Sportsattitudes Thinks Friday The 13th Came One Day Earlier In NFL

Friday 13th.

Today is Friday The 13th…but maybe it was yesterday the NFL didn’t have the best public relations luck…

Major props to the NFL for once again finding a new way to alienate. When I first sought last night’s game between the Bills and Jets I thought I had mishandled the remote and stumbled upon QVC or the Home Shopping Network peddling Electric Football with the game pieces being Christmas ornaments. Between the glistening look of the faux field and one team decked in bright red with the other bright green…anyway, it was in fact Thursday Night Football. Just the NFL trying something “fashionable.” Unfortunately many with color blindness couldn’t tell which team was which. Ironically this will now help raise global awareness for the condition I now better know as color vision deficiency. The NFL will now indicate this was their true intention all along. Just do those with the affliction a favor NFL…when you rush to create your ribbon to acknowledge awareness and make more money…don’t make it red or green.

That Buffalo win also helped provide the NFL additional public relations “love” when Head Coach Rex Ryan chose to make one of his captain’s for the game IK Enemkpali…the guy who sucker-punched then-teammate QB Geno Smith in the NY training camp…was cut immediately…and immediately was picked up by Ryan…who was of course let go by the Jets a year removed. Honestly…all week long Ryan made the game more about himself than his team…starting Tuesday by wearing a Clemson helmet while conducting a press conference just because his son plays for the Tigers. I’m sure the NFL loved that image going out worldwide.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins admitted he had a concussion midway through the second quarter of Sunday night’s game in Dallas but hid his condition. That’s not the first time a player had said as much after the fact but all it shows me is they haven’t recovered. Why would you fess up? You’re going to be under more scrutiny for the rest of your career…and what kind of message does it send to kids playing football? We already know players hide getting dinged and we also know the NFL has no taste to ban anyone from playing no matter how many concussions they have had. Did you see Wes Welker was signed by the St. Louis Rams this week? If you Google “Wes Welker concussion” you’ll be forced to reboot your device when it crashes.

Speaking of Dallas…it’s not enough there is at least a column a day calling for the Cowboys to drop domestic-violence picture boy Greg Hardy but now we have new word (at least we think new…) of Dez Bryant spewing obscenities in their locker room. Again a warning. If you Google either “Greg Hardy photos” or “Dez Bryant rant” prepare for your service to be down for a few. “America’s Team” indeed…

But there was some good news from within the NFL. Seattle Seahawks’ RB Marshawn Lynch reportedly gave $500 to a worker at a McDonald’s in Dallas after a win there at the beginning of the month. Apparently the boy liked Lynch’s shoes. They started talking and when the young man indicated he wanted to get into the fashion world and start a boutique Marshawn gave him the money and encouraged him to do just that.

Let’s choose to finish in the money with that news…and not press our luck detailing more about Thursday The 12th.

Posted in Football, NFL, Pro Football, Pro Sports, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Sportsattitudes Mailbox – A Football Edition – Pros Half Way, Colleges Lost Way, Fantasy Fun Way

Once a regular mainstay of this site when regularly blogging, I proudly again take the time to open up my stuffed-full mailbox and sort through everything within to answer the burning questions of the day that no one sent in or even asked in the first place:

Q: What is your opinion of the NFL season so far? How have you found the quality of play to be half-way home?

A: Dreck: Noun – something that is of very bad quality; trash, rubbish (ex.“this so-called art is pure dreck.”)

I am of the opinion the NFL is not currently producing a product worthy of all the eyeballs and economy being bestowed upon it. There have been a few theories tossed about why I might be correct. The most prominent is the NFL has cut back so severely on practice (and hitting) time these teams all really opened their seasons getting into football-shape and developing whatever chemistry they can…something pre-training camps, training camps and the pre-season all used to be used for before big television money and bigger concussion issues invaded the sport. I don’t know if you agree with my accusation the quality of the NFL has not lived up to its promise so far in 2015. That being said out of protest I am no longer going to do any Power Rankings because a) you can find someone doing them at every turn but more importantly b) using the word “Power” to describe two-thirds of this league is a joke.

Q: So who are the contenders to go to the Super Bowl as you see them now?

A: New England is the real deal. All roads in the AFC go through Gillette Stadium, 1 Patriot Place, Foxborough MA. Staying in that conference Cincinnati has to now be seriously considered which I never thought I’d type about a team coached by Marvin Lewis and quarterbacked by Andy Dalton but here we are Bengals fans. Denver’s defense didn’t impress me last week in Indianapolis but I’m willing to give them a pass because they’ve been so good otherwise. My advice to the Broncos would be to settle on one running back and let him play a full game or two. It looks as though they have figured out how to use Peyton Manning’s current skill set to move the ball consistently in the air. As for the NFC I see that conference with more contenders…Carolina, Green Bay, Arizona and yes…Seattle. I keep wanting to get on board that “Cam Newton MVP” talk and then I see him slide short of a first down and get up and do that asinine first-down signal he does. I do love the guy tries to get a football to a small child after every score but I keep seeing him forcing things on occasion and am worried this team rides his back so much he’s going to make “the big uh-oh” at the wrong moment in the biggest of stages. Injuries to Jordy Nelson and the barely still-functional Packers receivers have messed with their rotation. So has Eddie Lacy. The week Green Bay wore their hideous throwback uniforms I said to the wife Eddie Lacy looked like a tackle instead of a running back. She thought it might be the uniform. As it turns out every analyst I’ve heard has mentioned Lacy indeed looks large and slow. That doesn’t help the passing game one bit and it appears the Packers are back to throwing on most downs…which doesn’t do Aaron Rodgers…or those receivers…any favors. Aaron was so upset at the end of the loss to the Panthers last weekend he threw his Microsoft Surface to the ground when he saw how wide-open Randall Cobb was in the end zone. If he hadn’t had thrown passes in the first half in a similar manner which he threw the tablet maybe they don’t lose that game? When Carson Palmer and his multiple receivers and runners are all active and healthy they’re the offense to beat in the NFC. That defense has worried me in recent weeks but remains one of the league’s best. Seattle is…Seattle. The next couple of weeks will determine if they are contender or pretender. I think they are starting to come out of the Super Bowl depression we knew they’d have at least early on.

Q: The recent College Football Playoff Rankings were just released. As usual there is controversy over them. Thoughts?

A: A fellow named Bert Martin left a comment on ESPN’s web site today about an article relating to the new rankings release and the constantly used explanation of “the eye test” as to why certain teams are where they are:

“Yes, they ‘eye’ the names of the schools, not their body of work. Complete sham.”

If you have been with me from the jump you know I was a BCS-basher early on. But it was primarily because of frustration every other division of college football manages to not only have a playoff but invite a boatload of teams. You can argue if more teams just waters down the process and doesn’t produce a true champion but then we’ll have to talk about March Madness now won’t we? (I didn’t think you wanted to mess with that…) The money from the everyone-gets-a-bowl-invite system is the reason after all these years we’ve edged up to allowing four teams to play for what passes for a championship in a sport where half of the schools don’t even play at the same level as the other half. Anyway…we can’t put the genie back in the bottle now but in the end if humans all agreed upon a set of criteria, put said criteria into a computer, ensured the computer was executing properly…and provided transparency throughout I would be ok with going back to just two teams being selected to play for the title…or whatever number you want. The system in place right now is about producing the best possible television event by creating the best possible combination of most-watched teams into the four-team playoff. If you think otherwise you are delusional.

Q: Do you still play Fantasy Football and what do you think of the current furor over its legality and status these days?

A: My wife and I both play. I started back in 1998 and she jumped in two years later. Right now we each have a team in three separate seasonal leagues and between the six teams I’d say four have a legit chance to make the post-season. We never had an interest in DraftKings and FanDuel, especially when they started running commercials every three minutes. Mind-numbing. Even more mind-numbing is no one regulated their business model, which also somehow didn’t meet the Federal definition of gambling. Well…news about site employees playing unchecked combined with a ravenous press reporting people are dropping 25-30 K per week into these “skill games” using their own machinery to run every statistical probability to enhance and even ensure winnings has gotten lawmakers’ attention. From Ladd Biro of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In case you’ve been living in the Amazon for the last several months these sites – dominated by DraftKings and its evil twin FanDuel – are spending like a Bush/Clinton PAC to convince you that $5 and your encyclopedic fantasy knowledge can make you an instant millionaire. After all, how hard can it be to pick the best player at each position in any given week, under a not-that-restrictive salary cap? It seems so easy, until you realize that you aren’t playing against the guy in the next cubicle. In fact you have about as much chance of winning a weekly DraftKings jackpot as you do of winning your state’s lottery since the “game” is dominated by deep-pocketed “sharks” who enter hundreds, sometimes thousands, of lineups with a dizzying array of player combinations using statistical algorithms specifically built to tilt the odds in their favor.”

Fantasy Football started out for my wife and me as friendly, annual competition (with an occasional meager financial payoff at season’s end for the top teams based on owner “contributions”). And so it remains for us all these years later. We do it for the sheer, pure fun of it. This year we’re even playing in Free leagues…no investment other than emotional…which may be the best way to do it because if you take Fantasy Football seriously you’ll eventually go insane. One note – on weeks you are playing your wife things do take a turn even if no money is on the line. Take this past weekend. One of my teams was losing to her by fourteen going into Monday night but I had picked up Chicago Bears RB Jeremy Langford off waivers earlier…and played him on a prayer as the only active player remaining between our teams. I came from down 93-79 to win.

Things have been a bit chilly at home since Tuesday morning…and it ain’t just been the weather.

Posted in College Football, College Sports, Entertainment, Fantasy Football, Football, NCAA, NFL, Pro Football, Pro Sports, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Peanuts Movie – Good Grief You’re In 3-D Charlie Brown – A Review

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I know we hard-core fans of the comic strip “Peanuts” were shocked and dismayed when we learned Hollywood couldn’t help itself from sucking in even more revenue by scooping up and sending off our innocent, timeless beloved characters to the big screen (with the appropriate corporate tie-ins, of course) in computer animation…and in three dimensions no less.

Rest easy those of us nuts for Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts.” You can put down the pitchforks and plunk down the money to see “The Peanuts Movie.” And if available to you…do see the 3-D version.

You probably can’t find one positive review to this film that doesn’t allude to it being a “love letter” to all fans that have followed Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang for sixty-five years plus now. I believe this is considered the fifth theatrical movie featuring the “Peanuts” gang. I remember seeing the first with my Dad…1969’s “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.” (The last one shown in theaters was 1980’s “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown”)

USA Today writer Bryan Alexander noted in a recent column Producer Craig Schulz (Schulz’s son) was determined if any new project was going to be made in this day and age it would be done the Schulz way – timeless and classic. Blue Sky Studios said they would honor his challenge.

They met their commitment and then some…guided by a screenplay carefully and lovingly crafted by Schulz, his son Bryan and Cornelius Uliano. Just about anything you associate or remember from this historic strip or its iconic television specials is stuffed into a film that only runs ninety minutes or so. Flying a kite, playing losing baseball, that Little Red-Haired Girl, the evil Red Baron, the jazz themes of Vince Guaraldi, trying to kick a football, paying five cents to see a shrink. It’s all here. It pretty much plays out like a longer version of the television specials that have meant so much to so many for so long. However…make no mistake it is indeed enriched and enhanced by the modern technology we fans originally feared.  All the characters…they jump off the screen (especially in 3-D).

Mind you this is not “Star Wars.” (There are some aerial fight scenes but let’s not give too much away here)

Director Steve Martino understood quite well he was dealing with a global fan base already on edge a film was even being done. Martino as quoted by Alexander, “It was not the time to be reinventing (these characters).” Martino was likely selected for how critics believed he preserved the sensibilities of Dr. Seuss’ Horton in his 2008 adaptation of “Horton Hears A Who!”

This is a G-rated, wholesome children’s movie…for adult fans of “Peanuts.” It is a newly-generated form of artistic expression designed to pay tribute to what this comic strip has meant to the world. I highly doubt a new generation of youthful followers will spring forth. That would be great. I hope everyone who has loved these characters has passed them down through the ages but in an era where your four-year old can show you how to turn Wi-Fi on and off on your smart phone…well, this quiet, simple film is likely not going to take over their lives. I don’t know how many kiddies we can expect to leave the theater with a burning desire to learn more about the richness and quality of Schulz’s long-running strip and its stars.

Indeed…there are a couple new “twists” added for veterans of “Peanuts” including a pop song by Meghan Trainor. But none of the new takes from the familiar.

The release of this movie in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the first airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on TV later this month will surely leave an indelible, memorable impression on every fan.

Stay patient and wait for the credits to end. I promise you’ll get one more memory (and smile) to leave the theater with…on top of all the other memories and smiles you’ll take home…

I am positive Charles M. Schulz would have put his stamp of approval on this hi-tech take to his classic characters.

So shall I.

Posted in Cinema, Comics, Entertainment, Family, Film, Home, Humor, Life, Media, Movies, Opinion, Peanuts, Review, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Debacle Of Miami-Duke – Replay OK Except For Who Won The Day

Shadow of American Football Referee Signaling Touchdown

I don’t know if you care about college football. I know a lot of folks got fed up with it long ago when final scores started to surpass college basketball outcomes.

But if you care about fairness and common sense…read on, dear reader.

On Halloween Night the cruelest of pranks was perpetrated on the Duke Blue Devils (nickname irony with Holiday not lost here) on their home field of Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham NC.

After having scored on a 1-yard touchdown run against the Miami Hurricanes with but six seconds left to take a 27-24 lead all that was left for Duke to do – on their way to potentially winning an ACC title and at the very least get to a major bowl game in the process – was to kick the ball off and run out the clock.

What followed was your typical last-second fire-drill return in these types of situations. One player gets the ball and advances it as far as he can, then lateraling it away to a teammate and so on. The prayer of trying to pull all of this unscripted activity together and actually go the length of a football field is virtually impossible.

Unless you do it illegally. That helps your cause immeasurably.

In college football once the final score is declared and the stadium empties the rule is nothing can be done to change the outcome. Unless of course someone finds out years later one of your players took money from an agent or was academically ineligible. Then we have an appetite for magically wiping out entire seasons and taking away championships…but I digress…

Anyway the following is the list – the list mind you – of reasons why Miami’s eventual eight-lateral, miracle touchdown and subsequent 30-27 victory shouldn’t stand:

  1. The replay booth official should have ruled a Miami player down before releasing the football on one of the laterals. Game over. (Everything else that follows just adds to the madness)
  2. The officials on the field failed to penalize Miami for an illegal block in the back. If that had been called correctly the ball would have been placed accordingly and Miami would have had one final attempt to score from essentially the length of the field.
  3. The officials on the field failed to penalize Miami for a player running onto the field before their alleged touchdown was scored. Under current rules that still would have not negated the score. I have never understood how extra players on a field during play shouldn’t automatically negate a score but maybe that’s why a lot of people don’t follow football…it doesn’t make bleeping sense at times.
  4. The officials on the field DID make an illegal block in the back call. However the officials on the field then made the decision to change that call (correctly, believe it or not) to a legal block…but they inexplicably did not confer with the replay booth official.

College football and its broadcast partners boast loudly and proudly in their sport every play is reviewed by replay. Why this final play of a major college football game wasn’t officiated properly …with so much on the line…is anyone’s guess.

It may not shock you this already was considered a poorly-officiated game before the final six seconds unwound.

The bottom line is the entire officiating crew that was on the field, the field communicator and the replay booth official were judged by the Atlantic Coast Conference to have screwed this game up so badly they’ll be taking the next couple of weeks off to rake leaves. 

Obviously the scariest part of this Halloween nightmare for Duke is while replay is allegedly used to right wrongs in the world of sports one thing we don’t seem to have a taste for fixing is declaring the Blue Devils the winner of this game…unless a couple of years from now some Hurricane player would happen to be found ineligible. We seem to relish in over-examining and mass-changing outcomes in those types of situations…even several years later. (Miami fans, you already know about those sorts of “replays” don’t you?)

For all of you like me who just don’t get replay in sports as currently applied we have another arrow in our quiver to aim at those who can’t get enough of trying to maintain replay systems without allowing for true justice to prevail.

But…Duke still has a loss.

So much for righting wrongs…

Posted in College Football, Football, NCAA, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

2015-16 College Basketball Preview – Era Of 30-Second Clock Commences


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Your Fantasy Football teams are already out of contention because your stars are hurt? You’re tired of watching nothing but delays and replays as the NFL continues to corkscrew itself into the Earth with a crap-ton of penalties and still no discernible ability to define a “catch?”

Well then…come over to the “Dark Side” with me and start watching college hoops from the jump.

Instead of generating a set of Top 25, Top 40, etc. rankings here’s a tiered set of squads based on their best-case scenarios all happening to win it all…which never happens…but whatever. I know most of you still won’t follow this sport until the Sun returns in March just in time for all of you to see your Madness Brackets roll off your printers.

Oh, these are presented in alphabetical order within each tier by the way…

Teams Built To Win It All:

Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina

Teams Built To Come Really, Really Close To Winning It All:

Arizona, California, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Villanova, Virginia, Wichita State

Teams A Notch Down From Being Built To Come Really, Really Close To Winning It All:

Indiana, Michigan State, Utah, Wisconsin

Teams That Are Really, Really Darn Good:

Baylor, Butler, Connecticut, LSU, Louisville, Michigan, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Purdue, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, West Virginia

Teams That Are Really, Really Darn Good But Hired Larry Brown So They Naturally Got Put On Probation And If You See Them In Your March Madness Bracket Ask For A Corrected One:


Teams I Probably Should Have Included Above (Who Didn’t Hire Larry Brown And Aren’t On Probation) But Are Really, Really Darn Good Too:

Boise State, Georgetown, Miami (Fla.), Texas, Xavier

And now a “starting five” of random thoughts on the college hoops season ahead…

    1. The change to a 30-second clock is one of the biggest rules adjustments in this sport in decades. Look for teams to continue to shoot just as poorly…but faster now.
    2. The “block-charge” call will continue to be the NFL’s version of a “catch.” Back when I played determining whether a player with the ball committed a foul or the defender fouled up his path to the basket was easily clarified. If the defensive player had both feet firmly planted on the ground prior to the collision the foul was on the offensive player.  Sorry folks. No one will still know which way to call this rule. Just letting you know in advance.
    3. Duke lost their three freshman stars from last season’s NCAA Championship Team. Some people automatically dropped them from title consideration for this season. Some people are stupid. Remember…these are among the very same people you drive automobiles alongside each day…including that distracted driver who rear-ended me in bright sunshine and dry conditions while stopped at a light but I’m no longer bitter about it even though it happened a few days ago.
    4. Pay particular attention to a fellow named Kris Dunn who plays for Providence. He led the country in assist rate last season and could have been a top (lottery) NBA pick. He chose to stay and help the Friars compete this season because Providence stuck by him big-time early in his career when he had issues…and he also wanted to get a degree. The only drawback to Kris’ plan was a couple of teammates decided not to assist him and transfer out for their own reasons. Dunn will need to be way more selfish on the court this season…but he gets major points for not being selfish off it.
    5. Ben Simmons is a freshman basketball player at LSU. If all goes according to plan you will hear his name as often as those mind-numbing One-Week Fantasy Sports sites running commercials on your television 24/7 (Use Promo Code KILL ME NOW).  Anyway… Ben Simmons can be THAT good a player.  Enjoy watching Ben because he’ll be coming to an NBA city near you after this first and last season with the Tigers.

One additional comment…thank you so much Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Head Coach Gregg Marshall for all sticking around at Wichita State. It has been an absolute pleasure watching your program grow into the big-time with arguably the best backcourt in the nation and undeniably one of the best coaches in the country. In the last three seasons the Shockers have gone to a Final Four, started a year 35-0 and claimed a victory over in-state rival and perennial national power Kansas. Well done gentlemen.

Let’s tip this season off, shall we?

Posted in Basketball, College Basketball, College Sports, NCAA, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Premier League Power Rankings Not At The Quarter Pole

yellow red card soccer ball whistle

“Nobody knows what the quarter pole is. Unless the people who are said to have reached the quarter pole are standing next to an individual who has somehow determined that he or she is exactly 25 percent Polish than I’m afraid these common quarter pole references are 100 percent inaccurate. It’s a borrowed and abused horse-racing term, the quarter pole, describing an actual, physical, vertical post sometimes painted red or purple at the top, signifying the spot on the race track at which two furlongs remain before the finish line, two furlongs being a quarter mile. If there were a figurative quarter pole to the NFL season it wouldn’t be now, it would be somewhere in December.” – Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In a prior post about what Americans consider football I noted the above. We people have this fascination with calling a fourth of a season being over the “Quarter Pole.” Consider it my desire to educate one reader at a time.

The Premier League squads have each played ten matches now. And here I am…a National Football League American who has now after but two years of viewing officially reshuffled his priorities and adjusted his biorhythms to arise at dawn on weekend mornings (and occasional Monday afternoons) to watch what the rest of the world knows to be football.

(That disclaimer is offered because I’m venturing into potentially bloody new waters with these Premier League Power Rankings and have no desire to be tossed into the River Thames)

I have been advised by some it is considered very poor fandom to root for more than one Premier side. I’m already in trouble there because I tend to root for all recently promoted squads…I became a Norwich City Canaries fan initially while Bournemouth has grown on me…and also have a fondness for Crystal Palace because Rebecca Lowe does…and they have a really cool Eagle that soars across their pitch prior to kick off and being in Philadelphia I might have a fondness for Eagles.

Anyway…without further delay straight away with The Rankings:

  1. Manchester City – The scoreless Derby draw with Manchester United doesn’t take away from the fact the Citizens have taken care of business against everyone but West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur…you’ll notice them towards the top of the Table?
  2. Arsenal – The Gunners lost their first match 2-0 to West Ham United (see above comment) and you would have thought the Black Death plague had broken out within their grounds. Wins over Bayern Munich (Champions League) and Everton this week. Call off Disease Control please. All is well.
  3. West Ham United – I am a believer in the Hammers but I’m not sure there is much to choose from between them right now (except for that opening win at Arsenal) and say…
  4. Manchester United – I believe the Red Devils missed a golden opportunity on Sunday hosting that Derby but if you think Manchester City is the top club you can’t be too cross. That draw with Newcastle United is forgiven.
  5. Tottenham Hotspur – You didn’t expect me to follow the Table completely did you? The Spurs 4-1 thrashing of Manchester City still rattles in my brain…as does their 1-1 draw at…
  6. Leicester City – The Foxes defeated West Ham United on the road. It was early in the season but it impressed nonetheless. They do need to shore up the defense.
  7. Liverpool – I am most certainly a Kloppite here but I do believe the Reds made the Manager change they had to make and will show well going forward. The only two losses so far are to West Ham United and Manchester United.
  8. Crystal Palace – These Eagles are coming off two losses to Leicester City and West Ham United but have been close against the top squads. Manchester United at home up next will tell much.
  9. Everton – Roberto Martinez and Tim Howard will both be fine eventually. The Toffees are too talented.
  10. Chelsea – This weekend Jose Mourinho was invited into the Referee’s Room…then invited to sit in the stands. His next invitation may need to be to gather his things but one way or the other the Blues will improve. They have to…don’t they?
  11. Southampton – These Saints may eventually go marching into the Top Ten. Only losses to Everton and Manchester United…but both on home soil.
  12. Watford – The surprising Hornets are probably not done stinging the competition. West Ham United is at home next and it will be interesting to see how they react after their 2-0 win at Stoke.
  13. Stoke City – I would not be shocked to see the Potters advance into the Top Ten before all is said and done. Note 2-2 draws each with Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.
  14. West Bromwich Albion – The defensive-minded Baggies next four are against Leicester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham United. We’ll see…
  15. Swansea City – The Swans are swimming for more consistency. Arsenal at home this weekend will require that.
  16. Newcastle United – Indeed the Magpies just lost to Sunderland but that match was chaotic at best.
  17. Norwich City – I do believe being routed at Newcastle United was a one-off. Traveling to Manchester City next will say much about the Canaries staying above the relegation line. Maybe I’m being too optimistic…?
  18. Sunderland – The loss to Norwich City early on has the Black Cats on the relegation line for now but maybe the win over Newcastle United will inspire. They did manage a draw with West Ham United.
  19. Aston Villa – If the Lions find an inspiring Manager they may save themselves from relegation but they’ll have to start roaring soon.
  20. Bournemouth – The feel-good story of the Cherries advancement to the Premier League has dissolved with each critical injury. They showed reasonably well early on but I believe too many men have fallen to avoid relegation.
Posted in Barclays Premier League, Premier League, Pro Sports, Soccer, Sports, The Premier League | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

2015 World Series – Fall Classic Should Be A Classic

Baseball on Baseball Field Illustration

The New York Mets and Kansas City Royals have only ever met nine times. Interestingly enough Major League Baseball has them scheduled to open next season against each other…April 4th, 2016.

Oh…they’re also scheduled to play against each other in the 2015 World Series starting Tuesday in Kansas City.

This is one Fall Classic that should be a classic. If they played this World Series on paper we’d already have it framed.

The pitching rotation for New York is awesome. It has been forever since we’ve seen a foursome with so much going for them. They are young and strong with fastballs at 95 mph plus and alternative pitches that leave batters just as baffled. They scrap and fight to keep anyone off the base paths. It does not matter who is taking the mound for the Mets, they throw hard and battle you with every pitch. Matt Harvey. Jacob deGrom. Noah Syndergaard. Steven Matz. Those names you’ll hear for awhile to come.

But what makes this World Series fascinating to me is Kansas City has shown a knack for reversing the trajectory of incoming fastballs. Or any pitches for that matter. According to STATS Royals batters hit a majors-leading season best .300 on pitches of 95 mph or more.

They also sported the highest contact rate. And no team struck out less in the regular season.

Defense. Speed. The NY hitters against the KC rotation…including Daniel Murphy…now the only player ever to hit a home run in six straight post-season games. We of course could go into much greater detail. But the reason I highlighted the above is that’s where I see this confrontation coming down to.

Mets pitching versus Royals hitting.

One obvious note – Kansas City was just on this stage a year ago. They lost a Game Seven at home. They are on a mission to make sure that doesn’t happen again and have had a full year to process the pain.

Which of course works both ways. Will the Royals batters seize up at the sight of each ace the Mets send to the hill fearing history is repeating itself? Or…will we find Kansas City can hit New York’s staff as well as all the others they’ve seen this season?

This is the first World Series between franchises born in the expansion era of the 1960’s. There’s history right off the bat before the first at-bat. I’m betting history will also judge the upcoming World Series as one the better ones.

Must-see TV.

Kansas City exorcises its demons of twelve months and wins a Game Seven at home this time.


Posted in Baseball, MLB, Pro Baseball, Pro Sports, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Temple Owls – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Basketball Season

Temple University is a large, urban college with its main campus located in the city of Philadelphia PA. By large I’m talking between undergrads and folks pursuing graduate school an enrollment in the vicinity of 40,000 students.

In addition to the main campus (which features a large number of commuters) there are a couple of satellite locations in the Philly suburbs…but Temple also provides a handful of international sites where one can get an education in various areas of study.

Sports fans know the name Temple for its basketball teams. In fact practice for the upcoming Owls hoop campaign has just begun. Also known locally as the Cherry & White (school colors), Temple alumni, staff and students all eagerly await the leaves turning into various other colors Autumn provides because that means another season of continuing their tradition of winning basketball is beginning.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Temple’s basketball season…the football team.

The football Owls visited and defeated East Carolina last evening by a score of 24-14. The numbers for Temple football are more importantly now these…they are nationally-ranked for the first time since 1979…they possess a record of 7-0, a mark never before achieved by a Temple football squad in 121 years…and their next game is against nationally-ranked Notre Dame on Halloween Night in Philadelphia before a national television audience.

Basketball is gonna have to emotionally sit on the sidelines for at least another week.

I like most Philly area fans waited until now to “publicize” this team even though they started the season defeating Penn State in rather convincing fashion. The main reason at that time to stay low-key about the Owls was Penn State just isn’t Penn State anymore.

But then they went to Cincinnati as an underdog and won. And they’ve kept on winning. They win games late. They don’t panic. They have a quarterback in P.J. Walker who is getting more confidence with each victory and they have a running back in Jahad Thomas who is one of the country’s top rushers. Linebacker Tyler Matakevich heads one of the better defenses in the nation and literally is in on every tackle. I am not kidding…you can watch this guy every time the other team has the ball and see him involved at the end of each play.

The Irish of Notre Dame are 6-1 and have this weekend off…a full two weeks to prepare for their visit to Philadelphia after defeating USC 41-31 last Saturday. They should be more than ready to provide the Owls with all they can handle. Depending on which poll or power ranking one looks at Notre Dame is certainly the clear favorite.

But they’re coming to Philadelphia. On Halloween Night. On national television.

Many in the Philly crowd will be rooting for Notre Dame because they have a much longer, much richer tradition of winning football games with alumni and fans who travel anywhere and everywhere to see them play.

But they’re coming to Philadelphia. On Halloween Night. On national television.

You see where I’m headed with this…?

Jeff Sagarin is a statistician who has for years provided his uniquely-developed computer calculations and ratings of various sports teams. His durability in the field of competitive athletic analysis alone is why I usually find myself checking his rankings when I’m interested in forecasting the outcome of a sporting event (for amusement only…of course). He’s considered one of the leading analysts in the business.

Before last night’s game at East Carolina Jeff had Temple rated as the 50th best college football team in the country.

He had Notre Dame 9th.

The Irish will indeed be the favorite to come East and find a way to clip the Owls’ wings…dashing the hopes of an awful lot of people – locally and globally – who want to see just how far this historic Temple team can fly.

I read somewhere real owls have very large wings for their body size. This apparently provides them the chance to fly very slowly, gliding near the ground and affording them the advantage of sneaking up on their prey.

Temple’s football team no longer has the opportunity to sneak up on anyone. They’ve made too much noise now. Notre Dame will know a great deal about them in the additional time they have to prepare for the Owls.

But they’re coming to Philadelphia. On Halloween Night. On national television.

I have a feeling the Irish best be well-prepared.

For while real owls don’t have teeth…these Temple Owls do.

Posted in College Football, College Sports, Football, NCAA, Notre Dame, Philadelphia, Sports, Temple | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sportsattitudes – The Road So Far

“The Road So Far” is a title used in the opening moments of the CW Network series “Supernatural.” It appears in season premieres and episodes following an extended break from original shows. When fans (including my wife and I) see it come up on the screen…followed by flashbacks of highlights from recent episodes…we know the producers are essentially hitting the reset button. Remember the road traveled so far folks…because it’s now time to continue our journey.

The road so far for this blog has been quite a ride. This is actually my second attempt at blogging, the first coming back in 2007. I only stuck with it for a year or so and actually deleted the site when I thought I had writing completely out of my system. That blog was a mash-up of “life stories” and sports. I picked up some avid readers along the way but in the end believed writing such intensely sports-devoted posts followed by ones about bad drivers may have drove some folks away. It didn’t have a distinct voice. My journalistic journey felt complete anyway. I at least had taken some time to do something with that Journalism/Humanities degree otherwise rendered irrelevant.

So…flash forward down the road to 2011 when during a period of both self-employment and self-reflection I decided to start blogging again. But even though I consider myself a sports blogger first and foremost I still wanted to have a secondary outlet to periodically reflect on life and all its insanity that often rains down on all of us. I recognize some people don’t know sports, could care less about sports, etc…and I’d like to think I’m a well-rounded individual who can carry on a conversation about something other than who won last night’s game. (I crush “Trivial Pursuit”)

The strategy in 2011 was to create two blogs…sportsattitudes and lifeattitudes. And yes, the lower case was and is intentional as is the minimalist look of the two sites. I didn’t even include pictures on many of my early posts because I wanted the two blogs to literally be all about the writing. It remains a look I like to work within…but I have since found enjoyment in adding images that hopefully enhance my words.

I stuck with blogging…this time with content on two sites…for another year or so before facing a challenge of how much time I had to devote to them. Traffic outside of writing had gotten hectic and the writing fell by the side of the road once again.

However…from that initial start/stop a few years back I did make the intelligent decision to keep both sites alive because if I came back once…

And here I am…now during a period of unemployment and self-reflection…on the road again with thoughts on all things sports…and not. The last couple of months I have returned to blogging on a fairly regular basis. I frankly didn’t know what to expect as far as blogging in 2015. It seemed like there were so many of these outlets back in the day and I wondered if people were still using this format for expressing their thoughts or if everyone had become perfectly happy with Facebook Likes and Twitter Tweets.

What I have learned in these last couple of months is some of my fellow bloggers from several years ago never left the blogging road…and a whole bunch of great new authors have come along to replace those who decided the road wasn’t worth traveling anymore.

The point of this post is to…like the folks who produce “Supernatural” do…hit the reset button.

I plan (for now) on continuing to provide content on both sites and hope everyone who has stopped by one blog will kindly take a moment to visit the other. You’ll likely see future posts here on the World Series, the upcoming College Basketball season, the Premier League (my brand new passion) and of course…all my love-able losing hometown Philadelphia sports teams…especially our fascinating, frustrating NFL Eagles.

Over at lifeattitudes you’ll surely see summaries of future humorous interactions I have with fellow human beings (including my wife), periodic TV or movie commentaries (perhaps even a favorite episode list of “Supernatural”?)…and even some prior archived posts brand new visitors hopefully will enjoy. Heck…it’s not a rerun if it’s new to you.

And that’s “The Road So Far.”

Posted in Barclays Premier League, Blog, Blogging, Entertainment, Life, Media, Opinion, Philadelphia, Premier League, Sports, Supernatural, Television, The Premier League, Thoughts, TV, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Chip Across America Tour – Eagles Truth To Be Revealed In Prime-Time

A Monday night home contest against their division rival New York Giants, a Sunday night away game at the currently undefeated Carolina Panthers and after a week off…another Sunday night road tilt against another NFC East rival, the Dallas Cowboys.

All who made the Philadelphia Eagles “America’s New Team” from sheer curiosity when newly-anointed General Manager Chip Kelly blew up an existing roster Head Coach Chip Kelly led to ten wins each of the prior two seasons and replaced it with a combination of players deemed everything from injury-prone to unproven will now get to see how this plays out. We all will get to find out the truth about this team.

“Three things cannot be long hidden…the sun, the moon and the truth.” – Buddha

The 2-3 Eagles defeated a New York Jets squad who were without a starting running back and wide receiver and aided by Jets WR Brandon Marshall’s highly questionable decision to lateral a football to an Eagle. They also defeated a New Orleans Saints team whose quarterback did not have a fully functional throwing motion and a defense who’s Coordinator was openly at odds with the Head Coach…who himself was distracted by his agent helping him look for employment opportunities elsewhere. If noting all this gives you the impression I am not sold on the 2015 Eagles you are correct.

“By doubting we are led to question…by questioning we arrive at the truth.” – Peter Abelard

This team’s season will now play out for better or worse across the country over the next four weeks. It could be very ugly. It could be quite spectacular. No one knows. That’s why they play the games. I want to take a moment to give a shout-out to the fans of Philadelphia who made it clear on sports talk radio this week they were not deceived by the blowout of the Saints. The truth of the horror show that was the home loss to Dallas earlier this season still reverberates in the minds of Eagles fans everywhere and only a strong showing on the “Chip Across America Tour” will wipe that memory from their minds.

“Experience has shown – and a true philosophy will always show – that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of the truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.” – Edgar Allan Poe

A little quick math exposes the truth after these next three games Philadelphia’s season will be half-over. Even in what is shaping up as a lackluster NFC East two of these three games are against division opponents. The other game is against a conference opponent.  It would be a good idea to win them.

What happens on the national stage will be fascinating to watch. Perhaps no one will be watching more closely than the good folks at USC who you may have heard have a Head Coach opening.  Rumors are starting if Kelly’s big swing in upgrading the Philadelphia Eagles turns into the full-on train wreck it looked like early in the year he may decide to bolt back to school. So as if “America’s New Team” didn’t have enough on its plate they can also deal with rumors of Chip Kelly planning an exit strategy while game-planning. Then again…Philadelphia has been dealing with those kinds of rumors since Kelly arrived,..after Chip allegedly said no when first asked to coach here.

 “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it…but in the end…there it is.” – Winston Churchill

The “Chip Across America Tour” is coming to a television near you.

The truth is it will have a huge audience…as the truth about this team is finally revealed.

Posted in Football, NFL, Pro Football, Pro Sports, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Avengers: Age Of Utley

3d Baseball character with a first aid kit

By the time you read this the saga of the L.A. Dodgers infielder Chase Utley’s calculated collision into New York Mets infielder Ruben Tejada will have advanced further. Either Utley’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball will have been upheld, reduced or even eliminated.

It matters not what happens with his appeal.

What matters is what happens next.

With the rules of baseball.

In February 2014 I took a stance on baseball implementing a rule which effectively has changed how catchers and runners now approach each other on a play at the plate. I even pointed out at the time on one instance I played the role of Chase Utley. But I was sixteen. And I never did it again.

But here come the baseball Avengers again…a sequel these bleeding hearts want to release upon us which would fundamentally change the game of baseball once again only because the umpires on the field Saturday night didn’t do their jobs.

Chase Utley is an aggressive (always) and dirty (on occasion) baseball player. I saw him play all his years in Philly. This is Chase. Hell, he did this to Tejada (then a rookie) five years ago although at that time Utley’s action could better pass for the definition of the word “slide.”

On the play in question Saturday night there was no “slide.” There was instead a deliberate intent to break up a double play by any means possible…which in itself means being OK with and taking responsibility for any amount of damage incurred. I keep hearing Chase Utley didn’t mean to hurt Ruben Tejada. Yeah, he did. It was the only way he deemed it possible to break up a double play. And may I add…a double play a veteran ballplayer like Utley should have known was not even possible.

Chase could have been called out not once but twice in my opinion…once for leaving the baseline in his side view mirror and once for interfering with an opposing player trying to make a play. Both these rules are already on the books.  Both Utley and the batter should have been called out. A double play. End of controversy.

For those who say there have been “similar” collisions at second base with no penalties I’d like to see your example of a “similar” collision.

There are ways to “bury the lead” on the base paths (without burying an opponent). You can reasonably and relatively safely disrupt a defensive player’s ability to proceed while also trying to reach a base safely.

That’s what you are taught when you learn how to play baseball.

Not what Chase Utley unleashed on Ruben Tejada Saturday night.

Some people actually want to pin some degree of blame on Tejada for having his back to Utley while also knowing he had a history with Chase. Believe me Ruben never dreamed this was coming his way.

What has happened since Tejada was carted off the field with a broken leg has been one comedy of errors after another…everything from what Chase Utley had to say about the incident…to Major League Baseball’s Joe Torre looking like the most demented Saturday Night Live character you’ve ever seen embarrassing himself further with every additional statement and interview…to Dodgers’ Manager Don Mattingly defending Chase’s actions by pointing out if a Mets player had done that to a Dodger they would be defending their guy. Thanks for that deep analysis Don.

No rule changes are needed. Enforce the rules we have.

Go ahead and enforce Utley’s suspension too…because that will help enforce enforcement going forward for both umpires and players alike.

In a game played for over a century we should use existing rules that have served us well…putting behavior modification to enforce those rules on the big screen…instead of letting these baseball Avengers create another perceived new enemy solely from excessive emotion and overreaction.

Posted in Baseball, MLB, Pro Baseball, Pro Sports, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sportsattitudes NFL Power Rankings Not At The Quarter Pole

Finishing Post

Since all NFL squads have played a quarter of their scheduled games aside from the Patriots and Titans who had last week off… and admittedly there are fans in Miami who will tell you the Dolphins took last week off as well (but I digress)…we are now at the quarter pole of the season.

Or not.

“Nobody knows what the quarter pole is. Unless the people who are said to have reached the quarter pole are standing next to an individual who has somehow determined that he or she is exactly 25 percent Polish than I’m afraid these common quarter pole references are 100 percent inaccurate. It’s a borrowed and abused horse-racing term, the quarter pole, describing an actual, physical, vertical post sometimes painted red or purple at the top, signifying the spot on the race track at which two furlongs remain before the finish line, two furlongs being a quarter mile. If there were a figurative quarter pole to the NFL season it wouldn’t be now, it would be somewhere in December.” – Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Rankings:

  1. New England – People talking about Belichick/Brady’s team-on-a-mission running the table. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s worst scenario.
  2. Green Bay – If they just had a defense to match the offense…well, we say that every year about these Packers don’t we?
  3. Denver – Flip the script from Green Bay. Peyton’s new offense is really struggling…but the Broncos defense is ferocious.
  4. Seattle – Russell Wilson may very well need to be the leading rusher but with Kam Chancellor’s return defense is stout again.
  5. Arizona – If Carson Palmer stays upright these Cardinals are going to be all right out in the land of “God’s Waiting Room.”
  6. Atlanta – The problems in Atlanta in recent years have been at running back and on defense. Consider these problems solved.
  7. Cincinnati – It doesn’t matter where I rank the Bengals because Marvin Lewis will eventually find a way to screw them up.
  8. Carolina – Cam Newton can’t keep playing all eleven positions on offense forever can he?
  9. New York Jets – I can’t explain this.
  10. New York Giants – I can’t explain this either.
  11. Pittsburgh – Defense obviously has to heal before Roethlisberger does…but the offense/special teams were the culprit last week.
  12. St. Louis – Jeff Fisher may very well save his job for another season even if he can’t save the Rams from moving out to L.A.
  13. Indianapolis – Andrew Luck has to heal quick and then stop giving the ball away at every turn. D needs to start getting turnovers.
  14. Dallas – Their ranking probably is a little bit high but I do feel a need to give so many kudos to the best M.A.S.H. unit in the NFL.
  15. Buffalo – If Rex Ryan ever, ever learns that penalties hurt your football team the Bills might very well be on to something.
  16. Oakland – Flashes of life coming from the other side of the Bay. That Golden State Warriors vibe is rubbing off on them.
  17. Minnesota – Adrian Peterson has finally answered the call. Paging Teddy Bridgewater. Purple courtesy phone.
  18. San Diego – Philip Rivers has the biggest heart of any quarterback in the game. He is worth a couple wins a year himself. They’ll need those for sure this season.
  19. Baltimore – The Ravens were gifted by Pittsburgh last week. In the next two weeks…a shot to get back to .500…best take advantage.
  20. Washington – They apparently aren’t changing either the nickname or their starting quarterback. Win over Eagles showed some grit.
  21. Philadelphia – Andy Reid could never make adjustments here. Chip Kelly better start or he’ll be elsewhere also.
  22. Kansas City –  Defense has taken a leave-of-absence and now Andy Reid needs to adjust. Uh-oh.
  23. New Orleans – They barely won a game against a banged-up Dallas and everyone thinks they’re OK? Really?
  24. Houston – Arian Foster has to heal and heal fast. If not…J.J. Watt is their best option to play quarterback.
  25. Tennessee – Marcus Mariota making Chip Kelly weep at night. Philadelphians picture him in an Eagles uni daily.
  26. Detroit – This team should not be winless. America only asks that each year the Lions are competitive on Thanksgiving Day.
  27. Jacksonville – Gus Bradley is the head coach I wanted here in Philly. I still do. I am not alone.
  28. Cleveland – I like the new uniforms. My wife does not. She still demands a logo. Honey, they’re the BROWNS.
  29. Chicago – It’s all in Jay Cutler’s hands now. (Dear God what did I just type…?)
  30. Tampa Bay – Will they ever win another game in Tampa? Note to those Saint-lovers – do you recall the Bucs beating you?
  31. Miami – Potential is the most dreaded word in sports. Miami has potential. That’s why Joe Philbin was fired this week.
  32. San Francisco – We knew it would be bad when just about everyone on last year’s team retired or relocated. It is. Bad.
Posted in Entertainment, Football, NFL, Pro Football, Pro Sports, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

The 2015 Joe Shlabotnik Award – Major League Baseball’s Bad, Worse And Worst

(Image Credit

Back in 2012 I first invoked the name here of one Joe Shlabotnik.

For the uninitiated Joe is a fictional baseball player who is Charlie Brown’s favorite.

This year I’ve decided to give out an Award to a Major League Baseball team, player, situation, etc. best reflecting the “achievements” of Joe Shlabotnik. Some of which I highlight below:

  1. Joe was demoted to the minors after hitting .004 over an entire season. The one hit was a bloop single…with his team comfortably ahead.
  2. Joe once promised to hit a homer in the bottom of the ninth. He popped out…but circled the bases anyway.
  3. Joe had a unique knack for making routine flies into spectacular catches as well as throwing out base runners…that had fallen between first and second.
  4. Joe retired as an active player and took a job managing the Waffletown Syrups. He was fired after one game for calling a squeeze play…with no one on.

Charlie Brown never has gotten to meet his hero Joe Shlabotnik. He was supposed to meet Joe at a sports banquet where kids met their idols but Joe had unfortunately marked the day, city…and even the event…incorrectly on his calendar. And when Joe was invited to a testimonial dinner for Charlie Brown…he got lost on the way there.

Every year in Major League Baseball someone or something screws up badly. Without further delay let me introduce my three finalists for the 2015 Shlabotnik…

The Philadelphia Phillies. They are on the verge of achieving 100 losses. This would be Philadelphia’s first 100-loss campaign since 1961. Keep in mind the Phils are still the ONLY franchise in American sports with more than 10,000 losses…so it is unusual they’ve only had fourteen seasons with that many defeats. They can’t even get to the century mark consistently. In any event you have a squad this season that collectively has certainly been a roster full of…Joes. Enough said.

The Washington Nationals.  An organization melting down like the candle you once left burning and almost burnt your house down. Entering the season as a favorite for the World Series your lasting image of the Nationals from this year will be their closer choking their MVP-candidate in their dugout. Interestingly the choker, closer Jonathan Papelbon, started the year with the above-mentioned star-crossed Phillies. After spending the entire season openly asking for a trade and then using the forum of a national press at the All-Star Game to completely humiliate the Phillies further (if that is even possible)…the Phillies found a taker for this human plague…the Nationals. Washington promptly demoted their effective incumbent closer Drew Storen to a set-up role…which apparently splintered their clubhouse (the Nationals were leading the NL East when Jonathan arrived)…their play plummeted and the curtain came down with Papelbon trying to strangle the life out of fan-favorite Bryce Harper because that’s just what Jonathan Papelbon does. Whatever the hell he feels like. On top of all this Manager Matt Williams inexplicably put Jonathan back in the game after his choke hold and Papelbon promptly choked away the game…to of all teams…the Phillies.

Oh. It was Fan Appreciation Day in Washington.

The Win-Or-Go-Home Wild Card Games.  There is no topic that sends me screaming into the streets like this one. I will rant about it every year until it goes away and teams deemed to have made the post-season get to play in a series…like the whole freaking sport is set up for. These one-and-done Wild Card Games…yeah, let’s play 162 over half a year and then say four teams make the post-season…then eliminate two before game programs can be printed up. The fallout from these frantic four setting up their pitching rotations and then burning through their rosters just to win one game…then leaving themselves exposed going into an actual series a day or two later? Really? I don’t want to hear how well Wild Card teams have done because then you bring forth the even bigger question of bringing more and more teams into contention. Is there true importance in those six months of regular season or not? How true a Major League Baseball champion do you desire? Baseball purists let armored trucks carrying all that TV dough responsible for these atrocities run right over them. It would be my pleasure to serve as a run-over martyr if the end result was all teams that make the post-season get to experience it for more than a few hours. I’ll gladly trade the expanded number of teams as long as they get a chance to play a series…even a best-of-three. These all-or-nothing games are absurd and their very existence is a long fly ball against the wind carrying the spirit and soul of baseball itself.

All of the candidates are truly worthy but the winner of the 2015 Shlabotnik is The Win-Or-Go-Home Wild Card Games. I don’t know if anyone or anything can ever top them…but the best of luck to all teams entering post-season play regardless.

I’ll try not to blink and miss two of ya.


Posted in Baseball, Comics, Entertainment, Family, Home, Life, Media, MLB, Peanuts, Pro Baseball, Pro Sports, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

7 Things NFL Fans Might Consider With London Calling (Including Pitch For Premier League)

As the National Football League continues to make noise about housing a full-time team in London and indeed begins another round of “road games” there this weekend…while recently becoming a Premier League fan as well…a few things come to mind if you plan to follow both. Keep in mind it is entirely possible if the NFL lands in London for keeps some of these items might become the lay of the land for fans.

  1. One thing NFL fans should look for if they locate a team in London is the NFL Players Union bargaining for getting those ultra-cool seats the Premier League players sit in during matches (games). While NFL subs are relegated to the most uncomfortable of benches these Premier reserves sit in “chairs” nicer than anything you’ll ever find in first class of Qatar Airways. If I was a sub on a Premier League team and it was late in the action…with the result not in doubt…my coaches would be prying my hands and arms off my seat to try and get me into that match.
  2. One thing all NFL fans should demand of all games in London is to have both teams…and by extension of course their Head Coaches…on the same sideline (touchline). Many a Premier League match has been livened up by the Managers physically having at it…shoving and cursing each other out in full view of a national audience. It makes for great television. My mind reels at the possibilities of potential NFL dust-ups between Head Coaches within a few feet of each other…let alone the players.
  3. One thing all NFL fans need to understand if sampling the Premier League is your bathroom timing needs to be spot-on. Americans make fun of round-ball football not having a lot of goals but it is a known fact when Americans try to take a bathroom break during Premier League play a goal will be scored. Remember the NFL has a penalty or a commercial every fifteen seconds or so and the pace…of play…is…sluggish. The Premier League requires you maintain a full bladder for at least forty-five minutes in a half…and don’t forget there’s stoppage time added on too. (I wonder if they call it stoppage time because…nah.)
  4. One thing all NFL fans will quickly recognize is our “catch” is the Premier League’s “offside.” Which is a politically correct way of saying even after all these decades of playing both sports the NFL still does not know what a catch is…and the Premier League doesn’t know what offside is. Don’t get me wrong. This makes for great, spirited conversation in bars and pubs as fans see the same play happen…yet two different verdicts are determined. You just need to be aware it is not unique for the NFL after all of these seasons to not know what one of the most basic calls in their sport should be…the Premier League alas suffers the same fate.
  5. One thing all NFL fans should harass their TV partners to provide is a studio host who knows their sport as well as NBC’s Rebecca Lowe knows hers. It’s like an extra analyst on the set when she’s managing the daily Premier League coverage. The NFL should have studio hosts who don’t insist on concentrating to appear clever while not concentrating on their cues, mangling game highlights and adding absolutely nothing to the analysis of anything. Lowe should get paid twice her salary because she not only manages the flow of the pre, mid and post-match Premier League shows but actually contributes strategy and stories effortlessly. And at that her studio analysts are former players who sound way, way more dialed-in to their sport’s strategy than the talking head former players the NFL networks trot out.
  6. One thing all NFL fans should get used to is electronic messaging along the touchlines at Premier League games. In one of the first games I saw this season it was very, very early in the morning (you do know there’s a bit of a time zone issue…) and I was still groggy. The next thing you know I’m yelling to my wife (who at that point woke up)…“there’s a deer on the pitch! (field).” Turned out it was only the electric signage surrounding the playing area and within the ad currently playing for Vitality Life Insurance was a dachshund. I swore it was a deer. These messages are very close to the action and you’ll see them changing regularly. And at eight in the morning…you might mistake a dog for a deer…for real.
  7. One thing all NFL fans should know is as quickly as we like to talk about firing our Head Coaches the fans of the Premier League jump at the opportunity even faster to sack (fire) their Managers. The NFL fan seems to rise and fall pretty hard from one week to the next but tends to give the team’s Head Coach a quarter of a season to sort things out. It seems Premier League fans are ready to remove Managers at halftime. The season in the Premier League is twice as long but the patience of the fans seems to be twice as short. The pressure to win is high in pro sports but perhaps these two Leagues lead the way in sending Head Coaches/Managers on their way.

To all NFL fans I say this…do give the Premier League a go whether or not a London franchise is a go. Their season runs into mid-May and once the Super Bowl is over you’ll likely find it habit-forming in the morning.

Just make sure you’re fully awake before watching (my wife made me put that disclaimer in…).

Posted in Barclays Premier League, Entertainment, Football, Media, NFL, Premier League, Pro Football, Pro Sports, Soccer, Sports, Television, The Premier League, TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

2015-16 Philadelphia Flyers Season Preview – Another Year Of Waiting Awaits

The new 3-on-3 overtime format being used by the NHL this upcoming season is dramatically going to reduce the number of shootouts.

My idea to reduce them would be to eliminate the damn things. I’m so old-school. I like ties. I wear them.

That old-school mentality has been challenged as well by my hometown Philadelphia Flyers as they begin preparation for the 2015-16 campaign. New Head Coach Dave Hakstol takes the reins of a team forty years removed from their last Stanley Cup. The 47-year-old Hakstol comes to Philly after a wildly successful stint as head coach at the University of North Dakota, reaching the Frozen Four in seven of his eleven years. Definitely not an old-school hire like we’re used to seeing in the NHL…a guy who has already been a HC elsewhere in the League…maybe even more than one stop at that.

Dave inherits perhaps the league’s best winger, Jakub Voracek (resigned in the summer for 8 years, $66 million) as well as star center Claude Giroux (Captain) and winger Wayne Simmonds.

But the Flyers finished 14 points outside the playoffs last year. And they have not missed a Cup run in consecutive seasons since a period of five absences from 1989 to 1994. So there is an immediate sense of urgency for Hakstol to not only prove he can make the transition to coaching pro skaters but also skate the team back into the post-season.

Philadelphia actually has missed the playoffs two of the last three seasons. What they aren’t missing is fans. One thing that may have helped Hakstol in deciding to accept the HC job here is the supportive, patient to a fault fan base (including yours truly). The Flyers have sold over 16,000 seats for each game already. Philadelphia averaged 19,271 fans per home game last year which placed them fourth overall of the thirty NHL teams.

Again…a city forty years removed from their last Stanley Cup.

Based on input from those witnessing his practices now underway…welcome to “Camp Agony.” Dave has been working the boys very hard from all reports. That shows this writer Dave Hakstol has confidence in himself and also wants to establish a culture of competition from the jump.

(Independent Sports Blogger Dubsism knows more about college hockey than anyone I know and he released a podcast on Hakstol’s hiring which discusses Dave’s prospects for success at the NHL level…he also recently interviewed me about my history with the Flyers)

General Manager Ron Hextall has of course put his own future in play by not hiring a traditional type to steer the Flyers. Several pundits look for him to make an attempt for a major trade before the season gets well underway because the current roster looks very, very much like last season’s. They went 33-31-18 a year ago and if Ron thinks the same team can best that many believe he’s mistaken. There isn’t a lot of star-level talent…and even less depth.

The defense is the weakest part of this team in my view. Lots of prospects are in camp but potential doesn’t stop pucks.  There are young bodies vying for playing time but it remains to be seen if any of them rise to the occasion.  When your best defender is 38 years of age (Mark Streit) that’s an issue.

Steve Mason is fortunately a spectacular net minder and if he stays healthy they’re going to be in many games they otherwise wouldn’t be. Mason comes off the best season of his career. Not a single NHL goaltender posted a better 5-on-5 save percentage last season than Steve.

Bottom line – I think the Flyers will have a slippery skate trying to make the playoffs.  If they do they’re out in Round One. A full year under Hakstol will hopefully make next season more memorable providing Philly also shores up two D’s between now and then…defense…and depth.

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