Category Archives: Sports

New Year Predictions 2018

This is the time of year when we think about the new year and what it will bring.  My new year predictions for 2018. While a couple might be a little off, I remain confident that my overall predictions will hold true.

The Cleveland Browns football team will be allowed to leave the NFL and play against selected college teams. While they do not fair well against Southeastern Virginia Disability Institute and the Outer Waco Texas Girls Ballet School the season is not a total loss. They will end up with a 1-11 record, having eked out a 3-0 victory over the Northern Idaho School for the Blind.

Robert Mueller’s third cousin on his mother’s side, 12 year old Cynthia Woggles,  will be investigated by a Congressional Committee headed by Trent Gowdy. The investigation, which will cost $ 7,000,000 and the calling of 98 witnesses, all of whom are commentators on Fox and Friends, will discover that Woggles  voted for Hillary Clinton in her 6th grade mock election in 2016.  (Not to be confused with the national mock election held the same year) Mr Trump will use this evidence of bias to fire the Republican Mueller. In  his place Mr Trump will appoint Roy Moore to take over the investigation. Moore immediatley calls Woggles for a play date.

Major League baseball will announce that after a study of fan injuries at 6 ballparks they have discovers 14 fans who had died during the game. At first the cause of the deaths was a mystery, since none of these fans were hit by foul balls or bats. Medical examiners confirm that these deaths can be attributed to a cerebral shutdown of the inner brain, caused by intense boredom.

The US will recognize the following new capitals. Scotland. Former capital: Edinburgh. New capital: Trump International Golf Links.  China. Former capital: Beijing, Forbidden City. New capital: Shanghai, Ivanka Shoe Factory.  Iran. Former capital: Tehran. New capital: Jersusalem.  USA. Former capital: Washington, DC. New capital: Mar-A-Lago, Florida. Congress passes a law concuring.

FEMA will announce, sometime in June, that they have devised a plan to bring power back to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has not had full electric power resumed since Hurricane Maria in September, 2017. Despite the fact that the FEMA response was the “best response ever” to a catastrophe (a close second being the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) . The new plan calls for running an extension cord from Merida, Mexico to the island to bring power back on line to the millions of foreigners living in Puerto Rico.  As long as Mexico agrees to pay for the cord.

The 1st Annual Scott Pruitt “Global Warming is a Hoax” seminar takes place in a yacht named “The Golden Dollar” off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in July. Guest speakers include climate experts Sean Hannity, Clint Eastwood’s empty chair and the entire Duck Dynasty family. The conference is cut short when a family of polar bears swims past searching for ice.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis is caught on mike saying that he thinks “this god stuff is a bunch of BS”. Nevertheless,  he speaks out against war, violence, disease, global warming and hatred. He calls on all government leaders of the world to join in peace and harmony. No one calls back.When asked what common people should do to solve these problems he answers: “I tell you, I’m all outta ideas. Reality sucks so you might as well pray to a fantasy. Gets ME through the day.”

The New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, 17-14, on February 4 in a thriller over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have 7 TDs called back by the replay officials in NY, who are nowhere near the actual location of the game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Days later it is discovered that the league officials in NY had mistakenly been watching the replays of the Bournemouth vs. Stoke City English Premier League soccer match of February 3, in which no one scored. As usual.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announces the closing of all National Parks, except for Mount Rushmore. All parks will be sold to the Koch Brothers at a deep discount and the proceeds, which are tax deductible, will be spent renovating Mount Rushmore. The faces of Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington , Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln will be sandblasted away to make room for giant head of Donald Trump, surrounded by his three wives. The monument will be renamed: Best Monument Ever. Congress concurs.

On a strict liberal vs. conservative vote the Supreme Court approves Executive Order 5,678 on the topic of voting rights. Since the court had previously ruled , under Citizens United, that money equals speech, they extend that ruling to include voting. Under the new ruling “money equals voting”, as well. Based on the principle of “one dollar equals one vote” the 2018 election will be determined by a new voting method. Every citizen must bring in their tax returns to show their gross income from wages and investments. Each dollar will count as one vote.

North Korean leader, professional golfer and all around bozo Kim Jung Un  announces a new building plan. He has signed an agreement with Trump University to open up a “Kim-Donald School For Learning Stuff” in Pyongyang. The school will focus on business related seminars including: How to Get Stuff  For Free; 12 Ways to Evict “Those People”; Tax Evasion 101: Avoiding Those Nasty Import Fees; and, Bankruptcy, The Real Estate Developers Best Friend. Eric Trump attends the ribbon cutting ceremony which is a disaster as none of the Korean made scissors are sharp enough to cut the paper ribbon. Eric calls the “Kim-Donald “school  the “best university ever” and announces at the same time that the US will begin selling nuclear technology to Kim as a gesture of good will.

Finally. Congress votes itself a 50% pay raise for a “job well done”. The legislative branch passed a total of three bills. They were: 1. “The Amazing Trump is the Best President Ever” bill awarding the Trump Medal of MAGA to the best person in America. This year’s recipient? Donald Trump. 2. “The FBI Traitor” law. Which labels all members of the FBI, former and current, official “enemies of the people” and subject to immediate permanent detention and prosecution for doing “bad stuff”. Mueller is the first to be perp walked. 3. “Congressional Vacation Act” which allows Congress to take a vacation for a period including January 2 through December 30, with pay and expenses for fact finding travel.  Mr Trump signed all three bills and praised Congress for their services… which will no longer be necessary.

 

 

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Can Donnie Come Out and Play?

When I was a boy many, many years ago…How long ago, you ask? Before Twitter. Before Facebook. Before the internet. Before Blu Ray. Before DVDs. Before CDs. Before VHS. Before cable TV. Before Fox . Before video games. Before…well…just about everything.

We had a black and white TV and 3 channels. And if you missed the big game or your show, well, you missed it.  If you were lucky you could wait for the re-runs in 6 months.

Where was I? Oh, yes. When I was a boy many, many years ago we did active things for fun. Every weekend and summer we would play softball or touch football. For hours on end. After taking care of a few chores the rest of the day was unsupervised fun.

I learned many lessons from those days. At the time I did not know it. I thought we were just playing ball. But in retrospect the unsupervised hours and days with my friends were filled with life lessons that , unknown to me, stuck. I wonder if Donald ever learned those lessons? I think not.

There was Jack and the Sullivan boys and Joe and an assortment of others. Sometimes Erich. Sometimes Pawlawski. And a few others.

In the summer we would spend all day playing softball at the church parking lot. We knew it was time to go home when the bells rang, I think it was 5 o’clock. Usually 8 of us, sometimes only 6. With that small number of players we devised rules for a pretty decent softball game.

Playing with 3 on a team meant you had a slow pitch pitcher, a shortstop and a left fielder. With only 3 batters you always had to have someone score to take the next slot at the plate. Pitcher’s hands are out. Any ball hit to the right side of 2nd base was an automatic out. No ghost runners. The bases were sometimes pieces of wood, sometimes shirts, sometimes big stones. Never those canvas things used by real teams.

Playing touch football was the same. No first downs. Four downs to score a touchdown. One center, one end and one quarterback. One touch and you are down. No tackling.

No adults to be seen. We played by the rules and had fun. Was Dan safe at the plate or not? Well, Dan knows. If he says he was safe, he was safe. Did the ball get to the pitcher before Joe reached first? Some said yes, some said no. OK. Well, I guess he was out. No arguing. No fights. No instant replays. Someone would just say, OK, I guess you are right.

Did Jack cross the goal line or was he touched at the “one”? Jack said he scored. OK. He must have  scored.  He’s not a cheater. When Doug was touched he  always stuck the ball 6 inches ahead, just like the pro running backs on TV. I always waited until he turned around and pushed the ball 12 inches back.  It worked for both of us.

I can’t recall any serious arguments and certainly no fights. we just figured it all out.

So, what lessons was I learning that I never knew I learned by this unsupervised play?

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Doesn’t really matter because we are playing again tomorrow.

If you don’t own a ball, someone else will. If you don’t own a bat, someone else will. That’s why we let everybody play.

If you have a fielder’s glove, toss it to your opponent as he goes to left field. He doesn’t own one and your not using yours when you are batting.

The guys on the other team today will be on my team tomorrow. It is all fluid. 

Uniforms are not needed. You are still a team even if you aren’t dressed alike.

Some people are better than others. Some are better at some things than I am. I am better at some things than they are. That’s the way it is.

Don’t complain about wrong calls. You know if you were safe or out. That’s enough.

Win “fair and square” or lose. Don’t cheat your friends. There is no future in it.

We need all the players we can get. Everyone is important.

It  doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you can catch the ball.

Donald is only 4 years older than me. I don’t know if he was allowed to play unsupervised with other kids. . To figure out how to negotiate human relationships. To learn to respect others and their abilities. To share his baseball glove. It does not appear to be the case.

It’s too late now, but I wonder if he would have been different had he lived on the East Side with the working class mopes like us. I wonder what would have happened had we been able to ride our bikes to his house, knock on the door and ask:

“Can Donnie come out and play?”

 

 

 

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Soccer, The All-American Game

The upcoming soccer World Cup in Brazil got me to thinking. Always a mistake. There is no sport that more fully embraces American values than soccer. What the rest of the world calls football. It is strange that the “typical” American sports fan rejects this sport. Usually for two reasons.

First, it is low scoring. Can’t deny that. Second, it is low scoring. Can’t deny that, either.

Yet, if an unbiased anthropologist from Mars visited Earth she would come to the conclusion that soccer is an all-American sport. If she had studied the  values that “real” Americans articulate regularly.  Sports like baseball and American football, on the other hand, would be seen as throwbacks to the pre-democratic days of authoritarian rule. Likened to a Dickensian vision of America.

Some examples.

American value:  Freedom and individualism. There is no sport in which an individual is expected to act on his own more than soccer.  Every soccer player constantly adjusts during the match. Sometimes playing offense, switching back to defense, then offense again…oops, back to defense. Constantly. For 90 plus minutes. While you have a formation , that formation is in constant flux. Fluidity. Personal freedom abounds. Thinking is essential. Making the right decision on your own. What is more American that that?

Compare with baseball. Every pitch is dictated by a catcher or manager. Every at bat is proscribed by the coaches. Take a pitch. Bunt. Swing away. Hit and run. For the pitcher. Throw a curve ball. A slider. An intentional walk. The manager decides each minute detail. Signals are given to the players to tell them exactly what to do. Authoritarian to the extreme. Make no decisions on your own.

Or football. Every play is called by the coach. Every defense is called by the coach. Even when the quarterback calls an “audible” it is still a play that was practiced and practiced before the game. A play determined by the coach. And after each play we stop. Get a new play from the coach. Then play on. Authoritarianism run amok. Do not deviate.

In the two most popular American sports thinking is discouraged. The manager or coach has the brains. The players have the brawn. Cogs in the system. Don’t deviate. Do your job. The boss knows best. Do as you are told. We don’t pay you to think.  Freedom ? Not if you want to play.

American value: Fair play. While every sport has its poor sportsmanship issues, there is a custom in soccer that emphasizes fair play. It has to do with injury. A  casual observer might conclude that in American football the attempt to injure an opponent is, in fact, an essential  part of the game! During a play if a player gets injured he is run over and ignored. The cornerback pulls a muscle and writhes in pain on the ground. That is an opportunity to score a touchdown.  The game goes on. We will pick him up later. Same in baseball. Two fielders collide  and knock each other out. That is an opportunity to score a run. It is considered a lucky break. Fair play?

But not in soccer. If an opponent is hurt (really hurt, not diving) the opposing team will intentionally kick the ball out of play. They stop the match even though they have the advantage. And when play continues, the other team will kick the ball back to them. Sportsmanship. This occurs even in championship games. With millions of dollars at stake. In fact, if a team breaks this unwritten rule they will be roundly booed by their own fans. Fair play.

American value: Hard work. Let’s look at soccer. 90 plus  minutes of running, jumping, kicking, jogging. Almost continuous action. Players do take breaks within the game, but only for a few seconds when the ball is not near them. No time outs. No rest periods. One 15 minute half-time. No substitutions. You play offense . You play defense. You play the entire match. Three substitutions. Period. Eight players on each team play the entire match.

Let’s look at baseball. YAWN. Each player stands at his position when on defense. He waits. And waits. And waits. Maybe the ball will come to him, but probably not. The catcher and pitcher do most of the work. And the pitcher seldom plays all nine innings. Too tiring ! Then after standing around for three outs the team jogs to the dugout and…sits. And waits. And waits. For one turn at bat. Usually 4 times a game. And if  you do get on base you may get a chance to run or jog 360 feet ! Hard work ? Hardly work.

Now football is a bit more brutal.  After all, you are trying to decapitate your opponent. (The death penalty…that IS an American value). But each player only plays about one-third of the time or less. That amounts to about  20 minutes of real activity. Twenty minutes of hard work.  Oops. I forgot. Most of those 20 minutes are taken up in the huddle. Where you are being told what to do. The actual physical activity for the average player is about 10 minutes a game. Hard work ?

So, why do Americans hate soccer? It seems to encompass the American values of hard work, fair play, individualism and freedom. Must be something else. Maybe it is because soccer is a “communist” sport played in “socialist” leagues?

After all, an American value is capitalism. The best get ahead. The losers fall behind. Life is tough that way. Except in professional sports. In the rest of the world if a pro soccer team does not do well they get “relegated” That means kicked out of the league and another team takes their place.  Raw capitalism. Succeed or die !

But look at US pro sports. Even the worst teams get to stay in the league year after year. No  matter how incompetent. No matter how lowly. There is no real incentive to do better. There is always next year. Meet the Chicago Cubs. 100 years of futility. And still in the major leagues. The US pro sports system is actually socialistic to the extreme! Maybe communistic. No one gets demoted. In soccer, on the other hand, succeed or be gone!

So, why then is this” beautiful game” which exemplifies all of the best American “values” castigated in the USA? Baseball is supremely authoritarian. Football is minimally active for the individual player.  Neither punishes the least successful teams.

An anthropologist from Mars would say this: Don’t always listen to what folks CLAIM about their values, look at what they actually admire . Study how their sports reflect society. Authoritarian or democratic?  Take advantage of an injury or fair play? Talk about hard work or actually work hard? Success based on performance or guaranteed by a rigged system? Take orders or engage in free thinking?

Soccer: the all-American sport. Now…if they would only score more goals………

 

 

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NFL Sissies…Step Up

Michael Sam is 6’2″ and weighs in at 260 pounds. Michael Sam was the SEC defensive college player of the year. The SEC is the best conference in college football. Michael Sam is a certain first round draft pick this year. Or should be. Michael Sam is gay.

Michael Sam came out and publicly said he was gay. His Missouri teammates knew it. The coaches knew it. He knew it. They didn’t care. He can play football.

Someday, 10 years from now, this will not be news. But it is today.

There are plenty of athletes in every sport who are homosexual. It does not stop them from being professional athletes. Professionals in a highly competitive occupation. But most keep it to themselves. For fear of public humiliation. Fear of discrimination. Or because it is no one else’s business. In a perfect world it would not matter. But the world of sports is not perfect.

Michael Sam has come out. It is time for the other homosexual athletes to support him. There are plenty of gay athletes in football, baseball, basketball, soccer and all sports. Time for them to stop being sissies. Come out. Support this young man. The closet has been opened for you.  You should not have to go public. It should not be a big deal.  But it is.

But Michael Sam has given you the chance to say,”Yes. I am an athlete. I am gay. So what”. Do it now and those 10 years may be closer than your think. Don’t be sissies.

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