Thursday, July 30, 2009

End the Witch Hunt

That's it! I'm done! I've had it and I don't want to know anymore! Enough is enough! I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! Yet another report has surfaced about players names from the infamous list of 100 baseball players who tested positve for steroids in 2003. At the time, the list was supposed to be an anonymous thing. It was only meant as a survey. If enough guys failed, then it would trigger the random testing policy we have today. Low and behold, names have surfaced, even after the so called list was to be destroyed. This time, it's Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Isn't that something?

It doesn't take a Harvard grad to figure out what is going on. Everyone pundit in the media, will now crucify Ortiz and Ramirez. There is blood in the water and the sharks are circling. It's the real American pastime. No, not baseball anymore, it's the fascination of the media witch hunt. Again revisionist historians will raise their ugly heads and say how bad Manny and Big Poppy were. Somehow they will forget how Manny and Ortiz helped lead Boston to their first championship in 80 years. Somehow they will forget how legions of Boston fans felt when they finally broke the curse. Nobody really cared if they were juiced or not. Unfortunately, Manny and Big Poppy are toast.

Will we see the Mea Culpa? I hope not. Why do I feel this way? The powers that be in Baseball want the names out there, because then we have villians. The media has their so called moralistic crusade. In reality they are keeping the steroid thing going to sell ad space. Bud Selig doesn't want his name touched. The owners don't want their names out there. You give the media the players and everybody else walks away. It is straight out of Vince McMahon's playbook. It is all soap opera.

Being a Yankee fan, I wish all the ill-will to that team on Yawkey way, but not this way. The Sox earned that championship and now, somehow, some will feel it is tainted. It shouldn't be that way. I want no asterisks on records or championships. It is time we let it go, but we're not allowed. Unfortunately, the fix is in, and it has nothing to do with Steroids.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just Win Baby!!!

At this year's Big Ten Media day, Indiana Coach, Bill Lynch spoke of his new community outreach program in Bloomington. You see, Coach Lynch had decided that he was going to do something about the apathetic Hoosier fan base. So what did the coach do? He decided to visit all of the Fraternity and Sorority houses on campus to drum up student fan support. Per ESPN's Adam Rittenberg:

It's no secret that Indiana has struggled to generate fan support at times during the last 15 years, and often times the pregame tailgates outside Memorial Stadium are better attended than the actual games. You have to like Lynch's approach, especially since it would be hard to imagine many other BCS coaches pounding the pavement around campus for support.

Imagine you are a D1 ball coach and you have to literally beg for fans to come to games. I like the creativity, but I have a far more simpler thing to do. In the immortal words of Al Davis, "Just Win Baby!"

Nothing cures an apathetic fan base like sucess on the playing field. A perfect example of that, I have witnessed first hand, is Rutgers. For years Rutgers had been the doormat of eastern football. The best receruits in New Jersey went elsewhere. I remember going to WVU-Rutgers games in Piscataway and sitting in the WVU section. We, hillbillies, outnumbered the Scarlet Knight faithful in their own stadium. I always kind of felt sorry for them. Then things changed with the hiring of Greg Schiano.

Coach Schiano, in his first act as coach, invited all of the top recruits from New Jersey to his office and said stay here and build something. The kids loved it and it worked. Rutgers began winning. Rutgers went on to their first bowl games in years. Scarlet R's started appearing on cars. They actually sold out their season ticket allotment for the first time in the school's history. They are just finishing up a 10,000 seat expansion to their stadium. They started to win and the fans came out.

The story of Coach Lynch makes nice headlines, but, if you don't produce, the fans won't come. Coach Lynch's idea comes off as hokey and sort of desperate. I like Coach Lynch personally. I know he got a tough gig replacing Coach Terry Hoeppner who lost a battle with cancer. At the end of the day, though, you have to win. Maybe if he put that much energy into getting the kids on campus in the way of recruiting, instead the ones that already there, maybe, just maybe, Memorial stadium could be rocking....


Friday, July 24, 2009

The Great Ride

Just outside of Arlington National Cemetery, I sit here in this small hotel room with my two kids and wife in tow. We have come to say goodbye or I should say, celebrate the life of my Grandmother Lt. Irene (Jaloski) Overath. Our room is cramped and piled high with two car fulls of things for every possible scenario that two small children could possibly need. Per our normal standard operating procedure, we have somehow managed to forget something that was of major need for the kids. This time it was a small things like diapers and food. Somehow these small necesities couldn't make it in our two vehicles that we brought in tow. It is times like these, I wonder how the true Wonder Woman in my life did it. She raised eight kids, fought a world war, helped care for the thousands of soldiers lives, and somehow managed to keep my grandfather forever devoted to her.

Raised in the coal fields of western Pennsylvania, my grandmother learned the value of hard work and the modesty of her blue collar immigrant parents. Throughout the years, she would always say to me, how our family's farm reminded her of her own childhood. She would tell me stories of West Deer. She would tell me the stories of the men that worked the mines. It seemed insignificant to me at the time, but as the older I got, I realized she was teaching me the same values that was passed down to her. We connected on this level. She made me feel special and unique. The older I got, I realized she did this with everyone of us. To understand the magnitude of, you have to look at the numbers; eight children, seventeen grandchildren, and now six (soon to be seven) great-grandchildren . She never ran out of love.

I'll miss her wonderful laugh. I'll miss her cut throat style of playing skipbo. I'll miss the wonderful visits. Most of all, I'll miss her strength. My mom said it best, somewhere up there, her and Opa are driving around in their motorhome. I'm sure that every once in a while, they'll check in on us, just when we need it most. I love you Oma....


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

He's a Pinko Commie!!!

I swear, Kansas City Royals, Jose Guillen is a communist and I love him for it. I think, in the my more than three decades of walking this planet, have I never heard a person, let alone a star athlete, proclaim that they make too much money. That's exactly what Jose Guillen did. In a recent article in the Kansas City Star, Guillen said:

“I’m embarrassed by the money that I’m making,” Guillen said, “and playing the way I’ve been playing. I’ll swear that on my kids’ (lives). I feel very embarrassed.

“Sometimes, I feel I should take money out of my own pocket and buy tickets for every fan. Because you know what? For a $12-million man, these are not the numbers you should be expecting. I admit it. I’m not playing to my potential.”

He has to be a communist, a sandinista or something of such ilk. Only a left wing pinko commie, would utter such things. It is downright un-American or maybe it is utterly shocking when we hear an athlete be honest without using the usual interview cliques. Up to this point, Jose Guillen wasn't even on my radar. Today, he made me a fan, the same way Charles Barkley did when he said he was no hero. It is the same reason I love the Ozzie Guillen's press conferences. It is why I love Joe Paterno's quips about the Big 10. There is an honesty that is so rarely there. It is moments like this, that makes sports utterly enjoyable. It gives us perspective.
Jose probably cost himself some money when the next contract negotiation comes around, but more importantly he just may have found his next gig as a commentator. That is why we love John Kruk, even if he isn't all that honest. He comes off that way. It is why we love my man Barkley on the TNT halftime show. It is why we loved Ditka and Jim Mora. It shows a side that reminds us, that their regular guys, who just happen to play a game really well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Apparently, I'm not the only one tired of Beck's act...

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Beckham Experiment Is a Failure

Last year , I had a blog post, lauding the David Beckham rule, allowing MLS teams to sign one designated player who's salary would not count against the salary cap. I love the rule, but Beckham's act is starting to wear thin. Maybe I expected too much, or maybe he hasn't delivered. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

Three years ago, the signing of David Beckham was supposed to change the face of the MLS. It was to give the league legitimacy. I thought it would begin to show the world that we were an emerging soccer power. Our great wealth as a nation was going to buy us the respect amongst the football world. Instead, Beckham has sold a bunch of jerseys, made a ton of money and has failed to even get the Galaxy to the playoffs. What I have learned is that, as in life, money can't buy you everything. Brand Beckham sells, it just doesn't win.

I remember a conversation I had with my Uncle Rich, who is far and away more in tune with the beautiful game through refereeing and coaching. He had been saying that for us to be great, our best players needed to play in the better leagues around the world to raise the level of play here. He essentially was saying that we did not need Beckham. I still think we do, but it needs to be an American Beckham. The US national team win over Spain showed me that my Uncle was right. Outside of Landon Donovan. most of our best players are playing around the world outside of the MLS and they are winning. Donovan, previous to his stint with the Galaxy, did play overseas. Tim Howard taking his club team Everton, to the FA Cup final against my beloved Chelsea, showed me that we are earning that respect. The win over a record seeking, all time great Spanish team is earning that respect. The signing of Oguchi Onyewu, (yes he is an American), by AC Milan is showing that respect. David Beckham is not.

I so want the David Beckham experiment to work. We all now know that he is here to collect a paycheck and nothing else. In America we love a great sales pitch, but we also want it to deliver. I just haven't seen it yet. Somewhere in a suburban park is the American Pele and we don't need to import it.