By Lloyd Graff.
Back in the day, I was the Sports Editor and Columnist of The Michigan Daily, the best college newspaper in the world. Today I’m returning to my roots and writing unabashedly about one of my true loves – Sports.
An important change has apparently taken place in Major League Baseball. The majority of players seem to have decided for various reasons, primarily fear of getting caught, to abstain from “performance enhancing drugs.” They are angry that some of their peers who they are competing against are still getting an unfair advantage and potentially robbing them of a job or a title. You now see baseball administration and players wanting the guys trying to “game” the game punished. Ryan Braun was the National League Most Valuable Player in 2011. Now he is banned for the rest of the season. And the players, even on his team, the Milwaukee Brewers, do not appear to be complaining about it.
I must admit, I enjoyed watching Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa hit thousands of mammoth homers, but watching Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera wallop them today is just as entertaining. I just hope they aren’t fooling us too.
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The National Football League is starting training camp again. The most compelling players are the quarterbacks. I love how great young guys, including several who were relative unknowns, are taking over the game. Last year Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin, the two biggest names coming out of college, made a big splash, but then there was Russell Wilson, a third round pick out of Wisconsin who turned around Seattle, and Colin Kaepernick, the unknown from Nevada-Reno who almost won the Super Bowl, but lost to the underrated Joe Flacco, the best player to come out of the University of Delaware.
I find it interesting and surprising that the most popular football jersey today is not Flacco’s or Griffin’s, but Kaepernick of the 49ers, the fully tattooed, mixed race, adopted son of white parents who was not even recruited by a major college as a quarterback.
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I love NBA basketball. I think the NBA playoffs always bring some of the most compelling sports moments of the year. This off-season we saw Coach Doc Rivers traded to the Los Angeles Clippers from Boston. I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before. Rivers is a terrific coach who would be wasted on a Celtics team just beginning a rebuilding process. With the Clippers, he has a team that can win the NBA Championship. If a coach does not have the respect of his players in the ego rampant NBA, it cannot win. Rivers can make the difference.
I think that in general, a baseball manager is less important than an NFL or NBA coach, but Joe Madden of Tampa Bay, is the exception. The Rays are a nice small-market low-budget team, but Madden’s enthusiasm, creativity and leadership makes them a favorite to win the World Series. Bob Melvin of Oakland is also outstanding. I think the American League champion will be one of those two teams, even if Bartolo Colon gets suspended from the A’s.
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A little bit of inside baseball, especially for Chicago Cubs fans. We hear from a close source that Starlin Castro, the shortstop who was going to be a Cubbie superstar but is having a stinker of a season, is a huge partier who stays out all night and drives home at 8:00 a.m. in his Rolls Royce ahead of a Wrigley Field day game.
Castro is currently batting .249 with 6 homers and a bunch of errors. He does look better on the road. Wonder why.
Question: With the current knowledge about concussions, would you want your son or grandson to play competitive football?
Lloyd Graff is Owner and Chief Space Filler at Today’s Machining World and Graff-Pinkert & Co.