The REAL Reason for the Buckeyes Spring Game

spring game The 2014 Buckeyes Spring Football Game has come and went….and once again, I was in attendance.  Strangely, none of my sports loving (and even Buckeye loving) friends chose to tag along.  Usually when I ask others if they want to go I hear responses like, “Why would I want to go to a scrimmage?” or “I would rather watch the Reds or Indians than a practice”.  For myself though, the Spring Game is tradition for me.  I love the opportunity to sit in The Shoe on a nice spring day in a GOOD SEAT to watch the Buckeyes take the field and to watch “The Best Damn Band in the Land” entertain.  61,058 of my ‘closest friends’ decided to do the same thing.

If it weren’t for an error in judgement by the Ohio State Athletic Office, the crowd on a beautiful Saturday would have been larger. Tickets originally were sold for $20 for club seats and $12 for general admission.  After a tepid sales response and a forecast for wonderful weather, the ‘powers that be’ relented and discounted ticket prices the day before.  Even Urban Meyer’s wife thought Spring Game ticket prices were too high to start.  A great walk-up crowd showed up….but it did not rival previous years when upwards of 80,000 attended the spring scrimmage.

spring game 2  Sure the Spring Game is an opportunity to see how Cardale Jones or Ezekiel Elliott have progressed since the end of last season; but more importantly the Spring Game is for the fans.  It is for that family of eight who cannot afford to pay almost $80 a ticket to attend a regular season game at The Shoe.  It is for those rapid Buckeyes fans who support the team at home, but just can’t pay the cost to see the pageantry and passion in person.  It is for the church youth group who packs up the van and heads over for a fun day of football and cheering.  It is for “Bobby & Jo Buckeyefan” from Portsmouth or Findlay who are unable to afford to make the trek to Columbus six times a year.  It is an opportunity for those who normally wouldn’t be in a position to see Urban Meyer or Dontre Wilson up close to do so.  THAT is what the Buckeyes Spring Game is truly about and I love it.

Are You a Fan of ‘Rasslin’, BROTHER!?

hulk-hogan-2 Wrestlemania 30 recently occurred and once again, the topic cropped up of why do people (mainly men) watch Professional ‘Rasslin?  I watch, and NO, I DO NOT believe ‘rasslin’ is real.  Of course, nowadays, I don’t think anyone truly believes the ‘competition’ is real.  Hell, the WWE calls itself ‘sports entertainment’.  I normally will get pulled in by the ‘story lines’ and ‘pomp & circumstance’ of Monday Night RAW and the WWE in the gap between the end of Monday Night Football & the beginning of the Major League Baseball season.  I do not purchase the monthly Pay-Per-Views and will not purchase the newly created WWE Network even with it’s promise of offering PPVs for $9.99 a month.

Here is my ‘take’ on professional ‘rasslin…yes, it’s goofy…yes, it’s a ‘soap opera’ for guys…but how is watching it any different from watching any scripted sitcom or drama?  It’s the same damn thing.  So, if I am entertained by The Rock or Daniel Bryan fighting or by their ‘microphone skills’ as opposed to Jennifer Lopez or Harry Connick Jr. passing judgement on karaoke singers, what does it matter?  It is all entertainment….something to take our minds off of our daily grind.

Reds Fans….get over yourselves….

In the bottom of the third inning of Thursday’s (4/3) Reds game vs. the Cardinals, St. Louis 1st Baseman Matt Adams reached into the first base stands and this happened…..

Yes, Adams did shove the Reds fan who made the catch, probably in frustration….though Matt said differently after the game.  The shove was a bit of ‘jackassery’ from Adams, but the reaction from the Reds fan afterward was also classless.  After the ‘shove’ occurred many Cincy fans on social media said they thought the Cardinals 1st Baseman should be suspended and/or fined.  Get over yourselves, this was a minor incident that got blown way out of proportion.  If it weren’t a Cardinals player, such a big deal wouldn’t be made of it.  Many Reds fans like to call the team from St. Louis “Whinybirds” because of their tendency to whine and make excuses when things don’t go their way.  Don’t copy that behavior, Redlegs fans…..just let this ‘incident’ go.  Adams should neither be suspended or fined.

2014 MLB Preview & Predictions

mlb1Let’s get ready for the 2014 MLB Season with a “quick hit” preview and predictions….

 

NL EAST

1) Washington Nationals- I really think this team bounces back from a lackluster 2013 Season and wins this division.  I don’t think its ‘clownish’ to see OF Bryce Harper as a MVP Candidate. P  Stephen Strasburg will be part of that ‘bounce back’ and also look for a good season from P Jordan Zimmerman.  The addition of P Doug Fister also will make a difference.

2) Atlanta Braves- The Braves will always challenge for a division crown; their front office is too solid to let the team take a major slide.  Losing C Brian McCann & P Tim Hudson will hurt, but RF Jason Heyward, C Evan Gattis & a decent, but not flashy pitching rotation will keep them in it.  One anchor that weighs them down is 2B Dan Uggla…a horrible major league player.  I see them taking a NL Wild Card.

3) New York Mets-  This team will challenge for the division…….some day.  3B David Wright is a great player and solid clubhouse presence.  The addition of LF Curtis Granderson also will make a difference, but a lousy bullpen and batting order (other than Wright & Granderson) will kill them. Remember P Matt Harvey is out for the 2014 Season.  I hope Manager Terry Collins survives 2014, he is a good leader with little to lead.

4) Philadelphia Phillies-  Old team that has no chance.  The Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley of 2011 are gone, the Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are more like the “Golden Girls of the MLB”, except Blanche got more ‘hits’.

5) Miami Marlins-  Horrible team that is even more disgraceful when you consider how ownership (Jeffrey Loria) misled the residents of Miami to get his new ballpark.  Look for star RF Giancarlo Stanton to be moved by mid-season.

NL CENTRAL

1) St. Louis Cardinals- Still the class of the division talent and team wise.  Reynoldsburg’s Mike Matheny has proved to be a more than capable Manager.  But when you have C Yadier Molina, LF Matt Holliday and a solid rotation led by Adam Wainwright, you probably don’t have to worry much about leadership.  One question though, can Jason Motte return from ligament replacement surgery last season?  Is RHP Trevor Rosenthal really going to be the Cardinals’ closer?

2) Pittsburgh Pirates- Solid club that is on the rise.  Clint Hurdle is a very underrated manager and he gets the most out of his roster.  CF Andrew McCutchen is a superstar and while the batting order around him isn’t that impressive on paper, I think 3B Pedro Alvarez has a ‘breakout’ season batting average wise and the addition of C Russell Martin adds a lot.  How big is losing P A.J. Burnett though?

3) Cincinnati Reds- Those who know me know that I am a big Reds fan.  But I have to be realistic.  The ‘window of opportunity’ closed on this team last season.  The losses of P Bronson Arroyo and CF Shin-Soo Choo will hurt, a lot.  Rising star CF Billy Hamilton should help, but won’t match Choo’s impact, at least for this season.  Plus, there is the case of 2B Brandon Phillips…a great player but one with a chip on his shoulder after learning the Reds tried to unload him on the Yankees during the offseason.  Also, injuries have hit hard in Spring Training….closer Aroldis Chapman was seriously injured by a batted ball and rotation stalwarts Mat Latos, Homer Bailey & Johnny Cueto are also battling injuries. Relievers Sean Marshall & Jonathan Broxton will start the season on the DL.  No playoffs for my Redlegs.

4) Milwaukee Brewers-  I have actually heard some pundits predict the 2014 Brewers will contend for the NL Central crown.  They are fools.  This is a team that is a shell of what it once was a few years ago.  RF Ryan Braun is a disgrace that should be booed everywhere he goes.  I do not see him having any semblance of a decent season.  3B  Aramis Ramirez and CF Carlos Gomez are decent players, but they can’t save this moribund franchise.  The pitching rotation other than Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse is atrocious.

5) Chicago Cubs-  No.  Wait till next decade.

NL WEST

1) LA Dodgers- Class of the division, and possibly the NL itself.  Yes, RF Yasiel Puig is a headcase, but Manager Don Mattingly should thank him every day for saving his job in 2013.  Puig is the reason this team went as far as it did in 2013, no question.  LHP Clayton Kershaw is worth every penny of his outrageous contract.  Look for him to keep up his stellar numbers.  CF Matt Kemp returns after a injury plagued 2013…even though he is still a little ‘ouchy’ in Spring Training, look for him to rebound with a vengeance.

2) Arizona Diamondbacks- Lots of pundits and publications have the DBacks finishing last in their division.  I don’t see it.  Kurt Gibson is a manager who like Clint Hurdle gets a lot out of his roster.  This is a team that has a lot of decent players who ‘fly under the radar’.  Even NL MVP Candidate 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.302, 36 HRs, 125 RBIs) is someone that most casual baseball fans have no clue about.  Look for LHP Wade Miley to have a good season.  I think they win a NL Wild Card.

3) San Diego Padres- This is what most people refer to as a ‘nice club’.  Not flashy, no superstars, but a collection of gritty, decent players that can be fun to watch.  3B Chase Headley suffered a disappointing 2013 after a stellar 2012 (.286, 31 HRs, 115 RBIs).  I think he has a good season in 2014.  1B Yonder Alonso, LF Carlos Quentin and SS Everth Cabrera once again are not stars, but solid.  Major drawback- a horrific bullpen.

4) San Francisco Giants- Similar team to the Philadelphia Phillies.  Lots of names that attract attention, but names that are growing old.  RF Hunter Pence,  3B Pablo Sandoval , 2B Marco Scutaro & P Tim Lincecum aren’t getting younger and in my opinion, aren’t getting any better.  C Buster Posey is solid, but he can’t carry this team.  P Tim Hudson, nice addition….but once again, old.

5) Colorado Rockies-  CF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Troy Tulowitzki & 1B Justin Morneau are great players…but they can’t overcome a horrible pitching rotation and bullpen.  Coors Field is not a place for bad pitching.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPION- Washington Nationals

AL EAST

1) New York Yankees-  Ok, I know a lot of you out there are saying, “Oh, no…you are picking the Evil Empire!?” Yes, I am.  The Yankees stole CF Jacoby Ellsbury from their arch-rival Red Sox.  A bold and outstanding move to make up for the loss of Curtis Granderson.  Yes, the loss of 2B Robinson Cano will hurt.  But the additions of C Brian McCann & RF Carlos Beltran will make up for it.  I also have no doubt “The Captain” Derek Jeter will end his career on a high note.  Drawback- A very shaky bullpen.

2) Boston Red Sox-  The loss of Ellsbury will hurt, but only in the fact that the Red Sox will finish 2nd in the division.  They still will claim a wild card.  This is a solid club and DH David Ortiz, RF Shane Victorino and LF Jonny Gomes won’t let a slide happen.  The addition of C A.J. Pierzynski is a solid move.  The rotation is still a force with LHP Jon Lester, RHP Clay Buchholz & RHP John Lackey.

3) Toronto Blue Jays-  A team that was a MAJOR disappointment in 2013.  This team was built to win it all with RHP Josh Johnson, RHP R.A. Dickey, SS Jose Reyes & RHP Mark Buehrle added.  That being said, I think this team bounces back.  Johnson is gone, but I think pride takes over and the Jays get decent seasons from the other three.  Plus, the batting order is solid….remember they have this guy named Jose Bautista in RF.  I hate that ‘roider Melky Cabrera gets big money after being a cheater, but I think even he has a decent season in LF and at the plate.  The Jays also have a very good bullpen.

4) Tampa Bay Rays-  Manager Joe Maddon’s magic runs out.  Joe is a great manager who is a genius but a bad batting order finally gets the best of him.  I love 3B Evan Longoria….but the bats surrounding him are not strong.  1B James Loney is solid, but not someone who strikes fear.  RF Wil Myers will be a star….some day, just not in 2014.  Adding C Ryan Hanigan from the Reds is a good move though.

5) Baltimore Orioles-  I love Buck Showalter as a manager…but the Orioles’ pitching staff is bad….no, really….its bad.  Chris Tillman is a stud (16-7, 3.71 ERA), but after that? Bud Norris? Uh, no.  C Matt Wieters, 1B Chris Davis & CF Adam Jones are very good MLB players, but they won’t overcome that horrible pitching rotation and a bullpen that may be worse.

AL CENTRAL

1) Detroit Tigers-  Prince Fielder goes to Texas?  So what?  This team is still loaded and wins the Central again.  Miguel Cabrera moves to 1B and that should make things easier for the superstar.  2B Ian Kinsler is a very good addition to offset the Fielder loss.  Pitching?  Yeah, this team’s got it.  RHP Justin Verlander is in another universe…but RHPs Max Scherzer & Rick Porcello are not ones to sleep on.  The bullpen? It’s not strong, but this team will overcome it.

2) Kansas City Royals-  I am sold on the Royals.  This team is on the rise and I think 2014 will be a good year for them.  I see 1B Eric Hosmer building on his 2013 season (.302, 17 HRs, 79 RBIs) and DH Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler should keep mashing in the middle of the batting order.  The pitching?  It’s not the most intimidating rotation, but RHP James Shields should be solid and don’t overlook RHP Jeremy Guthrie (15-12, 4.04 ERA).

3) Cleveland Indians-  If the Indians proved one thing, it’s that Terry Francona is a DAMN GOOD manager.  This is not the most stellar roster of players, but ‘Tito’ got them to grind and make it into the Wild Card Playoff.  CF Michael Bourn though, is starting 2014 on the DL and while 1B Nick Swisher brings a lot of energy, his line (.246, 22 HRs, 63 RBIs) does not impress.  Plus, C Carlos Santana is moving to 3B.  His play recently has been ok at the ‘hot corner’, but it started miserably in Spring Training.  I am not sold on him being a good 3B, but when Lonnie Chisenhall is the other option, you got to do what you got to do.  The pitching staff and bullpen, with the exception of RHP Justin Masterson, are both potential ‘dumpster fires’.

4) Chicago White Sox-  A team in flux.  Can 1B Cuban phenom Jose Dariel Abreu help them contend? No, not this year.  The Sox were in such shambles that they brought back their captain Paul Konerko.  Where does he play?  Who the hell knows?  Plus, DH Adam Dunn returns to swing and miss for another season.

5) Minnesota Twins-  I feel for Manager Ron Gardenhire.  12 years of service to the Twins; he deserves better than this AAA team Minnesota will put on the field.  The only fun Twins fans will have in 2014 is watching Joe Mauer at 1B.

AL WEST

1) LA Angels-  Here is my ‘long shot’ prediction.  I believe 1B Albert Pujols and  LF Josh Hamilton will rebound and have monster years in 2014.  Add them to MVP Candidate CF Mike Trout and I think the Angels’ offense will crush opposing pitching.  The pitching rotation also isn’t that bad. RHP Jared Weaver (11-8. 3.27 ERA) & LHP C.J. Wilson (17-7, 3.39 ERA) will benefit from the revived offense.  The bullpen?  Ehhhh, let’s not talk about that.

2) Texas Rangers-  Ok, I admit it.  A ‘sane person’ would pick this team to win the AL West.  I mean, look at them, they added 1B Prince Fielder and CF Shin-Soo Choo.  But 2B phenom Jurickson Profar and stud RHP Yu Darvish start the 2014 season on the DL and LHP & Newark, Ohio native Derek Holland is out for awhile due to torn cartilage on his left knee, which he said he hurt tripping over his dog, Wrigley.  Hmmmm……  Even with that, I do think the Rangers win a Wild Card.

3) Seattle Mariners-  The addition of 2B Robinson Cano to the team was a bold move, but at what cost?  The Mariners are not a ‘big budget’ team and as years go by, his 10 year, $240 million contract will kill this team.  The 2014 Mariners are really not that impressive a team once you get past Cano and RHP “King” Felix Hernandez.

4) Oakland Athletics-  “Moneyball” will become bankrupt in 2014.  The A’s pitching rotation has been decimated by injuries.  So badly that RHP Sonny Gray (5-3, 2.67 ERA in 10 games started) will be the Opening Day Pitcher.  And while Cuban Sensation LF Yoenis Cespedes made a big splash during in 2012, his average fell in 2013 to .240 from .292.  Ouch.

5) Houston Astros-  A team that is building for 2017.  Let’s get real, this team lost 111 games in 2013.  Let’s move on.

AL CHAMPIONS- Detroit Tigers.
2014 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS- Detroit Tigers

Brandon Weeden: A Retrospective

‘trident gum 0′ of YouTube & The Sports Bus would like to pay tribute to now departed Browns QB Brandon Weeden.
Try to hold back the tears as you watch this….

Is It Time To Eject “Chief Wahoo” From Baseball?

tribe In 1947,  Cleveland Indians brass decided they needed a new logo/mascot to “convey a spirit of pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm”.  Out of that decision, “Chief Wahoo” was born.  The “Chief” has been a part of Indians’ marketing and uniforms ever since.  From 1962 through 1994, a 28-foot-tall, neon-lit sign of “Chief Wahoo” at bat stood above Gate D of the Indians’ former home, Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

wahoo Yes, “Chief Wahoo” has been a storied part of Indians’ history.  Fans of the Tribe seem to be, for the most part, very supportive of the logo.  The call has arose again though to ‘eject’ “Chief Wahoo” from the team and the game.  Cleveland’s newspaper, The Plain Dealer, has called for the Indians to retire the logo.  Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed has called for the removal of “Chief Wahoo”.

I am a baseball fan.  I am a sports fan.  I understand the ties to a team’s history and tradition.  But do I think the Indians should get rid of “Chief Wahoo”?  Yes, I do.  Just look at the caricature; a smiling, toothy red-skinned cartoon.  Of course that is offensive.  If a team today were to adopt a similar logo/mascot of another race for marketing purposes, the outrage would be rightfully huge.  So yes, the Cleveland Indians should retire the character for good.  What say you?

Fat Man at “Arnold Fitness”

I have lived in Columbus since birth and for all of my 48 years (yes Sabie, I am THAT old) of life, I had never had the privilege of attending an Arnold Classic, Arnold Challenge, Arnold Fitness Event or whatever the hell they call it these days.  Thanks to a facebook friend, that changed.  I will admit some trepidation about heading down to the “Arnold”.  I am horribly out of shape and feared I would stand out like Roseanne Barr at the Playboy Mansion.  Those fears were unfounded.  Never at one time did I feel out of place.  It was a very ‘cool hang’; all attendees, athletes and exhibitors seemed genuinely happy to be there.
arnold First of all, the event is so packed with people you have no chance of sticking out.  Vendors of  all types of bodybuilding and fitness products fill every square inch of the Columbus Convention Center.  It is a trade show on steroids….oops, wrong choice of words.  It all isn’t centered around bodybuilding either.  Sports and fitness activities of all sorts are on display.  From painting (yes, art work) to fencing to rope jumping to even table tennis.
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Of course, there are ‘celebrity appearances’ throughout the weekend to get fans excited.  And of course, I couldn’t resist,
Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle & World Famous Bodybuilder Andy Haman were on hand.  I did a ‘before & after’ photo with Andy….
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The emphasis though is on fitness….and there are lots of attractive, physically fit people on hand.  I did some ‘research’ with these two very physically fit specimens….(ok, I creepily asked for a picture and then got nervous being around such attractive women….)
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I also was asked to ‘compete’ at the Arnold Fitness Classic….as you can see, my ‘posing and form’ won much applause and many medals….
sorry ladies, if I took my shirt off, you couldn’t handle it.  Arnold was so impressed, I was asked to ‘pose’ with him….

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So, as you can see, even a morbidly obese man can have fun at the Arnold Fitness Classic.  I celebrated my day of fun with some ‘furry friends’.  The “Arnold” brings out all types…and looking at these final pictures, I really need to ‘get a life’.
DSCN5503                             arnold2

2014 Cincinnati Reds Preview

redsMajor League Baseball Spring Training has begun and the Reds have returned to Goodyear, Arizona to get ready for it.  The Queen City Redlegs began 2013 with a lot of optimism.  They added Shin Soo Choo to play CF and looked forward to full, healthy seasons from perennial MVP Candidate Joey Votto and pitching staff ace Johnny Cueto.  Quite frankly, 2013 was a “World Series or Bust” year for them.  Unfortunately, it was a bust.  Votto played a full season at 1B, but seemed to change his approach at the plate and on the field after dealing with a injured left knee in 2012.  Joey hit .305, but dipped to 24 HRs and 73 RBIs, numbers that don’t warrant $25 million a year.  Another blow was suffered as LF and five hole hitter Ryan Ludwick tore the labrum lining in his right shoulder on a slide Opening Day.  Cueto continued to struggle as well with muscle issues.  Still, the Reds remained in contention and finished with a 90-72 record even with a dismal end to the regular season that saw them totally flame out against the Mets and division rival Pittsburgh.  A third place finish in the NL Central gave them a Wild Card playoff berth vs. the Pirates at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.  That game was an epic fail as the hungry Pirates and a rowdy Bucs crowd put an end to the Reds’ season.

price  Owner Bob Castellini decided change needed to be made at the top.  Dusty Baker was great at getting the Reds to the playoffs, but just was unable to rally the team any further.  Pitching Coach Bryan Price was chosen to take the helm and bring accountability to the clubhouse.  Shin Soo Choo parlayed his .285, 21 HR, 54 RBI season into a huge payday with the Texas Rangers, C Ryan Hanigan became a Tampa Bay Ray and rock solid P Bronson Arroyo was not offered a new contract and moved on to the Diamondbacks.  GM Walt Jocketty took a lot of criticism over the winter as he made no moves of significance to counter those losses.  P Homer Bailey was resigned to a 6 year, $105 million contract; a move that caused some head shaking but needed to be made in today’s MLB salary world.  To risk losing Bailey would severely impact the pitching staff in the future.

billyFor the Reds to reach the playoffs again in 2014 and move past the first round, a lot needs to come from the current roster and a newcomer.  Speedster Billy Hamilton has been tabbed to take over duties in CF and the leadoff spot.  There is no doubt Billy can run.  He stole 13 bases in 13 games during a late call-up to Cincy and provided energy every time he entered a game.  But you can’t steal first base.  Billy hit .256 at AAA Louisville last season.  Joey Votto needs to quit trying to be John Olerud (google the name, kids) and return to his 2010 MVP numbers (.324, 37  HRs, 113 RBIs).  RF Jay Bruce also needs to finally take the next step to stardom.  Jay is a solid player, but like the team, seems unable to take the ‘next step’.  And what type of season should Reds fans expect of “Dat Dude” Brandon Phillips?  BP once again played stellar defense at 2B and had a decent season at the plate (.261, 18 HRs, 103 RBIs), but seems to have become a disruptive force in the clubhouse.  He has questioned ownership’s truthfulness regarding finances, had a well publicized blow up on Cincinnati Enquirer sportswriter C. Trent Rosecrans and became even more disgruntled after news surfaced the Reds shopped him to the Yankees for a trade.  Plus, a disturbing profile came out this winter about closer Aroldis Chapman.  Will that be a distraction?
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The starting pitching staff of Johnny Cueto (barring further injury), Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Tony Cingrani and Mike Leake should be more than solid and the Reds bullpen is also a plus.  But with the lack of moves during the offseason, Joey Votto’s new approach at the plate, the almost certain drop off in production for CF/leadoff spot and change in leadership, I see an 84-78 finish which will lead to 3rd place and no playoffs for the 2014 Reds.  The ‘window of opportunity’ has closed on this team.

What Happened to NASCAR?

Nascar_logo As we headed into the turn of the millennium, NASCAR was at an all time high.  It turned the corner of being just for ‘good old boys’ and had became second only to the NFL in terms of ratings and national attention on the sports scene. Fans took to the fast action on the track and the stories behind each individual driver.   Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Sr. & Jr. among others became superstars.  The stands were ‘stacked and packed’, ratings were high, sponsorships were being snapped up for the various teams and the TV money was rolling in.
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Then on February 18, 2001 the unthinkable happened….NASCAR’s biggest star, Dale Earnhardt, died in what seemed like an uneventful wreck.  That it happened on NASCAR’s biggest stage, the Daytona 500, made it even more painful for fans.

NASCAR began to fade.  The economy crippled sponsorships and drivers who normally seemed safe scrambled for money to keep their teams afloat.  And of course, greed reared its ugly head, the cost of going to a NASCAR race skyrocketed, making it nearly impossible for the ‘average fan’ to attend.  The circuit also made the decision to take races away from smaller, traditional facilities like Rockingham and Darlington to larger 1.5 mile, newer tracks  that make for boring racing.  Races became longer as ‘suspicious caution flags’ came out to allow for more commercials.  NASCAR also began to constantly tinker with car set-ups,  race formats and rules (Who can forget NASCAR’s shoehorning of Jeff Gordon into last year’s Chase?) to try to appease fans and larger teams.  Plus, going to a NASCAR race seems to have become a big hassle.  I witnessed first hand the traffic nightmare that has killed the Sprint Cup race at the Kentucky Speedway.  The argument can also be made that the season is way too long.  Where as NASCAR may have held its own against the NFL 14 or so years ago, that is no longer the case.  King Football will not be defeated.  TV ratings are plummeting and it is no secret, just watch a race, attendance is significantly down.
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The question of whether NASCAR is ‘fixed’ also has crept up more often as of late.  Even I, as a fan, have to question rookie Austin Dillon’s winning of the 2014 Daytona 500 pole, in the #3 car Dale Sr. used to drive!  It also seemed like a “PR job” when “The Savior”, Danica Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole last year.  Beautiful, sweet Danica…yes, she brings marketing dollars to NASCAR, but let’s be honest…she is not a good driver, she was average in Indy Car from where she came.  And for all of the ‘hype’ surrounding the “Queen of NASCAR” she has not helped sagging ratings and attendance.  Quite honestly, the ‘spat’ between her and “The King” Richard Petty has turned NASCAR into ‘clown show’ territory.
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Add to all of this the news that ESPN and NASCAR will soon part ways.  Say what you will about the “Worldwide Leader” (I am not their biggest fan), but once you are out of their ‘good graces’, it is a tough road to ride.  Just look at how national attention for the NHL has slipped since they and ESPN parted.  You can kiss shows like “NASCAR Now” and all of the segments airing on a constant loop on SportsCenter goodbye.

What happened to NASCAR?  It was a shooting star that captured our attention.  It will always be there on Sundays in the spring and summer for four or so hours, but it will never regain the popularity it had during the early 2000s.

Small market Reds break the bank…again

The Reds have once again proven that the “small market” label used by many sports teams is nothing more than an excuse.

In 2012, fans were preparing for the worst, fearing that two of their stars would skip town for a long-term contract and bag o’ cash.  Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto were outgrowing Cincinnati and the small-town Reds.  Could the Reds possibly scrape up the money to sign one of them?  After Votto agreed to the biggest contract in club history, Phillips signed a six-year deal for big money.

The Reds have inked Homer Bailey to a six-year, $105 million contract.  The 27-year old has developed into the pitcher that the club and fans have been waiting on.  I really like this deal.  Bailey has his moments, but he is a workhorse with immense talent.

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