Category Archives: NBA
Houston called itself “Clutch City” after the Rockets won back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 (vs. the Knicks, led by Patrick Ewing) and 1995 (vs. the Magic, sweeping an Orlando team led by Shaq).
After the last three months, a more appropriate moniker for Houston is “Choke City”.
It began with the Astros. After winning a franchise record 107 games in the regular season, Houston nearly choked in the American League Division Series vs. the Rays, needing a victory in the winner-take-all Game 5 to advance to the American League Championship Series.
The Astros ousted the Yankees in six to move into the World Series for the second time in three years, where Houston would face the Washington Nationals, who were making their first World Series appearance.
Many experts expected the Astros to win the first two games at Minute Maid Park, then go to the nation’s capital and win two of three there.
Instead, Houston lost the first two games at home. The Astros rallied to win the next three in the District of Columbia to gain the series lead, only to choke it away by losing the sixth and seventh games in Texas. It became the first best-of-seven series in any of the three major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) which use that format where the road team won every game.
Today, the Texans joined the Astros in Houston sports infamy.
Bill O’Brien’s team built a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter of an AFC divisional playoff in Kansas City.
By halftime, the Chiefs led 28-24, as Patrick Mahomes joined Doug Williams as the only quarterbacks to throw four touchdown passes in one quarter of a playoff game. Williams did it in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII, when the Redskins turned a 10-0 deficit vs. the Broncos into a 35-10 halftime bulge. Washington won 42-10, and Williams was the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Kansas City won 51-31 and earned the right to host Tennessee in next Sunday’s AFC championship game.
Green Bay held on to defeat Seattle 28-23 in the NFC, sending the Packers to Santa Clara to face the 49ers for the other spot in Super Bowl LIV in Miami (Gardens) Feb. 2.
A team from Houston has not played in the AFC championship game since 1979, when the Oilers lost to the Steelers for the second consecutive year. Bum Phillips’ team was hurt by the officials making a bad call on a pass to Mike Renfro which was ruled incomplete but was in fact a touchdown, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
Even worse, Houston fans have to watch their former team play in its third AFC championship since relocating to the Volunteer State. The Titans defeated the Jaguars in 1999 before losing to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, but lost to the Raiders in 2002.
Barely an hour after the game ended at ARrowhead, a Houston Chronicle columnist wrote it was time for Texans coach Bill O’Brien to leave, reminding readers of past Houston sports failures. One of them was the famous 1983 NCAA men’s basketball title game, when Jim Valvano’s underdog North Carolina State Wolfpack shocked the mighty Houston Cougars, nicknamed “Phi Slamma Jamma” , when Lorenzo Charles caught Dereck Whittenburg’s airball and slammed it through the net with no time remaining. That Houston team featured two of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, Clyde Drexler and (H)Akeem Olajuwon.
It wasn’t the first time a team from Kansas City stuck it to a team from Houston.
In 1993, the Oilers hosted the Chiefs in an AFC divisional game. Houston entered on an 11-game winning streak, but Kansas City, led by Joe Montana, prevailed 28-20. Following that loss, the Oilers’ fan support plummeted to subterranean depths, and after the 1996 season, they were on their way to Tennessee.
In 2015, the Astros were up 2-1 on the Royals in an American League Division Series and led Game 4 through seven innings. Kansas City rallied to win that game, won Game 5 in Kansas City, and eventually won the World Series. Houston’s 2017 World Series championship took the sting out of the 2015 setback, but the one in 2019 will be hard to forget, no matter if the Astros win another championship or not.
Despite superstars like Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Chris Paul and James Harden playing for the Rockets in recent years, Houston has not played for an NBA championship since 1995. The window is wide open with the Warriors in free fall, but the Rockets will be severely tested by the two Los Angeles teams in the West, and hopefully Milwaukee if they make it to the Finals.
Approximately 26 hours from now, LSU will either have completed its greatest football season ever, or one of its most disappointing. Hopefully it’s the former. However, I would feel much better about this if the opponent were wearing scarlet and gray instead of orange. Something tells me Dabo is the younger, hipper version of LSU’s former coach–the one in Tuscaloosa, not the one in Lawrence–and has a dynasty going in the the South Carolina uplands.
The NFL has been naming players to an all-time team in conjunction with its 100th season.
First, this should have been saved until 2020, when it would be the 100th ANNIVERSARY of the NFL. I get sick and tired of seeing athletic teams, college and professional, celebrating seasons instead of years. Every October 13, I celebrate my birthday, and it is how many years I have LIVED, not the year of my life I’m entering. It was my 43rd birthday the most recent October 13, because I had LIVED 43 years to that point. I am now in my 44th year; I will celebrate my 44th birthday this year.
The Chiefs are an egregious violator of the rule. This season, the Chiefs claim this is their 60th season, which is stupid in and of itself, since the franchise played its first three seasons in Dallas before moving to Kansas City. The Chiefs should not celebrate a 60th ANNIVERSARY until 2023, 60 years after their first season in Kansas City.
The Saints have violated the rule time and time again. New Orleans wore a patch for its 25th SEASON in 1991, instead of waiting until 1992 to celebrate its 25th ANNIVERSARY. Same in 1996 (30 seasons) and 2016 (50 seasons). YEESH.
I can happily say the football Cardinals wore a 100th anniversary patch in 1998, not a 100 seasons patch in 1997. The baseball Cardinals got it right as well, wearing a 100 years patch in 1992. The Brewers will wear a 50th anniversary patch this season to celebrate 50 years in Wisconsin (the Brewers began life as the Seattle Pilots for the 1969 season, then went bankrupt and were awarded by a federal court to Bud Selig, who moved them to Milwaukee ONE WEEK before the 1970 season began).
Enough semantics. I’m sure you’re fast asleep by now.
Many selections to the NFL’s all-time team have angered me.
First, what the HELL is Rob Gronkowski doing on the team as one of the five tight ends, yet Ozzie Newsome is nowhere to be found?
I was very unhappy Newsome chose to accompany Art Modell’s Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and staying with the Ravens after the Browns were re-established. It would have only been right had Newsome come back to the city which made him a household name to professional football fans.
On the other hand, Newsome was without peer during his 13 seasons (1978-90) in Cleveland. The man was simply sensational. He was a big reason the Browns won the AFC Central over the Steelers and Oilers in 1980 and a bigger reason Brian Sipe won that season’s Most Valuable Player award.
Gronkowski was stellar in New England, but come on. A lot of it is recency bias AND Belichick being on the selection panel.
I have no problem with the other tight ends on the list: John Mackey, Mike Ditka, Kellen Winslow and Tony Gonzalez. But to omit Newsome? Please.
The rest of the offensive line had me scratching my head a little.
Where was Jerry Kramer? For those who don’t know, he was one of the men who made the Green Bay sweep the most feared play in the NFL during Vince Lombardi’s coaching tenure with the Packers. The sight of #64 and teammates Fuzzy Thurston (#63) and later Gale Gillingham (#68) scared the bejesus out of many a linebacker and safety in the 1960s. Was it a coincidence Paul Hornung scored 176 points in 12 games in 1960? Not with that offensive line. Same with Jimmy Taylor winning the 1962 rushing championship, the only season Jim Brown did not win it during his nine-season NFL career.
Larry Allen, who played on Dallas’ most recent Super Bowl team in 1995, is a poor choice. Allen is worthy of his bust in Canton. However, I cannot imagine voting for him over Kramer.
John Hannah? Great choice. Gene Upshaw? Ditto. Bruce Matthews? He was a Pro Bowl selection at every spot along the offensive line, although I may have had him at tackle and not guard. But Allen over Kramer sticks out like a sore thumb.
Two of the offensive tackles, Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden, demonstrate recency bias. They are Hall of Fame worthy, sure. But all-time worthy? Not buying it. However, I have less problem with either of those two than Gronk over Newsome.
At center, Jim Ringo should be there and not Dwight Stephenson. Stephenson was a Hall of Famer with the Dolphins in the 1980s, but he didn’t win any championships. Ringo did.
The NFL’s all-time team has some of my least favorite athletes: Gronk, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady, and the double murderer who used to play for the Bills. YEESH.
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern passed away yesterday after suffering a brain hemorrhage two weeks ago.
It’s sad to see anyone pass away, but I hated Stern as NBA Commissioner. HATED HIM. Let me count some of the ways:
–He screwed Kansas City by openly helping the Kings’ ownership move to Sacramento in 1985, even though the Kings were flagrantly invading the Warriors’ territory in northern California and were moving into a converted warehouse for three seasons before the taxpayers of California were fleeced to build a new arena.
–I believe Stern fixed the first NBA draft lottery in 1985 in order for the Knicks to draft Patrick Ewing. He made sure the envelope containing the Knicks’ logo was bent so could easily find it.
—Stern flagrantly favored the big markets in most cases. If it were up to him, New York would have five teams, Los Angeles four, Chicago three and places like Milwaukee, San Antonio and Utah would not have a team.
–He made sure the Pelicans (then the Hornets) couldn’t leave New Orleans, one of the smallest markets in pro sports. The team had terrible attendance prior to Hurricane Katrina, and when the Hornets played in Oklahoma City temporarily for two seasons, the attendance far surpassed that in the Big Easy.
–Stern also worshipped small-market Sacramento. He prevented the Kings from moving to Seattle despite the team losing money, and he forced the taxpayers of California to foot the bill for yet another arena. I wouldn’t be surprised if California Governor Gavin Newsom would order a bronze statue of Stern be placed outside the Kings’ arena. David Stern is THE reason the NBA is still in the crap hole known as Sacramento.
Goodbye David Stern. You’re a big reason I can’t stand the NBA 99% of the time.
I realized this morning how bad 2020 is going to be. The presidential election is November 3.
Trump is a slimy SOB who has done thousands of unethical things in the White House, but he’s just like every other man who has occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. EVERY president has a few (hundred) skeletons in his closet, except William Henry Harrison, who didn’t serve long enough to accumulate skeletons.
That said, the Democrats are using impeachment as a vehicle to vent their frustration over losing the 2016 election. Look in the mirror, Democrats. You nominated the only person on earth short of Lucifer himself Donald Trump could beat in an election, and maybe even Lucifer would have been more successful than Hillary Rodham Clinton.
This is going to occur every time the party not in power is angry. I’m certain the Democrats will launch a new impeachment inquiry if Trump is re-elected, or the Republicans will do so to the Democratic president if they win control of the House. It will never end.
And you thought partisanship was nasty during the presidencies of LBJ and Nixon. Those two are probably screaming from the grave.
I’m in Kansas City for the first time in over two months. My dad is undergoing a heart procedure at KU Medical Center in KCK tomorrow. I agreed to drive my parents, and they in turn are paying for most of my expenses. Can’t beat that.
The Chiefs are off this weekend, so it will be quiet. That’s good. I wouldn’t want to be here for the playoff game January 12. Probably going to be ear-splitting in every sports bar in the area.
I felt guilty yesterday, and it lightened my wallet a slight bit.
Two ladies who teach at a middle school in Liberty met for drinks. I felt like I was eavesdropping on their conversation. I buried my face in my hands a couple of times.
I thought it was happening again. I had it going through my mind I was “hovering” and making women uncomfortable in a Buffalo Wild Wings.
Very few people have told me outright I’m hovering and making them uncomfortable, but Lord knows how often I’ve thought it.
One of the teachers got there a little after two. She was waiting for her colleague, and ended up waiting more than an hour. She was on her phone quite a bit. We made a little small talk, but once her colleague arrived, I felt uneasy sitting there, despite being engrossed in trivia.
The lovely ladies, Joanne and Heather, told me everything was okay and I wasn’t eavesdropping. Crista has told me more than a few (thousand) times I read too much into situations. I’m sure I’ll tell Crista all about it when I see her on 27 June.
Joanne was the one who arrived early. She asked me if she could help me with anything. Fortunately, she didn’t have to.
I told Tina to put their drinks on my bill. She kept the secret until Heather was ready to pay. Heather was going to pay for a couple of Joanne’s drinks due to being late, but then Tina said their bill had been taken care of.
I shouldn’t be so surprised. There was Kelsey, the young lady in the Army from New Hampshire who stopped in at Zona Rosa on her way to St. Louis in December. I would give anything to hear from her. But I know she’s got much more important things to worry about.
December 27, 2015 still pops into the mind from time to time. It was the infamous Sunday when two strangers began kissing and groping one another while sitting next to me. Luckily Robb and Dawn showed up to provide me company.
Speaking of Zona Rosa, their Buzztime system has been down since Mother’s Day. No sense in going there. Also, most of the employees I knew are gone. Tori, Trey and Morgan are there amongst the veterans, but Liz, Lisa and all the rest are gone.
The atmosphere at Shoal Creek is better. The decor is nice, the lightning isn’t too harsh, and it isn’t as loud as Zona gets. Between all the kids and the hip-hop often blaring from the jukebox, it gets unbearable.
Between Joanne and Heather, Larry, Jeff Lagrande and trivia, yesterday was pretty darn good. I didn’t leave until 2030. I have to leave Kansas City tomorrow before 0730 to make sure I’m back in Russell by 1200. I might have dawdled around town Sunday and then driven home late, but my mother is cooking eggplant parmigana.
The Raptors won the NBA championship. YUCK. There was a jerk wearing a Kawhi Spurs jersey in Buffalo Wild Wings Thursday, cheering every good thing the Raptors did and every bad thing the Warriors did.
First, I cannot stand Kawhi. Period. I’m not a fan of Gregg Popovich, but Kawhi was totally at fault for the stuff he pulled in San Antonio. Popovich had every right to treat Leonard the way he did, because Kawhi did it to himself. Kawhi wanted out of San Antonio so he could find a coach he could manipulate. Nick Nurse proved to be Kawhi’s stool pigeon.
Second, Drake’s antics have made me hate the Raptors. He has no business anywhere near the benches. If it were up to me, I would ban courtside seats. Yes, they bring in boatloads of money for NBA teams, but is it worth the trouble?
Third, men should never, ever wear sleeveless shirts without an undershirt in public, UNLESS they are working out. And if men are to wear sleveeless shirt while working out, they should have to shave their armpit hair, which is disgusting to begin with.
I’m getting my armpit hair laser removed, along with my chest and back. Body hair grosses me out to no end.
My father has almost no body hair. I wish I were like him, not my grandfather, who has more hair than an ape. Apparently, my sister-in-law loves body hair, because my brother is a gorilla. The only good news in my genes is my hair is light-colored, whereas my brother’s is darker, coarser and harder to remove.
The 25th reunion of my graduating class at Brother Martin High was last Saturday in New Orleans. I didn’t go, of course, but I did donate $70, the cost of attendance, which I did not do previously.
I am friends with very few high school classmates on social media. On the other hand, I’m not wishing them any ill will, which wasn’t the case for a long time. I held a lot of resentment even after moving to Kansas, which was 12 years after my senior year of high school began. Time has a way of healing wounds. Maybe these have started to heal.
Geez. A man has walked into Buffalo Wild Wings wearing a cowboy hat. WEARING the cowboy hat.
This is not a rodeo, sir. You should remove that hat.
I am just aggravated by men who cannot remove their hats in a restaurant. I wore hats indoors when I was younger; I stopped after visiting the Louisiana state capitol in 1992 and being politely asked by an usher in the House seating gallery to remove it. I like showing off my short hair anyway.
I made a horrible mistake many years ago of going outside without a hat in Kansas. My head was fried within two hours. I haven’t made that mistake since.
Baseball hats are a nuisance. They do not block anyone’s view. But cowoboy hats? Another story.
The public address announcer at Hill City’s gym wears a giant cowboy hat. Anyone sitting directly behind him who is not more than three rows up will have his or her view blocked.
I don’t see why people in Texas want to spend tens of thousands on a Stetson cowboy hat. Make a down payment on a car.
I used to own a ton of hats. Most of them were flooded by Katrina. The only hats I own now are a few MLB throwbacks and the ones I used to wear when I covered outdoor sporting events.
The last hat I purchased was a White Sox throwback, the one they wore from 1976-81 with the floppy-collared jerseys and navy blue or white pants. I discovered those uniforms watching Johnny Bench’s instructional show, The Baseball Bunch, in the mid-1980s.
Most people hate them, especially Chris Sale, who cut a replica up in 2016 when he was scheduled to pitch wearing them on a Turn Back The Clock night, one incident which prompted his departure from Chicago. I love them. I bought the hat as a protest of Sale’s hacking. I despise the White Sox’ uniforms, which they have worn since 1991. Black is ugly, especially for a team which hardly ever wore black before then. It also is a reminder of the White Sox’ disgusting past, namely the Black Sox.
Right now, I’m the only man not wearing a hat at the bar. One black cap, one Royals batting practice cap, the annoying cowboy hat, and a Diamondbacks batting practice hat. I swear there needs to be a hat rack in every restaurant.
Gary Woodland, a Topeka native who played at Washburn and KU, is leading the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by two strokes. He and Justin Rose make up today’s last pairing, teeing off at 1645 CT (1445 PT). Woodland has never won a major, while Rose won the U.S. Open in 2013 at Lower Merion near Philadelphia.
It looks like Brooks Koepka’s bid to win his third consecutive U.S. Open has ended. That doesn’t make it any less compelling.
My week-long excursion to the Show-Me State ended just before noon yesterday when I crossed the state line on Interstate 670.
It was a very good trip. My Friday visit to Buffalo Wild Wings was shortened by the heavy rain which arrived 10 minutes before I returned to my hotel. I made the best of it, wolfing down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s which featured a flavor designed by Tonight show host Jimmy Fallon. Late Show host Stephen Colbert also has his own flavor, and I ate that Saturday morning.
It was a good thing I left B-Dubs earlier Friday than planned. I got only four hours of sleep the previous night, and I slept late Saturday, not leaving the hotel until after noon.
I saw Larry three straight days, a first. We played for an hour Thursday before my appointment to continue my laser hair removal, then four more hours Friday, the longest he’s stayed at one time. He had vacation last Friday, and he decided to spend it at Buffalo Wild Wings. Interesting. His daughter is coming to Kansas City this weekend after being overseas with veterinary school.
I was surprised to see him come in Saturday just after 1800. I thought I might be heading to Minsky’s on Barry Road since I hadn’t been there since late January, but he walked in with his longtime girlfriend, Terri. Tina told me how surprising it was to see him on a Saturday. So I stayed until 2030 then went back to the hotel. That was it for trivia on the trip.
Sunday I woke up late again. By time I finally got my act together, I decided I’d spend the rest of the day working, except a break to drive to Overland Park and get Outback to go for the first time since I was in Wichita in early March. A huge bone-in ribeye and two salads were a welcome change from buffalo wings and Taco Bell, as much as I love both places.
Columbia was fine. Couldn’t get my hotel problem from the LSU-Mizzou weekend straightened out, but I did enjoy my White Castle. Immensely. The brisket sliders were good. I also had my old go-to, the double beef slider with cheddar, quite a bit.
Yesterday was a bit hairy. I had my work for Russell County News done early, so I departed Columbia at 0900, needing to make it to Hays in time to pick up medicine. We did not have a picture of Renee Nichol, the young lady from Russell High who won the Class 3A girls state long jump championship last Saturday. Amy Hoss, who does a great job keeping things together, stayed in touch with me trying to find a photo.
I stopped for gas at Oak Grove and a quick grocery shopping excursion at Grain Valley, both in eastern Jackson County, over 20 miles from Kansas City. I didn’t find out Amy had found a photo until I had passed Abilene, which meant I had to haul my butt to Salina as quickly as possible and find a place to stop, plug in my computer, and get the changes done.
Good thing I needed to stop. I went from Grain Valley past Kansas City, Missouri; Kansas City, Kansas; Lawrence; Topeka; Junction City; and Abilene without stopping. I was fighting fatigue. Bad. I breathed a sigh of relief when I hit the Ohio Street exit in Salina.
The Taco Bell at the corner of Ohio and Iron did just fine. Found an outlet, got it done, and I was in Hays just after 1600.
I stink at trivia these days. Really stink. I had a terrible game of SIX last night. Terrible. And the Thursday night TV trivia game showed just how uninformed I am.
I must be a complete weirdo. I knew nothing about Seinfeld and Cheers. I have never watched Game of Thrones. I have never watched an Avengers movie. I have never watched any of the reality shows my parents are hooked on. I won’t watch American Idol or other singing shows.
Frankly, I hated Seinfeld. Period. I hated seeing that douchebag in commercials. Whenever reruns air on TBS, I change the channel.
I never watched Friends. Never watched The Cosby Show, which is a good thing given the depraved nature of its star.
Now the game on quotations is kicking my ass. Geez. I am scatterbrained and clueless. ##########################################################################
The St. Louis Blues won a Stanley Cup Finals game last night. Carl Gunnarsson’s overtime goal gave the Blues a 3-2 win and knotted the series at one game apiece. The series now shifts to Missouri for game three Saturday and game four Monday. Boston will host game five a week from tonight.
The Blues were 0-13 in finals games, including a 4-2 loss Monday in the series opener. They were swept in 1968 and ’69 by the Canadiens and in ’70 by the Bruins.
Those finals appearances need to be denoted with a huge asterisk. When the Blues and five other expansion teams came into the NHL in 1967, league president Clarence Campbell prevailed upon the Board of Governors to keep the “Original Six” (Bruins, Canadiens, Red Wings, Rangers, Maple Leafs, Black Hawks) in one division, and put the new teams (Blues, Kings, North Stars, Penguins, Flyers, Seals) in the other, meaning one of the new teams was guaranteed a spot in the final.
When St. Louis stunk it up in the finals for three consecutive years. Campbell finally got smart and at least put Chicago in the West and cross-bracketed the playoff semifinals, meaning an expansion team was not guaranteed a spot in the finals. The next three finals matched Original Six teams before the Flyers won back-to-back Cups in 1974 and ’75.
St. Louis’ win means the Maple Leafs now have gone the longest time without a win in the Stanley Cup finals, last prevailing when it clinched the 1967 championship in the sixth game at home vs. Montreal. The Panthers are now the only team to reach a final and never win a game, getting swept in 1996 by the Avalanche, who were in their first season in Denver after moving from Quebec City. Of course, that pissed me off more than anything. Denver should have a team, but did it have to be the Nordiques?
I’m happy for Larry that the Blues won. However, the Blues still playing reminds me of how bad I’ve screwed up with Lisa and just about everyone else I’ve known. Why do I bother? I have to muster all the courage I can to not cry and/or go off the deep end.
The Bucks choked. They gagged. They blew it.
Milwaukee had a 2-0 lead in the NBA Eastern Conference finals, then proceeded to lose the next four to the friggin Raptors and that piece of fecal matter, Kawhi Leonard. The Bucks led by 15 late in the third quarter of game six, only to see Toronto go on a 26-3 run and put it away.
I don’t like the Warriors, but I hope they sweep the Raptors. One, because I can’t stand Kawhi; two, because I flat out DESPISE Drake, the Raptors’ most famous fan; and three, I am sick and tired of the NBA and I want it to be over.
LSU is hosting an NCAA baseball regional starting tomorrow. As badly as I want to go back to Baton Rouge, I have no desire to go back right now when it’s so humid you can cut the air with a knife. It’s hot enough in Kansas without the excess humidity.
The power sockets in my car stopped working today. Crap. Going to have to take it to James Motors in Hays Monday to get it worked on. I also need to get it washed because bugs keep doing suicide missions on my bumper and windshield. I need to drive down to Wichita, but that long drive without my iPod is not appetizing. SiriusXM will have to do.
Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina? I don’t know. That gigantic douchebag Edwin is working tomorrow night. I hate Edwin with every fiber of my being. I have never said that about anyone working in a restaurant, but I hate Edwin. He is a gigantic tool who probably has antisocial personality disorder. There are a couple of others at that place who need serious mental evaluations, because they are not people I would want to be around if I had my druthers. ##########################################################################
Tuesday will be a Sunshine Day. I’ll reveal more later.
The New Orleans Pelicans won the first overall pick for the upcoming NBA Draft last night in the lottery.
I was very happy on two fronts.
First, I’m happy for the team playing in my native city.
I’ve been a Bucks fan since I was old enough to follow the NBA. The Jazz left the Crescent City four months before my third birthday, so I have no memories of Pistol Pete playing in the Superdome when the games actually happened. I thought the NBA was certifiably insane to let the Hornets relocate from Charlotte to New Orleans in 2002, because New Orleans, I felt, didn’t have the population nor the wealthy fans to support a team playing 41 home games per season. The Saints have enjoyed rabid support since their first season of 1967, but the Saints play only 10 home games (eight home games and two exhibitions which are nothing more than scrimmages under game conditions) a year. Prime seats for NBA games cost at least $300 per contest. Multiply that by 41 and you get the picture.
There was a time I believed the only reason New Orleans still had an NBA team was because David Stern felt sorry for the city after Hurricane Katrina. I believed for many years the NBA should have let the Hornets stay in Oklahoma City, where they played most of their games during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, which would have allowed the SuperSonics to stay in Seattle. But Stern (a) loved New Orleans and (b) loved Clay Bennett, who bought the Sonics and moved them to Sooner country in 2008.
However, I simply cannot ignore the place where I grew up and the state in which I lived the first 29 years of my life. I want the Pelicans to do well. I want them to win 80 of 82 games every season–the other two is when they play the Bucks.
The Pelicans were given the giant middle finger by Anthony “Unibrow” Davis when he demanded a trade to ONLY the Lakers or Knicks in January. Gayle Benson didn’t budge, and the Unibrow had to spend the rest of his season in the Crescent City, where he dragged down the Pelicans to a 33-49 record.
Benson was right to hold on to Davis. She cannot let the Pelicans get brutally robbed the way the Bucks were in 1975 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar forced his way out of Milwaukee with a trade to the Lakers, who sent the Bucks a bunch of nothing.
The Bucks weren’t the only NBA team the Lakers robbed blind in the ’70s; the Jazz gave away a first round draft pick for over-the-hill Gail Goodrich. That pick became the number one overall pick in 1979. The Lakers used it to draft some fellow named Earvin Johnson from Michigan State. The Jazz could have had Magic. Enough said.
New Orleans has some very interesting paths to take with the first overall pick. It could draft Zion and trade Davis for the king’s ransom he should bring in return; the Pelicans could trade the pick AND Davis and begin a massive rebuild similar to that the 76ers undertook at the beginning of the decade; it could draft Zion and then attempt to re-sign Davis, hoping to build a new Big Three with Zion, Davis and Jrue Holliday; or it could draft Zion and shop him to the highest bidder if it cannot resign Unibrow.
David Griffin, the Pelicans’ new Executive Vice President and General Manager, is the envy of his 29 counterparts across the NBA.
The other great thing about the Pelicans winning the lottery: THE KNICKS DIDN’T.
Few teams in all of professional sports infuriate me more than the Knicks. Never have liked that franchise. Hated it when David Stern rigged the first lottery in 1985 to allow the Knicks to take Patrick Ewing, then Ewing saying he would never have signed with the Pacers had they won the lottery that year. Hated it when former Knick great Bill Bradley preached socialism during his political career as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey and later as a failed presidential candidate.
I have really despised the Knicks for (a) hiring Isiah Thomas, a total douchebag on the court and an even worse piece of fecal matter off of it; and (b) having James Dolan as an owner.
To say Dolan is a douchebag would be saying Hurricane Katrina was just a little rain and wind storm. Dolan brings a new definition to the word “douchebag”. Between Dolan and Thomas, the Knicks should be sponsored by Summer’s Eve and Massengale.
Why Zion badly wanted to play for these supreme dickheads is beyond me, but he felt he would make upwards of $250 million in endorsements in the Big Apple.
When the Knicks didn’t win the lottery, Zion stormed out of the Chicago hotel where it was being held and presumably went back to his hotel to sulk to Coach K and his agent.
A trade to the Knicks isn’t happening. That team is so messed up it doesn’t have enough to offer the Pelicans. So Zion better accept he isn’t going to Knicks for awhile.
If Zion doesn’t want to play for the Pelicans, let him go to Europe. He wouldn’t be the first crybaby to demand a particular team not draft him.
One of the first known instances of this happened 50 years ago.
Orenthal James Simpson was so coveted coming out of USC that Philadelphia Eagles fans rioted in the stands at Franklin Field when the Eagles defeated the Saints in a December game, because it allowed the Bills to move ahead of Philadelphia for the first pick in the upcoming draft.
Simpson didn’t want to go to Buffalo. He hated the cold. He hated the East Coast. He wanted to be in a major media market. But the Rams, who shared the Coliseum with USC, weren’t going to sniff him unless they traded the Bills Roman Gabriel, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones and Tom Mack, and even then, the Bills may have said no.
Buffalo drafted Simpson. He held out as long as he could, but finally signed.
The Bills had it happen twice more to them within five years.
In 1979, they drafted Tom Cousineau out of Ohio State first overall after Cousineau said he had no desire to play for them. Cousineau went to Canada for three seasons before returning to the NFL and signing with his hometown team, the Browns.
Four years later, Jim Kelly refused to sign with the Bills after he was drafted 13th overall out of Miami. He played in the USFL for two seasons in Houston before coming to Buffalo when the USFL was awarded $1 in its 1986 antitrust case against the NFL.
The NHL’s poster child for draft shenanigans is Eric Lindros, who steadfastly refused to play for the Nordiques after Quebec drafted him first overall in 1991. He held out for the entire 1991-92 season before the Nordiques traded him to the Flyers for numerous players and picks.
In 1990, Todd Van Poppel was a hotshot high school pitcher in Texas. He told the Braves not to draft him, because if they did, he would attend the University of Texas. Atlanta honored his wishes and drafted this Chipper Jones guy. Van Poppel was drafted 12th overall by the Athletics, the 1989 World Series champion, and chose Oakland over Austin. I think the Braves won that won. Big time.
Professional sports drafts go against the American ideal of freedom of choice, but if they didn’t exist, players would simply sign with the highest bidder. In MLB, that would create gross competitive imbalance, because the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers would simply outbid the likes of the Astros, Cardinals and Brewers for the top shelf talent. The Yankees did it so well for so long that MLB finally instituted the draft in 1965. Once it began, the Yankees fell into a nosedive which didn’t end until 1976.
Nobody should feel sorry for a crybaby 19-year old who didn’t get his way and can’t play for the team he wants, at least at first. If Zion loves New York that bad, he can get a job in the Big Apple I’m sure, one which will pay less in a year than he would make in a single game playing in New Orleans.
Everyone has a price. Zion will eventually wise up. It’s all about the $$$$.
What is America’s obsession with jalapeño flavored stuff? I understand japalenos on Mexican dishes–even though I don’t like japalenos on my nachos, tacos or enchiladas–and jalapeño poppers at fast food and fast casual restaurants such as Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings, but it has gone overboard.
Case in point: jalapeño flavored M&Ms.
Just the thought of it makes me want to throw up.
Since when do chocolate and jalapeño go together?
M&Ms has come out with three new flavors, and stores across the country, including Kansas City, Salina and Hays, have large displays featuring them.
English toffee is delicious. I bought a bag at the grocery store in Hays a few minutes ago. Heath and 5th Avenue, both of which feature toffee, are among my favorite chocolate bars. Heath pieces used to be the only kind of candy I would get in a Dairy Queen Blizzard, although I’ve expanded my tastes to include many other flavors.
Thai Coconut? Mixed emotions. If it were just coconut, I would dive right in, because Mounds, which is dark chocolate and coconut, is another of my favorite candy bars. But the “Thai” part concerns me. I can eat the Thai curry wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, but many times, Thai is very hot. I’ll pass unless someone else offers them to me.
Jalapeño? Don’t get me started.
No. No way. I’m not touching that one with a four-meter pole.
My mother might like jalapeno M&Ms. She is a sucker for anything jalapeno. My father, however, has much more sense and avoids jalapenos on anything except nachos at a restaurant.
The craze to put out jalapeno flavored anything is similar to the sriracha craze of five years ago. Buffalo Wild Wings had a sriracha-flavored sauce out for a limited time in 2014, and I told Liz or Lisa or whomever was taking care of me to make sure I didn’t get stupid and order it. I didn’t.
I flat refuse to order anything with sriracha or jalapeno. I also will not touch the mango habanero sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings. I tried it once six years ago and swore NEVER AGAIN. I also tried the hottest sauce at BWW in 2008, and I said NEVER AGAIN. I can take heat, but not ridiculous amounts.
The NHL is down to its last four teams in quest of the Stanley Cup.
I said after the first round I was hoping for a Bruins-Blues final. That is still a possibility.
Boston plays Carolina in the East and St. Louis faces San Jose in the West, with the winners matching up for the most treasured prize in North American professional sports.
I’d like to see the Blues reach the finals for the first time since 1970 for my two friends who love the Blues, Larry and Lisa. I’m not a fan of Boston’s sports teams, but I can tolerate the Bruins much more than most NHL teams, since they are an Original Six team.
San Jose? The Sharks are the reason why the Minnesota North Stars left for Dallas, so I have a natural disgust for them.
The Gund brothers became majority owners of the North Stars in 1978 after their franchise, the Cleveland Barons, were forced to merge with the North Stars by then-NHL president John Ziegler, since both were teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Ziegler was unwilling to abandon Minnesota, the most hockey-mad state in America, and frankly, neither were the NHL’s Board of Governors. After all, the North Stars were still drawing strong despite some very bad teams in the 1970s, while the Barons couldn’t draw flies during two seasons in northeast Ohio.
Now how does this tie into the Bay Area? The Barons originally began life as the Oakland Seals during the 1967 expansion which brought the North Stars, Blues, Penguins, Flyers and Kings into the NHL as well. The Seals were mismanaged throughout their nine seasons in northern California, at one point falling under the ownership of gigantic douchebag Charles O. Finley, the same many who screwed Kansas City royally by turning the Athletics into a clown show before moving them to Oakland after the 1967 season.
The Gunds became majority owners of the merged North Stars-Barons franchise, and by the late 1980s, they were itching to get out of the Twin Cities.
They did so by selling the North Stars to another turd, Norman Green, and Ziegler and Board of Governors granted the Gunds an expansion team, the Sharks, which played their first two seasons at the Cow Palace in the San Francisco suburb of Daly City before what is known colloquially as the “Shark Tank” opened in 1993. (Ironically, many in San Jose are scared the Sharks will move to San Francisco when the new arena built for the Warriors opens later this year, but that’s not likely).
Green was disillusioned by the North Stars’ home, the Met Center in suburban Bloomington, a stone’s throw from the former home of the Twins and Vikings, Metorpolian Stadium, which was vacated in 1981 and torn down in 1985 to make way for the Mall of America.
Of course, Green did what any piece of feces owner does, he begged the taxpayers of Minnesota to build him a new arena. When the people of Minnesota said no, he took the franchise to that noted hockey hotbed, Dallas, which was desperate to have a winning franchise, since the Mavericks were the worst team in the NBA at that time, several years before sugar daddy Mark Cuban cam on the scene
The same stubbornness of Minnesota voters nearly cost the state its other three franchises.
The Timberwolves were all set to move to New Orleans in 1994 before David Stern blocked the deal due to the shady finances of the ownership group who wanted to move the franchise from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to its mouth. The Minnesota legislature approved major improvements to the Target Center, and the Timberwolves have never threatened to leave Minnesota since.
The Twins were all but set to be contracted by Bud Selig following the 2001 season. Carl Pohlad, who owned the franchise at the time, was all but willing to give up and take the money. But the state said no, and courts within the state blocked MLB from contracting any team. The voters of Minnesota were chastened, and in 2010, Target Field opened.
The Vikings were all but gone to Los Angeles in the middle of the 2000s. Even though the Metrodome was built for them, not the Twins, they complained long and loud once Target Field opened, and the carping became worse after the Metrodome’s roof collapsed in December 2010, forcing the Vikings to move two home games (one to Detroit, one to the University of Minnesota). The Vikings got their new stadium three years ago, and it has already hosted Super Bowl LII and the 2019 Final Four.
I’m not a fan of California hockey. On the other hand, I can understand why the NHL wants to be in the Bay Area, given its population and disposable income. Plus, the Kings needed an in-state rival, although the Ducks came along two years later and gave the Kings one much, much closer to home.
As for the Hurricanes, I hate that the Hartford Whalers, who had the second best logo in all of professional sports (behind the Milwaukee Brewers’ “ball-in-glove’) left for a place which knew absolutely zilch about hockey, a place where it is impossible to play hockey outdoors (except in the winter in the far western part of North Carolina which is colder due to the higher elevation of the Appalachians), a place where anyone who isn’t following basketball during the winter is, frankly, out to lunch.
Fred Demarest, someone I knew from LSU and someone I like a lot, is an associate athletic director at North Carolina State. He has ditched the Devils, the team he grew up following in New Jersey and at William Paterson College, for the Hurricanes. I’ve had to chide him about this. I can understand him wanting to support the team which plays in the place he lives, but the HURRICANES? The slimy Hurricanes, who left Hartford despite strong support?
I do not believe hockey belongs in the south. NO. St. Louis and Washington is as far south as it should extend. I don’t care if Dallas/Fort Worth has 10 million people in the area. NO. And why does it belong in Raleigh, where Duke and North Carolina are king and always will be?
I was nauseous when Dallas won the Stanley Cup in Buffalo in 1999 on a goal which shouldn’t have counted. I was apoplectic when Tampa Bay won the Cup in 2004, and again when Carolina won it in 2006.
If it’s San Jose and Carolina in the finals, I will really be sick to my stomach. Boston and San Jose? GO BRUINS. St. Louis vs. either Eastern team? GO BLUES.
I was scared the Bucks were going to choke it away after losing to Boston by 22 points on their home floor almost two weeks ago.
Milwaukee hasn’t lost since, and now it is in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001, and only the third time since last reaching the NBA Finals in 1974.
Rest in peace, John Havlicek, I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you play when you were doing your thing with the Celtics.
The Bucks, who won 116-91 last night to clinch the series vs. Boston in five, plays either Toronto or Philadelphia in the next round. Milwaukee has a bad history in the playoffs against the 76ers, but in many of the previous series between the clubs, the Bucks were the underdog.
My good friend Bill Franques and I are huge Bucks fans. He remembered the 1974 finals, in which the Bucks won Game 6 in double overtime in the Boston Garden on a skyhook by Kareem in the closing seconds, only to lose 102-87 in Game 7 at Milwaukee. That left Bill with a strong antipathy for the Celtics. I don’t have such an antipathy for the Celtics, but I badly wanted the Bucks to win this series.
Just had a Boston Celtics trivia question at Golden Q. It regarded Moses Malone and his stupid comment during the 1981 Finals, which he said after the Rockets won Game 4 91-86 that he could get four guys off the street from his hometown of Petersburg, Virginia and beat the Celtics.
Alrighty then. The Rockets weren’t going to beat Bird, Tiny Archibald and Robert Parish with the team they had, which was Malone, ancient Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich, spare parts (Mike Dunleavy, Billy Paultz, Tom Henderson), a servicable player who would never emerge into stardom (Robert Reid), so what made him think lesser men could do it?
Five years later, the Rockets had a better team, led by Ralph Sampson and Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon. But the Celtics were far better; they still had Bird and Parish, but Kevin McHale had emerged into a star, and Bill Walton enjoyed his best season since leading Portland to the 1977 championship. It would take a few years and more favorable matchups before the Rockets won titles in 1994 (the year NBC idiotically cut away from coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Finals except in Houston and New York to show a washed up football player fleeing from the authorities on the freeways of Los Angeles) and ’95.
Less than two years later, Malone was in Philadelphia, and two years after his ill-timed comment, he, Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney steamrolled the Knicks, Bucks and Lakers as the 76ers won their first NBA Title since coach Billy Cunningham played for the team in 1967, so it all worked out for Moses. Rest in peace, big guy.
The Brewers have won five in a row. Life is good in Wisconsin. Will the Packers oblige? Still have four months to find out.
Sorry for yet another novella. I do that sometimes. No, make that more than sometimes.
My humdrum life in western Kansas resumed at 1100 Sunday. The Seroquel I took to h help me sleep Saturday had me groggy. I was fading fast. I wanted to get home in time for lunch because my mother was cooking salmon and asparagus, two of my favorite foods. Plus, I had been eating nothing but White Castle, Taco Bell and Buffalo Wild Wings for 10 days, save for a Blizzard at Dairy Queen in Columbia when I met Bill for lunch on the first day there and a couple of hot dogs from QuikTrip. A home-cooked meal did me some good.
Yesterday (April 23) was the 34th anniversary of the introduction of New Coke. Coke had been building up to the rollout of a new formula for three months, with Bill Cosby stating in commercials that New Coke would taste just as good as the original.
I recall New Coke being pretty good. I couldn’t tell the difference. I was unaffected by Coca-Cola bringing back the “Classic” formula three months after rolling out New Coke, because I would drink anything. Whenever I saw New Coke in stores for the next few years, I’d buy it over the Classic formula, although sightings of New Coke in metro New Orleans were few and far between.
What was funny was my father was drinking Pepsi during this period, and my brother and I were drinking Coke. Looking back on it, seems silly now. I don’t have a preference for Pepsi or Coke. I usually buy whatever is cheaper, although the Pepsi 2-liter bottles fit in the door of the refrigerator in my garage, while the taller Coke 2-liters do not. Heck, I think Kroger’s imitation of Coke Zero Sugar and Pepsi Zero Sugar is pretty good. There are some versions of pop I like, such as Dr. Pepper Ten, TaB and Pibb Zero, which only come in cans, although I haven’t seen TaB in quite some time. I like TaB because it’s sweetened with saccharin (Sweet and Low), which I find superior to aspartame and Splenda. I last saw a TaB 2-liter in 1997 in an Albertson’s in Baton Rouge.
The Stanley Cup will remain in the United States yet again. The last Canadian team in the NHL playoffs, the Maple Leafs, choked away Games 6 and 7 vs. the Bruins. The Leafs have got to trade one of their big scorers for help on defense. I don’t care if it’s Austin Matthews, Mitch Marner or Mikael Nylander, just get help on the friggin’ blue line. And get a competent backup goalie. Heck, the Leafs had a better goaltending situation in the 80s with Ken Wregget and Alan Bester. Frederik Andersen is going to die if he keeps facing 50 shots a night like he has many times in Toronto.
The good news? The Predators and Golden Knights are also gone from the playoffs. Gary Bettman’s dream of the Stanley Cup residing in Vegas or redneck country is down to the Hurricanes, who play the defending champion Capitals tonight in Washington in Game 7. God, Washington had BETTER win. I have always despised the Carolina Hurricanes because they used to be the Hartford Whalers, whose logo is the second best in sports history, behind only the Brewers’ ball-in-glove which forms “M” and “B”. I’m not a fan of the Sharks or Stars, but they are far more palatable than Na$hville and Vega$, teams I cannot stand. And I certainly could stomach Ovechkin and the Caps much more than the friggin Hurricanes.
Na$hville, Vega$, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida are on my list of teams I will never, ever root for. Also on the list are the NFL’s Panthers, Buccaneers, Ravens, Dolphins and Patriots (as long as those two buttholes are there); MLB’s Reds, Orioles, Marlins, Rays and White Sox (at least as long as they keep wearing those disgusting black uniforms); and the NBA’s Heat, Magic, Nets, Knicks, Kings and whatever team LeBron is playing for. The Detroit Lions are on the list right now because Matt Patricia is a buffoon.
I’m hoping for a Blues-Bruins final. Even though Boston eliminated Toronto, I can stomach it because it was a fellow Original Six club. As for St. Louis, the Blues have not been to a Final since 1970, and they are 0-12 all-time in Finals games, getting swept in ’68 and ’69 by Montreal and in ’70 by Boston, when Bobby Orr scored the Cup-winning goal 40 seconds into overtime after he was tripped by St. Louis’ Noel Picard. The shot of Orr flying in the air is the most iconic photo in NHL history.
More importantly, two people I care about are HUGE Blues fans: Larry, my trivia buddy who I got to see last Friday, and Lisa Toebben Daniels, whom I miss greatly.
The Bucks are resting up after sweeping the Pistons. Now they play the Celtics, who swept the Pacers, in the second round. Boston looked damn good in taking out Indiana, so I’m worried. I think this will be tougher for Milwaukee than Toronto or Philadelphia would be in the Eastern Conference Finals.
As for the West, who cares? We all know the Warriors will finish the Clippers tonight, then they’ll crush the Rockets, then either the Nuggets (hopefully) or Blazers. Why bother?
The NBA should let the Warriors have a free pass to the Finals, and have 16 other teams battle it out for the right to play Golden State for the championship. Would make things a lot more ##########################################################################
Today’s discovery: I can play Buzztime trivia in Hays.
The Golden Q, a popular hangout for Fort Hays State University students, is a new member of the Buzztime network. I have taken advantage twice today, first during a two-hour gap between appointments, and now. My favorite game, SIX, is coming up at 1930.
Now I don’t have to drive to Salina, or even farther, to play. That’s a relief.
The food is pretty good. One item I can’t find anywhere else: chicken gizzards. I’ll have to try the wings.
Your undisciplined blogger here. I’ve got to do better. I’m making this statement for at least the 481st time on Foots Prints. I failed to follow through the first 480 times.
Sports is kind of in a lull right now. The World Cup ended two weeks ago with France defeating Croatia; the Open Championship ended eight days ago with a command performance by Francisco Molinari, who didn’t crack under the pressure of playing with Eldrick Woods in the final round; and one league of Major League Baseball is about as suspenseful as watching paint dry. Four of the five playoff teams in the American League are known: Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Astros. The fifth spot will either come down to the Mariners or Athletics. Everyone else? Forget it.
Fortunately, the National League still holds drama. The Brewers somehow are only three games back (in the loss column) of the Cubs despite going 1-7 in Miami and Pittsburgh the week before the All-Star break, and Milwaukee has a comfortable lead as the first wild card. The Marlins, Mets and Padres are all done, and while the Reds are playing better under Jim Riggelman, the early hole they dug under Bryan Price is too much.
I don’t know if the Brewers can hold on to a playoff spot. They got some help in acquiring Joakim Soria and Mike Moustakas, but the injury bug has hit Miller Park hard. Milwaukee would have trouble in a one-game playoff against either Arizona, Atlanta or Philadelphia, and then if the Brewers won, they would have to play the Cubs in the division series.
John Tavares signed with the Maple Leafs. The ex-Islander will make Toronto a dangerous team offensively, but Mike Babcock knows there’s no way teams can win 6-4 in the NHL every night in this era. It isn’t the 1980s, when Edmonton was able to rush the puck up the ice consistently with Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Coffey and Glenn Anderson and score seven or eight on many nights. Also, Toronto doesn’t have a goaltender anywhere near the caliber of Grant Fuhr to take on 40-45 shots consistently.
If Babcock doesn’t find some help on the blue line, and quick, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen will die from taking on too many shots, and Toronto will never climb above Boston and Tampa Bay in the Atlantic.
The Bucks? Well, letting Jabari Parker walk wasn’t the problem. DRAFTING Jabari Parker was. If the Bucks were smart, they would have taken Joel Embiid number two overall instead of Parker, and even if Embiid would have been slow to heal from the injuries which plagued him at Kansas, it still would have been much better than Parker. Until the Bucks find help for the Greak Freak, they won’t be making it past the second round of the playoffs any time soon, even if the East is wide open after Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto.
I’ve written off the Arizona Cardinals. I don’t care what their record is. Actually, the worse, the better. They need a lot of help. Josh Rosen isn’t going to be the magic panacea to get them back to the Super Bowl. The offensive line sucks, and it has sucked since the Cardinals were in St. Louis. The running game has been non-existent since Ottis Anderson was in his heyday. I am not confident Steve Wilks is the answer.
I’ve also written off my alma mater’s football team. I just can’t see any better than 7-5. I hope I’m wrong. I’m looking at Miami, Auburn, Georgia Alabama and Texas A&M as games where LSU will be at a decided disadvantage. If the Mississippi State game were in Starkville and not Baton Rouge, I would have to favor State, but it’s a toss-up in Death Valley. The Florida game would be a toss-up in Baton Rouge, but in Gainesville, the Gators have to be favored. LSU is at a decided advantage in Baton Rouge vs. Ole Miss, but the Rebels will treat it as a bowl game since they are on probation. LSU has held the upper hand against Arkansas under Orgeron, but the Razorbacks will be dangerous in November after they learn Chad Morris’ system, especially in Fayetteville.
Forget the football played with a prolate spheroid and on a gridiron.
Football season is still 11 days away. The REAL football season, that is.
The Premier League kicks off August 10 when Leicester City visits Old Trafford to play Manchester United. It’s the second consecutive year Leicester has had to go on the road and play the Friday night game to open the season; last year, the Foxes lost 3-2 to Arsenal at Emirates Stadium. The rest of the league plays either that Saturday or Sunday.
The smart money is on Manchester City to repeat as Premier League champions. Why not? Pep Guardiola has built a machine at the Etihad Stadium, and it is still a step ahead of United and Liverpool, the other two teams which figure to be at the top of the table with City. Chelsea and Arsenal have new managers and the distraction of the Europa League, which forces teams to play on Thursdays before turning around to play league matches on Saturday or Sunday, and that will hurt. Tottenham has a golden opportunity this year with Arsenal and Chelsea a bit down and the excitement of moving into the new White Hart Lane, but will Spurs take it?
I don’t think Leicester will be anywhere near the danger of the drop zone, but I can’t see another Claudio Rainieri-Jamie Vardy miracle, either. Mid-table would be fine with me, maybe seventh and a spot in the Europa League.
Bournemouth probably has no business in the top flight, given it plays in a stadium which seats less than 12,000 has nowhere near the resources of the Big Six of the Premier League, and not as much as Leicester, Fulham and a few others. However, Eddie Howe is a fine manager, and that’s the reason the Cherries are still in the top flight and the likes of Sunderland, Stoke, Swansea, West Brom and Hull aren’t. In fact, Sunderland has cratered into League One, the third division, just two years after competing in the Premier League. OUCH.
Meanwhile, the pressure in Italy’s Serie A is on Juventus, where Cristiano Ronaldo has taken his talents after a long and storied run at Real Madrid. The Turin side is always expected to be at or near the top of Serie A, but this year, the pressure has to be crushing.
The same can be said for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. It has been Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and 16 weak sisters in most recent years in Germany, but last year, Dortmund was not only looking up at Bayern, but also Schalke and Hoffenheim. Christian Pulisic, the 19-year old American phenom, has a lot of weight on his shoulders at Dortmund, but it’s a position every MLS player would kill to be in.
I have an appointment in Prairie Village Thursday afternoon to get another treatment on my back. Now I know what to expect.
My dear friend Peggy celebrated a birthday yesterday. I know how old she is, but I won’t tell you. Sorry.
Watching The Price is Right now. WHY DO CONTESTANTS LOOK AT THE CROWD? They don’t know a damn thing. If I’m going to lose, I want to do it my way. I’m sure the contestant coordinators don’t pick the highest IQs, so what help can they be? Also, looking at the crowd wastes time!
Yesterday, two of the four major North American sports leagues held their All-Star games.
Both are horrid.
The National Football League once again staged the running joke that is the Pro Bowl. There was a time it meant something to make the Pro Bowl, but today, it’s all about bonus clauses in players’ contracts. The only reason any NFL player cares about the Pro Bowl is the cash he will be making.
Of the 88 players originally named to the Pro Bowl, 10 were members of the Super Bowl LII participants. Another 27 begged out of the game due to injury, whether or not the injury was real.
This meant 37 players who were not originally named to the Pro Bowl got an invitation, and even some of those replacements were injured themselves. Regardless of whether they were injured or not, the players collect their bonuses simply because they were a “Pro Bowler”, even if they were the fourth alternate at their position.
The NFL should eliminate the Pro Bowl. If they want to designate players as “Pro Bowlers”, fine, but then only those originally named can collect bonuses. Or why not have the NFLPA and NFL coaches vote on their own All-Pro team? It would mean a lot more to the players who were named the best by their peers than by the media, although the Associated Press All-Pro team is still pretty significant.
The NFL is constantly publicizing its drive to reduce injuries. Eliminating the Pro Bowl would help.
As bad as the Pro Bowl is, at least it is an actual football game.
The same cannot be said of the National Hockey League’s All-Star game.
Actually, it is now three mini-games of three-on-three between teams made up of players from each of the NHL’s four divisions (Metropolitan, Atlantic, Central and Pacific). The mini-games are divided into two 10-minute halves, and if the score is tied, there is a shootout.
The Metropolitan and Atlantic teams play for the “Eastern Conference” title, and the Central and Pacific teams play for the “Western Conference” title, with the first two winners squaring off again.
If this format isn’t asinine, I don’t know what is.
First, I cannot stand the NHL’s 3-on-3 overtime format in the regular season. Hockey is grueling enough with an 82-game schedule, so I believe overtime should be eliminated. Let tie games stay tied. If the NHL really wanted to reduce ties, it would adopt the association football format of three points for a win, and one point to each team for a tie (draw). The carrot of two extra points instead of one would get more teams to be more aggressive.
Second, the NHL All-Star game has usually been skating up and down the ice as fast as possible and shooting the puck as hard as possible. Checking is frowned upon. Penalties are almost non-existent, and if one is called, it is for something that would rarely, if ever, get called in the regular season or playoffs.
If the NHL wants to have an All-Star game, DO IT RIGHT. Make it real hockey, have the referees call penalties as they would in the regular season or playoffs, and no overtime and no shootouts.
The NBA’s All-Star game is a real basketball game, but defense is completely optional, if not abhorred. If a team doesn’t score at least 150 points in an All-Star game, it isn’t trying. Players will vacate the lane and let the opponent drive to the hoop unimpeded rather than standing their ground.
Major League Baseball has the best All-Star game by far, but from 2003 through 2016, there was a stupid provision where the winning league would secure home field advantage in the World Series for its pennant winner.
The only reason this came about is because the 2002 All-Star game ended in a 7-7 tie in then-commissioner Bud Selig’s hometown of Milwaukee. If Selig, who begged and pleaded with Wisconsin voters to build Miller Park for him so the Brewers didn’t leave America’s Dairyland, was so worried about a tie, he should have allowed pitchers and catchers to re-enter. Also, the manangers have to share some of the blame for the fiasco, since they were trying to play everyone so nobody’s feelings got hurt.
That’s the problem with today’s society. We have to let everyone play. We have to give out participation trophies.
But these are PROFESSIONAL athletes, not kids. They got their bonus no matter if they played in the All-Star game or not. If their ego can’t handle being a mere spectator in an exhibition game, they’re in the wrong business.
The English Premier League gets along just fine without an All-Star game. I think the four major leagues on this continent would not go bankrupt if their All-Star games went by the wayside. Maybe I’m wrong, but I didn’t watch one second of either game yesterday. And I am certainly avoiding the upcoming NBA All-Star game like the plague.
The NBA season ended last night.
I have had it up to here with LeBron, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and anything and everything associated with the National Basketball Association, which I think should stand for something else. I will not reveal it.
I am beyond fed up with the comparisons between this year’s Warriors and the 1995-96 Bulls, who went 72-10 in a season which featured two expansion teams (Raptors and Grizzlies, who were then in Vancouver) and several established teams who were beyond pitiful (Mavericks, Nuggets, Bucks, et al). I don’t think either team is the best of all time. I honestly don’t think Jordan’s Bulls or Curry’s Warriors would beat the Lakers of Magic and Kareem, or the Celtics with Bird, Parish and McHale. I watched the NBA’s golden age of the 1980s, and nothing will ever compare. That’s why I gave up on the NBA for the most part after 1990.
LeBron flat out lied last night and said he does not believe in “super teams”. Bullshit. Who the hell do you think started the super team idea? LeBron James. He, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade committed gross collusion by talking for FOUR YEARS about joining the same team, which happened to be the Heat. David Stern, the chickenshit bastard that he is, let LeBron, Bosh and Wade commit collusion in the open by forming that super team.
Yes, LeBron went back to Cleveland, but he stabbed the city in the back and proved he is all about the Benjamins by going to Miami to form the super team. The Warriors only mimicked LeBron by signing
I cannot stand Michael Jordan, but I agree with him about not wanting other superstars on his team. He wanted to beat the tar out of Magic, Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Patrick Ewing, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Kobe (albeit in his very early years). The NBA was greater when the wealth was spread around, which it was in the 1980s. The Lakers had Magic, Kareem and later Worthy. The Celtics had Bird, Parish and McHale. The 76ers had Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks and later Moses Malone. The Bucks had Sidney Moncrief. The Pistons had Isaiah, Laimbeer and Dumars. The Trail Blazers had Clyde Drexler. The Jazz had Malone and Stockton, plus in the 1980s, they had Adrian Dantley, one of the forgotten scoring greats. The Rockets had the Twin Towers, Hakeem and Ralph Sampson. The Knicks had Ewing. The Bulls had Jordan and later Pippen. In 1982-83, the Spurs had George Gervin and Artis Gilmore.
Can you name players on teams other than the Warriors and Cavaliers right now? I know Anthony Davis in New Orleans, the Greek Freak in Milwaukee, John Wall in Washington, James Harden in Houston and Russell Westbrook in OKC. Other than that, don’t ask. I can’t tell you one player on the Kings, Suns, Magic, Nets or Nuggets.
I am not a big basketball fan. I would much rather watch football, baseball, hockey and real football (soccer). Heck, give me golf, skiing and cricket. But if I’m going to watch basketball, I will watch MEN’s college basketball, and that’s it. I don’t bother with women’s college basketball, because for the most part, we know who’s going to win. Yes, UConn lost to Mississippi State in the Final Four. But that’s not going to happen very often.
I saw an article on ESPN today about who will win the NBA championship in 2018. According to ESPN’s formula, Golden State is a LOCK to win the Western conference. That’s right, the Warriors have a ONE HUNDRED PERCENT chance of winning the West next season. In the East, Cleveland’s chances are 62.2 percent, compared to 28.9 percent for Boston. The third favorite? Milwaukee at 4.4 percent. Wahsington and Detroit (??!!) are at 2.2 percent.
As for the overall NBA champion, Golden State has a 97.8 percent chance to win the title. Cleveland is the only other team listed at 2.2 percent.
To put that in perspective, in 1,000 simulations of the 2017-18 NBA regular season and playoffs, Golden State wins the championship 978 times. Cleveland wins 22.
The 2017-18 NBA season begins October 31. Halloween. What a frightening thought to think I only have 4 1/2 months away from the NBA, the most overrated spectacle in entertainment, sports or not.
As long as I don’t watch ESPN, especially at 5 pm when Jemele Hill and Michael A. Smith spew their garbage, I may be okay.