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Red Sox wins; Cardinals seeing red

The Red Sox did what I thought they would last night. They closed out the Astros in Houston and clinched their fourth American League pennant this millennium. Boston now awaits the Dodgers or Brewers in the World Series.

MLB executives, especially commissioner Rob Manfred, have to be having multiple orgasms over the probable Dodgers-Red Sox World Series. They were loathing a potential Brewers-Indians or Brewers-Athletics World Series when the postseason began. Now, they have one of their three most desirable matchups (Dodgers-Yankees and Cubs-Yankees were the others).

The Red Sox and Dodgers have played only once in the World Series–way, way, WAY back in 1916. That’s before the Curse of the Babe. Ruth was a 21-year old hotshot left-handed pitcher for that year’s Red Sox, and Boston easily won the series in five games.

Two interesting things about the 1916 World Series.

First, the first two games were in Boston, the next two in Brooklyn, then it was back to Boston for the clincher, not the 2-3-2 we are used to seeing. The format was presumably 2-2-1-1-1, the same as the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals.

Second, the Red Sox opted to play their home games at Braves Field, home of the future artists known as the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. The Sox moved their games out of Fenway to shoehorn more fans into Braves Field, which opened in 1915. In 1914, when the Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series, the National League team played their home games at Fenway due to the decrepit condition of their rickety old stadium, the South End Grounds.

I am very pessimistic about the Brewers tonight. Hopefully there’s a game tomorrow. But I have my doubts.

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Speaking of decrepit, that would accurately describe the Arizona Cardinals. They were demolished 45-10 by the Broncos last night in Glendale, and frankly, it should have been worse.

Denver led 35-3 at halftime, and State Farm (nee University of Phoenix) Stadium sounded more like Mile High or whatever it’s called these days. It was a throwback to the days the Cardinals played in front of tons of aluminum and a few fans (mostly visiting team, especially when the Cowboys were there) at Sun Devil Stadium on the other side of the Phoenix metro.

I knew the Cardinals were seriously screwed when they hired Steve Wilks. Wilks has no business being a head football coach at any level, especially the highest level of football.

This buffoon was a head coach just once before moving to Arizona, and that was in 1998 at mighty Savannah State, a perennial punching bag for Power Five teams willing to exchange a few hundred thousand dollars for the right to win by 70 to 80 points. When Wilks coached there, Savannah State was Division II. And the team went 5-6 under Wilks’ leadership.

Wilks’ professional playing experience consisted of one year in Arena Football with the Charlotte Rage. Are you kidding me?

Ron Rivera, who was Wilks’ boss in Carolina before the latter was hired by the Cardinals, conned Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim good. Then again, Steve Keim is a known drunk, so it wasn’t hard to pull the wool over his eyes.

If the Cardinals wanted an African-American coach, why not hire Herm Edwards? He got a job in the Phoenix area not long after Wilks when Arizona State hired him to succeed turd Todd Graham. Edwards’ failure with the Chiefs was not all his own doing; he had a lot of help from terrible drafting, free agent signings and trading by Carl Peterson, who clearly was awful without a strong personality as a head coach like Jim Mora with the USFL’s Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars and Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City.

Josh Rosen threw not one, but TWO pick-sixes in the first quarter. Geez, the Cardinals could have brought back Ryan Lindley, John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb or Stan Gelbaugh to do that instead of wasting the tenth overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Then again, Rosen has zero protection. The Cardinals have had a woeful offensive line for their entire stay in the desert. In my opinion, it has been really, really bad since the glory days of Dan Dierdorf, Conrad Dobler, Tom Banks and Tom Brahaney in the 1970s, when Don Coryell led St. Louis to NFC East titles in 1974 and ’75.

Arizona’s defense is Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson and a whole lot of crap. Peterson and Jones deserve better than this. They are true professionals and would be All-Pros if they played on a halfway decent defense.

Larry Fitzgerald, WHY did you come back for this? Your professionalism and dedication to the Cardinals is admirable. But you could have easily rode off in to the sunset. All you’re doing is pushing back your Hall of Fame induction.

Wilks is by far the worst Cardinals coach I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. And I can remember all the way back to Jim Hanifan (1980-85). Dave McGinnis was mocked and went 17-44 in three and a half seasons, but his teams never looked as absolutely awful as the Cardinals have under Wilks. Buddy Ryan was pretty bad, but at least the defense was fierce in 1994. Too bad he hated offensive players and had no clue what to do at quarterback.

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Starting next year, Wimbledon is implementing the tiebreak in the final set when the score reaches 6-6.

I will only watch tennis if someone pays me a ton of cash, and that hasn’t happened. And I will NEVER watch Serena Williams. But I think this is dead wrong.

I understand why the All-England Club is doing this. They want to avoid marathon last sets like the one between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut in 2010 in a match that took 11 hours and three different days to complete, with Isner winning the fifth set 70-68.

I totally disagree with doing this in what is supposed to be tennis’ signature event. This is a grand slam event, the most prestigious championship on earth. It should be EARNED. And if it takes 138 games in the final set to do so, so be it.

If Wimbledon wants to implement the tiebreak in the final set, it should not be at 6-6. It should be at minimum after 8-8, maybe 10-10 or 12-12. And that rule should be in all five sets for men or three for women.

The Australian and French Opens, the other grand slams, have not announced they will. implement a tiebreak in the final set. However, I’m certain they will be under enormous pressure to do so now that the U.S. Open and Wimbledon have them.

Using a tiebreak in the final set at Wimbledon is the same as The Masters using a sudden death playoff if there is a tie for the low score after 72 holes.

The Masters bills itself as the premier event in golf, although I will always believe it is The Open Championship. If The Masters is so high and mighty, why not make those tied play a fifth round? If it’s television they’re worried about, there are enough cable channels which would salivate at the chance to televise a round from Augusta for 18 holes. Besides, The Masters rarely allows full 18-hole coverage anyway, so how hard would it be to cut in for the last nine? Also, I’m sure CBS could pre-empt The Price Is Right, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful for one day.

The U.S. Open was the last golf major to require a full 18-hole playoff if there was a tie after 72 holes. Last year, that ended and it became a two-hole playoff, which wasn’t necessary when Brooks Koepka won it outright. That’s even worse than The Open (four holes) and PGA Championship (three holes). All majors should be the full 18-hole playoff. Sudden death is just fine for a regular tournament in late October, mid-January or early August. But not for the majors.

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I’m guessing ESPN is going to try to force the officials to speed up the Mississippi State-LSU game in Baton Rouge tomorrow night. That’s because the network is scheduled to show the Rockets-Lakers game from Los Angeles at 2130 CT (1930 PT), which will be LeBron’s first regular season game at Staples Center. It would probably anger the suits in Bristol, as well as two of America’s four largest metropolitan areas, if a trivial football game in the Southeastern Conference goes overtime.

LSU and Mississippi State are not teams which throw the ball on every down. I hope 3 1/2 hours is enough time to get the game in, because college football games drag on and on and on! I remember non-televised games when I was attending LSU could last as short as 2 1/2 hours. But every game in the SEC is now televised, so that’s not happening. Not unless the NCAA wants to return to the terrible idea of starting the clock after the ball is spotted on a change of possession, an experiment which failed miserably in 2006. Not stopping the clock after a first down would be a good start. Maybe that rule could be limited to the final two minutes of the first half and final five of the second, much the way the out-of-bounds timing rules change in the NFL in those periods.

CBS is notorious for forcing the games in the late window (1525 CT on doubleheader days; 1505 on non-doubleheader games) to speed up in order that 60 Minutes starts on time, either 1800 or 1830 CT. Fox doesn’t care, because it never airs new episodes of The Simpsons (JUST END IT ALREADY!) on Sunday nights before 1900 CT.  Actually, Fox prefers longer games in the late window when it has the doubleheader, so it can switch to bonus coverage, then Terry, Howie, Michael and Jimmy can drone on and on until 1900.

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I have a runny nose this morning. Using lots of tissues. Need to stop by the store before I leave Kansas City.

Just saw I was close to 1700 words. Time to end it.

Astronomical a-holes

Thanks to two MORONS in Houston last night, the Astros may not have the opportunity to defend their World Series championship.

In the first inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Jose Altuve launched a fly ball to deep right-center. Boston right fielder Mookie Betts backed up to the wall and leaped in an attempt to reel the ball in, but a pair of assholes had to reach over the fence and attempt to catch the $12 baseball.

Right field umpire and crew chief Joe West, an umpire whom I think should have been put out to pasture 25 years ago, this time got it right. As much as I dislike the Red Sox, he got it right by calling the fans for interference and calling Altuve out. Houston manager A.J. Hinch came out to argue and got West and the MLB command center in New York to review the call, but it stood.

The Red Sox ended up winning 8-6 and now lead the ALCS 3-1.

Worse, the Astros let the stupid sacks of shit who interfered with Betts to stay inside Minute Maid Park.

At least Jeffrey Maier was thrown out of Yankee Stadium in 1996 when he reached well over the right field fence and stole a ball off the bat of Derek Jeter which would have either been caught by Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco, or at most, been a double.

Right field umpire Rich Garcia, one of the best umpires in the game (and one of the stupidest, because he drank Richie Phillips’ poisoned Flavor-Aid three years later, costing Garcia his job and a possible spot in Cooperstown) did not see Maier reaching over Tarasco’s shoulder and called the play a home run for Jeter. Of course, there was no instant replay in 1996, but he also made a colossal mistake by not getting the other five umpires together and at least asking if someone else had a better view. Crew chief Larry Barnett also bears some of the blame for not calling for a conference when Baltimore manager Davey Johnson came out to argue. Johnson would have had every right to find Maier and kick him in the nuts.

Of course, the Yankees’ #1 super fan, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, treated Maier as a conquering hero by giving him a key to the city. David Letterman praised him on his late night show. Unfortunately for Rudy and the rest of the nation, he redeemed himself big time (and then some) five years later in the face of unspeakable evil.

Back to Houston last night.

This morning, one of Kansas City’s most respected sports talk radio hosts, Soren Petro, stated on WHB 810 AM that the fans should be able to jostle with players on the field on a fly ball. He said the fans pay good money to sit in the seats close to the field, and they should be able to do as they please if the ball and/or a fielder come close to them.

Petro also went on to say West had no right to interject himself into the play and call fan interference. He also said he abhorred replay in baseball.

I’m not a fan of replay in baseball in nearly all instances. But had West NOT called fan interference, I would have supported replay, even if the call went in favor of the Red Sox, who aren’t my least favorite team (they’re above the Reds, White Sox, Rangers and Marlins for sure), but I certainly don’t care for. I’m not a huge Astros fan, either, but they were the team I followed the most living in Louisiana for 29 years.

WHAT THE HELL?

Soren, you sir stated something so idiotic it does not justify me taking my time to refute it. However, I’m not someone to just let it be, so I am going to respond.

Fans have NO RIGHT to interfere with play. NONE. They buy a ticket to be a spectator, not an active participant in the game. The game is for the players, the coaches, officials and anyone who has an active role in the game, whether it be on the field, in the press box, or somewhere else in the stadium/field/arena. Fans of the home team at a Major League Baseball game should know better than to reach over the fence in an attempt to catch a $12 baseball. They should especially know this in a postseason game.

Because these two C U Next Tuesdays could not keep their hands to themselves, they may have very well cost their beloved Astros a return to the World Series. These two “fans” should be found and tarred and feathered. At the very least, the Astros, Rockets and Texans should ban these people FOR LIFE. And MLB should do the same to them at all 30 parks. Of course, the Red Sox may have season tickets in right field at Fenway waiting for them.

Do not attempt to compare these two garbage sacks to Steve Bartman.

Bartman did not reach over the fence down the left field line at Wrigley Field and attempt to interfere with Moises Alou. Bartman’s hands were straight up in the air, as were the hands of several other fans in that section, attempting to catch the foul ball. Mike Everitt, the left field umpire that night at Wrigley, made the right call by determining no fan interference.

The hate Cubs fans heaped upon Bartman was sickening. Steve Bartman didn’t do a thing wrong. Not a thing. The Cubs only had themselves to blame for (a) melting down in the eighth inning of Game 6 by giving up eight runs to the Marlins, and (b) melting down again in Game 7. It is a crying shame Bartman can no longer go to an MLB park and enjoy the sport he loved to play and coach. It is a crying shame he could not be in Cleveland the night the Cubs ended their 108-year championship drought. It is a crying shame he could not be at Wrigley when the Cubs received their World Series rings.

Shame on you, Houston Astros, for letting these fans remain in the ballpark. I’m certain the Royals and nearly every other MLB team would have told these pieces of fecal matter to leave and never come back, just like the idiot who poured beer on and flipped off the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill in Foxborough during last Sunday’s game with the Patriots.

Maybe the Astros will find the intestinal fortitude (a term used way, way, WAY too much by legendary World Wrestling Federation announcer Gorilla Monsoon) to at least get the series back to Boston. But I have my doubts.

We’re heading for a Red Sox-Dodgers World Series. Heaven help us.

Houston flooded? Texas Rangers say too bad

The Texas Rangers have always been a low-rent, low-class organization in my mind.

The stunt the organization pulled this week simply confirmed it yet again.

The Rangers were scheduled to play a three-game series in Houston against the Astros. While Minute Maid Park, the Astros’ home field, was not flooded, most of Houston was, and every major route in the city was flooded and impassable. Also, the resources of the Houston Police Department and other first responders, already stretched beyond the breaking point, would have been stretched worse to provide security at Minute Maid for the games.

The simple solution to this problem would have been for the Rangers to host the series this week, then go to Houston in September when the Astros are scheduled to come to Arlington for the final time in 2017.

Easy. A lot easier than if the teams were not in the same division, since each team visits the other teams in the league not in their division only once per season.

The Rangers said hell no.

Their excuse: they did not want to “inconvenience” their fans who held tickets for the September series by switching on short notice.

Excuse me, Jon Daniels (Rangers general manager), but what do you think Hurricane Harvey did to the people of Houston? That’s not an inconvenience. That’s what’s called a catastrophe.

Just how catastrophic would it have been if a few thousand Rangers fans could not have attended the series this week? NOT AT ALL. On the inconvenience scale, it would rate at most two out of 10.

THREE games out of EIGHTY-ONE. How many people attend all 81 home games of an MLB team’s schedule? Not many. Likely only those who are retired or not working because they can afford not to work. And even some of those people would probably need a night or two away from the ballpark.

So what if fans don’t show up? The White Sox and Orioles played a game in front of NOBODY two years ago when there were riots in Baltimore following the Freddie Gray shooting. Many a European football match has been played in front of an empty stadium due to hooliganism. Fans are not necessary to play a game. If nobody wanted to show up in Arlington, let them watch it on television.

Instead, MLB forced the Astros to play their “home” games in St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. If the floods weren’t injury enough, MLB insulted the Astros by forcing them into MLB’s worst facility (if not, it’s the second worst; only the Oakland Coliseum rates that badly) and playing in a city which does not deserve to even have an MLB team. The Rays have proven year after year after year they don’t care, always finishing at or near the bottom of MLB attendance.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred proved himself a gutless coward. GUTLESS COWARD.

All Manfred had to do was exercise his “best interests of baseball” clause and forced the Rangers to switch dates with the Astros. And if the Rangers didn’t want to play the games in Arlington this week? Fine, they would have forfeited.

Instead of Manfred doing the right thing, he kicked Houston while it was way, way down. As bad as that is, you don’t want to see what I’m going to say about Manfred if he ever approve the designated hitter for the National League.

If this had been the National Football League and it had been the Texans and another AFC South team playing a regular season game, Roger Goodell would have told the team scheduled to play in Houston that it would have to host, and they would have to go to Houston later in the year. That’s that. No appeal.

Had the Saints been scheduled to host Carolina in week one of 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, I’m sure Paul Tagliabue, Goodell’s predecessor, would have asked the Panthers to play in Charlotte, then travel to either San Antonio or Baton Rouge later that season, and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and then-coach Jon Fox would have had no problem with it whatsoever.

Instead, Rangers GM Daniels uses a cheap, petty excuse to screw the Astros, who are running away with the American League West. Texas is below .500 and only in the wild card race because the DH league is a whole bunch of mediocrity, except for the Astros and Indians at the top and the White Sox, Athletics and Tigers at the bottom. How else would the Twins go from 59-103 in 2016 to leading for the second wild card spot this August 31? If the Rangers played in the National League, nobody in Dallas/Fort Worth would give a damn.

Why am I not surprised by the Rangers’ pettiness? It’s in their orginazational DNA.

It began in 1968, when the Rangers were still the second incarnation Washington Senators.

The team was purchased by a Minneapolis businessman named Robert Short. Short was exiled from the Twin Cities in 1960 when he moved the Lakers to Los Angeles, then made a nice profit by selling them to Jack Kent Cooke in 1965. Cooke and later Jerry Buss turned the Lakers into one of professional sports’ iconic franchises.

Short probably wanted to buy the first incarnation of the Senators and move them to Minneapolis, but Calvin Griffith beat him to the Twin Cities in 1961 and renamed the club the Twins.

The second incarnation of the Senators were a laughingstock, just like the first team was after Walter Johnson retired in the late 1920s. The Senators were fortunate in that the Kansas City Athletics were just as terrible and kept the new Senators out of the cellar many years.

Somehow, Short convinced Ted Williams, probably the greatest hitter who ever lived, to manage the Senators. Williams led Washington to 86 wins in 1969, the franchise’s only winning season in the nation’s capital, and was AL Manager of the Year. Washignton hosted the 1969 All-Star Game at RFK Stadium.

Yet Short only cared about the almighty dollar, and he thought he could not make enough of them in Washington.

Near the end of the 1971, cheapskate Short conned owners into allowing him to move the Senators to the Dallas/Fort Worth area and play in a mionor league stadium halfway between the two cities.

Arlington was just another town on the Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike (now Interstate 30) not too far from where the new DFW Airport was being built. It had Six Flags, but not much else.

Ten of the AL’s 12 owners at the time–the White Sox (John Allyn) and Orioles (Jerold Hoffberger) said no–let Short take baseball out of Washington. This greatly angered commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who despearately tried to get Short to sell. Yet Short showed he was just as egotistical as he was cheap, refusing an $8.5 million offer from grocery magnate Joseph Dazansky so he could put one over on the nation’s capital.

Williams quit after his first season in Arlington. He hated Dallas/Fort Worth and especially hated the shithole that was Arlingon Stadium, where more than 40 percent of the seats were aluminum bleachers in the outfield, where it was hot enough to fry eggs most days. Whitey Herzog was hired following Williams, but Short thought it was a big mistake from the start.

Herzog said it best when at his first press conference he declared “This is the most horseshit excuse for a Major League team I ever saw”.

Unfortunately, Whitey, the Rangers are still a horsehit organization.

Short forced Herzog to pitch 18-year old David Clyde less than a month after his high school graduation. Clyde eventually became an alcoholic, developed arm trouble, and eventually flamed out of MLB by 1981. The only reason he isn’t considered the worst #1 overall pick in MLB history is because at least he played in MLB, unlike Steve Chilcutt (1966) and Brien Taylor (1991).

Herzog was fired with 24 games to go in 1973 and replaced by Billy Martin, the same Billy Martin who would be hired and fired five times by George Steinbrenner. Martin led the Rangers to 84 wins in 1974, but the better news was Short sold the Rangers to Brad Corbett, a local pipe salesman.

Corbett’s ownership was just as horseshit as Short’s, and the Rangers were pretty terrible for 15 years, save for a season of contention here and there (1977 most comes to mind).

Then came George W. Bush, future governor of Texas and 43rd President of the United States. His predecssor, Eddie Chiles, left the son of the then-POTUS the gift of Nolan Ryan, who was offered a boatload of cash to come north on Interstate 45 from Houston.

Bush turned the Rangers into a semi-respectable outfit. Ryan filled decrepit Arlington Stadium every time he pitched, including once when my brother, father and I watched from the left-center field bleachers for Ryan to face the Brewers in what turned out to be his final season, 1993.

Yet Bush 43 made one gigantic mistake.

The Rangers got a new stadium under Bush’s ownership. Arlington Stadium was demolished in 1994, about 15 years after it should have been.

The bad news? NO ROOF.

Let’s see: we’ll build a new baseball stadium in Dallas/Fort Worth without a roof after fans have suffered for 22 years in the extreme heat in Arlington Stadium, a shithole where many fans had to burn the butts–literally–on metal benches.

I visited the new stadium in Arlington, currently called Globe Life Park, once, in 1996. It was better than Arlington Stadium, but much crappier than Kauffman Stadium, and certainly nowhere as good as PNC Park, which I visited in 2005.

The Rangers are correcting Bush’s gigantic mistake by building a new stadium with a roof, set to open no later than 2021. But the Rangers should have got it right the first time.

If that were the Rangers’ biggest problem, I wouldn’t have such a beef with them.

But it isn’t.

In 1999, when Ryan was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he went in wearing a Rangers cap on his plaque. It turns out the Rangers offered him financial inducements to wear a Rangers cap, even though he pitched four career no-hitters with the Angels and played nine seasons with the Astros. I don’t care if he collected his 5,000th strikeout and pitched two no-hitters with the Rangers.

Last I checked, it’s called bribery when financial gain is offered in return for a favor. If it happened in a political arena, the briber and the bribee would both be in federal prison. Instead, Ryan is a hero in Dallas/Fort Worth, even though he is from south Texas and played the longest with the Astros.

In 2002, the Hall of Fame said enough was enough and told Gary Carter his plaque would have him in an Expos cap, even though he wanted to wear a Mets cap on his plaque. Now the Hall of Fame determines the team cap on the plaque.

Wade Boggs tried that shit when he wanted a Devil Rays(??!!) cap instead of the Red Sox. The Hall of Fame said no.

Too bad the decision is not retroactive. Reggie Jackson should be wearing an Athletics cap, not a Yankees cap.

Catfish Hunter had it right when he insisted on a blank cap on his plaque, not wanting to offend the Athletics or Yankees. Greg Maddux (Cubs and Braves) did the same.

The Rangers continued their reign of error by signing former crack whore Josh Hamilton, the former #1 overall pick who was banned from baseball for a time for extreme drug usage.

It hired Ron Washington, a former admitted coke junkie, as its manager.

And now this.

There are some teams I just will never like.

The Reds are one. Pete Rose can get fucked, and Marge Schott should rot in deepest hell.

The Cubs? Obnoxious fans. Just because your team won its first World Series in 108 years does not mean you rule the earth.

The Marlins? Jeffrey Loria is a fuckwad. Jose Fernandez killed two other people because of his abject stupidity. He is not a hero. Besides, I can’t stand Miami to begin with. I despise the Heat. Dolphins and Panthers just as much.

The Texas Rangers fall into that club.

I hope the Lord has something nice in store for this dirtbag crew, who gave a giant middle finger to their in-state neighbors just because they couldn’t handle a very minor inconvenience.