Mr. November

The SEVEN
13 February 2014

I.  Captain’s Last Voyage

Although some may have seen it coming, there was still a level of surprise for many people when, almost as if taking his cue from Mariano Rivera in 2013, Derek Jeter announced that the forthcoming 2014 season will be his last.  We all know no one plays forever, but if anyone would, you would have almost expected it to be Jeter.  

Like Rivera – and, for that matter, Kobe Bryant, now signed for two more seasons – I am certain Jeter did not want to have his career end on the disabled list.  Like Rivera’s, his final season/farewell tour will be filled with heartfelt tributes from friends and foes – as well as uncertainty as to whether there will be one last Yankee postseason appearance to close out his career.  And like Rivera again, the question in 2018 and 2019 will be whether the Hall of Fame voters will elect one of these two men with the highest first ballot percentage of all time.

Or, on the other hand, it may be illuminating to see which of those clowns won’t vote for them.

II.  Welcome In??

I hope the little incident with the “fan” last week at Texas Tech does not hurt Marcus Smart’s chances of enjoying an NBA career.  When you make a mistake, and a very public mistake at that, you are in jeopardy of losing your chances of a promotion – especially if the promotion is to the world of professional sports and you are a young African-American man.  And naturally comparisons were made to the Palace incident with Metta World Peace, then known by his government name of Ron Artest.

Mistakes notwithstanding, what is true with Metta, Marcus, and any other such case is that fans who feel their admission price enables them to do and say anything to the players on the court/field as if they are animals in the zoo are the ones who are the most at fault. Unfortunately, as that video clip was continually played, this fact seemed to get lost. 

III.  No Room At The Inn?

Time will tell whether Michael Sam’s revelation last week will hurt his chances of stepping onto an NFL field.  And this week, after having watched “42” again, I’m thinking that whether he does or not may be for reasons similar to those of 60-some years ago. 

Don’t get me wrong; I am by no means comparing Sam to Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and the other pioneers. In fact, the comparison is more with the MLB owners of the ’40s and ’50s.  Crusaders for justice most were not, to say the least, but when they realized that these Negro League players would be responsible for wins on the board, fans in the seats, and bucks in their pockets, they found a way to sign them. Conversely, if the present-day NFL owners and GMs don’t feel Sam is a real difference-maker on the field, many may shy away from him.

IV.  What’s My Name?

Judging by their 2013 record, the football team in Washington might be a candidate for Michael Sam’s services…but if they choose to usher in a new era, so to speak, by picking Sam, hopefully they will do so with a new name.

Memo to some in the No Figuring-it-out League:  it doesn’t matter what you think about “Redskins” not being offensive!  If Native Americans have an issue with it, then it’s offensive.

V.  Offensive Foul

I wonder what would have happened had I called, at a public forum in the presence of my congressman, for the execution of President George W. Bush?  I don’t think it out of the question that I may have been visited for a little conversation by the FBI or Secret Service.  Interestingly enough, that type of thing just occurred; a citizen at a recent event attended by Oklahoma congressman Jim Bridenstine called for the execution of President Obama as an “enemy combatant.”

For future reference for any Tea Party or Republican officeholders, the correct response would be to show the person the error of their ways – not to put forth “facts” that seemed to agree with the person, as Rep. Bridenstine did.  Only after a video surfaced on YouTube did he ineffectively try to walk it back.  To Sen. John McCain’s credit, he immediately shot down some crazy lady talking nonsense at his rally, interrupting her by saying that Obama was a good man with whom he had disagreements with on policy. 

VI.  Wrestlemania Instead

To anyone seeking to promote a George Zimmerman match, I would venture to say that I speak for millions of people in saying that we don’t want to see Zimmerman box, fight, or wrestle anyone, profiting therefore from the killing of Trayvon Martin.  The justice he deserves is in the court, not the ring.

VII.  What Time Is It?

I really hate mid-season coach firings.  That said, after a loss to the Kings, will Mike Woodson be the next coaching casualty by the time you read this? 

Super Short Surprises

The SEVEN
2/2/2014

Clearly there are a lot of people that would profess not to be surprised at either the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks being in the Super Bowl. But with that said, here are a few surprising people, places and things on and off the fields of play…

I. Lance Stephenson

Lance, the all-time leading scorer in New York City high school basketball, has certainly come a long way from the choke-sign flashing neophyte – to use a Clyde Frazier term – to being a major cog in the Pacers quest to compile the best record in the NBA this year, and earn home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

II. Atlanta Hawks

Most people thought they would be done, even in the weak Eastern Conference, after the season-ending injury to Al Horford…but they have fought on, currently in the third seed position in the East.

III. Chicago Bulls

There are two reasons why people expected the Bulls to be done: the injury, yet again, to Derrick Rose, and the trade of Luol Deng. But the Bulls, led by Joakim Noah, remain at .500.

IV. Phoenix Suns

The Suns are one of the main teams people thought were “tanking,” or intentionally blowing off this season in order to get a great draft pick in June, possibly an underclassman likely to declare for the draft like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Funny, they forgot to tell Goran Dragic and the Suns’ players.

V. Toronto Raptors

Maybe it’s in part because they play north of the border that few people realized how good DeMar DeRozan and Co. are. Well, it’s not like they are title contenders as opposed to pretenders, but they are the likely Atlantic Division champs come April.

VI. Bridgegate

Hardly anyone would have believed that the little “traffic study” would have morphed into this situation which may very lead to the end of the political career of Chris Christie.

VII. 5-0

As I write this, the Seahawks are up 5-0 after the first-play safety and subsequent field goal. I was fully expecting to be rooting for the Broncos, in which case I would be pretty mad already. I planned on rooting for the Broncos because I have family in Denver (and none in Seattle), and kinda want this remarkable season of Peyton Manning to be “validated” by a Super Bowl win.

But after the media and some within social media have castigated Richard Sherman for no reason…except for the obvious…I would not at all mind seeing Seattle win their first Super Bowl, with Sherman getting the game-saving or winning interception.