Jerry Richardson – Everything That is Wrong with the NFL and America

I never thought much one way or another about Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson in the past. He was pretty much a non-enmity to me in Southern California. I knew he was rich and that he was the first fellow since the really early years of the NFL to progress, over many years, from player (Rookie of the Year in 1959, though that was the best year of a short career) to team owner. The revelations about him that have come out over the past few days led me to look a little deeper into him, and what I see is disgusting at many, many other levels. What Jerry Richardson is, is a pathetic, egomaniacal racist who places his personal needs and well-being over others who need empathy, sympathy and help from others.

The recently released revelations that led to his withdrawal from management of his team and in putting the team up for sale represents only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to arrogant and sometimes reprehensible actions on his part.

First, there are those allegations, which were first reported by Sports Illustrated, in an article that began with the following introduction into Richardson’s character:

“Friday was Jeans Day, when most staffers at the Carolina Panthers team offices would wear denim to work. The female employees knew what that meant. As the team’s owner, Jerry Richardson, made his rounds on the way to his spacious office, he would ask women to turn around so he could admire their backsides. Then, in his rolling Southern drawl, he’d offer comment, drawing from a store of one-liners he’d recycle each week. Among those in heaviest rotation: Show me how you wiggle to get those jeans up. I bet you had to lay down on your bed to fit into those jeans. Did you step into those jeans or did you have to jump into them?” went on to document how Richardson’s conduct triggered numerous complaints

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over many years, and that in fact several monetary settlements were paid out settling claims of sexual harassment and at least one triggered by racist slurs. Continue reading

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NFL Rules, Officiating Beyond a Joke

Any sane, level headed sports fan who watched NFL games this past weekend had to think “Are they making this stuff up as they go along?”

Two specific plays and the rulings that followed are prime examples of the FACT that the NFL is in shambles as far as credibility and consistency where the creation and execution of rules are all concerned.

Millions of people saw what has to be perhaps the worst example ever of an obvious on-field intentional “mistake” by an official that directly led to one team’s ultimate win. In last night’s Dallas-Raiders game, fans across the nation watched in disbelief as referee Gene

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Steratore took out a folded piece of paper or card and inserted it in-between the nose of the football and the down marker to determine if the ball had or had not reached that magical spot far enough from the previous line of scrimmage to qualify as a first down.

Bear in mind that at this point in the game, a tie game with five minutes to play, Dallas had a fourth-and-one on their own 39 yard line, and chose to run a play rather than to punt the ball. A failed effort on that fourth down would have given the Raiders the ball back within 40 yards of the Dallas goal line, and almost in their own field goal range. That play was a keeper by quarterback Dak Prescott, and the result was a gain to be measured in feet and inches and not in yards.

The spot at which the ball in the hand’s of Prescott was downed was near the 40 yard line, but clearly neither successful or unsuccessful in reaching the spot needed for a first down and for the Cowboys’ drive to continue. That is when sports history was made. Continue reading

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Angels Solid Gold Lineup, Spackled Pitching Staff

Recent moves by GM Billy Eppler have turned the Angels infield into a solid lineup of established power and defense to go along with their star-studded outfield. Combine that with their low-offense but quality defense behind the plate, and the Angels can now put on the field a lineup worthy of post season success. But then, seemingly as always, what about on the mound? Talent on the starting staff abounds, but the pervasive question remains, just who is healthy enough to actually take the ball, walk to the mound, and pitch?

On paper, a starting staff chosen from among Garett Richards, Parker Bridwell, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker, J.C. Ramirez, Tyler Skaggs, Alex Meyer, Nick Tropeano, and the new kid on the US block, Shohei Ohtani, would be solid and even frightening to others.

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But, the reality is always the health issue, and as it stands now, there will be no JC Ramirez in 2018, there will be no Alex Meyer in 2018, and their may or may not be, at some time during 2018, Matt Shoemaker and Nick Tropeano. And, with post-signing reports of that strained ulnar collateral ligament, who knows if there will or will not be a Shohei Ohtani on the mound in 2018?

Normally, one would think that they could start the season with Richards, Bridwell, Skaggs and Heaney in an off-day filled April rotation. But looking at the 2018 schedule before any rainouts, the schedule is not kind to the Angels, with only one single off day Continue reading

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The Return of Matt Kemp?

Few Dodgers’ over the past decade or so have been as maligned as Matt Kemp. Though not the defensive star he once was, only when injured has his offensive performance been less than stellar, but his criticism has generally revolved around that locker room and off-field stuff that so often is based on rumor and bad relationships, and on his salary. The trade then sent him and his $160 M contract to San Diego for the over rated and now displaced yasmani grandal and little more was regaled by some who merely wanted him out of town, ignoring stuff like his MVP-runner-up 2011 season (39 HR, 126 RBI, .324 avg.) and his ability to still produce those kinds of stats, such as he did in 2016 (35, 108, .268). He was on his way to a similar season last year when nagging injuries and personnel decisions

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limited him to 115 games despite productive numbers (16, 64, .276). At 33, he should still have a whole lot of productivity left, and the Dodgers think so, having re-acquired him today from Atlanta, in a trade that seems to make much more sense for LA than it does for the Braves.

In exchange for Kemp and the remaining two years on his old Dodgers’ contract that calls for $21 M per year, the Braves acquired a shitload of debt, and not much else. The big name sent to Atlanta was Adrian Gonzalez, who no longer figured in Dodgers’ plans and whose health makes the rest of his career a major question mark. Owed about $45 M over the next two season and already with a featured star at first base in Freddie Freeman, Continue reading

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Is Shohei Ohtani The Ghost of Willie Smith?

On April 28, 1964, the Los Angeles Angels traded right-handed relief pitcher Julio Navarro to the Detroit Tigers. Navarro, 28, was coming off a fine first full season in the majors in which he compiled a 2.89 ERA over 57 appearances, with 12 saves. Maybe the Angels knew something about Navarro that influenced the trade, as Navarro never again come close to those numbers, retiring in 1970 having appeared in only 64 more major league games, with five additional saves. In exchange for him, the Angels acquired 25-year old left-handed pitcher Willie Smith, who in Triple-A in 1963 had compiled a 14-2 record with a 2.11 ERA. Manager Bil Rigney immediately found a spot for Smith in the Angels’ bullpen

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(with one start), and over his first few weeks with the Angels Smith appeared on the mound in 15 games, with a 2.84 ERA. But, Smith also came to the plate occasionally, a rarity in today’s game for a relief pitcher, and the results were overwhelming.

Gradually, Rigney began using Smith as a pinch-hitter, even putting him up to bat and then having him remain in the game to pitch. But more and more, Smith was being used in the outfield, in order to get his bat in the lineup. Over the rest of the season, Smith played left, right, and even center field, in 87 games, in addition to his 15 pitching appearances. Unfortunately for Willie and the Angels, this was 1964 and the designed hitter did not make its appearance until the 1973 season, or Willie might well have gotten to bat in far more games. Conversely, had there been a DH in 1964, Willie’s hitting prowess may have gone undiscovered and he might well have remained only a pitcher. But in the games that he did appear in during the 1964 season, the rookie lefty pitcher was amazing at the plate, batting .301 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI in 373 at bats, while striking out only 39 times.

Coming off that remarkable 1964 season, in 1965 Smith no longer pitched, but instead was the Angels’ regular left fielder, appearing in 123 games in the outfield and zero on the mound. But, alas, the magic of 1964 could not be repeated, Continue reading

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Taken In by the Whirling Darvish

Despite a re-arranged lineup against lefty Dallas Keuchel, the only actual personnel change manager Dave Roberts has made for tonight’s game is to replace DH Joc Pederson with wounded third baseman Justin Turner, moving Logan Forsythe to third and inserting Charlie Culberson at second, replacing Forsythe. It’s tough for Pederson to be on the bench after his monster home run last night, but given Roberts’ career-long platooning, even if Turner were 100% and manning third, another righty hitter would be the DH against Keuchel.

Now that that’s out of the way, the importance of tonight’s game cannot be overemphasized. First is the fact that it’s Clayton Kershaw starting tonight, and the fact that he has to keep up his 2017 post season run and get the Dodgers to the seventh inning with a lead. But even more than the pressure issues directly on Kershaw are these pieces of

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reality: Game Six means Justin Verlander pitching against the Dodgers and Game Seven means the Whirling Darvish pitching for the Dodgers. Both are scary, ESPECIALLY the Whirling starting a potential Game Seven.

While the Dodgers did reasonably well in Game Two against Verlander, hitting two home runs and scoring three off of him despite getting only two hits, his overall late season and post season run has been spectacular, and with lower temperatures and cooler air expected Tuesday night at Dodgers’ Stadium, Continue reading

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Jeter’s Ego Too Big To Share Spotlight With Conine, Others

When Mark Walter and Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers, they embraced the long and storied history of the franchise, and of Los Angeles. They welcomed the continued presence in various capacities within the organization of team legends of the past, expanding and promoting the duties and exposure of people like Tommy Lasorda, Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe, Fernando Valenzuela, and a host of others. Walter began his lead ownership position by taking a low profile for himself, letting others retain the spotlight, and in the intervening years, he has not changed that approach. The LA Dodgers remain immensely popular, with sell-out attendance and billion-dollar

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broadcasting deals, fueled by not just excellent management decisions but also by equally successful personnel moves, which now have them in a World Series that the two previous ownerships could never accomplish.

The key there, of course, is that Walter has no overpowering ego that demands attention. In fact, most Dodgers’ fans when asked would not even know his name. He lets Andrew Friedman, Magic Johnson, Dave Roberts, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner get the headlines, and he stays in the background.

Imagine if new Dodgers’ ownership came in and immediately fired Tommy Lasorda, Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela in order to focus the team spotlight on that new owner, someone who already has fame and fortune, but who apparently is unsatisfied that perhaps a lone fan living under a bride by the river doesn’t yet know just who is now the boss in charge?

Well, that is the situation now in Miami, where a fleet of giant moving trucks has been hired to transport the massive ego of Derek Jeter to the Marlin’s offices. Continue reading

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Spotlight on the Whirling Darvish

I’ve made no secret of my lack of faith, to put it mildly, in Yu “The Whirling” Darvish, who I never saw as the star number one starting pitcher that others have seen, nor have I failed to express my regret for the trade that the Dodgers made to acquire his short-lived rental services, in exchange for a future hitting star in Willie Calhoun. But, so far this post season, the Whirling has shown me up, pitching superbly, and getting the call tonight to right the slightly leaky ship that failed to survive a late inning hurricane on Wednesday night.

In Wednesday’s epic game, clearly a classic in World Series history, the Dodgers used a record nine pitchers, finally losing the game when the bottom of the barrel was scraped clean with the arm of Brandon McCarthy, who became the guy on the spot when everything counted, despite his 1) Spending most of the season’s second half on the

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disabled list; 2) Having been rightly left off the team’s roster for both the Division and Championship series, and 3) Having allowed 14 earned runs over his previous 14-2/3 innings pitched. But, when that barrels is empty, what else can you do? Who would have thought that the Dodgers, a team that saw its 2017 pitching staff rank first in the National League and second in all of baseball in ERA and first in both in lowest opponent batting average need to resort to the team’s number nine pitcher in the most important inning of the season? More correctly, McCarthy is the team’s number 12 pitcher, Continue reading

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Dodgers’, Kershaw’s Path to WS: Keeping Runners Off Base

Through seven playoff games so far this post season, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has done an amazing job keeping opposing batters off base. The Dodgers as a team have hit ten home runs and have scored 37 runs. Opposing teams have out homered the Dodgers with a total of 13, but they have scored a total of only 18 runs in the seven games, as when the Diamondbacks and Cubs have homered, there almost always are NO runners on base. As a team, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has compiled an unheard of WHIP of 0.79 through the seven games, allowing a total of only 38 hits and 11 walks over 62 innings pitched. Combine this with the outstanding offense led by Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig, and the Dodgers sit today one victory from their first World Series appearance since 1988.

One factor overlooked by many that has been a major reason for not just the great performances from one Dodgers’ pitcher after another, but also for the team’s overall success has been the great all-around play of the new but yet unofficial starting catcher,

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Austin Barnes. From the very first day that the Dodgers’ gave away far, far too much talent for an extremely overrated yasmani grandel, I have been saying what a horrifically bad trade that was. That clearly can be seen now. Tied for the major league lead in passed balls this season, the underachieving grandal is hitless throughout the post season, while the next Dodgers’ star, Barnes, is hitting a solid .278 and producing runs, while performing brilliantly behind the plate, not just in not committing passed balls, but in corralling potential wild pitches, in preventing stolen bases (the Dodgers have stolen five bases in the seven games, their opponents, one), doing the one thing that pundits agreed grandal was good at – framing pitches – and in his overall handling of the pitching staff. Do not underestimate Barnes’ significant contributions to the Dodgers’ current success. Continue reading

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