The 2016 Sammy Awards – Part 1

SammyAwardeagleAfter an unavoidable…interruption…a year ago we are back and thrilled to present the 2016 Sammy Awards, a Manoverse tradition since 2010. The Sammys are, in a nutshell, a fun & introspective year in review presented as the world’s best imaginary awards show. I like to think of The Sammys as an eclectic remix of real awards shows…classier than anything MTV offers, not as pretentious as The Oscars & Grammys, and more engaging than the plethora of offerings (The SAGs, The Tonys, The ESPYs, The People’s Choice Awards, etc.) that no one watches. The pace is brisk because a show longer than two hours drags and loses the interest of the viewer. There are no acceptance speeches because most of the categories have far too many nominees to have in the audience and many might not consider it an honor to be nominated anyway. I’d like to think that Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu would take a shot at streaming the show. Their people should call my people.

 

Let us begin by welcoming the host for our 2016 show. He’s an award winning comedian & talk show host, and since 2010 sharveyhas breathed new life into legendary game show Family Feud. Please welcome Steve Harvey!!

 

schillingFollowing a brief yet hilarious introduction to the show by our host it is time for the first award presentation. Please welcome a three time World Series winning pitcher, six time MLB All Star, former ESPN baseball analyst, & everyone’s favorite politically incorrect keyboard warrior…Curt Schilling!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest Sports Story

 

Retirements Everywhere!!

One of the more poignant moments in sports is when a player, coach, or other associated personality decides to walk away after a long & memorable career, and in 2016 it seems like we said more than the usual fair share of goodbyes. I was never a big Kobe Bryant fan, but there is no denying that he had a significant impact on the modern NBA. After limping to the finish line the last couple of years on tired legs & surrounded by a very mediocre LA Lakers team, Kobe summoned some of his old magic one last time, scoring 60 points against the Utah Jazz in his final game. Peyton Manning rode into the sunset the way everyone would like to. After a legendary & record breaking 18 year career he led the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl championship. Manning certainly wasn’t at his best in his final few seasons with the Broncos, but his place among the greatest quarterbacks of all time is secure. Vin Scully, Dick Enberg, & Verne Lundquist all plied their trade as announcers for many decades. Scully is best known as the voice of the LA Dodgers, but fortunately for us east coasters he also called many nationally televised games in both baseball & football. Enberg is best remembered as a play-by-play announcer for NBC, calling both NFL & MLB games. Lundquist isn’t completely retired, but will no longer be calling college football games. Thankfully we’ll still be able to hear him on golf broadcasts. Kevin Garnett & Tim Duncan both called it quits after the 2015-16 NBA season. Duncan won five championships in 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. In 1995 Garnett became the first player in two decades drafted directly from high school to the NBA, a practice the league would outlaw in 2006. He played for three different teams and won one championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008. He had more individual than team success, winning a league MVP & being named to 15 All Star teams. David Ortiz is a mountain of a man that was the designated hitter & occasional first baseman for the Boston Red Sox for 13 years. He was a big part of the team that finally broke the infamous Curse of the Bambino and brought Boston their first World Series title in 86 years. Two more titles would follow. Big Papi had one of his best seasons in 2016, batting .315 and hitting 38 home runs. Unfortunately various leg & foot problems forced him into retirement. Though I haven’t watched NASCAR for a couple of years for reasons I’ll not rehash, Tony Stewart had become my favorite driver after the tragic demise of Dale Earnhardt. I always appreciated his forthright & decidedly un-PC manner. Smoke won three Cup titles & 49 races in over 600 starts in 18 years. I suppose he’ll still be around as a team owner, which is good for the sport.

 

Cleveland Wins NBA Title

I’m not the biggest NBA fan. I only pay attention when the playoffs roll around, have never had a favorite team, & haven’t cared all that much since Michael Jordan retired. However, the one thing that has drawn me in at all over the past several years is the closest thing we’ve had to Jordan…Lebron James. His departure from Cleveland to Miami and subsequent return has been well chronicled, and in 2016 all the hopes & dreams of every sports fan in Cleveland came to fruition as King James led his hometown Cavaliers to their first ever NBA title, the city’s first professional sports championship of any kind since 1964. It was an exciting rematch of the previous year’s championship series, with the Cavs coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to upend the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a thrilling Game 7.

 

Brady’s Court Battle

In 2016 golden boy QB Tom Brady finally lost his yearlong battle against DeflateGate and was forced to serve a four game suspension at the beginning of the NFL season. Of course he still may get the last laugh, as the New England Patriots finished with the best record in the league and enter the playoffs as a solid Super Bowl favorite.

 

Villanova Wins NCAA Title

The Villanova Wildcats won their first national championship since 1985, beating North Carolina on a buzzer beater in the title game. The Wildcats won 35 games and defeated four straight Top 10 opponents during March Madness.

 

Warriors Wins Record

The 2016 Golden State Warriors, led by point guard Stephen Curry & power forward Draymond Green, won 73 games during the regular season, breaking a record set by the Jordan/Pippen Bulls two decades earlier. They came into the season as the defending NBA champs and dominated the competition…until the finals, where they fell to Lebron James & his Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Cubs Win World Series

The Chicago Cubs have been the loveable losers of baseball for as long as I can remember. As with the Red Sox, the Cubs had been battling their own “curse”, the Curse of the Billy Goat, on which multiple heartbreaking postseason failures had been blamed since their last World Series title in 1908. All of that changed in 2011, when Theo Epstein, the wunderkind general manager that had helped Boston turn things around a decade ago, took the same job in Chicago. In 2016 his rebuilding plan blossomed and the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in a really fun seven game World Series.

 

Johnny Football

The long sad odyssey of Johnny Manziel finally reached its inevitable conclusion in 2016 when the former Heisman Trophy winner but failed NFL quarterback was cut loose by the Cleveland Browns. Aside from the fact that Manziel is a marginal NFL talent at best, off the field issues with drugs, legal problems, & just a generally selfish, arrogant, poor attitude torpedoed any chance he had at success. When the Browns don’t even want you that’s a huge warning sign.

 

Penguins Win Stanley Cup

I pay even less attention to hockey than I do the NBA & NASCAR, but if my Pens are involved when the playoffs roll around I will generally check it out. 2016 brought Pittsburgh its fourth Stanley Cup since 1990. They defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games, with the awesome Sidney Crosby being named the series MVP.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

The Chicago Cubs. It’s hard to beat a century old drought and an angst ridden fan base that has endured so many painful losses. I’m a Pirates fan, so I obviously cubscheer against the Cubs all season long, but I must admit this was a really cool story and I am glad for long suffering fans in The Windy City.

 

 

 

 

gavinTo present our next award, please welcome three all-time favorites who have one thing in common…they did guest spots on a certain television show backnicholson2 in the 60’s. First, he is best known as Captain Merrill Stubing on 80’s cheesefest The Love Boat. Please welcome Gavin MacLeod. Next, he has long been one of America’s crankiest yet most beloved comedians. He hung out with Sinatra back in the day, spent a good deal of time on Johnny Carson’s Tonight rickles2Show couch, and now he is here with us at The Sammy Awards. Please welcome Don Rickles. And finally, he is an Academy Award winning actor best known for creepy roles in The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Batman, & A Few Good Men. It is an honor to welcome Jack Nicholson.

 

This is a special award with only one nominee & winner.

 

 

The Fred Berry Memorial Award for Excellence in Syndication

 

The Andy Griffith Show

Even the best television shows are generally cancelled after 6-10 seasons, air in syndication for a few years, & then slip away into the ether, replaced in the hearts & tags2minds of viewers everywhere with the latest & greatest sitcom, soapy drama, or police procedural. Every once in awhile a program comes along that stays afloat in the sea of pop culture prominence for a bit longer, but eventually even those elite shows fade into just an occasionally recalled fond memory. The Andy Griffith Show is different. On any given day of the week I can do a little channel surfing and watch atleast a couple of TAGS episodes. Ponder that. This is a show that stopped airing original episodes nearly a half century ago, but its reruns are still broadcast in 2016 and beyond. Almost all of the cast has left this mortal coil, yet we still watch. I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that TAGS has entertained multiple generations and continues to delight people of all ages even today. Local TV stations have no shortage of syndicated programs to choose from when they need to fill a time slot, but they know that TAGS has retained its popularity and will get good ratings. There are many reasons for this, most of which I have mentioned somewhere in this forum at one time or another. It is the distinct pleasure of The Manofesto to give The Andy Griffith Show one more well deserved victory lap, and hopefully we’ll all still be enjoying it for many years to come.

 

 

 

susannah-lewisTo present our next award we originally contacted singer & emancipated butterfly Mariah Carey, but she declined the invitation and has gone into hiding in an undisclosed location for some unknown reason. We next contacted MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, but when she was told that the presentation would likely take longer than 48 seconds she was forced to say no. Therefore, we turn to well-regarded and very funny blogger, author, & social media personality Susannah Lewis. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

 

Least Satisfying Movie

The Do-Over

So it has come to this for Adam Sandler. After being one of the biggest movie stars in the world in the 90’s with hits like The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, & The Waterboy, he has hit the skids in the past decade, with some of the worst films ever produced (Jack & Jill, That’s My Boy, something about a Zohan). Now his movies aren’t even in theaters…they are being directly streamed into our homes. I didn’t know this until after I saw The Do-Over, but awhile back Sandler signed a four movie contract with Netflix. The first one was released last December when I was in the hospital which explains why I hadn’t heard of it. As for this second project in the deal, it has Sandler & David Spade as two old high school pals who are unhappy with their lives so they fake their own deaths. It’s an interesting premise, and I’ve got to give all involved credit for one thing…they didn’t mail it in. The story has more twists & turns than an Appalachian highway, with an odd mix of comedy, action, intrigue, & pathos. It’s not boring…it’s just not very good.

 

Dirty Grandpa

Robert DeNiro needs to fire his agent, manager, & anyone else that assists him in choosing projects. Seeing him in excrement like this makes me sad. Even Zac Efron can do better and he’s a tool.

 

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

I had low expectations going in because the 2014 original wasn’t good, yet somehow this sequel is actually even more tasteless & unremarkable. I didn’t laugh once. Two hours of my life I can never get back.

 

The Bronze

Fans of The Big Bang Theory get quite a shock seeing their sweet little Bernadette in this flick. Melissa Rauch stars as a former Olympic medalist still living on her fading notoriety in the small Ohio town in which she grew up. The young “lady” is mean-spirited, foulmouthed, & treats her adoring mailman father like dirt. She doesn’t have a job and relies on her fans & friends to buy her things. Oh, and she also steals money from mail she rifles thru in her Dad’s truck. Are you laughing yet?? When Hope (that’s her name…seriously) gets an opportunity to coach an up & coming gymnast also from her hometown she at first attempts to sabotage the young girl, but eventually changes course and guides her to the gold medal. I’m sure there are people out there that find this movie hysterically funny, but I’m not sure I’d want to know those people.

 

Bad Santa 2

If you enjoyed the 2003 original I suppose you’ll like this follow-up, which has Billy Bob Thornton putting the ol’ red suit back on & reprising his role as a misanthropic, drunken, foul mouthed thief who likes to score big during the holiday season. He reunites with his diminutive partner in crime and they team up with Santa’s profane & terminally ill mother to rob a Chicago children’s charity. I’m no prude, but I do believe I have some class and this kind of humor just doesn’t frost my cupcake. I didn’t particularly care for the first film and had no expectations that the sequel would alter my perspective. I was right. If vulgarity & F-bombs tickle your funny bone then, by all means, enjoy…it’s a free country. I will continue to aim higher.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

Dirty Grandpa. I don’t know why I continue to subject myself to DeNiro. The Godfather Part II is way way way in the rearview mirror. Even the Meet the Parents facepalmmovies seem like a lifetime ago. In the past decade this alleged cinematic icon has made a string of forgettable and/or outright atrocious films. This might be the absolute worst of the bunch, and could compete for one of the vilest pieces of garbage to ever be on the big screen. Just retire Mr. DeNiro. Leave the memories alone.

 

 

 

This feels like an appropriate place to pause. Please stay tuned for Part 2!!

The 2014 Sammy Awards – Part I

SammyAwardBefore we get too far into 2015 it is time to take one final look back at the year that was 2014. Welcome to the 5th annual Sammy Awards, an introspective review of the previous year, as well as the world’s coolest imaginary awards show. I like to think of The Sammys as an eclectic remix of real awards shows…classier than anything MTV offers, not as pretentious as The Oscars & Grammys, and more engaging than the plethora of offerings (The SAGs, The Tonys, The ESPYs, The People’s Choice Awards, etc.) that no one watches. There are no acceptance speeches and many of the nominees aren’t even in the audience (for obvious reasons). The pace is brisk because shows like these tend to drag on and no one pays attention if the event lasts too long. I have always said that the show would be broadcast on HBO, but I would be open to options like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Show me the money!!

 

Please give a warm welcome to the host of the 2014 Sammy Awards. He is an actor, comedian, & veteran of hosting awards shows. He has won Emmys, crystalGrammys, Golden Globes, & Tonys in the course of a legendary career that has spanned four decades. It is a deeply sincere honor to introduce Billy Crystal!!

 

 

 

 

After an inspiringly funny song & dance number by our host it is time for our first award. Please welcome the cast of one of the most underrated sitcoms of the late 70’s/early 80’s…WKRP in Cincinnati. Give it up for Howard Hesseman, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Jan Smithers, Gary Sandy, Frank Bonner, & Richard Sanders.

hessmanandersonreidsmitherssandybonnersanders

 

 

 

 

And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Favorite TV Show

The Big Bang Theory
Not only does CBS continue to air original episodes (the show is currently in the midst of its 8th season), but TBS airs multiple repeats several nights per week. One can see how the series has evolved. I realize that there are some that believe that the quality of the writing has gone downhill and that the original nerd concept has somewhat softened into what is essentially a Friends rehash. That idea isn’t completely off base, but I feel like TBBT is still performing at a high level and is better than any sitcom that’s come down the pike in the past decade.

 

Gotham
I am a certified Batmaniac!! I love everything Batman. The concept of this show however is less about Batman and more about Gotham City as a lawless wasteland. It shows us James Gordon as a young, fresh, idealistic cop that is partnered with cynical veteran Harvey Bullock. It just so happens that the first case the duo is assigned is the murder of Thomas & Martha Wayne (aka Batman’s parents). Along the way we are given origin stories for some of Batman’s most infamous foes…Catwoman, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Riddler, & Two-Face (so far). We also meet young Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred, but they are in the background. In some ways Gotham is not unlike your typical police procedural…Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, etc…but with the framework of the Batman mythology, solid performances, & fantastic writing it stands out from the crowd. It is a bit too violent at times for my taste, but I can live with that if the stories are great.

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning
The four time winner of this award has secured another nomination. However, I must say that it’s been a tough year for Greeny & Golic. The sports world has had more than its fair share of controversial, sociopolitical issues and oftentimes while the guys are discussing these kinds of topics I find myself realizing that they lean pretty far to the left. I understand that it is tough for the talking heads on ESPN and elsewhere. They can’t just ignore stories like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Donald Sterling, or the Washington Redskins nickname. But I found myself changing the channel a lot in 2014. I’ve curtailed my exposure to politics and other kinds of stressfully provocative programming, and when that stuff seeps into my sports I find it even more important to seek alternative entertainment. The Mikes are still very funny & enjoyable much of the time, but I don’t find myself getting up early or otherwise going out of my way to watch the show like I did in the past. Maybe 2015 will provide less contentious sports stories and we can all go back to relaxing and having fun with Mike & Mike. I hope so anyway.

 

The Herd
Everything I said about Mike & Mike applies to Colin Cowherd as well. However, I do find Colin to be less…weasely…than Mike Greenberg and much more intellectually stimulating than Mike Golic. I don’t always agree with his opinions, but I respect the thought that goes into them and the articulate way in which they are presented. Cowherd can be a funny dude too, and he mostly does the show himself, with minimal help from guests.

 

Highly Questionable
Thankfully ESPN has settled on a time slot for this show (4pm on ESPN2), but I still feel like it gets pre-empted an awful lot. Hosts Dan Lebatard & Bomani Jones are acquired tastes that may not appeal to everyone, but I find them rather entertaining in small doses. And I love Dan’s father Gonzalo (aka Papi), a 70 year old Cuban immigrant who inexplicably reminds me of my 100 year old (if he were still alive) Italian grandfather. The show is briskly paced, which means the hosts don’t have time to dive too deep into controversy, a fact that serves them well (especially during a weird sports year like 2014). It’s informative & fun, kind of like a mid-afternoon snack that won’t curb your hunger completely but will tide you over until dinner.

 

Girl Meets World
I wasn’t the target demographic for the parent show Boy Meets World in the 1990’s, so I am most certainly not the audience this program is going for, which I am assuming is young teenage girls. However, I always liked Boy Meets World. It was the kind of lighthearted, family friendly show that ABC specialized in at the time (other examples: Step By Step, Perfect Strangers, Full House, & Family Matters). Girl Meets World re-introduces us to Cory & Topanga Matthews, who have now been married for 14 years and have two children. One of those kids…young teenager Riley…is the focus of the show. I think Girl Meets World…like its predecessor…will evolve & mature over time. There is a nostalgia factor right now, which is why people like me tune in. But that can’t last forever. The acting is a bit over-the-top, I don’t know what the heck Ben Savage did to his nose, & one can certainly tell the difference between a program airing on a broadcast network like ABC and a show like this that is on The Disney Channel. We’ll see where Girl Meets World is at in a year or two, but at the moment I am giving it a tentative thumbs up.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 
The Big Bang Theory. Kudos to TBS for the abundant re-runs. I have probably seen every episode of the show’s first seven seasons atleast 2 or 3 times. I can’t tellbbt you how many lonely & tedious evenings in the past year have been made tolerable by the presence of TBBT on my television. Oh I still like the new stuff that airs on CBS each Thursday evening, but it was the repeats that secured the award.

 

 
sternTo present our next award The Manofesto is pleased to welcome the world’s foremost “shock jock”. Give a warm welcome to radio & TV personality Howard Stern.  And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest Non-Sports Sports Story

Michael Sam
Defensive end Michael Sam is gay. Did you know that?? If you watched ESPN this past spring you surely did know since the entire cast of talking heads yapped about it every 5 minutes for months. Sam was the only 7th round draft choice I have ever seen that had cameras in his house when he got the phone call. And then all the way thru training camp with the St. Louis Rams his every move was reported by the press. Sadly the liberal narrative took a hit when he proved himself not good enough to play in the NFL. But then Jerry Jones came to the rescue and the Dallas Cowboys signed Sam to their practice squad. Eventually they released him too but by then the sports media had moved on and last I heard the young man was whining that he didn’t receive a fair shake because he is gay. Dear liberals: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say it’s no big deal when a Democrat manwhore President cheats on his wife in The White House because “it’s just sex” and then turn around and act like the world owes someone fame & fortune because of their chosen sexual preference. Michael Sam was ultimately judged on his talents & abilities on the football field and he simply didn’t have what it takes to make it at the highest level.

 

The Washington Redskins
I have no doubt that someday owner Dan Snyder (or whomever he eventually sells the team to) will be forced to change the team’s name, and that will be a sad day. I detest political correctness and that is all this “controversy” is. I never heard of anyone having an issue with the term Redskins back in the 80’s when Washington was winning Super Bowls, and multiple polls have shown that only a very small minority of the general population as well as an equally small number of Indians…oops, I mean Native Americans…have a problem with the name. This is a media driven story that a handful of glory seeking politicians leech onto occasionally when they get bored. It’s idiotic.

 

Tony Stewart Kills A Man
Tony Stewart has been my favorite race car driver ever since the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. over a decade ago. Smoke is brash & outspoken but is rarely a jackass about it like Kyle Busch. He’s a throwback to when racing wasn’t quite so corporate and isn’t a polished pre-fab pretty boy like Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon. However, this past summer he found himself at a low point when he was moonlighting at a dirt track in central New York. Things got a little heated on the track (as they sometimes do) and a young driver got out of his car and walked into the middle of the track where he was inadvertently struck by Stewart’s car. The young man died and for awhile it looked like Stewart may face criminal charges. I never for one second believed that the incident was intentional, and it was later discovered that the deceased driver had been high on ganja. Smoke took a few weeks off and a grand jury found no cause for an indictment. Tony Stewart finished the NASCAR season, but unfortunately he will have to live with what happened for the remainder of his life, as well as deal with the judgment of those who think they know more than multiple levels of a legal establishment that decided this was nothing more than a tragic accident.

 

NFL Thuggery & Ineptitude
It all started last February when Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice knocked his wife out in an Atlantic City elevator. A video was released showing Rice dragging the young woman out of the elevator and the NFL responded by suspending him for three games. Several months later additional video footage from inside the elevator was released and all hell broke loose. The NFL & the Ravens acted stunned by what the video showed, even though Rice had admitted what he’d done and what the second video showed was 100% totally NOT a surprise. In a purely PR move the league suspended Rice indefinitely and the team released him immediately. As if that wasn’t enough, at around the same time that the NFL was completely bungling the Rice fiasco Minnesota Vikings RB and noted manwhore Adrian Peterson was arrested for beating his 4 year old son with switches to the point that the child had multiple bruises and lacerations. This is the same guy who has six children by multiple women. One of those children died when he was two years old in 2013 after the babymomma’s boyfriend beat him up. No big deal for AP though. He’d never even met the kid and didn’t know he even existed until shortly before the child’s death. A few days after the infant died Peterson was treated like a conquering hero when he overcame his “grief” and played on Sunday. At any rate, the NFL acted swiftly…kind of…this time, suspending Peterson for the remainder of the season. Almost as noteworthy as the incidents themselves is the complete incompetence shown by NFL Commissioner Roger “Fidel” Goodell, one of the most evil people in the history of sports. There was brief talk that Goodell may lose his job, which would have been awesome. Unfortunately for the game that will eventually be flag or two-hand touch football he retained his position and will likely continue on his path of destruction for several years.

 

Jim Kelly’s Cancer Battle
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 90’s. Losing all four of those games might have been tough, but Kelly has dealt with worse. In 2005 his 8 year old son Hunter died of a rare nervous system disease. And then in 2013 he was diagnosed with jaw cancer. After treatments Kelly was cancer free, but in 2014 the cancer recurred. The sports media followed the story closely and the way Jim Kelly and his family handled the situation was inspiring. In August, after more chemo & radiation he was again declared cancer free. I have never met the man, but he seems like a solid guy. We should all say a little prayer occasionally that Jim Kelly remains healthy and gets to enjoy a long & happy life.

 

Donald Sterling
At the beginning of 2014 Donald Sterling was the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. However, due to his own stupidity he no longer retains that title. Last spring Sterling was caught on video saying some disparaging things about NBA legend Magic Johnson specifically and black people in general. It didn’t take long for the story to blow up, especially since Sterling has previously been sued for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. The NBA has long known that this isn’t a good person, but now they were obliged to do something about it. The league banned Sterling for life and likely would have eventually voted to make him to sell the Clippers, but he agreed to sell without the league formally taking that step. I am somewhat uncomfortable that a business owner can be forced to sell his property simply because people disagree with something that he said in a private conversation. The Clippers employ black players, coaches, and management personnel, so there wasn’t any outright discrimination. It is a slippery slope that we must be cautious of in the future. However, Donald Sterling is the kind of out-of-touch whack job that is easy to root against. And we shouldn’t feel too sorry for him. The team that he bought for $12 million in 1981 was sold for $2 billion. Of course since we are talking about an 80 year old man the real winners are his family that will eventually inherit that fortune.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 
The NFL. Times are tough for football at all levels. Increased education & awareness about the effects of the sport on players’ health combined with the ever nfl-footballgrowing PC Police in America has the entire industry against the ropes. The last thing football needed was this kind of drama. Let’s be honest…there have always been thugs in sports. Just because a guy can run fast and do athletic things with a ball in his hand doesn’t automatically make him a good person. Fame & fortune not only doesn’t always translate into decency, but we have learned over the decades that it oftentimes has the opposite effect. We also know that people look at various crimes differently. Had Ray Rice & Adrian Peterson been caught smoking pot or speeding no one would have cared. Even if they would have held up a liquor store or ran someone down while driving drunk there might have been a collective yawn from the masses and some measure of sympathy. But one guy punched a woman in the face and the other physically abused a child. We aren’t quite as forgiving when it comes to those crimes. The NFL wasn’t blameless either, as they showed a shocking level of ineptitude in handling the situation…especially the Rice case. It seems as if the league suits are more contemptuous of cornerbacks & linebackers who might (GASP!) tackle a “defenseless” receiver (whatever that is) or sack a quarterback just a bit too hard than they are toward hooligans like Rice & Peterson.

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take a break. Please join us again soon for Part II of the 2014 Sammy Awards!!

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.

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 9.11

We’re in the midst of both the college & pro football season, but there are still a couple other things to talk about.

 

 

When did The MAC become such an entertaining football conference?? Seemingly every Tuesday and Wednesday night these belittled teams with nothing to play for except a December bowl game in Detroit have the most engaging and competitive games of the collegiate football week. I’d rather watch a MAC game than a Big East or Big 10 game anytime.

 

 

 

It’s funny how the NBA season was supposed to start a couple of weeks ago but didn’t, yet I haven’t really noticed and don’t really care.

 


The backlash against Stanford QB Andrew Luck has very quietly begun. His inability to get the Cardinal past Oregon and remain in the national championship hunt has raised the ever-so-slightest of red flags, no matter how much the loss can legitimately be blamed on Stanford’s overall lack of depth & skill. The fact is that someone as hyped up as Luck is supposed to be able to put a subpar team on his back and carry them to victory in such games. I have very little doubt that he will still be the #1 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, but there is now a question in my mind…and the minds of more than a few others…as to whether he is a mortal lock to walk in the footsteps of Elway, Marino, Brady, and Manning.

 

 

 

I absolutely LOVE the fact that college football’s BCS system is in complete chaos. However, it looks like we could be headed toward a LSU-Alabama rematch for the national title, which isn’t creating much excitement since the first game between the two teams was such an overhyped snoozefest. When is the NCAA going to pry their heads from their own asses and create a freakin’ playoff??

 

 

 

Maybe I’m crazy, but when I was growing up a catch was a catch. I’ve always been a big proponent of the use of instant replay, but it has created a little bit of paralysis by analysis when it comes to defining whether or not a receiver really caught a football. I prefer to see games decided by the players, not the officials, and certainly not by redefining what should be the very simple definition of a completed pass.

 

 

 

I watched the main event of the recent UFC free-per-view on Fox and to say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. I remember the early days of UFC back in my college days. On a couple of occasions a group of my fraternity brothers got together and bought the PPV. Maybe I was easily impressed, or maybe I was just drunk, but those shows were the essence of brutality. It was two guys beating the living daylights out of each other until one guy couldn’t continue, and for an 18 year old full of testosterone and cheap beer it was awesome. Unfortunately what I saw on television this time around was a championship match that was stopped less than two minutes in, even though the loser had no marks or bruises, there was no blood, and he was able to give a cogent post-match interview less than 5 minutes later. I am not a huge boxing fan, but atleast when someone gets knocked out in a boxing match one can tell. And the competitor is given a fair shot…a standing 8 count for example…to regain his composure and continue. I will even express a preference for professional wrestling. It may be scripted entertainment, but I know I am going to get a 20-30 minute main event with lots of interesting action. The one positive I can say about my most recent UFC experience is that it was free. If I’d have actually paid for the show and had it end like that I would have demanded my money back from the cable provider.

 

 

 

Wow…what a fantastic, fun, exciting run to the championship by NASCAR’s Tony Stewart. Smoke won 5 of the final 10 races to narrowly edge Carl Edwards in a tiebreaker for the Sprint Cup. Both competitors deserve tons of credit for not only putting on a hell of a show the last two months of the season, but for remaining respectful, classy, and honorable in the midst of the battle. Racing fans were the real winners.

 

 

 

 

The Arizona Wildcats have chosen former WVU & Michigan coach Rich Fraudriguez to be their new football coach, while former Florida & Utah coach Urban Meyer seems to be headed to Columbus to rebuild a dinged Ohio State program. As much as I despise Fraudriguez and wish him nothing but miserable failure in every single facet of his pathetic excuse for a life, I must admit that on the surface it looks like a decent hire. Fraudriguez’s spread offense will work much better in the Pac 12 then it did in the Big 10, and Arizona doesn’t have any of the pesky tradition & closed-mindedness to “outsiders” that plagued his tenure at Michigan. Ohio State’s issues have mostly been off the field, and interim coach Luke Fickle was an unfortunate victim that was thrown into the frying pan way before he was ready for prime time, so I have no doubt that a proven entity like Meyer will have the Buckeyes back on top in no time, assuming he doesn’t flake out with phantom “health concerns” after a year or two.