Monday, July 7, 2014

Quick Take -- If LeBron wants a Cleveland Cavs re-do, it must happen now

One popular thought on LeBron James’ career path has the world’s greatest basketball player re-signing with the Miami Heat this offseason and ultimately returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers before his career ends.

But if LeBron truly hopes to patch up his fractured relationship with the city of Cleveland, that storyline isn’t good enough.

James must sign with the Cavs NOW if he really wants to mend post-Decision fences in his native Ohio.

Most Cleveland fans likely wouldn’t care much for James returning home on the backend of his career. 

For a city that hasn’t enjoyed a major championship since the Cleveland Browns won the NFL crown in 1964, an NBA title likely would erase any ill will aimed at James and even make the Akron native Cleveland’s favorite son.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Today's Topics: Luis Suarez, LeBron James

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So what should the punishment be for Uruguay's Luis Suarez after biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday's World Cup action?

At the very least, Suarez should be suspended for the remainder of this World Cup.

Considering it was Suarez's third biting offense overall, I'd have no problem if FIFA permanently banned the player from futbol competition. You know the ol' soccer saying: Three bites, and you're out!

Sink your teeth into that, Luis.

LeBron James said he would opt out of his Miami Heat contract on Tuesday. 

Was that news? Of course, but not unexpected.

Bigger headlines will be made if teammates Dwyane Wade and/or Chris Bosh don't follow suit. 

The Big Three figure to sacrifice money short-term for more years -- that would create financial flexibility for Pat "I'm Pissed" Riley to improve the supporting cast.

Are LeBron's talents guaranteed to return to South Beach? No.  He will, and should, explore all options.

Is James' return likely? Probably ... which is less than definite. :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Today's Topics: U.S. men's soccer, Tiger Woods returns, Pat Riley pissed

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Every four years, I'm reminded just how many soccer experts we have in this country. :)

And I get that people need to assign blame on U.S. men's soccer team members for allowing Portugal to score a tying goal in the final seconds on Sunday. Much of the criticism fell on Michael Bradley for his turnover, which led to the tally.

But what about Portugal's first goal? That was a pretty weak clearing attempt by Geoff Cameron.

After seven World Cups and much ESPN coverage telling us how important the sport is, soccer certainly is enjoying all-time reach in the U.S. It's cool to see people filling sports bars and city venues to root for the national team.

Soccer, however, won't fully arrive until people care about it between World Cups. That might take another 20 years, but don't be surprised if one day the world's sport is among the Top Four in the ever-increasing melting pot that is America.

Not a big Tiger Woods' fan, but obviously his return to competition is a major boost to golf and the sport's media.

At 38 and assuming he's at relative full health, Tiger should be a weekly tournament contender and add another major or two to his collection in the next five years. But I'd be surprised if Woods ever dominated the game as he once did. Age and a all-time tough competitive field of opponents will see to that.

Pat "I'm Pissed" Riley was on point with his message to LeBron James, other Heat players and anybody else thinking Miami's best days are in the past. (Even despite reminders of Pat the Rat's faxing out of of his job with the Knicks, Riley's words hit nothing but net.)

Sure, Riley needs to revamp the Big Three's supporting cast. But he has earned the benefit of the doubt -- he knows what he's doing. Plus,  the road to the NBA Finals should be a bit easier in the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future.

Talented teams don't win every year. Great ones use defeat and adversity as motivation to get better and win another title.

An 11-year-old girl named Luci Li qualifies for and plays in the U.S. Women’s Open. A cute story, but something’s wrong with that.

I really don’t care how mature Li is for her age, or how vast her golf knowledge, or how well she plays the game. A giggling kid with braces and pigtails should be finishing up sixth grade preparing to enjoy a fun summer with friends and family.

The U.S. Patent Office's cancelation of Washington Redskins’ trademarks -- because the team’s nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" -- does little in itself.

But it officially started the clock on owner Daniel Snyder and the NFL. The name ultimately will change. It's just a matter of when.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A compromise for the 'belly putter'

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Golf's "belly putter" discussion is getting out of hand, especially when current users are being called "cheaters."

The United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club announced in November they were planning to prohibit players from using "belly putters" because they are pressed against the body (chest or stomach) for stability. The USGA said it would allow 90 days for comments before putting the ban into effect for 2016.

The PGA Tour recently announced it was against the ban because there was no evidence "belly putters" offered an advantage.

Speaking before this week's Honda Classic, Keegan Bradley said he resents being called "a cheater" for using a "belly putter."

But Bradley is not a cheater, at least not yet -- the "belly putter" currently is allowed.

"Belly putter" opponents, however,  are correct when they say every golf club should be used in a swing, with no anchoring involved.

The solution?

Since the USGA and R&A waited too long to make a decision on the long putters, all golfers currently playing on professional tours and/or USGA and R&A sanctioned events should be allowed to continue putting the way they have.

Going forward, "belly putters" should be banned entirely for pros and competitive amateurs.

If weekend hackers want to use "belly putters," fine. After all, some of them ... us? ...  regularly take a few extra Mulligans or kick a ball to a better lie. For those players, the game should be fun.

For the pros and competitive amateurs, fairly or unfairly, it’s up to them to maintain the integrity of the sport.

Of course, I'm also against football quarterbacks and receivers wearing gloves. But that's for another blog.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

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Item: Marlins trade Reyes, Johnson, Buerhle, Bonifacio, Buck to Toronto

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria says the trade is not a fire sale.

Many South Florida fans are angry they’ve been lied to.

A couple of things …

Loria was not the owner when the ’97 World Championship team was dismantled. Not exonerating him, just stating fact.

The Marlins-Jays trade ultimately could be a wash or even a Miami positive when it's examined a few years down the road.

But …

Loria and team president David Samson found a group of politicians who agreed to publicly fund a new stadium in Miami.

The Marlins also have benefitted financially from MLB’s revenue sharing.

So, when Loria & Co. threw around money last winter, optimistic Marlins fans believed the small-market mentality was gone for good. Ha.

Skeptics – even those, like me, who hoped things had changed – knew the team’s dysfunctional track record (owner involvement, management obsession with controlling every message) remained prevalent.

The big spending lasted one year. Sure, the season produced an embarrassing last-place finish, but it didn't warrant a 180.

At worst, Loria and Samson are greedy liars. At best, they are arrogant, ignorant and clueless.

Either way, the Marlins fan base has a right to be livid.

Item: Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame all undefeated 

Just a few weeks remain in the 2012 season, but as the saying goes, there’s still a lot of football yet to be played.

All three unbeaten teams have at least one game in which it wouldn’t be a total shock they lost.

Notre Dame losing at Southern Cal would be the least-surprising "upset." I think Oregon and Kansas State will sail through to the BCS game.  

I’ve said for years, any major college team that goes unbeaten has a right to claim a share of the national championship. I buy into the notion a team only can beat the opponents on its schedule.

No system is perfect. The BCS game is better than we had previously, and future changes should limit the griping by title also-rans even more.

I also understand that in some years, the national champion isn’t always the best team.

Just like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which decides a winner. That’s different than determining the country’s best.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Today's Topic: Girardi & A-Rod

A manager pinch hits for a right-handed batter hitting .083 in the series for a lefty swinger and the move is being called "gutsy," "ballsy" … "took a lot of courage."


The only reason such praise is being heaped on Yankees manager Joe Girardi this morning are:
  • The move to pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez risked pissing off A-Rod.
  •  If pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez didn't contribute to a rally, Girardi would haven been raked  over by the media. (Ibanez, of course, did more than contribute. He hit tying and game-winning HRs in a 3-2 victory against Baltimore in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.)

Fact is, the word that best describes Girardi’s move is this: smart.

Girardi wasn’t risking losing A-Rod -- the star has been lost for a while.  He was 1-for-12 with 7 Ks in the series when Ibanez hit for him.

Rodriguez might prove to be a very productive player for a couple more years, but his annual enhanced stats are a thing of the past.

To his credit, A-Rod said all the right things after the game, how he loves Girardi and it's all about the team. But you know his pride took a hit.

In Ibanez, Girardi had a guy who already had produced big hits in recent weeks.  He hit a two-run homer in the 13th during an eventual 14th-inning win against Oakland on Sept. 22;  and a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth during a 4-3 win in 12 innings vs. Boston on Oct. 2.

Girardi's decision to pinch hit for A-Rod wasn't courageous. It was smart.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Today's Topics: Melky, Cam

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San Francisco Giants OF Melky Cabrera, serving a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test, has disqualified himself from the National League batting race.

Cabrera's .346 average this season currently leads the league.

While it's hard to refuse Cabrera's gesture, a player should not be able to remove himself from contending for an individual honor. The league or Commissioner's office should have the guts to make such a call.

As stated here in the previous post – a player who tests positive for an illegal drug should have his statistics erased for the year in which he tested positive. 

If a player does not test positive, no matter what rumors or beliefs exist, that player's stats should remain official.

Superman turns into Clark Kent

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton clearly needs to grow up.

With his team trailing the N.Y. Giants 23-0, Newton scored a TD with 6:25 left in the third quarter. He then stood in the end zone and imitated Clark Kent ripping his shirt to display the Superman logo.

Lesson No 1: When you and your team are getting your asses whipped, nobody's going to believe you have anything in common with Superman.

During and after the 36-7 loss -- in which he threw 3 INTs -- Newton displayed total dejection. 

In fact, receiver Steve Smith criticized Newton for his demeanor.

During his postgame media conference, Newton said the Giants had nothing to do with Carolina losing -- it was all lack of execution by the Panthers.

Lesson No. 2: Winning NFL quarterbacks stand tall in victory and defeat. They don't blame teammates (are you listening Jay Cutler?) and they don't act like a First Grader who had his lunch stolen.

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