FREE Sports Comic Book: Favorite Non-Athletes

Rudolf Wanderone Minnesota FatsMy new FREE sports comic book Favorite Non-Athletes reveals a different side of sports to inquisitive fans.

If you’re as rabid a sports fan as me, you’ll agree that sports comprise the best form of entertainment.

NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and FIFA games showcase some of the greatest athletes on the planet.

But, sports entertainment is more than just watching phenomenal athletes ply their craft on the ice, field, diamond, hardwood or pitch.

What provide the extra sizzle in sports are countless non-athletes that make the games possible and entertaining. They enrich the overall fan experience.

A number of non-athletic performers and icons deliver invaluable appeal and bring the entertainment aspects of sports to greater levels.

I highlight them in my FREE book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports.

FREE MIKE sports comic bookSome picks are as obvious as the bowtie I’m wearing. And, others on this list may surprise you.

None are actual athletes. A few aren’t even real at all. But, all of them show up at NFL, MLB, NCAA and NHL games.

You will adore one of the most unlikely sportscasters on television.

You will envy the driver of the baddest maintenance vehicle in sports.

You will wince at the thought of a big mouthed bloviator.

You will probably scowl at the refs I feature. But, you’ll immediately recognize that games don’t get played without them.

You’ll recite familiar lines from a series of iconic movies starring a fictional fighting sports character.

You might proudly don the ridiculous foam hats worn by the loyal fans of this historic NFL franchise.

You will certainly agree that this guy’s no athlete, but he was an incredible showman in a non-sport sport now seen regularly on ESPN.

You will smile at the awe inspiring godlike figure in an imposing mural, perhaps the most recognized image in NCAA college football.

You’ll cheer madly over packaged meat products racing awkwardly around a baseball field.

Finally, you’ll sing along with a likeable large lady who needs to belt out a few bars, so fans in the stands can finally go home.

Enjoy my FREE book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports!

Email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com if you have a few choices that you think should have made it into this book.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

Friday Sports Funny: Visitors Never Win at CHS

MIKE Sports Comic: Visitors Never Win at Central HighToday’s Friday Sports Funny sheds new light about visiting teams playing in supposed “hostile environments.”

Sports fans may recognize how tough it can be for their favorite teams to win away games at places like Duke’s Cameron Indoor Arena or LSU’s Death Valley Stadium.

However, just consider how impossible it would be for a visiting swim team to win a meet at Central High School’s pool.

It just won’t happen!

This may be an exaggerated view of an opponent’s home field advantage.

During away games and meets, players think the odds of winning are purposely stacked against them.

Well, at Central High, they certainly are. The barriers placed in the visitors’ swimming lanes make it impossible for anyone, even dolphin, to successful navigate in order to compete.

This comic actually serves as my #20 choice in my sports comic book aptly named Favorite Sports Comics.

That’s because it perfectly captures how visiting teams feel when competing against their fiercest opponent – on their rival’s basketball court, football field, baseball diamond or, in this case, in their swimming pool.

Favorite Sports ComicsJust click on the yellow cover above to safely download the book for only 99 cents from Amazon.

I’m certain NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, FIFA and NCAA teams look upon their away games this way, too. They just need to find ways to work past the fictional buoys and avoid those metaphoric circling sharks!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: 1980 Miracle on Ice Hockey Upset Victory

1980 Winter Olympic USA Hockey victory

1980 USA Hockey Miracle on Ice

Hockey season may have officially ended last month with the Chicago Black Hawks’ victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

However, hockey news concerning the USA Olympic Team’s historic 1980 Miracle on Ice upset victory is now making headlines – again!

Yesterday, ESPN’s Business Reporter Darren Rovell reported that goalie Jim Craig from the legendary USA Hockey Team announced he was offering his personal sports memorabilia from the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, NY for a whopping $5.7 million.

Craig’s 19 item collection includes the mask, jersey and stick from the USA team’s gold medal win at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

With that news, I thought that remembering the team’s historic upset victory would be a great #TBT sports blog.

So, here ya go…

The 1970s was a decade comprised of war protests, a Presidential scandal, and a troubling economy.

In the midst of those uncertain and depressing times, Americans were nervous and ripe for a miracle to lift their spirits.

February 22, 1980 marked a national day of pride as it brought forth a miracle in the highly competitive arena of international sports.

Known as the Miracle on Ice, an unlikely hockey victory took place at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY and lifted America out of its funk. The event birthed one of the most amazing upsets in the history of sports.

Team USA’s stunning upset over the heavily favored Soviet Union National Hockey Team still stands as one of the greatest victories in the history of team sports.

This USA win remains an unforgettable highlight of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.

The semi-final match-up between the USA and the USSR not only paired two world super powers facing off against each other.

The game also featured a team of much younger American collegiate stars skating against older, better skilled and highly experienced Russians. These Russian players had been playing hockey professionally in Europe for many years.

The legendary Soviets dominated international hockey. They captured gold medals at the four previous Winter Olympics and held claim to 14 of the past 17 World Hockey Championships.

The Soviets were major favorites. The scrappy Americans’ success in the semi-final would require a divine act to win.

Surprisingly, the Americans stayed close during the first two periods. Then, midway through the third period, the youthful Americans shocked the favored Russians. Captain Mike Eruzione found the back of the net past the Russian goalie and gave the USA a 4 – 3 lead.

The Russians found themselves trailing in the third period of this hockey game. They were unable to make up the American lead against a little known USA goalie named Jim Craig. Craig successfully turned back 30 shots that day against the otherwise superior Russians.

With the Americans clinging to a one goal lead, the game clock slowly wound down. As the final buzzer sounded, legendary NBC sportscaster Al Michaels shouted, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

In the case of the 1980 USA Hockey Team, the unbelievable happened in Lake Placid, NY.

It became known as one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports.

This uplifting and divine sports event will be forever remembered as the Miracle on Ice.

MIKE  on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

2 Cent Tuesday: MLS Signs More Aging Euro Stars

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogFormer European stars who’ve recently signed with MLS clubs will discover that his stats are impressive.

They’ll learn that from time immemorial, his record remains unblemished.

And, quickly, they’ll realize that he’s posted an unrivaled unbeaten record in every sport, not just soccer.

Though many athletes in all sports have risen to challenge him, no one has ever emerged victoriously.

Father Time stands undefeated, even in Major League Soccer, and this old guy shows no sign of relinquishing his perfect record.

Incredulously, many have tried to defeat him, but none have ever prevailed.

Father Time remains resolute. He’s strengthened by the knowledge that no one will ever beat him.

Now, it appears as if a slew of legendary European footballers are poised to take on the MAN himself while plying their trade in what has become for European footballers the green room to soccer retirement known as the MLS.

Yesterday, the Montreal Impact signed 37 year-old Didier Drogba in hopes of invigorating its new MLS franchise.

But, the four-time English Premier League champion and two-time African footballer of the year isn’t the only Euro grey beard to cash in on late career gold in America in the surging MLS.

New MLS franchises spent big bucks in attracting former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka in Orlando and most recently a trio of stars, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Frank Lampard, in New York City.

In addition, aging Serie A, La Liga and EPL note worthies Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Robbie Keane revived their twilight careers in the MLS in the same way legends Pele, George Best and Franz Beckenbauer once did in the old North American Soccer League.

soccer star thierry henry

FIFA footballer Thierry Henry

But, will MLS fans witness their former excellence, see their goal scoring abilities and appreciate their athleticism and skill?

The simple answer is no.

Unfortunately, only scant glimpses of what these icons once were are what MLS fans can expect. Case in point was former Spice Boy David Beckham although he did serve his purpose by leading the LA Galaxy to MLS glory.

The Beckhams Posh Spice and Spice BoyAs their illustrious careers dim, Drogba, Pirlo, Villa and others insist on trudging on in a sport that they once so easily dominated.

What are these aging athletes thinking when they go toe-to-toe with the ageless man named Father Time?

Are their egos that big? Has overweening pride clouded their thoughts? Did their own limelight disorient them?

Too many pro athletes lose grasp of reality and continue to play the same sport after enjoying long, injury free, successful careers.

Many sports fans claim that their heroes’ egos always need to be tested. They argue that these stars possess an overwhelming unction to compete against the best – even if he’s Father Time himself.

That’s why they do what they do even when their actions seem confusing or foolhardy.

Tomfoolery beckons many to continue. It constantly woos them into believing they will be the first to defeat Father Time.

They may be confused to believe the endless adulation from fans as well as the poppycock of their own purported immortality in sports.

But, they’re even more foolish to think they can prevail against undefeated and universally unchallenged Father Time.

Sadly, MLS fans will soon discover this reality, too.

And, that’s my 2 cents!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Soccer Footer

Big Unit Randy Johnson Towers Over MLB HOF Inductees

MLB pitcher Big Unit Randy Johnson

The Big Unit Randy Johnson

With four legends inducted yesterday into the 2015 class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, one stood significantly taller.

In the same way he physically towered over hitters from the pitcher’s mound during his storied career, the imposing frame of former MLB hurler Randy Johnson mounted over fellow inductees Pedro Martinez, John Schmolz and Craig Biggio during the ceremony.

However, the stoic and once easily agitated Johnson with the bad mullet haircut that we knew from his playing days also stood much taller in a much different way.

The 6’10 lefty who received 97.3 percent of the vote comported himself differently during the Hall of Fame weekend.

Gone were his glower and guarded demeanor much to the delight of the 45,000 fans in attendance and the scores watching at home on the MLB Network.

Though not as long-winded as John Smoltz, entertaining as Pedro Martinez or tepid as Craig Biggio, Johnson exhibited a never before seen public display of gratefulness and humor when delivering his acceptance speech.

A softer, more approachable Johnson stood in stark contrast to the surly ace which dominated hitters during his playing days and personified the Big Unit nickname given him by teammate Tim Raines during his rookie season in Montreal.

During his 21-year career with the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Giants and Expos, Johnson’s physical size and on field performance towered above all other Major League Baseball pitchers.

MLB hitters facing Johnson feared his blazing 100 mph fastball and hard, wicked slider. Both pitches were instrumental in his leading the majors in strikeouts nine times and overall ERA four times.

A ten-time MLB all-star and five-time Cy Young Award winner, the dominating lefty retired in 2009 as one of the most decorated pitchers in baseball history. In addition to winning a World Series in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Big Unit was named Co-MVP of the series with his Diamondbacks’ teammate Curt Schilling.

Other significant career accomplishments include the perfect game Johnson tossed on May 18, 2004 against the Atlanta Braves. He also claims a no-hitter he pitched on June 2, 1990 versus the Detroit Tigers.

Johnson’s fabulous pitching career became even more impressive. This non-performance enhanced fire-baller dominated from the mound during the infamous Major League Baseball era which was sullied by widespread steroid usage.

This big time baseball talent finished his pitching days with 308 career wins. He ranks second in career strikeouts with 4,875 and holds the record for baseball’s best ever strikeouts per innings pitched.

Cooperstown voters didn’t come close to whiffing when electing Randy Johnson as a first time Hall of Fame ballot selection in 2015.

Yesterday in Cooperstown the Big Unit was a really big hit!

MIKE on Sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: The Runner Was Caught Napping

MIKE Sports Comic: Caught the Runner NappingToday’s Friday Sports Funny focuses on the old baseball cliche “the runner was caught napping.”

I always enjoy bringing old, but easily recognized sports cliches to life in clever comics. And, today is no different.

One of our illustrators nailed this comic where you see a serious umpire, an unemotional second baseman and a totally innocent runner who just got caught napping – literally!

The MLB Network would more than likely broadcast this scenario over and over again – if it ever really occurred.

That’s because one of Major League Baseball’s most colorful clichés is to say that a careless base runner was caught napping after he’s picked off base by an alert pitcher or catcher.

In this comic, the runner is literally napping.

He’s peacefully sleeping beneath his bright red blanket while holding a teddy bear and his beloved bat.

This is an easy call for the umpire, and a legitimate reason for the sleeping player’s coach to be upset at the napping runner.

MLB managers would cringe if snoozing or otherwise daydreaming base runners on their baseball team were caught napping.

If you enjoyed this  “caught the runner napping” comic, then write me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com and suggest a future Friday Sports Funny.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Improbable Upsets in Sports

Improbable Upsets in SportsToday’s #TBT sports blog recounts three of the most improbable upset victories in sports history.

Popular stories about improbable, upset victories got their start centuries ago when a physically over matched shepherd boy named David squared off as an unlikely combatant on the battlefield against the feared, mighty Philistine warrior Goliath.

Ever since David’s fateful encounter, people have rooted for implausible winners and yearned to see improbable upsets in sports happen.

Since that defining day in Israel, sports fans have also witnessed that inferior athleticism, undersized lineups or lack of star players have never daunted highly purposed teams, much like young David, with eyes fixed on making sports history.

In spite of incredible odds stacked against them, teams of destiny have overcome immense obstacles, thus capturing the hearts of sports fans for generations. And, this #TBT sports blog chronicles three such upsets.

That’s why this chapter on improbable upsets is a fantastic way to kick off my recently updated FREE sports comic book Best About Sports.

Best About Sports In the book’s chapter, I feature three teams of destiny. Certainly, there are many more. But, these squads are my favorites. They won championships when no one gave them a chance. And, they etched their place in sports lore for their courageous, yet unexpected success.

Here are my three favorite improbable upsets in sports.

1969 New York Jets Super Bowl III Victory – Broadway’s neon lights were never brighter than when New York Jets QB Joe Namath stole the spotlight during the team’s epic 1968 – 69 NFL season.

Legendary QB Broadway Joe Namath talked big, played bigger and lived life even larger. He brazenly “guaranteed” a Super Bowl victory for his underdog New York Jets team against the vaunted and heavily favored Baltimore Colts.

Hall of Fame QB Joe NamathAmazingly, Namath led his highly motivated team to a stunning Super Bowl III upset victory in 1969 over the NFL’s best team, the Baltimore Colts, in Miami’s famed Orange Bowl.

The upset shocked football fans because many believed that no team from the former AFL could ever compete against any team from the NFL – until the Jets pulled off their improbable upset.

1985 Villanova NCAA Title Game – College basketball fans have called it the closest a team has ever come to playing a perfect game.

MIKE sports comic - Villanova 1985 NCAA ChampsOthers have named it the greatest upset victory in the history of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Games.

I’ve chosen that classic 1985 Villanova Wildcats improbable 66 – 64 NCAA title game victory over the deep and talented Georgetown Hoyas because the iconic win captivated college basketball fans.

At #8, Villanova remains the lowest ranked seed to ever win an NCAA title. The team bested #9 seed Dayton Flyers, #7 seed UNC Tar Heels, #5 seed Memphis State Tigers and #2 seed Michigan Wolverines to advance to the Big Dance’s biggest party.

On that special Monday night on April 1, 1985, Villanova played brilliantly against the previous year’s defending NCAA champion and dominating #1 overall seed in the field, allowing the Wildcats to come away with an improbable victory.

Miracle on Ice in 1980 Winter Olympics – February 22, 1980 marked a national day of pride for Americans as it brought forth a miracle in the highly competitive arena of international sports.

1980 Winter Olympic USA Hockey victory

1980 USA Hockey Miracle on Ice

Known as the Miracle on Ice, an unlikely hockey victory took place at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY and lifted America out of its funk. The event birthed one of the most amazing upsets in sports.

Team USA’s stunning upset over the heavily favored Soviet Union National Hockey Team still stands as one of the greatest victories in the history of team sports. This USA win also remains an unforgettable highlight of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.

Improbable upsets – there are not too many things better in sports than highly unlikely victories by underdog teams.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: Green Bay Packers’ NFL Revenue Sharing Haul

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogIn today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog, allow me to suggest that the Green Bay Packers’ financial books were not the only thing opened yesterday.

The mouths of countless football fans were also opened extremely wide after the Pack announced its impressive revenues from the past NFL season.

As the only publicly owned NFL franchise, the Green Bay Packers revealed an eye-popping, jaw dropping $376 million in total revenues to its 360,760 shareholders.

The organization’s locally owned franchise haul amounted to $149.3 million.

Plus, another bounteous $226.4 million in income poured in from nationally shared revenue derived from the NFL’s lucrative television contracts.

“Driven by annually increasing television revenues, the NFL proves that it’s extremely healthy financially,” says ESPN Business Analyst Darren Rovell.

The league’s massive $7.2 billion distribution to its 32 franchise members has more than doubled in the past five years when its television revenue amounted to approximately $3 billion at the time.

But, the positive financial gains stand in stark contrast to the league’s negative public perception losses it has endured of late.

With the well publicized Ray Rice elevator incident, surging domestic violence cases involving several players and an ugly concussion history with seemingly no resolution in sight, the NFL has seen its reputation wane while the league’s naysayers have grown.

However, my two cents is that these apparent detriments have not slowed the money making machine known as the NFL from rolling in the dough. And, the gravy train is extremely evident in Wisconsin.

The Packers’ loyal Cheesehead fans have witnessed the club re-investing in the team, the stadium and in the community immediately adjacent to the team’s home stadium – Lambeau Field.

CheeseheadsThe franchise inked All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers to a five-year $110 million deal and signed several free agents – notably WR Randall Cobb, CB Davon House, NT B.J. Ragi and CB Tramon Williams – this off-season to solid contracts.

Plus, the club both improved and expanded by 7,000 seats its iconic home field. Also, with its increased team income, Green Bay acquired 65 acres of property adjacent to Lambeau Field and plans to develop it into a Titletown themed sports and entertainment complex.

It’s good to see that Green Bay’s Cheeseheads are smiling as their hometown franchise wisely invests to reward its fans with a better product and a more inviting game day experience.

However, in my opinion that’s still not enough. More prudent community projects and initiatives that create jobs and improve education on societal ills like domestic violence need to play an increased role in how fat NFL franchises spend their revenue share.

Here’s hoping that other NFL franchises open their wallets wide like the Pack and re-invest annual sharing windfalls locally, too.

May NFL owners give back to their communities with the same level of generosity that they have reaped from league television contracts.

Then, our nation’s most successful professional sports league will witness its lost luster on a much quicker path to being restored.

And, that’s my two cents.

MIKE on sports!

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Spitting in Baseball: A Major League Problem

Spitting in Baseball

Spitting in Baseball

Spitting in baseball is a major league problem.

While watching last night’s game on ESPN, the disgusting discharges emanating from eminent National and American Major League Baseball players seriously sullied my spectating enjoyment.

I know all of America agrees with me that baseball players, coaches and managers spit way too much.

The only thing more annoying than Tim McCarver’s minutiae or Joe Buck’s babbling about boring baseball statistics is seeing the sunflower seeds and spittle splattering the baseball diamonds of our country’s beautiful ballparks.

Major League Baseball needs to establish a No Spitting Policy immediately.

Look at other sports.

You don’t see Lebron launching a loogie into the lane before attempting a free throw in an NBA game or Michael Phelps flinging phlegm into the pool before diving off the starting block in a big swim race.

Few baseball fans would argue that spitting in baseball belongs in my FREE sports comic book Worst About Sports where I chronicle those things I find worst about sports.

Worst About SportsJust click on the yellow cover above and safely download the FREE sports comic book Worst About Sports.

Before losing its faithful baseball fan base to saliva-free sports, the Commissioner needs to halt the hurling of hawkers by expunging expectorating from baseball.

MIKE on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: There’s No “I” in Team

 MIKE Sports Comic: No "I" in TeamToday’s Friday Sports Funny – there’s no “I” in team – brings to life one of my favorite sports cliches.

The well known cliche may be old and overused. However, if you’ve ever played team sports, you’re certainly aware of the timeless coaching cliché – there’s no “I” in team.

And, if you embrace teamwork and understand selflessness on the field, court, rink, pitch or diamond, then you’ve probably recited the cliche a million times while playing or talking about sports.

This adage applies to team sports at all levels – from youth leagues all the way up to the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and FIFA levels.

In this comic, the hockey coach pointing to the chalkboard reminds his players that hockey is a team sport and that selfishness will always need to take a back seat for the good of the squad.

However, the well meaning coach also appears a bit confused.

He looks around the entire locker room to discover that the team’s name has been intentionally mis-spelled.

The overt mis-spelling underscores the belief that there’s no “I” anywhere in team – as well as in the spelling of the Cheefs name, too!

Write me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com and share with me one of your favorite sports cliches.

You never know. It just might make it into a future Friday Sports Funny blog.

I’ll give you credit, too, because it’ll be a collaborative effort, and I’ve always been a firm believer that there’s no “I” in team.

Straight talk. No static.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: Hockey Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Inspiration from ESPY Awards

MIKE on sports podcastInspiration for today’s #TBT sports blog came from watching last night’s 2015 ESPY Awards on ABC.

Sure, I enjoyed watching the show’s intro that blended awesome music with the top sports highlights from the previous year.

I held back tears absorbing the true greatness Devon Still embodied in his emotional speech.

And, I loved listening to the honored athletes humbly acknowledge those who impacted their lives.

But, for a moment, time stood still for me.

The beginning of the show brought me back to simpler, purer, unscripted, less rehearsed and more dignified days that I remember and love about sports.

However, on the flip side, as the show progressed, last night’s ESPYs birthed a bunch of #TBT thoughts that immediately popped into my head and have grappled with until I became properly inspired to pen this blog.

My random musings may be mine, but I’m certain many sports fans share similar throw back thoughts. These recollections remind us that times change, people change and the proverbial envelop gets pushed even farther.

Here are 10 throw back thoughts that warrant inclusion in today’s #TBT post.

1. While watching the excellent ESPY intro highlight reel, my first throw back thought recalled home run hitting, touch down making, goal scoring and three point shot making celebrations. They were never choreographed years ago, but always extemporaneous and genuine. Let’s get rid of the hand shakes, bat flips and TD dances.

2. There’s now too much media focus on only a few stars. I liked it better when LeBron James was not as ubiquitous and when ESPN and other sports networks gave more athletes in other sports their due. Give the “King” a rest.

3. Before Peyton Manning, buttoned up athletes acting more like CEO’s than jocks didn’t exist. They were a whole lot more transparent and didn’t carefully script their acceptance speech like a politician.

4. NFL linebackers weren’t as physically chiseled as Serena Williams.

5. Twitter wasn’t invented yet, so fans weren’t forced to decipher 140 characters of unbridled text shared over this, at times, social media cesspool.

6. Shifty carnival barkers would be sporting the same ridiculous suit Odell Beckham, Jr. wore so proudly last night.

7. Sockless must be the newest trend. Not long ago, awards shows personified style and respect. My guess is that all award ceremony presenters and recipients back in the day wore socks.

8. Few would argue with my next throw back thought. If football fans wanted to know how Rob Gronkowski acted and spoke as a 13 year-old, they just needed to tune into last night’s show. I think it’s time for the Gronk to grow up.

9. An apology meant you were truly sorry. It was never manufactured into a silly, sophomoric skit starring a truly unapologetic athlete named Alex Rodriguez.

10. Courage awards were presented without controversy to worthy recipients who overcame daunting, life altering obstacles. They were not socially engineered and given to a confused male Olympic decathlete who chose to become a woman now known as Caitlyn Jenner to boost ratings.

Years ago I learned that history teaches us that history always repeats itself. With that throw back thought, maybe next year’s ESPY Awards will transport viewers back to the excellent show it once was.

Curious if you had similar thoughts while watching last night’s ESPY Awards. If so, email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com.

MIKE on sports!

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Tonight’s ESPY Awards Kicks Off Caitlyn Jenner Media Circus

ESPN ESPY AwardsThe media circus officially kicks off tonight at 8pm EST on ABC.

NBC Sports’ Bob Costas has referred to it as crass exploitation and a tabloid play, and I couldn’t agree more.

While attempting to become our country’s moral compass, ESPN will profiteer on prurient news having absolutely nothing to do with sports.

ESPN fans have already weighed in by employing terms like embarrassing, utter travesty and a sick joke to describe how they feel.

However, ESPN’s inexplicable decision is certain to boost its underwhelming 2014 ESPY results of only 2.2 million viewers.

The sports media giant will present the sports world’s most prestigious individual honor, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, to a person who simply does not deserve it.

When the media company should have stayed at least a pole vault length away from news surrounding Bruce Jenner’s transition to womanhood, the sports media giant dove into the conversation head first.

Yes, the polarizing news about Bruce Jenner, as in the former Olympic hero and world record holding decathlete, has spawned passionate debate.

From the front of a 1977 Wheaties cereal box to the 2015 cover of Vanity Fair Magazine, the 1976 gold medal winning Olympian shockingly transformed before our eyes.

Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn Jenner, eschewed his once chiseled physique for cleavage, high heels and pouting lips.

The 65 year-old man, whom respected journalist Diane Sawyer interviewed in April of this year, has become a woman – literally.

Following ten hours of plastic surgery, a female version of the old Bruce Jenner emerged a few months ago. His – correction – her story has dominated news across all traditional and new media outlets since Vanity Fair published the first ever transgendered debutante on its cover.

Unlike the purported millions of people from around the world, who according to Jenner, displayed an overwhelming outpouring of support for his journey, I just don’t get it.

For starters, I cannot comprehend why a person would want to change sexes. What motivates someone to do that? What circumstances or relationships in an individual’s life prompt him or her to make such an outrageous, life-changing decision?

But, even if a person chooses to become more at home in the body of the opposite sex, how does that qualify to become an Arthur Ashe Award recipient? It doesn’t!

Sadly, it only undermines the extraordinary value and integrity of ESPN’s top annual honor. Jenner and his estranged Kardashian clan have always been about themselves and really have never given back to society for the wealth they amassed from their wildly popular, melodramatic reality television series that offers no redeeming societal value.

Secondly, why would ESPN opt to get embroiled in controversy by awarding Jenner with its prestigious Arthur Ashe Award for Courage? My only conclusion involves ratings and the opportunity to charge higher fees to advertisers.

ESPN made a very poor decision.

The troubled Jenner needs mature counseling, sensible life coaching and genuine, unconditional love from caring family and friends not named Kardashian. The last thing Jenner needed was a sex change.

Over the past year, a several athletes unwittingly emerged as worthy candidates to receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

Specifically, now deceased college basketball player Lauren Hill, who lost a valiant struggle to brain tumor, and Cincinnati Bengals DT Devon Still and his daughter Leah, who battled pediatric cancer together, were infinitely more worthy and should have been chosen over Jenner.

Without doubt, both courageous candidates proved just how much more deserving they were than the troubled Jenner. By the way, I wish the new Caitlyn Jenner no ill will in her new complicated existence.

Unfortunately, ESPN chose to overlook those who have struggled with life threatening illnesses in favor of a person who inexplicably elected to change sexes. And, that is unconscionable.

Foolishly ESPN’s decision involved money. The media company passed over both Hill and the Stills for one simple reason – ratings.

Here’s hoping the sports watching public tunes out tonight’s ESPY Awards and let’s ESPN know to stick to covering sports and not to establishing itself as our nation’s moral compass while profiteering from trending news.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog: Dez Bryant & Diva NFL WRs

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogDez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys proves once again that no other position in professional sports produces more me-first, egotistical personalities than the NFL wide receiver.

Bryant gave Cowboy Nation an ultimatum that should he not receive a max contract by tomorrow afternoon, he will miss training camp and NFL games.

He tweeted that Jerry Jones needs to dig deeper into his wallet and pay the self-centered Bryant what he thinks he deserves.

Seems as if we’ve heard this tiresome selfish scenario before involving fleet footed and / or sure handed NFL receivers.

That’s why running a sub 4.4 second 40-yard dash directly into today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog is none other than the overall category of wide-mouthed wide-outs I call diva wide receivers!

Their tantalizing talent, elusiveness in the open field, raw athleticism and ability to catch the ball in traffic in a variety of ways make these NFL players worthy of ESPN headlines they receive.

However, what NFL fans cannot stand is the boorish behavior, petty pouting, childish on-field antics and tiresome off-field self-promotion of these celebrated gridiron divas.

They always think they’re open – whether in zone coverage, man-to-man defense, cover 2, in a phone booth, under a mattress or locked in a bank vault.

These narcissistic split ends just can’t shun the spotlight.

Retired wide receiver divas Chris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson not only hauled in touchdown passes. They also caught just as much grief for their blathering on and off the field.

The new breed of self-absorbed NFL divas like Bryant feel obligated to selfishly monopolize center stage in the ultimate team sport.

It’s doubtful that this new crop of divas will ever leave their marks of excellence and professional on the field like NFL all-pro pass catchers Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson.

Instead, they’ll need to be seen and heard in their uniquely irritating and boastful ways.

Unfortunately, the NFL Draft annually produces a new selection of egotistical split-ends each year.

With the annual draft and the emergence of other physically gifted, but highly talkative types like Bryant, the diva era of wide-mouthed wide-outs will never wane in the NFL.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Iconic Sayings in Sports

ESPN Announcer Chris BermanIconic sayings in sports and in life have always withstood the test of time.

Julius Caesar’s “Vedi Vidi Vici” (Latin for I came, I saw, I conquered), Jesus’ Golden Rule “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and the poet Horace’s adage “Carpe Diem” (seize the day) are as nearly well known today as they were in centuries past.

In the world of sports, expressions, clichés and iconic sayings have also been memorialized.

Sports fans learn these iconic sayings at an early age and repeat them regularly throughout their lives. They apply them not only to sports games they watch, but even to the everyday problems they face.

In this case, these iconic sports sayings fit nicely into today’s blog.

Here ya go…

Whenever we don the name of a certain company’s athletic apparel, we’re reminded to “Just do it!” as Nike’s marketing campaign suggests, whether on the playing field or strategizing in the boardroom.

We enthusiastically shout “Goooooooooooal!” whenever we witness a score during a soccer match and mimic Univision sportscaster Andres Castor’s immediately recognizable expression.

Thanks to Marv Albert, NBA announcer on TNT, we recite, “Yes!” whenever we passionately affirm something.

Marv Albert We recall Jim Valvano’s famous ESPY Awards words, “Never give up!” and apply them to every difficult situation we encounter in life.

When we’re getting ready for a game, a sales call, a test or a challenge of any kind, we’ve probably uttered the war cry, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” All thanks to Michael Butler, WWE Ring Announcer.

Who hasn’t watched an NFL kickoff return for a touchdown and shouted, “He… could… go… all… the… way,” obviously in tribute to ESPN’s Chris Berman.

“Back, back, back, back, back!” is another Chris Berman favorite quote. We’ve all repeated it in the ESPN sportscaster’s signature, staccato style with emphasis on the letter “b”.

“Havlicek stole the ball. Havlicek stole the ball!” We love uttering this NBA classic originated by the lips of legendary Boston Celtics announcer Johnny Most.

“Cubs win! Cubs win!” Harry Carey said it. Too bad it wasn’t after a World Series. Sorry Cubbies fans!

“There’s no substitute for guts.” Legendary Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Bear Bryant gifted all sports fans with this universal quote.

“Do you believe in miracles?” NBC sportscaster Al Michaels uttered these timeless words during the 1980 Winter Olympics semi-final hockey game following what is considered the greatest upset in team sports. Decades later, we still believe in miracles in all sports.

1980 Winter Olympic USA Hockey victory“To be the man, you need to beat the man.” Pro wrestler Ric Flair’s famous simple words couldn’t be any truer for aspiring champions in any sport.

“No mas.” Retired boxer Roberto Duran spoke these simple words that others should speak sooner whenever they’re overwhelmed in an adverse situation.

Former World Champion Roberto Duran

Roberto Duran – famous for the timeless “no mas” quote!

“Gentlemen, start your engines.” Tony Hulman, the late owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Vroom vroom! This saying could apply to just about anything in life.

Yes, these timeless sports quotes will continue to endure because they relate to us – whether we’re watching a game or facing a life challenge.

And, in the timeless words of legendary sportscaster Marv Albert, we can all say “yes” to that!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Lots of Weapons

MIKE Sports Comic: Team Has Lots of WeaponsToday’s Friday Sports Funny lampoons sports media’s growing trend of politically correct reporting.

My intent is not to take sides on whether the Washington Redskins team name should be banished from all NFL vocabulary, Bubba Watson should paint over the Confederate flag on his orange Robert E. Lee car or Christmas Basketball Tournaments should forever be renamed Holiday Tournaments.

However, the purpose of my writing is to demonstrate how some PC Police seek to squelch free speech and legislate our language in discussing sports.

As a result of their efforts, timeless sports adages and old-school cliches have now become extinct. They’ve been replaced by politically correct, watered down versions certain not to offend those most likely to be offended by just about everything in life.

Whether left or right leaning in their political beliefs, all sports fans can agree that the PC Police propose to expunge any semblance of sports media reporting that they feel is too Judeo Christian, too Anglo American, too heterosexual, too traditional, too male oriented, too warlike, too violent, too judgmental and too old school that may upset the three Little Lord Fontlaroys out of 300 million Americans who think all of Western Civilization has conspired to discriminate against them.

Here’s an example of a sports comic entitled “The Team Has Lots of Weapons.” Since the PC crews want to protect our little ones from any potentially heinous comic showing real fictional weapons, I’ve drafted the above comic to demonstrate the absurdity of the times. This armed and dangerous expression is readily apparent in the comic.

The police of political correctness probably appreciate my keeping real weapons out this image. However, the point is evident.

Even though depicted as a computer virus, water balloon or good old stink bomb, the soccer team in this comic has lots of weapons, indeed.

Hope the ACLU doesn’t excoriate me for calling a stink bomb a stink bomb instead of a malodorous tool or whatever politically correct, nonsensical term they expect us to utilize, so that we don’t possibly offend anyone.

Straight talk. No static.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Former MLB Star Wee Willie Keeler

Hit 'em Where They Ain't Willie Keeler

Former MLB all-star Wee Willie Keeler

Today’s #TBT sports blog rewinds the clock to more than a century ago when MLB Hall of Fame star Wee Willie Keeler was the best hitter in baseball.

The under-sized Keeler stood shorter than any player who ever wore a Major League Baseball uniform.

His bat was the tiniest ever used in the history of the game – just 29 ounces in weight and a mere 30 inches long.

This baseball player’s simple advice to Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t became his unusual nickname.

Unless you’re part baseball historian, you may have never heard of him.

But, this fantastic little player also slugs his way into my book MLB Favorites.

MIKE MLB FavoritesOriginally known as Wee Willie Keeler for his tiny 5’4” and 140 lbs. frame, this 19-year Major Leaguer had the best bat control in the history of the game. Keeler would routinely choke up on his little 30” bat. Then, he would often reach base by punching, slapping, chopping or bunting his way on.

The fleet-footed, lefty-hitting Keeler’s incredible bat control helped him direct any pitch wherever there was an opening in the infield. That’s how he got the nickname Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t.

Keller always hit ‘em where they weren’t!

In deference to his amazing batting ability, The Sporting News named Keeler #75 on its list of top 100 players ever. Keeler collected 200 or more hits in eight consecutive seasons and batted an amazing .424 in one year. This last average was earned in 1897, perhaps his best overall season. His Baltimore Orioles team won a second straight Temple Cup Series, which pre-dated today’s World Series Championships.

Willie would definitely Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t – or weren’t – a lot during his career. Keeler batted better than .300 16 times in 19 Major League seasons. He finished his career with a .341 lifetime batting average. His numbers included 2,932 hits (85% of them singles), 1,718 runs scored and the longest single season hitting streak at the time of 44 games.

A two-time National League batting champion in 1897 and 1898, the speedy Keeler scored 100 or more runs in eight seasons. He was always a threat to steal when on base and was a terrific outfielder who could regularly chase down batted balls.

The tiny Wee Willie Keeler may have used his unique batting style to slap, chop, poke and bunt his way on base during his 19 MLB seasons.

However, what remains true about Keeler in baseball history is that he was voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame for his incredible ability with a baseball bat to Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

2 Cent Tuesday: Appreciating Refs, Officials & Umpires

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog throws a curve ball and asks fans about appreciating refs, officials and umpires today.

That’s right. I am asking sports fans to show some love for the guys wearing the stripes and squatting behind the plate.

That’s because sports fans usually don’t. And, that includes me!

Every sports fan sees refs, officials and umpires at every game in every sport at every level. The guys and gals with the whistles never actually play in a game, but they’re most deserving of our appreciation; otherwise, there wouldn’t be any games at all.

Their presence is absolutely essential.

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog focuses on none other than these people who preside over games, blow the whistles, make the calls, enforce the rules and enact all the penalties.

They work tirelessly both indoors and out, in both good weather and bad, and during all hours of the day.

They never get to rest, but remain on their feet or skates for the entire length of their respective assignments.

In the blink of an eye, these under-appreciated, but essential participants in every game make critical decisions that can be carefully reviewed and callously criticized countless times on national television – often with the benefit of super slow motion and high definition cameras.

NFL instant replay

Football’s instant replay is anything but instant!

Acting as both judge and jury, they make crucial calls that can effect legacies, decide championships and even determine the future worth of player contracts. Yes, they’re the guys under the hood on NFL sidelines.

Plus, their hazardous professions go completely unnoticed by the average sports fan. When working behind the plate, these non-players take fastballs off their shins. Also, they occasionally get steamrolled on the football field by 300 lb. linemen.

Too often, they find themselves checked into the boards by overly aggressive defense men and struggle to keep up with gazelles on both the basketball court and soccer pitch.

Few ever know their names. They’re mocked, yelled at, glared upon, ridiculed and cursed.

Only referenced at sports events when their judgment is brought into question, these non-athletes never receive the credit they deserve.

Yes, they’re the zebras, the blind mice and the dastardly devils that may – or may not – blow their whistles in your team’s favor.

These officials, umpires or refs, maintain order on the hardwood, the ice, the pitch, the gridiron and the baseball diamond.

Without them, there would be no games at all.

And, that’s my 2 cents blog for this Tuesday about appreciating refs, officials and umpires. Go on, sports fans, you can do it, too!

MIKE on sports!

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Happy Independence Day: A Sports Fan’s Perspective

Happy Independence DayFrom a sports fan’s perspective, I am especially happy to celebrate Independence Day.

Certainly, I am grateful for the foresight of our nation’s forefathers who envisioned, more than two hundred years ago, a land of the brave and free.

Their courage and vision enabled Americans to now enjoy and prosper in the greatest country that the world has ever witnessed.

Their bold actions in the late 1700’s birthed a country that served as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden, a country that afforded infinite opportunity to the industrious and a country (though our founding fathers could never have envisioned it) that provided the perfect opiate for the people – sports!

Since our nation’s inception, sports has grown into a universal phenomena and Americans have vigorously supported a diverse offering of individual and competitive sports at every conceivable level.

That’s because sports transcends religion, cuts through cultural ties, eludes ethnicity, ignores bank accounts and fails to distinguish between sex, weight, age and even familial bonds.

And, even when it comes to sports, we have our forefathers to thank for the freedom to cheer on and support our favorite player, team or sport on this festive 4th of July.

Simply, our favorite team is our favorite team – not our dad’s, our sister’s or even that of our spouse. Our inalienable right as a sports fan is to root for whomever we want.

It’s constitutionally protected, but not in those exact words!

Sure, our choice may defy logic, strain family ties, break stereotypes and shatter urban myths. But it’s still our choice, one that should never be forced upon us at any time.

The right to root for our team and our favorite player is buried deep down in our DNA. It’s our privilege, our prerogative in spite of what others think or say and cannot be taken away.

Not only is it our right to choose our favorite team, but I propose it’s also a God-given sports right to cheer against another team.

It’s healthy and even cathartic to vent our sports fan frustration toward bitter rivals who have beat up on our boys too often in the past or carry themselves in a far too confident manner.

Articulating our angst by deciding “Anybody, but…” is what’s Best About Sports. It’s even a chapter in a FREE sports comic book I penned.

Best About SportsFor example, it’s perfectly OK if the continued, unabated success of college programs like Duke and Kentucky basketball or Alabama and USC football ruffle our feathers.

It’s understandable if the 27 World Series Championships that New York Yankees fans routinely bring up in baseball conversation makes our blood start to boil. Plus, Bronx Bomber fans always seem to reference baseball’s purported greatest team ever – the 1927 Yanks.

It’s alright if the preponderance of championship banners hanging over the courts at Staples Center in Los Angeles or TD Bank North Garden in Boston cause us to grind our teeth.

It’s a part of the game when storied soccer teams like Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid spend boat loads of cash to consistently attract the top talent in the world and make us want to scream as our local club wallows in mediocrity.

Hey, maybe the original America’s Team (the Dallas Cowboys), the wanna-be America’s Team (the New England Patriots) or the most likely choice from Titletown for what should be America’s Team (the Green Bay Packers) give us indigestion at the sound of their names.

America's Team

The Dallas Cowboys – The Original America’s team

No worries, man! Just ease up. Flip on ESPN Sports Center and relax.

It’s OK to blow off some steam. Remember that we’re just fine. Allow that cup of angst to spill over as much and as long as you want.

Remember, it’s our Constitutional sports right to root for – or against – any team from any town at anytime.

In my house, the sports motto has always been, “Anybody but…”

Happy Independence Day! That’s my sports fan’s perspective on this special day. Now, fire up the grill, open a cold one and get ready for some fireworks!

MIKE on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: 1927 New York Yankees’ Murderers’ Row

1927 New York Yankees RowToday’s #TBT sports blog looks back at baseball’s Murderers’ Row.

Baseball historians have called the legendary 1927 New York Yankees with the frightful nickname the best Major League Baseball team ever.

Yet, back in the 1920s, fans, opposing players and the media that covered this New York Yankees team simply referred to the key members of this frightening, famed squad as Murderers’ Row.

With a name like that, it’s easy to see why I booked these “murderers” in the #1 spot of my sports comic book Deadly Sports Stuff.

Deadly Sports StuffThe first six batters in the Yankees’ line-up (no pun intended) in 1927 posted the most staggering statistics ever witnessed during a single Major League Baseball season.

The Murderers’ Row batters simply killed opposing pitchers. Their dizzying numbers included a remarkable .307 team batting average, a whopping .489 slugging percentage and an incredible 975 total runs scored. That’s 371 more runs than the teams they faced.

The Yankees easily ran away with the American League pennant that year by a 19 game margin with a 110 – 44 record. They also swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series.

As a team, the 1927 New York Yankees were written about in a 1962 book entitled Murderers’ Row and were featured in a 1966 film by the same name.

Plus, the team’s amazing 1927 performance included stellar individual seasons by American League Most Valuable Player Lou Gehrig who hit .373 and drove in an MLB record 175 runs.

That same year Babe Ruth posted similar MVP numbers. Ruth batted an impressive .356, batted in 164 runs, belted a league record 60 home runs and recorded the highest slugging percentage ever at .772.

League rules barred him from being included in the 1927 MVP voting because he had won the same award the previous year.

A list of other “murderers” in the 1927 New York Yankees line-up contributed mightily to the team’s overpowering success. These players also had eye-popping batting averages. Earle Combs batted .356, Mark Koenig .285, Tony Lazzeri .309 and Bob Muesel .337.

Along with their manager Miller Huggins and pitchers Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt, Ruth, Gehrig, Combs and Lazzeri were all inducted into Cooperstown.

The 1927 New York Yankees’ Murderers’ Row continued their tormenting ways for a second season. It resulted in their sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1928 World Series.

In 1927, the death knell may have come quickly on the baseball diamond to those pitchers who faced them. However, this super team of New York Yankees lives on in baseball lore.

It’s arguably the best team ever.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Hey, Sports Fans, Happy National Hot Dog Month!

Racing Weenies at Miller Park in MilwaukeeOK, sports fans! Get out your mustard, ketchup and relish.

It’s time to celebrate.

Today, July 1st, begins annual National Hot Dog Month.

That’s right! Sports fans get to lift their glasses of iced tea and lemonade or even raise a bottle of their favorite adult beverage and toast the undisputed king of packaged meats – the hot dog.

Sure, it’s self-serving that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council originally spearheaded this annual monthly celebration. But, what sports fan, or non-vegetarian American can’t applaud the council’s ambitious yearly promotion and prudent market awareness campaign?

Not just sports fans, but Americans of every shape, size, color and creed love their tube steaks. From time to time, even ultra health conscious individuals can;t resist 100% natural hot dogs with zero preservatives and no nitrates.

According to www.hot-dog.org , Americans typically consume 7 billion, yes 7 billion, hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. That’s 818 hot dogs every second!

Dating back hundreds of years, Vienna and Frankfurt may still dispute the genesis of the beloved hot dog.

However, these famous franks have undoubtedly become the American sports fan’s favorite food at the ballpark for more than a century.

And, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council boast the numbers prove it.

Major League Baseball alone sold a staggering 21 million hot dogs in 2014, while Los Angeles surpassed all other US cities with a total consumption of 39 million hot dogs.

Whether consuming a chili dog, corn dog, cheese dog or foot long ball park hot dog with other toppings, the average America noshes on 60 frankfurters per year, making condiment companies French’s and Heinz happy, too!

The hot dog has always ranked as the top food choice at ball park concession stands across America since introduced in 1901 at a baseball game at the old New York Polo Grounds. Sports cartoonist Tad Morgan called the then hot dachshund sausage a hot dog and the name stuck.

Now, undoubtedly one of America’s most cherished comfort foods, the former hot dachshund sausage spawned a burgeoning industry of packaged meat brands; namely, Nathan’s, Hebrew National, Ball Park Franks, Dietz and Watson and arguably everybody’s favorite – Oscar Meyer Wieners.

You may prefer Nathan’s over Hebrew National, but you’re a liar if you don’t admit you, too, once sang along to, “I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer Wiener!”

Come on’ how can you not love the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile?

A big shout out to sports marketing maverick, and hot dog extraordinaire Mike Rudd, for serving as inspiration to pen this blog as well as drawing attention to America’s love affair with the hot dog. The guy’s not only clever, but a brave man to don a hot dog suit during promotions as pictured below.

Savvy sports marketer Mike Rudd

Savvy sports marketer Mike Rudd

Also, here’s a popular blog I wrote a while ago about my favorite packaged meat mascots racing around the baseball field at Miller Park in Milwaukee. I refer to these in-game entertainers as “real wieners!”

MIKE on sports podcastSo, pass me the Heinz ketchup and hold the mustard and relish!

And, Happy National Hot Dog Month to you!

MIKE on sports!

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