Reflection and Remembrance….

Today, as we sit back and reflect on what happened 17 years ago, I look back and think of where I was and what I was doing.  I was two days away from my 35th birthday, on vacation, and sitting in front of my computer, as I am now.  I was chatting with my “girlfriend” at the time on MSN Messenger, had either CNN or GMA on the tube.  I remember looking over at the TV and seeing smoke billowing from one of the twin towers.  I remember posting to Barb “Are you watching this?” and she saying “watching what?”  I told her to turn on the TV, a plane has crashed into one of the towers at the WTC.  I remember her saying “OMG” and at that point I moved away from the computer and for the rest of that week, I spent it in front of the TV, watching the aftermath and reactions to what had happened.  It is a time I will never forget, and as I look back on that time I look at how far we have come, and a a lot of what has happened since is sad, yet a lot of what has happened has allowed me to forge precious friendships that I will never forget and will honor the rest of my life.

One such friendship that has meant the most to me was of a women I met in a chatroom nearly 20 years ago.  Rhonda Merrill was a 30 year-old Indianapolis Colts fan that I met in an MSN Chatroom and I remember thinking that she was a little bit dizzy, yet behind that “typical blonde” persona was a warm, caring, beautiful person who was passionate not only about her chosen football team, but passionate with her friendships.  I found I could confide in her, joke around with her, and eventually trust her and love her like a baby sister.  Over the years I became protective of her, defended her from personal attacks, and looked to her for advice, for counsel, and when I needed to be lifted out of depression.  Rhonda became my closest friend, and I knew I could always count on her to be there for me when I needed her, and she could always count on me to be there for her when she needed me.

Rhonda experienced a lot of tragedy in her life, losing her mother and sister to a car accident, an accident in which Rhonda was a passenger.  She experienced a life of medical issues due to the accident, details of which I will not reveal, but know that she suffered physically for the majority of her life.  She lost her dad a few years ago, something I don’t think she ever recovered from, and yet, she moved on, remaining positive and being a happy person, enlightening me in the process.  She eventually lost her brother, but not to death, just as a part of her life.  she never told me the specifics around what happened, but I could tell that it hurt her to her core.  We went into business together (online of course) and for a while it was like we were back in MSN Chat all over again and that we would be successful together and become rich and famous (HA!!) eventually I lost interest and moved on to trying to be successful in the real world, after all I had bills to pay. 

The following few years we  become distant, life got in the way and It seemed like I had taken our friendship for granted.  We spoke for the first time in years about three years ago and it was then she revealed to me that she had ovarian cancer.  I was heartbroken, and I didn’t know how to take it.  She seemed optimistic and assured me that she was going to fight this and win.  I believed her, after all, this was a woman that I had admired for over a decade, respected her for her intelligence, her warmth, and her need to put others feelings and needs above her own.  She had become a somewhat successful graphic artist, doing things with photoshop that I could only dream of.  Life moved on again and it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that we reconnected, both of us apologizing to the other for not keeping in contact.  She told me that she was still in treatment and despite the fact that her health was still and issue, it was like time had never passed us by, and we picked up right where we left off.  It was comforting to have her back in my life and I felt whole again.

A few weeks went by, and she called me to tell me that the cancer had now spread to her brain.  I was devastated, and I feared the loss of my dear friend would be the punishment of not staying in contact with her, the guilt was overwhelming, and I didn’t know if I could bear it.  She told me she was scared, and through the tears that were forming in my eyes I told her that it would be ok, and that I was here for her whenever she needed me, no matter the day, the time ore the reason.  Told her to pick up the phone and call me.  We talked a few times over the course of the following weeks and then I get a call from Bob, her boyfriend/fiancé a couple of weeks ago telling me that she was now in Hospice and that they are only giving her a few months at the most.  My heart rose to my throat and I realized that I was losing her.  This past weekend, shortly after 6pm eastern Rhonda passed away.  She was 47.  I have lost a close friend, a baby sister, and a woman I have admired for nearly 20 years.  She didn’t deserve this, and the anger I feel towards a God that would allow one of his children to go through all of the heartache she has endured her entire life to end up suffering to a painful and debilitating disease is immeasurable..  It just isn’t fair…   

I have a lot of anger towards this entire situation, and that is for me to work through and get over.  I am not much for placing a “message” in my posts…  but for those of you that read this..  embrace and treasure your friendships, because you just never know when they will be gone. 

Goodbye Rho..  I miss you…  I love you.. and I hope to see you again…

The Sports Nerd

August 30, 2018

I promised a post for tonight, and here it is.  I don’t have a specific topic, nor do I have a rant prepared for this post.  I do want to express my heartfelt condolences to an extended family of mine.  Harry Jones passed away in his sleep last night.  He was 91 years old.  He was the brother of my uncles first wife.  He was a remarkable man.  for many years he lived across the street from My uncle Paul (my Mothers Brother) and was a beacon of humor, of kindness, and of decency.  Harry had a contagious laugh, he could talk your ears off for hours upon end, and he was one of the most kind men I ever had the pleasure of meeting.  My heart goes out to the Jones family, and especially to my cousin Suzie, who is also a wonderful human being and kind soul. 

couple of quick hits…

Don’t sleep on the Indians AL. they are a sleeper for the World Series.. Just sayin..

The Browns will win 8 games this year so says First Ballot NFL Hall Of Famer Joe Thomas… I agree

37 days til opening day in the NHL

One week til opening day in the NFL (Go Falcons)

Josh Gordon will have 1500 receiving yards (don’t judge me)

The Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, and the Seattle Seahawks will all miss the playoffs this season.

I’ll have more tomorrow…  RIP Harry.. thank you for everything…

Today in the NFL

So, let me try this again.  they say if you do a thing over and over again it becomes habit.  I’m going to try and post once a day, and if I do that it will mean that a lot of my posts will be short and sweet, cover one topic, and not get too deep into the subject. 

I have perused the blogs here at Steam and all I am seeing is fantasy advice, betting lines, contests and a whole bunch of no content.  I give you opinion, share stories, and just overall talk about sports.  I have YET to see anyone go that route, and for that I am n grateful, because that just happens to be where I excel.  I am unfiltered, I tell it how my brain thinks it and I refuse to pander to you just to win your upvotes or steam, I am no-nonsense and I am raw.  I hope that by providing good content and commentary I will earn both your upvotes AND your Steam.  so..  BUCKLE UP..  Real Sports talk has come to Steam and I have no filter, whether it be here on the blog or on the weekly Sports Nerds Show every Sunday night at 7 eastern on D-Live

Let me start tonight with two big contract signings this  week in the NFL.  First Odell Beckham Jr signed a contract with the Giants for 5 years and $95 million, with a signing bonus of $20 million and $65 million guaranteed.  This is good for Odell, but although I have seen signs of brilliance, I want to see how good he is over the long haul, because he will be coming off his rookie contract and he hasn’t been in the league long enough for me to say he is elite.  He was injured last year and now the Giants are going to fork over $95 million to a guy that had a fractured ankle, along with ligament damage, not to mention let alone hasn’t taken a snap in the preseason this year.  I hope I am wrong, I like OBJ and the energy and personality he brings to the NFL, I am just cautiously optimistic coming off such a gruesome injury.

Today, the Green Bay Packers announced they have come to term with Aaron Rogers on a 4-year contract extension for $134 million with a guaranteed $100 million.  this is the polar opposite of how I feel about OBJ.  Rogers is a proven commodity, including a Super bowl ring and arguable the best QB in the NFL over the last 10+ years.  This keeps him in Green Bay for the rest of his career, not that it was ever in doubt, and allows him to focus on the upcoming season and put this issue to bed.  I am not a Packers fan, but I love me some Aaron Rogers and he is always fun to watch.  Congrats to him for getting PAID..

The Jets traded Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints.  congrats Teddy you are now in the unenviable position of being overshadowed by a future first ballot Hall of Famer in Drew Brees.  I imagine he had no say in this decision because Teddy has a lot to prove after coming off of a gruesome injury that sidelined him for over a year.  Part of him has to be pissed that he wont get a chance to start, and instead will be relegated to a clipboard and earpiece.  I feel bad for him, but the bright side of this is he DOES get to be in the room with Sean Payton and Drew Brees learning how to make a run at a championship. 

With the trade of Bridgewater to New Orleans this means that Sam Darnold is now the starting QB for the N.Y.   J-E-T-S  Jets!!  He’s gonna get killed when those blitzing linebacker jump through the weak offensive line and put him in concussion protocol week one, leaving Josh McDaniel to take over while he recovers.  I am not HOPING for it, but I can see it happening.  Good luck Sam..  yer gonna need it, the Jets suck and they will fight for the cellar position in the AFC East along with the Buffalo Bills this year (Sorry Jon). 

Finally, to close this rant, I can’t go without giving a shoutout to  Mychal Kendricks for being indicted for insider trading.  One more thing to go wrong for my beloved Browns.  He knew this was coming when he was signed by the Browns, but it appears that he failed to disclose this information to his new employer.  If this is the case the Browns need to put him on the next bus to wherever his trial will be held.  His career may very well be over, and he has no one to blame but himself for being in this situation.  Good Riddance…

Have a good night…  Until tomorrow…

The Ramblings of a Sports Fan….

So, it’s been a while since I posted…  This is a bad habit I have had for many years.  going months without typing a blog post, one I have been trying to correct most of my blogging lifetime. I don’t know if this will ever change, but for now, I am writing.  Let’s begin with the Sports Nerd Show.  In case you have missed it, we are back, and broadcasting live each Sunday Night on a new platform call D-Live.  You can find my profile here, please review past broadcasts from the last few weeks.  It may seem like they are shorter than what you are used to, that’s because recently (like today) I found out I was broadcasting at too-high of bitrate, I am hoping that after changes made tonight that will be resolved, so please, if you are a fan of sports, comedy, movie reviews, and all-around NSFW shenanigans, I encourage you to tune in and enjoy the fun.

Second order of business, the usual sports talk I have been known to spit out on this blog from time to time.  MLB races are heating up, NFL season is upon us, as is the NCAAF season, and I am glad to have football back after 7 months of withdrawals.  There are many different stories and highlights I can discuss, but for now, I am only going to address a brief number of them.  I haven’t posted since early July and it would take me a month to coverall that has been going on.  I am going to pace myself, just address these in a brief sentence, then move on.

Tiger is back, and that is the golf mention of this post.  I don’t care what you say, it is only a matter of time before he is winning again.  I believe he will make the Ryder cup team in September, and I fell that he will win a tournament next year, even perhaps a major… we’ll see.

The Browns have been featured on “Hard Knocks” and although I admit to having HBO, I haven’t watched one minute of that sideshow.  I am only interested in what they do during the season, and I don’t care about what happens behind the scenes, only what happens on the field.  Josh Gordon is back in the fold, which is good to see, the defense is going to be good, and we finally have a real QB under center.  I am a firm believer in Tyrod Taylor, and after being unsure about overall #1 pick Baker Mayfield during the draft, I am pleased with his passion and his performance during preseason games.  I still feel he needs to sit this season, but after that, depending how good Tyrod does, he maybe ready to become the QB of the future for this franchise.  Hue has a long way to go before I am convinced he is the coach to lead this team to the playoffs, specifically I just want to see them win a game in the regular season. 

Staying with my favorite teams, the Cleveland Indians are running away with the Central Division in the AL, but the division is not my concern.  It is, of course the top teams in the American League that has me concerned.  The Indians have one of the most potent lineups in baseball, but the bullpen is making me nervous, because Cody Allen has let us down a lot this season.  They got Hand from the Padres, which was supposed to shore up the closer role, but I am not quite sold, plus Trevor Bauer is on the DL and he may not see the mound again before the postseason, so the starting pitching is also concerning me.  So in a nutshell, the Indians need to straighten out their pitching issues if they are going to make a run I the postseason, cause the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros are all better and the A’s and Mariners even scare me a bit, but we’ll see…  all bets are off once the postseason begins, and we are just now starting the September push toward the playoffs, so may the best team win, and Go Tribe!!

With all that being said, LeBron is in LA…  meh who cares, I hate the NBA.  Hawaii wins the LLWS…  Serena is the favorite ate the US Open, despite the French Open saying she cant wear the “cat suit” in future tournaments, never mind the fact the outfit was keeping her alive…  NFL players are still Kneeling, good for them.. and for the record as the 4583902894th person to say it, they aren’t protesting the anthem, they are protesting injustice, and the fact they do it DURING the anthem is how they are attempting to bring attention to their cause, because if they walked to midfield and kneeled at halftime, it would not have near the impact, and they want to have their issues front and center, despite the fact of how it would impact the public’s opinion of them. Keep Kneeling guys, I am behind you, oppression has no place in the world, and these athletes have the platform to bring the issue to the forefront, and anyone that thinks they are protesting the Anthem, or the troops, needs to take off their racist rose colored glasses and see what’s really wrong in this country.

Finally, let me just say this, and it will ruffle a few feathers, but once again we had a mass shooting this week.  this time it was in Jacksonville at a Madden ‘19 tournament.  Some asshole didn’t like the fact he got beat and decided he was going to be a sore loser and shoot up the place.  It has been released that the guy has had mental issues most of his life, yet he was still allowed to own a gun.  It is my opinion that ANYONE with a history of mental illness should not own a firearm of any kind.  I am pro 2nd amendment, despite the fact that I decide to not own a gun, because once we start down the road of repealing amendments to the constitution we are headed to the endgame of the loss of all freedoms.  I believe in (talking point warning!!) common-sense gun laws and will vote for any candidate who also believes in them.  Tighter background checks…  longer waiting periods…  mandatory background checks for any gun sold at gun shows…..  the same waiting period for AR-15’s as there are for handguns… and eventually, the ban of AR-15 type weapons considered and that fall under the label of assault weapons.  I have family members that own these weapons, and even though I love them more than anything, I still don’t feel that these weapons have a use in society, outside the use in the military.  You want to shoot a military style weapon, then join the military, it is not needed in civilian life…. so ends the extreme left-wing portion of this post. 

Finally….  I never voted for him ( I don’t live in AZ) and I did not support him for President in 2008, but I do want to honor a man that I had great respect for.  John McCain Served in Vietnam as a Naval Aviator.  He was shot down over Hanoi in the late 60’s.  Ejecting from his plane broke both arms and one leg (if I am wrong please let me know) and despite his injuries and treatment by his captors, refused early release.  His father was a highly ranked and well-known officer in the Navy during Vietnam, and despite the fact the North Vietnamese provided him an out because of his fathers rank, he refused.   He said that he would not go home until those that we captured before him were released.  He suffered horrific torture at the hands of his captors during his years of captivity in the Hanoi Hilton.  For those Millennials that think that the name Hanoi Hilton means that he was kept in a hotel with room service and amenities, use Google Search and look up “Hanoi Hilton” to get an idea of just exactly what that prison was.  The fact he endured all of this tells me everything I need to know about the honor, the character, and the morals of John McCain.  I did not agree with his politics, but I never questioned his patriotism, and I have always respected him, no matter his position on a particular subject or issue.  A true Patriot, an American Hero, and a dedicated servant to his country, Godspeed Senator, and may you Rest in Peace.

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