The Houston Astros Lost Their Chance to Avoid Meeting Donald Trump

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The Houston Astros won their first World Series title, but they lost something tonight.

Instead of being able to celebrate their victory, they now have to plan for a future meeting with Donald Trump.

Instead of being proud of their city and their team, they now have to plan for the moment where Trump confuses them with the Yankees and offers to show them his slider.

Instead of being pleased with their victory, they now have to submit paperwork to prove that no one was born in Chad.

Instead of being able to plan for a terrific off-season where they can relax with their families, they now have to undergo the traumatic process of answering millions of questions about whether they will actually go to the White House and what they will say to Trump.

Instead of the team's foreign-born players being able to feel good about winning a World Championship, they now have to contend with the fact that Trump is America's best-known white supremacist president and that he may get confused and deport them and their families.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to sleep easy tonight. For the Houston Astros, the Trump dreams have just begun.

Don't Feel Sorry For Papa John's

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The man running Papa John's is a complete and utter douchebag:

Papa John's is blaming the NFL for hitting its bottom line.

The pizza company, which has been a league sponsor since 2010, sliced its sales and profit forecasts on Tuesday. And Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter wasn't shy about who he thinks is to blame for the "debacle": Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

"Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership," Schnatter said on a conference call with investors Wednesday. "The NFL has hurt Papa John's shareholders." 

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart declined to comment on Schnatter's comments. 

NFL ratings, like the rest of network television, are in a slump. Through Week 7, NFL viewership is down 5% overall from the same point last year. 

Though the ratings slump has many causes, some NFL fans may have tuned out because of the controversy over players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police violence. 

President Trump has called on fans to boycott the NFL if the league doesn't crack down on protests. Last month, Vice President Mike Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game after San Francisco 49ers' players took a knee during the anthem.

I would feel bad for the people who work for him if the company went under, but that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about the shareholders being upset that they're not making as much profit as they would like. The owner of Papa John's does not care about his workers--he cares about being rich.

His business model is no different than that of the NFL's. Exploit labor, avoid consequences, make as much money as humanly possible with no regard for anyone else.

Tell me again why I have to feel sorry for people who don't care about anything but themselves...

You Call This a Scandal?

Is this inappropriate? Sure. You don't use your school-issued cellphone to call an Escort service. That's a given. Is it worth losing your job?

Hugh Freeze resigned from his position as head coach at Ole Miss suddenly on Thursday evening, just a week after SEC Media Days. The resignation is effective immediately, and the school has announced co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Luke will take over the head coaching responsibilities for the upcoming season as the interim head coach. It should be expected Ole Miss will conduct a search for a new full-time head coach as soon as possible, but an official hire being made before the start of the season remains in question.

It would seem that there was a lot of investigating going on over this:

Ole Miss reviewed phone records tied to Freeze as far back as 2012. Earlier in the day, USA Today reporter Dan Wolken reported Freeze had made a phone call to the number associated with a female escort service. The phone call in the report occurred in January of 2016. How many phone calls were discovered by Ole Miss is at this time unknown. Once confronted with the phone numbers by Bjork, Freeze is said to have offered his resignation. Whether he voluntarily offered to resign or if he was pushed to resign by the school may never be known for sure, but given the heat on Freeze already following recent headlines it may be pretty easy to see how this all played out behind closed doors.

It just seems like a minor offense to me. It's a morals thing, I suppose, and if your morals get crossways with a school like Ole Miss, well, you're gone. But tell me there aren't schools in other parts of the country who will ignore this and hire Freeze before the summer is out.

This certainly doesn't help:

She didn’t know how quickly it would come, but she knew it would happen.

Her husband, Hugh Freeze, would reach the upper echelon of his profession.

How did she know? 
It was her faith.

“We just claimed the promise,” says Jill, the wife of newly-hired Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze and the mother of the couple’s three daughters, ages 13, 12 and nine. 

“God says if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. He has blessed us and given us the desires of our heart.”

Indeed.

Jill, now the “First Lady” of the Ole Miss football program, was the wife of a high school football coach just seven years ago. While a fine station in life, the Friday night lights are a far stretch from the thunderous roars and traditions of the Southeastern Conference.

Ah, but God had other plans for Jill, Hugh and girls Ragan, Madison and Jordan.

When Hugh was introduced as the Rebels new coach on a damp Monday in December, those in the audience of the Ford Center for the Performing Arts called the moment as genuine as they come. 

It certainly felt that way. Hugh said all the right things. He hit all the sore spots.

He preached about the future.

He simply preached to a congregation of fans hungry for soothing words.

But to Jill it all seemed surreal, as she and their daughters joined Hugh, chancellor Dan Jones and members of the search committee on stage.

“There is absolutely no way this should have happened the way it happened and as fast as it happened,” she insisted. “It’s just God’s hand.

San Francisco is How Many Games Out of First Place?

It's not even the All Star Break, and the San Francisco Giants are how many games back? 

Holy cow.

I can't remember when they have ever been this far out of contention, and I'm sure it has happened, but that's what struck me about today's look at the baseball standings. I'm not a fan nor am I a detractor, but, whatever they're doing isn't working. At all.

I get why Philly is so bad, but the Giants?

Anyway, that's my hot take on something I just did not expect to see.

What the Fuck is This Shit?

This is the least athletic photo ever taken of Trump. He's wearing some sort of cheap-assed throwback Yankee uniform. It has something to do with his ex-wife Marla Maples, Vanity Fair, and some event where he is supposed to represent a "baseball player."

Donald Trump and Marla Maples during Donald Trump’s NY vs Hollywood All-Star Game - June 6, 1992 at Yankee Stadium in New York

Trump? Play baseball? And is she wearing Spanx before Spanx became a thing? What in the name of all that is holy is going on here? Was someone beaten senseless after this event? Were the police called? Did something untoward happen to a burro behind the stadium? Everything about this screams fiasco to me.

Again, I say--what the fuck is this shit? Because that's all you can say when you see this picture. Good God, what have we done to this country?

Then, there's this picture:

Donald Trump and Daughter Ivanka during Grand Opening of The Harley Davidson Cafe at Harley Davidson Cafe in New York City, New York, United States

Donald Trump and Daughter Ivanka during Grand Opening of The Harley Davidson Cafe at Harley Davidson Cafe in New York City, New York, United States

I am done. This is more insanity than I can handle.

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins

I have watched quite a bit of hockey this year, and I am sad to see this season end without a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Pens fans should have had the chance to watch their team raise the cup on their home ice, but what are you going to do?

My observations are:

Nashville's fans are amazing, but they have to stop throwing dead catfish on the ice.

The turnout around Nashville's arena is like something out of an owner's dream. The people who partied outside in Preds jerseys and brought their support of the team to downtown Nashville demonstrates that this is a franchise that will stick around.

The fans inside of the arena stood and clapped for the opposing team at the end. This is beyond classy and is unheard of in many, many arenas throughout the league. Nashville is now a real hockey town, and they should be accorded the respect that goes with it. They turned out for the series, the local celebrities showed up, and the people there made it work. Anyone thinking of signing with the Predators was just shown a damned good reason why doing so would be a no-brainer. They support their team in Nashville, and they understand the game.

The Pens are probably going to dump some players and that's good for everyone looking for playoff experience. A three-peat? Nope, don't think so. This series should have been over after the 4th game. In all four of the first games played, Nashville was the better team in every one of them. They didn't get the breaks they needed on the road, and that's what sunk them.

The NBC announcing crew is the absolute worst in all of hockey. Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire are unlistenable. I simply do not care where these guys played their junior hockey, and the wordplay and the double entendres are difficult to endure. We have watched much of the series with the sound off. I don't care about Eddie Olczyck because there is furniture in the room with more insight. I miss Bill Clement, I wish Coach Barry was out there, and virtually all of the NHL teams have announcer pairs that could do a better job. Bob Miller will go down as one of the all-time greatest announcers in NHL history, and he never got the break he deserved. NBC's crew couldn't hold a candle to Bob Miller. 

Not impressed with the idea that we'll have a "new" franchise next year. The Las Vegas Golden Knights? Really? Okay, then.

No Justice in Happy Valley

If you're like me, and I know I am, you can't believe they still have a football program at Penn State:

A former president of Penn State and two other former university administrators were each sentenced Friday to at least two months in jail for failing to alert authorities to a 2001 allegation against ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a decision that enabled the now-convicted serial predator to continue molesting boys. 

"Why Mr. Sandusky was allowed to continue to the Penn State facilities is beyond me," Judge John Boccabella said. 

"All three ignored the opportunity to put an end to (Sandusky's) crimes when they had a chance to do so," the judge said. 

Ex-president Graham Spanier, 68, got a sentence of 4 to 12 months, with the first two to be spent in jail and the rest under house arrest. 

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier walks to the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, March 20, 2017. Matt Rourke / AP

Former university athletic director Tim Curley, 63, received a sentence of 7 to 23 months, with three in jail. Former vice president Gary Schultz, 67, was sentenced to 6 to 23 months, with two months behind bars. 

The judge also criticized the actions of the late head football coach, Joe Paterno, who like the other administrators failed to alert child-welfare authorities or police to the 2001 complaint, but was never charged with a crime.

These are slaps on the wrist. These are sentences designed to make old men comfortable. The punishment here does not fit any of the crimes committed. Oh well. It's not like anyone's going to atone for their mistakes or man up when it comes to Penn State. Just another day in Happy Valley.

The precedent here has been set, and this is why they still play football at Baylor--you can commit any kind of sex crime you want against a vulnerable person and the law isn't going to touch a Division I university. Some institutions are so rotted out from within and packed with filth and treasure that they simply won't be held accountable anymore.

Tiger Woods Busted For DUI

In case you were wondering, yes--that's Tiger Woods:

Tiger Woods was busted early Monday for allegedly driving under the influence in Florida. 

The once-great golfer was arrested around 3 a.m. on Military Trail just south of Indian Creek Parkway in the town of Jupiter, NBC News has confirmed.

Apparently, he doesn't have anyone in his life to help him through tough times. This is tragic on a number of levels. Woods doesn't have to play golf anymore and he should have upwards of $500 million in the bank if he hasn't completely blown through every penny he ever made.

Nobody has ever done a worse job of surrounding himself with advisors than Tiger Woods, except, of course, Donald Trump.

Beth Mowins Gets to Call an NFL Game This Year

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This is long overdue:

ESPN broadcaster Beth Mowins will be given the play by play assignment for the Sept. 11 game between Chargers and Broncos in Denver, the late game of the Monday Night Football opening week doubleheader. Former Bills and Jets head coach Rex Ryan is likely to be her game analyst. Ryan was hired by ESPN in April and the Monday Night Football assignment would be his debut as an NFL color commentator. Mowins and Ryan called the Florida State spring game together last April.

I have watched a lot of NCAA softball, and Mowins is a great broadcaster. She handles every broadcast with a great deal of skill and is always informed, always knowledgable about what's happening in front of her. If you don't know who she is, go and Google some of the things she has called and I'll bet the whole gender thing disappears quickly. 

The women's NCAA softball tournament is a grueling event, not only for the players but the broadcasters as well. These are not easy games to announce, and Mowins is always good. She has paid her dues to get where she's at and no one should assume that this is some sort of desperation move on the part of ESPN. Far from it--she's one of the best out there.

Her qualifications to call an NFL game are self-evident: she knows the game, she knows how to handle having two people in the booth with her (some simply cannot juggle such a thing), and she is more than capable of handling the job. I have always thought that she was good enough to move up in the sports announcing world to assignments that don't have to be gender specific, and calling an NFL game is exactly where she should be. I think she should regularly call baseball games as well. In fact, I would have guessed that she would have been given a chance to call more ballgames this summer, but the NFL is a nice price, too.

The NFL Draft is Complete and Utter Bullshit

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If I really wanted to go further into this subject, I would tell you two things.

One, ESPN laid off a bunch of people today because no one likes their product. People are cutting the cord, they're abandoning televised sports, and they're not interested in whatever ESPN is selling. If you have a product, and demand for that product drops, it probably means that people just don't like your shit.

Two, ESPN is desperately trying to make fetch a thing. No, sorry, that's wrong. ESPN is desperately trying to make the NFL Draft a thing. It is not a thing. The NFL draft is an attempt, by the National Football League, to find a handful of college players who can survive playing professional football. Every year, teams fail to find good football players. Instead, they make minor celebrities out of players who go to pieces mentally, fall apart physically, or fail to take advantage of an opportunity to play professional football. This all unfolds at these things called training camps, which aren't a thing, either. This is the behind the scenes developmental stuff that most people don't care about. 

Do you know who cares about this stuff? Zealous superfans, degenerate gamblers, and the family members who think they're going to get paid. That's more sad than happy, I'm afraid.

Here's a question for the NFL. Do you have a football game to play in September? Then go play it. Here's one for ESPN. Do you not get that people are losing interest? It's called voting with your remote crontrol. There are fewer and fewer people who are interested football, and televised sports as a whole. Are you going to front load your programming here in the off season with bullshit for months and months and make something out of nothing? I gotta tell you, I'm even less interested now.

ESPN, you suck. The NFL Draft is not a thing. Go back to what you're good at, which is putting on things people want to watch. Big hint for you--everything you're doing right now is NOT working.

Eli Manning Wants You to Have Fake NFL Memorabilia

Let's not pretend that this is a unique and horrifying story about one unethical athlete. I would be willing to bet you that Eli Manning is just the guy who got caught saying what he felt:

Eli Manning had a role in the New York Giants' scheme to sell fake game-used memorabilia, Kaja Whitehouse and Bruce Golding of the New York Post reported.

Per court documents, Manning sent an email to equipment manager Joe Skiba that read, "2 helmets that can pass as game used. That is it. Eli."

This came shortly after a request from marketing agent Alan Zucker for two game-used helmets and jerseys.

Manning, Skiba and the Giants were among those named in a lawsuit from three memorabilia collectors.

Another email exchange featured Skiba admitting to the plaintiff that Manning created the fake memorabilia because he "didnt want to give up the real stuff."

So much for the sanctity of the sport and the love that an organization has for its fans. Anything for a buck, right?

Do you know how much sports memorabilia I own?

None.

Why?

Because it's probably all fake, and always has been fake, so why throw away money on something that could be real or could be as phony as Eli's crocodile tears will be when he has to address this issue. I don't hound people for autographs and I don't care about selfies or anything like that. Do you know what's real?

Technically, everything.

But why throw away money on something? For the fun of it? Well, I guess it depends on how you define fun.

Oh, and why are most of Archie Manning's kids assholes? 

Darryl Sutter is Out of a Job

This really surprised me today:

The Los Angeles Kings have fired coach Darryl Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi, who led the franchise to its only two Stanley Cup championships.

The Kings on Monday also promoted former defenseman Rob Blake to vice president and general manager, while longtime executive Luc Robitaille will be their new team president in charge of all hockey and business operations.

Everyone knows why the Kings had a rough year. They lost Jonathan Quick at the beginning of the season and didn't find a suitable replacement. They had a roster that couldn't get it done, but it's not like they don't have the talent around which you can build a great team. How does firing Sutter fix the roster problems the Kings face in the years ahead?

How do you do that to the guy who brought two Stanley Cups to a franchise that had none? Hockey is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kinda sport, and that's how they're doing things in Los Angeles. If they can get a good coach and get back into contention, well, I guess that would prove me wrong. I was of a mind to see them make roster changes and come back next year and do fairly well, but how likely is that now?

No Guns at Arkansas Football Games

Somewhere, someone is sad but I'm now following Wally Hall because, well, why the hell not?

Arkansas fans, leave your guns at home. You're not allowed to take them to football games (seems like someone always forgets, right?)

This is Stupid, and, Of Course, It Involves Guns

I refuse to believe that people in Arkansas are this stupid:

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill regarding a person’s ability to carry a concealed handgun into various buildings at a public university or college into state law. However, House Bill 1249 will not allow all legal gun owners to carry a gun to a football game in the state of Arkansas.

Football games will be considered a “sensitive area,” which require enhanced training in order to be allowed to carry a gun into a football stadium. The law supposedly trumps any provisions already in place to prevent guns from being allowed on the premises.

“The enhanced level of training is very important, and I am convinced the public will be more safe,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This bill, in my view, reflects the view of the general assembly.”

The view of the general assembly is, "beer plus college football plus shenanigans is enhanced by the presence of guns as long as you have enhanced training."

What the hell is that, by the way? Well, to me, it's something that the police chief's kid gets in order to wave around in front of people. It's what people with a lot of money and influence get when they want something from the local sheriff. It's kind of a no-brainer. If you are smart enough to pass "enhanced level of gun training" class, shouldn't you also be smart enough to know that a football stadium is exactly where you don't take your gun?

What happened to common sense? Do you know where you need to carry your gun? Not at a college football game, that's where.

Did That Team That Nobody Likes Win?

I am not a March Madness kind of fellow. But if that team that plays for that school you went to won, great. If they lost, well, bummer, man.

There is a huge disconnect between the reality of college sports and the overall college experience. I read a side item earlier about Lamar Odom and how he went to a college on the east coast. He was not a good student, but he was great at basketball. He maybe lasted a year with that team, left no mark on that school, but they go crazy for him and love him anyway. What is there to admire? That's where he stopped on the way to going to the NBA. He didn't graduate, he didn't stick around and help the team win a lot of games. One and done, baby.

Bob Knight is Crazy

Thousands and thousands of words have been written about Bob Knight. What nobody seems to understand is that he's crazy:

With Knight, the ironies and contradictions always wreathed around each other. The same man who demanded discipline from his players, showing so little impulse control himself. The figure who demanded unwavering loyalty from those around him, quick to excommunicate friends from his inner circle and turn on allies (read: Mike Krzyzewski, among many others). The coach who sometimes spoke in the most profane terms imaginable, prudishly forbidding the Assembly Hall crowd from chanting BULL-SHIT. The teacher who stressed attention to detail, going about his own business with active disdain for nuance.

Really, if you reduce every anecdote, every public statement, everything Knight has ever done down to one thing, it all makes sense. He's a out-of-control lunatic. How is he even allowed to own a gun or drive a car? I've never understood this.

There is No Russian Word for Sportsmanship

Maybe there is a word, but I doubt anyone in Russia understands what it means. I hate to generalize, what with all of the cheating, the doping, and the widespread corruption, but there's something wrong with Russia when it comes to presidential candidates from New York and with sports in general:

Perhaps you've heard of Russia, this small little country that's been in the news lately. The country, which hosts the World Cup in 2018, has had a small problem with its soccer fans getting into brawls before games. One lawmaker, however, has a solution: Legalizing the fighting and turn it into a sport. Igor Lebedev, a member of the Russian parliament, introduced the new "sport" in which 20 unarmed fighters on each side go at it inside an arena. “Russia would be a pioneer in a new sport,” Lebedev said. “English fans arrive, for example, and start picking fights. And they get the answer — challenge accepted. A meeting in a stadium at a set time.”

I wouldn't go around wishing for a brawl with British soccer fans. First of all, some Scotsmen might show up pissed and beat everyone up. Second, you go up against some bleary-eyed howling Arsenal fans on the wrong patch of ground and you'll waddle home on two bloody stumps. And, third, what the hell?

Legalizing unruly fan fighting? Really? Come and join the rest of humanity when you come to your senses.

Charles Oakley Should Sue the Knicks

Apologies to anyone who doesn't care about New York sports, but this should be a bigger story:

The forced removal of retired New York Knicks star Charles Oakley from Wednesday’s Knicks-Los Angeles Clippers game at Madison Square Garden has sparked a legal controversy that keeps growing.
As previously detailed on The Crossover, Oakley was charged with three counts of assault and one count of trespass after he and several Madison Square Garden employees scuffled a few rows behind the court. In an incident that was recorded by multiple cameras, Oakley threw punches and shoved, though the resulting injuries were reportedly very minor and none of the injuries required any medical attention. Oakley’s outburst appears to have been directed mainly at Knicks owner James Dolan, who was sitting nearby and whom Oakley contends has treated him with disrespect and disdain
Dolan opens the door to be sued by Oakley for defamation
Dolan escalated the Oakley conflict in remarks made while on Friday’s The Michael Kay Show. During the interview, Dolan declared that Oakley suffers from a “problem with anger” and that Oakley is “both physically and verbally abusive,” which Dolan—who does not appear to have any formal training in medicine—classified as “personality problems.”

If the NBA didn't already have the precedent that was set with Donald Sterling and the Clippers, everything regarding James Dolan would scream of divestiture or the stripping of the franchise from his ownership.

This article really gets at the legal ramifications of Oakley suing the Knicks. What should happen is this--Oakley should sue them for the embarrassment of physically removing him in the manner in which they did and the NBA should separate the Knicks franchise from James Dolan. Those two things don't have to happen together, but if they did, that would be justice.

Does race come into play here? Absolutely. I think Oakley was treated the way he was because he is black. Plenty of very, very privileged and wealthy white people say horrible things at NBA games courtside and nothing happens to them.  Oakley was manhandled, defamed, and assaulted. Yes, he did strike at Madison Square Garden personnel. Was that reasonable, given what they were doing to him? I don't know how you could say he wasn't defending himself. 

Does the fact that Dolan has run the Knicks straight into the ground factor into this as well? Yes, and that's the NBA's problem because well-run franchises don't seem to have these problems. Much of the ire directed at Dolan stems from the fact that he's a terrible owner with a terrible executive in the personification of Phil Jackson. To say that the Knicks are mismanaged is an understatement. This should be a storied, honorable franchise. It's far from that.

Just as the Sterling story was whipped into a frenzy, so should this one be talked about and debated. You had a very ugly incident that overshadowed the game where it happened and no one has gone after the one man who could have handled things within the limits of decency. James Dolan is so far outside of those limits, there's really no recourse but a severe and permanent punishment.

Tom Brady and Donald Trump Are Really, Really Good Friends

It might not be a big deal right now, but it will be in the days and weeks ahead. 

The friendship of Tom Brady and Donald Trump is like proof hell is real if you're a New England fan who voted for Hillary. You have the golden boy quarterback--the best ever--and the most unpopular president in the modern era. 

How long do you think it will take for Brady to salvage his own image (endorsements are really important when you're a quarterback approaching the age of 40) and conveniently stop appearing with Trump? Or will Brady double down and proudly defend his friendship?

At some point, someone's going to be thrown under the bus. And what kind of new and exciting version of hell is it when Corey Lewandowski gives an interview to gush like a schoolgirl about a friendship between two men?