ARTIFICIAL TURF SPORTS ESSAYS ( For archived essays, scroll down to the "Classic Essays" pages). The viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of KNUS or Salem Media...but they should.
DENVER NOT A HOCKEY TOWN?...By Bill Rogan (11-26-10)
I recently read an item in the paper that questioned Denver as a hockey town, since the Colorado Avalanche no longer consistently sell out their games.
The Avs are 26th in NHL attendance out of 30 teams. They are averaging a little more than 14-thousand fans over the first 12 home games and many will tell you that number is inflated.
So, because of this Denver isn’t a hockey town? They are front runners, only selling out when the team is a Stanley Cup contender?
That is false a hundred times over.
People in Denver love the Avalanche. Hockey is huge in this state, from the NHL Avs, to DU and CC on the collegiate level, to the Eagles on the minor league level and the Thunderbirds and Rampage on the youth level, people in this state love hockey.
The reason attendance has slipped at the Pepsi Center for the Avs is simple…money. In this economy it just costs too much to go to Avalanche games. Most fans can only budget a few games a year, if that.
On Tuesday, the Avs host the Atlanta Thrashers. If you wish to attend that game, single tickets along the glass go for $216. If you want to bring along a friend, just double that to $432.
If you want rink side, not on the glass, it will cost you $145 a ticket.
Sitting in the corners will cost you $100. Don’t forget to add two dollars per ticket for the rip-off known as a convenience charge.
The cheapest seats, in the far reaches of the arena, run $25. Much more affordable, yes, but you can see the game much better sitting in your living room.
Not only are Avs ticket prices excessive but add in the cost of parking and concessions and it’s a very expensive night out. To see the Atlanta Thrashers on a Tuesday night? No thanks.
THE DUMBEST STAT IN SPORTS...By Bill Rogan (11-12-10)
Which is the most stupid stat in sports?
There are plenty of them.
But without question, the most ridiculous stat of all is quarterback ratings.
First of all, you have to be a Harvard mathematics professor to figure out how to compile quarterback ratings.
Secondly, they are meaningless and make no sense.
The other day, I started to read Mark Kiszla’s column in the Denver Post. When he started off writing that both Kyle Orton and Matt Cassel have higher quarterback ratings than Jay Cutler and that maybe Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels may know a little something about judging quarterback talent, I simply moved on to the next item of interest in the paper.
Many broadcasters and writers refer to quarterback ratings as gospel so I’m not just picking on Kiszla.
Here is why quarterback ratings are asinine and why they should be scrapped. Let’s take a quarterback that people are familiar with here in Denver. How about John Elway? Without question he is a top 10 all-time quarterback. You can make a case for him being a top one or two quarterback all-time. However, according to the all-time quarterback ratings, Brian Griese is better. Griese, the guy who replaced Elway, is the 27th best quarterback of all-time if you go by quarterback ratings. Griese has a rating of 82.7. Elway, the QB ratings say, is the 52nd best quarterback of all-time with a 79.9 rating.
The quarterback ratings indicate Tony Romo, at 95.5 is the third greatest quarterback of all-time, just behind Philip Rivers and Steve Young. So they are telling me Tony Romo is 49 spots ahead of Elway in the greatest QB discussion? For real?
Go into a bar, strike up a conversation with some football fans and drop this bomb on them. Tell them that David Garrard, Neil Lomax, Chad Pennington, Ken O’Brien and Jeff George are all better than Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham, Kenny Stabler, Terry Bradshaw and Phil Simms. Even though you have the QB ratings to back you up, you would get laughed out of the establishment, no?
To even insinuate that David Garrard is better than Johnny Unitas is reason enough to dismantle the absurd QB ratings stat.
Oh, just so you know, according to the all-time QB ratings, Jay Cutler is the 23rd greatest quarterback ever.
Quarterback ratings? That’s just crazy talk.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW…By Bill Rogan (10-1-10)
“I ain’t happy.”
Those words were uttered by Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin. Of course they were. The guy is perpetually unhappy.
This time Martin is ticked off that the Nuggets haven’t offered him a contract extension. He’s in the last year of a 93-million dollar package that will pay him 16.3 million dollars this season.
K-Mart talks about all that he has done for the team. Ok, what has he done?
He’s missed a ton of games due to micro-fracture surgery on both knees. He was disruptive to the team and disrespectful to Head Coach George Karl during a playoff series against the crappy Clippers in 2006. He was suspended for that. Playing time was more important than the team in Martin’s eyes. Yes, the Nuggets lost the series.
So what has Martin done besides give people colossal headaches? I’ll tell you. He’s done nothing. I don’t see any NBA championship banners hanging from the Pepsi Center rafters. I haven’t heard any talk of the Nuggets retiring his jersey. I don’t see or hear fans demanding the front office offer Martin a contract extension. Martin is one reason why people refer to the Nuggets as the Thuggets.
Martin is 32. He’s had multiple knee surgeries and his best days on the court are behind him. He had surgery this off-season on his left knee to repair a torn patella tendon. The Nuggets would be foolish to sign him to an extension before they knew he was healthy. Meanwhile, Martin says that the Nuggets aren’t in a hurry to give him an extension so he isn’t in a hurry to get back into the lineup. Martin will get his money whether he plays or not.
Nuggets fans will just have to wait it out. Martin and his cheery disposition will be gone from Denver following this season. Martin’s bookend idiot Carmelo will also be gone soon enough too. The Nuggets will face a rebuilding process again but they’ll be better off in the long run with those two clowns elsewhere.
FREE PASS…By Bill Rogan (9-22-10)
How many games does Dan Hawkins need to win to keep his job as head football coach at the University of Colorado?
Will Hawk be out no matter what happens this season?
These are questions that are being asked by college football fans and the media about Hawkins as he hopes to lead the Buffs into the Pac-10 and beyond next season.
The Buffs are 2-1 this season with wins over Colorado State and Hawaii and a brutal loss at Cal. Still, 2-1 is on pace to be better than the Buffaloes 3-9 campaign a year ago.
This brings me to CSU. The Rams also went 3-9 last season. After winning their first three games of the season, CSU shut it down and lost their final nine games, many in blowout fashion. This year, Colorado State is 0-3, having lost to CU by 21, Nevada by 45 and Miami-Ohio by 21.
Yet despite an embarrassing 12-game losing streak and very little competitive fire, I don’t hear a peep about the job status of CSU Head Coach Steve Fairchild.
Fairchild must love Dan Hawkins because he’s taking all the heat while the third year Rams coach skates.
The fact that there is little, if any, call for Fairchild’s job confirms my belief that nobody cares about Colorado State football. It’s a dead program.
One problem is the venue. Hughes Stadium is a boring facility that is a pain in the neck to get in and out of. Plus, it’s off campus and it’s too much of a hassle for students to get there.
The biggest problem though is the team is in disarray. The days of Sonny Lubick at the helm with Bradlee Van Pelt at quarterback seem like they were decades ago. Remember when there was talk of CSU being BCS busters, like Boise State or TCU is today?
It’s simple. People care about the CU Buffs and who the head coach is, in good times and bad. People don’t give a rats behind about the CSU Rams and their failing coach.
EGO? WHAT EGO?…By Bill Rogan (7-11-10)
Unfortunately, I’m embarrassed to say, I was unable to watch “The Decision” on television that would have told me instantly where LeBron James was going to play basketball for a ton of money the next few seasons. I apologize to LeBron and his entourage that I put my life ahead of his on Thursday. I won’t happen again. I did, thankfully, find out soon after that the Miami Heat were the lucky ones to have a player and person of LeBron’s stature join them.
It was so refreshing that this incredible human being, who calls himself “King James”, decided to bare his soul on television instead of just announcing his choice of teams via a press conference or press release. That is no way for King James to let the world know of his basketball intentions. He had to do it over television to provide the suspense and drama that his legions of adoring fans wanted.
For King James, who has stated that he wants to become a “global icon”, it was necessary to leave Cleveland. I mean, even though it is his home and where he played the first seven seasons of his career, he couldn’t stay in Ohio. Name one “global icon” from Cleveland. It was time to move on and I’m sure the peasants in Cleveland understand.
King James now takes his championship pedigree to Miami. Wait, he doesn’t have any championships. But that is only a minor detail.
Though this entire process, I feel I’ve gotten to know King James, this global icon who shopped his services around the league, as a person who is just like you and me. Only better. In a league of me first players, King James truly stands out as a team-first, egoless leader. And don’t forget, he’s not narcissistic!
King James is not my global icon, he’s not your global icon, he’s our global icon.
REPLAY ADVOCATE…By Bill Rogan (6-27-10)
I’m not the most technical guy around. My cell phone doesn’t have a camera. I hear blackberry and I think anti-oxidants. Someone mentions Tivo and it surely must be a new trendy Italian restaurant downtown.
But I am into instant-replay for sports so long I’m not the guy working the replay machines.
We’ve seen too many blown calls in sports over the years, especially recently. Well, as recently as today.
In the England-Germany World Cup game, Germany jumped out to a 2-0 lead. England came back and made it 2-1. Then a few moments after cutting their deficit in half, England scored again. Wait, the referee blew the call. Replays clearly showed that ball hit the cross bar, landed behind the goal line by three feet or so. The German net minder grabbed the ball and threw it downfield and play continued. Instead of a 2-2 tie and a new game, Germany held the lead and England gave up two second half goals as they had to bring their defense up to try and get the equalizer, a tying goal they had scored but were jobbed out of. Replay would have rectified the situation.
Football, hockey and basketball have forms of replay. Even baseball has replay on controversial home run calls. But soccer, where scoring can be at a premium, doesn’t have it? Inexcusable.
Baseball should also expand their replay rule to calls on the bases. We recently saw Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga get hosed out of a perfect game on a botched call at first base.
Do you think Galarraga and umpire Jim Joyce would have like to have had replay to correct the call. Isn’t that the objective, to get the call right. If we have replay technology then it should be used in all sports. Even if it takes a few minutes, so what. A wrong call lasts a lifetime.
Just ask Cardinals fans what they remember most about the 1985 World Series. Then ask an English soccer fan about today.
AN UNFORTUNATE EPIDEMIC…By Bill Rogan (6-18-10)
Nobody wants to get sick. Illness is something not to take lightly. That is why I feel for many people throughout the globe who have come down with World Cup Fever.
This disease, although not fatal, unless accompanied by rioting, usually does not strike American’s quite as harshly as it does the rest of the world. This is likely because of our modern medical advances and our good taste when it comes to sports.
I’ll admit I’ve been watching the World Cup for two reasons. The first reason is because when I’m here at the radio station each morning there is nothing else to do but watch it. The second reason is, well, see reason number one.
As a proud American, I do understand the rest of the world’s passion for soccer. Wait, I don’t understand it. I’m not a big fan of watching guy’s roll over several times when they get tripped up. I don’t like sitting through tie games. American’s don’t do ties well. Can’t they figure out a way to determine a winner and loser? A tie is a colossal waste of time. Why bother playing if there is no real outcome? I also don’t like watching guys kiss each other following that rare goal. But maybe that’s just me.
Another thing that irritates me about the World Cup is the announcers with British accents. What, there are no American announcers who can call the matches? Can’t they find someone with a nice, classy, soothing, New York accent to tell people that nothing is happening on the field? Excuse me, pitch.
British announcers drive me crazy. Every simple play is “brilliant” and every goal or near goal to them is “astonishing!” The only thing I have found astonishing is that I’ve been watching this stuff and that more people aren’t leaving the stadium with their vuvuzelas shoved down their throats. I cleaned that up a bit.
I will give the World Cup some thanks though. I learned the true definition of dilemma and that is which team to root for in the France-Mexico matchup? That was a tough one, but I came up with an answer. Neither.
I am of course pulling for Team USA. The biggest world calamity wouldn’t be a nuclear strike. It would be if the USA somehow won the World Cup. If you think other countries hate us now, how do you think they would feel if we actually won the World Cup? That might give me and the rest of us non-afflicted American’s World Cup fever, a fever that would last for at least three days.
DODGING A BULLET…By Bill Rogan (6-13-10)
On Friday night, sitting in the Coors Field press box with Ed Henderson and Andy Cornell, the Rockies stopped the Blue Jays 5-3 in a game shortened to 6-innings by rain.
Hendu said it was the worst conditions he's seen a game played in at Coors Field. Andy agreed. But he liked it. "Good that they're playing, just like football." I'm still working on Coach Cornell.
Anyway, Ubaldo Jimenez got the win, running his record to 12-1 although he was actually human, giving up 3 runs.
I'm sure the reason Jimenez wasn't as dominating as he has been is the weather. They shouldn't have played the game. The conditions were awful and one slip on a pitch could have had dire consequences. I'm sure Jim Tracy was holding his breath that Ubaldo didn't hurt himself.
I think back to a pitcher I faced in high school and in summer leagues named Jim Rooney from North Rockland High in New York. A left-handed pitcher, he threw gas. He hit me in the ribs one day and the black and blue mark lasted two weeks.
Rooney was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Orioles in 1981. He spent 5-seasons in the minors. The reason he never made it to the Major Leagues is because one rainy night, he slipped on the mound while throwing a pitch, hurt his arm and was never the same again.
Rooney is now a scout in the Brewers organization.
I was thinking about Jim Rooney when I was watching Ubaldo Jimenez throw in the rain on a slick mound at Coors Field Friday night.
HATING ON THE INDY 500…By Bill Rogan (5-30-10)
The worst sporting event in the world was held today, the Indianapolis 500. Is there a bigger waste of time than this race? I don’t think so.
Now, you might say the WNBA isn’t very entertaining and I would agree with you. But if forced to make a choice, I’d rather watch that non-sense than car racing.
What is the appeal of the Indy 500? Really, what is so fascinating about cars going around a big track a couple of hundred times? Ok, they’re going really fast. I get that. They’re supposed to go fast. Alright, what else is remotely intriguing about it? Well, the drivers are great athletes someone might say. I would counter with, they are driving cars. It’s mechanical. They aren’t athletes. That is like saying Chuck the forklift driver is a great athlete because he can stack giant crates.
The French Open, synchronized swimming and bocce ball are more interesting than the Indy 500. While tennis is pretty dull, there is athleticism involved. Synchronized swimming is captivating. Wait, it’s not. But at least it has women in bathing suits which is better than looking at someone in a fire retardant jumpsuit and helmet with advertising plastered all over them. Bocce ball? Well, if you can’t appreciate the strategy, skill and athleticism involved in that, then you are beyond hope.
I wouldn’t go to the Indy 500 if you gave me free tickets. I wouldn’t go if you paid me. I wouldn’t go if you said I would be escorting Marissa Miller to the event. Actually, scratch that last comment.
Bottom line, the Indianapolis 500 is a colossal bore fest. Kind of like Indianapolis itself. Car racing creates air pollution, noise pollution and is a waste of important and precious fossil fuels. Plus, what about the children? Actually, I don’t know what that means but I thought I’d throw it in there anyway.
THE SNITCH…By Bill Rogan (5-21-10)
Nobody likes a snitch, rat, turncoat, stoolie, fink, weasel or tattletale. That is why nobody likes Floyd Landis, the disgraced bike racer.
Landis won the 2006 Tour de France and was promptly stripped of his title for using performance enhancing drugs.
The world of cycling is rapt with cheaters and blood dopers. Like track and field, any accomplishment is met with skepticism. While cycling has tried to clean up the sport there will always be the cheats and those who take shortcuts to reach their goals. Like Landis.
After years of denials and more than two-million dollars spent trying to clear his name and get his 2006 Tour victory back, Landis finally admitted that he used illegal performance enhancing drugs throughout his career.
Good. It’s about time he came clean. However, he also ratted out a bunch of other cyclists who he claims cheated too, including Lance Armstrong. I guess if he was going to go down the road to oblivion he was going to take some people with him.
Did Armstrong cheat when he won his seven consecutive Tour de France titles? Who knows? I’d like to think he didn’t. He was the most tested athlete ever and not once did he turn up positive for blood doping or steroids. Not once.
Do you believe an admitted liar and cover up artist like Landis or Armstrong who denied, again, the accusations aimed at him? I tend to believe Armstrong. Landis lied to the world for four years, why all of a sudden should we believe him? He has no credibility in my eyes.
Landis is a bum plain and simple. He’s lucky he’s not in the mob. Bad things happen to people who snitch. Even so, if I were Landis I’d keep my head on a swivel.
STAY INDEPENDENT!...By Bill Rogan (5-14-10)
There has been talk about Notre Dame joining a conference in football, namely the Big 10 or the Big East.
So, the question is, should the Irish join a conference?
The answer is…NO, NO, NO NO, NO and NO!
(Wow, a rather short, focused and to the point essay!)
FOREVER A BUM…By Bill Rogan (5-7-10)
One of my favorite players ever is also one of the biggest bums ever. Despite his multitude of drug offenses, various arrests and tax evasion conviction, I always hoped Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor would get his act together. I pulled for him, even in times of trouble, because I couldn’t forget him running around the football field with reckless abandon wearing the number 56 jersey of my beloved Giants.
He was recently on the television program “Dancing With the Stars” and he’s been in commercials for a weight loss product. It seemed he finally grew up and his future looked bright.
The news of his recent arrest on charges of raping a 16-year old girl in a suburban New York hotel has made me sick, disgusted and betrayed and I’m sure millions of other people feel the same way.
He is the perfect example of a guy who could get away with anything and everything because he was a great athlete. Lawrence Taylor has gotten thousands of second chances because he’s LT, two time Super Bowl Champion, Hall of Famer, the greatest defensive player in NFL history, the man who terrorized opposing offenses and changed the way the game is played. Fair or not, that’s the way it is for untold number of athletes who get off easy for their transgressions.
Taylor is now facing more serious charges. He could get up to five years in prison for rape and solicitation. It will take a savvy lawyer and some serious smokescreens to keep Taylor out of jail. While defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, Taylor’s track record of misbehavior makes it seem that justice may be finally catching up to LT. He’s 51 years old and each year that passes his football legacy is that much further in the rear view mirror.
If he is convicted of these distasteful charges, the Giants should, once and for all, cut all ties with him. True gridiron heroes don’t behave like Lawrence Taylor. The Pro Football Hall of Fame should also kick him out. Immediately and permanently.
SHUFFLEBOARD...By Bill Rogan (4-28-10)
I’m thinking of taking up shuffleboard. Seriously. While it doesn’t look like the most exciting sport in the world, it will likely be the only sport I’ll be able to play when I’m in my eighties and rotting away at some nursing home.
I figure, if I’m destined to one day play shuffleboard, why not learn the game now so by the time I’m ready to seriously play the sport against fellow old-timers, I’ll be more than ready.
When I’m 85 I’ll be dominating the geezers who are just taking up the sport. Since a lot of wagering goes on in the highly competitive world of Shuffleboard, I plan on taking a lot of discretionary money from my fellow players. Hey, nursing homes are expensive and I’ll need to supplement my income. Plus, when they stick me on a Cruise ship, I’ll have something to do besides stare at water and contemplate jumping overboard.
Studies show most shuffleboard athletes take up the sport at the age of 80. If I begin honing my Shuffleboard skills and knowledge now, I’ll have more than a 30-year head start on most Shuffleboarders. When I’m their age I’ll be the king of Shuffleboard and the object of every female octogenarian’s desire. I’ll have a blue haired lady on each arm accompany me from the Shuffleboard arena to the dining hall, the piano room or wherever old-timers in lust go.
As a matter of fact, I started training for my Shuffleboard career this morning. I got out of bed.
SAVING A FEW SHEKELS…By Bill Rogan (4-21-10)
One of the biggest complaints people talk to me about is the price it costs to attend professional sporting events. I’m going to share some money-saving tips to help you regardless of which professional sport you are attending.
First of all, don’t buy season tickets unless you absolutely plan to go to every game. Many season ticket holders end up eating tickets for games they can’t attend.
If a game is sold out and you don’t have a ticket, remember, there is no such thing as a sold out event. Someone somewhere will be selling tickets. Wait until just before the start of the game or right when the game starts to buy a ticket from a scalper. The prices come way down because a scalper doesn’t want to end up with an unused ticket and no money.
Parking fees are exorbitant if you park relatively close to the stadium. I say park several blocks away and walk to the ballpark. That’s right, get off your fat lazy ass and walk a few blocks. You’ll save a few bucks and drop a few pounds. Public transportation is another method of saving money. No car to park.
Never go to the ballpark hungry. Eat before the game, bring a few granola bars with you and always know where the water fountains are. Teams will price gouge the hell out of you because they can. You are a captive audience and you are at their mercy if you become hungry. So, fill up before the game. Also, you can buy peanuts outside the park from vendors for a fraction of the cost than inside the park.
Plenty of people complain to me about the cost of beer at the ballpark. But, they buy it anyway. If you think the beer or anything else is overpriced, show some will power and self-control and don’t buy it. If there was a beer boycott you can bet the prices would come way down. But no, people complain yet buy anyway. Not a smart move.
Some people at baseball games like to keep score. Great, more people should do that. However, don’t buy a scorecard at the game. Another rip-off. My suggestion would be to buy your own scorebook and bring it to every game. Or, you can simply print a score sheet and the rosters of each team off the internet. Furthermore, there is no need to buy a souvenir program. You can read all you want on your team off the internet or in the newspaper. A program is just a giant advertisement with some glossy photos and lame articles. No need for it. Plus, you’ll be helping the environment by saving trees.
As for souvenir items like jerseys, t-shirts, caps and those foam number one things, don’t buy them at the stadium. If you really need to have those type items, go to Wal-Mart or some department store. You’ll get it much cheaper then you would at the stadium gift shop.
Also, kids love going to games because they can load up on junk food, play video games and get neat souvenirs. Learn the word “No.” It is okay to tell the spoiled punk to sit down and watch the game and forget about the cotton candy, soda, hot dogs and the $115 official replica team jersey. The word “No” will save you money. It’s not that you are being mean, you are being thrifty. Kids are shakedowns artists. Don’t let them get away with it.
Go to the park with the mentality that you refuse to get ripped off, stick to your guns, enjoy the game and laugh at the suckers who turn what should be a $40 night at the ballpark into a $300 night. Then take the money you save, invest it in solid growth mutual funds to help pay for your bratty kid’s college education someday. Then maybe he’ll understand that telling him “No” back then allowed you to say yes to other, more important things now.
THE NFL DRAFT…By Bill Rogan (4-16-10)
The NFL Draft will begin this Thursday night. The show is the same every year, the players just change.
Here are some of the things you can expect to witness during the draft, which again is being held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City …
Jets fans, in full green and white regalia, will boo their team’s first round pick. It doesn’t matter who it is, Jets fans will be angry with disgust. Some will have a look of shock on their faces. The Jets could draft God and their stupid fans will still boo. Repeat with Eagles fans.
The fans who attend the draft will be referred to as “draftniks.” More sophisticated observers might allude to them as “losers.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce each first round selection. You can be sure he will have to try very hard to smile. He’ll look like he’d rather be anywhere else than at the draft. After each pick, Goodell will say the next team is “on the clock.” He will then look at his watch since he’s also on the clock and won’t be working overtime.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Junior will be completely disgusted over several picks. Some team, probably the Raiders, will select a player not on Mel’s “big board” and the well-coifed one will go ballistic.
While watching the draft you will hear the word “upside” used more in hour than you do the entire rest of the year which consists of 8,736 hours. You won’t hear upside being used to describe the new guy in the cubicle at your job but it would be fun if you did.
“Hey, Dave, the new guy looks like a dope.”
“Yeah, your right Phil. But Amy in HR says he has great upside.”
Closely related to great upside is “project”. A player who gets drafted but isn’t very talented or has injury problems and won’t help the team for a couple of seasons is termed a “project.”
Where a fan might call a weak draft choice a bum, the player personnel guy who drafted him will refer to him as a project. With great upside.
Another word you will hear frequently during the draft is “measurables” as in Golden Tate has outstanding measurables.
Don’t use measurables in your office at work though. Saying, “Hey did you check out Karen in accounting? Man, she’s got some measurables,” could get you in hot water and thereby earn yourself the reputation as someone with “character issues.”
You will hear during the draft that teams might shy away from so-and-so because he has some character issues. Character issues means he’s a bad guy but highly talented. Some team will take him anyway, probably the Raiders.
Here at Artificial Turf I am surrounded by three guys who played college football in Andy Cornell, Casey Bloyer and Justin Adams. None of these guys ever appeared on Mel’s “Big Board” despite showing some positive “upside” which could have translated into them becoming a “project.” Their “measurables” were impressive but they were all probably doomed from NFL careers due to their undeniable “character issues.”
Enjoy the draft.
THE DEATH OF THE TOURNEY?…By Bill Rogan 3-28-10
The NCAA Tournament is as close to perfection in sports as we get. It would be totally perfect if the “play-in” game from Dayton was eliminated. Still, 64 teams, over 3 weeks, whittled down to two and a Monday night championship game.
The old cliché is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Well, get ready for an expanded tournament in the near future. As soon as “One Shining Moment” is played on CBS following the title game on April 5th, the TV rights for the tournament go up for bid. Billions of dollars will be at stake for the NCAA, the schools, the coaches and the players. Wait, the players will get nothing. What was I thinking.
Do you think that the broadcast outlet that wins the rights to the tournament won’t want to expand it? In the minds of broadcast executives who can’t see past their nose and dollar signs, bigger means better and translates to more money.
They don’t see the words “watered down”, “loss of interest” or “mediocrity.“ They just see dollar signs. I’m not surprised. Some of the dumbest people I’ve met are broadcasting executives in both television and radio. Those shortsighted blowhards unfortunately will be determining the future of the NCAA Tournament.
College presidents and coaches are also to blame. Despite all the talk of doing what is right for their “student-athletes”, college presidents look at division one basketball players as commodities. Dollar signs. Mercenaries. They don’t care about what is right for the athlete, they only care about money. If kids are missing a ton of class time now, how often will they see the inside of a classroom if they go the distance in a 96-team NCAA Tournament?
Coaches are just looking for job security. In an expanded tourney of 96 teams, even if they squeak in as the 93rd team in the tourney, they can say, “You can’t fire me, I made the NCAA Tournament!”
Why is a degree from an Ivy League school so prestigious? It’s because not everybody can get in to an Ivy League school. If the Harvards and Yales of the world let everyone in, like me, then the prestige and value of the Ivy League goes down. Way down. Same with the NCAA Tournament. If everyone gets in, then what is so special about it?
Correct me if I’m wrong but I haven’t heard any major clamoring for an expanded tournament by college basketball fans. Maybe I’ve just been blind to the rising public outcry for a bigger tournament field.
So what will happen when the tournament expands? As a long-time fan, broadcaster and follower of college hoops, I’ll tell you what will happen. The regular season won’t mean much, the conference tournaments will render themselves useless and the interest in the NCAA Tournament will fall dramatically. That’s what will happen. So, NCAA Tournament Committee, you have a choice. Keep the tournament as is or kill off one of the greatest sporting events in America. The possession arrow is pointing directly at you.
THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT ON CAMPUS…By Bill Rogan (3-20-10)
Hardly a day goes by when some college athlete doesn’t get in trouble with the law. Some infractions may seem innocuous like not paying a bunch of parking tickets. Others are much more serious. Serious as in felonies. It’s become an epidemic.
This past week Seton Hall basketball player Robert Mitchell, just days after being kicked off the team for the always vague “breaking of team rules” was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and weapons possession. Former Seton Hall hoopster Kelly Whitney was also charged with Mitchell after the pair allegedly robbed eight people at gunpoint. I’m not sure that Seton Hall’s Catholic teachings made an impression on these two.
At least Seton Hall got rid of the leader of the insane asylum, Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez, who was fired this week after the NIT. The Pirates lost in the first round and it didn’t help The Hall cause when forward Herb Pope was ejected for punching an opponent below the belt.
Have you read about the miscreants on the Oregon football team running wild on campus? In a take off on the distasteful “Girls Gone Wild” videos, there could be a “Ducks Gone Wild” series.
Oregon starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was suspended for the 2010 season for burglary and robbery charges. A plea bargain lowered the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. Even in the court of law the QB gets a break. While you may think a season suspension is harsh, remember, last year LeGarrette Blount was suspended for the season after a sucker punch to an opponents face after an opening game loss. That season suspension didn’t last the entire season. He was back in the lineup for the Oregon State game and for the Rose Bowl. All in all, at least eight Oregon football players have been in trouble the past couple of months. Head Coach Chip Kelly must be proud. Hey, so long he wins football games, all is well.
I'm sure you are familiar with the fine record of the Florida football team under Head Coach Urban Meyer. They sure win a lot of football games. They also pile up the arrests as 26 Gators have been arrested under Meyer's watch in the five seasons he's been in charge. I'm sure you would feel safe on campus when the football players are out and about on a Friday night.
I could go on and on but you get the point. Many college athletes, specifically in the big money sports of football and basketball, are no longer student athletes. They are mercenaries. It’s a big sham. They are on campus to do one thing and that is win football games and win basketball games. If the coaches don’t win enough games they get fired. Some schools won’t tolerate such dangerous behavior from their athletes but those schools are few and far between.
What happened to the mission statement of colleges across the nation? Isn’t it supposed to be to educate and develop young people into becoming productive and valuable members of society? Right now, as it pertains to athletics, colleges are failing miserably.
The Ivy League and Patriot League still does it right in regard to academics and athletics. Certain schools still have standards such as the Stanfords, Northwesterns, and Notre Dames of the world. But at a vast majority of schools, the athletes have taken over and are running around with very little impunity.
Right now college football and basketball programs are minor league systems for the NFL and NBA. If an athlete isn’t college material, they shouldn’t be admitted and allowed to enroll. Period. Let the pro leagues develop minor league systems for their benefit and to help keep college campuses safe from those who have no interest in garnering an education.
Something needs to be done to curtail the criminal element on college campuses. I wouldn’t want to be the college president who has to make a call to a mother or father and explain that their child was harmed by an athlete who had no business even being on a college campus.
THE UCONN MACHINE…By Bill Rogan (2-7-10)
I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of women’s basketball. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those “women shouldn’t play sports” guys. Not at all. They should play but I choose not to watch it, that’s all. There is enough basketball out there and I’d rather watch the men play as opposed to watching an inferior women’s game.
However, there is a remarkable story currently taking place in women’s basketball. That is the Connecticut women’s team that today won their 70th game in a row, tying their own record for the longest winning streak in women’s basketball. Whether or not you like women’s basketball or basketball in general, you have to appreciate and admire the greatness of the UConn women’s team.
Which team will finally knock off the Husky women or is it the Lady Huskies? Anyway, it will be compelling to see how far they can actually take this streak.
The men’s record of consecutive wins is 88 held by John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins. I don’t it is fair to compare the UConn women’s streak with the UCLA men’s streak because UCLA faced more difficult competition during their winning streak. Still, anytime a team wins 70 in a row, no matter the sport or gender it is rather impressive.
An interesting side note to the UCLA winning streak is that is was broken by Notre Dame. The longest football winning streak was the 47 game winning streak by Oklahoma , broken up by Notre Dame.
The UConn women’s team will try to set the women’s hoop record with their next game against…Notre Dame.
(Note: UConn defeated the Irish 59-44...and the streak goes on…)
A MOST DIFFICULT JOB…By Bill Rogan (3-1-10)
The toughest job in sports journalism, without question, is a beat writer covering a Major League team.
There are no off days and from mid-February through October these guys pound out story after story, day after day.
They have to deal with hundreds of personalities (good and bad or both), not just from the team they cover but the opposing teams as well. They deal with deadlines, day games, night games, doubleheaders, odd travel schedules and all sorts of inconveniences like a steady diet of press box food and cranky media relations people. If they get stuck with a bad and boring team to cover it makes for a long season. Real long.
What about the announcers? They cover the team every day. True. But radio broadcasters don't have to fill space in a newspaper. Basically, the prep work for a radio/TV announcer comes before the game. Once the game ends it's "See ya tomorrow!" The beat writer has to go into the clubhouses, grab quotes then work on the game story that he's been writing and re-writing during the game.
I always feel bad when a writer, in a 6-1 game heading into the last inning or so, has his story pretty much written. A routine game to write about, get a few quotes to spice it up and it's a relatively easy night. Then the trailing team rallies to tie it and the game goes extra innings. The first story is scrapped. The deadline is approaching. Everything changes. The broadcasters just think, "Damn, extra innings. I gotta stay a little while longer."
Baseball writers don't only write about the game either. They do feature stories, opinion pieces and whatever else the sports editor throws at them.
When do baseball writers sleep? I don't know. How much time do they spend with their families? Not much.
Would you like to be a baseball beat writer? I wouldn't. Radio announcer, yes indeed, sign me up in a heartbeat.
Have I convinced you that a baseball beat writer has the toughest job in sports journalism? If so, the next time you see a baseball beat writer schlubbing about, go up to him and give him a hug. They need it. And then they'll probably write about it.
THE SPORTS DEAD ZONE…By Bill Rogan (2-21-10)
Welcome to the sports dead zone. What is the sports dead zone? It’s the moment when the Super Bowl ends until Opening Day in baseball.
February is a horrible sports month. That’s why God made it 28 days.
Now you might say, what about the NBA? Ok, what about it? Just a bunch more meaningless games off the schedule until the playoffs. And the NBA playoffs aren’t much to talk about since the games, while maybe not completely fixed, the outcomes are certainly influenced by the league.
Well, we have college hoops. Yes we do. And the games mean very little until the NCAA tournament in March. I love the tourney and it is a great distraction until Opening Day.
The NHL? Same as the NBA except the games aren’t pre-determined. This year we miss out on a couple of weeks of the NHL for the Olympics. The Olympic hockey tournament is worthwhile. The rest of the Olympics? Not so much. Unless, like Casey Bloyer, you are a big fan of figure skating or curling. I lost my feelings for the Olympic movement years ago.
I like the fact that spring training is here but that gets me excited for all of five minutes. Ever watch a spring training game? Put it this way. Girls basketball is more exciting than exhibition baseball. Wait, it isn’t.
Bottom line, this is the worst time of year for a sports fan. The diversions of basketball and hockey are alright, better than not having them. But if you want to make the most of February and most of March, I suggest you tune out sports for a while. Spend time with the family. It’s called making deposits in the family love bank. This way you will feel less guilty when baseball season starts and you check out for next 10 months…until next February and another visit to the sports dead zone.
PAY THE MAN…By Bill Rogan (2-11-10)
Now batting for the Dodgers, shortstop, Derek Jeter.
What the f***?
How bad would that sound to Yankees fans? Even worse, now batting for the Red Sox, shortstop Derek Jeter.
Holy crap that would make me vomit and swear off baseball forever.
The worst would be if Jeter ended up with the Mets but that won't happen since the Mets have no money (thanks Bernie Madoff!) and their brain trust (Mets brain trust? Now THAT'S funny!) probably would think bringing back Rey Ordonez would present a better option than Jeter.
Why do I bring this up?
Well, as Jeter heads into spring training, he is in the final year of a 10-year $189-million dollar contract. He will make only $21-million this season, plus another winning World Series share. And then? Then he's a free-agent.
While I can't foresee Jeter playing for anyone other than the Yankees, money does talk. Plus, Jeter is getting married to Minka Kelly soon and we all know that women like to spend money. A lot of money. (Note to Jeets: Prenup my man, prenup!)
With Jeter starting a family he's going to need to increase his income. He'll have extra responsibilities and more mouths to feed. Not to mention that this could be his final contract as a player. He has to think about his retirement income, kids down the line, taking care of his parents, long-term health care worries (nursing homes ain't cheap) and all sorts of unexpected financial issues.
Basically, I'm appealing to the Yankees on Jeter's behalf. Don't let the greatest player of this generation go elsewhere. He must retire as a Yankee before sliding into the manager's chair. Don't pinch pennies when it comes to Jeter. You gave A-Rod $30-million a year. I would venture to say that Jeter is three-times more valuble to the Yankees than A-Rod who had one decent post-season for the Yankees. So, by my calculations, Jeter is worth $90 million per season. Throw in some incentive clauses, that he will of course reach, the deal should come out to $100-million per season. Since he is still in great shape and doesn't show any signs of slowing down, give him a 5-year, $450-million dollar contract with the ability to reach $500-million plus with incentives.
I think that is more than fair on the Yankees part and I truly believe that Jeter, after carefully mulling this proposition over, would take all of 20-seconds to sign. The aftermath? Jeter remains a Yankee, he'll win a few more championships, enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Yankee cap, might become the all-time hits leader and everybody is happy. Problem sovled.
It's fun to spend someone else's money isn't it?
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY!...By Bill Rogan (1-29-10)
If you are like me you are already missing college football. We are seven months away from the start of a new season. Seven long, long months.
However there are some morsels along the way that help feed our college football appetite. Spring practice of course is one of those morsels. Yes, spring ball is somewhat boring but it is college football. Always nice to know that the 4th string freshman tight end last season has bulked up and is now 3rd on the depth chart. When the spring game comes you hope that none of the players on the team you cheer for gets hurt. But feelings are mixed. Since it is basically an intrasquad scrimmage, you feel good about the winning side but not so good about the losing side.
The best day though of the college football off-season will be on Wednesday. It is the college football holiday known as National Signing Day, which in my opinion should be a federal holiday. It is when high school seniors from across the country make their college selections. When your team lands a 5-star recruit jubilation ensues. When a 5-star recruit who was considering going to your school instead signs with another team, you are deflated. During that deflation period it is perfectly alright to badmouth the other school’s program and denigrate their coach as a slimy, cheating weasel.
In past years you would have to wait until the next day to read about National Signing Day in the newspaper. Now, recruiting is a year round obsession. At least for losers, I mean, interested parties like me. You can watch National Signing Day on TV. You can pull up highlights of players on YouTube. You can read about recruits on various recruiting websites and message boards. Yes, it is truly pathetic, check that, educational for those that follow where hundreds of high school seniors decide where to play at the next level.
Of course the scouting gurus rate and rank the new crop of football players. The more 5-star and 4-star recruits the better for those rankings. But, just because your team has a great recruiting class on paper doesn’t guarantee success.
There are tons of 5-star recruits who didn’t pan out in college as anticipated. Maybe a sense of entitlement plays a part. On the flip side there have been untold numbers of 3-star players who became first round NFL draft picks. Perhaps, as a 3-star recruit they had to work harder and were more determined than the 5-star guy that everybody swooned over.
Happy National Signing Day everybody. Wait. I take that back. Happy National Signing Day but only if you cheer for Notre Dame. If you are a fan of other schools I hope your National Signing Day is a colossal disappointment. But, we truly won’t know for a couple of years anyway, will we?
A BRUTAL WAY TO MAKE A LIVING…By Bill Rogan 1-17-10
When I watch major league baseball, I admit, I’m envious. I would have love to have played in the major leagues. Making millions of dollars to do so would only be icing on the cake.
The same with the NBA. How great would it be to play basketball for a living and get paid a fortune?
Sure, a pro athlete’s career has a short shelf life, but many athletes make more in one year than most people make in a lifetime. So, I’ll take the shorter career playing sports in exchange for the huge payout.
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention football. While playing in the major leagues or NBA would be utopia, I wouldn’t want to play in the NFL. I don’t envy NFL players. As a matter of fact, I pity them.
These guys are wrecking their bodies every week for our entertainment and enjoyment. While I thank them for that, I don’t envy their post-career lives.
I’ve met and have known of many former NFL players who are hobbling around in constant pain. Some have neck pain, back pain, hip pain, leg pain, shoulder pain or all of the above. The worst though is related to the brain. So many players have suffered head trauma during their careers and post-concussion syndrome is a real and frightening part of life after the NFL. In boxing it is called pugilistic dementia or punch drunk. There are plenty of former NFL’ers who are basically punch drunk and the league doesn’t seem too concerned. The NFL only talks a good game when light is shed on the problem.
Playing in the NFL is a brutal way to make a living, a living I would want no part of. Unless I was a punter.
PASSED OVER…By Bill Rogan (1-9-10)
The Rockies have hired a new radio broadcaster. I was dismayed to learn it wasn’t Dan Karcher the long-time voice of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the AAA affiliate of the Rockies.
To me, Karcher was the no-brainer choice to succeed the splenetic Jeff Kingery in the Rockies booth. Here’s a guy who has called Sky Sox games for 20-years and has broadcast well more than 3,000 minor league games in close to 25-years of baseball play-by-play.
The first time I heard Karcher announce a game was about a decade ago. My first reaction was, “Wow, this guy is good. Real good.” My second reaction was, “Why isn’t he in a big league booth?”
I would venture to say that those of you who have heard Karcher broadcast baseball are nodding your head in agreement.
The guy the Rockies hired this past week is Jerry Schemmel, the veteran Nuggets announcer. He has one season of minor league baseball under his belt.
Schemmel may very well do a great job with the Rockies. However, broadcasting baseball is a very different animal than broadcasting basketball or any other sport. I know that first hand having spent five years broadcasting minor league baseball myself.
I'm not saying he can't do the job but there is nothing like listening to a seasoned baseball broadcaster, like Karcher, painting an accurate word picture of the action while filling in the gaps with anecdotes, personality, humor and overall geniality. I don't know if Jerry brings all that. To be honest, just about any decent broadcaster can announce basketball. Baseball? Well, there are a lot of very good announcers who are, or were, overmatched calling a baseball game and holding up through a very long season.
Karcher would be perfect in the Rockies booth and it’s a shame KOA radio and the Rockies don‘t realize that. He has seen just about every Rockies player come through the system. He’s paid his dues and would bring an incredible frame of reference to each broadcast. He is everything you want in a baseball announcer.
Part of Karcher’s problem might be that he’s not a self-promoter. Shoot, I couldn't even find a picture of him on-line to put with this essay. He just churns out quality broadcasts game after game after game and never places himself above the game or broadcast like a John Sterling.
Do the Rockies and KOA even know Karcher exists? If I was in a position of power he would on the Rockies broadcast crew. If there was no room, I’d make room. That’s how good he is.
Please don’t mistake this as an anti-Jerry Schemmel rant. It’s not. I truly hope he does great in the Rockies booth. This is more a pro-Karcher essay. Since KOA and the Rockies whiffed on Dan Karcher, again, my wish is that some major league team finally gives him a shot. He deserves it and the listeners deserve it.
IMAGE IS EVERYTHING…By Bill Rogan (1-3-10)
The NBA has an image problem. Commissioner David Stern may not agree but most everyone else would say that to be the case.
The NBA’s poor image took another hit this week when word leaked that star Washington Guard Gilbert Arenas pulled a gun on little known teammate Javaris Crittenton in the locker room before a game. Crittenton did what any self-respecting NBA player would do. He pulled a gun at Arenas. No shots were fired but the way the Wizards shoot they probably would have missed each other anyway. And imagine, Arenas is known as one of the good guys in the NBA!
The dispute allegedly began over a poker game. On a charter flight, Crittenton apparently won $25,000 from Arenas on December 19th. The story goes that Arenas had no intention of paying his debt to Crittenton and tried to intimidate his teammate by drawing a gun on him two days later in the locker room. Hey, it’s not easy to pay off a 25-grand gambling debt when you are only in the second year of a six-year, 111-million dollar contract.
The Wizards tried to keep the story in-house but eventually it leaked to the media. The NBA and the police are investigating. The NBA has a rule that firearms are banned from the locker room. Better to keep gunplay outside of NBA venues. The police have a general rule that you can’t point guns at other people’s faces.
How this pans out is anybody’s guess. Since they are NBA players I’m guessing they’ll get off easy like most pro athletes not named Plaxico Burress. A slap on the wrist is likely since the laws in this country are quite soft.
David Stern will probably hand out suspensions to Arenas and Crittenton. Hopefully lengthy suspensions. But if Stern really wants to send a message he will kick them out of the league for good. That might get the attention of the many other gun loving sociopaths that inhabit NBA rosters.
Abe Pollin is probably spinning in his grave about now. Pollin, the longtime owner of the Wizards, died in November. He changed the name of his basketball team to Wizards more than a decade ago because he deemed the previous name of his franchise to be too negative. While Wizards may be a good team nickname, the old name, Bullets, may be more appropriate.
GONE TOO SOON…By Bill Rogan (12-27-09)
Today marked the end of the Giants playing in Giants Stadium. It was their home for just 34 seasons.
I’ve seen an untold number of games in Giants Stadium and it was the best facility I’ve been in for football.
While I’m not nearly as nostalgic over Giants Stadium closing shop as I was Yankee Stadium ending it’s 85-year run, I am somewhat saddened. Mostly for the long-time fans who won’t be able to afford the trip across the parking lot to the new gargantuan, luxury boxed filled stadium. Not only will the tickets be more expensive but for the right to buy those tickets the Giants management is forcing current season ticket holders to purchase personal seat licenses. These PSL’s will help pay for the new stadium that nobody was asking for except the owners of the Giants and Jets who will share the new place. Basically, ticket holders were told, if you can’t buy PSL’s, too bad. Take it or leave it.
My feeling has always been, if owners want a new stadium, fine, build it. But don’t stick your hands in the taxpayers pockets to do so. I’m guessing a lot of the people who help build the new stadium through their tax dollars will never have the opportunity to even go to a game there.
Unfortunately, no public officials questioned why a new stadium was needed and why a perfectly good stadium will be left to face the wrecking ball.
It would have been nice to have seen a politician stand up to this blatant rip-off of his constituents. But said politician probably has a deal in place to have free season tickets on the 50-yard line of the new building.
This would have been an appropriate conversation.
Giants owner John Mara: “Sir, we need a new stadium.”
New Jersey Governor: “Why?”
Mara: “We need to maximize profits.”
NJ Governor: “What’s wrong with the current stadium?”
Mara: “Um, nothing.”
NJ Governor: “How are you going to pay for this new stadium?”
Mara: “Taxpayer dollars and personal seat licenses. And of course we’ll jack up the price of everything from tickets, to concessions and parking.”
NJ Governor: “You’ll get nothing from us. Now get out and if you don’t like it, move.”
Of course that conversation never took place and why I feel sad to see loyal Giants ticket holders cast aside like a day old newspaper.
So to the owners of the Giants and Jets, I have two words for you and they aren’t Merry Christmas.
To Giants Stadium? Good bye old friend. You, and the people who faithfully filled the seats each week, deserve better
FIVE GUYS…By Bill Rogan (12-18-09)
Which player in sports is under the most pressure? Instead of one player I’ll give you five.
They are Ryan Diem, Kyle DeVan, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Lilja and Charles Johnson.
Who are they? They are the players that comprise the offensive line of the Indianapolis Colts. Their job is simple. Protect Peyton Manning. Or else find another occupation.
How would you like to be the Colts offensive lineman who misses a block and gets Manning clobbered? Worse yet, what if he gets injured and is out for the game or season?
Quick, who is the Colts backup quarterback? Exactly.
The Colts need Manning like a fish needs water or Richard Heene needs attention. Without Manning there is no way the Colts have a shot to win the Super Bowl. With that much on the line every play the guys in charge of protecting the franchise can’t take a play off.
Give the Colts offensive line a ton of credit. Manning has thrown 33 touchdown passes so far this season, leading Indy to a 14-0 record. He has started 190 consecutive games and when was the last time you can remember when he got destroyed in the pocket?
While Manning is durable, a lot of the credit has to go to the guys up front. So while we all can applaud the Colts offensive line, they can’t take a bow and accept the accolades. Because if they let up, even for one play, that could be the end of their meal ticket.
So while a field goal kicker with the game on the line faces a lot of pressure and the same can be said of a receiver looking to grab that key third down conversion, the most pressure in football rests squarely on the shoulders of Diem, DeVan, Saturday, Lilja and Johnson, the Colts offensive line. And as long as they keep Manning upright, to me, they are the best O-line in football.
By the way, Curtis Painter is the Colts backup quarterback.
THE BEST BARGAIN IN SPORTS TODAY…By Bill Rogan (12-15-09)
“It’s too expensive to go to games.”
“Parking is a rip-off.”
“The players make too much money.”
“The food prices are outrageous.”
People complain to me all the time about the expense associated with attending a professional or major collegiate sporting event. I agree, the cost of going to a professional sporting event can be prohibitive for many people. I can’t blame the teams for charging high prices. After all, they have to pay their millionaire employees somehow.
There is an alternative though. High school athletics.
High school sports is fan friendly. The cost of a football or basketball ticket is so small that you all you have to do is skip one happy meal and you have enough to pay admission. Some high school sports don’t even charge admission. When you are at a high school event, you won’t be stuck in the upper deck miles away from the action.
At a professional event, the players are jaded. They are used to playing in front of huge crowds and quite frankly, pro athletes get tired of fans hounding them for autographs and pictures. For many pro athletes, fans are a nuisance.
Kids who participate in high school sports are more than thrilled when people come to see them play. I remember a few years ago watching a high school baseball game. A kid made difficult catch near the third base railing. At the end of the inning, as he was coming off the field, I yelled, “Nice catch!” The kid smiled and said, “Thanks,” back to me. I don’t know if the third baseman would have even heard me or responded had I yelled that at a major league game.
At professional sporting events you sometimes are at the mercy of those around you. While most of the time people are civil, there is the chance you will get stuck sitting near a loudmouth drunk. There are no drunks at high school games because alcohol isn’t sold at those events. If someone shows up drunk, they will be asked to leave.
While I love sports on all levels, professional sports or big time college athletics can be a headache. The cost, the traffic, the late starting times because of TV and the general fan unruliness at times can make it a less than pleasant experience.
Go to a high school game. It’s certainly affordable. The players are truly playing for the love of the game. The kid sinking the winning shot or getting the winning hit could even live in your neighborhood. Some of the high school athletes you witness might even go on to play in college or the pros. You could say, “I remember that kid back in the day.” High school athletes will be glad you attended. And so will you. Make it a point to support high school athletics. The best bargain in sports today.
TIGER...By Bill Rogan (12-13-09)
Jack Nicklaus said it best when asked to weigh in on the Tiger Woods situation. The Golden Bear said, "It's none of my business."
He was right, it is none of our business.
The reason I bring this up is because everyone seems eager to share their opinions, including PGA golfers Ben Crane and Charles Wrenn who ripped Tiger to shreds. For some it is easier to criticize Woods than to beat him on the golf course. Some people are taking great pleasure in seeing the best golfer in the world humiliated, going from icon to punchline.
We all know that Tigers messed up and we have to feel for his wife and family. Tiger is going to have to deal with the consequences of his actions.
Every day a new skanky whore seems to come forward with allegations of being with Tiger. The salacious details are not only sickening but tiresome. It would be nice if this story went away just like Tiger has. He's gone underground and will take time off from golf which is probably one of the few smart things he's done lately.
Tiger isn't the person he's been portrayed to be and he's trying to get his life back in order. I wish him well but guess what? I don't care.
I feel the same as Jack Nicklaus. It's none of my business.
FANS…By Bill Rogan (12-4-09)
No matter what your situation is, there is always somebody in a worse off situation. I thought of this recently when I was moaning about the New York Football Giants. After getting clobbered on Thanksgiving by the Broncos, I was lamenting the fact that the Giants season is spiraling out of control and they probably won’t make the playoffs. A friend of mine said, “At least you aren’t a Lions fan.”
I thought about it and I felt bad for feeling bad about my football team. The Giants won the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. If I was a Lions fan I’d be reveling in their one playoff win in the past 52 years.
As a sports fan, my teams have had pretty good success over my lifetime. For a while I felt I was a long suffering Yankees fan. I felt kinship with Cubs fans with the Yankees World Series championship drought dating back to 2000. Then the Yanks won the Series this year and the jinx was over. But if I analyze it, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 101-years. An eight year drought doesn’t seem so bad by comparison.
While I feel disappointment when my teams lose, I have to admit I’ve gotten enjoyment from my teams too.
What enjoyment is there in being a Clippers fan? A Nets fan? Try being a Maple Leafs fan. Actually don’t, it doesn’t appear to be pleasant. What about a fan of the Pirates? They have to be a pretty depressed group with 17-consecutive losing seasons and counting.
While I admire the loyalty of fans who stick with woebegone franchises I do question their sanity.
Since players can become free agents, why not fans? If a fan isn’t getting satisfaction from their team, why can’t they become free-agent fans and find a team that meets their emotional needs? Athletes show very little loyalty, why not fans?
As for me, I’ll stick with my teams for a while longer. But let me put the Giants, Notre Dame and the New York Rangers on notice. I want to see some W’s and I want to have some championship hope. Otherwise I might be a free-agent fan and look to jump on the bandwagon of a winner. You keep losing, I’ll start looking.
TWO YARDS…By Bill Rogan (11-18-09)
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick continues to take heat for his decision Sunday night to go for a first down on 4th and 2 at his own 28-yard line with a little more than two minutes to go against the Colts.
Many people are calling it a boneheaded move. I’m not one of them.
Belichick went for it because he thought his team would convert. I don’t even have to talk to him to know that he was thinking, “We can make two yards. When we do we win the game.” Belichick’s quarterback is Tom Brady. Not Jamarcus Russell. Not Derek Anderson. Not Mark Sanchez. Tom Brady. There are only a handful of quarterbacks I would trust in that situation and Brady is one of them
Belichick also didn’t want Peyton Manning to get hold of the ball one last time. In case you hadn’t noticed, Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL; he’s having a tremendous season and was cooking in the 4th quarter.
The Patriots 4th down play didn’t work, the Colts, starting from the Pats 29-yard line scored a few plays later to win 35-34 and Belichick was the goat.
If I’m a Patriots fan I don’t mind one bit that Mr. Smiley went for it. It’s unorthodox for sure but sometimes you have to be different to be better than the rest. Belichick has three Super Bowl titles as a head coach. There are plenty of orthodox coaches who would have punted the ball away in that situation. They don’t have 3 Super Bowl rings. Plus, there is no guarantee that they would have won the game anyway.
Credit Belichick for doing something different, something daring and something that he thought would win the game for his team. All he needed was two yards.
GOOD SEATS STILL AVAILABLE...By Bill Rogan (11-12-09)
I enjoy watching NBA highlights each night on television. Who doesn’t like to watch great plays by world class athletes? But the main reason I like the highlights is because I can’t take watching the games anymore. Watching the highlight shows is basically cutting out the fat.
There are a lot of problems with the NBA, maybe more so this season than ever. I’m not exactly sure what it is but when I watch those highlights on SportsCenter I see a multitude of empty seats. Not just empty seats in the upper reaches of the arena but empty seats near the court, seats that used to always be occupied. This leads me to believe I’m not the only one who is tired of the NBA.
Commissioner David Stern has to be worried. The integrity of the game is questioned by just about everybody I speak to. It seems an awful lot of people think the games are fixed by the officials and that the league has certain teams it wants to win and star players they want to protect.
A new book, “Blowing the Whistle” by disgraced referee Tim Donaghy paints a pretty frightening picture as far as the NBA is concerned. The book, which has not yet been published due to liability concerns, discusses how NBA games have been influenced by gambling and fraud. In the excerpts I have read, Donaghy goes into great detail on how he would gamble on NBA games and influence the outcome.
Add the high cost of attending games, the general dislike many have for some of the game’s so-called stars and the lack of team play and it is little wonder why the NBA is playing in half-full arenas.
I can’t help but notice the empty seats and I’m guessing David Stern is noticing it too. Is he going to fix the problem or is he going to order the TV cameras not to pan the crowd?
DENVER WINS!...By Bill Rogan (11-6-09)
If you are a fan of Denver sports you are pretty happy right now. The Broncos stand 6-1 heading into their Monday nighter with the Steelers when many people thought they could very well be 1-6. Anyone complaining about Josh McDaniels now?
The Nuggets are off to a blazing start led by a focused and dedicated Carmelo Anthony who is averaging more than 30-points per game for a team that went to the Western Conference Finals last spring.
The Avs are the surprise team of the NHL under new Head Coach Joe Sacco, new General Manager Greg Sherman and new netminder Craig Anderson. The Avs are faster and younger with plenty of hunger and desire.
The Rockies are sitting at home after a season that looked lost at the beginning but ended with a wild card playoff appearance under skipper Jim Tracy. More importantly, there is hope for the future. That’s all a fan can really ask for isn’t it? A chance to win.
What a difference a year makes. A year ago at this time, the Broncos were 4-4 and heading for another non-playoff season after collapsing down the stretch, a collapse that cost Mike Shanahan his job.
The Nuggets were considered underachievers with a front office that didn’t know what they were doing when they traded Marcus Camby away for basically nothing. A team that was coming off another playoff flop with a petulant star always on the verge of an off the court incident.
The Avs were arguably the worst team in the NHL at the conclusion of last season. Joe Sakic retired in the off-season, head Coach Tony Granato was fired and there was little reason for optimism in Avalancheland heading into the new campaign.
The Rockies of 2008 made the run to the World Series in 2007 seem like a dream. Did this bunch of stiffs actually win the National League Pennant in 2007? Season ticket holders dropped off like rats deserting a sinking ship and who could blame them. Their best hitter, Matt Holliday was traded away for Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street. How did that work out by the way?
In sports, and in life, it seems there is always another day to look forward to, another season, another year. If things seem bleak they can always change in a hurry as evidenced by the local professional sports teams. It’s a cliché but it’s true, it’s always darkest before the dawn.
So if you are a fan of the Denver pro sports franchises, enjoy it, ride it out and see how long it lasts. Because it won’t last forever.
MY FAVORITE OWNER...By Bill Rogan (10-28-09)
The news that fans of the Washington Redskins have revolted against owner Daniel Snyder is one of the most upsetting things I’ve heard of in a while. Snyder is my favorite owner in the NFL and for the Washington fans to turn on him is shameful. Where is the appreciation for his accomplishments as owner of this once proud franchise?
Look at what Snyder has done since he became owner of the Skins in 1999. He has guided the team to a 78-89 record and has done so with numerous free-agent signing busts. He has jacked up ticket prices, charged fans extra for tailgating in the stadium parking lots and he has his henchmen gather up and destroy any banners fans bring into the stadium that portray him or the team in a negative light. Then he has those people thrown out of the stadium.
And the fans turn on him for that? What about the championships he’s delivered? Ok, he hasn’t delivered any championships. What about the exciting brand of football that is offered up by the Skins on a weekly basis? Ok, the Redskins are as boring as your first period calculus teacher. What do you expect of a team quarterbacked by Jason Campbell?
At least Snyder has made good coaching hiring’s. Wait, he hasn’t. He tried to turn back the clock and brought in a washed up Joe Gibbs. How did that work out? He went the rookie coach route with Jim Zorn? How’s that working out? At least Steve Spurrier was wildly successful in his two years prior to Gibbs. That’s if you consider a 12-20 record wildly successful.
Overall the Redskins have been and currently are a mess under Danny Snyder. He’s an egomaniacal, impetuous doofus and while he seems to have the Midas touch as far as making money he’s completely inept at running a football team.
So you may wonder why the hell Danny Snyder is my favorite owner in the NFL. Simple. I’m a Giants fan.
TIME TO GET MAD…By Bill Rogan (10-23-09)
The senseless murder of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard is appalling and frightening.
Last Sunday morning, just hours after a UConn win over Louisville, Howard was stabbed to death after a school-sanctioned dance.
Who knows what happened in those early morning hours that would prompt someone to stab another human being in the stomach. There is no place in a civilized society for that type of behavior. I don’t know what went down but nothing would justify stabbing someone unless it was in self-defense and that, according to reports, was not the case here.
Was it someone jealous of an athlete? Were words exchanged? Mistaken identity? Who knows but the outcome should have been avoided.
The police have made an arrest in the case. However they say that person has not been charged with killing Howard.
It is also very disturbing that witnesses to the crime are being threatened with violence should they cooperate with the authorities. The threats are being made on internet postings. Witness intimidation is nothing new but if people have information they need to alert the police. We, as a society, can’t let the thugs and gangsters of world, get away with such dangerous and reckless behavior.
When these cretins are caught, they need to suffer the consequences. We also need to make the laws tougher. I’m sick and tired of the paltry punishments these type of low-life’s are given. They go to prison for a stretch, which for many of these morons is a badge of honor, get out and continue to destroy lives and communities.
Too often people are losing their lives for no good reason and its not just athletes. Everyone is in danger because these punks and cowards think they are big shots because they carry a knife or a gun.
The brutal stabbing of Jasper Howard, a good guy by all accounts, not only took his life but took out a part of every honorable and compassionate human being.
THE NCAA REEKS...By Bill Rogan (10-8-09)
The NCAA has flexed its muscles again and this time Dez Bryant is the one body slammed to the ground.
The moral do-gooders at the NCAA have found it important to rule the Oklahoma State wide receiver ineligible because he lied to them about visiting with Deion Sanders, who has no connection to Oklahoma State.
Bryant, a sure first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, shouldn’t have lied to NCAA investigators. But why should the NCAA care if Bryant met with and worked out with a former college and NFL player? Unless they had strong suspicions that Bryant was receiving illegal benefits from Sanders they had no business to question him. If there were real rules violations, such as money or a car being given to Bryant then the NCAA should reveal that.
I’m guessing that Bryant wanted to pick Sanders brain about the NFL and preparing for the combine and draft. Things of that nature. Hopefully he wasn’t talking to Sanders about his broadcasting career.
If a pre-med student meets with a successful doctor to learn about the industry that student doesn’t get suspended. If a physical education major talks to a gym teacher about that profession they don’t get penalized. So why should a football major, and face it, guys like Bryant are football majors, be ruled ineligible for meeting with someone in his future profession.
Instead of lying to the NCAA, Bryant should have told them it’s none of their business who he associates with. To the best of my knowledge, Sanders is not a gambler or an agent.
Meanwhile, Reggie Bush and his family were living in a mansion provided by an agent when he played at Southern Cal. The NCAA has done nothing but look the other way in that case? Why is that? I’m guessing that high profile Southern Cal is a big moneymaker for the NCAA and it would look bad to punish them. However, it’s alright to come down on a kid from a school in tiny Stillwater, Oklahoma.
As far as accepting money, the NCAA has no problem cashing in on athletes when they sell jerseys with a players number on it or video games with an athletes likeness. That’s fine but an athlete can’t meet with a former NFL player? That makes sense doesn’t it?
The NCAA should be ashamed of themselves for selective rules enforcement. But they won’t be.
NOT SO BAD AFTERALL! … By Bill Rogan (10-4-09)
Who is this guy? What, he’s 32 years old (now 33)? Are you kidding me, he wants to get rid of Cutler? Marshall wants out now?
This guy is a Bill Belichick wannabe with a bad hoodie too boot.
He’s too young, too green and he can’t replace Shanahan.
Well Broncos fans, how do you like Josh McDaniels now after a 17-10 win over the Cowboys today and a 4-0 start.
I’ll admit, I was skeptical about the McDaniels hiring. There is no question there was some turmoil and upheaval at Dove Valley.
One thing was certain and that was McDaniels was in charge. The new sheriff in town was going to sink or swim on his own. Right now he’s swimming like Michael Phelps minus the bong.
Could it all unravel by the time the season ends? Of course it could. Plenty of teams over the years have gotten off to blazing starts but flamed out.
However, I have a feeling that won’t be the case with this edition of the Broncos. I get the sense that there is no country club feeling and this team will make up for any deficiencies with intense desire and playing until the final whistle. Now, I’m not saying playoffs just yet but I am saying this team will be competitive. I get the feeling McDaniels won’t accept anything less.
The schedule is a killer for the next nine games including next week when McDaniels looks across the field and sees a head coach with a ragged hoodie named Belichick. Student versus teacher. Don’t be surprised if the student comes out ahead. Even if the Broncos lose I’m guessing it will be close. If the Broncos win, then the entire town will raise a toast to the kid coach. Even those who hated the change from Shanahan.
FIXING THE OFFICIATING MESS…By Bill Rogan (9-20-09)
Let’s face facts. College football officiating is horrible. I don’t say this to be mean. I say it because it needs to be rectified. With so much riding on every game, too many calls are being missed.
I got an e-mail from a listener who believes making officials full-time employees is the answer.
While it sounds good, it would be impractical. How much would you pay them and where would the money come from? Most officials make a good living away from the game and I’m sure wouldn’t take a pay cut to become a full-time college football ref.
Here are some solutions for better officiating.
First of all, each official should be in tip-top shape. I’m not expecting a 57-year old official to be in the same condition as the athletes they are on the field with. But they need to be in the best possible shape for their age. Too many officials are out of shape and when the body is tired the brain makes mistakes.
If I were in charge, there would be week long “Officials Boot Camps.” At these camps, the rules would be pounded into their heads, there would be physical conditioning, film study and even an ethics class. While I’d like to think that every official is on the up and up, there are times when that is questioned by rabid college football fans.
There are so many college football games each weekend that the officials talent pool is too spread out. We need to improve the caliber of officials for the good of the game and the sanity of the coaches and fans.
HERE COME THE IRISH...By Bill Rogan (8-27-09)
We are just days away from the start of another college football season. Many people may claim that the season starts on Thursday when a handful of games will be played including the attractive Oregon at Boise State game.
However, for me and any rational college football fan, although I don’t believe there such a thing as a rational college football fan, the true start of the new season is when Notre Dame tees it up Saturday afternoon at South Bend.
I’ve somehow been accused of being one of those irrational college football fans and I would have to credit my dad for that.
My dad passed his love of college football on to me at a young age and better yet he passed his love of Notre Dame on to me.
As a kid, Notre Dame was only on TV three times a year. Thank goodness they are on the tube every week now. Anyway, those few times the Irish were on TV were blackmail days for my dad. He told me if I didn’t do yard work I would not be allowed to watch the game. Looking back, my dad loved watching Notre Dame games with me and I’d like to think he would have let me watch the Irish even if I didn’t rake leaves all morning. But at the time I didn’t want to chance it. You never saw a kid so enthusiastically rake leaves and put them in bags as me when the Irish were going to be on TV.
On days the Irish weren’t on TV, I was less than excited to help out in the yard. Who cares that Ohio State and Michigan State was the featured TV game? I was only interested in Notre Dame.
As this season is set to kick off, I often think back to the times I watched college football with my dad. I remember raking leaves then getting cleaned up, eating lunch and then watching the game. Halftime was reserved for going outside on the leaf-free lawn and throwing the football around. Then back inside for the second half.
I miss those days. All of it. Except the yard work part. So to all of you college football fans out there, enjoy the season. Especially my fellow fans of the Fighting Irish.
SO, IT’S OK TO BEAT WOMEN?...By Bill Rogan (8-20-09)
Michael Vick, celebrated dog torturer, has a job with the Eagles and a multi-million dollar contract. While I was hoping no team would sign Vick, I realize the NFL and professional sports in general, is all about winning. There will always be some morally bankrupt team that will sign a miscreant if they think it will help them win. If Charles Manson got out of prison and could run a 4.3 forty or throw a ball 95-miles per hour, he would get signed by some professional team.
But while many people are outraged at the Eagles bringing Vick aboard people don’t seem to mind cheering for the many athletes who abuse women.
Domestic violence among NFL players is alarmingly high. It just isn’t an isolated incident or two. It is an epidemic. While the NFL season is basically five months out of the year, to many players it’s always open season on battering women.
According to Doctor Richard Lapchick, a professor at the University of Central Florida , there are approximately 100 cases per year of domestic violence acts by college and professional athletes. The study also claimed that many assaults against women go unreported for various reasons.
Speaking of Central Florida , that is the school that Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall attended. Marshall was just acquitted on battery charges against his girlfriend in Atlanta. Maybe he was innocent. But anyone with half a brain would realize from his checkered past that he’s hardly an angel when it comes to dealing with females.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has been suspending players who have been convicted of domestic violence and that is a start. But the suspensions need to be longer and the public outcry against women abusers needs to be louder.
I’m glad the public is outraged at the Vick signing. I’d like the public to be more outraged at teams that pander to those who beat on women.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW...By Bill Rogan (8-12-09)
It’s official. I am sick and tired of so-called college football aficionados criticizing Notre Dame’s upcoming football schedule.
Taking a closer look at ND's schedule, it appears that Michigan and Washington will be bad. But Notre Dame can't help that their programs have fallen on hard times.
When the schedule was made several years ago, who knew that Michigan would be coming off a 3-9 season and Washington an 0-12 campaign under program killer Ty Willingham? No one knew. However, they are typically strong programs with a history of success so you can't fault Notre Dame for scheduling them.
Furthermore, Notre Dame has never played a 1-AA team which is routine for many schools for their out of conference games.
Let’s examine Nebraska for example. They play, at home, Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette. When they scheduled those games they knew that they were crappy teams in a lackluster conference and would be automatic wins. That is disgraceful. Are the Hucksters trying to win the Sun Belt conference?
The Irish gets bashed for playing Navy every year. Forget the history and reasoning behind it for a moment. Navy has been a formidable team for a while now and can give teams fits with their offense and intense desire. Navy plays Ohio State this year. Does OSU get criticized for that? No, and they shouldn't.
I don't mind a team scheduling a cupcake team as a tune up. But to intentionally load up on easy, non-competitive teams is a sham. Florida plays Charleston Southern, Troy and Florida International this year. Come on. And Notre Dame gets ripped to pieces for playing Nevada, a team that has made 4 straight bowl appearances? Granted, minor bowls, but they do have a recent history of moderate success.
Yet the SEC teams, whose fans think they are all ranked in the Top 12, play shank teams out of conference and some in-conference patsies, get a free pass.
I'm sick and tired of hearing these idiot fans, who know nothing about college football, chirp about ND's so-called easy schedule yet the gutless teams, like Penn State, Alabama and Oklahoma State get a free pass for their cowardly out of conference slate.
Notre Dame is going to have a good team this year. People who hate the Irish need something to harp on. When Notre Dame has a successful season they can fall back on the lame “weak schedule” argument. That’s an argument that holds little weight especially when compared to the schedules of other BCS schools.
REMEMBERING “THE GERM”…By Bill Rogan (8-2-09)
Fans of every team experience wonderful moments that they’ll remember forever. They also experience low moments that they would like to forget.
There have been many painful moments in my life as a fan, most of those moments being heartbreaking losses. My philosophy has been there’s always another game or another season to look forward to.
The worst moment though that I’ve ever been through as a fan took place 30-years ago today. That was the day Yankees catcher and Captain Thurman Munson died in a plane crash in Ohio . He became a pilot so he could spend off days with his family.
Munson was one of my all-time favorite players. He was clutch, he was tough and he was everything you wanted out of your catcher.
My friends and I would call him “Thurm the Germ,” because he was poison to the other team.
In the decade of the 70’s, the two best catchers were, in order, Johnny Bench and Thurman Munson. Don’t even think Carlton Fisk. One of the reasons I always hated Fisk was because of his rivalry with Munson. Fisk is in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so, but mainly based on his longevity. Munson, who in my estimation was a Hall of Fame type catcher, didn’t have that longevity to build his stats.
Munson was the American League MVP in 1976 as he led the Yankees to their first World Series in 12 seasons. That summer, while attending some Yankees games in Baltimore , I saw Munson in the lobby of the Lord Baltimore Hotel. He signed a program and I shook his hand. That was the only personal contact I had with one of my baseball heroes.
I was sitting on a raft in a pool the day Munson died. It was a humid and overcast in New York and the Yanks had an off day. My Uncle Bobby walked up to the pool and told me that Thurman had died in a plane crash. Stunned, shocked and saddened doesn’t even begin to explain my emotions. I couldn’t eat for three days. It was as if a family member died.
My other baseball hero, Bobby Murcer, gave the eulogy at Munson’s funeral four days later. That night at Yankee Stadium, before a national TV audience, Murcer knocked in all 5 runs in an emotional 5-4 win over the Orioles. Murcer gave the bat to Munson’s wife Diana.
It is hard to believe that 30-years have passed since Thurman died. Easily the saddest day of my life as a fan.
CORNELL AT COORS...By Bill Rogan (7-24-09)
So I’m sitting in the Coors Field press box before the Diamondbacks-Rockies game on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Denver .
I check my phone and see a text message. From Andy Cornell. It read, “Are you here? I’m outside with Brayden getting tickets with the peons.”
Could it be? Andy Cornell actually purchasing baseball tickets? Taking his son to a baseball game?
For years the only thing Andy discussed about baseball was how boring it was and how un-athletic the players were.
I’ve dragged him kicking and screaming to several Opening Days in a row at Coors Field. Of course he went for free with a media credential. “It’s not for the baseball,” Andy would say. “It’s for the free drinks and popcorn.”
But a strange thing has happened recently. I can’t point to a watershed moment but this is undeniable: Coach Cornell has become...are you sitting down...an avid baseball fan.
Avid doesn’t exactly mean knowledgeable but he’s getting there.
Just this past week, Cornell has initiated conversations with me about Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, witnessing baseball history with Todd Helton’s 500th career double, the Yankees winning streak and his guy Dexter Fowler, the rookie whom Andy proclaimed on Opening Day this year was a “future Hall of Famer.” If Fowler does in fact become a Hall of Famer in 20 or so years we’ll never hear the end of it from Cornell.
How do I know Andy has baseball fever? Not only did I see him looking over a Rockies schedule to see which games he could attend, he even wants to come to see one of my over 35-baseball league games. I think he is secretly scouting the league because he wants to play in it in five years.
Irma Thumim, with the Rockies media relations department, sent me an e-mail saying “good job” in converting Andy into a baseball fan.
Well, I can’t take all the credit. The game is so great, so wonderful and so compelling that it was only a matter of time until even Andy, who spent most of his life wearing a football helmet, realized it.
So while I don’t think baseball will ever surpass football as Coach Cornell’s favorite sport, I’m glad baseball is now high on his list.
Yes, Andy Cornell, baseball fan. The only thing stranger than that would be writing an essay on Casey Bloyer, soccer fan. Dexter Fowler has a better chance of making the Hall of Fame than that happening.
GOLFERS...By Bill Rogan (7-19-09)
Can we finally get off the golfers are big-time athletes bandwagon? Sure they are athletes but the athleticism needed is minimal compared to other sports.
Tom Watson had a tremendous run at the British Open before losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink. Watson is 59. If he played a sport in which true athleticism was necessary he wouldn’t even have been participating.
How many 59-year old football, basketball, baseball or hockey players do you see out there?
Many people like to talk about Tiger Woods being a great athlete, maybe the best athlete in the world. This great athlete didn’t make the cut but a 59-year old did.
Is Tiger and other top golfers’ great athletes? Well, we know about the incredible skill they have in hitting a golf ball but we don’t know about their athleticism. Woods may very well be a great athlete but until we see him run, jump, throw, hit an object that’s moving be it a ball or a human, we really don’t know do we?
So while it is nice that a guy in his 50’s can compete in golf let’s end all the talk about golfers being great athletes. Skill yes, athleticism no.
Next week we’ll discuss the incredible athleticism of bowlers and the lack of athleticism in race car drivers.
LENNY...By Bill Rogan (7-9-09)
“He’s one of the great ones in this business.”
That’s how Jim Cramer, of CNBC’s Mad Money, described former Major Leaguer Lenny Dykstra and his transition from ballplayer to financial guru.
When I first heard that Dykstra was a wealthy investor and had become a Wall Street genius my first thought was, Lenny Dykstra? The philistine, tobacco chewing outfielder who played for the Mets and Phillies and who once lost 78-thousand dollars in a poker game in Mississippi? That Lenny Dykstra?
The same guy who was put on probation by then commissioner Fay Vincent for his gambling activities and shady associates? That Lenny Dykstra?
The Lenny Dykstra who was named in the Mitchell Report as a steroid user? That Lenny Dykstra?
Seems after his 12-year playing career in which he made more than 36-million dollars, Lenny opened up some car washes in California that he eventually sold for more than 50-million. It was easy street from here on out for Dykstra. Good for Lenny.
But Lenny wanted more. He started several more business ventures and began to burn through money like Joey Chestnut wolfs down hotdogs.
In time, the man they called Nails as a player, was the target of 20 or so lawsuits from people claiming Lenny conned and stiffed them. That would include family members. His wife also left him.
This past week, the bloated, arrogant, washed up ballplayer who said in April his net worth was 60-million, filed for bankruptcy protection. He has assets listed at 50-thousand and debt between 10 and 50-million dollars.
Even Latrell Sprewell and Mike Tyson are shaking their heads at the mess that has become of the former ballplayer. No more private jets, mansions or Maybachs for Lenny.
The current version of Lenny Dykstra? Now that’s the Lenny I’m familiar with.
THE DRAFTS…By Bill Rogan (6-28-09)
The NBA and NHL held their drafts this past week. I like the NBA draft because I’ve seen most of these guys play. The Nuggets made a deal with the Wolves to get Ty Lawson. I feel confident that the Nuggets made a great move because I saw Lawson play numerous times at North Carolina.
The Avalanche grabbed Matt Duchene with their first pick in the NHL draft. He was the third pick overall but I haven’t seen him play other than highlights. He looks like he can play. The scouting reports indicate he’s a top prospect. But it is hard to get too excited about a guy you’ve never seen play.
It is why I like the NFL draft better than the Major League Baseball draft. We’ve seen most of the guys the NFL drafts play in college. The MLB draft picks kids out of high school that we’ve never seen. The college players that are drafted in baseball are also, for the most part, unknowns.
It is pretty certain that the top picks in the NBA and NFL drafts will be on the roster the next year. The NHL and MLB drafts offer no such guarantees. As a matter of fact, baseball is littered with number one picks who never got out of A or AA ball.
It is funny how we media people spew our opinions regarding the players selected in the draft. We are quick to point out which teams did well and which teams blew the draft. Which guys are sleepers or great picks and which guys will be colossal busts.
Guess what? We don’t know and we won’t know until some time passes. The media is just as full of it as the fans are. We just have a forum to sound off.
So I’ll continue to enjoy the various drafts. But when I start giving you my opinions, remember, they are worth about as much as a can of beans…or your opinions.
I’D RATHER NOT HAVE FRIENDS…By Bill Rogan (6-19-09)
Just about every day I get an offer from someone to be their friend on some social networking site. Most of the people who request this of me I know. Some I have no idea who they are but they want me to be their internet friend anyway. Maybe the more friends you have the more popular you are. If that is what it takes to be popular count me out.
I’ve been pestered to sign up for Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin and various other sites including Twitter. I’m not exactly sure what Twitter is but I think it is where someone writes about mundane happenings in their life and people can follow it. Oh the excitement!
Why Joe thinks it’s important for me to know that he just went to the supermarket and then he’s going to go home to take a dump or watch a movie, I don’t know.
I’m almost tempted to open a Twitter account and post the most vile, vulgar and repulsive messages possible in an effort to lose friends.
Listen, no offense to anyone but I don’t want to be your internet friend. If you are my friend now, you can e-mail me or call me. I even know how to receive text messages and send them. Sort of. But as far as joining Facebook or some other social networking site, I have absolutely no interest. Thank goodness for the delete key.
I've always thought that people who play fantasy sports were annoying. They are. But I’m starting to think that these friends of mine who want me to join them on a social networking site are even more annoying than the fantasy freaks. Combine the two, fantasy sports and social networking and you have people I never want to see or speak to again.
Seriously, unless your name is Marissa Miller, I’m asking you all to please forget about me when you are looking for new internet buddies.
A PRETTY GOOD GROUP...By Bill Rogan (6-12-09)
Urban Meyer describes his Gators as “a pretty good group.” Maybe because they’ve won two National Championships the Florida football coach looks the other way when one of his players gets arrested.
Since 2005, there have been 24 arrests among Gators football players. That’s about 24 too many. Doesn’t sound like a “pretty good group” to me.
Apologists, including Meyer, play the old and tired “they’re 18-22 year olds who make mistakes” card. Personally, I think a 20-year old, be it a football player or regular student knows it is against the law to steal, rob or punch someone in the face. The young and immature defense doesn’t jive with me.
It must be nice to be a parent of a Florida student knowing that your kid can cheer their head off at The Swamp for four hours on a Saturday as the Gators steamroll an opposing football team. Those same students the other 164 hours during the week have to have their head on a swivel and keep their doors locked for fear a hostile football player wants to steal their possessions or assault them.
With a hundred or so football players in a big time college football program, there are bound to be bad seeds. Some programs cut their miscreant players some slack, other programs have very little tolerance for players that break the law. Florida seems to take the kid gloves approach. While Meyer is a great football coach, he doesn’t appear to be recruiting the greatest citizens in the world.
There is a huge dilemma in big time college athletics. Do you recruit the good kid who is a good student and athlete or the problem kid who is a great athlete but doesn’t know what the inside of a classroom looks like?
The mission of a university is supposed to be to graduate students. The mission of a football coach is to win games. So, which coach keeps his job, the coach who graduates 90-percent of his players but struggles to win games or the coach that has problems keeping kids off the police blotter but wins championships?
Urban Meyer is an example of where Florida’s priorities lie. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one.
COORS FIELD CONVENIENCE…By Bill Rogan (5-29-09)
The Rockies are horrible. Again. We’ve been here before. The Rockies ending up in the 2007 World Series looks more and more like one of the biggest flukes in sports history.
Still, give them credit for that although it seems like eons ago.
However, if you are a baseball fan in Colorado, there are advantages to having a team that is finished before May is out.
One advantage is wider ticket selection and availability. At Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, you have to plan ahead of time to go to the ballpark and you have to buy your tickets well in advance. Rockies fans who have nothing better to do that night can decide to go to the game at the last minute and get pretty good seats. You can also patronize a scalper outside the park and probably get a ticket for less than face value.
Getting to the ballpark is easier too with less traffic to and from. Good teams create traffic jams. Easy access around Coors Field these days. Even the rates for parking lots are cheaper when the Rockies are lousy.
In the park, lines at the concession stands and for the restrooms are shorter when you support a bad ballclub.
Other advantages? The odds of catching a foul ball or a home run are increased. If you sit near a blathering idiot or drunkard you can move to another seat. You might run into some issues with the ushers but by now you probably know them on a first name basis and they’ll look the other way. Vendors will always be close by, watching you like a hawk should you give an indication of being hungry or thirsty. The gift shop will be less crowded and they are probably marking prices down as I write this.
So all in all, while you might wish to pay your dollars to see a competitive club with post-season aspirations, the fact is, bad ball clubs are more convenient for the fans.
A SECOND CHANCE?...By Bill Rogan (5-22-09)
Michael Vick is out of jail and is looking for a puppy to keep him company. Ok, he isn’t looking for a puppy but he is looking to return to the NFL.
I’m all for second chances and if the justice system says he’s paid his debt to society then he deserves to seek employment anywhere he chooses, including his former high profile occupation.
However, if my favorite team signed Vick they would quickly be my least favorite team.
I don’t care how rehabilitated and how sorry he is, I wouldn’t want Vick on my team. Even if Casey Bloyer was quarterback of the Giants I wouldn’t want Vick anywhere near Giants Stadium.
Vick is a murderer. He didn’t kill humans like O.J. but he killed dogs. He killed dogs by torture. Gruesome stuff. This is a sick and twisted individual and no matter what he does in his lifetime, curing cancer, inventing time travel, creating peace in the Middle East, whatever, I’ll always look at him as a canine torturer.
I’m guessing some desperate team will give him a shot to play. However, if a football opportunity doesn’t arise all Vick has to do is take a look into the mirror. Or, better yet, take a look at some of the photos of the dogs he mutilated and killed.
LAND OF THE FAT...(5-21-09)
It is astounding to me how fat American’s are. I’m not talking just a couple of pounds overweight. I’m talking massively obese here.
This past Wednesday, as I was walking out of the building, I saw a guy who was way overweight sucking on a cigarette. He looked pretty stressed out. I can only imagine what kind of stress his heart and lungs were under.
I thought about this fellow for a few moments. I didn’t feel sorry for him even though he looked rather pathetic and is a heart attack waiting to happen. He obviously doesn’t care about his health, so why should I?
Why people do things that will decrease their quality of life and their lifespan is something I don’t understand. Life is short enough without aiding and abetting in an early demise.
Next time you are out and about take note on how many fat people you see. It appears that there are more fat people than fit people in the United States . I keep reading about how Colorado is one of the fittest states in the nation. That’s pretty scary as far as other states go.
I’m not picking on fat people here. I’m just making an observation. If you are a fat person and are insulted, that is not my intention. But if this essay encourages a fat person to exercise and go on a diet then that would be wonderful.
I sell life insurance on the side. People who are overweight and who smoke have higher premiums than those who don’t. Why? Because fat smokers die sooner. It’s pretty simple.
Now, is that incentive enough to lose weight and live healthier?
HURDLE MUST GO. YESTERDAY!…By Bill Rogan (5-17-09)
I hate calling for someone’s job. Personally, it makes me feel uncomfortable to say that somebody should be fired.
However, the kid gloves are off. I can’t take it anymore. Rockies Manager Clint Hurdle should be toast. Extra crispy.
This season is slipping away on a daily basis. The Rockies are 10 ½ games out of first place and only the Diamondbacks are worse in the division. At least the Diamondbacks were trying to do something when they wacked manager Bob Melvin and replaced him with A.J. Hinch. That move hasn’t worked yet but it was proactive. They are trying.
The Rockies apparently are satisfied. Yes, they went to the World Series in 2007. Is it just me or does that fluke happenstance seemed to have occurred 30-years ago? How long are the Rockies owners going to live off that series appearance?
Hurdle is a good man. There is no denying that. But the Rockies are not playing for him. This team, talent-wise, is better than their putrid 14-22 mark. The insipid baseball played on a near daily basis is sickening, not just for Rockies fans but baseball fans in general.
Is it all Hurdle’s fault? No, of course not. As the manager though, it’s his head on the chopping block and it’s time for the Monfort’s to play the role of executioner. Has losing become acceptable for the Rockies? It certainly has, at least to this observer.
LEADERSHIP…By Bill Rogan (4-29-09)
I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately, especially after attending an event last weekend that showcased some of the most impressive people and leaders I’ve ever met.
It is amazing to me how few great leaders we have in every day life.
Take any sports team or business and those that succeed always have great leadership. Those that fail usually have poor leadership. I see it everyday, the good and bad.
I thought back to one of the most memorable interviews I’ve ever conducted. It was during halftime of an Army basketball game at West Point in January of 1997.
I was interviewing Army quarterback Ronnie McAda who was coming off a great season, leading the Black Knights to the only 10-win season in school history. That year he rallied Army from an 18-point deficit to a dramatic win over Navy. The previous season he led Army on a 99-yard scoring drive to beat Navy in the waning seconds.
During the interview we talked about those games and I asked him to define leadership. He told me something that has stayed with me.
“Leadership,” McAda said, “Is getting somebody to do something they didn’t think they could do.”
I also questioned McAda on how he handles adversity.
Again, another memorable response.
“I like adversity,” McAda shared. “I enjoy the challenge of overcoming it.”
He likes adversity? Wow. Personally, I hate adversity. But the lesson I took from McAda’s answer is we all have to face adversity. How we attack it is the key. Do we fold up and find a hole to crawl into or do we decide to figure out the situation and find a remedy?
I’ve tried to become a better leader in my life. It isn’t easy, especially when you are frequently around those who are only interested in themselves and their well-being.
I’ve been told that there are two kinds of courage. EN-courage and DIS-courage. You should surround yourself with those who will encourage you instead of those that will discourage you. The discouragers will lead by threats and intimidation, failing to realize that you get more out of people through praise and recognition.
Leaders inspire. Non-leaders can suck the life out of you if you let them.
Who are the leaders in your life?
BASEBALL FANS VERSUS THE MISGUIDED...By Bill Rogan (4-29-09)
I hear people all the time complain that baseball is boring.
Then it hit me. If I didn’t love baseball so much then I might find it boring as well.
To a baseball fan, a line drive in the gap that scores two runs not only is a key moment in a game but it is recorded forever in the record book.
To non-baseball fans, that same double is simply a brief interruption to the boredom that permeates the sport.
To a baseball fan, a strikeout is a victory for the pitcher in the classic matchup between hitter and hurler. Again, recorded for posterity in the record book.
To a non-baseball fan it is one out closer to the end of the game.
To a baseball fan, a 4-6-3 double play is a thing of beauty, ballet on the ball field.
To the non-baseball fan that very double play indicates the batter is slow and can’t hit. But it is two outs closer to the end of the game.
To a baseball fan, the manager ordering a sacrifice bunt or bringing in the lefty reliever against the left-handed hitter is a brilliant piece of strategy.
To the non-baseball fan, those moves are a reason to visit the concession stand.
To a baseball fan, extra innings means more drama and free baseball!
To the non-baseball fan it is a reason to contemplate killing someone, usually the baseball fan who dragged them to the ballpark in the first place.
To a baseball fan, a rainout brings great sadness.
To the non-baseball fan a rainout brings joy and a reason to go to the movies.
To the baseball fan, the infield fly rule is an opportunity to explain its nuances to the non-baseball fan.
To the non-baseball fan, it gives them an opportunity to wonder what the hell the baseball fan is talking about.
To the baseball fan, a balk is very hard to explain to the non-baseball fan.
For some reason, a non-baseball fan will ask the baseball fan, “What’s a balk?”
To a baseball fan, a pitcher working on a no-hitter in the 8th inning is incredible, tension-filled drama.
To a non-baseball fan, it is a good time to ask, “Want to leave early to beat the crowd?”
To a baseball fan, the sport represents Americana, the great national pastime filled with history and tradition.
To the non-baseball fan, football is American too you know.
To the baseball fan, a game in April counts in the standings just as much as a game in late September.
To the non-baseball fan, the thought that this stuff lasts another five months is mindboggling.
To a baseball fan, the end of the game gives them an opportunity to look forward to tomorrow’s game.
To the non-baseball fan, the end of the game means they’ll wallpaper their bathroom tomorrow instead of watching another game.
INIMITABLE…By Bill Rogan (4-14-09)
I’ll never forget the night of June 28, 1976. That evening my dad and I settled in to watch the Yankees take on the Tigers on television. We were anxious to get our first look at the Detroit pitcher they called “The Bird.”
As a Yankees fan, I was hoping they would beat Mark Fidrych.
A strange thing happened as I was watching the game. I actually started pulling for Fidrych. I had never done that for a pitcher opposing the Yankees, before or since. The Bird started out as a curiosity but the national TV broadcast made believers and fans out of me and the rest of America.
He simply put on a show. He manicured the mound. He talked to the ball. He waved to teammates who made a good play. He was like a five year old on cotton candy and soda. He was having the time of his life, mowing down the Yanks, the eventual American League Champions.
Fidrych beat the Yankees 5-1 that night before a packed house at old Tiger Stadium. Following the win, the crowd stayed in their seats and demanded a curtain call from Fidrych.
I'd never seen a pitcher like Fidrych. Ever. He was one of a kind and the love he had for the game was apparent, even to a 14-year old.
I saw Fidrych pitch twice that summer at Yankee Stadium. He won one and lost one I believe. The game he won was the first of a doubleheader. Following the game, many fans left. They were there to see Fidrych.
One thing I’ll never forget was watching Fidrych dance to the music over the P.A. system while he was warming up in the bullpen. Wonderfully eccentric, strange and bizarre and quite a pitcher too.
Unfortunately he never duplicated his wild rookie season. Maybe the 24 complete games at the age of 21 while winning 19 of them contributed to his arm problems the following season and beyond.
He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award and the hearts of millions of baseball fans across the country. He was an original for sure. Nobody like him before or since, a genuine character who will never be forgotten.
Mark Fidrych died Monday in an accident at his Massachusetts home. The Bird was just 54.
THE BASEBALL CARD CAPER...By Bill Rogan (4-12-09)
In 1973, I was a proud member of the Eldorado Elementary School Chorus in Spring Valley, New York. Ok, I don’t remember if I was a proud member. Looking back I wonder how I even was in the school chorus. I’m sure they made me do it since I was pretty shy back then and singing wasn’t my bag. Unlike now when I can belt out a tune with the best of them. Sure.
Anyway, I was in Mrs. Mayhew’s 5th grade class and she was the meanest teacher in the school. Time has not softened my view on Mrs. Mayhew. She was intimidating and I truly she believe hated kids. Especially me. These days teachers have to search students for guns, knives, and drugs. Back then Mrs. Mayhew was on a crusade to eliminate baseball cards from Eldorado Elementary school. That’s right, baseball cards. To her, they were the worst things in the world and she would confiscate them at every opportunity.
On many occasions, she would go into my coat pocket and take away my baseball cards. That is correct, she stole them from my coat pocket! She would rummage through the other kids pockets as well and she would pilfer our precious cards. Or she would take them out of our desks. Mrs. Mayhew was the baseball card Nazi.
One time she even pulled me off the school bus before it departed the parking lot and looked in my book bag. Yep, baseball cards. She took them. At recess, she would sneak up behind us and steal our cards. I half expected her to show up at my house, enter my bedroom and take away my cards. Mrs. Mayhew always took the cards and put them in bags in a big closet in our classroom. Then she would lock the door and our cards were gone forever.
Back to the school chorus. We had our big spring concert on a Friday night. Mom and Dad were there and probably my sister Mary. I can’t definitively recall if Mary was there or not, but she is irrelevant to the story. She’s still pretty much irrelevant. I say that because I hope she reads this story and gets irritated. That’s what brothers do.
The concert went off without a hitch. We were cheered and it actually felt pretty good. I can’t remember any of the songs we sung but it was a nice night. After the concert, I told my parents I had to go to my classroom to get a book. Which was true. Once in the darkened classroom, just for the heck of it, I decided to turn the knob on the closet door. A jolt of excitement ran through my chest when the door actually opened. In the darkness I could see the outline of bags. Four large bags of baseball cards!
The classroom was on the ground floor. I took the bags to the window and set them outside. Then I went back to my parents. I told them I had to go to the bathroom. I went back to the classroom, crawled out the window and hid the bags of cards in the nearby woods. I climbed back into the classroom, locked the window, locked the closet door, and then headed to the front of the school and my patient parents.
I forgot the book I was originally was supposed to get but neither Mom or Dad said anything about it. All night long I was praying it wouldn’t rain. I was also paranoid, waiting for Mrs. Mayhew to knock on the front door with the police demanding my arrest. Early the next morning, I rode my bike to Eldorado Elementary School and was able to recover two bags of cards. A return trip brought home the rest. I also had to sneak the cards into the house. My mom was a police officer so it wasn’t easy to get away with things.
Finally, the cards were safe and sound in my house. I had all my cards back and all my classmates cards too. I pulled it off, a true caper! Monday morning, as I entered Mrs. Mayhew’s class, I was sweating profusely. I knew that she knew what I had done. Nervous doesn’t begin to describe how I felt.
When Mrs. Mayhew went into the closet, I expected her to fly off the handle and immediately know it was me who stole the cards. Much to my surprise and relief, she never said anything about the missing cards. Ever. For the next week I was a wreck, but nothing ever happened. Mrs. Mayhew never brought up the missing cards although she still was on the lookout for any student possessing baseball cards.
So whatever became of the baseball cards in question? I still have them. They’re in my closet safe and sound and Mrs. Mayhew can’t do a thing about it. She’s dead.
THE COLOR MAN...By Bill Rogan 4-5-09
Sports fans are all color commentators. We sit at home or in the sports bar and discuss the game. The true color commentators, the ones who get paid, also chime in with their expertise. After watching sports for all these years, I've come to the conclusion that anyone can be a color commentator.
If you are interested in becoming the color commentator or "expert analyst" then keep reading.
If you are a baseball color commentator it is imperative to remind your audience that the pitcher "needs to throw strikes." Throwing in a few sagacious tidbits like "this would be a good time for a hit and run" or "Cook is nearing his pitch count" will make you sound as if you helped Tony LaRussa invent the game of baseball.
As a football color man you can dazzle your audience with insightful comments such as, "The Broncos need to stay away from turnovers and penalties." Drop-ins such as "special teams could be the difference" or "the defense needs to be physical" will have the audience hanging on your every word.
For basketball, cliches such as "The big man needs to stay out of foul trouble" or "the Nuggets need to have better shot selection" will prove your hoops expertise.
If you are a color man for college football or basketball, remember, never ever criticize the head coach. If a coach is behaving like a 4-year old on the sidelines, you can always go to "Coach is really into it. He's working the officials." If a coach is an NCAA cheat and a complete lowlife, it is still imperative to say, "Coach really loves his kids."
Even novice hockey commentators can sound like seasoned veterans with sayings such as, "You know Howie, when the Rangers put that sweater on, they feel pride in the organ-eye-zation, and we all know its not easy getting two points in the Bruins building." Show off your wisdom by saying, "they're really skating out there tonight" or "the power play is really clicking tonight" and you are on your way to becoming the next Peter McNab.
Remember, when in doubt, its always easy to rip on the officials. "You want the players to decide the game."
Finally, if you want to keep your job, throw bouquets to the owners, the coaches and the players. Remember, being critical bad, being a suck up good. Getting a paycheck better.
Now, as Crash Davis said in Bull Durham, time to work on your cliches. Boring? Yes, they're supposed to be.
BUNCH OF THOUGHTS…By Bill Rogan (3-29-09)
I’m not in the mood to put together a long piece on one topic. So, I’ll just throw out a bunch of things coming out of my vacuous head.
Jay Cutler this, Jay Cutler that. Will Cutler call McDaniels? Will McDaniels meet with Cutler? Guess what? I don’t care. Trade Cutler to the Browns for a high draft pick and Brady Quinn and be done with it.
I was watching some college baseball on television the other day. Yes, I was the one. Anyway, it’s time to get rid of aluminum bats now and forever.
Have you ever noticed, when the Avs are good the Nuggets are not and when the Nuggets are good the Avs are not.
Is the Orlando Magic the best team nobody knows about?
The Rapids kicked off their season last week and had their home opener last night. How many people know that? I’m not trying to be a smartass here but do the Rapids have a marketing department?
I get more enjoyment out of watching old boxing matches on ESPN classic than I do watching boxing of today. I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a boxing match.
The Denver Post, in their sports section earlier in the week, had a story on men’s figure skating on the front page. As John McEnroe might say, “You cannot be serious!”
I love the start of spring training. I love the start of the regular season more and that is why a week into spring training I am sick and tired of it.
I once saw Tim Duncan crack a smile. I think. Nah, probably just seeing things.
With the excitement of the NCAA tournament, I wonder if LeBron James and Kobe Bryant ever regret not going to college for at least one year. For all the money they have now, that is an experience that they could have had but never will.
Sidney Crosby is a great hockey player there is no doubt about that. However Sid the Kid is getting on my nerves. Plus, he’s not even the best player on the Penguins. Evgeny Malkin is. Take that Crosby you crybaby.
AS THE BRONCOS TURN…By Bill Rogan (3-20-09)
Things have been very interesting and entertaining at the Broncos headquarters these days. Interesting and entertaining unless you are a Broncos fan.
The soap opera reads as follows…the owner fires a two time Super Bowl winning coach, a coach who won just one playoff game since those long ago championships. The coach formerly known as “The Mastermind” is let go in favor of boy wonder Josh McDaniels, all of 32-years old.
The Broncos defense was a horror show last season while the offense was productive. So what does the Boy Wonder head coach specialize in? Offense. Makes no sense does it?
Boy Wonder came from the Patriots, the most successful NFL franchise the past decade, led by a hoodie wearing coach devoid of personality, Bill Belichick. Boy Wonder tries to emulate Belichick and looks to ship out 25-year old Pro Bowl Quarterback Jay Cutler, thereby alienating a player The Mastermind thought was the one to lead the team back to the Super Bowl. Little Jay had his feelings hurt by being mentioned in trade talks. The crybaby QB wants to be traded and is probably being led astray by his agent, a fellow named Bus Cook, no stranger to ruining quarterback-team relationships. See McNair. See Favre. Cutler doesn’t trust Boy Wonder, who I should remind you is a Belichick disciple. Look at the hoodie wearing coach’s successful coaching tree. Romeo Crennel. Fired by the Browns. Eric Mangini? Fired by the Jets. Charlie Weis? On the hot seat at Notre Dame having won 10 games the past two seasons. What makes the owner think Boy Wonder will thrive when the other Patriots assistants haven’t?
In the middle of all this is the powerless General Manager, someone named Brian Xanders, who hails from the success laden Falcons, whose main function is to say, “Yes Mr. Bowlen. Yes sir coach McDaniels.”
The Broncos are a mess. The defense doesn’t scare anyone although the removal of Dre Bly is addition by subtraction. The offense may be led by a guy, Mr. Simms, who has thrown two passes in two years if the crybaby QB is sent packing. The new running back free agent acquisition, Mr. Buckhalter, has an injury history a mile long and was just accused by a drug dealer in Philadelphia that he was client.
The unproven head coach isn’t talking to the media, the owner who said he was in charge isn’t, the QB isn’t talking to the coach and The Mastermind is probably soaking it all in with a grin.
We’ll see how this interesting and entertaining soap opera pans out during the season, a season that has 4-12 written all over it.
THE COMEBACK!...By Bill Rogan (3-15-09)
I once asked my wife's grandfather, Fred, many years ago, if he missed playing baseball. Fred played for Fordham University, back when future Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, "The Fordham Flash" was one of his teammates. That was a long time ago. In his 90's and still mentally sharp at the time of our conversation, he told me, sadly, "Yes, every day."
I last played on a team 16-years ago. I too missed playing baseball. Softball doesn't do it for me.
The past three seasons I've played in a charity game in Colorado Springs. Those games were fun and got the competitive juices flowing again.
So, with the words of a 90-year old man still fresh in my memory, I decided to join an over 35-year old baseball league.
Now I'm on a team, the Stars, and we had our first scrimmage today.
I'm not sore, which is a positive. Although my elbow is saying, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Anyway, it was nice to run around and work up a sweat, knowing that I'll have a summer of fun playing baseball on Sunday afternoons in something called the NABA. I don't know what that even stands for but I'm guessing the B is for baseball.
One of the reasons I'm playing is because I don't want to be in my 90's wishing I could have played a few more seasons. I'm still in decent shape and this will give me an excuse to eat better, get in peak condition and run around like a kid again.
As for the scrimmage today, I went 0-3. I'm in mid-season form already.
THE GREEDY YANKEES…By Bill Rogan (3-8-09)
We’ve discussed, in the past, the outrageous ticket and concession prices the Yankees are charging in their new, 1.5 billion dollar ballpark. Actually, its not a ballpark. It’s an amusement park, an orgy of pleasures designed to take as much money out of the pockets of people who visit it as possible.
Somewhere along the line, the Yankees forgot that most of their fans aren’t multi-millionaires. Many of their fans have to pinch pennies to save up enough money to enjoy seeing their team play in person.
Guess what? The Yankees are having a tough time selling their premium tickets and luxury suites. They have been taking out full-page ads in the New York Times to drum up interest. The economy is likely a factor. Now I’m not the smartest man in the world but the fact that they are charging $500 to $2,500 per seat in the first nine rows near home plate could be a problem. Maybe people don’t want to spend $325 for a decent seat down the first and third base lines.
Ironically, the stadium that was built for corporate America to buy luxury boxes, still has several 600-thousand dollar suites available. Maybe companies don’t care to explain to their shareholders why they spent more than a half a million dollars for a luxury box at the new Yankee Stadium.
Fans have been taken for granted and taken advantage of for a long time. It would be nice to see the fans finally fight back and refuse to allow themselves to be kicked in the teeth.
My advice to pro sports fans everywhere is to take the money you were going to spend on going to games and instead stay home and watch the games from the comfort of your living room.
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL...By Bill Rogan (2-27-09)
Baseball is back. At least spring training is. Now I'm waiting for Opening Day. And yes, I capitalize Opening Day because to baseball fans it is a holiday.
The term 'Hope Springs Eternal" was coined, I believe, with baseball fans in mind.
That said, here are my "Hopes" for the upcoming baseball season. Mind you, some of these hopes are realistic, some are completely and totally unrealistic. But I can hope nonetheless.
I hope Manny Ramirez has to go slumming for a team to play on for much less than the 2-year, 45-million dollar offer he rejected from the Dodgers.
I hope the Mets go 0-162, getting shut out in every game in the process.
If the Mets actually compete in the NL East, I hope they have another September meltdown like the previous two years. That's a lot of fun.
I hope the Red Sox have a dismal season and Big Papi ends up with 3 homers and 17 RBI's. Although those 3 homers and 17 RBI's would all probably come against the Yankees.
I hope the Rockies will try to compete this year instead of always looking to build to the future. Hey Rockies, its ok to win now. Plus when the future gets here they'll be shipping off established players to build for the future. Exhibit A: Matt Holliday.
I hope I can fall in love with the new Yankee Stadium like I did the old one many years ago.
I hope people have finally figured out how to properly say Kosuke Fukudome.
After 16 fruitless seasons, I hope the Pittsburgh Pirates have a winning campaign. See, I told you some things would be unrealistic.
I hope Bud Selig and Donald Fehr both decide to exit the game and go someplace where they'll never be heard from again, like Pitcairn Island.
I hope Aaron Cook becomes the Rockies first 20-game winner. For a season that is, not a career.
I hope the Phillies flop this year. Wait, they are in the Mets division. Go Phils!
I hope New York Post Columnist Phil Mushnick becomes Commissioner of Baseball.
The Red Sox win the pennant! I sure hope that doesn't happen.
I hope Andy Cornell attends a Rockies game other than Opening Day.
I hope Don Apodaca finally can afford to buy that Cleveland Indians pinky ring he so craves.
I hope Casey Bloyer gets his wish to see the Yankees win the World Series.
I hope Justin Adams gets his wish just to see the World Series...since the games are played past his bedtime.
Finally, I hope you all enjoy the upcoming season and see your hopes and dreams come true, in baseball and in life.
MANNY BEING GREEDY…By Bill Rogan (2-27-09)
As I’ve written in the past, I’m not one of those guys who screams and hollers that athletes make too much money.
The length of their careers is tenuous and they should get as much money as they can while they can. If someone is willing to pay it then they would be foolish not to take it. Some people squawk that they would play for the love of the game. No they wouldn’t. If you were a professional athlete you would be looking to rake in the cash too.
That brings me to Manny Ramirez and his agent Scott Boras.
On Thursday, Ramirez and Boras rejected the Dodgers latest contract offer of two years for 45-million dollars. The first year was for 25-million and the second was a player only option for 20-million. Since is seems nobody is interested in signing Ramirez for that kind of money, you would figure Ramirez and Boras would jump at the proposal. Nope, not good enough.
In this economic climate, I can’t see where Manny would get anything close to 45-million dollars over two years.
The Dodgers offer, considering the lack of suitors, was more than fair. It was overly generous. Again, its Manny’s right to get as much as he can. But where does a fair and reasonable request move into the blatantly greedy realm?
Ramirez will be 37 in May. Although he hasn’t shown a decline at the plate, you have to wonder when it will happen. He’s human. Unless he’s on the same fitness program as Barry Bonds, baseball history shows that players start to regress in their mid to late 30’s.
Ramirez is also a signing risk due to his mercurial nature. Or have people forgotten how he quit last season on the Red Sox and is normally disinterested in playing the outfield. He won’t be able to DH with the Dodgers.
If I ran the Dodgers, I would love to have Manny’s bat in the lineup. However, he’s a big-time headache. If he doesn’t want 45-million than let him find it somewhere else. Time for the Dodgers to turn the page and say goodbye to the greedy tandem of Ramirez and Boras.
BRAD VAN PELT...By Bill Rogan (2-20-09)
The 1970’s were a wasteland for New York Giants football. My dad would regale me with stories of the Giants teams of the 50’s and early 60’s. He would tell me about the great Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, Charlie Conerly, Alex Webster and the rest. Guess what? I didn’t care. Those standouts were before my time and the guys I rooted for with all my heart stunk. Well, most of them stunk except for two players.
One was Punter Dave Jennings. You know your team is bad when one of your favorite players is the punter. The other was Brad Van Pelt, whom I nicknamed Brad Van Belt because he would just lay people out. I also thought it was really cool that he was a linebacker but wore the number 10.
Van Pelt, a Michigan State product, was a bright spot for the Giants in a rather dim era. He played for the Giants from 1973 through ’83 and made the Pro-Bowl five times. I always felt bad he never had a chance to play on the good Giants teams shortly after.
I met Van Pelt a few years ago in the Colorado State locker room after a game. His son, Bradlee, was the Rams quarterback and played with the same reckless abandon that his dad did.
The elder Van Pelt was going around the locker room picking up discarded sweatbands, headbands and gloves. I asked him what he was doing. He said with a huge smile, “Shhhhhh, I’m stealing them for the kids. They love this stuff.”
I mentioned to him that I was a Giants fan and I appreciated his career. He thanked me and was very gracious. Sometimes you meet someone you admire and they disappoint you. Not the case with Brad Van Pelt.
So I was deeply saddened this past Tuesday when I learned of the passing of Van Pelt from an apparent heart attack. Another former NFL player gone way too soon.
Number 10 was just 57.
BASEBALL CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH…By Bill Rogan (2-10-09)
He’s a bum. He’s out for revenge. He’s slimy. He’s a jerk, an idiot and a lowlife. Maybe Jose Canseco is all of those things. One thing you can’t call him though is a liar.
Canseco’s first book, Juiced, which exposed baseball’s dirty secret on steroids and named names, was said to be full of lies written, poorly I might add, by a guy who had an agenda and who needed the money.
Of the players named in Canseco’s book, none sued him for slander. None. Sure threats were made to take legal action but no one followed through. Why is that?
Without that book, do you think baseball would have done anything about the massive steroid problem in the sport?
Baseball was dismissive of the book, basically telling people to consider the source. It was only when the book sparked the interest of congress that baseball realized they had to do something.
In Canseco’s second book, Vindicated, he claims he introduced Alex Rodriguez to steroids. Another smear campaign was made on Canseco. Again, Canseco haters said he needed the money and he had an axe to grind. A-Rod on steroids? Come on, that is absurd.
Well, we know better now don’t we? Canseco has also put Commissioner Bud Selig and players union big shots Donald Fehr in his crosshairs saying that they are, “the real criminals” for baseball’s steroid problems.
While Jose Canseco may not be the most sympathetic character in the world, he may be the person most responsible for cleaning up the game’s steroid mess. He may also be the most honest person of all in the steroid era of baseball.
A-ROD A ROYAL PAIN IN THE ASS…By Bill Rogan (2-8-09)
Alex Rodriguez, during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series between the Red Sox and Rockies, decided that would be a good time to announce that he was opting out of his mega-contract with the Yankees. Never mind it was the World Series, an event he has never participated in. It was all about A-Rod then and it’s always about A-Rod.
The Yankees should have told him, “If you don’t like making 22-million a year, then get lost.” Instead, the Yankees caved in like a sand castle at high tide and gave him a 10-year contract worth 27-million dollars per season. They had their chance to get rid of baseball’s biggest drama queen but now they are stuck with him for nine more seasons.
If it’s not scrounging around for more money, if it’s not trolling around with a big breasted blonde bimbo in Toronto, if it’s not a very public divorce from his yappy wife, if it’s not Madonna, if it’s not being called A-Fraud in Joe Torre’s book, if it’s not his petty jealousy of Derek Jeter, it is always something.
The latest something is the allegation by Sports Illustrated that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. When confronted by SI writer Selena Roberts, A-Rod simply said, “You'll have to talk to the union.” That doesn’t sound like an innocent man to me.
Alex Rodriguez has fooled a lot of people over the years. He’s a clubhouse cancer, a first class choke artist and now the joke is apparently on him because you can add steroid cheat to his list of accomplishments.
How tainted are A-Rod’s statistics? How sullied has his reputation become? How big of a black eye has this given Major League Baseball? That is up to you to decide. There is one thing we can agree on. The steroid era continues.
THE ARIZONA BOLDINS…By Bill Rogan (1-22-09)
We have gotten used to selfish athletes these days. The me-first behavior exhibited by Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress and the many others just like them doesn’t shock us anymore. If these guys played in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s their antics would have been castigated, not tolerated or celebrated.
That said, I was shocked at the incredibly selfish display of attitude from Cardinals Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin during the NFC Championship game.
With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, a place the Cards haven’t even sniffed in their gloomy past, Boldin felt it necessary to argue with offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Boldin wanted to know why he wasn’t in the game down the stretch. Haley was busy calling plays, which by the way, led to the game winning touchdown with a little more than two minutes left.
Following the Cardinals victory over the Eagles, the Arizona players celebrated as you would expect. The crowd was jubilant, confetti flew through the air and Boldin decided it was a good time to storm off the field and leave the stadium and his teammates behind.
Later he justified his behavior by saying, “I’m a competitor.”
I don’t know about you but I’m tired of athletes who behave boorishly defending their actions with the old, “I’m a competitor” line. A majority of competitors don’t act out like a spoiled crybaby. I would have respected Boldin a little bit if he would have said, “I’m a selfish competitor.”
Boldin, who before the season said he wanted out of Arizona, is a great talent. There is no denying that. There is also no denying he’s all about himself and not the team.
Boldin is not happy with the Cardinals for refusing to renegotiate his five-million dollar a year contract. He’s not happy with the Cardinals going to the Super Bowl.
Here’s what the Cardinals should do. They should leave him home for the Super Bowl and then cut him. Maybe that would finally make the selfish Anquan Boldin happy.
IT’S TIME TO SACK FIGHTING...By bill Rogan (1-18-09)
Don Sanderson is dead and I’m willing to bet that his death will be forgotten in a hurry by the NHL and all of professional hockey.
Who was Don Sanderson?
He was the 21-year old defenseman for the Whitby Dunlops from the Major Hockey League in Ontario.
Sanderson died in a fight when his head hit the ice last month.
In the past, I’ve been one of those people that felt fighting in professional hockey was just part of the game. It was a way to police the sport. If a goon takes a run at a star player then there will be ramifications. If a game is out of hand, the losing team has to send a message.
I’ve changed my mind.
Hockey is a fast sport with amazing athletes that display skill and courage. It is a dangerous enough sport without adding the fighting aspect. With the size and strength of players today, it is only a matter of time until there is a Don Sanderson episode in the NHL.
The NBA doesn’t allow fighting. Neither does the NFL. Baseball doesn’t allow fighting although pillow fights in girls dormitories are more dangerous than baseball fights. College hockey doesn’t allow fighting and the sport is popular and growing.
So why does the NHL allow fisticuffs? Isn’t it time that fighting be outlawed in the NHL? It would actually make the game better. Players who are only good with their fists will be replaced by players who can actually skate, pass, shoot and defend.
So while I’ve been entertained in the past by fighting, the sport doesn’t need it. Hockey is good enough on its own. If the pro-fighting knuckleheads don’t want to watch hockey anymore because of the absence of fighting, then good riddance. More people will likely watch hockey because of the demise of fighting.
While fighting may be a part of the NHL’s rich and colorful history, it should be history. But my fear is that it will take a fighting fatality in the NHL before it is banned. If that happens then Don Sanderson’s death meant nothing.
WHAT'S A UTE?...By Bill Rogan (1-11-09)
If you would have told me before the season started that Utah would be in the National Championship discussion, I would have totally dismissed you.
Well, a few month's later, I have voted for Utah as my number one team in our Artificial Turf Top 17 College Football Poll.
I looked at all the contenders closely.
Florida lost at home to Mississippi.
Texas lost on the road to Texas Tech.
Southern Cal lost at Oregon State.
Good teams all. Each with impressive wins and credentials.
However, Utah didn't lose. Not once. 13-0 not only sounds better than 12-1 it is better.
Utah plays in the low-profile Mountain West Conference. They don't play the schedule that Florida or Texas play say the pundits.
True. But when watching Utah dismantle Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, an Alabama team that gave Florida a tough game, I was convinced that the Utes were for real.
Utah didn't lose. They beat everyone on their schedule. They beat a team from the vaunted SEC in a BCS Bowl game. They did everything that was asked of them.
For that reason, I voted Utah number one in the Turf Poll. And I'm not the only one who feels that Utah should be number one.
So, does that change my mind on the BCS and makes me call for a playoff? No. I like the system the way it is. Will some teams get shafted? Yes. Does it create discussion and controversy which is good for the sport? Yes. Does it make every single game during the regular season a virtual playoff game? Absolutely. If you don't believe me ask Southern Cal. Although, Utah might disagree.
BAD NICKNAMES…By Bill Rogan (1-2-09)
There are plenty of bad team names in sports, too many to mention here. But the worst has to be Avalanche.
Why you would name a team after a natural disaster is a mystery to me.
While is does have ties to the state since avalanches occur in Colorado, it seems somewhat distasteful to me since people die in avalanches.
Last weekend in Colorado, two people died in an avalanche. I wonder if their loved ones think any differently now about the name of the local hockey team.
There are other teams named after natural disasters. Such as the Miami Hurricanes, Iowa State Cyclones and San Jose Earthquakes to name a few.
I don’t know of any teams named the Floods or the Tsunamis. Maybe it’s just a matter of time until that happens.
In an age where people want names like Warriors or Braves eliminated, I’m somewhat surprised that no group has been created to argue against the use of natural disasters as a nickname in team sports.
I’m not for or against abolishing natural disaster nicknames. However, if I lost a loved one in a hurricane, earthquake or avalanche, maybe I would think differently.