Posts Tagged ‘NFL Football’
Nasonex For Sale, After last night, I'm just glad that the Canes are still alive...
My, oh my! The Carolina Hurricanes are going to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals! Led by the RBC Center’s master of the scoreboard ceremonies —the Nature Boy, Ric Flair—everyone is “WOOO-ing” in my hometown, the City of Oaks.
The Hurricanes scoreboard celebration after scoring a goal
Once again, the Carolina Hurricanes pulled off the amazing, Nasonex used for, Buy Nasonex no prescription, besting the Boston Bruins 3-2 last night in Game 7 of the NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals. Once again, the decisive game of the series came down to the wire, comprar en línea Nasonex, comprar Nasonex baratos, Nasonex canada, mexico, india, with Carolina securing the victory off of a Scott Walker chip-shot goal with only 1:14 left in sudden death overtime. The goal scored at 18:46 on the clock in overtime by Walker (who used to play for the Bruins), sealed the game, Nasonex recreational, About Nasonex, advanced the Cardiac Canes to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals, and gave the Bruins a chance to get start on all those “honey-do” lists around the house. For some real insights on the game, Nasonex results, Nasonex long term, check out Canes Country (which is written by people who actually understand hockey).
Up next, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Once again, discount Nasonex, Buy Nasonex from mexico, I find myself loving this “hockey thing” and having something to cheer about in the off-season as I prepare for the Tennessee Volunteers’ upcoming football season. Of course, as I mentioned a few weeks ago when the Canes beat the New Jersey Devils, hockey can be a hard sell in the South, kjøpe Nasonex på nett, köpa Nasonex online, Is Nasonex addictive, where few people ever played the game. Still, it seems to me that hockey is a natural fit in the South due to all of the things it has to offer. In reply to my last hockey post, Nasonex mg, Nasonex pharmacy, I posted a few comments on the issue:
I think the primary reason that so few Southerners really “get” hockey is due to the fact they had no exposure to playing it. I played (at some level) all of the major sports, order Nasonex from United States pharmacy, Nasonex pictures, except hockey growing up. The first time I went to a hockey game I was a little sketchy on the rules and really wasn’t completely sure what was going on except for trying to get the puck in the goal.
The penalties left me a bit perplexed too, where can i buy Nasonex online. I remember thinking “A penalty of ‘icing’ — what the hell is that about, Nasonex For Sale. Nasonex maximum dosage, The playing surface — in case you hadn’t noticed Mr. Referee—is a big freakin’ sheet of ICE, Nasonex treatment. My Nasonex experience, They’re all knocking big chunks of the frozen stuff all over the place, why do you have to pick on that guy?”
Over time, Nasonex coupon, Nasonex dangers, however, I have picked up on most of the rules and so forth, buy cheap Nasonex no rx, Where can i find Nasonex online, but the other thing I realized the night I first went to watch a hockey game was that I didn’t need to understand the rules. In some ways, generic Nasonex, No prescription Nasonex online, hockey is a synthesis of all the great games: the team model of basketball; a flow like soccer; the speed of … well … racing; the use of sticks to hit things like baseball (okay that one is a bit of a stretch); and the strategy and bone-crushing physicality of football. Oh, australia, uk, us, usa, Effects of Nasonex, yeah, and there is the whole fistfight thing from boxing. The thing that makes it so exciting is the speed and the anticipation of the goal.
Most of all, order Nasonex online c.o.d, Japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, it is just a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I really wish more Southerners would give it a look, Nasonex pharmacy, Online Nasonex without a prescription, it is a blast to watch in person.
So, all of you, cheap Nasonex no rx, Where can i find Nasonex online, go out and watch a hockey game next time you get the chance, whether it be the Hurricanes, rx free Nasonex, Nasonex wiki, the Predators, the Knoxville Ice Bears or whatever team is in your area, is Nasonex addictive. It’s a good time.
Just remember to bring a sweater…
• via: Comments on "Speaking of Hockey..." | Gate 21
Seriously, hockey is a pretty darn cool game. On top of that, most of the teams in the South know that they are a new thing to a lot of folks, and as a result have done everything they can to reach out to the community and show them what a great game hockey is. Here’s Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos explaining—GEICO style—what the Hurricanes did to get the community involved (well, sort of):
I love the outtakes reel at the end of that one
The game is just exciting, and I for one agree with what Mike Greenberg said on today’s edition of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning this morning: while I may be a much bigger fan of other sports, the NHL playoffs are some of the most exciting sporting events you will ever see.
Yes, just like before, I do realize that all this hockey talk is a bit off-topic for a site focusing on the Vols and the SEC. Still, I figure there’s a little wiggle room in that whole “Life, the Universe…” part of the Gate’s byline (that's those words at the top of the page, if you were wondering).
Besides, what else is there to write about at present…
Videos(s) Courtesy of: Raleigh News & Observer • N&O.com || Statement on Fair Use.
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Buy Advair Without Prescription, Well, there hasn’t been much going on in Big Orange Country of late, thus I have been painfully slow at posting…
There have been a few items of interest, mainly Robert Ayres being drafted at No. 18 by the Denver Broncos, Advair natural, Comprar en línea Advair, comprar Advair baratos, along with Ramon Foster, Josh Briscoe, buy Advair online no prescription, Buy Advair without prescription, Lucas Taylor, Arian Foster, Advair pictures, No prescription Advair online, Britton Colquitt, and DeAngelo Willingham who were all picked up in free agency. A dutiful blogger would have something insightful to say about all of this, Advair from canada, Advair maximum dosage, but I have not been particularly dutiful of late and Hooper has already said pretty much everything worth saying over at RockyTopTalk. Thus, I’ll just ride his coattails for the moment (sigh…).
On another front, about Advair, Advair cost, apparently the powers that be in World soccer have decided that Neyland Stadium is worthy of hosting World Cup (Soccer) competition, and everyone’s favorite stadium has made the cut in the most recent round of machinations pertaining to site selection for the United States’ bid to host the 2018 / 2022 World Cup. While I am hardly the world’s biggest soccer fan (despite spending an inordinate amount of time watching 9-year-olds compete in it), order Advair no prescription, Purchase Advair, it was nice to note that Neyland Stadium qualified, while Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama Crimson Tide), after Advair, Advair pharmacy, Tiger Stadium (LSU Tigers), Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn Tigers), where can i find Advair online, Advair price, coupon, and Beaver Stadium (Penn State Nittany Lions), among others did not. I guess that new jumbotron was just too good a thing to turn down.
Finally, Advair overnight, Buy Advair from canada, as a resident of the RDU area of North Carolina, my “other” team is fighting for a chance to advance toward claiming Lord Stanley’s Cup. Yes, order Advair from mexican pharmacy, Advair without prescription, that is hockey for those of you who do not realize it. No, I wasn’t born in Canada. Yes, Advair price, Advair mg, I grew up in the South. Yes, you should really consider giving the NHL a try—hockey is pretty cool (especially when there is no football). For both of you out there who care, fast shipping Advair, Advair duration, you can read all there is to be known about my othe team, the Carolina Hurricanes, online buy Advair without a prescription, Where can i order Advair without prescription, over at Canes Country, which is part of the SBN family of blogs, Advair use, Advair images, (i.e. a lot better than this joint).
In the meantime, buy Advair without a prescription, Where to buy Advair, I will continue to work diligently to find ways to waste time on meaningless things and thus avoid wasting time writing meaningless articles…
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Who is Smarter, Smiling Mike or Bea Arthur? (or A Few Belated Comments on the Hiring of Coach Kiffin)
Alright, I admit I have been a little absent and not just a little bent out of shape over the fact that I have been completely unable to post anything of substance lately due to my “real” job as an evidence manipulation specialist (lawyer). Hence my last post. What’s more, this has been a very exciting week for fans of the Big Orange, as Tennessee named Lane Kiffin its new head football coach. Despite all of the fanfare, I spent my week in a courtroom, and failed to get a single decent comment out in a timely fashion.
Again, hence my last post…
That said, after watching a few video clips, most notably the one below, I am feeling much more relaxed and much happier. Why? Because, I am beginning to think that maybe Smiling Mike has done it again.
I’ll be the first to admit, Lane Kiffin wasn’t the number one name on my list—but make no mistake he was on it. Still, in the back of my mind I wondered “is Mike Hamilton rushing into things? I just don’t know if I would have been in such a rush.”
Then I remembered two key things:
- I picked the Auburn Tigers to win the SEC West and the Tennessee Volunteers to finish second in the SEC East this year; and
- Bruce Pearl.
Those two realizations gave me a moment of pause and suddenly gave me real confidence in the decision to hire Lane Kiffin as the head football coach at Tennessee.
The first point reminded me that I am a moron and that my skills as a prognosticator and student of college football are about as reliable as Eric Locke was as a receiver (or kick returner, or cheerleader, or ditch digger, or…). Furthermore, it reminded me that there is an awful lot of guesswork in the business or picking coaches. Which led me to point number two.[caption id="" align="alignright" width="271" caption="Smiling Mike dares you to make fun of his shirt"][/caption]
As I wrote some time ago while serving as a stand-in guest writer over at Joel’s venerable pillar of the Fifth Estate, on the day Bruce Pearl was introduced as Men’s Basketball coach the first thing I asked myself was “who the hell is Bruce Pearl?” Well, suffice it to say that I now know who Bruce Pearl is, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the basketball loving inhabitants of the country do now as well. The point is this: love him or hate him, over the last few years Mike Hamilton has shown an uncanny ability to find coaches about as well as anyone in the world of college sports, and as a result, I’m willing to trust his decision.
I think Hamilton has earned that.
Furthermore, what I have seen so far from Coach Kiffin (does kind of have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) has thoroughly impressed me. The video above was especially telling for me. Why? Because Kiffin does not talk about “the passion of Tennessee’s fans” or “the tradition they have here.” No, instead—about ten minutes after he was named head coach—he comments on “the passion of our fans” and “the tradition we have here.”
I know, I know, I’m sure the folks in the Sports Information office reminded him to project that message, but you know what, it seemed pretty sincere to me…
I realize taking “ownership” verbally is a small detail—one which can be overstated—but it impressed me. I honestly expected the typical “NFL-style” quasi-corporate speech about future, direction, and leadership. I expected his opening foray with the press to be far less personal than it was. Given my concerns that the “family” aspect of Tennessee football might fade away with the departure of the Great Punkin, this really did my heart good. It also made it clear that Coach Kiffin understands that we happy few, we band of brothers, who wear the Orange are sort of “into” that whole “Tradition” thing.
All I can say is that I first looked at the hiring of Coach Kiffin with a lot of hope and expectation, and a near equal amount of concern and reticence. After seeing how he has handled himself so far, it’s fair to say that I have been impressed.
Yeah, I’ve got me a great big pitcher of the proverbial Kool-Aid, and I’m chugging it down through a garden hose…
I guess that is why I felt led to say hello to Coach Kiffin visually—in the header here at the Gate—rather than simply saying “Oh, um, yeah we got us a coach.”
No matter what I may have thought about the past, I am pretty convinced that Coach Kiffin is the the right man to guide Tennessee into the future.
Which leads me to the seemingly inane title of this post.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of professional sports and while I typically follow the NFL playoffs in a limited sense, I can hardly be said to keep up with the league. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the end result is that I am often less than informed when it comes to the guys that play on Sunday. Thus, the only real understanding I had when it came to Coach Kiffin was that he had been fired as head coach of the Los Angeles … err … Oakland … Los Ang … Los Oaklesland Raiders mid-season. I didn’t really hold this against him, because I realize how fickle NFL owners can be. Furthermore, I hardly felt like I had enough background knowledge to really even understand why he was fired (I had to check just to confirm whether the Raiders were in Los Angeles or Oakland this year).
Still, I knew that something hadn’t worked out the way it had been planned…
Then, I stumbled upon this little jewel:
This video really confirmed a few things for me:
- Skeletor is real;
- The Raiders will never win much of anything until that nut-job of an owner they have gives it up;
- Anytime a coach is fired and respected journalists write things like this, it’s probably not the coach’s fault the team is sucking the tubes:
Al Davis’ once-proud franchise has won 19 games since appearing in the 2002 Super Bowl (or one more than the Patriots won in 2007) and better days seemed even more remote in January. That’s when the modest momentum built under new head coach Lane Kiffin in 2007 was flushed when it was learned Davis wanted Kiffin gone because Kiffin wanted to, ya know, coach the team…
- Coach Kiffin’s record as an NFL head coach is of little concern to me considering the situation he inherited; and
- Bea Arthur really should stop wearing those silly black leather jackets and sweatshirts when giving press conferences.
So, is Betty White currently the defensive coordinator for the Raiders, or is it one of the other Golden Girls?
Anyway, the point of this rambling post is simply to say, that I am thrilled to have Lane Kiffin on board as the newest member of the Tennessee family. So far, I have been amazingly impressed with the way he has jumped in headfirst at Tennessee. Most of all, however, I am happy with how he seems to really want be at Tennessee as opposed to simply biding his time.
Of course, I realize that he has not yet completed his first full week as head coach. Still, all I can say is that—so far—it seems like Smiling Mike Hamilton may have gotten it right…again!
Either way, Coach Kiffin, I mean it sincerely when I say “Welcome to the Family!”
Oh yeah, and, Go Vols!
Images Courtesy of: Knoxville News Sentinel • SA Blogs • BroadwayWorld.com • NBC Sports / Getty Images
Well, I just got my copy of Phil Steele’s 2008 SEC Football Preview Magazine, to go along with the "big" magazine -- which covers the entire landscape of college football -- that came out a month or so ago. Once again, Phil doesn’t disappoint.
All I can say is this: if you ever consider buying a single preview / analysis magazine for college football, make sure that Phil Steele’s is the one you buy...
Now, I’m not going to lie and say that Phil’s magazine is necessarily as "pretty" or even as easy to read as some of the other preview magazines out there, because it isn’t. Phil’s magazines, however, have more information, more breakdowns, more analysis, and more of everything that really matters in the world of college football, than any other publication available. If you want to see what Phil’s breakdowns are like, just visit his website. For more than a decade, Phil has consistently published the absolute best college football preview resource available anywhere. I don’t even look at the others anymore.
Even better, Phil’s magazines are very reasonably priced, and can be bought in bundles for a substantial discount from his website (all 5 regional magazines for only $29.95 with no shipping charges). They are also available at various bookstores, grocery chains, and other locations where magazines are sold across the country. No matter how you purchase one, they are -- in Phil’s words -- "jampacked with information," and if you buy any preview magazine, you get his NFL and Fantasy Football Guide for free, and he even pays the shipping.
So, if you are a fan of preview magazines or simply want to have a single resource which has pretty much all of the information you could possibly want on college football, check out Phil Steele’s publications. They simply are the best that can be had.
** Disclosure: While Gate 21 features a hyperlink to Phil Steele.com, neither this site, any parent companies, editors, nor webmasters receive any payment or other compensation of any type or kind in return such links. Furthermore, neither Gate 21 nor lawvol received any compensation for this review, which was neither requested nor solicited by Phil Steele Publications or Phil Steele.com. This "Shout Out" represents the actual opinion of the author (for what that is worth) and was in no way influenced by any other person.
Images Courtesy of: PhilSteele.com
Now that the NFL Draft has come and gone, we have truly enter the deepest, darkest, dankest, despicable, and moany other words starting with "d" time of the year. This is the lowest point of the off-season, and the point which pains my heart so.
More importantly, it is the time of the year during which I have a particularly difficult time coming up with things to say here on Gate 21 for all of you to ignore.
Thus, I plan on rolling out a little something new here in the next few days, and doing a few "retrospectives" until something of interest begins to come along.
Oh, the angst of not having anything to write about, it's enough to make you ... edgy
In the meantime, however, I am pleased to say that the Wise and All-knowing MoonDog and I have been working on a little something over at his joint, which will hopefully come screaming into existence shortly. In the meantime, feel free to slid on over to his world and sample the wares, if for no other reason than to say "Ahh, I remember back when..." like my parents, grandparents, and pretty much anyone more than two years older than me always did.
Uh, oh yeah, and congratulations to Jerrod Mayo, Brad Cottam, and Erik Ainge on being drafted by the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and the New York Jets respectively. Godspeed gentlemen. As for the rest of the 2007-08 Tennessee Vols, thank you for all that you gave to Orange Nation during your time around the Hill, and best wishes for the future.
Hopefully, something substantive in the near future...
Image Courtesy of: LOL Jocks
Sometimes, the Message Just Doesn't Come Across the Way I had Hoped...
Since I have been sucking at actually posting anything recently, I will pontificate vicariously! So, here's a few links from around the web worth giving a look...
- It's official, Tyler Smith is Staying at Tennessee -- UTSports.com • BruceBall Blog • Go VolsXtra • VolNation
- A Look at Erik Ainge's NFL Prospects (along with neato charts, numbers and a bunch 'o videos) -- Rocky Top Talk
- An excellent ranking of Isiah Thomas' Greatest Life Achievements and a Look at the Personal Lives of StormTroopers -- BugeHoobs
- Crimson Daddy asks "Who will be CBS' Other Love Interest this season?" -- 3rd Saturday in Blogtober
- A quick look at the 22 Worst Dunks Ever. I personally like this one:
- A poignant photo essay on Rosa Blasi (a/k/a eye candy), and The Pac Man is Heading to Dallas -- World According to MoonDog
- John Adams and Tom Mattingly get all misty eyed and reminiscent over the 10th Anniversary of the Vols last football National Championship (damn, has it been that long?) -- Go VolsXtra
- A Lesson on why no one wants to be the second pick in the NFL Draft -- Cake Rocks the Party
- That little red light on top of the camera, it means your on the air and Gus Johnson Just Singing the Night Away
-- NESW Sports
- A recruit breaks Florida's 2006 BCS Championship Trophy the BCS Trophy, that's so sad (snicker...) -- Go VolsXtra
- Yes, just what we need, more Bowl Games -- Get the Picture
- Finally, a few classic ESPN Bloopers ... going all the way back to 1979:
Lead Image Courtesy of: The Fail Blog
Once again the sports world is abuzz about the start of spring training, and yet another Major League Baseball season. Baseball has a long list of issues on its plate as the season gets rolling along. All of the off-season chatter has centered on the problems arising from the Mitchell Report, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Bud Selig, Brian McNamee, Bob Uecker, Pedro Cerrano, Ebby "Nuke" LaLoosh, Rick Vaughn, and Crash Davis. Those last five names actually have nothing to do with the controversy swirling in baseball, but I threw them in just for the hell of it -- after all, the more the merrier.
Anyway, I am sure that the powers that be in baseball simply cannot wait to get the 2008 season going so they can put all of this ugliness behind them -- "move on" as it were. There are only 2 problems with this line of thinking:
- The start of the 2008 season is not going to put the steroid issues that have been plastered all over the media for the last 6 months "behind" baseball, not even a little, and
- Even if it did cause millions of otherwise reasonably informed Americans to suddenly forget about a story that has been covered with more nauseating detail and intensity than the war in Iraq, that forgetfulness would only be the result of the fact that increasingly fewer people in this country give two shits about Major League Baseball anymore anyway.
I think baseball has a very tough road ahead of it...
The National Pastime
Since the 1800’s baseball has held the distinction of being "the American Pastime" and the confederation of teams making up the Major Leagues have always gone out of their way to remind everyone in the US of its regal status. Baseball was supposedly invented by Abner Doubleday in 1839, of course most people now accept this is a complete crock of unadulterated horseshit. Regardless of who actually invented the game, it was around a generation before the Civil War, and by the time of the war, some people were playing it. I say "some" because at that less-than-enlightened time in our nation’s history, I am pretty certain that a large majority of our country was most definitely not playing baseball because they were slaves, who generally were not allowed to have very much fun or play games.
Anyway, by the time we all stopped shooting at one another, and the aforementioned slaves were finally given their freedom, "everyone" realized that, with no one to try an kill, they really needed some way to blow off a little steam -- how about a nice game of baseball. Of course, "everyone" excludes a few small groups of people. Those living in quasi-urban South were probably not playing, because all of the industrial centers had been wrecked due to the South’s extremely naughty behavior in starting the war, and those folks were occupied rebuilding their cities. You can also rule out anyone living in the rural South because they were poor before the war, and even poorer after the war -- lacking the proverbial pot in which to relieve oneself. Thus baseball wasn’t really a priority for them. Midwesterners really hadn’t jumped on the baseball bandwagon all that much either because they were busy with ... "Midwestern" type things, like growing corn and trying to figure out why the land was so flat (and, at that point in time, even "if you built it," they would not come...). Those living in the west were equally spare in terms of baseball playing activity. There were only about 50 whites and newly freed slaves living in the "Wild West" at that time, and the Native Americans really didn’t have the time to field a team since they kept getting chased and shot at by those 50 whites and newly freed slaves, besides
Bank One Ball Park ... er ... Chase Field, hadn’t been built yet and it was just too damn hard to try and have a proper game with all of those infernal buffaloes running about mucking up the place.
Thus, "everyone" is really better defined as "people living in the State of New York, and a few up the way in Massachusetts"...
Thus, it really wasn’t until some time later that baseball began to be more widely played and watched by Americans. One thing you have to consider, however, is that the reason a lot of folks chose baseball as their preferred recreation was because there really weren’t a whole lot of other choices out there. I suppose if faced with the option of working all day in the field picking crops, getting kicked in the face by a mule, or baseball, then I’d choose baseball as well. After all, the great geniuses that brought us basketball and football hadn’t ... well ... gotten around to bringing us basketball and football, at least not in a recognizable form.
Still, by the turn of the turn of the century, baseball had become an extremely popular way to waste time. By that point professional teams were booming in a select number of big cities -- the genesis of the Major Leagues. Of course there were no teams in the West or in the South, because either there were no people there who cared (in the case of the former) or the people there were still just too damn poor to bother with (in the case of the latter). Nonetheless, colleges and other educational institutions were beginning to play the game, and it was assuming its place as the National Pastime. Thus, baseball pretty much had a monopoly on things.Then suddenly, people discovered some other ways to have fun ...
In the 1880’s, a guy named Walter Camp came along and changed everything. Camp was familiar with baseball, and liked parts of the game. He was once quoted as saying, "I like the fact that you get to use sticks in the game, but can’t understand why you can’t use those sticks to hit the other players." Okay, Camp never actually said that at all, but he should have. Camp was, however, interested in soccer and rugby. Ultimately, Camp decided that soccer was a silly game, required you to run way to much, and didn’t have enough violence to make it worth playing. Rugby, on the other hand, had plenty of wholesome violence, aggression, and teeth rattling contact, but -- as best Camp could figure -- had no rules or object, aside from breaking bones, bloodletting, and mayhem. While he believed that some of the students at Yale could use a little toughening up, he still felt there needed to be a purpose to the contest. Thus, he set about penciling some rules for a new American blend of soccer and rugby called "Football," which was far better than "Sucby."
Meanwhile, a YMCA instructor in Massachusetts by the name of James Naismith, came up with a game which his students seemed to like a lot. In 1892, he published the rules to this game, but -- deciding that the original name, "Duck on a Rock," was just too silly -- he changed it to "Basketball."
Of course, baseball had been around for over nearly three-quarters of a century, and had been fielding professional teams for nearly half a century. The first World Series -- obviously named by someone who thought the "world" ended just past the Mason-Dixon Line and the Mississippi River (or where you could find lots of beer, thus explaining Milwaukee and St. Louis) -- was held in 1903. As the American Pastime, Major League Baseball considered itself to be the only universal in the sports world, despite its concentration in one area of the country, and the fact that a huge part of the population -- namely those who weren't white -- were prevented from even attending the games. Football and basketball were still new, and baseball settled into a prolonged, and ego-inflating, era of dominance of the sports world.
Then, in the early part of the 20th century, a group of men got together at a car dealership in Canton, Ohio to figure out if football -- which had become a popular college game -- could be played professionally. After their meeting -- which was constantly interrupted by car salesmen getting coffee under the guise of having to "ask the sales manager about that..." -- the National Football League was formed. Despite having to compete with baseball in most markets -- with the notable exception of Green Bay, Wisconsin, for rather obvious reasons -- the NFL began to field teams for the paying fan. Later, immediately after World War II, another group of men formed the Basketball Association of America, which later merged with the National Basketball League to form the NBA. These "insignificant" little leagues were no competition for the grandeur that was Major League Baseball -- or so the baseball cognoscenti told themselves.Ahh, blissful ignorance... Fast forward to today, and the lay of the land has changed significantly.
The single most watched and attended (on a per game basis) sport is the NFL. College football comes close to baseball’s attendance -- largely due to the fact that truly every part of the country has their own teams, and does so by only playing about 7% of the number of games in the Major League Baseball season. Of course, when you play 162 games, it's easy to rack up big numbers. The NCAA Basketball Tournament, is now the most anticipated playoff series in any sport. Hell, at present, watching cars go really fast, turn left, and occasionally crash into one another -- NASCAR’s addition to the world of American sports -- is more popular than Major League Baseball. The powers that be in Major League Baseball, however are still convinced that they are the proverbial "cream of the crop" -- truly the American pastime.
The fact is that Major League Baseball attendance has been flagging for years. While there are a select few teams which are wildly successful on both the balance sheet and the box score, many of the teams are hardly the icons that MLB would like to believe. Aside from the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs, many of the teams in MLB, despite their fancy new stadiums, simply cannot compete with the NFL and college football and basketball.
It was once said that "Football was America’s passion, but Baseball is America’s pastime." That simply is no longer the case. Now, football is both America’s passion and its pastime. One need only look at the television ratings for the NFL playoffs to realize this to be true. In baseball, most people will only watch the World Series if their favorite team is playing. All sports fans watch the Super Bowl, and the Final Four. In completely concrete terms, the "product" being sold is better in these other leagues. Thus, despite what the baseball powers may want to tell themselves, they’ve been sucking hind tit for a while now.
Enter the Mitchell Report...
In 1987, the NFL began imposing penalties for the use of performance enhancing substances, and later imposed a random testing policy. Although former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle thought that the East German female athletes of the 1970’s were "hotties" with all their rippling muscles, deep voices, and beards, he felt that there was no place for whatever it was they were taking in the NFL. The NCAA, long a bastion of dictatorial rule, had outlawed the use of such substances before they even existed. Baseball on the other hand -- largely due to the demands of their players -- took the "What, me Worry?" stance, assuring the nation’s sports lovers that baseball players would never use performance-enhancing substances.
This is the most laughable and myopic act of intentional ignorance in the sports world since the University of Oklahoma hired Barry Switzer...
Finally, in 2002, baseball -- somewhat reluctantly -- banned the use of steroids, and imposed a penalty of a ten-game suspension for a violation of the policy. Wow, let’s not get too draconian there, I mean banning a player for 6% of the 162 game season is getting pretty tough. Yeah right. Under the NFL’s current policies, the first time a player tests positive for any of the banned substances, a four-game suspension is mandatory -- a quarter of the NFL season -- a second test failure results in an eight-game suspension, and a third in a twelve-game suspension. In the NBA, testing positive for steroids or performance-enhancing drugs results in a ten-game suspension (12% of the season) for a first offense, a twenty-five-game ban (30% of the season) for a second offense, a one-year suspension for a third test failure, and lifetime disqualification if they’re caught for a fourth time. Even the NHL has stiffer penalties, a first-time violation of the NHL’s drug policy earns a twenty-game suspension (24% of the season) without pay and mandatory participation in the league’s substance abuse program. A second failure carries a sixty-game suspension (73% of the season). In the NCAA, a violation of the drug use policy results in the player having doughnuts attached to every square inch of their body, and then being locked in a 6’ x 6’ room with Ralph Friedgen, Mark Mangino, and the Great Punkin.
What’s more, the NFL currently conducts 12,000 annual random drug tests of its players. The NBA and the NHL randomly test their players four and two times a season respectively.In baseball, the drug test policy went something like this:
Manager: So, umm ... I hate to hell to ask this, Roger, but ... uhh ... you takin’ any drugs? Roger Clemens: Hold on just a sec ... Manager: Uhh ... Roger, what in the unholy hell are you doing? You’ve got a bunch of syringes stuck in your ass! Roger Clemens: Oh, those? Oh, those are nothing... Manager: Damn-amighty ... that’s disgusting! I bet that hurts like hell. Roger Clemens: Nahh, after a while your ass goes numb. Manager: What in hell is it for? Roger Clemens: Umm ... err ... it’s for ... umm ... it’s a flu shot. Manager: You need eight of the sonsabitches? Roger Clemens: Well, you can never be too safe. Manager: So does that last you a while? Roger Clemens: Well, to be safe, I take them four times a week. My family has a real flu history. (cough cough) Manager: Oh, well, I guess that makes sense. So, anyway, Roger, ... uhh ... do you take drugs? Roger Clemens: No sir, not me. Not now, not ever, not eight doses four times a week. No sir, I’m clean. (flexing muscle) Clean as can be. (long pause) Manager: Okay! Works for me. Good talk, Roger...
The fact is that Major League Baseball’s refusal to address the issue until it was too late has put the league front and center in the public media. Furthermore, the long term refusal to take a stand on the issue fostered an environment where the use of such drugs was effectively condoned. As a result, it wasn’t just a select few on the fringe who were using, it was everyone -- even the big stars.
Baseball’s inability to police its league and its players willingness to do anything they can to win, has called into question the very ethics of the league, and forever changed the way most sports fans look at the game. No matter what the owners and league office officials may hope, the start of the new season is not going to cause people to forget about the Mitchell Report, steroids, Congressional hearings and the rest. Images of Brain McNamee shooting steroids into Roger Clemens’ ass and old beer cans filled with bloody syringes are not going to disappear overnight. The thought of Barry Bonds taking steroids via an IV bag in his back pocket during games, isn’t going to miraculously melt into the ether world. Debbie Clemens getting her steroid fix at Jose Canseco’s house during a kegger, is not going to up and vanish like a fart in the wind. The collective consciousness has a longer memory than that. In fact the whole sports world is grounded on memory and the past -- were it not, then we wouldn’t quote statistics as if they fell from the sky like manna from Heaven.
The fact is that Major League Baseball is damaged goods. It is a league which was already falling behind -- slipping into apathy -- and now there is a reason to affirmatively dislike the league. It’s a shame for all the players who didn’t dope up, for all the minor league players who don’t play just for the money, and for all the college, high school, and Little League players who just love playing the game. Be that as it may, baseball is no longer king -- and it hasn’t been for quite a while. Now, baseball is like the slimy step-brother that everyone keeps around -- because they are family -- who is always asking to borrow money, moving from disaster to disaster, and getting drunk at family gatherings. Now baseball is on the outside, looking in.
Baseball is in the process of reacting (as opposed to "acting") to the situation and will, I’m sure, impose the most stringent drug policy of all the leagues -- that’s what happens when you ignore a problem too long. The fact remains, however, that now they are convicts, and no one will trust them for a very long time. In the meantime, all the other sports will continue to occupy the minds and hearts of the nation, as baseball continues to slide. At some level it is sad. A game that was once at the forefront is now a secondary issue. Still, the league brought it on itself. By the same token, all the other leagues out there should be wary. They all have their own problems, issues, and they all have their "weak spot." Those other leagues and sports best learn from baseball, and not go down that path. Baseball was once lord of the sports world in the United States, and it fell -- its replacements can do the same. Hopefully, football and basketball will take heed and try to avoid baseball’s woes. If they don’t, then they are destined to follow. For now, Major League Baseball will do everything it can to patch itself up, and hope that the fans forget. Eventually, the fans will forgive, but they won’t be forgetting any time soon.In the meantime, the stadium is open, the popcorn is popping, the hot dogs are ready, but baseball is out...
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