Getting the Cobwebs out of my head…

I was on vacation the last week visiting my parents, reuniting with two of my three sisters, and since coming back I Have struggled to once again find my voice.  My posts are sporadic because I struggle with putting my thoughts down in writing.  I don’t know why this is, I love to write and I want to write but the motivation and the words are lost inside my brain and I have a hard time getting them out.  I know I have a lot to say, but for some reason I struggle with expressing what is in my brain and the motivation to write what I am thinking.  To go along with all of that, I am lazy, I come home from work most nights and decide to sign into Netflix and mindlessly watch old TV shows or a movie I have watched multiple times.  I may sound like I am making excuses but it is true that while I really want to get to writing, I find myself not doing anything to change the behavior.  If anyone can offer me some advice on this it would be greatly appreciated and with all of that being said, I actually do have some thoughts on sports related topics that I will attempt to get out.

First…  The MLB All Star rosters have been announced, and I am proud to say the Indians have five All Stars for the second year in a row.  Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber, and Trevor Bauer will represent the Indians in DC next week as American League All-Stars.  As a die-hard Indians fan, this makes me happy.  The Indians join Boston and Houston with five players each named to the roster, along with the Yankees four selections.  The Indians may be leading the worst division in baseball, but you cant argue how stacked that roster is.  Lindor is having an MVP season, while Brantley is having what I consider a comeback player of the year warranted season as well.  Granted, the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros all have stronger records, but if the Indians continue to play well, when the playoffs come, all bets are off, and they could surprise a lot of people and media pundits who think they have no chance of making the World Series.

Second…  ESPN is force-feeding us the NBA Summer League – the network that makes most of its money off the NBA has decided that sub-par basketball, not worthy of NCAA talent, not worthy of mentioning, is supposedly more important than their MLB coverage.  I refuse to watch such awful basketball, and I wonder how much the NBA is paying the network to air this god-awful stuff to the public.  Can we please just focus on Baseball, Tennis (Wimbledon), Golf (Yes Golf) and the World Cup during the month of July instead of this farce for one month?  It’s bad enough that ESPN pimps for the worst professional league in the world nine months out of the year do we have to have Seth Greenberg talking in July about players that will never see a roster spot in October?  Yes the rookies are exciting to see, but the talent level they are playing against right now are not even close to what they will see in the fall, so please, get over it already.

Third…  The ratings are in.. and NASCAR viewership was down by double digits this year compared to 2016 and 2017.  I Tweeted about this last night.  the reason NASCAR is seeing less viewership is because when they decided to go to “STAGE RACING” they ruined the sport for me.  For fuck’s sake, let these guys race, don’t make them jump through hoops, change strategy, and put two fucking mandatory cautions in the middle of a 500 mile race just because you want to make it interesting for earing points.  You want to know why I think Dale Jr and Jeff Gordon retired?  Because they saw what a crap show NASCAR is becoming and decided they didn’t want to be a part of what will surely be the downfall of the sport.  Its not enough that the sport has become OVERLY commercialized, but to now make the drivers race to a made for TV break in the action do they can sell more Monster Drinks is so bad, I cant watch it anymore.  When NASCAR announced that MONSTER was going to be the TITLE SPONSOR of the TOP SERIES in racing, I threw up a little in my mouth, because it truly showed that all they care about is the money and not the quality of the racing.  Monster Energy Drink is not only a gimmick, it is almost as unhealthy for the human body as Winston Cigarettes,  who was the sponsor of NASCAR for decades.  Die-Hard fans to this day will still call it The Winston Cup..  Not the Sprint Cup.. or the (uggh) Monster Energy Cup..  My advice to NASCAR is to go back to Basics, and put a more solid Sponsor in front of the franchise.  Don’t sell out to the highest bidder and promote a drink that causes cancer and heart attacks in the fans that love the sport.

Fourth…  The Taiwanese kids soccer team that was trapped in a cave for fifteen days have been rescued.  This is truly a remarkable success story and I for one nearly cried when I heard that all thirteen members, including the coach, had been rescued.   This is truly a feel-good story for the ages and I can’t wait for the movie to feel the warm fuzzies all over again (c’mon.. you know they will make a movie about this)  Now.. (wait for it.. here comes the political portion of this post) If only the Trump Administration put the same effort in reuniting families at the border as the Taiwan Navy Seals did in rescuing these boys, I might have hope for this country, but alas…  not getting my hopes up…

Fifth… the NFL promoting a flag football league is almost as bad as ESPN promoting the NBA Summer League…  ALMOST..  I have not watched a game of this monstrosity, and could care less who wins.  A bunch of has-been trying to hang on to the game that they have grown too old to play.  nope..

Sixth…  Who wants to see Federer vs Nadal in the Wimbledon final?  MEEEEE!!!!  Rafa is my favorite player in Tennis and I will jump for joy if he beats Roger in the final.  All the injuries, all the critics saying he is only good on clay, I would love to see it happen again where Rafa beats the master in his favorite tournament.  As for the women’s side…  I am tired of Serena winning, and I am tired of how much press she gets, how the media’s love affair with her and her sister is dominating the Tennis world.  Serena is all about Serena, and no matter what she says in her press conferences, she is a selfish player and looks down on al of her competition as not worthy.  I hope she gets beat, I’m tired of all Serena all of the time.  Retire already, raise your daughter, and go away.  Her temper tantrums are legendary and yet ESPN and the rest of the media give her a pass because of her talent.  I agree she is probably the best player on the women’s side of all time, but I‘m ready to move on.

Seventh..  The Open Championship will be played next week at Carnoustie, and I for one will be rooting for Rickie Fowler.  It’s time this kid gets over the hump and finally wins a Major Championship.  I have been following this kid since Tiger bowed out and became a shadow of his former self and I hop that he finally wins that elusive major. 

Eighth…  the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Nikita Kucherov to an Eight Year Extension worth 9.5 million a year.  This solidifies him, along with Steven Stamkos, as the anchors of this team for years to come….  GO BOLTS!!!!

Finally…  laugh at me if you like…  make fun of me… tell me I’m crazy…  But the Cleveland Browns have put together a solid roster going into 2018 and I am looking forward to a season I can be proud of as a Browns Fan.  I foresee at least 8 wins.. maybe more.  they finally have a solid QB (Tyrod) an excellent receiving corps, and for the first time in a lot of years I have hope for the future.  I don’t have any hope they will win the division, but I firmly believe they will be the most improved team in the NFL this season. I know.. I’m a fan-boy, I’m a homer, but when I am right at the end of the season, you will give me props.  I have a ticket for the Bucs-Browns game in Tampa October 21, and I will be in full Browns Gear rooting the Brownies on.  GO BROWNS!!!

For someone that whined about not being able to put my thoughts down, I hope I did ok with this post…  and hopefully there are many more to come.  One day at a time….  Until next time..

The Sports Nerd

Jameis Winston

jameis

So Jameis is suspended by the NFL for three games for violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.  The games he will miss will be against three top teams in the NFL.  Week one at New Orleans and home games against the Eagles and the Steelers.  Jameis was accused by an Uber driver of groping her in an inappropriate manner in 2016, just after his rookie season.  Winston is not going to appeal the ban since it was part of a negotiated deal between him and the NFL.  The standard suspension is actually six games, but since this is a negotiated deal, he is only getting three.  As part of the discipline, in addition to the suspension Winston will also be required to a clinical evaluation and  to follow any recommendations for therapy the league deems necessary.  The league also said any further violations will result in a more severe punishment up to and including a ban from the NFL.

Winston responded to the suspension with the following statement:

The NFL informed me today that I will be suspended for the first three games of the season.

I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. In the past 2 1/2 years my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.

I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me. I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself.

I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.

Winston’s accuser also released a statement regarding the suspension:

I am glad to see the NFL discipline Jameis Winston. I do appreciate his apology, even if it needs some work.

I would like to publicly acknowledge the NFL investigators, particularly Lisa Friel and John Iannerelli, for their kind, professional and thorough investigation.

My experience should highlight the importance of believing women when they have the courage to come forward about sexual assault. Perhaps that night could have been prevented if others had been believed before me.

Mr. Winston once said, “Girls should be silent, polite and gentle.” I disagree.

#Me-too

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head abut this situation.  First and foremost is that despite the past actions of Winston while he was at Florida State, the Buccaneers still drafted him first overall in 2015, over Marcus Mariota, a player with no past history of what Jameis is being accused of, and not to mention in hindsight, arguable has had a better career thus far in the NFL and is a more respected player in the NFL.  As a follower of the Buccaneers, I have never been a huge Jameis fan, and at the time of the draft, I questioned whether or not the Bucs made the right choice.  In the three years since Jameis has been drafted, the Bucs have a losing record and have not made the playoffs.  He has thrown 44 interceptions compared to 69 touchdowns, he has 8 rushing touchdowns compared to 31 fumbles, losing 15 of those.  He has a 60.8 completion percentage and has been inconsistent at best.  The off the field actions only exacerbate the cancer that Jameis has become to the Buccaneers and I don’t know that he has the ability either on or off the field to come out of this.

Living in the Tampa Bay area I have witnessed first hand 15 years of Buccaneer mediocrity.  They have two playoff appearances since they won the Super Bowl in 2003, none of which has been with Winston on the roster.  They have been the poster child of underachievers for the last 15 years, and there doesn’t appear to be any change in that position for the foreseeable future.  The problem is they have a ton of talent, they have the pieces in place, but they do not seem to have the cohesion to get over the hump.  They were 5-11 in 2017, and with Winston missing the first three games of 2018 they could end up starting the season 0-3 based on who they are playing.  The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bucs are already behind the eight ball with another sub .500 season looming.  Jameis is due to make a ton of money next year in 2019, and his performance this season will determine whether or not the Bucs will move on from Jameis or make him their franchise QB of the future.  Get out the popcorn people this is about to get interesting.

On the field issues aside, Jameis has a history of abuses against women dating back to his days at Florida State.  I don’t think he is a very good person, and despite the fact he stated he is committed to being a better person, there is nothing that he has done thus far to prove that he will change any of his behaviors.  There is a culture in the NFL of abuse against women and because the NFL has not appeared to do anything to bring about change in the league, I don’t feel that the culture will change anytime soon.  Football is my favorite sport, but I am disappointed in the actions of select individuals off the field and their attitude towards women and the sense of invulnerability they seem to feel they have in regards to that attitude.  I know not all players feel and act this way, but those that do continue to give the NFL a black eye when stories like this see the light of day.  The NFL needs to have a more aggressive approach to their players actions off the field and not just sweep them aside and move on.  NFL players, coaches, management, owners, and league front office personnel need to be held to a higher standard, and part of this higher standard includes being tough on those individuals that represent the league when situations like this happen.


The Land of the Free…..

You know, it isn’t always easy to put your thoughts down on paper.  I am no different, and I am someone that has had issues in the past with inspiration.  I sit here for hours looking at my computer screen and think to myself that I should just write a few lines, simple thoughts that are running through my head just to put content out there.  Doesn’t matter if it means anything, just put it out there.  Then I remember that I believe in quality over quantity and I sit back and try and put thought into each and every post, whether it be sports-related or not.  I have spoken about politics and other controversial subjects in the past, and since I am a man of a wide variety of interests, I reserve the right to move off of sports as often as I see fit. 

I have spoken on my show that what happens in DC has very little to do with what happens in my life on a day to day basis.  I don’t hide my political beliefs, all of my friends and coworkers know I lean toward progressive politics and causes.  I also believe that I am in control of my destiny, What happens in Congress, or in the White House has no bearing on where I am going in my career or in my personal life.  With that being said the political climate disturbs me, both sides are polarizing, both sides are corrupt, and both sides are at fault for what is going on in the country, no matter what side of the aisle you fall on.  Without taking sides, I ask all those that read this that may have influence or a pulpit to broadcast from that has influence, to respect each other, to work together and look at all issues from a side of neutrality that will allow us to keep America great.  I ask everyone to work towards a time that will allow America to continue to move forward, to continue to make this country the beacon of democracy, a beacon of freedom, and a place where those that are oppressed to reach out for an escape and hope that they will be accepted and embraced in the arms of freedom. 

I will now quote a phrase that has been quoted by many, a statement that defines what this country is, no matter what side of the political spectrum you reside, this statement has been engraved in copper, in the statue that signifies the struggle of oppressed people around the world and has greeted immigrants to this country for over 130 years: 

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

These words are embossed on the Statue of Liberty, and no matter what you believe or feel about the current political climate, those words ring true as to what this country is all about.  there are no conditions, there are no exceptions and there are no requirements required by any individual searching for a better life.  There is no “yeah but”: to this, it is written on the statue and has been the cornerstone of immigration in the country long before any of us have been around.  It is not up for interpretation, and the words are not fluent, they are set, they are concise, and they epitomize the spirit of what America is.  Unless you are an American Indian, we are ALL immigrants, whether our ancestors came to America during the influx in the early 20th century, or if you are a descendent of a passenger of the Mayflower (as I am). 

I don’t care about the conditions, nor do I care what the “rule of law” is, the POLICY of separating children from their parents is not ethical, it is not humane, nor is is compassionate.  Most, yes MOST of the immigrants entering this country at the southern border, or any border for that matter, are escaping atrocities and the threat of death in their own countries.  they aren’t all from Mexico, they aren’t all criminals, and they aren’t all looking to take advantage of handouts from the government.  They are looking to keep their families safe, to escape tyranny, to come to America for the opportunity to live without the threat of being killed. 

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but if just one person can read this and understand what the country ACTUALLY stands for, it is worth it.  Hate me for my beliefs, disagree with me if you want, but the fact remains that the United States of America is a country of immigrants whether your ancestors arrived in 1905, or 1620, they were all escaping oppression, whether it be for religious or political reasons.  We have an obligation to all immigrants to provide them with the opportunity to achieve the American dream, as intended by the founders of this country.

I grew up during the Cold War, I grew up with the threat of nuclear war, but throughout all of that, despite the threat of Soviet ICBM’s, the one thing I could always count on is that those that were threatened by political persecution, those that were living under the threat of being killed by government forces, terrorists, drug dealers or the person that lived next door, always had the opportunity to come to America, where they could work to achieve the dream of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without the threat of being killed or arrested because of their beliefs.

OK…  I’m off my soapbox for now..  back to sports tomorrow…

 

The Last 24 Hours in Sports

Tonight’s column is going to be NFL heavy.  Those that know me understand that I am a football fan first then all other sports fall in line after that all the way down to soccer and curling. 

The largest story in the NFL is the brother of Janoris Jenkins has been charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of Rene Roosevelt, who was found in the home of Jenkins yesterday.  Jenkins was in Florida and did not comment on the situation, supposedly allowing law enforcement to take the lead.  Roosevelt apparently was strangled, and Jenkins’ brother has a checkered past, he was currently on parole, and has served two prison sentences related to drug possession and intent to sell.  He is currently being held in the Ontario County jail for a prole violation.  I honestly feel that Janoris had nothing to do with this as he was out of the state, but this does not look good and I assume the Giants and the NFL are looking at this very closely.  Condolences go to the family of Mr. Roosevelt.

Next up is another sad story, this time coming out of Denver.  The wife of Pat Bowlen, Annabel announced today that she has also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,  stating that because of June being Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month she felt now was the time to make the announcement.  This is so sad, for the spouse of an NFL Owner, who is also suffering from this terrible disease breaks my heart.  I Have knows a few people in my lifetime that have suffered from this disease and I can definitely tell you that it is not pretty.  My heart goes out tot he Bowlen family, and despite my hatred of the Denver Broncos (The Drive, The Fumble) I would not wish this on my worst enemy.  My thoughts are with the Bowlen family, not that it means anything, but I feel for them.

Changing gears a bit, some feel good stories from the NFL.  First, Saquon Barkley, the second pick in the NFL draft, bought his parents a house, something he has been wanting to do for years.  This a feel good story for me and shows how much Barkley loves his parents.  He said that this is something he has been promising him self since he was a kid.  for him to finally be able to do this is wonderful.  His average salary over the next four years will be 7.9 million per year, so I guess he can afford to do what he wants to do.  Second, Andrew Luck plans pre-camp workouts with his WR’s leading up to training camp.  Luck said it is part of the plan and that he intends to build relationships with the receivers that he has not had the chance to get to know while he was rehabbing his injured shoulder.  He has a lot of rust and plans to get as many reps as possible before training camp starts. 

From MLB, and I apologize for all of the bad news on this post tonight, a 48 year old man was found dead in a beer cooler at the Atlanta Braves ballpark and the police are investigating if it was foul play.  Todd Keeling was an inventor who was in Atlanta to install beer taps in the ballpark, and his company produced those beer taps that would allow stadiums to pour three times more than normal beer taps.  He had already installed these taps at stadiums in Chicago and Minnesota.  A cause of death has not been released. 

Don’t look now but the hottest team in the National League is the Cincinnati Reds. they  have won nine of their last ten and twelve of their last fifteen.  Orioles Manny Machado is on the trade block and the Phillies are rumored to try and get him, but the Dodgers are the favorites in this lottery.  The Orioles are terrible and they need value, whether it is draft picks or prospects, and Machado is one of the most attractive players available in MLB.  The Tigers fired pitching coach Chris Bosio for insensitive comments made toward a team employee.  The Tigers are not saying what the comments were, nor the employee in which they were directed, only that the comments made were a violation of club policy and his contract and that they would have no further comment on the issue.  Arkansas won game one of the College World Series Tuesday night over Oregon State 4-1 in the best of three series.  Arkansas is looking to be the sixth straight school to win the series for the first time in their history.  Game two is tonight, and I will report the result in tomorrows column.

LeBron still has not announced what he is going to do……  Germany was eliminated from the World Cup today…. NASCAR SUCKS…  Tiger returns this weekend at the Quicken Loans National….  Martin St Louis (Go Bolts) inducted in the NHL Hall of fame, as well as Gary Bettman and Martin Brodeur….. Serena ranked 25th at Wimbledon….Nadal worlds number one

More tomorrow…

The Last 24 Hours in the world of Sports (kind of)

Well you know how to saying goes.. The best-laid plans of mice and men go awry.  I had fully intended on starting my blog series..  “The Last 24 Hours” as mentioned in my previous post, but there was a migraine that got in the way of my plans.  I was out of it yesterday, the day I planned to start this series, by a migraine that festered itself from last Sunday night into Monday.  I left work before 2:00 pm and was in bed for a majority of the remainder of the day, therefore was in no condition to sit in front of a bright monitor and pound a keyboard for an hour or so.  With all of that being said, here I am at 6pm on a Tuesday night creating a column for what happened over the weekend in sports, as well as what happened yesterday.

First lets get the 1000 pound gorilla out in the open.  I am not a fan of Soccer, I hate the game it is too slow, boring and just not my cup of tea.  However there is this thing called a The World Cup going on in Russia and everyone I come across lately can not talk about any other sport right now.  I guess that is because the NFL is in the offseason, the MLB hasn’t reached the All-Star break yet and the NBA and NHL just wrapped up their seasons, the NBA of course was anti-climatic due to a four game sweep by Golden State of the Cavaliers, while the Stanley Cup was won by the Washington Capitals in dramatic fashion, earning the first ever Championship for a DC team since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in the early 90’s.  So for the record, England is taking the tournament by storm, there are discussions of Messi and Renaldo (if the spelling is wrong, I don’t care) an exciting match between Senegal and Japan on Sunday, (per my friend Jon) and we still have to get to the “knockout stage” of the tournament. **sigh**  ok that’s my take on the World Cup..

So the biggest story in the NBA is of course, where will LeBron go?  Well, as a sports fan that was born in NE Ohio and lived my first 12 years as a human there, as well as having family still living there nearly 40 years later, I don’t care.  He can stay, he can go, he can retire, it doesn’t matter.  Why? you say? because the NBA is an awful representation of the game of basketball.  The sport is full of egos, showoffs, and guys that don’t care about playin a pure team game and only interested whether or not they are going to make Sports Center’s top 10 that night.  Don’t get me wrong, these guys are phenomenal athletes, and they can do things I was never able to do with a basketball, but the fact of the matter remains I just can’t get into today’s NBA.  I am more of a purist, I miss the days of Bird, Magic, Kareem, and Jordan.  With that being said, the hype is that LeBron is going to LA, and if that happens, then the Lakers will lose to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals every year for the foreseeable future.  I think he should stay in the Eastern Conference, because his game is more suited to Eastern conference type of play.  It is a more physical game in the Eastern Conference, and that is suited perfectly for how he plays the game. 

Now that I have completely alienated all of my Soccer and NBA readers, lets move on to other happenings.  Congratulations to Bubba Watson on his come from behind victory at the Traveler’s Championship on Sunday.  Coming from six shots behind Paul Casey at the start of the day, Watson shot a final round 63, and wins the Traveler’s for the third time in his career.  Casey had a chance to run away with it but two errant drives down the stretch sealed his fate.  Congrats to Bubba, he earned it and had a great finish to wrap up the tournament.  In Major League Baseball, a woman was hit in the face by a “hot dog cannon” in Philadelphia over the weekend.  The Phanatic shot a duct tape wrapped hot dog into the stands at a Phillies game, hitting a woman who was unable to defend herself because of a bum shoulder and it gave her a black eye.  The woman said that she was not angry and would not press charges, thus making it a non-story, but ESPN and the other networks made a point to rehash it over and over again all weekend long, thus showing how slow the sports news cycle is with 3 of the 4 major sports leagues in their offseason. 

Finally in the NFL, Julian Edelman is going to appeal his suspension for violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, to no surprise to anyone.  The problem here is that the NFL can’t tell him what it is they found in the test, and that in and of itself is a red flag in my book.  I am no fan of the Patriots, but this is something that I have a problem with.  Edelman has a right to know what he is accused of taking, and because the NFL doesn’t know, that the positive result was for a substance that wasn’t immediately recognizable tells me that they are fishing without a lure, trying to dig something up and now that Edelman is calling them on it, they are going to have a fight on their hands they didn’t expect.  Edelman is arguing the mishandling of the paperwork and and delivery of the testing sample.  They call it the Ryan Braun defense, and I for one, am looking forward to it.

And with that… I leave you until tomorrow…