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Head Trauma? Rugby, Motor Racing Step on Up!

August 17th, 2017 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Baseball, Cricket, Football, Motor racing, Rugby, The National

A couple of posts on this blog suggest the National Football League will not exist as we know it — if it exists at all — 20-30 years from now.

By then, all the horrors of football-related brain trauma will have been clearly laid out and, barring some unexpected breakthrough in protective equipment, the lawsuits and the public outcry and the unwillingness of parents to let their children play the game … will eventually bring it down.

However, American football is by no means the worldwide leader in brain injuries. It has to share that distinction (and perhaps even concede primacy to) a couple of other sports with more than their share of violence.

To wit: Rugby and motor racing.

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Anthem and U.S. Sports: Stop It Already

August 16th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, Basketball, Football

What I said a year ago.

Nothing has changed.

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Pedal Faster! Lighting the House with Our Workouts?

August 15th, 2017 · No Comments · UAE

I remain on the mailing list of numerous public-relations companies in the United Arab Emirates. Generally, their missives call for about a five-second look-see at whatever person or product is being flogged, followed by punching the “delete” key.

Today, I got a release that actually got me past the first 15 words.

To wit:

RUNNING UP THE METER: LEISURE SHOW DUBAI SET TO EXPLORE GREENER FIT-TECH – STARTING WITH TREADMILLS THAT POWER THE HOME

Wait. We are going to power our own homes with our sad, half-hearted workouts?

Well, yes, apparently.

And I have one question.

Who else saw themselves replacing the hamster inside that little cage?

But this is serious. I think.

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Referees Need Steady Support, Even Against Cristiano Ronaldo

August 14th, 2017 · No Comments · Barcelona, Football, soccer

Cristiano Ronaldo is not above the law of soccer. Neither is his club, Real Madrid. Any player who shoves a referee deserves whatever ban he is given — in this case, five matches.

The game has a serious problem with players, coaches and fans heaping verbal abuse on officials, especially the referee. And sometimes the words are exceeded by contact — such as Ronaldo’s shove to the back of referee Ricardo de Burgos.

De Burgos had just shown the Real Madrid star a second warning, for diving, and two yellows in one match means red — and expulsion from the match.

Ronaldo did not handle it well, and as the referee walked away the player reached out and shoved him in the back, which can be seen here.

The sport cannot allow a referee to be handled like that.

But that doesn’t keep Madrid from whining about the punishment, which Ronaldo could easily have avoided.

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MLS: ’28th Strongest’ Soccer League in World

August 13th, 2017 · No Comments · English Premier League, Fifa, Football, soccer, Spain

Not exactly a rousing endorsement of Major League Soccer.

The data guys at the FiveThirtyEight website have come up with a batch of calculations they believe indicate the “relative strength” of soccer leagues in Europe, North America and South America.

(See the rankings, about a third of the way down the page.)

In simplest terms, it attaches numbers to each league based on a perceived value of its constituent clubs, as well as how well they collectively perform against clubs from other leagues.

It is no surprise that Spain’s La Liga, led by Real Madrid and Barcelona, ranks No. 1. Followed by Germany’s Bundesliga.

Third is England’s Premier League money machine, which ranks first in “market value” but behind Spain and Germany in “overall value” because English clubs have struggled in European competition in recent years.

Italy is fourth, of course, but fifth is a bit of a surprise. Instead of France, Brazil’s domestic league sneaks in there.

Mexico’s Liga MX is the class of North America, at No. 11 in the world.

And where is Major League Soccer?

No. 28. Just behind Denmark’s top league and ahead of Croatia’s.

Which is not at all flattering to MLS.

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The Dodgers and the 40-Plus-Man Roster

August 12th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Baseball players used to talk about how it “takes 25 guys” to win a World Series. Referring to the size of a Major League roster.

Twenty-five guys?

That idea is so 20th century.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are 82-34 and on pace for 115 victories — 10 more than any Dodgers team has won. And they are where they are not because of contributions from 25 guys — but thanks to contributions from closer to 45.

Injuries have been part of the churn of the 2017 roster, but to watch the Dodgers is to get a sense they want to move players up and down, between Los Angeles and Triple-A Oklahoma City, for temporary match-up advantages or perhaps even to give some guys, especially pitchers, some time off.

If this team goes on to win a World Series, among the several books likely to be written should be at least one focusing on the club’s perhaps unprecedented approach to handling its roster.

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The Agony and Ecstasy of the Arsenal Fan

August 11th, 2017 · No Comments · Arsenal, English Premier League, Football, soccer

Being an Arsenal fan is the worst idea in sports.

Being an Arsenal fan is the greatest idea in sports.

No team in the world can look so elegant, so beautiful. And no team of Arsenal’s pedigree can look as shiftless and feckless.

Which is by way of introduction to the first Premier League match of the 2017-18 season, tonight at the Emirates:

Arsenal 4, Leicester City 3.

Had it all the way. Yeah. Sure. That’s our story and we’re sticking with it.

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Someone Is Going to Get Killed

August 10th, 2017 · 1 Comment · Baseball

On August 17, 1920, Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians was struck on the head by a pitch thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees. Chapman crumbled to the ground as Mays fielded the ricochet and threw to first.

Chapman seemed to come around for a bit, despite blood coming out of his ear, and was being helped off the field when he collapsed.

He died in a hospital about 12 hours later.

Nearly 87 years later, Chapman is still the only Major League Baseball player to have died from an injury suffered on the field during a game.

It feels, however, like baseball’s luck is about to run out. Especially considering how often pitchers are being hit by line drives these days.

Like, for example, pitcher Lance Lynn of the St. Louis Cardinals, who took a liner off his head this week … scaring everyone who saw it.

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Curse You, Patriots! First in NFL with Own Planes

August 9th, 2017 · 1 Comment · Dodgers, NFL, Travel

This would not be as annoying if it were not about the New England Patriots.

Generally, the rest of the National Football League — and their fans – hate the Patriots.

Why? For the usual reasons. “They’re better than us” would be the overarching explanation. Most Super Bowl victories (five); most Super Bowl appearances (nine); masters of the 21st century, with five trophies in 16 seasons.

Led by rules-benders Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, coach and quarterback, respectively. (But never respectfully.)

And why are we talking about that loathsome crew?

Because the Patriots have just done something no NFL team has done. (Which is not at all unusual.)

The Patriots have bought their own plane.

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Football Takes Another Hit

August 8th, 2017 · No Comments · Football, Long Beach

Long Beach Poly has one of Southern California’s top prep football programs. The school has won 19 regional championships at the top level of competition and has sent more than 60 players to the NFL and hundreds to college football.

But this year Long Beach Poly does not have enough kids out for football to field a junior varsity team — for the first time in 110 years.

This comes after a 3 percent decline in boys playing football in California, from 2015 to 2016.

And the erosion of participants in tackle football comes as more attention is given to the potential for brain injuries by those who play the game — an issue so pressing and dangerous that I believe it threatens the long-term success of the professional football game.

It may be happening even faster than I thought when I suggested the NFL as we know it is on its way to extinction.

When a program like Long Beach Poly cannot field a JV team …

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