Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What's wrong with sports talk?

LL said it best back in the day........."I can't live without my radio."

There isn't a day that goes by that my ears aren't tuned into the sounds of either Hip-Hop or Sports Talk coming through my radio.

However, sports talk just hasn't sounded the same lately and I have become much annoyed with what I am hearing from the talking heads.

I think I know why.

.......morning hosts need to quit the "stand-up" act and just give us the damn sports.

.......we tune in to hear SPORTS, not to hear callers rating their top 10 porn stars.

.......former athletes don't necessarily make good hosts.

.......most guys need to stop hating on Jim Rome.

.......Jim Rome needs to stop hating on everyone that's not a "clone".

.......everyone wants to be on television but only the lucky few make it, deal with it.

.......cameras in the studio...........not a good idea.

.......there aren't enough minorities on the airwaves.

.......too many damn commericals.

.......hosts are too scared to ask the tough questions of guests (usually athletes).

.......stop trying to act like rock stars.

.......brush up on your overall sports knowledge (see my previous post).

.......there is more to life than football, try covering sports that are actually "in season".

.......stop hating on Stuart Scott, Chris Berman, Dan Patrick or anyone else who has made it to "The Show" could've tried out for Dream Job. can't keep it real on the air........sometimes I know you want to say, "that mu*hafu#*a is crazy".

........jump to satellite (or get a blog) and you can say........"that muthafucka is crazy" when talking about T.O.

.......nobody wants to hear your personal opinion on politics, religion, business, or anything else unrelated to sports.

.......nobody wants to hear about your trip to so and so and when you met so and so.

.......local sports talk is too local.

.......national sports talk is too broad.

.......the updates every twenty minutes is always "old" news.

.......stop repeating the same updates all day long.

........too many hosts have radio backgrounds but don't know jack shit about sports.

........keep the producer out of the conversations.

........take more telephone calls, remember, the callers help drive those ratings.

........when did fantasy sports deserve an hour air time?

........slam your home team every now and then, it's refreshing to hear.

........stop repeating the call-in number to your show every 5 minutes.....we know it already.

Having said all of this.........I can't wait to tune in tomorrow!!


Sunday, February 19, 2006

This much I know.....

I was away for a bit, simply put, something called a "day job" got in the way of my "hobby". But while I was away, I continued to observe, listen and make note of some things, which leads to this post.

  • First up, mad props to the Pittsburgh Steelers for winning their fifth Super Bowl. Although it didn’t take a genius to figure out they would win the game.

  • Now that the season is officially over, will you sports talk guys talk about something else on the radio besides football! Geesh, give it a break until late April when the draft rolls around. I know you guys LOVE football but there are other sports that pique the interest of fans. Why don’t you take a little time to brush up on your pro and college basketball acumen, so you can rant and rave about that all day. It would be refreshing.

  • Enough already with the Brett Favre retirement talk. Yes, he is one of the greatest ever and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer but who really cares if he comes back for another year.

  • When is the NFL going to realize that the Pro Bowl is a big waste of time? Nobody wants to play in the game anyway but they do want to travel to Hawaii, isn’t that right, Shaun Alexander? Let’s just eliminate the game all together and send the players on a well deserved vacation with parties, girls, drinking. Oh, my bad, that's called the Super Bowl.

  • Ricky Williams is an idiot. I wonder where he is going to run off to this time.......
  • One early morning, I was listening to one of the local sports talk shows, 680 The Fan. Somehow the hosts got on the topic of the best college basketball player, so I perked up with interest. One of the guys said, “I think that guy from Gonzaga is probably the best in the game, I think his name is Fazekas.” While the other guy said, “I like the guy from Duke (Redick).” This is exactly my point about brushing up on your basketball acumen because Nick Fazekas plays for Nevada and that “guy” from Gonzaga is the leading scorer in the NCAA, Adam Morrison!! Anyone that follows college basketball closely would never mistake the two; a good sports talk host would know the difference.

  • In the best of five, on a neutral court, Uconn could get a game or two from the Blazers.

  • NBA Top Five: Pistons, Spurs, Mavs, Suns, Heat

  • NBA Bottom Five: Raps, Bobcats, Knicks, Hawks, Blazers

  • Mid-Season MVP: Kobe Bryant. Imagine where this team would be without him….probably on my “Bottom Five” list.

  • If you didn’t see Bean's performance on January 22, 2006, you really missed something special. I caught it live on DirecTV and was probably one of the few true Laker fans (yes, I have been a fan since 1977) in the eastern time zone, who stayed up late to watch him drop 81 on the sorry ass Raptors. Oh, but it was well worth it. By the way, Sam Mitchell should have been fired shortly after that game and not the General Manager. If you missed the performance, you can download it at Google for $3.95. (For you Kobe haters out there, more on him in a future post).

  • Plan and simple, Andre Iguodala got robbed in the Slam Dunk contest! If it takes someone (Nate Robinson) fourteen attempts to get a slam down and we have to suffer through each attempt knowing what's coming, you should be penalized for it and not win. Having said that, the NBA wanted him to win anyway.

  • If Nique doesn’t get into the Basketball Hall of Fame this time around, he should personally “tomahawk” on each member who didn’t vote for him. Come on Hawks! Flex your networking skills and help get the greatest player of your franchise elected.

  • Dickie V should get in the Hall for his significant contribution to the game. Love him or hate him, he changed the way college analysts call the game and brought excitement into broadcasts.
  • Is it me or is Bode Miller the most over-hyped Winter Olympian ever? Just a couple of weeks ago, this guy is on the cover of Time magazine and in the article is praised for his prowess in downhill events and his unconventional style that has rankled the coaches and officials on the U.S. team. The expectations were that he was going to take home damn near ever gold medal in his events. As of today, he’s won Zero, Nada, Zilch!! After the fact, Bode claims, "if things went well, I could be sitting on four medals." That's like me saying, "if I could just hit a curveball, I would be in the majors." Shut up Bode, there is always a job as Head Ski Instructor for you at the Vail Lodge.

  • The media needs to hype up Shani Davis, the brotha from Chicago, who became the first African-American to win a gold medal in a Winter speed skating event.

  • Do you personally know anyone who has even watched a few minutes of the telecasts? Didn’t think so. In the future, the Winter Games should be broadcast exclusively over the internet.
  • I hate to admit it but it’s quite possible the U.S. team is going to take a beating in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Have you seen the projected line-up for the Dominican Republic? Talk about “Murderers' Row”……Miguel Tejada, Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz. I see why Alex Rodriguez decided to play for the U.S. team after all, he was probably afraid that he wouldn’t be the “Man”.

  • Hey, Barry, will you hurry up and pass Babe Ruth, then ride off into the sunset because we know you really don’t care about passing Hank (even though you could).

  • As much as people don’t want to admit it, you gotta love Ozzie Guillen for his honesty and enthusiasm. Baseball managers take their jobs way too seriously and Ozzie is one of the few who doesn't over-manage his team. Just set the line-up and let the guys play.
  • Every time Tiger wins, I can’t help but take great delight in it. I just wish the purists and media will realize that he is ALREADY the greatest golfer to ever play the game. To play under such pressure in every tournament and against (what I think), the greatest generation of players on a consistent basis and still be able to dominate the way he does, says quite a bit.

  • I am glad the sports media stopped talking about the Rick Tocchet hockey gambling ring. That was really becoming the highlight of my day (of course I am kidding). However, I do find it rather interesting that according to New Jersey law, it is not a crime to place a bet, even if the wager is with a bookie. Alrighty then, does anyone know any bookies in Jersey I can call? HA, HA, HA

Until next time!


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

NBA Predictions

I have seen enough of the experts picks, so it's time to throw my predictions out there. By the way, how is one deemed an "expert"?

Anyway, on to the predictions.


Atlantic Division: New Jersey Nets
Central Division: Indiana Pacers
Southeast Division: Miami Heat

Southwest Division: San Antonio Spurs
Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets
Pacific Division: Sacramento Kings

Most Improved Win Total: Golden State Warriors
Worst Record: New Orleans Hornets

Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat over Indiana Pacers
Western Conference Finals: San Antonio Spurs over Denver Nuggets


NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs over Miami Heat



Most Valuable Player: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

Rookie of the Year: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets

Most Improved Player: Stromile Swift, Houston Rockets

Sixth Man of the Year: Michael Finley, San Antonio Spurs

Next to Jump into Superstar Category: Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors



Sunday, October 23, 2005

30 Teams-30 Questions

Ah, the familiar sound of sneakers sliding across the hardwood must mean, it's time for the 2005-2006 NBA Season. I wanted to "wet your whistle" just a bit with my little primer on the 30 teams in the league.

Let's work our way through the teams alphabetically.

TEAM QUESTION: Is Joe Johnson really worth $70 million?

THE SKINNY: They may surprise you on some nights but this team is still a long, long way from making any noise in the Eastern Conference.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Al Harrington. Led the team in scoring, rebounds, and steals last year. With seven years under his belt, he's one of the "veterans" on a team full of young talent. Remember, he came over in a sign and trade last year for Stephen Jackson, so all indications are GM Billy Knight wanted him. Remains to be seen if he will keep him through the season.


TEAM QUESTION: Will the Truth aka Paul Pierce be dealt by the trade deadline?

THE SKINNY: This team will score alot of points but will give up just as many. Not usually a recipe for great success.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Paul Pierce. The unquestioned leader of the team must act like it. No more Toine or Glove to rely on in crunch situations, it's all going to fall on his shoulders. His point production has dropped the last three seasons in a row and with this group around him, he will need to carry more of the scoring load.


TEAM QUESTION: Will the summer workouts with The Dream help Okafor expand his game?

THE SKINNY: The building blocks are there for this young team; won't be a pushover this year.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brevin Knight. 9 apg last year is nothing to sneeze at but he has to be looking over his shoulder for rookie, Raymond Felton, to make a push for his job. By January, if Felton is getting more than 20 minutes per game, look for Knight to be moved.


TEAM QUESTION: Who will score down low for this team?

THE SKINNY: Scott Skiles will get the most from this undersized group but trading Curry will hurt.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Tyson Chandler. He is the main guy in the paint now and will have to improve on his 8 ppg from last season. That will not get it done if the Bulls have any chance to make a similar splash as last season.


TEAM QUESTION: Is LeBron more MJ or Magic?

THE SKINNY: Good supporting cast to help King James; it should be enough to take them deep into the playoffs.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Drew Gooden. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and will probably play like it to boost his chances of getting paid.


TEAM QUESTION: Do they have the toughness to battle out West?

THE SKINNY: Avery Johnson will emphasis defense from the start but it won't translate into winning a championship.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Josh Howard. He will be asked to play tough defense on some of the best small forwards in the West (KG, Marion, T-Mac, Carmelo), but his scoring could be the key; the team was 19-5 last year when he scored 15 or more points.


TEAM QUESTION: Will Carmelo re-establish himself and finally get past his Olympic experience?

THE SKINNY: They should continue to build on last year's 32-8 regular season record under George Karl. Teams will dread going into the Pepsi Center.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Marcus Camby. If only he could stay healthy, this guy is a walking double-double every night for this team. Because of his size and versatility, he causes match up problems for opponents, however, he often gets lost in the offense.


TEAM QUESTION: How will this veteran group respond to new coach Flip Saunders?

THE SKINNY: It's hard for any team to make the Finals three years in a row but this team is not ordinary.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Chauncey Billups. By his own admission, Larry Brown was responsible for helping him take his game to the next level. Now that he is considered one of the elite point guards in the league, he will lead this team back deep into the playoffs.


TEAM QUESTION: Do they make their first playoff appearance since 1994?

THE SKINNY: This team could be one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch. Baron and J-Rich could form one of the best backcourts in the league this year.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Baron Davis. He wanted out of New Orleans and is back in his home state of California, now he has to demonstrate that he can lead a team and stay healthy at the same time.


TEAM QUESTION: Can Yao play more than 30 minutes per game?

THE SKINNY: Anytime you have T-Mac, you have an excellent chance to win games. Look for Van Gundy to re-live his defensive minded Knick days, which means alot of 84-78 games.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Stromile Swift. Everyone knows he has the talent and now he will be given more than the 20 minutes per game he got in Memphis to show off the skills that made him the number 2 overall pick in 2000.


TEAM QUESTION: Can Artest really change his ways?

THE SKINNY: Somebody must fill the void left by Reggie Miller. Regardless, this team could be on a mission to erase all the demons from last year; rest of the league......LOOKOUT.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jermaine O'Neal. Nobody is tougher to defend around the basket. He's tired of hearing all the talk about why every other team has a better chance of winning the title. In limited action last year, he posted 24.3 ppg (career high) and 8.8 rpg; look for similar productivity.


TEAM QUESTION: Cat, Sam I Am, Brand and Maggette, now which LA team is the best again?

THE SKINNY: This team is as talented as any in the Pacific Division. Coach Dunleavy has won 28 and 37 games respectively his first two seasons with the Clips, look for that upward trend to continue.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Elton Brand. Seventh in the league last year in double-doubles with 41; tenacious on the boards and a soft touch around the basket; a nice combo to have. He should continue to elevate his game with the new supporting cast.


TEAM QUESTION: Can Kobe and the Zen Master get along?

THE SKINNY: In 14 seasons of coaching, Phil Jackson has never missed the playoffs, that's gotta count for something. Kobe will have to do his best Jordan imitation and Lamar will have to imitate.........well, just be Lamar.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kwame Brown, who else? If he thought MJ was hard on him in practices, wait until he crosses Kobe the wrong way. He won't have long in La La Land to make it or break it, the fans expect to win and after hearing "he's the missing piece" stories from the team all summer, they will expect just that.


TEAM QUESTION: Will this squad enter the upper echelon of teams in the league?

THE SKINNY: One word for this team. LOADED! No surprise, Jerry West made great moves this off-season and it should pay off nicely for the Griz.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Damon Stoudamire. No doubt he can shoot with the best of them but he hasn't been asked to distribute the ball in quite some time; let's hope he hasn't forgotten how.


TEAM QUESTION: Can the General aka Shaq keep everyone in check?

THE SKINNY: Last year, Wade proved he belongs in the top 5 best player in the league arguments, now he must lead this team to its destiny.......the Finals.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Shaquille O'Neal. The Diesel is now 33 and beginning to show signs of wear and tear but he's still the most dominant player in the league when healthy. Although his ppg the last two seasons has been un-Shaqlike, he can still turn it on when he needs to and with this supporting cast, he won't need to most nights.


TEAM QUESTION: In three years, will this team regret not drafting Marvin Williams?

THE SKINNY: Redd better prove he is worth every bit of $90 million but it won't matter if he does, this team ain't going anywhere.

PLAYER TO WATCH: T.J. Ford. Hopefully he's over the cervical spinal surgery. Coming into the league, many questioned his durability and shooting ability; the same still applies this season.


TEAM QUESTION: How long before the franchise leader KG decides enough is enough?

THE SKINNY: Even the leagues best all around player (KG) can't shoulder this load. Sczerbiak, Jaric, Olowokandi, come on, give me a break. Look for alot of blank stares on the bench from first year coach, Dwane Casey.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rashad McCants. For a team that's in deseperate need of athleticism, he's about as good as it gets. If he can remain patient and learn to play better defense, he could get big minutes by All-Star break.


TEAM QUESTION: Is Kidd finally happy with his team?

THE SKINNY: Vinsanity and RJ will score big time most nights and Kidd will rack up plenty of assists because of it; should be more than enough to get them into the playoffs.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Richard Jefferson. He's not the number one option. Probably not even number two in crunch time but he is one heckuva third option. If nothing else, he will give Jersey 19 ppg and 7 rpg each night.


TEAM QUESTION: Can they win 20 games?

THE SKINNY: One of the youngest teams in the league will play like it most of the time but J.R. Smith and Chris Paul could one day be the best backcourt in the league.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Chris Paul. He will get control of this offense right away. In college, he was the best point guard in the country and it won't be long before he shows fans why the Hornets drafted him fourth overall this year.


TEAM QUESTION: Will Larry Brown be the difference?

THE SKINNY: Getting Curry was a smart move, not to mention Q. Finally, Isiah seems to be getting it right in the Big Apple.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Stephon Marbury. Most regard last season as his best (22 ppg, 8 apg) but those numbers might slack just a bit under Brown, who will require more patience running the offense and better defense from his star guard.


TEAM QUESTION: How long before Stevie Franchise blows a gasket?

THE SKINNY: Here is your classic example of doing absolutely nothing in the off-season. Bottom line, this is not a very good team.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Dwight Howard. This kid won't have any sophomore slump, he's the real deal. 32 double-doubles last year and they didn't even run plays for him. This summer, he worked on his mid-range jumper and if he could ever hit it consistently, it could mean bad things for the rest of the league.


TEAM QUESTION: How many points per game will A.I. need to score to keep this team in contention?

THE SKINNY: Getting Mo Cheeks to come in and run things was great; 2 years and $40 million plus left for C-Webb, not so great.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Samuel Dalembert. There are $64M reasons why he's the player to watch. Philly fans are the hardest on players and it will feel hotter than a summer in Haiti in the Wachovia Center if doesn't deliver.


TEAM QUESTION: Can Marion and Nash hold down the fort?

THE SKINNY: But for Amare's surgery, losing Joe and Q would not have hurt as much, but in the Valley of the Sun, be prepared for some long nights.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Shawn Marion. With Amare out, he will have to step up and do even more than he did last season, which is asking alot considering he posted 53 double-doubles (second only to KG). The Suns don't normally run plays for him but D'Antoni will have to come up with some for him to keep the pressure off Nash.


TEAM QUESTION: Can Zach Randolph respond from surgery and lead this young team?

THE SKINNY: I hope new coach Nate McMillan realizes what he got himself into. It's going to be a long season in the Pacific Northwest.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Sebastian Telfair. Last season, he showed flashes of the game all expect from him. This season, he will need to grow up quickly. He worked on the outside shot all summer and he will need it because teams won't let him dribble, drive and dish so easily.


TEAM QUESTION: Is this the make or break year for coach Rick Adelman?

THE SKINNY: An almost complete overhaul of the roster brings together a potent team. Scoring won't be a problem but coming together as one unit could; Bibby and Peja should keep them on track though.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Shareef Abdur-Rahim. He could be the calming influence this team needs. Bringing his career 19 ppg with him and a silky smooth shot around the perimeter will open up the floor for Bibby and Peja.


TEAM QUESTION: How many more titles can this team win? Two, three, four?

THE SKINNY: Finley and Van Exel are coming off the bench! Now, that's scary. Here is a team that knows how to put all egos aside and just win championships; it's hard to say it won't happen again this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Michael Finley. You just would not have imagined him coming off the bench for any team but this is the Spurs. He took less money to play with the Spurs, let's hope it's worth it come June.


TEAM QUESTION: Can Ray Allen carry the load?

THE SKINNY: This team is puzzling; Allen, Lewis and Radmanovic are a good trio but losing Nate McMillan may be the biggest blunder of the off-season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Luke Ridnour. He surprised everyone last season with his play (10 ppg, 6 apg) but he's not a secret anymore. Again, this team will need to rely on the perimeter for offense and he will be the key to distributing the ball to those outstanding shooters.


TEAM QUESTION: Will Chris Bosh become an All-Star this season?

THE SKINNY: Sam Mitchell did the best he could with what he had last year and it's pretty much the same team this year so look for similar results.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jalen Rose. He just keeps finding ways to score points. 18.5 ppg last season will have to be duplicated for this team to make any progress. But don't expect Jalen to be on this team by the trade deadline.


TEAM QUESTION: How long will the re-building last?

THE SKINNY: Long gone are the days of "Stockton to Malone", Utah fans get ready for "Deron to.........", well, you get the point. However, a healthy Boozer and Kirilenko should count for 30 wins.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Andrei Kirilenko. The best player on this team is a "Shawn Marion" type without the crazy hops. With his all-around play, he can actually impact a game about as well as any player in the league.


TEAM QUESTION: How far can this team really go?

THE SKINNY: Losing Larry Hughes won't sting that much, it will just allow more touches for Antawn and even more for Gilbert. A good group of complimentary players around those two makes this team pretty good.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Caron Butler. This is his third team in his four years in the league. One of the few bright spots (15 ppg, 6 rpg) for the Lakers last year, he should find a nice role in this free-wheeling offense. He might not necessarily replace Hughes' defense but he's more than capable of replacing the offense.


Rest in peace Jason Collier.

Until next time.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Blacks in Baseball: Why Don't We Play This Game Anymore?

Now that baseball season is near its end, this brings about a time of reflection and unanswered questions for most fans. Right now, I have a specific question on my mind. Not the typical question you would expect, like, who should win the MVP? Why did the Braves lose in the playoffs again? Is this finally the end of the Yankees as we know them? Those are good reflective questions but not the one that I’m specifically thinking about.

For me, my reflection starts with a question that hangs in the back of my mind throughout every baseball season. Why don’t we play this game anymore? The we, being African-Americans. The number of black players in Major League Baseball has dropped drastically from when I was kid. In 1975, 27 percent of the players were black. Today, it’s around a low of 10 percent.

I remember staying up late at night, in 1979, to catch the World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. Between the two teams, in game one of the series, seven black players were in the starting line-ups. Pittsburgh eventually won the series in seven games. And the “We are Family” squad became a household name within the black community.

As a kid, going out on the field and trying to duplicate what I saw from my heroes of the day was the greatest joy and contributed to my development as a young player. From Reggie Jackson to Davey Lopes to Willie Stargell to Ozzie Smith to Rickey Henderson to Dave Winfield; the list of brothas back then could go on for what seemed like an eternity.

I’m not the only one who has noticed the changes. Over the years, there have been numerous articles, shows, and theories on the topic but none in my opinion have a concise conclusion. We have heard the theories that baseball has done a terrible job of “marketing” the game within the inner cities. But when did they ever market in the hood? We have also heard that African-American kids don’t have as much access to equipment, fields, and training as kids in the suburbs. That might be true but that didn’t stop kids in my day from playing.

One point I’ve heard made, that I don’t think is true, is that the decrease of black players is about race. Let me make this clear, the decrease of black players in the league is NOT about race. Baseball is clearly an “equal opportunity employer” (on the field at least). Just take a look at the melting pot in the clubhouse of most teams, and you will find cultures from all parts of the world.

Like the late, great, sportswriter Ralph Wiley once said when discussing the topic of blacks in baseball, “Baseball is strictly an inherited game”. Ah, ha!! Simple but true, this could be the possible answer to my lingering question.

As a youngster, I learned the sport from my father who learned it from his. The history and tradition of the game was passed down to me from him every summer of my youth. My father felt, because of the many nuances of the game, it was important that I learn the fundamentals from him, and not the streets. It began with simply playing catch in the yard and from then on, I was hooked. From there, I learned how to swing a bat, field ground balls, throw with proper form, and so on and so on.

Somewhere along the line in the last 30 years or so, that baton has been dropped by black fathers. I think it’s in large part due to the fact, that since 1975, single parent households in the African-American community have increased significantly. How significant? A staggering 70% of African-American kids are being raised by single parents today and more often than not, it’s the mother.

If I were a young kid growing up today, no matter what my home was like, most likely, I would put my energies into playing basketball or football. Let’s face it, it’s a helluva lot easier to go out on the basketball court by yourself and shoot the rock or work on that crossover in the driveway. Or, you could grab a football and throw it around with your boys or just simply run around in the backyard acting like Barry Sanders if you wanted. Try playing baseball alone, it can’t really be done.

Then, there is another aspect to consider. About three years ago, after taking my son to baseball practice, he made a comment that has stuck with me since. He said, “Dad, some of my (black) friends tease me for playing on the baseball team.” I thought to myself, why should that matter to him? I thought about it for awhile and realized that social acceptability is crucial for a pre-teen. I also know that right now among kids within the African-American community, baseball is not high on the list of career choices. Most black kids know Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James. It’s understandable because you see them plastered on every billboard, television commercial or magazine advertisement from New York to LA. Not to mention the gear they wear is considered “high fashion” for some. In contrast, most of those same kids don’t know Gary Sheffield or Derrek Lee. And last I checked, Yankee jersey number 11 or Cub jersey number 25 weren’t flying off the racks at your local Champs store.

Here is an opportunity for Major League Baseball to introduce the next generation of black ball players to the African-American community. Dontrelle Willis, Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young to name a few. This is the future generation of players for young black kids to idolize. If MLB won’t take the role and responsibility (and why should they?) then we have to. Black men. Fathers, brothers, uncles, friends, godfathers, brother-in-laws, all of us. We have to or the low 10 percent of black players today will be five percent, and then one percent and then the days of seeing father and son, black father and son, playing catch in the front yard, the way my father did with me, will be no longer. We owe this to our children, our grandchildren and their children to come. It’s something I know my father would personally have wanted. He may not be on this earth anymore to watch his favorite team, the Yankees, with me but I can certainly pass on the love he had for the game and continue to share my love of baseball with just a few more kids who happen to be black, my sons.

Peace and blessings!

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Good, the Bad, and the Say What?

Okay people, I'm back. Been away for a minute but got something new I need to drop on ya. It's my random observations of what's happening in the world of sports.

The GOOD........

#1. Mad props to the St. Louis Cardinals for showing the rest of the league how to win a division. This team has been devastated by injuries all season long; Reggie Sanders, Larry Walker and Scott Rolen have all been hurt collectively at some point and now Rolen is out for the season. Fortunately for the Cards, when you have the best right-handed stick in the game you always have a chance to win. Have Pujols, will carry.

#2. Just when all the haters thought the Yankee dynasty was on the brink of crumbling, here they come again. Finally, they're living up to expectations by drumming the opposition with the best line-up in the American League. Anytime you can occasionally bat A-Rod in the two hole, you have some serious firepower.

#3. Is anyone more fun to watch in baseball than Dontrelle Willis? Answer......Nope. Talk about a shot in the arm for the league. The kid is NICE. Street definition of NICE: “got skillz”, “off the chain”, “hellafide”.

#4. Speaking of NICE, how about LaDainian Tomlinson? Many around the league regard him as the best back in the NFL, after Sunday night’s performance, you get no argument from me.

#5. The bandwagon in Cincinnati just got bigger after the win this weekend by the Bengals over the Bears. A 3-0 start for the Bengals and coach Marvin Lewis ain't bad at all; no coach deserves it more than Marvin.

#6. I haven’t had this much fun watching a USC football team since, well.......LAST YEAR when they drummed Oklahoma for the National Championship. Did you happen to see the run Reggie Bush made this past weekend against Oregon when he lost a shoe? He moved so effortlessly, it looked like he was still running with two shoes on!

#7. Sports just wouldn't be the same without them: LeBron, KG, Shaq, Peyton, Vick, Moss, Rocket, A-Rod, Bonds, Tiger, Vijay, Phil, Dale Jr., JJ, and Gordon. Play on playas!

The BAD……….

#1. Haven’t we seen this before? Some team in the majors loses over 100 games. This year the honor goes to the Kansas City Royals. Pitiful.

#2. It's quite possible a team from the NL West could win the division with a record below .500. Wanna see television ratings drop faster than Dubya's approval rating after Katrina? Let that .500 team make it to the World Series. You know MLB and FOX would try their best to spin it into a "Cinderella" story but the public won't buy it, at least not me. Nobody wants to see a series match up that features a scrub team.

#3. Not again. Ken Griffey Jr.’s season is over prematurely. He recently underwent a pair of arthroscopic surgeries on the left knee and right hammy. Get well, my man, get well and come back for one last run at 600 homers.

#4. What happened to Nebraska football? Did they move to the Gateway conference of Division 1-AA?

#5. Shame on the NFL for making the Saints play a "home" game in New York against the Giants and the league's latest poster boy, Eli Manning. Like Joe Horn said, "don't be fooled, this ain't no home game for us." Well Joe, I feel ya on that and the score was evident.

#6. The Green Bay Packers are 0-3 and they've lost two home games in a row, which is about as rare as Shaquille O’Neal missing a wide open dunk. Think it’s time for Favre to admit that he doesn’t have the “magic” anymore?

#7. Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver will throw down for the third time on October 1, 2005. Roy, please win. Don't make me waste $49.95. I don’t wanna see you go out like Sugar Ray or Ali.

The SAY WHAT?.............

#1. It looks like Bobby Cox will work his magic once again in the A-T-L by managing the Braves to their 14th straight division title! Now if only he can manage them to another World Series title.....Yeah, right.

#2. Rafael Palmiero should be embarrassed for implying that he tested positive for steroids because of a vitamin B-12 injection he received from teammate Miguel Tejada, which I know had to piss Miggy off!! While Tejada is still doing his thang for the team, the O's told Raffy to chill at home the rest of the season.

#3. On 60 Minutes, Derek Jeter admitted he has received hate mail because he has dated white women. Authorities investigating say the mail is coming from someone black! Look my brothas and sistas, Jeter is about as classy as they come; give the dude a break and get over it.

#4. According to, the number one selling jersey so far this year is number 18 worn by Oakland's, Randy Moss. No surprise there-got one myself. But what is surprising, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger’s number 7 is second, ahead of Micheal Vick. Let me repeat that.........ahead of Michael Vick. SAY WHAT?!?!? They have got to be selling Big Ben’s jersey at a 50% discount online.

#5. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams is the first player in the history of the NFL to start his career by rushing for three straight 100 yard games. Not, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders or even Orenthal (aka OJ), but Cadillac. I know it’s early but you can put him down for my Rookie of the Year now.

#6. Does anyone care that the U.S. won the Presidents Cup in golf? Probably not because they were too busy watching football all weekend. Bad timing by the PGA and NBC. Just another reason why the PGA season and major golf events should be scheduled to end by September. Even Tiger doesn't wanna play anymore this year.

Finally, I can't finish without mentioning Mr. Bonds (see August blog).

#7. How do you have a couple of knee surgeries, miss 144 games, start swinging a bat three weeks before you come back, then go out and hit 4 home runs in your first 31 at bats? Maybe because he's that damn good? For the record, San Francisco is 9-2 in the 11 games he’s started..........Think he’s a difference maker??


Please support the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Steroids, Baseball and Barry Bonds

I believe Major League Baseball would prefer if Barry Bonds does not finish his career as the all-time home run leader. As Chris Rock would say, "that's right, I said it. It had to be said." Sounds crazy? Take some time and listen to sports talk or read the sports pages and you'll find sports talk hosts, journalists and fans around the country who think as I think. It's a valid belief. The basis for the theory involves steroids, baseball and Barry Bonds. Here are my thoughts.

As early as 1994, then acting commissioner, Bud Selig acknowledged the use of steroids had been discussed in private meetings with owners. "If baseball has a problem" Selig says, "I must say candidly that we were not aware of it. It certainly hasn't been talked about much. But should we concern ourselves as an industry? I don't know, maybe it's time to bring it up again."

The last statement, "maybe it's time to bring it up again" is rather interesting to me. I find it ironic that for the 2005 season, the league has decided to enforce a steroids policy eleven years after it was privately discussed but not banned from the sport until 2002.

As many are aware, random steroid testing was performed on players during the 2004 season and based on the results of the tests (5%-7% positive returns on 1438 random tests), baseball felt that was enough to begin enforcing the policy in 2005. But why did it take two years after the drug was banned from the sport before the league began testing? My feeling is there was no compelling reason for baseball to develop a testing process until 2004.

Let's rewind a bit. During 2004, we were introduced to the ugly BALCO scandal, which I believe gave baseball another "blackeye" (remember the strike?) and played a part in the decision to push the testing. The scandal involved several high-profile baseball players including Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, and Barry Bonds. One of the central figures in the scandal was Bonds personal trainer, Greg Anderson, who Bonds confirmed while testifying to a U.S. grand jury in December 2004 provided him with "the cream" and "the clear". According to Bonds, the trainer told him the substances were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a pain-relieving balm for the player's arthritis. Many have questioned the true ingredients of the substances but that's up to a grand jury to determine. Not baseball fans or the general public. As much as we'd like to be. Bottom line, the timing around the BALCO break and baseball's decision to enforce a testing policy cannot be ignored.

The BALCO scandal notwithstanding, here is another issue I have with Major League Baseball's testing policy. Back in 2002 when steroids were banned from the sport, that was the time to begin testing AND enforcement. Not THREE years later!! You can't convince me that an organization like Major League Baseball could not come up with a comprehensive testing procedure in short-order. Quite simply, all they had to do was copy the blueprint from the minor leagues, which had a successful testing policy already in place.

Some defend baseball by asking, "how could Selig enforce the policy without the approval of the players union led by Donald Fehr?" I can tell you how. By invoking the commissioners "best interests of the game" clause and ramming it down the throat of the union. Is commissioner Selig that afraid of the players union? Come on people, is the tail really wagging the dog?

For a little more background on the events leading to my position, let's not forget what occurred in the 2001 season. The Paul Bunyan of baseball, Mark McGwire, called it quits at the end of the season at the age of 37 years old. McGwire's body just wouldn't hold up anymore and he struggled mightily through the season, playing in only 97 games but still managed to smack 29 home runs. I guess when you have taken androstenedione for so long and have become that damn strong, you can't help but to jack a few here and there even though he hit below the "Mendoza" line for the year (.187). Side note: does this mean that "nutritional supplements" really can't improve your hand/eye coordination? But I digress.......

While the farewell tour of McGwire was taking place, over on the left coast (that would be California for those who don't know), Barry Lamar Bonds at the age of 36 years old was on his way to doing what many thought couldn't be done. That was breaking the single season home run record that McGwire had set just three years earlier of 70 home runs.

Some of you might have vivid memories when it happened. I know I do. It was October 5, 2001. Pac Bell Park against the Dodgers. Bonds hits number 71 off Chan Ho Park in the first inning. Then for good measure, Bonds jacked number 72 off Park in the third inning.

If you recall, in 2002, the league finally banned steroids. Meanwhile, in that same year, all Bonds did was go out and hit 46 home runs. That's not 73 but it was still enough to help him earn his second consecutive Most Valuable Player (MVP) award as a Giant and (at that time) fifth overall. More importantly, those 46 home runs gave him a career total of 613.

During the 2003 season, Bonds continued his dominance by hitting .341 and dinging 45 home runs and yes, captured his sixth MVP. This brings us to the 2004 season. Once again, Bonds had another spectacular season by hitting .362 and hitting 45 home runs. Did I mention that he won his seventh MVP? To put this into perspective, there are seven other players tied for second on the list of multiple MVP winners and those seven players won the award THREE times each. Bonds has won it SEVEN times!! Let that sink in for a second........damn, that's a lot. I can just hear the baseball historians taking a big gulp on that fact. Hey, historians and purist of the game, don't hate on Barry, hate the writers who voted for him.

Anyone with half a brain could anticipate that at the rate Bonds was hitting home runs, it wasn't going to be long before he reached 700 and beyond. And low and behold by the end of the 2004 season, he had a total of 703. Putting him only eleven home runs behind the great Babe Ruth; baseball's immortal figure for the last 75 years or so, who by the way, won only one MVP in his career.

Just like one of Barry's blasts into McCovey cove, the magical number of 700 is cracked and immortality is within reach.

To recap if I am losing you.

In a span of four years, Barry Bonds breaks the single season home run record, he's on pace to break the all-time home run record, he wins four straight MVP's, he continues to ignore the fans and piss off the media. I say, so what? We all know Barry Bonds hasn't had the greatest relationship with the media and fans over the years. There are less likeable figures in the history of baseball. Besides, I don't need his autograph. (Although it does fetch a nice penny on ebay). I don't care to see him interviewed on ESPN. (Although he is quite amusing). So fans, knowing this, stop hanging around the park after the game seeking an autograph. You're not getting one. Media scribes? Stop asking the same stupid questions you've been asking for years. I'm serious, please stop.

Even still, Major League Baseball can't be happy with where his record is heading . The record books are about to be changed forever. Say what?!?!? Not Bonds, anybody but Bonds! MLB has got to put their foot down.

And then "suddenly", to the delight of the league, some fans and the media, "someone" leaks information about BALCO and months later, under oath, Barry admits to using "the cream" and like the memorable words of Gomer Pyle, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!! Baseball announces plans to enforce its steroid policy most likely thinking, this is one way to slow his butt down.

Sorry to disappoint ya, but the way I see it, a knee injury slowed him down.