Sunday, November 08, 2015

Brian France and NASCAR Need A Wake-Up Call

Do you know the expression "Jumping The Shark"? You know the episode of Happy Days where the Fonz decides to water ski and he jumps over the shark? You could never take that show seriously again and you always thought of that episode. Well, that is where NASCAR has gone since Matt Kenseth let his anger overrule good sense and intentionally wrecked Joey Logano. It has been thought that the NFL was the king of arbitrary rules since last season. I submit that is the dunderheads the run NASCAR. They have no clue and will arbitrarily enforce rules.

Let's start in Martinsville. Kenseth crushes Logano into a SAFER barrier and Logano can no longer continue.  NASCAR parks Kenseth for the rest of the race and decides on a 2 race suspension and a 6 month probation. Let's say something right here. I have no problem with the suspension. In fact, I would have made it the final 3 races of the year. The probation is longer that I thought it should be, but it is OK. Probation was reduced to the end of 2015 on appeal. So the reason that Kenseth was suspended for that amount of time is something that Brian France stated in the defense of the penalty given out:

"Going back to Richmond, we made it very clear that anybody in the industry, any driver or participant who intentionally tries to alter the outcome of events or championships, that that crosses a different line than a racing problem between two drivers," France said.
Go back and read that again. Any driver or participant who intentionally tries to alter the outcome of events or championships. Well, Matt Kenseth definitely did that. So, he and NASCAR are fine on that account. But what about the Danica Patrick badly performed takeout of David Gilliland? She was fined and points taken away. She was intentionally trying to alter the outcome of the event. She was causing a caution that should not have been. Do you know if things would have shaken out differently if she had not caused that caution? No you do not. Because maybe Jeff Gordon has a tire that blows 2 laps later. Every caution has an impact on the Chase and on the participants in the race. So why isn't NASCAR parking her ass on the bench just like Kenseth? Because then you would have drivers suspended each and every week.

Why would you have racers suspended each and every week? Because those racers who decide to dump a competitor intentionally should face the exact same penalty as Kenseth did. And we know that each and every racer out on a NASCAR track has a t one time or another wrecked a competitor because of anger. The regular season determines who is in the Chase and you cannot win the Chase without qualifying for it. With a straight face, how can you say that someone being taken out in Week 4 of the season doesn't impact the Chase? So let's say that Matt Kenseth takes out Eric Almirola during a race in Atlanta intentionally with 5 laps to go and they are going for the race win. NASCAR will not suspend the driver. Why? According to Brian France, that is just smart racing. That is wrong. Matt Kenseth has intentionally altered the outcome of an event and the chance for Almirola to advance to the Chase. But then you turn off some of your audience because their favorite driver is out of at least one race. And if you decide to suspend a fan favorite, then what is the business backlash if he is out at the same time you have suspended another top name? I understand that $$$ drives the sport, but let's get this straight.

And speaking of $$$, NASCAR will take this action and make money off of it. You don't think so? Then you don't remember Edwards taking out Keselowski at Atlanta. I saw that wreck this year in an advertisement for the NASCAR race in Atlanta. Wrecking each other is a part of the sport that is intriguing to people, whether it is deliberate or not. And what will bring in more $$$, according to NASCAR, it is a controversy about why the accident happened. NASCAR will allow footage of this wreck between Logano and Kenseth to permeate the airwaves in ads and NASCAR themselves will show this wreck in various instances, not just for news worthy things. 

So if what Mr. France states is a reason for Kenseth's suspension is true, then why isn't NASCAR investigating Kurt Busch's claim that Brad Keselowski intentionally wrecked Matt Kenseth before the Logano incident? It had an effect on the Chase because Kurt Busch was taken out during the wreck. Where is the questions to the #2 driver? I don't think that has been done. And has NASCAR talked to Busch after the claims? The wreck affected the chance of Kurt Busch to win the NASCAR title. Because the sanctioning body doesn't care. Oh, a tie rod came loose and that caused the wreck. Really? How do you know that? Kenseth says that his tire went flat and he couldn't turn. Maybe that is true. Did NASCAR investigate that? Probably not, because they parked him immediately after the wreck. I'm not saying that Kenseth wasn't lying, but if he says something, why don't you believe him but you do another racer in the exact same position?

In conclusion, NASCAR has always had their favorites and agendas. We knew about that in the 80's, 90's, and 2000's. After the Boys, have at it proclamation, fans were hoping that would be set aside. Well, with this incident, we know that the sanctioning body at the very least is incompetent, and probably hoping that controversy will bring back viewers and fans to the sport. The Kevin Harvick wrecking somebody at the start to get him into the next round of the Chase didn't bring them the controversy that they wanted, but they think that this might. The agendas are in full force, at least to me they are. And until they are put back on the back burner, the sanctioning body can kiss my lily white a**.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Wot? A Blog Challenge Missed?

I'm used to seeing a handful of regular users on the forums, so imagine my surprise this morning when I learned we have a Jets fan in the group. If I had remembered this last week, we could have had a spirited blog challenge this weekend between two teams that may fight for a playoff position in December.

Yes, you read that right. Both the Jets and the Raiders fighting for a playoff position. Don't worry, peeps. I'm not used to reading phrases like, "Raiders in the thick of the AFC playoff race" on sports web sites like Fox Sports in November either.

It's been awhile since I've celebrated a Raiders win here, and from all accounts I should get used to it. I didn't have TV coverage where I live, so I depended on Twitter to keep up with the game action. From all accounts, it looks like the Raiders receivers have greatly improved. As a group, they are now gaining a lot of yardage after the catch and making Derek Carr look like a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. This has helped the Raiders jump out to big leads in the first half, something we have not seen in over a decade.

The Raiders defense briefly knocked both Jets quarterbacks out of the game, but part of that can be blamed on Geno Smith's lack of awareness. There was at least one run where he should have gone out of bounds, but instead absorbed a big hit while running along the sidelines for extra yardage. Even though he was injured during the first series, Ryan Fitzpatrick was forced to come in for a few plays while the Jets worked on getting Geno ready for another beating.

It was nice to see Charles Woodson get another INT. I don't know how many more years he's going to play, but it would be a crime not to have him in the Pro Bowl this season. He is playing his best football in years.

I'm not used to seeing the Raiders in second place in the AFC West division so late in the season. At the beginning of the year, I would have been happy with the Raiders finishing 7-9 knowing they would improve in the coming years. Now, I have to change my way of thinking. The Chargers have a terrible defense, injuries, and possibly the worst punt return team in NFL history. The Chiefs also have key injuries. Can the Raiders become a playoff team this year? They just might, and ironically it may depend on how the Jets do the rest of the season.

If there's good news for the Jets today, it's that they have no interest in Ryan Mallett. Hopefully for their sake, they can find a decent quarterback soon. That is the one position that's going to hold them back this season.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The NFL Team in Washington Might Be On To Something

Well, week 7 is over of the NFL. This is starting to become embarrassing. I have had to write a blog posting that put the Oakland Raiders in a good light and now, I have to do the same for the Washington NFL Team. How is it that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can give away such a big lead to Washington with Kirk Cousins at QB? How is it that the Washington team is still in the NFC East race? My hypothesis: The talent of the team is overcoming the lack of leadership from the Owner on down.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thank You, Blue Jays!

Even though baseball season ended last night for me, I'm not sad. I may have this empty feeling that the NHL and the NFL can't fill, but right now I have a huge smile on my face. From my perspective, the Toronto Blue Jays did something incredible this season. Sure, they went from 52-50 to being within a few games of the World Series. That was quite an accomplishment. Joey Bautista, aka Joey Bats, became the true King Of The North with the home run and bat flip that will forever be etched in memory. While I'm very pleased with what this team achieved this season, I have to give them props for something even bigger.

The Jays got me to care about baseball again.

To be honest, I never thought I'd say those words. My hometown team, the San Diego Padres, were once a good team on the verge of something great. Their owner at the time told us they needed a new stadium to compete with the large market teams. Coming off a World Series run, we put it to a vote and gladly gave them Petco Park.

What did we get in return? The dismantling of the championship caliber team we rooted for, followed by nearly two decades of "dumpster diving" for starting pitching and other castoffs and low-risk projects. They also became the unofficial farm team of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, a place where these teams could acquire young, established talent from the Padres by trading away their better minor league prospects. Which the Padres would develop for a few years before trading them back to the AL East for more prospects.

As you can imagine, I don't have a great love for my local team anymore. I respect the fact they went out and acquired established players during the off season, but with rumors circulating during the second half of the season that they were going to trade away most of these players or let them walk at the end of season I thought to myself, "Same fucking Padres". I figured they were going to have another fire sale at the end of the year, so I conveniently forgot their games were on local TV all season.

I had pretty much ignored baseball during the summer months and then all of a sudden the Jays started stringing together wins. For years, it's always been the Yankees (boo!) and Red Sox (hiss!) at the top of the AL East and no one else dared compete with them. With each Jay win, I kept thinking to myself, "Maybe this year will be different?" It's too hot for me to wear my authentic batting practice jersey from the mid-80s around town during the summer months, so I went to the mall and bought a Blue Jays hat so I could proudly display my rekindled interest in the game.

Now that the ride is over, I can't wait for next season to begin. I might even buy MLB Extra Innings from my cable operator next Spring!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Best Team Doesn't Always Win.

Or a goalie standing on his head , a freshman at that, can steal you one; or this is why they play the games. You pick your preferred title.
We went to the final game of the 2015 Ice Breaker Tournament last night, which is the traditional tipoff of the college hockey season, this year held in Portland, Maine.  $25 got you a ticket to both games held that day but I wasn't going to torture Shelly with that much sports in a day or $45 would get you a ticket to all four games.
Portland is renowned as one of the best restaurant towns in the country. So we had dinner at an excellent Greek restaurant, walked around the city a bit and went to the finale, which turned out to be the game to decide the tourney winner between the host Maine Black Bears and Brent's highly-ranked North Dakota Fighting  Sioux.
There was never any doubt as to which was the superior team -- just look at the shots on goal difference of 2/1.  North Dakota dominated puck possession and zone time.  They're much more polished and experienced, and probably more talented but they couldn't solve Maine freshman goalie Rob McGovern, who turned away 43 of 44 SOG!
To me the turning point of the game came in the 2nd. ND was up up 1-0, was continuing to dominate and I noticed the Maine players start to look dispirited...this was going to get ugly.  But suddenly there was a sloppy clearing pass by ND and a very quick goal for Maine.  While the Souix continued to dominate, Maine played hard again from that point forward, a lesson for you youngsters out there.
Portland is going to bid to host a 2018 regional and I hope they showed the arena and city quite capable last night.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Making The Future Better Than The Past

1972 Alternate Logo

Go back to 2005. The Houston Astros have just played in their first and only World Series. They have just captured their first National League Pennant. Any Astros fan is riding high. We understand that Jeff Bagwell is having major trouble with his shoulder. But we have Lance Berkman moving to 1st Base. We have Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite and Roy Oswalt. We have a future HOF in Craig Biggio. The future looks bright and prosperous. That bright light in the future was an oncoming locomotive that we didn't anticipate as Astros fans. We couldn't overcome a slow start in 2006 and things started breaking down from there.

Go forward in time to 2011. 2005 is the last time that the team has made the playoffs. The Astros start the first of their 3 100+ loss seasons in a row. But the team is getting out of the penny pinching ownership of Drayton McLane. Jim Crane buys the team and agrees to move the Astros into the American League for the 2013 season. Crane also fires GM Ed Wade in November of 2011. He comes up with a member of the St. Louis Cardinals front office to name as the GM of the Astros, Jeff Luhnow.  Almost no one thinks that this is a good move for the team.

Now here we are in 2015. The Astros are going to be a strong team according to the experts in the future. Sports Illustrated has already proclaimed them World Series Champions in 2017. The farm system is rated in the Top 3 in almost every report that comes out. The Big League team is populated with youngsters. Jed Lowrie is the only position player over 30 on the roster.  Only 4 players from 2012 are still on the team in 2015, and one came back from a 2-year odyssey to Oakland, Lowrie. The other 3? Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Dallas Keuchel. The awards could start coming in for the Astros. SS Carlos Correa could be the AL ROY. Keuchel could be the AL Cy Young. Altuve is a perennial All-Star.

And if you think that the Astros are through with getting talented youngsters from the farm, think again. We have at least 15 players that are rated by scouting services who say that the players can have a long and successful career in the big leagues. Look for RHPs Mark Appel, Michael Feliz and 1B A.J. Reed to become major contributors next year. 3B Colin Moran has a shot at being on the major league roster as well. That is the #2,5,6, and 10 ranked players in the Astros farm system. The rest of the Top 10 will get more seasoning down on the farm. We don't need a bunch of 20 or 21 year olds in the major leagues right now. We have a glutton of prospects up the middle of the diamond. We have 3 SS in our Top 20 prospects, 2 2B, and 3 CF. That and lots of Starting RHPs.

I don't believe that Houston will repeat what the organization did in 2005 with missing the playoffs for the next decade. I do believe that the team has shown that they are young enough not to worry about the pressure of the playoffs. How is it that in the pregame before the Wildcard game with the Yankees that the players are jumping around, playing around, telling jokes and all around not being too serious about what is going on. The two major culprits of horsing around before the game? Carlos Gomez who hit a solo HR in the 4th, and Colby Rasmus, who hit a #ColbyJack in the 2nd inning. If the young players take their lead from the veterans who are staying loose and use that as their model of how to handle things, playoff baseball will become a regular fixture in Houston once again. The Astros can become a major player in baseball if they can continue to develop homegrown talent. Let's see if they can.

Hockey Season Is... Here

That's a pretty accurate assessment of my enthusiasm for Opening Night. After the way the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks have handled the Patrick Kane situation (preferential treatment, anyone?), I decided not to order NHL Center Ice this season. This means I'm at the mercy of NBCSports, Fox Sports San Diego, and Fox Sports West for NHL action. The Anaheim Ducks don't start their season against the San Jose Sharks until Saturday night, so unless there's a free preview of NHL Center Ice starting today, my viewing choices are restricted to the Blackhawks at 5pm PST, followed by the Kings at 7:30pm PST.

Translation: It's one slap on each side of my face by the NHL teams that tolerated domestic violence over the past twelve months. This is the very reason why I didn't sign up for either NHL Center Ice or NHL GameCenter for the first time in a decade, so you can understand why I have very strong feelings about this.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Twitter Humor: Madden '16 Rating Update?

This was too funny not to share.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Showing Love To The Cretins Of The Left Coast

Yes, the title is making fun of the fans of the Raiders. But our fraternity of piss poorly-run teams has to make fun of each other, so the title remains. If you take a look at the standings in the AFC, you see an unfamiliar team at 2-1 in the West. For most of us, seeing Oakland having a winning record is something you thought about in the 70's and 80's. Otherwise you expect them to maybe win 5 or 6 games a season. And lord knows that some fans of the Silver and Black aren't what your would call mentally stable because they pick the Raiders to win the West each and every year.

But something is happening in Oakland. I will give credit to Mark Davis. Even though the Raider Nation wanted Reggie McKenzie's head on a silver platter for the past year if not 2, he stuck with the GM and it looks like there is a plan that will bring winning back to O-Town. (Remember that sucky Boy Band?) Anyways, look what Reggie has done for the team.

He has a QB that can man the position for the next decade. Derek Carr looks like he will develop into a better than average QB at the very least. He has the respect of the veterans, at least according to Justin Tuck and Charles Woodson. The Raiders drafted Amari Cooper who looks like he can turn into a good pro. To help the receiving corps, they brought in Michael Crabtree who has been on good and bad teams and could help steady the ship. A smart move was letting Darren McFadden go to Dallas and drafting Latavius Murray in 2013, I believe. He was the 16th RB taken in that draft. You find a player like that late in the draft, develop him, and have him shock people with his play. That is how the successful franchises stay on top. Now if they can find more stability on the Offensive Line and get a top flight TE, you could have an offense that will score in bunches.

On defense, it is slower going to build. Khalil Mack looks like a monster. I am a Ray-Ray Armstrong fan. Justin Tuck and Charles Woodson bring the veteran leadership.There are still some upgrades that need to be made to get the defense to the next level, but the one thing that it does have going for it is that the team ranks in the Top 15 of rushing defense. That is going to keep the Raiders in games that the offense might be able to steal.

The AFC West is up for grabs this year. The Broncos are 3-0, but is anybody really scared of that offense? The Chiefs are 1-2 and finding ways to lose. The Chargers are also 1-2 and both lines are a weakness for the team. Why not the Raiders? The young stars aren't afraid of anything. And if the bounces go their way, they could pull out 9 or 10 wins. There weren't many people that were looking at the team winning that amount this year. In fact, I read a publication that had them saying that the Raiders had the least amount of talent in the NFL.

So to R.J. and the rest of Raiders Nation: The rebuilding plan that you have is looking good. You can also look at it this way. Your team is better now and probably will be better in the future than Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Miami, Washington, Chicago, and St. Louis. That means that you are better than 25% of the league already. Continue with the improvement and the Raiders can get back into a position of prominence. But don't go crazy and think Super Bowl for the next couple of years at the very least.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Not going to let this moment go by without at least posting something.  David Ortiz, the greatest clutch hitter of all time, hit his 500th career home run tonight, as well as his 499th.

I was out sightseeing today wearing my #34 t-shirt.

33 HR and 94 RBI at 39 years old. The greatest clutch hitter ever. Some of the greatest players of all time got nervous, tighten up trying to get by these milestones. Not this guy. He's hit a ton the last few weeks and needed two HRs going into tonight to get to 500 and hit both of them tonight and hit 'em hard!