Sports

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Four, Part Four

Today, the ghost of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson possessed Jeff Sessions in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as the Attorney General stonewalled America with Southern drawl and Southern defiance, disseminated liberally throughout the afternoon’s testimony. He made up new legal privilege—apparently, Sessions can anticipate the President’s use of executive privilege, if he believes it’s in his client’s best interests, within which we can also identify Jeff Session’s client as Trump instead of the country…because now Trump gets to claim executive privilege without actually claiming executive privilege. See! Trump’s bullet-proof!

We cannot keep playing this dangerous game. A White Nationalist killed two brave men in Oregon, stabbed another, and scarred two young girls in the name of hate. He appeared before a jury and started spouting about how his anti-Muslim ideology was American. This was a terrorist attack within our borders, and there was weak condemnation of this attacker from the White House, considering the fervor and passion Trump can potentially create with a wave of his tiny Twitter fingers.

Trump excoriated the Mayor of London in the wake of a truly gruesome terrorist attack. Is it “ridiculous” to assume Trump had targeted Sadiq Khan because he is Muslim, and therefore Khan represents the perfect Twitter-fodder for Trump’s ravenously anti-Muslim base? How horrifying to realize the answer.

Trump’s all over the map on foreign affairs lately. His love for Saudi Arabia likely inspired appalling ISIS attacks within Iran’s borders. It’s possible Trump thinks this is a great success because now Shiites are killing one another, and he can potentially claim political value out of created wars in which Muslims kill Muslims. Again, how horrifying.

This game Trump plays, where he’ll let you know when he’s good and God-damn ready…it is a waiting game in which he hopes dumb, ol’ America will just simply forget and move on to the next atrocity. If anything, he thinks of America as being infested with Kafkaesque Gregorian liberal worker cockroaches, and Trump’s the exterminator!…and Oh! by the way, on that note, let me just thank Fox News for not letting me down and never turning down the volume on your hatred of liberal America. Kudos!

We need to see through this farce, and speed up this lame reality show. Let’s stop stonewalling and get to the truth of the matter. This administration is doing damage by the day, and all Trump seems to offer is “Trust me. I’m going to make America great again!” This huckster still can’t have over 30 percent of Americans bamboozled, can he?

Sigh. At least Joe Maddon finally figured out a lineup that will produce runs for America’s team, and just like last season, the Cubs have been the perfect distraction to avoid overexposure to the horrors of Trump tonight. I’d like to shout out my allegiance to my country and my baseball team and my solution for the first:

Go America!

Go Cubs!

Go away Trump!

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

The Maniacal Professor

The Cubs Go To The World Series

I remember my grandfather, Edward Guffey, as a Cubs man. He taught me about baseball; hell, he forced my father to play catch with me in his backyard in Lynwood, Illinois, when my Dad didn’t want to play with me…to make my father interact with me when he wasn’t sure how to do so because the father-son bond was somewhat awkward…I used to sit in my grandfather’s kitchen, with his candy corn and VIP pipe tobacco mixed together in the middle of the kitchen table, while we watched summer Cubs games during the Fergie Jenkins/Jody Davis/Ryne Sandberg years…I listened to Harry Carey and Steve Stone broadcast games with my Grandpa and Grandma and loved every moment of it…I learned how to cut grass on a ride-on lawn-mower while he watched from the back window, and listened to both of them about the history of Chicago baseball,  literature, and culture.

My grandfather was a carpenter on many of Chicago’s sky-scrapers, specifically the very dangerous construction of the elevator shafts. He saw some of his co-workers plummet to their deaths while building on the Hancock building and others. He had to un-screw a rivet from his hand one day, and he didn’t go to the emergency room like most sane other men would have done. He went back to work as soon as he could, because he was from Chicago…

…and he was a Cubs fan.

I love tonight’s victory, and it’s made me think about my grandfather in a most loving way. Have a great World Series, Chicago!

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Two, Part Seven

A great Packers game tonight! Another victory for my Cheeseheads, and we need it since Minnesota’s looking pretty good. The Eddie Lacy injury sucks, and the Pack didn’t look like world-beaters…but they won!

Yep, a good night of NFL football…

No Trump. I’m sure he put on quite a show.

I’ll figure out the fall-out tomorrow.

Lord knows we’ve got plenty to think about over these last few weeks, before America makes its decision. I realize that no matter who wins, this is going to leave some damage in its wake.

I’ve received some deep wounds today to prove it.

Scott C. Guffey

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Two, Part Five

Please feel free to read the following essay using the internal literary-reading voice of Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards character, Francis Underwood, yet make no mistake that it is the voice of the Maniacal Professor:

I came into the Vice-Presidential Debate hoping Tim Kaine would tear Mike Pence a new one…

…I came out of the Vice-Presidential Debate’s aftermath so very sullen, because Pence had actually gained my respect, despite his transparently-false denials…and I carry a grudge against my governor, for which I still feel justified because of his shilling for Trump and his abuse of Indiana’s educational system, but I just cannot deny that I share his rhetorical persona…

…I begrudgingly admit I find Mike Pence to be likable…

…because he’s so very good at deflecting with the good-natured Hoosier personality of being neighborly…respectfully disagreeing…sharing your experience…attempting to relate…using a NASCAR or hunting analogy every now and then…just trying to be friendly while trying to explain white Christian ethics to all the brown and black people that have shown up so suddenly in the metropolitan areas of Republican Red-and-White-Yet-Not-Necessarily-Accepting-Of-Blue Indiana…

…but Mike Pence is still shilling to Donald Trump, simply so he can run for President in 2020 after Hillary Clinton is elected to the office on November 8th of this year…fingers crossed…still not sure because I check my Facebook feed WAY too eff-ing often during these last thirty days of this election cycle.

My thesis: I try to be a good-natured Hoosier, but it’s damn hard to do so when more than half of Indiana is voting for Trump. The way I carry out this ideology is easy enough, because I do enjoy and practice the following Hoosier ethics:

  1. Pay your fair share
  2. Live within your means
  3. Be kind to your neighbor

Trump does not follow these three components. Mike Pence does; therefore, I think Mike Pence is a better candidate for President.

I do not enjoy showing up to the polling booth to vote for Hillary Clinton, ESPECIALLY after Bill Clinton has gone bat-shit crazy and seriously, openly criticized Barack Obama’s legacy. He is not helping his wife’s cause, unless he figures he is driving every woman voter her way by matching Trump’s misogyny…

…at any rate, I will be voting for Hillary Clinton, and I hope fellow Hoosiers and Americans realize that Clinton shares the aforementioned three values more than Donald Trump. She is not exactly the embodiment of the three values, but it is undeniable that Donald Trump is the complete antithesis of these three moralistic values;

I admit publicly that I am voting against Donald Trump.

This is a difficult admission because I enjoy voting for a candidate; I do not enjoy voting against a candidate…

…but that is our reality in 2016.

I also admit that I will probably consider voting for Mike Pence if Hillary Clinton does not work out after four years.

I invite those Americans who understand that I am, in fact, a shill because of this invitation, just like I have accused Mike Pence of being for Trump.

I admit I am a shill…

…because Trump is not worthy of a vote for those of us who share a new set of conservative Christian values, a set of American values that involve fairness, frugality, and love, not discrimination, avarice, and fear.

Trump just isn’t the guy. Listen to what he says. Why do so many people have to work so very hard to figure out what he’s saying and defend what he’s saying?

Just listen to what he says. It’s a simple enough lesson from teaching rhetorical analysis: What you say betrays your character.

I am shilling to my friends and family and fellow Americans, from within the Northwest Region of Indiana, as a former Bears fan who wears an Aaron Rodgers jersey during NFL Sundays in 2016…

…Please don’t vote for Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is not that bad.

Please and amen.

Scott C. Guffey, M. A.

An American Teacher’s Voice about the Dallas Ambush

To prove my American bona fides, I am posting this after watching the entire MLB Home Run Derby, including the entertaining final round between Giancarlo Stanton and Todd Frazier. Miami’s Stanton beat my hometown slugger, Frazier, 20-13. Good American fun.

This last weekend, I had been trying to figure out how to address my online summer class about the Dallas massacre and two preceded killings of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota. I confess that I’d like to take the easy way out and not mention it, but then I don’t suppose I’d be well-representing my position as a professional representative of the community. The following is an excerpt from the announcement I posted for my class this day, a day after the deceased soldier in my life, Sgt. Timothy Allan Guffey, would have turned 33, if he had not taken his own life because of George W. Bush’s war:

Dear class. It’s still difficult to process the brutal events of last week, yet the demented slaughter of five police officers and two needless shootings of black men by police officers within the short span of three days have beset the nation with a need to reflect. It is necessary to grieve, and it is equally necessary to struggle with issues of racial tension, mental illness, public violence, gun classification and legal ownership, and national security. I’d like to invite students to read one (or all) of the three articles I included this morning in Additional Readings about reaction to the Dallas ambush as the subject matter for the Reflective Essay (…or next week, you could make it the central subject matter or argumentative thesis for our final paper, the Argumentative Research Essay).

[The three articles I included are as follows, in last year’s MLA citation format:

“This City, Our City.” The Dallas Morning News. The Dallas Morning News, Inc., 9 July 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.

Wolf, Leon. “The Uncomfortable Reason It Came to This in Dallas Yesterday.” RedState.  RedState.com, 8 July 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.

Dyson, Michael Eric. “Death in Black and White.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 7 July 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.

I wrote a bit about the minutiae of the on-line class after this. I concluded with a summary of the concept of America, since we had concluded a session about conceptual writing and extended definition.]

I love my country, and it saddens me to see such civil unrest in America this summer. However, I will not give into despair because the country I know and love does not give into our fears. We love and support our neighbors, and we provide hope and opportunity to our most indigent citizens. This country is strong, and we will persevere despite the nay-saying. This is the country I know and grew up in, and many people have attempted to persuade me that America has become fundamentally different. I am having trouble seeing America as if we are on some inevitable spiral down the metaphorical toilet, because frankly, we have seen worse times than this. America will endure. America is more than any one individual citizen. It is an aggregate, made up of the best parts of all of us together, and we cannot be torn asunder when we are united as one.

Scott C. Guffey

The Maniacal Professor’s Fantasy Football Draft Rankings 2014

[Author’s Note—I’ve been playing fantasy football for about two decades now. I traditionally make a list of my draft preferences in order by position. One of the first websites I ever created was a fantasy football website. I remember the season I designated Drew Brees as the 32nd pick at quarterback, worst possible fantasy starter in the league, after his miserable 2003 season with the San Diego Chargers, his third season in the NFL. The Chargers were ready to abandon Brees and had drafted Eli Manning first in the draft, but ended up with Philip Rivers. Mind you, I’m a Purdue alum, and I love me some Drew Brees…one of the best games I saw live at Ross-Ade Stadium was Drew Brees vs. Maurice Clarett…still have my grudge against Ohio State because of that game. However, I apologetically wrote in my draft recommendations for 2004 that Brees seemed to be a bust in the NFL, and he wasn’t worth drafting for your fantasy team. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, but there might have been other forces at work that year…

…the guys in my league know about something called the “Grampa Guff” curse, which means my draft selections and NFL wagers can actually alter the fine cosmic balance of the NFL universe at any time. The ghost of Grampa Guff sits on my shoulder as I watch football games or read NFL rosters, and he often whispers in my ear, suggesting perfectly logical assumptions about players, games, and outcomes. I haven’t learned to resist his slick, smooth tongue. I’ll follow ol’ Grampa Guff’s advice, and BAM! An injury. BAM! A sure-fire win becomes an upset loss. BAM! A once promising prospect slumps and ends his career unceremoniously. BAM! The disaster that is David Wilson happens (yep, he and Shane Vereen were my RBs after the draft last year). I’ve even seen Grampa Guff possess NFL coaches, as he has done with Mike Shanahan with both the Broncos (Mike Anderson or Olandis Gary ring a bell?) AND the Redskins last season (He handed the ball to Darrel Young THREE times at the goal line the very week I traded for Alfred Morris!). Some of my buddies actually contend that I caused the infamous Music City Miracle way back in the day (it’s a long story). Grampa Guff gets a great laugh from my football misery, slapping his little leprechaun-like knee and swinging from my elbow, as I watch the unfolding events of the NFL, year-after-year, slack-jawed and slump-shouldered.

Keep this factor in mind while reviewing my draft rankings. I usually hit more than I miss, but when I miss, it’s a doozy. It’s been many years since I won a fantasy championship (Daunte Culpepper with the Vikings was my QB), even though I made it to the championship two out of the last three years…not last year, though…last year Grampa Guff conspired to keep me out of the playoffs. Hopefully, he’ll lighten up after having his way with me last season.—SG]

Quarterbacks

1. Drew Brees—Reliable fantasy champ churns out the same great numbers year after year…yep, ever since that 2004 Maniacal Professor snub.
2. Aaron Rodgers—Cheesehead quarterbacks are always better fantasy picks than Bear QBs…and Rodgers might be the best Packer QB of all time. Solid fantasy QB.
3. Peyton Manning—I can’t argue with 55 passing touchdowns. I worry, though, that Manning might fizzle out at any time because of the wear and tear. The Super Bowl soured me. Sorry.
4. Andrew Luck—I’ve started Luck for the past two years. I have no problem plugging him in as my starter in his third season, where he might reach his full potential.
5. Nick Foles—Chip Kelly’s offense is designed for fantasy success, no matter the QB. It doesn’t hurt that Foles is turning out to be pretty darn good, even without DeSean Jackson on the roster.
6. Tom Brady—Sure, Brady had his worst year in a while last season, but tough-as-nails Brady will rebound. He’s likely to be a bargain pick in later rounds.
7. Colin Kaepernick—I know most people are more impressed by his quickness, but I can’t help but notice he can be rather accurate with a strong arm. A healthy Crabtree is necessary, though.
8. Cam Newton—He might have lost all of his receivers, but an argument can be made that he didn’t really have much at receiver last year. He’s an electric fantasy QB option.
9. Matt Ryan—He slipped big time last year, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s going to roar back this season. Julio Jones needs to be healthy and Roddy White needs to play for Ryan to return to form.
10. Matthew Stafford—I’ve never really liked Stafford’s game. Sure, he’s hurling to Megatron, but that’s never proved to me that Stafford can be all-around effective. I’ll avoid him as much as possible, but I’d take him if the previous nine happened to go before I had a starter.
11. Philip Rivers—I have a love-hate relationship with Rivers. I know he can be a reliable fantasy QB, so I’m willing to take him as first choice for a back-up option.
12. Russell Wilson—I think Wilson can be an effective fantasy quarterback, but the system the Seahawks have favors the running back on offense. I’d like to hide him on my bench just in case he explodes without anybody realizing he’s that good.
13. Andy Dalton—I root for the Red Rifle, and he’s actually quite serviceable as a fantasy quarterback. I’m just not confident enough to make him my starter…yet.
14. Robert Griffen III—I made no secret last season about how I didn’t trust Griffen, mostly because of what I perceive to be a bad attitude. I know he’s got high potential. I’m going to pass; you can take him.
15. Tony Romo—I could see myself bumping Romo up a bit on my board at the draft (still a back-up, not a starter). I’ve had Romo as a starter in the past, and I don’t want to have to rely on the Cowboys…or have to watch them every week.
16. Jay Cutler—I’m rooting for Cutler, but I have no faith in him. He always has his bad games, and he’s never proven to be a decent fantasy option. However, he’s got a strong O-line for a change, three giants and a scatback catching the ball, and a fairly smart coach…hmmm.
17. Johnny Manziel—I’m a fan of Johnny Football. I’ll be watching the Browns whether I draft Manziel or not. If Brian Hoyer starts, so be it…Hoyer looked pretty good last season for a game and a half.
18. Josh McCown—I might take a flyer on McCown, since I watched every second of his brilliance on the Bears last season. He also has some decent receivers. However, Lovie Smith has a way of killing an offense as coach…
19. Ben Roethlisberger—Big Ben is still the magic man, even if he’s getting a little long in the tooth. If I wait ‘til the end of the draft for my back-up QB and he’s still there, I’m swiping him up.
20. Teddy Bridgewater—I rolled the dice here. Literally. {1=Eli Manning 2=Carson Palmer 3=Joe Flacco 4=E.J. Manuel 5=Sam Bradford 6=Teddy Bridgewater } Six it was.

Running Backs

1. LeSean McCoy—No brainer number one. He’s at his peak age, in the middle of the Chip Kelly scoring machine. Defenses will not know where to go, pass or run. McCoy will chew up the field. Hopefully, there will be another freak snow game like last year.
2. Jamaal Charles—On second thought, Jamaal Charles is a no-brainer number one, also. The only thing that gives me pause is the memory of an injury-prone past. It’d be foolish to pass on Charles because of fear; he’s too damn good.
3. Adrian Peterson—He’s still my favorite running back of the modern era, since he’s Walter Payton reincarnated. He proved that he’s not only physically tough, but he’s also emotionally tough, as he went through some tragedy last season…and he just kept playing. Respect.
4. Marshawn Lynch—He runs like he’s got the world’s biggest chip on his shoulder, and the first guy to him usually gets dragged five yards…or whiffs. He doesn’t have as much wear on his body as you’d think…check his career stats.
5. Giovani Bernard—I’m reaching up and grabbing the dynamite with this pick. To say I was impressed with Bernard’s game is an understatement.
6. Eddie Lacy—I shake my head every single time the Packers outdo the Bears. I knew Lacy was going to do some damage as soon as the Pack snatched him from Alabama. I begrudgingly take him ahead of…
7. Matt Forte—Not that Forte is chopped liver. I said a long time ago that Forte is the modern-day Marshall Faulk…in fact, a few guys chuckled at my “idiocy”…until Faulk started comparing Forte to himself regularly on the NFL network. Duh.
8. C.J. Spiller—It seems like a lot of people have given up on 26-year-old Spiller. He did play through injury last season, and prior to that, he was a reasonable facsimile of Jamaal Charles. I’ll overdraft for him probably, but there’s a high reward to be had if he’s healthy.
9. Alfred Morris—I hesitate to draft Morris, only because of the nightmares I had last season with him on my roster. I just have to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t his fault. Morris might become the best running back in the league in his third year, and Mike Shanahan is long gone!
10. Le’Veon Bell—It was strange to me that a Steelers running back wasn’t a fantasy stud last season…probably because the Steelers always have a stud running back. Last season was an aberration. Bell was too good at Michigan State to be a bust in the NFL.
11. Arian Foster—You can’t fall in love with running backs. Arian Foster proves this. He fell off a cliff last season. However, considering how bad the passing game might be in Houston, Foster makes a reasonable choice for a second starting running back.
12. Montee Ball—Former Wisconsin star takes the reins of the Broncos running game. I think Knowshon Moreno was the beneficiary of the Peyton Manning pass machine last season, and there’s no reason to think that Montee Ball cannot do the same. There’s a chance Ball could do better!
13. DeMarco Murray—When Murray is healthy, he’s a fairly good quarterback. The offense is going to have to carry the Cowboys, so Murray’s got a good chance of being a fantasy producer. He’s gotta stay healthy though.
14. Doug Martin—People are leaping off the Martin hamster wheel as quickly as they leaped onto it in his rookie season. I saw way too much talent from this guy in 2012 to fall off the bandwagon just yet.
15. Bishop Sankey—There’s quite a few rookies who might make decent fantasy starters this season. Sankey makes the most sense, since Shonn Greene is likely to lose the starting gig in the preseason.
16. Andre Ellington—I made a waiver move for Ellington on my bench last season, so I watched him closely. He has a lot of potential, especially catching the ball out of the backfield. The only question will be if he can make any progress in the tough NFC West.
17. Zac Stacy—Same problem for Stacy, playing against the tough defenses of the NFC West. Tre Mason might cut into Stacy’s work, too. It’s a shame because Stacy looked like he could be the workhorse for the Rams if he could get some decent QB play to help him.
18. Frank Gore—A long-time Frank Gore fan, I keep waiting for Father Time to catch up to him…and he just keeps putting up the same numbers season after season. God bless him. I’d be fine with Gore as my number two back, but I’d probably look for a quality back-up quickly.
19. Reggie Bush—Reggie Bush has lightning moves and plays at least one game every season where you’re glad you drafted him. He’s not the most consistent scorer however. If Joique Bell keeps splitting carries with Bush, then I don’t know if I want to play Reggie every week in the RB2 slot.
20. Toby Gerhart—Gerhart’s not a bad running back. He reminds me of Mike Alstott at times. I have a notion that the Jags are going to surprise a lot of people this season. If that happens, it means that Gerhart is raking in touchdowns. Hmmm.
21. Chris Johnson—If there is one player that I think needs a big stage in order to produce, then it’s Chris Johnson…and the stage doesn’t get much bigger than New York. I don’t think he’ll run for 2,000 yards again, but he wasn’t as bad as we’ve become accustomed to last season.
22. Shane Vereen—I took a chance on Vereen last season, and he injured his wrist after game one. Thing is, he was rather good in the first game, and he was serviceable when he returned at the end of the season. It’s hard to gauge who’s running the ball with the Patriots, but I think that Vereen is Belicheck’s workhorse over Stevan Ridley.
23. Ben Tate—I thought Tate might supplant Arian Foster at one point of his Texans career. Now he’s only got a rookie to beat for the starting spot. He needs to stay healthy, but I can see Ben Tate electrifying Cleveland’s offense with Johnny Football leading the way.
24. Ryan Mathews—Mathews defines frustration. He didn’t have a terrible season, but he’s always an injury risk…plus, he’s competing for carries with Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown. I’d probably skip on Mathews because I’ve had him too many times in the past. Purely personal.
25. Darren Sproles—I wouldn’t skip on Sproles, though. I wonder if Sproles will be the man who replaces DeSean Jackson in the Eagles passing offense. Sproles looked like he might be losing a step or two on the Saints last season.
26. Pierre Thomas—I love the Illinois alum. I had him on my roster last season, and I forgot a cardinal rule: Always play Pierre Thomas when he’s playing against the Bears. He’s playing the Bears this season right around fantasy playoff time.
27. Ray Rice—Ignoring all the off-season drama, people seem to have forgotten that Rice was largely ineffective last season. I’m not sure he can recapture his glory days. I’ll draft him as a back-up, but not a starter.
28. Trent Richardson—I would have never predicted Richardson would be an NFL bust after watching his tremendous Alabama career. I’m reminded of Curtis Enis. Here’s hoping he lives up to the promise in his third year, this time after a full year with a playoff contender.
29. Devonta Freeman—After learning that Steven Jackson was already injured this season, I give the nod to the rookie here. Watching Hard Knocks, I think Freeman might be worth the pick here.
30. Danny Woodhead—Woodhead almost acts as Philip Rivers’ slot receiver when he’s in the game. He’s a threat to catch touchdowns, and he gets his fair share of carries.
31. Maurice Jones-Drew—I’m a fan of MJD, but it’s tough to see how the Oakland backfield is going to play out. I’m sure that Drew still has some tread left on his tires, so I lean towards him as the starter…
32. Darren McFadden—…McFadden, however, can be a beast when he’s healthy. The problem is that he’s going to be injured at some point in the season. It’s as reliable as Chicago snow in January.
33. Mark Ingram—I think Ingram has gotten a bum rap in his first three seasons in New Orleans. He runs pretty tough, and he’s had some good games when given the ball reliably. The problem has been the Saints RB rotation system, where Ingram doesn’t get consistent carries. I don’t think that will change (with Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson), but if they give Ingram the ball enough, I see good things.
34. Jeremy Hill—Let the onslaught of rookies begin! Hill has a good shot of taking carries away from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, so I lean towards taking him ahead of the other rookies.
35. Tre Mason—There are already rumblings out of St. Louis that they will run a RB-by-committee system. Mason is good enough to steal the starting job.
36. Christine Michael—I don’t think Marshaun Lynch’s job is in jeopardy, but I do think Pete Carroll prefers to run the ball instead of throw the ball. He might have dreams of a three-headed monster with Lynch and Russell Wilson running all over the joint.
37. Carlos Hyde—Hyde’s got a chance to take carries just because Frank Gore needs a blow every now and then. Plus, they might want to copy the three-headed monster concept of the rival Seattle Seahawks.
38. Ka’Deem Carey—This is a homer pick, but Carey has a body built for goal-line carries, which has been a weak part of Matt Forte’s game in the past.
39. Ahmad Bradshaw—End of the rookies here, especially since many assume Bradshaw has reached the end of his run in the NFL. I don’t think he’s quite ready to hang it up, especially considering Trent Richardson’s inability to break tackles. Bradshaw, when healthy, is a bruiser who refuses to go down. Might be worth a look.
40. DeAngelo Williams—I’ve made it a rule to avoid Carolina running backs because of the infuriating fantasy potential that NEVER pays off. If I had to choose between Williams and Jonathan Stewart, I’ll take Williams since he seems to get more carries.

Wide Receivers

1. Demaryius Thomas—I lean towards Peyton Manning’s big target over Matthew Stafford’s. Plus, Thomas had slightly better numbers than Calvin Johnson, and I don’t think Thomas has hit his ceiling, especially since Eric Decker’s out of town.
2. Calvin Johnson—This doesn’t mean that I won’t scoop up Calvin Johnson if he’s there and Thomas is not. I’m pretty sure that most people are going to draft Megatron as the first receiver off the board, so I’ll probably enjoy another season without a Detroit Lion on my fantasy roster.
3. A.J. Green—Green is only in his fourth season, yet many people think he’s hit his ceiling. I’m not sure about that. I think he’s easily capable of eclipsing 11 touchdowns, especially if Andy Dalton plays with a chip on his shoulder this season.
4. Julio Jones—My premier receiver last season, my fantasy team sunk the same way the Falcons did when Jones was injured. I’m not shying away from Julio Jones because of injury. He could be the best deep threat in the game when he’s healthy.
5. Dez Bryant—I’m not a fan of the prima donna act, but I can’t deny the rewards Bryant can reap for a fantasy team. I’ll draft Bryant, bite my tongue, and suffer through the tantrums and the garbage football that is the Dallas Cowboys (That’s right, America’s team. I called your brand of football garbage…that’s what we call in Chicago “trash talk.” Hardy-har-har).
6. **Josh Gordon**—Here’s where I would draft Gordon if he didn’t have this God-forsaken suspension hanging over his head. He smoked some weed. Who cares? Let him play with Johnny Football. God, that would be awesome. Here’s hoping that the NFL stuns the world and gives Gordon a four-game suspension instead of a year.
7. Brandon Marshall—This is a tough choice for a Bears fan. I want both of these guys, but it’s not going to happen. Oh well. If I have to pick one or the other, I suppose I’ll take Marshall since Cutler seems to favor him slightly.
8. Alshon Jeffrey—See, the problem is that I think Jeffrey is actually a better receiver…or at least capable of being better…but only by a slight margin. Ah, halcyon days in Chicago, where having a good offense just doesn’t happen often…certainly not having potentially the best pair of receivers in the league.
9. Antonio Brown—I didn’t believe in Brown last season, and my buddy scooped him up and reaped the rewards. I’m not making that mistake this year.
10. Jordy Nelson—The Packers’ veteran receiver had his best season for catches and is playing for a contract this season. We know he’s capable of catching double-digit touchdowns. No reason to believe he won’t this year.
11. Percy Harvin—I’m reaching for Harvin. I know about the injury history. I even remember the migraine issue. I don’t care. This man can play. I know there’s risk, but man, I want that high reward. Drooling over the possibilities.
12. Pierre Garcon—I prefer Garcon in a Colts uniform, but he’s still pretty good in the Washington uniform. At least he’ll have some receiver help with Desean Jackson, so Garcon might be able to stretch the field a bit more rather than catching over the middle so much.
13. Vincent Jackson—He’s a big stud with hands of glue. Tampa drafted another stud with hands of glue to play on the other side of him. If Josh McCown plays like he did when he had the two big studs with hands of glue in Chicago, then we might be on to something here. Regardless, Jackson will get his catches because he’s that good.
14. Wes Welker—He’s Peyton Manning’s solid number two with Eric Decker in New York. We know Welker is capable of 100 receptions, but he only had 73 last season. He also had double-digit touchdowns for the first time in a while (10). Is it possible he could catch 100 balls and 15 TDs? If Welker can stay healthy, maybe…
15. Randall Cobb—As a Bears fan, this kid scares me. He’s cat quick and capable of being a perfect copy of Percy Harvin…and just like Harvin, he has to stay healthy. He was dinged up last season, but I remember how good Cobb was in 2012. He’s also playing for a contract, so he has incentive.
16. T.Y. Hilton—Ah, memories. The high-point of my season was the three-touchdown second half Hilton had against the Texans on a Sunday night (I had Andrew Luck also). I’ll take Hilton again just on the promise of another night like that.
17. Keenan Allen—Allen had a fairly impressive season, especially for a rookie. He might be the reason Philip Rivers experienced a resurgence. I caught a few Charger games, and Allen looked like the real deal. He seems like a decent WR2 pick.
18. Michael Crabtree—I kinda thought Richard Sherman was in the wrong last year with Crabtree. I’m not going to call him a thug, but I will allude to an act of classlessness. I think Crabtree is capable of finding some fair compensation for the grievance. He’s the key to the 49ers passing success.
19. DeSean Jackson—I have some history with Jackson. I know he’s capable of the big game. That’s obvious. The problem is he’s just as capable of going into seclusion and producing the one reception, nine yard game. It’s feast or famine with DeSean. I don’t think that will change in Washington.
20. Andre Johnson—Man, I wish the Texans would trade Johnson. He’d be drafted in the top ten if he had any kind of reliable quarterback play. Instead, he has Ryan Fitzpatrick. Ugh.
21. Larry Fitzgerald—I might be underbidding Fitzgerald a bit, since he had a good season when Carson Palmer came to town. I guess I see him as the ideal WR3.
22. Julian Edelman—I knew Edelman was going to replace Wes Welker as Tom Brady’s preferred target. I don’t see Aaron Dobson replacing Edelman just yet. Edelman might not catch a lot of touchdowns (esp. if Gronk stays healthy), but catching 100 balls again is not out of the question.
23. Victor Cruz—Cruz was an ascendant fantasy prospect as recently as 2012, when Eli Manning forgot how to throw the football to players in blue uniforms. I suppose I’d love Cruz in the three slot, especially if Eli Manning remembers how to play quarterback.
24. Cordarelle Patterson—I’m overbidding on this Viking, even if the QB situation is in limbo. Potential lightning-in-a-bottle. I detect fantasy gold.
25. Marques Colston—Ah, I still remember the 2006 fantasy draft…I watched all of the Saints preseason games. I waited ‘til the last pick of the draft to take the impressive Marques Colston, of whom no one at the table was familiar, and declared it to be my best pick in the draft. Seldom do my declarations come true, but it sure did that year. Unfortunately, that was eight years ago, and Colston is slowing down a bit. I think Brees still trusts him, but…ya know, Jimmy Graham’s in the lineup.
26. Torrey Smith—I still have an emotional soft spot for Smith because of his losing his brother and playing with heart and passion through the emotional pain. If only Joe Flacco played every regular season game like he does when he’s in the playoffs…
27. Eric Decker—I know it’s fashionable to assume that Decker will suck because he left the Broncos to play for the Jets. I’m not so sure that will be the case. Decker proved himself to be a fairly impressive receiver. It wasn’t all Peyton Manning on those pass plays…and Michael Vick isn’t chopped liver when he’s got some decent protection (NEVER the case in Philly). The Jets are in the business of surprising NFL experts. I’ll try Decker if he’s there.
28. Reggie Wayne—Boy, I hope Wayne comes back healthy and ends his stunning legacy with a playoff run. If Andrew Luck has a healthy Hilton, Wayne, and Hakeem Nicks all season, then the sky’s the limit.
29. Terrance Williams—Terrance Williams was a pleasant discovery last season, especially after I lost Julio Jones for the season. He doesn’t have to worry about Miles Austin taking his fieldwork away from him either. I trust Williams to have a good fantasy season. He might be the only Cowboy I tolerate on my fantasy roster.
30. Michael Floyd—The Notre Dame product came into his own in his second season with the Cardinals, esp. with avg. yards per catch. He can catch the long ball. If Larry Fitzgerald becomes a Cris Carter-type possession receiver, then maybe Floyd can become the Randy Moss- type deep threat. Stranger things have happened.
31. Emmanuel Sanders—The number three option for Peyton Manning might be a starter for some fantasy squads. Sanders has some good speed and might be a deep threat. However, I’m not sure Manning can still throw the deep ball as reliably.
32. Sammy Watkins—We know Watkins will be a stud, but the question is, will it be in his rookie season? I admit I like E.J. Manuel’s game. It’s conceivable that the young QB with the strong arm develops a rapport and trust with his new receiver. Rookie records are meant to be broken.
33. Tavon Austin—I don’t think Austin will consistently do well, week-to-week, but rest assured, there will be an occasional game where Austin cuts loose for big numbers. I’d store him on my bench and look for weak defenses out of the NFC West to plug Austin in.
34. Brandin Cooks—This speedy rookie has the chance to be the surprise of the fantasy draft if Brees decides to chuck it deep, which you know he will do.
35. Kenny Stills—Based off of last season, I’d say Stills would be the ideal deep threat, if not for Cooks presence on the Saints.
36. Riley Cooper—It seems like Riley Cooper has a good rapport with Nick Foles. I’m not sure if he’s capable of being the number one receiver on the Eagles, but it is entirely possible.
37. Anquan Boldin—Boldin will have at least one extraordinary game for the Niners, but you can’t rely on him to perform every week.
38. Mike Evans—He’s going to be awesome in the NFL. If the Bucs had a better offensive line, I’d draft him higher, but McCown might not have enough time to throw.
39. Roddy White—Heard on Hard Knocks how Matt Ryan plans to use White like Tony Gonzalez this season. That’d mean good numbers if White can play the underneath routes.
40. Kendall Wright—If I had to take a Titans receiver, it’d be Wright. He’s got talent, but I’m not confident in the Titans’ QB play.
41. Mike Wallace—He should have stayed in Pittsburgh. His fantasy value took a big hit when he put on the Dolphins uniform.
42. Cecil Shorts—A good receiver on a team where there are low expectations. If Blake Bortles hits the big time, Shorts has a decent chance of being a quality fantasy WR.
43. Golden Tate—Maybe he’ll be the number two option that Detroit is looking for, except Stafford is still throwing the ball. I don’t see Tate’s numbers exploding over last season. Expect the same, which isn’t that stunning.
44. Greg Jennings—I like his chutzpah, but his days of being a fantasy stud are behind him.
45. Jeremy Maclin—Staying healthy has been the biggest problem for Maclin. If he stays healthy, then he could shine in the Chip Kelly fantasy machine.
46. Kelvin Benjamin—He’s a big target for Cam Newton. A lot of promise if Benjamin creates a rapport with his stud QB.
47. Hakeem Nicks—Maybe a change of scenery is what is needed to reinvigorate Nicks. He landed in a darn good spot for a comeback.
48. James Jones—I love me some James Jones in Wisconsin. Not so sure about James Jones in Oakland.
49. Steve Smith—He’ll be serviceable in Baltimore, but I wouldn’t count on too many touchdowns.
50. Malcom Floyd—He and Philip Rivers had a nice rapport before his injury. I’m hoping he’ll return to form for the Chargers.

Tight Ends

1. Jimmy Graham—Graham might be worth a first-round pick, right around Calvin Johnson territory.
2. Julius Thomas—Thomas came out of nowhere last season. He’ll be scooped up right after Graham this year.
3. Rob Gronkowski—There’s a lot of risk picking Gronk, but he could put up big numbers. I’m not sure I’d take the chance. Guess we’ll see how the draft plays out.
4. Vernon Davis—There aren’t many tight ends that can be considered deep threats. Davis qualifies. He had an extraordinary season, but I’m not sure he’ll reproduce the same TD results.
5. Jordan Cameron—It’s reasonable to see similar results from Cameron this season, especially considering how often Manziel or Hoyer might be dumping it over the middle.
6. Martellus Bennett—The tight end gets a lot of red-zone looks in the Chicago offense. Bennett’s a great target with good hands.
7. Jason Witten—A good reliable option at tight end. He’s still a Cowboy, though.
8. Greg Olson—Another good reliable option. He was the Panthers’ leader in receiving last season.
9. Jordan Reed—There’s a lot of potential with Reed, and RG3 will utilize the tight end a lot.
10. Dennis Pitta—Joe Flacco needs a good tight end to be effective. When Pitta got hurt, Flacco looked lost.
11. Zach Ertz—Lots of potential in that speedy, pass-happy Eagles offense.
12. Charles Clay—A quality versatile player in the Dolphins offense. Asked to block a lot last season.
13. Kyle Rudolph—A potential stud that needs to stay healthy.
14. Heath Miller—He’s still Roethlisberger’s favorite target. He could catch 4 or 5 TDs this season.
15. Antonio Gates—We keep waiting for Gates to quit, but he keeps coming back and doing okay. Good for him.
16. Eric Ebron—The Lions sure drafted him high. I might draft him and keep an eye out for a rookie surprise.
17. Delanie Walker—Servicable TE on a team that likes to use the TE.
18. Jared Cook—One thing you can count on about Sam Bradford: he uses his tight end.
19. Garrett Graham—The Texans’ quarterbacks might make Graham the leading receiver.
20. Scott Chandler—The Bills have a nice tight end option for E.J. Manuel.

Kickers

1. Matt Prater
2. Justin Tucker
3. Stephen Gostowski
4. Steven Hauschka
5. Phil Dawson
6. Dan Bailey
7. Mason Crosby
8. Nick Novak
9. Adam Vinatieri
10. Matt Bryant
11. Robbie Gould
12. Blair Walsh
13. Greg Zuerlein
14. Shaun Suisham
15. Nick Folk
16. Sebastian Janikowski
17. Graham Gano
18. Dan Carpenter
19. Jay Feely
20. Josh Scobee

Defensive/Special Teams

1. Seattle Seahawks
2. St. Louis Rams
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Carolina Panthers
6. Denver Broncos
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. New England Patriots
9. New Orleans Saints
10. Baltimore Ravens
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Cleveland Browns
13. Buffalo Bills
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
15. Chicago Bears
16. New York Jets
17. Green Bay Packers
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
19. Houston Texans
20. Minnesota Vikings

In Defense of Stephen A. Smith

I’m a frequent viewer of ESPN’s First Take, and there have been plenty of times I have disagreed with host Stephen A. Smith. I’d say there were a few times that Stephen A. Smith has offended me with his views (same with Skip Bayless). Recently, Smith was discussing his opinion in regards to the Ray Rice suspension, and his words stirred up a hornet’s nest of opposition in the media, mostly from ESPN’s SportsNation host, Michelle Beadle. I’d wager to say that a lot of the angst and disappointment that commentators have for Ray Rice’s two-game suspension is now directed at Stephen A. Smith.

I think this is a bit unfair to Stephen A. Smith. I’ve watched the broadcast and read through the transcript a couple of times, and I’m not entirely convinced that Smith’s words are as offensive as many are labeling them. In fact, he may have something of a point that we are hastily disregarding in light of a shared disdain for abuse of women. Stephen A. Smith may have not been as eloquent in this instance, but he might not deserve the knee-jerk reaction he is receiving from those with an inclination for proving their staunch opposition to the Ray Rice suspension.

First, as to what I think about the Ray Rice suspension, his receiving two lost games is not a long enough suspension…not that four to six games might necessarily magically cure Ray Rice of his physical attacks on his wife. The public scrutiny on Rice seems to be more of a cure than this suspension, and who’s to say that a four-game suspension would be enough to satisfy the crime? Would the media have become incensed if it was a four-game suspension? Probably not, which could indicate that the media’s moral majority might be the ones who have the most beef here. It seems a bit arbitrary to me, especially considering how unbalanced the NFL’s system for handing out fines and suspensions has been to this point.

I think this has become a case of political correctness, especially concerning Stephen A. Smith’s commentary on Friday. Here is what he said:

We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I got to reiterate that. But as a man who was raised by women, see I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do, I know what my boys are going to do. I know what, I’m going to have to remind myself that I work for the Worldwide Leader, I’m going to have to get law enforcement officials involved because of what I’m going to be tempted to do. But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen.

I bold-faced the text that I believe has been deemed offensive. What I think Stephen A. Smith is trying to say involves something that happened in his life. If I’m reading it right, then it might have involved a situation where a female might have been attempting to persuade a male, whether a male family member or a male police officer, to vindicate a perceived crime (I say perceived because that’s how our legal system works). It’s possible that a female might have been asking for a “chivalrous” reaction in the form of returned violence (think of the commonly-used phrase, “Be a man”), which is not what should be advocated in such a situation. We want the law to handle domestic violence situations without further violence, and we certainly don’t want to add to the list of potential arrestees. Perhaps, Stephen A. Smith was attempting to convey how, at times, females shouldn’t goad males into escalating a situation in the after-effects of domestic violence…and if you don’t believe that this could occur, then I’d suggest watching a few episodes of Cops (the truest reality TV show).

Stephen A. Smith continued:

Now you got some dudes that are just horrible and they’re going to do it anyway, and there’s never an excuse to put your hands on a woman. But domestic violence or whatever the case may be, with men putting their hands on women, is obviously a very real, real issue in our society. And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen. We know they’re wrong. We know they’re criminals. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a 2-game suspension which we both acknowledged. But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying. No point of blame.

Michelle Beadle, who is EXCELLENT on SportsNation, posted some Tweets showing her disgust for Stephen A. Smith:

So I was just forced to watch this morning’s First Take. A) I’ll never feel clean again B) I’m now aware that I can provoke my own beating.

I’m thinking about wearing a miniskirt this weekend…I’d hate to think what I’d be asking for by doing so @stephenasmith. #dontprovoke

I was in an abusive relationship once. I’m aware that men & women can both be the abuser. To spread a message that we not ‘provoke’ is wrong

Violence isn’t the victim’s issue. It’s the abuser’s. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk. Away.

Since Beadle has been in an abusive relationship, it’s obvious that she is taking this personally. Unfortunately, she is stretching Smith’s words a bit, especially with asking about wearing a miniskirt, which Smith did not indicate anything about how a woman dresses being involved in provocation.

He also did not say that Michelle Beadle in any way provoked her own beating. It’s understandable that Beadle might assume Smith is referring to all women who suffer domestic violence, but it was not his intention. Smith suggested that it is possible that women might provoke a response from men AFTER an incident of domestic violence. I do not see where Stephen A. Smith suggested that any woman who is beaten “provoked [her] own beating.” It is a leap on Beadle’s part.

Beadle suggests that Stephen A. Smith censor himself and walk away. She has a great point about violence being the abuser’s issue, and it is true. However, she wants to suppress (deems it “irresponsible and disgusting”) any discussion about how provocation might be a factor in domestic violence. This isn’t exactly fair, and it might work against efforts to cease domestic violence. Does Michelle Beadle believe that women are not capable of provoking men to commit violence? If we allow no discussion about the factors that lead to domestic violence, is it possible that some women might manipulate the system to falsely accuse or “get revenge” on men who have wronged them? Do men (and women) frequently engage in violence against their partner WITHOUT provocation? I’m not trying to make excuses for those who commit violence, but it’s obvious that domestic violence happens on a disgustingly large scale. Do we honestly think that suppressing a voice that might actually have a decent suggestion to avoid cessation of further violence helps? Is censorship going to help avoid further domestic violence? Michelle Beadle’s shaming of Stephen A. Smith isn’t exactly helping her cause, in some ways.

It’s obvious I’m in the minority when defending Stephen A. Smith here. I’m sorry to say it, but I agree with him on one point: I don’t think this topic is broached enough. Unfortunately, I don’t think Stephen A. Smith is going to broach this topic ever again, thanks to the backlash he’s receiving. This is unfortunate, in the sense, that it contributes to the difficulty of designating what causes violence in the first place. I live on the South Side of Chicago, where a culture of gun violence has surfaced, in which young people are shot, based on imaginary grievances and manufactured provocation (some of which are provoked by females, instigating easily-manipulated male characteristics). Nobody talks about how these shootings in Chicago are so easily provoked. In fact, most people ignore the details…and the violence increases.

I might also bring up Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Was there provocation involved? Is provocation a factor in “stand your ground?” In this case, was Zimmerman provoking an attack, or did Martin? Did the young dead victim deserve to be shot, because he provoked Zimmerman? Did our justice system exonerate a killer because of the untalked-about factor of provocation involved in the case?

How about we scrutinize the nature of provocation in a specific case of a female who suffered domestic violence? Marissa Alexander could serve 60 years in jail because no one wants to talk about how provocation should be defined in her Florida case, even though it is the exact opposite of the justification for George Zimmerman’s exoneration.

My point is that we shouldn’t be so quick to stifle an opinion that asks us to consider the nature of provocation in instances of human violence. Certainly, I’m not willing to make the leap that Stephen A. Smith is advocating that any woman who is beaten by a male asked for it by her own provocation.

A few days earlier, Tony Dungy was lambasted for comments about St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam. When asked about the comments, Michael Sam gracefully replied, “I have a great respect for Coach Dungy, and like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.” I fail to see how this situation is that different. Stephen A. Smith gave his opinion, and I’m not sure that his opinion, according to his rhetoric, is “women deserve to get hit,” as some are suggesting it is.

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Golf Doesn’t Need To Be Resuscitated

I watched last night’s HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which had a segment titled “The Future of Golf.” (There was also an excellent segment about the disturbing slave labor practices of Qatar…definitely worth checking out.) As an avid golfer, I’d like to address the golf segment specifically, since the golf industry is struggling, and major changes are being considered.

Apparently, young people are not golfing anymore. I understand golf courses are closing frequently in America, as I’ve seen some of my favorite courses in Northwest Indiana closed over the last couple decades (especially Lake Hills in St. John, Indiana…I wish I had one more chance to play what was probably the most difficult yet most fantastic golf course I’ve ever played). It is definitely frustrating to see golf courses close, and I understand how difficult it is to maintain a course and still turn a profit.

However, I often wonder if it isn’t the fault of the golf industry, as many entrepreneurs took advantage of the false boom in real estate and suffered the same fate as the economy when the market crashed in 2007. Prior to this point, plenty of people were happy to exploit the heightened interest caused mostly by Tiger Woods. Greens fees went up, and more administrators were hired…heck, I noticed some colleges offering degrees in golf course management.

Financial opportunity looked promising, and many thought they could eat a big piece of the golf-boom pie. When it turned out to be more of a trend than a sustainable cash cow, a lot of that promise bit the dust. I wonder if the prediction that golf is dying is more of a reaction from those who put too much investment into golf futures and are attempting to salvage their losses by advocating radical changes to the game.

The biggest change to the game of golf that is being proposed involves creating a fifteen-inch hole. The idea is that it will make a game of golf go quicker, easier, and be more fun. It seems like a simple enough alteration, and even Jack Nicklaus stated that anything that will draw people to the game should be considered.

I don’t get it. This change will fundamentally change the entire concept of putting. You won’t need to worry about touch; all you’ll need to do is ram your putts as hard as you can at the hole, no matter the distance or grade. Hell, you don’t really have to worry about hitting the green much, as chipping will get a heck of a lot easier.

I also don’t see how it will make the game more fun. A fun day for me on the golf course involves when I make one difficult putt. It doesn’t matter if I three-putt the majority of my day; it is that one beautiful stroke that I retain in my memory when I finish a round of golf. I’m not sure there will be any memorable putting moments with a fifteen-inch cup.

I understand golf is frustrating. Believe me, I’ve had my share of frustrating days on a golf course, but I’ve also learned valuable lessons playing this game: lessons of humility, lessons of patience, lessons of self-affirmation, lessons of discipline, and lessons of camaraderie. Such an enormous change to the game of golf might fundamentally change every valued component of this game I love.

I’m not sure what has happened recently, but I notice a push to change almost every sport in America. Baseball has excruciating instant replay now. Football wants to change the extra point to make it more “exciting.” Now, golf wants to create a basketball-sized hole in the green.

I suppose I shouldn’t knock it until I try it, so I will reserve judgment until I’ve had a chance to play a course with fifteen-inch holes…but I can promise you one thing: if the PGA implements fifteen-inch holes in professional play, then it will not be worth watching, as the integrity of the game will have been fundamentally altered where it is not competitive…and then golf will truly be dead.

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Opinion about Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey is, perhaps, the most dominant athlete in sports today. I’m ready to put her in the same class of athlete as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, or Muhammad Ali. She’s just that good.

This past Saturday, Ronda Rousey, won a fight against Alexis Davis in about sixteen seconds flat. After a few opening punches, she moved in, latched firmly around her opponent’s neck, and flipped her soundly to the mat in the smoothest of motions. Having pinned her opponent to the mat, she landed punch after punch. The ref dove in and declared victory for Rousey. Davis had that dazed look, as if looking for that freight train that had flipped her on her back and pummeled her face soundly.

It took me more time to write that than it did for Rousey to win.

Watching UFC 175 at an eating establishment, I was able to confirm the ferocity of Rousey’s victory by the crowd’s reaction. The initial “OH!” when she flipped Davis to her back was louder than any from the evening, and the murmurs of approval and disbelief afterwards did not fade for several minutes. Rousey’s win was the excitement of the evening, even though there were other great fights from the male combatants.

I admit I was a bit squeamish about watching women fight in the UFC. I suppose my sensibilities for seeing a woman get hurt have more to do with my own male-specific conditioning of chivalry, gallantry, and nobility. I suppose it is very similar to my initial reaction for allowing female soldiers to fight on the front lines of war: No sir. I don’t like it.

I realize it’s not fair to have this viewpoint, and maybe it has more to do with upsetting us males who don’t want our own idea of what a man is supposed to be altered…no tilting the apple cart, please…women aren’t supposed to throw haymakers…that’s for a man to do. I’ve gotten over my antiquated, sexist viewpoint. Appreciation for Ronda Rousey has a lot to do with it.

When Rousey is walking to the ring, notice her focused stare. It’s scary. She looks like she just gargled nails. She looks as if she might be able to break a puppy’s neck. She looks like she wants to hurt someone, not to win a match, but because she genuinely likes causing pain. I know that Ronda Rousey scares the hell out of me, more than any of the male UFC fighters.

Anybody that fights Rousey should be scared. She executes her plan perfectly in the ring, each and every time. In fact, this latest match might have been her statement to the world that she is not some one-trick pony, as she has won with a perfectly-executed arm bar in almost every one of her previous matches. She hasn’t lost. She’s not going to lose. She’s just unbeatable.

Ronda Rousey has no equal, so she deserves to be considered the most dominant athlete of her time. Since she has no competitors, I sincerely hope Dana White is not considering staging a fight where Rousey takes on a male competitor. Then again, maybe this is part of the evolution of female fighting, and thinking a woman shouldn’t fight a man in Ultimate Fighting is part of that antiquated thinking I referred to earlier. I’m not sure if a man in Rousey’s weight class COULD beat her…I am sure of one thing: Rousey would soundly thrash my butt, and I outweigh her by a good fifty pounds.

I don’t think too many UFC competitors want to fight her because she’s one of the most dominant fighters ever seen. No question.

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Soccer is anti-American now?!?

I am quite pleased to see so much interest in the World Cup this year. I was working at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in 1994 when a group of the World Cup was playing at Soldier Field. There and then, I learned about the international passion of soccer, and I’ve watched the World Cup since. I’m not as passionate as many world footie fans, but I’ve kept it on my sports radar every four years when it comes around.

Obviously in America, soccer wasn’t very popular in the past, but this year seems to be different as the U.S.A. has exceeded expectations. As an underdog, the U.S. beat long-time rival Ghana in the first game, a win I certainly wasn’t expecting. The second game against Portugal was electric, a game we should have won except for the miracle pass and header in the final minute of additional time. The third game against Germany was well-fought, as Germany’s stellar offense pushed the ball for the majority of the match, but the United States’ defense was fairly good against the powerhouse team.

Ultimately, the U.S. made it into the final 16 tourney, which most soccer experts wouldn’t have bet if you fronted them the cash. It’s been a fun World Cup for Americans, as we haven’t really had reason to cheer. Yep, I was very pleased to see so many Americans finally showing interest and getting behind their country’s representative soccer team…

…that is, I was pleased until I learned that conservatives have started to claim that this increased interest in soccer is really a liberal plot. Apparently, people have become so disillusioned in the American dream that many Americans are now turning to soccer because of depression and defeatism. Obama has brain-washed us, and now we love soccer…oh, and somehow, legalization of marijuana has something to do with this new soccer “fad.” Americans have flat-out lost our patriotism, so that is why so many of us are now paying attention to soccer. Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave.

I have tolerated many a crazy claim from the Republican wing, but this just makes no stinking sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if my reader didn’t believe me. Well, here’s Fox Business News’ take on soccer with Stuart Varney and Keith Ablow (with commentary from Stephen Colbert). Here’s more footage of Keith Ablow on the new Fox News show known as “Outnumbered” (and to the hosts’ credit, they called Ablow crazy, too). Finally, here’s the more-than-willing-to-outdo-male-misogynists, hater-extraordinaire Ann Coulter with her “flawless” logic of how soccer-love is basically the same thing as liberal-love. Please! Check them out if you don’t believe me. I had to re-watch/re-read a few times just to make sure I wasn’t suffering some weird hallucinatory day-dream.

Normally, I’d argue against the claims to try and show how wrong they are…but there’s really no need here. I don’t often use the word ridiculous because it is thrown about too frequently in political discussions…but this is just flat-out ridiculous. Instead, I’ll just go ahead and keep enjoying the World Cup, while these morons keep showing how they can take any good thing and utterly ruin it for the rest of us.

Keep trying, Republicans….Maybe someday you’ll come to your senses and realize that you’ve just lost the rest of America (including some of us who wouldn’t mind seeing you come to your senses!) As long as you allow such “intellectuals” as “doctor” Keith Ablow, Stuart Varney, and Ann Coulter to represent your ideology, you will never regain the majority in this country. You just continue to show how desperate you’ve become for a liberal-killing talking point. What you’re doing is digging yourself a deeper grave from which your party will not likely exit (even if some of you are profiting from the propaganda, the cash doesn’t spend well in the afterlife). So please, stop trying to mix your politics into our sports, and quit trying to drag everybody down with you. We’ve got some soccer games to enjoy.

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