece of dung imaginable.


Universal Health Care…..complete and total defeat


Tiger Woods…..a case of condoms, a good lawyer, and a full time chauffeur


David Letterman…..cancellation


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi…..facial movement. Seriously lady, lay off the botox.


Tim Tebow, soon-to-be former Florida Gators QB…..a case of tissues, because the crying will likely continue at the NFL Draft and on into your rookie season there when you figure out you’re really not THAT good (as if Alabama didn’t drive that point home already)


Jay Leno…..better ratings


Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, & Glen Beck…..continued success teaching the masses about conservatism


Phil Mickelson…..success in overtaking that dirtbag Tiger Woods as the worlds #1 golfer