Oh Canada…

June 29, 2008

So in my travels I caught a small part of ESPN SportsCenter at an airport bar.  As the bartender gave me my second Sam Adams Summer Ale, I heard one of the ESPN anchors talking about Canada and the NFL.  Allegedly, Canada has a bill going through its government that will prohibit the NFL from scheduling games in the country.  Huh?  This coming after the Buffalo Bills have renewed their schedule to play two games in Canada.  So did the NFL not get the memo?

The government and the CFL are hoping to pass the bill as they are worried that the NFL’s scheduling of games in their cities, will kill the attendance of the CFL games and hurt the teams.  OK, let’s get a grip.  Of course it will.  The shield is the best league on Earth.  Its a money making machine, hell bent on making more money and showcasing the best talent in the world.  But hey, let’s get off the bus on that, and not sell out our sporting venue’s?

In 2007, the CFL reached an attendance high averaging 29,167 a game.  The NFL, 66,586.  Now I’m sure most of the venues are larger, but I think you see my point.  So, I say, ok, we aren’t going to come.  We’ll just play more games in Mexico, London, Germany etc, and leave you out of this.  Great neighbor huh…Your officially the guy that doesn’t snow blow the sidewalks even though you own a snow blower, your officially the guy who won’t help you if your struggling with a task in your yard, your the guy that says no if I go on vacation and ask you to pick up my mail. 

Do we have to tell America Junior that they are losing money on this deal, and that their natives want the NFL there.  What are you thinking Canada? 

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Did Tiger make the right decision?

June 23, 2008

By now, just about all of the world knows that Tiger Woods played an epic match with Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open this past weekend, that it took 19 additional holes, and that his knee was in horrendous shape the entire time.  Yesterday, ESPN announced that Tiger would be having season ending surgery to repair his ACL and give several stress fractures time to heal.

So did he make the right decision to tough it out and play?  Or did he sacrafice too much?

The ex-jock in me thinks that it is pretty admirable for a guy to even give it a go with a bum knee, let alone a guy that plays through pain during OT.  Especially in a day and age when pitchers sit out because of blisters, cagers sit the bench because of sore knees, and football players have any number of excuses these days.  Then to play for basically a week, where one of your main sources of power comes from your lower half, and to win.  That is the stuff legends are made of.  I would bet that almost NO athlete would have sat that one out.  That would have been the equivalent of Tom Brady hurting his thumb and not even trying to tough it out.  We all know that he wouldn’t.  Today’s athlete is too driven by winning to sit out.  I even read in the USA Today that after the doctor’s told Woods that usually recovery takes 12 months to get back to 100%, he still had the stones to mention that the British Open was only several weeks away.  Come on Tiger, I’d rather have you come back healthy and win 1,000 tournaments, then risk ending your career.

If you think about it, he really did put his career on the line.  After watching TIger’s swing and the amount of tourque that he puts on his body and the power that he generates, it very impressive.  Directly after the injury announcement ocurred, tons of swing coaches and “experts” were out talking about if Tiger would ever be the same.  One could argue, that Eldrick will have to totally re-do his swing so that he doesn’t injure his knee again.  Possibly take a little off of it in order to keep him upright and walking all the time.  Others said that he would probably make a full recovery, but would have to come back slowly when it came to getting into tournaments.  I kept saying, “Uh guys, its frickin’ Tiger Woods, he’ll be back.”  With ACL injuries, more often then not it comes down to the mental aspect of the athlete.   Some have no problem adjusting and can go about their business smoothly, with very little pain and chance for relapse.  Others, never come back, and are afraid to “open it up” all the way  during competiton.  The main reason, FEAR.  Fear drives them to think that they might hurt it again, have to go through 12 additional months of rehab, or worse, have to quit.  I mean think about it, have you ever had lower back pain?  Then it snows one day, and the first thing you think is, “well, I hope I don’t throw my back out.”  So from there you strap on you boots and go really slow.  Its just our nature to be a little precautious from time to tme.

However, we are talking about Tiger Woods here. Of course he made the right decision.  The guy is better on one leg then anyone.  If he could, he’d probably be getting ready for the British Open right now. He is one of the most mentally tough athletes on the planet.  His focus and drive maybe only second to Michael Jordan.  He is just too good not to come back, not to dominate, and not to win another 14 tournaments.  Plus he’s only 32.  In golfer age, that is probably in the prime of his career.    So I say, “take your time Tiger.”  When you come back next year, we’ll all be waiting to see your 320+ drives, 5-iron stingers, soft lob shots, and precision putting.  Then we’ll all complain that you sat out an entire year, and your still better then 100% of the populations.

Just in case you don’t believe me, here’s how his Dad used to mess with him…Courtesy of Nike…

 

 


Tiger’s got a new follower…Fletch…

June 18, 2008

Every so often, we get to experience a great moment. A moment that will be talked about and replayed a million times throughout our lives. I was too young to see the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team defeat the Russians back in 1980. I was still pretty young when I watched the brilliance of Joe Montana as he shouldered his team and led them to championships. These are the types of moments that we will remember long after our favorite athletes have retired, and long after our youth and into adulthood when we start to say things like, “these guys aren’t any good anymore. Back when I was young…” I like to think of myself as a very well rounded sports fan. I watch the big ones; baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. I love college sports, and will even take in the Olympics, especially curling. I can pride myself on saying that I’ve watched every major sport played from start to finish, and that included NASCAR and the Indy 500.

 

Then there is golf. I love playing golf. There is something great about getting together with a few friends, colleagues, or what-have-you, and getting in 18-holes. I’m not a good golfer by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not terrible; I’m just average. I have been playing for many years, and I know what a difficult sport it is to master. I have, however, never been able to pull up a seat and watch a golf tournament and find myself engulfed in what is happening. I have a terribly short attention span, and that is part of the problem. The other is that it is quiet, it is slow, and it is very peaceful. These three factors, for anyone who knows me, put me into a mini-coma. I have tried to watch the Masters and other events, but it always end the same…me sleeping.

 

However, this past weekend I witnessed, as mentioned before, one of those moments. For anyone who was watching the U.S. Open on Sunday, you witnessed live one of the greatest moments in the history of the PGA. On the final hole of the final round of play, Eldrick (as I know him) Woods needed to sink a 15 foot put to get into a tie with then leader, Rocco Mediate. I have never found myself eagerly awaiting the outcome of a put. Usually, I wish to see one of these better than me golfers miss a putt, because I’m a jerk. But this time I had that knot in my stomach, waiting and hoping for him to drop this putt. For most men and women in the world, this moment of pressure and tension would cause them to crack. To biff the putt, and finish the day with an “oh well, what can you do” attitude…not Tiger. He played the hole as calm as anyone could. He approached it like it was the 10th hole, and he’d have time to make up a mistake if need be.

 

The thing that makes Tiger Woods a Great is shown in these situations. He knows that he is the best, and he expects himself to play that way. Imagine the amount of stress you’d feel if you KNEW that you were the best at something. You’d have to prove that at every instance. You would have to continue to prove that you were the best. That type of internal pressure is something that men like Tiger, and Tiger only can understand. He calmly took the shot and as it fell, the world saw the pressure and intensity that was welling up inside him come flowing out. He wasn’t supposed to win this tournament, he wasn’t supposed to be close. But he struggled through the rust of a two-month rest, and the pain of an operated knee. At times he winced in pain, but it never seemed to distract him. Of course it can be argued that if he wasn’t feeling pain and shaking out the cobwebs that he would have won by 10 strokes. But that isn’t what makes a man great.

What makes a man great is the ability to get the job done get it done well, no matter the circumstances.

 

Tiger Woods does that.

 

Michael Jordan played arguably the greatest game in the history of the NBA Finals with a flu that would have made any one of us call in sick from whatever job we have. But what we remember is that he fought through the affects of the flu and played at his Super-human level despite it. Tiger Woods played the tournament that he wasn’t supposed to win, and gave the PGA the drama of a moment that will last forever. He once again proved to his millions of fans that he is indeed the best, and in doing so won over a new fan. Maybe if I drink a lot of coffee before the Masters next year, I’ll be able to stay up throughout the whole thing. I doubt it though.

 


Fletch is BAAAACCKK…And here are his rants….

June 18, 2008

Quick Editors Note:  Congratulations is in order to my brother in arms, life and blogging, Fletch, who is back from his new marriage and honeymoon…Please wish him the best, or give him a heads up on the worst…

 

It’s been several weeks since I last submitted something to this fine blog as I’ve spent those weeks planning a wedding, having a wedding, and then going on a honeymoon. Something happened during the week that led up to the May 24 wedding date and the week following that has me rethinking a huge portion of my life. During that two week span I watched a grand total of ONE sporting event. It was Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and although my Penguins lost, I stewed in the disappointment for only a few minutes before I went back to enjoying the beach with my new wife. It was nice to separate myself from the mess that is the Cleveland Indians and my absolute disgust at the NBA. I didn’t even watch Sportscenter for those two weeks, and I felt great. I love sports, but after my self-imposed exile I realized that I might be able to survive without the constant heartache and disappointment that they seem to give me. So, I am announcing here and now that I am moving to a beach community and allowing my ulcers and nerves a chance to rest…at least until football season.

Can I live without sports? Absolutely not! So, here are a few random thoughts from the week since I’ve returned to normality.

 

The NBA

Not since the Lakers and Pacers played in the Finals back in 1999-2000 have I had so little interest in who won the championship. Back then, and even now, I dislike both teams so much that no matter who wins I will still feel a sense of dissatisfaction with the outcome. Back then it was Reggie Miller and Shaq that caused me such displeasure, and now it is the Kobe v. the “Big Three” DREAM matchup that is causing me as much comfort as a hemorrhoid. This is exactly what the NBA wanted to have happen. David Stern could be heard the night Boston clinched over the Pistons jumping around his home declaring himself a genius for saving the league. Thank God for him, because the last thing anyone wanted to see was another brilliant performance by the San Antonio Spurs over a far inferior team. Ratings will go through the roof with the reinvention of one of the greatest sports rivalries of all time. Unfortunately, there is no Magic and no Bird. There is no matchup between the two premier dynasties of the time. It is simply the best player in the game leading his team up against a team that has bought and paid for a championship. The idea behind this “Dream” Final is lost because there is no history between these teams and their players just between the uniforms they are wearing. Magic v. Bird was historic, Kobe v. Garnett will never be as important to the history of the game or as memorable.

 

NBA Part II, Paul Pierce

For the love of God, if I hear Paul Pierce refereed to as a brave, courageous hero one more time I may never watch another NBA game for the rest of my life. His performance in Game 1 deserves a Tony Award, not the praise of every media outlet in the country as Willis Reed-esque. I say Tony Award because an Oscar doesn’t quite fit the stage performance of this modern day Messiah. Pierce was so convincing in his overacted drama queen roll in Game 1 that he may be taking over for Nathan Lane in “The Producers” come next year. He and the media have painted this picture of a man who’s leg was ready to fall off, just to staple it together and come back into the game to save the Celtics. The truth is, he was never that hurt. Sure, the initial pain had to be both excruciating and terrifying. But I can’t believe for one second that this injury was season threatening the way he bounced back onto the court after 1:05. That’s right, one minute and five seconds after he left the court, he was back. I believe it hurt, and that he felt discomfort, but the way he thrived and rolled around on the court you’d have thought he’d been shot. No season ending injury fixes itself in the matter of 65 seconds. He overreacted, and every sportswriter in the building blew it out of proportion. We need to reserve words like bravery, courage, and hero to men and women who actually deserve it. The man who saves a child from a burning building but gives his own is courageous and brave. Not someone who plays a kid’s game for a living. He had a great performance…and that’s it.

 

            Cleveland Indians

            What the… What…what happened? I left for my honeymoon and they were in bad shape, but what it the hell happened since then. I turned on a game and saw a kid pitching that I’ve never heard of. Jake Westbrook was activated from the DL just to be put back on it and Fausto is also on the DL. There are so many times when a team has high expectations on them, and it seems like everything goes wrong. They can’t hit, their pitching is good, but the pitchers are falling apart, and their strengths have become giant weaknesses. I don’t have any solution of what to do, but something needs to change. Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge promised the people of Cleveland a contender by 2005, and they gave us one. I think it is important for these men to understand that the people of Cleveland don’t want a one-year wonder. They want to contend every year. Shapiro is giving money to our young nucleus, but they have become just as big a problem as everything else has. I would hate to think that by locking these young guys up would ultimately handcuff the team for many many years. They still over 100 or so games to go, and in the MLB, especially this year, who knows what can happen. But I hate to think this is another example of the Cleveland curse biting the fans of such a great city on the butt…. again.

 

Congrats!

The big winners of the past few weeks have been the NHL and the Detroit Red Wings. As much as it pains me to say this, I applaud the Wings and their Stanley Cup win. I am a big hockey fan, and have followed the Pittsburgh Penguins for many years. I was so excited to see them in the finals again, and even though they lost, I was so proud of the team that was days from being relocated and torn apart making a push for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Now, during football season the city of Pittsburgh can bite my…you know. But as a resident of the “Rust Belt” it was nice to see the boys from Pittsburgh making it to the championship game against incredible in-house odds. I was so impressed with the way the series went. This matchup was the best Stanley Cup in many years, because it had everything a fan could want. Non-stop action and incredible individual performances made this must watch television. I’ve said all along that the NHL is one of the most fun sporting events to watch and attend. They have fallen on hard times in the past ten years, but with the right people in place, this could be a launching pad for the league to get back to where it was in the mid-90’s. It isn’t very often that the NHL outdoes the NBA, but this year it did and it gives all hockey fans something to look forward to next season.

 


Airport scene…

June 13, 2008

I spend a lot of time in airports for work. In fact I’m in an airport writing this now. This allows me to see a lot of scenes that are straight out of a Hallmark movie.  Grandparents hugging their grandchildren for the first time, the frustration of a delayed of cancelled flight, good customer service, bad customer service, family reunions, honeymooners, vacations, jet setters, and for the past five or so years, Armed forces members coming and going.  All of them show you the complicated dynamic that we all have with each other, and each encounter that I witness allows me learn a little more about us as people.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not spying on people from afar, or stalking cute old ladies, these all typically happen while I’m waiting, or on my way out the door of the airport.

Most recently, my travels took me to Baltimore Washington Airport in Maryland.  As I came off the jetway, and headed for the foodcourt to take advantage of my 45 minutes that I had between flights, I heard an announcement come over the loudspeaker.  The MC told the waiting crowd that coming down the jetway were a group of men that are second to none, and admired by many.  It was a plane full of World War II veterans.  The man on the microphone asked that stand up and give them a warm welcome, out of respect for their sacrafices.  Being someone tha loves history, I placed my order at Quizno’s as fast as I could in order to get a seat to help pay respect for the Greatest Generation.  I paid the cashier, and moved to the left to watch my sandwich pass through the little oven, when the clapping started.  Three gates worth of people, as well as 100 or so lunch breakers, roared with applause as the first group of WWII vets unloaded from the flight.  “Geez, where is this freakin’ sandwich I thought.”  As it came through the oven, I guy walks up to the male cashier, both worked for the airport, and said,”Dude, I thought they were somebody famous, their just a bunch of old dudes that fought in the war..”  I would have paid for a picture of the look on my face when I heard this clown say that, and then precede to cap it off with a high five, dap and a giggle from his retard friend.  Some war?  Is that really what some people think.  How about the most important war in the history of the planet, that saved all of us?  It took everything in my power not to say something to this guy.  Instead, I quickly composed myself and found a perch near the action.

There were probably about 20 or 30 men in total, most of them past their prime, all of them smiling as the applause hit them.  I started to think about how often I say that life sucks, or that things couldn’t be worse.  The reflection drew me to focus on these men and their sense of duty, pride, and sacrafice.  We are talking about 20-30 men, that at age of 18-19 were asked to go save the world.  Wow, that is powerful stuff.  At age 19, I was wondering if I should drop my English Lit calls at BGSU, and trying to find the next house party to go to so that I could get drunk.  These guys were marching through Europe, fighting Nazi’s.  I would have crapped my pants, and probably still would, if I had to stare down a Panzar unit, or Luftwaffa air raid.  It seemed like the perfect thing for people to see as we approach the 4th of July.

Yet still, someone always has to ruin the party.  Shit brick in the Quizno’s line, doesn’t even realize that without these men, he might not have a job, might not live in Baltimore, might not even exist if these men hadn’t decided to give up their youth for the greater good.  How selfish have we all become, that we can’t stop in our busy day to give some props to the people that really need it.  They did.  Now,  I didn’t really let shit brick rain on the parade too much.  I stood and clapped as loudly as I could for these great men.  Who I’m sure would have never asked for any type of recognition at all.  What I would have liked to have done is grabbed shit brick by his ears, dropped him at him at the feet of the WWII vets, and encouraged them to beat the idiocy out of him.

So I’m going to urge everyone to do a few things.  As we all prepare for the 4th, planning our family get togethers, BBQ’s, golf outings, and vacations, take a moment to soak up the time, and say a little thank you to all of the heroes that have come and gone.  As well as all of the heroes that continue to fight for the freedom and liberties that make this country great.  I would encourage you to take sometime and visit your local library and pick out a book about WWI or WWII and take the time to read it.  While it may not be for everyone, it should be appreciate by all.

Thanks to all of you that protect us daily…


Triple crown…err maybe not…I miss Barbaro

June 9, 2008

Wow, what a let down.  If you were like me and decided, sure why not I’ll watch the Belmont Stakes to see if that flee bag horse can do it.  You probably cursed Big Brown out, and wished him straight to the Elmer’s glue factory.

No sooner did Big Brown finish DEAD last in the Belmont Stakes, I looked at my wife and said,”Watch honey, here will come all the questions about his cracked hoof.”  As I was saying that the announcer started on the time line with the Big Brown hoof, and how it caused him to not practice and get a work out correctly.  Then a quick interview with Kent Desormeaux, Big Brown’s Jockey on what happened to the horse.  Desormeaux simply  mentioned that he was looking out for the horse, he didn’t appear to be lame, that it was hot and the horse didn’t have it today.  Ok, that I can take.  Everyone else needs to relax.

On a side note, for you animal lovers out there, I found this funny interview with the horse, that made me laugh…

http://community.foxsports.com/blogs/Dudski/2008/06/07/Big_BrownThe_Interview

Sometimes, as a human, I roll out of bed, and I don’t really want to work.  Then my entire day is figuring out ways to get motivated.  I mean, I’m sure dog owners can relate, when the go to take sparky for a walk a couple of times, and he or she doesn’t feel like leaving the couch.  Maybe Big Brown just didn’t feel like going that day.  But its a horse right, isn’t that like, what they do?  I even heard one reporter say that he looked lethargic from not getting workouts the past three days prior to the Belmont Stakes…Lethargic, a horse?  Don’t they always look lethargic?

I will say as a sports fan I was a little upset that I didn’t get to witness a triple crown winner.  There have been some slick horses that were close, Real Quiet, Cigar, Smarty Jones, War Emblem and Funny Cide to name a few.  Or maybe I was just pissed because Edgar Renteria had just hit a three run shot off of Rafeal Betancort to win the game in the 8th inning…I guess we’ll never know…

All that being said, being a sportsfan that loves to be a part of “Big moments,” I’ll probably waste my time next year as well…


What is wrong with the AL Central?

June 4, 2008

Ok, stop this madness right now! The American League Central is supposed to be the best in baseball.  They have been anything but that right now. 

Only one team has a record that is .500 on the road.  That team being the White Sox who are at 17-17 going into tonight’s games.  However they are currently on a 4 game losing streat, having lost 4 of their last 6, but they find themselves in first place. 

Minnesota has managed to pick themselves off the mat to get to 30-27.  They have done this with M&M leading the way.  Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau lead the team in all the major categories.  The young sluggers have been everything the Twins have wanted. Free agent aquisition Livan Hernandez has anchored the pitching staff with 6 wins and a 4.61 era.

Probably the most two disappointing teams have been the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers.  The Tribe are 10-15 on the road, 16-16 at home and have just recently broken a losing streak against the Texas Rangers in which they lead most of the game and blew a 5 run lead.  The Indians, who were picked by various experts to contend with the Tigers for the division, have only one .300 hitter, in rookie Ben Francisco.  Most of the line up has been inconsistent.  Slugger Travis Hafner has been non-existent(steroids anyone), Sizemore gets stuck at the top of the line up and strikes out too much for a lead off hitter, and there is really no one to protect the Tribe’s best hitter Victor Martinez.  Combine that with the up and down play of the pitching staff, and you have a struggling ball club.  With starters Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook on the 15 day DL list, things aren’t getting any better.

The Tigers spent more money then God this year, and have nothing to show for it.  They are 12-14 at home, 12-19 on the road and 24-33 overall. Their hitting has failed them, and their pitching has been less then average.  Justin Verlander their ace, has a 5.18 era, is 2-8 and has given up 8 HR’s in 12 games. Bonderman has given up 9 dingers in 12 games, with a 3-4 record, with a 4.29 era.

The bottom line is that someone has to win the division.  No one seems to want to, and everyone is falling apart.  The homer in me thinks that the Indians can turn it around to at least capture a wild card.  Quietly the White Sox and Twins are on the verge of running away with it.  My guess is that the Twins can hold on, but its gonna be a back and forth effort all year.  If anyone gets healthy and gets on a roll, look out.