Showing posts with label Blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blog. Show all posts

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Note to Subscribers


In recent months, Google has made no secret of the fact that the Feedburner service is going to be "retired."

Instead of waiting around and then having to scramble to disconnect the service that I use to send out the RSS and Atom feed, I'm going to shut that down across the board. You may get one or two posts after this notice, but I plan to close the feeds and stop using the Feedburner service.

Thank you again for subscribing and you can still follow me on Google+.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wimbledon


I had completely forgotten about Wimbledon, what with the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics this summer.

How daunting must it be to have to hold this tournament in the middle between these two events, and how difficult it must be to live in London and environs right now. Is it possible that this will make this year's tournament better, or worse? I have no idea.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hey, It's not the All Star Break, but it's Still a Break


Since the inception of this blog, and the three or four different versions of it that have existed, I have only taken short breaks to attend The Masters. This year, I'm probably going to attend The Masters, but, before that, I'm going to take an extended break. From now until the end of the month or so, I'm not going to blog. I'm going to concentrate, and think, and come up with brilliant ideas. I'm going to put the full weight of my considerable talents to thinking, which I haven't done in years. Oh, that's not as bad as it sounds. For long stretches of my life, I have subsisted on snap decisions and bald-faced rage, without any thinking being done at all. Thinking is overrated. Doing is underrated.


Now would be a good time to point out that my blogs are like beacons of hope in a world possessed by mediocrity and fear. I have a few things that I like to call The Best of the Blog. If you have stomach that, you can run with billy goats and feast on anything, sir. You can trip through Celebrity Disaster and then find yourself on a sports tangent with Talking Smack About Sports. I am a Gentleman Bounty Hunter, you know, and I do like my Safe For Work Hotties.


When I come back, I hope I'm not rusty and boring. If so, I'll probably demand more of myself. I may search for scapegoats and look for a dingbat to take the fall, but I won't tolerate boring. Not here or anywhere else.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Calamity That Could Have Taken Down Our Republic


When I found myself weeping uncontrollably this morning, I knew it had to be because something had gone terribly wrong during a Bowl Game that I did not bother to watch:

University of Missouri administrators have apologized to the U.S. Naval Academy for what it says was a misunderstanding by its band during the Texas Bowl game last week.

The band has been criticized on blogs and online news forums for playing the Missouri fight song after the Naval Academy began playing its theme song after the game.

The two bands had agreed before the game that the losing team's band would play first, followed by the winner. Navy defeated Missouri 35-13 in last Thursday's game. Missouri spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said Missouri's band didn't realize the Naval Academy had begun playing.

She says the school did not intend to to disrespect Navy tradition. The Naval Academy issued a statement saying it considered the issue a misunderstanding.

If I don't do any more blogging today, it's because I had to reach out and holla at my peeps, and let them know that I was okay.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Always Give Up and Never Try


Always shoot for mediocre, don't try hard, and always expect to fail. Giving up before you try is what winners do. Hey, you know that, because these other guys failed, you're gonna fail too, right?

Right?
Tim Tebow has been a great story, but I'm concerned about how this story ends. It's not the Florida fan in me, or the Tim Tebow fan in me, because neither fan exists. But the writer in me? The writer in me exists, and the writer in me is concerned. Writers love a good story, and we especially love a good ending.

And Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's story should have ended Friday night in the Sugar Bowl.

Not his story overall. I'm not asking for the young man to die. I'm asking for him to retire from football. Wouldn't that be perfect? Seriously -- I cannot imagine a better ending, a more fitting ending, for this once-in-a-lifetime football player than his immaculate Sugar Bowl performance, when he threw for 482 yards and ran for 51 and produced as many touchdowns (four) as incomplete passes.

We should all be so lucky as to go out like that -- knowing our limitations, knowing we have reached the apex of our career, and leaving on our own terms. That would be like me winning a Pulitzer Prize and then smashing my laptop to pieces after accepting the award. (I'm never winning a Pulitzer; I know this. It's an analogy, people.) That would be like Bobby Bowden passing Bear Bryant with 324 career victories at the declining age of 72 and then stepping down (OK, another bad example).

It would be like Jim Brown winning the NFL rushing title in 1965 and then, at age 29, retiring from football.

It would be like Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax going 27-9 in 1966, the best season of his superstar career, and then retiring at age 30.

It would be like Rocky Marciano knocking out three fighters in 12 months and then, in 1955, retiring at age 32.

No, it would most emphatically NOT be like any of those incidents. This is where the hubris of the sports commentator or writer interferes with reality. Mr. Doyel wants shining glory and perfect endings and familiar absolutes. The real world has none of these things when a person really strives to achieve something and has something left in the tank.

You can compare two great quarterbacks--Joe Montana and John Elway. Montana felt he had more football in him, so he toughed it out and tried to add to his considerable legacy. Elway retired after winning a Superbowl. I would suspect that Elway's decision was different because he didn't feel that he had it in him to win a third Superbowl. That's his right, God bless him. His legacy takes no tarnish, nor, in my mind, does Montana's.

Even Dan Marino continued on, having one of the most horrendous games of his career. Should that have finished him? It all comes down to the quality of his play and his determination to come back. It has nothing to do with making it easy for some jackass with a pen and paper to tie up loose ends. Competitors will always come out and play if they have it in them. Each pro athlete makes a tortured decision to retire.

To say that a young man who is absolutely unformed and without one single snap in the NFL should give up before even trying is the height of absurdity. Let Mr. Tebow do whatever he wants.

So Long, Jim Zorn



It was inevitable, so let's get this out of the way:

Jim Zorn was fired by the Washington Redskins early Monday, the first step in yet another team overhaul under owner Dan Snyder.

Zorn was informed of his dismissal shortly after the team returned to Redskins Park following Sunday’s season-ending 23-20 loss at San Diego.

Zorn went 12-20 over two seasons, but he lost 18 of his last 24 games after a 6-2 start in 2008. The Redskins struggled early despite a weak schedule this season and finished 4-12, their worst record since 1994.


Zorn is merely the latest firing in a long list of firings (or haughty resignations) that will allow him to go on to bigger and better things. He can point to the fact that the Redskins were a dysfunctional, bloated, badly-organized organization on the day he arrived and no one will hold it against them. In fact, Zorn went out with class and dignity, allowing himself the opportunity to return to coaching at some level (probably an offensive coordinator somewhere that needs one, like St. Louis, Chicago, or even Seattle again).

Class and dignity are not words you would use for the Redskins franchise, but they are words that you would use for Jim Zorn. And if Norv Turner is any indication of what's ahead for Zorn, everything will be fine.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Wizards and Gun Play

Arenas, Left and Crittenton, Right

No, this is not about magical wizards and spells. It's about the pathetic and ridiculous state of the Washintgon Wizards and the new wannabe bad boy in the NBA, Gilbert Arenas. Arenas is starting to make Ron Artest look like David Robinson.

Specifically, the New York Post is running a sensational story about two NBA players and a confrontation that involved guns over a gambling debt:

Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton drew guns on each other during a Christmas Eve locker room argument over a gambling debt, according to The New York Post.

Citing an anonymous source, the newspaper reports in Friday's edition that the standoff was sparked when Crittenton became angry at Arenas for refusing to make good on a gambling debt. That prompted Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then also grabbed for a gun, league security sources tell the Post.

Asked by the Post about the confrontation, Arenas denied pulling a gun on Crittenton.

"This is unprecedented in the history of sports," Billy Hunter, executive director of the Player's Association, tells the Post. "I've never heard of players pulling guns on each other in a locker room."

The Wizards said on the night of Dec. 24 that Arenas had stored unloaded firearms in a container in his locker at the arena and that the NBA was looking into the situation. On Tuesday, Washington, D.C. police said they were investigating a report that weapons were found inside a locker room at the Verizon Center.

Now, the federal government is also involved. Ben Friedman, a spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in DC, tells the Post "we're working with the Metropolitan Police Department on the investigation."



After the shock sets in, you have to ask yourself--did they aim the guns at each other, as in Mexican standoff, and then bust a gut laughing at how silly they looked? Did they spend the rest of the night backslapping one another?


Boy, Mr. David Stern. That's some league you have there. On Christmas Eve, in the team locker room, one of your highest paid players is pulling a gun on another player over a gambling debt. And, of course, you don't have a gambling problem in the NBA, now do you?

Arenas, of course, showed class and poise in dealing with an issue as sensitive as this:


Arenas, who has three kids, reportedly told team officials he brought
guns to his Verizon Center locker so they wouldn't be close to his newborn at
their home in Great Falls, Va.

He denied pulling a gun on Crittenton and even mocked the suggestion he
would ever point a weapon at a teammate.

"You guys, I wanted to go rob banks, I wanted to be a bank robber on the
weekends," Arenas said sarcastically after a game this week.


The NBA doesn't have a problem, now does it?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

An Unfair Criticism of President Obama

President Obama, golfing, Martha's Vineyard, 2009


I realize that it looks bad for the President to be playing golf. From a public relations point of view, yes, it is a losing proposition for the President to play golf in a time of war or to look as if he's more interested in his golf game than national security. I've had to consider my own opinions on this to be formed out of passion rather than careful consideration. Maybe, just maybe, I will actually see a man or a woman in the White House of whom I approve, and, maybe, just maybe, they will like to play golf. It's not outside of the realm of possibility. What will I do then? Will I put on the mask of the hypocrite and walk around carrying water for that person?


It looks bad for President Obama to be playing golf while underwear bombers and evangelical jihadists and bankers and used car salesmen are running around, trying to ruin this country. In a more settled time, perhaps it wouldn't look as bad. If we had peace and prosperity, fine by me. Given our current state of affairs, he is due for some, but not all of this criticism:



It's been a tough first year for President Obama, as critics throughout the body politic bemoan that Mr. Change-We-Can-Believe-In is looking more and more like Mr. Politics-As-Usual. With the coming new year, however, POTUS has a prime opportunity to regroup, reload, and revamp his image. He could start by ditching golf.

Seriously. Its venerable White House history notwithstanding, golf is a dubious pastime for any decent, sane person, much less for this particular president. Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington--to alter the very nature of politics--sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard?

There are signs that Obama has been nursing a creeping golf addiction for some time now. He took up the game a little more than a decade ago as a newbie state senator hoping to bond with more rural, conservative colleagues. Next thing you know, he was hooked--playing for cash, fretting over his form, and goading staffers to cut out of work early for a quick round.

During the 2008 race, Obama's golf outings drew less notice than his battles on the hard court. But, now that he's firmly ensconced in the Oval Office, the sticks have come out of the closet as Obama constantly looks to squeeze in a few holes: on Father's Day, during the family's summer holiday on the Vineyard, immediately upon touching down from his June trip to Europe. It is often noted that this president hit the links more frequently in his first nine months than the reared-on-golf George W. did in his first two years (after which W. conspicuously swore off the game out of respect for the troops). Currently ranked eighth on Golf Digest's list of presidential golfers (sandwiched between Clinton and Reagan), Obama seems intent on moving up the ladder--despite reports that he's something of a duffer.



In point of fact, it was a bad knee that put George W. Bush off the links, and a bad knee is what will do that every time. You cannot play golf with a knee or a back problem. All Presidents deserve their right to recreation. It would be unfair to say that the President has to be in Washington D.C. all of the time, padding around in rolled-up shirtsleeves with a frown worn down and a stack of papers nearby.

It is especially unfair to the First Family to expect them to be denied their right to recreation as well. Whether this criticism comes from the left or right is a bit unfair, and I have to say that I have engaged in it. I have criticized the social calendar, but I don't deny that they have a right to their affairs. I don't deny that they should have their chance to shine. I don't think you can be a good American and sneer at what perks come with that office. My bullshit is refuted in this case. There's probably evidence of it laying around here on the blog.

Who wouldn't want to play golf in Hawaii on a day like today? Who would deny him the right to have some down time? It does set a great example for Fatass Nation to get out and do something. There's an example of fitness here that should be followed. I guess I should be more conciliatory to this aspect of the President's daily routine and right to recreation. I do note that it's a losing proposition in the public mind. Is that fair? Perhaps not.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Put Bert Blyleven in the Hall of Fame


I heartily agree with Mr. Bert Blyleven's own case as expressed here:
When talk of my Hall of Fame candidacy comes up, usually people like to point at my career win total of 287 as a reason I shouldn’t be elected to Cooperstown. The so-called magic number of wins for automatic induction is said to be 300, and obviously I come up short in that department.

But in my opinion, wins are one of the hardest things to come by, and a pitcher can only do so much to control whether he wins a game. You can control your walks, you can control your strikeouts and your innings pitched. You can control whether you go nine innings by the way you approach a game. But one thing you often can’t control is wins and losses. It’s very difficult.

When I first came up in 1970 at age 19, I won my first game 2-1. My second game I lost 2-1. So after two starts, I had allowed three runs in 14 innings (1.93 ERA), but was just 1-1. That just shows you how hard it is, and it made me work harder. Maybe that’s why I was able to pitch 22 seasons in the majors, because I was so stubborn.

If you allow one run, but your team doesn’t score any runs, then you can’t earn the win. If your bullpen gives up a lead after you leave the game, then you can’t earn a win. Wins are a product of your team as a whole, and while the starting pitcher plays a significant role in who wins the game, he is not the only factor. The starter can only control so much.

Case in point: I lost 99 quality starts (at least six innings pitched while allowing no more than three runs) in my career, more than all but four pitchers since 1954. And I had 79 other quality starts in which I had no-decisions. That’s 178 quality starts in which I did not earn a win, yet people knock me for coming up 13 wins shy of 300.

Clearly, wins is a flawed stat, and I think observers of baseball are beginning to realize that. After all, this year’s Cy Young winners were Zack Greinke (16 wins) and Tim Lincecum (15). Both are great pitchers and deserving of the award, but neither led their league in wins.

One thing a pitcher can control is how far he lasts in each start. The better you pitch, the longer you last. This saves wear and tear on your bullpen, which in turn helps the starters who follow you in the rotation. Every time you pitch a complete game, your team benefits. That’s why I think complete games and shutouts are better stats to look at than wins.

I made 685 starts in my 22 seasons, and threw 242 complete games, so I went the distance in 35.3 percent of my starts. Compare that to Hall of Fame pitchers from my era and I stack up well. Phil Niekro completed 34 percent of his starts, Nolan Ryan 29 percent, Tom Seaver 35.7 percent and Steve Carlton 35.8 percent. Ferguson Jenkins (45 percent) and Gaylord Perry (44 percent) were the most impressive from my era in that department.

Wins are a tough statistic to consider in baseball. But for a few timely runs, and a little bit better run support, Blyleven would easily have over 320 wins and would have been in the Hall of Fame years ago. This is not a case where he, as a pitcher, didn't start enough games. It's more a case of having to have played on some teams that had anemic hitting. Just the fact that he pitched 242 complete games is enough by me. That's an amazing feat, one that you won't see in the future. Mr. Blyleven deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Period. End of story.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Defense of the Swinging Gate That Wasn't



It's not the worst play call ever, but it should have been attempted with someone who could throw. You have to run this play with a quarterback who can scramble. If he can buy himself three seconds, and put the ball in the end zone, you have a chance at scoring a touchdown.

It's more of a variation on the hail mary pass with shorter yardage, and if it is run correctly, you can bulldoze your way through their secondary from the shifted line of scrimmage. Say you run this, and a receiver can slip through and get down field without being touched at the line of scrimmage, then angle to the right. By getting free from the pack, you have to have a guy with speed who get open, and get open in those three seconds that the quarterback has before they can run him down if he rolls right. By shifting everyone left, you open the field for the receiver to run a pattern to the right so that the quarterback can roll right with him. Instead, Washington went deep. I would have designed this so that the slant pattern sends the receiver to the right. Make them cover in the open field.

But, no, I wouldn't have run this. I would have taken three points. Never walk away from points on the board. And, no, Zorn doesn't call the plays anymore. Desperation leads to amateurism. But there is a valid football theory that can justify something like this. Let's not forget that Gruden is a failure as a coach (leaving Tampa Bay with about a .500 record) and Jaworski is a bit enamored of his own supposed glories.

Was I Really That Wrong About Brett Favre?


This is not an attempt to dishonestly "walk back" things that I have said about Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. It does tell you why I said what I said:
As it turns out, Chilly isn't such a chump after all.

Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that, both before and after the "heated discussion" that Vikings coach Brad Childress claims wasn't a "heated discussion," Childress targeted some heated words at members of his team.

Per Jensen, the offense got it at halftime, and Favre himself was the target after the game, presumably after Favre aired the dirty laundry to the media.

At the half, Childress reportedly cursed at the team and said it's "laughable" that the Vikings consider themselves a Super Bowl team.

Though a kinder, gentler Chilly emerged on Monday, Jensen writes that "all is not well between Brad and Brett, and the primary difference centers on the quarterback's penchant to check out of runs and into passes."

And so, as several of you have suggested in the comments, it sounds like there's finally a schism in Minnesota. Favre might not have known what the term meant in August, but we've got a feeling that he knows it now.

Originally, I took the line that Favre was finished. That turned out to be wrong--his season has been productive and fantastic. He is not finished. Therefore, my main point was proven absolutely wrong. Like the good blogger that I am, I did my penance.

I did say he was a cancer and a diva who could ruin a team, and that's born out by what you see above. I don't believe in team "chemistry," but I do think that if your star quarterback is an aging veteran who has had a lot of success coming back from injuries and has helped the team win games, fighting with the coach as the team begins to take a December swoon is a recipe for disaster.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Damn You, Kicking Game


Being an old defense player, I can say, without hesitation, no, the kicker should not be as important as he is in the NFL:
The Dallas Cowboys cut place-kicker Nick Folk on Monday and replaced him with Shaun Suisham, a former Cowboy.

Suisham previously kicked for Dallas in 2005 and 2006. He was released by Washington on Dec. 8 after missing a key kick -- the same problem that cost Folk his job Monday.

Folk clanged the right upright on an easy 24-yarder that would have put away Saturday night's 24-17 victory against the unbeaten Saints. Instead, the Dallas defense had to make one more stand against one of the league's best offenses.

Folk leads the NFL with 10 misses, going 18-of-28 and missing seven of his past 11.

Suisham was released by the Redskins in great part after he missed a short field goal against New Orleans, which rallied to win in overtime.

Suisham was one of five kickers the Cowboys brought to their facility for a workout Monday. The others were Shane Andrus, Parker Douglass, Steven Hauschka and Connor Hughes. Folk did not participate in the workout.

For his career, Suisham is 85-of-107 (79.4 percent). He originally signed with Pittsburgh out of Bowling Green in 2005, went to the Cowboys' practice squad and was signed to the active roster on Oct. 24. Suisham played in three games and was 3-of-4 on field goals before being released.

These teams are having a hellish season already, and now they have the kicking game to thank for it. I think this is classic scapegoat-ism. It's easy to blame the kicker, but if you refuse to put your football team in a position to lose thanks to something the kicker can or can't do, then you probably deserve to lose. Having a good kicking game is supposed to put easy points on the board for you, but if you can't score, you shouldn't expect a guy to kick nine or ten times in a game and save your team from itself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Coach Knight Throws a Turd in the Punchbowl


It should come as no surprise that I am a Bobby Knight fan. He coached men's basketball in the NCAA the way that it is supposed to be coached. He graduated his players and he played by the rules. More important than the wins, he taught and instructed boys and helped make them into men.

Coach Knight repeated something yesterday that I've been saying for months about John Calipari:
Bob Knight said integrity is lacking in college basketball and cited Kentucky coach John Calipari as an example.

During a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Knight said he doesn't understand why Calipari is still coaching.

"We've gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that's why I'm glad I'm not coaching," he said. "You see we've got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he's still coaching. I really don't understand that."

Massachusetts and Memphis were both sanctioned by the NCAA for violations committed during Calipari's tenure.

Knight, who won a record 902 games as coach of Army, Indiana and Texas Tech, did not elaborate or take questions from reporters.

But for more than 90 minutes Thursday, Knight recounted tales from his coaching days, stories from the recruiting trail, lessons he passed along to players and, oh yes, even a new critique of the NCAA.

Yes, it is a disgrace, and as I have pointed out here, here, and here, it's entirely the fault of an NCAA that refuses to deal with problems and apply even standards to every program in the NCAA. It is true that Kentucky took a hit this season--not the death penalty, but, rather, a minor penalty that had no bearing on the start of their season. The answer to your next question is a question of my own: how many times are you going to see a PAC 10 men's basketball team on ESPN or CBS this season and how many times are you going to see Kentucky on television?

You're Just Now Figuring This Out?


When former NHL player Reg Fleming, passed away, doctors noticed something:
Former NHL player Reggie Fleming, who died in July, had brain damage due to repeated head trauma, linking hockey for the first time to a condition usually found in boxers, the New York Times reported Friday.

Fleming, who spent 12 seasons in the NHL, was found by Boston University researchers to have had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disease that causes cognitive decline, behavioral abnormalities and ultimately dementia, the Times said. Fleming is the first hockey player known to have been tested for the disease, which was also found in several former NFL players recently.

"Boxing we've known for a long time, football we've recently become aware of - now hockey," Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University who also diagnosed CTE in the former football players, told the newspaper. "Repetitive head injuries can have very serious long-term consequences, regardless of how you get them."

Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly told the Times the league would have no comment until it had a chance to review the report.

Fleming, who died at age 73, had 108 goals, 132 assists and 1,468 penalty minutes in 749 career games with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961 and also spent two seasons World Hockey Association's Chicago Cougars.

Fleming played his entire NHL career before the mandatory helmet rule was instituted in 1979. I don't know if Fleming ever wore a helmet, but he was an enforcer (I don't use the word goon, because that implies there is no skill behind being a team enforcer on an NHL team) who played an aggressive style of hockey that kept him in the league.

I would hope that this forces people to connect the dots and start looking at retired NHL players as potential sufferers of brain damage or brain injury. Perhaps this will compel the NHL to allot a little more money and a little more effort towards helping retired players with their health care needs. If you see the post below this one, I've got a handful of old time hockey fights from the 1970s and 1980s that ought wake people up. In many of these videos, all featuring Willi Plett, you see Plett playing part of his career without a helmet and you see multiple blows to the head with bare fists, you see head butts, and you see players being driven down into the ice.

By no means am I an anti-fighting nutball. Fighting is part of the culture and tradition of hockey. Taking care of retired players is an obligation of professional hockey, and not just in this country. I single out the NHL, but, really, anyone who played the game at any level needs to be screened or evaluated.

UPDATE: I wish I had seen this--it answers many of my concerns:

Some former N.H.L. players have expressed concern about the repeated blows to the head they took during their careers.

“My memory has gotten worse the last 10 years or so,” said Ron Duguay, who played helmetless for the Rangers and three other N.H.L. teams from 1977-78 through 1988-89 and who is taking a series of neurological tests as a result of his concerns. He agreed to share the results of his tests in an interview last month.

“I fail a lot of the memory tests,” said Duguay, 52. “I took a lot of hits to the head with no helmet, and if you’ve taken hits to the head you’ve suffered damage. Now I’m seeing what I can do to keep my health.

“I had fun as a New York Ranger,” said Duguay, who was known as a bon vivant during his playing days. “People say you should write a book, and I would, but I can’t remember.”

McKee said that because C.T.E. symptoms resembled those of Alzheimer’s disease — although they appear sooner, as early as the person’s 30s, and last longer — many athletes currently being treated for Alzheimer’s might have been misdiagnosed. She added that patients with C.T.E. appeared to show considerably more aggression and anger-management problems than patients with Alzheimer’s did, and could therefore be misunderstood as psychiatric.

“This is not a psychiatric disorder or a postcareer adjustment issue — the individual is struggling with a disease that is short-circuiting his nerve connections inside the brain,” McKee said. “That is compromising his ability to deal with the world as he used to. I can’t imagine the chaos that these individuals are suffering.”

The Boston University group is collaborating with the Sports Legacy Institute to collect brain tissue of athletes and nonathletes to explore and better understand the effects of sport-related concussion. A dozen hockey players are among 250 current and retired athletes who have pledged to donate their brains to the study.

Old Time Hockey with Willi Plett













While doing some research, I stumbled across these old videos of Willi Plett, one of the great enforcers in the history of the NHL. When was the last time you heard someone say "the young Brendan Shanahan?" When was the last time you thought about Marty McSorley?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

None of the Redskin's Problems Have Been Solved by Getting Rid of Vinnie Cerrato


I would be surprised if coach Jon Gruden went to the Redskins--it is a sick franchise in a tough division. Losing there for a few years could end a career, rather than enhance it:
Just hours after the Washington Redskins announced the resignation of Vinny Cerrato, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the team had already hired Bruce Allen to be the Redskins' executive vice president and general manager.

And that means speculation about Jon Gruden to the Redskins is inevitable.

Yes, I know, Gruden and ESPN both insist that Gruden will be back in the Monday Night Football booth next year. But lots of coaches have said one thing and then done another when a new job opened up. And Gruden's history of working with Allen in Tampa Bay makes the two of them a natural fit.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is widely believed to want a head coach who is a proven winner -- a coach who already has a Super Bowl ring. Gruden qualifies. And Gruden (unlike Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan, a couple of other available coaches with Super Bowl rings) would likely be willing to work for a team that didn't give him final say over personnel.

It's more than this coveted "final say" that gets bantered around. It's more to do with "what do I have to work with and how long do I have to turn it around?"

In Daniel Snyder's world--you have until yesterday to turn things around.

This is an owner who gets rid of people so that they can go on and do better things elsewhere (Marty Schottenheimer, Norv Turner, Gregg Williams) and this is an owner who has absolutely no prestige in the league right now. In fact, you can't help but laugh hysterically at the fortunes of the Redskins, and their decision not to make Gregg Williams the head coach absolutely encapsulates what is so wrong with the Redskins. That's not to say that Williams, who has turned into a genius hiring move with the New Orleans Saints, could have done any better than Zorn, but I doubt if he could have done worse.

Naturally, the guy to go get is a man who gives crusty old Redskins fans a tenuous link to by-gone days and a man who last helped take two franchises, Oakland and Tampa Bay, to two different Super Bowls, with mixed results.

Raider Nation had held out hope that Gruden and Allen might have been brought back into the Al Davis fold. Alas, it was not to be.

The Tragedy of Chris Henry


This is just too sad for words:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry has died, one day after suffering serious injuries upon falling out of the back of a pickup truck in what authorities describe as a domestic dispute with his fiancee.

Police say Henry died at 6:36 a.m. Thursday. Henry was 26.

Away from the team because of a broken forearm, Henry was rushed to the hospital Wednesday after being found on a residential road. Police say a dispute began at a home about a half-mile away, and Henry jumped into the bed of the truck as his fiancee was driving away from the residence.

Police said at some point when she was driving, Henry "came out of the back of the vehicle."

What do you do at this point? What do you do if you're the National Football League and you see, time and again, a serious problem with your players, with the lifestyle they find themselves in as rookies, and domestic violence?

Rookie orientation in the NFL is a series of classes or briefings where new players are shown some of the pitfalls that go with big money contracts, old friends from the neighborhood, new girlfriends and wives, and everything that goes with becoming a high profile member of a community.

I think the NFL deserves credit for rookie orientation, but perhaps what it needs is an ongoing briefing, held every year for every team, that helps show players how society is evolving. Call it the Insider Briefing. Make it about players talking to players, not some crusty old veteran giving a PowerPoint about what happened to him when he woke up drunk in his driveway in a stolen prom dress when he played for Denver in the 1980s. You haven't heard that one? I made it up. I made it up because a variation of that happened to me when I played for Princeton. Don't ask, because we don't talk about the prom dress in the Rogers household. Suffice it so say, Mr. Peej was able to prevent the Princeton cops from pressing charges against me because we were able to salvage the dress and the reputation of that high school girl. It cost us all of our mad money for the month, but it was worth it.

The Insider Briefing can be as simple as having a troubled player go around and talk about what he thinks is right or wrong about being an NFL player who runs afoul of the law. It should not be about shame. It should be someone at that very elite level being able to go into a room without being judged to talk with men at his elite level and it should be a conversation, not a lecture. I realize that these men play on teams. In point of fact, they play on teams that are a part of a League, and that league is an ever-changing and evolving thing. I would like to see something put in place that takes a player like Chris Henry, who has had trouble, and maybe a Peyton Manning and three guys who don't start who play on other teams and has them go around during training camp to spend some time with other players to talk about what they see, what they know about groupies and hangers-on, what they think can be done to deal with a girlfriend who is spending too much money, what can be done about family members who ask for money, and what guns, violence and fear of failure can do to someone who is exalted above all others.

I hate to tag you with this, Mr. Manning, but, so far, you haven't screwed up and driven your vehicle into a crowded Outback Steakhouse with a naked grandmother on the hood and an Uzi on your lap. Let's help other players avoid such a thing, and let's help you with their perspective on keeping the media, the whores, the drugs, the politicians, and the Disney Corporation at bay.

Don't think I'm not looking at you, Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson. I see you flirting with Disney. We're here to bring you back, brother. I know you didn't get to play in the NFL, but let's be honest--Miami is damned near the NFL, and is practically the development league. Mr. Johnson has a nephew drafted by the Browns and another nephew at UCLA--and we need to save him from the Disney Corporation. We need to reach out to a brother in need and see if someone can hook him up with some honest cheddar.

It's probably not realistic, but it can't be about blaming this young man just for doing something stupid and dying too young. There are so many people who live at the intersection of fame, fortune, and celebrity who can help. It doesn't matter if you're the late Steve McNair or someone who got cut and never made it. Everyone needs help understanding what can happen and what can go wrong with you mix money, family, and fame or near fame in a big ol' bowl and try to fight over who gets to take the first drink and how much and when they can drink it.

On the off chance that someone who plays on special teams for another team who had a thing with a fiancee three years ago can go into a room and talk to people like Chris Henry and say, "you know, sometimes, it's better to just let her drive away. Let her go have a moment. Let her think about things and come back when she's ready." That may or may not have been the thing that caused Henry to pause and walk back into the house. I don't know.

Realistic? I don't know. I don't want to write a condemnation when writing something a little more constructive might go down better than a poison pill or just some tut-tut joke at someone's expense. This is not a joke--there's no reason this young mad had to fall into the road and die in a hospital.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When The Money Stops, the Hookers Do Tend to Give Up Your Secrets

Nah, Keep Digging, Sir...


Am I reading this wrong?



Despite claims that Tiger Woods was cheap when it came to spending money on the women with whom he had relationships, some did benefit financially and continue to do so.


According to several women who were involved with the golfer, Woods wired money to them on a monthly basis. The dollar amounts they cite range from $5,000 to $10,000 per month, and there’s talk among those women that someone out there might be getting as much as $20,000 per month.


“The money comes via a wire transfer,” said one woman. “There’s no contract about it, there’s no discussion about what it’s for, but it’s implied that it’s in exchange for keeping quiet about his affair.”


According to that same woman, Woods continued to be in touch in the days following his Thanksgiving night car accident. “Elin took his cell phone away, so he had to call from his land line at home,” said one. “He hasn’t called in at least a week though.”



Of course, Tiger gets all of that money back from his whores, now that they've gone on talk shows and all that, correct?


Oh, wait. There was no contract. So, unlike the huge losses that Tiger now has to suffer because Accenture, Gillette, and a growing number of advertisers have cancelled his contractstheir with him, Tiger doesn't get his whoring around money back from the flopsy butter hogs and the anal porn stars and the hillbilly trailer trash he was banging. And I say that as a man who has nothing against whores. I love whores. I'm not a former billionaire who made bank presenting myself as an elite athlete and an establishment darling, however. Has Jim Brown reached out to Tiger yet? Can't wait for that debacle.


That's how that works, right? Sometimes, I'm so naive about these things. I really need to do more whoring around.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Way to go out on a limb there


Does anyone really care if the Saints and Colts go 16 and 0?
The New Orleans Saints and Colts are so close to 16-0 seasons, but there are sound reasons to believe neither team will attain regular season perfection.

Winning any game — let alone winning every game — is a difficult thing to do in the NFL.

“In order to win just one game in the National Football League, you have to play at an exceptionally high level,” Colts president Bill Polian said. “At some point in time during the course of a season, breaks are going to go against you. At some point in time you are going to have a game that is decided the wrong way by the officials. And there are always injuries. Brian Billick said it best. Take a look at teams now, and it’s not how they will look in January. From my perspective, going 16-0 is damn near impossible to do.”

In many ways, going 16-0 is a more impressive accomplishment than winning a Super Bowl, even though winning a Super Bowl is more significant.

Rodney Harrison understands the pressure the Saints and Colts will face in their final games. He played for the 2007 New England Patriots, who finished 16-0.

“Every time you play someone when you are undefeated, they want to be that team that knocks you off,” said Harrison, who now is an analyst on NBC’s Football Night in America. “You’re going to get their very best. That’s why it becomes so difficult. Then you have the national scrutiny, the attention you get, making a distraction.

You know, week in, week out, lazy sportswriters say that the Colts and the Saints are "going to lose this weekend" and "won't make it to 16 and 0." This is the best example I can think of to illustrate why sports writing has gone into the tank in this country.

Really? You think they won't make it? How safe is that for a prediction? Because, statistically speaking, that is the safe bet to make. It's a little like saying that one NFL team is going to score more than 35 points this weekend. Statistically, it's very likely that at least one team will score more than 35 points because, week in, week out, at least one if not three or four teams racks up some offense and scores that many points.

Hey, and I'll bet someone gets their uniform dirty, too.

The Saints and the Colts are having a great season. If they make it to 16 and 0, what a great story. But is it worth writing about? Instead of making the safe prediction, tell me who has the better chance of getting a perfect season into the record books. Tell me how Brees matches up against Manning, and tell me something I don't already know by doing some legwork. Tell me if the offensive line is better on this team or that team because of someone who is working harder than ever before. Tell me what coaching change or scheme or alignment of the football gods in the stars above is shining down some brilliance, and don't spare the details. Write, dammit. Write something readable and interesting. Don't sit there with your wang in one hand and a BlackBerry in the other and make the BOLD prediction of failure. Anyone can predict failure. Tell me why success is possible, what makes the failure a possibility, and who has what to thank for their performance this season.

MSNBC seems to hire these guys. Sports Illustrated and ESPN has them, too, and I don't even bother with Fox Sports, although, I probably should. The hacks end up at MSNBC for some reason. It's like they don't even have any standards.

Here's my bold prediction: half the teams are going to win this weekend, half are going to lose, and maybe, just maybe, someone will score a touchdown.

There, can I write about sports for MSNBC?

UPDATE: Hilariously, Both New Orleans and Indy won. So, did MSNBC fire their incompetent sports writers? Of course not.