Justin Verlander: Everyone’s pitcher

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It’s amazing how Justin Verlander has stood the test of time, not so much in terms of just hanging around but giving his game a second life.

Last night he was throwing 95 mph in route to a one-hitter against a pretty good Angels lineup.

His season stat line is not great. Last night’s one hitter was just his second win of the season and his ERA is now 3.45. But he seems to be healthy after a few injuries and ready to go and finish off his career in style.

After a forgettable first half of the season, over the last 29 innings he’s only given up one run and 12 hits, per ESPN Stats & Information.

And of course there were those who said he was done.

His response via the Detroit Free Press:

“I don’t worry about those people. You can’t listen to the naysayers. You’ve got to work your butt off and believe.”




Goodbye Don Orsillo

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—You are seeing it more and more.

Major Networks, of which I consider NESN, are replacing their larger than life, personality-filled broadcasters, with company men. No offense to Dave O’Brien.

O’Brien: Knowledgeable baseball man, smooth, but he’s not going to say anything that will really excite you or surprise you.

Don Orsillo will surprise you. He entertained legions of Red Sox fans, and baseball fans for that matter, for the last 15 years as the voice of the Red Sox on television.

The Red Sox and NESN will not renew his contract after this season.

Essentially firing Orsillo.

Beginning next season, Orsillo is replaced by ESPN’s Dave O’Brien who has been doing radio for the club for the last nine years.

There are petitions online, Twitter is aghast,  RemDawg shared his thoughts, but none of that will matter, once the decision is made, the decision is made.

Perhaps not in this case, as O’Brien is not a bad replacement, but in general it seems that networks now prefer the humorless robots to call the games. Gone are the Harry Carays, the Jack Bucks, the Harry Kalas’ of the world.

Say hello to the faceless ones and baseball is losing its boyhood charm.


On Participation Trophies, Certificates, Medals, and Good Jobs!

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Not the original medal, but it gives you the idea

By Travis Duncan/Editor at Large

When I was 18 years old, I ran and completed the Chicago Marathon.

(See my results here)  

It was extremely difficult just to finish and I could hardly walk for the rest of the day. But at the end of the race they gave me a participation medal. It had a red and yellow ribbon with a facsimile gold medallion, and I treasured it. I lost it. But I still treasure the memory of it.

It was not a winners trophy and it did not make me entitled or soft.

I ran track my senior year in high school, I had not run my previous three years in high school but the coach invited me to come run for my senior year, I was smoked on all the JV races for the 400 and 800. But at the end season the coach provided us with some sort of certificate for the year. And this was a highly competitive high school.

It never made me entitled.

Of course there were a lot of other things that never made me entitled either: My parents didn’t buy me a lot of things. I probably have more new shoes in the last 2 years than I did in my entire adolescent years.

If I did something my parents didn’t like or didn’t approve they let me know and usually disciplined me. Friends of the family, adults, when I messed up, didn’t turn their heads and act like everything was ok if I messed up-and that helped me not be entitled.

I think it has made me somewhat successful in the work world, when a superior asks me to do something I am usually quick to do so. Or I at least try. 

As far as James Harrison I appreciate the sentiment but disagree with the idea a participation trophy has so much meaning in a negative way.

There is something to be said for showing up and finishing what you started.

There are so many other factors that are involved with entitlement and the like.

A lot of times kids really don’t need a medal, but genuine praise and a good job at the right time.

But it’s a good discussion to have and for that James Harrison should be applauded.

Dave Dombrowski talks termination

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Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press speculates something happened big time, for Dave Dombrowski, the man who brought winning back to the Detroit Tigers to get fired on a Saturday afternoon.

While Albom’s theory is not totally without merrit, the former Detroit Tigers GM  himself spoke of his dismissal with Joel Sherman if the New York Post.

“I knew this potential existed,” Dombrowski told Sherman. 

 “It was a very short conversation with Mr. Ilitch. I suspected in recent times (without a contract) that something has to happen.”

The most common belief was that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch was not pleased about his GM’s decisions to trade ace David Price and slugger Yonenis Cespedes, however as Dombrowski’s replacement, Al Avila said at a press conference this week, all moves were approved by Ilitch. 

None the less, Dombrowski wants to stay in the game working in the day-to-day operations side of things, and yes many a fan in Cincinnati probably could dream he could do for the Reds what he did for the Tigers.

Tiger Woods has a new restaurant

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Tiger Woods has invested $8 million in a new restaurant. Chump change for a man who makes $50 million per year of course. But none the less a significant investment.

The Woods Jupiter: Sports and Dining Club located at the Harbourside Place development in Jupiter, Florida will open Monday.

The timing as it relates to his main job is coincidental, Woods will miss the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational at Akron this week due to his poor world ranking.

Source: Tiger Woods’ $8 Million Restaurant Opens Monday – Eater

Major League Baseball Advanced Media will take over the NHL’s Web operations and most importantly streaming video

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From AdWeek, MLB is doing the NHL a major favor, (of course at a cost of $100 million per year)…

Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League are joining forces. In what is billed as a “groundbreaking new partnership,” MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) is taking over the NHL’s Web operations, apps, streaming video and NHL Network in January 2016.  The NHL Network will move to MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus, N.J.

Another interesting tidbit picked up among the interwebs is that the NHL will now have partial ownership in Major League Baseball advanced media. So the NHL will own part of baseball, wierd, welcome to 2015, things are’nt what they used to be…

Source: Why Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League Are Teaming Up | Adweek

Remembering Chick Hearn

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By Travis Duncan

“From high above the western sideline of the Los Angeles Forum, the world’s most beautiful sports theater,” Chick Hearn called Laker basketball games for 43 years beginning in 1965.

Hearn passed away 13 years ago on Aug. 5. 2002.

Known as the inventor of such phrases as “slam dunk” and “air ball”, Hearn was the last of a generation of broadcasters who were part entertainers, part comedians, part wordsmiths.

Sports Illustrated has posted a 1983 profile of the Hall of Fame Broadcaster on its website, which you can view at SI.com.

Additionally check out the YouTube compilation “The Best of Chick Hearn”.


Hakeem the Dream never ceases to amaze

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– JULY 29: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) NBA Legend Hakeem Olajuwon speaks to the media during the Basketball Without Borders Africa Press Conference at American International School on July 29, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)


By Travis Duncan

Suiting up in a retro orange and red Houston Rockets jersey at the age of 52 this weekend, Hakeem Olajuwon gave the hearts of hoops fans a vintage flashback moment with a signature dreamshake (see video below) at the NBA Africa game in Johannesburg this weekend.

Meanwhile, NBA.com’s Shaun Powell has written a nice in-depth article “Olajuwon: Godfather of Basketball in Africa”. Powell spoke with basketball instructor Oliver B. Johnson  to recount the rise of Hakeem from Nigeria to one of the greatest centers ever to play the sport.

Once in Lagos, with his bag of basketballs, he searched for a diamond in the rough and one day saw a boy who glistened, walking down the street.

The teenager was giraffe-like and his name was Akeem, and imagine how deflated Johnson felt when the youngster explained he was too busy playing soccer and team handball — team handball! — to deal with basketball, and kept walking.


And Powell’s beautiful explanation of the magnitude of Hakeem’s impact by imagining basketball without Hakeem.

Now imagine the state of African basketball today if that same boy hadn’t shown up at the gym later and decided, yes, to give basketball a try. Or if the man who discovered him had punched the plane ticket home rather than used the visa to Nigeria. Just think of what basketball almost missed. We would’ve never bowed at the fraternal feet of Phi Slamma Jamma, or witnessed the poetry of the Dream Shake, or heard Rudy T lecture the naysayers about the heart of a champion. Hell, had this Akeem stuck with team handball, maybe Patrick Ewing would’ve won that elusive NBA title in 1994. Life is funny that way, no?


LaMarcus Aldridge will sign with the Spurs: Big Man Central

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LaMarcus Aldridge tweeted out today that he will join the San Antonio Spurs. The former Portland big man is a Dallas native and according to his tweet, geography played a major role.

Yahoo Sports has the details on a 4-year $80 million dollar deal, which puts the Spurs right back in title contention.

The succession of big men from David Robinson to Tim Duncan and now to LA seems just to make too much sense.

His ability to fit into San Antonio’s existing offensive scheme makes even more sense.


Source: Yahoo Sports 

The AP’s Big Story on Jameis Winston

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The Associated Press caught up with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston in Cleveland this week during a break from a four day rookie symposium.

One thing is clear:  The Heisman Trophy winner is an extrovert. He enjoys the camera and is not shy.

As his counterpart No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota said he’s done with Twitter, Winston says “he will not hide”  and will stay active on social media.

But the story this weekend regarding Winston was putting the past behind and focusing on his professional career. He says he realizes any misstep will be scrutinized. What was not mentioned however was the unspoken truth is really there are some who want to see him fail.

“I got to be a quarterback,” Winston told Tom Withers of the Associated Press.

“When I’m off the field, I got to be a quarterback. When I’m on the field, I’ve got to be a quarterback. I know people are going to look at me in each and every way.

As far as his past mistakes, “I have nothing to prove,” he told the AP. “I believe that people make mistakes but I also believe that you bounce back from those and I’m just moving forward.”

Right now is an easy time for rookie quarterbacks. His off the field actions will, as they were at Florida State, continue to be scrutinized. The challenges come when training camp begins, new offensive systems must be learned and then every pass in in every preseason game will be scrutinized. How does he deal with failure or mistakes?

The AP’s big story works as nice PR for Winston but does a nice job highlighting his personality and general mindset entering his rookie season. All eyes will be on Winston.




Good pressure and Bad Pressure the D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor story

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The expectations in Philly are laughable at best, and the joke on social media Thursday night during the NBA draft was, “What is Philly going to do with all these centers?”

Los Angeles drafted D’Angelo Russell ahead of Jahlil Okafor, who for for the better part of the 2014-15 college basketball season was expected to be the No. 1 pick.

Okafor tried his best poker face after finding out he was going to the Sixers but no doubt he had thought for sometime he would be in Los Angeles and be “the guy”. Now he’s the guy in Philly.

Here’s Okafor’s response to not going No. 1 or No. 2:

“I can’t be disappointed,” said Okafor.

“I’m in the NBA living my dream.  I’ve been getting a lot of criticism.  People in my circle, we’re just going to take it with a grain of salt.  It’s easy to shoot at somebody when they’re at the top of the hill.  I’ve been pretty much at the top all throughout high school, all throughout college, so I’m expecting it.”

His response on what the Sixers will do with so many big men:

“I don’t know, it’s not my job to figure out.  I’ll just go there and work as hard as I can.”

Meanwhile D’Angelo Russell was all smiles.

“Man, it’s a blessing to be here,” said Russell.

“God is good.  I can’t really put a nail on how I’m feeling right now.  I feel like busting out like a baby in tears.  I feel like being tough, being strong.  I don’t really know how to put a nail on it, but definitely surprised to be here right now.  Just a few months ago I was graduating high school, so to go through a year of college and then be in this position is a blessing, man.”

And now for the first time in his NBA career Kobe Bryant, can take the time to challenge and mentor a young player the way he was meant to. Bryant understands that this is his last season and but this Lakers team is not Championship caliber. He can take the time to mentor Russell the way he has never had the time or opportunity to do so for any other young player. Frankly the Lakers have not had a talented young player like Russell in Bryant’s tenure.

Russell will be the guy in Los Angeles and is considered a great passer. Kobe loves it when you pass. Okafor will be the guy in Philly but he doesn’t have a lot of help.