Sunday, May 31, 2015

Giving Up? Maybe

Zeb beat me to the punch earlier this evening, but I sent him the link to this Sports Illustrated article via Twitter because this has been weighing on my mind for quite some time. Like the ex-NFL fan who penned that article, I'm feeling anything but love for a league I grew up following. The difference in my case is I'm mad at the league in general.

I'm tired of NFL teams extorting cash-strapped cities for public funding for new stadiums that do not provide a good return for the city's investment in the project over its lifetime. The San Diego Chargers have been doing this since 2002, and it's amazing how they want a stadium that will cost nearly a half billion more than the one Jerry Jones had built for his Dallas Cowboys. I don't know where the money is going to come from when the city doesn't have the money to pay their police officers a decent wage or maintain its infrastructure.

I'm tired of the NFL having a set of rules for one team, and another set for the other thirty-one. The fact Commissioner Roger Goodell is good friends with Robert Kraft is troublesome at best, and a conflict of interest in certain league matters at worst. I cannot trust him to deliver the same punishment to a Patriots player that he would to a player from another team when he's known to kick up his heels at Kraft's retreat in The Hamptons.

I'm tired of NFL players doing stupid things to get in trouble, and then having their attorney and/or sports agents offer the lamest excuses since the last time a kid told their teacher their dog ate their homework. You didn't mean to kill that Yorkie when you kicked it? You couldn't stay away for more than two days from the woman who had a restraining order put on you? You're full of it. Man up and take responsibility for your bad behavior.

I'm tired of players getting second, third and fourth chances after multiple accusations of domestic violence. I don't care if they're "innocent". Just because the woman decided not to press charges doesn't mean something didn't happen. Why as a society do we tolerate this behavior from athletes when in our everyday lives we report these incidents to the police?

I'm tired of players entering the NFL, sign their multi million dollar contracts and do not take their jobs seriously. You worked hard your entire teenage and college years to get the chance of a lifetime to fulfill your dream. Instead of doing what it takes to prepare yourself for a long career you're doing stupid things like getting caught leaving a Las Vegas bathroom with a rolled up dollar bill, testing positive for drugs at the NFL Combine when the NFL only tests you one time a year, or hold out into the regular season for a contract you'll never live up to. I don't care if this is how things work. I'm tired of NFL rookies trying to be celebrities first and football players second.

Last year, I nearly stopped participating in this blog's annual football picks for these very same reasons. This time around, I'm going to do it. I'm fed up with how the NFL does business, how they treat their fans, and how they don't have the integrity they used to when Pete Rozelle was the Commissioner. Paul Tagliabue was a downgrade, but Goodell is a disaster unless you're one of 32 billionaires that have profited greatly at the league's expense.

I know there are people out there who will say I'll be back, but don't be too sure about that. I walked away from auto racing for a year and a half in the mid-90s after too many drivers were getting killed or severely injured from head and neck injuries. I only returned after NASCAR and F1 made satisfactory changes that helped save the lives of many drivers going forward. 

I walked away from the WWE when too many wrestlers were paying the ultimate price by abusing their bodies with drugs and alcohol to numb the pain from abusing their bodies in the ring. I have not watched a WWE program since Chris Benoit's death, and I have no future plans to do so. Too many wrestlers died young for my entertainment, and things have not changed since I did my own "heel turn" many years ago.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Perspective

This is in response to RJ's Tweet to me regarding a letter a Patriots fan wrote, who very articulately explains why he's quitting the NFL.

RJ and I have had similar conversation in the past regarding boycotts.  I may be wrong about this but this is how I still feel.  I feel that despite who legally owns the franchises, which obviously gives them the right to do whatever they want, including moving, I feel as if they are our franchises...that the owners are merely placeholders.  Granted, this is the perspective of a lifelong fan of New England pro sports (you will have to remember that it hasn't always been roses like the last 15 years) where you're brought up to love and follow these teams, in fact you feel like you inherit a part ownership of them.  The Patriots didn't move to Hartford or St Louis in the early 90s and no franchise has left Boston since the Braves.

Is it actually going to hurt or even get noticed by these owners if you boycott?  Why the hell should I boycott "my" team?  There's a helluva lot more chance being heard if you stay engaged than go away.

I agree with author of the above piece on many, many points; and I suspect that Bob Kraft paying more attention to his bottom line and not being willing to cut his own throat to fight Goodell in the end, is probably the breaking point for that fan.  I know I too was disappointed.  I figured Kraft, who's arguably the most respected owner in the league and who also owns its current most successful franchise, could find a way to put Goodell's feet to the fire over this debacle without having to go to court.

The author of this letter of frustration ends by saying that he feels freed.  This is where I bring back perspective.  Despite the fact that I feel these are my teams, I've never lost sight of the fact that this is sports.  Maybe the author isn't old enough to remember '86 in particular.  I lived through that and my life went on regardless.  So while I feel pro sports owners should be held accountable as caretakers of our franchises, I also feel equally strong that we have to keep in perspective what's truly important.  I look forward to sports nearly every day and it is a huge part of the passions of my life but the world does not begin and end with them.

Friday, May 29, 2015

I hope he marries a super model

Can you imagine the number of heads that would explode around NFL land if this kid, who's arguably even better looking than Tom Brady, turns out to be even half as good as Brady as a quarterback?  I hope he marries a super model.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Day Of Bad Decisions

Normally, the day before Memorial Day is like Christmas for me. I get to wake up well before sunrise and watch the Monaco Grand Prix live on television, then wait a few hours afterward for the start of the Indianapolis 500. The Coca-Cola 600, or whatever it’s called nowadays? Sorry, but NASCAR takes a back seat to open wheel racing on this special day.

My day of racing is over. Even though I should be happy I saw two great races, I’m relieved no one was seriously injured or killed. This should have been a fun day to relax and watch my favorite drivers battle for victory, and instead I’m left wondering if it’s a matter of time before tragedy strikes.

Let’s review what happened today:

MONACO: I still can’t believe Lewis Hamilton didn’t win. He was 19 seconds ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg when with about a dozen laps to go “Mad Max” Verstappen attempted to overtake the Lotus of Romain Grosjean on the inside heading into Sainte Devote (Turn 1). Just as he had done with Grosjean’s teammate Pastor Maldonado earlier in the race, Mad Max made contact with Grosjean and took him out of the points.

The collision caused Mad Max to lose a wheel and his brakes, and he shot straight into the barriers at high speed. If this had happened at the chicane coming out of the tunnel, we might have had a different outcome for the young driver. I don’t mind seeing aggressive driving, but you never should do it at the expense of your competitors unless it’s the final laps.

Believe it or not, that wasn’t the biggest brain fart in Monaco. That belongs to whoever made the call in the pits for the AMG Mercedes driver to pit for new tires under caution with a dozen laps to go. Instead of rolling the dice and letting Lewis battle for the win, the points leader had to settle for third place on the podium. I appreciate Lewis defending his team after the race, but he’s too smart to make that call. He should have won his fifth race this season, not his crybaby teammate.

INDIANAPOLIS: If you’ve been reading my forum posts this past week, my fears of a fatality are well documented. I had every reason to be worried. The changes in this year’s aero kit and car design were a huge step backward in driver and fan safety. Cars that had not previously gone airborne when going backwards were now flying in the air like prototype sports cars. We also could have had a new mayor of Hinchtown when James Hinchcliffe was critically injured earlier in the week.

Then there was talk of assaulting Arie Lyendyk’s lap record with this same, flawed car next year. If these cars are getting airborne at 200 mph, how much higher do you think they’ll sail at speeds ten to twenty miles an hour faster? Did we not learn from Tony Renna’s practice accident? Tony Kaanan’s accident a dozen years ago when a suspension part pierced his legs? We haven’t, and I told all of my friends to brace themselves for the very real possibility we’d see a very serious or fatal accident like the ones that were commonplace twenty to thirty years ago.

Thankfully, no cars got airborne and no drivers were killed or seriously injured today. However, it must be noted three crew members from Dale Coyne Racing were injured when someone let James Davison exit his pit while both lanes in pit road were occupied by passing cars. In a cruel bit of irony, Davison’s car struck teammate Pippa Mann, who was on the inside lane and entering her own pit.

The collision sent Davison’s car into the pit of third teammate Tristan Vautier while the crew were changing right side tires. Luckily, the accident looked worse than it actually was. At this writing, only one crew member is hospitalized for an ankle fracture. In my opinion, none of the drivers were at fault. If Davison’s pit had kept him there until Mann was clear, this incident never would have happened.

The traveling open wheel circus goes to Detroit next weekend, but I worry about what could happen when they arrive in Texas in two weeks for the Firestone 600. Will there be enough safety measures to prevent a repeat of Hinchcliffe’s accident? A car going airbone like Kenny Br├Ąck nearly a decade ago?

I know racing is dangerous and not all fatalities are preventable, but to compromise driver and fan safety for the sake of faster speeds will ruin the sport in the long run unless immediate changes are made. With the safety advances the series has made over the past few years, including the creation of the DW12 car, there is no excuse for these cars to endanger the lives of drivers and fans like they did in the past.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

So Long, Farewell, and We Keep Rolling Along

Leaving North Dakota For Philly? Not An Upgrade By Any Means
Coach Dave Hakstol left the University of North Dakota today to assume the Head Coaching position of the Philadelphia Flyers. Coach Hakstol leaves behind the tradition of the former Fighting Sioux. The thing with Coach Hakstol is that he could not live up to the standards that the fans and alumni had for the team. From 1980 to 2000, the University of North Dakota won 5 National Championships. 3 by John Gasparini and 2 by Dean Blais. In 2004, Dave Hakstol became the 15th coach in school history. Yes, he made 7 Frozen Fours and has made the National Tournament each of the years that he has coached the former Fighting Sioux. But in 6 of those 7 Frozen Fours, his team lost in the Semi-Finals. A couple of those years were bad luck, but still the team could not reach the pinnacle after getting close to the top.

It was time for Coach Hakstol to go. The natives were on the Warpath (pun intended). After more than a decade of no National Championships and 7 Frozen Fours, the whispers were becoming shouts that we would never be champs again with this guy behind the bench. Yes, the program kept rolling along with players being drafted and becoming major cogs in pro teams, but here in North Dakota, the teams could never gel well enough to become that team that everybody believed could fight through adversity during the National Tournament.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Another Crybaby About NFL Pay

 

Come work a job in the real world. Or better yet, grab a weapon, joined the armed forces and defend this country. Then come back from an overseas deployment where American Armed Forces personnel have been killed and tell us that football players deserve to be paid more than those that have defended our country. Just another person who does not know how good they have it.

  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

While Deflategate Was Going On…

I’m glad to see the Golden State Warriors get back on track, but…

Monday, May 04, 2015

Found On Twitter: May The Fourth Be With You!

Now this is how you celebrate Star Wars Day if you’re a championship sports team!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Baseball and old friends

You may know already, which makes me very late posting, that I went to DC to see my old friends DCHomer and TPUBGU (aka George and Rick), two of my best friends in the world and old Marine Corps buddies.  So I'm here to just give a little rundown of my visit, mostly focused on going to a couple of minor league baseball games.
I landed at Reagan National, where Rick picked me up and went straight to the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA, picked up some goodies and had a beer in the replica Tun Tavern.
New shirt bought at the museum
 
 Then we headed over to George's, where we caught up, told old "war stories" and drank plenty of scotch and had some very good Chinese take-out.
Me, George & Rick after a few scotches
 
Next morning we got up and headed to Gettysburg, where we spent a few hours with a tremendous guide who took us around the whole battlefield area and taught us history buffs a few things.  Then we had dinner at Dobbin House, which is a great restaurant that happens to be in the oldest house in Gettysburg and pretty much has always been at least a tavern.  If you've never been, go!
Then we hustled on up to Harrisburg for a AA Eastern League matchup between the hometown Senators and the Altoona Curve (it's still a stupid name, G!)  We had a very good time, of course but two things of note:  George decided he was going to be the world's biggest fan of this kid who played for Harrisburg, a first baseman by the name of Shawn Pleffner.  So G was hollering/rooting for this guy with every at-bat and every play at first base.  We had a great time with that.  On the way out I noticed a plaque, which George took a picture of but no longer has.  But since we all love baseball and history, this plaque telling us the history of the Harrisburg Giants of the Negro Leagues was pretty cool.  Oh, and the ball field is on an island in the river, same place that the Giants played.

The next day G had a prior engagement, so Rick and I shuttled off to Richmond to see his son and go to another Eastern League game, this one pitting the hometown Richmond Flying Squirrels against the Bowie Bay Sox.  Of most interest to me is the ballpark  in Richmond, which from the outside looks like a major league stadium.  There are very few of these "mini-major league" ballparks left.  Pawtucket is another, though even older than this one.



Me, Rick and Eddie.

It was a fabulous trip, getting to see old friends, drink and reminisce together and see baseball in the sunshine, which had yet to come to Maine.  And Eddie, thanks for suggesting Joe's, the food and beer were great.  Thanks for the ride also.

 George wanted to add these two pics.  The top one is of two pillars that border one end of a bridge that we drove through.  When you're coming across the bridge heading south, you'll see the State Capitol building between them.  Pretty cool.  The second photo is of the island that the ballpark sits on, and you can see it in this picture.   We did not take this.