The Big Payback

The SEVEN
29 November 2013

I.  “Hit Me!”

When the late Godfather of Soul, James Brown, would implore his band to “hit me,” it signaled the coming of an accent or, as the case may have been, several rhythmic accents which added to the funky flavor of whatever song was being played.  What many people – myself included – did not know at the time was that Brown’s order, as he pointed to one of his bandmates, was an indication to that musician that he had messed up.  Multiple hits meant that he had messed up multiple times, and a fine was forthcoming…and the musician had better play the hits, or the fine became stiffer.

So perhaps the rookie coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Jason Kidd, was channeling his inner James Brown when he told his player to “hit me” with 8.3 seconds to go in Wednesday’s game against the Lakers.  With the Nets down by three points with no timeouts remaining, Tyshawn Taylor then bumped into Kidd, resulting in Kidd’s drink spilling onto the court, meaning that the court needed to be mopped.  While the mopping was going on, there was time to draw up a play for a potential game-tying shot – time that had not been available before since they had no timeouts remaining. 

Kidd, almost certainly a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, was always an extremely heady and inventive player on the court, and we now see that has followed him onto the sidelines as a coach. Unfortunately for him, unlike the situations with the James Brown band, he is the one being fined $50,000 for the incident.

II.  Get On The Good Foot

If Kidd’s 4-11 Nets…and Mike Woodson’s 3-11 New York Knicks…do not start putting up some W’s – and fast – neither of these gentlemen may have employment to be thankful for for much longer.  And although some may think it is early to talk firings, in the case of the Nets there is some recent history to study.  Very recent, in fact.

Last November Avery Johnson, then coach of the Nets, was honored as NBA coach of the month.  Before the end of December he was fired.

III.  Please, Please, Please

The New York Giants were able to sit at their tables yesterday and be thankful that the division they play in is the NFC Least, which means that they are not totally out of the playoff picture even with a 4-7 record. Meanwhile, their roommates at MetLife Stadium, the New York Jets, are thankful to be squarely in the hunt for a wild card berth in the AFC while sporting a 5-6 record.

I don’t know if the marketing gurus would have considered a Jets-Giants Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium a marketing bonanza…but it is becoming more unlikely by the minute (or at least the week).

IV.  Happy Thanksgiving

It is honorable, on their part, for an Ohio Walmart to have held a food drive to benefit Walmart associates who may not have enough to put a nice Thanksgiving dinner on their tables.  It is compassionate, on the part of the associates, to donate to their fellow workers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if corporate raised salaries so this wouldn’t have to happen?

V.  Give Me Some Bucks and I’ll Be Straight

I am so thankful for Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz and his Tea Party colleagues in the House.  They are doing more to help the Democratic Party create a stranglehold on the Presidency going forward than any Democrat possibly can. 

VI.  Make It Funky

The recent victory by boxer/Philippine Congressman Manny Pacquiao – and the renewed discussion of a possible Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather match – was great news to sports fans who would now recognize John Cena and Randy Orton before any of the gentlemen walking around with an heavyweight championship belt around their waists.

VII.  Living In America

Let me openly say that I am no fan at all of reality TV…but with that said, I didn’t see the above-referenced Jason Kidd situation, because I wanted to get to the season-ending episode of Preachers of LA…a show that has taken numerous hits from those who feel it unbecoming, at best, for ministers to be portrayed on a show of this nature. If you have ever heard the expression “preaching to the choir,” this may not be it – and maybe that’s not a bad thing from a John 12:32 perspective.  Looking forward to season two.

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What Were They Thinking?

The SEVEN
23 November 2013

I.  In The Beginning

Now that I’m a deacon, I guess one would think that I would be really upset about the recent situation at Costco where Bibles were classified, in the book department, as fiction.  Actually, I’m not. Not that I’m trying to diss the Bible, but things happen, often by mistake.  A group of us worked for several years in the corporate offices of a book retailer where our job was, in part, to correct classification errors such as these.  Anyway, Costco has apologized to Fox News for the error.

Now what should happen is that Fox News should apologize to President Obama, Michelle Obama, and everyone else for continually broadcasting fiction, and classifying it as news.

II.  What Were You Thinking?

The more we hear about the violence-prone individual that is George Zimmerman, the more I am certain that those jurors on that trial have got to realize that they made a big mistake.

III.  Gonna Put It In The Want Ads

The more we hear about the newly-hired Rutgers University athletic director Julie Hermann, and the bouts she appears to have with the truth, the more I think that if you have ever harbored an ambition to be a major college Division I athletic director at a school about to join the Big Ten, you ought polish up the old resume ASAP. 

IV.  Hard Knock Life

It’s been a hard knock life for the New York Mets during the past few years, most definitely on the field and even down to the marketing department…who put together a Marlon Byrd bobble head night, only for him to have been traded to Pittsburgh by the time it came up.

But that doesn’t mean they needed to break bread with Jay Z and the agents from CAA that are representing Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano, the prime free agent of this off-season. No one can be certain if they are off of their spending moratorium set as a result, in part, of the Madoff mess, but I do know they have no intention of tossing $300 million Cano’s way over the next ten years.  If they would not move to re-sign their own premier middle infielder – Jose Reyes – for little more than a third of the $300 million allegedly sought by Jay and Co., what would make you think they would kick it out to Cano like that?

Though it would be a great signal to their fan base if they did.

V.  Rock Steady

So everyone is having a field day going off on Toronto mayor Rob Ford, but how many know about what happened down in Florida, where the Toronto snowbirds spend their winters?  Florida Republican congressman Trey Radel, who in September voted that people receiving assistance should be drug-tested, was arrested last month for cocaine possession. 

But that’s okay, as my wife pointed out, because he is not receiving assistance.

I wonder if, had that been me, I would have gotten off with the one year probation that he got. I also wonder if there is any medical correlation between alcoholism and cocaine, as he claimed in the midst of his apology. Gonna check on that…

VI.  I Left My Heart

I love San Francisco…can hardly think about a trip to California without stopping through there. And, like most everybody from the President on down, I love the way people came together to help with Batkid getting his wish.

What I didn’t care too much for was the news that while the feel good stuff was going on, the SF Police went and beat an African-American 21-year-old college student known as DJ to the point of unconsciousness. There must have been something that DJ had that piqued their curiosity to the point that they would act as they did…something other than the cupcake and juice he was taking home…which sounds so familiar.

Too bad Batkid couldn’t save him too.

VII.  Why?

One day, when I was about eighteen, my father asked me why I would wear this particular t-shirt I had on, to which I responded that I had gotten it for free.  Not that he was at all prejudiced, but he didn’t think I needed to wear something showing a busty Caucasian woman. In retrospect, his objection was probably more about the sexual connotation as opposed to any racial issue.

If only he had seen this young man that got on the subway in New York the other day with a woman that looked like she was a female relative of his, although they got off at different stops…which doesn’t mean they were not related, just going different places.  He was certainly old enough to travel by himself – which if you couldn’t tell from his size and features, you might have been able to discern from the hat he wore, which read:  I wanna Fu*$k Rihanna. And the editing was mine.

It’s really beyond dude, why would you wear that hat…in the presence of this female relative…but also, to the entrepreneur that thought it worthwhile to produce such hats, what made you think that there should be a market for something so degrading of that young lady?  

He probably thought the Bible was fiction. 

It Was A Good Day

The SEVEN
11/12/13

I.  Big Brother Is Watching

My goodness, how does the Internet know?  Or, better stated, does the Internet know something that I need to know?  Do I need to get my private investigator friend to follow my wife?

I’m just saying this because I get so many emails promoting available LDS – Mormon, that is – singles in my area…as well as from Ashley Madison, which promotes discreet affairs between married individuals. Wifey may have some ‘splaining to do…

II.  Do The Write Thing

Previously I wrote that World Series MVP David Ortiz might have been able to do better in the New York mayoral race than Republican candidate Joe Lhota…and as it turns out, Big Papi finished third in the Boston mayoral contest last week.  Ortiz received the most write-in votes of all of the candidates that received write-ins, placing him in third place behind the two candidates on the ballot, this despite not having any time to campaign due to travel for his job and carrying his co-workers on his back all October.

III.  Do The Right Thing

During the past week it has been virtually impossible to go anywhere without hearing the voice or seeing the face of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, fresh off of his resounding victory and reelection. And of course, the main topic of discussion around the governor is if he plans to seek the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2016…which most observers expect him to do.  Certainly one could think he had 2016 on his mind when he scheduled the special Senate election – in which Cory Booker was running – to be on a day weeks prior to the regular election day, so that Booker’s presence on the ballot would not bring out bunches of Democrats and potentially lessen his margin of victory. Since the extra election may have cost the state between fifteen and twenty-four million dollars, that was kind of the wrong thing to do.

As far as whether he should race to move to Washington, probably not so fast.  Christie did the right thing for the people of New Jersey when he met and toured the state with President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  However, given that it was in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign, being seen as working with Obama – despite being what his constituents needed him to do – was the wrong thing to do for someone looking to become the nominee of a Republican primary contest dominated by Tea Party voters and personalities.  But it was the right thing to do to win a landslide victory in New Jersey over a candidate that the Democrats didn’t put real money behind and tiptoed around giving full-fledged support to. 

IV.  Wally Pipp or Thanks, Ice Cube

Trying to find a connection here between Wally Pipp and Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers…who would not even be in existence as a franchise until two and a half years after Pipp’s death in 1965.  Perhaps Pipp lived in Brooklyn – where Lance grew up – while playing for the New York Yankees…though I kind of doubt that.  Long commute.

Apparently Pipp was a pretty good left-handed hitting first baseman, finishing with a career batting average of .281 with 998 runs batted in.  He led the American League in home runs in 1916 and 1917, and had three seasons in which he batted over .300…but is best known as the guy that was out of or asked out of the starting lineup one day, and his replacement was Lou Gehrig.  Gehrig went on to start 2,130 consecutive games, so naturally Pipp never got his job back.

But back to Lance Stephenson, who messed around and got a triple-double the other night for the first time in his career.  While people are focused on Paul George and his path to superstardom, Stephenson is growing by leaps and bounds as well, and his unbridled game is the perfect addition to the very solid but somewhat conservative Pacer team.  

Stephenson and George could make former lead scorer Danny Granger – on his way back from injuries that basically sidelined him for all of last season – the 2013-14 reincarnation of Wally Pipp.

V.  Forgot About That

As I scrolled through the available games on NBA League Pass the other night, I found Celtics vs. Heat, and naturally was overjoyed at seeing that early season matchup.  For a minute I had forgotten that KG, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry had taken their talents to Brighton Beach…until I saw the five players that the Celtics had on the floor, at which point I turned away…only to return to it in time to see Jeff Green hit a game-winning three in LeBron James’ mug.  Maybe they won’t be that bad after all upon Rajon Rondo’s return.

VI.  …Or Maybe They Should Be

Recently an unnamed NBA general manager was quoted as saying that sometimes his job is to understand the value of losing.  His point was that being a middle of the road team is not going to put you in a position to either win a championship or obtain a game-changing player in the draft by virtue of being really bad – so it might be in his best interest to field a team that would not be able to be very good in order to insure that a high draft pick would be forthcoming.

Mystery GM, I understand, but here’s the flip side to that:  some long-suffering fans of teams that have not tasted much success of late would love to see their teams claw their way into the playoffs.  Ask fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates…or for that matter, even the Knicks and Nets.  And yes, they may then get roasted and toasted by a top seed, but the fan base will have been energized…and you may see another path to the top. Some of the free agents that you think would never come to your small market may wind up taking another look.

VII.  Charles In Charge

First of all, I totally love Charles Barkley on Inside The NBA, which has been one of my favorite shows for years.  He is funnier, in my book, than some professional comedians and his analysis can be spot on.  But with all that said, what was up with his all-time teams?

Charles’ all-time greatest five were Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell. His second group was Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.  Great players all, hard to argue with including any of them.  But then he goes on to state that people that would rate James over Kobe don’t give Kobe and his five rings enough respect. So therefore my question is this:  Where is Earvin “Magic” Johnson?  He’s not among the top ten players?  Really?  

He seems not to be alone. Jason Kidd went with John Stockton, MJ, Scottie Pippen, Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal – and Karl Malone chose Stockton, Oscar, Wilt, LeBron and Pippen as his all-time starting five. 

Give me Magic in there somewhere…and by the way, he has five rings as well.

Boston Strong

The SEVEN
5 November 2013

I.  Fear The Beard(s)

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox on winning their third World Series out of the last ten seasons…after not winning for the previous 86 years…but who needs to bring that up now.  I suspect that had James Harden had any thoughts of getting a trim, they would have gone away last week after Game 6.

II.  Boston Mad Strong

And a special congratulations to a special player, Series MVP David Ortiz, who put on one of the greatest performances in World Series history. His play was such that had St. Louis come back to win the Series, Big Papi should have still been named MVP.  In the midst of the Series someone asked me if some New Yorkers don’t want to give Ortiz his props because he’s on the Red Sox, and the answer is a definite yes.  Big Papi is media friendly, a leader, and a larger-than-life superstar – everything New Yorkers would totally love were he hitting his Bombs in the Bronx.

III.  History Making 

David Ortiz might have been able to do better in today’s New York City mayoral election than Republican Joe Lhota, who according to all of the polling stands to get trounced by the future second Black mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. Okay, Bill will not actually be the second Black mayor of New York, but he will be the first Democrat elected since the first Black mayor, David Dinkins – and his multicultural family looks like New York City.

On the other side of the Hudson River, Cory Booker – who at times during his tenure as mayor of Newark has also seemed larger-than-life when running into burning buildings, etc. – has become the first African-American to represent New Jersey in the Senate, and only the fourth African-American elected to the Senate since  Reconstruction.   My sense is that great things may be in the future for Sen. Booker.

IV.  Go Long

Last week the Philadelphia Eagles’ backup quarterback, Nick Foles, threw an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes against the Oakland Raiders.  Former great Raider cornerbacks Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes would undoubtedly be turning over in their graves were they deceased; as it is, perhaps they should be hitting the gym in case they get a call before Sunday.

V.  Long Season

Two Miami losses in a row threatened to send Heat Nation into a frenzy.  Calm down, guys…it’s a long season, and Miami will be there as the end approaches – but one thing that may give you reason for concern is the fact that EVERYONE – from great teams to horrible teams, and all of those in between – has the Miami Heat game circled on their locker room calendars. The way these teams will be coming at the Heat could make it harder for them to secure the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference – and were they to wind up with the second seed as opposed to the first,  it could pose a problem against teams like Brooklyn or Indiana.

VI.  Little Big Man

In the spring of 2004 a sixth-grader I knew quite well was asked, after making his middle school baseball team, who his favorite athlete was.  In the midst of several Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez answers among his teammates, his answer was Allen Iverson, clearly one of the biggest cultural icons in this country during the past twenty years, in addition to being one of the greatest guards in NBA history. Allen officially retired the other day, and I am only sorry that he did not have an opportunity to make his announcement at the beginning of a season in which he was an active player, and possibly then be the recipient of a Mariano Rivera-like farewell tour.  His career – which was far more than that infamous “practice” press conference – warranted that.

VII.  Going Up In Smoke

Toronto mayor Rob Ford just apologized to the citizens of his city for smoking crack, but does not intend to resign, instead saying that the next election should provide the chance for citizens to determine who should lead Toronto.  Kwame Kilpatrick has got to be turning over in his cell.