Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

First off, let’s get this out of the way – I don’t like Pumpkin Pie. Never will, and you can’t make me. For this I am resolute and unapologetic. Also, and this may be shocking to many, I’m not crazy about turkey. That said, there are many a Thanksgiving dish I do savor, hence my 2019 Thanksgiving Dinner Power Rankings. Remember kids, before you get all up in arms and whatnot these are simply my personal preferences, so chillax. I also realize some of these are actually sides and not traditional Thanksgiving fare but it’s my website so I can do what I want. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up . . .

10. Honey Glazed Ham

Big ham guy here, but it has to be honey glazed. Nothing like a good glazin’ of honey, amirite? Scrumptious.

9. Garlic Butter Cheesy Crescent Rolls

Yep. And butter those suckers up like a boss. Can’t have too much butter, heart attacks be damned.

8. Baklava

Can a Greek dish like Baklava be considered a Thanksgiving dish? Damn straight it can, because it’s delicious. Love that flaky phyllo pastry, man.

7. Oyster Stuffing

I know, I know. I don’t like turkey but I like stuffing. I’m a complex individual. Deal with it. PS- Must use Old Bay in the recipe. I learned this from someone who can actually cook.

6. Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Love. It. Something about that garlic and parmesan mix that I love. On a related note, I can’t handle chunky mashed potatoes. Blech.

5. Deviled Eggs

My sister Sara makes some killer deviled eggs that are unsurpassed. A holiday staple.

4. Sausage Rolls with Worcestershire Sauce

So damn good. Heaven with a touch of tangy crispiness.

3. Garlic Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

Aw man. Add some cream cheese, black pepper and some other stuff and go to town on those bad boys. T-a-s-t-y.

2. Bacon Wrapped Spicy Meatballs

Let’s see . . . spicy? Check. Meatballs? Check. Bacon? Hell yes. Gimme those small ones that you pick up with a toothpick and I may down 20 in a single sitting.

And #1 is  . . . Sharp Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese 

Because of course it is. To not like Mac ‘n’ Cheese is downright un-American, man. I’m a bit of a cheese snob, and I’ll take freshly grated cheese over packaged grated cheese all day, every way. Anywho, you simply can’t go wrong with this cheesy bowl of goodness.

Aaaand I’ve made myself hungry again. Catch y’all later.

Good list, good list. I can’t really complain. EXCEPT, I’d like to have seen the one I posted below the first video included.

Uh, yeah. This one. Wait for #1.

Over the past few years I’ve posted some of my thoughts regarding coaching, so since basketball season is ready to commence I thought I’d combine them into one compilation. Remember that these are just my personal opinions and nothing more.

THE TRUTH ABOUT COACHING

When I first began coaching over 30-years ago, a lot was different.coaching-1

Everything was sort of black and white for me then, and there has since been a lot more grays. How did that happen? Experience, I guess.

I’ve always loved kids, ever since the first day I set foot in that classroom at Greenfield Middle School back in 1984. Not once did I regret the profession I chose. But teaching and coaching, although similar in a lot of ways, can also be very different. Students are there because the have to be, players are there largely because they want to be.

You have to encourage kids in both the classroom and on the basketball court, and you have to push them as well. However, coaching takes place in a much more public forum.

In the beginning, I’m sure part of the reason I coached was ego driven. It was a way to replace my playing days, a way to compete in front of a crowd. There was that initial thrill of working the sidelines as the fans cheered for your team.

Over time, that changes.

I learned the game from a lot of old school, in-your-face style coaches, great coaches like Rick VanMatre at Greenfield McClain, Gary Williams at the University of Maryland and Bob Huggins at the University of Cincinnati and now West Virginia. By the way, I just checked and those three have a winning percentage of almost .700. That’s 7 of every 10 games they coached. Pretty damn good. I’m not nearly the coach any of those guys are, not by a long shot, but I’ve sure learned a lot from all of them.

You know one of the most important things I learned in my 30+ years of coaching? It’s that kids can handle anything if they know you care about them. Seems simple but it’s true. If they know you love them they don’t take the criticism personally. They know you’re trying to help them.

Quick note – People aren’t completely rational when their relatives are involved, and they shouldn’t be. You can’t take it personally when mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles criticize you. Love is blind, man, and it’s OK.

And as a young coach, if you feel like you’re going through a bad time or being criticized unjustly, go talk to another coach. They’ll top your story every time. We’ve all been there, buddy. Many times. It’s all a part of the game, and it’s all a part of coaching.

I’ve seen guys who thought they wanted to coach start and not last more than a few years, mainly because of the pressures that come with the job.

Of the 33-years I coached, only 13 of them were as a high school basketball coach. I spent time as a coach at the Junior High, JV, Little League, and AAU levels. I’ve also spent a zillion hours as a college camp coach and scout, and I’ve been the international coach of a team from the Caribbean on the beautiful island called Montserrat.

And as coaching has brought me to all these places, to college campuses and incredibly exotic locations like the one in the Caribbean, I’ve also seen the game save lives. I’ve seen basketball take kids from the inner-city to the bright lights, and I’ve seen it literally give young players a reason to live.

That’s not an exaggeration, believe me. I’ve seen basketball save lives.

Being allowed to coach is a gift, one of the greatest you can be given. And you know why? Because as great as all the wins are (and I’ve been on both sides, believe me), that’s not what ultimately makes it all worthwhile.

Ultimately, it’s about relationships.

It’s about developing relationships with your players, because that’s what lasts and that’s what matters. Sure, you remember the big wins, the upsets where you won a big game you weren’t supposed to win. You remember those trips to The Convo, the ultimate goal for teams from our area. But what is lasting, what is important, are the relationships. In comparison, the victories don’t mean so much.

Not really.

I’ve loved every player I ever coached, and I hope they know that. How could I not after everything I put them through? How could I not after they stuck with me through it all, through the tough practices, through the blood and sweat and tears, through all the wins and the losses?

Think about it. What would bring you more satisfaction and fulfillment, winning a District Championship or having a former player ask you to be the Godfather to his son?

No contest, man. And it’s not even close.

SOME THOUGHTS ON COACHING

I’ve been a coach for over 30-years now and have experienced just about everything the game can throw at you, a lot of it good and a little of it bad. Honestly, I’d say that my experiences in coaching have been 99.9% positive and I mean that sincerely.

And if I’ve said this once I’ve said it a thousand times: Since I began coaching, kids haven’t changed. Not a bit. However, something has changed, and that is parenting.

Years ago parents let the teacher or coach make decisions and they backed them nearly 100% of the time. Today? Not so much. A lot of parents want to jump in and save their child from any type of adversity, not understanding that letting their kid deal with most of their problems on his/her own is what builds character.

NEWSFLASH: Mom won’t be there to save you when you’re 28-years old and your boss rips you for being late for work. Then again, I’m guessing a lot of these kids will still be living at home, so maybe she’ll try.

But hey, I’ve been lucky enough to have some unbelievably great, supportive parents over the years and I appreciate them more than they’ll ever know. The parents I’ve had since I’ve returned to high school coaching a few years ago have been remarkably supportive. Over the years, however, there have been a few . . .

One year I had a mom rip into me after a game, infuriated that I wouldn’t let her son shoot 3-pointers. Then the following conversation ensued:

Mom: “Why won’t you let Billy shoot the ball! He’s open all the time! Let him shoot it!”

Me: “Uh, you know why he’s open, right? The other team wants him to shoot it.”

Yeah, that didn’t go over too well. When irrational people are faced with logic it’s sometimes hard for them to handle, trust me.

One year I had a parent tell me that I played favorites, and she was a little surprised when I agreed with her 100%.

“You mean you admit to playing favorites?”

“Of course. It’s my job to pick my favorites. And my favorites are the guys who work the hardest and smartest and do what I ask them to do. My favorites are the players that can help us be the most successful.”

Trust me, I’ve rarely known a coach that didn’t put the guys that he thought were his best players on the floor. Most coaches wouldn’t play their own son if they had better players to put out there. To think otherwise is ridiculous.

Another common refrain I’ve heard over the years is this:

“Tommy’s thinking about quitting. He’s not having fun.”

Sigh. Listen up, folks. As Coach Norman Dale said in the movie Hoosiers:

“My practices aren’t designed for your enjoyment.”

Amen.

See, the fun part comes when your hard work pays off and you winThat’s the fun part. Oh, you can have a little fun at practice but if that’s all you do you’ll never achieve that ultimate satisfaction. Oh sure, practice will be fun, but when you play an actual game? Not so much.

That’s not too hard to understand now, is it?

I always tell my guys that you can’t take anything I say personally at practice or games. I may be angry at the way you’re playing, but I’m not angry at you. I love my players. How could I not after the way I push and prod them while they hang in there, listen, and keep working towards getting better?

Players almost always get it. Parents usually do, but not always.

So thanks to those parents who understand, those who know that most coaches really do have their player’s best interests at heart, and that we really do care about them.

Because we do. Promise.

A FEW (MORE) THOUGHTS ON COACHING

Over the years I’ve written a few articles about coaching and my opinions and outlook on various aspects of it. Among these were two called The Truth About Coaching and Some Thoughts On Coaching.

As many of you know I’m not coaching this year so I’ve had the opportunity to watch games and practices all over Southern Ohio, and as I watch thoughts inevitably come to mind. When that happens I jot down some notes with the idea that when I gathered enough I’d publish another article.

Keep in mind I’m not critiquing any coach in particular, and just because I believe what you’re about to read doesn’t mean it’s necessarily correct.

It’s just my personal opinion, kids. Chillax.

Bottom line, times have changed and kids have changed. Actually, parenting has changed and as a result kids have changed. It’s w-a-a-a-y different than it was when I began coaching all the way back in the Fall of 1983. If I tried to coach in 2015 the way I coached in 1991 I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I did, trust me.

As I’ve said many times before on this site and when I speak to teams, coaching is about relationships. That’s always been the case to some extent but it’s exponentially more important today. There has to be some sort of a relationship between player and coach. Your players have to believe in you. As Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “Coaching is 90% creating an environment and 10% strategy.”

That is 100% true.

Some coaches believe that showing compassion for their players is a sign of weakness, as if they’re giving up some essential part of their power as leader of the team. The fact is that yelling and berating without compassion will get old really quickly with today’s athlete, and at some point the coach will lose the team.

The ironic part of all this, of course, is that if your players know you love them you can yell at them all you want because they know you’re coming from a good place.

So showing compassion is not a weakness, but a strength.

Another thing I’ve noticed while attending games is that coaches, especially at the smaller schools, are successful when they adjust to their talent. Some coaches have their “systems” or style they like and expect their players to fit into it regardless. Here’s the deal – you can’t recruit players at a small school.  So, you have to adjust and run an offense and defense that fits your team’s abilities and strengths.

Over my last 4-years of coaching I had a very talented 6′-11″, 305 pound center. It wouldn’t have been real bright of me to run a fast break and beat him down the floor just because I liked a running style, right? Therefore we mostly (but not always) walked it up and ran our offense through him. Defensively we mostly played a zone where we kept our big man guarding the rim while our guards got out and pressured the perimeter. Hey, you have the luxury of getting out and pressuring when you have a rim protector backing you up.

My point is that just because you, as a coach, like running and pressing doesn’t mean you can – set your ego aside and do what works best for your team.

And that whole “hey, we do what we do and don’t worry about our opponents” argument is about as dumb as it gets. Of course you have to adjust to your opponents. To not is a path to failure.

College, and some high schools, are different because you can recruit or have the numbers to pick and choose your team. At small schools that’s just not possible,

Collegiately it can go both ways. A coach like Bob Huggins at West Virginia or Jim Boeheim at Syracuse recruit their players to fit their system. Same for the majority of college coaches. On the other hand, guys at the really elite programs like Coach K at Duke, Coach Cal at Kentucky or Coach Self at Kansas grab the best players available and adjust their offense and defense accordingly.

But at small high schools? As I mentioned, you have to set your ego and your favorite style aside and play the hand your dealt.

And hell, there are a thousand different ways to coach. Bobby Knight and Jim Valvano were as opposite as night and day but both won National Championships. Be yourself, man.

Finally, if there’s one thing I learned over the years it’s that the best coaches never, ever stop learning. The day you think you know everything is the day to quit. The game, and the players, are constantly changing and coaches have to change with it.

If you don’t, the game will soon pass you by.

PS- As I’ve mentioned before, many of the basic philosophies of coaching – developing relationships, being able to communicate, and more – apply to teaching as well as coaching. They’re closely related.

PPS- One more thing. Team success depends on many variables like team chemistry, injuries, players getting sick, interfering administrators, etc. Bottom line, they’re all a part of sports. Using them as an excuse will only give your team an excuse to fail. As the great Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.” 

ARBY’S APOLOGIZES FOR “SHOCKING” SIGN

When Christine Hemsworth brought her children to a local Arby’s for dinner, she was shocked to discover that some of her little ones might not always be welcome at the family friendly chain.

On Oct. 6, Hemsworth stopped by the meaty sandwich chain for a bite to eat with three of her kids, one of whom is a toddler, she told TODAY Food. Hemsworth, who is from Princeton, Minnesota, visited an Arby’s in the neighboring town of Elk River, which is about 20 minutes away. As she was entering, she saw a surprising notice posted to the door.

“Only well behaved Children who can keep their food on their trays and their bottoms on their seats are welcome. If you can’t do this you will be asked to leave,” the sign read.

“I’m not a complainer — I’m really not,” she told TODAY. “But this just didn’t sit well with me. The manager could have addressed the message to people individually, not assigned it to the general public.”

That night, Hemsworth posted the story to her Facebook page and by 9 a.m. the next morning it had garnered about 330 shares. She then deleted it.

After learning of the franchise’s actions, Arby’s issued a statement apologizing: “We recognize the language on this sign was insensitive. We removed it quickly, and have disciplined the manager and team working at the restaurant. It does not reflect our company values and the family-friendly environment we aim to provide in all of our restaurants.”.

Just one quick question – WHAT IS THE PROBLEM HERE? This is “shocking”? “Insensitive”? I’m dyin’ over here. So it’s too much to ask to keep your kids in their seats and not running around like hooligans while you’re trying to enjoy your delicious Smokehouse Brisket and Loaded Curly Fries? Good Lord, man. I know Arby’s isn’t exactly fine dining but people shouldn’t expect to be hounded by demon urchins from hell whilst supping either. Gimme a break, man. Lighten’ up America!

PS- It’s so sad that Arby’s backed down so quickly and apologized. Feel free to let your children have food fights and act disrespectfully everyone! Here’s a preview!

Yeah, I probably disagree with about half of these. I realize that “iconic” doesn’t mean “best” but come on. In my opinion they were about 3 for 10 in the 90s. Still, a fun video. Enjoy and give me your thoughts.

This was a tough one. There have been so many great sports movies. That said, I whittled my list to 18, with several Honorable Mentions. Let us proceed . . .

Brian’s Song – I absolutely loved this TV movie, and I vividly recall watching it with my father in our living room back in 1971. When Billy Dee Williams (as Gale Sayers) made that speech I was in tears. Great, great movie. Factoid: Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo were the first interracial teammates in the history of the National Football League.

Caddyshack

Well der. Of course Caddyshack makes the list. Here’s my favorite scene. Anyone who’s ever played golf has beard this epic line when trying to make a big putt. “Noonan!”

Breaking Away

A largely forgotten classic. It’s an amazing little movie about a bike race in Indiana. Here’s the climactic finale. Victory for the Cutters!

When We Were Kings

When We Were Kings is a 1996 Oscar-winning documentary film about the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The fight was held in Zaire in 1974. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and for good reason. Ali was incredible. Here’s the trailer:

 

Field of Dreams

Just a mystical, dream-like movie. One of a kind really. My favorite favorite quote was from Archie Graham: “We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be other days’. I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”

Miracle

Ah, the film about the greatest upset in the history of sports, the USA hockey team’s victory over the mighty U.S.S.R. A highlight was Coach Herb Brooks and his pregame speech, delivered by Kurt Russell. It still gives me chills.

 

The Longest Yard (1974)

In my opinion the original was much better than the recent Adam Sandler remake. Hey, it had Burt Reynolds, what more could you ask for?

 

Rudy

Yeah, yeah, he may have been offsides on that play. I don’t care. When Rudy gets in that game after years of paying his dues it brings a tear to my eye every damn time. Every. Damn. Time.

The Karate Kid

“Sweep the leg.” Yeah, we all thought Danny LaRusso was finished when Johnny Lawrence just about broke his leg. Not so fast, Cobra Kai . . .

 

Happy Gilmore

Any movie that has Adam Sandler getting pummeled by Bob Barker is alright by me. “The price is wrong, bitch.”

The Sandlot

Just an All-American classic that gave us the line, “You’re killin’ me Smalls.” Love it.

Secretariat

If this final scene doesn’t get to you you have no heart.

“It’s impossible. No horse can take this pace.” 

“Let him run, Ronnie. LET HIM RUN!”

We Are Marshall

The incredible movie about the plane crash that took the lives of every Marshall football player and coach on the team in 1970. The administration didn’t want to continue the program, but the students did. This is one helluva scene:

Rocky

I couldn’t have a list of favorite sports movies without Rocky, now could I? “Adrian! ADRIAN!”

Bonus video from Rocky II when Adrian wakes up. “Win.”

 

Hoosiers

My favorite sports movie, hands down. Based on a true story, it’s about the time Indiana’s tiny Hickory High knocked off giant Muncie Central in the State Championship game thanks to a last second shot by Jimmy Chitwood. Best line? “I’ll make it.”

Teen Wolf

Well, der. A wolfman playing basketball? Sure. Warning: Contains some of the worst basketball playing these eyes have seen.

Major League

With Charlie Sheen as Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, this movie was destined for greatness. Behold . . .

Honorable Mention:

Eight Men Out, He Got Game, The Replacements, Remember the Titans, Bang the Drum Slowly, The Natural, Raging Bull, Any Given Sunday, Tin Cup, The Wrestler, Pride of the Yankees, Ali, Invincible, Coach Carter, Blue Chips, Slap Shot, White Men Can’t Jump, Friday Night Lights, Foxcatcher, Chariots of Fire, Seabiscuit, Bull Durham, Hoop Dreams

NASA’s InSight Lander has recorded the first ever ‘Mars Quake’ back in April. Roughly six months later, NASA recorded more ‘peculiar sounds’ on the distant planet.

In an Oct. 1 blog post, NASA said that the lander’s seismometer, known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), is able to pick up subtle noises, including a breeze, as well as more Mars quakes.

It [Mars quake] had a surprisingly high-frequency seismic signal compared to what the science team has heard since then,” NASA wrote in the post. “Out of more than 100 events detected to date, about 21 are strongly considered to be quakes. The remainder could be quakes as well, but the science team hasn’t ruled out other causes.”

First, listen to the audio/video. My comments are below.

So the science team hasn’t ruled out “other causes?” First off, let me begin by saying this:  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAA! Are you serious NASA? Those sounds are dinks caused by friction? Wind gusts? Suuuuure they are. I’m telling you right now, if those sounds aren’t aliens screwing around with the Mars InSight Lander I’m Marvin the Martian from Bugs Bunny. Hell, I’m pretty sure they were sending us a message in Morse Code at one point, then followed it up with an alien groaning into the mic just to shove it in our faces. Bottom line we’re going to be invaded and ultimately eaten by aliens. End of story. Thank you and goodnight.

Marvin.

SCMP- In a farm deep in the southern region of China lives a very big pig that’s as heavy as a polar bear.

The 1,102 pound animal is part of a herd that’s being bred to become giant swine. At slaughter, some of the pigs can sell for more than 10,000 yuan ($1,399.00), over three times higher than the average monthly disposable income in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province where Pang Cong, the farm’s owner, lives.

While Pang’s pigs may be an extreme example of the lengths farmers are going to fill China’s swelling pork shortage problem, the idea that bigger is better has been spreading across the country, home to the world’s most voracious consumers of the meat.

Aaaand here we go again, messing around with genetics and whatnot. Seriously, what is it with people, building robots that act like humans, breeding giant animals, and otherwise tempting fate? Do we really need 1/2 ton porkers? Can’t we just breed more regular sized pigs? I don’t get it, man. We’re just asking for trouble. These beasts tried to eat Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, people! Imagine if a bunch of those things turned on us, like they inevitably will. Horrifying thought, really.

PS- I came up with a pretty solid “swelling pork problem” line but I couldn’t pull the trigger.

PPS- Sparky would go for the throat and take one of those things down in a heartbeat. Bacon for years.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Shoal Tent, the inflatable tent that allows you to suffer a grisly death on a river, creek, pond, or lake while camping. Because really kids, isn’t it everyone’s dream to doze off whilst drifting lazily down a river, come upon a sharp-edged rock and awake in a wet blackness as your nylon tent engulfs and entombs you as you sink to your watery grave to be eaten by a Bullhead Catfish?

Seriously, do you just float away in this death-trap or are you anchored to a tree or something? And how do you go to the, you know, bathroom? Can you imagine trying to steer that thing? Imagine stepping from your Floating Tent o’ Death to your canoe or vice versa. What could go wrong? And dude, is this is a Door Dash for bears or what? Yeesh. I can see a couple grizzlies spotting this baby floating downstream and one of them saying, “Oh look. Lunch is here.”

PS- The Shoal Tent us currently on backorder, so if you want to go to sleep on a river and never wake up you’ll need to wait at least six weeks.

PPS- Waterfalls and/or rapids. 

PPPS- This was largely stolen from the website Deadspin.

As many of you know I’ve decided to run for the Paint Valley Board of Education. As of a few days ago my petition was approved and I’ll be on the ballot. There are four people running for two open positions. The incumbents are Justin Immell and Deric Newland, who were both appointed, and they are being challenged by Blake Lloyd and myself, Dave Shoemaker.

I’m running because I care about our community. I care about our school. I care about our kids. I have a deep love for Paint Valley, and I’ve had it for the large majority of my life. I attended school in the Paint Valley district from 1st Grade until the day I graduated high school. I came back and taught in grades 5 through 8 from 1990 until 2013, coached varsity basketball from 1988 to 1996, then was asked to return and coached again from 2012 to 2018. I am the all-time winningest coach in Paint Valley basketball history, and I’m extremely proud of that. In addition, I served as the high school Athletic Director from 1996 until 2007 and was involved in the renovation of our facilities. I’ve also been a substitute teacher in the district from 2013 to the present. All-in-all I’ve been involved in education as a teacher/coach/athletic director/substitute for over 35-years, and 28 of those years have been spent serving the Paint Valley District proudly.

Much of my family has been involved in education, many at Paint Valley. My late mother Kathryn and my late sister Karen taught there, and my late friend and brother-in-law Don “Jigger” Anderson was a beloved principal at our school for 17-years. I was heavily influenced by all of them. I have several relatives who are educators too – Army, Mike, Todd, Josh, Angie, Linda, Rex, Deb, Lori, Terry, Cindy, Laura, and a few I’m sure I’m forgetting. Many of those I mentioned taught at Paint Valley, and countless former students and players of mine have chosen education as a profession  Many are administrators.

I’ve taught and coached thousands of Paint Valley students and athletes. I developed close relationships with many of them and have maintained many to this day. I still have close relationships with many on the teaching staff at Paint Valley as well as some of the administrators and support staffs. I know, appreciate and understand our district’s needs, and I understand how to open lines of communication between the school and community.

As a Paint Valley School Board member I believe communication between the school and community is crucial. Transparency, openness and honesty should be priorities. Community involvement and input is key. After all, it’s your school. A school board member shouldn’t have personal priorities or agendas, nor should they have axes to grind. They shouldn’t micro-manage or try and make decisions they’re not qualified to make. They should let the professionals do their jobs, becoming involved only when the welfare of our students and staff are in question.

And they should always, without fail, exhibit a dedicated commitment to the Paint Valley students, parents, teaching staff, support staff and community.

I care deeply for Paint Valley. To me, the right to be a school board member in a district I love is something I would consider an honor.

And that, members of the Paint Valley community, is why I’m running.

Loved this guy.

When I grew up could name every starter at every position on every major league baseball team, I kid you not. In 1971 you could have asked me who the 2nd baseman was for the Montreal Expos and I could have told you in an instant – Ron Hunt. I had several favorite players, including Oakland A’s pitcher Vida Blue who was 17-3 at the All-Star Break in ’71. Hey, he ended up 24-8 but still. I also loved the ’68 Detroit Tigers with 31-game winner Denny McClain. I could go on and on with names like Willy Mays, Ernie Banks, and Mickey Mantle. And oh, how I loved Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, the greatest baseball team ever assembled. Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey, Sr. Those 8-players were referred to as “The Great 8” and included the all-time hit leader (Rose), three Hall of Fame players in Bench, Pérez and Morgan (and Rose should be in), six National League MVP selections, four National League home run leading seasons, three NL Batting Champions, twenty-five Gold Glove winning seasons, and sixty-three All-Star Game appearances. Those eight guys played together eighty-eight times during the 1975 and 1976 seasons and lost only nineteen games.

Incredible.

Man, I loved baseball. Loved everything about it. From early childhood I remember traveling to games at Crosley Field with my Dad and sometimes my Uncle Myrl and but always with a car or truckload of kids. I remember going down to the little fence that was separated the fans from the players (it was different back then) before the game when Pittsburgh Pirate Willie Stargell ambled over to talk to my cousin Kevin and I. He asked where we were from and generally just chatted us up. It was great and I was in awe. Once, when my cousin Mick cut his knee goofing around as we walked into the stadium we were directed to a room so somebody could take a look at it. It was the actual training room. I don’t know if Dad had connections or something but there we were, and there on the training table beside Mick was Pete Rose. As I stared he talked to us like we were old friends.

Great memories, man.

I also played baseball as a pitcher from a young age up through high school and was even offered a few small college scholarships. Nothing big, just some little like DePauw in Illinois, places like that. Bottom line, for years baseball and basketball were by far the two main sports in my life.

Oh, I still enjoy high school and little league games, but the majors? Not so much. Over time, my love for major league baseball faded away. Why, you ask? I think there are several reasons.

The Big Red Machine.

First of all, when I was a kid you could count on your team to have the same players for much of your life. Sure, there were trades but for the most part guys stayed on the same team. This is true for other sports as well, especially the NBA, and although I understand why it’s happening I do believe it’s harder to maintain loyalty when players are hopping around from team-to-team. Today’s kids have favorite players more than they have favorite teams. If your guy leaves you simply go with him.

In addition, players have become commodities to the point that they’re removed from games at the slightest hint of injury. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a line drive nick a pitcher in the shoulder, only to see him taken out as a “safety precaution.” Do I get it? I guess I do. Like I said, they’re commodities. I do realize the days of Pete Rose playing with broken bones and Bob Gibson throwing 28 complete games are gone forever.

Still, it’s hard for me to watch players getting a boo-boo and sitting out games.

Note: This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. I remember when Pete Rose managed the Reds back in the late 80s and Eric Davis sat out a game because he’d slept funny on the plane and had a “sore neck.” I can imagine Charlie Hustle looking at him like he had a platypus on his head.

And what about the length of games? Good Lord man, in 1975 the average length of games was 149-minutes. In 2019 it was 188-minutes. That’s a 26.2% increase. There are several reasons, including TV delays and pitchers coming in to face just one batter, but the primary reason is the length of time between pitches. The total time for the inaction pitches in 1984 – the elapsed time between a pitcher releasing one pitch and his release of the next pitch – was 32-minutes and 47-seconds. The total time for inaction pitches in 2018 was 57-minutes and 41-seconds. In addition, in 1984 there were an average of 70-inaction pitches that were returned to the pitcher and thrown back to the plate within 15- seconds. In 2018 the average was 10. Amazing really.

Today’s pitchers lollygag around doing God knows what instead of throwing the ball. Do your damn job, man! And oh yeah, major league baseball needs a pitch clock. Badly.

Note 2: The pitchers aren’t the only ones to blame. The overall pace of the game is s-l-o-w. Everyone needs to pick it up.

Noted asshat Joe West.

Another reason I find it hard to watch games is the behavior of the umpires. Umps used to stay in the background and do their jobs professionally. If they were approached they maintained dignity and stayed above the fray, rarely interacting with a player or manager. Nowadays? Not so much. I’ve seen umpires stare down players, go charging towards managers, just generally behaving like they were the main attraction.

So umpires, just do your job like a pro. After all, it’s not about you. Nobody paid admission to watch you call balls and strikes, act like a clown or try to exert your dominance out there as if you’re the main attraction. You are not.

And how about the hitters and the way some of them armor up? Hell, Barry Bonds looked like a damn medieval knight out there. It took him 5-minutes to unstrap all the protective gear he wore to hit. Because of this he could crowd the plate and not fear an inside pitch. Cowardly, man.

Barry Bonds, pre and post roids.

And let me tell you about the days of yore, w-a-y back in time when I was a youngster. Back in those days the number 61 was magical, mystical, even awe-inspiring. Roger Maris had hit 61 home runs in 1961, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60 that was set in 1927, a span of 34-years. You know how many players have topped 61 since? Six. Bonds hit 73, Mark McGwire 70, Sammy Sosa 66, McGwire 65, and Sosa 64 and 63. All these home runs were hit in a span of 3-years, 1999-2001. Whether it was steroids, a juiced ball, smaller parks, or a combination of the three, something was amiss. Hence, the sacred records of baseball mean nothing anymore. Thanks cheaters!

Note 3: Babe hit his in a 154-game schedule, Maris in a 162-game schedule. This was quite a controversy at the time.

Like I said, back in the day I could name every starter on every team in major league baseball and most of my friends could too. Baseball was the game and was in fact called America’s Pastime. Sadly, those days are over. In today’s fast-paced society and instant gratification era, kids have shot the National Football League and the National Basketball Association right past Major League Baseball, dropping it to at least number three in America’s hearts. If you don’t believe me, count the number of baseball jerseys kids are wearing next time you go to a mall or a school. You’ll see a lot of football and basketball jerseys. Baseball, not so much.

I don’t know, it just seems that the times have passed the game by. One of the few major league players anyone would recognize walking down the street would be Bryce Harper, and that’s because of his hair. Quick, picture Mike Trout in your head. You can’t, can you?

Sad really.

PS- I swear I didn’t look this up. Off the top of my head, here are the World Series starters for the 1968 Detroit Tigers:

1st Base- Norm Cash

2nd Base- Dick McAuliffe

Shortstop- Mickey Stanley (moved in from the outfield for the Series for his bat, replacing Ray Oyler)

3rd Base- Don Wert

Left Field- Willie Horton

Center Field- Jim Northrup

Right Field- Al Kaline

Catcher- Bill Freehan

Notable pitchers were Denny McLain (31 wins), Mickey Lolich (World Series MVP) 

 

For various reasons many cities have been the center of musical revivals, places where something special either started or was centered. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme (get it, rhyme?) or reason why the seed was planted there, but planted it was. Sometimes big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Cleveland are New York City are involved, other times it’s a small college town like Austin, Texas. Some of the most famous musicians in the world came from places we don’t even associate with music. Hell, John Mellencamp grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. James Brown? Macon, Georgia. And although everyone thinks of Manhattan when hearing the Velvet Underground, they’re actually from Long Island. Of course, we all know what that hot-bed of music, Tupelo, Mississippi produced, right? The King himself, Elvis Presley. And Cleveland? While the term Rock ‘n’ Roll actually originated there with legendary DJ Alan Freed, it doesn’t really have its own sound, right?

I guess the old saying is true – it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s where you’re at. 

Anyway, what follows are 10 of the most influential musical cities, cities that changed the world of music as we know it. Let’s start our travels now . . .

DETROIT

  • We’re talkin’ Motown, baby. The Jackson 5, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey

    Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

    Robinson, and Stevie Wonder all began their careers in Detroit in the 1960’s. Berry Gordy started Tamla records there in the early 60’s, and it eventually evolved into the legendary Motown Records. Without Motown we wouldn’t have songs like “Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas, “Please Mr. Postman”by the Marvelettes, “My Girl” by the Temptations, “Super Freak” by Rick James, or “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. ‘Nuff said.

LIVERPOOL

  • Back in the 1950’s Liverpool was one of England’s biggest seaports. Sailors brought all sorts of American goods into the United Kingdom, including books, clothes . . . and records. A lot of these records were of the R & B variety. This made Liverpool one of the centers of American culture and American R & B music, and a couple young men named Paul McCartney and John Lennon were listening. The rest, as they say, is history. The British Invasion was on. Soon came not only The Beatles, but Gerry and the Pacemakers, Echo and the Bunnymen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Las, The Searchers, The Wombats and more.

The King

MEMPHIS

  • Come on, man, Memphis could be argued as the birthplace of Rock and Roll. It had two legendary record labels, Sun Recored in the 50’s and Stax in the 60’s. The Memphis Sound was an eclectic mix of country, swing, gospel, and blues, and when you put them all together you got Rock and Freakin’ Roll. Legendary producer Sam Phillips once famously said this – “If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.” Two years later Elvis Presley walked into his studio, and the rest was history.

NEW ORLEANS

  • I mean, the Birthplace of Jazz has to make the list, right? Not only Jazz, but Ragtime, Dixieland, Cajun and Zydeco all have strong bases in The Big Easy. Want some names? How ’bout none other than Louis Armstrong, Dr. John, Fats Domino, Harry Connick Jr. and Jelly Roll Morton? And oh yeah, we can’t forget a famous rapper – Lil’ Wayne.

NEW YORK CITY

  • Hip-Hop, Punk, and Disco all have strong roots in The Big Apple, and the artists from NYC are as diverse as music itself. What city could boast such wide-ranging artists such as Lady Gaga, Simon & Garfunkel, Beastie Boys, Santana, Billy Joel, Lou Reed, Talking Heads, KISS, The Ramones, and Jay-Z? New York has so many different sounds that you can’t really choose just one. PS- I can choose one because it’s my website – Punk. 

PHILADELPHIA

  • Now you’re in my wheelhouse, baby. The Philly Sound! The Philly Sound combined the rhythms of Motown but added symphonies and dare I say Beatlesque production to make some of the best damn sound ever created. God how I loved the music coming out of Philadelphia during the early 70s. I loved a million of these artists, but I’ll list my absolute favorites – Blue Magic, the Delfonics, Hall & Oates, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, The Spinners, and The Stylistics. Also, there’s another legend that emerged from Philly during this time that doesn’t really fit any musical genre – Mr. Todd Rundgren. Put him in the Hall of Fame! Fun Fact: The O’ Jays were originally from Ohio!

R.E.M.

ATHENS

  • As in Athens, Georgia to be precise. In the late 70s-early 80s Athens became the city that produced a big part of the sound that was to be called Alternative Music. Bands like The B-52s, Love Tractor, Drive-By Truckers, Pylon, Widespread Panic, The Whigs, and the greatest of all, R.E.M. began playing in the little college town of Athens.

MINNEAPOLIS

  • Around the same time Alt Music was kicking off in Athens, another alt music revolution was taking place up north in Minneapolis. Bands such as Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Babes in Toyland and Semisonic all came blasting out of the Twin Cities with their unique take on Alternative Music. Oh, and there was another sound coming out of the area as well – a nasty blend of funk-rock by some dude who called himself Prince.

CHICAGO

  • Although being famous for a lot of genres, Chicago is probably most famous for one – The Blues. Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, and Bo Diddley all sharpened their skills in the Windy City. Other famous bands or artists that originated there? How about Chicago, The Chi-Lites, Rufus, REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick?

SEATTLE

  • Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Need I say more? Actually I need to. Why? Because bands

    The Melvins

    like Mudhoney, Green River, Screaming Trees and most notably The Melvins, all started the whole Grunge movement of the early-80s to mid-90s. Alice in Chains too! By the way, Grunge music was, in a nutshell, music that was loud, tough . . . and molasses slow.

So there ya go. My Top 10 Cities that influenced music. What did I miss? Who ya got? Lemme hear it.

Science Magazine- For the first time, the origin of a single radio pulse has been pinpointed to a distant galaxy several billion light years away, a new study said.

The “fast radio burst” – a very short-lived pulse of radio waves that comes from across the universe – has been identified as originating from a Milky-Way-sized galaxy some 3.6 billion light-years away.  

“This is the big breakthrough that the field has been waiting for since astronomers discovered fast radio bursts in 2007,” said study lead author Keith Bannister of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

“If we were to stand on the moon and look down at the Earth with this precision, we would be able to tell not only which city the burst came from, but which postcode and even which city block,” he said.

As for what the bursts are, ideas range from a rotating neutron star to a high-powered signal from an advanced civilization.

I love how the the folks at Science Magazine casually drop that H-Bomb in the very last sentence. Yeah, it could be a rotating neutron star, maybe some dark matter, perhaps a black hole, or possibly a high-powered signal from an advanced civilization. Seriously, you know it’s coming someday, right? It’s going to be just like in movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds. Just destruction like you read about and aliens vaporizing humans left and right. Appreciate life while you can, kids. You never know when it’s going to end.

Blog Bonus:

Here are my Top 10 aliens invading earth movies. Enjoy . . .

  1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Incredible ending. Chilling as hell.
  2. The Day the Earth Stood Still – Watched it again the other day. Still holds up.
  3. War of the Worlds – Original only please. Sorry Tom Cruise.
  4. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – I know. Not scary. Still excellent.
  5. Pacific Rim – Reminded me of a Japanese B-movie. Loved it.
  6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Classic.
  7. Mars Attacks! – As only Tim Burton could make it.
  8. The Thing From Another World – From 1951. Oldie but goodie.
  9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Perfect 80’s adaptation of the musical. Very weird.
  10. Independence Day – Where Randy Quaid steals the movie from Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum.

I’m not generally a fan of covers. I just normally prefer originals, especially where The Beatles are concerned. After all, you cannot top perfection, ya know? That said, there are some pretty amazing covers out there, even of the legendary Fab Four. Let’s get right to it . . .

Paul Westerberg – Nowhere Man

Love this version of Nowhere Man. Simple, acoustic, with plaintive vocals. This was on the “I Am Sam” soundtrack and it’s simply majestic.

 

Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison and Prince – While My Guitar Gently Weeps

This live cover was performed at a tribute concert for George Harrison, and Prince absolutely shreds on guitar. Great, great version.

 

Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman – Hey Jude

What a pairing, and what an amazing cover. Just listen . .

 

Beach Boys – I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

This was recorded during one of Brian’s absences from the band so Bruce Johnston sings lead, and it sounds pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to sound. Good stuff.

 

Elton John – Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

Elton and John Lennon had become good friends, so it’s no surprise Elton performed this cover. He sticks to the original pretty closely, and Lennon himself actually sang on the single.

 

Black Oak Arkansas – Taxman

Bet you’ve never heard this blistering, badass version of Taxman from the Black Oak boys. Better buckle in first.

 

Elliott Smith – Because

Great Abbey Road cover by another artist we lost way too soon. This song was on the American Beauty soundtrack.

 

Pixies – Wild Honey Pie

More proof that the legendary Pixies were the psychotic version of The Beatles. Don’t be scared to listen to this cover from the White Album.

 

Link Wray – Please Please Me

Wonderful instrumental cover by the legendary Link Wray.

 

U2 – Helter Skelter

Pretty faithful version of quite possibly the first ever metal song.

 

Amy Winehouse – All My Loving

Beautiful cover performed as only Amy could perform it.

 

The Carpenters – Ticket to Ride

Karen Carpenter had the voice of an angel and it’s on display here. A good example of how the music of The Beatles can be performed in a variety of ways.

 

Jeff Lynne and Dave Grohl – Hey Bulldog

Oh, hell yes. Love the introduction by Dave Grohl too. So good.

 

Otis Redding- A Hard Day’s Night

This sounds exactly how you’d imagine Otis Redding singing “A Hard Day’s Night” to sound. Amazing stuff.

 

Michael Jackson- Come Together

I know, I know. But I like this cover even more than Aerosmith’s. So shoot me.

Yeah, I know I left out Aerosmith’s cover of Come Together, Joe Cocker’s cover of With a Little Help From My Friends, and all those horrible covers in that god-awful Sgt. Pepper’s movie from the late 70s. There are others as well. So, whaddaya got? Let me know what you think I missed.

I love these guys. “Do I look like a cold cheeser to you?”

You guys know about my issues with language. I’ve written about the subject in several blogs, most famously “Updating My “Things I Hate” List, a classic if there ever was one. Well, to me anyway. With that in mind, let us talk about words and redundancies. Forgive me, for I shall be repeating myself once or twice. Let’s do this . . .

“You’re exactly right.”

Listen kids, if you’re right you’re right. Otherwise you’re wrong. Exactly right implies you’re righter than the person who also got it right. I’m getting a headache.

“I’m working on my inner core.”

No, just your core will do, thank you. We know the core is inner, because you know, there’s no such thing as an outer core. By the way, people who blather on about working out are nauseating.

“He’s reverting back to his previous behavior.”

See, if you’re reverting you’re automatically going back. After all, you can’t revert forward. That seems risky and even dangerous. Seems like if you tried you’d probably pull a hammy or a groin or something.

“We’re sending the snitch to a safe haven.”

Again, a haven is by nature safe. There are no dangerous havens, although “Dangerous Haven” definitely sounds like a movie you’d see on the Lifetime Movies network.

“The perp has a prior history of criminal behavior.”

Is my blog about redundancy getting redundant or is it just me? Because history is already prior. There is no prior future. Redundant, man.

“Your sum total for the donuts is $193.63.”

Again, the sum is the total and the total is the sum. That sounded like something that could be sung in a children’s education program. “The sum is the total and the total is the sum, Say it right you stinkin’ bum! No? Alright.  In addition, somebody is eating a lot of donuts.

“That kid is throwing a temper tantrum.”

I’m pretty sure all tantrums involve tempers, hence the redundancy. You can’t have a gleeful or joyful tantrum, you know. What the hell, let’s all use “fit of rage” from now on anyway. That’s way cooler.

By the way, if you look to the left of the page and scroll w-a-a-a-y down you’ll get to a “categories” bar. Then scroll even farther down until you see “words” and you can find several things I’ve written about words. You’re welcome.

That’s all I got. Just had to get it off my chest. Thanks for listening. I feel better now.

 

Like many people I’ve seen a lot in my life, been through some things I wish I hadn’t, and have seen friends come and go. Some friends went of their own volition, others I sort of extricated myself from, and way too many died before they should have. My late uncle, a man I had great respect for, once told me that if on the day you die you can count the number of your true friends on one hand you’ll be a lucky man. At the time I was sort of incredulous and didn’t understand it. Five friends or less? Please. After all, I had a plenty of friends at the time.

Or so I thought. Over time though, I’ve come to realize he was right.

You see, as a kid you think you have all these friends that will be there forever. Buddies for life and all that. But as time goes by your circle begins to get smaller. Things happen – people get married, move away, or maybe you just drift apart. Other times events happen in your life that sort of force people to take a side, to stand up for you, and quite often they don’t. That’s the point where you realize they weren’t quite the friend you believed them to be.

For an example, I had a guy that coached for me, a man I’d hired and helped along the way, a man I’d considered a friend. I unexpectedly lost that job awhile back, and I haven’t heard a word from him since the day he’d heard I was being non-renewed. He’d coached for me for 5-years. Guess you never know what’s going on inside someone’s head.

When you go through those experiences, the experiences where people have to put themselves out there for you, the times that taking a stand is required, those are the times you find out who your true friends are. Because for some, friendship is conditional.

And it’s at those points in your life when your circle of friends grow smaller. The good news is that although the circle is smaller, it is also stronger.

You know why? Because real friendship, like real love, is unconditional. A true friend will be there no matter what, right there beside you, even when you’re wrong. A true friend won’t try to lead you or follow you, but simply be beside you.

Here’s what Jim Morrison of The Doors had to say:

A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he or she really is.”

Jim knew what was up.

Will a true friend tell you when you’ve made a mistake? Point out what an idiot you’ve been? Hell yes they will, and I’d expect nothing less. But when the time comes to pick a side there’ll be no question where they’ll stand.

Years ago I was with an old friend and I’d been going through a tough time. I was in the middle of a breakup and I was explaining the circumstances to him. I’d just gotten started when he put his hand on my arm and said this:

“You don’t have to explain. I’m on your side automatically.”

I’m not sure even he understood what those words meant to me at that moment.

So true friendship is unconditional and can survive anything. A true friend accepts you for who you are, flaws and all. They have your back through anything that may arise, and they love you enough to be honest with you, even if the truth hurts. They want what’s best for you and they won’t abandon you when times get tough or you’re of no use to them anymore. A true friend will also keep you humble. Believe me, my best friends have no trouble in that department.

Given all that criteria, I suppose it’s no surprise that during your lifetime few will qualify. As for those that do, cherish them and do your best not to lose them.

Because as my uncle said, if on the day you die you can count ’em on one hand you should consider yourself lucky.

I wrote about this two years ago, but sadly my opinion apparently fell on deaf ears because it rears its ugly head on a daily basis still. What I’m talking about is the phrase “moving forward“. Here’s what I wrote:

Over the past couple years this inane phrase has has grown in popularity, and that phrase is “moving forward.”

Good Lord. So annoying. To wit:

“I have high hopes for my team moving forward.”

“Moving forward, we want to improve our test scores.”

“Moving forward, I’d like to see more intelligent conversations regarding the philosophies of Kant and Nietzsche.”

You know, stuff like that.

But I don’t really get it. Aren’t we all moving forward all the time? We can’t move backwards, though God knows there have been times I would have liked to. It seems to me that, in most cases, you could simply leave that phrase out. It’s not needed because it’s nearly always implied.

Those three examples I used up there? Let’s say them without the “moving forward” nonsense:

“I have high hopes for my team moving forward.”

Moving forward, we want to improve our test scores.”

Moving forward I’d like to see more intelligent conversations regarding the philosophies of Kant and Nietzsche.”

See? All three statements totally work without the dumb words “moving forward” inserted. In fact they’re better, more streamlined and economical.

Bottom line? Stop it.

Thank you and goodnight.

Brad Stevens is the head coach of the Boston Celtics. This year his team was expected to be really good but underperformed all year, culminating with a 4-1 series loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA playoffs. All in all a very disappointing season as the Celtics didn’t come close to meeting expectations.

This happens in sports, and coaches respond in different ways. Some blame the players, some blame the officials, and if they’re a first year coach they sometimes blame the team’s previous coach. Not Brad Stevens. Listen up . . .

“I did a bad job. At the end of the day, if your team doesn’t find its best fit, that’s on you. And so I’ll do a lot of deep dives on how I can bet better.”

Take note, young coaches. Don’t point fingers, don’t make excuses. This is how you do it.

I believe it is.

In the 11-seasons since the NBA changed its eligibility requirement so that a player couldn’t be drafted until he was at least 1-year removed from the graduation of his high school class, only two teams have won national titles using a one-and-done approach – Kentucky in 2011-12 and Duke in 2014-15.

In this year’s Final 4 just 7% of the team’s scoring came from freshmen.

7%.

And do you know how many one-and-dones (technically college freshmen expected to be 2019 N.B.A. draft picks) played critical roles for Final Four teams this season?

Zero.

And it is not just this year. Freshman stars have not dominated any recent Final Fours, either. There was just one drafted one-and-done player in the 2018 Final Four, Omari Spellman of Villanova, and he was picked 30th over all. There were two in 2017 and one in 2016, with only Zach Collins of Gonzaga being drafted in the top 20.

Why do you suppose this is? Well, there are several reasons.

Clearly a team full of players with three or four years experience can have an edge over a team of 18-year old kids in their first year of college competition. It takes way more than a few months to mesh and develop the type of chemistry to get you to that final NCAA game and to win it. Experience matters, no matter how many 5-Star recruits you have.

It could also be argued that it’s easier for 3-Star recruits to buy in and be more dedicated and less entitled, knowing they’re in it for the long haul, rather than knowing they’re staying for a few months and hightailing it for the NBA like the one-and-dones.

Finally, perhaps 3-Star players are hungrier, knowing they were passed up by the Dukes and Kentuckys of the world.

Note: The reality is that one-and-dones are basically limited to a few schools. Think about it – Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas. Sure, Michigan State will snag one occasionally and even Ohio State had a couple a few years ago with Michael Conley and Greg Oden. Still, cases like that are outliers.

Let’s take a look at Duke.

For many years, Coach K’s Duke program prided itself on team play, family, toughness and “playing the right way” – the Duke way.  For nearly four decades he’s built the most best program in America, and he did this largely by finding players who, regardless of their talent level, fit into the Duke culture.

Not anymore.

Now Coach K goes for the top rated players in America (and beyond) that he knows will only be on campus for 10-months, if that. Sure, they’ve had good records and some good tournament runs, but the truth is that after decades of Duke basketball standing for chemistry and toughness, Coach K’s recent one-and-done teams have been inconsistent and erratic.

99.9% of college coaches don’t even go after the one-and-done players because they simply know they can’t get them. Sure, there are exceptions, but as a rule this holds true. Therefore they recruit players by position as they attempt to mold a team that fits and melds together, one that fits their system and philosophy. Coach K, Coach Calipari and coaches from the few other schools I mentioned just fight each other for the best players and worry about putting the puzzle together later.

More often than not, the pieces don’t fit. Not well enough anyway.

Think about this. Duke won the 2009-10 title with Brian Zoubek as his starting center, zero NBA lottery picks, and only one first-rounder (Nolan Smith) in his starting lineup. The following year they recruited their first one-and-done, Kyrie Irving, and have chosen to go that route since.

Since that 2010-11 season the Blue Devils have won zero regular-season ACC titles and made it to the Elite Eight just twice—with the aforementioned 2014-15 group and with a 2012-13 team that started three seniors and, wait for it, is the only Duke team since 2011 to not have a one-and-done on the roster.

It seems like the one-and-done trend reached its high point in 2015, when six future freshman first-rounders turned up for the Final Four. Kentucky was there with Devin Booker, Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns, and Duke won it all with Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones.

Incidentally, Duke and Kentucky are basically the same program now. They both practice the same one-and-done model.

But honestly, can you really blame Coach K, Coach Cal, Coach Self or Coach Williams? At this point they have their pick of nearly every 5-Star recruit in the country, especially K and Cal. What are they supposed to do, turn them down? No way out of the rabbit hole at this point. In the meantime teams like Virginia, Michigan State and others like them with experienced junior and senior lineups, guys who have been playing together for years and not months, will more often than not beat them when it counts.

I got a kick out of Coach K’s quote after his Elite 8 loss to Michigan State this past season – “I thought they played older than we did. But that’s happened to us. We are young.

Yes, coach, you are. And as long as you recruit freshmen that will only be in your program for a few months your teams will remain that way.

But as I said, barring rule changes there’s no going back now.

Gather around young hoopsters, and let me tell you a story from a bygone basketball era, a time when a travel was a travel, teammates executed something called a “box-out”, and players who actually attempted to block a dunk attempt were applauded and not ridiculed.

Kids, what you’d also see is the now lost art of something called a mid-range jump shot! For those unaware, a mid-range jumper was one that was taken outside the key, yet inside the 3-point line. Yes, this happened regularly!

In addition, back in olden times players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain rarely flopped! In fact, there wasn’t even a word for it because it didn’t exist in basketball until the European basketball players took it from their soccer brethren and brought it to the American hardwood.

And oh, by the way, there once existed rules such as only being allowed 2-steps without dribbling the basketball and keeping your hand on top of the ball whilst bouncing it. Such rules have vanished in the mists of time. You may now shot fake, do the bunny hop 3 or 4-times backwards or sideways without dribbling before taking a shot. You may also charge to the rim unhindered, unhampered and unchecked, all the while cradling the ball under your arm like a newborn babe.

And although you may find the following hard to fathom, in days of yore after a player committed a foul he would not always run whining to the referee! Often, said player would respectfully raise his hand in the air for all to see, thus admitting his infraction. All this is true my children!

In conclusion, and you may find this bit of information implausible, improbable, and dare I say inconceivable, during these ancient times those in attendance could sometimes observe a player help an opponent up after he fell down (you have my permission to sit down if you’re not doing so already). It was called an act of sportsmanship. For those unfamiliar with this alien term, I’ll let Webster’s explain:

sports·man·ship

/ˈspôrtsmənˌSHip/

noun

1- fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest.

You’re welcome. Feel free to print and cut and clip to your locker/fridge/dashboard/forehead.

But let’s move on to more shocking news. Back in the prehistoric days of basketball (pre-2000 ish) players were permitted to be much more physical! And horror of horrors, on defense you could actually touch your opponent! I kid you not! Yes, young ballers, defenders were actually encouraged to impede his opponent’s progress to the rim! Insanity!

And finally, there once was a time where team was valued over individual! Very few players tried to draw attention to themselves by preening, dancing, shimmying, or doing The Worm at mid-court. Stunningly, celebrations were saved for, you know, actually winning the game!

You may now take some time to let that marinate, soak it in if you will. I know, I know, it’s all a little upsetting to think about.

And thus concludes my basketball history lesson. I’m sure many of you younger folk will find this too hard to believe, that it’s simply a flight of fancy from an old man longing for a simpler, and better, game.

And you know what? You’d be right.

PS- Listen, I realize most fans prefer the wide-open, free wheeling style of play rather than teams playing tough D and running an offense. To me though, that’s the purist and most beautiful style of basketball.

PPS- The NCAA Championship game featured two fundamentally sound teams. They screened, ripped the ball through to the triple threat position after a catch, shot faked, cut hard, took good shots, played hard, played intense defense, and nobody did The Robot or Flatulent Llama after scoring a basket. There’s hope!

Oh, how I’d love to see Draymond Green try and guard Wilt.

So actor Jeff Goldblum is apparently a model now in his spare time, and his latest shoot with fashion giant Prada is borderline terrifying. Apparently, just like in basketball short shorts are back and Jeff is leading the way in all his glory. The photo itself doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation, but I do advise a deep breath before viewing because, you know, you can’t unsee it. Take a gander:

Yep. Those would be short alright. Apparently all of the guys will be sporting those this summer, which is scary. Want to know something scarier? They sell for $838.00.

Then again, Goldblum has always been a bit of a fashion daredevil. Check out this shirt he wore recently:

That’s your basic Hawaiian style shirt with dead shrew shoulder pads. Stellar look. Anywho, Jeff Goldblum? Cutting edge fashionista.

Note: Now that I think about it, Prada is getting attention so perhaps the joke’s on us. Sigh.

Well, at least according to me. Thoughts?

[click on a photo and scroll]

So Coach Bill Bilicheat Belichick once again went through the incredibly obnoxious tradition of renaming his boat a couple days ago, updating the name from VII Rings to VIII Rings after his sixth Super Bowl win (he won two as a defensive coordinator). Deservedly Bill is catching hell for his pretentiousness, but in my opinion the lead is being buried here, and that lead is DAMN THAT’S A TINY BOAT. Holy shit Bill, I have friends that fish in bigger boats on Paint Creek, let alone Boston Damn Harbor. What is that, a 2-seater? Your net worth is $35-million, dude. You’re embarrassing yourself.

PS- Wanna see a real boat? Check out what Tiger Woods tools around in:

PPS- Tiger after seeing Bill’s dinghy:

You know what there is way too much of these days on both sides of the political spectrum? Folks who categorize different groups of people. As a liberal who has friends and a few family members who are conservatives I realize all is not black and white. There are many shades of gray in between. I understand that all Republicans aren’t right-wingers who support every single thing Donald Trump does. I also realize they don’t all fit the stereotype that many want to fit them into – as uptight, humorless, devoid of compassion, racist, homophobic people who hate protecting the environment. I also know that not all conservatives are tax cutting, gun collecting war lovers. To lump all conservatives into that group would be ridiculous, right? Of course it would.

Same with liberals.

With all that said, I thought I’d list a few things that I believe to me myths about the dreaded libtards liberals that Trumpanzees Trump supporters are always railing about.

Note 1: That last paragraph was me being facetious. Chillax and stop being so thin-skinned.

Note 2: Note 1 was also me being facetious.

But on to the myths. Let us begin . . .

  • I’m a liberal and I’m very patriotic. I love this country and I don’t have a problem with the constitution. Yes, I see the First Amendment being threatened sometimes by conservatives, as some have talked about banning peaceful protest and marches for example. I believe in the constitutional right to worship any way you want or don’t want to worship. The Constitution doesn’t support a national religion, as some, and I say some, conservatives would like. I also happen to believe in the Second Amendment and I support gun reform to reduce death caused by certain guns. I do not support the confiscation of all guns, and by the way neither did President Obama. I also support an individual’s right to sit or kneel during the National Anthem, and it has nothing to do with my support of our armed forces, who incidentally fight for the very right to be able to do what I’m talking about.
  • I’m a liberal and I don’t want to kill unborn children. I simply believe in pro-abortion rights, which means supporting a woman’s right to make a choice to have an abortion based on health or extremely extenuating reasons, such as rape, and not just because she doesn’t want a child. Again, all cases are not black and white. To me it’s a personal choice to be made by a woman.
  • I’m a liberal and I’m not thin-skinned nor easily offended. I’m a liberal yet I hate the “Wussification of America” (if you don’t believe me type those words into the search box up there). I think people have gone way overboard with getting their feelings hurt, to the point of absurdity. I believe people should suck it up and not let mere words bother them so much.
  • I’m a liberal and I don’t want to dole out welfare checks to able-bodied men or women who will not work. I’m also in favor of prosecuting welfare fraud. That said, as a liberal I believe in helping and assisting people with education, training and finding jobs that will help them maintain their dignity. The majority of food stamp recipients aren’t the lazy stereotype but are children, the elderly, the disabled and the working poor. Simple as that. Despite what you might think people on welfare aren’t lying back in a hammock enjoying a wine spritzer. I believe that most people are good and need the assistance and that those who are abusing the system should be prosecuted. And oh, by the way, anyone who hates government, taxes and socialism but receives free, taxpayer-subsidized Medicare or Medicaid is just begging to be called a hypocrite. Especially those that complain the free healthcare isn’t good enough.
  • I’m a liberal, and although I don’t attend church regularly I do believe strongly in following in the examples set forth in the Bible- by helping people if it’s in my power and not turning away anyone in need if I can possibly help it. Yes, liberals can be religious. I also believe there are examples set forth in religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and others that we can all follow.

Not all conservatives are the enemy and it’s the same with liberals. And again, the political spectrum is a wide and diverse one.

So let’s stop with all the generalizing, labeling and stereotyping. I’ll try if you will. After all, ultimately we’re all on the same side here, right?

PS- And for the love of God everyone should fact-check before going on a rant about something, myself included. There’s way too much misinformation being put out from both sides. Yes, both sides. You know who broke the story regarding Hillary’s emails, right? The New York Times.


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