A sportswriter with imagination

Right now there are no sports going on anywhere, so there is virtually no sports writing. But this is when we need writers & reporters the most. So why isn’t there anything worth reading in the media? The truth is that most sports “journalists” are nothing without their VIP access & being spoon-fed information by the machinery.

I’m going to use three screenshots from ESPN.com, which were all taken on this publication date, to discuss & analyze their content. Let’s start with the NBA, which is supposed to be finishing it’s regular season and starting its play-offs in a few weeks.

Of course the NBA was the first major American sports league to shut down, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert test positive for COVID-19, only days after conspicuously wiping himself all over press corps tape recorders. He’s been in quarantine & all apologies since.

This was to be the “Kobe season” after Bryant’s tragic death in January. But now it’s the “coronavirus season.” This puts reality in its proper perspective, I say. Too many NBA-ers still want to try to finish the season, which is insane. Too many spoiled rich athletes don’t really understand what it takes to put on one single event, such as a NBA game.

Unless it’s the Lakers-Clippers, it involves one team traveling to another city, which means air travel, ground transportation & hotels. The players are taken care of by their handlers, so they don’t always appreciate the labor involved.

Once at the event, the arena needs service personnel of every type. Players need trainers, medical & coaching staff. The fans expect food & drink vendors, and clean facilities. You need engineers to design these wonderlands, and labor to build them. To maintain them, every skill set from electricians to janitors are essential, and they are needed in numbers.

How is the NBA going to get service personnel back to work under pandemic conditions? There is little-to-no testing for the workers, and no proper PPE. So what’s their incentive to risk their lives to restart these carnivals? I write about sports all the time, and honestly I’m fine without them for now. It’s one less beat for me to have to cover. The point is, I don’t miss them that much, and a lot of other people feel the same way.

If you want to crown a NBA champion in 2019-20, it will only be by fan debate. I don’t follow too closely anymore, but I thought Clippers were going to win it, defeating the Lakers in the Western finals, or something like that. As far as Kobe Bryant goes: he was an all-time basketball great, but his legacy pales in comparison to the importance of what humanity is facing with COVID-19.

The ESPN headlines for the NBA today are the same as yesterday, and the day before, etc. “No decisions until May according to commissioner Adam Silver.” “NBA is eyeing faster testing.” Some no-name Kentucky Freshman guard has declared for the upcoming NBA draft…

ESPN always broadcasts the NBA draft which was to be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. But now that’s a pipe dream, as this will have to shifted to a virtual event. Once again, how are you going to get service people to work without protection in a pandemic? They need PPE and hazard pay. The ruling classes scream in unison that this is not feasible. That’s going to be the stand-off. All reporting on the NBA draft & mock drafts don’t discuss these realities and their implications. Makes you wonder.

Coronavirus is changing everything today, and into the future. How are sports leagues going to get fans packed back into stadiums & arenas during a pandemic? I don’t want pay to go, do you? That’s the current unreality of the NBA and its media.

Above is ESPN’s MLB homepage today, with Jeff Passan being left to answer the title: Is it safe to start the MLB season in May? The answer is obviously no, but the current MLB proposal is a 4-and-1/2 month “biodome quarantine” for players, coaches and staff, with all games to be played in the Phoenix area. No contact with family & friends during the season, and no fans in the stadiums. Television, radio & internet broadcast only. I hope that makes sense to you, because it makes no sense to me.

MLB was force to shut down near the end of spring training, so what this comes down to is money, which is why such crazy ideas are being floated. The players are for it, only so they can get paid, Canceling the season means no player paychecks. That’s a lot of families that need to eat, especially for pre-arbitration players with league-minimum contracts. These are the vast majority of younger players which dominate MLB rosters today.

Of course, the minor leagues are cancelled too. MLB owners wanted to scale back MiLB, so here it is. Zero baseball. The truth is that there will be no MLB season in 2020. How these “guaranteed” contracts are to be paid out, will be a contentious labor issue– for sure. It’s still quiet on this front, only because it’s early.

Beyond that, how do organizations scout for amateur drafts beyond 2020, with no baseball being played anywhere this year? The 2020 J-2 international draft probably needs to be cancelled. Any analysis & discussion of this in the sports media? They’re all afraid to ask, much less answer these questions.

One final footnote on MLB 2020. I theorized during the Mookie Betts salary dump saga that MLB would not sanction the Boston Red Sox for their iPhone cheating scandal during their 2018 World Series championship season with manager Alex Cora. It’s clear now that MLB has let their transgressions go. The Houston Astros will be the only MLB organization to be punished for electronic sign stealing, and then thrown to the media. The Astros are still taking heat for this, and the many Red Sox boosters in the MLB commissioner’s office are there to make sure this doesn’t happen to Boston.

The NFL (above) is to start its draft on April 23, broadcast on ESPN & ABC. This is a prime-time annual event on the ESPN calendar, with Mel Kiper Jr & Company ready for analysis on every selection, and then at the end, the “big board” for next year. The NFL confirmed yesterday it will be a virtual draft, with team personnel at their homes.

The draft was originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, the new home of the Raiders. Since all the scouting & combines have happened, a NFL draft can be accomplished online. The issue is the upcoming season, which is supposed to begin its training camps on July 15. No way that happens for all the reasons discussed above. What’s the point of draft picks & agents negotiating contracts with teams, if there isn’t going to be a 2020 NFL season?

What about NCAA football? When 2020 gets cancelled, then teams will have no scouting for the 2021 draft. Same with high-school football, and college recruiting.
Do you see how tied-in all this is? This is why Donald Trump conference-called all these league commissioners (& NHL) on Saturday, April 4.

“President Trump said he believes the NFL season should start on time in September, sources familiar with the call told ESPN. ‘I want fans back in the arenas,’ Trump said later in a briefing at the White House. ‘I think it’s … whenever we’re ready. As soon as we can, obviously. And the fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air.'”

For reference in Europe, less than a week ago professional tennis cancelled its men’s & women’s tours through the French Open & Wimbledon, which was to run June 29 to July 12. No comment on 2020 US Open, which is scheduled August 24 through September 13 in Queens NY. The site is the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which is currently closed until further notice– due to coronavirus.

The last ATP & WTA major before coronavirus COVID-19 was the 2020 Australian Open in January. That event was affected by wildfires raging across the continent at the time, and this was considered the major world news story of the day. Everywhere except China & their region in Asia. Both these pandemics (wildfires & coronavirus) are linked to global warming.

The tours that have responded best are the ones that have pivoted online. One somewhat surprising example is NASCAR, whose top drivers are now competing in iRacing, which is competitive video game racing online. The top drivers are nowhere near as good as the gamers at this, but racing fans still have interest. Dale Earnhardt, Jr discusses this Kyle Busch here:

The best part is that fans can follow their favorite participating drivers, observe their skills, and see their personalities come out– without NASCAR BS.The ruling establishment connected with every nation needs these carnival tours to recommence in real life, otherwise it’s going to be a revolution on all fronts. That’s what a sportswriter with imagination has to say today.

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Coronavirus & Revolution

The stock & bond markets around the world have crashed. As of this publication, mid-afternoon EDT, Europe is paralyzed due to the coronavirus epidemic. China is starting to recover, but nothing is moving economically yet. Wherever it isn’t an epidemic, it’s a pandemic, waiting to become an epidemic. That’s because the nationalist governments of the world are unable to come up with any kind of scientific & coordinated response to this human disaster. History will remember coronavirus as the pin that popped the bubble of capitalism.

There are several things that are becoming increasingly clear as this global crisis unfolds. First is that our way of life is now changing forever. For those who are still working, many are doing it at home. For most of them, this is the way it should be, as texting, email & video conferencing no longer necessitate that management personnel meet in the same building. We have global warming, and this change for the better will cut down on unnecessary business meetings & travel, which under capitalism are almost always useless.

A second lesson that is being learned is that sports aren’t very important, in the big picture. These were the first activities that were shut down, when this coronavirus was spreading globally. Sports are an integral part of this fake economy which is meant to provide bread & circuses for the masses. But when things get tough, sports & entertainment get put on hold, as history collides with class forces.

Does anyone care what LeBron James or Jennifer Lopez have to say right now? The answer is no, because they have no expertise on the problem. All they know is what they are good at, so their opinions on anything else aren’t any better than anyone else who doesn’t know. So why are celebrities idolized & elevated so much? People staying at home have lots of time to think about stuff like this.

To take it a step further, it’s educational to go onto YouTube & watch any older version of your favorite sport(s), and observe how much better most leagues were in the past. Not that is was perfect back then (it wasn’t), but there were far less commercials, less exploding graphics, and less-annoying announcers. The contests were shorter, and more action-packed. The same holds true for Hollywood television & cinema being better in much of the 20th century, as compared to today. Since the old stuff is more entertaining, so why do we need all this new garbage? It’s progress to have this 24/7 fakery machine shut down.

The final truth here is that capitalism is responsible for this coronavirus pandemic, and unable to meet its challenges. US President Donald Trump has hopelessly poured trillions of dollars into the stock & bond markets to keep them afloat over the past two weeks, but to no avail. Any brief rise in the markets has been a “sugar high” from these injections of trillions, that quickly wears off as reality sets in. There are no markets left to trade in, because the global supply chains have collapsed. Thus it’s futile to throw money at the markets.

All this started in China in December 2019, with the coronavirus COVID-19 mutating in bats, then spreading to humans. The rest of the world’s governments had months to prepare for this contagion, but arrogantly & ignorantly refused to take it seriously. Now what do they have to say? The coronavirus denialists are now being shouted down everywhere, by the facts on the ground, and the workers who are on the front lines.

Every government’s policy is trillions more for the 0.01%, while the rest of us must face this coronavirus without mass testing & protection. Without testing, there can be no tracing, nor effective treatment & quarantine of the ill. It was bipartisan policy for the US government to reject WHO test kits over eight weeks ago, the most essential front-line tool for containing coronavirus.

You can’t fight what you can’t identify. US officials wanted “our” pharmaceuticals to make their own proprietary tests so they could profit handsomely, but the pandemic has spread too quickly. Today, we still don’t have mass testing for coronavirus in America. Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden & Bernie Sanders only make excuses for this colossal failure. That’s how this two-party political system fails all of us.

What these parasites, strawmen & figurines have done to the world is unforgivable, and it won’t take long for the masses to realize this. Workers have bills to pay, with little-to-no reserves, and now no cash flow. When people can’t afford food & rent, that’s when the pitchforks & torches come out, looking for retribution against those responsible.

The biggest shame of all this is the fact there are millions of workers (in America alone) who are skilled & are heroically doing everything they can to contain this virus, while providing essential services to the population, despite the willful neglect of political leadership. These are the true heroes, but they are unrecognized by the media; starved of funding, supplies & necessary protective equipment by a corrupt system. These everyday heroes are forced to work because they care, and also because they live paycheck-to-paycheck. These are the people who live & work in reality, and therefore need to be in charge, not capitalist politicians.

Both US political parties, Dems & Reps, are eventually going to call off Election 2020, due to their inability to deal with this coronavirus. That will be another clear signal for revolution, as maintaining the status quo won’t do for the 90+%. This is now a revolutionary situation, and requires class-conscious leadership within the working class. Workers & youth need to organize amongst themselves. Appeals to the union bureaucracies & the capitalist class are a dead end.

Trump & the Democrats listen closely to the screams of Boeing, and how they need hundreds of billions. Meanwhile angry workers & youth are asking, “Why does this zombie corporation, that knowingly committed mass murder with their MAX 737 crashes, deserve a bailout?” As already stated, it’s not going to take long for youth & workers to put a revolutionary political program together, and it will be led by the Trotskyists of the World Socialist Web Site & SEP/ICFI.

What’s become apparent is that the working population & kids of the world are far ahead of any government. They understand the realities of global warming, social inequality & now the coronavirus better than their elected leaders. Many offices, stores & small businesses closed on their own, before they were ordered to, proving they recognized the risks better than our so-called “leaders.”

In this age of the internet, we now can identify the enemy. They start with all the names you see on Fox, CNN & Yahoo!, then it goes to those behind-the-scenes. It’s Wall Street, silicon valley, Hollywood, the East coast media, the pentagon, CIA, NSA, FBI, White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. This is the criminal capitalist class, which must be ousted, and replaced with a workers government of the world. This is called socialism, and it’s only achievable through an international revolution. Please join us.

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Sports on YouTube

Pre-game/Post-game preface:   Sunday 15 March 2020 ~ noon EDT

Less than 48 hours after initial publication, a new sell-out CBA which runs through 2030 was announced by the NFL & ESPN. Like every other union organization, bribed bureaucrats & cajoled pawns serve the interests of ownership. In exchange for a miserly increase in player share of revenues & too-few post-career benefits, the NFLPA will allow a 17-game season starting in 2021, with the playoffs expanding from 12 to 14 teams starting in 2020– if it’s played.

What’s illustrated below is that NFL players have a hard time getting though a 16-game season (which started in 1978), and more games only increases serious injuries to all players. Expanded play-offs only increases the mediocrity & meaningless carnage, and there’s too of both much already.

Less than a week ago, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter was elected president of the NFL Players Association, succeeding Eric Winston, the OT for mostly the Texans & Bengals from 2006-17. Eric Winston had been president of the NFLPA since 2014. All these players have CTE, so they can easily be manipulated. The coronavirus pandemic has shut down sports & spread fear, which was the perfect opportunity for NFL ownership to get what it most wanted, more games from players.

Right now, virtually every major global sporting event, league, and tour has been shut down, due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. This means there’s no live sports going on. This is a major problem for addicted gamblers, but not for true sports fans.

That’s because YouTube exists, and all the great games of the past, from all sports are pretty much available for viewing. If you love sports, this is a great quarantine activity. YouTube therapy is about appreciating the beauty of sports, not who wins when it’s still undecided. For addicted gamblers, seek counseling.

I grew up in Winneconne, Wisconsin where the NFL & Green Bay Packers are king. I was allowed & encouraged to watch Saturday college & Sunday pro football by 2nd grade, which was a few years later than most boys my age at the time.

In 1976, the Green Bay Packers were coached by the legendary Bart Starr, the HoF QB who had led them to all those NFL & Super Bowl championships in the 1960’s under head coach Vince Lombardi. Starr was still loved, and his mediocre to poor results year after year were tolerated by an adoring & nostalgic fan base. Packers fans are among the most loyal in any sport. I learned that early.

But as a newbie, none of this history or loyalist pressure impressed me enough to become a Green Bay Packers fan, because they stunk on most Sundays. This was the NFL in 1976:

The Packers were 5-9 in a poor division, outside of the Vikings at 11-2-1. I was enamored with the way QB Fran Tarkenton scrambled, evaded defenders trying to take his head off, and then tried to make a big play down-field. It didn’t always happen and it could blow up, like in Super Bowl 11 when he was pick-sixed by Oakland Raiders DB Willie Brown, but Tarkenton was always battling & playing smart trying to get the win. The Packers didn’t do that under head coach Bart Starr.

When the Dallas Cowboys pulled out the ‘Hail Mary” Staubach-to-Pearson in Metropolitan Stadium in the 1975 divisional playoffs, the NFC pendulum had swung. But in 1976, it was the Vikings who were lucky in getting to the Super Bowl. When the LA Rams upset the Cowboys in Dallas 14-12, it set up the NFC championship in chilly Bloomington against a soft, warm-weather team.

The Los Angeles Rams were coached by “ground” Chuck Knox, and a blocked chip-shot field goal attempt returned 90 yards for a TD by Vikings DB Bobby Bryant (along with his 2 picks) tipped the game. Vikings 24, Rams 13. The real 1976 Super Bowl was won in Oakland, with the Raiders crushing the Steelers 24-7 in the AFC championship game. This sent the Raiders to their first Super Bowl, where they were heavy favorites to crush the aging Vikings. They did: 32-14.

Color analyst Don Meredith is a piece of work in Super Bowl XI. Lots of whooping it up, questionable assertions & pointing out the obvious after the fact. He hates all over Fran Tarkenton the entire game, obviously jealous of a contemporary who outlasted him. Yes sir! Curt Gowdy doesn’t help ease the pain.

Total domination by the Raiders. Stoneface was outmatched and never had answers when that happened. Jim Tunney was known as the dean of NFL referees, and Super Bowl XI was his second of three (VI & XII). Raiders DB’s viciously targeted Vikings WR’s heads the whole game, culminating in one of the most dangerous hits in Super Bowl history by Skip Thomas & Jack Tatum on Sammy White in the early 4th quarter as his helmet goes flying at 1:39:30 in this video. No penalty was called, and Dandy Don & Curt Gowdy were okay with that.

Monday Night Football was a relatively new phenomenon back then, which made it more exciting to watch, if you allowed to stay up that late, which i wasn’t. Crazy stuff happened during their broadcasts, with Don Meredith leading the charge in stupidity & obnoxiousness. Dandy Don & Howard Cosell clashed repeated, on & off the air.

There were a few memorable games from this era, like the one above with the Oilers beating the Dolphins, 35-30, but the truth is that most were dull & pointless. Below is a typical 1976 MNF game, which the Vikings lost to the 49ers in Candlestick, 20-16, with Alex Karras in place of Don Meredith in the booth.

Alex Karras was a DT for the Detroit Lions from 1958-70, but on MNF he was only a pawn in Howard Cosell’s & Roone Arledge’s power games of life. I didn’t mind Karras because he mostly kept quiet, and said very little when compelled to pitch in. That let Gifford & Cosell do their thing, which was when early MNF was at its best.

One note on the video above. That’s future Texas Rangers slugger Pete Incaviglia winning the Punt, Pass & Kick competition in his age group at halftime, announced at the end of the 3rd quarter.

It turned out that 1976 was a new era in the NFL, as the Seattle Seahawks & Tampa Buccaneers expanded. Coached by USC legend John McKay, the expansion Buccaneers were the worst NFL team ever. In their first season they were forced to play in the AFC West, so they could play every AFC franchise once, before moving to the NFC Central in 1977 and then playing every NFC team once.

Seattle flip-flopped this, by playing in the weaker NFC West in 1976, and moved to the AFC West in 1977. Of course, the Seahawks became a NFC team again, when the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002.

The 1976 Buccaneers had Steve Spurrier at QB, and were helpless against the many AFC powerhouses. Their Pythagorean still has them at <1 win in 1976. The winless 2008 Detroit Lions & 2017 Cleveland Browns, and the 1-15 1989 Dallas Cowboys all project at 3-13, which is about as bad as an NFL team can get with even breaks.

But the expansion Buccaneers were futile and reached 0-26 in 1977, until they finally pulled out a win at the Superdome against the New Orleans Saints & QB Archie Manning. The inspired Tampa Bay Buccaneers then beat the St. Louis Cardinals in their finale to finish 2-12. Head coaches Hank Strahm (NO) & Don Coryell (STL) were both fired thereafter.

Hank Strahm had had his day, and would retire from NFL coaching and instantly became a 3rd-string (at best) color analyst for CBS. He called many a Green Bay Packers game, when they played a bad opponent, going on & on about “point of attack” and “taffy pulls.” Click. Don Coryell was more successful, instantly hired by the San Diego Chargers as head coach, he was the brains behind their revolutionary offense led HoF by QB Dan Fouts.

The Chargers were often featured on NBC, matching up with the Raiders & Broncos in epic battles. I can still hear Dick Enberg exclaiming, “Oh my!!” The “Air Coryell” Chargers always scored points in their prime, but their defense couldn’t get stops. Don Coryell is another great head coach who gets forgotten because he never won, or even got to, a Super Bowl. He needed a great defensive coordinator.

Super Bowl XII was perhaps the sloppiest ever, possibly due to all the partying going on in New Orleans. The Cowboys were clearly the better team, but refused to take the gifts QB Craig Morton & the Broncos kept giving them. It was a lonely halftime for Efrin Herrera, as called by Pat Summerall– one of the best play-by-play announcers.

Deep into the second half, things weren’t getting resolved, so an official gave back-up WR Butch Johnson a TD catch, which he actually dropped, and that sealed the game for Dallas. Final score, Dallas 27-10 over Denver. In many ways, Cowboys-Broncos was the first modern Super Bowl. This is when it became an institution that looked great on TV, in spite of it being a poor game. No one cared, because it was such a great party. The NFL schedule expanded to 16 games in 1978.

You can’t be a football good team over time without a great QB, and a real coach. Below are two lists that don’t even go all the way back, but beautifully illustrate the importance of a great quarterback & organized coaching, in correlation to winning in the NFL.

Green Bay Packers QB’s

1956-71 Bart Starr
1971-73 Scott Hunter
1973-74 Jerry Tagge
1974-75 John Hadl
1976-85 Lynn Dickey
1977-79 David Whitehurst
1981-84 Rich Campbell
1985 Jim Zorn
1985-87 Randy Wright
1987 Alan Risher
1987-92 Don Majkowski
1992-2007 Brett Favre
2008-present Aaron Rodgers

Head Coaches since Vince Lombardi era:
Phil Bengtson 1968-70; Dan Devine 71-74; Bart Starr 75-83; Forrest Gregg 84-87; Lindy Infante 88-91; Mike Holmgren 92-98; Ray Rhodes 1999; Mike Sherman 2000-05; Mike McCarthy 2006-18; Matt LaFleur 2019-present.

Head coach Bart Starr always believed Lynn Dickey was a winning QB, when he really wasn’t. The shining moment of Packers glory, in the middle of all this ineptitude, finally came in 1979.

The video above was the signature upset win for head coach Bart Starr (1975-83) back in the day, and also for QB David Whitehurst (1977-79). Packers 27, Patriots 14 on MNF. New England Patriots QB Steve Grogan was very erratic throwing, and when he ran he took on too many SS’s & LB’s head first. Jim Plunkett was much better, and that was Chuck Fairbanks’ franchise-turning mistake.

CB Mike Haines, TE Russ Francis, OT John Hannah were great for NE, while WR James Lofton was the HoF-er for the Green Bay Packers. This was RB Terdell Middleton in his brief prime. Frank Gifford is golden, but I’m grateful for this editing, and not having to listen to Howard Cosell & Don Meredith bicker & banter for 3+ hours.

Above was the other big upset win of the Bart Starr head coaching era, this time with Lynn Dickey at QB, as this is still one of the highest-rated MNF games ever on ABC. Lynn Dickey is at his best, and WR James Lofton is in his prime, with HoF K Jan Stenerud helping lead the Packers to a thrilling 48-47 win at RFK.

The Washington R-words were defending champions, but their vulnerabilities were exposed in this game, and they showed up again in SB 18 against the LA Raiders. MNF is always a mixed bag when it comes to announcers. Giff is gold, but Dandy is obnoxious & stupid. OJ Simpson was actually under-rated, a true football genius who knew when to talk and when to shut up, as you can hear in this broadcast. Irony?

Above is the best NFL game ever, called by one of the game’s best play-by-play announcers, Don Criqui. Last play of the first half, “Hall of Fame! Hall of Fame football play!! That goes to Canton!”  Meanwhile, the Orange Bowl is going bonkers. Final in OT: Chargers 41, Dolphins 38.

A big part of any game we watch on television are the announcers. They can enhance the experience, or detract from it. John Brodie had a sweet-sounding voice, but an uncanny knack for talking a lot, while saying very little. Keep in mind, the best color analyst of this era was ABC’s Howard Cosell, and then CBS’s John Madden, which tells you how bad it was back then.

As the 49ers QB for a decade, John Brodie was comparable to Dallas Cowboys QB Don Meredith as a player, and only slightly less annoying as a color analyst. During the Chargers-Dolphins 1981 playoffs broadcast, John Brodie is often confused and behind the action, or calling it wrong as it happens.

Don Criqui probably knew John Brodie was brain damaged (like all the rest), but he was the consummate professional & ever-respectful to the players, the rightful heir to Curt Gowdy. The problem for Don Criqui was that NBC producers preferred Dick Enberg, who was better at stuff like the Olympics, tennis & baseball.

Dick Enberg was made the NBC play-by-play announcer for all their Super Bowls (and featured games) back then. He teamed with Merlin Olsen who was always lost without a map. See Merlin Olsen in Mitchell (1975) which got Mystied, if you need proof. Merlin Olsen was a DT with the Rams. The above mentioned 1976 Rams-Vikings playoff game was his final NFL game.

I’m kinda bouncing around here, but no discussion of the ancient Minnesota Vikings is complete without reviewing their 1984 season. When the Vikes moved into the Metrodome in 1982, it signaled the end of the Bud Grant era, and it was past time. Stoneface had fallen hopelessly behind the game, as the Vikings still needed to find a replacement for QB Fran Tarkenton who retired after 1978.

Tommy Kramer was an untalented throwback, and an alcoholic who never recovered. Instead of taking QB Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL draft, the Vikings selected S Joey Browner. Instead of drafting RB Marcus Allen in 1982, they took RB Darren Nelson. All this lack of vision paved the way for Les Steckel in 1984, which necessitated a 1985 encore season for Bud Grant– out of desperation.

The 1984 Minnesota Vikings were completely undisciplined & leaderless. Les Steckel couldn’t communicate with his players, management, the fans, nor the media. This video above is proof that these Vikings had TE Steve Jordan, K Jan Stenerud (final 2 seasons), and nothing else of value on the field. Les Steckel’s Vikings were in many ways worse than the 1-15 Cowboys of 1989, because there was no plan for the future. Just Les Steckel, more Bud.

Possibly the best MNF game ever was this Bears-Dolphins game in 1985, featured below. Dolphins 38, Bears 24. Frank Gifford is at his best, and the atmosphere is electric. OJ Simpson & Joe Namath fill in well enough. No Howard Cosell anymore, as he had gotten stale, and never recovered from his “little monkey” comment on September 5, 1983, referring to Washington R-words WR Alvin Garrett.

By the mid-1980’s, the Green Bay Packers had become completely unhinged. This unforgettable cheap shot from DE Charles Martin on Chicago Bears QB Jim McMahon was the low point of the Forrest Gregg head coaching era, as Packers teammates congratulate him on the sidelines after he is ejected for his blindside assault, which ended the Bears repeat hopes in 1986, and Jim McMahon’s career as an effective starting QB.

Head referee Jerry Markbreit makes up for bungling the 1977 Raiders-Chargers “Holy Roller” game; by first controlling the players, then discussing the situation with his crew, before definitively ejecting Charles Martin. Outstanding officiating. It was respected, and it set a good precedent. All this & more insanity led to instant replay officiating.

As a footnote, the Holy Roller game led to the rule change where the offensive team could no longer advance a fumble, unless it was the player who fumbled. RB Pete Banaszak & TE Dave Casper were both guilty of that on the disputed play. It was actually a forward pass by QB Ken Stabler that fell incomplete, and it should have been flagged for intentional grounding, as he was in the grasp. Spot foul with a loss of down– Chargers win. Just ask Dan Fouts.

Jerry Markbreit admittedly winces every time he sees the play. I think he was just too far away with a bad angle. But in the history of the NFL, getting this 1986 assault on Jim McMahon by Charles Martin called correctly was much more important. That’s how you respect the zebras.

Don Criqui called perhaps the most hilarious Sunday afternoon game in modern NFL history, featured below. Final score: Cincinnati 61, Houston 7. I had never seen it, but I remember the score rolling up while watching the ongoing Packers-Bears game. Cincinnati head coach Sam Wyche despised Jerry Glanville, and showed him up in every way: cheering every score, fist pumping his players, and carrying on for the crowd & cameras over every onside kick or fumble recovery by the Bengals.

 

The Houston Oilers played in the Astrodome, and were a bad cold weather team in 1989. Don Criqui wryly noted the irony, but was too cold to enjoy it, and a bit put off having to stand through it to the bitter end. “Another onside kick… (?)”, he predicts– and he’s right again!! Former Minnesota Vikings WR Ahmad Rashad is bundled up so tightly that he’s unrecognizable by the camera as the color analyst. As the second half begins, he states, “I’m very cold.” It wasn’t his best game on the mic.

In the post-game press conference, Sam Wyche was asked about the repeated onside kicks in a blow-out game. Jerry Glanville had been promoting a slogan of, “Hit the beach!” for his Oilers special teams, in the sense they were comparable to US Marines going to war on kicks & punts. Wyche replied, “We got sick of that ‘hit the beach’ crap.” Sam Wyche was like Jim Mora & Herman Edwards, excellent NFL coaches with wit, who never won a Super Bowl, so their greatness is overlooked.

Above is the final essential game in ancient Green Bay Packers history, IMO. NBC’s Jim Lampley & Ahmad Rashad are on the call. Lampley is annoyed early at the quality of the game, and is a skeptic of the Packers. This is the game where Brett Favre takes the helm, when Packers QB Don Majkowski tears ligaments in his left ankle in the first quarter.

CB & PR Terrell Buckley debuts with a 58-YD TD punt return that gets the Pack back into the game, early in the 4th quarter. This Ron Wolf-Mike Holmgren 1st-round pick out of FSU, wasn’t Deion Sanders in the NFL, but he was the type of player they were starting to acquire– a playmaker. WR/KR Robert Brooks is another example.

WR Sterling Sharpe & DB LeRoy Butler were the only championship-level players left over from the Lindy Infante era, so the Packers were a work-in-progress to catch the Cowboys & 49ers, and this was a milestone game in that journey. Final score: Packers 24, Bengals 23. It was also the moment you knew David Shula was a head coach disaster for the Bengals, after they had fired Sam Wyche.

Finally, my favorite singular moment in the Packers-Vikings rivalry is this above clip from 2004. Packers fans had a history of mooning the opposing team bus as it was leaving the parking lot of Lambeau Field after a loss. Most football fans didn’t know about his hairy & drunken tradition, until the discussions in the media afterwards.

Cris Collinsworth calls it beautifully, as HoF WR Randy Moss makes the back-breaking play of the game, then drops a turd & shoots the moon to the Lambeau faithful. FOX play-by-play announcer Joe Buck is either a priss for getting offended, or an idiot for pretending to get offended. Troy Aikman has nothing to say about it, which is par for him.

The best old school football announcer was Curt Gowdy. Here he is above, summarizing a critical playoff game in the early Super Bowl era. Note that NBC gets the score backwards going to commercial at 10:00 in the video. Early east coast bias? This was the Baltimore Colts final game that mattered from their glory years, as Don Shula’s Dolphins, then Chuck Noll’s Steelers, and Al Davis’ Raiders became the AFC’s dominant teams thereafter. Dolphins 21, Colts 0. The Colts weren’t good again until Bert Jones (for a few years), and then finally with Payton Manning in Indianapolis.

The video above was the real 1973-season Super Bowl, Raiders-Dolphins in the Orange Bowl. Dolphins win 27-10, on their way to a second consecutive Super Bowl win, this time over the Vikings 24-7. In this AFC championship game, which he is calling, Curt Gowdy (at 10:20 in the video) rattles off the entire officiating crew’s real jobs in 1973, until their names are wiped away by the director. That’s an unreal depth of football knowledge.

As far a Monday Night Football goes, when it got to, “Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!!” My answer was no. I respect Al Michaels as one of the best overall play-by-play announcers, but Frank Gifford doesn’t work as a NFL color analyst. By then it was time for the Giff to go, and MNF was never the same.

Former St. Louis Cardinals OL Dan Dierdorf was brought in by ABC. The limited Dierdorf could irritate a neutral audience as a blow-hard. Dan Dierdorf was always better when he said less. He often got silly when excited. “Payton Manning is literally carving up the Tennessee Titans secondary.” No Dan, it’s “figuratively,” otherwise there would be quivering body parts all over the turf.

These truths hold up in my memories of all the NCAA, NFL featured games, and Packers games I’ve watched over the years & decades. There were a few moments of brilliance that take your breath away, but too much of it is mediocre mayhem. Mostly, they’re just banging each other up for nothing out there. That was my ultimate conclusion back then, and I hold to it now. So many times I walked away from the TV in disgust, and did something else. I never regretted it.

What I’ve covered above is a long & painful era of losing in modern Green Bay Packers football, from head coach Bart Starr’s mediocrity & ineptitude, to the mad fury of Forrest Gregg who could only take the head coaching job at SMU after being fired. The SMU Mustangs were allowed to offer no football scholarships in 1987 & 1988, the NCAA’s so called “death penalty.” This was only time it was ever used by the NCAA, and alumnus Forrest Gregg suffered with all the rest from 1989-90.

Forrest Gregg could take a bullet with the best of them. Vince Lombardi called OL Forrest Gregg the toughest son-of-a-bitch he’d ever met, while he held up the trophy with his name etched on it. That’s how the legend goes. I know this because that’s what was on every autumn Sunday, and there was often no other choice from the NFL or any other sport.

Lindy Infante was the first Packers head coach (1988-91) who came from outside the organization. The Pack definitely needed that change by then. Lindy Infante was an offensive guru, but was recognized to be a better coordinator than head coach after this stint from 1988-91. Packers QB Don Majkowski & WR Sterling Sharpe had their peak seasons in 1989 finishing 10-6, tied with the Vikings who squeaked past on a tie-breaker to win the NFC Central. The Packers went home. “NFC Norris” according to ESPN’s Chris Berman, back then on NFL Primetime. That was the high-water mark of the Lindy Infante head coaching era in Green Bay.

I follow a bit here & there, now & then, whenever something relevant appears. But for the most part I’m done with football, as the NFL & NCAAF are too violent & self-destructive. In the end, American football will need to be drastically changed to avoid CTE & all the other brutal injuries that are endemic to tackle football.

I played tackle football on the playground as a kid, because that’s what all the boys did. It was fun, until middle school, when some kids suddenly got a LOT bigger, and hit a LOT harder. Eighth grade is when I retired from playground football, and I’m a LOT smarter & healthier today because of it.

These videos of games & seasons past should be enough to satisfy any sports fan. The damage has already been done, and to discard this brutal history and demand ever new carnage, is a disrespectful waste to those who sacrificed. This is how to learn from your past, and not repeat fatal mistakes. That’s what I think about most, upon further review.

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Coronavirus COVID-19 crashes global fake economy

A few months back, no one imagined that a new coronavirus could bring the global economy to a stop, but that is now the case. Governments around the world are paralyzed & unable to respond to the needs of the population, in terms of identifying those infected, and in effectively quarantining & treating them.

In the US, necessary testing hasn’t been done by the NHS & CDC, on orders from the Trump White House & deep state Democrats. Silence & gag orders are in effect, as the crisis spreads & fear grows.

In short, all of the irrationalities of capitalism have come together, in the form of a nasty flu virus which silently infects anybody & spreads rapidly. You can’t pray away coronavirus COVID-19, and you can’t attack it on Twitter either. Therefore Trump & Pence are out of options, as these are clueless imbeciles in charge, so it’s a certain catastrophe. That’s how working Americans (and everyone else) have to prepare themselves for this plague in 2020.

On the other end of the economic scale, hedge fund investors & major banks are expecting US President Donald Trump & Congress to pass a financial bailout program into law, ASAP. Any media signal towards this intention rally the roiled stock & bond markets, until the next wave of bad news arrives.

The inescapable fact remains that the US financial elite is broke, as there is no money earned from useful production anymore. All the US Federal Reserve does is print more money for its friends, while the stock & bond markets are imploding because there is already too much debt– which they can never repay.

Lowering interest rates again, and more QE (free $ for the wealthy) won’t help this time. With all the sports leagues & major entertainment venues now shut down, the fake economy has ground to a halt. People now have less distractions & more time to think. This is when a revolutionary situation presents itself. It is also when the masters-of-puppets get nervous, as they can feel themselves losing control of the situation.

Theoretical questions: Coronavirus COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, so if President Trump (or any other high-ranking US government official) gets sick with this deadly flu virus, is that considered a biological attack on the US by China? Does that give the US government the right to retaliate with all options on the table?

This is what Trump was thinking about a month earlier, instead of funding for testing, prevention & treatment. Why no call by social Democrat Bernie Sanders for Trump’s impeachment over his mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak? That’s another elephant in the room the Democrats will have to dance around as all of this unfolds.

Why is testing so important? Because doctors first need a DIAGNOSIS to treat sick patients, and prevent further spread of disease. Without a proper diagnosis, health care providers are in the dark. Doctors & scientists with specialty in this field need to be in charge of a coordinated international effort to identify, contain & treat infected coronavirus patients.

That’s another bug-a-boo here, in that people in current leadership need to admit they could be infected, and downgrade themselves to patient status when confirmed. People like Trump & his capitalist cronies are never willing to do that. Their megalomaniacal belief in money, god, and their own supernatural power blinds them. This coronavirus pandemic situation will not be resolved without a serious change in leadership– medically, economically & politically.

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The Daytona 500: NASCAR’s Super Bowl washes out

The following was posted on my Facebook page at 5:56 PM EDT:

NASCAR is run by idiots. It was a beautiful day earlier in central Florida, until mid-afternoon when the rains came. If any of the race organizers had bothered to look at weather maps last night & this morning, or consult with a meteorologist, then they would have made the decision to move up the start time to this race, so they could get it in, since you can’t run an oval race when conditions are wet.

It’s nearly 6:00 PM local time and there is more rain coming through in an hour, according to the local weather radar, with all the cars still parked on the track. NASCAR will have to postpone the Daytona 500 until Monday, after it ran just 20 laps. When you begin the season with your Super Bowl, a rain-out is a bad omen for what’s to come. The sponsors & fans feel cheated, and this is what NASCAR consistently delivers.

Then a few minutes later: Pre-set NASCAR timetables, and corporate mandates for gimmicks such as stage racing, which lengthen these races, are to blame. There’s no leadership in NASCAR to make the tough calls correctly when needed.

Then at 6:54 PM EDT: Just announced on Fox: the Daytona 500 has been postponed until tomorrow.

Here are a few things that were more important to the figureheads who run NASCAR than running the Daytona 500 today.

1) The sponsors, who insist on routine commercial breaks during peak viewing hours. This race couldn’t be moved ahead as needed, because corporate networks won’t allow that. The egos of network executives & sponsors are more important than the race.

2) The US Air Force jet fly-over. That’s obviously tightly programmed, and couldn’t be moved up without threatening “national security.” Thus the jet flyover was more important than the Great American Race.

3) Donald Trump’s visit with his wife Melania. “Drivers, start you engines,” then a pace lap in the Presidential limousine. That certainly could not be rescheduled or moved up, making it much more important than the actual race, which lasted only 20 laps, after a long rain-delay before its start.

Then the rains returned and soaked the tracked repeatedly, and still are as of this writing after 7:00 PM local time. The sun is down, so there is no drying the track, even if the rain had halted, which they won’t until much later.

This was a futile charade put on by NASCAR, FOX, and all its sponsors here at Daytona, Florida. This race had no chance of being completed as scheduled, yet like ostriches with their heads in the sand, they refused to face reality and take responsible action when needed. If this race had been started at noon, with no stages, it would have been completed before the afternoon rains. With stages, an 11:00 AM start time was necessary. Rain was predicted for this afternoon & evening. It’s important to use science correctly.

Now NASCAR has sponsors that are already demanding their money back, because when fans tuned in, they saw the 2019 race being broadcast on FOX. The call to postpone the race on that network was made by NASCAR ~6:45 EDT. It’s like they were the last ones to accept it.

I don’t watch NASCAR much anymore because it’s great stars are mostly gone. Only Jimmie Johnson remains, be he isn’t enough to help this mess. NASCAR put itself up for sale a few years back, and didn’t like the offers it received. But everything they do seems to devalue their product, so what can they expect?

You can blame it on the rain, but really in 2020 we know when bad weather is coming, and should be ready with an alternate plan as needed. NASCAR should be accountable to its fans & drivers first, if it wants to regain its lost popularity, but it consistently does just the opposite. This is what happens when leadership fails to plan.

Only a fraction of their expected viewing audience will watch the Daytona 500 tomorrow, and that costs sponsors tens of millions of dollars in lost marketing revenue– at least. NASCAR burns up the money, wastes resources, and in many ways defines the most reactionary features of our fake economy.

UPDATE:  Monday 17 Feb 2020 10:10 AM EST

The Daytona 500 will pick-up again today on FOX at 4:00 PM EDT, and hopefully will finish itself up by his evening, as more rain is possible. The grandstands will be half-full at best, and the infield a muddy mess, as just about everyone wants to get this race over with now, so they can move on.

These teams, crews & drivers have to be in Las Vegas next weekend, and have already lost a day’s travel time. It used to be Atlanta after the Daytona 500, but now it’s Las Vegas, because the sponsors want it that way. These are the contingencies that NASCAR has to deal with, in a sport that is weather dependent. For the record, Donald Trump did not attend this race. He left before the start yesterday, and will not return today. His appearance was all about optics.

On October 15, 2012, NASCAR and the FOX announced a new $2.4 billion eight-year deal, a 30% increase from their previous deal. On July 23, 2013, NASCAR and the NBC announced a new $4.4 billion ten-year deal. Both these broadcast deals run through 2024. NASCAR signed it’s mega-deals with NBC & FOX when it’s biggest stars were still active: including Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart & Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Their biggest star (from 2013 through the Daytona 500 in 2018) was Danica Patrick, who gave NASCAR a platform to expand their demographics & bring in a whole generation of new fans. But instead of building the sport and adapting it to a new era, NASCAR consistently wrecked Danica Patrick and took the money for themselves. What’s left today is a dying sport, with an alienated hard-core base, and too few new fans. You may have noticed that Danica Patrick doesn’t do any NASCAR promotional events anymore. What kind of dim-bulb sport runs her out?

When NASCAR CEO Brian France was arrested (pic above) in August 2018 on a DUI & possession of Oxycontin, the institutional decay of this once-proud family organization could no longer be hidden. For the 2020 season, NASCAR no longer has a title sponsor, as Monster Energy bailed after just two years. Nextel, Sprint & Winston are long gone too, and all that is left are: Busch, Coca-Cola, Geico, and Xfinity as NASCAR’s “premier partners” in 2020. This makes NASCAR beholden to the networks & sponsors for everything, including yesterday’s fiasco.

In the end, everything comes down to leadership. If it isn’t there, then there can be no long-term success, even in the best of conditions. No leadership also means certain failure when things go bad, as they have in NASCAR. That is the sobering, Monday race-day reality of the 2020 Daytona 500.

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Mopping up the Mookie Betts salary dump

Remember when I said I wouldn’t write another Mookie Betts piece? [Appropriate pause] I lied.

This baseball news just broke an hour ago.

DODGERS GET: OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price, cash (all from BOS); RHP Brusdar Graterol, minor league outfielder Luke Raley, 67th pick in 2020 Draft (both from MIN)
RED SOX GET: OF Alex Verdugo, SS Jeter Downs, C Connor Wong (all from LA)
TWINS GET: RHP Kenta Maeda, a low-level minor league prospect, cash (all from LA)

Apparently, Mookie Betts & David Price are finally going to the Dodgers. According to anonymous sources (as always), the Red Sox have agreed to pay half of the $96 million left on Price’s deal. In a separate deal, Kenta Maeda, a low-level Minor League prospect & cash will go to Minnesota, with Brusdar Graterol, minor league outfielder Luke Raley & the 67th pick in the June amateur draft headed to Los Angeles.

The anticipated concurrent Angels-Dodgers deal will NOT be consummated, according to late night MLB reports. For now, Joc Pederson & Ross Stripling remain LA Dodgers. No word if Brusdar Graterol is eventually headed to Boston, but it’s presumed. Then again, a lot has been presumed, and nothing has gone according to script.

The piece I published yesterday, titled “Flushing the Mookie Betts salary dump” is now very much incorrect, but I leave it unedited because I have ethics. Plus, it’s time to move on, so here are my final thoughts on this seemingly never-ending drama.

I stand by everything I wrote about the Red Sox, MLB, and their media machinations, as well as all of the other medical/ethical issues I discussed. I don’t have a problem admitting I projected something wrong. I had excellent reasons to believe I was right.

The realities I laid out are chilling to any serious baseball fan that wasn’t aware of what was going on. This Betts deal was much bigger than just a swap of baseball players. This was political. Boston is most endeared to its Red Sox, as that franchise has the longest history, as compared to the Patriots, Celtics & Bruins.

Their beloved city franchise had to trade away their top stars to get under the luxury tax threshold, and this was very traumatic for them. Red Sox nation insisted that everyone else feel their pain. We did.

But a pearl of wisdom can be gleaned from all this. There are clearly deep divisions within the Red Sox organization, just as there is a factional war between liberal & centrist Democrats. In Boston, there are old-school diehards in the front office who wanted to keep Betts & Price, and they fought with the eggheads who were put in charge of dumping them, every inch of the way.

Sports is business, and business is politics. They all mirror each other, and what we saw this past week in the media, was complete dysfunction from an out-of-control Frankenstein known as the Boston Red Sox. They couldn’t make up their minds on what they wanted, because too many conflicting interests were in play.

The Red Sox leaked confidential medical records to the media, and mucked everything up. The Minnesota Twins, Brusdar Graterol, his agent Scott Boras, and the head of the MLBPA Tony Clark, all protested these despicable tactics by the Red Sox to manipulate trade negotiations. More than a few ESPN & MLB “reporters” deserve to have their press credentials pulled, for unethical statements to the media.

Twins GM Thad Levine played on this to get more on his end of the deal. It was all he could do, as he was under heavy pressure to capitulate. After all, these are the Red Sox, and they needed this deal to go through. Therefore, someone made Thad Levine an offer he couldn’t refuse. Expect no admission of wrong-doing or guilt from the Red Sox, it’s not their style. Either they: 1) win & gloat, 2) hate & whine, or 3) run & hide.

I intervened in this affair as a journalist by publishing an essay from the future– one possible future. I prophesied this deal would completely collapse, but it didn’t. But it was very, VERY close– and a lot of people came to know it.

Dodger’s GM Andrew Friedman deserves respect for dragging this son-of a-bitch through the mud and coming home with something worth smiling about. He had to dig deep, that’s for sure. But it should be noted that he played along as a silent partner when the Red Sox attempted to shakedown the Twins into kicking-in another prospect, after their being “spooked” by Brusdar’s Graterol’s medical records. Friedman knew (or should have known) that he was responsible for kicking-in something to satisfy the Red Sox, but instead hung a colleague (Thad Levine) out to dry, hoping it would be the Twins who would be forced to pay up. He knew.

We never heard much from the Los Angeles Angels during this saga. They were the least-invested team involved, always on the outside looking in, hoping the two behemoths could get everything worked out, without blowing it all up. Their owner Arte Moreno expressed frustration at being held in trade limbo, but there was nothing the Halos could do. It was the Twins who were they key to the deal, so the Angels got left out when the Dodgers had to go “all in” on Sunday.

Fans want trades to happen, as they shake things up & make the game more interesting. But when an organization with all the clout in the world, can hold up a mega-blockbuster deal like this, over unfounded & unethical statements to the media meant to gain leverage, then that organization needs to be sanctioned. That’s the take-home message, but I’m betting it gets lost in the fake news headlines.

Not since the 1986 World Series, when Bill Buckner let a Mookie Betts [!] grounder go through his legs, has there been so much shame & ignominy with the Red Sox. They’ve gotten what they wanted, but how they did it will not be forgotten. To mark this event in history, all this sports drama happened in synchronicity with the Iowa caucus/DNC debacle. Both were very ugly, for many of the same reasons.

Eventually, Boston Red Sox fans forgave Bill Buckner, after they finally won a World Series in 2004. I’m hoping my fans can do the same for me, a bit quicker, about being wrong here. It’s all about the process. Acting with a pure heart is an important part of that. Getting the facts straight is another.

Notice that I’m not apologizing for publishing that essay. I don’t regret it. The circumstances were that for three days, from late-Wednesday to mid-Saturday, MLB had nothing to say about this trade hold-up. NOTHING.

Baseball fans at the climax of the Hot Stove season were starving for information, perspective, analysis (anything!) to help them get an idea on what was happening. The Red Sox had clearly ordered a media gag on the Betts trade situation, so it could strong-arm a backroom deal. The Red Sox just need time and opacity.

I saw all this going on, and when the Brusdar Graterol pull-back by the Twins was reported by MLB on Saturday during the mid-afternoon, I knew I was right. The deal was falling apart, and the Dodgers & Red Sox were desperate to get the Twins re-engaged. This deal doesn’t get done without the Twins, otherwise it would have.

My perspective was that the Red Sox were guilty of many serious transgressions, and that it was more important to publish my essay concentrating on that angle, even if my trade collapse prediction turned out to be wrong– which it did. It was more important to be influential to a targeted audience at a critical juncture, even if it meant the embarrassment of being proven wrong on something less important (but more hyped) a day later.

The impact of that essay was huge, as it answered a great many questions for Dodgers fans. I posted a link to that piece in a Dodgers blog, which was conversely linked in my essay, and it got traction. My intent there was to educate some die-hard baseball fans who were hurting. I’m a Padres fan, so I took a few shots at their GM, but it was all in good sporting spirit– because it’s just a game between us. But the Red Sox are another matter.

What I wrote helped many Dodgers fans come to the sober realization that the Boston Red Sox & MLB are a mafia, and that their team was being extorted. If the Dodgers really want Betts & Price, then sweeten the deal– otherwise it’s no deal. Friedman kicked in more. He almost had to, with all he had invested. That’s how the Red Sox, and any mafia, get you. This deal has great potential to be cursed, with all the bad juju surrounding it. I’m an atheist, but karma is real.

I honestly don’t care if I’m totally wrong about a trade prediction. Who cares? This is baseball, and no one who has any kind of career bats 1.000– or has an ERA of 0.00. I care much more about all the malfeasance & unethical actions of the Red Sox, MLB & ESPN. When is there going to be a hearing on that?

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Flushing the Mookie Betts salary dump

Preface: This is my fourth & final piece with “Mookie Betts salary dump” in the title. My initial installment was published on February 1, a few days before the proposed deal hit the media. “Postscript on the Mookie Betts salary dump” was published on February 5, shortly after the deal was announced, and it looked like everything was over. “‘Adjusting’ the Mookie Betts salary dump” was published on February 7, as the fake media went silent on this mega-deal falling apart. These four essays will endure in sports literature as the best analysis of what happened here– in real time.

It looked so clean & elegant when it was first reported in the sports media on Tuesday evening, February 4, 2020:

DODGERS GET: OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price & ~$48M [!] cash (all from BOS)
RED SOX GET: OF Alex Verdugo (from LAD), RHP Brusdar Graterol (MLB Pipeline’s No. 83 prospect, from MIN)
TWINS GET: RHP Kenta Maeda (from LAD)

…and then the clincher for Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman…

ANGELS GET: OF Joc Pederson, RHP Ross Stripling, OF prospect Andy Pages
DODGERS GET: IF Luis Rengifo

Joc Pederson was to be Andrew Friedman’s salary dump, to keep the Dodgers under the CBT. Pederson is a free agent in November. With Mookie Betts apparently in RF, the Dodgers were ready for a championship run in 2020. For Angels GM Billy Eppler, this was an opportunity to upgrade his outfield, and possibly extend Joc Pederson if it worked out well.

Instead, Joc Pederson had the distinction of going through an arbitration hearing with the Dodgers (which he lost), while believing he was being traded to the Angels. If MLB had any ethics, it would have: 1) suspended the Pederson arbitration hearing until after the proposed trade deal was resolved– one way or another; and 2) set a hard deadline for the deal’s resolution.

MLB did neither.Why? Because it was acting as an agent of the Red Sox to get the deal done on Boston’s terms. The Red Sox kept pushing for more time, but time eventually ran out.

A lot of really diligent & talented front offices worked very hard this winter to make their teams better, only to have it destroyed by Red Sox pettiness, arrogance & greed. What a colossal waste of time! This is now officially, “The greatest baseball trade that never happened.”

The Dodgers were always motivated to get this deal done. In the end it was on them to deal more prospects to Boston. They didn’t, as they felt they had given up enough already, and were probably correct. Here’s a good analysis from their perspective.

In short, the Joc Pederson arbitration hearing was a disaster for the Dodgers, even though the team won the case. They will pay Pederson $7.75M in 2020, but the Dodgers & MLB look really bad. It resembled a Julian Assange hearing in many respects. Kenta Maeda wants to be a starter so he can earn contract bonuses, but is being used as a reliever, especially down the stretch. The Twins would have put Maeda in their rotation. It would have been a great deal for the Twins.

The third Dodgers piece was Alex Verdugo, a high-end young talent in RF. I’ve been wondering why Andrew Friedman had been so willing to part with him. I had speculated in an earlier piece that it could be a core injury which was lowering his value.

But due diligence & sticking with a story eventually brought me here. It’s been alleged that Alex Verdugo was witness to his minor-league teammate, James Baldwin, sexually assaulting an underage girl at a team party in Rancho Cucamunga. There was a police report filed. This is an ugly organizational story. Dealing Alex Verdugo moves a big part of it to Boston. Apparently MLB is aware of all this, but hasn’t taken action. Very murky.

At ~3:15 PM EST, on Saturday, February 8, it was reported by MLB that Brusdar Graterol had been pulled back by the Minnesota Twins from the proposed Mookie Betts blockbuster. This announcement all but killed the deal, along with the concurrent proposed Dodgers-Angels swap.

An hour later, and the news is reverberating through the baseball world. It will soon be announced by MLB that the whole deal(s) is off. So I’m now finally able to publish this piece (which I had already written) at ~4:20 PM EST. This story actually wrote itself is how I look at it. So what the bleep happened?!

Once the Twins pulled back Brusdar Graterol, the Dodgers took back Kenta Maeda. This probably happened on late Wednesday or early Thursday, looking at the fake media reporting, but was kept quiet to try to get the Twins management to change their minds. They rightfully didn’t. This means the Red Sox take back David Price and all of his 3/$96 remaining. That leaves only Alex Verdugo for Mookie Betts at $27M.

All that puts the Dodgers-Angels proposal in jeopardy. You can see how quickly this unraveled. The money the Red Sox were going to eat on Price was never nailed down. It was reported to be “around half” of his remaining deal, but this was still being hotly negotiated after the deal was announced.

This means money, between the Red Sox & Dodgers, was an issue in killing this deal. Once it’s down to Betts-for-Verdugo, the $27M for one season becomes a problem, because this one season is all there is for the Dodgers. Especially when they are giving up a promising, cost-controlled young player to the Red Sox.

That’s why David Price had to be in the deal, for GM Andrew Friedman to part with Alex Verdugo. That’s why Verdugo-for-Betts straight-up doesn’t work. From the Dodgers GM perspective, the Red Sox needed to eat salary on Mookie Betts. The Red Sox wouldn’t (and couldn’t) do this, because this was supposed to be a salary dump in order to get under the CBT. The problem is Red Sox dysfunction, all down the line.

The final story is about the Minnesota Twins [!] taking a stand on medical/player ethics. This is a case of an “unethical medical records leak” in professional sports by the Boston Red Sox, used to gain leverage in trade negotiations. This is now a union grievance with the MLBPA. For the players involved it’s a privacy issue, just like for patients in any doctor’s office or hospital setting.

By today (Saturday), noon EST, Brusdar Graterol’s agent, Scott Boras finally responded to these unethical Red Sox assertions. “To suggest that this player is not healthy going forward, or has any form of substantive medical defect that would in any way damage his career, all of that is false,” Boras told The Boston Globe.

“This is a scant supposition created by medical review, by someone who has never seen him physically. I don’t know Boston’s position on this. I know that people are suggesting that Graterol has some malady about him medically, which is inaccurate. That supposition is false. He is in spring training. He’s ready to throw without limitations going forward through the season. And there’s no suggestion that there’s anything at issue with this player in the current or immediate aspects of his career.”

The medical rule is: don’t discuss patient/player data with outside parties, without their recorded consent. It’s a serious breach of doctor-patient ethics to do so. The same ethics exist for team-player relationships in professional sports.

As a practicing dentist for over 25 years, I know the professional lines in discussing patient information. Basically, you don’t do it. Patients don’t want it leaked, because once it’s out there, it’s public domain. The Red Sox blatantly breached a player’s right-to-privacy in their leaking the confidential medical records of RHP Brusdar Graterol. The Twins fairly deserve some form of compensation from the Red Sox.

Hypothetical question: How would you like another company interested in your services, leaking private medical & personal information to the media, in order to de-value you? This was done by the Red Sox in order to gain advantage in grabbing more assets in the already-agreed-upon Mookie Betts deal.

How do you think Brusdar Graderol felt about being traded to the Red Sox after hearing all this uproar? Terrified, possibly? I think that’s a reasonable assumption. A responsible GM can’t trade a top young prospect under the toxic circumstances created by the Red Sox. It would be unprofessional. What kind of message would it send to all the players in the Twins organization?

Patients (players) don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. That’s the golden rule in dealing with human beings. GM’s running their organizations are like doctors running a practice, in that they are responsible for a lot of people. If you throw someone under the bus like that, everyone sees it, and it kills morale.

The Red Sox have no such ethics on this, they only care about winning & whining– in debatable order. They are again about to be sanctioned by MLB, this time over using iPhone watches to stream live center-field camera video of the opposing catcher’s signs to the pitcher. A bench coach under manager Alex Cora would relay it to Red Sox runners-on-base. That’s quite a Fenway advantage, and it puts an asterisk on their 2018 World Series season. Just like the Houston Astros in 2017.

I believe the best deterrence for illegal video usage is fan disgust with this type of cheating. That, and serious MLB investigations & sanctions for proven offenders. Live video used to steal signs totally sucks, because it’s completely unfair to the opposing team. When fans start losing respect for the players & the game, changes must be made. That’s perhaps the biggest storyline in baseball this past winter.

Since the Yankees were also involved in this, and likely originated it, expect the sanctions for the Red Sox to be less severe than they were for the Houston Astros. It’s Carlos Beltran signing with the Astros as a free agent on December 5, 2016, after nearly three years with the Yankees, that helped Houston perfect its system of video cheating. Beltran brought it from the Bronx to Houston.

That’s why Beltran was fired by the New York Mets this winter, after being hired weeks earlier. Carlos Beltran’s career MLB managing record will forever be 0-0. The Yankees don’t want an investigation into their original 2014-16 sign-stealing schemes, so they’ll make a deal with Red Sox wheels in the MLB commissioner’s office to go lightly on Boston, as a quid pro quo for no New York Yankees investigation. That’s east coast bias in action. Watch for it.

Coincidentally, ESPN just published an article implicating an Astros intern as the source of MLB video sign stealing. That’s been the top headlines on MLB & ESPN for the past two days, while the silence on the Betts deal in limbo is deafening. All this immediately confirms my conspiracy theory that the impending Red Sox punishment will be less severe than it was for the Astros. The AJ Hinch apology videos (& Astros players defiance) can all be seen as pro-Red Sox propaganda, to deflect attention from their sins. We’ll see who is correct here, soon enough.

After all this, the Red Sox deserve yet another investigation, this time in breaching player medical privacy ethics for gain in trade talks. There’s lots of corporate media complicity here, so I don’t see this going anywhere. The Red Sox & MLB are a mafia, and they’ve both had difficult winters. More & more fans outside of these inner MLB circles are now understanding the depth of this corruption. I’ve used The Office (2005-13) as a pictorial metaphor for all this corporate dysfunction.

The Los Angeles Dodgers can still get Mookie Betts in free agency, next winter, if that’s what they want. You can be sure that Andrew Friedman & the rest of his GM colleagues don’t want to deal with the Red Sox again anytime soon.

For me as a sportswriter with an outsider’s perspective, it’s been a fascinating story which I’ve been enthusiastic to cover. I understand that I’m strictly censored, but I’ve learned that the truth (when well phrased) quickly gets out to enough of the right people in time to make a difference.

This Mookie Betts deal was so tense, emotional, & tightly wound, that the excess strain from Red Sox meddling caused it to burst apart. Once the Twins pulled back Brusdar Graterol, out of respect for their valued young player & themselves, this mega-deal fell apart. When that happened, all the king’s mouthpieces, and all the Red Sox yes-men, couldn’t put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. The dominoes all tumbled, and the Dodgers, Twins & Angels are left with nothing for all their weeks of time & energy spent.

They, all probably deserve some compensation from MLB over this despicable dealing in bad faith by the Boston Red Sox. All the Red Sox had to do was sign on the bottom line, and it was over. They had a great deal. Their real fans knew it. Just sign it, you bleeping bleep-holes!!

But no, it was unacceptable in its tiniest detail, so management had to insist on more. And now the Red Sox have Mookie Betts & David Price back, and they’re still well above the CBT, which ownership mandated they get below back in November.

Question: Who wants to deal with the Boston Red Sox now? Answer: Nobody. Would you? It’s pitchers & catchers starting next week, so now nothing is possible until July at the earliest, if at all, after especially so much bad blood. By then Mookie Betts will have already earned approximately two-thirds of his 2020 salary. That makes it too late for Boston to dump him, and get below the CBT.

The Red Sox & Dodgers desperately tried all the way to the end to find another trade partner to make this deal go through. If I was Padres GM AJ Preller, I would have gotten both these teams together on a three-way call to pitch a final offer. Something like, “So you both need another player to make this deal work, huh? Wil Myers is available.” Click. Click. LOL!! Call it payback for being suspended by MLB over “undisclosed anti-inflammatories” in the Drew Pomeranz deal. No love lost for the Dodgers either.

How can the GM (& a lot of other people in upper management, medical, legal, media, etc) keep their privileged Red Sox jobs, after blowing the biggest deal this organization had to make, since they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees? Roughly 100 years after that infamous baseball disaster deal, the Red Sox again grasped defeat, this time after victory had been painstakingly negotiated, They wouldn’t claim it.

Losing sight of one’s primary objective, as badly as Red Sox management has bungled it here, is astoundingly incompetent. In Taipan they would all grade out as shipwrecked galley hands. But I don’t expect any high-level firings in Boston management for this fiasco, because the Red Sox (above all else) take care of their own. They will use their media clout to blame the Twins for not “playing ball,” or the Dodgers for not giving up enough, or some other hateful nonsense meant to acquit themselves.

There were obviously forces within the Red Sox organization, and their rabid fan base, that didn’t want this trade to happen. They did everything to sabotage it. Those are their haters, and they won– again. Any kind of respectable ownership would ruthlessly purge this self-defeating filth from its organization, but not the Boston Red Sox.

And finally, let’s be clear on the role of the corporate media in this sordid, manipulative affair. Every time Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal, et al, speculated on Brusdar Graterol’s “shoulder injury” over the past few days, they were acting not as baseball journalists, but tools of the Boston Red Sox. These willful & repeated violations of privacy prove these “reporters” have no ethics, and thus no credibility. They are all backed by an east coast mafia, so unfortunately they aren’t going to go away, despite their shameful actions in plain sight.

This is a classic case of the Red Sox being their own worst enemy. Anyone following along, could see it, and did. I commend Twins management & ownership for sticking it to the Red Sox. No one deserves it more than Red Sox Nation, and they’ve have had it a-coming for a long time. It’s the only satisfaction the Twins & all other baseball fans will get here. There was no other reasonable option.

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“Adjusting” the Mookie Betts salary dump

Here were are at the end of the week, Friday after 5:00 PM EST, and the proposed deal of RF Mookie Betts & LHP David Price to the Dodgers, which was announced Tuesday evening and had everybody buzzing Wednesday morning, has gone into deep freeze mode.

There have been no meaningful updates on this situation by MLB or ESPN on Thursday & Friday. No other stories are being followed by baseball fans, because this was supposed to be the biggest blockbuster of the winter. The eyes of the baseball world have been on this Red Sox salary dump for over three months, and still all we have are possible scenarios & rumors.

Teams are hiding from the media, and no one from these organizations is going on-the-record at this point. The teams involved are the Red Sox, Dodgers, Twins & Angels. Everything you’ve read in the media is from the Red Sox or Dodgers perspective. Let me try to explain the Twins perspective, which is the key here. The Minnesota Twins are a good team who won 101 games last year, but got swept again by the Yankees in the ALDS. They have a smart GM in Thad Levine, and a limited budget.

Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman gave Thad Levine a call a week-or-two ago, and said, “How would you like to trade young righty reliever Brusdar Graterol for starter Kenta Maeda? It’ll be part of the package we send back to the Red Sox for Mookie Betts & David Price.” If you’re Twins GM Thad Levine, you say, “Sure. Sounds great!” Right?

Except it’s the Boston Red Sox, who go into re-negotiation mode every time they look at a young pitcher’s medical records. The Red Sox management line becomes, “We have changed our projections after having had a look at the opposing side’s proprietary medical & player data. We demand another player to make us whole again.” This is how it is presented to the world by Ken Rosenthal and the rest of the baseball media.

What the HELL is Twins general manager Thad Levine supposed to do? He really wants Kenta Maeda in the Twins rotation, with his affordable contract for four seasons. But the problem is the Boston Red Sox have unilaterally decided to de-value Brusdar Graderol– one of their top prospects. Of course the Red Sox still insist they want Graderol (who wouldn’t?), it’s just that he isn’t projecting to be as good as they thought, so therefore the Twins need to cough up another prospect. Say what?!

What do you do if you’re Thad Levine? This is really disrespectful, and respect has currency among GM’s. He was led to believe this was going to be an easy deal on his end, and now his organization being extorted by the east coast sports mafia. If the Red Sox really needed more in this deal (and they don’t), then it’s the Dodgers who should kick in. The trade for Maeda sends Graderol to the Dodgers, who is then sent to Boston for David Price. The Twins have nothing to do with that. But I haven’t read that analysis anywhere in the corporate, pro-Sox sports media. That means the Dodgers are part of this fix to screw the Twins.

Reader comments, on the other hand, overwhelmingly favor the sentiment and reasoning I’ve expressed here. Getting involved with the Red Sox in any major deal comes with bitter poisons, so beware. Teams that break even on deals, get slandered & marginalized by a blatantly biased east coast media, which is all-powerful.

No one else is allowed to win a deal with the Red Sox. Management can get sanctioned by MLB itself, for making too many good deals, because teams like the Yankees & Red Sox control MLB. They staff it’s executive offices with their people. It’s tough for an outsider to get a meaningful job in the MLB commissioners office. Like I said, it’s a mafia.

So right now there is an omerta-like silence among the teams involved, with full cooperation from their media arms. That’s what fear & power does. So much for the fans who follow the game. They would surely like to know what’s going on, but they’re kept in the dark on these conversations, while being blitzed with pro-Red Sox propaganda meant to gain them leverage. Nothing is being reported, which means things are REALLY heated between these clubs.

This is not just about who gets a valuable player in Mookie Betts, it’s now about challenging one team’s ability to renegotiate trades, after they’ve been agreed upon & announced to the media. If the Red Sox had serious questions on Brusdar Graderol’s medical history, they should have asked to see the data before the deal was announced to the media. That’s the issue for the Twins.

Of course, the Red Sox are playing all this as they’ve planned. They didn’t want to make this Mookie Betts trade, so they’ve made as many other people suffer for it as possible. That’s the Red Sox way. Will this deal fall apart? Yesterday when it was first announced there was a hold-up, it was stated that the chances were “slim” that the deal wouldn’t go through. Today it’s “more likely, than not” that it will go through. It’s now officially the weekend on the east coast, and still no word from any of the organizations or MLB…

MLBPA chief Tony Clark just made this announcement at 5:15 PM EST, reported on ESPN. “The proposed trades between the Dodgers, Red Sox, Twins, and Angels need to be resolved without further delay. The events of this last week have unfairly put several Players’ lives in a state of limbo. The unethical leaking of medical information as well as the perversion of the salary arbitration process serve as continued reminders that too often Players are treated as commodities by those running the game.”

Here’s a news flash: pitchers & catchers report next week. Remember that Brusdar Graderol is a pitcher, and it’s really important that he knows which plane to get on when it’s time to report to camp. Stay tuned here for a final update on this drawn out & sordid affair, when a resolution is reached.

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Postscript on the Mookie Betts salary dump

Well it finally happened. The Red Sox have announced the dumping of RF Mookie Betts & LHP David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers. It turns out that LA GM Andrew Friedman was willing to give up young RF Alex Verdugo, which is the key piece in the deal. Verdugo missed the last two months of the 2019 season with core & back issues, which is a red flag.

If Alex Verdugo is an injury bust, then the Dodgers may win this trade. Unless Price goes down. That’s the only risk the Red Sox are taking in this deal. If Verdugo comes back healthy & productive, then the Red Sox did well to get what they could in this dump, as he’s under team control through 2024. That’s how the trade rates–meaning it’s wait & see.

The Dodgers also gave up RHP Kenta Maeda, a bargain starter who is locked in at $3.125M per year for the next four seasons, to the Twins for RHP Brusdar Graterol (MLB Pipeline’s No. 83 prospect), who was also sent to the Red Sox.

The Dodgers then sent RF Joc Pederson to the LA Angels, along with OF prospect Andy Pages, for young 2B Luis Rengifo who is still pre-arbitration. This makes room for Mookie Betts in the Dodgers outfield with Cody Bellinger & AJ Pollock.

The problem with these deals from the Dodgers perspective is that it makes them older in the outfield, as compared to Pederson, Bellinger & Verdugo. Plus, the extra productivity they get from Mookie Betts only lasts one season. But the real problem is that AJ Pollock is replacement level, and needed to be dumped. Instead he’s now being made an Opening Day starter for the Dodgers.

When that all washes out, this isn’t as much improvement as one would expect from getting a MVP-type player in Betts. In short, the Dodgers gave up too much to an organization that had no choice but to dump salary. They also took on too much risk in David Price for three years.

The Red Sox accomplished their goal of getting under the Competitive Balance Threshold (CBT) by dumping Mookie Betts & RHP David Price. Reports are the Red Sox will eat around half of the $96M Price is owed over his next three season, and all that money will count towards Boston’s CBT.

So the Dodgers get age-34 David Price, with all his elbow calcifications and other wear & tear. The Dodgers wanted to make a splash, and they did. But does it really help? Once again, time will tell. It’s questionable, for sure.

The other Mookie Betts suitor this winter was the San Diego Padres, who were reportedly engaged with Boston until the end. Padres had no interest in Price. A few proposals the Red Sox were floating through the media were as follows: 1) Padres get Mookie Betts; Red Sox get: C Luis Campusano (MLB’s No. 50 prospect), OF Taylor Trammell (MLB’s No. 57 prospect), OF Josh Naylor, LHP Joey Lucchesi, OF Wil Myers & cash. It was the Padres dumping Wil ‘WAR nil” Myers that made this deal untenable for the Red Sox.

Another rumored trade option was Mookie Betts (& cash) for: C Luis Campusano, OF Manuel Margot & LHP Joey Lucchesi. The problem there was the Padres being asked to give up too much cost-controlled talent for one year of Mookie Betts. Padres GM AJ Preller wisely refused both these scenarios. It’s catching prospect Luis Campusano that everyone wanted from the Padres this winter, after Preller declared top prospects MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño & CJ Abrams untouchable.

Sometimes there comes a point where you have to let go of a deal you’ve worked on for a very long time. This is what happened to AJ Preller. He wanted Betts, but more importantly he wanted to dump OF/1B Wil Myers. But that doesn’t mean giving away the farm, and that’s what the Red Sox were demanding. Remember, it’s the Red Sox who had to make a deal. They needed to dump to get under the CBT.

The Dodgers got their superstar for one season, and the Red Sox are now reset on the CBT, so they can go crazy again with payroll next year. Padres GM AJ Preller wanted Mookie Betts, but never lost sight of what was more important. He needs to dump Wil Myers, and therefore has to hold onto enough tradeable talent to make that happen.

If Preller trades for Betts to dump Myers on Red Sox terms, he empties his pool of young talent. That’s not worth one season of superstar production in RF for the Padres. It’s tough to walk away when one is so close, but it’s better than making a bad deal. It’s easier just to bench Wil Myers, and look for another deal. That’s what the 26th man on a roster can be used for now.

Since the Dodgers are in the same division with the Padres, these trades have major NL West ramifications. The Dodgers are again the clear favorite, but they’ve shortened their window of contention with this deal, and added major injury risk in David Price. If they don’t win a World Series in 2020, or if Price needs major surgery, then this deal busted and that’s a tough position to put your franchise in as a GM.

That’s why I don’t like this deal for the Dodgers, but love it as a Padres fan. The Dodgers were already top dogs in the  NL, and didn’t need to take this gamble. They just needed to make the right deal at the July 31 deadline. Andrew Friedman thinks they need help now. Mookie Betts is nice for this season, but David Price is a huge roll of the dice. We’ll see in 2020, and beyond.

The Padres are still much improved this winter. They are at least 10-12 wins better with the moves AJ Preller has made. But the MLB establishment keeps denying Preller the big prize he needs to take the next step up in competitiveness– whether is Shohei Ohtani, Christian Yelich or Mookie Betts. Preller was in on all of these players when they were available, and was in a great position to obtain them all, but got none of them. It’s clear the Padres are expected to give up more than anybody else to get the same player, and AJ Preller doesn’t subscribe to that. That’s why Mookie Betts & David Price ended up with the Dodgers.

Thu 06 Feb 2020 03:00 PM EST

Like the Iowa caucus, this deal has yet to be finalized. Here’s why?

The Red Sox projected hard-throwing righty Brusdar Graterol to be a starter, but now that they’ve seen the Twins medical, they’ve adjusted their projections to him being a reliever. Therefore the Dodgers or Twins [!] have to kick in another prospect, or send money back to Boston. Otherwise the deal is off, and this includes the Dodgers-Angels swap.

This is what it’s like doing business with the Red Sox. Padres GM AJ Preller must be really happy he let it go. Catching prospect Luis Campusano is now untouchable, and the Dodgers have a mess on their hands– either way. I can only imagine what Twins & Angels management are thinking. They thought this was an easy deal for them. Now they’re stuck, while the Red Sox bitch about their return, after their main goal was accomplished in dumping Betts & Price and getting RF Alex Verdugo.

Once again with the Red Sox can’t stop whining, while insisting on cheating everyone. The sports media is in their pocket, so these errors in scouting & evaluation by the Red Sox become an excuse to rescind, or “adjust” a deal they had to make.  Fans are still waiting on their punishment from MLB for sign stealing in 2018. The Red Sox get away with all this, because they are baseball’s equivalent of Joe Biden in politics. Zombies propped up by unlimited cash & idealist nonsense

Here’s my Ken Rosenthal impression on “adjusting” the Mookie Betts-David Price dump. “In a deal of this magnitude, with a lot of pieces moving, there can be glitches. The Red Sox mis-valued a prospect they agreed on, and therefore expect someone else to pay for that mistake. This happens all the time in trades [with the Red Sox].”

What everyone involved (including MLB) needs to tell the Red Sox is: the deal is “as agreed-up,” no changes, otherwise the Red Sox keep Betts & Price. Then what are the Red Sox going to do about getting under the CBT? The organizations involved need to unite and call out this Red Sox media bluff, in order to put an end to these garbage tactics. We’ll see what happens…

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Super Bowl LIV notes

I skipped the entire pregame programming, and watched the Ice Bowl (Packers-Cowboys: December 31, 1967), and then Super Bowl XI (Raiders-Vikings: January 9, 1977) on YouTube instead. I do this because: 1) I’d never seen the Ice Bowl, and viewing it offers historical perspective on the NFL; and 2) SB XI was the first one I watched, and I still remember a lot of the key plays upon review.

This is much different than going to a Super Bowl party, which is what most people do, but being a sportswriter means one has to take an alternate approach to big events. I tune-in to Super Bowl LIV just as SF kicker Robbie Gould is placing the ball on the tee for the opening kick-off. Perfect timing.

I’m not a gambler, but I am acutely aware that I’ve already missed a few important SB wagers. Heads or tails? Who will win the toss? I’ll have to look those up, if I ever need that info. That’s what you miss when you come late to a Super Bowl.

If you’ve been in Miami these past few weeks, enjoying the festivities as they say, then you can be excused for being late to the game, or missing it entirely– with all the parties, drugs & hookers going on. I know it’s difficult for some people to believe that the championship contest of such a violent ground acquisition game, whose point is to smash the opposition into submission, could be a bastion of hedonism & sexual exploitation, but it’s true.

I’ve never been to a Super Bowl, and have little desire to attend one. I generally keep the volume muted during any Joe Buck broadcast. Fox does that to you.

It was one of the better Super Bowl games. Back & forth, close to the end. That one big pass play (Mahomes to Hill) turned everything around in the 4th quarter. That’s what playmakers do, and that was the difference. Chiefs win 31-20.

I thought the 49ers were more physical, and did a good job imposing their will. But they could never pull away, and once they got behind late it was over, because that’s not who they are. Andy Reid is a great football coach. He had answers when his team was getting smashed in the mouth. His QB Patrick Mahomes delivered the big plays when it counted most.

That’s the game narrative, and it wasn’t too much of a surprise. It rarely is anymore, which says something. There were lots of concussions & other injuries that no one cares about. No controversial missed calls, blown plays, or wardrobe malfunctions– which everyone cares about. The Super Bowl is an annual carnival of madness & debauchery.

I watched a few seconds of halftime show headliners Jennifer Lopez & Shakira, and that was enough for me. I then switched back to the classic Columbo episode “Lady in Waiting” on ME TV. Susan Clark isn’t much of a villain, but it’s always great watching Richard Anderson get shot dead, and then seeing Leslie Nielsen play the boyfriend-caught-in-the-middle.

I did this for all the commercials too with the help of classic M*A*SH episodes and whatever else I could find. Way too much propaganda & virtue signaling at $5.8M per 30-second spot for my taste. I don’t see anything that I want. It’s as if so much fake money exists, that the propaganda & branding becomes more important than selling product. The commercials are all inane, overblown & unappealing. I skillfully missed them. One can get really good at that after 40-something Super Bowls.

Super Bowl hangover: Monday February 3, 2020 10:53 AM EST

Don Meredith was the Cowboys QB in the Ice Bowl. He was their original play-caller, and a party hearty 1960’s NFL star until he retired in 1969. Dandy Don then joined the Monday Night Football broadcast team in the 1970’s. As a color analyst he used to ramble on & say stupid stuff, which makes him comparable to Troy Aikman today.

Meredith was notoriously addicted to booze, pills & women– like so many others of his era. In retrospect, Meredith’s downward spiral can be seen as the reason the Cowboys lost the Ice Bowl to Bart Starr & the Green Bay Packers, as RB Dan Reeves threw the ball better than QB Don Meredith on that bitter cold day.

In the video linked at the top, we see decades later, Meredith still had excuses to blame others as to why the Cowboys lost twice to the Packers– before Super Bowls I & II. In many ways this mirrors the current Dallas QB situation with Dak Prescott, who is about to be franchise tagged by owner Jerry Jones. I don’t know his personal habits, but I do know Dak Prescott isn’t a very good NFL QB. But no matter, he will soon be paid as the “real deal” because he plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

I’ll finish up on the Cowboys by stating that their best QB ever was Roger Staubach, and their best QB to ever turn TV analyst is Tony Romo. Their best head coach was Jimmy Johnson, and their worst was Barry Switzer.

The NFL branded this past campaign as their 100th season with a marketing blitz we’ve never seen before. The NFL has so much history, that it’s easy to put together best-of lists, personal interviews & historical clips to legitimize the game. The NFL & ESPN are good at that. What they can’t hide is the horrible ugliness beneath all the glitz & glory. That’s the annual Super bowl hangover.

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