Sports

by Wink

From the uproar, I can only surmise there is a large contingent of NFL players who regularly jump up and down on the American flag, spit on it and then set it on fire.

What? They aren’t doing that?

This hubbub is about silent kneeling?

Hmmmm. Okay, I have an idea. What if the player kneels and PRAYS?

Prayer is not enough? How about if they kneel and pray for our soldiers?

Still no? How about if they kneel and pray that the fake media starts writing only nice things about how wonderful Donald Trump is?

For Pete’s sake people, why is peaceful, silent protest in the United States controversial? The founding fathers, the same ones who gave you that fabulous 2nd Amendment, also gave you the right, and freedom, to protest. This is why America is so great!! Celebrate it!

I do have a suggestion though. If the existence of peaceful protest raises your blood pressure too much, you are free to move to a country where you will never-ever be bothered by protesters – North Korea for example.

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By Wink

Run for the hills! Caitlyn Jenner is getting a ‘Courage’ award at the 2015 ESPY ceremony. Heaven help us all!

This travesty has Bob Costas’ underwear all in a bunch. He has declared this choice to be an attention grab by ESPN. His exact words were ‘crass exploitation” merely to “attract eyeballs.”

Well, how-do-you-do Bob? Nice to have your keen observations.

Look Bob, every drop of every ESPY Awards show is an attention grab. There are a million award shows, most of them worthless, but many of them get big (or at least decent) TV ratings.

A number of years ago, ESPN figured out there was no ‘sports’ version of an awards show, and dreamed one up with the goofy name “ESPY’s.” It was originally centered around the silly film clips the network shows every day, with a few awards (Most Popular Dunker) mixed in.

At some point, just like Bob Costas, the network started to take itself a bit too seriously. Now they feel the need to hand out some ‘serious’ awards.

Who cares if Caitlyn Jenner is given an award? It is a phony award, like EVERY award at the ESPY’s.

Nationally this has caused some weird uproar. Why? Why does Costas care? Does he think the ESPY’s have a special gravitas? Like a Nobel Prize?

Why does anyone care? If you are one of the people bitching about this, please add a comment to this blog and explain how this award effects you, specifically. I am betting you are not happy unless you have something to p***/moan about.

Do you know who was given the same award in 2014? If you didn’t know the answer, Michael Sam, then why do you care about the 2015 winner?

Sorry Mr. Costas, Your inane comments look like an attention grab.

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By Wink

I love all the big-time sporting events. I enjoy the World Cup, though it is a bit too nationalistic, and the Olympics, which is way too nationalistic. I love golf’s British Open and the Super Bowl (though it is way way WAY too commercial).

I watch the Kentucky Derby and all their silly hats. I am probably one of about a dozen people who still enjoys the World Series.

At the head of the list, for me, is “The Championships,” also known as Wimbledon. I love the pomp, the tradition and the genteelness. I love the grass courts, players in all-white outfits, the way the players are marched out for each match, and yes – the Royal Box.

Last year Britain had their first male champion in three quarters of a century – Andy Murray.

This year, of course, Murray fills the role of ‘returning champion,’ and was thunderously applauded by the home fans as he entered Centre Court for his first match. He waived to the crowd in response and acknowledged those in the Royal Box.

So who was in the Royal Box? The usual: dignitaries, luminaries, friends of the royalty, members of the royal family and, of course, Shaq – Shaquille O’Neal.

At first I was humored by this, the 325 pound Shaq so seemingly incongruous at an event dominated by the quick and the slender, but … but…. maybe I need to adjust my thinking.

Shaq is not the oaf he is made out to be. He is light-hearted and self-effacing. He is gracious and very graceful for a big-big man. He is an astute business man, much smarter than people think he is. He is an extremely snappy dresser and can pull off a distinguished air (honestly).

So why NOT Shaq? He represents the U.S. as well as anyone can.

Stand tall, Shaq. I forgive you for all the time you spent with the Lakers.

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By Wink

“Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you real quick” – Richard Sherman, to Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews

You saw it. In the NFC championship game Richard Sherman taunted a losing player to his face, and trash-talked on camera after the recent NFL conference championship game. So what?

The haters came out of the woodwork. Most think he is a jerk.

Some of the hate came from racists, who responded as racists always do, showing off their consistently low IQ’s. This always saddens me but these moronic responses seem inevitable when this type of episode pops up.

Then came the defenders of Richard Sherman, who want you to know: (1) This happened in heat of the moment, (2) he is a Stanford grad, (3) he had a rough childhood, (4) he is a great player with a high-intensity job, and (5) look at the racist response.

I don’t ‘hate’ Richard Sherman, but his behavior was, at a minimum, jerkish. Running up and taunting a vanquished opponent is dickish.

His apology was half-assed. He said he was sorry he took attention away from his team but did not mention Michael Crabtree, the opponent he taunted, by name.

The latest excuse is that he wasn’t really taunting Crabtree as the game ended, that he just ran up to him, slapped him on the butt and said “that was a great game, wasn’t it?” Sorry, this excuse doesn’t fly any better than those listed above. Celebrating in the face of the loser is classless and, were the tables turned, Sherman probably would have been pi**ed if an opponent did that to him. He should have apologized to Crabtree for this too, which he did not.

I am not smelling ‘Stanford’ in any of his behavior, unless, unless….

Was his intent to hype his image to make money from this? This WILL hype his image, and he will make money from this. True, more people will hate him because of this, but more people will LIKE him because of this. In the marketing world it doesn’t matter how many people hate you, just how many like you (exhibit ‘A’ is every political talk-radio show).

I will grant the ‘heat of the moment’ argument and assume this behavior was simply idiotic with a touch of jerkishness.

I don’t think he is a jerk, and I certainly don’t believe (as the racists do) that he is a thug. He is probably a pretty nice guy.

What I believe doesn’t matter. ‘Hype’ he now has, and Sherman will benefit from it.

And other, genuine jerks, will take note. Don’t be surprised as others, waiting until they are on camera, will behave exactly this jerky, and worse.

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On three separate occasions last night I witnessed three different outcomes to the newly applied targeting rule. Under the new targeting rule, any time a referee perceives a player going after the head of another, it is an automatic personal foul flag and an automatic ejection. The play immediately goes to review to be certain that the play was indeed targeting. If the review confirms targeting, the flag and the ejection are upheld. If the review overturns the call, the ejection is overturned, but the review still stands.

Here were the 3 different scenarios I witnessed:

Nebraska at Purdue

In my admittedly biased interpretation, I see defender Stanley Jean-Baptiste leading with the shoulder and driving into the chest of the receiver. However, because the hit was so explosive, the referees immediately threw the flag and declared targeting. The review showed that there was marginal contact between helmets (it’s football), so by the wording of the rule the ejection must be upheld. I know Jean-Baptiste personally and know that he is not a dirty player. He is one of the quietest kids you’d ever meet. It is simply wording of the rule (in review, any helmet contact) that caused the upholding of the ejection.

Nebraska is familiar with wording of rules screwing over actual play. Last basketball season Brandon Ubel was being heavily guarded by two Penn State players and barely touched the nose of one while trying to pass the ball away. They reviewed the play, refs saw that the contact would barely scratch an itch, but declared a flagrant 1 because of the wording of the rule, instead of interpreting the rule for its intent.

In the second situation that I witnessed, Ole Miss was taking on, and leading, #9 Texas A & M. Late in the game, Texas A & M’s Johnny Manziel waited a little too long to get rid of the ball and was hit as he threw it. Incomplete pass bringing up (I believe it was) 2nd and Ten from about the 20. Referees throw a flag because the defender targeted the head. Refs eject, go to review. After review, they declare that it was not targeting, and that the player shall not be disqualified from the game. So, 2nd and 10 from the 20 right? Nope, the penalty still stands, because you can’t review a penalty (even though that’s literally what they just did), so it’s first and goal. Texas A & M scores on the very next play, and ends up winning the game. I’ll bet there are some sour Ole Miss fans out there Sunday morning.

In the final situation, late in the North Texas-Middle Tennessee State match up, the MTSU quarterback was scrambling down field and was hit hard enough for his helmet to fly off. He was hurt on the play, and a flag came in from literally the farthest referee from the play (I was there I know which ref threw the flag). My problem with this play is that the QB got hurt due to his own ineptitude. Your helmet should never pop off that easily. If it does it means that it is not strapped on right, and it is your own fault if you sustain a head injury from improperly used equipment. The referees debated for about 5 minutes in a small huddle. After this, they declared there on the spot that there was no foul for targeting. I stood up and cheered for the refs on that one. This season especially, it takes serious knowledge of the game and situation to wave off a flag.

So, Big Ten referees make a bad call. SEC referees make a bad call. Conference USA has the highest quality referees out there? Something is wrong here…

Compare all these potential ejection situations with the actions of Texas’ Mike Davis last week against Iowa State.

Because he targeted the knees, he got a talking-to almost as stern as Oregon’s slap on the wrist. I’ve seen seasons and careers end on blown knees, but going after the knees after the play is over is still OK. God forbid you try to make a proper tackle at game speed during live play. The NCAA is targeting the wrong players.

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By Wink

Great news! Johnny Manziel will be signing autographs in the locker room during the first half of the Texas A&M versus Rice football game. Bring cash – no checks accepted.

The NCAA has now completed their exhaustive 6-hour investigation to see if Manziel accepted any money for the hundreds or thousands of items he autographed for a few different ‘collectors.’

Without subpoena power, the NCAA pretty much had to take Johnny’s word for it when he told them “Hey, I didn’t take any money.”

They busted him on some minor violation and said he couldn’t play the first half of the critical game with mighty Rice University. Without their star QB, we will just have to wait to see how the Aggies can fair against such a juggernaut for two whole quarters….

Outside of Aggieland, is there anybody anywhere who believes Manziel didn’t take money? Nope.

In theory, when the Southeast Conference added Missouri and Texas A&M, they increased the academic standing of the conference and, at least in the case of A&M, the integrity level.  The “M” in A&M does stand for military, after all.

Oh well. It now seems that, rather than A&M helping the image of the SEC, the SEC attitude of ‘anything goes’ now has infected Texas A&M.

So your star quarterback violates NCAA Rule #1 – don’t take money. So what? Heisman winners can make you willing to shed some of that whole ‘integrity’ thing.

Welcome to the SEC !!!

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By Wink

Bill Callahan was once the coach of the Oakland Raiders. One year he took his team to the Super Bowl, and the next year his team was so bad he got fired.

Such is life in the NFL.

Now former Raider wide receiver Tim Brown has accused Callahan of sabotaging the Raiders chances of winning the Super Bowl. Brown says Callahan threw the game so that his buddy, Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, would get the win.

Hall of Famer Jerry Rice backs up Brown and says maybe he (Callahan) didn’t like the Raiders.

There should be a wide-spread, consensus response to this: These guys are loons.

But many people willingly accept this goofy idea. I could announce right now, that Tim Brown was paid $138 by a Las Vegas bookie, to throw that same Super Bowl, and I would get a string of believers almost immediately.

Remember, we at Winkest Link have a policy to propagate selected conspiracy theories. We do this because there is always a willing audience out there, accepting of most if not all conspiracy theories. We cater to them to increase the number of hits on this blog but, behind their backs, we call them ‘idiots.’ (Conspiracy nuts, please ignore that last comment. We are just joshing.)

The idiots will never accept logic, but here goes anyway……

Mr. Brown: We like to think Notre Dame grads have some semblance of common sense, but you prove us wrong (and don’t get me started on the Manti Te’o thing). So, Tim, are you saying Bill Callahan likes Jon Gruden more than he likes himself? Does he like Gruden more than he likes the immortality of being a Super Bowl winning coach? Really? Is that what you are saying?  Do you hear yourself, or do these random ideas just bounce around in your head?

And to you Mr. Rice: Are you are saying Bill Callahan didn’t like his own team? Even if he hated players like you, wouldn’t he still want to win for himself?  Maybe you should stick to ‘Dancing With the Stars.”  Your feet seem to speak better than your mouth.

This is part of our ongoing series on ‘why it is not a good idea to idolize sports figures.’ Sometimes they turn out to be much-much more stupid than we ever thought they were.

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By Wink

The gods were against me this year. I couldn’t get Thursday March 15th off, and I couldn’t get Friday March 16th off either.

That doesn’t matter to you? Well, it matters to me. This year those were the first two days of the NCAA basketball championships – March Madness.

Those are the best two days of the year in sports. The best. Every year.

You can have your Super Bowl, or your Daytona, or Wimbledon, etc.

I will take the first two days of the Big Dance.

Sixteen games each day. Winner stays, loser goes home. There is no higher drama in sports.

Days three and four, on Saturday and Sunday, are okay but, excitement-wise, fall well short of the first two days. For one thing, Saturday and Sunday only have eight games each day – half as much fun.

Plus, by the end of the weekend we are left with only the ‘Sweet 16’ teams, almost always entirely populated with the usual suspects, the heavy favorites: North Carolina, Kansas and (usually) Duke. – BORING.

Except in those places where the home team continues on, the excitement for this event does not build after the opening weekend. At best it stagnates. At worst it evaporates.

The lack of interest, other than the first two days of the tourney, is a curiosity. For most of us, the entire regular season, from October through February, does not even matter.

How many times did Duke beat North Carolina this year? Or vice-versa? It doesn’t matter.

Which team won the Big East conference regular season title? Which won the conference tourney? Who cares?

But for two lovely days in March we DO care. Dreams do come true.

Every Norfolk State, every VCU, every South Florida and Ohio and Lehigh has a chance to stand tall, as they all did this year. Congratulations to all in that group who now get to hang a cool banner from the rafters of their basketball arena…a much-deserved tribute.

But, for most of the nation, NCAA basketball, after last Friday, does not much matter.

All the big dogs will own the rest of the tourney, and the rest of us can go to sleep on NCAA basketball until next March, and wait for those two magical days, when a Lehigh again stands a chance to take down mighty Duke.

————

P.S. A pox upon Mizzou and Wichita State, for trashing all of my bracket hopes…

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By Wink

An exciting new story popped up in my local newspaper the other day. The Chicago Cubs may have thrown the World Series.

Not LAST year’s World Series. They weren’t in that one. Nor the one before that. Or the one before that. Or the one before that.

Okay, I couldn’t remember when the Cubs were last in the World Series, so I looked it up. Wiki tells me it was 1945. And they lost that.

Did the Chicago Cubs throw the 1945 World Series? Who knows? The story I read was not about the 1945 World Series. It was about the 1918 World Series.

Yeah, you read that right.

And no, I am not confusing this with the famous “Black Sox Scandal.” That effected the 1919 World Series, and was not about the Cubs, but rather their cross-town ‘brothers,’ the Chicago White Sox.

Nope. The year is 1918. The team is the Cubs.

Where did this ‘breaking news’ come from? It is actually part of the 1920 “Black Sox Scandal” court disposition. And somebody decided to report on it now, only 91 years later.

So in other words this was news, in 1920.

It seems to me the better time to have investigated this would have been in 1920, when any of the participants were still alive.

The White Sox players from 1919 were thrown out of baseball forever, and many died destitute.

Whatever happened to the Cub players from 1918?

Nothing. Since there was no investigation nobody was punished and they all played out their careers.

Unless you are Indiana Jones, it would be a little hard to ‘get to the bottom of this’ now….

Maybe their century-long chase for another World Series championship is just the God’s way of making the Cubs pay for the 1918 ‘non-scandal.’

Go Giants!

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By Wink

Dear Southerners; Are you trying to rid yourselves of that ‘southern hick’ label? The following story may not help…

A University of Alabama football fan decided to show how much he hated Auburn University.  He poisoned two 130-year-old trees that Tiger fans regularly gather around after games. The trees are not expected to survive.

I always try to avoid clichés.

Blondes and the Polish are not dumb.

The Chinese are not smarter than us.

The people of India are not all nicer than the rest of us (though they are pretty nice).

But southerners?  What are we to make of them?

This type of story makes them all appear to be the ‘goobers’ that many people think they are.

I know-know-know that there are many intelligent, articulate and cultured natural-born southerners.

It doesn’t matter. These episodes go on in perpetuity. This is but the latest example.

Feel free to share a story of some northerner doing something asinine, but I promise it won’t live up to this. I don’t mean ‘criminal’ behavior, just asinine behavior.

Remember, this is football-fan based hatred, probably the stupidest kind…

The Southeast Conference, home of both Auburn and Alabama, has the best football, and probably the stupidest fans.

Do these two things, football and stupid, necessarily go together? Who knows? Maybe football is just a sport that appeals to a larger percentage of really stupid people.

The southern intelligentsia, and that cannot be an oxymoron, must literally shake every time they hear a story like this.

Southern… Hick…. Moron….

These words do not HAVE to go together…..

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