Countdown to a championship…or a choke
In approximately 10 hours, give or take, the Milwaukee Bucks will either be (a) National Basketball Association champions for the first time in 50 years, or (b) getting ready to fly to Phoenix for a seventh game vs. the Suns on their home court.
The Bucks haven’t been in this position since Mother’s Day 1974.
That was the date of the seventh game of the 1974 championship series, with the Bucks hosting the Celtics at the MECCA, the franchise’s first home.
The series didn’t lack for star power. Milwaukee had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge, plus original Buck John McGlocklin. Boston featured Dave Cowens, JoJo White, future Bucks coach Don Nelson and the ageless John Havlicek.
At this time, the Bucks were in the Western Conference, where they remained until the Mavericks came into the NBA in the 1980-81 season.
Boston won 68 games during the 1972-73 season, one shy of the record set by the Lakers two years prior, but choked in the Eastern Conference finals, losing in five to the Knicks, who went on to defeat the Lakers for their second title in four seasons.
Milwaukee won 66 games in 1970-71, its third season. The Bucks had little trouble in the playoffs, ousting the Warriors and Lakers in five apiece, then sweeping the Baltimore Bullets to set the record for shortest time from first game to championship.
Through the first six games in 1974, Milwaukee and Boston alternated wins, with the Celtics claiming the odd-numbered games and the Bucks the evens.
In the sixth game, Milwaukee kept its season alive when Kareem arched a 12-foot sky hook from the right baseline over reserve Boston center Hank Finkel, forced into action in the second overtime when Hall of Famer Dave Cowens fouled out. The Bucks prevailed 102-101.
Little did anyone know the Bucks would not win another game in the NBA championship series for 47 years and two months.
In what myself and Bill Franques call the Mother’s Day Meltdown, the Celtics won the deciding game 102-87.
Boston won titles in 1976, ‘81, ‘84, ‘86 and 2008 to go along with the 11 it won in 13 seasons from 1957-69.
Milwaukee took a nosedive the two seasons following, thanks to Oscar’s retirement and the trade of Kareem to the Lakers. The Bucks moved to the Eastern Conference with Dallas’ entrance and were a consistent playoff team, but were thwarted by the 76ers and Celtics, eliminated by one or the other every year from 1981 through ‘87.
By the mid-1990s, the Bucks were as wretched as the Clippers, Nuggets and other perennial losers. There was one brief moment of glory, a run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001, but for 25 years, basketball in Milwaukee was a distant third to the Packers and Brewers, and sometimes behind the Wisconsin Badgers as well.
Things got so bad for Milwaukee that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver gave the Bucks an ultimatum: build a new arena or lose your team. The good people of Wisconsin got the message, the Fiserv Forum was built, and now the Bucks are one win away from the title.
Speaking of the Brewers, I’m reminded of them as the Bucks prepare for what could be their championship moment.
In the 1982 World Series, Milwaukee held a 3-2 advantage over St. Louis after taking two of three at County Stadium. The Brewers, powered by Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, had proven they could win at Busch Stadium, as evidenced by their 10-0 rout in the first game.
October 19, 1982 was supposed to be the night Harvey’s Wallbangers were coronated as Milwaukee’s first baseball champion since the 1957 Braves.
Instead, the Cardinals crushed the Brewers 13-1, then won the next night 6-3.
Milwaukee did not return to the postseason until 2008, ten years after it moved from the American League to the National. The Brewers reached the NLCS in 2011 and ‘18, but have yet to get back to the final round. If the Brewers can find some offense to go along with their pitching, 2021 might be the year.
The Bucks need to take care of business tonight. No goofing off. No taking the chance on a game seven on an enemy court. Get it done.
The good news is the Suns’ history in this situation is not promising.
In its two previous appearances in the final round, Phoenix lost game six and the series, to the Celtics in 1976 and the Bulls in ‘93. The 1976 series featured the famous triple-overtime game five, voted by many experts as the greatest in NBA history.
Both of those games were in Arizona, so you have to hope the chances are even better of it happening in Wisconsin.
I guess I’ll be tuning in to the NBA tonight. If the Bucks lose, I definitely will NOT watch game seven. It would be too gut-wrenching.
Ending yet another period of extended inactivity
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.
Not jamming with jalapenos, plus the dread of a Sharks-Hurricanes Stanley Cup fina
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.
One of my infrequent posts
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!