What we’ve learned the last few weeks in sports…

Okay, I’m a pretty busy person, so I don’t really write down my thoughts (on sports) much anymore. I normally just verbalize them to anyone who’d listen, but I think it’s a good idea to jot these things down on this blog.

On today’s agenda: What we’ve learned the last few weeks in sports…

First off, I’m a total hypocrite. During the months when Antonio Brown was trying to get out of Pittsburgh – and even this past week when he was causing trouble with the Raiders after the Steelers granted his wish and dealt him away back in March – I wasn’t a fan of what he’s about.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always thought he’s a great player. The stats back that up. His performance on a yearly basis backs that up.

The first time I saw him live in action was when I visited Dayton in December 2014 and ventured out to Paul Brown Stadium to see the Bengals face the Steelers. And man, I was impressed by the Big Three – Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, and Le’Veon Bell. It seemed that on virtually every offensive play that afternoon, it was Brown or Bell making the catch or gaining the yards on the run. Those guys put on a display that day.

Of course, my feelings on Brown and Bell changed over time when they kept making headlines for the wrong reasons over the past couple of years.

Then, Brown had that Tweet (apparently about the Raiders), about how “the child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.” I thought, like, what the heck was wrong with this dude?

But when the news came that he’d agreed to terms with the New England Patriots, I did a complete 180 and thought, “WOW…” I mean, if you root for the Patriots as I do, then this signing makes New England the heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl. Think about it: with Brady, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, and now Antonio Brown? This team could go 19-0!!!

And so, when that YouTube video of Brown surfaced where he was running into the backyard and then calling his grandmother… I thought it was funny. REALLY funny.

There’s also the chatter among NFL executives – which we’ve all heard being talked about by insiders on various media platforms – that Brown and his agent had had discussions with the Patriots while he was a Raider and that Brown consulted with social media experts to figure out how to, essentially, force the Raiders to release him so New England could sign him.

Whatever. I just find it awesome that the Patriots were able to sign him. It just goes to show that I’m a hypocrite and change my mind about an athlete when he’s wearing the colors of a team I cheer for.

Of course, since the signing with New England, more AB drama has surfaced in the form of a civil suit against him by a former trainer. Since I have no knowledge about that situation, I will refrain from commenting. But I do find the timing of this rather odd. The trainer is getting married, apparently, and… well, we’ll just have to see how this plays out.


And then, AB wasn’t the only wide receiver making headlines for the wrong reasons.

In Cleveland, the Browns just got clobbered in Week 1 by the Titans, and there was Odell Beckham Jr. wanting to play by his own rules.

I would think that there are many football fans out there who want to see the Browns fail once again this season. Instead of focusing on winning, there is the star wide receiver focusing on his watch. Okay. Got it. Way to go bringing attention to yourself for the wrong reasons.


Athletes being disgruntled – and making the headlines… isn’t just a football thing. In New York, the Mets have been dysfunctional, to say the least. And one of their star pitchers, apparently, was “livid” this past week.

Well, I’ve never been on a big-league mound. But my thoughts are that if you’re a pro, you can adjust and work with a different catcher. After all, the team is trying to get its best lineup offensively to try and win games. But I digress.


Speaking of New York, what else did we learn on Sunday?

The Jets are back to being the Jets, blowing a 16-0 lead to lose to the Buffalo Bills 17-16. And way to go, Adam Gase, being way too critical of his wide receivers, offensive line, cornerbacks, and defense.

I wonder how long before the players get tired of Gase’s act in that locker room. It’s only one game, and the head coach is losing control. Only with the Jets.

And there was even a quote that he gave, which tells you all you need to know: “That’s the beauty part of being the head coach – I can basically do what I want” (via Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer on ESPN.com).

So, after Week One in the NFL, we know this: The Jets are the same old Jets. The Browns are the same old Browns.


One more thought: Good thing the Saints won on Monday night to start the season 1-0. There was some crazy stat that they had been a combined 1-9 in Weeks One and Two over the previous five seasons.

I want the Saints to do well. I’ve been hoping for a Saints-Patriots Super Bowl for many years because of Drew Brees and Tom Brady, and we were denied that matchup last season. And, the window is closing in terms of having both teams being legit contenders at the same time.

I say good thing the Saints won, because on that team, it seems like there’s yet another receiver who’s a diva.

Why should Michael Thomas go out of his way to comment on the Antonio Brown/Raiders situation when he should have been preparing for the Monday Night tilt against Houston? Just because he didn’t respect Raiders GM Mike Mayock?

Well, I would think – and hope – that head coach Sean Payton and his coaching staff would rather Thomas not comment on matters that aren’t about the Saints. But that’s just me.

And, to finish this post off, here’s that aforementioned AB video that just cracked me up:

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NFL: Donovan McNabb shouldn’t be criticized for giving his honest assessment…

There was some controversy in Philadelphia over the weekend when former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb opined on CBS Radio on Saturday that the franchise should consider drafting another quarterback if Carson Wentz couldn’t lead the team past the second round of the playoffs in the next two seasons.

Of course, in this day and age of social media, McNabb’s take drew criticism from others, including eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson on Twitter. Johnson then went on a radio station on Sunday to call out McNabb and other former Eagles players for criticizing current players on the team.

Now, I have to say that I don’t blame McNabb for giving his honest opinion and insights. McNabb, after all, guided the Eagles franchise to seven playoff appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl following the 2004 season. He was a proven winner in Philadelphia and in the NFL, and the fact that he played in the league for as long as he did certainly proves that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to evaluating what he sees.

I mean, what he sees on the field would be valuable analysis – that’s precisely why networks bring in former players to do commentary.

It’s better than an athlete being a homer and with Donovan McNabb being asked a question on a radio show, he gave his honest assessment and shouldn’t be criticized for that.

I remember early in the 2018 season when poor place-kicking cost the Minnesota Vikings a game, and ex-Vikings great Cris Carter was on television passionately saying the kicker needed to be cut right away. That emotion probably stemmed from Carter’s own experience in the 1998 season when his 15-1 Vikings lost the NFC championship game after Gary Anderson missed what would have been an insurance field-goal attempt late in regulation.

That would not be what I would like to see or hear from an analyst when it comes to sports takes, having emotion cloud his judgement.

But that’s just how I see it – so shame on those who criticized Donovan McNabb over the weekend.

A big problem in our society: Parents and Schools encouraging kids to “hate”

Instead of encouraging children to be positive and have a good attitude, some parents and schools are apparently doing the opposite.

In the story about a 10-year-old winning his science fair by proving New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “cheated,” the boy stated that he hated Brady and said the future Hall of Fame QB didn’t deserve his money. “Gimme some of your money; you don’t deserve it,” the boy was quoted as saying in the story.

Wow. Give me a break. I’m guessing the parents encouraged him to do this science project knowing he hated the quarterback. “Hate” is always a strong word, but if parents are okay with 10-year-olds expressing hate, our society will have a big problem.

The school should be ashamed for allowing him to win. The boy hates Brady, so can his scientific findings be reliable when he has so much bias? And the fact he was allowed to win when he has hatred is just inappropriate.

Think about this: If we are encouraging kids to be biased in their research – which clearly is the case here – what does that tell us about the results of the research? It will likely be twisted to suit the “hater’s” agenda.

Finally, the comment about giving “some of your money; you don’t deserve it”: So, what makes the kid thinks he deserves that money? Just because he used his bias to cook up a biased research project? Or, just because he hates Tom Brady? Where is the logic in that?

The bottom line is this is a good example of poor parenting and a bad job by the school.

Welcome to the society and world we live in.

And once again, how about those so-called experts…

Well, I remember after Week 2 of the NFL season, all those so-called experts thought that the Pittsburgh Steelers, 0-1-1 at the time, were done. Now, after Sunday’s comeback win over Jacksonville, Pittsburgh is the No. 2 seed in the AFC….

I still like New England in the AFC, and hope that it will be a Patriots-Saints Super Bowl and we’ll get to see Brady vs. Brees… but we shall see.

And speaking of those Saints, they lost the season opener to Tampa Bay, and now haven’t lost since, winning nine straight. And kudos to those who said that “Fitz Magic” – the superb play of Ryan Fitzpatrick – wouldn’t last. That one, I think, was an obvious one, and he’s struggled over the past few weeks. I mean, remember when Buffalo gave him that big contract all those years ago after he’d led the Bills to a winning record in the first half of the season? As I keep telling everyone, for those on the band wagon of a surprise team that starts out on fire, there’s always a second half of the season to play…

And the Dallas Cowboys… it seems a LOT of people in the media want them to fail. A few weeks ago, they were “dead” after losing to the Houston Texans in overtime. Now, they’re a game back of first-place Washington, with the two teams playing on Thanksgiving Thursday with the division on the line. Alex Smith, hurt on Sunday, is done for the season. Colt McCoy is in for the Redskins… that means Dallas has a shot.

I still think the Redskins can pull it off, and then if they go on to beat Philadelphia 11 days after that, they would have eight wins, which would essentially wrap up the NFC East … seeing that Dallas would be too far back and have no tie-breaker…

But man, the Cowboys are still in it. You know that the “haters” in the media will say this week that Dallas will find a way to choke… Fun times!

Things we saw in October…

The NFL is a week-to-week thing… every week has a new narrative. Remember how after the first two weeks of the 2018 season, when Pittsburgh began 0-1-1? Many of those analysts were predicting gloom and doom for the Steelers. Well, going into their huge AFC North matchup today in Baltimore, the Steelers are sitting atop the division at 4-2-1, just ahead of Cincinnati (5-3).

The Browns, who at 2-5-1 are at the bottom of the division, are who we thought they were…

Speaking of slow starts, wow – the Lakers’ Magic Johnson makes George Steinbrenner look like a saint… With the Lakers beginning slowly at 2-5, Johnson has apparently lost patience with coach Luke Walton. I mean, c’mon, the Lakers aren’t expected to be legitimate contenders and it’s early in the season….  Yes, I saw Magic play during his NBA career, but as an executive or fan, he’s not that great. He was the one cheering for Mike D’Antoni to be fired from the Lakers years earlier, wasn’t he? That’s exactly my point. Magic was a great player, but as an observer/fan/executive, he strikes me as a guy who just isn’t patient.

Ahhh.. Steve Pearce. World Series MVP. I’m sure throughout the summer, the buzz in Toronto (and the rest of Canada where Blue Jays fans reside) was something like, “What can the Blue Jays get for Josh Donaldson?” and “Donaldson will make a contending team a winner,” etc.

I was on TSN1040 during the summer, suggesting that teams that win the World Series, traditionally, have had under-the-radar pickups more often than those big mid-season acquisitions. For 2018, I was looking at Tyler Clippard, John Axford, Seunghwan Oh, etc. as possible difference makers. Maybe even a guy like Curtis Granderson. Okay, I was wrong. It turned out the biggest difference maker was Steve Pearce!! He had a hot few games and wound up helping the Red Sox win the World Series.

Man, it must be painful for those Blue Jays fans… they must have been rooting for Cleveland, with Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion being the two former Jays in the Indians lineup. Instead, it was David Price (who failed to deliver in the playoffs for Toronto) and Steve Pearce with their AL East rivals!!

Again, don’t trade within the division (ie. Toronto trading Pearce to Boston). It might make your fans cry in October…

Anytime someone brings up the need for a team to pick up a big name at the trade deadline to put itself over the top, I will just bring up two words. Steve Pearce.

Back to the NFL – an intriguing matchup on Sunday night with Green Bay vs. New England. Hours before that, Rams vs. Saints in what could be a potential NFC Championship Game matchup. The dream matchup would be a Patriots-Saints Super Bowl. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

World Series thoughts…

Game One of the 2018 World Series reminds me of the 2014 Series opener in Boston, when the Red Sox had a huge lead early but the Cardinals came back and knocked out Tim Wakefield – but the Bosox proved to be too much offensively, winning that game 11-9 in the late innings.

Those Red Sox went on to sweep the Cardinals in four straight, not trailing in any of the games.

Might we see the same script this year?

And…. the Dodgers making it back for the second year in a row…. Well, traditionally, teams that make it back to the final round after losing in recent years have done well. The notable exceptions, of course, were the Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s (four straight Super Bowl defeats) and the Atlanta Braves (in 1992 after losing in 1991).

Then, the Bruins, whom I rooted for in my youth. They were swept in 1988 by the Oilers, and then fared no better in losing to Edmonton again in five games in 1990.

Other teams seemed to have learned their lessons, and some in fact had a shot at the same teams. For instance, the 1989 Flames beat Montreal in the Finals three years after losing to the same Habs in the final round. The 1987 Flyers at least took Edmonton to a seventh game (before losing 3-1), two years after being humiliated by those same Oilers in five.

Of course, you don’t need to have made it to the final round in past years to break through. The 1996 Yankees won the World Series against Atlanta, one year after a heartbreaking loss in the division series versus Seattle. That kickstarted a dynasty for the Yankees.

The 2018 Dodgers? Having lost Game Seven in 2017 to Houston, you figure the Dodgers would win it all this year. But Boston’s offense is too strong, and I have to still say Red Sox in four.


Yes, the Dodgers-Red Sox matchup in the World Series is the first since the 1916 Classic where the Brooklyn Robins faced Babe Ruth’s Red Sox. It’d been more than 100 years since the two franchises met in the Series!

One matchup that I’ve been looking forward to – and predicting every year since 2010 – but never coming true… Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. It was close in 2011, when Brees’s 13-3 Saints somehow lost a tie-breaker to 13-3 San Francisco, and New Orleans had the No. 3 seed. The Saints lost to Alex Smith in the divisional round… and the 49ers lost to the New York Giants, and we know what happened next…

And last year it was close… Hopefully, it will happen this season.

Also, talk about gutsy in the NFL over the weekend. The Tennessee Titans decided to go for two in London against the Los Angeles Chargers with under 30 seconds left instead of the game-tying PAT. Going for two to win the game – as opposed to settling for the tie to force OT – has been discussed in the media as being a good strategy. But I was surprised to see them pass it for the two-point conversion instead of trying to run it in.

QB Marcus Mariota could have run it in. Or have RB Dion Lewis, who’d had a terrific 36-yard run during that scoring drive that took the Titans from their own territory into Chargers territory.

It’s good to see QB Philip Rivers and his Chargers improve to 5-2. He’s played for some bad Charger teams in recent years. Hopefully, he can get the Chargers into the playoffs and knock off somebody like Kansas City (before losing to New England, of course).

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And the New York Giants – on Monday Night Football – going for two with under five minutes remaining and down by eight. Yikes. That one didn’t work out – and anyway, the Falcons added a late field goal. But coaches are getting gutsy going for two in clutch situations.

Playoff Controversies: MLB postseason 2018 edition

Two weeks ago on TSN1040, I mentioned that it’s possible – perhaps not likely – but certainly possible that a manager on a playoff team could get fired if his team performs poorly in the postseason.

We’ve seen it before with Grady Little, most notably, being let go after his 2003 Red Sox blew a Game Seven lead at Yankee Stadium in the ALCS. In 2017, it was Joe Girardi who was heavily criticized in Game Two of the ALDS after he failed to challenge a hit-by-pitch call that changed the momentum of the game against Cleveland. (The Yankees fell 2-0 but stormed back to win the next three and moved into the ALCS, where they lost to Houston in seven.)

Let’s look at this year. Again, I’m not saying anyone deserves to be fired or should be fired. I’m not predicting that they will. But look at how the Indians again went out in the first round. And the way they did it this time around – getting swept 3-0 by Houston and getting blown out in the finale – does at least deserve the question to be asked.

Tonight is the fourth game of the Yankees-Red Sox ALDS. And what happened on Monday night at Yankee Stadium? New York lost 16-1 and there was controversy about Luis Severino’s warmups. Two former players (now broadcasters) raised questions about Severino not having enough time to warm up prior to the game. Now, this is New York, where fans expect the Yankees to win the World Series every year. To lose a big game like that – the worst loss in Yankees postseason history – and to have such a controversy… don’t you at least raise the question about who might lose his or their jobs?

So, going to the playoffs doesn’t mean people’s jobs are safe. You have to go out and be ready, be competitive, and basically win.

Just my two cents.


Ahhh… playoff baseball. Boston, as of now, is ahead 2-1 in the Division Series and now people are saying the Yankees are done.

Interestingly, when David Price struggled for the Red Sox in Game Two, people were saying the Red Sox were dead.

It just goes to show how momentum changes in a short series like that, often from game to game. …


And, speaking of managers losing their jobs… Jason Garrett has been heavily criticized for the decision to punt on 4th-and-1 in overtime on the Houston 42-yard line. I mean, this is what I’ve been talking about… People could lose jobs over decisions that are regarded as the “wrong” ones in big games.

Speaking of big games, what a big night for Drew Brees. He has been such a class act. Breaking the all-time passing yards record on Monday Night Football… Unfortunately, there are analysts who refuse to put Brees on their list of Top 5 QBs of all-time, citing the fact that he has never been regarded as the top signal caller of his era the way other top guys have been or were.

But Brees has definitely been one of the best and what a great NFL moment on Monday night…