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Penguins acceptance of Trump’s White House invitation odd, but opportune.

September 25, 2017 Leave a comment

At the beginning of June, Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, stating that he was acting on the grounds that he represents the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris. Now at the end of September of the same year, mirroring the US election results in which Hillary Clinton received 75% of the Steel City’s vote, the actual people who reside in Pittsburgh have again made it clear that they don’t all agree with President Trump’s sentiments.

Trump’s incendiary comments at a rally speech on September 22nd regarding NFL players following Colin Kaepernick’s lead in taking a knee during the American national anthem, and subsequent withdrawing of Stephen Curry’s invitation to visit the White House (along with the rest of the Golden State Warriors) to recognize his team’s NBA championship win due to Curry’s “hesitation” to accept the invitation, sparked a torrent of social media based backlash from many professional athletes from across North America’s “Big 4” sports leagues (for starters, see: Blake Wheeler, NHL; LeBron James, NBA; Bruce Maxwell, MLB) as well as press releases in the media, and public displays prior to games from team owners, management, and players all standing together in solidarity against Trump, and the larger narrative of racism in America. The Pittsburgh Steelers (followed in kind by the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks) opted to not be present on the field during the national anthem in direct protest to Trump’s stance – though the Steelers’ offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva did come out to salute the flag and sing along against the wishes of his head coach.

While representatives of the NFL, MLB, and NBA all made statements and took different degrees of action, the NHL also responded, though not in sync with everyone else.

The Steelers’ city mates, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are the NHL’s most recent Stanley Cup champions, took the road less travelled, releasing a statement on September 24th in acceptance of the President’s invitation to bring their trophy to the White House, give him a jersey, and pose for pictures, confirming Trump’s tweet on the same day about their pending visit. No date is set, however, which hints this statement release was anything but coincidental, and suggests very odd and questionable support for Trump and his recent words.

“Any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit,” reads the latter half of the Penguins’ media release.

There are keywords in that paragraph to hone in on – firstly, the notion that the Penguins respect other people’s rights to free speech and expression, just not those of their own personnel, apparently. Secondly, that a political disagreement can be expressed in a way other than declining an invitation to visit the White House, and rub shoulders with a demonstrably terrible human being and even worse world leader. What exactly could that alternative angle be?

Penguins’ captain, Sidney Crosby, ran further with that same idea in a later interview, scratching the surface of something quite tangible, if you let the concept breathe for a moment.

“I still feel like we look at it as an opportunity. We respect the office of the White House. People have that right to not go, too. Nobody’s saying they have to go. As a group, we decided to go,” Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on September 24th.

If what Crosby says about none of the Penguins being forced to go is true, we’ll have to see if any of them decide to pull a 2012 Tim Thomas and skip out on the event due to political disagreement (or other pro athletes who have done the same in the past) while his whole team still goes – if that were to be any of them, some might suggest it be Ryan Reaves, the only black player on Pittsburgh’s roster, though Reaves was born in Winnipeg, Canada. But they also have 16 American born players in their lineup, and an owner in Ron Burkle who knows Donald Trump personally, who all could take that opportunity of a public audience with the President that others are either declining or being disqualified from possessing – the opportunity to have an open, visible discourse with Trump, to air grievances in a diplomatic fashion, have their voice heard, and simply hear what he has to say in response. Every player will surely get the chance to look Trump in the eye and shake his hand if only for a moment – what they do with those precious few seconds could go a long way in either direction, or absolutely nowhere at all.

It would be the perfect opportunity for the NHL to start practicing what they recently started preaching, in accordance to excerpts from the league’s recently developed and published official Declaration of Principles:

We Believe: The game of hockey is a powerful platform for participants to build character, foster positive values and develop important life skills. These benefits are available to all players, desirable to every family and transcend the game. Hockey’s greatest value is the role it plays in the development of character and life skills. We believe in our ability to improve lives and strengthen communities globally through hockey.  

All hockey programs should provide a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.

Integrity: We do the right thing, not the easy thing. We have courage on and off the ice.

Wouldn’t it be something to see someone outside of Trump’s inner circle, or the hosts of Fox and Friends, try to talk some sense into him face-to-face, rather than through TV or Twitter? We’ve all seen how well Trump remotely dialogues with his fellow Americans and foreign leaders alike through his preferred social media vehicle of Twitter. While the statements all professional athletes have been making thus far are valid and meaningful, none of them have been channeled directly at Trump’s face, not transmitted through a screen. As juvenile as it would be, Trump basically can basically still say, “Oh yeah? Why don’t you say that to my face?” to it all. And this seems to be the opportunity that the Penguins truly have, as I hope Crosby was eluding to. Might then a hockey player, generally considered fair, conservative and level-headed, be the perfect person to bring a slant of reason to this president? Trump may not listen to any of it, but at the very least someone from the Penguins could convey a message. Hopefully the team makes the most of the chance their captain already knows they have. Either they tap into the character they have developed through hockey, use courage and their powerful platform to transcend the game and do the right thing in helping all families feel included regardless of their minority status, or they instead do the easy thing that would be just showing up to smile for the cameras, nod when spoken to, and give classic canned answers to reporters while they tour the oval office and admire the furniture. I know which option I would prefer.

***UPDATE***
On October 10, 2017, the Pittsburgh Penguins visited Donald Trump at the White House, and did and said nothing. 😦

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Book Review: “Shoot To Thrill: The History of Hockey’s Shootout” by Mark Roseman & Howie Karpin

April 12, 2015 6 comments

There are not too many hockey fans without strong sentiments on the NHL shootout – one half lauds it as an exciting way to conclude a match-up, while the other half calls for it to die a quick and very painful death. At the moment, I personally am tempted to side with the latter, as my LA Kings’ abysmal 2-8 shootout record this season arguably cost them a playoff spot. But despite the disparity in mass opinion, both sides of the issue surely can agree that shootouts capture the full attention of fans when they happen, whether they’re at the rink or in front of a TV screen.

But why does the NHL use a shootout? And where did it come from? For fans seeking answers to those hockey showdown related questions and more, there is a great new book that goes above and beyond to not only satisfy your queries, but to provide you with further elucidation that you didn’t even know you needed. “Shoot To Thrill: The History of Hockey’s Shootout” by Mark Rosenman and Howie Karpin is sure to smarten you Shoot to Thrillup when it comes to shootouts.

The authors tell of the shootout’s evolution from its introduction at the 1988 Winter Olympics, and details the differences between the Olympic version and the NHL’s incarnation. Furthermore, other sports appear to have influenced it as well. They contend it’s an offshoot from soccer, who adopted penalty kicks to determine game outcomes in the 1980’s (yes, even the world’s most popular sport had to evolve at one point). Roots even spread deeper to basketball, from a one-on-one competition that ABC aired on television in the early 1970’s, which NBC mimicked in return, airing a hockey version in the following years until the 1980’s. This “Showdown” as it was dubbed, was intermission entertainment, and draws striking similarities to modern day reality TV – eliminating competitors, and awarding prize money to the victors.

The shootout also seems to be the step-brother of the penalty shot, which was implemented in the 1920’s in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, and later adopted into the NHL in 1934. What began as a stationary shot, then morphed to a shot from a confined area, and all the way to the center ice breakaway version we see nowadays during both penalty shots and shootout attempts.

The book also provides Interesting statistics from memorable Olympic and NHL shootouts and penalty shots, detailing the shooters, the outcome of each attempt, and deeper trivia like who the first ever shootout shooters and scorers were, longest, players who have had two penalty shots in a game, two in a period, and who’s had a penalty shot goal disallowed because of an illegal curve.  You also get some insider intel from players and goalies on how they prepare for shootouts, and which goalies and shooters they themselves would pick. Nearly 100 opinions come out from former and current players, broadcasters and officials on whether they like the shootout or not. The book also includes a handy appendix of team shootout records, detailing each NHL team’s top three most successful shooters, and goaltender with the best shootout record.

Whether you’re a casual fan, hockey stats and history junkie, or somewhere in between, “Shoot To Thrill” is a real page turner that I’m sure you’ll enjoy and learn from.

You can find it online as a hardcover or e-book on Amazon, or at your local bookstore, with any luck.

Below is the official press release from Sports Publishing, and imprint of Skyhorse Publishing:

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Shoot to Thrill:

The History of Hockey’s Shootout

By Mark Rosenman and Howie Karpin

Some maintain that hockey’s shootout erases a sixty-five-minute emotional roller coaster between two teams and that it’s wrong for games to be decided based on a one-on-one battle between a shooter and a goalie.

Others argue that shootouts provide edge-of-your seat excitement as two supremely skilled players go head-to-head for all the marbles.

“The anecdotes and notes [in this book] will enlighten any hockey fan and will give you a perspective into how and why this rule was added from those who were and are still directly involved.”  – from the foreword by “Jiggs” McDonald

In 2005, the National Hockey League adopted the shootout to settle ties in regular season games. Some rule changes are instituted without anyone’s noticing. Others shake the game to its very foundations. Ten years after its introduction, the shootout remains one of the most significant and controversial rule changes in all of sports.

Shoot to Thrill blends history, stats, and personal perspectives from players, coaches, officials, and broadcasters. Mark Rosenman and Howie Karpin explore how players and coaches prepare forshootouts, what they think of them, and how shootouts have helped shape hockey history over the past decade.

Like the designated-hitter rule in baseball, hockey’s shootout has left no fan impartial to it.

Love the rule or hate it, no one stops watching when it’s time for a shootout!

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About the Authors

MARK ROSENMAN has been covering sports since 1979, as an on air talk show host on Cablevision, WGLI, and WGBB. He is currently the host and producer of WLIE 540 a.m. SportsTalkNY. He is credentialed with the NHL and covers both the Islanders and Rangers and is credentialed with MLB and covers the New York Mets. He lives in Commack, New York.

HOWIE KARPIN has been a sports reporter for more than thirty years and has covered everything from the World Series to the Stanley Cup Finals. He is an accredited official scorer for Major League Baseball in New York and is a contributor to Mad Dog Radio, MLB Radio, and NFL Radio. He lives in the Bronx, New York.

Sports Publishing hardcover, also available as an ebook

Pub Date: March 17, 2015

ISBN 978-1-61321-797-9

Price: $19.99

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*****Wanna win your own copy of “Shoot To Thrill”? Be the first to tell me in a comment who scored the most NHL shootout goals in the 2014-15 regular season, and I’ll send you your own hardcover version of the book!******

XP PSP s01e03: Chelsea’s Dagger

June 1, 2013 Leave a comment

In our third episode, we catch up on/discuss:

1) the first two rounds of NHL playoff eliminations, previewing conference finals, and catching up on the NBA playoffs, and our predictions across both sports.

2) 8th seeds running wild in the playoffs, and the legitimacy of an 8th seeds playoff threat across sports.

3) Which sport’s playoffs are the hardest to win.

4) The audacity of people calling close, low scoring playoff games boring.

5) cheering for players vs teams; former players becoming/succeeding as coaches (Roy, Gretzky), Tortorella benching Brad Richards, “contract years”….

….and plenty more.

Click here to listen: xppsp.podbean.com

Download_on_iTunes_Badge_US-UK_110x40_1004Subscribe and download us on iTunes as well!

Categories: Hockey, Podcasts, Sports, XP PSP Tags: , , , ,

XP PSP s01e01: Evenflow

April 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Fun little venture I’ve started up with some fellow sports-minded fellas here in Korea; We’ve started the Expat Pro Sports Podcast — XP PSP — and basically myself, Sachin Mahajan, Harold Dale, Jason Hiltz, Ryan Brown, and who knows who else will rotate in and out to chat about everything going on in the sports world for about 30 minutes at a time. For those expats out there who are missing their favorite multi-million dollar athletic competitions back home, we hope this scratches your itch just a little.

In our premier episode, we chatted about:

-The NHL playoffs, previewing a few of the first-round series.

-The NFL draft, Manti T’eo, and whether owners should touch the championship trophy first or not.

-The NBA playoffs, and whether the Miami Heat can be beaten.

-Why the Toronto Blue Jays are still bad.

-Whether coaches or management are to blame for a team with good players being bad.

-much, much more. Well, a little bit more.

Special thanks to the talented Ralph Hass of http://www.hasthevoice.com/ for providing our intro voice-over.

Enjoy the first episode! Leave a comment with some feedback, tell us if you like it, and what you’d like to hear in the future.

Click here to listen: xppsp.podbean.com

Download_on_iTunes_Badge_US-UK_110x40_1004Subscribe and download us on iTunes as well!

Hockey, Sports, and Non-Sense: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things….

March 31, 2011 4 comments

Ok, first some shameless self-promotion…. I’ve been published! Like, in a real newspaper! “The View” in Lake Country will be printing my stuff every two weeks, both in ink and online. Here’s a link to the first one. If you live in the Winfield/Lake Country area, be sure to pick up a copy and have a gander. Check out their website too, and follow them on Twitter.

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Ok, some hockey…..

Wish as you might, you're no Gretzky's.

As much as I hate the Vancouver Canucks, I do have to be objective from time to time, and give them their due. They’ve had an unreal season. The Sedin’s are running things. Can you imagine how many points Daniel would have had last season, had he not gotten hurt? Nearly comparable to what Sid Crosby might have ended up with minus his concussion this season. That ‘C’ might even have ended up on his sweater, rather than Henrik’s. Well, enjoy your President’s Trophy win. And remember, that award is for REGULAR SEASON accomplishments. If you’d forgotten that the playoffs are a whole other world, I’m sure a first round meeting with the Blackhawks will jog their memories pretty quick.  For the past 2 seasons, the President’s Trophy winner has lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs (Bruins, Captials), and it has been a curse to many other winners too.  Vancouver residents, have you purchased your 2011 riot protection gear yet?

Also, Alex Burrows leads the NHL in all-time most “what, no call?” looks at referees.

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Speaking of Crosby…this is out of line, but it’d be funny if his returning to the NHL now because Mario Lemieux told him if he didn’t play again, he’d have to move out of his house and get a real job. Luckily for Sid, he’s been out of Mario’s for a while now. Supposedly.

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"Say you're sorry, Mark!"

I don’t get why a respected veteran like Mark Recchi would say something stupid like a guy with a fractured vertebrae was embellishing. He said it was to take some heat off of Zdeno Chara after the Pacioretty incident, but I mean come on man, that’s pretty low. Those who argue his “veteran savvy” in diffusing a volatile situation can’t possibly compare what Recchi said to Gretzky showing up at Marty McSorley’s trial and drawing the media to the front of the building while Marty made a slick escape out the back. This is more like Chara did something regrettable, so Recchi went all topper, and said something stupider than Zdeno actually performed.  Just seems unnecessary, unclassy, and disrespectful, especially coming from a 2-time Stanley Cup champ, multi-time all-star, and future hall-of-famer.  Whatever. The Bruins slaughtered the Habs in the rematch, and basically just pwn them all around now.

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TSN’s Oilers documentary, “Oil Change” seems like it was named with wishful thinking. They’re still awful, just like last year. What is it exactly, that changed? I’d still like to see more of this and HBO 24/7’ish NHL programming next season; and as I’ve mentioned before, it’d be unreal to shoot a show like this in the Cup finals.

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Sports Shorts….

With the baseball season underway, go ahead and try to justify why MLB teams need to play 162 games a season. No really, go ahead, I dare you. Can’t do it? Shocking.

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I loved this little quip from President Obama on the NFL labor dispute, especially the little smirk at the end: http://youtu.be/-x9NDSxGV90  Figure it out NFL.  Or your fans may be forced to endure a “New NFL“, too.

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Is it just me, or does Andy Roddick seem like he’s trying WAAAY too hard to be the John McEnroe of this generation of tennis, verbally? I guess pro sports are entertainment after all; I’m sure sports not included in the “big 4” need to try a little harder to compete for viewership and advertising/merchandise sales.

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Annnnnd, some non-sense……

I’ve purchased 3 Tim Hortons’ Roll-Up The Rim To Win Cups, and had one winner (coffee), leaving me with a .333 winning percentage. Could be better. But then again, it could be worse, and I could be addicted to coffee.

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If you can’t pay your debt to the mafia, and they break your legs, or whatever, does that clear your debt, or do you still owe? Do they keep breaking more things until your cough up the cheddar, or does the bodily harm cover it?

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If we all collectively start ignoring Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, & Justin Bieber, will they all go away and disappear from conversation?

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Piers Morgan is the worst interviewer on TV. And of all-time. Someone make him go away. Who thought he’d actually work out as a follow-up to Larry King?

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Scream 4? Come on….seriously? They actually thought it was a good idea to make another one of those?  The Arquette split must’ve been more expensive than either David or Courtney realized it would be.

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Instead of going on detox diets, why don’t people just not-tox in the first place? Wouldn’t that save a lot of time, pain, and money?

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Is it just me, or do most minimum wage jobs require a lot more actual, physical work than most high paying jobs?

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Whomever ended up with 555-5555 as their phone number must regret accepting those digits.

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The band Rush, to me, is as rap music is to my dad: Bothersome noise. Turn that crap off!

 

Hockey Talkie: Hodgson Hype, DiPietro’s Judgement Deficiency, Collapsing Thrashers, Franzen, Ovie, and TSN’s WWF Playbook Move.

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment

For the Canucks’ sake, Cody Hodgson better turn out to be the second coming of Crosby, like Vancouver media would have you believe. He seems like a good kid, and a really good player, but the more that Sportsnet West jams him down all our throats, they more I start to undeservingly hate him by default. Just let him season a little, or at least get the birdcage off before the greatness assessments start flying; that’s all I’m asking.

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He'd played 20 games already, he was due for a rest.

So after years of unplanned injuries, New York Islanders’ goaltender, Rick DiPietro, voluntarily pursued one the other night when he squared up with Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson; where he found himself a broken face, twisted knee, and another visit from the Injury Fairy. You would think that someone that’s clearly so fragile would try to avoid blatant threats against his health; especially with the dark cloud of trying to live up to his first-overall draft selection and his lengthy/exorbitant contract hanging over his reputation, and contending against his minimal activations, frequent and lengthy IR stints, and overall average performance. I’d say Islanders’ GM Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang are almost ready to one-punch him too.

A thought on goalie fights… as even casual fans seem to love them, why can’t NHL goalies that fight just sit in the box for 5 minutes to serve their penalty like everyone else? There’s no real reason why teams couldn’t just put their backups in until the penalties expire; both would be coincidental penalties, giving the goaltenders opportunity to reset after they are released. I’m sure the reason it’s frowned on is all to do with something along the lines of “not encouraging that kind of behaviour” or another hypocritical cliché.

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Another Atlanta Thrashers’ player collapses during a game? As much as I wouldn’t want to, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a Performance Enhancing Drug scandal in Atlanta in the future, especially now that it has happened to two players on the same team.  Had their been two seperate instances involving unrelated players, this might fly under the radar, but it’s hard not to wander towards suspicions after this revelation.  These are the most elite athletes in the world; you don’t just collapse for no reason while doing something your body has been trained to do for its entire existence.  With Freddy Meyer now experiencing a similar mid-game fainting episode to that of Ondrej Pavelec’s invisible banana peel slip earlier in the season, I’m going to go ahead and speculate with nothing beyond my own opinion that these guys are putting something into their bodies that is causing their systems to operate in an unnatural way – and is causing unnatural reactions. Regardless of whether my suspicion turns out to be true or not, it’s always dangerous to put things into your body that alter the normal operations of your heart or your brain; and if we can look to MLB for any indication of what drug scandals can do to your sport, I hope I am completely off-base, for the players’ and the NHL’s sake.

that's messed up.

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I really think Detroit’s “Mule”, Johan Franzen could be the best player in the NHL if he could be consistent. 5 goals in one game? A 4-goal game in the playoffs last year after being benched by Mike Babcock the night prior? Who else do you know that scores in bunches like that? He’s got a well-known streaky dominance, but an equally well-known follow-up of extreme average-ness for extended periods of time.  After the 5 goal game, Detroit was shut out by Columbus the next night, and Johan missed at least one wide open net.

A further player assessment; for a one time “best hockey player in the world” candidate, Alex Ovechkin’s…. kiiiiiiinda average at hockey now. Well, among the top 30 players in the world that is.  Even with an injured Crosby, Ovie’s still 8th in NHL scoring, and 15 pts off first place overall.  His hardest shot round at the Skills Competition was nothing short of comical; broken stick, unregistering radar, and swimming through tripped over TV cables and all. I wonder how rattled CCM was that Ovie blew up his CCM stick and then borrowed an Easton stick to finish the shootout? Luckily for CCM, the Easton blast was nothing spectacular. Still, having your poster boy tote someone else’s product in a globally viewed performance review couldn’t possibly be an option written into the product endorsement contract.

Also on the All-Star Game, I never understood why the NHL’s “All-Star” level goalies get so bad at stopping pucks in that showdown. I get that the defence and physicality is limited, while the offensive output is maximized, but isn’t that scenario the goalies’ show-off time too?

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I find TSN’s stealing signing of rival sports channel’s broadcasters (Darren Dreger, Steve Kouleas) like the WWF stealing underutilized WCW talent in the 90’s. To be fair, Sportsnet did pick up TSN patriarch Jim Van Horne at one point in time too, so it’s not like it’s a one-way street. Interesting talent joust. Sports channels are possibly the most entertaining they have ever been nowadays. Viewers win.

Giants Win, Bonds Rages? Bush – Ranger Danger Quiz, Expressed Written Consent, and Another CFL Improvement Thought.

November 2, 2010 8 comments

Congratulations, San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series.  You guys had the guy with beard, and the young guy with the long hair… I mean with that cast of characters, and the storyline of ending your championship slump (doesn’t the slump notion seem like a reoccurring theme every year now when someone wins?) you were destined to win. 

I can’t help but think that, somewhere, Barry Bonds is spinning in his grave though. Wait, he’s still alive? Well, surely he’s jealous at least; probably a little mad too that the Giants put him out to pasture right after he was done showing off how many homeruns he could hit. Can’t you just hear the Giants brass’ sarcasm laced speech to Bonds,

Thanks for everything over the years Barry.  Ok now that you’re done doing YOUR thing (you know, the thing with the ‘alleged’ steroids, and the history/record tarnishing thing), WE’RE gonna go win the World Series. Yeah, remember that big shiny trophy that all the baseball teams try to win every year?  Yeah, we decided that winning it is actually important now that we don’t have you around to hit baseballs into the harbor and boost ratings and ticket sales.”

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Did having George Bush Sr and Barbara skew your results? How about the allegiance with MLB legend Nolan Ryan? Does hanging out in the public eye with people that are actually historically liked make W more likeable now that he’s no longer collapsing the stability of his country? Explain your answer.

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MLB is sure sticking to their guns on that “expressed written consent” requirement, aren’t they? Still to this day in 2010, broadcasters make that announcement, mid-game. Must it be pen & ink? Is text or email ok? If I write in now and get permission, I should be able to see the World Series in 6-8 weeks, best case scenario.

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Dear CFL,

Just move the upright post in the CFL from the front to the back already, seems like a no-brainer to avoid injury and embarrassment.  I get it, you’re different than the NFL, that’s fine, but why not try my idea?  Structurally sound?  I can’t prove that, but I think we have smart enough people out there to make it work somehow.  Just don’t let Shaq hang on it, and we should be fine. 

 

 

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