Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Derek Jeter Tour Overblown?

When you are rich, people just give you things
We are winding down the Derek Jeter era for the Yankees Major League Baseball world and many are asking the question of whether the Love Tour is necessary.  To me ... no.  While Jeter is a Yankee legend and one of the better players of our time, this is much too much.

First off, the tour itself.  I hate them, unless you are really one of the all-time greats.  I mean GREATS.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar deserved one.  So did Jeter's teammate Mo Rivera.  Chipper Jones?  Not so much.

That isn't to belittle those other players.  Jones and Jeter are sure fire Hall of Famers.  Any player that means a lot to an organization should get some special occasion during the final homestand.  I'm one of those people who understands not only HOFers like Jeter and Jones are important to their teams' fans but gutty guys who won't make it into Cooperstown also can get some love.  Dave Concepcion in Cincinnati?  Or even a Derek Fisher in Los Angeles.  Cedric Maxwell in Boston.  Those guys and many others mean a lot to their franchises too.

Jeter is above those guys and I understand that but is a run of gifts really necessary?  Did the Reds really need to give Jeter framed jerseys of Concepcion and Barry Larkin, the two best shortstops in Cincinnati history?  Or that the Chicago Cubs gave Jeter the number 2 from their ancient hand-operated scoreboard?  Especially when Jeter played about 5 games in Wrigley.

I remember when Kareem Abdul Jabbar did his tour in 1988-1989 and he came to Charlotte.  The Hornets were in their inaugural season and Jabbar was making his first ever trip there ... yet the team gave him a rocking chair.  Welcome to Charlotte!  Sorry we didn't get to know each other better!

Unlike Keith Olbermann, I'm not going to go into Jeter's status among the greatest of the greats.  I know he is transcendent but he isn't Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky or Walter Payton.  I also know he's had a Hall Of Fame career for the biggest sports franchise in our country.  I get ESPN's fawning over the tour (moving game times to televise the Yankees).  I know he's important to the Yankees which means he's supposed to be important to us.  Maybe not as much as Roger Clemens sitting in George Steinbrenner's box, but important.  

Jeter is a pretty pure guy and in an era where we can't even celebrate our greatest players, I can see why people latch onto his legacy.  To me, Clemens, Barry Bonds, Ricky Henderson, Ken Griffey Jr and Tony Gwynn were the best players in my time.  There are others, but that was my wheelhouse.  None of them got victory tours for a variety of reasons (steroids, jerks or broken down at the end of their career).  So I get the need to express your admiration for a clutch player who played "the right way".

This, however, is right after Mo Rivera's victory lap ... which was deserved a bit.  Again, I'm not a fan of these things but if anyone should had one, the greatest reliever in the history of baseball should be one to do so.  But is this going to be a trend?  I mean, Chipper Jones had his in 2012, Rivera in 2013 and Jeter in 2014.  I mean, will David Ortiz get one when he retires?  I mean, he was a huge part of the Red Sox winning three World Series and ending a near century long championship drought.

Let's just have a national conversation about who deserves to have these tours.  I mean, Kobe Bryant will retire soon and I don't want to know what the fans in Denver will have to give to him.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hurricane Hugo Hit 25 Years Ago Today. How Sports Have Changed

Hurricane Hugo hit Charlotte overnight on September 22, 1989.  I was a 14 year old junior high football player when that happened and it was quite the event.  No power or school for nearly two weeks.  Gas lines, fallen trees, showers by candle light.  Ahhhh.

I'm a sports nerd, so I look at things in a different way when it comes to timelines.  How did our sports look back in September 1989?


These franchises didn't exist at that time:  Miami Marlins, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Bobcats.

The Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves were set to debut the following month.


Since then the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans.  The Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals.  The Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, but then got a new Browns team back.  The Houston Oilers are now the Tennessee Titans.  The Los Angeles Raiders are now in Oakland and the Los Angeles Rams are in St. Louis.  The New Jersey Nets now reside in Brooklyn.  Seattle Super Sonics are now Oklahoma City Thunder.  In the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets became the Arizona Coyotes, Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars, Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes.

Since then, we also had the Vancouver Grizzlies born then move to Memphis.  The Atlanta Thrashers were born and moved to Winnipeg to become the new Jets.


The Washington Bullets became the Wizards.  The New Orleans Hornets are now the Pelicans. The California Angels changed to the Anaheim Angels and then the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  The Phoenix Coyotes became the Arizona Coyotes.

The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans ... and then changed their name to the Pelicans, which the Charlotte Bobcats then changed to the Hornets.

That doesn't even take into account the Florida Marlins turning into the Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Devil Rays into the Tampa Bay Rays, Anaheim Mighty Ducks into just the Ducks,


In the NFL, we had two conferences with the East, Central and West divisions.  The MLB had just the East and West in each league -- no interleague play or wildcards -- with the division winners facing off in the LCS.  The NBA had just four divisions (Atlantic, Central, Midwest, Pacific).  So did the NHL, but they were the Adams, Patrick, Norris and Smythe divisions.

The Houston Astros have moved from the NL to the AL.  The Milwaukee Brewers moved from the AL to the NL.  The Seattle Seahawks moved from the NFC to the AFC.


*Only 7 of the 30 MLB stadiums were around then.  The Blue Jays' SkyDome was brand spanking new.

*Only 8 of the 31 NFL stadiums were around then.  The newest stadium at that time was Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.

*Only 5 of the 30 NHL arenas were around then, including classics like Madison Square Garden and Joe Louis Arena.

*Only 4 of the 29 NBA arenas were around.  Oracle Arena and Sleep Train Arena (formerly Oakland Arena and ARCO Arena) are set to be replaced.  The other two?  Bradley Center and Madison Square Garden.

Remember all the multipurpose stadiums?  Then the Braves and Falcons, Reds and Bengals, Angels and Rams, Indians and Browns, Mariners and Seahawks, Giants and 49ers, Astros and Oilers, Pirates and Steelers, Phillies and Eagles, Padres and Chargers and Twins and Vikings all shared stadiums.

Now only the Athletics and Raiders share a stadium.


The NBA was on CBS.  The NFL had their AFC games on NBC, the NFC games on CBS, Monday Night Football on ABC and Sunday Night football on ESPN.  MLB was on ABC and NBC.


This would've been a great fantasy football team in 1989:

QB-Jim Everett (Rams)
RB-Christian Okoye (Chiefs)
RB-Barry Sanders (Lions)
WR-Jerry Rice (49ers)
WR-Sterling Sharpe (Packers)
TE-Keith Jackson (Eagles)
K-Mike Cofer (49ers)


* Michael Jordan hadn't won a championship yet

Yeah! The Citrus Bowl Is Back!

I've been for the college bowls going back to typical bowl names.  I don't mind the sponsorships, but I hate when the sponsors become the bowl names.

Earlier this year, the Peach Bowl returned after a run where it became the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  Sure, it was a money motivated decision since the Peach Bowl wanted to be part of the college football playoff (which requires bowls to not have sponsorship-only names).  Now my other big offender, the Capital One Bowl, will go back to being named the Citrus Bowl.

Capital One has been the sponsor of the Citrus Bowl since 2001, with the name changing to the Capital One Bowl from 2003 to 2014.  I didn't like that at all.  Well, Capital One has replaced Discover as the sponsor of the Orange Bowl and, in turn, gives life to the Citrus Bowl.

Buffalo Wild Wings will be the sponsor of the Citrus Bowl, a year after leaving the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe (that game will now be the Cactus Bowl).

We got rid of the Capital One Bowl for the Citrus Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Bowl for the Peach Bowl and the John Hancock Bowl for the Sun Bowl.  All isn't great, though.  The Gator Bowl is shamefully now named the TaxSlayer Bowl.  Disgusting.

All we need is the Outback Bowl to go back to the Hall Of Fame Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl back to the Sunshine Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl back to the Humanitarian Bowl and the GoDaddy Bowl back to Alabama Bowl.