Thursday, April 13, 2017


That's the thing about professional sports: they can always find something else to start a controversy. Now it's the flu bug. Even though clubhouses have trainers, assistant trainers, personal trainers and even doctors all looking out for the health and well-being of these coddled athletes, illnesses still creep in to decimate a ball club.
The flu bug has hit the Boston Red Sox the hardest - at least it's the most publicized. Buck Showwalter of the Baltimore Orioles is not impressed. His team has players with the bug but he and his players refuse to talk about it. He also said every team has a problem with the flu. Buck has often denigrated other teams just to motivate his own team. He especially likes to pick on the Red Sox and the Yankees, citing their extremely high payrolls in comparison to the Orioles modest one. This may be just one more building block for Buck.
The Twins have jumped on the bandwagon, too, Having the visiting clubhouse in their stadium fumigated after a visit from the Red Sox. Was that real or just another jab at Boston? Not to be outdone, the Sox had their own clubhouse fumigated after they left on a road trip. Was that to prove that the flu bug was an actual problem or just a response to the Twins.
So far, the only Yankee to be affected severely has been first baseman Greg Bird, who has missed a few games for that and a sore toe from a foul ball. I wonder if foul ball injuries will become epidemic.

Statistics gone wild.
David Cone, a self-proclaimed sabermetrics nut, has gone over the edge now. When listening to a David Cone analysis of a Yankee game, I noticed two things: the repeated use of the phrase "Without a doubt," (Annie-O and I actually count them), and his penchant for explaining every activity with some kind of statistical percentage. A typical Cone comment: "Montgomery has a miss rate on pitches of 19%. The major league average is 10%." Rickie Weeks of the Rays, didn't miss one pitch, blasting a two-run shot in the first inning off of Montgomery, which is a statistic that actually meant something. 
Later in the game, Aaron Judge, the Yankee linebacker, er...Right Fielder, smashed a homer into the netting over Monument Park in center field, over 400 feet away. After a couple of minutes to compile his numbers, Coney announced that the ball traveled 436 feet. Thank you, David. Oh, but wait, he wasn't done. The exit velocity was 107 mph and the ball reached a height of 110 feet. Thank you David, you've earned your paycheck today. If you really want to impress us with numbers, tell how much that paycheck is for.

Speaking of line backers...
Yankee outfielder and Rays first baseman  Richie Weeks had a horrific collision at first base yesterday when Weeks stepped into the baseline to retrieve a dropped throw right in the path of Gardner. You don't often see that vicious hit in football where they're actually trying to do that. Minor injuries for both combatants which is good news. Just think if that had been Aaron Judge involved; they probably would have had to peel Weeks off of Judges chest. And they might have to tell Judge that he was involved in a collision. 

Anything you can do... 
We're all familiar by now with all the shenanigans that college athletes get involved in, drinking sexual assault, abuse of women, stealing, etc. Let's not forget the ladies, who obviously can hold their own when it comes to scandals. Coastal Carolina University cheerleaders have been suspended amid allegations of running a prostitution ring and working as strippers. Gives new meaning to the phrase, a 'good head on their shoulders.' Move over Baylor, you have competition. So far, we've have scandals involving players, coaches, assistant coaches, Athletic Directors and even University Presidents. Now the cheerleaders have gotten involved. What's left? Mascots? I can hardly wait.

A new trend? 
This is a good thing - until something goes wrong. In a rare effort to connect with the fans, some players have taken to actually playing catch with a fan while warming up before the game. This has got to be very exciting for some kid in the stands. Aaron Judge is one player who has been doing it. I hope no fan misses a throw and gets hit, followed by the inevitable lawsuit and a strongly worded dictum from Commissioner Manfred prohibiting this event. That would be typical behavior for baseball: Let's not be having any fun out there.

"Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned. He’s rumored to have turned down an offer from Regina to backup QB Vince Young; but said he may be interested in coming here just to kneel for the singing of O Canada."  -- TC Chong
"So many meaningless games at the end of the NBA season.   Differing at least in intensity from the meaningless games during most of the NBA season."  -- Janice Hough
"The man who holds the world’s consecutive free throw record (Tom Amberry) has died at age 94. His top mark was 2,750 in a row. That beat Shaquille O’Neal’s NBA best by only 2,748."  -- Jim Barach
"According to several sources, the 2017 N.Y. Yankees lack left-handed power. This continues a tradition of Bronx Bombers reviews dating back to 1935. Ruthless."  -- RJ Currie
"So we revisit the new catchphrase that explains it: “The game of baseball has changed,” a half-thought that, if completed, would conclude, “but not for the better.”  -- Phil Mushnick
"Tim Tebow has now homered twice in the minors. He is not so happy with his fielding though, complaining that his throws from the outfield to home plate keep getting intercepted by the shortstop or second baseman."  -- TC Chong



Wednesday, April 12, 2017


ESPN actually had a feature on this morning listing their Power Rankings, anchored by Mark Teixeira and Tim Kurkjian. They compared the rankings by ESPN's panel of experts with Teixeira's choices. The only one who had it right was Kurkjian, who said, "If this were football, we'd be making these selections in the middle of the second quarter of the first game. I don't think I can do this." Of course not. there are better than 150 games to go. Players often say they need about 100 at-bats before being comfortable to judge how they're doing. That's about 25-30 games, they've played about 8. Show a little patience will you?

Expert prognosticators are silly, anyway. No matter what the sport, pre-season predictions all end up being the same: they are basically recaps of last season's finishes. The Cubs beat the Indians in the World Series? Okay, I pick Cleveland and Chicago to win their leagues. Wow! Way to go out on a limb there, fella. If an underdog team starts to lead the pack, the experts have the excuses ready. "Well, their young guys put it together faster than anyone expected." Not "anyone," just the experts. They actually begin hedging their bets in pre-season. "If they're gonna do anything, their 36-year old pitcher will have to pitch like he's 25."  Or one of their outfielders will have to hit like he did when he was the League MVP. "When was that Bob? 2010, when he was 29? Well it could happen. His broken tibia has had two years to heal, it could happen. He's only 36." There you go. Now if that team happens to do something, this expert is covered.

How to suffer along with your players.
It was announced that Yankee phenom, Gary Sanchez, will miss about 4 weeks with a muscle strain on his throwing arm. General Manager Brian Cashman, on the other hand went into intensive care when he saw Sanchez grimacing in pain after taking a practice swing. He should be back making deals by the end of the month, depending on how Sanchez responds to treatment. Hang in there, Brian.

ESPN question: Is baseball boring?
If you like the game, the answer is no. If you don't like it, you won't even watch, so how can you answer? Anything can be improved and baseball is no exception. The question is, what part of it needs improvement the most?
When this debate gets going, one answer that always comes up has to do with rule changes. The rules are what makes the game, why would you mess with that? Annie-O and I watch all the Yankee games and I think there are only two changes that would make our viewing pleasure immensely better.
1)  Shorten the game and this is easier than you think. Unless a pitch is struck, the batter stays in the box. And by staying in the box, a pitch is legal at any time. If he steps out, it's an automatic strike. Plus, a pitcher must pitch within 20 seconds or an automatic ball is called. There! Problem solved.
2)  All the announcers and/or color men in the booth: Shut the heck up. They act like a gas - they expand to fill the available space. All your statistics are not that interesting, especially early in the year when a batter can raise his average by 150 points by going 2 for 2.
Remember, it's not a radio broadcast. You don't have to say things like,"...and here's the pitch."  We can see that. Tell us the count and be quiet. Oh occasional stories or rule explanations are okay, but don't come to the game armed with 50 of them. In short - SSSSHHH!

" Wintry weather tonight in Chicago. Blame whoever said hell would freeze over before they raised a championship banner at Wrigley."  -- Janice Hough
" Ichiro says he wants to play in the major leagues until he's 50. Who does he think he is? Tom Brady?"  -- RJ Currie
"Oregon came within a point of making it to the finals. This proves wearing uniforms bright enough to blind the opponent works."  -- Brad Dickson


Sunday, April 09, 2017


Can't you see how smart I am?
Joe Girardi is known as a metrics guy. He has his notebook and computer and stats and uses them. Sometimes, he over-uses them.
Last night, the Yanks blew a 4-1 lead and lost 5-4 to the Orioles. They a lost a game they should have won. More specifically, Girardi lost a game they should have won. There they are with a 4-3 lead in the 7th inning with one out and the bases empty. Adam Warren, in relief of Masahiro Tanaka, had just retired the four batters that he faced, and out pops Girardi to change pitchers. WHY? Michael said, "Joe is going to mix and match the rest of the way." He wanted to have a lefty pitcher face a lefty hitter and so forth, the rest of the way. Again, why? Warren has no particular problem against righties or lefties, but there's Girardi, over-thinking the problem. He brings in a lefty. the result a double. Girardi brings in righty to face a right-handed hitter. Then, a single (run scores), an out, a stolen base - because it's easy to steal off of Bettances - another single and the go-ahead run scores. That's the ball game, folks. Maybe I'm old school - and I am - but the hell with the book, Joe, when you get a hot hand, ride it. I won't listen to the post-game press conference because I already know what I'll hear from Girardi.
"I played the odds but the players didn't perform." Or words to that effect.
Baseball people say that Girardi is masterful at handling the bullpen. I don't buy it.

Everybody's doing it, so it must be okay. 
A baseball stuck to the chest protector of Yadier Molina on Thursday. Stuck good and for a long time. How could that happen? Obviously, there was some kind of foreign substance either on the chest protector or on the ball. Obviously. So, according to the rules, someone - the catcher or the pitcher - has to be ejected. What happened? Nothing. Pretty much every pitcher in baseball uses some kind of substance to "improve their grip."  I emphasize the grip thing, but it has to have other effects, too. Everybody know that it goes on, you can often see it on TV because it's that obvious, but umpires and opposing managers turn a blind eye to it. Ask players about it and they just lie, lie, lie. It's a rule everybody breaks and baseball looks silly because they let it happen. Buster Olney thinks he has the answer:
"The fix seems relatively simple: Just alter the wording of the rule so that specific substances are permissible so long as the volume is not excessive -- and just have the players check with the umpires on that before they go to work, just as pitchers do when they ask for the OK to blow on their hands on cold days."
I have an easier answer: Announce to everyone that it's illegal and enforce it completely. The same situation occurred in the 90's about steroids. Baseball tried to ignore it until it became ridiculous and finally just began to enforce it. There are still those who try to circumvent the rules but it's no longer widespread. I think we need the same logic here.

There's more to worry about than injuries.
Yes, all teams suffer through injuries, but there is a new problem. Flu-like sicknesses. At least two teams, Boston and Tampa Bay, are being devastated by the flu or similar sickness. The Yankees say their players aren't feeling that good, but it hasn't kept them out of the lineup yet. It's probably going to spread, so watch out for your favorite team to have problems in the future.

Another issue of mine.
CBS dumps Phil Simms in favor of Tony Romo. Why did they get rid of one of the best analysts on the air? Here's what Phil Mushnick says.
"It wasn’t supposed to end this way. The way I figured it, CBS eventually would dump Phil Simms because he was too candid for comfort, not because he had been deemed stale. Simms would be a superb selection to sit beside during a football game.  As for Tony Romo, one must understand the mentalities of TV shot-callers’ eagerness to hire any suddenly available big name based on nothing stronger than a wish. Would I have hired Romo? Yes. He is engaging, self-deprecating, often funny. Would I have made him my No. 1 guy from Day 1? Not a chance."

"An employee of the National Firearms Museum in Virginia, which is run by the NRA, was injured on the job Friday. He was taking part in firearms training and accidentally shot himself. Mean bitch karma and her friend irony for the win."  -- Janice Hough

"After their team’s tournament loss to North Carolina, Kentucky students burned a box, a TV, a T-shirt, couches, chairs and more clothes. Then they left for spring break to get rowdy."  -- Brad Dickson
"RJ’s Groaner of the Week  Hear about the Wisconsin farmer who took 12 female pigs and 10 male deer to the Green Bay Packers’ ticket office? He'd heard a game-day suite would cost 22 sows and bucks."  -- RJ Currie
"Wednesday, in case you missed it, was National Walking Day. Which might explain why Royals pitchers promptly went out and walked nine Minnesota Twins."  -- Dwight Perry
"Cubs admit feeling pressure to win a World Series every 108 years now."  --

" The NCAA final between North Carolina and Gonzaga was a snooze fest that featured 47 fouls. One Zag fouled out early, and during that timeout, the refs had their whistles re-gripped."  -- TC Chong
"There’s online footage of a snowboard competitor being chased by a bear. If this happened regularly, snowboarding would be the No. 1 spectator sport in the world."  -- Brad Dickson
"Friday night after  a Tiger-free tournament in Augusta. Anyone know who’s leading the Masters?  Yeah, me neither. -- Janice Hough
"Why has the Masters coverage on TV  increased from 2½ hours in 1956 to 18 hours today: Jim Nantz’s descriptions of the azaleas in bloom.”  -- Brad Rock
 "Egypt now has “rage rooms” where people go to take out their frustrations and anger. Americans sometimes call places like this “golf courses.”  -- Brad Dickson
"A town of 60 people in Pennsylvania is up for sale for $US 1.5 million. If you pay cash, they'll throw in the 76ers"  -- RJ Currie
"The Oakland A’s hired Jose Canseco as a TV analyst. I’m not sure which was the bigger blow to the city of Oakland: losing the Raiders or gaining Canseco."  -- Brad Dickson



Sunday, April 02, 2017


Starting today at 1:00 pm, baseball starts for real. Every body's hopes are high and everybody has a chance to make the World Series. Unfortunately, 28 teams are going to be disappointed. Interestingly, after all the hullabaloo over the Baby Bombers and how the consensus is that the Yanks arguably have the strongest farm system in baseball, most polls have them finishing out of the playoffs. In fact, one poll has them finishing last in the AL East. They will hit and hit with power and their fielding is fine, so if their starting pitching performs well, they could go all the way. There is always that 'if.' I probably should have emphasized that a little more - IF.

Connecticut ladies bite the dust
The Yukon ladies streak had reached 111 before Mississippi State defeated them 66-64 in overtime.  As dominate as they had been, anything can happen in this sport, for no other reason than there are only five players at a time allowed on the court. The last UConn had been pushed this hard was back on November of 2014. Not having been in that position, they probably weren't used to reacting to that and that may have been a factor, too. During their last game, a lady analyst said that it wouldn't surprise her if UConn's streak reached 200 wins in a row. Next October, they can start all over again.

Sorry Sal.
Rochester D & C sports writer, Sal Maiorana,  listed 9 rule changes that would speed up a baseball game. Some suggestions were good, some thought provoking and a couple that were just...ridiculous.
1) A 20-second pitch clock.  If you watch carefully, a lot of the pitching delays are caused by batters not being in the box. This really won't help
2) Speaking of which - Keeping the batters in the box.  I've always loved this idea. Now if we can just get umpires to enforce it completely.
3) Raise the strike zone. This is in the works. The one fear is that pitchers will be even more careful which will result in more full counts and more walks - and longer innings.
4) Limit on foul balls. Here is  ridiculous suggestion #1. This isn't a beer-game softball game.
5) Limit catcher's trips to the mound. Interesting thought, but if the pitcher and catcher get confused on the signals, people could get hurt. I don't see how you could limit this and have this danger lurking.
6) Pick-off throws. This needs some explanations. He proposes that a pitcher can only try to pick-off the lead runner. So how do you prevent the other runners from straying way off the base? Why, you limit the length of a lead to 15 feet. Now umpires would have to carry a tape measure. This is ridiculous suggestion #2
7) Limit warm-up pitches for relievers to two. This is ridiculous suggestion #3. A lot of that warm-up for relievers is to allow the reliever to get used to the mound. His arm is fine, but analysts will tell you that the bullpen mound is often very different from the one on the field.
8) Relievers must face at least two batters. This is very interesting and could change the game a lot more than just the reduction of time. This will affect some managerial strategies, which isn't a bad thing. 
9) Eliminate the 40-man September roster. Again, an interesting idea but Sal adds that he would limit in to 30-man rosters. Most teams don't call up more than 6 or 7 players anyway and I don't see how this limit could change the length of a game significantly anyway. Besides, if you do this, you'll have to answer to the MLB Players Association and the players agents (Two words - Scott Boras).

You've got to be kidding me.
 31 Baylor “student-athletes” have been accused of a total of 51 assaults against women, including gang rapes, including two football players who were arrested last week. This has been going on for some time. AD Ian McCaw has resigned after 13 years at the helm. Where did he end up? He was hired as the AD of Liberty, a Christian fundamentalist college founded by Jerry Falwell. "Liberty’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., welcomed McCaw, saying: “Ian’s success speaks for itself. You look at what Baylor was able to do during his tenure; it fits perfectly with where we see our sports programs going.” Yeah, look at what he accomplished at Baylor. I can't believe this.

In with the old and in with the new. 
First time for Gonzaga in the finals of the NCAA against North Carolina, who has been there many times. The Zags have shown that they are not intimidated by anyone or anything, so the Tarheels will have to bring more than just their clippings to this game. Naturally, Annie-O will be rooting for the underdogs as she always does. She says that's also why she married me.

We're nothing; we're just the fans.
In his last couple of years, Joe DiMaggio was often in great pain. A sports writer once asked him why he continually tried to play every game or at least ease off during the game. Joe D's response immediate and to the point: "What about all those people who came to see me play? Shouldn't I go all out for those people?"  I guess coaches like Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr don't care about those fans. When the have their playoff situation locked, they continually "rest" their players so as not to wear them out for the playoffs. And not just one player at a time, but three or four of his starters for the whole game. Those players actually come to the game in street clothes and sit on the bench, smiling, laughing and making funny comments. What about me, the poor fan who just paid $75 to sit in the nosebleed section at the AT & T Center in San Antonio, or $225 to sit in the Plaza section. Even though I could afford it, I would hate paying $750  to sit court side to watch Joel Anthony (Who??) ($350,000) play instead of Pau Gasol ($15 mil) or Manu Ginobili ($14 mil). That's the way to build fan support Coach Popvich. At least make those benched players hand out towels and Gatorade during the breaks. I  might pay money to see Kawhi Leonard ($17.6 mil) wait on Davis Bertans ($550,000). Not a lot, but some.  

"Geez, the Yankees have a mental conditioning coach? Why not an air conditioning coach?"  -- Phil Mushnick
"In the office bracket, I’m behind a co-worker who wrote in “Ashley Judd” to win the tournament."  -- Brad Dickson
"Golfer Cody Gribble tapped a resting alligator’s tail, sending it scurrying into a water hazard. Pretty sure that is how Captain Hook got his start."  -- Alex Kaseberg
"Summing up Duke guard Grayson Allen's thoughts on his time with the Blue Devils: "It’s been a trip."  -- RJ Currie 
"5-time Olympic gold-medal swimmer Dana Vollmer, 6 months pregnant, plans to race in 50-meter freestyle next month. Weaker sex my ass."  -- Janice Hough
"Parents assure scared child there’s no such thing as Skip Bayless.”  -- The  [Boy, I sure wish this wasn't a joke. - CP]
"Major League Baseball just announced its first official hot dog, and it is: A) Nathan’s  B) Oscar Mayer      C) Manny Ramirez"  -- Dwight Perry
"The Raiders’ are moving to Las Vegas. Sure, young, fit, rich, testosterone-crazed egomaniacs in a town with 24-hour gambling, drinking, hookers and strippers. What could possibly go wrong?"  -- Alex Kaseberg
"I wouldn’t say some NCAA tournament announcers seem to favor certain teams but in the closing minute of Gonzaga’s 61-58 win over West Virginia, a TBS analyst blocked two West Virginia shots."  -- Brad Dickson
"I fibbed to my wife about why I returned a stud-finder to the hardware store. I told her it kept pointing to me."  -- RJ Currie
"Interesting how the pre-seasons for MLB and NBA are ending about the same time."  -- Janice Hough
"No Shame Winner of the Week: Roger Goodell and his coterie of team owners. At a time when the NFL is suffering an epidemic of college-refined players given to committing crimes, the league’s moving a team to Las Vegas. That Nevada Hookers’ Union lobby is powerful."  -- Phil Mushnick


Tuesday, March 21, 2017


It's now time for the Sweet Sixteen and then the Elite Eight and lastly, the Final Four. I haven't heard any alliteration for the last game - maybe the Top Two?

** The  #1 seeds left are Kansas, Gonzaga and North Carolina, so the pre-tournament seedings seem to be pretty good, in spite of some analysts belief that Wisconsin, for example was seeded too low and shouldn't have been playing the #1 seed in the second round.  Of course it's interesting to have the #1 team playing the #2 team in the finals, but who says they're the #1 and #2 teams? Isn't the whole idea of the tournament to determine who is #1 and #2? Logically, the last two teams playing ARE 1 & 2. So what if Wisconsin - a really good team - played the so-called #1 team in the nation - Villanova - in the second round. It was still a good game and proved that obviously, Villanova was NOT the nation's #1 team.
No matter how you seed them, the tournament will always be full of good games. Seedings are just someone's opinion anyway. Historically, the biggest upset pairing has been the #12 - #5 matchup.There are four #12s and four #5s, so the #12 team could be the 48th best team in the country or the 12th best, and the #5 team could be the 20th or the 5th. So why is that such a big upset? If #12 beats #20, it could be expected. Draw the match-ups out of a hat and you'd still have a great tournament.

** Another big upset is Duke getting eliminated by South Carolina in the second round. One good lesson from this is that Duke's Grayson Allen now knows what it's like to be tripped up.

** There is always a team that gets hot at the right time, a Cinderella team if you will, and this year it's Xavier. They will play Arizona on Thursday and that should be interesting. Unfortunately, that game doesn't start until after 10:00 pm EDT and probably won't end till close to 1:00 am, but that's okay. I'm sure your boss or teacher won't mind if you drag your sleepy butt around all day Friday, after all, it is the Sweet Sixteen.

** I love that the color commentators, usually former players, like to talk about rule changes they'd like to see. Sometimes they make sense, but sometimes they overreact when they don't like the enforcement of a good rule. The Flagrant Foul rule is a good example. This is when a foul is deemed excessive and stricter penalties are assessed. The analysts will object when that call is made when they feel the intent was not there. Sorry, but you can't have a rule that relies on someone's judgement of "intent." The rule is very specific and intent is not part of it. You commit the foul, you pay the price. It's meant to protect the players, so deal with it.

** There is always a discussion of how to shorten the length of the games and one of the big causes is the last two minutes of a game. There are the endless 'intentional' fouls and timeouts galore. Here's a suggestion that will help.  A team can't call a timeout unless it is in possession of the basketball. In a close game, the team behind will score a basket and then call a timeout to set up their defense. Oh, no you don't. You don't have the ball so you're on your own. The coaches will never let this rule in. This is their time in the sun. "What do you think Coach Smith will do here, Harry? Will he press or will he foul?" "I don't know, Jim, but he always has something up his sleeve. Look, he's drawing up his plan now." They need that time with the cameras on them, after all, the players come and go but the coach, he's always there. Unless he loses and gets fired.

** Speaking of coaching changes, the big discussion in New York is the continuation of the coaching career of Syracuse's Jim Boeheim. After saying for two years that next season will be his last and assistant coach Mike Hopkins will take over, it's all changed. Hopkins has taken a job as head coach with Washington and Boeheim has signed an extension beyond next year. No other details are known except Adrian Autry, a former player and assistant coach, has been named associate coach. The one question remaining is, did Boeheim sign an extension because Hopkins left or did Hopkins leave because Boeheim signed an extension? I think Hopkins was smart to leave since it would have been awfully tough for him to step in behind Boeheim after being his assistant for 10 years. I don't think Boeheim really wanted to retire after the NCAA stripped him of 100+ wins, not that anybody is actually taking that punishment seriously.

Back to baseball.
The USA WBC team is in the semi finals, which is their best showing ever. Well, good for them. I just hope no one gets hurt.
I haven't been taking seriously the success the Yankees have been having in the Grapefruit League, since they are playing against a lot of minor leaguers, but the further along they go with the continued success, it's becoming harder and harder to ignore. Maybe they will contend strongly for the playoffs this year. Greg Bird and Matt Holliday have been particularly impressive. 
ESPN asked a pretty interesting question this week. If you were starting a team, who would you take as the first pick: Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? I guess I'd go with Machado because he's more flexible defensively and more of a team player. I think Harper's ego may get very tiresome after a while.
Tim Tebow will begin the season with the Mets Class A team in Columbia, SC. No surprise there except maybe that it's not Class C or D.

"Johnny Manziel hired an NFL agent. That’s a little like me hiring a caddy to tote my bag during the championship round of the Masters."  -- Brad Dickson
"I had to tell a non basketball fan that the Zags were not named after one of the guys that invented that ‘rolling paper’. (and Duke is not named after John Wayne)"  -- TC Chong
"Contrary to rumours, a Miami attorney did not lose any fingers when his e-cigarette battery exploded. At the time, both his hands were deep in his clients’ pockets."  -- RJ Currie
"The Raiders reportedly want to coax running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. For some odd reason, Lynch wasn’t available for comment."  -- Dwight Perry
"How bad did the first spring training game go for Tim Tebow? He was charged with three errors and he was the DH.  -- Brad Dickson  
"SMU blew a 10 point lead with 11 minutes to play to lose to USC, who had already survived a play-in game. Normally for this much embarrassment, SMU relies on their football team."  - Janice Hough
"Sports Illustrated has released a video of 2017 swimsuit model Nina Agdal asking Houston people for tips on how to get a date. Tip one: look like  Nina Agdal."  -- RJ Currie
"British Open host Muirfield Golf Course in Scotland will finally admit females as members. This coincides with their first purchase of two “Beer Carts”.  -- TC Chong
“Just filled out my March Madness tax bracket and I’m picking the IRS to take it all.”  -- Argus Hamilton
 "The women’s NCAA tournament kicked off with UConn being presented the 2016 championship trophy — no, wait, that was the 2017 championship trophy. Why wait?"  -- Brad Dickson  [I doubt the Syracuse women would object after last night's 30-point loss to the Huskies - CP]



Tuesday, March 14, 2017


This usually means very serious college basketball. It is, in my opinion, the most exciting collegiate sporting event of the year. I know, I know, there's that football playoff and all those ridiculously named bowl games but this is better.Why? Because it includes more teams and a wide variety of school sizes. When you look at the top ten football teams, you see Ohio St, Alabama, UCLA, Michigan St and the like. All huge schools with student bodies of 100,000 or more. No Creighton or Gonzaga or St Mary's and certainly no Florida Gulf Coast. They're all in the NCAA Tournament but you won't see Alabama or Ohio St in it. They weren't good enough.

This tournament is all about match-ups and brackets. It's designed to give the best teams a chance to meet in the final game, but they still have to earn it. Villanova may be the number one team in the country but they will still have to win six games in three weeks against a few of the best teams colleges have to offer. Since they can only put five players on the court at a time, sometimes a hot team will advance a lot farther than the seedings would lead you to believe. In football, win one game in the "playoffs" and you're in the final. If you are seeded number five or higher in the country, you don't even get a chance to try for it. How can you beat a system like the NCAA's? Okay, maybe you could add a few more teams, but that really wouldn't do much good, so let's stick with the current arrangement.

I'm sure you've all heard the experts drone on and on about their picks. If you haven't, turn the TV on to any one of six channels and you will. This team can go far because the committee matched them up with so-and-so. This team is seeded sixth which makes their road a lot harder. This team has to travel out west so they'll have it rougher. And so on and so forth. But let's have some fun. Let's match the teams differently

By nickname 
This would make it easier on the announcers to remember.
How about Wildcats? You could almost fill a bracket with these. There are five of them: Arizona, Kansas State Northwestern, Kentucky and, of course, Villanova.
Tigers is usually a good bet, but there are only two this year: Princeton & Texas Southern.
There are four Eagles in this one. N.C Central, Winthrop, Florida Gulf Coast and Marquette (actually Golden Eagles)
How about  the Trojans - Troy and UCLA. Maybe not a good match up on the court but they could always share a mascot.
One of the strangest obscure nicknames is the Gaels, and yet we have two of them. St. Mary's and Iona. The only problem with this match up is that one of them has to win which means another week of research for the announcers, trying to figure out what it is.
Then there are the sea going folk: the East Tennessee St. Buccaneers and the Vanderbilt Commodores. I have yet to understand how two schools in landlocked Tennessee, some 300 miles from the ocean, could end up with sea going nicknames.

By location
The committee has done this work for us. A number of years ago, there was a big uproar because Syracuse played the first round in Buffalo, some 130 miles down the road. This year, Florida, Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast all play their first round in Orlando, Florida. Poor Miami (Fla) has to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma to play. Doesn't seem fair.

Finally, this would be the best match-up of all
Miami (Fla) Hurricanes against the Iowa State Cyclones. How could you not be blown away by this one? (Okay that ones for Dwight Perry and RJ Currie, the kings of the pun)

Here's a  thought. If they matched up teams like Notre Dame and Oregon or Michigan, all with their penchant for neon uniforms, they might not have to turn the lights on in the arenas.

Since I can't beat Annie-O anyway, I gave up using any skill or insight since I don't seem to have either and picked Butler to win it all. Annie-O has picked Arizona. 

"In women’s NCAA tournament, Connecticut, winner of 107 straight, was given overall #1 seed. In related news committee announced water was wet."  -- Janice Hough
" Happy 70th birthday to Olympic gold-medal high-jumper Dick Fosbury, who gained fame for jumping back to the bar. “Me too!” said Johnny Manziel."  -- RJ Currie
" The Nebraska Husker bowling team recently defeated Lincoln Memorial, Valparaiso, Maryville and Elmhurst. That sounds suspiciously like an SEC football team’s nonconference schedule."  -- Brad Dickson
"As Americans focus on their brackets, many sites ask for tie-breakers like guessing the score of the final game. Wouldn’t it be more a test of skill to ask entrants to name one player on each of their final four teams?"  -- Janice Hough
"Food stands at the Royals’ spring-training ballpark in Surprise, Ariz., are selling a hot dog — wrapped in bacon, which is then wrapped in a cheeseburger — called the Triple Play Dog.What, was “Triple Bypass” already taken?"  -- Dwight Perry
"The Saskatchewan Roughriders signed 33-year-old ex-NFL QB Vince Young to compete with veteran pivot Kevin Glenn, 37. Presumably this is part of their youth movement."  -- RJ Currie
" The 88th annual Midwest Spelling Bee was just held. For the first time, this year kids were allowed to use spell check. -- Brad Dickson


Sunday, March 12, 2017


It won't be long now when the games will be contested in earnest. In the meantime, March Madness will be in full swing. Sunday night, the brackets will be announced starting at 5:30 pm followed by ESPN's in-depth analysis at 7:00 pm. This will be when they will tell us how 'they knew it all along."  Joe Lunardi will explain why the selection committee made mistakes by not picking it the way he said. Who cares; the games will be just as good.
The Picasner analysis will follow this week but that is all tongue-in-cheek, including my pick for the winner which will, of course, be foot-in-mouth.  And Annie-O will out pick me.

Spring Training report
We're seeing more regulars now and fewer minor leaguer's fighting for jobs. The Yankees used only three pitchers today in their win over the Tigers. By the way, you gotta love that Detroit logo, the old English "D."
Masahiro Tanaka started for NY and he was terrific. Four perfect innings including six straight strikeouts to start the game. Interestingly, in an interview after he finished, Tanaka wasn't pleased with his performance. He said his pitches weren't sharp and he had trouble with his command. A couple of his curve balls were okay but overall he felt he didn't pitch very well. Meanwhile, over on the Detroit bench a few of the players were saying, "Wait, what? That wasn't good? What's going on? Did you hit him? Hit him? I couldn't see him. What's he talking about?"

Advantage: Large school or small school?
One of the insights announcers try to impart to viewers during basketball games is the importance of bench strength. Does a team have a 7-man rotation, or 8-man or do they utilize just one sub off the bench? This is where these analysts say that large schools have an advantage: they are able to recruit a greater number of talented players. I have a counter point to this theory. Yes, fatigue can be a factor playing only 6 men, but you are still only allowed 5 players on the floor at once. It's different if you're talking about a football team. It's much easier to recruit 5 or 6 prime  players than the 22 to 25 that may be needed for football. I don't think the "Big School Advantage" is as much of a factor as the analysts and bracketologists think it is. (By the way, who decided that 'bracketology' is a real word?)

Well, oh yeah? 
Friday night, with an 11-point lead and possession of the ball and .9 seconds left in the game, Arizona  coach Sean Miller signaled for a timeout, infuriating UCLA coach Steve Alford. Apparently this was retaliation for Alford calling a timeout a week earlier against this same Arizona team. That time, there was 12 seconds left and only a 5 point lead. Alford says he was trying to set his defense but coach Miller would have none of it. I  can see Alford's point as 12 seconds can be a lifetime in basketball, so it would appear that coach Miller is just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit sensitive in spite of all his protestations. Oh well, what's a little sarcasm among friends.

The sounds of silence 
During last Sunday's game at MSG, between the Knicks and the Warriors, the following message was displayed on the large teleprompter over the court.
"The first half of today’s game will be presented without music, video or in-game entertainment so you can experience the game in its purest form. Enjoy the sounds of the game."
Now this is an interesting concept. Fans had no distractions and focused completely on the game, hearing the squeak of the sneakers, the bouncing of the ball and the referee's whistles. Wow. Remember your high school basketball games? The only distraction was the cheerleaders and they performed only during a stoppage of play. The Garden only did it for the first half but this is a great idea. Now if we could only get the announcers and color guys to shut up.  

I have a question.  
Supposedly, the USA World Baseball Classic team is making a big push to have a better than decent showing in this year's tournament. Important because the USA team has never made it into the championship round in a sport which originated in this country. Well, they lost to a loaded Dominican Republic team last night, 7-5My questions are: Why was Paul Goldshmidt batting 6th? why was Giancarlo Stanton batting 7th? Where was Ben Zobrist? Bryce Harper? They were facing what may be the toughest team in the tournament and the USA's best players weren't either in the game or in the best position to help the team. Maybe this is a reason the USA hasn't done well in the past. 

Whose side are you on? 
Rob  Manfred, in a statement released by MLB about a particular Sunday night ESPN game, said, “MLB’s greatest responsibility is to ensure that today’s youth become active participants in our game as players and fans." Sure, that explains why World Series games end at midnight or later and Sunday night games don't start until 8:00 PM.  Rob, you'd sound a lot smarter if you just stopped talking.

I'll get around to it
Last week was the celebration of  National Procrastination Week    I should get to it later this week. Maybe.

"I think the safety precautions at the Daytona 500 are getting a little ridiculous. This year there were speed bumps."  -- Brad Dickson
"Thinking  the Duke-Notre Dame game might have tied an NCAA record as far as a basketball game where most viewers wanted to see both teams lose."  -- Janice Hough
"When King Salman of Saudi Arabia took a recent trip to Indonesia, he brought along 506 tons of baggage. In other words, almost as much as Colin Kaepernick."  -- Dwight Perry
"Star forward Dirk Nowitzki has shown steadfast loyalty to the team and city for 19 seasons. “When you pay somebody $200 million, they tend to be loyal."  -- Owner Mark Cuban
" At Mardis Gras the newly traded-to-New Orleans DeMarcus Cousins was photographed with underwear on his head. This is about that time when a GM goes, “What did I get myself into?”"  -- Brad Dickson
"Supermodel Kate Upton said Tigers' ace and fiancé, Justin Verlander, forgoes sex the nights before and after he plays. So when he’s pitching games, he’s not pitching woo?"  -- RJ Curry

"A recent study says adults who eat home-cooked food and don’t watch TV during meals are less likely to be obese. Which is good news for all three of those people."  -- Jim Barach
"Talking about Kentucky basketball recruits history of one-and-done. We celebrated one of the rarest things in sports this week: Kentucky University Senior Day."  -- Bob Ryan 
"The Cleveland Browns have made Charley Hughlett the NFL’s highest paid long-snapper. Well, gee, as many times as Cleveland punted last year, I’d say he earned it."  -- Bill Littlejohn
"At the Big Ten tournament BTN sponsored a baby race. Each Big Ten school sent an infant to the baby race except for Ohio State, which was represented by coach Urban Meyer."  -- Brad Dickson
"While making bracket picks can we have a side bet on how many technical fouls Grayson Allen will get in?"  -- Janice Hough
"Blue Jays backup catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has the longest surname in team history at 14 letters. Now that’s a high-character player."  -- RJ Currie
"The Kansas City Royals spring training stadium is selling a hot dog wrapped in a burger patty 
wrapped in bacon. It’d be healthier to throw this away and eat a baseball."  -- Brad Dickson