Home About Contact The Show Show Archives Press Columns THE FICTITIOUS WORLD OF DAN LE BATARD July 19, 2019 By DINO COSTA You’ll need to forgive me for being a little bit confused these days. There was a time in my on-air career when it seemed that I was alone inpointing out the failings and the irresponsible decisions of NFLCommissioner Roger Goodell. I was told by some in the business (no namesas I seek to protect the embarrassed) to stop doing this because afterall, I was as wrong as could be, Goodell at the time was near-universallyloved, and my forecasts for NFL problems on the horizon back then (2010)was considered silly and so utterly contrarian. Now, 9-years later, the bash Roger Goodell line stretches from one end ofthe country to the other with people who almost seem to make a livingcriticizing the NFL Commish. Things change, I guess? Did I already mention the year 2010? It was during that time that our country was led by one of the mostpolarizing and divisive (some would say one the worst) President’s ourcountry has ever known, his last name was Obama. Because my shows have always been issues-oriented (I’m an issues-based guyand I do an issues-based show) and because over the last 10-years we haveseen such an inundation of political and societal elements being introducedwithin the world of sports, it seems that those whose primary function isto talk or write about the sports world also has these people turning andcommenting more and more on the political theatre of the day withconsistency. Now back then, Obama came into the narrative on my national shows onlyevery now and again. After all, he was driving policy in the country, hehimself would sometimes talk about sports, he was one of ESPN’s favoritepeople, and sometimes, he would say things that had nothing to do withsports, but it would compel me to comment on it briefly anyway. But my attention paid to this former President was few and far between, andstraight political commentary on my shows back then wasn’t very often. Themajority of times political or societal talking points came up on my showsthey were almost always done because of a direct or a semi-directconnection to something that was going on within the sports digest. One other major difference between my perspective on that former Presidentas compared to how so many feel today about this current President may befound in the fact that although I despised our country being led by Obamaat the time, unlike the unhinged individuals we have in our midst thesedays, it never consumed me daily. In other words, Obama as the Presidentnever dominated my thoughts, and my own negative feelings about the man, myjaundiced views concerning his position as the leader of the free worldnever compelled me to abuse others or to mistreat them based upon theirfavorable feelings about #44. An Obama obsession? No, I was never afflictedwith such a thing. Sometimes people would phone into my show from all points across thecountry asking me to stop commenting about something Obama said or did,because, after all, I hosted a show that commented on sports, and Obamawasn’t sports. Of course, what they meant to tell me, but never did, was that my views onthe former President hurt their feelings, and they’d rather I not sayanything about the man if it wasn’t something that harmonized with theirown cheeky feelings about #44. What they also failed to tell me was that if I postured as someone whoviewed the man favorably, then in their eyes, I had carte blanche to preachon all day and all night long about him, as under that hypothetical, theywouldn’t be able to get enough of my positive impressions about Obama. How many times over the last almost 3-years have you stopped, lookedaround, and considered what absurd and misguided times we’re now living in?To say that the wheels have completely come off and that thought processeshave become counterfactual to what reality would suggest is only the tip ofthe iceberg, right? Preposterous and deceitful lines of propaganda are routinely dispatched asfactual representations across a broad spectrum of affairs, and simply put,I’m afraid that people have lost their minds in our country like neverbefore in American recorded history. Consider that our country is seriously being compared with the Third Reichby many and the current sitting President is compared with Adolf Hitler.And what’s even scarier is when you recognize that those who think in theseways are actually genuine with these insane feelings. “America. Love it or leave it.” This expression is something new? I won’t speak for you, but I first started hearing this line when I wasabout 10-years old. As you all know, Donald Trump, recently told a few congresswomen who haveshown in word and deed that not only do they dislike America – but inaddition – they dislike Jewish people, and Trump suggested to thesepoliticians that if they don’t enjoy being in the greatest country in theworld, that they could leave and never come back and it would be fine byhim. Of course, people lost their shit over these words…then again, those whohold Trump in contempt are triggered by such innocent news that he woke uptoday and is still alive and breathing. That’s a bad day for the hate-Trumpcrowd. Yeah, Trump pisses me off too, but for far different reasons. On a scale of1-10, so far, as someone who voted for him, I’d give his Presidency no morethan a 5. I still believe that as compared to the alternatives, Trump is amuch better option, but lest anyone believe I’m a Trump sycophant, you’llneed to think again. Here is what this so far very average President tweeted just the other day:“So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, whooriginally came from countries whose governments are a complete and totalcatastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (ifthey even have a functioning government at all), now loudly it is done.These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m surethat Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travelarrangements!” Trump was speaking most specifically about congresswomen Ihan Omar ofMinnesota. Now, do tell, is Omar progressive democrat congresswomen? Yes. Does she hail from a country laden with all kinds of corruption? Yes. Does she speak with a venomous streak which would make any rational personthink that she hates America and wishes to fundamentally change ourcountry? Can there be any doubt? Of course, Trump’s message to Ihan Omar, factual as it was, provided justthe kind of red meat that his detractors were so quick to pounce on andthat utterly predictable word was quickly and enthusiastically thrown outthere in an instant, yes, what Trump said was; RACIST! The left’s default position for the last few years now has been to quicklylabel anyone who disagrees with them, or, for anyone who has the brass tohave a mind of their own, such people are reflexively affixed with the word;‘racist.’ Yes, today, seemingly everyone is a racist…or a bigot…or anintolerant…or a sexist…or a homophobe…or a misogynist…or, fill inthe blank. Which now leads me to a man who is the walking and talking embodiment ofmodern-day ‘wokeness’ in America; Dan Le Batard, he of ESPN Radio. On his radio show just yesterday, Dan made big news that has the rest ofthe uber-liberal, Trump-hating, sports media, awash in ecstasy based on LeBatard’s ‘courageous’ commentary concerning some in the crowd at a Trumprally in North Carolina the other night chanting; “send her back, send herback.” Of course, Dan thought this was racist, and he surmised that those in thecrowd chanting these words were doing so not because those people in thecrowd feel that Ihan Omar is an American-hating politician who comes fromanother country and arrogantly dictates her views to native-bornAmericans. No, Dan is convinced that those chanting in the crowd at theTrump rally were saying those things because of Omar’s skin color andIslamic religion. Said Le Batard; “It is so wrong what the president of our country isdoing, trying to get re-elected by diving the masses at a time when the oldwhite man, an old white man feels oppressed, being attacked by minorities,black people, brown people, women. That’s who we’re going after now.” The “old white man?” Even if you disagreed with the chant, is it so hard for anyone who is anactual patriotic American to understand the sentiment being expressed? And is Dan actually accusing the President of playing the identity politicsgame? Was this President taking copious notes on perfecting that craft likethe President before him so often did? Dan Le Batard is one of many who loves to employ selective outrage as wellas a stunning case of amnesia that he should have someone take a look atfor him. Racial division, Dan? I have no doubt that Dan Le Batard would disagree with me when I’ll makethe claim that during the 8-years of the Obama Presidency, hisadministration left this country weaker and more racially polarized than Icould ever remember it. So, Dan Le Batard wishes to introduce race into the narrative? Okay, let’s play along. The incredible consistency in which Obama would go on and on about howAmerica was an inherently racist country with a biased judicial andlaw-enforcement system, never did any previous President cite race as oftenas Obama did, and there’s no question in my mind that his 8-years in theWhite House rekindled racial divisions in our country that had beensteadily disappearing in American society up to that point in time. No previous administration accentuated identity politics for politicalpurposes more so than Obama did in an effort to gain votes while ratchetingup the racial heat in America along the way. Does Dan Le Batard want to preach to people about racial relations? Howmany times during his national ESPN Radio program did Dan Le Batard evermention polls like this one where people across America weighed in on Obamabeing much more of a divider – than a uniter?http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/social_issues/60_say_race_relations_have_gotten_worse_since_obama_s_election Dan Le Batard often cites his Cuban background, right? As a Latin-American,is Le Batard ignorant to the facts that clearly show that Latin-Americanpeople across the country are working in more jobs with record unemploymentfor this specific sector than at any point in recorded history? Did Dan LeBatard see those same numbers under the previous guy in office? Additionally, how many times did anyone hear Le Batard speak about theObama administration’s record of lionizing the inhumane Castro-led regimein Cuba, paying it, and the man himself homage time and again? Obama proudly stated numerous times of a “new chapter” with the Cubanpeople. Then, once Obama introduced “normalization”, arrests of Cubanpolitical dissidents escalated to the point where more than 9,000 politicalarrests occurred under Obama’s watch. What’s that, Dan? Obama sent millions of dollars to Cuba under the dictator’s watch, gaveCuba diplomatic recognition without any conditions to speak of and withoutnot a single requirement that the human rights atrocities enacted fordecades by the brutal regime come to an end. When Castro finally died, there were parties in the streets of LittleHavana down in Miami, which was in stark contrast to Obama’s failure tostand for freedom in Cuba – and for those people who were truly oppressed. What’s that, Dan? Can you please send me the tapes of that particularprogram where you feigned disgust and contempt for this situation underObama? Racial division, Dan? The race-baiting that Obama employed in the aftermath of the TreyvonMartin/George Zimmerman tragedy was unconscionable. Instead of bringingpeople together he injected tons of oxygen into the smoldering racial fire,divided people even more so, and advanced the victimhood card whiledemonizing specific people, and his words and actions were partlyresponsible for some who threatened vigilante-action against the acquittedindividual in the case. Race under a sitting President, Dan? Obama’s wife, the First Lady, she got in on the racial dividing as wellwith her outlandish commentary about how she never was proud of an Americashe grew up in until her husband became the President. Obama left office with not a single good thing going on in this country.Not economically, not with regard to unemployment, not in consideration ofnational pride and America’s standing in the world, and certainly there canbe no doubt that he presided over an era where race had become such acentral theme that it saddens me to this day. But allow me to digress, because this is much less about Obama and more soabout a sports talk radio host who feels his enlightened position comeswith facts and irrefutable evidence to back up his claims – and nothingcould be further from the truth. Dan Le Batard, like far too many in America today, seems to have race onthe brain 24/7. As I have often said on many radio shows I’ve done, I believe in theinherent goodness in people of all walks, of all ethnicities, and with allbackgrounds. There are bad apples to be found everywhere no matter one’s skin color, butoverall? I’ll choose to believe that most people’s hearts aren’t dark, thatthere are more good people than bad, and that most people will simplychoose to get along with their common man no matter where they are. Le Batard also subliminally told fairly new ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro togo to hell during his pathetic rant. Pitaro, increasingly aware of how racially compromised ESPN had become overthe years, with ESPN’s ratings sinking, has made clear his desire to havethe Network rever back to its roots and cover the sports world exclusively. But Dan dismissed and ignored his boss and took to his ridiculous andmisleading platform brazenly. ESPN got rid of Jemele Hill and her constant racial tripe, the same JemeleHill that Le Batard mentioned during his outrageous on-air screedyesterday, essentially blaming ESPN for not understanding or recognizingthe supreme intellect that Jemelle Hill has on race relations in America.Yes, the same Jemele Hill who stoked the racial embers by making suchreckless and irresponsible statements about Trump being a white supremacistdespite not a single shred of evidence to support such an audacious claim. As noted political commentator Mark Levin recently said in response to thekinds of unjustifiable animus being preached by those like Dan Le Batard,for those who believe color or religion has anything to do with Trump’scomments – or in regard to some in his audience in North Carolina the othernight, Levin said; “It’s this President who ordered his military todestroy ISIS and the Caliphate that was killing women of color, men ofcolor, babies of color, Muslims, Yazidis, and Christians too, but primarilyMuslims. It’s this Commander-in-Chief that oversees the war in Afghanistanto protect Muslims from the Taliban. That would be men, women, children ofcolor. Now, what the hell of Omar and Tlaib and AOC done for men and womenand children of color? Not a damn thing.” Of course, nothing that Levin said which is included in the above paragraphmeans a single thing to someone like Dan Le Batard. People like Dan LeBatard, who see things that don’t exist, who feel things that areself-manufactured and without any merit, people like Dan Le Batard knowonly one thing: Trump won the Presidency and those like Le Batard whodidn’t wish to see this happen are still pissed off about it and the scriptcalls for constant invective to be dispatched daily, making things up alongthe way, bending and twisting things to square with the anti-Trump agenda,by any means necessary, painting Trump as Satan incarnate. Facts andreality be dammed. Period. The President echoed the feelings of many who are fed up with those whoseek to subvert this countries better interests, and in the process, hetold Ihan Omar to get the hell out of the country and go back to herwar-torn, oppressive, human rights-less country of origin if America wastoo cold and unforgiving for her. A crowd chanted this feeling as well the other night. Boo-hoo. Have you ever told someone that if they didn’t like something or someonethat you were involved with that they always had the option to get the hellout? Nice of you to admit this, and I’m right there with you. This is yet another ridiculous and insane controversy that has beenmanufactured and developed by the anti-Trump crowd, Dan Le Batard amongthem. Dan Le Batard courageous? Funny, but when I consider Dan Le Batard I see a calculated and uninformedcrybaby without a clue, or, someone who manipulates his own thoughts to seea world that he believes exists when reality suggests to anyone with abrain that Dan Le Batard’s world exists in imagination only. Only a dolt would disagree. THE COWARDLY SACRIFICE OF GERRY CALLAHAN July 18, 2019 By DINO COSTA I’ve been meaning to weigh in on this since the day it became news…butwanted to wait to see if there was any other additional fallout from thischicken shit move pulled by a Boston sports radio station. Just last week word came down that WEEI morning sports radio host GerryCallahan was let go from a position that he had for the last 20-years. The move was sudden and it came without any warning, for Callahan, as wellas for his colleague’s at the radio station. Last month as the Blues and Bruins were going head to head for the StanleyCup, I got into some playful and spirited back and forth with a few of theshows on WEEI, and I’ve gotten to know Gerry over the last few years, eversince we started semi-regular communication when I found out that Gerry wasa fan of my national show on SiriusXM Radio. The feeling was mutual because Gerry was one of the very few in theindustry who spoke about sports that I could tolerate for more than3-seconds. Callahan has hosted successful, introspective, and humorous morning sportsradio for the last two decades with a few different co-hosts. For manyyears he partnered with John Dennis, who has been retired for a few yearsnow. In addition, he teamed with Kirk Minihane, who my former producer atSXM, Andrew Caplan, has accused of stealing my on-air act, and mostrecently after Minihane was fired from WEEI, Callahan and the veryprofessional and versatile Mike “Mut” Mutnansky formed WEEI’s morning team. This is what Callahan Tweeted last Friday after he was informed he was nolonger a part of the station; “Well, that was fun. After 20 years inmorning drive, I did my last show on WEEI this morning. Thanks to all wholistened. Unfortunately, this ain’t a movie. Sometimes the bad guys win.Much more to come.” Entercom, who owns WEEI had their own statement following Callahan’srelease, and stepping up to the plate to deliver it was an unnamed sourcewho said; “Gerry Callahan has been a dominant force and a big part of WEEIover the years. While it is now time for a new chapter, we thank him forhis many contributions and the indelible mark he has made at WEEI,including his tireless work on behalf of Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund. Wewish him the best in his future endeavors.” Now some full disclosure for you all. Only two weeks after I started with my on-air position at 590 The Fan inSt. Louis, I had just finished having lunch with my gorgeous wife when myphone rang showing a call from Massachusetts. When I picked up, the voiceat the other end of the line said; “Dino, this is Joe Zarbano, programdirector at WEEI in Boston, how are you?” Now, listen, I’ve gotten to know Joe Zarbano since that phone call becausewe’ve had numerous conversations over the last few months, and Joe is agood guy, down to earth, not stuffy and condescending like many programmersin the radio business, and the plan, at least initially, was for me to dosome shows on WEEI for a show they call; “WEEI At Night”, which runs from8P to midnight, Monday through Friday. Over the last few months, WEEI has had somewhat of a rotating cast ofpeople who have manned the 8P-12-Midnight shift, as they were seeking somepermanence for that role, and I was one of those who were underconsideration. One of those they brought in to do some shows was Dan Sileo, a guy who hashad his share of memorable on-air experiences that have unfortunatelygotten him into some hot water over the years. Sileo was doing morningdrive at a sports station in San Diego (then he was replaced), withalmost no ratings to speak of, and the station he was on in San Diego wasanother in the Entercom chain. But suddenly, Sileo disappeared from doing any further WEEI At Nightprograms. Someone told me the other day that Sileo has moved to Dublin, Ireland, andhas become a spokesman for Guinness, although I cannot fully confirm thisreport. Anyhow, as I waited for my own turn to provide Boston with the best sportsradio they’d ever heard, my conversations and communique’s with Joe Zarbanocontinued over the weeks, phone calls, emails, texts, but nothing evermaterialized, until one day, Joe leveled with me and told me the insidescoop of how a single individual in Boston has handcuffed the radio stationand terrorized it to the point where even though Joe Zarbano might belisted as WEEI’s PD, he might only have that role in name only. Why? Because a person who goes by the name of Bob Murchison has been allowed toessentially take the entire radio station hostage, and through hisscumbag-like moves over the years, his constant haranguing over what heliked, or more importantly, what he didn’t like, at the station, thingssaid by various hosts on the station…WEEI has permitted this “radioterrorist” to dictate virtually all programming decisions made by thestation. He’s contacted various WEEI sponsors and demanded that they droptheir advertising dollars from going to the station, and according to WEEIPD Joe Zarbano, Joe told me that this psychopath has literally cost theradio station millions of dollars in ad revenue over the years. It got so bad, that (and this is almost unfathomable) the radio stationhas invited this single individual to come into the station a few times totry and reason with him, to essentially beg for him to call off his dogsand to please allow the radio station to operate as the independententertainment platform its supposed to be. Not only that – but because of this Murchison character – the station didsomething that I believe is completely unprecedented in the history of themedium. Just a few years ago, to appease this lunatic-listener (terrorist),WEEI pulled their entire local on-air staff off the airwaves for a day,resorted to playing all-syndicated programming, and had each and every oneof their local personalities at the station take part in a day-longsensitivity-training course. Now, stop for a second and think about this. The reason that Dan Sileo suddenly stopped doing programs on WEEI? BobMurchison. The reason that Kirk Minihane was fired at WEEI? Bob Murchison. The reason why Dino Costa never got to do any shows as was the plan atWEEI? Because the thought of Bob Murchison looming and how he would react tomy own radio show was a huge consideration as told to me by Joe Zarbano. As Joe Zarbano told me only a little more than a month ago: “Dino, if notfor this guy, I would have had you on the station a long time ago.” And the reason why the most dominant personality on WEEI Radio over thelast twenty-years, Gerry Callahan, was fired last week? Because of BobMurchison, a listener, someone with no involvement with the stationwhatsoever, gave the order, and just like that, Gerry Callahan was toast. Come to think of it, this Bob Murchison, he may as well not only be theprogram director at WEEI, I mean, with his power and influence, he may aswell be referred to as the owner of the damn station at this point. The precedent that WEEI has allowed for in the case of Gerry Callahan, andothers at the station over the years, is beyond stunning. If this is theway the radio industry is headed (and it is) then they might as well cuttheir losses and close up shop and save everyone a lot of time and effort. And the industry of radio is wondering what’s happening? Why audience share is down? Why are advertising dollars drying up? Why does radio all sound the same these days? Why do they seem to go through salespeople like people change underwear? Does radio wonder why more and more people eschew the traditional methodsof radio and instead are seeking alternate paths of entertainment withuncensored Online presentations? What has happened to variety and distinguishable personalities that used tobe significant draws for stations all around the country? Do you know why Gerry Callahan had to go? Do you know why this degeneratescuzzball by the name of Bob Murchuison demanded his removal in lieu ofmore calls to advertisers of the radio station possibly costing the stationmore money? Do you know what Bob Murchison hated more than anything elseabout Gerry Callahan? He despised the fact that Gerry Callahan was anunapologetic conservative whose views, whenever the dialogue in the sportsworld turned toward political and or societal issues (content that isquiteoften these days), reflected that conservative ideology. In Bob Murchison’s sick and twisted world, as far as Gerry Callahan wasconcerned, this was the unpardonable sin. And so, after twenty-years of stellar work, one of the most visible andconsistent voices in all of Boston media, Gerry Callahan, without anywarning, was shown the door after he completed his program last Fridaymorning. For a long time now we’ve been existing in a world that prohibits anydeviation from the culturally-approved lines of thought and deed wherepeople are seemingly given marching orders each day, a script of sorts,where if anyone cares to weigh in on any one of hundreds of topics ofinterest or areas of concern, they’re permitted to, however, only in theways that the societal thought-masters approve of. If you’re employed in the media industry and you hold conservative views –especially these days – this can and does have career-altering effects onone’s career. Now, if you happen to work at Fox News or The One AmericaNews Network, or if you’re employed as a writer by one of the fewconservative magazines or websites that are out there, you’ll be okay. Butif you work anywhere else and you walk into work each day as a knownconservative you’re also more than aware that landmines are lurking allaround you with each and every step you take…and with each and everybreath you fake? I think that most have a clear picture of where I stand on all of this.Many times throughout my own career on the air I’ve made examples andexploited the numerous contradictions and double-standards that exist inthese areas…such as this Gerry Callahan situation. Some haven’t likedthis too much. Because when you pull back the curtain on someone or on something to exposethe inconsistencies and the hypocrisies employed in making determinationson people, on statements, on beliefs, on actions, or on a whole host ofhypothetical issues, and then compare them against the backdrop of clearexamples where one side is given a pass while another side is punished andmuted, this has a tendency to leave the other side, the intentionallybiased side making these decisions, both naked, angered, and unmasked, byanyone with the temerity to call into question the dishonest and unethicalpractices employed in rewarding one while penalizing the other. For the one-millionth time let me preach it to the high heavens again. Idon’t care what kind of a world view you happen to hold, it matters not atall that it dovetails with my own thoughts and feelings because as far asI’m concerned you’re entitled to think, to say, and to feel, whatever it isthat makes you happy at the end of each day. Not only that but as I’venoted on many radio shows over the years, I’ll stand firmly in the gap withyou and fight for you and for your rights to espouse whatever kind ofbelief system that makes sense to you…whether I agree with you or not. I’m never going to hope that someone does something that prevents you frommaking your own voice heard, something that may see you agreeing withsomething that’s out there, or with fighting against something that youdon’t approve of. I’ll have your back come hell or high water because thisis America, not North Korea, and these are the rights you should have atyour disposal, and with me, your foxhole will never be empty no matter ifwe agree or disagree with one another. Are you yourself a more liberally-geared individual? You know that I votedfor Trump in the last election, right? You also know that Trump pisses meoff more times than I like, right? You know that when 2020 comes aroundI’ll probably vote for Trump again, right?…that is unless Tucker Carlsonruns for the Presidency. You know that I hold unapologetic andnon-negotiable conservative views on many things, right? Is that okay withyou? Am I permitted such latitude? Obviously, Gerry Callahan wasn’t. So, now that I have reiterated some things about my own personal beliefsystem, can I count on you to fight for me, to be in that foxhole with me,and to defend my freedoms in America just as vigorously as I’m prepared todo the same for you? I didn’t think so. And yet, I’m allegedly part of a system that is absentany tolerance while you allegedly take up with the side that consistentlylikes to posture itself as open and welcoming to any and all ideas. There are hundreds of examples of bias within media institutions, withvarious media entities making life a living hell for many of theiremployees for holding conservative belief systems. And while the current state of affairs with WEEI might be on the extremeside of things for the moment, make no mistake, most radio and televisionstations these days are actually programmed, literally, notfiguratively, but literally programmed, not by station managers or program directors, but by rabble-rousing activists. These stations are more and more capitulating tothe mob-crowd rule out there, handing over to them their entire stations,what the stations will sound like, how the stations will be projected, whatopinions will be dispatched, and who will be hired and who will not basedupon how that individual might be met by the insurgents and the societalarsonists outside their doors. Together with corporate America, who for some reason tend to believe thatthe majority of Americans hold the same belief system as the radicallyunhinged people roaming the streets, these one-way only Bolsheviks employany method necessary, legally or not, morally or not, to destroy truefreedom of speech in America, while not caring for a second about the livesand careers they exterminate in the process. On the other hand, however, WEEI also employs another talk show host by thename of Alex Reimer. Alex Reimer not only constantly speaks about hisliberal world views on the air ad-nauseam (I have no issue with this), butas a homosexual man (likewise, I have no issue with this), he regularlyrefers to his sexual-orientation as often as he wishes to. Bob Murchison approves of this on-air repertoire, and so, Alex Reimer, hegets to stay. Finally, let’s not insult one another, okay? Whenever Gerry Callahan included his own spin on political or societalissues intertwined within the world of sports, views, and comments he mayhave made that was a reflection of his own personal worldview, anyone whomay have been listening and then thought to themselves (dishonestly, ofcourse), “gee, ya know, I hate when Callahan has to include politicalviews on what is supposed to be a sports radio program.” This hypothetical person I mention in the above paragraph wasn’t pissed offbecause Gerry Callahan was including political or societal commentary thatwas perhaps essential to a point he was making in the immediacy of amoment. No, what this hypothetical person was angered about, was that GerryCallahan’s views on the topic, which required some form of politicalcommentary, this person (think Bob Murchison) was upset because GerryCallahan’s views don’t coincide with perhaps the more liberal doctrine thatthis listener agrees with. If Callahan”s views were much more in line withthose of the pissed-off liberal listener (again, think Bob Murchison),then Gerry Callahan would be soon wrapping up yet another successful weekon WEEI Radio instead of being pathetically and cowardly sacrificed as hewas a week ago. Gerry Callahan will rebound and land on his feet doing something else, ofthis I’m positive. If some radio programmer in Boston had any brains,they’d scoop him up today and provide him another platform given theaudience and the following he has. Gerry is right about one thing. This isn’t a movie, it’s a reality, as hardas that might be to believe. In the movies, more times than not the good guys win. Too bad reality isn’t more like the movies, eh? STILL DIPPIN’…& SPITTIN’ July 17, 2019 By DINO COSTA Earl Campbell still dips, and his favorite brand is Skoal. Walt Garrison, the old cowboy, he’s still reaching into his back pocket foranother pinch of Copenhagen…or like Earl Campbell, does Walt prefer Skoaltoo? I think that Walt might still be a Skoal man to this very day. A good old boy from Georgia who goes by the name of Madison Bumgarner…I’mpositive that MadBum is a Copenhagen southern blend kinda guy. Oakland Athletics team President Billy Beane still spits into a paper cup,although I’ve never been able to figure out what the Moneyball man’sfavorite chew is. Does Carlton Fisk still put a pinch between his cheek and gum…or did heonly do that when he was chopping up some firewood at his home in Vermont? Guys that dip or chew tobacco can be found in all walks of life. You couldhave knocked me over with a feather when I had to go to the dentist twoyears ago for a routine check-up, told the dentist that I was a dipper andexpected the perfunctory rebuke…only to have the dentist respond bytelling me that he was in that same club as well. Football players dip as much as baseball players do. Current Redskinsrunning back Adrian Peterson is often spotted with a huge wad of longleaftobacco in his mouth before games and during warm-ups. In fact, and I haveno precise numbers to go by, but I did see something Online not too longago where some surveys indicate that now, NFL players dip as much and maybeeven more than baseball players do these days. Brett Favre has always dipped, Jim McMahon, as well as John Elway. How bout’ that? Hockey players are known to be big dippers. In fact, when I was doing talkradio in the lovely little river town of Huntington, West Virginia, back inthe day (actually the very first talk show with my name on it was inHuntington back in 1998) I remember being in the Huntington Blizzardlocker room following a game and seeing tough winger Tracy Egeland puttinga monster-sized chew in after a game. Even some players on the PGA Tour like to relax while they’re playing bysliding in a dip every now and then. Dustin Johnson, for one, likes to dip,although the Tour has rules against it whilst playing. Jason Duffner isanother. 2015 PGA Tour Rookie Of The Year Daniel Berger has always enjoyeda dip in his lip while on the course. Anyone ever see Tiger reach for a tinever? I’m also told that the dipping habit extends to a few guys on the WWE Tour.The Undertaker (the what?) dips, in addition to guys like Steve Austin,Brock Lesner, and Shawn Michaels. You want me to get into dippers on the Pro Rodeo tour? Let’s safely assumethat a good 90% of all professional rodeo cowboys have that permanentcircle on one of the back pockets of their Wrangler jeans. You’d also have to believe that many drivers on the Nascar circuit like tothrow some hammers in their mouths during a 500-mile race, right? Thenagain, as I think about that, it has to be pretty challenging to take onehand off the wheel while going almost 200 miles an hour to spit into a cupof some kind. I wonder how many in the media enjoy smokeless tobacco? I do know thatformer Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz is a dipper. Kravitz is nowwith the Athletic website. Getting back to my dentist, during that same visit where he informed methat he likes to throw a chew in once in a while, I asked him what heconsidered more ‘dangerous’, chewing, or smoking? He told me heconsidered smoking riskier because of the ‘fire’ and the ‘hotness’ thatit produces in the mouth. Whatever. My own dip usage began back when I was running my own lawn and landscapefirm back in the nineties. My introduction to chew was with a brand calledHawken, which if anyone is looking for a chew to break themselves into thecraft, I highly recommend. Hawken is a wintergreen chew that almost tasteslike candy with probably the lowest amount of nicotine of any othersmokeless tobacco on the market. Since then I’ve graduated to pretty much all of them, different flavors,different brands, but mostly I’ve tended to stick with two brandsprimarily, either Copenhagen or Skoal, and if I had to choose between thetwo, I’ll always favor Copenhagen. But lately, I’ve been going with a different brand, it’s called Stoker’s,which isn’t widely available in many states, in fact, it’s only been withinthe last year or so that it’s been out west. Yeah, for the most part oflate I’ve been a Stoker’s wintergreen man. But hey now, don’t ever allow meto tell you what brand or flavor to choose for yourself because this isstill a free dip America we live in. I will tell you that if you dip flavored tobacco that the burn will be moreprevalent than if you dip natural flavored tobacco. But once you dip for awhile that burn I speak of goes away and they all kind of feel the sameagainst your gums. When do I enjoy a dip the most? That would usually be right after I’ve hada meal. Something about a satisfying dip right after you’ve eaten thatreally…satisfies. Yeah, I still enjoy cigars a lot, and it’s kind of funny because once Istart on a cigar kick that can last several weeks, my urge to dip goes awaycompletely. I just happened to throw a pinch in just now as I finish up this piece. Now I’m gonna watch the end of the Mets-Twins game on my recliner in theliving room. Yeah, I’m still dippin’…and still spittin’. But can you believe I still haven’t purchased a mud jug? https://www.mudjug.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwjrvpBRC0ARIsAFrFuV-i3_SrUuUsMWtYD5NYl-nyB93TDRk-0i1B70FEaodK9f1ZZQxphD8aAibgEALw_wcB THE WONDERFUL REDEMPTION OF RYAN LEAF July 17, 2019 By DINO COSTA Every so often someone will ask me who my favorite interview (I call themconversations) was with, in my career as a talk show host? My reply is always the same; I have no one favorite interview with any oneof the hundreds of people who have appeared as guests on my various showsover the years. I’ve enjoyed many of them for different reasons, some Iliked less than others, but no matter who has agreed to appear on my shows,I always try to get into a discussion that is hopefully a few layers deep,procuring informational content that hopefully, my audience will enjoy. But one conversation I didn’t enjoy so much was when I had the opportunityto sit down and have a discussion with Ryan Leaf at Super Bowl XLVI inFebruary of 2012 in Indianapolis. Leaf seemed agitated throughout our talk, shifty, nervous, and I eventhought he appeared to project himself with an arrogance that was clear tosee. He answered all of my inquiries but I could tell that something wasaskew. As we concluded, I wished Leaf all the best, we shook hands, and that wasthat. Less than two months after my sit down with Leaf it was reported that hehad been arrested in his home state of Montana. Leaf was jailed after hewas caught burglarizing a home. Then, only three days after posting a$76,000 bond, he was arrested again on accusations that he broke intoanother home outside Great Falls and was caught with drugs he stole fromthat home. Documents show that Leaf admitted to stealing oxycodone pills, and this wasthe only the latest in a string of missteps and reckless decisions Leaf hadencountered since his final days as a highly paid NFL quarterback. At the time of his arrest in Montana, Leaf was already on probation as theresult of being accused in 2008 of burglarizing a player’s home while hewas a quarterbacks coach for Division II West Texas A&M. An investigationturned up that Leaf had obtained nearly 1,000 pain pills from areapharmacies over an eight-month span. Leaf resigned from that positionshortly thereafter. Leaf would eventually go on to be convicted of his crimes and then serve a5-year stretch in a Montana state prison. Leaf was laughed at, scorned by many, and people seemed to take delight inhis colossal fall from grace. The unfortunate and sad fall of Ryan Leaf left many feeling as though evendarker days were ahead for him, not only an NFL washout, considered one ofthe biggest draft busts in NFL history, but now a felon whose life wasspiraling out of control with no apparent hope in sight, in prison, nolight, nothing but a dead end. I felt bad for Ryan Leaf as I read these things, and wondered, and hoped,that he would somehow be able to find the stability and meaning in his lifethat at the time was so very absent. I also wondered if when he wasreleased from prison if things would be any different? Coming from a family where alcoholism was prevalent, I’m more than awarethat oftentimes someone needs to hit rock bottom before finally deciding todo something about it — and then re-directing their life with positivesteps that can restore someone and allow them to again live life with peaceand contentment. Some are able to climb all the way out of the hole while others aren’t sofortunate. Some will get sober and stay sober for years, off the booze ordrugs, or both, before slipping off the wagon and back into a pit of livinghell. Prison was Ryan Leaf’s rock bottom, and obviously, as he sat there in acell pondering just what went wrong and how he wound up there, somethinginside of Ryan Leaf changed. Halleluja. Leaf has actually stated that he feels he would still be in prison if notfor his cellmate being an Iraqui war veteran who helped him a great dealwhile he was incarcerated. Help sometimes comes from the most unexpected ofpeople, eh? Just the other day I noticed that ESPN had hired Ryan Leaf to become one oftheir college football analysts, and a smile creased my face as I readabout this. I had been aware of Leaf’s life-turnaround before the announcement thathe’d be joining ESPN, but with the appointment to ESPN’s roster ofanalysts, it was the surest sign to date that Ryan Leaf has made it all theway back, and while he’s been redeemed for some time now, people reallyshould think about what kind of a king-sized mountain Ryan Leaf has climbedon his way back to the top. Let’s review: An NFL draft bust who was considered pompous and contemptuous. Fired/resigned from his role as a college assistant coach. Addicted to pain killers – an addict who resorted to stealing. Arrested multiple times. Convicted and sentenced to prison for 5-years. Broke and nearly destitute. The shame that comes along with all of these things, not to mention theconstant references to his failed professional football career as someonewho couldn’t carry Peyton Manning’s laundry, all of these things had to bestewing inside of Leaf for years and years, and certainly for all of thedays he was locked away out of sight and out of mind. All of this following a brilliant career at Washington State where he ledthe Cougars to a victory in the 1997 Rose Bowl, followed by being thesecond overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft and being labeled the future ofthe San Diego Chargers where he signed a multi-million dollar contract. Leaf recently appeared on the Brock & Salk sports radio program onSeattle’s ESPN station and said; “If you would have told me five yearsago sitting in that prison cell that I would be calling games for ESPN andworking for the Disney company, I would have told you you were nuts and noone would have faulted me for that.” Leaf’s road to recovery and redemption actually started a few yearsearlier, in 2015. Looking to help others who ran a similar road that hedid, Leaf contacted; ‘Transcend’, which is a recovery operation that hasoffices in Los Angeles, Houston, and New York. From there Leaf became an ambassador for the organization speaking togroups all over the country and warning them of the pitfalls that heencountered that nearly led to a permanent life of ruin. The same guy whohad once signed a 4-year contract for over $31 million dollars to playprofessional football, and then lost it all, was now working as a counselorfor $15 an hour…and more than thankful for the opportunity. Leaf then started his own recovery organization, a non-profit calledthe Focused Intensity Foundation, which is for people who can’t afford recoveryservices. Speaking about his past which is now a distant memory, Leaf says; “Themore and more I talk about it, I think it takes that power away of shameand guilt. I wish I would have treated people better. Definitely, that’sthe biggest regret I have. But it allowed me to be humble where I could goback and make amends to those people and try to be better.” Not only has Ryan Leaf gotten better and not only has he helped others withmany of the issues he encountered at one time, but he’s also been invitedby the NFL to speak to those at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, the sameplace where I first met Ryan Leaf. Leaf has spoken with incoming players atthe combine the last few years. The good beats kept on piling up for Leaf as his life was being re-made, hegot married, and he and his wife welcomed a little boy into the world twoyears ago. Leaf has said that welcoming a child into the world and givingthat child his last name was something he thought to be unthinkable only afew short years ago. The thing is, we’re all defective and flawed, and depending on situationsand circumstances, our lives could easily go one way or another. We fall,we rise, we live and learn, a process that never stops no matter how longwe live. Ryan Leaf’s life, unfortunately, went very sideways for a numberof years, but huge credit should go to him and others like him who havefound the road to salvation. Ryan Leaf’s life is an amazing story of perseverance and a commitment toachievement and restoration that nobody probably thought possible, Leafamong them I’m sure. Just this past May, Ryan Leaf went back to his hometown in Great Falls,Montana, for the first time in a long time. He spoke at an auditorium thereand said to the assembled crowd who came to hear him speak, many who hepreviously wanted nothing to do with, a community he never felt the need torecognize, he said; “I had a perfect opportunity to make a positive andhealthy choice when I was drafted and kind of take the high road. I thinkwe all contributed to the demise of that relationship. But instead of doingthat and making a healthy, positive choice, I failed at the highest level,I came back and victimized the community. So, I definitely tripled down ontop of it.” Ryan Leaf put his life back on track – and then some. He’s helped andcontinues to help others to do the same thing. I have no question that Ryan Leaf has impacted more lives as a formerfelon, as a former drug addict, than he ever would have impacted as acollegiate or professional football player. Ryan Leaf is now clean, he’s now married, he now has a baby boy who shareshis more than respectable name, and now, Ryan Leaf will work PAC 12football games this fall for ESPN. I spoke with Ryan Leaf at the Super Bowl 7 years ago. It would be my privilege to talk with him again one day. Way to go, Ryan Leaf. BASEBALL IS READY TO SELL IT’S SOUL July 16, 2019 By DINO COSTA One word: Disgusting. Another: Shameful. A third: Greedy. ‘Unnecessary’, does the trick as well. Before I get to baseball, I’d like to thank the NBA for starting thispathetic nightmare a few years ago. Yes, advertising patches are apparently on their way to your favorite majorleague uniforms within the next 2-3 years ahead. According to a report yesterday in Sports Business Journal, Rob Manfred’sgreed will compel major league baseball to place advertising patches on thefront of uniforms as early as the 2022 season. I have long criticized the NBA for this amateur stunt which is somethingthat should be confined to minor league sports exclusively, and my primaryobjection to the NBA introducing uniform patches is simple and reasonedenough: Does the NBA, a worldwide phenomenon that’s rolling in cash, do theyreally need to take the few extra dollars that some companies are willingto pay teams to place advertising patches on uniforms? This is the NBA, right? Not to be confused with the WNBA, which alsoincludes patches on their uniforms, however, the difference being that theWNBA could use every last nickel it can get, the WNBA counts on uniformadvertising dollars to actually pay bills, while the NBA is far from beingin the same situation. If minor league hockey teams wish to go down this path (and they do) ofhaving a jersey sponsor, likewise, I have no issue with it. NASCAR? No issues with it. But this is the NBA, this is as big-league as it gets, and if this was theNBA in the pre-David Stern years, perhaps a credible argument could be made– because back then – the NBA was a niche league and a dying league in manyrespects that could have been forgiven for placing uniform advertisingpatches on team uniforms in a bid for survival. In other words, if the difference between living and dying as a league wasthe question – and if uniform advertising were a means of ensuring that aleague was going to keep breathing – then I could see a credible argument. But the NBA and uniform advertising patches isn’t a bridge to survival,instead, its unnecessary and garish corporate greed. Now major league baseball is ready to follow suit. The Sports Business Journal piece quoted Noah Garden, MLB’s executivevice-president of business and sales who said; “We’re examining the patch,but clearly we have things to work through first. I’d say it’s inevitabledown the road, but certainly not immediate. This is something that requiresa fairly long runway. There are lots of things to take into consideration,but I think we will get there.” Gee, that’s wonderful news, Noah. I’m sure that Yankees fans will be thrilled to see the classic pinstripeuniform adorned with a beautiful Pepsi logo attached to the front of theirjersey tops. On average, NBA teams get about $7 million per year from uniformadvertising patches, money that probably pays for the team’s office paperproducts. The SBJ story indicates that there’s even more money potentially availablefor MLB teams because while the NBA is an 82-game schedule, as we all know,MLB plays a regular-season schedule twice as long as that. More from the SBJ piece: Looking at several different positions for apatch around the same size as the NBA’s 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch adspace, VWS&E estimated that the ideal exposure would be afforded byaffixing an ad patch to the chest of a baseball jersey, rather than thesleeve. Without revealing an exact location, Folts said an optimal positionon the front of the uniform could generate as much as 15 minutes ofexposure per game. By VWS&E’s estimate, the average MLB team should realize$6 million to $8 million per year from ad patches, with hallowed franchiseslike the Yankees getting significantly more. Terrific, I’m sure that for us baseball fans who love the game, andparticularly for those of us who appreciate and admire the aesthetics ofathletics (count me in as one of those) this is going to be a huge slapin the face as baseball prepares itself to shamelessly exploit anddesecrate the uniforms of individual clubs, turning the baseball uniformshere in the states into exact duplicates of what they look like in theJapanese league…or the East Coast Hockey League. Again, does MLB need the few extra shekels that this move will provide for?Obviously not. You would think that MLB would have a commissioner who wouldrecognize that there are some things in baseball – that although some wouldlike to throw money at – simply are not for sale because of history andcommon sense. But in Rob Manfred’s world, I guess that everything in his game is for saleif you have a few extra dollars around to give to him and his game. The Pepsi-Cola Yankees. The Harley Davidson Brewers. The Coca-Cola Braves. The Samsung Dodgers. Does baseball need this? No. Baseball wants this. Every. Last. Cent. LES MILES TAKES ON MISSION IMPOSSIBLE AT KANSAS July 16, 2019 By DINO COSTA There he was on my television yesterday afternoon. I was watching BIG 12 media days from Dallas which is being held at thepalace that Jerry Jones built. Les Miles, 65 years young, now the head football coach at the University ofKansas and just about a million miles away from his former home at LSU inBaton Rouge. Concerning anyone questioning his age or the wisdom of taking on thismonumental turnaround situation in Lawrence, Miles said; “To think I’m 65is really not necessarily how I see it, you know? I’m having fun, and thatto me is hard work … and an opportunity to go win ballgames, which I lookforward to.” They’ll be no grass for the Mad Hatter to chew on at Kansas’ home stadium.Unlike the tasty blades that Miles enjoyed dining on at Tiger Stadium downin the Bayou, the Jayhawks football stadium has synthetic FieldTurf fortheir playing field. Approximately 5000 fans showed up at David Booth Stadium in Lawrence forthe Kansas spring football game back in April. Considering the plight ofJayhawks football over the last decade, I’m thinking that each and everyone of those people who showed up should have been given season tickets forthis upcoming year. There are rebuilds of various types and there are also major reclamationprojects that different college football programs go through, but theprogram that Miles has inherited in Lawrence might be the equivalent ofgoing into the north Atlantic to try and raise the sunken Titanic all byhimself. No matter, I give Miles a lot of credit for accepting such a challenge whenI’m sure there were other opportunities for him to get back on a sideline,but as Miles has said a few times since he accepted the position lastNovember, he wanted to be at a job in a Power 5 conference, and as hard asit might be to believe, Kansas is indeed in that category. Miles took the job knowing that there had to be some hope, right? I mean,as hard as it might be to believe, at one time, the Kansas Jayhawks were aworthy college football team in the not so distant past. Then again, whenyour record shows 31 wins as compared with 102 losses over the last 11seasons, the Mark Mangino led Kansas team that went 12-1, including anOrange Bowl win back in 2007, must feel like it happened an eternity ago toany serious Jayhawk fan. Mangino was canned after the 2009 season when the Jayhawks finished at 5and 7 (a record any Kansas fan would die for these days) amidstaccusations that he said some hurtful things to some of his players. Thiswas just about the time America was beginning to change for the worse asthe era of the snowflake was just about ready to be born. Since Mangino was jettisoned, Kansas football has been reduced to a badjoke, a punchline for the rest of the college football world. After Mangino was shown the exit Kansas next went with Turner Gill who went5-19 over two years before he was fired. Then former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weiss stepped into the breach, lastedthree years, and went a collective 7 and 30. David Beatty followed Weiss with a promise to make Kansas football relevantagain. With the cupboard bare, Beatty’s first season saw the Jayhawks go0-12 while allowing a staggering 553 points. Kansas went 2-10 in Beatty’ssecond season which was followed up by a 1-11 mark – and then Beatty’sfinal campaign last year when Kansas went 3-9. A little more than a year ago Kansas hired Jeff Long as their new athleticdirector. Long is the same guy who made the decision to hire Bobby Petrinoat Arkansas when he held the same position in Fayetteville. In November, atthe time Long relieved Beatty of his duties, Long said that under Beatty hedid not see a clear path forward for success in the Big 12, although healso noted that he thought that Beatty had left the KU football program inbetter shape than he found it. During that same press conference where Long dismissed Beatty, he toldKansas supporters that; “We are going to find a proven leader, a tenaciousrecruiter, and a developer of young men on and off the field.” In November, Long had his man and Kansas introduced Miles, out of the gamethe previous 2 seasons, awarding him with a 5-year deal. With the introduction of Miles as their new head coach, the University ofKansas became the very first school to simultaneously have coaches leadingtheir football and basketball programs, both who have won nationalchampionships (Bill Self). Like any college program, the lifeblood of success will be determined byrecruiting, by being able to consistently stack high-caliber classes on topof one another, slowly adding to the talent base while also changing theculture. Given the awful reputation that Kansas has garnered for itselflately, you’d have to think that this job will be made even harder forsomeone like Miles, or anyone else who may have taken the job. The coaches son, Manny Miles, a quarterback, decided to transfer from NorthCarolina and join his dad for his final season of eligibility, although Iwouldn’t look for the younger Miles to play much QB as he has primarilybeen used as a holder by the Tar Heels in the 3-seasons he was there. Also, as you might expect, Kansas was ranked last in the Big 12 so far asthis year’s recruiting class is concerned, although I did find it a littlebit odd that none of the players the Jayhawks recruited were offensivelinemen. On offense, Miles has the luxury of being aware of who the Kansas startingquarterback will be this season, in all likelihood. Thomas MacVittiestarted his collegiate career at Pitt before transferring to middle America2 years ago, and Miles actually tried to recruit MacVittie to LSU when hewas there. So there’s that. Miles will feel better about his offense overall once running back PookaWilliams Jr. gets back on the field. Willaims ran for 1,125 yards last yearand was named the Big 12’s offensive freshmen of the year. However, afterthe season, Williams was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery after an18-year-old woman alleged, according to an arrest affidavit, “She waspunched in the stomach, as well as grabbed by the throat.” Last March,Williams entered a 12-month diversion agreement, stipulating that he“grabbed” and “pushed” the woman. Addressing the Williams situation yesterday at Big 12 Media days, Milessaid that he was satisfied with ensuing results of the investigationagainst Williams, said that Williams has taken responsibility for hisactions, is remorseful, and that Willams would be suspended for Kansas’first game against Indiana State. “Violence will not be acceptable with women, period,” Miles said. “Actionwas taken immediately. We felt like a strong point was made, not only withPooka but with the team. Pooka was going through a process for sevenmonths. Pooka went through a legal investigation with the legal communityand he also went through the proceeding with the conduct board with theuniversity.” With those comments expect Miles to be widely criticized by some. Not thatI’ll be one of those people criticizing Miles, it’s just the way of theworld these days. To run the Kansas defense Miles hired D.J. Eliot who coached last season atColorado in the same capacity. Eliot’s biggest challenge will be to replace5 starters who have been lost to graduation in addition to replacing twodefensive captains from a season ago as both defensive linemen Danial Wiseand linebacker Joe Dineen were taken in this spring’s NFL Draft. I couldn’t help but notice that as Miles was speaking yesterday he appearedto be somewhat uncomfortable, almost too reserved, and his body languagebordered on being almost being lethargic – if not indifferent. For a guyback in the coaching business and taking over a program in need of someenergy and positivity, Miles looked and sounded sheepish at times. Maybe hewas just tired? When a member of the media asked Miles about being ready for the role andif he felt he was as sharp as when he was last coaching on a sideline,Miles said; “I can only tell you that my focus is clean, my preparation isearly to late. I think this Kansas team will be difficult to reckon withshould we stay on path.” If Miles is going to have success at Kansas, it’s not so much a one year ata time proposition, but rather, with a cleansing of the program from top tobottom and making adjustments along the way, it’s about instituting a newculture daily. Kansas football needs to take this latest re-boot one smallstep at a time, one day at a time. I think that Miles knows this and he’salso aware of just how daunting a task is before him and his coachingstaff, and finding small victories any way they come will be welcomed byall. “The only way to ensure that is to make sure that your game plans and allthe meticulous work is done,” Miles said. “When that’s done, smile andenjoy your time because you’re just prepared to play.” The early season schedule could be favorable to Kansas and their chances toget off to a start where they might be able to book a few wins beforereality comes calling with the eventual conference slate they’ll play. Theystart the season off against Indiana State at home before hosting CoastalCarolina, then they hit the road for a game at Boston College beforegetting into the meat of their conference schedule after that. Miles also said yesterday that he can see himself coaching well into hisseventies, saying; “I could see a comfortable five-year stint, but if youget it going, at some point in time, you’d like to think you’d stay.” Personally speaking, I have always loved turnaround situations, there’ssomething engaging and fun that I find in teams/programs that have beendown for some time that turn to new leadership and try to find their wayout of the abyss. This Les Miles situation is one of those. Nobody should expect very much from Kansas this season, or in the next 2-3seasons ahead. Right now priority number one is to begin building a solidfoundation and infrastructure for the program. As I wrote before, smallsteps, small victories and taking things one day at a time to change thenarrative that, for Les Miles, hopefully, concludes with the authoring ofone of the great turnaround stories in college football in some time. I’ll be pulling for the Mad Hatter, whether he’s still chomping ongrass…or not. IS TODAY’S NHL TOO GOOD TO FIGHT ANYMORE? July 15, 2019 By DINO COSTA Never. I never, ever, thought I would say this, think this, feel this, maybe evenwant this. There is no more red-blooded American male than the guy sitting at thekeyboard typing these words, okay? Yes, I’ll admit, I love a good dust-up on the ice as much as any long-timehockey fan. Yes, I’ll acknowledge that just like you, I love my team’s enforcer whileloathing your team’s enforcer. But there’s a problem with all of this. The problem is twofold. Firstly,where are today’s hockey enforcers, and secondly, where are the gooddust-ups on the ice that I used to love so much? So color me more shocked than anyone when I say that if NHL commissionerGary Bettman held a press conference tomorrow and said that the NHL hascompletely outlawed fighting in the league…I’d have no problem with it. I had to re-read my last sentence just to make sure it’s what I reallywrote and how I really feel. I’m still good with it. Now look it, so that nobody gets the wrong idea, so that nobody thinks foreven half a second that I’ve gone all snowflake on anyone, to dispel anynotions that I hit my head on a beam late last night, let me stateunequivocally that my new feelings concerning banning fighting in the NHLhas nothing to do with any of the virtue-signaling so many love to employthese days, it has nothing to do with me buying into the concussionpropaganda, and it has not a single thing to do with anything resemblingthe resentment of toxic masculinity, okay? What it has everything to do with is my feeling that the game has become sodamn good, that the athletic specimen of today’s NHL’er is so far advancedfrom when I first started watching hockey (the mid-1970’s), and thatbecause fighting in the league is so uncommon these days that I now have adifficult time remembering an NHL when fighting was so prevalent. How about you? Because of all of this and because there is a dearth of fighting in theleague nowadays, not only do I not remember what it was like when playersused to fight so often, but in addition, with the game so damn good, I findmyself not missing or needing fighting in the league anymore. For all of the above, I kind of hate myself, but on the other hand, ittells me that today’s NHL has now risen to levels that were unthinkablewhen I first became a hard-core fan 5-decades ago. The game is obviously immensely popular, hockey has more fans now than everbefore, more kids are playing hockey than at any time in the past, moreAmericans are on NHL rosters than ever before and those numbers keepgrowing, and while the name of the league at one time was a misnomer,that’s also a thing of the past, as the National Hockey League is truly aleague of national stature from one end of the country to the other, andall points in between. The skill in the game is otherworldly, and it’s because of this that thegame has exploded under the Gary Bettman era, and it has had nothing to dowith what used to be such a common occurrence in the game: fighting. Now, let me recalibrate for just a second, okay? Look it, if the leaguestays the course and still allows fighting to continue, it’s not as thoughI would have any problem with that, on the contrary, I’d still stay infront of the TV watching until one of today’s rare fights has reached itsconclusion. What I’m saying more to the point, is that with such a huge reduction offighting in today’s NHL, these days, it’s now hard for me to remember aleague in which fighting was such a central component to the game. It’s oneof those out of sight and out of mind things, you know? To show you some proof with some clear evidence that I’ve not had any sortof a liberal epiphany, understand that never would I turn over some newleaf and ever agree with the bullshit rule changes in the NFL. Yes, the oldNFL is a league I miss greatly, and yes, I yearn for the old-schoolslobber-knocking hits that used to be so thrilling – not to mention beinglegal. Likewise, the second base slide rule and the home plate situation intoday’s newfangled and nicer and softer Rob Manfred baseball leaguedisgusts me. In my opinion, those two aforementioned sports leagues have been reducedand made lesser as the result of rule changes they’ve unfortunatelyimplemented. But in hockey? It’s just the opposite, isn’t it? The game, now so utterly reliant on speed and breathtaking skill, hasrendered the fighting element mute for the most part, right? You would be right to pull my man card if, for instance, I said that thegame was too physical, or that hits in the corners and along the boardswere getting close to being dangerous, or if I said that players on thereceiving end of an open ice hit with their heads down should beeliminated. In those cases, if I felt any of those ways, it would be a suresign that I needed to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist as soonas possible. But I feel none of those ways. In fact, it’s precisely because of the speedand skill that the NHL game employes, combined with the physicality thatstill exists that makes the game so damn addictive. And because the gameis played in these ways, it seems as though fighting is quickly becomingthe last thing on anyone’s mind whenever they tune a game in on televisionor attend a game in person. Here might be the very best thing about the lack of fighting in the NHL intoday’s times that truly shows how much the game continues to resonate withfans and continues its ascent upwards: Whereas at one time it could besuccessfully argued that the NHL needed fighting in order to attract fansand maintain interest, today, that’s not even close to being true. I’m clearly aware that my new views on fighting in the game will be metwith resistance by many others who abhor the idea of removing a staple thathas always been a piece of the game’s fabric. I’m also aware that if thisidea was put to a vote of today’s NHL players, I’d bet that some 95% of allplayers would vote to keep fighting in the game. Either way, if fighting remains, or if it is eventually abolished, myfandom for the sport and for the league will never go away. I’ll still lovethe game either way. Additionally, don’t look for me climbing up on any soapbox anytime soonpreaching to the masses that the game is less than it could be if not forfighting. I’m far from an extremist in this capacity with my feeling thathockey doesn’t need fighting anymore. Please don’t confuse me with somepolitically correct abolitionist of any kind. Are you yourself a hockey fan of any repute? Tell me now, would you abandonthe game if nobody ever fought any more or if the league and the playersassociation agreed to eliminate fighting from the game? I didn’t think so,and besides, tell me when was the last really great fight on the ice thatyou can remember? Several years ago (maybe even more) coaches would comprise their 4th lineof players who constituted ‘goons’ or enforcers, and with the environmentin the league at that time being so utterly different than what it istoday, those players served a valuable role as on-ice policeman and fightswere more than common when these kinds of players hit the ice. But today’s 4th line players? No matter what line a player skates on these days he’s expected tocontribute something to his team’s success. The St. Louis Blues won thisyear’s Stanley Cup and their 4th line with players like Alex Steen, IvanBarbeshev, and Oscar Sundquist was extraordinarily important to the Bluessuccess, be it scoring goals, laying on big hits, or employing a solid60-second shift that turned the game’s momentum around. As I watched eachand every Blues playoff game this past season, I cannot remember any playeron their 4th line getting into a dustup on the ice, and further, I cannotremember a single fight that any Blues player got into in any of the 4post-season rounds they played in on their way to winning the Cup. Where you used to be able to name more than a few players on differentteams who were on their club’s roster and who were employed by their teamsmostly to act as a fighter/enforcer, those days are pretty much gone,aren’t they? A team simply cannot afford to give a roster spot to a playeranymore who can’t contribute beyond the skill of being able to throw handssuccessfully. Could Bob Probert play in today’s NHL? Could Tony Twist? Could Rob Ray?Could Dave Brown? Could Tie Domi? I could name many others, and I’m not sure that many of them would be ableto combine skating and skill to go along with their ability to fight asbeing enough to stick as 4th line players with the way the game’senvironment has changed so substantially. As I conclude allow me to go back to it again because I’m sure that thereare some, no matter how many times I’ve made this point, some folks arepossibly getting the wrong idea. I’m not put off by fighting, like some people it far from disgusts me, infact, I still enjoy it and like to see an on-ice tango once in a while, andif the element of fighting remains in the game, so be it, and I’ll have noproblem with it. But on the other side of the coin, the game is so damn good, that if theygot rid of fighting altogether, it wouldn’t bother me and it would not haveany effect on my love for the game. I’ve never felt this way before. Until now. COMMENTS & THOUGHTS: [email protected] MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER NEEDS TO MAKE A DECISION July 15, 2019 By DINO COSTA Soccer in America. Remember the old North American Soccer League that was around from 1968through 1984? Remember the Tulsa Roughnecks and the Oakland Stompers? The HartfordBicentennials and the Tampa Bay Rowdies? The Washington Diplomats and theMinnesota Kicks? To say nothing of the world famous Cosmos, right? To this day I still remember my first Cosmos game…because I still havethe game program from that day! I was one of over forty-thousand to show up at Giants Stadium in EastRutherford on the afternoon of July 1, 1979, and saw the Cosmos defeat theRochester Lancers by the score of 5-2. Little did anyone at the game that day (including Joe Manfredi?) knowthat there would only be 5-more Cosmos seasons to follow, and only 5-moreseasons of what would turn out to be a scaled-down version of the NASL (9-teams) by the time the final 1984 season came around. When I was a kid there were two soccer teams I followed. The aforementionedCosmos, and the indoor-playing New York Arrows, led by Bronko Segotaand the “scoring machine”, Steve Zungel. Back then, I wasn’t a fan of the European game simply because I knew verylittle about it (if anything at all), and because there was practicallynothing in the way of media coverage of English or German or Italianfootball to be found in the states. Further, and so I don’t mislead anyone, admittedly, soccer was a game thatI went back and forth with during those days. Baseball and all the otherpro sports leagues in America were what mattered most to me, but I alwayshad an appreciation for soccer and found that appreciation growing as Ientered adulthood. My enthusiasm and curiosity with the game went toanother level once I was able to follow the game Online, with stories andreports from overseas, not to mention a plethora of games available ontelevision from around the world. To this day I don’t consider myself an expert on the game (far from it),but my knowledge continues to increase as my appetite continues to grow forthe game, and I relish any opportunity I get when I’m able to ask questionsand pick the brain of someone else who has a much deeper knowledge of thegame and knows the history of the game much better than I do. Keep much of this in mind as you continue to read because I’m sure theremay be some who might disagree with some of the thoughts and ideas I haveabout the state of the current professional league we have here in NorthAmerica, Major League Soccer. 24 season will be in the books for MLS once this 2019 season concludes. Onits face, that’s pretty impressive given that the NASL lasted but 16seasons before going under, mostly due to biting off more than that leaguecould ever hope to chew on, with a circuit that saw one top-heavy team (theCosmos) outspending everyone else twenty times over. That, and it was aleague that was rife with overexpansion and saw far too many teams wellundercapitalized and almost dead from the moment they announced they werein business. By comparison, Major League Soccer has been careful not to make so many ofthe mistakes that NASL made, and they’ve taken the long view in buildingtheir league over the past 24 seasons. The league has taken baby steps along the way, establishing footholds insome of their stronger markets, growing the game, and seeing the rise ofmany soccer-specific stadiums being built, many of them very impressive –while capping player salaries under the single-entity system in whichplayer contracts are not owned by individual clubs, but by the leagueitself. In addition, the league doesn’t have ‘owners’ per say, but rather,investors, who direct the 24 clubs that dot the league’s landscape from oneend of the country to the other, with teams also placed north of the borderin places like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. But with their 25th season of play arriving soon, as I look at the rest ofthe soccer playing world and consider the game in more soccer-richcountries, places like England and Germany, France and Spain, I can’t helpbut to think that Major League Soccer is fast approaching a pivotal time intheir history in which hard decisions will need to be made. The decisions that MLS makes over the next few years will determine whetheror not MLS is able to take their place alongside many of the otherhigh-level pro league’s in the world – or – if they’ll be content to simplybe a domestic league here in the states that might survive, but surviveunder an umbrella with severe limitations in regard to growth andrelevance, in addition to carving out a legitimate place for themselves inthe most fanatic sports market in the world, America. Additional expansion franchises are set to join the league as early as nextseason when both Nashville and Miami will join the circuit. Then in 2021Austin will join the league upping the number of teams to 27 at that point. Cities like St. Louis and Sacramento are angling for clubs too, and if youlive in either of those two locales and you might be worried that MLS willpick one city over the other, allow me to tell you that you have no reasonto be concerned because it says here that both St. Louis and Sacramentowill get teams. And why? Because MLS desperately needs the expansion feesthat both St. Louis and Sacramento will gladly hand over. Herein lies some of the many issues confronting MLS as they look to theirfuture and the challenges they face. A league that receives less than $100 million dollars in television money,a league that has expenses that exceed revenue, is a league that is forcedto find a way to bring in new capital to keep the league afloat and keeptheir employees from not missing any paychecks. Like just about any proleague MLS keeps their books closely guarded, but common sense would tellmost anyone that there are probably only a handful of MLS clubs that finishin the black each year. Some critics of the league have even suggested that MLS is a league that isteetering on disaster, a league that won’t admit that it’s close tocollapsing and going under, and if not for the continuing expansion dollarsthat the league counts on bringing in, that the league would be forced toshut down and professional soccer in America would die yet anotherunfortunate death. Others have gone even further making the claim that MLSis not so much a legitimate professional enterprise, but the equivalent ofa manipulating sports Ponzi scheme. Whether any of that is true is beside the point for the purposes of theargument that I’ll make that says that MLS cannot continue to operate undertheir status quo system much longer. I have no question that Major League Soccer, as presently constituted, bothnow, and in the next few years ahead, is equipped with significantlimitations that I fear could prove fatal to the league before all is saidand done, although in a worst case scenario MLS will continue to stay inbusiness for at least the next several years ahead. So far as attendance is concerned, while MLS will point to the fact thatthey have the third-highest on average attendance of any league in thestates, and while some teams, most notably, Atlanta and Seattle drawexceptionally well, the other side of the ledger shows that more than halfthe clubs in the league (13) draw less than 20,000 per game. With thosekinds of attendance numbers, with the limited media exposure that MLS gets,and with Soccer in America not yet capturing the hearts and minds ofmost sports fans, what kind of talent will a league like MLS be able to attract? Butthat’s really not the question, is it? The more pressing inquiry is; whatkind of talent can MLS actually afford? Here is the biggest hurdle I believe that prevents MLS from beingconsidered legitimate in the minds of both soccer fans as well as Americansports fans in general. What kind of talent does your league possess? I’mnot trying the denigrate any of the current or past players who haveperformed on MLS fields previously because many of them are exceptionaltalents (some world-class players), but when anyone places the caliber oftalent that MLS is offering to soccer fans – or those who they want toturn into soccer fans – compared to many other high-caliber leagues aroundthe world, what kind of players are we really talking about? America has the best professional athletes on the planet in virtually everysport – except one. The sports fandom in our country doesn’t simply ask forthe best of the best in baseball, football, hockey, and basketball, this issomething that is demanded if not expected., For Major League Soccer to become a sports league that is worthy of faninterest and media attention to the point they would like to see, then someof the very best soccer talents in the world must become a part of theirleague, and not when they’re on the downside of their careers (WayneRooney, anyone?), but instead, when they are in the prime of their careers. I’m more than aware that under the status quo system of Major LeagueSoccer, none of the world-class players around the world will be on MLSfields in the prime of their careers anytime soon. Which is why, in myopinion, MLS is getting close to the time where they must radically changecourse, and if soccer in America is ever to have the kind of feverishatmosphere that the rest of the world basks in, then MLS must either shitor get off the pot – and soon. When many of the big clubs visit America to play friendlies, most everytime these games are played, stadiums are overflowing with fans. So don’ttell me that there aren’t people in our country willing to pay for and showup for world-class performers on a soccer pitch. For many of the people whoattend international friendlies on America soil, astute and knowledgeablesoccer fans, they wouldn’t be caught dead paying money to go and see aChicago Fire or a Colorado Rapids game. And why? Because they believe thequality of the game is a few steps down from what they’re prepared to gointo their pockets for. And so… The time is coming, and I think it’s going to be very soon, when MLS isgoing to have to decide whether they want to be a nice little player onthe world soccer scene, taking whatever scraps are left on the table,continuing to operate under strict parameters which severely limits theirgrowth, continuing to utilize expansion to pay their bills, continuing tosell off whatever American talent that interests leagues across theworld (Christian Pulisic) who won’t play in MLS, and being content to see minimalmaturation of their league overall, or, they’ll ambitiously move forwardunder a paradigm shift that radically alters the way they’ve done businessto date, while setting up an environment that could see soccer take offin America like never before. In other words, its time that MLS considers removing the training wheels. It’s my belief that MLS is right to continue to play under a spring/summerformat because going head to head against the National Football Leaguewould prove to be a mistake for what should be obvious reasons. However,beyond that status quo operating procedure, big changes have to take placein order for the league to become a legitimate player. Does MLS want to be a significant player on the world stage? Can they become more of a force and more respected globally as a soccerleague? I like to think so, but it will take a momentous change and a courageousapplication in the way the league coordinates itself. If MLS is to go another level, then the first thing MLS must do it toshelve the single-entity system entirely. How? By attracting investorsacross the world to purchase existing clubs, or by including their currentinvestors in a whole new way of making soccer in America big time. The league should look to attract individuals who are acutely aware ofjust how passionate and rabid the sports fanatic is in this country, andthen capitalize on that passionate fandom with the means to provide firstclass soccer to individual franchises. These new owners (not investors) would need to have the ability to peerinto the future and be convinced that by providing actual major leaguesoccer that more aligns with the league’s name, that they would be able totruly connect with the American sports fan by offering them a productworthy of people’s time and money. I’m not talking about your ordinary average investor, folks, I’m talkingabout getting the attention of many of the richest people in the world,people who love the game, even some who have investments in soccer clubsabroad currently. Far too many view Major League Soccer as a minor leagueendeavor and that needs to change at some point soon. For all the good that MLS has done to this point in the league’s history,America is still an unconquered land so far as the sport of soccer isconcerned. Importing people who have been around the game for a long timein many European leagues, people with the know-how in cultivating a soccerculture that endures, those who have been instrumental in successfullymarketing all of the games great features, these are the kinds ofindividuals that need to be here in America who can help to unleash thegame and bring it to another level. These kinds of people are needed tosell a vision, to build upon what has been established to this point and totake soccer in America to places it’s never been yet. When I was a kid, all I heard about was how soccer was set to become thesport in America. That was more than 40-years ago. It’s not as though MLSis the only professional league that’s ever existed around here, and it’snot like soccer balls just hit America’s shorelines yesterday. Long storyshort, soccer is well known here, it’s been played here for multipledecades, and there is a base of fans who crave the sport and want to see itplayed at its highest levels right here in the USA. And so I ask you; just when is soccer in America set to explode as thecommercial success like we were all told it would all those years ago andwhen will America become the soccer nation many have forecast it to becomefor years? I mean, if not now – then when? A radical shift. One of the things that Major League Soccer should eventually do is to cutthe size of their league down to a select few franchises which wouldrepresent the ‘A’ division of soccer in this country. Yes, the biggestcities with the largest population bases would constitute the newlyarranged MLS…for starters, that is. One advantage of having so many leagues, so many teams in the states rightnow, leagues below that of MLS, is that it provides a built-in and ready togo infrastructure that should be utilized to soccers overall advantage inthe states with MLS moving toward something they have ruled out up to thispoint: relegation and promotion. Imagine, bringing aboard true owners with deep pockets both domesticallyand internationally, intent on creating the soccer explosion in thiscountry that has always been rumored, but has never manifested itself. Imagine these owners bidding for some of the best talents in the game fromacross the world. Then imagine the ability and the opportunity for some of the smaller soccercommunities in the states to win their league, to finish as a top 3 club intheir league, with a promotion to Major League Soccer the next year…whilethe 3 bottom tier clubs in Major League Soccer drop down a division thenext season. This sounds just like the way most of the other league’saround the world do it, doesn’t it? MLS must join the rest of the soccercommunity in this way. Listen, if the league needs to take an entire year off to construct thekind of an environment that will provide it with opportunities to truly besuccessful and truly resonates with sports fans across America, then, byall means, take that year off. Below are the original teams and cities that could theoretically compromisethe ‘A’ League of Major League Soccer as the league moves to positionitself as an entity with much bigger plans than they currently operatewithin. New York – 2 teams Los Angeles – 2 teams Chicago Atlanta Philadelphia Boston Orlando Miami Houston Denver Kansas City Seattle Toronto Vancouver Portland Dallas Eighteen teams, no more, no divisions, no conferences, just one table, onethrough eighteen. This is a special and select league where only the bestof the best get to stay and be guaranteed another go-round the next season.These are franchises in either high population centers or in communitiesthat have shown robust support previously for their current MLS club. Yourbottom three clubs drop down a division, while the top three clubs in thelower division move up. I list eighteen franchises for starters, but that’s simply a hypothetical,of course. If they wanted to start with 14 teams or even 12 teams, go aheadand do it. Just make sure each of the franchises are more than well-fundedwith ownership groups intent on spearheading a movement that raises theprofile of an American professional soccer league like its never beenpreviously. Those communities not in the first division to start off, not only do theyhave a hell of a lot to play for in places like St. Louis and Memphis andColumbia, and Jacksonville and Pittsburgh, and in many other places, butthey also keep the interest of their fan bases with that carrot on a stickalways in front of them, dreaming and rooting for their team to move intothe first division the next season. In addition, these smaller communities would be able to conjure up immensepride in their clubs, watching their players grow, or watching them beingsold off to clubs in the first division, or having opportunities tomaterialize with great stories in, like for instance in yet anotherhypothetical, Charleston City FC winning the Second Division inmiraculous fashion and going up to the big leagues the next year. Thinkthat would make some news on ESPN’s SportsCenter? Yes, all of this is fashioned after what all other legitimate pro leaguesin Europe and around the world do and it is the exact template for whatthose running MLS should be aiming for. You want media companies (Television Networks) to compete for the rightto pay your league like they do all other major league circuits? Thenprovide a major league product for them to compete for. As I mentionedearlier in this story, Major League Soccer receives less than $100 millionper year in TV dollars. In other words, scraps from the table. You want major league talent to attract fans? Then you need major leaguebackers willing to pay major league salaries as well as having the abilityto go out on the open market and buy great players from other clubs. You want your league to be front and center with media attention paid tothe biggest names, the most successful teams, and the biggest games on yourschedule? Then stop with half-measures and a current league construct thatsuffocates any opportunity to be taken more seriously. Do you want to turn sports fans in America into true soccer aficionados?Then stop trying to sell them an inferior product as compared to theproduct that other leagues offer these fans in the states. You cannot sellAmerican sports fans on second rate talent forever and expect yourenterprise to grow…not in a land where all other sports provide the bestof the best displaying their wares on fields, courts, and the ice. The foundation has been put into place the last 24 years by MLS, and forthat, any American soccer fan should have at least a modicum ofappreciation. Soccer is exploding across this world like never before and there doesn’tappear to be anything getting in the way to slow down this meteoric risewith its popularity. MLS has to get into this lane and take advantage ofthe excitement and intrigue that soccer has everywhere else. I fear that soon, MLS, if they continue along their current path, beingcontent to be viewed as a second rate league, will be left in the exhaustfumes while the rest of the big league soccer world continues to grow,rendering MLS more and more irrelevant as the years fly off the calendar. Individuals with vision and foresight, people with the right instincts,these are the kinds of professionals that need to come together,recognizing the soccer vacuum that exists in America, understanding thatprofessional soccer in America should be, and can be, and must be, so muchmore than what it is today or what it has been in the past. If soccer in these parts is ever to have a chance at climbing a ladder thatallows it the chance to become a prime-time player, it’s not going to getthere under the current strategies for much longer. MLS and the long viewthat they undertook when they introduced the league back in 1996 was thecorrect ingredient mix at that time – and it’s probably the right way to goabout growing their league up to this very point. But that vision comes with an expiration date, and that expiration date isalmost here as far as I’m concerned. The alternative, of course, is to simply meander along under the sameprinciples that MLS has employed, hoping and praying that the league makesincremental gains while relying on continued expansion from cities willingto add to their coffers which will let the league live on to fight yetanother day. In the meantime, the rest of the soccer world will be millions of milesahead of Major League Soccer and the league’s ability to stay even a littlebit relevant will be more than a challenge. So, welcome to the MLS party you teams in Miami and Nashville, as well asin Austin. Let us also welcome aboard St. Louis and Sacramento even thoughnothing is official as of yet. The dollars those expansion cities will bring in will allow Major LeagueSoccer to fight another few days at least. But how many expansion franchises can you keep adding, how long can youexpect fans to continue to be interested in a league that doesn’t offer thebest of the best…and how many of those days are left in the world ofMajor League Soccer? COMMENTS & THOUGHTS: [email protected] Major League Soccer Cup Finals TV Ratings And Audience 1996–2018 Year Network Rating Viewers(millions)1996 ABC 1.4 3.11997 ABC 1.4 2.61998 ABC 1.0 2.21999 ABC 0.7 1.32000 ABC 0.7 1.22001 ABC 1.0 2.02002 ABC 0.8 1.22003 ABC 0.6 0.92004 ABC 0.8 1.32005 ABC 0.8 1.12006 ABC 0.8 1.22007 ABC 0.8 1.12008 ABC 0.6 0.92009 ESPN 0.7 1.12010 ESPN 0.4 0.72011 ESPN 0.8 1.02012 ESPN 0.7 0.82013 ESPN/Univision 0.5 1.02014 ESPN/Univision 0.6 1.92015 ESPN/Univision 0.4 1.22016 FOX/Univision 0.8 2.02017 ESPN/Univision 0.5 1.12018 FOX/UniMas 0.9 1.8 BEST NBA OFF-SEASON EVER? July 12, 2019 By DINO COSTA Most of the smoke has now settled and nearly all the dust has cleared, andthe nuclear fall out from this year’s fast and furious NBA draft andfree-agency period has not only remade the league, but it’s also donesomething for the NBA that the league has needed since forever. It’s provided the league with an upcoming season that should be asuncertain as it’s been in years. The words ‘uncertain’ and ‘NBA’ haven’t exactly been friends too many yearsnow have they? Over the past 14-years, the NBA has pretty much been dominated by only aselect few teams (and players), and fans have pretty much been able topredict with near sureness which team(s) would eventually be crowned thechampion each June, or at the very least, which two teams would meet in theFinals. Over these last 14 seasons, with the exception of Finals appearances but asingle time by such teams as Oklahoma City, and Orlando (if you would liketo you may feel free to also insert this year’s Toronto team into the mix),the league has seen regular appearances by only seven (7) other clubsduring this stretch. Led by Golden State’s 5 trips to the Finals (winning 3 times), Cleveland’s5 trips to the Finals (winning 1 time) Miami’s 5 trips to the Finals(winning 3 times), San Antonio’s 3 trips to the Finals (winning 2 times),Dallas’ 2 Finals appearances (winning 1 time), the Lakers 3 trips to theFinals (winning 1 time), and Boston’s 2 trips to the Finals (winning 1time), the remainder of the league has been playing the role of filler,seemingly there only to get the eventual championship teams in eachconference in shape to get to their eventual Finals destination. I’ve been noting for a long time now (and I’m far from alone), that whilethe NBA is a breathtaking league full of some of the greatest professionalathletes under one roof, the prevailing thought in too many people’sopinion, is that the league suffers from a big-time competitive balanceissue. And this is nothing new, of course, because the league has gonethrough cycles over the past 40-years in which the same situation existsonly with slight alterations to what teams are at the top of the NBA foodchain. There have been a total of 8 different NBA Championship teams over the past14-years featuring the inclusion of only 10 teams that got an opportunityto play for the league championship, with the Warriors winning it all3-times, the Heat 3-times, and the Lakers winning the championship twice. Whereas if we compare that with Major League Baseball over the same timeframe, while we find that there have also been 8 different champions since2006, with the Red Sox winning the title 4 times, the Giants 3 times, andthe Cardinals twice, the other 4 World Series played over the last 14 yearswere won by teams only a single time, with the Royals, Astros, Phillies,and Yankees turning the trick. However, the difference been MLB and the NBA can be found in the totalnumber of appearances by a wider variety of teams. The NBA, as I already alluded to, has seen a total of 10 teams participatefor the Larry O’Brien Trophy over the last 14 years, while on the otherhand, Major League Baseball has seen 15 teams getting a chance to play fora World Series title. A huge disparity? Maybe, then again, maybe not. Butat the very least, when you examine the environment and the competitiveaspect of MLB versus that of the NBA, baseball feels much less predictableand much more wide open, and there are fewer people who can say with a lotof certainty (there’s that word again) what will eventually take place inbaseball’s post-season as opposed to that of the NBA. Perhaps the NHL is the best example that I can cite? If the NBA has had a competitive balance issue then the National HockeyLeague is the antithesis to that in every way imaginable. Consider that since 2006, the NHL has crowned a total of 11 differentStanley Cup winning teams with a total of 19 different franchises gettingto those finals. NINETEEN. There is no other pro league in North Americawhere hope truly springs eternal than for the NHL and the fan bases of the30 teams in the league. The NFL? Again, a league with terrific competitive balance which has really been thebedrock of the NFL since the days when Pete Rozelle was the commissioner. Since 2006, the NFL has awarded the Lombardi Trophy to 10 different teamsseeing a total of 14 different teams playing for the title. Much like MajorLeague Baseball, and certainly the NHL, there just seems to be much lesspredictability in the NFL with myriad fan bases across the league believingthat their teams at least have a shot to do something special that seasonas Week One approaches. Which is why as this NBA off-season gets closer to its completion, with thevast player movement (nearly the entire league of players were free-agents)and the unpredictability of where players would go, and did end up going,the NBA now feels like a league as dicey and chancy as it has felt since Ifirst started watching basketball in the mid 1970s. This isn’t simply good for the league, rather, it’s just what the doctorordered at just the right time as the league has openly talked about waysto make their regular season matter more, bringing more substance to the82-game schedule, and with such a stunning summer transformation thisleague has seen, it’s been years and years since the NBA has felt asunclear and as wide-open entering a new season as it will this year whenthe league raises the curtain on another new campaign. Who’s your favorite? Or, who are the multiple favorites for this upcoming2019-20 NBA season? Last year at this time, with LeBron headed out west to the Lakers, you werewondering which team in the East would have enough gas in its tank at theend of the season to meet Golden State one more time in the Finals. Perhaps the rise of Toronto this past year, with Kawhi Leanord dragging histeam through 4 rounds and all the way to a championship against a beat upand depleted Warriors team, maybe this was a precursor of what’s to comeover the next few years ahead? I mean, did anyone see Toronto going all the way this past year? I felt it was not only good for the league that the Raptors won thechampionship, but I also felt it was good for the league to see theWarriors dynasty taking a hit with the departure of Kevin Durant to theBrooklyn Nets. Brooklyn, as a legitimate NBA contender, only 2-years removed from a 28-54record and only 3-years removed from a record of 20-62? Maybe not this yearcoming up, but by the time Kevin Durant is ready to return the followingseason, Brooklyn should have as good a chance as any team in the East. See, the story is always the thing, and if you have no story to sell andinstead have basically the same script that you’re giving to people everyyear, that’s when things get stale…and predictable. The worst thing inthe world no matter what you do is to become predictable. And ‘predictable’ for the NBA is on the outs this coming season – andgreat stories abound most every place you look. Anthony Davis finally forced his way out of New Orleans and into LosAngeles where he’ll join you know who. How will that work out? How willDeMarcus Cousins gel in the Lakers frontcourt? LeBron will be entering hisage-34 season, and with many miles on his legs over the years, how muchdoes he have left at a high level? Will head coach Frank Vogel be headcoach Frank Vogel by December 1, or will his assistant Jason Kidd berunning the show when LeBron demands a change be made? While in New Orleans, they’ve already forgotten who Anthony Davis even was.Anthony who? In the movie The Matrix (1999) some guy said that ‘Zion’ iswhere the party will be. Well in NOLA right now it’s all about ZionWilliamson and building a team around him as new team President DavidGriffin and new GM Trajon Langdon are hoping to do. They’ve already broughtin Derrick Favors to help clean the glass and imported a bunch of usefulplayers they obtained from the Lakers in the AD trade. Lonzo Ball will lookback at being traded to New Orleans as the best thing that’s ever happenedto him. Former bust Jahlil Okafor continues to remake his career in a Pelsuniform. Josh Hart will help out off the bench. JJ Redick has brought hissharpshooting eye to the Pelicans backcourt with the ever-improving JrueHoliday beside him. Brandon Ingram figures to like life much more as aPelican than under the shadow of the sometimes toxic LeBron. They’reexcited in New Orleans these days, and with good reason…even though Ifeel the jury will be out on Zion Williamson as a proverbial‘franchise-player’ until I see otherwise. They’re also excited in Los Angeles too. Wait, didn’t I already mention theLakers a little further up the page? But I’m not talking about the Lakers,I’m talking about a team that just might be better than their colleaguesacross the hall at the Staples Center, I’m talking Clippers basketball baby! One by one the premium free agents fell off the board, right? Kyrie andDurant to the Nets. Tobias Harris returned to Philadelphia on a max deal.Kristaps Porzingas re-upped with Dallas. D’Angelo Russell wound up inGolden State with the Warriors. Jimmy Butler insisted on going to Miami toplay for the Heat and did so under the parameters of a sign and tradeeventually. Kemba Walker wound up in Boston replacing Kyrie Irving. The Clippers, who entered free agency with a boatload of cap room looked tobe on the outside looking in, without a chair to call their own when themusic stopped playing. But then…HE ARRIVED. Wait, wasn’t Kawhi going to be talked into joining the Lakers to play withLeBron and dominate the west for the next few years? Not only did Kawhi Leanord walk right past the Lakers executive offices inthe Staples Center, instead deciding to play for the Clippers and one ofthe best coaches in the league in Doc Rivers, but then Kawhi showed hispower and influence by talking Paul George into asking for a trade fromOklahoma City, and just like that, the Clippers became more than relevantwith some even suggesting that as of this second they might be the bestthat the western conference has to offer. The Cips did mortgage much of their future by sending OKC draft picks (5first-round picks) that seem to stretch into the next century, in additionto sending Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (who I love) to theThunder in exchange for George. It’s interesting because I feel as thoughthe Clippers may have given up more for Kawhi than the Lakers did intrading for Anthony Davis, yet as I look at the Clippers roster they seemto have more around both Kawhi and Paul George than the Lakers dosurrounding LeBron and AD. Lou Williams at the point with Paul George on the wing, the monster-sizedIvaca Zubac in the middle and up-front with Kawhi and Montrezl Harrell?That’s a nice starting five with plenty of players to space the floor, andcoming off the bench the Clippers have guys like defensive wizard PatrickBeverly, Landry Shamett and JaMychal Green. Speaking of the Thunder, all three are now gone. First, it was James Hardenbeing escorted to Houston, then Durant flew the coop to the Warriors, andjust yesterday Russell Westbrook got the break of his life by being tradedto the Rockets in return for the suddenly vulnerable Chris Paul. You haveto figure that Paul will want nothing to do with Sam Presti’s suddenrebuild through youth for the Thunder and OKC will soon try to get a takerfor Paul (Miami?). Oklahoma City has an absolutely silly amount of draft picks moving forward.If the Sixers started their years-long rebuild a few years ago by referringto it as; ‘The Process’, then OKC now has a process on steroids. The amount of first-round draft pick ammunition Oklahoma City has, withammo that may be used for player selections – or – in the way of providingthe Thunder with an incredible amount of draft capital to be exercised infuture trades, it boggles the mind to consider what the Thunder have towork with moving forward. Below is a list of the first-round ‘Thunder’ that Oklahoma City now hasin their possession over the next 7-years factoring in protections and pickswaps: ->2020 their own (1-20)->2020 DEN (11-30)->2021 their own (HOU 5-30 swap right)->2021 MIA (HOU 5-30 swap right)->2022 their own (1-14)->2022 LAC->2023 their own (LAC swap right)->2023 MIA (15-30)->2024 their own->2024 LAC->2024 HOU (5-30)->2025 their own (LAC and HOU 21-30 swap right)->2026 their own->2026 LAC->2026 HOU (5-30) The Thunder have the potential to have a total of FIFTEEN first-roundpicks over the next seven years, and they’ll obviously be hoping that teamslike the Clippers and the Heat take a nosedive in the years ahead, as wellas hoping that the Rockets crap out as well. Speaking of Pat Riley’s team, they too have taken on an interesting flavorthis off-season, eh? The trade for Jimmy Butler to go along with theemerging big man in Bam Adebayo…but what is Goran Dragic’s future withthe Heat if he even has one? Miami isn’t done making moves yet before theseason starts. Milwaukee did a nice job keeping their core together this off-season andthey even brought in Brook Lopez’ twin brother Robin for off the benchhelp. They did lose Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana, but they still obviouslyhave Giannis Antetokounmpo to team with returning players Khris Middleton,George Hill, and Eric Bledsoe. Is this the year the Bucks go all the way? If it’s not Milwaukee then what about Philadelphia? The Sixers were only a few bounces of a basketball on the rim away fromgoing to the Finals last year, and they seem to be not only improved, butin addition, they’ll feature one of the biggest starting five’s the leaguehas ever known. How about a starting backcourt of 6’10 Ben Simmons to bepartnered with 6’6 swingman Jason Richardson who was acquired from Miami inthe Jimmy Butler deal? The 6’9 and underrated Tobias Harris is back, andhe’s joined in the Philly frontcourt by 6’10 forward Al Horford, who shouldplay better in his natural position, with the 7’0 monster in the middle inJoel Embiid. Will they miss JJ Redick? I think so, but I also think theSixers like Mike Scott and TJ McConnell getting better to lessen the hurtthat Reddick leaving might cause. Boston no longer has Kyrie Irving and they no longer have Al Horford…andthey no longer have Marcus Morris, who by the time you read this might havealready signed with the Knicks. But they do have Kemba Walker, in many waysviewed as the anti-Kyrie, and they did sign Enes Kanter to replace Horford.The chemistry in Boston might be better but will the team’s performance onthe court be better? Are the Rockets now better by subtracting Chris Paul and inserting RussellWestbrook? Yes, although it will force James Harden to now play better offthe ball and pivot to a style that he was accustomed to in Oklahoma Cityearlier in his career and it will be more than interesting to see if Hardencan successfully make that adjustment. It’ll also be interesting to see ifWestbrook himself can become more of a facilitator in Houston and weenhimself away from being the high-volume shooter as he’s been all theseyears in OKC. Dallas is going to be fun to watch when Porzingas is 100%. The Mavsbackcourt is good and is only going to get better with Luka Doncic and TimHardway Jr., both with great games and the ability to get even better. How D’Angelo Russell is able to fit in with the Warriors will bear watching(if they keep him that is), and while the Warriors do lose Kevin Durant andwhile Klay Thompson figures to be out for a good stretch of time to startthe year, Golden State still has Steph Curry and Draymond Green, a rookiewith upside in Jordan Poole, and returning role players like ShaunLivingston and Kevon Looney to count on. The Warriors dynasty may be overfor the time being, but they’ll still win more than they lose. Denver likes to think that they’re on the brink of doing something special,right? Just the other day they flipped their #1 pick to Oklahoma City inreturn for Jerami Grant. Unlike some other clubs who have played thefree-agent game in an attempt to get better, Denver has built their teamthe last few years through the draft and with some shrewd trades. Grant isstarting material, but I think that at least initially, the Nuggets willbring him off the bench. Also, don’t forget that the Nuggets are hopingthat 6’10 Michael Porter Jr. is finally healthy enough to play this year.With Jamal Murray and Gary Harris as the starting backcourt, and with theever-improving Will Barton up front alongside Nikola Jocic, the Nuggets arefor real and it could be their year. How will Toronto respond to the loss of Kawhi? Yes, they still bring backplayers so instrumental in helping them win their very first NBA title,guys like Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka, with Kyle Lowry back directing theoffense, but when you consider that right now the Raptors plan on fillingthe hole left by Kawhi’s departure with Marc Gasol…yeesh. The win in Game6 of the Finals followed by the parade that ensued will probably bememories that Raptors fans will need to hang on to for some time becauserepeating next year – or anytime soon – is probably out of the question. The Phoenix Suns have needed a capable point guard for a few years now.Ricky Rubio has played the last 8-years in Utah, he became a free agent,then he signed a 3-year deal with Phoenix a few weeks ago…and this stillmakes no sense to me. Yeah, the Suns now have a capable guy running theiroffense with a veteran player who they hope will be able to mentor a veryyoung Suns squad. But if I’m Rubio, is this what I’m wanting to do at thisjuncture of my career? I mean, the Suns have some nice young pieces inwhich to build around with players like Dario Saric and Devon Booker andDeandre Ayton, but when and if this club becomes something resembling acontender in the west, Rubio just might be on his last legs as a player bythat time, – or at the very least – on the downside of his career? Good forthe Suns for the moment at least – but for Ricky Rubio? And the team that Rubio left in Salt Lake? Can I tell you how great I’d feel to see the Jazz back in a conferencefinals situation next season for the first time since the days of Stocktonand Malone? It just might happen. Firstly, I’m a huge fan of their coachQuin Snyder. Secondly, for a team that lost a huge piece only a few shortyears ago when Gordon Hayward left for Boston, a team that seemed to beregressing at that time and hanging on by their fingernails, the Jazz havesince done an about-face in a short amount of time and reloaded with a fewtrades and free agent acquisitions that have them poised to be a potentialtop-four team in the west this season. Mike Conley now runs the team in the place of Ricky Rubio – that’s anupgrade. They brought in a bomber from the perimeter in Bojan Bogdanovic, who shotalmost 50% from the field last year and was one of the NBA’s bestthree-ball shooters at better than 41% from long range. Speaking of goodshooters, Joe Ingles comes back for more. Donovan Mitchell will continue tojump out of NBA arena’s this year while improving his all-around game. TheJazz love what Rudy Gobert is becoming, a force at both ends of the courtwith a surprising touch he’s developed with his shot, an array of improvinglow post moves, and the ability to defend the paint while using hisenormous size to protect the rim. They also made one of the more under theradar free-agent pickups when they inked veteran forward/center Ed Davis.Last year with Brooklyn, Davis collected more rebounds per minute than anyplayer in the league. Make sure you have NBA League Pass this seasonbecause the Jazz are gonna be fun to watch. Then again, with the dizzying amount of moves that have been made over thelast few weeks, most of the team’s in the NBA this year will be fun towatch. Atlanta, with guys like Trae Young and John Collins, they may not be readyto hang with the big dogs yet, but the Hawks are on their way and theirfuture appears to be bright. Orlando should be better than they were a season ago. Lots of intrigue, lots of different scenarios that will be played out, lotsof interest and lots of good stories to sink your teeth into. The Nets are a contender (even without Durant this year Brooklyn has themakings of a 50-win team). The Clippers are a contender. The Jazz and the Nuggets are contenders. Milwaukee and Philadelphia think they can win this season – and they might. The Lakers think they’re back. Dallas is ready to jump back in an make some noise. The Spurs are always overlooked. Portland might be ready to go back to a conference finals again. Houston will be right there no doubt. The best thing about this season before a jump ball has been tossed is thatwhile you may think that one team here or another team over there might winthe whole ball of wax, you really can’t be sure. If you’ve been followingthe NBA for any serious length of time when is the last time you could saysomething like that? There is great talent throughout the league, and the other thing to thinkabout is that while the league has undergone a huge makeover thisoff-season, and while the NBA will be more wide-open this season than inpast years, the window to make your run as an organization is now closingfaster and teams might be fluctuating up and down over the next few yearsahead due mostly to player control providing even more drama for a leaguein need of some. Kawhi’s deal with the Clippers is only for 3-years with a player option forthat 3rd year, thus, Kawhi could be back out on the open market as soon asthe 2021-22 season is here. That’s the same year that Paul George will nextbe a free-agent. That’s the same year where a galaxy of great players couldall be on the free-agent market, players like Giannis Antetokounmpo andBradley Beal and Victor Oladipo and Blake Griffin, and yes, even LeBronJames one more time. Go for it now. Win big. Win now. Player movement inthe league comes at general managers faster and more furious than everbefore. Kevin Durant will have the right to go back on the free-agent market theseason after that (2022) as his Nets deal is a 4-year package but itcontains a player option for the final year of the deal. So, if Durantnever laces up his sneakers in this upcoming season, theoretically, theNets could be looking at a situation in which they have only two-yearsworth of Durant to try and win their first NBA title. We’re a few months from the opening of NBA training camps, of course, butwith what was the best free-agent summer in such a long time for the NBA,it has not only put on a badly needed new coat of paint for the league,it’s also upped fan interest and fan engagement, it’s been the shot in thearm this league very much needed, and it has people wanting to see how allof these moves eventually materialize when this season finally getsunderway. Nobody’s a lock this season, a wonderful mystery has enveloped the league,it’s wide open and it could be any number of teams that gets to the 2019-20NBA Finals. It’s been a long time since anyone could think these ways…I’ll take thismost every year if I can get it. WE NOW RETURN YOU TO REALITY July 10, 2019 By DINO COSTA The world we live in can’t be real, there’s simply no way. Someone please fess up and let the cat out of the bag, alright? Unknowingly, we’re animated characters living inside a matrix and this lifeis nothing more than a simulated computer game where those at the keyboardare having a good laugh as they program the game to include all kinds ofbizarre situations and outcomes. Because when it comes to making sense outof things, nothing else could explain the preposterous nature of what isongoing currently in regard to this Women’s National Soccer team and theidea that they’re somehow underpaid and the idea they should be paid inaccordance with what their male counterparts make. Today in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed equal pay legislationbefore the recent World Cup winning US Women’s National Soccer team wasfeted with a parade in the Big Apple. Said Cuomo; “Women play the same game as men, only better, parades arecool, equal pay is cooler.” As you might imagine, madness has taken over some people’s brains and theonly way this is possible is for all of this to simply not be real. Allow me to get into this piece by getting up on my own personal soapbox,and just like Snoop Dog did, perhaps minus the expletives, tell everyonethat the women soccer players on the National team should be paid as muchas the men make so I can properly fit in with the One Flew Over The CuckoosNest crowd. Are you singing this song too? Doesn’t it feel good to chime along with thesame people all singing this song with you? Have you patted yourself on theback yet? Has Andrew Cuomo patted you on the back? Has the smile becomealmost permanent on your face for taking part in this utterly feel-goodcampaign? Am I welcome to do my part to help out with all of this lunacy asbest I can? Well, if I lived in the world of feel-good fiction and if I resided in theland of the lost and without a clue, then perhaps I could do just that. If I could come up with a reasonable and intelligent argument as to whywomen soccer players should make as much as their opposite gender, I would,and I wouldn’t apologize for making that argument either. I’d not only besinging that same song with you, hell, I’d be at the front of the linebellowing so loudly that they’d be hearing me in Timbuktu and beyond. But because I live in the world of reality (if any of this is truly realthat is), attempting to find legitimate justification for compensatingwomen soccer players at the going rate that the men currently make is notonly impossible, but it’s also downright foolish as well as ignorant. I warn you that because I attempt to live within real-world parameters andbecause I refuse to join with the negligent chorus-singing crowd on thisissue, insisting that the women be paid as much as the men, there will bemany inconvenient truths associated with this story that could hurt someunrealistic feelings and make even the most impressive snowflake out theremelt within a matter of seconds. Now, for starters, can we agree, that even though the United States women’ssoccer team just won back-to-back World Cup titles, and even though thiswas the 3rd time the ladies of America won the award, despite the Men’snational team never having won this same award as of yet, are we able toagree that if the two teams ever hit the pitch against one another in ahead-to-head match-up, that the score would probably be double what thisyear’s ladies team did to that poor Thailand squad back in June, and wouldwe agree that the USA Men’s team would win a game against the ladies withthe final score being at least 26-0? “Women play the same game as men, only better” – Andrew Cuomo If FC Dallas’ 15-and under team could beat the women’s national team, howdo you suppose they’d do against the men’s national club? If you’re insane enough to tell me that the ladies soccer squad would givethe men’s squad a serious challenge, would you also make the claim that theWNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, who have appeared in 6 of the last 9 WNBAchampionships, winning the title 4 of those times, that the Lynx ladieswould give any NBA team, never mind the NBA champions, a run for theirmoney too? And since the Lynx of Minnesota have shown their dominance in recent yearsas the WNBA’s most high-level team, sort of a Golden State Warriorsequivalent of the women’s game…would you also say that because of thisdominance they also deserve to be paid on a par with NBA players? And so…here we go. Are you a soccer fan? Do you watch Major League Soccer? Perhaps you alsowatch any one of the European professional leagues around the world? So nowI ask, how much time do you also spend watching women’s soccer? You know, there is a women’s professional league here in North America andit’s called the National Women’s Soccer League. And so, how many Women’sNational Soccer League games have you watched on television…if you canfind the Network that carries those games? How many tickets have you boughtlately to a Chicago Red Stars or a Houston Courage game over the past fewyears? Yes, I know, it appears as though I’m shitting all over the women’s game,doesn’t it? But really I’m not. What I am doing is showing the Grand Canyonsize difference between the Men’s game and the Women’s game on virtuallyevery level, from a competitive point of view, to dollars accrued, tointerest in the respective games played. The fact of the matter, however reluctant you may be to acknowledge it, isthat while depending on your point of view, while you may feel that it’s agreat thing that that this year’s women’s team won the World Cup, for allof the feel-good emotions it may have brought to some people, so far asmoving a needle is concerned, lets put this into its proper perspective,shall we? The women winning this year’s World Cup for the 3rd time, in all candor nowand without insulting anyone, comes across as a faint whisper whencomparing it under a hypothetical where the Men’s team wins a World Cup,which would be something that when and if it ever happens would fuel somuch energy from one end of this country to the other that it would be ableto light up New York City for the next century. Only days after the Women’s team won the whole enchilada, theirfoul-mouthed, oppressed, and America-loathing captain Megan Rapinoe statedthe following: “I feel like this team is in the midst of changing theworld around us as we live.” Yes, delusion at the highest of levels. We live within a world construct these days that suggests that everyone isentitled to revenue-equality while dismissing any and all reality thatshould dismiss such farcical arguments while also making the proponents ofsuch ideas come off as utterly simple-minded and idiotic at the same time. To say nothing of the fact (and I posted a story about this on thiswebsite just a few days ago) that when contemplating the payout of theWomen’s World Cup earnings against those of the Men, the ladies playing inthis soccer tournament are actually taking home a greater percentage of thewinnings than the men do. Thus, it may be argued that the women areactually raking in more total revenue then the men’s teams are if you breakthis down from a percentage standpoint. In an imaginary hypothetical, let’s say that there is a woman who works asa law-secretary who earns $50,000 a year for attorney’s who have billed acollective $2.5 million dollars within a calendar year (I cannot believe Iactually need to write this as an example). On the other side of town there is another woman secretary who makes $75,000a year doing the same amount of work as the woman making $50K. But thewoman making $75K works for a law firm that generates 3-times the number ofearnings that the law office does which pays their secretary $50K. Giventhe revenue limitations of the law firm paying the woman $50K, would she bejustified asking her superiors to match the same salary of the woman making$75K knowing that they work the same hours and do the same exact amount ofwork? Of course not. Why is it so difficult for people to not understand that the paydiscrepancy between dollars generated by women’s soccer pales in comparisonto that of men’s soccer and it doesn’t have just a little bit to do withmonies distributed, on the contrary, it has everything to do with why themen make more money than the women do. The total prize money for the just completed women’s World Cup came in at$30 million dollars – with the women’s USA squad getting $4 million dollarsto be split among players and staff. This is comparative peanuts when placed side by side against the men’sWorld Cup, last played in 2018, when that tournament produced revenueexceeding SIX-BILLION DOLLARS, with the winning team and staff (France)splitting $38 million dollars. Shouldn’t the argument, feeble that it isfor more money and equal pay for the women’s game come to a full stop righthere? Consider that in 2018, the World Cup winning French squad split more cashamong their players and staff than the entire Women’s World Cup generated intotal this year! If the women are demanding the same compensation as themen are getting, and if they won’t take the field again until they get it,then it says here that there will never be another Women’s World Cup played. Does this not all come down to a case study of supply and demand? Here’swhere I stand so that nobody gets any wrong ideas, okay? I say that if andwhen any women’s sports endeavor produces as many eyeballs, sponsors, andoverall interest as men’s sporting activities do – THEN PAY THEM EQUALLY! Butuntil that time please shut up with your nonsensical and embarrassingposition of equal pay in this area. Have you heard what West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has been up tolately? This man has lost his mind. Either that, or he’s simply attempting to getas many people as possible to say what a swell guy he is by introducing abill that would halt all federal funding for the 2026 Women’s World Cup,which is scheduled to be played in the United States, until the UnitedStates Soccer Federation agrees to provide equitable pay for the women onpar with what the men make. If Joe Manchin applied this same level of stupidity in regard to theeconomics of his home state of West Virginia the Mountaineer state would gobroke. Is the United States Soccer Federation running a business…or is it acharity? Common sense, anyone? Come to think of it, why should soccer players, men or women, why do theymake more than anyone else does no matter what the occupation? Whyshouldn’t the cashier down at the local supermarket make as much as soccerplayers do, why shouldn’t the guy who busts his ass mowing 18 lawns a daymake as much as soccer players do, why…we can play this game all day longcan’t we? If you’re still not convinced then may I suggest you take the time to enteran economics class where perhaps you’ll experience an epiphany and thiswhole thing will make some sense to you? Until then, I’ll remain incredulous that there are actually people outthere making this an issue while at the same time ignoring an infiniteamount of substantive and inarguable points which should make any sober personarrive at only one logical conclusion. The entire spectacle of this thing is not only an assault on any saneperson’s senses, but it’s also a pathetic and brain-dead argument in whichthe evidence to even provide a molecule of support for women reaping thesame kinds of revenue in this specific sporting undertaking as men do,given the gargantuan differences in cash-flow, reduces such a person to anitwit who has no credibility and who should be shunted aside as a fecklesssimpleton. Now…back to the feel-good song you go, with people like Andrew Cuomo andJoe Manchin, both who are clearly living in the land of delusion. THEY CAME AND GOT THE METS July 8, 2019 By DINO COSTA Right before the Mets introduced Brodie Van Wagenen as their new generalmanager back in late October of last year, this is what I wrote in anothercolumn that then appeared on my website when the Mets general manager listappeared to come down to 3 individuals. Chaim Bloom (who should have beenhired), Doug Melvin…and a former player agent. Here is what I wrote: “Brodie Van Wagenen? Come on, the fact that this agent has actually madeit to the final round should be a sign that this franchise is in many waysstill too stupid to comprehend what is and what is not in their betterinterests.” Then, while many in the Mets fan base, mostly the ignorant ones, all hailedthis as a bold masterstroke, a cutting edge hire that was well outside thebox, I maintained that the Mets had goofed yet one more time in theirfeeble attempts at putting a consistent winning product on the field at TheBallpark In Queens (I refuse to call it by its corporate name). Despite my feelings that this move was a colossal mistake, I found myselffascinated with how this guy, Van Wagenen, would come off in his initialpress conference before the New York media. I wasn’t disappointed. “The Bro Show” got underway at the BIQ (Ballpark In Queens) with the Metsvery own “Spaulding” (Caddyshack 1980), Jeff Wilpon, telling the assembledthrong attending, that this was a hire that Spaulding’s dad (Fred Wilpon)was absolutely thrilled with. Of course, he was. Next, we watched as Van Wagenen came to the podium carrying with him cuecards, with notes that I guess he had written down in advance, and withevery flip of the next card, Van Wagenen was on to a new point he wanted tomake. I found this…interesting? Van Wagenen said a number of things at his introductory presser, and one ofthem was that the Mets would; “win now, and win in the future.” Now sinceI cannot tell the future (who can?) I can’t really speak to that, but sofar as the “now” part of Van Wagenen’s declaration is concerned, well, asthe Mets just hit the All-Star break, old Brodie’s troops limp into whatused to be the mid-summer classic with the worst record in the NationalLeague. You say; “but Dino, you got that one wrong. Actually, the Mets have thesecond-worst record in the National League, the Miami Marlins are the worstteam by a few games.” Right. So as I said, the Mets are the NL’s worstteam record wise. The Marlins can be excused for their record, but whatabout the Mets? I didn’t like the hire to begin with and I deplore it even more so now,with the Mets sitting at 40-50, and 13.5 games behind the division-leadingBraves in what is turning out to be just the latest lost summer in thisteam’s inglorious history. Then again, full disclosure, I was willing to give Van Wagenen a shot atimpressing me, which if he did would have been followed by a mea culpa, andwould have made Spaulding and the rest of the Mets brain trust (?) lookingprescient with this outside the box and high-risk gamble they were sowilling to take. Sometimes you roll a seven. Other times you come up with craps, and it isin the crapper where the Mets sit right now, with an individual now incharge, who I guess used to be a pretty good player agent, but obviouslyhas turned out to be a guy who watched Brad Pitt playing Billy Beane in themovie Moneyball (2011) one too many times – and is so far in over hishead that I cringe whenever he speaks, and when he does speak, he doesn’tsound so much like a real person, but rather, a windup doll, an Autobot,who has been pre-scripted with every word and every line that comes out ofhis mouth. As the season drew nearer, Van Wagenen was willing to make a fewpredictions. Van Wagenen made a disastrous and unnecessary trade withSeattle that imported both Robinson Cano and relief pitcher Edwin Diaz, atrade that will not only hamstring the Mets for years to come – but alsomake roster management – given Cano’s massive salary and declining play,all the more problematic when assembling future Mets teams and whenfactoring in payroll. But back to Brodie and his blue and orange crystal ball. Van Wagenen appeared on Mike Francesa’s WFAN radio program, and full ofswagger as a never before baseball executive he said a few things that I’msure others around the game took note of. Las Vegas bookmakers had the Mets under/over at 84.5 before a pitch wasthrown this season. When Francesa inquired with the Mets wizard GM andasked him what he thought of that number, Van Wagenen told Francesa that hethought the number was; “a little light.” Then, with Van Wagenen drippingwith intellectual superiority, he told Francesa that he felt his team wasthe one to beat in the NL East – and that if any other clubs tookexception with his brazen – if not arrogant proclamation – that they shouldbe prepared to; “come and get us.” At 40 and 50 on the season after the first 90-games, I think it’s fair tosay that the rest of baseball has come and gotten Brodie’s National LeagueEast favorites, eh? Van Wagenen not only brought Cano and his ball and ankle chain of acontract to the Mets, but he also banked on Edwin Diaz, who had onebrilliant season, turning into the next Mariano Rivera, and as we’ve allseen, Diaz appears to be a shell of the pitcher this season for the Metsthat he was in 2018 for Seattle. Those who make contact against Diaz andput the ball in play are batting at a .545 clip against the reliever thatVan Wagenen simply had to have. For some reason, he also signed the very competent Jed Lowrie to a 2-yeardeal, another player the Mets had absolutely no need for, and at this point(Lowrie is apparently on the DISABLED LIST), with nobody having seen Lowriesince the end of spring training, some are wondering if he’s actually stillalive, or perhaps he’s gone into the government’s witness protectionprogram. There are so many issues and problematic themes for the Mets that it’sreally hard where to start when discussing them. But let’s go with themanager first. Under Mickey Callaway’s watch, up to this point, he’s managed the Mets to acollective record of 117 wins and 135 losses. Included in that record areback to back months of June in which the Mets went 5-21 in 2018 whilefollowing that up with a 2019 June record of 10-18. For those of youscoring at home – that’s a collective month of June record under Callaway’swatch that comes in at 15-39. “Come and get us.” Moreover, Callaway, who seems to be a nice man otherwise, has shown thathe’s nothing more than a gloried pitching coach who has been drasticallymiscast as the manager of a major league club in baseball’s biggest market.I’ll take it for granted that you’re well aware of the many goofs andboneheaded decisions that Callaway has made in his short time in Queens, soI won’t bore you all by naming them all one after the other. The other night, after a loss to Philadelphia, Van Wagenen, frustrated withthe team that he put together, losing yet another game, waited forCallaway in his office and demanded the entire coaching staff to bepresent, where he then proceeded to rip his into his manager and coaches,apparently throwing a chair against a wall (again, this guy watchedMoneyball one too many times) before telling his ill-equipped and out ofhis depth manager to; “go do your fucking press conference.” The Mets are a team allegedly built on a starting rotation that is the envyof baseball. Good pitchers are made better with guys in the field that canturn balls in play into outs. Yet this is a team that plays a first-basemanin left field, a right-fielder in center-field, and a second-baseman in rightfield. Occasionally, they also play another infielder (JD Davis) in theoutfield, they have a starting catcher (I’ll admit I was all for the WilsonRamos signing) who looks like he needs a cane to get behind home plate, ashortstop whose defense is atrociously bad, as well as being a middleinfielder incapable of getting to balls hit to his left, a second-basemanwho is one of the worst in all of baseball, and a third-baseman in ToddFrazier, who while having a decent enough year, is yet another player whois in decline and doesn’t figure in the teams future. Van Wagenen, who before the year started told everyone just how present andon the scene he was prepared to be this season, hasn’t been heard fromsince mid-June. One of the last times that Van Wagenen spoke with reporters covering theMets, he gave Callaway the third vote of confidence since the seasonstarted and also said that he believed his roster, which he constructed,still had a shot at getting back into contention. Said Brodie; “We havetalent and we have heart and we have a group of people who believe in oneanother and who will pick each other up.” Then just a few days after saying that, Van Wagenen fired pitching coachDave Eiland and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez – who must not have answeredthe bullpen phone quickly enough for Van Wagenen’s liking. Eiland andHernandez must not have had enough talent and heart on their sides? Sincefiring the two coaches the Mets have responded by going 5-11 to date. The mosh pit of irrelevance that ensconces this franchise is almost tooimpossible for it to truly be reality – but it is. Under the Wilpon watch the Mets have been reduced to not only a sad joke –but in addition – their total and complete inability to have this franchisewin for any serious length of time, their inadequacy as the stewards ofthis organization, has rendered New York City a one-team town completely.While the Yankees win year-after-year-after-year, the sad sack nature ofthe team in Queens continues to push the Mets further into a sinkhole whilemaking them the equivalent of some obscure off-Broadway play that is milesand miles from relevancy in the city that they call home. If I’m Hal Steinbrenner? If I’m Brian Cashman or any other Yankeesofficial? Not only do I go to bed at night praying to God that the Metscontinue to forever be run by such discordant individuals, but I’d actuallytake it another step further. Seeing how the Mets are so prone to make onedisastrous and awful decision after another over all these years, andknowing that these negligent decisions play right into the Yankees hands tonot only take over New York – but to dominate the baseball scene in thecity for what seems like forever now – because of the utter baseballmalfeasance which has been on display in Queens for years and years, atnext year’s Old Timers game in the Bronx, I’d invite Pa Wilpon and his sonJeff out to Yankee Stadium, where a plaque of them would be placed inMonument Park, paying homage to an ownership group which has aided theYankee’s cause and ascent over the past 25-years. I’d even consider puttingthe Wilpon duo on the Yankees payroll. The best thing about this Mets season to date? Other than seeing PeteAlonso on his way to a possible rookie-of-the-year award (Brodie hadnothing to do with Alonso being in the Mets organization), and Jeff McNeilshowing he’s one of the best players in the game (Brodie had nothing to dowith McNeil being in the Mets organization), it’s been the apparent verynice draft the Mets put together this past June. But even the terrific play of Jeff McNeil comes with a little asterisk,doesn’t it? Why? Because if we go back to the careless trade that VanWagenen swung to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, the early reportshad Van Wagenen dangling McNeil as a part of that transaction, beforeapparently, fans flooded the Mets office with phone calls expressingoutrage. Thus, that awful trade could have looked even worse potentially,with McNeil leading the American League in hitting and going to theAll-Star game as a Seattle Mariner. “Come and get us.” Back to irrelevance in their own city. The path to a post-season spot has been made more opportunistic than eversince the advent of the wild-card and the split to a three-division formatin 1994, and then, an additional wild-card entry in each league whichcommenced for the 2012 season. Had the season not been shut down during the 1994 campaign, the Yankeeswould have gone to the post-season that year, while of course, the Metswould not have. If we include the 1994 season and roll through the years right up untillast year, that is 25-seasons worth of baseball where the Yankees havequalified for the playoffs in TWENTY-ONE of those years, including WorldChampionship seasons in FIVE YEARS (96-98-99-2000-09) while going toadditional World Series that they lost in the years 2001 and 2003. This current 2019 season will make it 22 years in the last 26 that theYankees will qualify for post-season baseball with an opportunity to getback to yet another World Series. This means that if your father startedtaking you out to Yankees games, say, as a 7-year-old in 1994, you almostdon’t know what it’s like not to be playing baseball well into Octoberevery year. If we include 1994, the Yankees qualified for the playoffsFOURTEEN YEARS IN A ROW, before not being able to get there in 2008breaking their streak. The Mets over that same time? This is truly stunning. For starters, let’s mention that the most years the Mets have madeconsecutive post-season appearances is TWO. Two times. One, two. Period. The Mets did this twice, under Bobby Valentine back in 1999 and 2000, andunder Terry Collins in 2015-16 That’s it. Playing in America’s biggestmarket and with all of the financial advantages that come with that, andsince 2009, playing in what is thought to be one of baseball’s betterballparks, through a host of GM’s and managers over the years, the Metsstreak of reaching the playoffs consecutively, over what is now their 58thseason in franchise history, is two times. This should be unfathomable toany interested observer and a source of outrage and embarrassment to thosewho own this club. There is another word for this: Pitiful. They won’t make the post-season this year (again), and while the Yankeeshave given their fans TWENTY-TWO YEARS worth of playoff baseball (afterthey make it again this season) over the last 26 seasons, the Mets, bycomparison, have given their fans a ticket to the playoff dance a mere FIVETIMES over that same time. Also, included over that 26-year stretch for theMets are FIFTEEN under .500 losing campaigns. The Yankees under .500 yearsover the last 26-seasons? ZERO. Aside from an occasional glimpse of good play that saw the Mets going tothe post-season over the past 26 years, it’s been, for the most part, acourse on baseball ineptitude in the borough of Queens. There have been two periods of time in their 58-year franchise history whenthe Mets owned New York for themselves and when it was the Yankees whoplayed second fiddle. The first period of time occurred when the franchise was actually born in1962. The Mets outdrew the Yankees most years, had the higher televisionratings most years, and won their first World Championship in 1969,becoming the darlings of New York baseball fans. Of course, helping theMets to distance themselves as the cool new kids on the block back then wasthe Yankees own failure at having good ownership when CBS ran theorganization into the ground. From 1969 until 1975, New York was Mets Country. That all changed whenSteinbrenner insisted the Yankees be the King of New York baseball, puttingtogether teams from 1976 until 1981 that swung the pendulum back in theBronx’ favor. The next time the Mets took over New York and called it their own was fromthe years 1984 through 1992. While the Yankees had some pretty good teamsduring those years there’s no question that the heartbeat of New Yorkbaseball took place each night out at Shea Stadium. But when Steinbrenner was suspended from the game for a second time andwhen Gene Michael and his crew took over, they painstakingly put together adevastating array of young talent though prudent drafting over a 4 and 5year period that culminated with the Yankees once again taking over as NewYork’s undisputed and most popular baseball team, a period of time whichhas gone unbroken for the team in the Bronx for the last 26 years…andcounting. This season, while the Yankees dealt with a mounting list of injuries thatwould wreck most teams, they plugged in replacements that kept spitting outwins night after night. The Mets? The cartoon-like organization in Queens keeps spinning its wheels with ageneral manager and manager, both who never should have been hired to beginwith, with the GM beating his chest before the season and telling teams tocome and get him and his ballclub. I think it’s fair to say that baseball came and got the Mets this year. Then again, baseball has come and had their way with the Mets most years. -By DINO COSTA July 5, 2019 We live in utterly fascinating times. Another way to say it is that we live in spectacularly scary and insanetimes. Of course, this is nothing new, however, when one takes into account therapid acceleration, the frequency with which the world continues to seeevidence of these mentally-unhinged times we’re living through, forrational people, it makes them step back for a moment and wonder where thisis all heading? When Melvin Udall answered his door in the movie; ‘As Good As It Gets’ (1997),and told the lady to; “sell crazy somewhere else”, because Melvin (JackNicholson) was all stocked up at the time, who could have imagined that22-years later, buying crazy would be so in fashion? You want crazy? You need yourself some crazy? Crazy is overflowing thesedays to such an extent that ‘crazy’, is now seen as a valuable commodityused by deranged and psychotic people in all walks of life in an attempt tobend societal norms to their liking…with these people giving no thoughtto how absolutely out of their minds they appear to the rest of politesociety. Crazy in the world of sports? Where do we begin? How about the fictitious and very misleading NFL player protests of thepast few years? I’m sorry to report that that particular agenda is only thetip of the iceberg and made to seem almost normal when comparing it to muchof what has occurred since then. The most recent bit of crazy in the world of sports, ironically enough, hasto do with the guy who kicked off the misleading NFL player protestmovement, Colin Kaepernick. It wasn’t enough for the shoe and apparel company Nike to shamelessly makethe self-proclaimed, marginalized and oppressed Kaepernick as the face oftheir company last year, featuring, of course, a hilarious and duplicitousad-campaign that only an ignoramus would fall for. No. Now, of course, Nikeapparently got a phone call from their new diety, who proclaimed that hewas upset that Nike had developed a Betsy Ross-inspired sneaker which payshomage to the original flag of the United States, the one that saw 13 starson it in recognition of the unity of the original 13 colonies. Kaepernick, whose influence on Nike is not too far removed from othercompanies who capitulate to anyone who airs a grievance and then snaps toattention wishing to appease anyone who questions their decisions, feltthat the Betsy Ross flag represented a form of tyranny and oppression, inhis mind, some 242 years after the flag debuted. Now think about this. 242 years is a long time. And so, over the course ofall that time, right up until Kaepernick decided that he wouldn’t approveof such a piece of footwear, nary a peep existed about the Betsy Ross flag,that is, unless someone was romantically and nostalgically recalling thebirth of our nation and how an upholsterer from Philadelphia took the timeto design what is thought to be the first official flag of the comingUnited States of America. As I mentioned at the top, there is seemingly no shortage of crazyavailable these days, but if you’re anything like me, do you find yourselfasking how in the hell anyone would even have the ability to think alongthe lines of an innocuous piece of footwear that celebrates America’sfounding, and then further, makes a serious determination that the piece offootwear in question represents anything other than a nod to America’s pastfounding? How do these people do this stuff? No, seriously, how? How doesa person’s mind go into overdrive after waking up one day, looking at asneaker, and then deciding that the sneaker was designed with a malignantspirit in mind? And so, with Nike heeding the call of their social justice master anddiscontinuing this line of loathsome footwear, stopping production of thisgrotesque shoe post-haste, what is then the next order of business? Yousimply cannot stop here, can you? Now that it’s been revealed that theBetsy Ross flag has no place in this society that is so enlightened, withthe newly acknowledged understanding that anything Betsy Ross related isnow taboo, where else must this newfound mentality be extrapolated acrossother sectors of day-to-day life and within the sports sphere? If the Betsy Ross flag is now to be thought about in the same way we thinkabout devils and dragons, is it okay if I suggest that the Philadelphia76ERS organization commence with an organization-wide total rebrand oftheir franchise? How can any self-respecting individual spend two-cents on the Sixers, howcan any player on their current roster even think about heading onto thecourt next season with this logo representing them? Tobias Harris just signed a max-deal with Philadelphia, and Al Horfordstayed in the Eastern Conference, leaving the Celtics to join the 76ERS.And the 76ERS have also offered Ben Simmons a huge deal that he’scontemplating. How can any of these players, how can the very talented BenSimmons, even think about further employment with a basketball team thathas the unmitigated temerity to feature within their logo a nod to ournation’s past showing a clear tie-in with the flag of the late Betsy Ross?If the Sixers don’t revise their logo soon, let’s hope that USA Todaywrites a scathing front-page editorial about all of this while alsopointing out that the 76ERS organization needs to step up and take a classin being woke as soon as they can clear room on their schedule. In fact, now that I think further on this, I’m even questioning how in thehell the owners of this organization, Josh Harris and David Blitzer (moreon them in a minute), can look at themselves in the mirror every morningknowing that they own an NBA team called, of all things the; 76ERS? Thename of this club is in celebration of the founding of our country?Blasphemy! Just like the Betsy Ross flag, may it be argued that with thefounding of America in 1776, the declaring of total independence at thattime, I mean, is that not a time period that is replete with all kinds ofinjustices and maltreatment? I said in a paragraph up the page that I find it incredible that there arepeople who can think along such maniacal and unscrewed ways – and that Ifind it unfathomable for anyone to get to this level of what I consider tobe imbecility in their own brains. However, understand that theseindividuals take it up to an entirely new level beyond merely thinking inthe unreasonable and crazy ways that they do. That’s only for starters. It’s not enough to come up with crazy on a 24/7 basis. No, because not onlydo they think along crazy lines, but in addition, they insist and demand thatyou too think along and agree with them in this crazy world that they livein. The really scary thing to consider is that these same crazy people, whopreach code words like ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ , as well as ‘freedomof speech’, these are the same people who like to go around talking abouta dictator in the White House, while they themselves show no respect norany consideration for anyone who simply disagrees with their loony world,and they’ll round up their forces to rain down hell on anyone who they seeas the enemy, in a loose-screw style, sparing no method in their attemptsto injure (sometimes physically) and abuse anyone not willing to toe theirparty line. You know, employing the same kinds of dictatorial methods thatthey accuse the current commander in chief of using. Speaking of commanders in chief, someone please tell Colin to get on thehorn with former President, Barrack Obama. Cleary, during one of Obama’sswearing-in ceremonies, the former Prez wasn’t feeling the flow of theKaepernick philosophy on this matter. Did I already mention Messrs Josh Harris and David Blitzer? These two very successful entrepreneurs, who no doubt employ hundreds ofpeople, own the same Philadelphia 76ERS basketball team which I’vesuggested a name change for already in this column. In fact, they not onlyown an NBA franchise, but they also own the team I’ve been a fanatic ofsince their founding in New Jersey back in 1982, the NHL Devils. And, ifyou want a cherry on top, both Harris and Blitzer have controlling interestof Crystal Palace FC, in the English Premier League. They own all of these sports properties. But don’t dare call them; ‘owners.’ In fact, Harris and Blitzer themselves insist you don’t call them ownersany longer. You can call them ‘chairmen’, or ‘top administrators’, orthe ‘big swinging cheeses’ of their respective sports franchises, but oneterm that is now completely unacceptable is the term; ‘owner.’ But Harris and Blitzer are not alone with this request. You see, theClippers owner, Steve Balmer, has also quietly asked others to stopreferring to him as an owner. And the league commissioner, Adam Silver, hetoo is on board with this because, in his words, Silver says he issensitive to any players in the league objecting to calling the people thatown the businesses that employ them exactly what they are…owners. You say, “but this is the PC culture going even beyond the insaneness thatusually accompanies it”. And, of course, normal, clear thinking andrational people would all agree with you. But I’m not sure you got the memoof late, the one that sent the message that the sane people in our countryhave been thrown out on their asses and replaced by insane individuals whonow run America as those kids did on that island in the book; Lord Of TheFlies. This all started, of course, with Warriors forward, Draymond Green, whowhen making an appearance on LeBron James’ HBO program stated: “Veryrarely do we take the time to rethink something and say, ‘Maybe that’s notthe way. Just because someone was taught that 100 years ago doesn’t makethat the right thing today. And so, when you look at the word ‘owner,’ itreally dates back to slavery. The word ‘owner,’ ‘master’—it dates back toslavery… we just took the words and we continued to put it to use.” I see. And so yes, Draymond Green, who has now played 6-years in the NBA,apparently woke up one day and thought about the two guys who own thefranchise that has paid him a total of forty-eight million dollars to dateand decided that it was no longer right to refer to Joe Lacob and PeterGuber, as the owners of the club…because in his opinion it connotes aconnection to slavery. No, you cannot make this stuff up. I take that back. You very well couldmake something like this up for an SNL skit, or perhaps with a feature inthe snarky and satirical newspaper; The Onion. But as we all know, thiswasn’t a part of any comedic act, what it was, stunningly, was a reality. A single player objects, in what is clearly an example of well-overthinkingsomething (that’s a nice way for me to put it), and the resultingconsequence is for the commissioner of the league to enthusiasticallyacquiesce to this suggestion, and now, we’re supposed to call people whoown things something other than what they’ve forever been called. Sorry, no sale on this one for me. Think Adam Silver could have called Draymond Green and asked him if maybethe right side of his brain had shut down when he spoke about this matterinitially? Of course not. Silver, himself a proponent of crazy, insteadtook the path of least resistance, even if it meant insulting anyone with aperfectly functioning brain while also making him look like the NBA’sleading idiot in the process. Does your brain hurt yet? Well if you’re a major league baseball player and your brain hurts and youneed to miss some playing time, you are now placed on the ‘Injured List.’ From Webster’s: DISABLED:“physically or mentally impaired, injured, or incapacitated” For years, probably since the start of the game’s origins, whenever aplayer was out and injured for any reason, they were placed on thelong-standing; ‘Disabled-List.’ You know, cause they were disabled insome way and needed some time off. But no more! Nope, now, as I say, you will refer to injured players as just that,‘injured.’ It seems that over all of these years (who knew?) there havebeen people getting very freaked out about calling players ‘disabled’because I guess a baseball player being referred to as disabled was a clearand intentional, not to mention, an insensitive shot across the bow ofanyone in general society who was disabled in more meaningful ways. Did you ever hear about any of this? Did you and the rest of yourbaseball-loving friends ever bring this up in the car on the way to theballpark over the years? Was this ever office water cooler conversation onthe 7th floor in the building you work in? Do you listen to all-sportsradio? How many calls over the years did you hear questioning theinsensitivity of baseball calling the disabled list the disabled list? No matter, because back in December of last year, MLB clued us all in onthis when Jeff Pfeifer, MLB’s senior director of league economics andoperations, notified clubs of the name change in a memo that was dispatched. Pfeifer said in a press release: ‘In recent years, the commissioner hasreceived several inquiries regarding the name of the ‘Disabled List. Theprincipal concern is that using the term ‘disabled’ for players who areinjured supports the misconception that people with disabilities areinjured and therefore are not able to participate or compete in sports. Asa result, Major League Baseball has agreed to change the name ‘DisabledList’ to be the ‘Injured List’ at both the major and minor league levels.All standards and requirements for placement, reinstatement, etc., shallremain unchanged. This change, which is only a rebranding of the nameitself, is effective immediately.” To wrap your mind around this, or, again, to attempt to place yourself in aposition where something like this was actually thought about by anyone, Ithink, requires a seismic change in how your brain actually operates. Itwould need to function in a totally new way, that is, in my opinion, in aninsane way that should make anyone question the operating system insidetheir skull if they even thought about something like this for a halfsecond. Does anyone truly believe that any legitimately disabled person in Americathought about any of this? Let’s say that someone was afflicted withsomething as dreadful as Alzheimer’s disease, and they recently learnedthat they had this disease, does anyone in their right mind truly believethat such a person would be thinking that with MLB referring to disabledplayers going on the disabled list that it was an affront to them? What’s next? How many homeless people are there living in this countrytoday? Think any of them object to a ball going over the wall for a homerun…as a home run? People living in the streets in our country might beoffended by this. A home run? Maybe baseball should look into this deeperand instead of calling it a home run they can instead make sure to call ita 4-base hit as to not offend. “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks?” As you might imagine, thepossibilities are endless, no? My own mother is unfortunately disabled, and she loves baseball, and yetI’ve never once heard her telling me that she’s outraged or even mildlyupset that players on her adorable Mets have been placed on the disabledlist over the years. You know why? Because my mother, fortunately, doesn’treside in the land of the crazy and insane. She doesn’t rise up and meeteach day with the intention of finding something, anything, trivial or not,that she can bitch and moan about. Now you may say that this is a whole lotta nothing – but of course – I’lldisagree with you. All of this stuff and much more that I haven’t even mentioned isrepresentative of a sea change being enacted by over the top commandos whoare desirous of changing everything they can. These are attempts, and they’re obviously working, to wash away everytradition, every historical figurehead, to fundamentally transform sports,the way it’s been run, the way that people are supposed to (demanded) tothink, and much like within the construct of general society, the sportsworld is under vigorous attack by these individuals seeking to subvert itscore and using the world of sports in a way that will spearhead all oftheir efforts and agendas. As long as those in charge of these leaguesallow themselves to continue to be pushed and bullied around by every Tom,Dick, and Harry, waving the white flag of surrender instead of tellingpeople to get a life, the more you’ll see barbarians successfully stormingthe gates. So far as the NBA is concerned, specifically, with the way the politicalwinds seem to be blowing and with so many in our country seeminglyoblivious to the sweeping waves and calls for socialism and freeeverything, I cannot help but think that the ‘owners’ issue could very wellhave much to do with conditioning the masses (see: Simpletons) against thevery concept of private ownership…of anything. History shows us that these things have a way of metastasizing and if youyourself are currently a small business owner, don’t be surprised in theleast if someday soon you’ll be asked to refer to yourself as an employmentfacilitator instead. As for Draymond Green and the reckless game playing he’s doing with theissue of owners, please give me a break. For Green to align NBA ownershipwith the physical and psychologically debilitating act of slavery at onetime in our country, and for those who were subjected to the cruelinstitution, he insults, shames, and disgraces all who were placed in sucha situation all those years ago. Especially when considering that DraymondGreen is a multi-millionaire who flies first class, stays in the very besthotels to be found, can come and go as he pleases, and is privileged tolive in an America where the African-American community has never lived andprospered better, something nobody could claim when recalling the plight ofthose who were actual slaves during that dark period in our nation’s past. All of this (and more) has never been a point of confusion for me, but thenagain, I like to think that I was born with a modicum of common sense. But as I always say on my radio shows, I went to bed one night and when Iwoke up the next morning I was greeted by a world I didn’t recognize andnever knew existed. I asked around and wondered what had taken place in thehours between when I went to sleep and when I woke up? Finally, a guy down at the gas station filled me in. He said, “what I heard, was that Common Sense packed its shit last nightand took a one-way rocket ship ride off of planet earth.” When I inquired as to when Common Sense was coming back and returning toplanet earth, the attendant at the gas station smiled at me and said; “CommonSense? That bitches time has come and gone. Old Common Sense? He ain’tnever coming back.” It’s another brand new day. It’s yet another opportunity to find something to complain about orsomething that you can demand that somebody change. Now.