If you’re one of those college football nuts…

the way I am you would know theat there is nothing to get excited about with the release of the first college football playoff listings.  The top four listed are Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama.  Now, this could stay the same by the time December 6 rolls around. That’s when the committee of 25 will post their final selections.
Ohio State, to stay in the four-team playoff ranks, will have to beat both Michigan State and Michigan as well as win the Big 10 Championship game to get there.
Clemson, it would seem, might have the easiest row to hoe.  The Tigers toughest test will take place this Saturday when they tangle with a rugged Florida State outfit…the Seminoles at 7-1.
LSU and Alabama both have difficult times ahead.  Mainly because they play each other this coming Saturday.  The Crimson Tide is an early 6.5 point favorite.
But the LSU also has a November 21st meeting with Mississippi.  Of course, Alabama has Mississippi State on November 14 and a date with an in-and-out Auburn team (4-4) on November 28.
Plus there are the SEC playoffs to consider.
No, the Final Four hasn’t been chosen yet.
No one really knows until December 6.  And, by then there could be a completely different four teams than what we are seeing right now.  Oh, I definitely think there will be at least one or maybe even two of the four listed above playing in the Final Four.
We all will just have to wait until the Final Four are tabbed.
Meanwhile— just enjoy what’s left of the college football season.  I plan on doing that.  And even though Northwestern is an early 3-point choice over my Penn State Club…I will still be able to view at least the first half this Saturday.
I,  PERSONALLY, THINK IT’S  quite surprising that there are still four unbeaten teams in the NFL at this stage of the game.  I did not figure Cincinnati, Carolina, nor Denver to also be 7-0 at this stage of the campaign.
Denver’s somewhat easy 29-10 triumph over Green Bay has to be listed as a shocker.  After all, Peyton Manning is on a downhill slide and the Pack’s Aaron Rodgers is easily among the best of all NFL quarterbacks.  Anyway, the Broncos’ have to travel to Indianapolis to meet the 3-5 Colts this Sunday afternoon in a contest that should be more than interesting.
Of course, most of this viewing area is more concerned with the Pittsburgh Steelers…who entertain Oakland this Sunday.  Pittsburgh is listed as a four-point favorite.  But, these Raiders are much better than the ones of the last couple of years.  They have won their last two in succession — beating San Diego 37-29 and then clipping the New York Jets 34-20 — to go 3-4 for this year.  The 4-4 Steelers are staggering — this despite the return of Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.  The Pittsburghers will be without top  running back Levon Bell.  Trouble is without a win Sunday — the Steelers post-season plans will be in a mess.
Then there are the Cleveland Browns…
This lack-luster group is now 2-6 and they will be facibng the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals tonight (Thursday)…and they have no quarterback.  That’s why Johnny Manziel will get the nod to direct the team.  Manziel has done nothing to gain the start.  In fact he is currently under investigation for a domestic dispute in which he allegedly slammed his girl friend’s heas into a car window..
Neverthe less, Manziel will be doing the throwing for Cleveland tonight.
As for our Buffalo Bills — they will host Miami on Sunday.  Both clubs are 3-4 and both need a victory in order to stay in the playoff hunt.  The Bills are a three-point favorite and should (remember, I said “should”) be able to come out on top.
           *        *         *         *          *         *         *         *         *          *          *

THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS were celebrated in their home town after taking home this year’s World Series.  And, from everything I’ve read, the royals will be back next year in a effort to repeat.
“You Know, last year (2014) as such a hard defeat for us in Game 7.  That’s what field manager Ned Yost had to say .
Look out for KC in 2016.
It took them 30 years to win this title…the next one could be a lot closer.
         *          *         *        *         *          *        *        *        *        *        *        *
BY THE SAME TOKEN,  no one expected the New York Mets to be in this years World Series.  Yet, you can look for the Mets again next year.
Yes, Kansas City solved the hurling of the Mets.  But that was a short six games.  Give those chuckers an entire season and they will show you what they can do.
I certainly expect them to be back in 2016.
         *        *        *         *        *         *        *          *         *         *         *         *
THERE HAS BEEN a change in the NFL Power Ratings.
Oh, New England is still on top  (who else???).  However, Cincinnati has taken over the No. 2 slot with Denver squeezing into the No. 3.  The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped to No. 12 9they had been No. 10) with the Buffalo Bills climbing to no. 17  (they had been No. 21)  and our lowly Cleveland Browns dropping to No. 26 (from No. 25).
        *         *         *         *          *         *         *          *         *         *         *         *
THE SO-CALLED  “EXPERTS” have sort of revised their pre-season predictions…now calling them midseason predictions…”
The New England patriots are predicted to win Super Bowl 50 by six of the seven “experts”.  The one dissenter has the Seattle team coming out as champion.
       *       *        *         *        *        *         *         *        *        *         *         *          *
I didn’t realize it until I read it…and that the James Bond movie version is 53 years old.
       *       *        *        *        *         *        *         *        *        *         *         *       *
BY THE WAY,  I am one of the biggest country music fans alive…and the 49th Annual CMA Awards Wednesday night was a bummer.
That wasn’t country music.
Real country music is dead…
       *        *        *        *        *        *         *         *        *        *        *       *        *
SORRY TO READ THAT Connor McDavid — the former Erie Otter who is now one of the keys to a resurgent Edmonton Oilers team in the NHL — is out indefinitely after breaking his left collarbone.
Injuries do happen…and they always hurt the team.
       *       *       *       *       *        *        *        *        *        *        *         *         *         *
NO ONE EXPECTED the Cleveland Indians to pick up the 3 million dollar tag on veteran Ryan Raburn.
The 31-year-old outfielder, now a free agent, did manage to hit a very respectable .301 last year while playing 82 games.
       *        *        *        *         *         *         *          *          *          *         *        *          *
PITCHER ZACK GREINKE, who gave up his three-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, must be expecting a fat contract with someone else.
He surrendered $71 million in GUARENTEED money to be eligible for free agency.
One rumor has the San Francis Giants “very Interested.”
Ball players are all over-paid….
        *        *        *         *        *         *        *         *          *          *        *        *         *        *
LEONARD FOURNETTE, the almost fabled running back with LSU, continues as the top choice for the Heisman Trophy.
He averages 193.1 rushing yards per game.
     *        *        *         *         *      *        *     *        *        *        *         *        *        *        *       *
AND A FINAL NOTE… the Cleveland Cavaliers have started the campaign with a scintillating 4-1 mark.
I’m rooting for them all the way…



Hey! What happened to those vaunted New York Met hurlers????

The Mets were supposed to breeze through this World Series because of their outstanding pitching.
Well, the Kansas City Royals have shown the rest of the baseball world what to do…just hammer the ball regardless of where it’s thrown.
The Royals showed nothing but disdain for Jacob DeGrom’s 97 miles-per-hour fastball as they pounded out that easy 7-1 verdict Tuesday night. The win put Kansas City up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series games. And, 80 percent of the teams with that kind of a lead won their World Series rings.
Tuesday night Johnny Cueto, who didn’t perform as well as was figured after the Royals grabbed him from Cincinnati in a trade, was superb.
He spun a masterful two-hitter, walking three while whiffing four.
The 30-year old, who will be a free agent after the campaign, was not expected to resign with the Royals.
After Tuesday night the KC brass may have different thoughts.
Anyway, with Tuesday’s triumph and Monday’s 5-4, 14-inning winning affair now in the books — the Royals are expecting o win their first baseball crown in 30 years.
Manager Ned Yost appears to know what he’s doing in these games.
Tuesday was KC’s 13th playoff battle in October — and it also was the 13th successive time that Yost wrote the same lineup card.
One big plus has been the addition of all-around Ben Zobrist. Zobrist, who did yeoman work for Tampa Bay for eight years, came to KC via a late season trade with the Oakland Athletics.
Zobrist played 59 regular season games for the Royals — hitting .284 with 23 RBIs.
He is doing better in the playoffs…
I think I have become a big Kansas City Royals booster during the last two weeks.
The clubs will take a day off and resume the World Series Friday night in New York’s CitiField.
Yordano Ventura will be on the mound for Kansas City, fire-balling Noah Syndergaard going for the Mets.
Once again, New York will be favored.
From everything I’ve read, Big Ben Roethlisberger will be back in his quarterback spot for the Pittsburgh Steelers this coming Sunday.
Well, they’re going to need him.
Pittsburgh is slated to tangle with the Cincinnati Bengals in a key match-up in Heinz Field.
The Bengals come in with one of the NFL’s five unblemished records — this one at 6-0.
Cincinnati is also coming in after a bye week and should be well rested.
The Steelers, meanwhile, are 4-3 with reserve signal-callers Michael Vick and Landry Jones failures in their efforts to keep the Black and Gold afloat.
Oh, Pittsburgh did manage to be in two of those four games its played without Big Ben at the controls…so I suppose that 4-3 record could have been worse.
Cincinnati has recorded 17 sacks in six games. You can be certain the Bengals will be gunning to up that total at Ben’s expense.
The so-called “experts” that I deal with lean towards Cincinnati — this by a 27-24 score.
But, Lou Caputo — our local Steeler nut – claims that Pittsburgh will surprise everyone and come up with an upset.
I hope he’s right.
Meanwhile, things are not looking all that well for the Cleveland Browns.
The Arizona Cardinals are coming to First Energy Stadium boasting a 5-2 standard. The Browns are, as we all know, just the opposite at 2-5.
No one seems to know for sure who will be at quarterback for the underdogs (the Cards are a five-point pick by the oddsmakers).
It wouldn’t make any difference — this according to the “experts.”
Cleveland has not shown any decent defensive play to g along with a winning offense. The Browns simply are not a good NFL team at this moment.
The Browns have the league’s worst run defense — so you can expect Chris Brown to add to his total of 567 yards rushing. Carson Palmer should have a field day throwing the ball for the Cardinals.
He already owns 2,012 passing yards.
The lone bright spot for the locals is that the Buffalo Bills won’t be playing this Sunday as it is their off week.
The Bills will put their 3-4 record on the line a week from Sunday when they host the Miami Dolphins.
The latest NFL power-ratings find the same three on top as it has been all season — New England, Green Bay and Cincinnati.
The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped from No. 6 to No. 10.
The Buffalo Bills are now No. 21 with the Cleveland Browns coming in at No. 25.
In last place is Houston at No. 32.
I see where some people are now starting to write Peyton Manning off as a winning quarterback.
One scribe said it this way…”Manning’s rapidly diminishing arm talent, due in part to neck-fusion surgery back in 2011, has rendered him an ordinary NFL quarterback this season.”
And even though Denver owns a 6-0 mark thus far this season, Manning has only a passing rating of 72.5 — which rates him No. 31 in the loop.
Manning has connected for seven aerial touchdowns this year. But, he has also been intercepted no less than 10 times.
NFL history shows that Manning is at an age — he’s 39 — when quarterbacks usually experience major decline in their stats. Going all the way back to 1870, only six quarterbacks started a season in which they turned 39 — Brett Favre, Vinnie Testverde, Warren Moon, Jim Plunkett, Doug Flutie and Len Dawson.
And, only Favre played at a high level.
Of course, there is also Tom Brady.
The Patriots quarterback turned 38 in August and is still going great guns.
That’s probably because the demarcation line seems to be 39.
We’ll see what the next couple of seasons will bring for Brady.
But, right now it seems that Manning has hit the wall.
The unbeaten Broncos host the equally unbeaten Green Bay Packers this Sunday night — both teams coming in at 6-0. The oddsmakers say the Packers will prevail — by three points.
It’ll be interesting to see what Peyton Manning does…
Ohio State has made a switch at quarterback.
J.T. Barrett took over at the position for the Buckeyes two games ago and it really showed in a 49-7 trimming of Rutgers last week.
Barrett threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the win. He also found time to add in 101 yards rushing along with two more six-pointers.
Ohio State looks ready to defend its national title.
Penn State hosts Illinois Saturday and quarterback Christian Hackerberg is hoping to connect on more long plays.
He completed only 13 passes against Maryland last Saturday, but still totaled 315 aerial yards — including three touchdowns.
The junior has been nothing but inconsistent all year in a 6-2 season.
Illinois boasts a 4-3 standard.
The one college game that I hope to witness at least a portion of is the Notre Dame at Temple affair set for Saturday night.
The Owls are still unbeaten at 7-0 and are currently ranked No. 22 by the AP.
Notre Dame, at 6-1, had a bye week and should be ready to play.
Temple is in the national ratings for the first time in 36 years.
The Owls are good enough to hang tight with any opponent…this despite the oddsmakers which put the Irish as an 11-point betting favorite.
And a final note…The Sagarin Ratings (USA Today publication) now says that 6-1 Oklahoma is also better than Ohio State.
These ratings are now second class with this corner.

Hey – how about them Mets!!

Not only are they in the World Series-which begins next Tuesday (October 27) – the upstart team from New York swept the hard-trying Chicago Cubs to get there. During the baseball pre-season I figured the Washington Nationals had the best pitching in the major leagues. Boy – was I ever wrong…. The team with the best pitching in the major leagues are these New York Mets. They have young arms…each and all of them capable of brushing the fabled 100-miles per hour fast ball past the chin of any adversary. Start with Matt Harvey, then add Noah Snydergaard plus the likes of Jacob DeGrom and Stephen Matz…and wow – you have a World Series Contender. Snydergaard ended with a 97.1 MPH average – topping all major leaguers with at least 100 innings pitched. DeGroom finished at 95.0 average, Harvey at 95.9 and Matz – who didn’t have enough innings to qualify at 95.0.

Tyler Clippard has been around major league mounds for over five years.. The 6-4 right hander was first traded to the Nationals and about three months ago sent him to the Mets. His comment after watching the Mets pitching staff was, “I don’t think anybody’s really seen anything like those guys.” The Los Angeles Dodgers thought they had the pitching comparison because they could trot out Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Ha!! The New York crew needed five games, but they still whipped the Dodgers.

Then they were expected to box to Chicago’s Jake Arieta. Never happened. Instead it was the Mets with the wins of 4-2, 4-1, 5-2 and the clincher on Wednesday night. No one knows who will be facing the Mets beginning Tuesday Night. The Kansas City Royals had it all wrapped up – this before they fell apart 7-1 against the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday Night. Now, we all have to wait until Friday night to see if the Royals can clinch the American League title…or wait until Saturday night when it will all be decided by a seventh game.

Kansas City opened the series with three wins out of the first four games….but the Jays have bounced back with 11-6 and 7-1 verdicts. Anyway, it should be all over in the AL soon. I figured the Jays would come out on top mainly because of hurler David Price plus the solid hitting of the Canadian team. However, KC made a believer of me and just about everyone else with their early charge. Now, I don’t even have any idea of which club will be representing the American League. But, now that I’ve been following everything a bit closer I think Kansas City would be just as good. The only thing is this – the Royals do not have top-notch pitching staff. In fact, you do have to wonder how they got this far with the throwers they do have- Johnny Cueto, Yordano Ventura, and Edison Volquez. None of ‘em scare anybody. Kansas City has exceeded all of its pre-season expectations. Whether it’ll continue to do as is quite problematical. We’ll all know by the time I sit in front of this typewriter again….

Meanwhile, there is football!!!! And – ahem – before that…college basketball!!!! That’s right the bounce and pass game. The first pre-season polls have been published. In the Amway Coaches Pill, guess who is on top??? North Carolina – that’s who!!  The TarHeels were a 26-12 team a year ago. They boast a lineup with no less than six McDonald All-Americans. North Carolina opens its campaign November 13 (hey – that’s my birthday!!!) versus Temple. Kentucky, with head coach Rick Pitino undergoing all sorts of trouble, is ranked No. 2 – the Wildcats expected to obliterate Albany in their opener Nov. 13. No. 3 is a surprise to me….Maryland!!! The Terrapins – ranked No. 1 on one college publication – take on Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 13. Duke is rate No. 4: the Blue Devils – who won the NCAA title a year ago – meet Siena in their opener. No. 5 is Kansas – a 27-9 team a year ago. The JayHawks open versus Northern Colorado. Rounding out the top ten in the preseason poll is Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Villanova, and Arizona. I like college basketball as much as I do college football. And November 13 is only 22 days away.

The latest NFL Power Ratings have not changed. New England holds the top spot followed by Green Bay and Cincinnati. The Pittsburgh Steelers – despite starting a third-string quarterback this weekend – are rated No. 6 with the Buffalo Bills wallowing in No. 15 spot and the staggering Cleveland Browns no better the No. 22. Holding up number 32 are the Tennessee Titans. My “experts” tell me that the Bills will squeeze past the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars 27-21 this coming Sunday.  Buffalo is a 3-3 team at this moment. And nobody really knows who will quarterback this club Sunday…. Cleveland will take its 2-4 mark into St. Louis to face the 2-3 Rams. And guess what????? The Rams will hang a 27-10 trimming on the Browns – regardless of who is directing the Cleveland attack form the quarterback slot. Yes, the Rams are last in the NFL in total offense, but hey – they are playing the Browns. ‘nough said.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are being forced to employ “youthful” Landry Jones as the signal caller this weekend when they go up against the Kansas City Chiefs – a reeling 1-5 club. But, Jones has shown he knows what to do with a footballs. Plus, the Steelers have more than just a few guys who know how to catch a football. Let’s pick the Black and Gold to register a 23-13 triumph. The most interesting NFL affair this weekend should take place in New Jersey when the Giants tangle with the Cowboys.

Look for the Cleveland Cavaliers to make a stronger drive for the NBA title this year now that they have signed a good rebounder in Tristan Johnson.

Did you read what I did??? New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reportedly stated that he “has no plans to retire soon”…and that he “hopes to play another ten years….” The last time I looked Brady had just come past 38 years of age….hmm.

Most surprising team in the college football ranks???Why, that would have to be Iowa. The Hawkeyes will take a 7-0 mark into their off-week this Saturday. Looking at the remaining contests – Iowa could go undefeated this year – ending at 12-0. Alabama continues to lead the College Sagarin Ratings with Baylor No. 2 and TCU No. 3. Ohio State is only No. 5. Pitt is No. 35 on the Sagarin and Penn State woeful No. 55. The Nittany Lions are being accorded a six-point edge over Maryland – remember don’t bet on it…this Saturday.

And a final note…I voted (a write-in) for Hillary three and seven years ago. I haven’t found anyone I would vote for today….



I think I’ve mentioned this a number of times before.

But, I do a lot of reading of sports publications…some I agree with, others I think are full of baloney.
For instance, the latest issue of Sports Weekly — an off-shoot of USA Today — says it is “breaking down the Cy Young races.”
The Cy Young Award — voted on by baseball writers (which makes it suspicious to start with) — is given supposedly for the best pitcher in each league. The writers — at least in my estimation — are somewhat biased in whomever they pick.
For instance, the 2010 season showed C.C. Sabathia with a 21-7 mark and a good 3.18 ERA.
So, who do the sportswriters give the Cy Young Award to????
Why, Felix Hernandez, of course. The fact that Felix was 13-12 had no bearing.
The writers said it was his 2.27 that carried the day.
Anyway, the Sports Weekly story has Oakland’s Sonny Gray, a 16-6 record with a 2.30 ERA, as one of the leaders in the Cy Young race with Houston’s Dallas Keuchel (19-8 and 2.47) and David Price, he of the Detroit Tigers and now Toronto Blue Jays, with a 15-6 won-lost card and a 2.55 ERA…as the other two.
Nowhere does anyone mention Nathan Eovaldi, the 6-3, 195-pound right-hander of the New York Yankees.
Hey, he has a 13-2 record.
Oh, what’s that????
Ah, his ERA is a pedestrian 4.24 figure.
Well, I don’t vote on the Cy Young Award. I used to have a vote of the Heisman Trophy — but that was back over 15 years ago. Now, I don’t vote on anything except political elections.
But, if I did have a vote — right now it would go to Eovaldi.
Of course, by the end of the season I might feel differently.
That’s when all the figures would be in…and time for a vote.
In my sports readings I subscribe to many publications, including the poorest sports publications going.
In the NFL prediction issues the magazine spends parts of 10 pages trying to tell the reader why Chris Borland is “the most dangerous man in football.”
Borland is the guy who retired from being a San Francisco 49er linebacker after only one year of action.
During those pages Borland tries to tell you why he quit. Summing it up, it was because he was concerned that he would end up with a fried brain from all the hits he had to suffer through.
And, now he goes around the world telling people not to play football if they want to have a “normal mind” (or something along those lines).
My thinking is this.
If Borland is so afraid of what might happen to his brain (head) — then why did he play four tough years at Wisconsin???
Why did he play high school football???
Sure, there are people who suffer from being belted while playing the game of football. Junior Seau is one that comes to mind.
Still, no one has even been accused of holding a gun to the head of those who play football — insisting that they play the game.
If it bothers you all that uch get out (Like Borland did) and stay out (like Borland should do).
Borland now travels the world telling everyone of the evils of the game of football.
I wonder where he is getting the money to do that.
Aren’t you curious too???
Let’s see now…it has been close to eight months since all that baloney on “deflategate” began.
a judge named Richard M. Berman is handling the lawsuit that New England quarterback Tom Brady has thrown at the NFL for the four-game suspension the league slapped on him for “having knowledge” concerning the use of under-inflated footballs in the Patriots’ romp over Indianapolis in the post-season playoffs.
The judge, in the opening day of the trial, repeatedly demanded of the NFL just what proof it had that Brady knew about the under-inflated footballs.
The NFL, of course, has no so-called “smoking gun.”
Whatever happens next…I don’t know. In fact, I don’t even know what the judge is supposed to judge.
Maybe we’ll all know soon.
After all, the NFL season begins in just about three weeks.
As I look at the pre-season rosters of the NFL teams, it would appear that the Pittsburgh Steelers just might have the best bunch when it comes to catching passes.
The Steelers have Antonio Brown — tagged as the best in the loop in that department — backed by Martavis Bryant plus Markus Wheaton and Heath MIller…and don’t forget that running back LeVeon Bell can catch and run with the best of them.
There are any number of good receivers in the NFL, but the Steelers’ pack could easily stand out above the rest.
It all starts September 10.
Notre Dame people are claiming its offense will be very different this year than it has been in the past.
The main reason for that is junior quarterback Malik Zaire.
Plus, new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford has his own ideas of what will work and what won’t.
“Because of personnel changes (former quarterback Everett Golson transferred to Florida State) it has definitely changed how we’re going to go about attacking defenses — whatever they may be.
“It could be we’re going to throw the ball 97 times a game, I don’t really know.”
Ah, you can bet that Sanford knows what the Irish will be doing.
And that is the run-to-pass ratio will climb because of the switch in quarterbacks.
Zaire can (and will) run.
For instance, in the Music City Bowl Zaire ran the ball 22 times — piling up 96 yards. The 6-0, 222-pounder can run with most anyone.
However, he can also throw the football – evidenced by a 68-yard TD toss in the team’s spring game.
Head coach Brian Kelly is starting his sixth year as the Irish head man. His team has been ranked in pre-season 12th, 7th and 4th by three major publications.
The Irish hope to make it to the post-season Final Four — and they just might be able to do that.
It all starts in just three weeks — that’s when highly-rated TCU travels to Minnesota to open what is expected to be an outstanding college football season.
For those of you who follow the NFL pre-season, Buffalo will be at Cleveland Thursday (August 20) night at 8 p.m. with the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting Green Bay at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Remember, it’s PRE-SEASON. In other words, don’t bet on them…
Remember when Northwestern University’s football player started talking about unionization? This was about 18 months ago.
Well, the latest I read on the subject is that the procedures have been blocked.
The five-member National Labor Relations Board Monday said it has decided not to accept jurisdiction over the petition to unionize the school’s scholarship football players.
The reason given was listed in both Sports Weekly and in USA Today and stated in part things that I did not quite understand. That’s not unusual for me.
However, there’s little doubt that the situation will come up again — just as soon as another group of college footballers become disenchanted with the current status.
Who will win this season’s Super Bowl???
The consensus that I’ve read point to the Green Bay Packers.
However, one publication insists that Seattle will knockoff Indianapolis for the crown.
I don’t have the foggiest….
The latest Baseball Power Ratings still have the Pittsburgh Pirates third — behind St. Louis and Kansas City.
The Cleveland Indians are now ranked No. 21.
And the Philadelphia Phillies are still last.
And a final note…do you realize that Christmas is only four months away?
Hey, I’ve already started my shopping…

Well, will he or won’t he????

No, I’m not talking about LeBron James’ chances of leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA crown. Nor am I commenting on Alex Rodriguez’ hopes of getting past Babe Ruth in the major league overall home run chase — the Babe is currently49 round trippers ahead of A-Rod. And I’m not mentioning Adrian Peterson’s decision of whether or no he’ll be playing running back for the Minnesota Vikings again this coming fall.

No — what I am talking about is American Pharoah….and whether or not will he win the Belmont Stakes and with it the almost elusive Triple Crown. The Pharoah, who just squeaked by in the Kentucky Derby but romped by seven lengths in the Preakness, goes after the very long Belmont this Saturday in New York City.

Now — everyone connected with the Sport of Kings is very much aware of the big problem. The Derby is a mile-and-a-quarter race and the Preakness is a bit shorter at a mile and three-sixteenths. The Belmont Stakes is a whopping mile-and-a-half…much too long for the average race horse. Plus this is the third high pressure race for American Pharoah in justfive weeks…too many in such a short time for almost any four-legged runner.

There is one more factor — at least this year. Trainer Bob Baffert decided to work out American Pharoah at Churchill Down in Kentucky the past two weeks rather than at Belmont Park. A lot of veteran horse people say this was the wrong thing to do as it did not give the Pharoah any knowledge of the track he’s going to run on this Saturday. Baffert said he has done it both ways — and he thinks his way is the best for this horse.

Anyway American Pharoah arrived at Belmont Park on Tuesday to begin getting ready for the big one on Saturday. The field won’t be as large as first thought. The initial thinking was 12 horses would be vying for the verdict. However first two owners backed out and the latest is that two more decided it wasn’t worth the effort — not to mention the wear and tear on the animal.

So, as of right now it appears that only eight horses will be in the chase. Right now the horse that is expected to challenge American Pharoah is Frosted. This entry ended fourth in the Kentucky Derby — but since he passed the Preakness he should be well-rested for the Belmont. A horse named Materiality is rated third in the Belmont at 6-1. Personally, the horse that the Pharoah should be somewhat leary of is named Frammento. Sure, he’s a long shot 30-1…in fact, he’s the longest shot in the race.

But, it’s those kind of horses that always seem to come out of nowhere and pull off a completely unexpected upset. Frammento was 11th in the Derby, but trainer Nick Zito says this of his horse…”He looks like a Belmont horse.” Jockey Mike Smith said of Frammento…”He’ll run all day” — meaning the 1 1/2 miles doesn’t scare him. I’m pulling for American Pharoah — mainly because I’m getting tired of how long it’s been since there has been a Triple Crown winner. We’ll all know what will happen — oh, around 6:30 p.m. or so on Saturday.

* * *

DESPITE THE OVER-KILL, not everyone is talking about or even interested in Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner. In fact — it’s not even news. Although I do wonder…does he (or she) still have to shave???

* * *
THE OVER-PAID MARK TEIXEIRA is finally starting to look like the player who became a New York Yankee seven years ago. Wednesday (June 3) Teixeira slammed his 16th home run of the season, and now owns an American League -leading 41 RBIs. However, he is still lacking in the hitting average department with a .241 mark.
* * *
I SEE WHERE THE Washington Nationals — one of my pre-season picks to win just about everything — finally squeaked into the National League East Division lead with a 29-22 won -lost mark. One reason is that Bryce Harper is starting to show what has been expected of him…the young man hitting .325 while leading the way in round trippers with 19 and 45 runs-batted-in.
* * *
HEY, DID YOU KNOW that Betty White is 93…and is still in demand on the teevee tube??? That’s impressive…
* * *
THE YANKEES ARE going to have to do something about second base. They gave the job to Stephen Drew — plus a $5,000,000 contract. The 32-year old, who has been in the big leagues for 10 years, has been a big flop with the bat.  He currently owns a .165 batting average. From everything I’ve read, the New York team has no one in the wings, with the exception of mediocre-fielding Jose Pirela. Plus, the guy who took over for Derek Jeter as shortstop–Didi Gregorious — is around .230. Of course, the one-time Bombers have their best hitter–Jacoby Ellsbury — on the disabled list…with catcher Brian McCann also somewhat hobbled with a sore right foot.
* * *
ACCORDING TO A study by Voya Financial…”60 percent of retired U.S. workers said they had to stop working unexpectedly. “Hmmmmm….I know the feeling…
* * *
IN ANSWER TO A QUESTION from a steady eader…no — I am not going to make a prediction on the outcome of the NBA Championship…which began Thursday (june 4) night in Oakland. Both teams have what it takes to win.

Naturally, I’m pulling for the Cavaliers.
* * *
I GUESS IT WASN’T too surprising to see that Novak Djokovic knocked off Rafael Nadal in the French Open the other day. Sure it was only Nadal’s second defeat in 72 career affairs on the orange courts at Roland Garros. But it was a fairly easy win — 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 — over the nine-time French Open champion. Plus, Djokovic is the No.1-ranked men’s tennis player in the world.
* * *
I WATCHED MUCH of the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 win over the San Francisco Giants Wednesday afternoon. The Bucs are now in second place in the National League Central Division with a 29-24 card. Better yet, Andrew McCutcheon has raised his batting average to .293. The Pirates leader has struggled with the bat during the first quarter of the season.
* * *
THE U.S. OPEN — the 115th version of one of the top golf tournaments in the country –will get itself played starting June 18th. This year’s event will be held on Chambers Bay course… near Puget Sound. And, from the info I get, it will be one of the toughest tests of golf this year. Naturally, the talk (although it’s getting fainter) is still about Tiger Woods. The one-time “most feared player on the links” hasn’t played in a tournament in three weeks–finishing 69th in The Players Championship. Once No.1 in the world — the Tiger is now ranked No. 172.
* * *
THE LATEST BASEBALL power ratings have the Pittsburgh Pirates in 8th place and the Cleveland Indians ranked No. 17. St. Louis regained the No.1 spot with Kansas City second and the Los Angeles Dodgers third.
* * *
AND A FINAL NOTE…Hey — I don’t have a “final note” today.

So there…



Outside of the riots in Baltimore —

And the mother whomping her 16-year-old son along side the head as she dragged him away from the “action” in center city (this must have been seen by millions watching the T.V. new programs) — what do you want me to talk about today?
Well, I guess we could take another look at the big welterweight title fight set for Saturday night…or perhaps the Run For The Rose set for Saturday evening in Lexington, Kentucky.
Certainly now the NFL draft — which starts today (Thursday) and continues through Friday and Saturday.
This happening has already been gone over and over again…most of it by people with a lot more knowledge on the subject than yours truly.
Okay…so the draft is out.
Well, let’s take another look at the fight.
This is the one where unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiano will battle to officially unify the world’s welterweight crown.
This is also the one where sportswriters — now obviously grasping for words — have labeled as “the fight of the century.”
Aren’t they all…
A lot of previous “fights of the century” have been flops.
When I was a kid I remember listening on the radio (TV wasn’t around then which was 1938) as Joe Louis flattened Max Schmeling in the first round.
This was payback of the first class as Schmeling had topped Louis with a knockout in the 12th round in their first meeting.
I also remember the two big fights Joe Frazier and Cassius Clay (also known as Muhammad Ali) staged…Frazier winning the first by a unanimous decision over 15 rounds… and Clay being declared a winner after Frazier refused to come out for the 15th round in a classic held in Manila.
Then there was the “fight of the century” in 1981 between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns.
This was also for the welterweight title.
Hearns was ahead on points in the 14th round when Leonard — unleashing a series of almost unstoppable blows — was declared the winner as the referee stopped the fight.
The last so-called “fight of the century” that I remember was in 1999 (I was close to retirement at the time) when handsome Oscar De La Hoya blew the fight in the later rounds to Felix Trinidad as De La Hoya tried to coast.
A decision in favor of Trinidad was argued about for months afterward.
Now, what about Saturday’s fracas???
Mayweather, the last time I checked, was a somewhat one-sided pick to tromp all over Pacquiano.
And, I suppose I could happen.
But, this fight is set for Las Vegas — and you know what they say about anything that happens in Vegas.
Mayweather, at 38 years old, is undefeated at 47-0 while Pacquiano brings a 57-5-2 mark.
Pacquiano is from the Philippines and is 36 years old. The MGM Grand Hotel Arena will host a sellout crowd of 16,500…but at ticket prices most of us can’t even look at — let alone afford.
Oh, and according to published reports, Las Vegas is expecting 300,000 people to jam the streets that night…this despite the limited availability of fight tickets.
The payday for both fighters is tremendous — Mayweather reportedly pocketing over $150 million and Pacquiano over $100 million.
Too rich for my blood…
This is to settle some arguments you might have had…or will have…
According to Baseball Almanac.com, Boston’s Fenway Park is the oldest stadium in the major leagues…opening April 12, 1966.
Didja get all that???
Did you know that, according to Girl Scouts of the USA, that the Girl Scouts sell almost $800 million worth of cookies each year?
No, I didn’t either.
I used to be a big fan of ESPN — the cable sports giant.
Not any more.
That’s because ESPN has now sued Verizon over that organization’s new “Custom TV” programming setup…a set-up that would benefit us “little guys.”
Verizon’s “Custom TV” plan is a “stripped down $55-a-month-pay-TV offering of more than 35 channels…including the sports offered by ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
But ESPN has balked.
ESPN, which is owned by the Disney people, receives $6.61 each month from each cable subscriber.
To put it on an understandable plateau — according to published reports, TNT (the nest most in-demand cable channel) is paid only $1.65 per month from each subscriber.
My bill right now is around $138 each month…giving me any number of channels I don’t want and don’t watch.
I’d love to get that Verizon package of 35 channels for $55 per month…including the sports from the various ESPN offerings.
ESPN should be helping Verizon get that “Custom TV” program going instead of trying to stop it.
I, and of the rest of you readers, must get an angry feeling every time we have to pay our cable bill. I know I do.
Now, who do I call to put in my  two cents worth???
From everything I’ve read on the subject, most of the players in that baseball game without fans in Baltimore Wednesday afternoon felt that it was “enjoyable.”
Speaking of enjoyable…I imagine that A-Rod was anything but at Wednesday’s game in New York.
With the Yankees surprising almost everyone by grabbing first place in the American League East, Rodriguez went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts as the one-time Bombers lost to Tampa Bay 3-2…in 13 innings.
A-Rod still needs one home run to tie Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time HR list with 660 blasts.
In case you missed it, Kareem Abdul Jabbar underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery two weeks ago.
Abdul-Jabbar is 68.
American Pharoah is the early favorite to win Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
He is a 5-2 choice.
Dortmund is a 3-1 pick while my favorite — Carpe Diem — is in third place at 8-1.
There will be 20 horses in the starting gate Saturday evening — American Pharoah in Gate No.18.
The last two Kentucky Derby chases have had the favorite come home a winner — California Chrome last year and Orb in 2013.
Regardless…I’m staying with Carpe Diem to win.
I also sort of like Frosted…or even Firing Line.
However, I have changed my mind about one thing I had mentioned last week.
And that is this — I WILL NOT be betting any money on any of these horses.
That’s how much faith I have in my picks.
I see where the St. Louis Cardinals have taken over the top spot in the latest Major League “Power Ratings.”
The Pittsburgh Pirates have climbed to sixth place while the Cleveland Indians are languishing in 26th spot.
The Milwaukee Brewers are in 30th place — dead last.
There are other college quarterbacks available for the three-day NFL draft besides Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota…
People like Brett Hundley of ICLA, Garrett Grayson of Colorado State and Bryen Petty of Baylor — plus a couple no one even knows about.
Some team will draft each of them.
And a final note…I hate to continue to harp about the weather — but Spring in Erie is usually a delusion.
And, this year is no different from past ones.
Ah well…

Well, tell me — how’s the world treating you?

Oh, I have no complaints.
However, if I had my druthers, I wouldn’t mind being about 20 years younger. Again however, as my significant other would say — you have no control over the situation…so, make the best of it.
And that’s just what I’m doing.
As for The Wonderful World of Sports — there are two things on the fans’ mind.
That is — besides the young baseball season plus the NBA and NHL Playoffs.
Those two things are — in order — the NFL draft (which starts this Thursday) and the Kentucky Derby (which will be run Saturday).
There seems to be little objection to the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will tap Jameis Winston as the No.1 pick in the NFL draft.
Winston is considered as the top quarterback prospect available…and the Buccaneers really need a quarterback.
But, as most of you know, Winston comes with a ton of baggage.
Winston has been investigated by his college (Florida State) for an alleged rape as well as stealing food from a supermarket — plus there are probably other things no one really is aware of at this time.
The pros like to tell everyone that they always check out a proposed performer for high character and good behavior.
Don’t believe it.
The pros will pick anyone who might possibly be able to play at the high level demanded in the NFL…regardless of what the player did or did not do as a collegian.
Thus, it’s as close to a sure bet as you can get — Tampa Bay will pick Jameis Winston with their No.1 choice.
According to a story in ESPN Magazine the investigation of the alleged rape was bungled from the very beginning — mainly because a star athlete was involved.
I, personally, am not aware of the exact happenings. Only two people are…and they are telling different stories.
Regardless, Winston will probably get the No.1 nod — and the big money that goes with it.
There has been a ton of words written about this 21-year-old nicknamed JayBoo.
And, like Johnny Manziel before him, a lot is expected of hi. Naturally, only time will tell.
There hasn’t been as much written concerning the “other” quarterback in the draft…Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Winston checks in at 6’4 and 230 pounds.
Mariota is also 6’4, but with 220 pounds.
A lot of so-called experts don’t think Mariota will go too high in the draft — but one publication does place him at No.2…with the Tennessee Titans having the pick.
That’s because the Titans need help at almost every position. So, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Tennessee does tab Mariota with its top choice.
Another of the big picks in the draft is Leonard Williams — a defensive tackle from Southern California.
He is expected to go at No.3 or perhaps even No.2. From everything I’ve read Williams is figured to start immediately for whomever picks him.
I must admit, I wouldn’t be able to put together a “mock draft.”
That’s because I don’t see as many college games as I once did — so most of the information that I have comes from what I read.
I do know one thing.
I will not be among those who will be viewing the NFL draft on T.V.
I can’t think of too many things that are as boring as that.
Oh, I know — the viewership will be in the millions. Well, good luck to them all.
Saturday will be the 141st time the Kentucky Derby will be run.
During my almost 44 years as a sportswriter with the Erie Times-News I managed to be in Kentucky only once for the Derby. I enjoyed every minute of it — except that most of the people there seemed to be a bit tipsy.
Anyway, the experts are touting two horses for this race — Dortmund who is 6-0, and American Pharoah, who has a four-race winning streak.
My choice at this time (it could and will probably change before the 5:30 p.m. start Saturday) is a horse named Carpe Diem.
That’s because I used to have a sign in my home office that read “Carpe Diem.”
Which means (I think) “seize the day.”
Carpe Diem has lost only once and he is a come-from-behind runner.
Heck, I might even put up two bucks on him to win.
What’s all this fuss about Bruce Jenner being a transgender.
This person, who was one of the USA’s greatest Olympic male athletes, says he wants to be a woman…mainly because he has been that way for as long as he can remember.
So, Jenner went on 20/20 and was interviewed by Diane Sawyer.
According to USA Today (who cited “preliminary Nielsen figures”) the program had its biggest viewing audience in 15 years.
Jenner, who is now 65, is a daddy a number of times…but now, I guess, he wants to be a mama.
There are many things I simply don’t understand.
This is one of them…
Still, why all the fuss? The story has been all over the various news programs — and I don’t consider one man’s desire to be “news.”
Well it appears as if Josh Hamilton, a big flop with the Los Angeles Angels, is about to be traded back to the Texas Rangers.
Hamilton, who signed a five-year deal for $125 million with the Angels back in December of 2012, has been a dud with LA — hitting .250 and .263 the last two years with a total of 31 home runs.
The outfielder, who will be 34 in about three weeks, has had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. It was reported that he had had a relapse during the off-season.
Anyway, the Angels want him gone — so that club is going to pay $68 million of the remaining $80 million due to Hamilton…making it the largest severance pay any major league team has absorbed.
The Rangers don’t really know if they can resurrect Hamilton or not. But, they are willing to try.
That’s because with Texas, Hamilton was great. He won the American League’s MVP crown in 2010.
Whether he can come back or not is very problematical. At least, he is being given that chance.
The Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Boston Celtics in the opening of the NBA Playoffs and will now probably face the Chicago Bulls.
The only thing is that the Cavs will be without Kevin Love.
Love suffered a left shoulder dislocation in the fourth game of the sweep and will be lost for approximately four weeks.
LeBron James said it best when he was quoted with, “Obviously, if it’s a long period of time (that Love will be gone), it’s going to affect us a lot. He’s a part of the big three.”
Without Love it is doubtful that the Cavaliers will advance.
Oops, I was wrong about the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This team — despite having a ton of outstanding players — fell apart in front of the New York Rangers…losing the series 4-1.
The Rangers scored four 2-1 victories…something that never should happen to a team loaded like the Pens are.
I thought the Penguins would do better…I was wrong.
Hey, that was quite a crowd at the Erie Insurance Arena Sunday for the Erie Otters 4-2 win over Sault Ste. Marie.
A total of 6,287 paid to see the action…and they all went home happy.
Too bad the Erie Seawolves are going in the opposite direction.
The Howlers’ sixth straight loss was viewed by only 1,257 fans at Jerry Uht Park.
It’s always more fun to root for a winner…
And a final note…Do you think this lousy weather will ever come to an end????
Oh, what’s that????
Friday is May 1st…Hmmmm — good luck with that!!!