Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Voice of the Game

Before I head off for the Ryder Cup, I want to thank the legendary Vin Scully for an entire lifetime of sports memories.  The Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play man will call his final game this weekend--ending a 67-year career.  I'm a San Francisco Giants fan--so I hate anything associated with the Dodgers--but I love Vin Scully.

Unlike today's sportscasters, Vin doesn't script his comments for big moments in games (a lesson for Jim Nantz).  He doesn't yell at the top of his lungs for the most common plays (I'm looking at you Wayne Larivee and Gus Johnson). Even at the age of 88 he still follows the action and calls a nearly flawless game (unlike John Sterling of the New York Yankees--Google some of his blown calls).  And despite never calling a game from the bleachers or doing TV commercials or opening his own restaurant, he is beloved by not just his hometown fans--but baseball lovers everywhere.

So strong is LA's devotion to Vin Scully that when Frank McCourt bought the Dodgers back in the 1990's and tried to put Vin out to pasture, there were near riots.  McCourt has come and gone--and Vin Scully remained in the booth.

Think about the history this man has seen.  He called games while Jackie Robinson still played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He was on the mike for Brooklyn's only World Series victory.  He called perfect games pitched by Sandy Koufax.  He was on hand for the greatest moment in the history of baseball--and managed to put it in perfect perspective:

He also called one of the most dramatic home runs in the history of the World Series:

Vin Scully's greatest talent was to weave all of the history that he had gathered in his time around the ballpark into the call of today's modern game.  When he would talk about "Jackie" or "Sandy" in stories that always seemed to perfectly fit into the length of a half inning, it took us all back to the greatest time in the greatest sport.

The one good thing about losing this legend is that we actually get to thank him and enjoy these final few moments together--and to honor him while he is still here to enjoy it--unlike so many of our other heroes that get such praise only after they have passed.

Thanks for all of the memories, Mr Scully.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

If That Guy Can Find a Mate....

I feel sorry for single people this week.  The People Magazine report that Steven Avery is getting married really has to have them questioning their desirability--and if they will ever find love.  Consider that a man found guilty by a jury of his peers beyond a reasonable doubt of kidnapping, raping, torturing, killing, dismembering and burning up a woman convinced another woman to marry him--despite the fact that he will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars AND the bride-to-be has actually met him in person just once.

Really, the unattached shouldn't feel that bad.  Do you really want to be with someone that insane?  There is a subculture of people who are obsessed with high profile convicts.  The Menendez Brothers had all kinds of suitors during their trial for brutally murdering their parents--and both got married while behind bars.  Ted Bundy certainly had his share of female followers while on death row for killing dozens of other women for decades.  Even Charles Manson had fianc├ęs and girlfriends during his life sentence.  Those guys take "killing it with the ladies" to a whole new level.

As in the Avery case, the "murderer's girlfriends" are all positive that "their man" was wrongfully convicted.  Their delusional belief makes them feel a bond with the killer before even trying to make contact.  And when the jailhouse letters talk about how much their "belief in him" means to them, the manipulative murderers draw in their unwitting "victim".

And all of that stays fairly non-threatening.  The Menendezes, Manson and Bundy are/were never going to get out of prison to be with their "wives".  But Avery's case may be different.  More and more, justice is becoming about "feelings" and "social justice"--and if enough people watch the one-sided documentary "Making a Murderer", they might convince a judge someday that Steven Avery is a "victim of an unjust society" that saw multiple law enforcement agencies, the State Crime Lab, a special prosecutor, a judge and 12-people picked off the street all take part in a giant conspiracy to frame an innocent man and set him free.

Then what does the new "Mrs Avery" do?  Does she move from Nevada to live in the "family compound" in Mishicot?  Does she live in that same trailer?  Does she put the garbage in the same burn barrel?  What crosses her mind the first time there is a heated argument?  Or she notices a look in her "innocent husband's" eyes that you don't ever see in prison letters or short conversations in a visiting area?  Or he let's slip--maybe after a night of too many cheap beers--details of the killing that only someone there would know?  I bet at that moment, being single would be a lot more attractive.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Long Live The King

As a lover of all things involving golf, it's a tough day following the death of Arnold Palmer.  Everything that is the sport today: TV coverage, corporate sponsorship, big money prizes and the Golf Channel can all be directly connected to Arnie. 

He was the sport's first TV star.  The cool persona, the muscular build, and the wry smile were made for the growing medium in the 1950's and '60's.  And his "go for broke" style of play made for some very dramatic Sunday afternoons for fans.

Arnold was also the first golfer to get big-time endorsement deals.  He formed a marketing company to control his image and to sell himself to consumers.  I can still remember the commercials for Pennzoil where he was sitting on the tractor his dad used to maintain Latrobe Country Club and Arnie sold Mercury and Cadillac automobiles--along with Hertz rental cars.  Even into his 80's--more than 20-years after his playing career was over--Arnie still starred in prescription drug commercials with modern day athletes.  And of course, the incredibly refreshing summertime drink--The Arnold Palmer, half-lemonade, half-sweet tea--bears his name and likeness on cans and bottles.

Palmer was also the first player to become a famed golf course architect.  I've played several of Arnie's courses in Wisconsin, Florida and Hawaii.  And his usual design was meant to be a challenge for very good golfers--but not so impossibly tough that someone new to the game would get discouraged and want to quit.

And it was Arnie that was willing to lend his name and his cash to a little startup operation called The Golf Channel.  An unheard of idea that people would want to watch a network devoted exclusively to just one sport.  Now of course, you have the Tennis Channel, the MLB Network, the NFL Network, the NHL Network and NBA TV--not to mention channels dedicated exclusively to motor sports and extreme sports.

They called Arnie "The King" and proof of that can be found in Golf Digest's annual list of the highest-paid golfers--where Palmer ranked 5th in 2015--making $40-MILLION--without even swinging a golf club.

But the greatest thing about Arnold Palmer can be found in a barn in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  Inside are thousands of boxes containing every single letter sent to him by fans.  And each of those letters was responded to with a personal letter from Arnie--signed (in his perfectly-legible signature) by the man himself.

On Wednesday, I will be leaving for the Ryder Cup in the Twin Cities.  I hope that the event will feature a memorial to the man who built the modern game of golf.  The players can honor Arnie by making sure their hats are off anytime they are inside (one of Palmer's biggest pet peeves).  And while there's not any rain in the forecast right now, I hope a quick shower passes through Hazeltine Country Club Sunday afternoon--just so a rainbow can form over the greatest event in the sport.  It would be a fitting tribute.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fall Fools

This is the week that many people go on and on about how much they love fall.  "No more hot, sticky weather!" "The trees are so pretty!"  "Pumpkin Spice Latte is back!!"  Well those who "love fall" are fools.

Fall is the worst of the months.  Gone is the ability to run to the store real quick to get some milk in just your t-shirt, shorts and flip flops.  Now its find long pants, put on socks and closed toed shoes and throw on a sweatshirt and a jacket--even if you're only going to be out for a few minutes.  Now the leaves pile up along the fence and in the gutter--where they breakdown in a goopy mess that combines with all of those little twigs and branches to form an impenetrable barrier that requires getting up on the wobbly ladder to clear every other week.

Fall is getting less sunshine every day--driving to work in the dark and arriving home as the sun sets.  It's the chill north wind catching you by surprise on a damp, cloudy morning.  It's that first flurry that reminds you of the five months of misery just ahead.  The real colors of fall are the brown grass in your yard--and the white of frost every morning.  And its the sound of money going up your chimney as the furnace kicks on for the first time in five months.  The smell of the registers getting hot for the first time makes you think your house is on fire--that is if you can smell it over the scent of fake pumpkin spice that permeates everything from coffee, to donuts to soy candles.

Why do you think the nicest days of fall are called "Indian SUMMER" (or "Indigenous Peoples Post-Autumnal Equinox Temperature Anomaly" for you snowflakes that are easily offended)?  When we have a cool spell in the middle of summer do we call it "Norwegian Fall" or "Canadian Autumn"?  For retailers, fall started two months ago--after they replaced back to school items in July with Halloween displays.  And that means Frankenstein will be replaced by Santa Claus by mid-October--which should depress everyone even more than the change in the weather.

So for those of you who "love fall" so much.  Why don't you stop by my place to rake up the leaves, clean out the gutters, winterize the house and pay for the increasing utility bills--so I can get out and enjoy all of the "joys of the season" that some you think actually exist at this time of year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Emptiest of Threats

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is going around saying that GOP leaders that don't show support for Donald Trump this fall "face a penalty" if they plan to run for the White House themselves in the future.  Priebus is hinting that the party will somehow work against non-Trump backers and prevent them from getting a future nomination.  This might be the emptiest threat in the history of American politics.

Keep in mind that Priebus is overseeing a party and a process that couldn't keep a non-Conservative, non-Republican, Hillary Clinton supporter from becoming the presidential nominee in this election!  Donald Trump didn't have access to the Republican party's donor network or grassroots infrastructure either.  So what of great value or influence would Priebus actually withhold from a non-Trump supporter four years from now?  Besides, when things get very ugly very early on election night for the GOP, don't you want someone free from the "guilt by association" to be able to pick up the ball and start running it back in the right direction?

Unfortunately, House Speaker Paul Ryan has decided to do his Wisconsin buddy a huge favor by playing the "I don't agree with anything he says or how he says it--but he's still our nominee and I will support him" game--so far.  Ryan must be betting on the extremely short memories of American voters--who will likely have completely forgotten that Donald Trump ever ran for President--much less who supported him in four years time.  Priebus' other Wisconsin pal--Governor Scott Walker--is doing everything but holding his nose every time he give lukewarm support to Trump.

It will be Reince Priebus and all those who follow his call to sell your soul for "the good of the party" who--when this is all said and done--will be made to look the fool.  I just wonder how long after the November shellacking that Trump will do his highly-compensated, "exclusive" TV interview--where he admits that he was not only a "plant" by the Clinton political machine to make her look like the lesser of two evils to just over half the people who went to the polls--but to also destroy the Republican party from the inside for generations to come. 

And that is a threat that is NOT that empty.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Lot of Bad Football

I spent too much time watching too much bad football this weekend.

We got in from our Saturday morning golf tournament to find the Wisconsin Badgers struggling against the Georgia State Panthers at Camp Randall Stadium, in what should have been a cakewalk.  The blame for the poor showing was being placed on 5th year senior quarterback Bart Houston--who seemed incapable of completing downfield passes.  That led to the question "Why can't Wisconsin get a decent quarterback....ever?"  That's when I always run off the list of Wisconsin QB's that have made the NFL in the modern (Barry Alvarez and later) era: Joel Stave, Scott Tolzien, Brooks Bollinger, Jim Sorgi, and Russell Wilson have all played in the league.  You can count Tanner McAvoy as well--even though he is a receiver with the Seahawks.

The reason Wisconsin QB's get interest from NFL teams is that they come out of one of the few systems that still run a Pro-Style offense.  Badgers quarterbacks work with tight ends and fullbacks in formations--and they have to read the entire defense every play--not just one linebacker or one cornerback as is required of QB's in the spread offense.  Of course, Wisconsin's offensive struggles weren't the only ugliness this weekend.

The Oregon-Nebraska game was an embarrassment of embarrassments.  Oregon scored five touchdowns--as did Nebraska.  But the Ducks went for two every time and succeeded just once--while the Cornhuskers kicked the conventional extra point and made it all five times--giving them a three point win.  Why did Oregon eschew five automatic points?  Because their head coach is an "offensive genius who is changing the way the game is played".  Apparently, the object now is to be avante garde--and not actually successful in winning games.

I almost vomited during that game when the ESPN play-by-play guy called a read option running play with four wide receivers, no tight ends and no fullback in the formation "Power Football".  Of course, this after Oregon lined up on third and inches and goal to go inside the five situations with an empty backfield and the quarterback in the shotgun formation--so that's as "powerful" as pass-happy football gets.  And then, the game ended with Oregon running a read-option QB keeper on a fourth and 15th--which gained all of one yard.  More of that "changing the way the game is played" nonsense, I guess.

Then last night, NBC ran a graphic that reminded us all of how great the game used to be.  To illustrate how well Adrian Peterson has done in his career against the Packers, the TV crew reviewed the five all-time leading single opponent career rushing averages--and Jim Brown held three of the five spots.  I liked to say that Jim Brown would probably rush for 25-hundred yards in a season--since he never played more than 12 regular season games a year--and tackling is so poor in the league right now.  But Jim Brown would probably languish on the bench or get converted to tight end today because so many head coaches (like Mike McCarthy) refuse to run the ball anymore--because "geniuses" only throw it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The "If Sully Was" Game

The number one movie is America is Sully, the story of pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (and co-pilot Jeff Skiles--who seems to be getting the short-shift in all of this hype) and their landing of a US Airways flight on the Hudson River after double engine failure caused by ingesting a flock of Canada geese during takeoff.  I probably won't go to see the movie, having interviewed Sully a couple of times and getting the story of his experiences first-hand.  Hopefully, Tom Hanks nails the cool, calm demeanor of Sullenberger, even in the face of almost impossible odds.

But what is Sully hadn't been Mr Cool, Calm and Collected in the cockpit?  I have a fun little game we can play called "If Sully Was...."

If Sully Was a Bernie Sanders supporter.....The plane would have crashed with him shouting about how Airbus should have put eight engines on that plane and it's because of their corporate greed the plane is going down.

If Sully Was a Donald Trump supporter....He would have turned the plane back around and went through the flock of birds again to take out as many as he could because HELLO, THOSE ARE CANADA GEESE!  WHAT ARE THEY EVEN DOING IN THE UNITED STATES!!

If Sully Was an Islamic terrorist....He would have turned the plane back toward the city and tried to hit as many buildings as he could on the way down.

If Sully Was an animal rights activist....He would have crashed the plane BEFORE hitting the flock of geese because the lives of those beautiful birds are far more important than those of people sitting on a plane.

If Sully Was a Black Live Matter protester...He would insist that the geese had their wings up and were yelling "DON'T FLY INTO ME!!" and never tried to fly into the plane's path.

If Sully Was a Hillary Clinton supporter....he would insist that he never actually flew the plane.  Then he would say that he made a mistake flying into the birds and that he would never do that again.  And then he would wonder why everybody keeps making a big deal about this--and let's just move on.

There are probably hundreds more of these--but time doesn't permit me to list them all here.  So the next time your stuck in boring chit-chat at a gathering, play the "If Sully Was..." game and get everybody riled up!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Rules Are The Rules For a Reason

It was the college football play of the year--so far.  Central Michigan completes a Hail Mary and lateral play that gets it a game winning touchdown on a final--untimed--down to defeat Oklahoma State last Saturday.  It was a situation we all love: the "little guy" sticking it to the "big guy".  The only problem is, it should not have happened under the rules of college football.

For some background, Oklahoma State had the lead with just a few second left in the game.  On fourth down the Cowboys' quarterback threw a pass from the pocket deep down the sidelines and out of bounds--running off the remaining time and giving OK State a narrow win.  But the officials flagged the play as Intentional Grounding--as the QB was in the pocket and threw a ball to an area where there was no receivers present.  Since the infraction occurred on 4th down--and intentional grounding results in a loss of down--the officials ruled that Central Michigan would get the ball and an untimed down--as the game cannot end on a penalty.

However, the officiating crew did not know the rule that pertains to such end of game scenarios.  Yes, Oklahoma State committed intentional grounding--but nowhere in the rules does it allow for the Chippewas to get an untimed down after that.  In fact, the rule clearly states that an untimed down does not apply when the team with the ball commits an infraction (which prevents a losing team from continuously committing fouls to extend the game) nor does it apply on any penalty that results in a loss of down--as it did in this case.

Yes, the rule as written benefitted a team that committed the penalty--and it may seem like "justice was served" by the officials botching the call--giving CMU the untimed down--and the resulting miracle touchdown.  But the rules are the rules for a reason--and you would not want officials to set them aside (or just plain not know them) at any other point in a contest.  That is why there have been calls for the conferences involved--the Big XII and the Mid-American--to reverse the call on the field, nullify the untimed down and credit Oklahoma State with the victory they deserved.

By the way, the officiating crew that worked the game and botched the ending has been suspended indefinitely.  If only we could do the same with activist judges that set aside the rules and laws they don't think are "fair"........

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Not Completely Selling Out

I'm not a Green Bay Packers fan, but I have to give the franchise credit for being one of the few teams willing to stand up to the idiocy of the NFL.  This week, all of the teams unveiled their Nike "Color Rush" jerseys--which will be worn for primetime TV games.  The "Color Rush" duds feature flashier colors than a teams regular jerseys--and usually are monochromatic--meaning the pants are the same color at the top.  They appear to have been created by the same folks at Nike that give us a visual assault every time you turn on an Oregon Ducks college football game.

The Packers deserve credit for doing the absolute minimum required to meet the "Color Rush" scheme.  When the Pack takes on the Chicago Bears next month on a Thursday night, they will wear their road white jerseys with white pants featuring green and gold stripes down the side.  It's bland--but it keeps the traditional Packers look and saves the players from looking either like human taxicabs or pine tree air fresheners you hang from the rear view mirror in your car.  It also means that the Packers Pro Shop won't create an entire "Color Rush" section--since white jerseys have always been available (unless you plan to buy white football pants to wear every Sunday).

This refusal to sell out to the NFL and Nike's obvious money-grab (order your "Color Rush" jersey today so you have it in time for the game!!) comes after Packers President Mark Murphy told the league in no uncertain terms that he will NEVER give up a home date at Lambeau Field to have the Packers play a regular season game overseas.  Undoubtedly, the Packers would be a huge draw for a game in London or Mexico City (not as much as the Dallas Cowboys or the Pittsburgh Steelers)--but Murphy realizes that part of what gives the franchise such appeal is the fact that they do still play at Lambeau--and every game there should be protected at all costs.  Not to mention, having the smallest local radio and TV contracts in the league, the Packers need every gameday penny they can make at Lambeau (see the creation of Family Night for proof of that).

So, while a number of NFL teams will be looking like giant highlighters going up and down the field this season, The Packers (and a handful of others--like the Raiders, Saints and Cowboys) will look like actual adult men playing a game meant to be enjoyed by serious fans and not making a giant sales pitch to Millenials that need flashy colors to hold their interest for more than a minute.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Hiding" Hillary's Health

The conspiracy theory that the mainstream media is "hiding" major health problems for Hillary Clinton is getting more traction this week after the former First Lady collapsed while leaving a 9/11 memorial service in New York over the weekend.  The official statement from the campaign is that Mrs Clinton is suffering from pneumonia (which would also explain the coughing fit at the podium last week) and being "overheated" on a hot day.  That diagnosis doesn't pass muster for anti-Clinton types, who--using video showing just the back of her head as she is helped into an SUV--are diagnosing her with every neurological disorder in the book.

While I doubt there is a media conspiracy afoot to withhold information on Hillary's health (because each news department knows the ratings gold it would be to have an "exclusive" or to be the "first to report"), it certainly is not without precedent for the American people to be kept in the dark about their elected leader.  In fact, intentional suppression of a President's health is an American tradition.

Abraham Lincoln suffered from debilitating bouts of depression--especially after the death of his son, Tad--yet there were never reports at the time that he may be unfit to serve.  Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in his second term that left him unable to speak.  Many historian concur that his wife became his "mouthpiece" after that--perhaps scooping Clinton as our "first female President"--and making many of Wilson's decisions for him.  And yet, none of that was reported at the time.

The most famous case is President Franklin Roosevelt's handicaps caused by polio.  It was agreed upon between both the White House and the press corp that pictures of FDR in a wheelchair were not to be published.  The same for shot showing the President using two canes and heavy leg braces to walk.  There were a few shots that snuck out showing the difficulty that Roosevelt had in getting around--but for the most part, Americans had no idea.

Dwight Eisenhower suffered mild strokes while President--but the extent of his neurological damage was never fully detailed.  And while it was mentioned that John Kennedy suffered from back pain, the treatment of prescription painkillers and the wearing of a brace was never fully detailed in the press.  The one time a candidate's health record was publicized--involving 1972 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton and his history of hospitalization for depression--it forced him to resign the ticket and pretty much torpedoed the George McGovern campaign.

The first time a President's health report became national news was during Ronald Reagan's tenure--and that is because he was "so old" when first elected.  For some perspective, almost 70-years old when he was first sworn into office.  That would make him a whole two years older than Hillary Clinton--and actually YOUNGER than Donald Trump.  When Nancy Reagan announced shortly after he left office that Ronald had Alzheimer's Disease, every piece of video from press conferences was closely examined--and everybody then "recognized" the signs of early dementia every time Reagan forgot a name or lost track of his thoughts while talking to the media.

To expect the elderly folks running for President this time around to be of fit body and mind is a stretch as well.  They are Baby Boomers after all--and they are part of the group that is serving to be the biggest drain on the health care system--not to mention Medicare and Medicaid.  And they won't be getting any healthier.

Monday, September 12, 2016

9-11 Memories

Sometimes I'm asked what memories I have of 9/11.  From a news reporter standpoint it was the biggest story of my lifetime--but when the anniversary of that day comes around every year, I choose not to think about the video footage, the press conferences or the mood of the people that day.  Instead, I always focus on just 19-men:

Hani Hanjour--in the US illegally on an expired student visa
Khalid Al-Mindhar--on the US terror watch list and in the country on a tourist visa
Nawaf Al-Hamzi--in the US illegally after overstaying a tourist visa
Salem Al-Hamzi--in the US on a tourist visa
Majed Moqed--in the US on a tourist visa
Mohammed Atta--in the US as a work trainee visa
Satam Al-Suqami--in the US illegally after overstaying a tourist visa
Waleed Al-Shehri--in the US illegally after overstaying a tourist visa
Wail Al-Shehri--in the US on a tourist visa
Abdulaziz Al-Omari--in the US on a tourist visa
Marwan Al Shehhi--in the US on a student visa
Fayez Banihammad--in the US on a tourist visa
Ahmed Al-Ghamdi--in the US illegally after overstaying a tourist visa
Hama Al-Ghamdi--in the US on a tourist visa
Mohand Al-Shehri--in the US on a tourist visa
Zaid Jarrah--in the US on a tourist visa
Saeed Al-Ghamdi--in the US on a tourist visa
Ahmed Al-Haznawi--in the US on a tourist visa
Ahmed Al-Nami--in the US on a tourist visa

In thinking about those men, I imagine them praying the night before and the day of the attacks praying that there small weapons get through the security checkpoints at the airport, or that their passports won't be denied at check-in, or that the passengers on the flights won't put up much of a fight, and that they are able to fly the planes that they only had experience with in simulators to their intended targets.  And except for the case of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, those men's prayers were answered.

So why would I only think of those men--when so many Americans died on that day--and the rest of our lives were so greatly altered?  Because if those men had never been allowed into the country--or someone at security had said "there seem to be a lot of men from terrorists hotbed countries bringing box cutters onto planes here today" or if intelligence operations had shared information known about each of these men, all those who were honored at memorial services yesterday would have been back at work or home with their families on September 12th, 2001.

And yet, you heard little mention of those 19-men yesterday.  It's almost as if an effort is afoot to wipe them from the history of 9/11.  President Obama certainly didn't mention them in his speech.  You would have thought those thousands of people had died in a horrible accident or a natural disaster.  And that is why I think about those 19-men--because who they were and what they believed in are the sole cause of 9/11 and the aftermath that has cost thousands more lives.  And that must be remembered (and avenged) as well.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Still Not Good Enough

Last week I gave you my Badgers predictions for the season (and was more than happy to be wrong about week one versus LSU) now it's time for Packers picks you can take to the bank!

Week 1 at Jacksonville--The Jags are getting better, but not good enough yet.  Packers win 27-13

Week 2 at Minnesota--This is the grand opening of the Vikings' new stadium and in the tradition established by that sad sack franchise, they will lose to the Packers on a missed last second field goal 31-30.

Week 3 vs Detroit--The Lions couldn't win at Lambeau with Megatron in their lineup.  Now that he is dancing with the stars, they lose again 28-13.

Week 4--Bye week.  Local sports talk radio is consumed by the questions "will an early bye ruin the Packers' momentum?" and "Will the early bye mean a more tired team at the end of the season?"

Week 5 vs The New York Football Giants--The G-men are always hard to figure out.  Is this the year they miss the playoffs or the year they win the Super Bowl?  I'm guessing it's the former and the Packers win 27-20.

Week 6 vs Dallas--The Cowboys could be down to their fourth-string QB by this time.  Packers win 31-10

Week 7 vs Da Bears--Chicago is headed to a last place finish in the NFC North and they present no challenge at Lambeau 38-7.

Week 8 at Atlanta--Don't the Packers play any good teams this year?  They win on the road 23-20.

Week 9 vs Indianapolis--Finally, an opponent that might actually make the playoffs this year.  The Pack is due for a letdown--so I'll go with the Colts in this one 40-35.

Week 10 at Tennessee--The Titans are no good.  Packers win here 28-16.

Week 11 at Washington--The Redskins will likely be leading the pathetic NFC East again by this time--but just like in the playoffs last year, Green Bay exposes them as pretenders 34-9.

Week 12 at Philadelphia--The Packers win at Washington the week before could elevate the Eagles to the top of the pathetic NFC East--where Green Bay exposes them as pretenders--winning 34-0.

Week 13 vs Houston--Why do I think that JJ Watt is going to have a huge game in his return to Wisconsin?  Texans pull off a road upset 23-21.

Week 14 vs Seattle--Why do I think that Russell Wilson is going to have a huge game in his return to Wisconsin?  Two losses in a row for the Packers 40-34.

Week 15 at Chicato--With fans in panic mode, the Packers get to enjoy whipping up on Chicago again 34-10.

Week 16 vs Minnesota--By this time Joel Stave may be starting for the Vikings.  He does not have a huge game returning to Wisconsin--Packers 27-10

Week 17 at Detroit--Wouldn't it be fun if Aaron Rodgers won this game with a miracle Hail Mary again?  28-27 Packers.

With a 13-3 record, the Packers are the 2nd seed in the NFC, losing the tie-breaker to Seattle.  they get the bye week and then crush the Redskins again (who likely make the playoffs with a losing record again) 41-7.

Then it's off to Green Bay's house of horrors--Seattle--for another NFC Championship game loss to Russell Wilson (this time in less heartbreaking fashion) 24-13.  Seattle then goes on to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the highest scoring Super Bowl ever 49-45.

Of course, if Aaron Rodgers gets hurt, that 13-3 immediately reverts to a 3-13 record.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hiding the Anthem

With more athletes joining Colin Kaepernick in his protest against the National Anthem, sports teams are engaging in a game of "Hide the Anthem".  Team USA Soccer star Megan Rapinoe joined the fray this month by "taking a knee" during the Anthem before a game with her Washington women's professional league team.  She announced that she would continue to do that as long as she felt there was injustice in America.  The team decided to circumvent that protest before last night's game--but playing the Anthem earlier than scheduled--at a time when the teams were not on the pitch.  The team then issued a statement saying they did that to prevent Rapinoe's "disrespectful display" from becoming the focus of the game.

That practice may become the norm if athletes are going to use the National Anthem as a platform for their own personal protests.  There wouldn't be much for Colin Kaepernick to do if the song is played while he is in the locker room with his teammates.  Would he or other players come running out in various states of undress just to sit on the bench and make their point?

There is no "law" that requires the playing of the National Anthem right before the start of a sports contest.  It could be played before team introductions--when all of the players are lined up in the tunnel--out of the view of fans and cameras.  It could be played at halftime before the Frisbee-catching dogs take the field or they conduct the Kick For Cash contest.  You could play it right after opening the gates to the stadium, two hours before kickoff.

The National Anthem at sporting events dates back to World War II--and perhaps has outlived its usefulness in today's society.  As I've pointed out before, there are plenty of fans who don't take part in the standing, the hand over the heart and the singing along.  At Chicago Blackhawks games, the fans cheer as loudly as they can--not so much in a show of support for their country--but to get their team fired up for the start of the game (by the way, that is one of the most awesome experiences and I would highly recommend going to a Hawks game for it).  Is that really "respectful"?

So play "Who Let the Dogs Out" or "Jump Around" or "Let's Get It Started" right before kickoff--and give those with grievances (founded or unfounded) less of a venue for their protests.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Numbers Game

We have added a security lock to the entrance to the Radio Ranch building this week that requires a passcode to open.  For years we had been under the "old school" security procedure in our shared facility--trusting that bad people wouldn't figure out the door was always unlocked and make their way inside.  Each individual suite was locked up at night and on weekends--but access to our bathrooms was available--and apparently the beggars that frequent the Super Walmart next door found out about that and were leaving the nastiest stuff you could possibly imagine in there--so the building's owners decided to lock them out.

So now I have to memorize yet another four digit code to avoid being locked out of my own office every morning.  Of course, the code is different than the four digit one I use for my debit card and the four digit code that I use to unlock my Iphone and the last four digits of my social security number--which many financial websites like to use as a "security question" before allowing you to download your information--and it's not even close to the four digit extension for people to dial to reach my office phone line.

Of course, those are all easier to remember than my five digit employee number at the Radio Ranch, and my five-digit bank account number, or my six-digit WIAA officials number that I have to enter into the scorebook when I work a game--or the different six digit Wisconsin State Golf Association member number that I have to use to register for tournaments or to check my handicap. 

All of those numbers are easier to remember than the various user names that I have for dozens of websites that require registration and security access.  I'm on to my second page of those for use in the office and at home.  And because you are always told never to have the same password for all websites, that list is just as long.  It's a good thing many of those sites allow your computer to "remember" you--or I'd spend half my day trying different combinations of usernames and passwords until I get locked out (and have to reset a password I couldn't remember in the first place) or something finally clicks.  Oh, and when you change a username or password on your desktop computer--you have to do it again on your Iphone--or you won't be able to use those sites or apps on the go.

With all of these numbers, usernames and passwords floating around in my brain, it's amazing I still have room to remember every shot from every round of golf this year, the lyrics to every Beatles and REM song and the answers to about 80% of all the questions on Jeopardy every night.  Just don't ask me what my wife's cellphone number is--that's in my "favorites" on my phone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Last Saints

Over the weekend, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was canonized as a saint by Pope Francis.  The nun's canonization comes just a couple of years after Pope John Paul II was given the same honor--on a fast-track basis.  The two may be the last "modern" saints to join the Catholic canon.

The greatest challenge "modern saints" face is that it's a lot harder to perform "miracles" nowadays.  To become a saint, the Church must accept and "verify" two "miracles"--and to be honest, the John Paul and Mother Teresa "miracles" are flimsy at best.  One of the former Pope's "miracles" was a woman being healed of a brain tumor after praying to a magazine cover featuring a picture of the Pontiff on it.  One of Mother Teresa's was a woman being cured of stomach cancer after nuns in Calcutta prayed to former director on her behalf.  The husband of the "cured" woman--who was not a Catholic--initially claimed that his wife's tumor went away after receiving treatment from doctors--not because of any praying.  However, after he converted to Catholicism, the husband changed his story and claimed it was the praying--not the doctors--that healed his wife.

You have to admit, those "miracles" don't quite measure up to feeding a multitude of thousands with just a few fishes and loaves--or a boy growing back an amputated leg.  That darn Science keeps coming up with explanations for things that used to be fodder for "miracles".

Another roadblock to sainthood for modern Catholics will be the world's view of their actions on many social issues.  Both Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa were strong opponents of both abortion and the use of contraceptives in any form or for any reason.  The late Christopher Hitchens pointed out that for Mother Teresa, having poor families continue to have children unfettered was "good for her business".  And that the nun often worked to keep her sickest patients away from better medical facilities--as video footage of more dying people in her homes kept the donations flowing in.  And let's not forget that Pope John Paul oversaw a church that first fostered child molesters, then denied and finally challenged in court allegations of priest sexual assaults around the world--and then cried poverty when it came time to pay the victims.

Of course, most Catholics today--especially in the US don't actually "practice what they preach"--so it's possible there could one day be Saint John Kerry Church or Saint Mel Gibson School--whose "miracles" included "voting against the bill before I voted for it" and getting people to see an over-rated sub-titled film about the crucifiction of Christ.

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Down Year

The Wisconsin Badgers kick off their 2016 season this weekend at Lambeau Field--and I'm not filled with as much optimism for this year as I have been in the past.  A killer schedule combined with the first real effects of the poor recruiting from the Gary Anderson years have the Cardinal and White looking at a down year.  Let's get to the annual predictions:

Week 1 vs LSU at Lambeau--Wisconsin doesn't have the best of records against SEC opponents in recent years--and Tigers running back Leonard Fornette is a beast.  If the Badgers can contain him--and force LSU's shaky quarterback to throw a lot, they can keep it close.  Wisconsin loses 24-20.

Week 2 vs Akron.  The Zips are not that good.  Badgers roll 37-17.

Week 3 vs Georgia State.  This will be one of those games that has fans at Camp Randall antsy well in to the 4th quarter--as the Badgers get caught looking ahead to the start of the Big Ten schedule the next week.  Bucky edges out the Panthers 34-30.

Week 4 at Michigan State.  The Spartans will also be down this year with a new quarterback at the helm--but Wisconsin seems to have no mojo in East Lansing.  Costly turnovers will sink the Badgers in this one 21-13.

Week 5 at Michigan.  Back to back road games and coming off a loss, Wisconsin doesn't look much sharper at the Big House and lose to the Wolverines (who will win the Big Ten this year, by the way) 38-27.

Week 6 vs Ohio State.  Who put together this Big Ten schedule?  Badgers fans go into full panic mode following a painfully close loss to the Buckeyes at Camp Randall 34-31.

Week 7 at Iowa.  With the media wondering if Wisconsin will even make a bowl game this year, the Badgers somehow find a way to be an Iowa team that I think will be down this year, 24-20.

Week 8 vs Nebraska.  Feeling good coming off the road win at Iowa City, Wisconsin uses the friendly confines of Camp Randall to roll over Nebraska 30-10.

Week 9 at Northwestern.  Ryan Field has become a house of horrors for the Badgers the past two decades, as shootouts have never seemed to go their way.  The same thing happens again as Bucky gets outgunned 48-44.

Week 10 vs Illinois.  Finally, one of the crappy teams in the conference! Badgers beat the Illini 38-7.

Week 11 at Purdue. In front of what will likely be a nearly empty stadium in West Lafayette, Wisconsin wins 23-10.

Week 12 vs Minnesota.  Now is the time that I like to remind everyone that Wisconsin has retained Paul Bunyan's Axe for TWELVE CONESECUTIVE YEARS--AND 19 OF THE LAST 21 YEARS!!!  And there is no way Goldy is coming into Camp Randall on Senior Day and taking it this year.  13 YEARS IN A ROW!!!!!  Wisconsin 70, Minnesota 0

With a 7-5 record, Wisconsin makes its first trip to the Quick Lane Bowl in beautiful downtown Detroit, the ultimate December destination.  In a game that draws about 8 fans at Ford Field, Wisconsin outmuscles Central Michigan for a 37-27 victory.

Let's hope I'm wrong about that early Big Ten schedule--but I doubt I will be.