August 15, 2014
J. Brady McCollough (Pgh. Post-Gazette) wrote, “In a 99-page ruling, Judge Wilken wrote that “the Court will enjoin the NCAA from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their [Division I-A] football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid [scholarship].”
Judge (Claudia Ann) Wilken said the injunction will prohibit the NCAA from enforcing any rules that would prevent “its member schools and conferences from offering to deposit a limited share of licensing revenue in trust for their [Division I-A] football and Division I basketball recruits, payable when they leave school or their eligibility expires.
“Although the injunction will permit the NCAA to set a cap on the amount of money that may be held in trust, it will prohibit the NCAA from setting a cap of less than $5,000 [in 2014 dollars] for every year that the student-athlete remains academically eligible to compete.”
She recalled in her ruling that NCAA president Mark Emmert testified that “the rules over the 100-year history of the NCAA around amateurism have focused on, first of all, making sure that any resources that are provided to a student-athlete are only those that are focused on his or her getting an education.” She then responded, “The historical evidence presented at trial, however, demonstrates that the association’s amateurism rules have not been nearly as consistent as Dr. Emmert represents.”
(Lester Munson- ESPN legal analyst) “The turning point of the trial was the testimony of Roger Noll, a retired Stanford economist who testified for the athletes and explained college sports to Judge Wilken. Again and again in her 99-page opinion, Wilken relied on Noll’s studies and expertise to support her decision. On everything from recruiting rules to the “competitive balance,” Wilken used Noll’s testimony as the basis for her analysis. If there were a rating system for expert witnesses like the rating system in the NFL for quarterbacks, Noll would have broken all records with his testimony for O’Bannon and the other athletes. He was charming, he was knowledgeable and he was insightful. Wilken recognized it and relied on him throughout her opinion.”
Jay Bilas(ESPN college basketball analyst) wrote that, “Joseph Farelli, an attorney with the New York-based law firm of Pitta & Giblin who specializes in labor law, said the NCAA didn’t have a choice after U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken on Friday shot down the NCAA’s argument that its model of amateurism was the only way to run college sports. Wilken wrote that football players in FBS schools and Division I men’s basketball players must be allowed to receive at least $5,000 a year for rights to their names, images and likenesses, money that would be put in a trust fund and given to them when they leave school. “I would expect them to appeal it because now you’re going to have a permanent injunction that says the NCAA can’t regulate what colleges do with their student-athletes,” Farelli told The Associated Press. “If they don’t appeal, now you have a federal court precedent.”
“If the NCAA allowed that decision to stand, Farelli said, it could lead to even more litigation against the NCAA on hot-button topics such as Title IX and whether there should be any cap on how much money athletes should receive.”
Bob Molinaro(HamptonRoads.com) said, “Virginian-Pilot alumnus Kyle Tucker, now breaking news at the Louisville Courier-Journal, obtained flight records showing that Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and football coach Mark Stoops combined to take $450,000 worth of chartered flights for recruiting purposes during the 2013-14 fiscal year. But that doesn’t include their commercial flights, hotels and car rentals or travel expenses for assistants. This provides an idea of what it takes to support big-time college athletics. No matter how much money is available to help coaches, though, we keep hearing there just wouldn’t be enough left to award modest stipends to athletes. Funny how it works that way.”
I Know “Noth-ink”
I agreed with the Sports Curmudgeon when he said, “Managers in particular had to choose not to realize that some of their players in the late 80s and 90s were using PEDs. When I think of “shot up teams”, the Braves do not leap to mind but they probably had some users in the clubhouse. However, the Yankees, the A’s and the Cardinals – the teams managed by Torre and LaRussa and the teams that won all of those games that got these gentlemen elected to the Hall of Fame – were serious and serial offenders when it came to steroids. I can accept Torre’s entry into the Hall of Fame because he was a borderline candidate as a player and I can accept Cox’s entry too. However, I have said since the day the votes were counted that putting Tony LaRussa in the Hall of Fame is a travesty. His plaque should have the likeness of Sgt. Schultz on it.”
Perry Patter- OOF!
From Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) we have:
“Starring in California’s best slow-speed police chase since O.J.: a 150-pound fleeing tortoise, clocked at speeds of up to 1 mph.
Apparently the Alhambra cops nabbed him at a shell station.”
“The National Scrabble Championship take place in Buffalo through Wednesday.
Defensive strategists predict it’s going to be tougher than ever getting a word in edgewise this year.”
“Bill Littlejohn, after a jogger in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park discovered a skeleton wearing a Nets cap: ‘It was reportedly still waiting for a pass from Deron Williams.’”
“Golfer Chris Wood completely split the seat of his pants en route to his first-round 66 at Valhalla on Thursday.
In other words, they tried to hold a PGA Championship — and a skins game broke out.”
Last week was Hulk Hogan’s 61st birthday. Unless, of course, this is also according to a script.
I’m Rooting For
My favorite in the search for someone to succeed Uncle Bud as MLB Commissioner is Tim Brosnan. He is currently MLB’s ExecVP for business and a grad of Fordham Law.
August 8, 2014
Michael Vick’s brief appearance might mean that Ryan didn’t want to allow another top QB to get injured in an exhibition.
I think Smith could flourish with Vick’s teaching. It’s said that top QBs need three full seasons to get to where they could lead a team successfully. It wasn’t fair and unproductive to throw Smith onto the field last year without that tutelage. Matt Simms remains the back-up for both Smith and Vick.
McK Got Me
Friend, Bob McKenty corrected my spelling error from last week, “Lester is Jon(athan), not as bad as Jhonny Peralta. –Bob McK.”
The trading deadline is traditionally the point in the MLB season when fans can see if their teams are going to be play-off bound or not.
As of 7/29, the Mets are 51-55/ .481. To get to my mythical 95 win play-off mark, they must win 44 of the remaining 56 games- .786. For 90 wins, they have to play .696 ball.
The Yankees are 54-51/ .541. To get to that 95 mark they have to play .719 ball; for 90 wins, they need to play .632. That translates into a snowball’s chance- but still a chance.
I think that tells you if our guys are going to be buyers or sellers and what the season’s outlooks are by the front offices.
“It’s probably time for baseball to update its deadlines,” wrote John Shea (SF Chronicle), “Change with the times. The July 31 deadline has been in place since 1986, when there were just four playoff teams with all four division winners going directly to the League Championship Series.
Baseball expanded its format in the mid-’90s, forming six divisions, adding a wild card and inviting eight teams to the playoffs.
Now, with a second wild card, it’s 10. A third of all teams.
I thought Aug. 31 would be a better non-waiver deadline, giving teams an extra month to determine their direction. A’s pitcher Jeff Samardzija, when I passed it by him, made a convincing argument from the players’ standpoint that Aug. 31 is too late.
“You don’t want to wait and get them together in August. You want a team to be together and have to earn a playoff spot.”
“Fair enough. So a compromise: Aug. 15. Fifteen extra days. Would still make a difference.”
Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) wrote:
“Redundancy: The Yankees have designated Sept. 7as the Derek Jeter tribute game, thus thoroughly confusing fans who thought every game this season was a Jeter tribute game.
Lester: more than a World Series champion
John Shea (SF Chronicle) gave us his thoughts about Jon Lester: “In his final eight starts with the Red Sox, who traded him and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes on Thursday, Lester had a 1.07 ERA.
In 11 career starts against Kansas City, his ERA is 1.43.
His playoff ERA in 11 starts: 1.97.
World Series, three starts: 0.43.
Three All-Star appearances, two championship rings and a no-hitter. He’s 30, and the A’s have him through 2014, counting October when their rotation – also featuring Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir — will be must-see with gobs of high expectations, barring a horrendous team slump between now and then.”
Scott Ostler (SF Chronicle) gave Cespedes a final grade for his glove work- Center Field- F Left Feld-A for adventure.
The Sports Curmudgeon talked about some of the big hitters and how little they failed, “Stan Musial had 3630 hits and struck out only 696 times.
[Musial played 22 seasons. Only three times did he strike out 40 or more times in a whole season.]
Tony Gwynn had 3141 hits and struck out only 434 times.
[Gwynn played 20 seasons. Only once did he strike out as many as 40 times in a single year.]
The strikeout stats that I found most interesting were for Joe DiMaggio. While he did not hit a ton of home runs, DiMaggio did hit plenty of doubles and triples; he was not a “singles hitter”; his career slugging average is a highly respectable .579. For his career, DiMaggio came to bat 7673 times and he struck out only 369 times. That represents less than 5% of the total number of times opposing pitchers had the opportunity to strike him out. Moreover, in his rookie season, he struck out 39 times. In all of his subsequent seasons, he struck out fewer times than that.
In 1941 – the year of DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak – he came to bat 622 times and struck out only 13 times.
Some players today would be happy to strike out only 13 times in a three-week span…”
How about Reggie Jackson and Jim Thome:
Reggie Jackson struck out 2597 times in 21 seasons.
Jim Thome struck out 2548 times in 22 seasons.
Scott Ostler gave his “Knucklehead of the week award” to “Roger- the Punnishment Dodger- Goodell. After stripping away all the technicalities, legalese, comparisons and bullcorn: Ray Rice cold-cocked a woman in an elevator.”
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) said, “Everything was simpler back when Vin Scully started out, back when ignorance was bliss.
A lot of the same things were happening. Athletes were as flawed.
We just didn’t see it, or particularly care to.
Now we see it all, and sometimes wish we didn’t.”
Watch Your Steps
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) told us that, “A company in India has come up with a “smart shoe” that tracks your footsteps with the help of Google Maps.
Which means that we might witness the first travelling call in NBA history.”
Numbers Are Deceiving
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) said that Bill Littlejohn talked about, Josh Gordon, “After Browns receiver Josh Gordon claimed he’d passed at least 70 drug tests: Problem is, he’s taken over 1,000.” You Cannot Be Serious
Dwight Perry told us, “Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde claims she smoked marijuana with John McEnroe when he played at Wimbledon.
Here’s a scary thought: The Brat was throwing those tantrums when he was mellow?”
August 1, 2014
It was just a few hours before the MLB trade deadline that the Red Sox put an end to all of the John Lester rumors by sending him to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes. Boy- talk about a block-buster. We’ll hear more after the smoke clears.
The Sports Curmudgeon answered one of my notes by saying that I should put this in my column, “I haven’t said anything about all of this back and forth, about Tony Dungy, because I don’t think it should be splashed over the media. He’s not a player, not a manager, or an owner. He was only giving an opinion based on his thoughts. They belongs to someone’s private business.
A person’s thoughts are never wrong to them, and are only thoughts.
“RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com was not impressed that Pau Gasol signed with Chicago: “He’ll just be another Spaniard running with the Bulls.”
“Germany’s World Cup trophy somehow got a piece chipped off during the title celebration.
Conspiracy theorists immediately claimed that Luis Suarez bit it.”
Dwight gave us this week’s heartwarming headline, “Tyson-Holyfield patch it up.” “With what, Super Glue?”
How strong are the ratings? “In a sad sign of the times, wrote Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, the new Hercules movie has been linked to the BALCO lab.”
Did you hear what Jimmy Fallon said the other night? Dwight did. “ABC’s Jimmy Fallon said, after a horse belonging to Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for a banned substance: Officials say it’s either steroids or whatever it is has helped the queen live to be 188.”
Clark The Cub
The Sports Curmudgeon told us, “Sticking with baseball doings for the moment, the Chicago Cubs introduced a new mascot – Clark the Cub – earlier this year. Now the team is suing several people it alleges have dressed up as Clark the Cub and have been “engaging in bad behavior” in the neighborhood of Wrigley Field to include participating in a bar fight that wound up on social media. The Cub s say the imposters – the fake Clarks – are engaging in trademark infringement and their behavior damages the reputation of the Cubs’ team. I can understand the trademark infringement bit; damaging the reputation of the Chicago Cubs is an awfully high bar to the defendants to cross.
Dwight Perry told us what was said about this bar fight, “NBC’s Seth Meyers, on the Cubs suing a man who got into a bar fight while impersonating the team mascot: “They could tell he wasn’t affiliated with the Cubs because he won.”
Gene Collier (Pgh. Post-gazette) talked about the infield defensive shifting we’ve been seeing, “As tracked by Baseball Info Solutions, aggressive defensive shifting continues to proliferate almost geometrically throughout the game. There were some 2,500 shifts on balls in play in the 2011 season, nearly 5,000 in 2012, more than 8,000 last year, and major league teams were on pace to deploy them more than 12,000 times this season.
Rather than hit it where they ain’t (ancient baseball axiom), major league hitters continue to play right into the metrics, driving down runs, averages and before long, I’m afraid, interest.
When the game becomes a nearly endless session of pitch and catch (in the ignoble effort to run up pitch counts), interrupted primarily by batters grounding out to what appears to be the short fielder from some softball game, is that still baseball?
Or are we now watching Mathworks?
There are two potential solutions, the first superior but far more labor intensive: Hitters have to adjust, forcing the positioning pendulum back toward the conventional.
My own estimated adjustment period: Five years.
Ted Williams saw it in the 1940s, and Tony Gwynn in the 1980s, and neither had much difficulty adjusting to the shift, but that’s essentially what made them Ted Williams and Tony Gwynn. Those were once-in-a-generation talents, each with a stroke of diamond cutter, the likes of which we might not see again.
It takes an extra level of physical ability to stay on pitches that are longer, to let the ball get deeper, to fire quick on balls that are inside, Hurdle said. One of the easiest things, in all actuality, to do, from my experience in the game, is to pull the ball.
The other solution could be in place in time for next season: Ban the shift..”
A Tee Party
The Sports Curmudgeon talked about a Rockies’ give away, “The Rockies decided to give away a T-shirt that looked like a Rockies’ uniform and with Tulowitzki’s name and number on the back of the shirt.
Here is the problem:
The Rockies did not do anything close to “sufficient quality control” when they began to give away shirts with the name “Tulowizki” on the back.
What’s missing? Of course, it is the letter “t” in the middle of his name…
The Rockies obviously need to make amends with their fans over this egregious error. What the team has done is to offer to exchange the “misspelled jersey” for one with the name spelled correctly at a variety of venues. In addition, if fans turn in the jersey with the name spelled wrong for one with the name spelled right, that fan can also get a free ticket to a future game – this year or next year – at no charge.
I wonder how Rockies’ fans might feel should the team decide to trade “Tulo” between now and the nominal baseball trade deadline of 1 August. On one hand, the team would have bid “Sayonara” to its best player. On the other hand, he was not going to lead the Rockies to anywhere interesting this season and that is how he became “expendable” in the first place.”
What A Draft
The Pittsburgh Steelers draft class of 1974 included: Lynn Swann (1st round), Jack Lambert (2nd round), John Stallworth (4th round), and Mike Webster (5th round). There had never been a draft class that included 4 future HOF’ers and hasn’t since.
I Was Surprised
I was going through the SF Chronicle looking for Scott Ostler’s column when an ad caught my eye. It said: “Find your Zen in Connecticut.”
July 25, 2014
The Next Derek Jeter
Jayson Stark (ESPN.com) talked up Mike Trout: “But who is better positioned to grab that torch and not let go than Mike Trout?
The more we see of him, the more we get to know him, the more it feels as if he rolled into baseball out of the pages of a W.P. Kinsella novel. Larger than life. Too gifted and humble to be real.
So why can’t this be Trout’s night, too? A night to put his stamp on a special All-Star Game. A night with the potential to make us reflect on where he’s going — for about the next two decades — and on where he might be taking this whole sport along with him.
“Derek Jeter is going to have an All-Star moment, but it’s going to be more of a career-reflection moment,” said Bill Sutton, one of America’s brightest sports-marketing minds, and the director of the Sports and Entertainment Management MBA program at the University of South Florida. “But if Mike Trout does something that becomes an All-Star moment, it’s not a career-reflection moment. It’s a whole different kind of thing. … It’s about the future of the game.”
And inside baseball’s inner sanctum, there’s nothing they root for harder than for Mike Trout to BE the future of their game. Heck, even the commissioner, good old Bud Selig, found himself telling a story recently of how he asked a longtime scout friend about the legend of Trout.
“I said, ‘Compare him to somebody,'” Selig recalled. “He thought for a second — and he was dead serious — and he said, ‘Mickey Mantle-type ability.’ And that’s breathtaking. Really breathtaking.”
“Mickey Mantle-type ability,” the commissioner repeated, after swirling those words around in his brain for a few seconds. “Breathtaking.”
Not So Instant Replay
The Sports Curmudgeon wrote, “The problem with replay is that all of the logical and rational arguments for its use are negated by practice. Let me take those logical and rational arguments and examine them in light of actuality:
-We have to get the call right. No one in his right mind would argue that we need to get the call wrong; nonetheless, sometimes officials get it wrong. The problem is that if there is a definitive “right call”, then why is there so much dispute/confusion after a replay review? The fact is, replay does not get all the calls right.
-Change only comes with “conclusive video evidence”. Really? How many times have you looked at replay in super slo-mo and from 4 different angles and come up with an answer that is different from the one that comes from the replay folks? “Conclusive” must also mean something else to these folks.
-Replay will confirm – or correct – calls on plays that decide games or championships. I completely agree that replay should confirm a play such as Santonio Holmes’ TD catch in the Super Bowl with about 30 seconds to play. Everything rode on getting that right. However, replay is also used for trivial matters – such as a tag play at second base in the second inning of a game.
-Replay will eliminate arguments between the manager and the umpires. Surely, you jest…”
Michael and LeBron
The Sports Curmudgeon quoted Gregg Drinnan’s thoughts, “Gregg Drinnan was the Sports Editor for the Kamloops Daily News until the paper closed up shop early this year. He used to write a notes column, Keeping Score, which ran on Saturdays – except when it didn’t. That was his description, not mine. He has kept that column alive in blog form here. In his 5 July posting, I found this item:
“[LeBron] James, it seems, is intent on spending his playing days chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan. What James, who has two NBA championship rings, seems to forget is that Jordan won six rings in eight years and did it all with one team, the Chicago Bulls.”
I think there is more to it than that. Michael Jordan and the Bulls went to the NBA Finals 6 times. The Bulls won all 6 of those series AND Michael Jordan was the MVP of the finals all 6 times. The simple fact is that James cannot meet let alone exceed that standard. James and his teams (Cavs and Heat) have been to the Finals 5 times. The Cavs/Heat have only won 2 of those 5 series. It would seem to me that the only way to exceed 6-for-6 would be to go 7-for-7. That is mathematically impossible…”
World Cup Diving
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) gave us Julie Foudy’s thoughts on the women’s World Cup, “”I actually think women don’t like that side of the game,” former U.S. star Julie Foudy told the New York Times. “Women play far too honest sometimes. They take the hit, ride the tackle and stay on their feet, when they would have drawn a foul if they’d gone down.”
Foudy went on to say, “I think that will change. My cynical side tells me that as women get more sophisticated and the stakes get higher, it will become more prevalent.” Foudy would know best, but I’m taking the other side. I can’t say exactly why, but I see the women’s game forever upholding the honor of honest competition.
Disco Demolition 2, You Better Belieb It
Any fan (of the Charleston River Dogs, owned by Bill Veeck’s son), wrote the Sports Curmudgeon, who brought a piece of Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus memorabilia got into the game for $1; those memorabilia were destroyed on the field after the game. Moreover, fans got a “Bobble-Leg” to honor Bill Veeck who had a wooden leg as a result of a war injury in WW II. It is not just a bobblehead; there have been tons of them; this one has a bobblehead and a bobbling wooden leg too.
Somewhere in the cosmos, Bill Veeck nodded approvingly…”
Scott Ostler (SF Chronical) looked at the ‘Niners new home Field, “As a nod to the team’s 49er roots, each restroom will feature a gold-panning sluice. Nuggets can be exchanged for concession items.”
July 18, 2014
From John Shea’s (SF Chronicle) All Star Notes
“The Rod Carew statue outside the park shows his classic pose, crouched stance and bat parallel to the ground. He said he developed it after Nolan Ryan kept striking him out, and suddenly Ryan’s pitches appeared straighter. Ryan didn’t like it, Carew said, and yelled at him, “Stand up, stand up.”
Parallel MLB Universe
The Sports Curmudgeon looked at the other side of the statistical coin to show that MLB collects these numbers: “Speaking of individual player stats, consider White Sox catcher, Tyler Flowers. He has 257 at-bats this year and he has struck out 102 times. If, instead, he had 102 hits in those at-bats, he would be hitting .397. For his career, Flowers has struck out 303 times in 786 at-bats so this year’s level of futility at the plate is only slightly greater than normal for him.”
The Washington General
I received this notice from ESPN.com news services: “Louis “Red” Klotz, the mastermind of the Washington Generals and other teams that traveled with the Harlem Globetrotters and regularly lost for more than 60 years, died Saturday (July 12th) at the age of 93.
Klotz formed a working relationship with the Globetrotters in 1952, putting together the Generals in addition to the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, New York Nationals, International Elite, Global Select and World All-Stars to face the famous traveling team and mostly lose.
He was a player, coach and owner at various times throughout the partnership.
Klotz scored the winning basket the last time one of his teams beat the Globetrotters. While playing for the New Jersey Reds as a 50-year-old player/coach, his last-second shot lifted his team to a 100-99 victory on Jan. 5, 1971, in Martin, Tennessee.
He became the first non-Globetrotter to have a jersey retired, when in 2011 he received the honor in his native Philadelphia. He is one of six people to have his jersey retired by the Globetrotters, joining Curly Neal (No. 22), Goose Tatum (No. 50), Marques Haynes (No. 20), Meadowlark Lemon (No. 36) and Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13) as those to receive the distinction.
“The Harlem Globetrotters organization is extremely saddened by the passing of Red Klotz, and our deepest sympathies go out to his entire family,” Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said in a statement. “Red was truly an ambassador of the sport and as much a part of the Globetrotters’ legacy as anyone ever associated with the organization.
“He was a vital part of helping the Globetrotters bring smiles and introduce the game of basketball to fans worldwide. He was a legend and a global treasure. His love of the game — and his love of people — will certainly be missed.”
Klotz briefly played in the NBA, joining the Baltimore Bullets in the 1947-48 season and serving as a member of the squad that defeated the Philadelphia Warriors in six games to win the 1948 title.
Penalty-kick Shootouts: Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) talked about World Cup shootouts, “I’m not among those vehemently opposed to this manner of settling a game, but I always loved this by Ian Thomsen, then with the International Herald Tribune: “The equivalent of taking Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson off the Augusta National after 72 even holes and ordering them to settle the Masters at the Putt-Putt miniature golf course on Route 17 somewhere outside the city.”
Bruce told us, “Give full glory and credit to the Germans, who scored a long-awaited victory in the storied Estadio do Maracana. Wish all those Argentine fans a safe trip back home. And for Messi? Maradona vowed that he’d “lay out the red carpet” if Messi returned with a World Cup title. The man in the parallel universe would have settled for his country’s blue and white. As it stands, it’s little more than an empty dirt road.”
Dwight’s (Seattle Times) Slight
Dwight riddled this question:
“Q: What’s last thing that a FC Barcelona player wants to hear from new teammate Luis Suarez?
A: I’ve got your back.”
The Sports Curmudgeon’s Home Companion
The SC passed Wrigley Field while on vacation and thought of Garrison
Keillor’s explanation of the Cubs’ jinx, “Garrison Keillor – normally not one of my favorite entertainers – offered an excellent alternative hypothesis to the futility of the Cubbies over the past 106 years:
“It’s the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field in Chicago, which was built in 1914 on the site of the old Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary. And right there is the key to the story of the Chicago Cubs. This team is the living embodiment of Lutheran theology, which if I need remind you is not about winning. It’s not about being No. 1. It is about taking the back seat and being of service to others.
“The Cubs have been of service to so many other teams. They have pulled other teams out of losing streaks. Batters who were in painful slumps have recovered their confidence against the Cubs.
“It’s a good Lutheran team you’ve got there on the North Side of Chicago.”
Cubs’ fans have tried myriad ways to exorcize the demons they believe afflict their team; perhaps – if Professor Keillor is correct – they should try something new. Perhaps the Cubs’ owner needs to go and nail a document of 95 Theses on the Bud Selig’s door. After all, none of the other exorcisms has worked…”
From the Sometimes These Items Just Write Themselves file comes word that among those gored (in the thigh) this year was Bill Hillman — co-author of “How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona.”
Tour de France cyclists say spectators taking selfies while standing in the road of oncoming competitors is putting the riders in danger.
Too bad this fad hasn’t caught on at the Running of the Bulls.
Need A Chuckle?
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) told us to “Just say the words ‘Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles’ – then remember that John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase played in them.”
Late Breaking News
“The Left-field fence,” Dwight said, “Caught fire during the minor-league Lancaster (CA) JetHawks annual Fireworks Night.
In other words, third base was only the second-hottest corner.”
July 11, 2014
The Daily News referred to Jason Kidd as being shifty and being “A common snake.” Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) quoted Harvey Araton (NY Times) as saying, “New York Times columnist Harvey Araton referred to Kidd’s “well-chronicled reputation as a viper” and cited his various indiscretions from the past: facing domestic-abuse charges, pleading guilty to DWI and conspiring to get coach Byron Scott fired when Kidd played for the New Jersey Nets.
What if the Bucks, fearing a wave of negative publicity, back off Kidd’s desire to run the team? Then he’ll simply be the head coach in Milwaukee, possibly the NBA’s least attractive destination. A fate well deserved, some would say.”
A Cup Recap
Ann Killian (SF Chronicle) gave us her impression of the American appearance in the World Cup tournament:
‘It would have been a breakthrough.’ “According to Landon Donovan – left off the U.S. team but providing commentary for ESPN – the back-to-back losses to Germany and Belgium proved where the United States is compared with the truly elite teams.
‘That’s the level we need to aspire to,’ Donovan said. ‘We need to develop the technical skills so we’re the team creating 25 chances.’
“This is exactly what Klinsmann meant when he said our country isn’t capable of winning the World Cup, not yet. He was skewered for his honesty, but it’s a simple fact. Though the games with Germany and Belgium were close, and with a little luck the U.S. team could have pulled the upset, the talent divide between that level and the Americans was obvious.” (b: that divide wasn’t that great. We took them all to OT’s. Now we’re seeing good new players like 19yr. old Julian Green and 20yr. old DeAndre Yedlin, arriving.)
A Stunning Defeat
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) talked about the Germany-Brazil shocker- well I guess to the really knowledgeable it wasn’t a surprise. “Then the game was played – and for Brazil’s 7-1 loss, there will be no forgiveness. There can be no rationalization of a disgrace. Most observers were immediately calling it the most astonishing, inexplicable match in World Cup history, and surely the critiques were more severe among Brazil’s devoted populace.
Fans were in tears well before halftime, and those were the people who weren’t in shock. Normally goals are a treasure in this sport, something to be appreciated and replayed in the mind. In Germany’s hands, they were as common as groundballs to the second baseman. However one places this match in historical perspective, there’s no question that a seven-minute stretch in the first half, where Germany’s lead grew from 1-0 to 5-0, has no equal in the World Cup’s realm of the unexpected.”
Bruce Jenkins then talked about Argentina’s Messi: “When it comes to Messi and Argentina, there are no fond memories of the past. He’s the most technically brilliant player in the world, but until this World Cup, he’s had a tenuous relationship, at best, with his home country. And it all goes back to a tiny little kid who needed one of American sport’s dirtiest words – steroids – to become whole. Messi was so undersized at the age of 10, his parents sought medical advice. Without treatment, they were told, he would grow no taller than 5 feet as an adult. Thus began a series of human growth hormone injections, effective but also expensive, to the point where neither Messi’s parents nor his soccer club could afford to pay. The HGH treatment was a five-year plan, and when Lionel was 13, his family moved to Barcelona, where he could join the world’s most prestigious club and not have to worry about finances.
He grew to just 5-foot-7, but as the world soon discovered, his was a towering presence. Graced by the midfield genius of Barcelona teammates Xavi and Andres Iniesta, among other stars of the football galaxy, Messi became the centerpiece of an elegant, technically superior powerhouse. What a contrast of storied performers. It now seems obvious that Argentina needed to move on from Maradona, with his history of underworld associations, cocaine abuse and countless other unsavory episodes. On Saturday, as Messi’s phenomenal dribbling led to Gonzalo Higuain’s goal, the only one in the quarterfinal against Belgium, it seemed the transition was complete. Argentina will meet the Netherlands in the semifinals, and it seems entirely possible that Messi can orchestrate a long-awaited championship.
The Sports Curmudgeon posed questions about some future World Cup locations selections: There are more chapters to be written here, but as things stand in 2014, there are a few questions we all should keep an eye on as time marches forward:
1. The 2018 World Cup Tournament will be held in Russia. What could possibly go wrong there?
2. If Sepp Blatter thinks the only issue involving the 2022 bid won by the Qataris is the climate, is he ready to tell the world how he – and his august colleagues – did not know that it is hotter than Hades in Qatar in the summertime back when they did their voting?
3. What contractual pressures can individual clubs and national leagues – and international competitions such as those run by UEFA – put on FIFA with regard to moving the World Cup to the winter?
4. How come one of the 2022 major sponsors – Emirates Airlines – located in Dubai has not found it important to register its discomfort with the alleged human rights issues regarding their neighbors in Qatar?
These kinds of issues can keep me focused on international soccer politics and practices for the next few years. However, I prefer to close here with an issue that Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle honed in on back when the vote was taken to assign the tournament to Qatar.
‘The government of Qatar is still questioning the need to sell beer at World Cup matches in 2022. Isn’t Qatar in the desert? Yo, vendor, gimme a hot chocolate!’”
Dwight Perry(Seattle Times) told us, in case you missed it, that 7/2 was world UFO day. “In keeping with the theme, 87 people swore they saw Dennis Rodman drive by.
July 5, 2014
Thank You, Sports Curmudgeon
Jack Finarelli, the SC, sent along a post while on his National Park road trip saying that a lot of super-star athletes don’t have success trying to manage, “My hypothesis, which is not testable, is that great players are great because of their instincts or because of their physical prowess. Neither of those things is “coachable”; therefore, the great player has difficulty explaining to his young wards how to do what he had been so good at doing. Consider a few examples:
Ted Williams: He was the single best hitter I ever saw play baseball. Anyone who doubts he was a great player is an ignoramus. As a manager for 3 seasons, the closest his team came to winning the AL was 23 games; cumulatively, his teams were 41 games below .500/
Alan Trammel: His first season managing the Tigers produced 119 losses for the season. He lasted two more years and those years combined to have his teams, 38 games below .500.
Wilt Chamberlain: He actually coached an ABA team for a year. The San Diego Conquistadors – usually referred to as “the Q’s” in headlines – finished 37-47.
Bill Russell: Russell’s initial success as a coach probably had a lot to do with the fact that Bill Russell was also a player on those Celtics teams. In the late 70s, Russell had a stint with the Sonics and it was undistinguished; the Sonics missed the playoffs in 2 of his 4 seasons there. Later, he coached the Sacramento Kings and did not finish out the season; when he left, the team was 17-41.
Norm Van Brocklin: Yes, the Vikings were an expansion team when he became the coach. Nonetheless, in 6 seasons there, he posted one winning record and a cumulative record of 29-51-4. Later with the Falcons for six and a half years, his cumulative record was 37-49-3.
Forest Gregg: He had three coaching stops – Cleveland, Cincy and Green Bay. (The man had to love cold weather, no?) His cumulative NFL coaching record was a less-than-exciting 75-85-0.
Otto Graham: As a QB, Graham had a record of 114-20-4; as a coach for the redskins from 1966-68, Graham had a record of 17-22-3. The disparity there speaks for itself…
Yes, there have been a few great players who went on to be pretty good coaches too. Billy Cunningham comes to mind; so do Mike Ditka and Yogi Berra.”
Ohm Youngmisuk (ESPNNewYork.com) reasoned, “Still, the Nets turned their season around with Pierce playing a big role in the turnaround with his move to power forward after Brook Lopez was lost for the season.
League sources say the Nets, in a perfect world, would like to secure Pierce to a short-term contract starting at $6-to-$8 million a season. They own his Bird rights so they can offer him more than anybody else. If Pierce, who shares the same agent (Jeff Schwartz) with Kidd and made $15.3 million this past season, is turned off by the recent developments and wants to find his way to a reunion with Doc Rivers with the Clippers, the Nets should give him enough financial reason to return.
If the Nets don’t have Pierce’s leadership this coming season, this season could start off even worse than last season’s Cyclone roller coaster-like start.
They have to adapt to a new coach, a new staff and a new system again. Deron Williams and Lopez are both coming off surgeries and the franchise will have to take it very slow with them in training camp and at the start of the season.
If the 38-year-old Garnett returns, he and Lopez will be on a minutes and likely games restriction. Livingston likely won’t be back and Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson also could sign elsewhere. ESPN.com sources reported that the Nets recently revisited trade talks from last season with the Cavaliers involving Jarrett Jack as a contingency plan for Livingston. But sources say Cleveland has put that deal for Marcus Thornton on the backburner. So the Nets may have to find another point guard.
Much of the team’s star core will be either making its way back from surgery or be a year older and slower.
That’s why the Nets need Pierce’s leadership even more to help keep things together.
Kidd is gone. The Nets need to make sure Pierce doesn’t leave too.”
Jenkins- World Cup
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) commented on “Suarez The Biter, “Suarez, after biting an opponent for the third time in his career explained, ‘I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent.’ Wow, I’ve seen cheetahs less deliberate than that.”
My Take On The Cup
European players are supposed to be more talented than the Americans. But from what I see, they’re only more dramatic with supposed injuries. They seemed to whine and moan a lot to the officials who allowed themselves to be influenced by such histrionics.
Dwight Perry’s Patter
“Michelle Wie got a congratulatory bouquet from actor Adam Sandler when she won her first U.S. Open. ‘I feel that’s the biggest prize in golf,’ Wie said, ‘getting flowers from Happy Gilmore.’; Hey, it certainly beats getting a tin cup from Kevin Costner.”
Well, duh. Everyone knows you can only get Trout with a hook or a sinker.”
“Anthony Castrovince (MLB.com) asked Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, ‘What did you say to plate umpire Quinn Wolcott to get yourself ejected from the game?’
Pierzynski’s answer: ‘Give me a new ball. One you can see.’”
Quote Marks From Dwight
“Steve Schrader (Detroit Free Press) on the Pistons chances of landing LeBron James: ‘About the same as getting bitten by a shark and a soccer player on the same day.’”
“R.J. Currie (SportsDeke.com) on second-seeded Li Na’s upset loss at Wimbledon: ‘Barbora Zahlavova Strycova overwhelmed her- 23 letters to 4.’”
Dwight Perry said that, “NBA pundit predict that second round draft-pick Thanasis Antotokounmpo will have an immediate impact on the Knicks.
The need for long-sleeved jerseys, for one.
Marcus, who I think is the real-deal, is a light-heavyweight and is now 11-0, with 8 KO’s.
June 27, 2014
I think that Stephen A. Smith (ESPN.com) gave the best synopsis. “Now that the New York Knicks have both a president of basketball operations and a coach with a championship pedigree, one would think there should be no problem luring players with winning ability to a city that’s been starving for a title since 1973. But as we sit here today, the focus having shifted to compiling a roster that should reap such dividends, the attention now rests squarely on Carmelo Anthony.
Unfortunately, none of us are sure if Melo’s attention is aimed primarily at the Knicks. But the Knicks would need it to be if they’re hoping for any success in the near future.
Understand, the possibility of getting LBJ is slim. Annually, James is competing for championships. He’s doing so surrounded by palm trees and gorgeous weather, for a first-class organization led by a first-class executive in Pat Riley with five titles his resume. He’s doing it in a place devoid of state income taxes and with a cheaper cost of living, with all of it serving as its own recruiting tool for prospective free agents-to-come.
What LeBron cares about is the roster he’s playing with. The organization assembling it. And being happy, because the future is bright wherever he lands.
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) gave his opinion of the growing American presence. “It’s certainly true that the confederation featuring North and Central America has been a force in Brazil, thanks to the resurgence of Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica, but there’s a bigger story developing: the power, elegance and style of South America.
For the moment, put aside Costa Rica’s stunning 1-0 victory over Italy, undoubtedly that country’s greatest sporting moment in 24 years. From this vantage point, the 2014 World Cup is a team full of dancing Colombians (erasing bitter memories of the past). It’s a precision goal from Chile and two gems from Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (who Dwight Perry quoted Fark.com referring to Suarez as ‘Chewy Luis’). It’s Neymar leading Brazil and Lionel Messi rekindling Argentina. It’s the fact that nobody discounts any of these teams as the tournament roars on.
This has been a satisfying World Cup for Major League Soccer, which has players scattered throughout the event and some of the very best, including Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley (among others on the U.S. team), Australia’s sensational Tim Cahill and Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar … From last year’s debacle in the Colorado snow – losing a World Cup qualifier to the U.S. in blizzard conditions – Costa Rica somehow has become the first team to advance from a group including Italy, England and Uruguay. And it’s doing it with players who, for the most part, compete for second-tier clubs.”
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) sent along these groaners:
“Attention, cycling buffs
The World Naked Bike Ride was held last week in Portland. Just think of it as The Chafe for the Cup.”
(More On Naked Bike Ride
The Sports Curmudgeon warned us, “Actually, I think there is a far more important message contained in that brief note. Go to Google Images and search for “World Naked Bike Ride Portland”. Now that you have viewed a couple of those images, here is the important lesson for everyone:
Never – as in NOT EVER – should you consider buying a used bicycle in Portland, Oregon.”)
“At STLtoday.com, on Colorado’s MLB-worst 4.89 ERA: ‘Rockies Horror Pitchers Show.’”
Dwight told us that, “An American Legion baseball game in Juneau, Alaska, was briefly interrupted because a bear was roaming along the outfield fence. It nearly became the first game called on account of game.”
The Oakland A’s signed a new lease to remain in plumbing-plagued O.co Coliseum for another 10 years.
In honor of re-upping during the World Cup, any sewage blockages experienced in the next three weeks will be referred to as stoppage time.”
I’m missing Ralph these days because he represented an era when baseball on television was zoned for total viewer comfort, for relaxation, contemplation and laughter, and where the people with the microphones let the game come to you rather than shovel it at you with both hands.
Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) remembered radio broadcasts. “In that place, you were basically just hanging out with Kiner and with his broadcast partners Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy at WOR, or you were hanging out with Harry Kalas and his Phillies sidekick Rich Ashburn on WPHL, or you were hanging with the Gunner or with Harry Caray or with Jack Buck or Marty Brennaman or, on occasions too rare, with Vin Scully, the ultimate in plush baseball monologue.
You enjoyed their company, even if Ralph’s essential contribution for nine innings was to say that all of so-and-so’s saves had come in relief appearances.”
All NFL nose tackles are big human beings. Eagles’ nose tackle, Bennie Logan, added some weight in the off-season as suggested by the Eagles’ coaching staff. Reportedly, he is now a solid 319 lbs. A reporter covering the Eagles must have asked Logan about adding weight to an already sizeable frame and this is how Logan justified his 319 lbs:
“Most people, when they picture a nose tackle, they picture a 330-plus guy, just clogging up the middle. But the way we play our defense, you’ve got to be able to run. And I don’t feel I’d be able to run or do the things our coaches, in our scheme, require us to do. That’s why I’m not 330, or put on that much weight.”
For most “normal folks” purposely adding weight to get up to 319 lbs would be sufficient to have family members put such folk in the Fitness Protection Program.”
Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) wrote that, “NCAA president Mark Emmert makes it too easy for his detractors when he does something as preposterous as claim that big-time college athletes are “not hired employees conducting games for entertainment.” That must come as a surprise to the TV networks that pay billions for the rights to entertain America with college football and basketball. And those stadiums and arenas on campus aren’t built with entertainment in mind?”
June 20, 2014
Foggy Patent Office
Darren Rovell (ESPN.com) wrote, “
The U.S. Patent Office ruled that the Redskins’ trademark protections should be canceled, a decision that applies new financial and political pressure on the team to change its name. Of note:
• The ruling involves six uses of the “Redskins” name trademarked by the team from 1967 to 1990. The team’s logo remains a trademark legally held by the team and is unaffected at this time.
• If the decision stands, it would mean the team can continue to use the name, but it would lose a significant portion of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to it.
• The Redskins have appealed. The cancellation for trademark protections will be on hold while the matter makes its way through the courts. That process could take years.
• This is the second time the federal trademark board had issued an opinion on the case. A similar ruling from 1999 was overturned on a technicality in 2003.
• If the Redskins were to lose the rights to their trademarks, the question will be whether state and common laws would allow them to retain their exclusivity of use. “The law is really unclear on this,” said Fordham law professor Sonia Katyal, who specializes in intellectual property. “We haven’t really had something like this where you have a team and so many other interested parties involved, so we’re treading new ground.”
Although the Redskins name and past logos are involved in the decision, the trademarks that were”
Did you get that? BTW- About that technicality- “In 1999, a panel ruled to cancel the trademarks after a battle with Native American groups. The decision was later overturned on a technicality after the court decided that the plaintiffs were too old and should have filed their complaint soon after the Redskins registered their nickname in 1967.” Never mind what is right or wrong.
Dwight Perry’s (Seattle Times) Headlines
“At Fark.com: World Cup referees run 6 miles during a match-
2 additional miles after making a game-ending call against the home team.”
“A Yankees-A’s game in Oakland was delayed when the field-lights suddenly went out.
Apparently some smart-aleck flushed three clubhouse toilets at the same time.
“According to BaseballReference.com since 2004,there have been nearly seven times as many home runs hit on 0-2 counts (1806) as ones hit on 3-0 counts (267).
(b. Really these guys need to get a life)
From Scott Ostler (SF Chronicle)
“Luckily for Brazil, they were placed in el Grupo de Flopo.”
Scott rented an RV for his visit to Germany for the 2006 games. He called it the “Roadenhogginblogginwagen.”
“Pabst Blue Ribbon’s owner is thinking of buying the Buffalo Bills. The new name will grow on you. The Buffalo Beers.”
Postcard From Yosemite
The Sports Curmudgeon set this along while on holiday with his “Long Suffering Wife.” “I got to the bar area too late to see the USA’s first goal against Ghana; I got there 4 minutes into the game. After Ghana tied it in the 82nd minute, I hoped that the US could hold on for a tie because Ghana had the better part of the game for at least 60 minutes of the game to that point. Only a few moments later, a US sub – pressed into action due to an injury to a starter – scored the winning goal with only 4 minutes of regulation play left. The win puts the US in a good position to advance because Portugal lost its opening game to Germany 4-0. In a tie situation, that kind of goal differential will be hard to overcome.”
Fisher Prince Derek Fisher is furthering his learning at the knee of the “Zen Master” so he must be the “Zen Journeyman.” “How-Evah!” Stephen A. Smith (ESPN.com) talked about Fisher, “So it’s nice to see Fisher as the Knicks’ new $5 million man. To know him is to be sincerely happy for the Knicks’ new coach, who’s epitomized nothing but professionalism and competitiveness throughout his 18-year playing career. But Fisher can only coach what he has. Jackson, in all likelihood, only wants to preside over something worthwhile. And the best way for him to pull that off now is to keep Carmelo Anthony in a Knicks uniform for several years to come, utilizing his “connections” to help formulate a roster worth paying to watch at MSG. There’s an awful lot at stake if the Knicks fail in this quest. And, obviously, there’s a chance we might not just be talking about Melo. Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) gave his opinion on the free-agency, “I’m skeptical that free-agent Carmelo Anthony would leave so much money on the table in New York just for the chance to join the Heat. I also can’t believe Anthony would strengthen Miami’s title prospects- short of the Heat being allowed to play with two basketballs.
Dwight Perry’s (Seattle Times) Patter “In the light of new corruption claims over Qater’s 2022 World Cup bid,” reported Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express, “a FIFA vice president has supported a new round of bribed voting.” “Phil Mickelson has never won the U.S. Open but has finished second a whopping six times. ‘Darned if I can explain it,’ said Phil’s new swing coach, Marv Levy.” “Headline at Fark.com: Knicks decide that Derek Fisher will be their next ex-coach.” “Steelers center Maurice Pouncey, slated to make $3.863 million this season, will more than double that next year after he agreed to a five-year, $44 million contract extension. Or as they call it in snapping circles, a considerable pay hike.” Ah, The French The Sports Curmudgeon had this comment, “I read somewhere that national teams entering the World Cup tournament traditionally generate team slogans for themselves. They are motivational adages if you will. I like the one for the French team this year: ‘Impossible is not a French word.’ I took 2 years of French in college in order to fulfill my foreign language requirement and even with that rudimentary exposure to the language, I can tell you that “impossible” is indeed a French word – and in fact, it is spelled exactly the same in French as in English.”
June 13, 2014
Possible Landmark Decision
J. Brady McCollough (Pgh Post-Gazette) is covering Ed O’Bannion’s suit against the NCAA for using his image on a video-game without his permission. Here is some of that, “The room was mostly quiet as the tall man in the tan suit jacket waited on Judge Claudia Ann Wilken to make her appearance.
But O’Bannon, 41, who sells Toyotas in Las Vegas less than a decade after his professional basketball career ended overseas without the glory he imagined as a youth growing up in Los Angeles, would soon be put to work. As the face of this lawsuit aiming for injunctive relief that would free current and former college athletes of the restrictions the NCAA’s eligibility rules placed on players’ ability to sell their own names, images and likenesses while they are in school, O’Bannon would give his testimony first. There would be no opening arguments, only the announcement by attorneys to Judge Wilken of a huge development in a case that was once tied directly to O’Bannon’s: The lawsuit brought by former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller accusing the NCAA of conspiring to use college athletes’ likenesses in video games without compensation had been settled for $20 million.
Keller was supposed to go to court in March 2015. Without that date on the docket any longer, O’Bannon was alone as he marched his 6-foot-8 frame up to the stand at Judge Wilken’s left. O’Bannon’s words likely wouldn’t mean as much to Judge Wilken’s eventual decision as those of the second witness — Stanford economics professor Roger Noll would later outline the ways that, in his expert opinion, the NCAA runs its business like a “cartel” — but it was O’Bannon’s name on the case.
Through the questioning of his client, Hausfeld’s goal was to create the impression of the Ed O’Bannon who wore No. 31 in UCLA blue and gold, a basketball player “masquerading as a student,” as O’Bannon put it. Drum Beats Big Chief Triangle hired a new coach, Derek Fisher, the Knicks; I hear he’s getting $25million over 5 years. That sure is a lot of money to pay someone who has NEVER been a head coach. I’m going to wait and see if Fisher wears an earpiece, while coaching, that is directly connected with Jackson who might really be the coach with “One degree of separation. More Drums We had the Derek Fisher intro-presser described by Johnette Howard (ESPNNY.com), “Fisher absolutely knocked his news conference out of the park Tuesday in his introductory appearance as the Knicks’ 26th head coach. (It only feels like 24 of them have been hired in the past five years.) We’ll have to see if he’s just as good at actually winning games, which would be nice since the Knicks reportedly gave him a five-year, $25 million contract. They’re paying him like the Erik Spoelstras and Tom Thibodeaus of the league, though he’s never coached a game. But in the half hour or so that Fisher fielded questions, with Jackson sitting to his left, beaming like a proud dad, Fisher didn’t set a foot wrong once. Fisher exuded poise and intelligence and the sort of no-nonsense logic that made him sound eminently capable of confronting challenges head on. Before anyone could ask him, he admitted the concern that he’s never been a head coach is “factually true,” but said, “I am experienced. … Basketball is a game that I’m experienced playing, understanding, leading in, guiding in, helping other people achieve the greatest gift in the world that a professional athlete can have, which is being a champion. “That I do have experience in.” Fisher’s speech is even marbled with many of the same themes Jackson touches on when he’s at his Zen Master best. Buzzwords and phrases like “commitment,” “accountability,” “re-establishing a culture of success,” “embracing the challenge” and “living greatness daily” all came up. Jackson said Fisher excels at speaking to other players’ “spirits and hearts” and Fisher said the Knicks job was “an opportunity that spoke to me right away.” Whole Lotta’ Love Bruce Jenkins (SF Chronicle) recognized the competitions to sign Timberwolves Kevin Love, “The Timberwolves want draft picks, and the Celtics have a bundle, including this year’s No.6 selection. They’d like to snag Love, hold onto Rajon Rondo, then lure Carmelo Anthony and old friend Paul Pierce off the free agent market.” “(Greg) Popovich is rightfully appalled by one of the NBA’s worst-ever ideas: interviewing coaches during the game. He gives those terse, tension-filled answers as a form of protest, and good for him. One problem: His stance is often hilarious. The exchanges have become must-see viewing.” Moninaro Marinara Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) wrote: “Whenever an athlete receives a bazillion-dollar contract, media and fans feel compelled to exhaust themselves in a debate over, whether the jock is worth this fortune. And in every instance, from the deal Colin Kaepernick just signed with the 49ers back to the larval stages of pro sports, the answer has always been the same. An athlete is worth whatever the team’s owner is willing to pay.” “What does it say about women’s tennis in 2014 that 99% of the coaches and personal trainers are men? By now, you’d think women strategists and glorified babysitters would be more visible at the highest level.” Dwight (Seattle Times)Perry’s Patter “Just when you think MLB can’t possibly come up with yet another statistical sub-category, along comes this nugget. The Yankees are 12-1 this season when a rookie pitcher starts a road game.” Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) quoted, “Albert Chen of SI.com, after Boston manager John Farrell and two of his acting successors were ejected in a 3-2 win over the Rays: “It wasn’t clear who was next in the line of managerial succession for the Red Sox. Maybe Secretary of State John Kerry?” Quite The Cut-up Greg Cote (Miami Herald) wrote, “There has been a spate of Tommy John surgeries 40 years after the first one. It must have been so weird having a major surgery named after you. ‘Don’t I