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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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Asking Sports Old-Timers about Kids These Days

August 7th, 2017 · No Comments · Sports Journalism

Asking sports stars of yesteryear what they think about the modern state of their game … more often than not leads to interesting reactions.

My experience was that former greats often are eager to answer that question. As if it has been something they have been thinking about and are eager to share with someone — especially journalists.

It is fair to say most old-timers decry the perceived downturn of their game — an “inattention to fundamentals” is a common refrain, as is suggestions that they turned over the game to guys who don’t care as much even though they make “all that money”.

The oddest part about this? It seems modern sports journalists think “what do you think of the modern game” is an invitation for a dinosaur to say something perhaps objectionable — or at least politically incorrect. Which should be avoided at all cost.

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Paella Night (!) at the Fete du Village

August 6th, 2017 · No Comments · France

Little towns in the south of France have more spirit and energy than unwitting visitors might expect. Especially if the visitors happened into a village in the winter.

Ah, but the summer …

A different story.

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The Tally in the Back of a Brain

August 5th, 2017 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I don’t know if this is common, semi-common or weird.

I can count while I’m thinking of something else.

But only to 100. And as long as I do not think of some other arithmetical concept.

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Neymar and Irving: 25 and Taking a Chance on Themselves

August 4th, 2017 · No Comments · Barcelona, Basketball, Football, soccer

The NBA has fans outside of North America, but not tons of them.

So the stunning similarity of what soccer’s Neymar has done and what the NBA’s Kyrie Irving wants to do may have gone largely unnoticed in the vast realm of global sports.

In short, it is this: Each is is a star, each is 25 and each is ready to leave behind an excellent team led by one of the greats of his game … to find out if he can graduate from “wing man” to “main man” and win some championships on “his own” team.

Neymar is leaving behind Barcelona and Lionel Messi.

Irving has asked to be traded so that he can leave behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.

In an era of “super” teams which seem inclined (and perhaps equipped) to win forever, the choices made by Neymar and Irving … actually should be encouraging to sports fans.

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Time to Change Name of Dubai’s ‘Torch Tower’

August 3rd, 2017 · No Comments · Dubai

What were the builders thinking?

Why would anyone name (what was then) the world’s tallest residential building … Torch Tower?

Was “Flammable Flats” already taken? Did someone have dibs on “Incinerator Manor”? “Ashes Apartments?”

Torch Tower has been a self-fulfilling appellation. It seems keen to live up to its reckless name.

For the second time in three years, Torch Tower went up like … a torch … in Dubai.

This time, apparently no one was injured, but still … you do not want your tower to be starring in photo galleries around the world.

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Wladimir Klitschko: Too Good to Scorn

August 2nd, 2017 · No Comments · Boxing

As a boxing fan, I wanted to dislike Wladimir Klitschko. I really did.

It seemed as if he and his brother took over the sport of boxing around 2005 — and rode it into irrelevance.

But I couldn’t really have an issue with Wladimir … or with Vitaly, his elder brother (and mayor of Kiev).

All they did was train diligently, fight all comers, bring quite a bit of actual science to the “sweet science” and stay off police blotters.

In his last fight, Wladimir showed all the courage anyone could want, before 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in April, where he climbed off the canvas three times, knocked down his opponent, Britain’s Anthony Joshua, but ultimately lost when the referee decided the Ukrainian had taken enough punishment, in the final round.

He announced his retirement from the fight game today and did it via a video that seemed to show us how a big and smart heavyweight could be so difficult to beat.

But, yes, he was hard to watch, at times. And, yes, his long reign may have done damage to the sport of boxing, placing an outwardly dull, even placid man at the top of the fan-pleasing top division.

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2028 Los Angeles Olympics; Worth the Wait?

August 1st, 2017 · No Comments · Olympics, Paris

It’s final. Well, as soon as the rubber-stamp approval of International Olympic Committee voting members next month. But the top guys have agreed with the two cities that bid for the 2024 Games.

The 2024 Olympics go to Paris.

The 2028 Summer Games go to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles will get $1.8 billion in cash to help cover the gap of an extra four years of being an Organizing Committee between “award” and “event”. Because, yes, 2028 is a long, long way off. (Though we won’t feel the same way when it gets here.)

What will or could happen between now and then?

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Cubs Do Right, Finally, by Persecuted Fan

July 31st, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball

It was a terrible moment. Not in a cosmic sense, of course, but in a way that millions of baseball fans could recognize — and realize that, but for the grace of God, it could have happened to them.

Steve Bartman. The Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins in Game 6 of the 2004 National League Championship Series. A foul fly lofted almost directly at Seat 113, Row 8, Aisle 4, occupied by a bespectacled young man in a green turtleneck and Cubs cap under a set of headphones. He rises to attempt a catch …

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