I was fortunate to be in Rio for the World Cup Final between Argentina and Germany...no, not Brazil, but the next best thing: Rio Brazilian Steakhouse in America’s Hometown (Plymouth, MA). Footy on the telly with a rambunctious crowd of local Brazilian transplants lustily rooting against Germany welcomed me in my Argentine Lionel Messi Argentine national team jersey in cheering for--as they explained to me--”anyone but Germany” to win the cup (Germany beat the crap out of the host country 7-1 earlier in the tourney to bounce them).
Great fun for us even though Germany won (no real surprise--great team) but much and many meats later I was happily in a meat coma and not concerned about the outcome. Great time an great end to the World Cup.
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Ahh, the MLB All-Star Game.
Three baseball legends. All three passed away this year. At the 2014 MLB All-Star Game the Fox broadcast tripped all over themselves to praise retiring New York Yankees future Hall-of-Fame shortstop Derek Jeter. The broadcast team mentioned Jeter’s name over 100 times during the broadcast.
Ralph Kiner is a Hall-of-Fame player who led the National League in home runs seven consecutive season was a legend as an announcer as well broadcasting over 50 years.
Don Zimmer is probably with Tommy Lasorda as far as an iconic baseball lifer (My post here about Zim’s passing and his impact on my life is here).
Tony Gwynn was only 54 and one of the greatest non-steroid using hitters of the steroid era with a .338 career batting average and over 3,000 hits in his career.
Bob Welch was a 27 game winner and Cy Young award winner in 1990 who won over 200 games .
Frank Cashen was the executive who built the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the 60s and 70s and later the great Mets in 80s.
Jim Fregosi played 18 years at shortstop and was a manager of four teams from the late 70s to the new millennium.
Jerry Coleman was a Yankees middle infielder who won an MVP award and was a war hero flying missions in WW2 and Korea alongside Ted Williams in the Marines (not playing softball in Hawaii like Joe DiMaggio and countless other MLB players of the era) who later become one of the most renowned and entertaining announcers later gaining entry to the Hall of Fame in that role.
Joe Buck and his hideous crew on Fox could not bother to mention, throw up a video, fill space with a comment, flash their pictures at the bottom of the screen, mention them in a break of action. But hold onto your hats, it was all Jeter all-the-time!
I take nothing away from Jeter. He amassed 3,000 hits and was a post-season superstar. He brought class to baseball in the steroid/A-Rod era and gave every fan a player to point to as a superstar who carried himself with class and dignity. That said, Fox overplayed their hand with Jeter--had the additional controversy of National League pitcher Adam Wainwright (horrors!) admitted he grooved a couple of batting practice fastballs to him in (wait for it…) a FREAKING EXHIBITION GAME THAT DOES NOT COUNT!
Forget the stupid World Series home-field advantage crap. This is not the NFL where 70,000 screaming fans in Seattle can change an offensive game plan. It is baseball. It was an exhibition game. It does not count. It is entertainment.
Remember Cal Ripkin Jr.’s final All-Star game? Switching positions with A-Rod (scripted by Joe Torre...A-Rod is not that classy) and then hitting a home run in the third inning. Yeah, pitcher Chan Ho Park was not told to groove a fastball to the legend. Yeah, right.
Jeter got his spotlight--as he deserved. But at the expense of baseball greats who could have/should have been mentioned once--hell, Tony Gwynn was a 15 time All-Star and they could not work that in? He died young (in his 50s) just a month ago. He was the greatest player in San Diego Padres history. No one there had time to briefly mention a Hall of Famer who was a contemporary of Jeter and was taken by cancer.
Screw Fox. Screw MLB. No backtracking is good enough now. It was all about Fox not understanding how to capitalize on baseball’s great and extensive history. Baseball is unique: it’s history and traditions transcend eras. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson, Yaz, Dale Murphy, Ryne Sandberg, Cal Ripkin Jr., Jeter, the list goes on and on and on...this is embedded in baseball fans minds and consciousness.
Being a baseball fan means embracing that tradition. No one discusses the fascinating 1994 chase for .400 by Gwynn cut short by the strike? How about Jerry Coleman winning the MVP...what a story (no, he did NOT deserve it!)! How about Ralph Kiner mispronouncing his own name as a Mets announcer? Hilarious. Don Zimmer I could go on and on about. Jim Fregosi was one of the funniest, most engaging people in baseball.
Not recognizing those who made this career of Jeter’s possible is a shame. Boo to Fox. Boo to MLB.
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NFL Training Camp is right around the corner. TIme to switch to all-NFL all-the-time very soon.
Locally it is another week closer to another epic meltdown by the Boston Red Sox who have decided to copy the San Francisco Giants with their “win one year, crash the next” strategy. The Boston Bruins lost top line veteran sniper Jarome Iginla and are struggling to find a way to replace him. The Boston Celtics are jumping in on trades to...well, who the heck knows what they are doing? Football is two weeks away as in just two weeks training camps will open and it will be all football news all the time until January as the Patriots try to get back to the Super Bowl.
Nationally in the MLB, the Baltimore Orioles have taken over the American League East, Detroit looks strong in the Central, and the Texas Rangers inexplicably have crashed harder than the Red Sox as Anaheim and Oakland duke it out in the AL West. Over in the Senior Circuit Miami and the Mets won’t die in the National League East as Atlanta and Washington remain bunched up, the Central is bunched up as well with St. Louis charging (and losing Yadier Molina for 8 to 12 weeks...Ouch!) and Cincinnati and Pittsburgh close enough to strike behind Milwaukee, and finally in the West the Dodgers and Giants are deadlocked echoing an epic battle for the summer played out initially in baseball history in New York and after the 1960s out west.
Basketball is all about free agency in the NBA and waiting for the dominoes to fall. Dwyane Wade is likely returning to Miami but will LeBron James follow? Is Chris Bosh too insecure to take the big bucks in Houston and form a Big Three with Superman (Dwight Howard) and the Beard (James Harden)? Carmelo Anthony SHOULD go to Chicago, but is there enough cash and glamour for him? Would he interact with Kobe in L.A.? Come back to the Knicks? LeBron to Cleveland? Now that would cause the Internet to explode.
The big news in the NHL is that the Blackhawks locked up their two top players signing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to matching $84 million deals. Both are young (25 and 26 years old) and dynamic players on a squad that has established themselves as the elite franchise in the NHL. Having these two locked up for another another eight years puts the franchise on a winning track for the future. The ‘Hawks have two Stanley Cup wins with the duo and Kane has won the Calder (2008) and Conn Smythe (2013) while Toews has won the Conn Smythe (2010) and Selke (2013). Now they are in Chicago together through 2022-23. Wow. That is called winning an offseason!
Finally, the NFL is quiet with camps so close and the last weeks of time off for the players and coaches (and beat writers!). The NFL had the supplemental draft come and go without a team wasting a draft pick for the second consecutive year. The last pick? 2012 when Cleveland got Josh Gordon for a second round pick. Of course, Gordon is in the news for all the wrong reasons having already been reported to be facing a season-long suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. This time he was arrested and charged with a DWI last weekend.
Gordon is supposed to have a hearing for his suspension for the substance abuse test failure later this month to request a reduced suspension. With his suspension last year (two games and two games with no pay) and now a DWI and speeding ticket last month (with his passenger cited for possession of marijuana) the supremely talented player is doing himself no favors.
It seems the NFL Players Union has hurt their own players by negotiating all this time off in the offseason and limits on time working with teams. With more time off players have more time to get into trouble. Aaron Hernandez was the poster child for too much time away from the team last year, and now Gordon is finding more ways to sabotage his career. Some players seem to need the structure of team control all year long to keep themselves out of trouble, but the Players Union has decreed it is not in the best interest of their constituents to have them spend the offseason with the team getting better and putting out a better product and stuff like that. Sad.
Finally, from the NFL’s only publicly traded team--the Green Bay Packers--having to release revenue numbers comes news that all that money going to the NFL teams...oh, yeah, there is more than anyone imagined. NFL teams divided more than $6 billion last season. Revenue rose almost 5% from the year prior and just continuing to grow. The DirecTV deal is up and being negotiated...the NFL Network got another big chunk of cash for CBS to take over half of the Thursday Night lineup, and the money keeps rolling in. With no signs of slowing, the league continues to pile up the profits.
While gushing over the bevy of new music that was previewed online over the past week...
This past week, Sports Illustrated's website got a redesign that reportedly was supposed to make it more compatible with smartphones and the like. Well I don't know if it accomplished that goal or not, but it did manage to make the site utterly unworkable on a PC that is for sure.
The redesign looks like someone with a technical background vomited on the screen. And things don't work. The site is massively slower, things don't work properly and you can't find things that were available with the previous version of the website. You know, the one that wasn't broken.
While I did read various news stories, my main focus on my multiple daily visits was to check out the daily columns offered by the site's bevy of writers. I've tried searching through the new site for that option but the only thing available is a list of writers. This would mean you'd have to click on each individual name in that list to see if they'd written something new on a particular day. Talk about unwieldy.
I checked out Sports Illustrated's Facebook page to see if anyone else had commented about the redesign and lo and behold, complaints about this epic fail of a redesign make up the majority of the posts to the page by users. And yet, thus far there hasn't been a single word from the powers that be to address the concerns of users who are promising to flock to other websites if things aren't fixed or reset back to the previous design of the website.
And I'm one of those people. This new design is atrocious and whomever approved it should be immediately fired. The only times I've been to the main site since they launched the new site is to check and see if they've gotten rid of it. Luckily, the subsite for TheMMQB.com is still workable and I have that saved as a separate bookmark. But I'll have to go to Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com for sports news if something isn't done soon.
The New York Liberty broke their losing streak early last week when they knocked off the Atlanta Dream 85-78. But they didn't build off that win when they ended up losing on Friday night to the Chicago Sky 73-69.
The loss to the Sky has to be particularly galling when you consider the Sky were without the services of their star player (and one of the faces of the WNBA) Elena Delle Donne. She's out indefinitely to deal with the effects of Lyme Disease. It isn't like she's the whole team, as proven by Epiphanny Prince scoring 30 points. But the news was only announced on Friday so you might've thought the team would've been affected. Kudos to them for not allowing it to affect their play though.
As for the Liberty they are now 4-11 on the season.
As for the WNBA's Pride program, things don't seem to be going along as smoothly as the league could've hoped for. One report had the league trying to make all the players wear Pride shooting shirts in warmups. When players objected to being forced to wear them, the league relented and made them optional. And a big game on ESPN that was touted as having a big Pride aspect to it, turned out to have about as minimal a presence on the broadcast as possible without ignoring it altogether.
Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times (she covers the Seattle Storm) had a piece this week that took the league/ESPN to task for the perceived failures in this official outreach to the LGBT portion of the league's fanbase that you can read HERE.
While some on the Rebkell women's basketball message board took issue with what she wrote, I thought it was a compelling piece even if you don't agree with everything she had to say.
I woke up this morning to find the news that Jason Kidd had once again provided proof that he's a gigantic pantload of a scumbag loser. You can read why I say that HERE.
BOSTON RED SOX
Boston Herald beat writer John Tomase wrote an article this past Wednesday that called on Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to make changes to the team now. He said that they've had half a season to show they can compete and haven't done the job, then goes on to list the failures of certain players and what might be done to replace them.
I'm sure the article won't make him any friends (not that is his job anyway) in the team's locker room, but the article pretty much sums up everything that has unfortunately gone wrong with the team this year. You can check out the full article here.
A big congratulations goes out to the Vanderbilt University baseball team who beat out Virginia to win the College World Series.
In college summer ball, the Cape Cod Baseball league team in my town is the Wareham Gatemen. They are off to another bad start this season. After losing to the Orleans Firebirds 7-3 last night they are 4-11 on the season.
The NBA Draft saw the Celtics take Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart with the 6th pick and James Young from Kentucky with the 17th pick. And maybe it is the pessimist in me, but I don't see how these two guys are going to help improve the Celtics from 25-57.
This is in light of the fact that the selection of both players gave rise to the notion that both Rajon Rondo and/or Avery Bradley wouldn't return next season. By no means is that a guarantee but since there was no player in this year's draft that was seen as an heir apparent to the throne of Jordan or James, how can anyone expect more than what we saw last year with the additions of Smart (pictured below 1st) and Young (pictured 2nd)?
Look, I'm not saying they can't be good additions to the team, but nothing I've read says they are going to markedly change the fortunes of the Celtics either. I don't think ready to play necessarily means effectively play.
In other draft news, the NBA did something that was PR smart and just a nice humanitarian type gesture. Baylor's Isaiah Austin was expected to be drafted this year after a pretty darn good career in college. But his NBA dreams crashed and died when he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome. It is a genetic disease that affects the body's connective tissue. It meant that his basketball playing days were over.
But Adam Silver made a point to recognize Austin and gave him his draft moment. You can see it below.
Hilarious Video of the Week - Check out this video called "First Moon Party". It is disturbingly funny.
Books - A bit of twist this week as I bought and then finished reading a book in the same day. The book in question was Takedown Twenty. It is the latest Stephanie Plum adventure by Janet Evanovich. The light-hearted series is always entertaining as Stephanie bungles her way through her job as a bounty hunter in Trenton, New Jersey.
Also, it was announced the author Kyle Mills has been selected to take over the Mitch Rapp series that was written by author Vince Flynn. Flynn passed away from cancer before finishing the book he was currently working on called The Survivor. Mills will then write two more books featuring Rapp.
It is always hard to accept a new author writing someone else's character/characters. I'm still not completely sold on the notion of Robert B. Parker's Spenser character being written by Ace Atkins despite having read the novels. Something will always feel JUST a little bit off.
But I've read some of the books that Mills has written in the past, particularly his series on FBI agent Mark Beamon, and he's a damn fine writer. So I'll definitely be looking to check out how he handles the writing duties with Mitch Rapp.
Comics - The Wizard World Philadelphia convention was held last weekend and the Pop-topia.com website covered it. You can check out the site proper for a variety of articles, but I thought I'd link the "final thoughts" article by my buddy J.D. HERE.
TV - Well, I just destroyed some brain cells last night. I watched the pilot episode of that Girl Meets World show spun off from the old ABC sitcom Boy Meets World. And I have to say that any parent letting their kid watch this absolute piece of garbage show should be brought up on child endangerment charges.
It is so soul-sucking bad, I don't know how even what passes for the low standards of an idiotic network like the Disney Channel were met.
The goodwill engendered by Boy Meets World being a fondly remembered piece of nostalgia (aired 21 years ago) is annihilated by about as poorly conceived a concept with bad acting and writing as I've ever seen. Good Gawd! Homeboys in Outer Space was better than this.
Everyone involved with this show should issue a public apology and resign from public life forever.
I'm happy to say that my copy of the Shout! Factory DVD release of NYPD Blue Season 6 arrived in the mail yesterday and I'm in the midst of a binge watch this weekend. The show is one of my favorites of all time and I'm certainly glad that Shout! Factory is getting around to releasing the seasons on DVD. The original DVD release of the show stalled after four seasons but the company picked up the ball and have release the next two season with plans for season 7 to be out at the end of September.
Music - It was a big week in music for those of us who like to get previews of upcoming new releases. There were four bits of music that caught my ear this week and you can check them out below.
The first was an audio clip of the new Overkill song "Armorist". It is from their July 22nd release White Devil Armory. Unfortunately for me, I didn't really care much for this song.
Next up is the Robert Plant track "Rainbow" from his September 9th CD Lullaby and...the Ceaseless Roar.
Kix is one of the 80's metal bands that really struck a chord with listeners for their infectious upbeat music and spirited double entendres. The band has reunited for a few years to do concerts, but until now there hadn't been any new music. But August 5th will see the release of Rock Your Face Off. You can hear "Love Me With Your Top Down" below.
And probably the most anticipated album for me this summer is Accept's Blind Rage, due out August 15th. The band released the official video for the song "Stampede" and it is epically awesome.
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. I hope your week is going well…I am amazed that June is almost in the books. I wish there was a way to slow these summer days down. My wife and I made a trip up to Ranger Texas to talk to the Ranger College baseball coach about my son playing there next year. The visit went well and it looks like baseball is paying for his schooling next year. On the way home, we took a short side trip to visit Lake Leon. It has been many years since we had a lake property and both of us really miss our time at the lake. Life is funny. This time last year we were thinking about the Edinburg. Now we have a new part of the state to explore. I do know this…I found a really good BBQ/Steakhouse a few minutes from Ranger. Sometimes I wish I knew what was around the bend, but then again I suppose that would ruin the experience.
San Antonio sent a simple message...damn that is good.
So LeBron is moving on…big surprise. Haven’t we seen this show before? Things soured pretty quickly in Miami, didn’t they? I don’t know why anyone would be surprised at this, really. It has been said that the strongest houses are built with the best foundations. The Heat foundation was faulty. I guess they did prove that you could win a championship, just not build a dynasty. Now, LeBron will chase a championship somewhere else. Hanging around Miami to try to rebuild a winner is too hard for LeBron. Where will LeBron land next? Who cares…
This has been a very interesting college World Series in Omaha. As a fan of Texas baseball, I was extremely proud that three teams made it to Omaha. Of course I was pulling for the Longhorns to win it all, but was still very happy to see the success they had this year. College baseball has been remade with the change to the BBCOR bats a few years ago. Many folks hated the aluminum bats and the inflated offensive numbers that came with those premium bats. Now those same folks are whining about the lack of runs being scored in college baseball. There have only been a handful of homeruns hit so far in Omaha and many want this to change. The NCAA has decided to change to a ball with flatter seams next year. The thinking is that this will make it more difficult for pitchers to throw balls with movement, thus helping hitters have more favorable pitches to hit. Of course, the NCAA could have just changed to the same balls that minor league or professional baseball uses, but they felt that the core was too “lively” for the college game. The truth is that the NCAA has no idea if the new balls will be better or not as there is no prototype currently available. Huh? I am scratching my head on this one.
If you have a pet, eventually you must deal with the pet growing old (unless you have a tortoise or something). We have three dogs, but our oldest dog is the one that our kids grew up with. He is a Daschund…or wiener dog if you will. Chester is 14 years old and has recently begun to act his age. His hearing and vision are headed downhill quickly. I have spent the last two days cleaning up little Chester piles. The old guy either forgets he is inside or he just no longer cares. Yes, it makes me really angry to have to pick up dog poop, but then I remember all of the happiness he has brought to our family and my anger fades. Times goes by and we will eventually say good bye to our dog, but those great memories will always remain.
That’s all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…
When you're riding in a time machine way far into the future, don't stick your elbow out the window, or it'll turn into a fossil.
If you were a pirate, you know what would be the one thing that would really make you mad? Treasure chests with no handles. How the hell are you supposed to carry it?!
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…