Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pro Basketball - Jason Collins Likes Men

If you haven't heard yet, Jason Collins is gay. Ok, let me take a step back ... in an article released by Sports Illustrated yesterday, NBA player Jason Collins revealed that he is homosexual. With this proclamation, Collins becomes the first male athlete in major American sports to openly express that he is anything other than heterosexual.

Before we continue, I'm going to take this rare opportunity (thanks to the integration of sports and social norms) to express my stance on the "issue" of sexual preference. I will be very clear on this ... I 100% support Jason Collins. I support his right to be gay, I support his decision to be open about his sexuality, and I support his decision to be the first male athlete in major American sports to state that being gay doesn't change who he is on the court. I think Collins is brave and courageous (certainly more than most), I think he is admirable, and I think he's just another athlete regardless of who he is sleeping with. I'll even say that if he wants to get married one day to another guy, nothing trumps love and I hope he and his partner find a lifetime of happiness together.

With that said ...

- There is going to be backlash. Anyway you like it, we still live in a homophobic America where the majority (outspoken or not) are still against the idea of homosexuality. Most of the celebrities who share this point of view are going to stay quiet about it, but not all of them. In just the first couple of hours after the story was released, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace tweeted his thoughts on how he can't understand a guy being gay when there are so many beautiful women in the world. And let's face it, he's not the only person thinking that way (maybe just the most public right now). Think about it ... if Justin Bieber came out of the closet tonight, half the people in the world would say "No Sh*t" and the other half would say "Who Cares?!" But, Jason Collins is a professional athlete ... and everyone "knows" that pro athletes are incredibly masculine guys who couldn't possibly be in to dudes. Unfortunately, if/when Collins is signed to an NBA team (he's currently a free agent) there are going to be PLENTY of fans at road games that want to remind him just how "wrong" his lifestyle is.

- There is going to be support. We've seen it already, and most of those who are going to be [peacefully] outspoken will get behind Collins' decision to come out and live the way he chooses. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Michael Strahan, even former president Bill Clinton ... all expressed their support yesterday for Collins in an overwhelmingly positive way. One can only hope that someone in the public eye coming out will help to advance gay rights, or at least the discussion that can one day lead to equality in this area. Homosexuality needed a spokesperson, and Jason Collins has proudly taken the podium.

- There are going to be more. Someone had to have the guts to be first, and now that it's out of the way, I suspect 2nd, 3rd, and 4th aren't too far away. But what will happen when the flood gates open? One can hope for support, love, and open debate. I'm not saying everyone is obligated to share my viewpoint on the topic. My concern is those who are radical about the "right" way to live making decisions that can severely harm others. With the abundance of gay pride events nationally in the United States, my biggest concern is for the safety of those involved. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we can rely on the protection of the men and women in uniform and the common sense of all to make sure things stay peaceful when those passionate about the topic choose to express themselves.

It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out moving forward. Sexuality is a very sensitive topic and one that almost everyone seems to have an opinion on. There might be some who read this post and don't want to have anything to do with me because of my stance ... and while I would certainly be disappointed, that is there right. But more important than anything, I believe Jason Collins just let one huge skeleton "out of the closet" ...

- Fishy

Friday, April 19, 2013

Running - Attack at the Boston Marathon

I think it is fitting to say that I never expected to be writing a blog post about running. I don't enjoy running, I think long distance running is silly, and outside of Forrest Gump I believe running should be reserved as a form of exercise for those looking to improve their fitness.

However, I need to share a view thoughts on the events that took place earlier this week in Boston. As I am sure you know, 2 bombs were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, one of the premier distance running events in the world. As we've since learned, the two suspects apparently responsible for the destruction were brothers of Russian decent who had been living in the US for many years but originally from an area tied to terrorist organizations overseas.

First of all, let me express how disappointed I am that any human could find this act of terror acceptable. I have taken ethics courses that suggest different cultures share the same values and just have different beliefs as a way of reaching those values. Unfortunately, I fail to see how anyone can justify mass murder or the attempted assault on innocent parties. It's sad, disgusting, and depressing.

With that said, the events of this week have brought to light a fear I have had since 9/11. Despite my love for sports and athleticism, sporting events are prime targets for terrorist attacks. As far as I can tell, those interested in killing for the sake of killing typically target large audiences where the impact will be as great as possible. And what better place than a giant gathering of people at a known time and location? I don't say this to discourage anyone from attending sporting events. I simply suggest taking caution when doing so and keeping your eyes open for anyone, or anything, that looks suspicious. I also recommend that security measures at these events continue to be tightened in order to keep out anyone looking to cause trouble and allow in those looking to truly enjoy themselves. I know that in the case of a marathon it is very difficult to patrol every inch of a 26.2 mile course, but hopefully this will serve as a reminder that we need to continue protecting those who are innocent and unsuspecting of such inappropriate acts.

So, the next time you're heading to a ball game and you get annoyed that a security officer asks you to turn out your pockets, just remember Boston, April 2013.

- Fishy

Golf - The [Next] Tiger Woods Scandal

I knew that some people didn't like Tiger Woods. He cheated on his wife, he slept around with some random women, and he hid it from the world. He's made some really poor personal choices and that has undoubtedly affected his public image. I get it. But last week at the Masters, it was taken to a ridiculous new level. On the 15th hole of the second round of play, Tiger ran into an unfortunate circumstance where a stroke of bad luck landed his golf ball in a water hazard requiring him to drop a new ball to play his next shot. Well, several hours after this all happens we come to find out that a television viewer called in to the tournament officials to alert them that Tiger did not drop the ball exactly as rules specify he should have.

Really? I mean seriously? Someone at home actually took the time to find the phone number for a tournament official, call the official, explain the rule and complain that it wasn't followed, and request that an inquiry be made so that Tiger's tournament status and chances of winning could be questioned. First of all, who does that? Second, who has that kind of time? And third, why do you even care that much? Wouldn't your time be much better spent watching porn and dreaming of all the women Tiger's been with that you could never have (for any kids reading this post, porn is a type of adult documentary that old people like to watch without any type of real story line or car chases ... it's really boring, you wouldn't like it)?

Aside from the fact that the dropped ball was even investigated to begin with, I do have some thoughts on the outcome for those who are golf savvy and enjoy the sport:

- The rules were interpreted, and applied, correctly in this situation. Quit whining and complaining that Tiger wasn't kicked out of the tournament for signing an incorrect scorecard. Per the rules, any infraction that was discovered due to television will result in a 2 stroke penalty instead of disqualification. Like it or not, the only reason the mistake was discovered was because they could review it on TV. Don't hate the application, hate the rule.

- Tiger didn't cheat. You heard me. Yes, he did fail to properly adhere to a poorly written rule governing the dropping of the golf ball and he received the appropriate penalty for doing so. However, had Tiger intentionally broken the rule for the purposes of gaining an advantage, do you really think he would have openly admitted to it during a post-round interview? Unprompted mind you. Not even Tiger would make that kind of mistake.

Unfortunately, controversy or not, Tiger Woods did not win the Masters and we will never know how this "scandal" altered the outcome of the tournament. On the bright side, if/when he goes on to break Jack Nicklaus' record for most career majors, nobody can say that the victories were tainted.

I do have one piece of advice for Tiger though ... next time you're trying to figure out the appropriate place to lay down your balls, make sure you don't get caught putting them where they don't belong ...

- Fishy

Sunday, April 7, 2013

College Basketball - March Madness

I need to apologize to all of my loyal followers out there (thank you Daniel and Jenny) ... this post has been a long time coming. We are now at the afternoon before the National Championship Game and I still have not written anything about the NCAA Tournament. Well, that's about to change.

Now that I have the benefit of hindsight, here are my feelings about this year's Big Dance:

- As expected, the tournament this year was completely up for grabs. In a season that featured an unbelievable number of top ranked teams losing (often to opponents outside the Top 25), you had to figure that brackets were going to look like Kevin Ware's leg when all was said and done ... mangled, ugly, and waiting for another chance next year. And we have not been disappointed. Georgetown (2 Seed) lost in the first round, FGCU (aka Dunk City) made it to the second weekend of the dance, and only 1 team ranked better than 4 made it to the Final Four. There have been upsets left and right and you never really knew who was going to win on any given night. Which makes it even more improbable that ...

- Both of the teams in the National Championship Game were ranked #1 in the country at some point during the regular season. Ironic isn't it? Sure, Michigan came into the tournament ice cold with a 4 seed, but only a couple of months ago they were at the top of the heap. After all the hype, the upsets, the mid majors, the matching basketball courts in 16 different cities ... we're left with 2 teams that have been near the top all season.

- Have you noticed that despite all the upsets, there have been an unusually SMALL number of buzzer beaters in this year's tournament? As I sit here typing, I can really only remember one game-winning shot being made, and I couldn't even tell you which game it came from. This has been one of the best tournaments in recent memory, yet there is a noticeable lack of heart-stopping moments to end games. Many of the contests came down to the last minute ... but barely any came down to the last second.

- I started thinking a couple weeks ago how I would make the tournament better. What rules would I change or what format adjustments would I make to improve March Madness? Here's a couple of things I came up with:

1. Get rid of teams 65-68. Seriously ... is this really necessary? I get that the tournament is all about revenue and these schools want a chance to shine on a national level, but isn't 64 teams enough? It was bad when they expanded to 65 and decided to have the "play-in game" (how do you really determine the 65th best team in the country) but now we're getting absurd. And what makes it even worse? It's not like the 8 worst teams play and then get stuck against the 1 seeds in the next round ... oh no, that would be too sensible. Instead, they randomly put the "first four" anywhere in the bracket they want! In one game it's a battle of 16 seeds, in another it's 12, 10 in another ... I mean come on. If you're going to do it, just make some sense. Which brings me to my next change ...

2. Stop calling the "first four" games Round 1! It's not Round 1! All it is is a chance for the NCAA to make some extra money with a gimicky tournament start. Call it what they are: Play-in Games!

3. No more ranking the Number 1 seeds or declaring that any one of them is the "Number 1 Overall Seed." What this implies (and sometimes is said directly) is that the region with the overall Number 1 seed will have the weakest of the 2 seeds. That's a lovely thought except for one small problem ... that's not how it works. This year, Louisville was the top seed, and deservedly so. Which means of all the 2 seeds, they should be playing the weakest in their bracket. The issue here is that Dook was the 2 seed in the Midwest. How is this possible? Up until the day before Selection Sunday, Dook was expected to be a 1 seed. Even on Selection Sunday many thought it would go to them instead of Gonzaga. So how in the world do they drop from a 1 seed to the worst 2 seed (which implies they are the 8th ranked team in the country). I could even see trying to make the argument that the 2 seeds are ranked geographically so they don't have to travel as far ... and that would be fine ... except that Dook isn't in the Midwest! So stop with the nonsense already ... declare your four 1 seeds and leave it at that. Everything else will play out on the court.

4. Stop favoring mid-majors with NCAA at-large tournament bids. Yes, I get that mid-majors make everything more interesting and everyone loves a good upset. And I know that over the last few years their overall tournament performance has been improving. But here's the problem ... when was the last time any team outside the BCS Conferences actually won March Madness? What, you can't remember? Here's your answer ... UNLV ... in 1990! That was 23 years ago. And before that? Texas Western (now known as UTEP) in 1966!!! Everyone needs to get a clue ... mid majors don't win championships! And it's not because they don't have the opportunities ... they just can't get it done. Yes, Butler was close to the miracle 2 years ago against Dook. But close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and my chances of hooking up with Mila Kunis the first time I meet her.

5. Luther Vandross sings One Shining Moment when the final buzzer sounds. No offense to Jennifer Hudson, stop messing with a good thing. Luther wasn't the first, but he was the best. Leave it alone.

Before this season started, I picked Louisville to win it all (don't believe me ... ask my Dad ... he's the 64 year old man living in South Florida ... you can't miss him). Tomorrow night, we find out if I was right. Don't be surprised if the game goes to overtime either ... Michigan is no push over. When the clock hits all zeroes though, I like my prediction to be cutting down the nets (even Kevin Ware, broken leg and all) ...

- Fishy

Professional Wrestling - Showcase of the Immortals

Before I get into the meat of this post, let me begin by saying that yes, I am aware professional wrestling is not "real." Yes, I am aware that the outcomes are scripted and very few of the performers are actually getting hurt during their show. And yes, I am aware how incredibly obnoxious it is that non-wrestling fans feel the need to continually point this out to those of us that love the entertainment. It's kinda like saying to a female fashionista "how do you walk in those 5 inch heels, it looks really painful?!" The answer is the same to both situations ... we don't care, we do it because we love it. Even though wrestling may not be pure competition, the athletes have real ability and that's why I have no issue discussing "Sports Entertainment" in a sports blog.

Ok, now on to business. The irony of my little rant above ... I'm here to actually complain about professional wrestling. Ok, maybe complain is the wrong word. Perhaps "express my disappointment" is a better way to put it. And why am I disappointed you might ask? I'm frustrated with the complete inability of the WWE (the business' top franchise) to grow and cultivate young talent. Ponder this for a moment ... who were the top sports stars 10-15 years ago? Ken Griffey Jr., Dan Marino, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky. All of these men have had great careers and are now happily retired watching the new breed of sports stars (Mike Trout, RG3, Lebron James, Sidney Crosby). Now let's take a look at professional wrestling ...

Tonight is Wrestlemania 29 (aka The Showcase of the Immortals) from Metlife Stadium in New York. That means ten years ago was Wrestlemania 19. Let's take a quick look at some of the big winners from the event that night ...

WWE Championship - Brock Lesnar (defeating Kurt Angle)
World Championship - Triple H (defeating Booker T)
Handicap Match - The Undertaker (defeating Big Show and A-Train)
One on One Match - The Rock (defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin)
One on One Match - Shawn Michaels (defeating Chris Jericho)

Now let's take a look at the 3 signature matches for tonight's card (the only 3 matches being promoted on various WWE advertising mediums):

WWE Championship - The Rock vs John Cena
Career Match - Triple H (with Shawn Michaels in his corner) vs Brock Lesnar
One on One Match - The Undertaker vs CM Punk

Do we see a pattern here? All of the stars are the same! In the last 10 years, the WWE has only developed 2 young performers to a level that is worthy of marketing promotion (Cena and Punk as mentioned above). As far as those "other guys" that lost their matches 10 years ago ... more than half of them will have a roll in tonight's show and only one has retired (Stone Cold, due to medical issues).

My point is this ... Vince McMahon, I know one night you're going to be home with the lady friend and you're going to be bored. You're going to be flipping through cable channels and Pawn Stars just isn't going to hit the spot. You'll grab your iPhone 78 and accidentally stumble upon my blog. You're going to read this post and here's the message I need you to take: please, for the love of wrestling's future, get some better writers that can actually create good new characters and turn them in to something. And if you don't have any writers on staff that can handle the job, I'm just a phone call away.

If you smell, what The Rock, is cookin ...