‘Governor’ Just Sounds Silly

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has stated that NBA team owners are now to be called team governors. Why the change? Because like everything else in 2019, the term ‘owner’ has been deemed racially insensitive. I’m not making this up. According to some NBA players, it brings up thoughts of slavery. Again, I’m not making this up. As if this league and its declining viewership needed any more middle school girl drama.

So what would happen if someone slipped up and called them owners going forward? Would they be blacklisted? Oh wait, can we still use that word? This is one of the most ridiculous attempts at placation that I’ve ever seen. They are owners; that’s all. They own the team, hence the term owner. I own a 2018 Toyota RAV4. I’m a RAV4 owner. Do you see how that works? The depths to which this country has collectively sunk is astounding. We’re a country who, in the 18th century, fought to free ourselves from British control. And now, here we are in the early 21st century, being hurt by words. It’s embarrassing.

What does this accomplish? The NBA is already full of drama queens who get into spats with other players on social media. So now the powers that be bow down every time one of them gets their butthole in a knot? It has to stop at some point. As rating continue to decline, the NBA needs to develop a plan to gain some viewers back. This isn’t it. All this does is assure the ones who left aren’t coming back. I have yet to meet anyone in real life, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity, that finds the word owner to be offensive. I also happen to think I have some fairly intelligent friends. This whole issue makes it seem like we’re being Punk’d.

The softening of America has been slowly getting worse over the last few years. I’m not going to be the old guy who says ‘these kids today couldn’t handle growing up in my time’, primarily because I don’t feel I have to. If you don’t see that, well, that’s on you. I’ll continue being who I am. That’s a win every time in my book.

This entire owner/governor fiasco makes the anti-Redskins posse look strong. That, my friends, speaks volumes. How we became a country that gets so offended by words will forever be beyond me. There is nothing you could could say to me that could offend me. Nothing at all. I know who I am; what I am. No one’s words will ever change that. If we allow this pettiness to go on, it will only get worse. So buckle up, toughen up, and take a stand for intelligence. And, dare I say it, OWN it.

The Lakers, Edwin, My Hapless Reds, and the Other Sports Stories

A lot has been going on this week in the world of sports. Some stories making major splashes, others being relegated to back pages and after thoughts. This is why we love the games; it’s why we’re glued to sports tickers and iPhones.

Anthony Davis is finally headed west to Los Angeles, just like we all knew he would eventually. The Pelicans sent him to the Lakers in exchange for a handful of players and picks, among them, Lonzo Ball. The best tweet I saw last night was from Sports Pickle stating how exciting it will be to watch Zion slam home some Lonzo bricks. As expected, pompous ass daddy Lavar Ball had to run his mouth. He issued a statement saying that the Lakers were guaranteed to never win another championship without prodigal son Lonzo on the roster. Yeah, because he brought true glory to that franchise. As someone who followed the Lakers since Wilt was playing, the Ball family’s departure from the city of angels is a true blessing. I feel I can root for them again. Once this news broke, the Lakers went from 25/1 to 7/2 in Vegas, becoming the odds on favorite to win the championship next season.

The Yankees made news yesterday as well. They got Edwin Encarnacion from the Mariners to add to their already volatile lineup. Encarnacion currently leads MLB with 21 homers. Once the Yankees get Judge and Stanton back, this team could put up double digits on any given night. And yes, I’m talking about both runs and strikeouts. Throw in Didi Gregorius who just came back and this team is suddenly scarier than they were before.

Soccer made news this week. I’ll be up front and say I never watch it, nor do I know much about it. I am, however, aware that our men’s team embarrassed themselves. We need to be better in that aspect. Meanwhile, the women’s team trounced Thailand 13-0. As one of my followers, @OhNoCoop said; “I haven’t seen Thai girls scored on this easily since Robert Kraft”. Yes, you should follow him. Unless you’re easily offended, of course.

This brings us to my Reds. The 2019 Cincinnati Reds are suddenly looking like the 2018 Reds. And the 2017 Reds. And the……..ok, you get it. David Bell is in over his head. As I mentioned in a blog the day he was hired, I’m not sure handing the reins over to a guy that never saw success in the minors is exactly a stellar decision at this level. Scooter Gennett is not going to be the savior that a lot of Reds fans are anticipating. He’s going to be a solid 2B, that’s it. Rasiel Iglesias, their closer, has 6 losses. That hurts. Move him for prospects and give the closer role to Amir Garrett. He has an ERA of 1.50 and should be headed to the All-Star Game. The team needs fixed. Now.

Back to soccer for just a second, albeit in a somewhat off the field kind of way; Megan Rapinoe should be kicked off the team for her ‘look at me’ stunt. You don’t take a knee during the National Anthem when you’re representing the country for which the song is written. Anyone with balls, from coaches to corporate America, won’t even look her way in the future. She’s dead to me; she should be dead to you as well.

I think that wraps it up. NBA draft coming up, should be fun to watch drama unfold there. The coming months will be interesting to see how the Lakers add pieces to their team. Hello Jimmy Butler? Until next time, bet wisely.

Legal Sports Betting Revisited

Since I last wrote about this topic, a few more states have taken steps towards legalized sports betting. Just last week, Pennsylvania, who already had sportsbooks up and running, did a soft launch on mobile betting. This is perfect timing for my trip to Gettysburg tomorrow. I already have the app downloaded, so I’m ready to go.

Tennessee has already voted to allow mobile gambling. They will become the first state to have mobile only, as there are no sportsbooks to place your bets. I find this intriguing and I am definitely looking forward to see how this goes. Again, good timing on my part, as I’ll be in Tennessee for my annual week long hiking trip in August. While researching all of the new options last week, I read that New Jersey (I believe) brings in 80% of their bets via mobile apps. This may be the way to go for other states that are in the process of legalizing sports betting.

Illinois has been in the news the last couple of weeks with their back and forth decisions on sports betting. It did finally pass, and from what I’ve read, it should be ready to go by the end of the year. Indiana seems to be a step ahead, as they passed it in house a month or so ago. Everything I’ve read states that it will be good to go by football season. Iowa has passed this law as well, with them launching later this year. Meanwhile, Kentucky and Ohio have taken steps backwards. Both of these states are going to see dollars leaving their respective states and crossing state lines into Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and Tennessee. This can’t possibly sit well for those in charge. For me and my buddies, Lawrenceburg, Indiana and their plethora of casinos is a short 15 minute drive away. Hellooooooo Hoosier state.

Like I’ve said in previous posts, Las Vegas will continue to be king. They aren’t getting dethroned anytime soon. What I think they’ll start to see though, is a slight decline in visitors. We passed on March Madness this season due to flight costs and the escalating cost of hotel stays in the desert. We had a good time in West Virginia for a fraction of the cost. The plan is for us to head to Las Vegas this October but, as it stands, the prices may drive us to Indiana. Either way, the country wide legalization is good for the business and, in my opinion, good for the sports themselves. Gambling garners more interest in the games, just as fantasy sports does. The average fan won’t bother watching the Arizona Cardinals play the Tennessee Titans. Throw in some vested interest and we’re tuning in. This bumps up advertising and viewership. Like the 90s alternative band Belly said…..”Feed the tree”.

I’m looking forward to see how all of this pans out over the summer. I’m especially interested to see how my state, and the states around me, move forward. Until then, always remember to bet wisely and responsibly.

5 Things I Would Change About Football

Well, I have already fixed baseball (apply sarcasm), so let’s look at football now. The NFL has been dragged through the mud on a few issues over the last few seasons. That said, most football fans have rules and other things they wish the NFL would change. I am one of those fans.

Let them play. That’s all, let the guys play the game the way they were taught. The league has become way too soft for my liking. Football is a game where I want to see people get hit hard; jar the ball loose, make them think twice next time. I get the safety aspects of this, but you can’t fully remove the dangers of the game and still have an exciting game to watch. Every single player that steps on that field understands the consequences. So let them play.

The NFL needs to fix overtime. They have made changes in recent years that are definitely improvements, but I think we still have a ways to go. Both teams should get a shot at scoring a touchdown, in my opinion. The change I would make here would be to make these teams go for the 2-pt conversion from the outset. NCAAF makes you do it on the third time around, the NFL should mandate it at the beginning of overtime. Overtime should be 15 minutes, if needed, as well.

What is a catch? Apparently no one knows. For the love of all that is holy, can we once and for all define what a catch is? For most of my life, I was pretty sure I knew. And then Calvin Johnson happened. That play prompted a clusterfuck of opinions from everyone. This includes fans, announcers, players, and even league officials. I am still, to this day, on Team Dez Caught it. I mean, he caught it. This is an area that needs to be clearly defined, and soon.

There is a certain rule in football that continues to baffle me as to how this ever became a rule. I am stunned that it still exists. If an offensive player fumbles a ball forward and it goes through the endzone or out of bounds in the endzone, then it’s a turnover. What?!? That’s ridiculous. If the defense doesn’t recover, the ball should be placed where the fumble happened. I seriously have no idea how this isn’t the actual rule. If a player fumbles on, let’s say, the 43 yard line and it goes out of bounds, the team on offense keeps the ball. How has no one simply grasped the inconsistency here?

The Super Bowl is watched by millions each year. The 2 best teams face each other for NFL dominance and bragging rights. Here’s the issue I have though; it never feels like a real football game. Halftime is extended, it is over-commercialized, and true football fans want none of it. Even the commercials suck now because humor left when the softies came in and decided to be offended by everything. So let’s do away with it. Let’s play a real football game going forward. I don’t need to see the new bimbo of the week with her boobs out lip-syncing her latest hit that will be forgotten by Valentine’s Day. I don’t need a 250 piece Dusseldorf choir coming in to sing 38 seconds of a song with her either. It’s horrible, get rid of it. Play football.

I’m sure Roger Goodell will be calling me soon to scrub the details with me, right? So what would you change? I’m sure we all have aspects of the game we want changed. Regardless, we’ll all be tuning in on Week 1 when our teams take the field. I believe we’re at about 100 days away. But who’s counting?

5 Things I Would Change About Baseball

We all have ideas as far as what we would change to make sports better. I’m going to cover each of the major 4 sports over the next few days and throw my proverbial hat into the ring. You can agree, you can disagree; and that’s fine. Neither of us is on the committee to change them anyway, but it’s interesting to get takes from other sports fans as far as rules that they feel need changed. So let’s start with baseball.

The first thing I would change in Major League Baseball would be to get rid of the Designated Hitter. I know this is a hotly contested issue. Younger fans tend to lean towards keeping it while the older fans want to get rid of it. Baseball is meant for 9 people to play the game, not 10. Even as a 9 year old, in 1973, I thought this new rule was ridiculous. My thought was that if they couldn’t play the field, then get out of baseball. I didn’t like the the fact that MLB was tampering with the purity of the game. I still stand by this belief, Ron Blomberg be damned.

We need to take the All-Star Game vote out of the hands of the fans. This popularity contest has made the Grammys look like a swell choice on a Monday night. I’ve seen players having horrible seasons starting ahead of players that deserve it much more. I believe several years ago that Jimmy Rollins started the ASG sporting a .217 average, or somewhere thereabouts. I’m not here to bash Rollins; he had a stellar career. Just making a point to one incident that stands out to me. Let the players and coaches vote on this. They are the ones that compete against them and obviously have a much better feel for the game than we do.

Let catchers block home plate again. This was one of the most sissified rules I had ever seen implemented. Just because MLB darling Buster Posey got hurt doesn’t mean that the rest of the league, and their fans, should have to suffer. I grew up watching Johnny Bench, Thurman Munson, Carlton Fisk, and several other great catchers play the game as it should be played. Their job is to keep the other team from scoring in the event of a play at the plate. Today’s soft world wants them to roll out a red carpet. Nope, not in my world.

Encourage on-field celebrations. Yeah, I’m talking about bat flips. I’m also talking about pitchers celebrating a key strikeout. Remember Brad Leslie? Nicknamed ‘The Animal’, he was very demonstrative and animated on the mound. How did fans take it? He was a fan favorite, and for good reason. Flip the bat, pump your fist, let out a primal roar if need be. Just make sure you’re showing passion on the field. This is what the fans want; it’s what they deserve. For the players that talk about unwritten rules, how about you write them down, cupcake? See if you realize how ridiculous they are. Can I cc: Chris Archer on this?

And finally, in closing…………..Pete Rose belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Period. I won’t listen to any argument that says he doesn’t. One of the greatest hitters ever, all-time hit king, and he hustled more than anyone ever has; before, since, and going forward. The man deserves to be inducted. He broke the rules as a manager, not a player. Put the player in where he belongs. Besides, he bet on his team to win, he didn’t fix games. That would be like me betting that we’ll meet all client SLAs this week. I’d be betting that I was doing my job.

So what would you change? What do you think would make the game we love a little better? I would love to hear other ideas from fans of the game. There is no right or wrong here, just opinions. The game is changing as the years pass by. I hope it doesn’t eventually morph into an unrecognizable form of the game I grew up playing and watching.

What If…………..

I saw a discussion on Twitter yesterday that posed this question: If you could go back and make 1 athlete’s career injury free, whose would it be?  Immediately dozens of players throughout all sports jumped into my mind. I think most of us would have Bo Jackson on that list. When you go back and think of it, it can become heartbreaking. These are guys that worked hard their entire lives to achieve a goal, only to have it taken away by injury.

When we watched Bo Jackson play, we knew we were seeing something truly special. To excel at that level in 2 different sports is almost unheard of. From All-Star games to Pro Bowls, this guy was living out multiple dreams. Just to make it to the NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB was a huge accomplishment. To be considered among the best; a dream come true. To be among the best at 2 of them; insane. We can only dream of the heights that Bo could’ve reached if not for a hip injury.

The more I thought of this, the more intriguing it became. I was coming up with guys that younger people today have no idea existed. And why would they? An injury derailed a career before most of them could become household names. People my age (29 again) surely remember Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych. He pitched for the Tigers in the late 70s, primarily, and burst onto the scene, not just with immense talent, but with a quirkiness that captured the nation. He would take the mound, pick up the ball, and talk to it. You read that correctly. Yasiel Puig talks to, and licks, his bat. Mark Fidrych was doing this 40 years ago. Detroit loved him, all baseball fans loved him. I actually got to see him pitch in Cincinnati in an exhibition game. I was just a kid; I was thoroughly amused by this guy. Unfortunately, injuries cut short what could have been a stellar career.

When I first started following baseball in 1970, I had just started hearing about Tony Conigliaro. The reason he was in the spotlight that year was because he had earned Comeback Player of the Year honors. In the mid 60s, Congiliaro burst onto the scene by becoming the youngest AL HR Champ in history with 32 dingers in the 1965 season. By 1967, he was the youngest to reach 100 career HRs. The world was his, the baseball world was his kingdom. In August of 1967, he took a fastball to the head that shattered his jaw and caused serious damage to his left retina. He was out of baseball for a couple seasons before claiming the Comeback Player of the Year Award. He never became the player he was before the injury though. A few years later he was force to retire. But man…….what if…

Eric Davis had a very good career, easily above average as far as baseball careers go. The reason I’m bringing him up is twofold. He is one of my favorite players ever to don a Reds uniform. Also, despite having already impressive numbers, were it not for injuries, they would have been marginally better. Watching him play was pure joy. 3X Gold Glove winner, power, speed, defense, a veritable cannon, and a game changer. In 1987, he became the first 30/50 player in history. He could very well have exceeded that though. I remember watching the game when he ate the brick wall at Wrigley while making another incredible catch. Unfortunately, this ended his season with 21 games left to play. He finished with 37 HR and 50 steals. He would have easily hit the 40/50, if not 40/60 mark. That season he also set the MLB record with 3 grand slams in 1 month. Over the next decade or so, other injuries came into play, including a bout with colon cancer. He won the 1996 Comeback Player of the Year Award, but his best days were behind him. Again………what if…………

So many more athletes have faced similar dilemmas. What are yours? What players do you wish could have avoided the injury bug? This will vary from fan to fan, of course. It’s a fun topic to discuss because we, as fans, wanted these guys to change the game, to reach new heights, to make our collective jaws hit the floor. How many homers would Conigliaro have hit? 600? 700? 800? How about Cy Young Awards racked up by Fidrych? Would Eric Davis be considered among the greatest to ever play? We’ll never know, but it’s sure as hell fun to dream about.

Biloxi: Gambling, Baseball, and Food

So, I spent last week in Biloxi for some downtime and relaxation. As most of you know, Mississippi is now a legal sports gambling state. Yes, I indulged a little bit. This was my third time to Biloxi, the first since legalized sports gambling was introduced. I did visit 3 different casino/sportsbooks and really liked what I saw. The cool thing is that Biloxi also has much more to offer. It’s definitely a place to check out.

We’ll start with the gambling, because why not? The first place I checked out was Treasure Bay. It’s not located by the bigger casinos; it sits about 3 miles west and, for now, is the only casino in the immediate vicinity. It was a 5 minute walk from my hotel. Their sportsbook is a William Hill book. Although rather small, it was nice and they offered competitive lines. It is located right next to a small bar and a cafe, which I might add had a delicious and reasonably priced breakfast. An omelette and wheat toast for $7? Why yes, I think I will. They could use more TVs though. My suggestion would be to remove some of the slots in the area and expand that way. That’s up to them though. The lunch buffet at Treasure Bay was fantastic. It offered quite a bit Deep South dishes and only cost about $12. So visit Treasure Bay if you’re nearby.

The Hard Rock Biloxi was my next casino to see. Their sportsbook is set up a lot like the one in Vegas. I’ve heard that one is going away though, or may already be gone. Anyway, it’s a nice medium sized book with ample TVs. Some of the seats even have video poker if that’s your jam. The good thing about this place is the wide variety of dining options. Everything from a buffet to a Ben and Jerry’s can be found on site. I didn’t eat there this trip, with the exception of a smoothie from B & J, but I have eaten a couple places there before. The buffet was really good when I was there a few years ago. Pie 5 is a nice, quick pizza joint. People will go to Hard Rock regardless if they’re gambling, so I’m not sure what kind of expansions, if any, the sportsbook will see.

The last one I visited proved to be the best. Beau Rivage is essentially a Vegas hotel/casino plopped right down on the beach. This place is absolutely gorgeous. It’s huge, it’s glamorous, it’s a little bit of Vegas sitting on the Gulf in Mississippi. Their sports book is the biggest of the 3 I visited, and they already have plans to expand. A bistreaux called Tap will open in July. Yes, that’s how they spelled bistro. It sits at the back of the current book and will only improve what is already a nice place to gamble and watch the games. The Beau Rivage is easily THE place to be as it stands. Having said that, I didn’t make it down to Harrah’s, IP, or the Golden Nugget. You can’t go wrong with Beau though.

The rest of Biloxi has quite a bit to offer as well. I took in a Biloxi Shuckers game one night and had a great time. MGM Park is beautiful, and the Shuckers won that night. Since I was in Biloxi 2 years ago, they have built a boardwalk. It seems to me that the city is bumping up improvements everywhere with sports gambling being an option in town. This is great news, not just for bettors, but for the city itself. I also took a tour of Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’ home. Beautiful house with a lot of history. If you’re a history buff like me, check it out. The tour takes less than an hour, definitely worth your time.

As sports gambling is being legalized across the country, it gives us bettors so many more options. From what I’ve seen in West Virginia and Mississippi, Las Vegas is still going to be king for quite a while though. There’s only one Vegas. I’ll be checking out other states as they legalize as well. Tennessee (mobile only) and Indiana are on deck. Stay tuned.