Archive for January, 2015

Professional Sports and Media Whores.

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Memo (that dates me) from editor: if you can’t find a story then make one up. That would appear to be the case when there is a two week gap between the NFL Conference Championships and the Super Bowl. This is dead time in the American sporting calendar. Save for mundane basketball  and hockey games there is not much going on.

The two teams to contest the Super Bowl ( Seattle and New England ) have been determined, and the week leading up to the big event is hyped up to turbo charge with endless, meaningless players and coaches interviews, analysis by retired players turned talking heads, and previews of the commercials specifically designed for the event. Don’t knock the Super Bowl commercials because more times than not they make better viewing than the actual game.

To prove my point regarding the dead zone, a story involving New England deflating match balls for their Championship game against Indianapolis has been running for nearly two weeks. They even managed to give it a name: “Deflategate.” The Patriots have a habit for courting controversy. A few years back they were involved in “Spygate” when they were caught illegally spying on their opponents training regimes. Apparently (I know, it’s a word I’ve come to rely on) the match balls were deflated prior to the game to give quarter back Tom Brady the edge. It didn’t appear he needed much assistance in routing the Colts 45-7.

Both quarter back and Head Coach pleaded their innocence, and the fall guy will be some lowly schmuck in the locker room. The punishment for this transgression will be the loss of a draft pick. The Patriots will take that in a heart beat because they usually trade away their picks and sign players cut by other teams turning them into super heroes in the process. Now that’s a story guys!

But here’s the kicker. If New England violated the rules as this long winded story implies then why not reverse the result and place Indianapolis in the Super Bowl? Answer: it’s a storm in the proverbial tea cup ( substitute super bowl) generated by the media whores who can’t think of anything better to write about.

Turning closer to home, the Atlanta Falcons decided to fire their Head Coach, Mike  Smith, following two desultory losing seasons. His time management left a lot to be desired and I’m pretty sure he will be late for his own funeral. Nice man, but he’d taken the franchise as far it could go.

So the Falcons jumped onto the merry go round  of potential candidates for the Head Coaching vacancy. The local media whores, not much different from their national brothers, were canvassing for the appointment of Rex Ryan recently fired from the New York Jets. He had just finished  a 4-12 losing season which was worse than previous incumbent Mike Smith. Ryan has not enjoyed  a winning season since 2009, so why all the fuss to hire him by the local media? He makes good copy. He is controversial with his off the wall interviews, he’s a blow hard, and he sucks his wife’s toes. I kid you not! He’s always good for a headline or two, but can he take his team to the promised land? I don’t believe so.

This unfortunate episode sums up the character of the man. The Falcons had interviewed him once and were planning to invite him back for a second interview when Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s mother died. The interview was put on hold while Mr. Blank attended to the funeral arrangements. True to form Mr. Ryan came back with an unforgettable statement: ” I had the impression the Falcons were dragging their feet, so I accepted the job with the Buffalo Bills. They gave me the impression that they really wanted me to be their Head Coach.” Good luck to the Bills handling the prima donna’s baggage.

I’m sure the January transfer window in the world of soccer was a brain child of the media. There is a down time after Christmas and the next round of the Champions league doesn’t kick off until March. Absurd rumors were circling the air waves pronouncing that Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale were disenchanted with their clubs and they would be transferred to the Premiership during the transfer window. That is just as likely to happen as England winning the World Cup in 2018.

Unfortunately constant speculation in the press regarding Swansea City’s star striker, Wilfried Bony, became reality when Manchester City “made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.” I believe it is an unfair (not illegal) practice which allows the bigger, wealthier clubs to wave their cheque books at the mid table teams and prize away their  star players in the middle of the season.

The January transfer should be dropped, and teams assembled at the beginning of the season should determine their clubs’ destiny. Here “endeth” Daveswelshrarebits’ first lesson of 2015.


QBs and HCs

Friday, January 16th, 2015


The success of the National Football League can be attributed to its relatively short season compared to the other major sports in America. The regular season comprises 16 games played between September-December, and the playoffs are held during January leading to the Super Bowl on February 1st.

Last weekend was probably my favorite weekend of the season when we are reduced to four divisional  games with eight teams competing for the right to play in the two Conference Championship games; the winners of which compete in the Super Bowl.

An NFL team win or loses on the performance of the quarter back. He is the guy who pulls the strings and executes the plays devised by the coaches. Itemized below is my potted assessment of the roles played by the eight QBs on display last weekend:

  • Baltimore and Joe Flacco, threw for 4 touchdowns but also incurred 2 interceptions. Should have controlled the clock better to deprive the Patriots of a comeback. Not once but twice!
  • New England and Tom Brady, imperious and showed the world why he is one of the greatest QBs of all time.
  • Carolina and Cam Newton, “superman” deterred by a kryptonite defense.
  • Seattle and Russell Wilson, solid performance by Wilson, and with the help of a great running game, did enough to ensure a comfortable win.
  • Dallas and Tony Romo, probably the most overrated QB in the league. Nearly a match for Rodgers on this occasion  because Rodgers was playing virtually on one leg.
  • Green Bay and Aeron Rodgers, courageous performance by the regular season’s MVP. Hop- a- Long Cassidy pulled the strings in the second half for a memorable win.
  • Indianapolis and Andrew Luck, the evolution continues with Tom Brady next in his gun sights.
  • Denver and Peyton Manning, the old warhorse has finally been beaten by father thyme.

The regular season may only last four months, but the off the field circus continues unabated for the rest of the year. The carousel of hiring and firing of coaches takes center stage at the end of the season quickly followed by players’ free agency and the four day draft of college players.  Assessing the draft by the sports’ talking heads has developed into an art form.

My team, Atlanta Falcons, fired their coach Mike Smith following a disappointing 6-10 season. For some reason, the favorite to replace him was the boorish Rex Ryan recently fired from the New York Jets after posting a 4-12 losing record. The local sports media supported his appointment for some reason, but we dodged a bullet when he accepted  the head coaching job at Buffalo Bills.

The NFL coaching fraternity resembles a good old boys  network because no sooner does one of their own lose his job he is inevitably hired by another team. Half a dozen candidates have recently completed the circuit of teams with coaching vacancies while Mike Smith maintained a low profile. However, it is rumored he will be offered the Defensive Coordinator job at the Oakland Raiders by his friend and former boss Jack Del Rio who they recently appointed Head Coach.

Meanwhile we are down to the wire with four teams remaining:

Green Bay @ Seattle

Indianapolis @ New England.


Thirty Pieces of Silver?

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

It isn’t 30 pieces of silver; it’s 30 million pounds that Manchester City have dangled under Swansea City’s nose to prize Wilfried Bony away. It’s a shed full of money for the Swans to reject and I guess the sensible thing would be to snatch the cheque  from the Arab owners’ hands and deposit it as quickly as possible. But let’s not get ahead ourselves.

Wilfried Bony is the only consistent scorer the Swans have, and what price on Premiership safety if you subtract his goals and assists this season?

Okay; let’s be realistic. The Swans, similar to the majority of clubs, are a feeder club for the top six in the Premiership and any rich club on the continent that takes a shine to one of their players. Even the top clubs in the Premiership have lost star players to richer clubs. Ronaldo left Manchester United for Real Madrid and Gareth Bale beat the same path to Madrid from Spurs in pursuit of the Holy Grail. Likewise, Luis Suarez sought the pesos at Barcelona and left Liverpool struggling to fill the void. Unfortunately Liverpool made the same mistake as Spurs by attempting to replace their star player with five or six indifferent signings.

I’m sure Bony will perform well at Manchester City, but he should take note of what happened to Scott Sinclair who was transferred at his insistence to the same club from the Swans for 8 million pounds. He was on the verge of the England team when he was transferred, but regressed into a proverbial bench warmer. The number of appearances he has made for the Manchester first team can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Bony’s transfer is not without irony. The Swans want 30 million while Manchester City value him at 27 million and at the time of writing continue to haggle over the asking price.  The Swans management should be insistent and inform the Arab owners that the price is not subject to negotiation. “Show us the money or Bony remains a Swansea player for the remaining months of the season. ” In many respects the January transfer window is a poisoned chalice for the smaller clubs when they run the risk of losing their best players to the bulging  cheque books of the top clubs. Maybe it’s time the men in suits reviewed the whole process.

January throws up another anomaly. the African Nations Cup and now the Asian Championship (whatever) are staged for the whole month. Bony is representing The Ivory Coast and is unavailable to whatever Premiership club holds his registration until the 1st February. The same restriction applies to the Swans’ South Korean midfield player, Ki Sung-Yeung.

The Swans have only scored one goal in each of their last six premiership games and can least afford to lose their top goal scorer. They have only managed to score a total of 25 goals in 20 fixtures, nine of which have come from Bony. On that basis the Swans could struggle to retain their Premiership status in the absence of their star striker. Sigurdsson is second in the goal scoring charts with four.

Thirty million pounds for Bony may appear to be good business, but relegation to the Championship would be disastrous and the profit made from the sale of Bony would pale in comparison. I sincerely hope I’m proved wrong. I’m just glad I’m not a Swansea City season ticket holder because I would feel I’ve been short changed.