Category Archives: Sports

The Sport that Cried Wolf…

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I, along with millions of other erstwhile Soccer/Futbol enthusiasts, dutifully tuned in…or at least collegially kept up with, the World Cup tournament in Brasil. We were treated to a relatively deep run by the Team USA and some extraordinary individual performances by athletes from around the world.

We were also treated to a professional “sport” devolving ever closer to professional wrestling.

Yes, I’m referring to the staged “performance art” called WWE or WWF or whatever iteration it has taken on these days.

FIFA…I’m lookin’ at you. Square in the eyes in fact.

Your “brand”…your sport is becoming ever more increasingly difficult to watch, much less enjoy. Aside from the spectacular performances of some, the overall tone of this Cup has been flooded with flops. Oh, did I forget to mention borderline conspiratorial officiating.

I guess I should lower my expectations. After all, the World Cup is run by an organization rife with documented corruption and profound human rights abuses. The 2018 games hosted by the Russian Federation and their charismatic dictato…er…leader, Vlad Putin should be a real hoot.

The 2022 games in Qatar have set the bar below the horizon for widespread bribery and immigrant worker deaths in preparation for the games.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11019010

So it is against this bleak backdrop that I appeal to these neer-do-wells to clean up their sport.

Stop the flop.

My primary sport of choice…NHL Ice Hockey, is the antithesis of this widespread sissification. Hockey players play with broken bones, bloody stitches, and this year, Dallas Star player Rich Peverley died…yes DIED on the bench. After he was revived and on the way to the ER, his first words were “Can I go back in”.

That my friends…is what sport is all about. Competition. Guts. Honesty. Integrity.

Everything this World Cup has lacked.

The floppers are hurting themselves as well as the sport. Brazil star Neymar catches a knee in the back and goes down screaming…LIKE A HUNDRED PLAYERS BEFORE HIM…and the medical staff, with a liberal wink and nudge, casually toss him on a litter. Never mind the fact that he ACTUALLY broke his back. This is where a player will get hurt and where their histrionics will damage other players. Stop crying wolf lads…

Enough. My son’s girlfriend is an accomplished high school (now collegiate) Soccer player. She’s disgusted by this effeminate display of sportsmanship.

You’re losing me guys…the casual fan. But more importantly, your losing the millions of AYSO players that live for this sport.

Time to clean it up.

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TWC=FML

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My first clue that Time Warner Cable lacked a corporate soul should have been their logo. When my kids were younger they loved a mind-numbingly silly Anime called “Naruto”. The title character wore a headband with same logo as TWC…just upside down. Ominous imagery indeed when your corporate logo is the upside down version of a violent Japanese fantasy.

TWC entered the legions of corporate bad citizens for me when they blacked-out two of my local channels that just happened to be carrying my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers.

I cancelled my long-time service with them and switched to Verizon; a superior customer service experience to-date.

Here’s the deal: if I could live without cable altogether…I would. I maintain a debt to these service providers because I’m not yet technologically savvy enough to figure out how to watch sports on television without cable. I find just about everything else on TV completely worthless. This from a kid (I’m 53 now) that used to memorize the TV Guide as a child. It was my third parent. My father was in the industry. I majored in Telecommunications a lifetime ago.

I hate TV…and I hate Time Warner for their latest stunt–their latest schoolyard bully move…

TWC has seen fit to strong-arm the Dodgers into an exclusive contract. In other words, if you don’t subscribe to TWC…you don’t see the regularly scheduled Dodger games we enjoyed last year.  Apparently TWC is counting on Dodger fans to demand that their providers pay TWC to carry their channel.

I fail to see the difference between a bully extorting lunch money from a skinny kid and the corporate crap TWC is pulling. I will NEVER participate in any activity that gives them so much as a dime. That said…I’m screwed this year and so are a lot of other loyal Dodger fans.  I’m not going to get strong-armed into going back to them and I suspect a lot of people feel the same way. The Dodgers are not without blame in this PR train wreck either. They are at serious risk of alienating a large percentage of their fan base. This simply isn’t right.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in this orgy of corporate opulence is the absence of Vin Scully in my life.

Every Spring, one of the simple pleasures in my life has been the literal goose bumps I get hearing Vin say “It’s time for Dodger baseball.”

It goes without saying that Vin Scully is a living legend. And for me and thousands of others, we are separated from this national treasure by the obscenity of corporate greed.

Vin Scully will live on in the memory of myself and my children for the remainder of our lives. The pathetic pursuit of the almighty dollar at the expense of what is right will be once again forgotten and chalked up to the failure of yet another corrupt corporation.

I’m hoping against hope this will change this year…I’m not holding my breath.

We’re with you in spirit Vin…but we long for the golden vibrato of your soothing call…


Sochi 2014: What We (I) Learned

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High/Lowlights:

  • USA  Men’s Hockey teased the hell out of us with a dominant offensive performance in the early rounds…only to choke on both sides of the ice in their last two, critical games.
  • USA Women’s Hockey suffered one of the single-most heartbreaking defeats I have ever witnessed. After being less than four minutes from gold against their bitter rival, Canada, the ladies gave up two goals and fell in overtime. Hard to watch.
  • Bode Miller is human but still has game. Ted Ligety is unnaturally good in the slalom…what a ride.
  • Mikaela Shiffrin will be around for a while. What a combination of intellect, natural skill, and sheer muscle memory.
  • Skeleton, Luge, and Bobsled remains way cool.
  • Gracie Gold was not.
  • Yuna Kim is as graceful and humble as a superstar gets.
  • Putin remains a tool.
  • Bob Costas…where do I begin. The master of self-aggrandizement leveraged his pink-eye into a national “thing”. What the hell? Oh, and then he continued his entirely inappropriate political rants during the “games”. For the record, I generally agree with his views, I just despise listening to them interrupt why I’m here in the first place: to watch men and women who have dedicated their lives to competition. It’s not all about you Bob.
  • Oh, and Bob…one other thing…we don’t button the bottom button of a sportcoat…c’mon buddy, step it up.
  • Johnny Weir’s false eyelashes…the guy is a fashion freak but a remarkably astute commentator.
  • Which brings me to the commercials:
    • Cadillac: The dude that casually glorifies the “superior” American work ethic. This one has received some criticism for advancing an obscene commercial ethic. I, again, generally agree with that criticism. The pursuit of “stuff” is at times obscene. But on this one, it’s get’s a pass for genuine swag factor and score. (ten point style deduction though for allowing the actor to…yes…button the bottom button on that nice suit…when he turns back to camera, the vent separates…the entire reason we never do that. A critical stylistic error here and a severe indictment of the ad agency that produced the spot).
    • McDonalds: The McCafe spot. I don’t think I’ve EVER been creeped out as much by a piece of television. A woman, who later turns out to be a McDonalds employee, offers a McCafe something-or -other to women “having a bad day”. Except her bizarre head tilt and nasally “enjoy” brings this to the level of Texas Chainsaw Massacre creepiness. Don’t believe me? Watch it once. Experience nightmares for a lifetime. You’ve been warned.
    • Chevy Equinox: Here’s the dude that apparently has an epic night with his “bros” and then decides to check with “Siri” to see if he has any messages in the car with his wife. A dumbass like this deserves to get busted by Siri for pulling a bonehead move like this. Mancard revoked.

Summary: I spend way too much time watching TV and way too little time studying for my Western Civ and English class…thank God these thing only come around every four years…


Judgment Day…or Richard Sherman: Part Deux

So almost a week has passed since Richard Sherman’s ill-advised diatribe with Erin Andrews post-NFC Championship game.

Within 24 hours I posted my thoughts on that verbal missive.  One blog reader seemed to share some of my concerns, and another felt it necessary to fire up the ol’ keyboard  and launch an attack, apparently before finishing my post.

WordPress troll “Joe” (look up the definition of the word ‘troll’ Joe before launching another salvo) engaged in a classic attack on my post accusing me of judging Sherman.  The offense comes in two parts: 1) Blatantly judging me while first telling me “I’m not judging any of you” and 2) Spewing scripture in my general direction while “not judging”.

Joe is right. I judged the fuck out of Sherman. Webster defines that as “to form an opinion about (something or someone) after careful thought”. It’s my blog…it’s my opinion. Breaking news:  I get to judge. We all are free to form an opinion, even internet trolls like Joe. I would find this world pretty lame if we all lived Stepford lives and made no judgments.

I normally don’t respond to posts like Joe’s. I usually just let these posts speak for themselves, but I wanted to continue to judge Sherman and I didn’t want it to sound like capitulation to the bible thumping Joe’s of the world.

Here’s the deal: Sherman is starting to grow on me. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate the Seahawks, but after watching Sherman thoughtfully answering questions about the incident and his life, and reading some of his words, I find him to be what I suspected (and so “judged”) in my original post. He appears to be an educated, thoughtful, and sensitive young man. I really like how he’s handled himself in the aftermath of his outburst.

No Joe, I’m not perfect and I do my best to live my life serving others first. I believe in Karma. I also believe in calling out ignorance when I see it. No hard feelings buddy but don’t come on my blog and shove a bible verse in my face and then tell me how to live my life.

Judge on fellow bloggers…judge on…


An Open Letter to Richard Sherman

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I’ll confess my bias from the start.

First of all, I didn’t know who you were until yesterday. My son, who plays H.S. football, despises you for your actions on the field.

Second, as a fan, the Seahawks are my least favorite (read: most hated) team. For a multitude of reasons beginning with Pete Carroll and Golden Tate and the game last year against my Packers.

So there are my subjective impressions from the get-go.

I was devastated by the last play of the game. I saw your on-field antics (the hit, the choking sign).  This did not endear you to me as a professional athlete. Oh, and let me say this also: although I’m a Niner fan, I despise Kaepernick for the same type of hubris and bravado that he displays as well.

So it’s with these bias’ that I see this:

My jaw dropped. An angry and ego soaked declaration of your prowess…

And horrible sportsmanship. This video served to solidify my impression of you as an arrogant, over-paid jerk.

The reaction on Twitter and the internet was swift. Some calling for your head and others applauding you for your passion and candor. Erin Andrews had your back; defending your passion as being in “the heat of the moment.”

Others, apparently, displayed their profound ignorance and racism in a series of attacks on you based on the color of your skin.

I categorically denounce these uneducated bigots. There is absolutely NO place for that in any public (or private) discourse.

Here’s the deal Richard…at the end of the day, you acted like a jerk. The hit on Crabtree, the choking sign, the testosterone-laced diatribe with Andrews. It all could have been handled differently and you would have come out of this cementing your position as not only one of the best defensive players in the game, but for the educated, and thoughtful man that you clearly are.

Your blog post today is a refreshing insight into the type of man you are off the field. Humble, grateful, caring.

Why not bring that side of you into the game and into the media? Why not let young men know it’s okay to be a good sport. It’s okay to respond to the taunts of the opposition with humble regard and sportsmanlike sentiment.

I know I’m probably in the minority here, as hundreds of pundits have applauded your spontaneous display of emotion. I like emotion too Richard.

But I like the guy I see in the blog better…the guy praying for his wounded opponent…the guy calling out his own fans for their boorish behavior…that’s the guy I can become a fan of…

You’ve got two weeks to foment your reputation.

I hope the guy in the blog responds.

Best of luck my friend…


“The Human Element”

Another Sunday in the books and another Sunday where NFL games fell victim to “the human element”. That nefarious excuse given by traditionalist who resist technology…change…and rules.

I’m referring to the some of the horrible calls made by NFL referees. Not bad guys by a long shot, and light years ahead of the replacement jokes of last year, but they, at the end of the day are human beings. And as human beings, they make mistakes.

And therein lies the rub…

Baseball purists have for years resisted technology for balls and strikes and more extensive video review. They cry that “the human element” is part-and-parcel of the fabric of the game.

I disagree.

The game, whether it’s baseball, football, hockey, basketball et al, are games entirely structured on rules. We don’t pay to see the performance, masterful or faulty, of those humans tasked with enforcing those rules.

We pay to see the participants engaged in the actual activity. The officials themselves make the best argument for technology and more aggressive video review…their whole job depends on the concept of proper rule enforcement. If you step outside the rules, you pay a penalty.

But what happens when these humans step outside the rules, through no fault other than humanity, by making a call that affects the outcome of the contest.

I saw it yet again today in the Ravens game where a missed pass interference call set up the winning touchdown.

Not cool. One team goes home the loser, when in reality, they are not.

It’s not right. Plain and simple.

It’s time to take advantage of the technological advances of this day and age and insert them into sport. Tennis has done it successfully for several years now. What did they lose? Nothing but the temper tantrums of their spoiled athletes. What did they gain? Purity…propriety…the right guy/gal wins.

The way it is supposed to be…


He Was “That Guy”…

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(photo courtesy MaxPreps.com)

I distinctly remember my son’s first high school football game. I was floored at the violence. The sheer intensity of the hitting, the helmet-to-helmet and pad-to-pad contact that could be heard in the stands. He was a freshman then. He had never played football and decided to try out for the team. The freshman played on Thursdays and he didn’t play much that game…just kick returns. I went with him on Friday night to the Varsity game and was completely convinced of two things: 1)These kids were huge and if he played as a senior, he’d get killed, and 2) I didn’t need to worry because there was no way in hell he was good enough, fast enough, or had enough football knowledge/experience to even make the Varsity team. Again, this kid had never played football and he was competing with kids who had been playing organized tackle football for years. He might make the Varsity team, but he would never see a minute of playing time.

I was wrong.

My son came off the field tonight…his last Varsity football game. He was the starting Free Safety. He was a “player to watch” in our local player a couple of weeks ago. He had an interception and a fumble recovery this year. He had a TON of tackles. He not only made the team but he contributed to the team in a big way…all against and with players that had played much longer than he.

At the start of summer practices this year, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he might not start in his senior year. He wasn’t the best player at that position and there were guys with much more experience. I told him to just be “that guy” that works his ass off all summer while everyone else is taking it easy.

He did…he was “that guy” that made the coaches take notice of his commitment.

The week before the first game, the defensive coordinator took him aside and told him he wouldn’t be a starter this year. But he also told him they had taken notice of how hard he had and was working. My son was devastated. I could hear it in his voice.

I explained to him that I was beyond proud of him. In my eyes, he’d already won. He’s put in the work and although it wasn’t the outcome we wanted, his coaches noticed…and he had gained their respect. I then told him something else…guys like “that guy” make their own breaks and if he continued to work hard, he might get another shot…

He did…he ended up playing nearly 75% of the defensive series this year…again becoming a big contributor and even a starter towards the end of the season.

My son came off the field tonight with tears in his eyes…and began to sob softly.

His season was over. He had accomplished something bigger than both of us and as I held him, I told him how immensely proud of him I was…not for making the team…not for starting…but for the effort he put in. The outcome didn’t matter. The effort did.

Football was a game changer for my son these last four years. It developed in him a confidence, work ethic, and brotherhood that he will take with him forever.

I am eternally grateful to God that he made it through these four years without any injuries and am forever in debt to the parents of his best friend for being my companions at every game this year.

Thanks guys…what an amazing 4 years…


Bring on the Wenches…

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Okay, okay…it get that the term “wenches” is misogynistic by definition, but bear with me here…

This Miami Dolphin fiasco reminds me of another era I lived through.  Remember when cops and fire”men” were just that? Men.

The sophomoric, locker-room banter that has characterized the hazing incidents involving Pro Football players Johnathan Martin and Richie Incognito are emblematic of a foregone era…one in which there were more workplaces exclusive to men. Fire Departments were one of them.

As a lad beginning my career in the fire department, hazing, horseplay, locker-room banter, and outright mental abuse was all part and parcel of the initiation process. I engaged in my share of dishing it out as well. Did I enjoy it? At times. Was it healthy and conducive to a professional workplace? Absolutely not. Do I regret my participation in it? In hindsight, yes…

What we created and fostered in those days was an environment of exclusivity…an old boys club if you will. Weakness and introspection were strictly frowned upon and frequently the target of harassment. In today’s workplace, that type of behavior would have you out on your ass before you could say, well…ass.   Professional male sports such as football, has remained exempt to a degree from these common-sense employment standards. Why? Because there are no women.

That’s right…the advent of women in public service immediately spelled the end of this type of childish and destructive behavior. Oh, I admit, I fought it to some extent, as we all did, but in the end, I came to realize it was simply the right thing to do. The introduction of women into the fire department all but ended the days of hazing and boorish behavior. Oh, I’m sure it still goes on to some extent, but nowhere near the degree that it did back in the day.

What will it take to end this cruelty in professional sports?

I applaud Mr. Martin for his courageous stand in the face of overwhelming hatred from his own “team”. His teammates are jumping on the Incognito bandwagon and pathetically attempting to hang on to the last bastion of male neanderthalism.

Enough. It’s done. Time to put on your big boy pants gentleman and start acting like, well, gentleman.

 

 

 


Ryan Armstrong…uh Lance Braun…the Kings of Hubris

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Does it really matter? These two clowns are cut from the same cloth.

Dopers. Cheaters. Liars.

The Kings of Hubris.

There have been several MLB players that have admitted to doping and taken their medicine. Remember their names? Me neither. Know why? They did the right thing when confronted, cleaned up their act and moved on.

Which brings us back to the Kings…

When confronted with the evidence…they fought like caged raccoons to clear their “good” name and attack anyone with the gall to call their character into question.

Doping is cheating. End of story. It’s not right in professional cycling and it’s not right in Major League Baseball.

These athletes, whether they like it or not, are role models.  Some clearly better than others;  but simply by the nature of their profession, they influence millions of young men and women. I have teenagers who have more integrity in their pinkie fingers than these two charlatans.  The wouldn’t THINK of doping…or cheating in their careers…their passions.

Both these guys said they made “mistakes”. A mistake is when you choose letter “C” on the multiple choice exam instead of letter “B”. They didn’t make mistakes. They made calculated decisions with malice aforethought to cheat…to gain an unfair advantage over their fellow competitors.

I’m heartened to hear the outrage from many MLB players towards Braun, but until their collective bargaining unit agrees to LIFETIME bans for doping, this will go on.  That these millionaires have no real incentive to stop cheating is an outrage and an indictment of the organizations they represent.

It’s time to stop playing little league…you dope, you lose the privilege of competing…forever. End. Of. Story.


Projectile Blogging…

I haven’t posted in a while as the result of an extremely busy “IRL” life but also because I’ve been overwhelmed recently with events in the news and have frankly had the urge to post multiple times each day…but no time.

It hurts my brain. Hence the title of today’s blog. When a person has a head injury, one symptom is what’s called projectile vomiting…explosive and long-range expectoration of the contents of the patient’s stomach.

Consider this my brain’s version of that…

  • Snowden: Just read he landed in Venezuela, accepting that country’s offer of asylum. As mentioned in a previous post, my support for him ends when he starts sharing secrets with hostile governments. This is close enough. As acutely aware I am of the despairing nature of long-term incarceration, if Snowden’s sole motivation was to uncover a grievous wrong being committed by those in power, then I would respect him much more if he returned to face the consequences of his actions and let the court of public opinion help shape the national debate on the NSA. As I recall, Mr. Ellsberg didn’t sail to Cuba in the 70’s.
  • SFO Plane Crash: From everything I’ve seen so far, an extremely coordinated and professional response to the crash from first responders. I caught just a blurb on video of their triage area outside the crash site and it was textbook. That it now appears that one of the victims may have been run over by a responding Crash Rescue truck should not take anything away from this. As any soldier will attest, in the fog of war, your best effort is all that can be asked, and it appears that they did a remarkably good job in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Media: On two fronts…1)CNN continued to run a “Breaking News” chryon a good 12 hours after the crash, while providing absolutely nothing “new” or “newsworthy”, much less “breaking”. I have long since given up on CNN as an actual news organization, but this one really got me discouraged. It would be much more informative to the public if they just ran raw video of news with no audio and no crawl. 2) The fact that many mainstream news organizations have either become TMZ-like hounds trying to locate Ed Snowden or de facto shills for the government in this matter. And that no mainstream news organizations are screaming to the heavens 24/7 about the actual “content” of Snowden’s disclosures. The Big 3 (ABC/NBC/CBS) and CNN/MSNBC/Fox are well documented extensions of the corporate interests that they work for. Even PBS/NPR have begun to fall victim to their corporate donors. At the end of the day, I blame us…the consumers of “news” for not putting an end to this cycle of infotainment that began in the 70’s. Idiocracy is indeed at our doorstep…
  • The tragedy in Arizona: 19 lives were lost among an elite “Hot-Shot” hand crew fighting a dangerous wildfire. When I heard the news, I was crushed. As an ex Fire Captain, this news hit me in the gut. I have read the accounts provided of the incident so far and it appears that the crew operated within their normal safety guidelines and had lookouts, escape routes and safety zones in place. What they also had was swagger…the pride that comes from a combination of training and battlefield experience. Did they put themselves in a position of danger as a result of this. I have now way of knowing and it is presumptuous of me to assert that they did. I wasn’t there. But I have seen this swagger cause men and women to take one step closer to the edge of danger than might otherwise be prudent. Again, I have no way of knowing what occurred and most genuinely do not want to say anything that can be construed as criticism of these heroes.  But what I am concerned about is the fact that 19 men were positioned in the line of fire, literally, in front of a housing project, to save those structures…those…”things”.  Those homes will be rebuilt. The loss the families of these men suffered is beyond the pale. I don’t want to see this happen EVER again and strongly urge those in both the political and command and control structure to frankly study this incident and make strategic and tactical changes to both safety and operational procedures to see that this never happens again. RIP guys…
  • Sports: Congrats to the hated Chicago Blackhawks on your theft of the Stanley Cup from my LA Kings. And kudos to your organization for taking out a full-page ad in the Boston papers thanking the city for their hospitality. Class act all around. And yes, Yasiel Puig is for real. If this young man doesn’t brain himself on another outfield wall, or blow out his ACL or wrist eluding a tag after another crazy base-running stunt, this guy will lead the league in excitement. And he’s ours…

There, I feel better.


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