#TBT Sports Blog: Lou Holtz & ESPN College Game Day

ESPN sportscaster Lou Holtz

ESPN College Game Day’s Lou Holtz

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers the immensely likeable, former ESPN ESPN College Game Day commentator Lou Holtz.

His sterling studio schtick always earned him a spot in my living room each fall weekend.

Sure, the retired little Lou looked like he never played a lick and probably could never bench press a broom.

But, for cryin’ out loud – as this charismatic old coaching codger liked to say – I absolutely loved Lou Holtz as a talking head and co-anchor with Mark May during ESPN College Game Day broadcasts.

Lou Holtz’s candid college football coverage carried clout!

Viewers were smitten by the outspoken purity of this grandfatherly pigskin pundit and television’s a-typical talking head.

Who cared if this retired coach sported a face for radio rather than network television?

His colorful commentating was welcome in my living room any day of the week.

The former Notre Dame, South Carolina and Minnesota head football coach may have mis-pronunciated, inarticulated and mis-syllabicated whenever he opened his mouth.

But, what fan really cared?

The immensely loveable Lou emanated total trust.

He prognosticated with passion and purpose.

Most importantly, he generated unbridled enthusiasm from the ESPN Sports Center Studio.

Football fans looked quickly past his saucer shaped spectacles and learned to live with his lovable lisp.

They humored him for his histrionics and hair-brained hunches.

Why? Because they, too, absolutely loved Lou Holtz!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: The NFL Crucial Catch Campaign

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog focuses on a priceless endeavor.

It recognizes the NFL, once again, for making A Crucial Catch with it’s annual initiative to raise awareness for women’s breast cancer.

The league’s A Crucial Catch campaign continues through out the month, and football fans need to acknowledge the NFL, teams, players and the NFL Players Association for their support of this critical cause each October.

Media and fans have been quick to criticize the NFL for the botched manner in which it has handled some of the egregious as well as convoluted off-field incidents of its players over the past few years.

From the Ray Rice suspension to the Deflate Gate fiasco and to this season’s Colin Kaepernick protest, America’s most successful professional sports league has been microscopically evaluated on every decision it’s made and action it’s undertaken.

Despite many valid criticisms, the NFL needs to be recognized for the positive social message it annually evangelizes on behalf of the American Cancer Society with its A Crucial Catch marketing campaign.

NFL A Crucial CatchSince 2009, the NFL has designated October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and has actively promoted the distinct symbol of a pink ribbon entwined with its iconic league logo.

The Color Pink Abounds During the NFL Crucial Catch Campaign

During the month, NFL players are allowed to skirt the normally stringent NFL uniform standards by donning pink gloves, cleats and socks. The league also sells officially licensed NFL pink merchandise and even auctions off player gear to raise funds for cancer research.

By promoting the pink ribbon and encouraging players to wear pink apparel on the football field, the NFL has publicly, and admirably, promoted a most worthy social cause. The league has even commissioned large pink ribbons to be stenciled on the 25 yard lines of each NFL field.

All 32 NFL teams actively participate in this month long promotion.

In partnership with the American Cancer Society, A Crucial Catch raises awareness for early detection of breast cancer for women 40+.

In the past three years, the NFL estimates that the A Crucial Catch message has educated 85,000 women, facilitated more than 10,000 free screenings and raised more than $8 million. And that’s good news from the NFL and better news for women living in under served communities.

The NFL Makes Positive Strides

Though the NFL has made positive strides in promoting awareness for breast cancer with its A Crucial Catch campaign, the league can still do far more, not just with cancer education, but also with other serious social issues like domestic violence.

With embattled Commissioner Roger Goodell’s appointment of several socially conscious, educated and successful women to his staff, expect more positive social change from the league.

Also, with ubiquitous television coverage, the NFL can be a powerful force for awareness and change concerning the debilitating health issues that afflict far too many women in our society.

May the popularly accepted A Crucial Catch serve as the example of the an admirable public service campaign that the NFL has launched and serve as a harbinger for many more. To quote the empowering NFL slogan during this month of breast cancer awareness, “Everyone can make a crucial catch.”

Think Pink and Fight Cancer in 2016 BCA Fan Gear from NFLShop.comFor football fans interested in supporting the NFL Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, you can purchase authentic NFL “pink” merchandise directly from the NFL Shop. Just click on the logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Monkey on Back of Chicago Cubs

Monkey on back

Today’s Friday Sports Funny focuses on emancipating the monkey.

That’s right. The comic in this blog tells the very simple story.

Getting rid of a meddling monkey that has resided on the backs of Chicago Cubs players for more than a century exists as a top priority in the Windy City.

For diehard Chicago Cubs fans, decades of frustration have elapsed while that lousy critter has clung tightly to the shoulders of their city’s beloved baseball team.

Chicago Cubs and the Gorilla Sized Monkey

Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers prevailed with an NBA title earlier this year, the Chicago Cubs are widely considered the most famous gorilla-sized monkey-on-the-back franchise in sports.

In their case, the monkey is old, very old, and hasn’t let go for what seems like an eternity.

That’s because the Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. They have appeared in only one Fall Classic since then, and that was way back in 1945.

However, this perennial underdog for whom most of America will be rooting, the Cubs take the field against the Los Angeles Dodgers in NLCS action beginning this weekend.

I’ll be watching and so will that annoying monkey which knows he may soon be losing a back he’s clung to for 108 years.

Go Cubs!

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Chicago Cubs Fan Steve Bartman

Steve Bartman

Today’s #TBT sports blog painfully recalls the Windy City’s most infamous sports personality – who just happens to be a baseball fan.

On October 14, 2003, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan named Steve Bartman unwittingly found himself in the national spotlight. His dubious distinction was due to one brief, inglorious moment at Chicago’s famed Wrigley Field.

On that fateful day, Bartman’s hometown Cubs were leading 3 – 0 in the top of the 8th inning against the Florida Marlins. Leading the series 3 – 2, Chicago was just five outs away from capturing the National League pennant.

Then, the unthinkable happened. One swing of the bat changed the destiny of the Cubs’ season and Bartman’s life.

A very catchable foul pop off Marlins’ 2B Luis Castillo’s bat floated down the left field line toward where Bartman was sitting.

With a beat on the ball, Cubs’ LF Moises Alou positioned himself to make the catch and inch his team four outs closer to the club’s first World Series since 1945.

Cubs Fan Steve Bartman Unexpectedly Rises From Seat

Unfortunately, Alou had no idea that loyal Cubs fan Steve Bartman would rise from seat #113, aisle 4 and row 8 to unintentionally interfere with his attempted catch. The result proved disastrous for the Cubs.

The Marlins’ bats became energized when the Cubs OF was unable to corral the foul ball. The Florida team proceeded to score eight unanswered runs, forcing the NLCS deciding Game 7 which the Marlins also won.

Sadly, the Bartman mishap turned legendary. It served as a symbol of the Chicago franchise’s continuing frustrations to seek an ever-elusive World Series Championship.

Baseball fans compared the Bartman bungle to Boston Red Sox Bill Buckner’s booted ground ball in the 1986 World Series which perpetuated the Curse of the Bambino myth.

More than a decade after Bartman’s benign interference, the horrifying memory still resonates deeply with Chicago Cubs fans.

Bartman’s action marked the third egregious event in Chicago baseball history. The first event involved the city’s legendary tale of the 1945 Curse of the Billy Goat.

The second harkened back to the notorious tale of a black cat scampering past Ron Santo in the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium. Back then, superstitious Chicago fans believed the appearance of the black cat caused the team’s 1969 epic collapse.

Bartman’s botched attempt yielded him an uncomfortable escort out of the unfriendly atmosphere of The Friendly Confines. He was led out of the stadium under tight security amid taunts, threats and flying debris.

Villainized as the focal point of Cubs’ fans angst, Bartman would begin a self-imposed banishment from Chicago area sporting events. His simple failed attempt at catching a foul pop at a ball game – every baseball fan’s dream – would forever torment him.

Bartman Featured in ESPN 30 for 30 Documentary

In 2011, it even prompted the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary aptly called Catching Hell.

Steve Bartman’s unexpected baseball blunder became the source of epic fodder. Later in 2003 affluent Chicago Cubs fan Grant DePorte spent nearly $114,000 to buy the Bartman ball at auction.

As if burning the memorial relic in infamy wasn’t enough, less than a year later, DePorte detonated the ball in public view.

The obscure young man in glasses, sporting headphones and a green sweatshirt, never would have imagined how simply rising from his seat that fateful night would have sprung him into a lifetime of Chicago sports ignominy.

Though qualifying as neither an athlete nor a team, Steve Bartman also earns a spot as a fan – an infamous one at that – in my FREE book Chicago Sports Icons.

Click HERE to safely download the FREE ebook.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: Donald Trump’s Locker Room Talk Comments

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog focuses on the media hullabaloo surrounding Donald Trump’s recorded unacceptable, sexually explicit, “locker room comments” about women from 2005.

The outcry from media outlets and social sites has been categorically correct in decrying Trump’s reckless, vile words.

There exists no room for perverse speech anywhere at anytime that degrades women.

I am very happy that both mainstream and non-traditional media have excoriated the Republican Presidential candidate for his poor judgment and inexcusable words.

Not Buying Athletes’ Backlash on Locker Room Talk Comments

However, I don’t buy the backlash from athletes asserting that nasty Trump-like talk, sexual innuendo or misogynistic fantasy don’t exist in locker rooms.

Actually, I chuckle when guys like Jacob Tamme, Jamal Crawford, CJ McCollum, Chris Kluwe, Dahntay Jones and others expect us to believe that testosterone induced talk and off-color remarks doesn’t exist in the world of sports.

Locker rooms are locker rooms and NOT Sunday school classrooms.

Boorish behavior has existed for years. It may not be as overt any longer as in the past, but it’s still there. That’s because Trump-like talk is not always audibly spoken, but it resides unchecked under the guise of modern day music.

And, some of the music is disgusting, making Donald Trump’s words pale in comparison!

Songs with sexually explicit references are privately, and commonly, listened to on expensive Beats headphones in an athlete’s personal space.

For example, allow me to focus music mogul Jay Z to prove my point. He’s been given a free pass in our nation’s sports culture. Many venerate the music mogul for his personal path to fame and for the infectious beats to his songs, but should we?

More people need to listen with an attentive ear when selecting his songs for their play list. And, by the way, his misogynistic lyrics are tame in comparison to other trash you can easily download from iTunes.

The Music Mogul Jay Z

Let’s take a closer look at the rapper Shawn Carter known as Jay Z, a godfather of sorts to many of today’s singers and rappers who mirror his style and lyrics.

Since his first album in 1996, Shawn Carter has flexed his recording muscle in ways now too reflective of our culture. Over the years, we as parents, teachers, managers, leaders and even respectable sports fans have quietly allowed Jay Z to fill the psyche of our youth with dehumanizing lyrics strung behind catchy music.

Sadly, we’ve acquiesced as the hip hop artist has seeded the minds of young male adults with a warped, perverse attitude concerning women. And now we’re painfully confronting its outcome.

As a society, we’ve given Jay Z and other miscreant musical artists carte blanche to poison our minds and those of our growing sons.

We’ve blindly excused these entertainers, cowardly giving them unfettered access in our culture. Their reward has been whopping sales figures in the name of modern day artistry.

Now that professional sports leagues appear to be shouldering greater social responsibility, shouldn’t musical lyrics be more closely scrutinized? Why tolerate wretched rhymes?


Has anyone from the NFL, MLB or NBA offices ever delved into Jay Z’s recording history to determine whether his catalog of songs best represent the spirit of their sports?

More specifically, do Jay Z’s musical messages extol women in a positive light or denigrate women to testosterone-infused men who think of them as meat for their sexual appetites or punching bags for their frustrations?

If pressed to investigate, league executives would likely discover that Carter and his wife Beyonce don’t lullaby their child Blue Ivy to bed each night to lyrics made famous by Jay Z.

Certainly, Jay Z’s songs are protected by our nation’s constitutional free speech clause. But, why haven’t more people acknowledged the downward, guttural pull of lyrics like those of Jay Z’s that refer to women as “b#tches” and “h#es” that he sings about in his lengthy stable of songs.

As far as the athletes decrying Trump (and rightfully so), did they stop and ask Jay Z listening teammates if these songs were on their playlist?

Over the years, Jay Z has profited from rhymes like “That’s My B#tch” from Jay Z’s 2011 Watch the Throne album or “2 Many H#es” from his 2002 The Blueprint 2: The Gift and Curse? Or, did they perhaps refer to “Money Cash H#es” from Jay Z’s 1998 Hard Knock Life album before lashing out at their wives and girlfriends?

The NFL, MLB and NBA are currently embarking upon a new era of social oversight in managing their hugely successful leagues. Zero tolerance for domestic violence and egregious talk has has rightfully become their rallying cry.

Likewise, zero tolerance should be equally applied toward artists like Jay Z or others with ties to the NFL, MLB and NBA if their songs contain misogynistic lyrics or foster callous, dismissive portrayals of women.

I’m very pleased that Donald Trump got called out for his inexcusable language.

Now, the media must dig deeper and expose the negative influence coming from some of today’s music widely listened to in athletes’ locker rooms.

Donald Trump may have wrongly spoken ill-advised words aloud, but admired athletes are quietly condoning them in private with their music preferences.

And, that’s my 2 cents about Donald trump’s locker room comments.

What are yours?

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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FREE Sports Book: Baseball Comics

MIKE FREE Vol 2 Baseball ComicsMore than 150 years ago, no one could have imagined how playing with a bat, ball and glove on a diamond-shaped field would ultimately emerge as America’s favorite pastime – Major League Baseball.

Before TV and the internet – and long before the popularization of professional basketball, football and hockey – American athletes and sports fans “passed their time away” watching or playing baseball.

After its first formal game in Hoboken, NJ back in 1863, baseball evolved into family friendly sports entertainment.

Since then, Major League Baseball has enraptured fans for decades.

From Spring Training to the Dog Days of Summer and into the Fall Classic, Americans love their favorite pastime.

Because of this beloved sport, baseball historians, collectors, fans and trivia buffs have flourished in the past century and will quickly find themselves attracted to this informative, lighthearted book.

In FREE Baseball Comics, you’ll discover inventive images and brief commentaries about some of baseball’s most iconic players, teams and clichéd expressions.

You’ll applaud the success of Major League Baseball’s best and most murderous team ever (the 1927 NY Yankees) and marvel at baseball’s most surprising champion (the 1906 Chicago Cubs).

You’ll read about baseball’s Big Red Machine, Big Unit and Big Hurt.

In addition, you’ll see featured favorite former baseball luminaries: Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron, Yogi Berra, Pete Rose, Brooks Robinson, Ozzie Smith and Reggie Jackson.

In addition to legends, this book’s clever comics capture MLB’s most favorite stars.

Plus, you’ll learn about two true baseball heroes – Three Finger Brown and Jackie Robinson – as well as an MLB all-star who also excelled as an NFL running back.

This FREE book will take you to the Boston’s landmark Green Monster and transport you high above the playing field to Pigeon Heaven.

This book brings to life some of the sport’s most colorful terms, like pinch hitters, pitchers dueling and napping runners.

Enjoy the read. It’s entertaining and, better yet, it’s FREE.

Just don’t forget that this book won’t end until every baseball fan’s most beloved gal – The Fat Lady – belts out a few final bars.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Play Took Crowd Out of Game

MRO 35 Play Took Crowd OutToday’s Friday Sports Funny – his play took the crowd out of the game – features a very telling sports comic.

The comic proves that actions speak louder than words whether on an NFL, NCAA or high school football field.

As depicted in the comic above, a fantastic play on the football field not only silenced the crowd in the stands, but ironically removed them entirely from the football stadium.

All that remains is a fallen “Home of the Bears” banner draped across the empty seats once filled by Bears fans.

It appears as if the Tigers’ #6 tackle not only took the Bears’ ball carrier out of the play, but his remarkable action (he wasn’t even seen in the previous image) helped remove the Bears fans from the stadium, too.

Incredible plays like this are exciting to watch because they can swing momentum in a game, stop an opponents touchdown drive or score swiftly and unexpectedly

Sure, this may only be a comic. But, the two panel image also teaches a great lesson for sports fans and athletes of any age.

Silence Your Critics and Take Crowd Out of Game

Namely, if you want to silence the critics in your crowd, make sure you allow your positive actions do all the talking.

You might even make it on ESPN Sports Center.

Shop for Thousands of 100% Authentic Autographed Sports Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comAnd, for football fans interested in authentic NFL merchandise and collectibles, just click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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Write me if you have any ideas for a future Friday Sports Funny.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Mr. October Reggie Jackson

Mr. October Reggie JacksonIt’s only fitting that Major League Baseball’s Mr. October Reggie Jackson leads off today’s #TBT sports blog.

This Baseball Hall of Fame slugger wore the colorful uniform of the Oakland A’s and the traditional pinstripes of the New York Yankees. He normally starred during the spring and summer months of the Major League Baseball season.

However, Reggie Jackson flourished on the baseball field during the fall. That’s when he earned his nickname Mr. October.

Late Yankee Thurmon Munson Coined the Name Mr. October

Yankee teammate Thurmon Munson first used the title when questioned during the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Munson told a reporter to interview Jackson. He referred to the Yankee right fielder’s history of fantastic post-season games and said, “Go ask Mr. October.”

A 1999 Cooperstown Hall of Fame inductee, Reginald Martinez Jackson enjoyed a stellar 21-year Major League Baseball career. He retired in 1987. Jackson was a 14-time All-Star who hit 563 dingers, drove in 1,702 runs and batted .262 with 2,584 total hits.

The 1973 American League MVP also had his number 9 jersey retired in Oakland and his number 44 jersey retired in New York. Pretty great accomplishments, indeed!

Reggie Jackson: World Series MVP for Two Different Teams

A clutch hitting right fielder, Jackson had the ability to perform his best during post-season play. Mr. October ranks as the only baseball player ever to be named World Series Most Valuable Player for two different teams. Jackson first won the award in 1973 with the Oakland A’s. He won it again in 1977 in spectacular fashion with the New York Yankees.

Jackson’s World Series numbers are incredible. In 27 Fall Classic appearances, Mr. October belted 10 home runs, drove in 24 runs and batted an impressive .357. He won five world titles. In the deciding Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Jackson hit three consecutive first pitch home runs off of three different Dodger hurlers.

Baseball fans will never forget this amazing Oakland A’s and New York Yankees’ right fielder and his Fall Classic heroics.

In a Boys of Summer sport, this Baseball Hall of Fame player rightfully earned his fitting autumn nickname – Mr. October.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: NFL Not as Predictable This Season

2 Cent Tuesday sports blogToday’s 2 Cent Tuesday blog recaps some early surprises in this year’s NFL season.

For a seemingly predictable league, this year’s NFL campaign has been anything but predictable.

Who’d a thunk that…

The vaunted NFL, the prestigious long time media darling of professional sports, would experience 2016 double digit television viewership drops: (-10%) for Sunday Night Football, (-19%) for Monday Night Football and (-15%) for Thursday Night Football.

Along with the Denver Broncos, the once slumping Minnesota Vikings would be the toast of the league at 4 – 0 without all-everything RB Adrian Peterson and with oft-injured, journeyman QB Sam Bradford.

Rookie QB’s Trevor Siemian, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz would be so mature and game ready while leading their surging Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles into Week 5 of this NFL season.

The New England Patriots would be blanked in Gillette Stadium by division rival Buffalo Bills coached by always meddling, long time nemesis Rex Ryan.

Cam Newton Looking Human?

Last year’s most dominant team the Carolina Panthers would be 1 – 3 and their 2015 NFL MVP and self-proclaimed Superman Cam Newton would actually look human on the football field.

The Jack Del Rio led Oakland Raiders would look this poised, polished and professional with a division leading 3 – 1 record.

The newly relocated Los Angeles Rams would be basking in a three game winning streak after an embarrassing opening day loss.

The New York Giants’ star WR Odell Beckham, Jr. could be so easily irked whether it’s Josh Norman or Viking CB’s doing the prodding.

Atlanta Falcons tandem of QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones would simply perform that well last weekend and put up Tecmo Bowl numbers of 500+ yards passing and 300 yards receiving respectively.

JJ Watt Out Maybe Out For Season and More…

Seemingly invincible Houston Texan DE JJ Watt could be done for the season due to recurring back issues.

And finally, the iron fisted, super controlling Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t intervened over the Colin Kaepernick inspired protests, while his NFL police have fined others for inappropriate shoes and precluded others from wearing decals to honor fallen police officers.

Excited to witness how much longer unpredictable surprises continue to surface in this year’s NFL season.

And, that’s my 2 cents.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Team is Knocking at the Door

knocking at doorToday’s Friday Sports Funny features another old sports cliché about a team “knocking at the door.”

For me, this old adage has always screamed for further interpretation. It’s confusing.

Not even the most knowledgeable fan can fully explain the meaning.

The sports expression about the team “knocking at the door” begs me to ask.

Just how close in a game do you need to be to knock at the door?

If you get a five run lead, can you still knock?

Are only baseball teams allowed to knock?

Also, can only offensive teams knock?

And, when a defender knocks back, does he answer the door or answer the bell?

Someone needs to take some initiative and clarify this old sports cliché because it continues to confuse the heck out of all of us.

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For fans interested in authentic Major League Baseball collectibles, click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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