A fistful of comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports.
Just wondering how quickly into his upcoming U.S. visit will the Pope offer dispensation to Tom Brady? The Patriots quarterback demands nothing less.
Trump vs. the tower
You may remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the former Milwaukee/Los Angeles star who possessed the NBA’s single most potent move, the skyhook.All-time leading NBA scorer and all that.
Or you may remember him as the large fellow crammed into the co-pilot’s seat in the movie “Airplane.”
Turns out, he’s also something of a pundit, looking upon the political landscape from on high.
Abdul-Jabbar is now going one-on-one against Donald Trump, who normally when faced with anything that tall puts his name all over it, posts a doorman out front and starts selling living space at about $2,000 per square foot.
In a recent Washington Post opinion piece, Abdul-Jabbar took on the ranking bully of the bully pulpit. He thoroughly skewered Trump, specifically for his contemptuous handling of criticism and of the media vetting process.
Then, almost on cue, Trump sent him a contemptuous hand-written response:
“Now I know why the press always treated you so badly – they couldn’t stand you,” it read. “The fact is that you don’t have a clue about life and what has to be done to make America great again.”
Here’s hoping this is a best-of-seven series. I like the big man's chances.
Another Grand Slam attempt goes pffft
Get me rewrite. This item originally was about Serena Williams' inevitable march to a Grand Slam, and about our reluctance to measure it as truly great.
A funny thing happened on the way to inevitability. Williams fell in three sets to Roberta Vinci Friday afternoon, the unseeded Italian serving out the last game at love and winning it all on a little drop shot that froze her opponent way out there beyond the baseline. Such massive upsets are exactly why we continue to watch these overblown productions and why one (OK, that's me) really shouldn't assume that greatness always comes to play.
By the way, what does this do to Williams' standing among the all-time greats? She after all does have 21 career major titles, winning three of them this year at 33. I'd probably still place her slightly behind Steffi Graf (the last Grand Slam winner) and Martina Navratilova (an all-time force across the platforms of singles and doubles with 344 Tour titles in both).
And now, your U.S. Open women's finals match matches Vinci against countrywoman Flavia Pennnetta. Television ratings on this side of the Appian Way figure to be microscopic.
That just makes Georgia-Vandy all the more must-see.
Do you believe in preseason football?
If you think the preseason means anything other than an opportunity to soak the season ticket holder, then you have to think the Falcons are in trouble Monday night.
They play the Philadelphia Eagles, the darlings of August.
In going 3-1 over the preseason, Chip Kelly’s bunch outscored their opponents 133-77. His offense finished first in the league in yardage that doesn’t really matter.
And not only did quarterback Sam Bradford stay out of the emergency room, he looked like Sammy Baugh on the field.
Meanwhile, of course, the Falcons may be auditioning offensive lineman during the pregame meal Monday.
How the visitors are only three-point favorites in the light of such overwhelming evidence is a mystery.
Shhh. Don’t tell anyone but the preseason really is a waste of time.
Buckeyes can rest starters until January
Here is your updated schedule for the No. 1-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, or something very close to it:
Sept. 12 – vs. Paul Mitchell Beauty School/Nail Academy
Sept. 19 – vs. Vassar
Sept. 26 – vs. Luna (N.M.) Community College
Oct. 3 – at Faber (“Knowledge is Good”)
Oct. 10 – vs. Coast Guard Academy
Oct. 17 – vs. Savannah College of Art and Design
Oct. 24 – at Slauson Middle School, Ann Arbor
Nov. 7 – vs. Slippery Rock
Nov. 14 – at Orvis Fly Fishing School, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Nov. 21 – Michigan State.
Nov. 28 – at University of Phoenix
Jan. 12 – BCS National Championship Game
The no-no nation
The no-hitter has been devalued more than even the Chinese Yuan.
Remember when someone had a no-no going for seven innings, you’d maybe put down the game controller or the tub of Breyer’s butter pecan and try to track down the game on cable or online? Now, you’re just as likely to ignore it, like the sound of a car alarm.
The Dodgers alone were no-hit twice in August. The latest, the sixth overall in the Majors so far this season, was spun by the Cubs Jake Arrieta.
That makes 30 already in this far-from-completed decade, as opposed to half that many in all of the 2000s. The modern record for season – seven just three years ago – is certainly in range. After all, the Braves hitters haven’t even done their part here in 2015.
The reasons are manifold: Hitters are both off the juice and unabashed about striking out; pitchers have gotten stronger; and smarter, too, with the scouting of tendencies.
But if this keeps up – and offense in general declines – pitchers will find themselves throwing off anthills and requiring binoculars to see the plate. Surely, the rules makers can’t abide a world in which a no-hitter comes every couple weeks, as regular as the ballplayers’ paychecks.