Student Athletes of the World Unite

Written by :
Published on : September 6, 2016

 

 

Should student athletes be allowed to unionize? That’s a complicated question that has yet to be definitively answered. This is a battle that is far from over. So I’m here to give you my thoughts on the issue.

 

I’ve alway had a firm belief that if there is a group of people profiting off of the labor and dedication of others, then the people doing the work have a right to band together in order to present a united front to management. For the workers, it’s really the only chance they have to be on a level playing field with the people profiting off of their endeavors. The owners of capital hold all of the cards in this game and as an individual, the laborer, has little chance of being able to stand up to the bosses.

 

northwestern-football-strike-picket-signs-union

 

So the real question regarding this whole situation is: are student athletes in fact employees? When the football players at Northwestern University attempted to unionize last year, the National Labor Relations Board declined to rule on the question of employment. Instead, they refused to extend their jurisdiction to college athletics altogether, stating “potential negative consequences” that could be associated with such a move. They didn’t necessarily overturn the lower regional ruling that the revenue-generating student athletes at Northwestern were, in fact, employees of the university, but they refused to even hear the question.

 

That just doesn’t make sense. The college sports industry is valued at something like $11 billion, yet the student athletes that help make all of that possible get none of the profits, have little recourse for airing grievances, and are denied certain rights that are available to other students. That’s a travesty, especially when you consider that the lack of profit sharing leaves an estimated 85% of student athletes below the poverty line. Sure, they receive room and board, in addition to tuition, but almost all agree that it isn’t enough to live on. They sacrifice their education in the name of sports. Athletes routinely miss classes in order to fulfill their commitments to the team.

 

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                                                                      How is this ok? (SOURCE: NYT)

 

All of that is secondary to what I consider the most important reason that student athletes should be able to unionize, and that’s long term health benefits. This probably applies more to football than to basketball. I don’t want to trivialize the physical sacrifices that college basketball players make, but the high impact nature of college football means that there are long-term, internal effects of that game that aren’t as obvious as the joint and bone injuries common in hoops. With everything that we now know about repeated concussions sustained in football, I believe that there should be some responsibility by the universities that are making millions off of these kids. There could be mental effects that these athletes won’t feel for years to come, and if they aren’t lucky enough to make it to the NFL, then they may be left to deal with them on their own. That’s just not fair.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I was raised in a UAW family and have always been a strong believer in the benefits of unions in general. I recognize that the power they hold has been abused at times, but you can certainly say the same thing for management in almost every industry. These kids are making huge sacrifices in the name of their schools. I understand that making unionization possible for big money sports like football and basketball could put smaller, less profitable college sports in jeopardy, but I also think there is a way to work around that. There is no shortage of money in college athletics. Now the only problem is getting those that hold that money to share a little bit of it with the people who generate it. That’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s not impossible either. First, we need the student athletes of the world to unite and demand their rights as employees of their respective universities.

 

 


SBS Film Vault: The Sandlot

Written by :
Published on : August 3, 2016

 

In 1993, the world was set on fire by one backyard baseball movie. And that, was The Sandlot. It was funny, heartwarming and told a story of youth that we can all relate to. Thematically the film is less about sports and more about life but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s bust into the SBS Film Vault for a quick game before the streetlights turn on and we have to go inside for dinner.

 

The kids

Our narrator (also the writer and director) takes us back to the summer of 1962 where the young version of himself, called Scotty Smalls, first meets the Sandlot crew and his life is changed forever. There is Benny the superstar, Yeah-yeah, Timmy, Repeat, Squints, Ham, Kenny, and Bertram.

 

The-Sandlot crew

 

This cast is stacked. Like the original dream team. The actor who plays Benny also stars in D2: The Mighty Ducks and D3: The Mighty Ducks. Also in D2 is Brandon Quintin Adams, who plays Kenny. He is also in the original The Mighty Ducks and one of my favs, The People Under the Stairs. Ham is played by Patrick Reena who was also cast in The Big Green, another kid’s sports flick. Plus it has Dennis Leary in the only role I like him in other than Demolition Man. Also, Smalls’ mom is Karen Allen, who you may remember from such small films as Animal House and Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

 

The plot

Newbie Smalls, takes a Babe Ruth signed ball from his stepdad (Leary) and brings to the Sandlot for their daily game. The ball gets hit over the fence before any of the other guys know what they are playing with. But you can’t just go over there and get the ball, because behind the fence lives: THE BEAST. A monstrous junkyard dog that kills anything that goes over that wall. Now, Smalls and team must do the unthinkable and recover the ball, no matter what it takes.

 

Highlights

The-Sandlot-Squints

 

– On a super hot day, Squints, jumps off the deep end of the city pool forcing smoking hot lifeguard, Wendy Peffercorn, to save him. Mid CPR, we learn it was all a plan to get some lip-on-lip action with Wendy. Classic. And kind of rapey.

– Ham teaches Smalls how to make his first s’more. First you take the graham, stick the chocolate on the graham, then you roast the mallow. When the mallow’s flaming, you stick it on the chocolate. Then you cover it with the other end. Then (and I’d say most importantly) you scarf.

– PF Flyers. AKA, the dopest shoes in the galaxy. Literally makes you run faster and jump higher. This flick was way ahead of it’s time. It even had a shoe tie-in. That’s clever.

******Spoiler Alert******

– The epic chase between Benny and the Beast in the third act. It’s like it’s own episode of Looney Tunes. It’s filled with visual jokes and dramatic setups. It’s almost Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. 

 

sandlot jones

 

– James Earl Jones shows up at the end. That’s right, Darth Vader and Field of Dreams makes an appearance in the last reel. The kids discover that the mean old man with the killer dog is really just blind Mr Mertle and his old hound, Hercules. Not scary at all. On top of that, he knows everything about baseball and helps Smalls replace his Ruth ball with one signed by a the whole 1927 Murder’s Row Yankees, including Ruth.

 

Memorable lines, great characters and a solid cast make The Sandlot a classic. It has that awesome quality where the story is for kids but it plays to the adults as well. And above all, it captures that feeling of youth and makes you want to get outside and throw the ball around. It’s a movie I’ll always remember for-ever-er.

 

You’re killing me Smalls.

 

 


The Detroit Lions offense will be fine without Calvin Johnson

Written by :
Published on : July 24, 2016

 

 

We gon’ be alright.

 

 

After many months, I have stopped mourning the loss of another Hall of Fame (fuck you if you don’t agree) Lions player who retired far too early. Now that I have had time to process the loss of Calvin Johnson, I’m here to tell all my fellow Lions fans that things will be okay, and despite popular opinion, the Detroit Lions offense is going to be alright.

 

I don’t aim to diminish everything that the man known as Megatron meant to the team and the city of Detroit, but in the game of football you need to deal with these kind of things. If you don’t adapt, you die. And I think that the Lions are very much alive right now. Before you jump all over me and say that the Lions are a five win team, just hear me out…

 

The Offensive Line

Last year the Lions offensive line was a mess. They haven’t had a decent right tackle since Gosder Cherilus, and that’s debatable. We’ve signed a succession of veritable turnstiles at the position, who aren’t worth naming, ever since. The center position has also been bad for a few years now, because of the lack of development by Travis Swanson. When two of your five starters in the unit are liabilities it means that you aren’t going to run the ball very well and, more importantly, your quarterback is going to get destroyed. The only thing that could make it worse would be having a system of blocking that is ill-suited for your personnel group. The Lions had that too. It was a mess.

 

 Seems like just yesterday Taylor was on the podium with Goodell, now he’s getting work at LT.

 

This offseason, the Lions finally got serious about adding some talent along the offensive line. It started by adding Geoff Schwartz, who has had a nice career, when healthy, and has the versatility to fill in at multiple spots. After that, they addressed the tackle position, much to the joy of the fanbase, by adding Ohio State tackle, Taylor Decker in the first round of the draft. The team also added a little fire under the ass of Travis Swanson by drafting Graham Glasgow out of Michigan in the third round. Both of these young monsters of the Big 10 will be on the team for years to come but it is Decker who will have an immediate impact.

 

I figured he would earn his bones at right tackle and eventually supplant Riley Reiff on the left side, but it seems as though the team might try him out at left tackle from the jump. People have been saying for a long time that Reiff is more suited to play on the right side, so if Decker really is good enough to play on the left side from the start, the Lions could be looking very good along the offensive line. He is an absolute mauler in the run game that will open up some big holes for Ameer Abdulah from day one.

 

But perhaps even more significant than the solid additions to the roster is the continued development of….

 

Cooter-ball!

When Jim Caldwell was hired and brought in football legacy Joe Lombardi as offensive coordinator, hopes were high in Motown. It became clear very early on that something was not working, and in my opinion, Lombardi should have been shown the door prior to that second season, regardless of the playoff appearance. After that terrible start last year, he was finally given his walking papers mid-season. The team promoted QB coach, Jim Bob Cooter, to fill the play-calling void and the team very quickly started to turn things around. Gone was the slow developing, precision passing game from New Orleans and in its place was something more tailored to our QB, a man who is definitely not Drew Brees and should not be forced to try to become him.

 

 The man himself.

 

More important than any change in play-calling was the fact that Jim Bob Cooter wisely scraped the entire offensive blocking scheme. It was very apparent that our group of big guys could not run Joe Lomardi’s complex, zone blocking system. There were too many times early on last season when guys were left blocking no one, while three defensive linemen were busy making Stafford eat the turf. The change to a power-blocking system, where our guys were allowed to hit the guys in front of them, greatly benefited the offense.

 

After the Lions week 9 bye last year, the offense, and especially Matt Stafford, really started to take off. Interceptions were down, and completion percentage and yards per carry were up. In the second half of the season, Stafford was a top QB in the league and the team wasn’t turning the ball over. And it’s because of these things that Jim Bob Cooter, the man with the best name in football, was asked to return and bring the Detroit Lions’ offense to the next level. With a full offseason under his belt, I believe Cooter-ball is going to be a household name very soon.

 

The Other Weapons

The Detroit Lions aren’t strangers to making due without Calvin Johnson. For the last handful of seasons, he has been injured quite often. There were times when he would be used merely as a decoy or miss games altogether. The team has been forced to adapt in those situations, and most of the time they have done a pretty good job. A recent successful situation that comes to mind is the 2014 season. For much of the season Johnson was obviously hurt and probably should have missed more games than he actually did. The thing is that Matt Stafford might have been a better quarterback with Megatron missing or limited. It forced him to go through his progressions completely and spread the ball around. He wasn’t able to automatically revert to throwing up jump balls to the best receiver in the game and instead had to find the best option on the field among one of his other weapons. And he didn’t have very many.

 

 Look for Golden Tate in an end zone nearest you this year.

 

One weapon that he did have, and leaned on heavily, was Golden Tate and this year he will be a main focal point once again. Tate is as sure-handed as they come and is a big play waiting to happen once he has the ball in his hands. We’ve seen what he can do and we know he is capable of great things when the offense is clicking, but he isn’t the only one on the roster who can make big plays. The Lions also added Marvin Jones, formerly of the Bengals, to take the spot opposite Tate and (try) to fill the void left by Calvin. He is a complete receiver coming off of his best season and is only 26 years old. While some people think that the Lions overpaid for him, he was the consensus-number one at his position in free agency, and the Lions had a need. I applaud the decisiveness of new GM Bob Quinn. Jones is more of a deep threat than people give him credit for and has some of the surest hands in the league, along with Golden Tate, which is good when you consider the Lions’ other two big weapons on offense.

 

The team has some other hopefuls at wide receiver in TJ Jones, Jeremy Kerley and Andre Roberts but much of the season depends on if running back Ameer Abdullah and tight end Eric Ebron can step up their game. As Ameer Abdullah showed on his very first touch in the NFL, he is an explosive runner who can find the end zone on any given play. He should have a huge season behind that revamped offensive line as long as he can overcome his fumbling problem from last year. Eric Ebron has all the physical tools to be a monster of a tight end, but he needs to continue to develop and stop making mental mistakes (like dropping the ball). I personally think that both of these guys will come into their own this year and help the Lions’ offense be among the best in football.

 

 With the holes created by the Lions this coming season, Abdullah will get a chance to work his magic.

 

Have no fear, Lions fans, Calvin Johnson’s retirement may be sad, but it is most certainly not the end of the world. In similar fashion to Barry Sanders, who retired in 1999 following a 5-11 season, we were all blindsided by the departure of an offensive juggernaut. But the Lions followed up the Sanders retirement with a trip to the playoffs, and I think the team can do it again. Along with a defense that is welcoming back DeAndre Levy and still has mastermind Teryl Austin calling the shots, this offense is going to continue to develop. And once they hit their stride, Cooter-ball will reign supreme in the National Football League.

 

 


Happy Birthday SBS! It’s our 1 year Anniversary

Written by :
Published on : July 18, 2016

 

As of today, SBS is one years old. We have posted an article everyday for a full 365. Including holidays. A deeper look into the data shows there are over 400 pieces from 26 different authors. Not bad for a baby. I was only crawling and pooping at one. So before anything else, let’s have a round of applause for the writers. Now, jump into the time machine was we warp back to see how the website all came together.

 

ScoreBoredSports is the story of two jerks and a dream. A dream that started out simply to see the Detroit Lions covered fairly, not just mentioned for a second or skipped over completely. Our original thought for the site was the “Detroit Conspiracy,” how the refs, broadcasters, and world all work together to keep the Lions down (this is a true phenomenon).

 

One night, after a few margaritas at our favorite LA spot, El Compadre, Alex Jag and I really unpacked the idea. We had so much to say and so much energy. We knew we couldn’t be the only people that felt that way, not just about Detroit, but about their teams. We decided to broaden the concept to cover all sports. Which was the right call. Make it a place for everyone. Democractic-like.

 

So much of the sports news world is cold stats and the same handful of stories regurgitated from the major outlets. ScoreBoredSports looks to provide interesting, well-crafted sports content from a range of voices on all topics. We are not sports writers. We are writers who love sports. We welcome new contributors from all walks of life and our message boards are open to the public. Sorry, no robots allowed.

 

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Things really took off when we met our third partner, Dennis Henning. Alex and I got to know Dennis while working our day jobs at the restaurant. Dennis would come in and sit at the counter and we would talk sports. Alex pitched him our idea and Dennis helped us build our site and get the operation off the drawing board and into the real world. He was the perfect partner because he matched our passion for the game and brought serious business expertise to the table. There is no site without him.

 

Our vision for SBS has always been to entertain, educate, and provide a platform for discussion. We want to be a haven for super fans and novices alike. Sports is a big world and we need help covering it. Tell us your stories, write us something, help us help the little guy. The underdog. Everyone’s favorite character. Is there something we should be covering? Let us know.

 

Here’s to another year. Now pass the cake.

 

 

ScoreBoredSports – Bored with the status quo

 


SBS Stadium Series: Angel Stadium of Anaheim Time

Written by :
Published on : June 7, 2016

 

Living in Southern California, it can be hard to see my beloved Detroit Tigers in the flesh as often as I’d like. So when I do get the opportunity, I jump at it. The Tigers rarely come to Los Angeles, so I make a once-a-year trip to Angel Stadium of Anaheim to watch my Motor City Kitties play the Angels.

 

Normally, it doesn’t go so well. I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of seeing my team get spanked in Angel Stadium on more than one occasion. On one particularly painful visit to the OC, I even got to see Mike Trout hit a 1st inning grand slam en route to a 10-0 Angels win. This was the final meeting in a three game series, and the Tigers had already dropped the first two games. The odds of a win were in our favor. This had to be it.

 

Traditionally, my pregame experience at Angel Stadium is pretty weak. The consumption of alcohol inside the stadium parking lot is illegal, so I’m forced to get a spot in an offsite lot. Considering my long drive from LA and my lack of a desire to pay $100+ for a spot in a tailgating lot, I end up sitting in my car and drinking beers before the game (with the engine off and keys out of the ignition, of course). This is while trying to avoid the gaze of the many law enforcement officials in the area. Pretty lame. But this time, I vowed things would be different!

 

Portillos

 

I recently discovered that for some reason there is a Portillo’s in Buena Park, right near the Stadium. For those who don’t know, it’s a delightful Chicago-area chain known for it’s dogs and beef. I headed on down with a couple fellow expat Michiganders to enjoy some food and beers before we hit the ballpark. I was delighted to find that both were comically low-priced as far as things go here in Southern California. I downed my combo Italian beef and sausage sandwich. Things were already going my way.

 

We decided to stop into a bar before the game and have one last reasonably priced alcoholic beverage. We were lucky enough find Keno’s Sports Bar. This place was great. To get there you have to go through Keno’s Restaurant, which looks like a more respectable version of Denny’s. It was really weird. It’s like the restaurant was too big, so they decided to build a sports bar in a corner and separate it by tinted glass double doors. Another bonus was that they actually had Keno (Hot Spot here in Cali), a great lottery-style gambling game that is responsible for taking my money in bars all over Michigan. But not this day! I wound up trying my luck and left that bar $10 richer. The good day continued, now if only the Tigers could seal the deal.

 

We arrived a little late and settled in to our nosebleed seats just as the 3rd inning was getting underway. This was right around the time that I realized that my two friends that I convinced to come with me on this trip south were not very interested in baseball. They were both from Michigan, but they were also ladies who spent more time talking about their work as ER nurses and the latest Snapchat filters than watching the pitcher’s duel happening before our eyes. The stadium was pretty empty and it made it so that the sound carried really far. Not only could people hear my friends talking about everything except baseball, but I could hear all types of stereotypical ballpark sounds as well. Random heckling, cheers of encouragement and vendors selling their peanuts and crackerjacks filled my ears as I soaked it all in.

 

 

The Tigers starter on the mound was rookie, Michael Fulmer and as of the late he has been the best part of the team’s rotation. This June 1st game was no different. It was scoreless going into the 5th inning when the Tigers put the first run of the game on the board. It was right around this time that I realized that the young gun was pitching a no-hitter thus far. I began to get very anxious. My two friends were oblivious.

 

The 6th inning came and went and neither team got a hit. The score was 1-0 and the rookie’s no-no was still intact.

 

In the top of the 7th, the Tigers added another run and while I was excited at that fact, my focus was totally on this possible no-hitter. It took every bit of restraint I had to not tell my friends to shut up and watch what could be the best pitching performance any of us had ever seen. I kept my mouth shut. Even as Michael Fulmer got through the first two batters of the 7th without allowing a hit and my excitement level went through the roof. All I wanted to do was talk about it, but I would be damned if it was me who jinxed this thing.

 

AngelsGame

 

That’s when CJ Cron hit a single and ruined it all. Obviously there was some other Tigers’ fan idiot out there who lacked the same level of self control as me and said something about the no-hitter out loud. What an asshole. I was finally able to tell my friends what had been happening but I was crushed. Sure, my team won the game 3-0 and only allowed 2 hits, and maybe I was being greedy, but I really wanted that no-hitter.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I finally got to see my team win in Angel Stadium but it could have been so much sweeter. It would have been the perfect revenge for all the awful games I’ve seen there. But sometimes you’ve just got to be happy with what you get. I just have to relish the win and the fact that there’s a chance that the Tigers might have something special in Michael Fulmer. He just had another strong outing last night and might be the new Ace in the rotation. Who woulda thought?

 

 


Skydiving Rookies

Written by :
Published on : June 3, 2016

 

Skydiving. It was the morning after, and when I looked at the sky I smiled as the memories of what happened midair replayed in my head.

 

A few buddies, my boyfriend and I decided to “voluntarily jump out of a perfectly good airplane” months ago. We waited a while to do it because we wanted to make sure that the five of us were available to jump on the same day. Not was this the first time any of us had ever skydived, but it was also my first time in an airplane. Regardless, the skydive tandem jump was set for Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 9am. We opted for a 13,000ft jump that features 60 seconds of free fall! We figured we’d eventually do the higher jump of 18,000ft, which is the maximum height for skydiving in the US. Another thing that is noteworthy is that student discounts are available. Our otherwise useless student IDs saved us $20 per person.

 

We left LA at 6am for Skydive Santa Barbara, which is located in Lompoc, near the UCSB campus. Before we arrived, just 14 miles away from our destination, we got a speeding ticket for going 20 over the limit. The limit was 55, but we never saw the sign telling us that. The officer didn’t care and cited us anyway. That was the only buzzkill we experienced on an otherwise scenic and beautiful drive. The anger from the ticket nearly rivaled the nerves and disbelief of what we were about to do.

 

TreasureSkydive
                                                        Me (left) and a few members of my skydiving crew.

 

After we finally arrived, we signed our lives away on liability waivers in case our chutes didn’t deploy while simultaneously watching a tutorial video. The website suggested that we prepare ourselves to wait half-a-day to jump because of the crowds, but when I asked how long it would take I was told we’d only wait about 20 minutes. This change in the plan made my heart drop before I even saw the plane. The wait was sped up by the fact that we booked an early morning jump, which was scheduled right before a party of 15 UCSB students on summer break. They wanted our small group of five out quickly to make room for the ensuing crowd.

 

The waiting area was fun! There was a foosball table which we used to kill time, and our nerves. There was also a couch to lounge on, water, a restroom, and a T-shirt stand. The waiting area is also where the harnesses are strapped to skydivers and where the chutes are packed into the packs that the instructors wear on jumps. After we got bored with the foosball table, I remember obsessively looking at the chute packers, hoping like hell our chutes were properly packed.

 

Sense of humor is a great thing, but as someone who never boarded a plane before, I had trouble connecting to my funny bone. I was filtering out jokes the guy who strapped us in was telling and only focused on the instructions. We were told to tip our heads back, push our hips forward, kick our legs back to tap our instructors’ butts as we jumped off the plane, and to wait for the instructor to tap our shoulders so we could let our arms free in the free fall. Simple enough, yet I greatly feared I’d screw it up by blanking out when the moment finally arrived.

 

Skydive

 

The night before the jump, our party planned the order in which we would take the leap. The day of, we realized that was a cute and pointless gesture. We jumped in the order we boarded the plane, which violated my wishes to go first. Before I go any further, let me just clarify that the aircraft itself is a well engineered, efficient, and smooth ride, but I was not pleased. I ended up going second to last, which was traumatizing. I saw my friends and boyfriend go before me, which only intensified my nerves. Not only do your friends drop quickly, but by the time you’re up you can’t see them anymore! I saw the land beneath us and the Santa Barbara coastline, and that was it. I also realized I hate the feeling of being in an airplane, so right before my instructor and I jumped I swore I’d only travel by ship, train, or car.

 

So we’re up on the edge of the plane and my instructor says “Okay, Treasure, don’t forget to kick your legs up to my butt,” he holds my head back and we jumped out of the plane with my hands clutching my harness. Thoughts running through my head were “Oh hell no! I hate that feeling of that first drop on a roller coaster.” That feeling only lasted a second and the rest was just shock and awe and the haunting feeling of “oh, crap, what have I done???” I was traveling downward with such velocity that the drop itself produced a loud sound—I wanted ear plugs. All of a sudden the instructor tapped my shoulder, so I let go of the harness while still in free fall, which felt even freakier while staring at the earth from above. When the chute was finally deployed I felt an instant sense of calm and excitement. We were finally floating along in midair: this must be what a bird feels. It was amazingly graceful, surreal, and freeing. My instructor was very easygoing, so I felt safe and happy to be paired up with him. So to you, Casey, once again: thank you so much for an incredibly unforgettable experience!

 

My overall thoughts are I am a complaining brat and there’s only one way to atone for this. I must jump again. 18,000 feet, we’re coming for you!

 

 


Let the Ladies Play!

Written by :
Published on : May 23, 2016

 

If you went to high school in these United States of America, then you probably have some idea of what a Powderpuff Football game is. For those of you who did not go to school here, it’s a game of football played between the female seniors and juniors at high schools around the country. The proceeds of the ticket sales and concession are usually used for some kind of charity or to fund school functions, be it a dance or what have you. The game itself is usually played in the style of flag or two-hand-touch, but one glorious school Jupiter, Florida actually has it’s ladies play full contact in pads and helmets. Totally badass!

 

That is until last month, when the principal of Jupiter High School canceled the annual game, citing safety concerns. Principal Dan Frank feels that the game is just too dangerous. A few years ago a girl broke her leg and there numerous bruises and sprains every year… You know like in all sports. And the state of Florida even allows girls to play on boys high school football teams! This is just ridiculous. After doing the game for 50 years, this school is ending a tradition that students and members of the community love just because they are scared someone might get hurt. A mother of one of the students, upset that the game had been canceled, correctly stated that “the car ride to the game is more dangerous.”

 

JupiterHS
Caitlin Walsh, Megan Mendoza, Haley Osborne and Savannah Tardonia of Jupiter High School are not as scared as principal Frank.

 

Principal Frank suggested multiple alternatives to the beloved tackle football game, all of which were underwhelming to say the least. He suggested the usual flag or two hand touch football alternative, which was met little enthusiasm from the students due to the fact that tons of schools already do that. These girls were unique and the administration took that away from them. One of his other bright ideas was to play a modified kick ball game where the runner might have to bob for apples at second or spin around at third base. The girls found this option demeaning, and I agree with them. This principle took something that would require skill and athleticism and wants to replace it with something for 3rd graders.

 

Shame on you Dan Frank! You’ve robbed these girls of something that many of them have looked forward to since their freshmen and sophomore years in school. Hopefully, you will come to your senses or get fired and replaced with somebody who has some vision. Either way, I think we can all get behind these young ladies in their quest to resurrect their beloved Powderpuff football game.

 

Let the ladies play!

 

 

Read the local news coverage of this travesty, here.

 

 


How The Karate Kid Ruined My LIfe

Written by :
Published on : May 22, 2016

 

 

One of my favorite movies growing up was 1984’s The Karate Kid. If you haven’t seen it, fuck off. If you don’t remember it, it’s essentially teenage Rocky in the San Fernando Valley. Ralph Macchio learns karate from wise old Mr. Miyagi so he can stand up to these Corba Kai jerks and go out with Elisabeth Shue. I loved this movie, and it created several lifelong obsessions: movies about teenagers, “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama, Elisabeth Shue and most importantly, karate.

 

Being a martial arts expert seemed like the coolest thing in the world to me. You could not give a fuck about anything and beat up anyone who tried to mess with you. As a shy and socially awkward kid, this was all that I wanted. I signed up for a taekwondo class convinced that I had discovered the shortcut to self-confidence. I was 100% wrong about that.

 

The problems started even before I got to class. Putting on the outfit, or gi, for the first time, I had a horrible realization: there was nothing cool about wearing this thing. First of all, it’s white. And it was definitely after Labor Day. Secondly, it’s this weird short robe that has multiple ties like a straitjacket. I began to understand why Jean Claude Van Damme always wound up shirtless in his movies. Realizing that everyone would be wearing a gi, I resigned myself to looking stupid. At least we would all looks stupid.

 

THE-KARATE-KID-3-DI-02

 

When I got to class, things got worse. I realized that this wasn’t going to be learning life lessons with an enchanting old man. I realized, for the first time, that this was karate class. It was school after school. That I willingly signed up for. What an idiot I had been! It wasn’t even a part of school that I enjoyed, like reading or lunch. It was basically gym class, led by somebody’s beefy dad who would sweat when he yelled at us. Very un-Miyagi. If I wanted to get yelled at, I could have stayed home.

 

I might have been able to put up with all this bullshit if the class had delivered the goods. But it totally did not. I learned a few basic punches and kicks, that’s it. Nothing that was going to impress Elisabeth Shue or fight off the Cobra Kai. When I saw a bunch of older kids waiting around for their class to start, I realized this wasn’t a shortcut to anything. This was like a cult: once you’re in, you’re supposed to stay in. After that first class, I told myself I wouldn’t be back for another class.

 

karate-kid

But then a funny thing happened: I didn’t quit right away. Because I realized that I didn’t know very much taekwondo, but I knew a little bit. Maybe that would be enough to diffuse a dangerous situation. I started waiting for something to happen, an excuse to show off my newly acquired karate moves. That’s when I realized that Ralph Macchio only learned karate because he was getting beat up everyday. Was I really hoping to be terrorized by a bully? Did I want my life to get worse just to prove that I went to a karate class? What the fuck was wrong with me?

 

After that, taekwondo only had one thing left to teach me: how to quit something your parents have already spent a bunch of money on. And I turned out to be pretty good at that. So thanks, Ralph Macchio.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XII)

Written by :
Published on : May 20, 2016

 

 

To paraphrase Bernie Sanders, I was sick and tired of hearing about the damn bat flip. Seven long months had passed. And since then, that damn bat flip had become a meme, a tattoo, a reason for Goose Gossage to want his country back and everything else in between. But on Sunday, with one overhand right landing square on the very-punchable jaw of Jose Bautista, Rougned Odor (pronounced Roog Ned O’Door, like some kind of old-timey Irish criminal) has thrust last year’s ALDS between the Rangers and the Blue Jays back into the forefront of baseball once again.

 

So let’s talk about last year’s series for a second. So far, I’ve only really heard people talk about Game 5 in Toronto. And that’s fine since it was probably the wildest game in baseball playoff history, with a 53-minute 7th inning that stands right up there with the Billy Buckner 9th inning in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and the Steve Bartman 8th inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, as one the most epic innings of all time. It had the little-known Rule 6.03(a)(3), with Russell Martin’s throw back to the mound hitting the bat of Shin-Soo Choo, allowing a runner to score and putting the Rangers up 3-2. That’s also the play where the umpire originally ruled the ball dead, but after the call was overturned, Jays fans spent the next 18 minutes pelting the field with Canadian garbage. Then the whole episode was rendered moot when the Rangers made three errors on consecutive plays in the bottom half of the inning (all somehow involving Elvis Andrus), before Bautista hit his infamous home run and launched his infamous bat skyward, prompting two bench-clearing brawls and the Canadian police being called in to control the mayhem.

 

 

Lest we forget, the Blue Jays had not been in the postseason since Joe Carter’s walk-off in the 1993 World Series. So Bautista’s homer was the second-biggest in their franchise history. And everybody at the Rogers Center went understandably crazy. It won the game and the series for Toronto, all after the heavily-favored Blue Jays had been down 0-2 in the best of five series. And the funny thing is, if not for that historic 7th inning, or at least the bottom half of that historic 7th inning, the star of the series was actually the 21-year-old Rougned Odor of the Texas Rangers. Who is Venezuelan, but sounds like a shitty peripheral character on season 3 of Sons of Anarchy.

 

In Game One, Odor got plunked twice by Jays’ ace, David Price. He also homered off of Price later in the game, made some fantastic plays in the field and also happened to knee Josh Donaldson in the head as he tried to break up a double play, forcing Donaldson to leave the game. Hey, that stuff sounds vaguely relevant. In Game Two, Odor was involved in another controversial play, as a throw from Bautista to second base probably caught Odor off the bag. But he was called safe after a review, allowing rookie back-up, Hanser Alberto, to knock him in with the go-ahead run in the 14th inning. By the way, benches also cleared in the 13th, when the not-at-all-concussed Donaldson was displeased with a quick-pitch from Keone Kela. And of course, in Game Five, it was actually Odor who scored on the aforementioned bizarre play between Russell and Choo. Because of course it was Odor. He was everywhere at once throughout the series. And yet we only remember Bautista and his damn bat flip. Maybe this was Roog Ned’s way of reminding the world what he could do. You know, besides fixing the 1960 election for John F. Kennedy or something.

 

 Shit got real.

 

The funny thing is, the Rangers and Blue Jays had already played six games in 2016 without an incident. Sunday’s game was actually the final time they’ll play this year. And with the Blue Jays sitting 7 back of the Orioles and Red Sox and four games under .500, not to mention the fact that both the Jays and the Rangers got swept in their next series, they’re also squandering a real chance for me to see the most-anticipated postseason rematch since the Red Sox and Yankees in 2004. But hey, the 2015 Rangers were just as improbable as this year’s Jays currently seem to be, sitting two games under .500 and 8 games back of the Houston Astros on August 2nd. So there’s still hope for me yet. Come on, guys!

 

If you missed Sunday’s game and only get your baseball news from this blog (which I admit I would be okay with), allow me to fill you in. In his final at-bat in the season series, Bautista got drilled by a 97-mph first-pitch fastball thrown by Matt Bush. Bush, a 30-year-old rookie who wasn’t even on the Rangers last year, was not ejected for the pitch. Not that Bush is a stranger to getting kicked out of establishments that serve alcohol. The former first overall pick in the 2004 draft, has been arrested for fighting a security guard who kicked him out of a bar just weeks after that draft, he’s also allegedly thrown a baseball at a woman’s head and banged on her car window because she drew on his face after he passed out at a party in 2009.

 

He also allegedly got drunk in 2009 and beat up a high school lacrosse player with a golf club while screaming, “I’m Matt fucking Bush!” as the whole thing was being filmed. And in 2012, he got kicked out of strip club for drunkenly trying to climb onto the stage, not knowing ‘Matt Bush’ is a horrible name for a stripper. Then he got in a friend’s SUV, ran over the head of a 72-year-old motorcyclist (he lived) and fled the scene. That landed Bush in prison for 51 months, although he’s still a suspect in two other hit-and-run accidents from earlier in the day. Dude is pretty bad at drinking. The fact that Matt Fucking Bush is finally in the Majors to begin with is an amazing story. Although the fact that a rookie with a zero-tolerance policy from his new club was the one presumably asked to do the deed against Bautista is way more interesting to me.

 

Anyway, next Bautista (angered by the HBP and the non-ejection of Bush) attempted to break up a double play with a newly-illegal slide aimed at Odor’s legs. Knowing that Bautista would be called out because of his slide anyway, Odor basically submarined his throw directly at Bautista’s still-unpunched face. And that’s when both guys squared off and Odor dazed Bautista with a solid punch that became the talk of baseball for the next week. Not detracting from all the talk was the fact that, after the game, seemingly everyone on both teams cut WWE-style promos on each other to the press, leaving the seven-month-old blood feud unfinished for the time being.

Marcus Stroman, who wasn’t even in Texas for the game because he was graduating from Duke, tweeted that he’s never respected Odor and never will. Erudito et Religio, Marcus! Bautista, who may actually have a strong chin, but also may have been saved from a knockout by good Samaritan, Adrian Beltre, said it takes a bigger man than Odor to knock him down. He also said he could have injured Odor with the slide if he wanted to, but chose not to. And he also criticized the Rangers for not going after him until his last at bat in the series. Jays’ skipper, John Gibbons, who ran back onto the field after an ejection (which is becoming a real thing this year), echoed Bautista with a similar statement and added that the Rangers were ‘gutless’. The thing is, Bautista was probably anticipating retaliation in the first four games of the series. And it’s possible that those delayed retaliation mind games held him to going 1-for-15 in those games. I’m just saying.

 

Either way, nobody outside of Toronto and the commissioner’s office really seems to be blaming Odor for the punch. Even though an old video has surfaced of him going all Bruce Lee on an entire infield during a minor league game. And even though footage also shows that he also tried to punch the spastic redneck Viking, Donaldson, on Sunday, after Donaldson came flying at him from the Toronto dugout like the spastic redneck Viking he is. And, even though it will be forgotten, everyone especially loved Prince Fielder’s reaction to getting plunked by Jesse Chavez later in the game. The whole episode has brought comparisons to the 1993 best-brawl-of-all-time between Nolan Ryan and the twenty-years-younger Robin Ventura. I guess because it was also in Texas. But the fun thing about that particular brawl (other than the classic Ryan noogies) was that Ryan stayed in the game and pitched hitless ball the rest of the way.

 

And that concludes the first and only time we should ever compare the Ryan Express to Roog Ned O’Door, who sounds like he was second in command to Bugs Moran and/or killed in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929. Okay. Let’s finally move on.

 

 

AL MVP: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

 

The shortest man in baseball leads in WAR, wOBA, OBP and OPS. I’ve been told that the Astros are turning things around. I’d rather talk about someone else until they do.

 

I could easily give this week’s AL MVP to the entirety of the Red Sox’ offense. That team is fun. They lead the Majors in runs, hits, doubles, runs batted in, batting average, slugging and OPS. Jackie Bradley Jr’s hitting streak is at 24 games. Xander Bogaerts leads the league in hits. Travis Shaw is making everyone forget about whoever was supposed to play third before him. And then there’s Big Papi. The scary thing is, if you set aside Altuve, Manny Machado and Mike Trout, David Ortiz would have been my choice for the best player in the American League thus far. The dude is 40-years-old! I don’t know if some sort of weight was lifted off of him after he decided to retire or what, but over the weekend at Fenway, he had a game-tying triple and a walk-off double (his 600th) before getting doused with baby powder or cocaine or something. After the game, he had to rush off to a family function, so he told reporters, “Just say I’m a bad motherfucker.” He really is. So much so that I’ll avoid talking about that 4.22 team ERA or the first place Orioles for the time being.

 

 Can’t stop, won’t stop.

 

Carlos Beltran hit his 400th home run this week, making it harder for me to say he’s not a Hall of Famer. Once he gets his 2500th hit, he’ll be one of only four current Major Leaguers (with Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and Adrian Beltre) in the 400/2500 club. Which is not a bad group to be a part of. Beltran was the best player on the Royals from 1999-2003 and the best player on the Mets from 2006-2008. And from 2002-2008, only Pujols, A-Rod and Barry Bonds had a higher WAR. That makes him a close second to Bonds as the best outfielder in the big leagues over that period. His career numbers are similar to Billy Williams, Andre Dawson and Jim Rice. He has three Gold Gloves. And although the highest he’s ever finished in MVP voting is 4th, and despite not having won a World Series ring, Beltran has been a monster in the postseason. It was actually his playoff home run record that Daniel Murphy broke last season. Oh, and he’s also the best center fielder not currently enshrined in Coopserstown. I’d say that’s a pretty good case.

 

AL Cy Young: Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox

 

Chris Sale and Danny Salazar are right there, but I’m still going with Quintana, who leads in FIP and WAR. Brad Ausmus and the potential job opening in Detroit may have eaten up all the news in the AL Central this week. And Ausmus may have eaten up all the sunflower seeds (seriously, I’ve never seen a guy neatly fold his hoodie on home plate after an ejection), but with the White Sox cooling off a bit, this division remains wide open for everyone not named the Twins.

 

AL Rookie of the Year: Byung-ho Park, Minnesota Twins

 Congrats, you’re the only interesting thing involving the Twins!

 

Hey, prior to the season I said at least one of the Twins new hot-shots had to pan out. And while Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios need more time in the minors, the 29-year-old two-time former MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization is here to stay. So there. I finally said something nice about them.

 

NL MVP: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals

I have to give props to the Mets fans, who gave Murphy a standing ovation prior to their first game with the Nationals, a standing ovation for his first at-bat and then promptly booed him the rest of the way.

 

For a brief moment on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies were tied with the Nationals for first place in the NL East. And I love it. That’s with 58% of their wins coming from one-run games (shout out to Cameron Rupp for hanging on to that ball!). I mean, they’re seven games above .500 with a -28 run differential. That’s unprecedented. But nobody in the division outside of Murphy, Bryce Harper or Yoenis Cespedes has played as well as Odubel Herrera. And nobody in the division outside of Noah Syndergaard has pitched as well as Aaron Nola and Vincent Velasquez. That includes Stephen Strasburg and Jose Fernandez. I’m just as skeptical as anybody, but I have to love a team that I thought coming in to the season was actually going to be worse than the Atlanta Braves (as I pour one out for Fredi Gonzalez).

 

Gerrit Cole doesn’t think the Cubs are the best team in baseball. That’s fine. They looked like shit in Milwaukee. Other than the 13-inning ‘Travis Wood Game’ where Joe Maddon became a mad scientist, Kris Bryant used three different gloves in one inning and Wood got out of the most improbable jam of all time. Oh, and then Wood walked with the bases loaded in the 13th, which would win the game. That’s why he gets a game named after him. Other than that it wasn’t great. And Bartolo Colon hit a home run before Jason Heyward and his .225 batting average did. So Cole might be right. But it’s just kind of strange criticism coming from a guy who’s team isn’t even the best in Pennsylvania (Pirates burn!).

 

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

 Best ever? Maybe.

 

Just so we’re clear, Kershaw’s strikeouts-to-walks ratio (K/BB) is currently sitting at 22.00. That’s 88 strikeouts and only four walks, almost doubling the single-season record. His career ERA + (which adjusts an ERA based on ballparks and eras) is also the best ever for a starter with Pedro Martinez at #2. His adjusted career FIP is the best ever too. And just look at this career stat line for a second.

 

                                ERA     FIP     WAR    IP
Sandy Koufax         2.76     2.78     54.5    2324.1
Clayton Kershaw    2.40     2.57     50.5    1681.0

 

Now I know that Koufax threw four no-hitters, a perfect game and won three World Series rings in 12 seasons with the Dodgers. In 1965, he also pitched what was the greatest game of all time until Kerry Wood came along in 1998. But Kershaw is only 28-years-old and wouldn’t even be eligible for the Hall of Fame until after next season. He has just as many Cy Youngs (3) as Koufax won. And Kershaw’s best game ever is slightly better than Koufax’s best game ever.

 

Koufax        9/9/65        9 IP    0 H    0 BB    0 R    14 K    101 GSc
Kershaw    6/18/14        9 IP    0 H    0 BB    0 R    15 K    102 GSc

 

Only Wood (Kerry, not Travis) and Max Scherzer (the 17 K, 0 BB no-no from last October) have ever pitched games better than either of those. But I’m basically laying out an argument for you with cold hard facts as to why Kershaw is actually better than Koufax was. The fun part is, we might also be currently witnessing the greatest pitcher of all time. I guess I could check in with Gerrit Cole to see what he thinks.

 

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

 He does more than just sniff butts.

 

I’m finally giving it to Seager this week over Aledmys Diaz because, while Diaz keeps raking, Seager’s WAR is higher because he’s a much better defensive shortstop. Plus, I’m sick of typing ‘Aledmys’ and ‘Cardinals’.

 

You would think that since I just listed two Dodgers stars for Cy Young and Rookie of the Year that the team would also be doing awesome. Nah. They’re 8-1 when Kershaw pitches and 13-20 when he doesn’t. And it’s actually the Giants who separated themselves from the pack this week, winning seven in a row. And now they face the Cubs, who beat good teams and then lost to the Brewers and/or Padres. So I guess the Cubs will take 2/3 and the NL West will go right back to being a shitshow.

 

 

Alright. I’ll see you next week in the outfield. Remember to check out the MLB Recaps on ‘Comedians Talking Sports‘ with Joe Kilgallon, available on iTunes. Until then, the Cubs’ Magic Number is 117.

 

 

 


How long will the Tigers keep Brad Ausmus around?

Written by :
Published on : May 15, 2016

 

 

The Detroit Tigers are off to an underwhelming 2016 Major League Baseball season. They started off the year in respectable fashion by winning 7 of their first 10 games but have more recently lost 11 of their last 12. When they aren’t busy getting beaten in a good old fashioned blow out, they are finding new and exciting ways to lose close games. Fans are beginning to get discouraged and if something doesn’t change soon, the team and its ownership are going to be dealing with a ton of empty seats in Comerica Park.

 

Patience is running thin in the Motor City, so what are the team’s options?

 

Sadly, at this point there aren’t many options that will do any good. After the work done this offseason, the team is more or less set with this roster. They added Justin Upton to the lineup, only to see him look like lost at the plate for most of this season. They’ve left a ton of men on base, including 12 in a 7-5 loss at the Orioles where the team squandered one of the few decent starts by Mike Pelfrey. Victor Martinez, Nick Castellanos, and others are hitting the ball but when the bullpen gives up big leads what does it matter? And when they finally get two high quality starts out of Justin Verlander, what do they do? They don’t hit the ball for shit.

 

 What defeat looks like.

 

There are problems all over this team and that begs the question, how long will the team stick with manager Brad Ausmus?

 

If I had to guess I would say that Ausmus doesn’t make it to June. He might not even make it to next week. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t going to help this team turn it around this season but you can’t fire your players. In my opinion he should have been fired after his first season, and at this point it’s the only thing that ownership can do to signify to the fans that they are just as upset as us. And hopefully that can keep a few people in the seats for the rest of the season.

 

Brad Ausmus has never been a particularly bad manager, but then again he’s never been a particularly good one either. He’s had his share of blunders in the dugout, but there’s a chance maybe, in the distant future, he could return as a manager to another team and be successful. But not here. Not in Detroit.

 

 Interim manager, is that you?

 

Whatever has happened to the psyche of the Detroit Tigers is now firmly resting on the shoulders of Brad Ausmus. Giving him the boot and installing someone else for the rest of what is now looking more and more like a lost season is probably the only option left.

 

Maybe they can install player-favorite, Omar Vizquel as interim manager and salvage something resembling a .500 season from this horrible 15-21 start, while seeing if they can trade away some of their more over-priced and valuable assets. You know, some of those guys with whom the blame really lies. That’s right, those players who got their manager axed. At least potentially… and hopefully. Seriously, just get rid of him already.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XI)

Written by :
Published on : May 13, 2016

 

Heard anything about the Nationals lately? Good Christ. It seems like every game they played this week had some sort of national news attached to it. First, they got swept by the Cubs in four games at Wrigley, in a series between the two teams with the best records in baseball. That left the 24-6 Cubs with the best 30-game start to a season since the ’84 Tigers (26-4), as well as the best first-30-game run differential (+102) in the history of baseball. In the final game of the series on Sunday, the Cubs walked Bryce Harper six times, tying a Major League record set by Jeff Bagwell in 1999. And since he also got hit by a pitch in the game, that meant Harper reached base seven times in the game without a single official at-bat. That’s also never been done before, no big deal.

 

All that led to the first time (and there will be many more) that fans started to question Dusty Baker and his decision to bat Ryan Zimmerman behind Harper instead of Daniel Murphy, since Zimmerman went 2-for-19 in the series and left 14 runners on base, while Murphy has basically been Ted Williams unfrozen from carbonite. If any manager should know how to combat a player getting the ‘Barry Bonds Treatment’, you would think it would be the guy who also happened to manage Barry Bonds while he was getting said treatment.

 

 Stasburg

 

Anyway, the very next day, all of this would be put on the back burner for two major reasons. One, Stephen Strasburg signed a seven-year $175 million contract to stay with the team. And Two, Harper got ejected from the game in the 9th inning against the Tigers for screaming about balls and strikes from the dugout. And then Clint Robinson (who actually thought it was the 8th inning), immediately hit a pinch-hit, walk-off home run, sending Harper back onto the field to scream, “fuck you” at umpire, Brian Knight, in plain view of TV cameras, while also kind of celebrating the win with the very confused Robinson. Make Baseball Fun Again, Bryce!

 

Then finally, on Wednesday (the same day we learned Harper would be getting a one-game suspension for his F bomb), Max Scherzer goes out against his former team and strikes out 20 batters. ESPN said it looked like the scoreboard operator fell asleep on the K key. More amazingly, Scherzer did that throwing 80% strikes. So not only did he have 20 K’s, he also only threw 23 balls the whole game. Sexy is right, Max! This was coming off a start against the Cubs where Scherzer was terrible. Apparently, when this guy has his best stuff, nobody is better. You know, other than the two home runs he gave up.

 

What’s even more fun is that a 20-strikeout game has only happened four other times (I’m not counting Tom Cheney’s 21 K’s in 16 innings), and Tigers’ manager, Brad Ausmus, has been there, on the losing end, for THREE of them. He was on the Astros when Kerry Wood struck out 20 in 1998. And he was on the Tigers when Clemens did it a second time in 1996. Dude is like Robert Todd Lincoln at presidential assassinations. And this has been a horrible week for his ballclub.

 

Speaking of managers, the 20-strikeout game is something that a lot of people didn’t think would ever happen again. Sure, strikeouts are up. But also pitch counts are way down. Clemens threw 151 pitches in that ’96 game. Nobody would allow that now. Then again, this is Dusty Baker we’re talking about.

 

 

So, as you can see, the Nationals dominated the baseball world this week – a week when Papi got ejected against the Yankees, J.T. Realmuto got called out after hitting a home run, Aroldis Chapman and his first-pitch 100 mph fastball returned from suspension, the Zika virus cancelled games in Puerto Rico, Bartolo Colon hit a fat person home run and Thor actually managed to hit two of them in L.A. But, somehow, all the news kept coming back to the Nationals. I mean, I’ve heard of politicians in D.C. manipulating the 24-hour news cycle, but this was ridiculous.

 

Oh, there’s one more thing about the Nationals…

 

NL MVP: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals

 

Murphy is hitting .409, you guys. He’s a career .290 hitter. He’s projected at .302 – .312. So either he’s figured something out, or this isn’t going to last much longer. Either way, I’ll say it again, Daniel Murphy is currently hitting .409, you guys.

 

Moving on…

 

As I said earlier, Bartolo Colon hit a home run this week. And with the Mets scoring all of their runs on long balls anyway, it’s almost fitting. As a Mets hater, I begrudgingly admit that it was a pretty great moment. He’s the oldest player in baseball history to hit his first career home run. He’s also a big fatso, so it was hilarious. And the Mets’ dugout reaction was equally great and hilarious. As was the radio call by Gary Cohen echoing Vin Scully’s “the impossible has happened” call of Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 walk-off in the 1988 World Series. If he hit two home runs in a game like Noah Syndergaard did on Wednesday, I’d probably assume the world was about to end. And that would be a shame because I never got to see the Cubs win it all.

 

NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

 

We still know absolutely nothing about the NL West, where every team has major problems and we’ve been in a big rotating jumble of mediocre teams thus far. The Dodgers and the Giants (even year!) are still favored. Yasiel Puig’s highlight reel in right keeps growing. But the Dodgers have injuries and the Giants have major problems with Matt Cain and Jake Peavy in the 4 and 5 slots in their rotation. Cain is actually winless in his last 14 starts going back to last year. Meanwhile, the DBacks have only flirted with the idea of getting better. And although Nolan Arenado has established himself as an elite player in Colorado, nobody is buying the Rockies or the Padres. If this is how it stays, I might actually start feeling bad for the Phillies, Marlins, Pirates and Cardinals, who all seem like they could win this shitty division.

 

NL Rookie of the Year: Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals

 

Yes, the Cardinals and Pirates are heating back up, but NL Central is still all Cubs all the time. I already mentioned all their first-30-game records. But the Cubs have been so dominant thus far, that when they lost back-to-back games in a doubleheader against the Padres, it felt like the sky was falling. There’s really no shame in getting shut down by Drew Pomeranz, but it still felt really weird. It was the lowly Padres. And all my Cubs’ fan friends were calling for Jorge Soler to be traded or sent down to Des Moines.

 

Still, it took 33 games for the Cubs to lose back-to-back, which is the deepest in to a season any team had gone without doing that since the 1929 Philadelphia A’s. Odd how all these teams that keep popping up in 2016 Cub comparisons won the World Series. Odd indeed. Although I highly doubt that Connie Mack had a mariachi band in the clubhouse on Cinco de Mayo for Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove and Al Simmons. So advantage Joe Maddon there.

 

This week, Sports Illustrated called Wrigley Field the happiest place on earth. And they also called the Cubs the ‘Last Great American Sports Story’. I’ve listened to people discuss the 116-win record. I’ve listened to Tim Kurkjian argue with Karl Ravech on Baseball Tonight about whether the Cubs will break the ’39 Yankees run differential record of +411. They’re currently on pace for +486. And it was well over +500. I’m also listening to myself argue about whether these Cubs would kill that ’39 Yankees staff, because they didn’t have any actual athletes.

 

 

Sure, I’d say to myself when nobody was looking, the rarely-used Oral Hildebrand was a basketball star and a national champion at Butler. But Red Ruffing, their Hall of Fame ace, lost four toes in a coal mining accident when he was 15 and had to learn how to pitch because he could no longer run. And Lefty Gomez, their Hall of Fame #2 pitcher who said he’d throw at his own mother, was 6’2″, 155 pounds. They eventually had to pull all of his teeth to get him to eat.

 

Plus, pitcher Wes Ferrell would refuse to be pulled from games, punch himself in the face and slam his head into walls until he was restrained by teammates. And I’d regret not telling you that Bump Hadley, their 3 starter, ended the aforementioned Mickey Chocrane’s Hall of Fame career (and actually almost killed him) with an intentional beanball in 1937. I’d doubly regret not telling you that Monte Pearson, their 5 starter, who threw the first no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in 1938, was arrested in 1962 for accepting bribes for approving shoddy septic tanks.

 

These are the conversations people are having surrounding the Cubs. Well, maybe not the last one. But Javier Baez hit that 13th inning walk-off on Mother’s Day against the Nationals. Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Jon Lester are 1st, 3rd and 4th in the league in ERA. Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist are legitimate MVP candidates. And I haven’t been to Wrigley Field this year (although I’m told it’s insane), and I know this could all go away with a key injury or a bad postseason series against the Mets or the Nationals, but this is the Last Great American Sports Story. And I hope the happy ending comes sooner than later.

 

AL MVP: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

 

Yes, Machado is bonkers. And yes, people are actually starting to notice. And yes, the Orioles are still hanging around. But this week, the Red Sox are actually worth talking about. You know, besides the Big Papi and John Farrell ejections that had people around baseball calling for robot umpires (it was a strike, guys. McCann just got crossed up). Anyway, after the Red Sox outscored the A’s 40-15 in three games, they were tied with the Cubs for the most runs scored in the Majors (with one more game played).

 

If Thursday is any indication, David Price isn’t going to have a 6.00 ERA for much longer (Dustin Pedroia found something wrong with his delivery!). But the fact that he was 4-1 before all that means that it might not even matter. Jackie Bradley Jr. is their 9 hitter. He’s got an 18-game hitting streak going. David Ortiz is retiring. He probably shouldn’t be. I’m almost ready to concede that he’s the 3rd best hitter in their franchise history after Williams and Yaz. The Red Sox are not only relevant for the first time in three years, they’ve actually convinced me that they’re the favorites in the American League for a reason. You know, other than the fact that the entire league isn’t all that good.

 

AL Cy Young: Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox

 

The White Sox still have the best record in the American League. The Royals are still below .500. And nobody can wrap their head around it. Not even White Sox fans I’m friends with are fully embracing the mid-May standings. But hey, this week ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor has Quintana at #2 behind Chris Sale. And he leads the league in ERA with Sale at #4. I’m still waiting for that Indians surge everyone is predicting, but right now I’m still saying the White Sox are legit. And you can put it on the booooo… I won’t do it.

 

AL Rookie of the Year: Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers

 

The big story in the AL West this week has not been Robinson Cano and the first place Mariners. Nor has it been the never-say-die Rangers. It’s actually been whether or not the Angels should trade Mike Trout. Their ace, Garrett Richards, needs Tommy John surgery. Andrelton Simmons is going to miss two months due to torn thumb ligaments. There’s also CJ Wilson, Andrew Heaney, Huston Street and Craig Gentry on the DL. They’re just taking too much damage. So the question remains whether to try to remake their farm system with the monster return they would undoubtedly get for Trout or learn the lessons the Milwaukee Bucks learned after trading Kareem Abdul Jabbar to the Lakers in 1975. Either way, the Angels are screwed and the Astros are probably going to be out of last place real soon.

 

 

Alright. That does it for this week’s Angelino in the Outfield. If you need more you can always listen to me on the baseball recap shows on Comedians Talking Sports, available for free on iTunes.

 

 

 


By any means necessary: Cuba and the love of sports

Written by :
Published on : May 11, 2016

 

 

For many Americans, the island nation of Cuba is a great unknown. A former playground 90 miles from Key West that, since the Castro-led revolution in 1959, and the missile crisis and trade embargo in 1962, has been shrouded in mystery. It’s a shame that two countries that have a long history together, have been so cut off from each other for so long, despite the close proximity. The situation harkens back to the wall that used to divide Berlin between east and west, or the no man’s land that currently cuts the Korean peninsula in half along the 38th parallel.

 

For me, Cuba has always been something that only lived in my heart and soul. My grandmother made the decision to depart the communist dictatorship in 1968 in order to give my mother, who was 8 years old at the time, a chance at a better life and an opportunity to determine her own destiny. Though the circumstances of the departure were tragic, my family always maintained a fondness for their homeland. They loved where they were from, despite a government and system that they could not abide, and they instilled that same love in me for a place I have never been.

 

 

That is until a month ago, when I travelled to Cuba with my family. It was the realization of a lifelong dream, and setting foot on Cuban soil immediately made me feel as though I had completed one chapter and begun another. It is an enchanting place, with beautiful landscape and architecture, and a diverse people who enjoy and appreciate what they have, maintaining a zest for life in the face of hardship. They could teach a lot to their northern neighbors. I felt at home and got discover my past by filling in the blanks on things that had only been passed down to me by word of mouth.

 

I finally had the opportunity to see for myself, draw my own conclusions and observe the place that had been so far away while being so much a part of who I am, and while I was there I noticed a few things. For one, I saw that there is a reason that the country’s unofficial motto is “No es fácil,” which translates to “It’s not easy.” That’s because life in Cuba is not always easy for its citizens. While the loosening of the government’s grip on the economy and the Cuban citizens’ ability to own property and operate businesses has helped improve the living situation, there are still many things we take for granted that they do without on the island.

 

The somewhat decently stocked grocery store that is located in the touristy section of La Habana was lacking in many things we expect to see (e.g., liquid milk, aspirin), and the stores for the citizens themselves are much worse. We also had a chance to experience a day long water outage in our beautiful Airbnb apartment, that otherwise accommodated the family nicely. The hope is that things will continue to improve but Cubans have learned the hard way that life can change drastically in an instant. Yet, while faced with hardships that many in the States can not imagine, the Cuban people love life and enjoy everyday of it. They manage to make the most of what they have, as evidenced by the innovative ways that they improvise in order to fix those classic cars without the necessary parts (or fix everything for that matter).

 

 

Another thing I noticed is the Cuban love for sports. And you can bet that anywhere you go there will someone watching, talking about, or playing sports. We always knew that baseball was big in Cuba, and my original plan was to go to one of the finals games for the Cuban National Series, but after the Habana Industriales were swept out of the playoffs by the Ciego de Ávila Tigres the day before I arrived, the logistics of traveling to view a game became much more difficult. So instead I watched the games on tv and decided to observe the general culture of sports on the island. And it’s obvious the the Cuban love for sports is so deep rooted that no hardship can come between the people and their beloved pastimes.

 

In the center of Habana there aren’t many large parks with baseball diamonds or soccer fields, so more often than not, you see children playing their favorite games right in the streets, or if they’re lucky, in an abandoned lot or parking lot. The two most popular things on the island are baseball, obviously, and soccer. Anywhere you go you see kids playing, I mean everywhere. Walking down the narrow colonial streets of Habana Vieja, I often had to sidestep impromptu baseball games and be careful that I didn’t get hit as I went on my way. A second of carelessness could result in a soccer ball to the face, so you constantly had to be on guard in case you became an unintended participant in the fun.

 

Most of these kids are lacking in proper equipment but that doesn’t stop them. Very few times did I see an actual baseball glove, and almost as scarce were baseball bats. Often these games were played using barehands and whatever stick could pass for a bat. Cuban ingenuity knows no bounds and I even saw balls that I’m not quite sure what they were made out of. The same went for soccer, which if I had to guess is being played just as much as baseball among the youth of the island. There’s a reason soccer is so popular around the world, and it’s that you need much less equipment than almost any other sport in order to make a true soccer match. All you need is the ball and some makeshift pylons to draw the boundaries of the net. And that’s how I saw the game being played all over the island.

 

 

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that Cuba is only filled with athletes who are forced to play in the streets due to a lack of proper facilities and equipment. On the contrary, Cuba has a decent state-run sports industry for a nation of its size. I already mentioned the baseball league, which has been a breading ground for many future MLB all stars. And while never having participated in an Olympic Winter Games, the country had been competing in the Summer games since 1894. Cuba has accumulated 209 medals overall and 72 gold medals. That’s good for 18th overall in the world, despite being the 78th most populous nation. Most of those have been in boxing (34) and I just know that American trainers and promoters are licking their chops as they await access to a new crop of Cuban boxers. As they should be.

 

The country of Cuba is one that is full of pride, determination and talent. Much like the music and food, sports flow through the blood of the island. There’s nothing that can stop the people in that country from loving, playing and enjoying whatever sport they like. As Cuba begins to rejoin the international community in a total sense, we should get used to the idea of seeing more and more professional Cuban athletes thrive on the world stage. Who knows, maybe I witnessed the next “El Duque” or Yoenis Cespedes right there in the streets of Habana and didn’t even know it.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode X)

Written by :
Published on : May 7, 2016

 

 

It might be time to start looking at the 2016 Cubs as a historically good team. That’s a weird thing to say. But after the Cubs swept the Pirates on the road, they had a +93 run differential, which is the 3rd highest ever after 26 games since 1900 (after the +103 1902 Pirates and the +96 1905 Giants). I mean, they won 97 games last year and only finished with a +81 for the whole season. Now we’re bringing Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson in to the conversation? Oh boy.

 

And let’s look at the Cubs-Pirates series for a second. It was billed as the bitter rematch of last year’s NL Wild Card Game, the budding of a great new baseball rivalry. The Pirates had been red-hot coming in. They’re a very good team. And then the Cubs murdered them 20-5 in three games. All without Jason Heyward and Miguel Montero and the grand-slam-hitting Matt Szczur, not to mention Kyle Schwarber. And all while they showed up in wacky fucking suits. You’re goddamn right Sean Rodriguez is tipping his cap. If the Cubs can stay relatively healthy (oh please, God), and actually start hitting on a consistent basis (other than Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo), you could be looking at the ’98 Yankees. Or something even better entirely. I guess we’ll see what we learn after the big weekend series with the Nationals.

 

NL MVP: Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs

 

Oh, I forgot to tell you; the Cubs have also yet to lose consecutive games this season. And they’re on pace for that run differential to end up at +576 for the season. Which is nuts. The all time record is +411 by the 1939 Yankees. And I have a strange feeling that you might hear them get brought up more as the season goes along.

 

NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Your entire team is in a shit-awful hitting slump? On top of that, your middle relief is horrible? Okay. Just have Kershaw go out there against the Padres and pitch a 3-hit complete game shutout with 14 strikeouts. Oh, and also have him single in your only run. Amazing. And that’s how Kershaw edges out Noah Syndergaard and Stephen Strasburg this week. I know there’s been a whole lot of talk about what Jake Arrieta has done in Chicago since last season. And there should be, the Cubs have won his last 19 starts. He’s basically 1967-1968 Bob Gibson, if Bob Gibson also did sexy, bearded Pilates and had a better batting average than his opponents. But that being said, Arrieta is still the second-best pitcher in baseball and Kershaw remains #1. Hell, I would have given him his 4th Cy Young Award last season. And that’s coming from someone who loves Jake Arrieta and would love to have it be the other way around. But if Kershaw keeps this up for one or two more seasons, he’s a bona fide first ballot Hall of Famer and (dare I say) probably the best pitcher in the history of that franchise. Except, you know, in the playoffs.

 

Speaking of playoffs, how garbage is that NL West division right now? The Giants are technically still in first place. Even though the back of their rotation is completely no bueno. In fact, the lowly Phillies and Marlins would actually be in first place right now if they were in the NL West. Speaking of which…

 

Look at the Phillies! They’re not legit, but look at them, anyway! It’s fun to see when a team that’s supposed to be terrible is actually playing well in May. And the Phillies are playing well. They swept the Nationals last week. They’re getting some pretty decent pitching – especially from Vincent Velasquez and Aaron Nola. And no team has struck out as many batters so far this season. However, their run differential is at -27. The team just doesn’t score. And FanGraphs has them sitting at a 0.1% chance to make the playoffs. Only the Braves and Reds (with their historically awful bullpen) are lower that that. I’d love for Odubel Herrera and the rest of the Phillies to prove me wrong, but I don’t think this team will even have a winning record at the end of the year. In other words, they’re about as legit as a Dee Gordon piss test (Marlins burn!).

 

NL Rookie of the Year: Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals

 

It’s still Diaz, but I keep forgetting that Steven Matz of the Mets is a rookie. And as it turns out, he’s a pretty freakin’ good one. I told you I thought the Mets might be in first place for this week’s post. Let me give it one more week. Those guys are playing home run derby in almost every outing.

 

AL MVP: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

 

Do you have any idea how much attention Manny Machado would get if he played for the Red Sox or the last place Yankees? He’s been lights out this season, but it seems like the only thing the media cares about in that division is how much Clay Buchholz and/or Dellin Betances suck. I’m so over it. At least Pablo Sandoval is out for the year, so I might not have to hear much about him anymore. Guys, it’s over. Travis Shaw is the Red Sox’ 3rd baseman. He’s doing okay. Just not as okay as the Orioles’ former (?) third baseman.

 

And for the love of Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor and (probably) Edgar Martinez, can we please stop referring to Big Papi as the greatest DH of all time? I know everyone loves him. I know he’s retiring. Yes, that “this is our fucking city” speech. Yes, the walk-offs in the 2004 ALCS. I get it. But come on. And, while we’re at it, can we also stop saying he’s the second-greatest Red Sock ever behind Ted Williams? Every time somebody does that I want to recreate the the Marshall McLuhan scene from Annie Hall, except I’m standing with Carl Yastrzemski, Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, Tris Speaker, Bobby Doerr and Jim Rice. All that being said, Ortiz and the Red Sox’ bats are hot.

 

AL Cy Young Award: Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox

 

This is just about the same scenario we had last week. Except now it’s May and it’s becoming clearer that the White Sox are actually good enough to dethrone the slumping Kansas City Royals in the AL Central. The Indians are still slightly favored to win the division, even though they badly need hitting and everyone in that city is still watching the Cavs. Meanwhile, the White Sox finally cut John Danks and will be going with a fluid 5th starter going forward on their very impressive staff. I think this is shaping up to be a pretty big summer in the city of Chicago.

 

AL Rookie of the Year: Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers

 

Shin Soo-Choo can come back whenever he wants. This dude isn’t going anywhere. Did you see that ALDS rematch series between the Rangers and Blue Jays in Toronto? If you did, then you saw Mazara, unfazed by the playoff atmosphere in May, show off his power at the plate and his cannon for an arm. And I’m sure Adrian Beltre will eventually have a say in this, but Mazara might already be the best player on that team.

 

The current most interesting team in the AL West (once we finally get over the Astros being bad) is the Seattle Mariners. Taijuan Walker and Robinson Cano have been great. Kyle Seager and Felix Hernandez have not. But they’re winning. And you can smoke weed there. And like I’ve said before, a lot of experts picked Seattle to go to the World Series last year. Partially on how high they were on all four of the dudes I just mentioned. I’m going to go ahead and assume Seager (.260 lifetime AVG) is going to get above the Mendoza Line at some point this season, but there is a real concern with King Felix’ velocity. And that sucks to see a player who has been so good for the Mariners for so many years start to drop off when everything else finally seems to be falling in to place.

 

Okay. That looks like it’ll do it for this week’s Angelino in the Outfield. Last week, as soon as I turned in my post, it was announced that Paul Rudd would be playing Moe Berg in The Catcher Was a Spy movie. So I guess this column has magical powers. Or that anything can happen in baseball. Either or. In the meantime, check me out on the MLB Weekly recaps on the Comedians Talking Sports podcast with Joe Kilgallon on iTunes. Go Cubs.

 

 


World rejoices as Skip Bayless says he is leaving ESPN

Written by :
Published on : April 29, 2016

 

ESPN’s resident loudmouth moron, Skip Bayless, has announced that he will be leaving the network once his contract expires in August. This joyous news comes a day after that very sad news that Mike Tirico will also be leaving ESPN. The loss of Tirico hurts, especially to fans of Monday Night Football, but the Bayless departure definitely seems like addition by subtraction for the network.

 

Skip is the most recent in a long line of onscreen personalities that have departed the worldwide leader in sports. They’ve also lost Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd and the intolerant schmuck, Curt Schilling. But Bayless is the only one I’m truly happy about. His opinions have been so ludicrous for so long that it’s getting pretty tired. Let’s take a quick look at some of his Twitter posts as evidence of his high level of clown-ery

 

 

If I was in charge at ESPN, I would be eternally grateful for the departure of someone with so little knowledge of sports. I mean seriously, what the hell is this dudes deal? And if his ridiculously off base sports tweets weren’t enough, he’s also been known to make some pretty tasteless jokes. Like this gem right here:

 

Apparently he also thinks that domestic violence is just hilarious. Good to know. Rumor has it that he’ll be moving to Fox Sports. May the Lord have mercy on their viewers. Maybe I’m being too hard on ol’ Skipper. Let’s see what some other people think about his departure from ESPN.  

 

 

So it doesn’t look like the masses are exactly up in arms about the whole thing. The only sad part is that now Stephen A. Smith isn’t going to have anyone to yell at. And that’s a shame because without an outlet for his aggression, his brain will probably explode. You know what? We should probably just ship Stephen A. off with Skip too. It’s only right.

 

Let’s all be thankful that Skip Bayless is gone and hope that he decides to take a nice, long vacation before he returns to the world of sports broadcasting.

 

 


The NFL’s fight against Tom Brady continues

Written by :
Published on : April 26, 2016

 

I really thought that I would never have to talk about ‘Deflategate’ again, but the NFL just won’t let that happen. The league’s relentless quest to vilify America’s sweetheart, Tom Brady, got a big boost yesterday when U.S. appeals court ruled in favor of the NFL and reinstated a four-game suspension for the Patriots’ QB. The NFL has not yet stated if it plans to carry out the suspension but you have to think that they will. Why go through all the legal trouble if you were going to let it slide.

 

So the NFL finally gets its way and Roger Goodell gets to continue being the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to player discipline. Great. As if he didn’t already act like a dictator. I’m sure now that his position of power has been affirmed in a court of law, that he will act more reasonably with it. It still seems crazy how bad the Patriots are getting screwed over some under-inflated footballs.

 

 Tom is about to go full terminator on the NFL.

 

Not only will the team be without its Super Bowl winning signal caller, but the league also took away their first-round draft pick this year. A first round draft pick seems pretty drastic, even if the Patriots are the evil empire and deserve to go down in flames. That might just be my general hatred for the franchise boiling over. Even though I can’t stand them and I’m truly tired of seeing them win every single year, this punishment is far too harsh.

 

But what can the team or Tom Brady do? I highly doubt they will consider taking the case to the Supreme Court, and I doubt even more that the court would ever decide to hear the case. So it seems as though both the team and the quarterback are going to be forced to bend over and take it. Roger Goodell has won, plain and simple, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

 

 Look at that smug bastard.

 

Luckily for the Patriots, only one of the first four games for which Brady will be suspended is on the road, against the Cardinals. The other three games are at home against the Dolphins, Texans and Bills. None of those games are going to be particularly easy but I can see the team coming out with a 2-2 record under backup Jimmy Garoppolo. And after that, you just know Brady will come back with a thirst for blood and burning desire to stick it to the league in the only way he knows how. Winning football games.

 

Goodell may have won the battle but I can totally see Tom Brady getting the last laugh when he sets the league on fire upon his return. Let me just say that I don’t really want this too happen but it totally seems like something Tom and his team would do. And if that makes Roger Goodell even a little bit angry that’s enough reason for me to get behind it. I hate the Patriots but I’m pretty sure that I hate the commissioner of the league even more. Maybe for no bigger reason than that he just gave Tom Brady a big fat chip on his shoulder. A chip that he will use to make the damned Patriots once again an awesome football team.

 

 


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