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THE WACKY WEEK IN SPORTS: FOOTBAWWWWWWWL!!!

What a boring week in sports, folks. It seems that there are points of the year that sports news takes a lull. Take February after the Super Bowl for example. I mean sure, if you are one of the 16 Americans who tune in to the NHL, you’re having a blast, but for the rest of us, it’s excruciating. While this week crawled down the road like your boy who can’t handle his liquor, there was still some interesting tidbits that went down.
Onward to the wacky week that was!!!

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The World Wide Leader in Shmutz

Where do I even start? There was a firestorm of controversy stemming from good ol’ Commissioner Goodell’s decision with Ray Rice and his disciplinary actions taken. That led to Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless going head to head over domestic violence on ESPN — the perfect forum to discuss social issues. Now, Smith’s days are seemingly numbered and my discontent with the Worldwide Leader in Sports continues to grow.

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Roger Goodell has made a name for himself as the iron fisted commissioner who wanted to fix the NFL’s image by taking action against off field issues as well as on field matters. He worked on implementing very strict drug guidelines and corresponding suspensions for any violations. The grey area was in other off the field infractions, and this has led to years of inconsistency. People have already forgotten the back lash he took on the Big Ben Roethlisberger case a few years back. Was it long enough? Was it just enough considering the decision? The Ray Rice situation is quite the same and he completely missed the bus on this one. If you aren’t aware of what happened, you must not watch ESPN, and I applaud you for that. But I will give you a little recap.

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Over the past few weeks, acclaimed NFL pot heads Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon have both been nabbed with marijuana possession yet again. The clock is seemingly always 4:20 for these two and on top of it, they always seem to be doing something stupid behind the wheel that gets them caught. Do they know you can get Funions delivered? Anyway, over that same period of time, Minnesota Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer was suspended three games for being a blatant homophobe. Then just a few days ago, in a swift and harsh punishment, Ray Rice was suspended for a whole two games for beating his then fiancé and now wife unconscious.

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All the talk has been how absurd it is that Gordon and Blackmon face indefinite suspensions of at least one season while Rice misses a mere two games. Gordon and Blackmon were doing something that so many Americans do that many states are making it legal now. Rice did something inexplicable, unacceptable and quite honestly, simply disgusting. Yet by Week Three, he will be suited up and ready to go. But I’m not hear to argue the morality of that. ESPN’s First Take did that. And Stephan A. Smith led the way,

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Stephen A. Smith proved everything wrong with the road ESPN has gone down with his diatribe against Ray Rice on First Take. ESPN is to sports what TMZ is to entertainment. It’s gossip. It is the World Wrestling Entertainment of sports coverage. Yet every morning, hundreds of thousands of people tune in to watch Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless state moronic opinions for some deplorable reason while I sit here trying to get a mere hundred people to read me per day!

No matter what his intensions were, no matter what he meant to say, Smith damned himself with one line that can be easily misinterpreted: “Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.” Yikes. Via Twitter, Smith attempted to apologize and explain his stance, but in reality it was too late. ESPN’s own Michelle Beadle  led the charge in her disgust and came under attack for being mean to Smith. What is wrong with this country?

Smith was really trying to say that it is never acceptable for a man to lay their hands on a woman under any circumstances. He mentioned that yes, when a woman gets beaten, the police arrive and justice is usually served, but it’s too late and the woman has been beaten. He was trying to convey the fact that even though Rice’s fiancé struck first, it is still inexcusable for Rice to retaliate with physical action. He was trying to send a warning to women against misogynist men, yet when he said the word “provoke” he BECAME the misogynist. This is because he was way out of his league.

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ESPN and it’s commentators, especially on the trash heap that First Take is, have no business delving into social matters. Talk sports fellas, that’s what you are there to do. It isn’t because their personalities shouldn’t be allowed to state their opinions, hell, I’m not even implying that they are idiots and don’t know what they are talking about, because that isn’t the case here either. The problem is that they aren’t versed in social commentary, they simply don’t know how deliver their moral message without sticking their proverbial foot in their mouths.

Take Smith’s actions for example. Let’s say he rips apart the NFL and Goodell for the way he levies fines and punishments and how he weighs certain criminal activity as more damning than others. Sure, he may piss some people off, he may not be held lightly among NFL higher ups, but he didn’t OFFEND anyone. There is a thin line between making someone angry and offending them and once you cross it, you are done. When you anger someone, they stew on it all day long, but eventually go to bed and wake up forgetting about it. But when you offend someone or an entire sex of people, as in Smith’s case, you wrote your death sentence.

ESPN is not the platform for discussing matters of this magnitude. Let’s not forget what ESPN stands for: Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Where does domestic violence fit into either of those topics? It is certainly not a sport and damn well not entertaining, so why the heck is it being brought up. It unfortunately doesn’t stop with domestic violence as there are a bevy of sports personalities who feel it is their responsibility to make everything an issue about race or sexual preference or personal lifestyle choices. Rex Ryan has a foot fetish. While that is wildly hilarious, it doesn’t change the fact that he is a defensive master mind and, as much as it pains me to say it, a pretty darn good head coach. But that’s where it should end for ESPN. Could you imagine if Meet the Press had a rundown on the night’s action across the MLB as a segment of their show? How about a meteorologist giving their take on the sexism behind naming storms? It sounds so ridiculous because those networks would never delve into something outside the realm of their knowledge. But sports personalities continue day in and day out to do so. It’s simple really. Tell me who won the Yankee game, tell me if Kershaw threw another shutout and move on.

While Stephen A. and Skip’s daily rants don’t particularly strike me as fun to watch, there is no doubt that a large portion of sports fans find their over the edge take on sports entertaining. Whether they are right or wrong, people tune in to watch their intensity, and watch them go head to head and prove each other a fool. This time they crossed into uncharted territory. I honestly don’t believe Smith is a bad guy, and I think beneath it all, he really was trying to convey a positive message against domestic violence. However, his inability to go about it correctly and speak with fire from the heart instead of a well thought out stance against violence may be his ultimate end. Then again, the ratings and attention his rant generated could have him promoted to his own hour slot. That’s the beauty of today’s social media America.

 

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The Wacky Week in Sports: The Open Closed Pretty Quickly

Well, folks, another week has come to a close. We had some tea and crumpets with a dominant performance at Royal Liverpool, we found a few morons with big mouths in the NFL, we enjoyed the MLB all star festivities, and of course we witnessed the amazing RE2PECT commercial. So here we go on yet another thrilling ride around the  world of sports!

Onward to this week’s recap!

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It’s a Right Ol’ Knees Up: The British Open

It just wouldn’t be a major championship without a little insight and commentary from Wayniac Nation’s own, Mike Dunton. This week, our golf expert looks at THREE INTERESTING STORIES TO FOLLOW FROM THE BRITISH OPEN. As always, Dunton (@dartbus1521) gives us his prediction for the weekend as well. So grab some tea, maybe a Newcastle if you’re feeling nutty, and enjoy a weekend of golf from the British Isles. Ta!

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Ah, the British Open (or as I prefer to call it, The Open Championship) is upon us. Being the oldest of all major championships, dating back to 1860, it holds a special place with me. I reminisce back to college days when I could roll in at four in the morning and watch golf live on the worldwide leader in sports (sorry to my editor for that plug) until I could sort of see straight again. The courses rotate every 9 years, and each year we learn about local customs, quaint British towns, and how much golfers fear the pot bunkers. Over the past 20 years I have witnessed coronations, catastrophes, and all things in between. Can one forget Jack’s final crossing of the Swilcan Bridge on the 18th at St.Andrews in 2005? How about Jean Van de Velde’s epic collapse at Carnoustie in 1999, a “Burn” he will never recover from? Remember poor Tom Watson’s chance at history in 2009 when he missed par on the final hole to become the oldest player ever to win an Open Championship? Let’s not forget two years ago when, on day four, Adam Scott went from eleven under atop the leader board to second place after shooting a horrid five over on that Sunday. The Open Championship has seen its fair share of epic moments in golf, and this week may be no different. There are three intriguing stories heading into Thursday’s opening round to follow in the wee hours of the morning here in the states.

Keep going for three stories to keep your eye on this weekend

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A Night with the Crawdads: I Love MiLB

This past July 4th weekend, the fiancé and I took in a Hickory Crawdads game. The Crawdads play in Hickory, North Carolina and are the Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Jose Bautista, the American League Captain in last night’s Home Run Derby, and reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen are two of Hickory’s most famous alumni. As soon as we paid the three dollars to park, I immediately remembered how much I love MiLB.

Minor league baseball truly wants you to come to the games. They aren’t money making conglomerates like the new Yankees Stadium, which we also stopped at on our road trip. Sometimes, I feel like they don’t care if they even make a dime. They are owned by big league ball clubs and every last player that takes the field is giving it everything they got in hopes of being noticed. We were in for a real treat that night as Dario Alvarez was pitching for the Savannah Sand Gnats. While I understand 99% of you just said who?, the other 1 % knows that he is one of the best pitchers Single-A has to offer. This season Alvarez is 6-0 with a 0.98 ERA, striking out 89 batters while only walking 13 over 55 innings. That night in Hickory he was dealing, allowing no earned runs while striking out eight.

I have been to a few minor league ball games this season and watch at least a little bit every night as head of the Minor League Coverage team at Yanks Go Yard. I know I enjoy it more than the average person, but you really should take in a minor league game some time. There are plenty of reasons for everyone to enjoy it.

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Minor league baseball teams are in the most obscure places with some of the most obscure names. I don’t even know where Kannapolis is, but I would certainly be a fan of the Intimidators. Tell me you wouldn’t want to get decked out in your favorite pirate costume (you know you have one) and take in a Bradenton Marauder game down in Florida. If I saw that the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes were facing off against the Modesto Nuts, I would go to the game without even needing to know what sport was being played! I’m sure Paris Hilton is the biggest fan of the El Paso Chihuahuas, and you know that Homer Simpson has season tickets to the Albuquerque Isotopes.

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2. The Promotions.

Sure, the Yankees have their grounds keepers do a YMCA for you, and the Atlanta Braves have the Home Depot Tool Race, but that stuff doesn’t compare to the on-field antics at minor league baseball parks. Look at this for example:

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What you’re looking at here is a young man dressed as the Tooth Fairy. His prime responsibility was to run out onto L.P. Frans Stadium’s field, home of the Crawdads, and keep the bases pearly white. At first I thought it was a college kid being initiated into some fraternity, but then I remembered I’m in a minor league baseball stadium and this is actually pretty normal.

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs have a feature in their stadium that is second to no other: they have urinal video games people. That’s right, urinal video games. If you can put in the back of your mind the amount of germs that you are taking in (or if you are simply drunk enough to not comprehend it) you can play video games right there in front of you while you drain your Richmond Flying Squirrel. One of my favorite promotions that I have ever heard of happened last season at the Cleveland Indians Single-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ game: on All You Can Eat Wednesday they handed out free liposuction! I couldn’t even make that up if I tried! Several teams hold musical chair contests right on the field. Hickory allows one lucky fan to suit up in a sumo suit and tackle the mascots!

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Then you have the specials. There are nights in minor league ball parks you can go and get hammered for ten dollars. No lie. You can thank the Asheville Tourists for that one. They started the whole Thirsty Thursdays idea, and you can now go to many minor league ballparks on a beautiful summer Thursday night and get beers for a whole dollar. Think about that: beers at a baseball game for one dollar. You know what you can get at a Minnesota Twins game for a dollar? Nothing at all, and they are essentially a minor league team!  On top of it, while you are waiting on line for that dollar beer, why don’t you take a go on the moon jump right next to the concessions line?

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While at the Crawdads game, I even noticed they had Unemployment Night every Wednesday. If you show your unemployment ID at a Wednesday night game, you get four free tickets. Like I said, minor league teams really want you to be there.

1. The Stadiums.

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Most minor league stadiums are no bigger than a college ball park, but that coziness makes it that much more enjoyable. I remember I went to a Portland Beavers game, and we were sitting at high top tables drinking beers literally in right field foul territory. We were on the field and I think the tickets cost six dollars.

You can go to a minor league baseball game and get prime seating and an enjoyable night out for under $25 if you really wanted to. You can barely do a movie for that these days! If a minor league stadium holds more than 5,000 people, you are at an enormous stadium. If they are charging over $10 or $12 for a ticket, something monumental is happening. Hell, the night we went to the game the Crawdads let you in for FREE if you were wearing a red shirt. The entire stadium was a sea of red, except for me, my fiancé, her younger sister, her bridesmaid, and my future father-in-law, all of whom unfortunately had no idea that the promotion was going on that evening. If you don’t like baseball, you can still go get drunk or eat until your stomach bursts for peanuts, and the game (unlike at the major league level) will be over in less time than a $14 movie. Plus, they always have cool stuff like this:

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I hope one day you get to go out and take in a game. Anywhere that you live, there is probably a minor league ball park no less than twenty minutes away. I mean, even Arkansas has a minor league team, and what the hell is in Arkansas? I know for sure I can’t wait for Monday night when I get to go see the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders face off against the Gwinnett Braves at CoolRay Field on Kids Eat Free Night. I am 90 percent certain with the ever so strict rules at minor league ball parks that I will be under 12 years of age that night.

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THE WACKY WEEK IN SPORTS: #LeBrontoClev #ComingHome Week

The reason I started Wayniac Nation, for those that are still unaware, was my complete and utter disdain for ESPN. I think a majority of their anchors are hacks and that their programming has become complete fluff. As I have said before, they are the TMZ/ Enquirer of sports. I get way more from my daily dose of Chuck and Chernoff than I do from ten minutes of SportsCenter. The coverage of the LeBron James Decision Part Deux has only justified my remorse.

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That said, the biggest sports news of the week comes from the NBA. First overall pick Andrew Wiggins completely outplayed second overall pick Jabari Parker in their first meeting Friday in the NBA rookie summer league from Las Vegas. Elsewhere, LeBron James, aka The King, aka The Chosen One, also returned home to Cleveland, the place he left four years ago to rise to amazing heights in Miami while Cleveland sunk into obscurity. Fans burned Bron’s jerseys when he left for the Heat, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said some harsh words about his character, and people across the nation deemed The Decision as the biggest egotistical piece of horse manure they ever had to endure. And now he is back. The Cavaliers went from 60-1 underdogs for the NBA title to the 3-1 overall favorites to win the whole dang thing. Here’s the thing: if this whole sign and trade with the Lakers and Bulls falls through for Pau Gasol and the Spurs wind up with Gasol, none of this matters. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich will have one for the other hand.

This whole thing smells fishy to me. I feel like this was David Stern’s master plan, and if any league in the world would set something up simply for ratings, it is certainly the soap opera that the NBA is. No one cared when Bron was in Cleveland, so did the NBA ship him to Miami, a major market, to revive the fading NBA viewership? You can’t argue that it didn’t work. The NBA is back and now, LeBron can go home. Maybe I give to much credit to the Illuminati, but I feel like that this was all set up four years ago. And now poor Carmelo Anthony has resigned with New York. I guess this guy never wants to win a championship, but at least he got a chip with my boys up in ‘Cuse!

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Moving on to futbol, today is the day we find out the kings of the world. The 2014 World Cup concludes today with Agrentina facing off against Germany. Germany decimated host country Brazil, scoring more times in six minutes than seniors do on prom night. It was unreal and seemed entirely too easy. Four goals in six minutes and a nation was left crying. CRYING!!! Could you imagine if Jimmy Dugan was the coach?

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Lionel Messi gets the chance to add the final piece to his ultimate trophy collection and prove that he truly is the best player in the world. Argentina advanced to the finals after a grueling 120 minutes of nothing. Seriously, that game was why it is so hard to get Americans to completely convert to futbol. Then, when nothing was decided, they turned to penalty kicks. I like the concept of penalty kicks, but I do have a problem with such a big game being decided by them. They are largely luck, either the goalie chooses correctly and dives in the right direction, or you lose. Regular season games, sure. Quarter final games, why not? But once you are in the semi finals, I think you play until someone scores. And if players start collapsing then so be it! Could you imaging Game 7 of the World Series tied after 10 innings and they go to a home run derby to decide the world champion? Wait a second, that actually sounds amazing!

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Speaking of the MLB, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum continue to do ridiculous things with the baseball. Kershaw’s scoreless innings streak was snapped at 41 yet he still hurled a complete game. His last seven starts are video game-esque: he has allowed a mere three runs while striking out 71 and walking six with a no hitter along the way. The Freak has been equally superb allowing just one run over his last four starts with a no hitter as well. Meanwhile, the Yankees have one, ONE, starting pitcher in their rotation that started the season with them. Looks like I picked the right year to start writing for my favorite team. Oooo, can I really line up that Jeff Francis interview now?

The NHL free agency period continued this week.

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Lastly, the Andre Johnson soap opera continues out of Houston in the NFL. Andre wants out, but John McClain, who knows more about the Texans than Gary Kubiak ever did, says Johnson isn’t going anywhere. Due to his hefty contract, the Texans won’t trade Johnson and eat all of that money, so the question remains whether he will hold out or play. Across the state in Dallas, Kyle Orton still hasn’t reported either, leaving Brandon Weeden the backup for Tony Romo. That is the worst sentence ever typed in the history of the NFL.

Another week of sports is in the books. We have a lot on deck here at Wayniac Nation this coming week, including a look into why minor league baseball is so much fun. When you are finally Bron-ed out, come on back and check out some quality sports insights! Till next time.. MESSI MESSI MESSI!!!!